30 November 2008


Ah! The first real snowfall of the year. It's pretty, blowing around and coating the trees. It's also right on the freezing line so the roads have the potential to be pretty bad. They look OK for now - good because I have to go to the grocery store.

Last post of the month! Sorry no updates until today; my grandfather doesn't have Internet access and I was too tired Friday and Saturday (too many customers). It seems post-Thanksgiving shopping magnifies any pre-existing brain damage because people have really odd requests. For instance, someone wanted me to call a nearby B&N for a particular DVD box set; I confirmed in the computer that the store had one and offered to call and have it held - the customer said "No Thanks" and walked off. I don't get it - you wanted me to call in the first place and now that I have good reason to call them, you don't want me to....wha???

I watched the 1975 adaptation of Ballet Shoes - this one was not well done. BBC or no BBC, it was poorly shot and the adaptation was terrible. It cut a number of things including Dr. Smith, Miss Jay, the entire opening of the book (the girls' stories are told in flashback), Garnie is made out to be some sort of idiot, Pauline's opening break in Alice in Wonderland is combined with Midsummer and the film of Charles II is cut out entirely (the studio exec offered Pauline a contract on the basis of her performance in Peaseblossom), and Pauline is made out to be manipulative which is completely out of line for the character in the book. The new adaptation with Emma Watson is definitely better and more in line with the intent of the book.

Boss comes back this week. Oh boy.

Current book-in-progress: Udolpho, Reading Matters, Love Letters, oh, anything else I feel like and I have an itch to acquire a book about Eleanor of Acquitane
Current knitted item: Red variegated scarf
Current movie obsession: Almost done with The Lion in Winter (Burton/Hepburn version - couldn't they have worked a little more on her accent? She's fantastic otherwise)
Current iTunes loop: old Filmspotting episodes

26 November 2008

Blowouts are boring

What are you supposed to do when your team is trouncing the opposition at the Metrodome?

Have sex in the handicapped stall, of course. During Iowa's 55-0 rout of Minnesota (hawks like to eat rodents, so the Hawkeyes smoking the Gophers totally makes sense), UM cops busted a couple getting busy in the restroom, complete with crowd cheering the couple on. The two got cited for indecent conduct (usually given to public urination). The kicker? She gave a false name and had to be identified by her husband; he was released to his girlfriend. Unfortunately, both of the them were from Iowa. It's a long car ride back to the land of Black and Gold.

Speaking of car rides:
My parents are picking me up this evening and we're going to see my relatives in Illinois for Thanksgiving. Then I get to rush back to Iowa to close on Black Friday. What joy is mine. Happy Turkey everyone!

25 November 2008

The Criterion Collection

Mom has been bugging me for my Christmas list. So I spent a while trawling the new Criterion Collection website looking at all the DVDs. Criterion is sort-of my new favorite label; the movies all look great and they come with extra tidbits.

Now I just have to think up what books I would like to put on my list - you would think this easy because I work for a bookstore but I have a tendency to buy whatever I want, regardless as to whether Christmas is coming.

Love Letters

Remember when the Sex in the City movie came out and everyone wanted the "Love Letter" book? And the "Love Letter" book didn't exist because the movie's producers made it up even though the letters were real?

Well, Ursula Doyle went out and collected a number of love letters written by "great men" from Pliny to Curie; she published the collection as Love Letters of Great Men. The collection is decently wide-ranging, including three letters from Alexander Pope to three different women, Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved" letter, and two of Oscar Wilde's letters to Lord Alfred Douglas (aka Bosie). I'm a sucker - I bought it.

Addendum to yesterday's post:
Not only is the Mall trying to ruin Christmas some nut who has a duplex condo on the bus route is doing his best, too. If I were his neighbor I would probably move. The entire yard of this dwelling is covered with lit-up/moving Christmas objects and twinkle lights outline every angle. There's even a Ferris Wheel with toys and elves that goes around and around. Gag.

24 November 2008

Gee, already?

While waiting for the bus I was appalled to realize that the mall was playing Christmas music - Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You was blaring over the sound system followed by I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (which I particularly loathe). Thanks guys. Couldn't you wait to switch the Muzak until the day after Thanksgiving?

Combined with the huge Christmas wreaths hanging from the ceiling the effect is truly gag-inducing.

23 November 2008

Movie weekend, Part Deux!!

I continued my movie binge by seeing Quantum of Solace at the matinee, strategic because matinees are two dollars cheaper. Now, I know that people are getting concerned that Bond no longer is Bond; the familiar introduction is gone, he has fewer toys, and the action sequences take on a Jason Bourne-esque choreography. This Bond is grittier, more of an emotional mess, and I really like that; it would be very stale if all James Bond ever did was drink, have sex, and kill people for his country. Recycling gets old after a while.

I did miss Bond's fun toys but I never thought they were terribly integral; I was always more of a Sean Connery fan myself (Roger Moore was too glib) so I really did enjoy a Bond who has to make do with his wits, his skills, and his gun. If that makes it too "Jason Bourne" then so what; I fully expect an MI6 agent to kill someone with only his bare hands (this Bond takes out several other MI6 agents in an elevator - no weapons). Besides, Daniel Craig is way more alluring than all of the other Bonds so I'm all in. I found the movie very entertaining, very well-worth my six-fifty.

Part of that enjoyment is watching Dame Judi Dench play M, Bond's boss, and she does a far better job than any of the other Ms (sorry, Bernard Lee). The part of M has enlarged with each of Dame Judi's outings (the best being in The World is Not Enough were M gets kidnapped by crazy Elektra King) and she never disappoints. There was a great line in the movie where Bond is asked if he's revenging his mother and Bond replies, "No, but she likes to think so."

More preview fun:
1. Bedtime Stories - looks sort of cute; Sandler plays a guy who realizes the goofy stories he tells his niece and nephew have a strange tendency to come true; I gave up on Sandler movies a long time ago but I might try this one
2. Valkyrie - the same trailer from last night (I saw a different trailer on TV and that one makes it look more like the Tom Cruise show)
3. The Day the Earth Stood Still - this is (what I'm pretty sure was) the same trailer that played before The Dark Knight; I still don't want to see a remake with Keanu Reeves
4. The Spirit - an expanded trailer from the one I saw before The Dark Knight; looks pretty good but I'm not familiar with The Spirit as a graphic novel
5. Seven Pounds - I'm not very familiar with this (Will Smith stars) but I think the premise is interesting

I got to see my parents today, too, which also included a viewing of the original 1968 Thomas Crowne Affair starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway; strangely enough neither of my parents have seen this but they watched the Pierce Brosnan remake (yuck). The original has this amazing chess scene which is far better than any sex scene ever put on film; it is that erotic. I like the film, and have seen it many times, but it's really strange to explain what is going on to your parents.

22 November 2008

Movie weekend!

****WARNING: If you are any of my friends who haven't seen Twilight yet and don't want anything spoiled, read this post later.****

So I had movie weekend - fueled partly by a sleepless night where I watched four movies and one mini-series. Stupid brain.

Movie #1 Ballet Shoes: remake of the Noel Streatfield novel of the same name; I loved the book as a child and I was really glad to see that the feel of the novel was retained with some cute additions; Emma Watson (yes, that Emma Watson) was excellent in a non-Hermione role and I can't wait to see her in Desperaux in December
Movie #2 Pride and Prejudice: not a new movie to me, but I was trying to fall asleep; it may not be my favorite rendition of my favorite novel but it has beautiful piano music played by Jean-Yves Thibeaudet
Mini-series Sense and Sensibility: ITV mini-series shown last spring on IPTV for "The Complete Jane Austen" during Masterpiece Classic (thanks Dad for finally getting this recorded off the DVR for me); very well-shot, well-adapted, and well-cast (Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood was especially nice); the mini-series format allowed for all of the characters to be present (including Lucy Steele's vile sister, ugh); I actually liked it and got involved so this may not have been the best choice for trying to fall asleep and the IMDB page has some interesting facts about the costuming
Movie #3 Persuasion: also an ITV production and one that I do not like for various reasons (exception being Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth, although he's no Ciaran Hinds); Mary Musgrove nee Elliot acted like someone recovering from a neurological injury (whoa, crazy), Anne breaks the fourth wall a lot to think to the audience, and then she runs up and down the streets of Bath in the letter scene chasing Wentworth; all wrong
Movie #4 Northanger Abbey: not a new movie to me, either, but I did finally fall asleep to this one.

Then tonight I went with Jackie, Rachel, Janice, and Annie to see Twilight. I was prepared for a lame and utterly cheesy teenage movie but it was really cute. There were a few wierd things, though. Edward looked like he ate some bad cougar the first time Bella walked into biology lab, there was a little too much teenager angst from Edward (who's supposed to be over 100 years old), Carlisle's makeup artist was seriously phoning it in from Data's makeup artist on ST:TNG, and the dude playing Jasper either needed more anti-psychotics or less because it was a creeper-worthy performance (and he's supposed to be the mood-altering vampire). I thought the script adaptation was faithful with two exceptions: too much foreshadowing on the run-up to the emergence of the three "bad" vampires and I really missed a "Bella trapped in the bathroom by Alice before the prom" scene. Oh, and Bella's prom dress was pretty, but not what I'd imagined. Overall impression: cute teenager movie and no gag-worthy moments (I wanted to rid the theatre of a few stupid teenagers who were attempting to ruin the movie for everyone else - lame).

Okey, dokey, fun with previews:
1. Know1ing - Nicholas Cage/apolcalypse flick about a secret code from a time capsule that correctly predicted all the natural disasters (including death toll); major problem is what happens when the code stops
2. Valkyrie - the long-talked-about Tom Cruise biopic of the plot to assassinate Hitler; looks good (at least no one faked a German accent) and looking at the IMDB page it lists Eddie Izzard as one of the conspirators (???); looks good....but it has Tom Cruise
3. Confessions of a Shopaholic - based on the book of the same name; I have some friends who would love this movie (I probably would not)
4. Push - conspiracy/sci-fi movie about people with superhuman powers like telekenisis, prophecy, and the like (smells a little like X-men as far as powers, but no mutants); Dakota Fanning plays a girl who can predict the future (creepy)
There might have been one more (must be forgetteable like the super-lame commercial we had to watch about Diet Pepsi Max that completely ran the old "Night at the Roxbury" sketch into the ground). Major disappointment: NO HARRY POTTER TRAILER!!!!!! Jerks.

21 November 2008

Writer's Block Friday

After yesterday's excitement today seems very blah. My office isn't being drooled upon (leaky water tank on roof caused serious wet carpet and ceiling tile issues) and UNESCO isn't handing out any accolades today.

I am once again inputting (verb?) data for our study. I'm way behind, so I need to work fast, but ... it's ... so ... mind-numbing. I can hear my brain cells die of boredom. The only reason I have to do it is because you have to be trained to recognize catheter-related blood-stream infections (CR-BSIs - crabbies, for lack of a better term). I'm the only one of the research team, besides the boss, who can do this.

I also need to start working with the burn unit on some observations of practice (in the tub room of all places) and MRSA cultures of various sources. I get to observe in the tub room because I'm the only one who won't faint or toss cookies. For anyone who doesn't know, the tub room is where the burn patients get scrubbed down, debrieded, and re-bandaged; there's lots of screaming and it smells really bad. I would be started on this already but the unit manager hasn't emailed me back, yet.

I've started back into the Newbery Project. After The Story of Mankind and The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle I decided I couldn't take all the Euro-American-centric viewpoints all together in order. It was a bit much. I'm going to come at it from a different angle. I've been wanting to re-read The Westing Game for a long time so I'll re-start with that one; plus, the movie adaptation for The Tale of Desperaux is coming out so I picked that up, too. I'll get there, by hook or by crook!

20 November 2008

Thank you, UNESCO!

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, bestowed the honor of "City of Literature" on Iowa City today. I live, work, and go to school here. Hooray!

19 November 2008

RIP Clive Barnes

Thank you for all your articles, essays, and reviews. I always enjoyed your back page in Dance Magazine.

You'll be missed.

18 November 2008

Yeah, CR smells, but what else do you expect?

So some travel writer, Peter Greenberg, has a new travel book out that names Cedar Rapids one of the five smelliest cities for travellers to avoid. Oh, and he takes potshots at the city for the flood debris.

Yeah, Cedar Rapids smells. It's a blue collar, processing plant city. Most of the city's industry was built on meat-packing so just be happy that Quaker Oats moved in so that occasionally you can smell cooking oatmeal instead of offal. If you don't like it then you can go somewhere else.

However, don't even think about going after the city or anyone else for the flood debris, Peter Greenberg. That's pretty despicable, just about on the same level as people who tried a little fraud during the flood recovery. Do you have a better idea about where that's all going to go? Millions of dollars in sludge, bacteria, mold, mildew, and destroyed homes and businesses don't just disappear with a snap of the fingers. You can't just wish it away.

Call CR smelly, everyone knows it. Get over it - but leave the flood out of it.

The Castle of Otranto

I decided that I should read The Castle of Otranto before I embarked on any major readings for The Mysteries of Udolpho. Otranto came first in the Gothic timeline so the reading is useful when looking at Radcliffe's inspirations.

Walpole's piece is quite short (only about 110 pages, more if you include his lengthy prefaces) but it remains hard to read because of the lack of convention in punctuation usage. A particularly difficult passage comes near the end of the book; the evil Manfred tries to charm information out of the household domestic Bianca (who, in the tradition of rustics, is comically dense) and the back-and-forth conversation is nearly impossible to follow, filled with hyphens, commas, and absolutely NO quotations marks. You can't skim those three pages. On the whole, though, the novel is enjoyable and you can appreciate the Gothic elements. Ghosts, oversize pieces of armor, lascivious noblemen (non-Englishmen all), fainting ladies, long-lost sons who turn out to be aristocratic even though disguised as a peasant. What fun.

It is also worth a chuckle to look at this from a Protestant Englishman's point-of-view. All these Catholic Europeans, tsk, tsk, tsk, running about, praying to saints, preying on their dead son's ex-fiance, commanding a wife's confessor to tell her to consent to a divorce. It's cast in such a lurid light that no self-respecting Briton would ever behave in such a rash, Popish manner, even though the whole thing smacks of the Henry VIII Bizzaro-world circus that was his first marriage (desperate for male issue and the like).

Current book-in-progress: Like, whoa, too many again, but now I can start Udolpho in earnest!
Current knitted item: Red variegated scarf; I'm almost through the second skein so I'm thinking I'm going to switch from the moss stitch to seed stitch just for fun.
Current movie obsession: I put the new Ballet Shoes starring Emma Watson in; haven't watched any of it, yet, but I'm sure it's cute (one of my favorite books as a child)
Current iTunes loop: Enya ...And Winter Came

So much for timely information

I'm a news junkie - I really love how the Internet is able to keep me informed as events happen rather than just reading the paper once a day. Because of this, I knew that a rash of car burglaries was occurring in the Iowa City area; thieves are smashing car windows and taking anything from loose change to stereos. What was not reported until today was that cars in the UIHC parking ramps were also broken into over the past two weekends or so. Not only that but there weren't any staff bulletins sent out. Hello!!!! I work at UIHC, I may not drive into campus but I work here, and staff should have been informed immediately those weeks following the sprees.

But, no. No email. Grrrrr.

17 November 2008

More Than Words

I just found this site - which not only seems to be dedicated to the Oxford World's Classics series but has some really pretty animation. The site is easy to navigate and there's a fun "What Character Are You?" quiz - all the characters come from an OWC title.

First try through the quiz I'm Lady Bracknell from The Importance of Being Earnest - yipes!

Second try, I get to be Emma from Emma. Much better!

Third time round, I wind up as Moll Flanders. Oh dear.

The fourth time, I get Alice from Alice in Wonderland. This is kind of fun (the questions are a little lame and there's only five).

Emulating Garfield

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday; the new laptop and I were disagreeing as to whether or not to sync my PDA. I won but then had to dash off to work.

I don't really hate Mondays; it's just that Monday signifies the resumption of tedium that is the work week.

I'm writing letters today and if my mother ever reads this she would laugh herself silly. I'm a terrible correspondent so I'm hoping that if I at least start a letter when I'm thinking about it then I'm more likely to finish it. Besides, I have really nice notecards, envelopes, and pens that are going to waste.

I've been reading The Castle of Otranto and it goes by pretty fast. A number of plot elements seem a bit recycled - a long-lost baby of noble birth, a ghost set on revenge, a scheming father, damsels in distress, etc. It also makes for a slightly confusing read because the eighteenth-century writing style doesn't include quotation marks or the convention of starting a new paragraph when a different character speaks. Everything can jumble together if you're not careful. I also kept thinking of Mozart's Don Giovanni while I was reading; the plots aren't directly similar but seem to follow the same elemental guidelines. Giovanni is just cooler though; it's hard to beat walking-talking-statues-from-hell.

15 November 2008

A dying art

I went grocery shopping today (half done, I got all the NewPi stuff just have to get basics still from Hy-Vee). I have a love-hate relationship with the grocery store. I work a lot so I have a hard time getting to the store in the first place; I also hate to go when it's busy because all the people just get in my way. On the other hand, I love picking out yummy apples, different cheeses and pastas, and having food in my house is definitely a bonus over having to pick up something for every meal.

I have a bone to pick with the grocery sackers, though. My father worked his way through college as a bag boy for the local greengrocer so I know exactly how to pack a load of groceries. No one lets you sack your own groceries - even when I shoo the sacker off they always hang around. I don't know why. Every single one is really terrible; they can't get the refrigerated/frozen things together, they never notice that I bring my own canvas bags, they put glass jars in with the bananas and eggs, and generally make a jumble out of everything.

Grocery sacking must be a dying art.

14 November 2008

Fun words

One of the things that keeps my research job interesting is the vocabulary. Being in the medical field I see all sorts of interesting words that you just don't use everyday.

Such as phlegmon - an acute suppurative inflammation affecting the subcutaneous connective tissue. Translation: a really nasty, smelly, draining infection of the tissue lying between the skin and muscle.

13 November 2008

Proust Questionnaire

I've been hearing a lot about the "Proust Questionnaire" lately - apparently the Olsen twins did a version in their new book so Proust it getting some play. I've never seen the questions in this questionnaire because a) I hadn't heard of it before (my experience reading Proust is limited) and b) I am not hip enough to read Vanity Fair (which has a "Proust Questionnaire" on their back page in ever issue). So I looked up the Vanity Fair version.

Pfft. Olsen twins. I am way more interesting than the Olsen twins.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A good dinner, good conversation, a good book, and a good snuggle before bed.
2. What is your greatest fear?
That one day I will wake up and I'll be the crazy, lonely old lady who wears athletic socks with sandals and owns too many cats (considering that I consider the sock/sandal combination one of the seminal fashion faux pas, that would be bad).
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
5. Which living person do you most admire?
Perri Klass
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
I buy tons of books - I read fast, but not that fast, so they are starting to pile up. You know that Erasmus quote? Yeah, that's me.
7. What is your current state of mind?
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
9. On what occasion do you lie?
If you think your outfit/hairstyle/fill-in-the-blank rocks, I will probably not dissuade you of this notion, even if I think you look like a barrel with appendages.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I will always be zaftig, even when I'm skinny.
11. Which living person do you most despise?
Hmmm, well, I would have to say an ex-boyfriend who thought that being a stalker was an attractive quality.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Dude" and the F-bomb in all its incarnations.
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I don't think I've experienced that yet - I'm still waiting.
16. When and where were you happiest?
Walking through the stile to meet my friend Kate at the train station in Cardiff - I travelled by myself, internationally, and got through immigration at Heathrow and onto a train at Paddington Station without losing anything, including myself. I was really proud - and I got to visit Kate!
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the piano beautifully - you know, at the level requiring a nine-foot concert grand. I can play but, to quote Elizabeth Bennet "very ill."
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I need more calm - I'm such a frazzle most days.
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have an advanced degree, that I never planned on getting, but I am very respected for what I do with that degree.
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A well-loved housecat (that's what my Grandmother Margaret wanted to come back as, too).
21. Where would you most like to live?
Well, I kind of like where I live now....but I wouldn't be opposed to living in the British Isles.
22. What is your most treasured possession?
A tie between my copy of Winnie-the-Pooh (given to my by my Grandmother Margaret), my honeybee quilt (made for me by my Great Aunt Lillie), or my two cats, Chaucer and Dante (who I'm sure think they own me).
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The third rejection letter from the University of Iowa College of Medicine; I cried for days and it still hurts, seven years later.
24. What is your favorite occupation?
Reading. Or dancing. Or knitting. Or reading....
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
I am extremely direct; beating-around-the-bush is not really in my make-up.
26. What do you most value in your friends?
Their humor.
27. Who are your favorite writers?
Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, AA Milne, Judy Blume, Jasper Fforde, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, AS Byatt, Willa Cather, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
Thursday Next - she does it all!
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Alice Roosevelt Longworth
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
My Great-Aunt Lillie, a brilliant woman who was never allowed to go to college (boo on that great-grandpa but she kept learning - for proof ask my father, who was amazed that she could help him with his college calculus and physics homework even though she never learned more than trigonometry in school; she could also do the crossword puzzle in ink - no mistakes).
31. What are your favorite names?
Margaret, Ann, Lillie, Christopher Robin
32. What is it that you most dislike?
People who can't seem to behave themselves in public.
33. What is your greatest regret?
Sometimes I feel like I missed out on my dreams, the ones I had when I was graduating high school, even though I'm successful and grateful for my achievements now that I'm thirty.
34. How would you like to die?
In my sleep, in my own bed, after a good long life filled with family and friends.
35. What is your motto?
A combination of “Dance as though no one is watching, Love as though you've never been hurt, Sing as though no one can hear you, Live as though heaven is on earth” (Souza) and "I read banned books - got a problem with that?"

In knitting news, I finished my slouchy beret. It's really cute! Now I have to finish my red variegated scarf.

Is there a curse around this place?

So Thursday's headline: UI Prof Accused of Harrassment Found Dead

What the hell? Is it in the water? Harrass your female students, get turned in, cause a lot of problems, then commit suicide?

This is the second one in less than six months. Arthur Miller was in August, Mark Weiger this week.

12 November 2008

Something different

Tonight while waiting for the bus an elderly gentleman was singing to himself in Arabic. It was very nice.

Much better than the crazy person the other day who kept muttering about aliens.

Existential Wednesday

Chaucer decided to have an existential crisis this morning.

First, he got stuck under the futon which wasn't so bad until he didn't want to be there anymore and cried to have me come and get him out (which makes me wonder why it is that cats don't like to back up - he would have been able to get out OK but he didn't want to back up). Then he ran around the apartment like kitty-cat-on-meth. Then he crawled up on top of the kitchen cabinets, yowled until he got my attention, and then pretended that he was going to jump from the cabinets to the floor - that freaked me out because it's a good ten feet to the floor - but decided not to and proceeded to have a bath up there. Then he got down and picked a fight with Dante, who was napping and didn't appreciate being pounced. Then he bit my ankle (which is a no-no) and when I scolded him he rolled over on his back to get his tunny rubbed. Then he ran around, crawled into my lap (I was watching the news), and passed out in a purry, furry heap.

I'm now at work having my own existential crisis - I'm not here so please don't come bother me.

It occurs to me I used "then" a little too much in this post. Oh, well.

Current book-in-progress: Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books by Margaret Willes
Current knitted item: Slouchy beret - it's really pretty (and about half done)!
Current movie obsession: I haven't watched anything lately.
Current iTunes loop: Sarah Brightman Winter Symphony

11 November 2008

A good start to the day

I got good use out of my "Satan-thinks-naughty-children-taste-good-with-BBQ-sauce" glare today. Someone's kid was reaching up underneath the glass of the display case at Panera to finger the pastries (four-ish/five-ish years old kid, so old enough to know to keep your hands to yourself). I caught her eye - she kind of attached herself to her mom's pantleg really fast after that.

Sometimes you just don't have to say anything. Just wish "Satan-thinks-naughty-mommies-taste-good-with-BBQ-sauce" worked on the moms as well.

10 November 2008

Packages are a nice surprise

When I got home today I found that the mailman had left a package from BNBC. Surprise! I wasn't expecting anything. Turns out the editors sent me two of the books for my group - but I already have them. Uh-oh.

I got my slouchy beret started. It's not going to knit up very fast because of all the cabling, but it is pretty. I need to get that and my red-variegated scarf done because it's COLD out!!

In other random thoughts/events, people who read books in the bookstore and damage them (i.e. break spines, tear pages, etc) SUCK! It's really hard to sell a book to a customer with a big crease going down the spine from some craptabulous customer who just wanted to look at the pictures of some serial killer. Also, if you're a "poor college student" why are you calling the bookstore and asking if we have an expensive text-book in stock? We aren't a public or research library. We expect our books to be purchased not "borrowed" - "poor college students" really need to go to the UI Main Library and either check the volume out or ask the librarians to obtain the volume through inter-library loan.

08 November 2008

Knitting Day!

I made today a knitting day because I needed a day of "finish-itis" not "start-itis" - but it had an inauspicious start. I hit up the LYS after fighting my way through the psycho Hawkeye-Nittany Lions fans (football game started at 2:30pm) so I could reach the other side of town. I got yarn to make a slouchy hat for myself (because I always have trouble due to the fact that I usually have my hair pinned up in the winter) and I got some more sock yarn. Noro has sock yarn, go figure!

I also got some Eucalan to send with my secret items.

After I got home from my bookstore shift I sat my little self down in front of the television and did what I do best - knit while watching college football. I had two choices - Okie State vs. Texas Tech or Notre Dame vs. Boston College. I really don't care about the Big 12 outcomes but I have no love for Notre Dame so I settled down to knit like a demon and watch BC pound ND into the ground.

I finished my yellow secret item (came out looking pretty nice, finally), seamed up the test for a brimmed cap (which must have a pattern error because the underside of the brim is longer than the top - it looks like of stupid so I'm not going to make a nice version) and knit a couple of inches on my variegated scarf. Tomorrow I'll start my cap - I got some pretty white Cashmerino.

Oh, and the Hawkeyes won. 24-23 over the #3 Penn State Nittany Lions - first win over a top 5 team since 1990. Hot damn.

07 November 2008

It's Friday - what should I write about?

Let me see....

I had to make an appearance on a conference call for the boss and was reminded once again that her vacation schedule is really unique (apparently, no other PIs go for a month's vacation). On the plus side, the call was really short because we're T-minus 12 weeks until we stop enrollment at our site. Minus side: I knit while on conference calls so I only got two rows done.

Glenn, our IT wizard/general lifesaver, installed a second monitor on my computer. Now I can have two windows up at once! Ahhhh, ease at data-entry. Unfortunately, this does not make the tedium of data-entry any less boring.

It is currently snowing, or at least there is minimal precipitation that looks a bit like snow. Tranlsation: everyone will drive like it's 75F and sunny then get into a car accident.

I was thwarted in my attempt to get Dance Gala tickets for the performance tonight. This was due to two things. First, the summer flood has pretty much ruined Hancher's use as a performance venue for about 18 months so the performances were increased to six (from two) to make up for the difference in number of seats in the Space/Place venue but it falls short of the usual number of available tickets. Second, I called the IMU Box Office several times every day last week in an attempt to reserve tickets - all I ever got was the outgoing message even though I called a different times of the day during their posted business hours. Today I called and spoke to a "real person" - alas, no tickets left. This is obviously good for the Dance Department (merde, guys) but bad for me. I guess I'll have to wait to see if the Big Ten Network will air a tape of the performance.

I am tired and grumpy because I had to stay an hour late at work putting up new displays. This was compounded by having to watch the new employees, who pretty much lack any self-motivation AT ALL, screw up. Is it really neccessary that I have to tell someone who is legally considered an adult to go do the job he is currently being paid to do instead of stand around like a waste of space? The store looked like crap because none of them actually picked up anything. Bonus: the new guy covering my information shift (because I was assigned to set up holiday displays) demonstrated that he was a stupid git by not understanding what a customer was asking for; the customer, who spoke with a slight Arabic accent and happens to be one of our nicer customers, was looking for three books, all of which are very popular - after listening to said git ask four times how to spell Zakaria I just went and got all three books for the customer and glared at said git (said git is also rumored to have cried on his first day because he was late - if he continues to jack around I'll give him something to cry about).

And finally, due to HIPPA constraints, I cannot tell you about the surgical case that had me in stitches (pun) while I was doing surveillance. I will only say that someone is eligible for an honorary Darwin Award.

Current book-in-progress: The Post-American World and The Shock Doctrine
Current knitted item: The yellow secret item is not done because I made another mistake; I think the yellow yarn hates me because the blue secret item only took me a day to knit.
Current movie obsession: This is probably sacrilege but the only things I'm finding funny about Clerks anymore are Jay and Silent Bob (even though Jay needs to be kicked in the balls) and the opening sequence with the sheet, shoe polish, and newspaper stealing. Dammit, I grew up.
Current iTunes loop: One Night in Bangkok (Vinylshakerz Remix)

06 November 2008

Public Transportation Etiquette

For all those people who somehow managed to escape kindergarten without learning basic rules of public behavior, let me give you a little lesson about how to behave on the public transportation system (which in my case means the bus, but this is applicable to subways and commuter trains as well).

1. Have your fare ready. If you don't have your fare or pass out, please step aside to let others board while you dig in your pockets.
2. Please seat yourself quickly. Don't stand in the middle of the aisle when there are seats in the back. The aisle is narrow and we can't get past you.
3. Once you are seated please don't take up more than one seat (unless you don't fit into just one). Lounging and putting your feet on the seats makes less room for other passengers.
4. Please keep your conversation to yourself. This includes both cell phone and in-person conversations. If your companion is sitting next to you then you shouldn't need to yell at one another; if you are not sitting close, please don't shout up and down the carriage. If you're yelling into your cell phone continue the conversation at another time.
5. Bring your headphones for your personal audio device. Do you really want everyone else to know that you have terrible taste?
6. If you are with small children, please discipline them. We none of us like to have your child kick us repeatedly throughout the ride.
7. If you are under the age of 18, and riding alone, keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself.
8. Please practice good personal hygiene. No one likes to ride next to someone who smells like decaying roadkill and who might also be harboring lice and fleas. Don't pick your nose, either.
9. Please exit off the back of the bus. The only time you would need to exit through the front is if the bus is packed or if you have a mobility issue (i.e. wheelchair) and need to use the lift. Being lazy is not a mobility issue.

Now that the lesson for the day is over, I would like to say that my new internal antenna N-network router is amazing. I have been able to use my laptop while in other parts of my apartment without losing the wireless connection. Just a note for others who have feline housemates - don't get a router with an external antenna; I had to replace mine because there were chew marks all over it and I'm assuming that's why I had trouble getting a decent signal.

I managed to reverse the idea that pulling me off surveillance was a good idea. I convinced my boss that surveillance was more important because it was so far behind, like six months behind. So they're going to hire a biostats person for the analysis and I'm full-steam ahead on the surveillance (I have another 4 days done). And then the boss departed for Europe, not return until December. Except now I have to take care of an IRB application that mysteriously came due this week after she left.

Current book-in-progress: The Castle of Otranto, The Post-American World, and The Shock Doctrine
Current knitted item: yellow secret item is almost done
Current movie obsession: Clerks but I'm not finding it as funny as the first time
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting (there are a lot of episodes to go through)


I love juicy gossip. The post-election kind is kind of funny in a "why-do-grown-adults-who-wanted-to-be-President-act-like-bitchy-teenagers" way.

05 November 2008

They always come in threes

My grandmother always believed that deaths occur in threes (I'm not sure where the sentiment came from because she wasn't overly-superstitious).

Well, the AP reported today that Michael Crichton died of cancer at the age of 66.

That makes three with Studs Terkel and Tony Hillerman. Strange.

04 November 2008

I helped make history today, did you?

Who would have thought that back when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1963 that a man of African descent and a non-Northern European name would be elected President of the United States?

It is wonderful. Obama gave an awesome, awesome speech. Anything is possible.

I cried.

A Little Shakespeare Shelving Lesson

For the little shelvers at the store who can't quite seem to handle shelving the Shakespeare books correctly, here's a little primer.

Shakespeare is generally divided into two parts: commentary and plays (no, sonnets and poems are NOT plays, they go in 'Poetry'). Within each section the books are arranged by title. What that means is the plays are NOT arranged by publisher just because it looks prettier - put them in order by title (and yes, that means the Henrys go in order IV Part I, IV Part II, V, VI Part I, VI Part II, and VI Part III).

For reference, see "Alphabetization of the English Language."

Why didn't I find this earlier?

I've found a hilarious new site (via an article in the NYTimes "Papercuts" blog). Go check out http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/ because it is very funny and Kerry just published a book of the blog entries.

03 November 2008

Why is it always me?

So I'm not completely sold out - the boss forgot to talk to me about pausing surveillance to do the analysis, which is for a clinical department dataset so at least that keeps the money going in the same direction. If I had as many meetings as she does I might lose my mind, too, some days.

The bean counters get very itchy about mixing clinical money/projects and research money/projects.

The reason why I would be temporarily pulled is because I have the best skill set to do the job - meaning I'm the only one around that can program, run, and analyze data using the statistical package and is currently on the clinical department payroll, even for only four hours a week.

Which leads me to wonder why it's always me? Why am I the only one who can get the job done when required even though there are however many other people who work in this division and technically have the same degree that I do? You start to feel like the department bicycle after a while.

Oh dear, NaBloPoMo

November crept up again and I forgot about National Blog Posting Month (not to be confused with National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo). So I'm about two days down to start. Rats.

So in work news, I think I might have been sold out by my boss. I'm not sure (this is my real job, not the bookstore job). The department where I have my office in the hospital, not the College of Medicine department that owns my soul, has contracted with me for four hours per week of infection control surveillance. Mostly surgical site because that's pretty far behind. Today one of the ICPs mentioned that I would be stopping surgical site surveillance to do some analysis for a crani/bone flap study. Huh? We had research meeting not five minutes before that and not one thing was said about me switching to that - considering that the clinical department is paying me to do four hours per week of stuff for them. And surgical site surveillance is stuff for them.

I need to talk to the boss ASAP before the woman leaves for four weeks' vacation in Europe.

See next post for update on situation.