Archive for May, 2011

Jigsaw puzzles

Well, it’s back to work after a nice long weekend. This week at work I want to focus on planning and preparing for our visitor who is coming again in July. We will be doing extended measurements then, and since we now have some idea of the setup required to make these measurements, I will spend some time making the setup efficient. This seriously takes up almost half the time of a scientist. When every extra microwave or optical connection or extra meter of cable can distort your signal, one has to give particular care to how necessary components are assembled and connected, especially when measuring such precise time and frequency quantities. A lot of times it can turn into quite the jigsaw puzzle, screwing and unscrewing components, but fortunately I love jigsaw puzzles. This kind of efficient organization is my forte, and if the physics thing ever falls through, maybe I can find a satisfying career as a professional organizer.

At home, our shower project is going full steam ahead. Mom and Dad should be here tomorrow, and then we’ll assess the situation and decide how to proceed with demolition and reconstruction. I may take a few hours off of work later in the week if I need to help shop for supplies, but I doubt I will be needed for labor during the day. Maybe Dad and DH will do all the dirty work and Mom and I can supervise and provide meals to the laborers. Sounds like a fair trade to me.

Best of all, the weather is going to be awesome this week!! It will be just about perfect by my estimation…three days of mid-80s, just enough time for me to bake until “done,” and then a cool off to the mid-70s for the rest of the week, because even I can get tired of prolonged dry heat (I can take a lot of it, though…I much prefer to be hot than cold!). The skies are blue again, too; while I absolutely appreciate the rain we’ve had, I definitely wasn’t doing well with two weeks of dreary weather and cloudy skies. A little mix of everything is just right. It seems that it is with weather as it is with almost everything in my life…all things in moderation.

 

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Memorial Day

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! DH and I don’t have big plans, but we think we’re going to have an enjoyable weekend nonetheless, featuring dinner with friends, dog-sitting, and possibly a trip to the natural science museum. I also have a list of to-dos around the house–nothing too onerous, but a few small tasks that need to just be done already. And, if my mom is coming in the near future, that means it’s time to start Operation Deep Clean! There are definitely nooks and crannies I neglect dusting until she’s coming. 😉

However, lest we get caught up in the usual fun and amusement of a three-day weekend, it’s important to remember what exactly Memorial Day means. This is the time we specifically honor those who have died in military service to the United States of America. I am foremost of those who completely take for granted the reasons for the civil holidays we observe throughout the year. Working in a government agency has somewhat spoiled me in this regard; I am always checking the calendar to see when the next federal holiday is so I don’t have to go in. And while I’m not sure how to reverently observe Washington’s birthday, per se, (although any birthday is a great excuse for cake) I do think I ought to pay a whole lot more attention to these days that have a lot more serious connotation to them.

So, will you join me in celebrating Memorial Day a little more meaningfully this year? While we are enjoying our time off on Monday, let’s be sure to set aside some time to remember those who died so we could have the freedom to enjoy these amusements and other blessings. Maybe we could say a prayer of thanks–and it wouldn’t hurt to intercede for those in our nation who have lost everything to disaster in the last two months, either. Times are tough, but they could definitely be tougher, and we ought to appreciate what we have a whole lot more!

Progress for 101-in-1001 project

Back in March, I posted about the 101-in-1001 list that DH and I made. Basically, it’s a list of 101 things we’d like to do in the next 1001 days (just under three years). I thought I’d give an update of some of the fun things we’ve accomplished since starting our list on February 17.

We seem to be excelling in the area of food goals…we’ve already knocked off three of our seven restaurants to try and have made two of our more complicated recipes we wanted to try. DH made gumbo while I was out of town (not a coincidence), and I baked eclairs for a party a few weeks ago (so other people could eat them all instead of just me!). I’m still looking forward to other food-related items such as making ravioli, decorating a cake, and making a meal entirely out of food that we’ve hunted and grown ourselves.

Another category on our list is “making things,” and we’ve had quite a few projects come to completion recently. I finished knitting a baby blanket for a cousin (one baby down, but three more to go who are due this year!). DH finished our amazing entertainment center for our TV. He did such a great job! We were also very grateful to my dad for giving lots of help and pointers.

We also wrote down that wanted to play fantasy baseball sometime, so we started that this season. I could start a whole new blog about my frustrations with my line-up. Why are my pitchers suddenly amassing ERAs of 45.0 from terrible innings? Why have my batters only hit 1/17 so far today? Why do all of my good players get hurt? While it’s fun to keep up with the game, baseball does have one loooong season…

Unfortunately, we have yet to cross anything off our travel list (too bad, those are some of the best ones!). But we are planning one of our travel goals, a trip to southern Colorado, this summer, and I’m really looking forward to that!

Now that it’s getting close to summer, I think we’ll be able to crank out a lot of the fun activities in the coming months, and that should be fun to share! I’ll update again later with some highlights of recent goals achieved.

Showers in the long-term forecast

DH and I are preparing to undertake a pretty significant project at home. Our shower has annoyed me from the moment we bought our house, but it was functional if a little worse for wear for its age, so I just had to live with it. Lately it has been leaking, and instead of just continuing to put a silicon caulk band-aid on it, we are finally going to address the issue and just redo it all.  Thankfully, my mom and dad love to do this kind of stuff and have experience with both showers and tiling, so they will probably come out to help us; otherwise, we’d be much less excited about taking on such a project. The work isn’t bad, but if you don’t get it waterproofed perfectly, it’s only a matter of time before a very expensive disaster.

We’ve already committed by purchasing a new shower base. Of course, I purchased it from the big box store’s website. For some reason, five minutes after submitting my order, I decided to check Craig’s List again. I’d already looked there and decided we’d never, ever find anything in our size much less something that was new instead of old, junky ones people had ripped out of their houses like we intend to do with ours. But, of course, there it was….the EXACT same shower base I had just ordered, brand new, for 30% less than I had paid with shipping. Quite astounding, really. What was also astounding was the blazing speed at which big box store processed and shipped our order–way too fast for me to manage to cancel, otherwise I’d have been dang impressed. At least they have free returns to the store! If the Craig’s List one works out, we will be making use of the generous return policy.

As far as glass goes, I have pretty much decided I am going to shell out the extra cash for a frameless enclosure. I could try to describe to you here the absolute murderous disdain I have for trying to clean shower frames, but I am not sure I could properly convey to you my hatred for them. Framed shower enclosures seem to be purposefully engineered to be biology laboratories for hazardous waste research. My shower door literally has a metal bar with a channel the full width across screwed to the bottom of it. This channel serves no other purpose than to hold water and breed colonies of mold, mildew, and pandemic viruses. Likewise, it is impossible to clean every nook and cranny of the frame surrounding the door. Even an old toothbrush and a q-tip cannot reach every crevice of the frame, but the water gets in and just sits there and festers. Ergo, in order to keep myself from developing high blood pressure and a heart condition every time I try to “clean” the shower, frameless seems like the way to go.

So, this will be one of our biggest home projects, again, not because it’s so difficult to do, but it’s difficult to do right…and any error resulting in leakage will mean an expensive repair down the road. But I am looking forward to the finished result and hope that we end up with something we enjoy and that will also add to the overall value of our home.

Summer research programs

Nothing doing on Saturday (as predicted), so I’m back to work today. Today our annual crop of undergraduate summer research students is getting settled in various groups throughout the building. Our group will be hosting one student, although she is working with someone else in our group, not me. The students will work on projects for about three months during their summer college break and share their research in a final presentation before they leave. I did a couple of these kinds of programs when I was an undergrad, and they can be awesome opportunities for getting research experience before going off to grad school. They look great on a grad school application, too!

While the summer program here is quite elite and prestigious for an undergrad, the programs that I got into were really just average as far as physics goes. The first one I did was at my undergraduate school, so I didn’t even have to move anywhere. It was alright, but I spent all summer in a small office programming visual basic on a teal-blue iMac (remember those??). While kind of light on the physics, I am incredibly grateful for programming experience and learning how to make a poster for presenting my research. However, this was actually the summer when I started hanging out with DH a lot before we started dating… and that totally eclipses anything I could get from any science program anywhere!

The next year I didn’t get accepted anywhere, and I was desperately trying to find something else to do for the summer. I had been offered some weird job selling kitchen knives to poor, unsuspecting folks in their own homes when finally my last-ditch application came through. I was excited that something worked out (I wasn’t excited about being a kitchen knife salesman), but instead of a serious scientific pursuit the program turned out to be one huge party for science and engineering kids for five weeks during the summer. I sat through a lot if interesting talks, but I didn’t get a lot of lab experience, and I spent most of my time talking on the phone with the future-DH and avoiding unwanted attention from other boys.

But overall I’m glad that I got to do two summer programs, regardless of their efficacy. For one, I got a pretty decent stipend, but I did also gain some professional insight as well as life experience from being out on my own. Probably the things I remember most are the relationships I built from being with new people…and isn’t that really what most of the best things in life boil down to?

Since it’s Monday, I do owe you a goal of the week. Probably this week I will be helping my colleague prepare an abstract to submit to a conference this fall. I’d like to go to this conference, but most likely he will be the one going, probably in large part due to the fact that I just went to one and he didn’t. But since he’s presenting our joint work, I will, of course, help him get everything ready! At home, my only real aspiration for the week is to slow cook a pork roast for barbecue sandwiches one day. That’s it. If I do that, I will find the whole week to be a success.

If the roll is called up yonder

I just want to let all of you, my dear readers, know that if indeed the Rapture happens tomorrow, this will evidently be my last post. If any of you are left, would you mind coming to feed my dog? Thanks.

As you have probably heard, there is a pastor somewhere who claims he has calculated the date of the Rapture to be tomorrow, ushering in the End of the World. I’ve only heard about it in the last couple of days through reliable sources such as Facebook and the interet.  Seriously, though. I don’t take these kinds of claims seriously, as the Bible explicitly states that “no one  knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heave, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). To me, someone claiming that they know it is clearly unfounded. Therefore, I have not altered my plans  for the weekend or anything. I could be wrong, but I guess we’ll see. However, even if they are alarmist and not totally Biblical, these kinds of claims do draw our attention to the fact that, indeed, one day the Son will return to this earth–which IS a Biblical fact! Therefore, we would benefit from taking the time to contemplate if we would be prepared if, indeed, it did happen imminently.  And maybe you think it’s all just hokey pokey, but what if it’s true? It’s worth pondering what would be your fate if you were to be “left behind.”

Ok, enough of that. I don’t like to make fun of a serious subject, but I also can’t let a serious subject be misrepresented, either.

So, I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I’ll (most likely??) talk to you on Monday!

Some amazing photographs

Just yesterday I saw this article from The Daily Mail showing some rare color photographs from late Depression-era America. These photos are just stunning. DH and I both commented about the clarity of these pictures, not to mention the fascinating story they tell.

I will link to a few, but you should really check these out, even if you aren’t usually a link-clicker.