Archive for August, 2011

How will you remember?

I was just barely awake when my roomie came in from her morning trip to the dorm bathroom on that Tuesday morning. I didn’t have to get up yet; my physics lab wasn’t for a few hours, but I could tell there was some sort of buzz going on around our floor. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. We halfheartedly sat through physics lab that morning. In my Calculus 3 class, we were supposed to have a quiz, but we couldn’t do anything but watch the TV that was in the room as it showed the same video, over and over and over again, of a plane flying right into the side of the World Trade Center. Events were cancelled, including the football game for the following Saturday; nobody knew if the stadium full of people might be a target for some other devious scheme. People lined up at gas stations in fear that there might not be any to be had in a day or two. People flocked to churches for the first time in a long time. Everyone called their moms to tell them they were okay.

I can’t believe that was almost ten years ago now. For one, I can’t believe it’s been that long since I was a sophomore in college. A lot has happened in my life since then. I went from a rather clueless student doing my homework and playing guitar, not thinking much about world events, to finally figuring out a few years ago that I really should pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Regardless of who you are, it’s undeniable that this has changed how we live and how we think about things.

It’s a week and a half until the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. It’s only now starting to sink in that this is coming up quickly. There’s an increasing amount of TV coverage and advertisements about specials being aired about it. There are events planned and vigils to be held. Since it’s a Sunday, there will likely be some sort of commemoration during our church service. But what will I personally do or think that day to remember?

I could remember where I was, what I did that day. I could spend a lot of time in prayer, asking for strength for the families who lost loved ones and for guidance for our nation, for her to stand strong in her beliefs and values. Maybe I’ll watch something on TV. But over the coming week and a half, I really do want to think about it, to ponder what it means for me and for us as a nation, to see it in perspective and in the context of the events of a decade. Then, when it’s over, I plan to get back to my normal routine, knowing that things aren’t the same, but we certainly don’t let the enemy win over us…we keep forging ahead and holding on unfaltering to what we believe.


Public Transportation

This morning I rode the bus into work for the first time in quite a while. As a student, a bus pass is included in my student fees, and that allows me to ride the extensive local and regional bus system all school year for free (or, more accurately, at no additional cost, since I did “pay” for it out of the student fees). I can buy one for myself during the summer months, but I didn’t do that this year, so I’ve been without one since May until just a few weeks ago.

My house is about 13 miles from work, and it takes me half an hour to drive. It’s not a terrible drive, but it is on side roads, not the highway, and there is quite a bit of traffic, especially now that school is back in session. Plus, drivers around here are incredibly rude and obnoxious, and I really get tired of putting up with their crap. Therefore, riding the bus is a nice alternative–I can sit back, relax, read or knit while someone else deals with getting me to work. The down side is that it takes at least twice as long from the time I leave my house to when I arrive at work, so I have to leave a bit earlier.

It’s also invaluable if I need to run up to campus or into Boulder proper for anything; the university and most everything of interest in town is just up the same street as my work, and parking is very difficult otherwise.

However, the most useful reason to ride the bus is to avoid driving during a winter snowstorm when the roads get bad. The short trip to the bus stop isn’t as highly trafficked, and some days DH will drive me there and pick me up in his 4WD. I would much rather let the bus driver negotiate snow-packed roads than risk an insurance nightmare if my car hit another one, regardless who was at fault. And the way people here drive in the winter like they are invincible in their precious Subaru…well, don’t get me started. All I can say is that, while four wheel drive will help you get going on snow or ice, it isn’t going to do a DANG THING when you try to stop. Friction, people….take a physics class or something. Sheesh.

ANYway. I have two options for riding the bus. There’s one that comes to the corner of my neighborhood. It takes me between five and ten minutes to walk to that stop; then, once I get on that bus, I have to transfer to another bus to take me directly to work. I’ve done that a couple of times, but each time I do, I remember why I say I’m not ever going to do that again. It just seems to take forever. My other alternative, as I alluded to above, is to drive about four miles to a Park-n-Ride and catch a bus that drops me off directly in front of the lab. This is what I normally do when I ride the bus. It takes less time to drive down there and wait than it would to walk to my nearest stop plus the time to wait for a transfer later down the route. Plus, if I need to stop at the grocery store on the way home, I already have my car in town to do so.

Since my pass is essentially paid for, I get a win on gas if I ride at all. If you have to pay for your own bus pass, then there’s definitely a threshold to cross for it to be worth it, especially since time is money, too, so to speak. If I take advantage of the time to do things I would normally do at other times, then that isn’t such a big deal, either, particularly when I am driving and can’t do anything else at that time, either.

One big downside to the bus is that it’s extraordinarily crowded at peak times in the mornings and evenings. Lots of people commute from the ‘burbs for two big reasons: 1. it’s very expensive to live right in Boulder, and you can buy a much nicer, newer, and bigger place a few miles out, and 2. parking downtown and at the university is non-existent unless you want to pay a fortune. So, as the bus drives through the  surrounding areas, it picks up quite a few older commuters. Then, when we get in town, college students get on in droves. At our first stop in Boulder this morning, there were literally at lest 20 college kids that got on just at that one stop. They were standing in the aisle all the way up to campus. I realize that’s just part of riding the bus…you ride it with other people. However, since I get off just before the campus, it can be quite difficult to crawl over everyone to get out. When I leave in the evenings, the bus can already be quite crowded with college students, and sometimes I am the one standing for a while until enough people exit at their destination for me to take a seat.

All in all, despite a few downsides, the bus is a nice alternative if I have a little extra time in the mornings and evenings to spare for it. If I get up too late or have something I need to do right after work, particularly if I need the car to drive somewhere, then I just pass for the day and am happy to drive myself. But I think the amount of stress that I don’t put myself through by driving in traffic or in the snow will probably add days to my life, maybe weeks! That certainly seems worth it to me.

Being a responsible working adult today

It’s Monday again, which seems to happen every week without fail. DH and I had a great weekend hanging out with his mom. We did some shopping, including our first trip to Ikea in Denver. Of the three of us, only I had been to one before, so it was even more of an eye-opening event for them. The place is still crazy busy even having been open for a month. There is even a 150-person parking crew hired from a private special events company to help with the flow of traffic. Ikea is certainly an experience like no other, but I think we all had a good time and were entertained by it, if a little overwhelmed at times. Plus we got some ridiculously cheap wooden clothes hangers for our closet and a ninety-nine cent mouse pad for the church office for less than ten bucks. That’s definitely a cheap activity.

I wanted to take today off and hang out with DH and his mom some more, but I kind of had to come into work for a meeting to discuss the results of our measurements from last week. I also have violin lessons this afternoon and wouldn’t be able to go out of town for the whole day anyway, so I just decided I’d be a responsible working adult and do the normal Monday thing. Maybe I can take off after lunch Friday to start my long weekend a bit early. We’ll see how that goes.

I will have a better idea of my Goal of the Week after my aforementioned meeting this morning. We will assess the results of my measurements and see what our next step should be, and I’ll probably get started on that either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

At home, I haven’t even begun to think of a goal. I’m seriously considering “being lazy” as my goal for the week, as I think this week will finally be a bit calmer after the last two. Okay, I don’t actually want to be lazy, but I definitely want to take my normal routine at a much more relaxed pace. The only other thing on the agenda is shopping for a particular item that DH and I are interested in purchasing. I’ve done a lot of research online, but we might actually have some time to go look at one in person this week or over the long weekend.

Yes, the long weekend….as I keep alluding to, next Monday is Labor Day, the last hurrah of the summer! I’m very much looking forward to the day off plus a weekend with no plans to finally play some catch-up. This will be my reward for making it through this coming week. 🙂

An interesting, productive, tiring, and exciting week

I’m sitting down now to plot up some data in Excel, and then I’m done for the week. The week has actually gone pretty fast, and I’ve been very grateful for the motivation I’ve had to do these measurements. I spent a lot of time in the lab and my feet and brain hurt, but at least that experiment is done. There’s still plenty more to go, though. While I’m happy it’s Friday, I’m not as desperately dependent on 5:00 as I normally am. Maybe that’s because it’s only 2:30 now and I’ll change my tune in an hour or so. 😉

This morning we had lab clean-up day, which was a little boring for me as I already cleaned my areas two weeks ago before our visitor got here. But I was able to help some other people while we all listened to Led Zeppelin from the lab computer. For lunch, our whole group went out to bid farewell to my fellow student who just graduate last week. It’s sad to see people go; even if they stay close (as these last two graduates have), you still never really see them anymore. But it’s exciting for them to start a new chapter of their lives in the “real world.”

Tonight DH and I are having dinner with some old friends and some new acquaintances. This couple just moved here for the husband to, coincidentally, go to grad school in physics. They’ve been at church the last couple of weeks, so we’re hoping to get to know each other better and hopefully make another set of friends, which is always nice.

DH’s mom is coming tomorrow and will be visiting us for a couple of days. I think we’ll have a nice time, and I’m looking forward to it. However, many of the things I would normally wait to get done on the weekend have to be seen to beforehand or pushed off to next weekend. As I suspected on Monday, this did make this week quite busy and a little stressful, though still better than last week. My two meager free evenings got quickly eaten up by activities, so I wasn’t sure I was going to get the things done that I needed to do, particularly the house cleaning items. However, I chipped away at it in spare moments and have gotten almost all of it done. I even cleaned the bathrooms this morning before work…I felt like I accomplished a lot before the day even began! I’ve also been concerned for a friend, probably one of the healthiest people I know, who’s now fighting off a tough autoimmune issue in the hospital. DH and I felt the need to minister to the family, but we just didn’t have a moment to do so this week. However, she might be there a few more weeks, so we’ll be able to visit or help out in the future if needed.

So with everything that’s been going on, it’s been an interesting, eventful, productive, tiring, and exciting week all at the same time. But I’m glad with how it turned out, and I hope that next week will be a good one, too.


You always see something new

Last night, a large group of us from work went to a baseball game together. The Rockies were playing the Astros in what turned out to be a pretty crazy game.

First, there were at least four stolen bases during the entire game; there were probably one or two more, but I lost track after about the fifth inning. That’s a pretty unusual number. Also, there were maybe three or four plays at the bag where runners were called safe when they should have been out. This was due to some poor fielding, not really bad calls from the umpires. The in-fielders on both teams had some bad plays with three total errors on the night.

While the infield umpires made okay calls on crazy plays, the home plate umpire had quite a variable strike zone throughout the whole game. The radio announcers, whom DH and I listen to quite often, are usually very diplomatic when critiquing the umpires on the field. Usually there’s no comment; if the calling is a little iffy, they might just say something like, “well, Umpire X calls that same slider in the dirt for a strike for the third time tonight.” Last night, the announcers were so put out with the calls that they specifically pointed out how inconsistent it was. That definitely said a lot about how bad it was. But the Rockies prevailed nonetheless!

Probably the most unique thing I saw at the game was in the top of the eighth inning. The Astros brought in a relief pitcher to pitch to the first batter. After he got that batter out, the manager took the pitcher and put him in right field to bring in another relief pitcher. That second pitcher threw specifically to the next batter; I guess the LH vs. RH matchup was better for that pitcher? At any rate, he got his batter. Then, he was removed from the game, and relief pitcher number one, still available to play since he was still on the field, came in for the third batter, against whom the manager evidently thought he would be best against. This was a unique way around the rule where you use a player once and can’t put him back in when you take him out. The way the Rockies’ manager goes through relief pitchers, maybe he could take a page out of this guys book once in a while. 😉

Baseball is such a simple game, yet can be so complex. One of the most exciting things about it is that you never know when you’ll see history being made when you watch a game.

A garden update

In the past week or so, we’ve gotten a few more things out of the garden. There’s been more squash, of course, part of which I used in a nice, big casserole for a dinner at church last week. There’s also a strange Siamese squash growing now, like two squash in one. Our squash plant is a total monster, and it’s trying to overtake one of my tomato plants, but I dare not disturb either one of them. I just wish it had started growing the other direction where there were no other plants. Ah well.

I also have harvested tons of tomatoes, which is very exciting (and by tons I mean a couple of pounds so far). Our tomato production in previous years has been paltry at best, but this year we finally have enough to do something with! In fact, last night for dinner I made spaghetti sauce from scratch using all the tomatoes I’ve been collecting the last couple of weeks (they are small, so it took a few). It turned out pretty well, very light and fresh. I sauteed garlic and onion in olive oil, then added some salt, a little more olive oil, and the peeled and chopped tomatoes and let it simmer/boil for, oh, maybe twenty minutes or so. My tomatoes are a bit watery, so I needed to let it reduce a bit. Finally I added some oregano and then some fresh basil at the end and served with fresh angel hair pasta. Voila! Home-made from my own tomatoes, and, with the exception of the olive oil and salt, it’s conceivable one could make this entire sauce directly from their own garden.

Our pinto beans, so beset by bunnies earlier in the season, are now producing pods! That’s very exciting, though I was disappointed in the small number of plants that came up from seed this spring. I couldn’t figure out why we got such a poor yield, but I’m thankful for the ones I have, especially since they got munched on by bunnies for many weeks before we got a perimeter fence up. Likewise on the black-eyed peas; even fewer of those plants came up. But I’m happy for the few survivors anyway.

Finally, I’m planting more spinach and chard for a late summer/fall crop. They do very well and are even frost tolerant, so I can harvest stuff from the garden well into the end of the year. As the rest of the garden plants run their course, I can replace them with greens, too. I’m curious to see if I can sustain myself on greens for some amount of time, be it a couple of days or a couple of weeks. I go through a fair amount eating a green smoothie and a salad almost every day, so we’ll see how it goes!

Stepping back a little

Things are relatively back to normal this week after our guest researcher has departed, though he did leave some diodes here for us to work with on our own. This morning, boss, cohort, and I discussed our next steps for measurements, and I pondered the situation for a while. A few minutes after our meeting, I went back to my boss’ office and volunteered to step back a little from our gung-ho measurements and do some basic characterization of the devices, which we hadn’t done last week. I felt like we’d jumped head first into getting the results we wanted without setting the appropriate groundwork, so for my own sanity and for all of our information I felt that going back just a little would be helpful for everyone. My boss heartily agreed, and this morning he helped me get that measurement set up. I guess that means my goal of the week is to see how far I get on those measurements. They aren’t difficult, but with the number of separate devices we have combined with multiple possible operating voltages for each and two separate lasers, I could easily drown in the combinations. I will have to just pick a few places to measure and hope it makes a good representative picture of the overall performance.

On Saturday, I went on a run, took the dog for a walk, and dusted the house. If you happen to see pigs flying this week, this is why…none of those three items happens more than once in a blue moon, and all three together–well, we could be on the verge of veritable apocalypse or something. On Sunday, we had the event that I had been organizing after church. It went well, but I am incredibly grateful that it’s over now. With that done and work back to normal, I can focus a little more on some things I need to do at home. There are three or four house cleaning items that I have been putting off or just keep getting pushed back, so I want to be intentional to get those done. I also have a craft project that’s half done, and it would behoove me to take care of that as well since the associated materials and supplies are strewn about the living area. I don’t want to get too optimistic as I only have two free evenings this week, but we’ll see how far I get.

So it appears to be shaping up for a less stressful yet still quite busy week. Hopefully it’ll be productive on all counts!