Archive for March, 2007

Our Garden is Growing! (well, mostly…)

Great news! We planted about 15 bushes and a tree last fall, and all except for 1 seem to be growing this spring! Yes! Take, for example, the flowering pear tree below. Now we’ll just cross our fingers that the tree and bushes fill in quickly so that we don’t have to keep staring at the parking lot for the apartments next door. Also, then the indian woman and baby that live next door won’t continue to stare over the fence at us (it creeps us out a little). I always want to say hi or something, but I suspect that she doesn’t speak English.

Living Tree

We do have another tree, however, that looks to be about 1/2 dead (some branches are growing, others, not so much). Any clue as to what the problem might be? I suspect the black spots on the trunk have something to do with it.

Not-so-Living Tree

Also, I thought I’d take this moment to solicit advice on what we should grow – we are especially looking for plants that flourish in the shade. I’ve currently got bushes of: hibiscus, azalea, hydrangea, butterfly flower, and some other varieties that don’t flower. I’d like to get some peonies, and perhaps some other tall or medium height flowers. And the garden in the front yard doesn’t typically get much sunlight, so I thought I’d plant some ferns up in there. I also want to pick up some planters for the front and back porches and some hanging plants… and, oh, I could easily get carried away with all of this.We spent most of the weekend in the garden, and I’ve got the sunburn to prove it. I blame Kentucky for this. It’s closer to the equator, so we probably get more intense sunlight than I’ve been accustomed to. On the other hand, stuff grows quickly here. I’ve been walking through the yard every day since it got warm enough to do so, and I can practically watch things grow. That is, everything except the grass .

In other, completely unrelated news, only one of my NCAA final four picks (Ohio State) is still playing, and J’s got 2 teams in (Florida and Georgetown). I’m down by 1 point, so I’ll be cheering for OSU and UCLA on Saturday.

March 28, 2007 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

JTR: liability or comedian?

I should have known it was going to be a funny day when the undergrad that I’m working with this semester fell asleep at my desk this morning. (he’s normally a really hard worker. also, he looks like Clark Kent.)

Jason has informed me that the title of this post should be

JTR: master of science or comedy?

but it’s MY blog, and I don’t think that title accurately describes what’s going on here.

He’s been a bit of a liability recently, and here’s proof:

  • He has now broken ALL 3 of the cheap plastic handles that turn on the shower. The cold faucet handle was fixable. The hot water faucet? Not looking like an easy fix. Instead, the shower has to be turned on with a wrench. (P.S. Eew. Why does our tub look so nasty in this picture? I swear I clean it. Maybe this is also evidence for why I should remodel the bathroom?)

Exhibit A: The tools needed to turn on the shower.
  • He claims he broke his arm over the weekend. He’s not sure exactly when it happened, but his arm hurts, so it MUST be broken.
  • He actually didn’t break his arm, according to x-rays taken this afternoon. Don’t worry, the doctor still prescribed him Tylenol with Codiene.
  • He wore shorts to work today. He was quickly informed by the characters in my previous post that shorts are not allowed in their lab, and since his desk space is in their lab, he may not wear shorts to work. Why? We’ve gotten several responses, from “we work with adenovirus vectors” (adenovirus vectors = fancy name for common cold virus, used in labs because it’s a virus that doesn’t cause much damage to lab personnel), to “Top Dog works in the lab, and that makes us worried for our safety” (because pants = safety, and shorts = danger?) to “we are in a real working lab” (as opposed to our fake working lab? I’m not clear on the distinction). In any case, the ladies in the lab are allowed to wear knee-length skirts or capri pants, so I’m not quite sure why J’s below-the-knee-length shorts caused such a ruckus.

He was also super-hillarious today:

  • I found the following note on my desk when I returned from a noon-time seminar. Of particular importance is the break in the stick figure’s arm:
Exhibit B: Why is this so funny?
  • He sent out an email re: the no shorts rule to the entire lab, and in the email, he suggested that JC (our student lab tech) wear his cross-dresser halloween costume if he wants to continue showing off his tan. Maybe it’s funnier if you’ve seen the pictures.
  • He had an in-depth discussion/rant re: what exactly would happen if some of the adenovirus happened to land on his bare leg, complete with mention of the skin being the body’s largest organ.
  • He explored the option of getting his Tylenol prescription filled – he’s planning on breaking at least 1 limb on our upcoming ski trip, and he’d like to get some pain relief for that ASAP. Alternatively, if his drinking is indeed “hazardous” as was suggested in the seminar I attended today (the criterion for “hazardous drinking” were ridiculous), he might as well pick up an opioid addiction on top of it.

(In somewhat-related news, do they wonder why opioids are quickly becoming the most commonly abused drug class? JT essentially walked in with a bruise/bump on his arm, and was given a scheduled drug with a pretty decent abuse liability to make it feel better. He wasn’t even asked about his drug use history before getting the prescription. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much – if people keep abusing drugs, I keep getting paid to research them – but I think it should be a little harder to get a legitimate prescription for drugs that have such an abuse liability.)

March 27, 2007 at 2:10 am 2 comments

Sometimes life is just a bad episode of The Office

Occasionally, I sit at work and think to myself, “is this really happening?” And usually it is.

I think when you’re younger, and even in college or graduate school, you imagine your future career as something serious and professional. You don’t imagine that your future work place will be made up of a bunch of crazy people yelling, meowing, and singing in the office (I am not making this up). I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that I work in an academic setting with a bunch of college kids; however, working with the undergrads is actually one of the more normal parts of my day – it’s the “real grown-ups” lurking in the space around our lab that often cause me to wonder if I’m hallucinating. Also, evidence from The Office (one of the best TV shows ever) and stories from friends makes me think this probably happens more often than I’d ever imagined.

J dedicates this shirt to some of our office acquaintances

Anyways, I think this would be a good time to describe a few of the characters that I am exposed to on a daily basis, just so you can appreciate the insanity of it all. (pseudonyms will be used to protect the innocent). Here’s what I know:

Oomp-ta-doomp:

  • his theme song would probably go something like (insert dopey singing voice here) “oomp-ta-doomp-da-doomp”
  • tried to convince me to become baptist in my first week of work
  • likes to listen to baptist talk radio, choir boy music, and Christmas music in October
  • believes that “ethnicity is like stupidity – someone’s got to have it”

Silver fox:

  • has figured out that you can sing just about any lyrics to the tune of “Amazing Grace”
  • another supporter of Christmas music in October, she likes to sing (loudly) while working
  • plays “Deal or No Deal” online ad nauseum

EEL:

  • walks around the lab bench for hours talking loudly in a foreign language into her bluetooth
  • has worn jeans once, causing others to speculate that she was trying to get pregnant (I guess they must have been tight?)
  • got in a screaming match with one of her lab mates on our first day of work here – the cause of the fight? the labmate had moved her scale a foot to the left

Top Dog (at least, he thinks he is):

  • makes more than me
  • they should give him his Ph.D.
  • would date me, if Jason weren’t in the picture
  • has a tux – he doesn’t rent, he buys (unless you’re talking about his apartment, then he doesn’t buy, he rents)
  • is friends with a movie star (on my space, and he knows it’s really her)
keep in mind that the above phrases have actually come out of his mouth

The Novelist:

  • is writing a murder-mystery novel about the group she works with
  • likes to just walk into the area and scream the name of the person she’s looking for as loud as possible
  • was talking in a foreign language on the phone the other day and then broke into, “here kitty kitty kitty” and then back into the foreign language. repeatedly.
  • her first child was a “biochemistry accident”

Phone Lady:

  • we haven’t exactly figured out what she does yet, as she seems to always be on her cell phone or gossiping with the rest of the group

Keep in mind that I think all of them missed that day in Kindergarten when you learn the difference between “inside” and “outside” voices, since they all insist on using outside voices at all times.

Needless to say, I am not convinced that communal lab space is a great idea. Forcing scientists from different disciplines and laboratories to cram into a room of lab benches for long periods of time does not necessarily produce good science. On the other hand, it does produce good comedy (and occasional headaches).

March 24, 2007 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Sweet Sixteen (March Madness Style)

Because I know you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats wondering, I thought I’d post our NCAA round 2 picks. I’ve also starred the teams that we’ve chosen for the elite eight.

Jason/Jen:
MIDWEST
Florida*/Florida*
Maryland/Maryland
Oregon/Notre Dame
Wisconsin*/Wisconsin*

WEST
Kansas*/Kansas*
Southern Illinois/Southern Illinois
Pittsburgh*/Duke
UCLA/UCLA*

EAST
UNC/UNC*
Texas*/USC
Washington State/Washington State
Georgetown*/Georgetown*

SOUTH
Ohio State*/Ohio State*
Virginia/Tennessee
Texas A&M*/Texas A&M
Memphis/Memphis*

(teams in italics have already lost. bummer. i hope some of J’s teams will start losing, especially since I’m now losing the bball challenge.)

March 17, 2007 at 3:16 am Leave a comment

Card Craftiness?

Home-made cards: crafty? or cheap?

I can’t decide. Both, maybe? In any case, I am both stingy and good with a glue stick, so home-made cards it is.

I have to admit that I was slightly inspired by these cards for your boss. They are so funny! The cards that I’ve been crafting recently are neither funny nor made with stolen office supplies, but I thought I’d post pictures of them anyways.

crafty? cheap?

made with love and a gluestick

Also, I’m up by 1 point in our b-ball challenge! I’ve never liked basketball so much!

March 16, 2007 at 1:45 am 3 comments

NCAA Round 1 Picks

Let me begin by saying that I know exactly nothing about college basketball. Jason knows all sorts of stuff. So maybe it wasn’t the best idea to suggest that we each pick tournament winners and whoever ends up with the most points wins. Loser takes winner to dinner. I was initially pushing for higher stakes (e.g., when I win, J has to buy me a furniture item of my choosing), but then realized I am going to be picking teams based on name only, and I really didn’t want to lose and have to spend $200 on the grill he’s been eyeing up (sorry, J).

So here are our round 1 picks:
(each game is worth 1 pt if the higher seed wins or the difference in seeds if the lower seed wins.)

JASON/JEN:
Midwest
Florida/Florida
Purdue/Purdue
Old Dominion/Butler
Maryland/Maryland
Winthrop/Notre Dame
Oregon/Oregon
UNLV/Georgia Tech
Wisconsin/Wisconsin
West
Kansas/Kansas
Villanova/Kentucky
Illinois/Virginia Tech
Southern Illinois/Southern Illinois
Duke/Duke
Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh
Gonzaga/Gonzaga
UCLA/UCLA
East
UNC/UNC
Marquette/Marquette
USC/USC
Texas/Texas
Vanderbuilt/Vanderbuilt
Washington State/Washington State
Boston College/Boston College
Georgetown/Georgetown
South
Ohio State/Ohio State
Xavier/BYU
Tennessee/Tennessee
Virginia/Albany
Louisville/Louisville
Texas A&M/Texas A&M
Nevada/Creighton
Memphis/Memphis

Let the games begin!

March 15, 2007 at 1:49 am 3 comments

Spring Surprises

The past 2 days have been absolutely beautiful here, so we’ve spent as much time as possible outside in the garden. We’ve got to clean up some of the dead stuff from last season and try to get new stuff growing this season.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that there are random patches of daffodils all over the back yard. And we found 3 other small flowers that we can’t identify.

random patches of daffodils

can you name this flower?


Jason’s been trimming bushes, picking up trash that we’ve found in the yard (and we’ve actually found a lot of it – mostly beer bottles and golf balls), and preparing the planter in front of our garage for planting (the guy before us just placed 3 evergreen trees in the planter, without removing the plastic around the roots – needless to say, they were dead before we even moved in). I have been raking the moss out of the yard and planting grass seed in the bare spots that it left behind. I’m crossing my fingers that it will actually grow.

March 14, 2007 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

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