Monday, November 28, 2005


i am never, never, never going shopping again.

my mom dragged me to target the day after thanksgiving at 630 in the morning. i can only quote kurtz with, "the horror, the horror."

from now on, despite my principles of wanting to support human being jobs (poverty wages tho they may be) i just cannot fathom stepping into a store like that again. it is sooooo much easier to just order online. go to amazon, pick, click, ship.

remember when that idea used to be the scary one and people were all afraid that the internet would create this world of people who never leave their homes and have no human contact and just get everything off the net.

well, just call me sandra, because that sounds perfectly fine.

i was, however, able to get all of my mom's christmas presents, and my mom, in turn, was able to finish her shopping by getting stuff for me. i mean, she only started last january (okay, maybe march) so she should be able to be done. me? i'm just getting started. friday was the gunshot at the start of the race. not that i buy very much. but then yesterday i ordered a few things online (oh that magic word). and the real toughy will be a father present. it always is. sigh. i don't know why i bother--he won't like whatever it is. although he'll pretend to. but he will get really pissed off if he doesn't get anything.

and speaking of my mom, i didn't get to meet her new boyfriend friday because i was just too exhausted. she did, however, ceaselessly talk about him the two days i was home.

and saturday i nearly sliced my thumbtip off chopping some spinach. but at least today i get to wear a cute Dora, the explorer bandaid. yesterday, it was clifford the big red dog.

and just think folks: only one month till christmas.

oh, but i did get to volunteer yesterday and it was fabulous. normally we serve cafeteria style but we did a sit down dinner with traditional thanksgiving fare so make it special and i think folks really enjoyed it. and it's so funny to me when the volunteers thank me (i coordinate the meal) at the end of the shift--they're the ones doing all the work. and it's not a trivial amount of work here either. i'm usually sweaty and food covered by the end (yesterday being no exception after having a cup of orange drink spilled down my pants). but it's always great. and i feel exhausted and refreshed by the end of it.

and finally: this article is a little frightening considering our heavy reliance on foreign labor in labs across the country. oh, and my aversion to racism is a little piqued by it too.

(hopefully, that is a not a sign-em-up only article. let me know if it is.)

here's a highlight tho:

"The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing a similar plan that would force foreign-born researchers to wear color-coded badges that would restrict access to labs based on their country of origin. Foreign-born researchers and American-born researchers would also be segregated in labs.

Both plans focus on country of birth - not country of citizenship - which means American students who were born overseas would be subject to the new restrictions. These plans require universities to apply for special licenses before foreign-born faculty members and students are allowed to set foot in research facilities."

and of course these countries include such terrorist havens as china and india.

and the best part of coming back to boston (home) was coming back to the pooka.

let's start the week

with some e.e.cummings.

because he is so he.

"my mind is
a big hunk of irrevocable nothing which touch and taste and smell
and hearing and sight keep hitting and chipping with sharp fatal
in an agony of sensual chisels i perform squirms of chrome and ex
-ecute strides of cobalt
nevertheless i
feel that i cleverly am being altered that i slightly am becoming
something a little different, in fact
Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet bellowings."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

thanksgiving vay-K

took today off since i didn't have anything to do around lab (waiting for reagents stinks--but extra days off is great).

woke up before 7, but at least i slep in a little. i've folded laundry, packed for my few days back home in CT, cleaned up the house a bit, and will commence some yoga in a few minutes.

i'll leave tonight and come back saturday. it's a short break but sunday i'm already scheduled to volunteer.

tomorrow should be interesting. i have a generally good attitude towards thanksgiving due to being with friends and family. but it is also rather depressing given that now i sit around a table full of food that i don't eat and think about how not great the history of thanksgiving is. blah.

i'm also supposed to meet my mom's new boyfriend while i'm home. should be interesting. as should be the grilling about my new tofu. and no, D, i don't mean the soybean curd.

speaking of which, had dinner with my flatmate's parents last night--who were not nearly as crazy as i had feared based on his description!

i also saw a street sign on the way to dinner last night that said: bikes stop on line for green.

and there was a picture of a person on a bike with a line going down the center of them.

now, what does this mean? first of all, there was no line on the ground--i looked, being high up in the bus. and most signs speaking of lights say "when green", not "for green". and why would the bike stop when the light was green anyway?

ok, everyone have a good thanks-giving. eat loads of cranberry sauce.

Monday, November 21, 2005

momma said there'd be days like this

okay, so first, why? why?! is there a package of breastmilk storage bags on top of the microwave at work?

so, i see this package as i'm heating up my lunch, naturally, and it doesn't strike me as odd initially. i'm like, oh, breastfeeding, that's cool. i'm a proponent of breastfeeding.

but then, i start to process this. there are only two or three labs which use this microwave. and then there is the cleaning lady who basically uses the room with the microwave and frig as her little office. she has her stuff on the tables that the microwave and toaster oven also occupy. so, i'm thinking this must be hers? but why she is pumping at work? first, i don't even think she has a baby. she's gotta be at least 45 and i haven't noticed any appearing and disappearing belly lumps. and, even if she has a baby, why is she pumping at work?! where is she doing it, and why? don't you pump at home in order to leave the milk there? and if you aren't pumping here, why are you bringing in breastmilk storage bags?

secondly, i've dropped two significant things today.

one was a cuvette. for you non-spec people, this is a relatively expensive piece of equipment (at least for my ghetto lab), of which, about four have been broken by various members of my lab over the last three months.

the second thing i dropped was my lunch. all over my desk. yeah. great, huh?

and i spent half my weekend (and the previous week) trying to resolve my friends' life crises.

and there was no tofu this weekend. pretty sad, isn't it?

and, i've apparently morphed into a full-on "chick", according to more than one person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the wisdom of xiaomin

xiaomin is one of the "crazy" people in my lab.

every day, while we're both in the lab doing work we chat. it passes the time and we laugh a lot. i'm a relatively funny person, and xiaomin may be less so, but everything she says is made more funny by the fact that she barely speaks english. so there is a lot of mis-understanding and she often uses the wrong word for things. you get the idea.

anyway, last week we were having one of our usual conversations when she interjects that she is "straight." i, naturally, start laughing. i'm not sure if she says this because i'm always telling her how lovely she is; or, if she's reassuring me that, despite the fact that she is constantly slapping my ass, she is not interested in me.

and she is. constantly slapping my ass, that is. i guess in one sense, this could be construed as workplace sexual harassment. but i don't mind. and she (usually) does it when we're alone.

so, i ask her why she has told me she is straight. apparently she is just testing the word out. isn't that an awesome idea?! don't you wish you could use that someplace? say something totally ridiculous, and just respond with a: oh, i was just testing that out?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

war and torture and diamonds

"First, I think it should be a stated goal of United States policy to not melt the skin off of children. As a natural corollary to this goal, I think the United States should avoid dropping munitions on civilian neighborhoods which, as a side effect, melt the skin off of children. You can call them "chemical weapons" if you must, or far more preferably by the more proper name of "incendiaries". The munitions may or may not precisely melt the skin off of children by setting them on fire; they do melt the skin off of children, however, through robust oxidation of said skin on said children, which is indeed colloquially known as "burning"."

from a dailykos linked diary.

sorta brings into play bush's whole not just going with what is legal, but what is right. which coming from him you should take with a grain of salt. or the entire ocean.

yeah, there's a whole lot of pain in the world and some mornings you just can't forget about it. sometimes it even get shoved in your face by people wishing their broken back problems could be transferred to your cat. or you read an article about human beings getting burned to death by a substance the US military has no problem admitting it uses. and you read other stuff and some of it is true and some is half true and most are lies. because people want to lie to you about all sorts of stuff. about war and torture and diamonds and where your clothes come from and how we live in a meritocracy and how pretty soon all the forests will be chopped down and we won't be able to breathe, but that's okay because today we're free. and we should enjoy our diamonds and clothes and fancy mcmansions and suvs.

and we forget about the earth, about the trees, about the butterflies and the people and our children and our grandparents and what comes next. and we drive across the country and fly across the ocean and bury ourselves in pills and sex and power and othering. we other ourselves so we can forget.

but some mornings you just can't forget.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

not feeling well, so i came into work late today. took the 1130 train, which is apparently the one all the english phds ride because they were talking about footnotes and quotations in papers and whatnot.

anyway, two of them were having a conversation on the train behind me and i couldn't help but overhear. i have trouble tuning out "background" noise.

it was amusing, so here you go.

boy: you know in cvs, they have that atm that you just swipe your card thru instead of inserting it?
girl: yeah, yeah.
boy: those are dangerous cuz-
girl: oh really?
boy: well, yeah, i was gonna say those are dangerous cuz, well, for instance, i was in line to use it and there was a guy in front of me. anyway, he used it, took his cash and walked away. i go up to the screen and it still says: can we help you with another transaction today?
boy: yeah, well, my moral dilemna i let the person behind me have some of this guy's money too?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

feminist critique

from bitch magazine:

"[the researcher] Darker-Smith discovered a subtle but provocative correlation between fairy tales and violence. women who grew up reading such tales as cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, she found, internalize unrealistic attitudes about romance, namely by manifesting submissive behavior and holding fast to the belief that love conquers all--even violence. DS has her critics: author marina warner notes that DS misreads certain tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, in which the beast treats the heroine well, and the crux of the tale centers not on female thralldom, but on seeing past appearances."

except! who is the one seeing past appearances here? not the man who has been sentenced to imprisonment in the beastlike visage (exactly for NOT seeing past appearances, no?), but the woman who once again must bridge the gap for both the man and the woman to set the man free. would this not be again--love conquers all. even the bad traits of the male which are miraculously transformed by the 'work' of the female.

but i do like the ultimate critique of this and these studies:

"and deborah cameron, a language prof at Oxford University, declared that this is just another study that examines the psychology of victimized women rather than questioning why so many men think it's okay to beat their mates."


can "J" vote today?

so, today is election day for all you voting advocates out there. i care more about today's election than most, considering it was only local governement votes for me where i think my vote actually matters more than in, say, federal elections where most people are only choosing between the "lesser of two evils". or so they tell me.

anyway, D and i get there a few minutes before seven b/c we are used to the People's Republic of Cambridge where there would already be a long line and i have to catch the train at 737am, so we want to get in and out.

first of all, there is basically no one else there to vote. oh, one guy. yes, this is somerville. yes, i'm ashamed. but there are a million people "checking" voters. well, only two to sign us in but a whole host of other folks sitting behind these two doing i have no idea what.

so, i go up to the desk, give my address and then my name. the woman finds it and then pauses. then screams back to the "official" lady in charge: "it's a J. can J's vote today?" the man in front of me was just allowed thru. presumably he isn't a J though. the "official" lady yells back that "anyone" can vote today. apparently even us "J"s. why don't they just try to malign me in front of the whole office? why don't they just try to shame me into not voting? why don't they just try to rig the election!

but i'm not ashamed of being a "j". that's right. i'm not a democrat. i'm registered green. well, apparently it's "j"-green. or however they spell it in somerville.

the whole operation was pretty shady. their clocks were slow (d played "spot the republican challenger" while we waited) and the guy at the ballot box was there, apparently, to yell at you for "taking" a privacy sleeve for your ballot even tho you had no choice.

next time around we might start a write in campaign for me for mayor. can you imagine a "j" as mayor? wouldn't that throw the town into a tailspin?

Friday, November 04, 2005

bran muffins and walnuts

this morning i pushed the snooze button a bzillion times. i actually counted. between that and chaucer trying to wake me up for some early morning lovin' i'm surprised how deeply that extra hour of sleep was felt. yes, an hour. an extra hour and i still made the early train. which was 15min late anyway. i could have had a more leisurely breakfast, but no. this is the ongoing saga of my life--late trains. instead i had to eat my bran muffins and walnuts standing up, running around doing other things, and telling my roommate how the "sermons" he seems to be getting in his catholic church are giving him a very limited view of the bible. and maybe he should read it sometime. among other things.

sometimes i think the only reason people have pets is to have an excuse to talk to themselves. and no, don't try to reverse psychology this one on me. i don't need an excuse. i'll happily chat with myself out loud, on the street any time of day or night. but, for instance, there was this woman the other night on the sidewalk with her miniature poodle outside of a yarn store in porter square. so she starts talking to her poodle about this wonderful store and isn't the dog excited about it? and doesn't he want to go in and see all the nice things?

now really, this is what would have been an internal dialouge if the dog hadn't been there. because she would have been ashamed to say all this stuff out loud if she were by herself. but now she had the excuse of the dog to say all this stuff. he wasn't interested in the yarn store. he was interested in me walking by.

he wanted to attack me.

okay, i'll admit it. poodles and i do NOT get along. never have, never will. people think i'm making it up when i say every poodle i've ever met has tried to attack me! my roommate thought i was kidding when i told him about this large poodle who i walked by every morning on my way to the train who tried to lunge at me. until he was walking with me one day and it happened. luckily the mom was with the dog and she restrained him. but when he was with the dad, watch out. i nearly had to cross the street to avoid being mauled.

i don't even think of poodles as real dogs anymore because they're so heinously vicous.

it's friday. and i'm in a slightly giddy mood.

plus my boss told me i'm smart yesterday! look at me, miss smahty pants, as they say here in boston.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the dating king

in my attempt to be "better" i'll share this story.

my flat mate is somewhat of a dating officianado. so he was recently sharing with me some insight into the apparently very complicated world of dating. i think he's planning to write a book. or take his show on the road.

(aside, i prefer the term "flatmate" to "roommate" b/c it is so much more accurate. unless we're speaking of college dorm rooms.)

excerpted from an email, reprinted with permission (of course):

"i think the key is to not ramp expectations up....

if you want what i think is the "rules" view, the key to snagging a "marriageable" man is to appear "busy and important". thus, you don't get back to him right away, you limit the length of the date, you don't make plans at the last minute, etc. im pretty sure multiple dates in the same weekend fall under the no-no category.

of course, i think you're also supposed to sleep with him by the third date, so..."

this struck me as so hilarious that i had to share.

appear busy? most folks i know actually are busy. important is probably more debateable.

is there an algorithm for this interaction? maybe we could write one and make lots of money.

so how long is too long? is there a too short? how long to wait before returning calls? how do emails factor into this? when does multiple dates become okay? ever?
what if the two people don't sleep together by the third date? or the thirtieth? do they explode in some sort of spontaneous combustion reaction?

the questions are overwhelming!

what a night

so, first the train home was an hour and 20min late. yes, an hour and 20min. ridiculous. i should have been furious! but i wasn't even that angry. i have been surprisingly anger resistant these last few weeks.

what is more important is that i took the oppurtunity to call my mom while i was waiting. what else are you gonna do? as soon as we all saw the announcement come on the little red announcement makers that are less than worthless, but ubiquitous in the T system, a mass wave of cell phones flashed out. it was quite funny.

so, i call my mom, we're chatting about this and that, la di da, when she tells me she's DATING SOMEONE! my mom, my longtime single mom is going on a dates. woah. i was floored but actually really excited about it. i always wondered how i would react to that news because i'm very protective of her. growing up it was just her and i--against the world, as it were. but i was smiling and just so happy. hopefully he's a good guy.

in other news i get to do a column today which i thought would have to wait till tomorrow. so for once i'm excited to be in the cold room. at least i can usually steer clear of my boss on these days. although she's already harassed me once today and it's not even 9am.

oh honestly, even she hasn't really been angering me lately either. what is wrong with me? why aren't i furious anymore? even xiaomin has noticed. i'm losing lab cred here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

crazy day at work

so we have this joke in my lab about being "crazy". it basically started because i kept telling my labmates that they were crazy. now they tell me i'm crazy. it's a riot.

anyway, today i was sitting at my desk thumbing a mag, staring into space remembering a conversation in my head. i get to the funny part and i bust out laughing. at that moment, lu walks in to see me, in an empty office laughing my head off. maybe i am crazy. i'm not telling.

this leads the conversation (naturally) to how i used to be really shy as a kid and not speak to anyone very much. i asked lu: can you imagine me not speaking? he says that he can only wish i was still like that. i think he's referring to my tyrant nature. i was going to reference that post, but then i realized that conversation occured in another person's blog. weird, huh? anyway, i'm only a tyrant because no one in my lab knows what they are doing! besides me (of course).

in other news, i'm spreading the booty-slapping joy. who says biophysics can't be fun?