Sunday, May 29, 2011

Return of the Kitten Cab

During my junior year in vet school, I decided to commute by riding my bike to campus. It was about a twenty-three mile round trip and I quickly got in great shape. When Spring (aka "kitten season") rolled around, I wanted to keep riding but I needed some way to bring my bottle-feeding foster kittens along so I could take care of them during the day.

A bike trailer worked perfectly -- in cold weather a couple of heating packs kept the kittens warm during the ride, and in warm weather I could open the vents and keep a nice breeze flowing. The only problem was that riding on the narrow county roads, with no bike lane and cars going 70 mph, I got a lot of nasty looks from people who thought I shouldn't be endangering a child that way.

Then my friend Charlotte personalized the trailer and the kitten cab was born:

I still got some odd looks, but at least drivers didn't seem quite so angry. Puzzled, yes. Incredulous, yes. But not angry.

Anyhow, I can't really commute by bike anymore since it would be a 130 mile round trip on the freeways and I'll never be in that kind of shape, but I find myself reluctant to drive around Woodland on my days at home, so I dragged the bike and the trailer out of the garage today.

I was assuming I'd have to do a major overhaul on the bike since I haven't ridden it in five years, and it spent one year outside in Baton Rouge, but a little bit of oil and some air seem to have worked miracles. Sure, the chain would probably move even more freely if I finished getting the pine needles, dirt clods, and leaves out of it, but really, it's not that bad.

I may try riding it to the grocery store tomorrow -- it's technically within walking distance if something goes terribly wrong.

I wonder if the dogs will be too embarrassed to be seen in it...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Mind Is A Terrible Thing...

I woke up early this morning, interrupting a whole new stress dream. Generally I go with the tried and true -- teeth crumbling, unable to dial the telephone, just found out the final is coming up for a class I forgot I signed up for, etc. But this morning my brain decided to get creative on me -- while I was gone, someone broke into my place and set up a carnival on my property. There were cars parked all over the place and the people wouldn't leave.

It still makes me laugh. How does that make any sense at all? And why is my brain coming up with new ways to deal with stress?

I have to cut my brain a little slack, though, because at least it was asleep at the time. That's not nearly as bad as, say, someone adding a fifth button to a toolbar and somehow not noticing that it was a different height, width, and font than the other four it was right next to. (That's purely hypothetical, of course.)

Anyhow, somewhere between the complete illogic of the sleeping mind and the (hopefully) sensical waking mind, is one of the most recent stories from my lovely town. A group of senior citizens (85-95 years old) were driving to visit a friend in Davis (roughly ten miles away). The driver, who wasn't familiar with this area, got lost. He finally stopped to ask for directions in Gorman, which is over 300 miles away. As Jeff pointed out, that's over five hours of driving at the speed limit -- I can't even imagine how long that took these people.

So the lesson of the day is: be good to your brain, because you never know when you might need it.

Or possibly, to quote a classic Star Trek episode: "Brain, brain, what is brain?!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Reading Race

Here's my current problem:

Now that's a problem because (ignoring the fact that apparently I'm trying to burn my house down, and I'll freely admit this was entirely my own fault):

And this:

If I become catatonic from reading withdrawal before the mail arrives on Tuesday, can somebody please plug in my Kindle and prop it up in front of me? Thanks.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Redefining Moment

This evening I'm celebrating the fact that starting at 9pm tonight (Thursday), I managed to work on the project that I'm supposed to be working on this week, and spent almost one uninterrupted hour (luxury!) doing so.

For those with decent math skills, that means that after approximately 32 hours of work, I've managed to do one hour of something useful. As a percentage, that's somewhere between awful and abysmal. Possibly that means that I should have just stayed home and partied for the first 31 hours of the work week. But probably that means that I should really redefine what I'm "supposed to be doing" to include all of the other things that I do that I like to forget about.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to redefine my vegetable garden as a "bindweed sanctuary" because that means that I'm doing a great job with it. There aren't a lot of things that will germinate and grow up through newspaper with eighteen inches of dirt on top, but bindweed doesn't have any problem with it.

Heck, while I'm at it, I'd like to redefine chocolate as a vegetable. It has to be at least as healthy as ketchup.

Anyhow, I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the week, and I'll see you all on Sunday for the post-Rapture looting parties.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Movie Magic

Every once in a while I'll watch a few movies. Not in the movie theaters, of course -- if I wanted to sit in an uncomfortable seat with a sticky floor with people talking all around me and music blasting at an ungodly volume, I'd go back to taking public transportation. No, I watch movies at home. In my own uncomfortable chair, with the music at a tolerable level. (The floor may or may not be sticky depending on how long it's been since one of the cats threw up on it.)

Anyhow, I don't have what you might call "highbrow" tastes. While I'm not quite as bad as JoJo the Enforcer (who gets confused if there are more than three characters), I'm not interested by too much subtlety. If I don't at least have some idea about what is going on in the first twenty minutes of a film, I won't watch it. Also, I don't like watching depressing movies. I don't care if that makes me a shallow person. If I wanted to watch people stuck in their miserable lives with no hope of anything getting better, I'd go back to taking public transportation.

I have no inherent problem with action films. I don't expect a plot that rivals a Russian novel. I don't expect a whole lot of character development. I don't even really expect there to be a lot of explanation for why the main character has to keep taking his shirt off to fight the bad guys. I'm okay with that.

What I don't understand is why so many of the films I've seen lately are so... boring. I watched the first two installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise over the weekend. If something has made it to number four, surely the first two should be reasonably good, right?

They were just sort of okay. There was a bit of a plot, and some of the characters were funny, but then, about every twenty minutes, there had to be a long drawn-out fight scene. And every time that happened, I'd wander around the house, check the refrigerator in case some chocolate had magically appeared, check my email, read a blog entry or two, and then go back to the movie.

Is it just me? Does anyone find those fight scenes interesting, no matter how well choreographed? Maybe it is just me. Maybe everyone else is at the edge of their seats.

But, frankly, if I wanted to see people fighting stupidly every twenty minutes, I'd go back to taking public transportation...

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Crown Has Passed

(Blogspot was helping me procrastinate by being down for twelve hours...)

It has come to my attention that it may be time for me to pass the official Procrastination Princess crown to Rvan. Not because he's a princess (although he's not shy about doing a hip wiggle while crossing a major intersection during lunch hour), but because he may have managed to procrastinate even longer than I would have.

During this year's conference, he was supposed to present four two-hour talks in the course of two days. Even more impressively, two of those talks were at the exact same time, in two different rooms. That's some impressive scheduling, people.

Rvan's something of a legend in our office for his presentations. Often we have a betting pool on how long it will take before the first person in the audience is noticeably asleep. I think ten minutes might be the record. However, as much as you might expect people to fall asleep during a lecture (especially after a hard night discussing engineering in the bar), the person giving the lecture still technically has to talk about something. And yet, as of the night before the first lecture, he still didn't have his presentations done.

I thought it was bad enough that he sent me something to proofread at 9pm (which was 11 pm in his timezone). Then I found out that he still had one presentation that he hadn't yet started.

So hats off to you, Rvan. You win the crown.

I'll find it and bring it in for you someday soon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

While I Was Sleeping

Here's what I missed while I was sleeping last night:

1) My neighbors' house getting burgled (while they were asleep upstairs). Items stolen: laptop, wide-screen TV, iPhone, some cash.
2) My neighbors' daughter coming home at 2am and finding the front door wide open and apparently scaring off the burglars.
3) The police coming over to take statements and cruise the neighborhood to look for the people involved.

My neighbors have an elderly deaf semi-senile English Setter who slept through the event as well. I tried to convince them to take Ginger the Wonder Dog in case the people come back, but no luck.

These neighbors also have the problem of a bee hive within the wall of their house. It turns out that there is no way to convince bees to move somewhere else once they have set up shop in an inaccessible place. The beekeeper tried vacuuming the bees out but couldn't get to the necessary spot. Apparently the only way to get the bees out alive would be to remove a three foot section of the exterior wall of their house.

Talking to the beekeeper was interesting -- he's one of those people that is passionate about what he does, and also really, really likes to hear himself talk. He teaches classes on beekeeping at the university -- if I needed more responsibilities around the house, I'd consider it, but for now I think I'll just buy my honey at Nugget. Or maybe I'll try to get honey out of my neighbors' wall.

Anyhow, here are a couple of random pictures I took yesterday. See how artistic they are?

Yes, that's me. Artistic. Ansel Adams' got nothing on me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome To The Glades Of Hell

In the great cycle of corporate life, we have returned to the "air fresheners in the bathrooms" stage.

Let me explain something about this building. This isn't a bus station filled with thousands of travelers who haven't had access to a shower in days and who have been forced to eat questionable food from roadside stands and have the GI distress to prove it. This building is lightly stocked with professionals (more or less) who may have questionable eating habits, but it's by choice. The bathrooms are cleaned thoroughly in the evening, and tidied up at some point after lunch. In other words, these bathrooms are pretty darn clean.

Yet every few years the facilities management people decide that what we need is air fresheners, and lots of them. They install them, a bunch of people complain, the vandalism of the air fresheners starts, they stop restocking them, and eventually they take them down. We've gone through at least two or three cycles since I've been there.

The most memorable models were the ones mounted at eye level around the bathroom that squirted out a mist every minute or so. My cubicle neighbor Jon got in trouble when they finally realized that he was the one removing all the batteries after they went through and restocked them every day.

This time around they installed an industrial strength air freshener (with no batteries) in every stall. That's four air fresheners in a fairly small space, or at least twice the recommended installations based on the website from the company that sells these things. It's not too bad while there's a fair amount of traffic during the day, but after about six PM I'm usually the only woman in the building. Then the "precise dose of pure designer fragrance, odor neutralizer, and air freshener" builds up to the point that I'm hit with a palpable miasma when I open the door. It's so strong that it actually hurts my throat.

After waiting a week in vain to see if the things would calm down, I finally did what I do best (or at least most): I complained to Rvan. He passed along my complaint to the facilities person, and she sent back mail saying there wasn't any way to control the things -- the only way to decrease the stench would be to get rid of one or more of the units. Rvan replied to her that the solution was fine and thanked her.

Of course, it's now been a few more days and all four dispensers are still on the wall in the women's restroom. In the meantime, Jon tells me that he "heard" that the dispensers can be removed by sliding them towards the ceiling, and he also "heard" that a few of them have somehow ended up in the trash in the men's bathroom. Purely rumors, of course.

I think it might be time for the rumors to hit the women's bathroom as well...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day! May Day!

It feels odd -- now that I don't have to reinstall the operating system on my Mac every few hours, I've freed up a large chunk of time in my week.

I celebrated on this May Day weekend by lounging on the cat porch and reading. I did finally get up and mow my lawn late this afternoon because my 65 year old neighbor only mowed one half of it on Friday. Lazy bastard.

I also planted some seeds, although since I didn't label any of the pots, your guess about what I'll be getting is as good as mine. I only planted things I like, though, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Unless, of course, I planted something like beans which need a lot of space.

But I think I know what sprouting beans look like since Eric did that LD50 experiment with bean plants and turpentine in seventh grade. Had he labeled it an LD50 experiment, it might have gone over better. However, calling the science fair project "How much turpentine does it take to kill a bean plant?" makes it seem like a typical boy trying to kill things. Somehow I skated through those years without ever having to do a science fair project. It's just as well. I'd hate to think of what I would have come up with.

Many years later JoJo managed to turn in the same project two or three years in a row. I don't think I ever heard about what K-poo did.

These days, as far as I can tell, the science fair is a chance for the parents to do all the work, but I think even Liam could probably handle "Does Mold Grow Better In Light or Darkness?"

On the other hand, I'm sure he'll ask someone to do it for him anyway...