Tuesday, February 28, 2006
This morning started out gorgeous as I walked in my building with my coat unzipped. I quickly was reciting "stupid, stupid, stupid" as I headed out the door sans coat to the neighboring building to find that the lovely spring like weather had been only a short visitor. The sky was grey, the wind was blowing and it was cold... again. If it would just give it up and snow here my mood would improve vastly.
Or maybe it is just this littlecity-itis. If that is the case I am hoping that our foray with Leif to Seattle for a 3-day weekend in 2 weeks will resolve that. I am really looking forward to getting out of town, staying in a nice hotel, swimming in the pool, maybe sitting in the hot tub and going out and about.
I like where we live. But it stops there. Like. I adore our friends we have here. Never before have we lived in a place with such a great group of people. I really like living in wine country, I love having orchards all around where I can buy fresh fruit. There is NOTHING, and I mean nothing like a fresh Rainier cherry or a fresh nectarine warmed by the sun off your own tree. The fresh Bings and Vans come in a close second. The farmer's market is the most authentic I have ever attended. Boulder had a fabulous farmer's market full of organic vegies that I had never heard of and had no idea how to cook. Reno's farmer's market was 90% California farmers who drove "over the hill" to sell their produce (the same as in our stores most likely) at a 10% mark up. But it was fun. The farmer's market here is stand out and we attend at least every other Saturday in the summer and fall.
The river is nice. But we don't have a boat. AB wants one, but my desire (and henceforth money) isn't there yet. It scares me with a toddler. And many people find the desert beautiful, I don't happen to be one of them, but that's fine. I love the mountains. I miss the mountains. I love the smell of pine trees and spruce. I love the big, huge pinecones that are over a foot long that you can collect in the Sierras.
Is it important to love the place you live?
I *never* thought I would leave Colorado. I loved Colorado. My sister was the one who was going to be outta there as SOON as she graduated. She was outta there, straight down the highway 45 miles to college and then another 20 or so to Denver where she lives now. And loves it. And I am so happy she loves it. It suits her, really. I, otoh, was going to be the one to go to college locally and then move back to Fort Collins (or maybe stay in Boulder) and work and raise a family close to my mom. That didn't happen.
I remember the day my dad, AB and I packed up my apartment in Boulder and headed down the road to move us to Reno. I sobbed. I fully expected I was going to fail out of grad school and wind up back in Colorado the next year. And that was going to be fine with me, at least I had tried.
Once in Reno I was bound and determined I was going to hate it. I found everything miserable about it and talked about it, built it up in my own head. 101 reasons why this place sucks. But then a funny thing happened after about 1.5-2 years. I started loving it. I liked grad school, we had some friends, not many. Most were in nearby San Francisco, which made for great long weekend trips. I fell in love with living at the foot of the Sierras, AB skied all the time, he had a super job he loved. The restaurants were good, the town size was nice and the proximity to everything cool was just what we needed. We married in Tahoe. We spent summer weekends at the Shakespeare Festival at Lake Tahoe with our picnic basket on the lawn watching plays.
Then I graduated. We packed up and drove north. And I sobbed again.
I have often said that I could live anywhere if AB was with me. I truly believe that still. But part of me thinks it would be just an eensy bit better if we loved it so much here we didn't want to leave. Here we are nearly 4 years into our stay here. Life is wonderful. Life has never been so fun and good. We own our own house, we have most everything we could ask for. Except for a love of this region. I wonder if it will ever come. If I would sob upon leaving. Or if it is just "a place". The place where we bought our first home. The place my son was born.
Then as I started working the beeping faded. I became immersed in my calculations and freaking out over my non-reporducible results. But it never really went away.
After lunch the entire building was abuzz... what is the beeping, why won't it stop, who can make it stop, where is it coming from? We all wandered around aimlessly offering our very useful input, "I think it is coming from here!", "I think it is an alarm", "It is louder here", "Hey you can barely hear it in this office"... We also took random polls, "what time do you remember it starting", "is it getting louder?"
A friend of mine and I discovered it WAS coming from the service elevator, or at least we were pretty sure. The one that only is to be used for transporting goods and deliveries upstairs, but NOT for general use due to safety issues (?!?!?). We immediately thought that someone was trapped! I hesitatingly pressed the elevator button halfway expecting to get sprayed by invisible ink that won't wash off but is apparent under UV, so I could be identified at a later date as "the one that summoned the elevator". Much to our relief, no one was in fact, trapped in the elevator. Nor did pressing the button relieve us lab rats of this building from the incessant beeping.
Finally we were rescued from our aimless wanderings, comments and quizzing of each other when an admin arrived and took control of the situation. You see we scientists are evidently a pretty helpless bunch that require direction by the real people who run this place, an admin. She made a phone call and within about 15 minutes crafts arrived.
Crafts is apparently as a group, really just scientists without a computer or a lab. Instead their tools are wrenches and hammers. They took off where we scientists left off wandering the halls asking the.exact.same.questions as we scientists did. "Where is it coming from?" "What is it?" "Have you ever heard anything like this?"
The old long haired hippy crafts guy (who says the most inappropriate things and is completely useless) walked up and down the hall supervising and offering useless comments such as "they never trusted me with a key to the fire panel" and "about 15 years ago in the building four over from this one that is now torn down something like this happened" and "this building is so old they need to just tear it down so I can retire, but I can't until this building is gone since I am the only one who knows it".
Verrry helpful. In the meantime, stop the freaking beeping.
In the end... it wasn't the elevator. It was an emergency light that was not in existance (?!?!?!) whose battery had run low. They pushed a red button to bypass it and the beeping stopped.
All is well.
Monday, February 27, 2006
One of my coworkers is dying to go to a conference in Ann Arbor, where she went to grad school. But she didn't have anything she could present on. I offered one of my projects up to her that she has worked on and she accepted graciously. What is nice for me is that I am the PI on this aspect of the project and it is getting really nice results. Coincidentally this conference she will present at also publishes in a large, well known journal. So along with this presentation where I am the first author (but not the presenting author) comes a peer reviewed journal article where I will also be first author! I need as many of those as I can get.
In fact, I have another for this same conference where a similar thing happened on a different project. My co-PI wanted to go, knew I didn't care to travel and submitted it. He offered me first author since the paper is already actually written, we were just in the final stages to submit to a journal when this conference call came out and decided to go this route.
Now this is where issues could be raised with management... this is where I might be happy that I am no longer in my former group (where the 2 co-PIs are). When management takes a look at the conference requests he is going to see that I am the lead PI on two presentations and I "suppose" he could make a deal out of why send two of his people when I can go and present both. If it comes down the pipe then I will go to Ann Arbor and present them both. But I really think that he will gloss over this and be happier to send HIS staff for their staff development than me, since I am not in his group anymore and nuclear engineering just really is not my forte. I won't get as much out of the conference as they will.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Grandma would be so proud... this recipe card started at least half an inch thick!
Where'd Leif go? (The major problem with this fascination is keeping him corralled... he enjoys putting the blanket on his head and running in whatever direction he is facing. Yes, yes, I did claim him to be a genius just recently...)
He was very aware of what was going on and stopped and started a number of times all the while observing this miracle of nature. (It is quite obvious with a little boy...) He giggled and smiled and was quite pleased with himself.
Of course I am under no delusion (nor need) that this be a sign of him being "ready". In fact, quite the opposite. Leif's daycare room does not have a bathroom and so therefore no potty training until he moves up to the next room.
Yet, I can't help but be a teensy bit excited that my little boy is starting down the road to learning this.
This last week was a tough week in a way. I took Monday off for President's Day with Leif. He was sick and it ended up being misery. I worked Tuesday, then Wednesday and Thursday I spent in Project Management class being bored to tears. I learned a ton, but it was incredibly dry material. Friday I was scrambling after having spent only one out of four of the past days in the office. I analyzed loads of data for a review next Thursday and Friday, which I luckily only have to attend and not present at this time around.
Saturday we were pretty lazy due mostly to my sick self. I have a head cold that I picked up from Leif and is lingering something fierce. My major accomplishment actually getting out to Lowes and ordering a cellular shade for the library. Being that we are putting a very nice, new computer in there, I am a little uncomfortable with how the large picture window is sparsely covered. After that I got some groceries, a few movies (LOVED "In Her Shoes") and came home.
The major accomplishment today was organizing the library furniture for the computer and cleaning the guest room/office. AB was shocked when he got home. I got the "throw it away" bug and filled trash bag after trash bag.
I am feeling pretty excited about some home decor decisions recently. Namely the library. I feel like that room is starting to come together and my hope is to make it fully functional and "finished" by mid-summer. First off is the arrival of the computer and obtaining wireless broadband (both this week). The next step is to empty this newly filled room and paint. AB and I have picked out (in record time) the colors we would like to paint. This is truly astonishing considering a week ago I hadn't the foggiest idea and borrowed V's stack of paint swatches to start thinking about some new options. AB and I have decided on a slate blue with a honey brown. I nixed the plaster paint idea that AB had honed in on and offered up instead the Ralph Lauren or Eddie Bauer suede paint. I think the softness will go well in the library where right now we are running an abundance of wood.
So when to paint? Well AB's weekends are pretty much booked for the next two months with schoolwork. This weekend when I talked to my mom I pushed her to consider coming up the second week in May... Mother's Day (we have a history of spending Mother's Day together since I left Colorado). That is also my week to host book club, it is one of her favorite books and I think she would love the chance to be there and cook. And make pie. My mom is also a master painter... she has painted and repainted most rooms in her house. Having three adults to do this job (2 to paint and 1 to watch Leif) would be ideal. So anyways, she is on vacation and doesn't know that I have booked her services yet, but she will!
Then the last two things for the library will be a computer hutch/desk (style tbd). The computer will sit on our two spare craft tables for now, as I SAVE money for a desk. Then my luxury... a chaisse. I want a big soft chaisse to retire to as a place to read. Goal... for everything but the chaisse, mid-summer. Chaisse... will likely be a Christmas present.
Well this is a rambling post if there ever was one...
I just finished a major monumentous task in the house. Cleaning out the guest room/office. AB is at work, Leif is sleeping and I managed to complete this task in about 2 hours of solid work. I am tired. I am also quite positive that now that I sat my rear down in front of the computer that Leif will wake since he has been down asleep for just over 2 hours. And he can then further wear me out by being completely energized and ready to go.
His favorite thing this weekend is the newly discovered fun of a "sha-zaa". We don't dare speak the word around here for fear that he will run to the glass box and wail until he either gets his way or is successfully redirected. We purchased a dual "sha-zaa" head a few months ago. It was cheap, but since AB and I enjoy an occasional "sha-zaa" together and I dislike freezing through lack of water, I bought one. Got a guess yet? Shower. Yes, Shower equals sha-zaa in the Leif world. He gets in with one of us and we hand him the handheld shower head where he sprays mostly our feet, but sometimes his belly. It is great fun to be in charge of such a large stream of water! And best deal for me, I have someone to wash my feet for me. ( I suppose that is the benefit?) I keep waiting for AB to suggest I take Leif in the shower with me in the morning during the week so he can sleep longer. Not happening.
And he is up... to be finished at a later date.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I stayed home yesterday with Leif since he was off for President's Day. I, however, was not off and neither was AB. Twist my arm to take a vacation day and stay home! While this initially sounded like pure bliss, the day became very trying and I was actually sitting there thinking (and whining to AB on the phone) that I wished I was at work. *sigh* One of "those" days...
Leif had a cold and a rotten, stinking tooth that is giving him fits. Cuspids are FAR worse than the 1st year molars. He was grumpy, fussy and clingy and top all that off with nearly no nap. (Except for the 30 minutes or so he slept in my car and then on AB's lap while he worked at the office so I could run out and change an experiment around.) It actually reached the point where "Finding Nemo" was put nearly on continuous play despite my better judgment because it was the only thing that quieted the screams and allowed toddler removal from my leg. AB got home and both Leif and I dropped to our knees praising his presence.
Leif is so completely enamored with AB. "Dada" has become "daddy" and he can do NO wrong. "Mama", otoh, is still a little uttered word. I mean why actually call me when you can just cry instead.
As I have said before, if you are a SAHM, you have my utmost respect. If you are the spouse of a SAHM, go home and hug her, kiss her, drop to your knees and worship her. Then ask if she would mind if you took the kids for two hours while she goes and takes a bath with a glass of wine. You will be "the man" and who knows, you might even get some!
I picked Leif up from school last week and his teacher informed me that all the kids have started calling him "Leifers". I am wondering if this will stick with him?
Leif's teacher has returned from India after being gone for 6 weeks. He had a sub, who I grew to adore. I do really like his regular teacher, but she has a hard exterior and it takes a little while to get to know her. Upon her return this morning I almost felt as though I was starting over near square one with her again. Leif seemed hardly phased as he ran and got a toy and took it to her. Then ran off to go play with something else.
I pushed and pushed and AB caved. It is now on its way to our house.
Saturday night I lay in bed listening to Leif wimper in his sleep over the monitor. (Or what I was hoping was in his sleep.) That's when the neuroses set in. OMG, we just spent over $2K including tax on a computer. What have we done? Do we really need this? Why was I being so pushy and insistent? We could have gotten by without a new computer a little longer... maybe.
Sunday morning I admitted (I think to my mom on the phone while AB was within earshot) that I was having second thoughts. Was it buyer's regret? Ugh, maybe I should just call and cancel it. Afterall I need to quit being so impulsive with our money. Mom reassured me that we did need a new computer, we needed a new computer last time she was out when Leif was born really, and that we will love it.
I got off the phone and AB found my "buyer's regret" a little funny. He had been the tough sell all along and the voice of reason. Now he was absolutely THRILLED that we have a new computer on the way. No buyer's regret on his part. At about the same time Saturday night he admitted to laying in bed feeling a little silly for how resistant he was, afterall we haven't even had a sound card for over a year and too many other hardware "incompatibilities" to deal with. His only regret was that it was going to take a week or so to get here. Furthermore, we didn't buy anything for each other on Valentine's Day and our anniversary is next month, we didn't have plans for gifts. Now we are done! Two holidays in one purchase taken care of!
Phew. I feel better. Now I will start being more frugal from here on out. I promise.
Friday, February 17, 2006
The other force that is pulling him to the dark side is seeing the 20" flat panel widescreen monitors that are INCLUDED in these fantastic prices. He is already talking about putting the new computer into our room instead of the library and getting rid of our little 13" TV in there. Bad, bad, bad. Leif and I will *never* see him again.
Here is my big problem... it is in my hands. Literally.
When I was 16 I had my palm read. It was a horrible experience and so far everything has been wrong about this, save for one thing. I was told that I would marry many times. Which freaked the hell out of me and always has, would I never find true love? What saved me from this freakness was July 29, 2004 when a little boy entered my life. You see, according to my reading, I was only supposed to have girls. Three of them to be precise. No boys. So my palm reading must have been BS. Save for one little thing.
"Uh oh," said my palm reader as she looked at my palm.
"What?" I asked her panicking.
"You see these two lines here?" she said as she pointed towards the bottom of my hand towards my wrist.
"Yeah?" I said.
"They don't intersect," she says with a down inflection.
"What does that mean?" I asked her.
"It means," she said, "that money will come into your hands quickly and leave just as fast. You aren't a saver."
*Sigh* I never have been. I like my toys. I like things. Money does make me happy. (Not as happy as my husband and son, thankfully.) But I enjoy life where I can buy the things I want and need. There, I admit it. BUT, I do realize how very lucky I am to be in the position to buy the things I want. I do try to reign myself in. AB is better than me and so he helps, or tries to help. I have an amazing ability to sell, unfortunately only in regards to convincing AB we need something. (Someday maybe, this will transition to the grant writing process I face regularly.)
So here is my *sob* story... After my parents divorced, my mom made $3.25 an hour and I (full of shame) took free school lunches. I didn't ever dare ask for a pair of Jordache jeans. And the days of seeing my mom sigh when I would tell her that I need $5 for school the next day for whatever are burned into my brain. Then there was college where I worked a real job (as opposed to anything on campus - I realize they are "real jobs"... as AB likes to remind me) to pay for school, I struggled with student loans and ate pancakes for dinner many nights because I didn't have any money to buy food, yet I had flour in my house. My mom couldn't afford to help me pay for college at the time, and my dad felt that it was my responsibility if I wanted to go to college. Sob story... no I am kidding. No sobbing about it, I had a great childhood and I really appreciate the fact that I put myself through 9 years of college.
What I am getting at is that I do very much appreciate being able to buy what I want for the most part. I have been on the other side of life and I survived. But those periods of having nothing have probably jaded me some. If I can have something that I want, why shouldn't I?
Now how to raise my son so that he appreciates the value of saving? Oh search me. I will make a deal with AB, I will talk about the birds and the bees and he can talk about the value of saving ones money.
This is NOT a decent time to be up. Really, really NOT.
Further, if you really decide that it IS the time to be up and mama sticks a "moowee" into the DVD player it is at least nice if you sit and watch it as opposed to poking mama's eyes. My eye needs to stay IN the socket and not be pressed against the boney back of the socket. I like my sight.
And we do not play the nostril "game" at 5:30am either. Your finger does not belong shoved into the far reaches of my nasal cavity. Flash back to freshman biology reminds me that there IS hollow space back there, still there is no need to probe it.
The one who will remember these cruel tricks when you are 15. (However my finger will NEVER investigate your nasal cavities. Just gross.)
Thursday, February 16, 2006
When simply loading software has become an issue, we know there is something wrong. I loaded TurboTax the other day. It took me two nights to accomplish the feat. The first night I worked at it for about 45 minutes and then stormed out and proclaimed the fact that “We NEED a new computer”. And TurboTax is quite basic.
AB assured me then that we did not in fact “NEED” a new computer and that he would take a look at it. Virus scan revealed no critters manifesting themselves in the silicon and copper junctions. Defragment and error check revealed nothing major. And how many times do we really need to pull programs off the computer when the available resources indicate nearly 50% of memory available?
I attempted the TurboTax install the following day and after 30 minutes and two reboots I did achieve success. (Followed by all smiles when I dumped the major details of our 2005 finances into TurboTax and it returned the statement “Your return is $37.”)
We have had the beast since the summer of 2001. We bought it from Gateway when I started writing my dissertation for grad school. It has served us well, but it is time to move on to something smaller. No huge honking (deep) monitor, a nice compact mini tower. *Sigh* I even configured the baby on Dell.com this morning. $1680 and no interest financing for a year.
Yet I cannot seem to pull AB over that line. As we sat in my car eating lunch today we listed off the other needs and wants. First on the list… my damned teeth. A good $3000 for those here in the very near future (once I actually SCHEDULE the appointment)… then a trip to Seattle for 3 days… a travel trailer or pop up camper… further down the list is land for a house. Then there are the “other things” that go along with buying a computer… new/different internet access… a computer hutch (I have a few picked out)… a webcam. Then there are our current debts that we are paying off. And couple all of this with the fact that we have no idea what is on the books for AB with jobs and school in the next year and I *have* to admit that as long as we can get this computer to work, it shall remain ours. All in all I spend so little time on the computer at home anyways. Still in my own head, a new computer and peripherals is on a mostly invisible timeline that will become a hard timeline when someday we will need to redecorate our third bedroom from its office/guest room state currently.
But… I am still holding out a glimmer of hope that AB’s prof will have provided him with the usual undeciferable mess of a program that he usually does that will send our computer careening over the edge with no hope of retrieval. (Must back up EVERYTHING before AB inserts the disk.)
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
But fairly quickly the book morphed into a kind of prep school kids gone bad tale that was reminiscent of books and movies like The Chocolate War, The Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. That annoyed me a little because I felt like I have read this all before. YET, at the same time, I was enjoying the book and it took me back to late high school when I read The Chocolate War.
The writing and story style from the narrator's eyes was strangely reminiscent to me of one of my least favorite books ever, The Catcher in the Rye. I know, I know, everyone LOVES that book. But I didn't read it until I was 27 or so. By that point I think I had bypassed the period of time where it makes such a profound impact. By that point I was used to seeing the "f" word in written literature. I was beyond that feeling of lost and trying to identify with something. It seemed hollow to me.
In my mind now, after reading The Secret History I think of it as Holden goes to college. Richard should have been named Holden and should have hailed from the Northeast and it all would have fit for me.
The book to me was Gaussian shaped. With the y-axis being my level of enjoyment plotted as a function of page number on the x-axis. Enjoyment was low, but increased. At chapter 2 (there are only 2 freakin' chapters to this book... pet peeve!) my enjoyment was peaking and I cruised through the next 200 pages. Then it started dropping off. At the end I put it down with great disappointment. I thought the end was a cop out. She had no other way to end it and all uniqueness was abandoned.
So given this Gaussian distribution, I rate it a C. If you like college stories about prep school kids gone bad. With the protagonist being an underling who struggled to get to where he is? You will probably love it. Intrigue, mystery, characters whose personalities were carefully chosen to fill out the social styles spectrum. (Thanks V for throwing that one at me this afternoon, a new aspect!) It is all in The Secret History.
For now, I am signing off to go get the Leifer. I reserve my right to augment this post in the future pending discussion tonight!
Q: Whose bed did you sleep in last night?
Q: What color shirt are you wearing?
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: A dog Winny, 2 goldfish (Momo and Momo) and a snail that has no name yet.
Q: Most recent movie that you watched?
A: March of the Penguins
Q: Name 3 things that you have on you all the time:
A: My purse, clothes, snacks for Leif.
Q: What's the color of your bedsheets?
Q: How much cash do you have on you right now?
Q: What were you doing at midnight last night?
A: 12:02am hushing Leif back to sleep.
Q: What's your favorite part of the chicken?
Q: What's your favorite town / city?
A: Hmmm... Reno I think. I do love Fort Collins though (where I grew up), but not sure I could live there again. I could definitely live in Reno again though.
Q: How did your last relationship end?
A: Oh now that's a long time ago... hmm... went our separate ways I guess.
Q: I can't wait to ...
A: Go to Seattle in March
Q: When was the last time you saw your dad?
A: 6 years ago this June.
Q: How long have you been at your current job?
A: Nearly 4 years
Q: What's the last thing you said out loud?
A: "You need to pound really hard on that door for them to hear you." Stupid people think I am an admin and come and ask me stupid questions about where in the building people are. I *hate* that.
Q: Look to your left. What's there?
A: My CU Alumni Association calendar on the wall.
Q: What is the last thing/person you spent over $100 on?
A: I just bought a jogging stroller
Q: Who's your favorite villain?
A: Darth Vadar (yes, I am a geek)
Q: What's the last piece of clothing you loaned to someone?
A: Oh wait, I do remember. I loaned my sister a pair of shoes on my wedding day because she INSISTED on getting this one pair and then they were too uncomfortable to wear. She ended up wearing a pair of black low heel mules I have.
Q: What web site(s) do you visit the most during the day?
Q: If you could drink anything right now what would it be?
A: Pumpkin Spice Latte
Q: Does anything hurt on your body right now?
Q: What city was your last taxi cab ride in?
A: Washington DC
Q: Do you own a picture phone?
Q: What's your favorite Starbucks drink?
A: Pumpkin Spice Latte
Ok, anyone else want to do this, then do it!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Last night AB came home and told me he had to go to the mall. I stated that if he was going to the mall then that probably meant I should too. AB got my drift, I hadn't bought him anything. So after much convincing him that I was not in fact going to be hurt if he didn't buy me anything and that I really would rather just have an evening with he and Leif instead of whatever he might pick out at the mall, no offense of course, he stayed home. I will admit I did start to reconsider this though when he told me he had planned on going to Origins. ;-) Immediately I jumped on the rain check for Origins next time we find ourselves at the mall.
I will say though that Leif was particularly excited to give dada his card this morning though. Once open though, the card reverted back to Leif's property as he wandered around waving the card and woofing (there was a dog on the front).
Leif has a Valentine's Day party at school this afternoon at 3pm. I am fully convinced that his teachers do this as a ploy to get all the kids out of there early so that they can go home and celebrate. We show up at 3pm, all the kids are convinced then that we are actually leaving since that's what happens when mom and dad show up. We will have a snack and make a Valentine (LEAVING the glue sticks - we were instructed that the kids can have all the supplies in their bags except the glue sticks and that the kids will want to take them home). The kids (teachers really) will probably sing a song and that will take us to 4pm where no one will *actually* want to go back to work at that point and so instead we will all haul our little monsters out of there an hour early and covered in glue and glitter.
Sounds fantastic to me!
(Switching topics.) I am stoked by the fact that I just booked a hotel for a couple nights in Seattle for our anniversary. My company rates at the Courtyard downtown were $124 and I compared online and found the same hotel for $109 including breakfast for all three of us in the dining room both days and a free shuttle to the attractions. Both will be very helpful since we are taking Leif. I am a breakfast girl, I need a big breakfast to start my day out and I hate searching for food in the city first thing in the morning with my stomach growling. We normally hoof it all over downtown, but that won't be practical with Leif. And neither is parking in downtown Seattle anywhere near the places we will want to go.
So anyways, mid-March we are headed to Seattle on a Friday and will return Sunday morning. Saturday we will visit the aquarium in the morning. While Leif naps I *may* just be able to sneak out and do a little shopping. I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn't be able to hit IKEA and AB commented that of all the shopping I would like to do that is probably the one he is most likely to be OK with because there is a restaurant and we can take a break and he might even be old enough to play in the ball zone! So yippee! Sunday morning on the way out we will stop at IKEA!
Now I just need to figure out how we will do dinners Friday and Saturday... I am hoping the concierge will have suggestions for kid friendly and foodie parent friendly places. Or we will just eat at the Market I suppose.I can deal with that.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Friday afternoon I left early, shortly after the review ended. Leif and I were going to the mailbox. On the way back he looked up in the sky, stopped, pointed at the moon and exclaimed "Ball!!" He could not be convinced that this was actually, the moon. Because the moon is hanging on the wall in his bedroom.
I had a very nice, albeit, very reclusive weekend. When stress gets me I become a recluse. I hide in my office dealing with the stress. Directly after the stress I hide until I can deal with the world. That was this weekend. And today I came in ready to conquer the world. I have scheduled appointments and even called Leif's first pediatrician, who is a major dimwit, to yell once again. 15 months after leaving his practice and I am still dealing with this shit. Never got his PKU results to this date, and now they are billing me for his circumcision because they never submitted it to insurance and the statute of limitations has run out. This, IMO, is their fault and I am not monetarily responsible for their lack of billing. I will pay my portion, but this one is on them. (They are threatening collections of course.)
We got a lot done on Saturday. We hauled in our pictures to be framed and "debated" colors and frames. The Aurora was a gift from Byron and we have it framed nicely. We purchased Glacier this Christmas and it needed framed. AB has one that was his graduation gift from Byron that doesn't appear to be available anymore, it is of the Anchorage skyline. Being a poor college student it was put in a plain black frame with no mat. We have now remedied that situation! I hope the pictures will look good together, we matted and framed each for the picture and not as a set because the colors of the three didn't all go together. And we may want to hang them separately someday. This doesn't sit *real* well with me, but I am trusting the artistic opinion of the framer (who seriously reminded me of some guys I knew in high school... ).
After a few hundred in frames to Michael's we headed next door to Petsmart, where I promised AB that we would not be getting another fish, no we were there for dog food. (But I said NOTHING about not getting a snail for the tank.)
We trimmed the grapevines and fruit trees. I hope we weren't too late as our fruit trees already have budded out. (Amazingly.) We went for walks, I got groceries and we cooked some good food. AB made a huge pot of rice and beans for a JA fund raiser through work. He also worked some on Sunday after doing his homework.
On Sunday afternoon we had a nice surprise... the wine fairy showed up at our house with a case of wine for us to taste. 12 different, mostly local, cabernet sauvignons from a judging this weekend. Probably $400-$500 worth of wine... had it not been opened for the judges! This is always a welcome surprise and at about 5pm AB and I started hitting the bottles. I pulled out my Wine Spectator Washington report and was pleased to see that most of the wines were listed in there. I love tasting the same varietal across different wineries. This is something that we don't often get to do, even living in wine country. When you visit a winery, they pour all their varietals from one winery, so the opposite.
We pulled out the high end wines first, 5 of them that we identified as being wines we normally would either not put out the cash for, irregardless of the taste, or just unavailable locally to the best of our knowledge. The thing that really struck us about this group was that they were all extremely different. Many had very distinguishing characteristics and were not your "classic cab". Ever tasted green beans and asparagus in wine? I hadn't. Try Koenig Winery's Cab for that one.
So I don't need to drown on here... suffice it to say that AB and I both had our list of top 5-6 cabs of the bunch and they didn't really agree. Mine started with the Dunham Cab, followed in order by Robert Karl's Reserve, Fidelitas, Barbard Griffin's Tulip label (I had the Reserve the other night and it was good), and Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cab. WS listed Columbia Winery's cab at a 92 for $29. I will revisit that one tonight. I like that price and rating.
Friday, February 10, 2006
We had dinner last night at a local winery. It was nice. The food was good, above average for this region. The wine was wonderful as always. One of the advantages or disadvantages depending on your perspective, of the catered event at a winery is that we didn't walk in, order, chat a little, eat and leave. I had planned on being home by 8:30pm since dinner started at 6:30pm. I made it home at 9:30pm. AB had arrived at 9pm and was greeted by the babysitter and had no money in his pockets. Because I had the cash and plans to beat him home. But I couldn't just leave.
We wrapped things up today and it went well. Last summer I was disheartened when the company told us that the research we were doing was not where the industry was headed because no one had success in this area. This time around he told us that if my project pans out like they expect, that big things will change. (Invest in semiconductor manufacturing equipment, now.) This is also the point in the meeting where things start getting hairy and the nasty, ultracompetitive side of the industry comes out... enter the "new team" hired and designated to make my process into a standard routine on the semiconductor processing floor (think big guys in suits who talk fast and are "driver drivers")... and the little researcher (moi) starts getting cut out of the picture. I keep telling myself I really don't care as long as I get my royalty check. But I do. I think of it as "mine", not theirs. They think of it as theirs, and it is. Let it go I know.
One thing that really aggravated me today is that one guy on our team is emerging and taking control of a lot. He is an outspoken, really nice guy. Close to retirement and this is the only project he works on anymore. (He looks an amazing amount like Sean Connery.) BUT, he does NOT listen to the client. He has in his mind that he wants to use dendrimers, despite the fact that the client keeps saying they aren't interested in that and suggesting work more in my field, suggestioning (IMO) that this new developing project should come my way. But damn him, he has already spent ALL the money for this year (a paltry amount that was seeded by our company to maintain the clients interest) on a post-doc who arrived yesterday specializing in dendrimers.
One of my coworkers (who was my former team lead) sat with me and kept calming me and reminding me that we are interested in pursuing some other things. We came up with an idea, pitched it to the PM, who declined in favor or the stupid ass dendrimers idea and it was funded internally. WITHOUT EVER ASKING THE CLIENT WHAT THEY WANT.
Next December when the client bids us a fond farewell, no one need wonder why. We did not listen to them.
No worries CW and I are proposing this technology for another client. It is time we start pursuing this type of work elsewhere.
So it is the weekend. Whew. I need to finish my book for book club (which I am enjoying). And I don't have many other plans other than enjoying going home to a CLEAN house. I would like to take a trip to Tuesday Mornings to hunt for discounted treasures. We also need to decide what we are doing over President's Day weekend. Leif is off from daycare, so AB and I are taking vacation days since we don't get it off. We will either paint the bathroom or library OR pack up and go somewhere. Which reminds me, in addition to doing our taxes (and wishing on a star for a return) online, I need to book a hotel room for our March trip to Seattle.
Everyone have a great weekend!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Enter the week of February 6-10. AKA, the week from hell.
I spent Monday working on my presentation. 82 pages of presentation with 40 some additional pages hyperlinked (I have 2 hours and 15 minutes to speak). AB picked Leif up from daycare and I made it home from work at about 6:30pm, braindead. I landed on the couch and crashed shortly after scarfing some pizza that AB had ordered lest he have to make dinner.
This morning I got up and went to my Conflict Resolution class. I was less than impressed. All of it was really textbook and IMO, common sense. Schedule a meeting to address a conflict, don't catch the person in the hall, don't accuse, be friendly, choose your words, etc., etc. Yeah, I know, a lot more to it than just that really. But I am not sure there was much profound there. I will go through the book and see if I glean anything else, but otherwise I don't feel that there was much that would have helped me with dealing with my former post-doc mentor OR in my recent attempt at "firing" a couple worthless underlings.
Something that did strike me as poignent was when they listed on of the top fears that people have regarding confrontation, one of them, which is my favorite is "Being afraid to hurt someone's feelings". The instructor said that this was an interesting one because it is really a power play and puts you in a position of power. Why? Because you assume that the other person is unable to deal with what you are about to tell them. Interesting.
I also did find out that my style is "competitor". I was a touch surprised about this (maybe I shouldn't be?). I hate, ok LOATHE avoidance. It ticks me off more than anything in confrontation. I have a close family member who is an avoider and there is nothing that sends me reeling more than when I confront this person about something and he/she just ignores my e-mails/comments on the phone and goes on like nothing has happened. I don't know why I expect change, I grew up with this and truly believe that this is probably why I am a competitor because I was bound and f***ing determined NOT to be an avoider. In some regards this is my downfall too, because I immediately assume and read into things, that people are confronting me and go into my backup mode too quickly. I have to learn to slow down, ask if I am actually being confronted or not, and then proceed instead of assuming.
So an hour from release from class and my phone rings (vibrates actually). I knew it wasn't AB, he knew I was in class, so I checked to see who was calling. Daycare. Damn. I had to take the call. I got up and left and was subsequently informed that Leif had vomited copious amounts at daycare and would I please come get him. I called AB and we agreed it would be best if I bailed on the last little bit of class (darn) and retrieved him.
I got there and he looked awful, pale, miserable and completely lacking in energy. I got him out to the car (immediately stressing about my week from hell and a sick child). We get in the car and Leif starts asking for crackers. Well I figured, as long as he is willing to eat, he shall. (After hearing stories of C's 5-day tummy bug).
5 hours later and Leif has eaten crackers, Pedialyte, macaroni and cheese, pears, blueberries, green beans and a bottle... he is in bed after falling directly asleep. I don't know... he may just be (do I dare say it?? crossing my fingers...) not really sick?
His teacher told me that he kept coming to her bugged by his throat, signing that his throat hurt, he was breathing fine and she held him. He had just eaten pineapple and black beans (OK now... I at least send snacks that make sense... cheese and pears, melon and cottage cheese... but pineapple and black beans???) , when he threw it all up. (Which was very evident on the drive home, P.U. regurgitated pineapple!) Could it be that wacky combination just didn't sit well with him? Please, oh please. A sick and vomiting child is the last thing I need during this hell week. I am wondering by him signing that his throat hurt if he didn't have something hung up there?
I got home with Leif and spent about a half hour on the phone with my PM discussing the next few days. We worked out a plan for tomorrow so I could get a little lab work done (I think he was close to offering to come to the house and watch Leif for me so I could get in and do the labwork the client "needs".) And I am working from home tomorrow on my presentation. Phew. Even if Leif is better I need to give him 24 hours to make sure. It is what I would want other parents to do. Plus, I know I will accomplish just as much, if not more on my presentation at home during Leif's nap as I would at work with interruptions.
Ok, so that is nearly it. I have to close with one brag... I really try not to brag about what a genius I think Leif is. I remember when I was on maternity leave watching Dr. Phil. (Shut up.) I remember a woman talking about how smart her son was and Dr. Phil responded saying "yes, I know, everyone thinks their child is a genius". LOL. But afford me this luxury today, during this awful week. Leif is 1 week over 18 months and he has mastered his wooden puzzles. And not just one... nope all of them, including the 2 of the 4 that say 2 years and up. I was shocked on Sunday. I was pointing and telling him where to put the pieces when I noticed he put one in by himself. I backed off and watched him do the entire puzzle. Then I called AB over, pulled all the pieces out, and we watched as he did it again. He turns the piece so it is matched up with the position (and the underlying picture) and slides it around until it falls into place. (And claps after each piece.) He matches them up on the first try and attempts a sound for each animal. (Ok, so giraffes don't *always* say "squeak squeak"... he is being inventive!)
And AB has reassured me that he will NOT cut Leif's hair without my approval, even though he has talked about it extensively for the last 4 weeks since he has actually started getting "length" in the back. I was getting worried, I refuse to cut his hair until it needs it on top, despite the mullet that is becoming apparent. At this point any barber would just laugh us out of the place.
Everyone have a good rest of the week. Think about me Thursday afternoon as I stand in front of my clients for 2 hours and 15 minutes of speech and then 1 hour of question and answer (oh they call it "brainstorming").
Friday, February 03, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
One of my meetings today was to select interns for my directorate. These are not "ordinary" interns, they are the "best and brightest" from around the nation supposidly. They are the students the lab will vie for when they graduate. The idea is to pick the cream of the crop now, get them to commit to us paying for their tuition in exchange for a commitment to work at the lab after they graduate (and before they realize they are a hot commodity and could get a stellar deal elsewhere). My manager asked me and a guy from the bio side of our group to sit on this committee for her. I was given 3 candidates to review and present on. I took about 30 minutes today to prepare for this and made fairly snap judgments. I went to the meeting and could have sworn I walked into the wrong place. Everyone there was my manager's level or higher and including our directorate leader, who had the only open seat next to him.
I sat down and felt very, very young and inexperienced. I knew two of the other managers there and made small talk asking one of them about his daughters and that I heard a rumor that they are starting to babysit. In fact they are! Score! A 14 and 15 year old in one family! (Preparing for when Tabi leaves for college.)
So we started reviewing candidates and I realize how underprepared I am. I didn't print up applications or resumes, just a few notes and my keep or dump recommendations. Enter feeling of major self consciousness as my directorate lead loans me his copies of their resumes. *blushing* I just had no idea the gravity of this decision. I should have thought about it... really, it isn't just a summer intern, but also a full ride scholarship.
Then I sat there ashamed of my own background as I heard comments of "well this person is just from a state school and their GPA is *only* 3.4" and "this person is a senior yet he hasn't done any undergrad research!!" (I didn't do any during my undergrad because I had a real job, paying for my way through college...) I kept my comments to myself.
I left (running to my next meeting), vowing to be better prepared for the subsequent meetings and wondering if my manager really had any idea what she was delegating to me.
I arrived, panting, at my next meeting a mile away. This was for the big project I proposed then co-wrote with another guy due to my "youthfulness" and it was funded at $1.8 million for 4 years. But tasked under a lab fellow for his oversight. I ran into my meeting where my co-PI (also a 3) sat with a number of 5's and a few 6's who have interest in the running of the project.
I knew there and then it was bad news for me. They will *never* let me run any part of this. We worked our way through the meeting and towards the end I decided I needed to pipe up. I directed my question to a "5" who had essentially been tasked with a major portion of the project by my co-PI. I asked him how he was for time? He looked at me and said he was very busy. I said that I would like to propose that since he is busy, that he serve as a consultant to me and allow me to lead the task. (Ok, so I heard myself saying this, I don't actually remember due to the dizzy feeling I had from even asking this of someone so senior.)
He paused a minute and admitted he had no idea when he was going to find time for the task and would really appreciate someone else taking the lead, but keeping him in the loop and also asked that I work with two of his underlings in managing this. PHEW! I did it. I have successfully maintained a foothold in my project.
At one point my co-PI started making plans for this particular task and I was very shocked to have one of the lab fellows, the one that I feel very intimidated by, jump in and say "That's fine, you go ahead and do that, but then I think it is time for you to back off and let NM take the lead on this, she seems quite capable."
I was elated.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
This morning after telecon he told me he wants me to include everything we have done on the project since it started. I laughed (we all laughed) and he said he wasn't joking. And to top it off he wants a poster made to hang on the wall detailing the major experiments with quick noted results and pictures. He wants all of it on Monday. It made me feel a little ill.
The task is seeming so incredibly monumentous right now that I can't even seem to start it. Yet, I also know if I don't, I am going to be so screwed and in front of my most favorite clients.
I can feel the stress, the increased heart rate, fingers that can fly on a keyboard but no idea which keys to fly to, a slight choke in my throat. All the while in the back of my head reminders that I have two other projects chomping for results for *their* review scheduled the first week in March.
This project is coming to an end. It was successful, the patent was filed, the technology is being transferred to the client's lab where it will hopefully propel them to stardom in the tech industry. In a little while, all that will remain of me on this project is my name on a patent that they licensed from my company in their file cabinet. In exchange I hope to be sitting on a nice mound of royalties that could be a downpayment on our next house. It is with joy, yet sadness, that I wrap up this project, present the final results next week, hang on for a few more months for consulting and then bid a fond farewell.
So now, to start from scratch with a nearly 3 year old lab book. Damn I wish my handwriting was neater.