Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I spoke with my aunt on the phone earlier this evening. She told me an anecdote about buying a nice pork roast at the store and then accidentally signing the charge slip "Pork Roast" because she was thinking about cooking it (which has become her new online identity now that she has a hookup --"Hello, Pork Roast").

Now, I have been known to write or say a completely different word like that from time to time, so I offered her the example that whenever I am thinking or saying the word "wallet", I always think of the word "walnut". And sometimes say it.

At this point, she burst out laughing, and said, "Well, that's because that's what we used to say when you were little!" Yes, that's right. A silly word game played by my mom and her sister as they cared for the toddler-Lizzie lived on subconsciously as an obsessive (or maybe compulsive) thought. And I never knew. Apparently, she also carried on this tradition with her own daughter, my cousin.

Even as a psychologist, I was staggered by the strength of this association. Who knows what other thoughts I have that I believe are my own but might be merely echoes of someone else's?

So be careful when you tell kids things like "when you turn around, North and South change places." Or whatever kind of BS people think is funny to trick kids about. Imagine the potential for evil. Wallet/walnut is pretty harmless, but I still have noticed it for decades!


Wow, the rarely-on neighbors' network is on (as opposed to the usually-on one) and it is 24.0 mbps! Though very low signal, of course. I wonder if they're across the parking lot?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Today I attended another campus lecture voluntarily. (Although I do have stuff I should probably be doing, it's just not the same as when I never had the chance to do even one voluntary thing a week, let alone two!)

This lecture was Dr. Ralph Blomster* discussing folk medications, specifically herbals. It was basically an overview of commonly used herbs, their uses, and effectiveness according to research. (I got there a bit late, so I missed hearing about boneset, mullein, and tansy.) I knew most of them already, as that is one of my personal interests. However, one research result that I hadn't heard was that wild yams don't do anything. Nevertheless, the surprising part was hearing a biochemist say that all the other things did have clinical effects.

Now, if only I could find an herb that promotes motivation for tedious paperwork...

*Appropriately, this means "flowers" in Norwegian.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Just got out of a talk given by astronaut Tony England. (In fact, I'm still in the science building, using the table whence I usually lecture, for its accessible sneakret wi-fi.) TheLimey was frothing at the mouth to join me but had to fly to Florida at the last minute for work purposes (I took extensive notes).

I would say the gist of the talk was that we should forgo the moon base and just get to the Mars exploration bit. He discussed the approach used by the Apollo missions, which included each step building on knowledge gained in the previous step. (This is unlike the shuttle missions, which don't change.) And that we should catch up and by gosh start using robotic transport like the Russians, because now we're way the heck behind. (If it weren't for Soyuz, there wouldn't be any way to get to the ISS.)

Being big on earth system science, he also strongly recommended that people read Diamond's Collapse and figure out where we as a planetary society fit into that mold. And he also said that he finally gave in and watched Apollo 13 when one of his kids rented it, and that it was "eerily" accurate.

(I forgot about that book, which I wanted to read when it came out, and now I also want to see the flick, which I never saw.)

He furthermore explained that the cool part of space flight is not the floaty part, but the staggering view of Earth, and that if he did it again he'd spend less time with the science bits (i.e. his job!) and more time looking out the window instead. Also, the medics thought there was something wrong with him when they got on board to examine them after the flight, but in actuality he was sad because it was over.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I have now made most of the important file transfers to my new laptop, though I have not yet been able to clean up Clu and send him back to Argotnaut. Guess I have to do it soon, since she’s heading off to Germany!

I am still trying to name the new computer. He is extremely sleek and fast, and never hangs up on operations. After reading Scientific American* together in bed the other night (as one does), I favored “Qubit” (for “quantum bit”) or “Kelvin”, (I am also considering “Bayes” after the stats guy). Meanwhile, TheLimey preferred “Yttrium” or even “Niobium”. I asserted that those are clearly girl-element names. (If I’m going to be gendering my computer, I may as well do it right.) I further suggested that those whose own computers remain unnamed ought to correct this oversight before trying to horn in on mine.

I had no idea how many unsecured wireless networks are out there until I got this machine. Wow! They’re everywhere now. In fact, I have no idea whose network this is upon which I’m posting this; I just kept getting messages at home that I was connected to some “very low signal” network or other, and I even got a few automatic virus-protection updates out of the blue, until I just gave in and began playing with my darn email on it.

I have struggled with this network-hitchhiking (netchhiking?) issue in terms of ethics. Is it like walking into someone’s left-open apartment and using their computer to get online? TheLimey disagrees with this interpretation, likening it instead to turning on my TV and finding that I am receiving free cable channels out of nowhere. (He’s probably just trying to make me feel less guilty.) Well, it’s only intermittently that I receive it anyway, and it’s not like I’ll be dow_nl_oading mp_egs or gray-market nekkid pitchers, or cracking into anything.

*Funny editorial this month.

Having gotten past the pre-wedding-planning jitters, we have now set a date in August of this year. This is based on the requirements of various family members’ schedules (including our own), and also the availability of a particular 1930s historic chapel in the park. Which—unlike some other venues I could mention—does not require us to become confirmed Lutherans within the next few months. (Also, we like that it’s in a park.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Top Songs of the Parking Lot Next Door in the Middle of the Night

1. I Didn’t Do Nothin’ to You, Baby

2. CRUNNCCHHH (tinkle tinkle)

3. Oh My God, My Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

4. No, You Shut Up

5. What Did I Do? You Tell Me, What Did I Do?

6. Who Do You Think You’re Talkin’ To?

7. Dude, She’s Not Worth It

8. Blluuuuaaaaaeehhhhhh…..

9. Yeah, You Go Ahead and Call the Cops

10. I Told You Man, It’s Not Mine

Friday, March 18, 2005

Because I compulsively Google any object that someone says "I wish I could have ______", I have noted that the calendar I saw on my trip is available on about a bajillion websites. (There's also this somewhat more glamorous '40s pin-up one.)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Okay, a bit of retroblogging, since so much has happened lately and I haven’t updated for a while. One thing that’s happened is that Clu definitely has a limited lifespan at this point. Over the weekend it became clear that his display problem has to do with the frayed, exposed cable, which means he can’t be moved without risking complete detonation. So I will soon be actually purchasing a new laptop, something I’ve never done before. (Luckily I have professional assistance in this venture.)

As for the internships, only one additional person in my cohort eventually got one through the clearinghouse. Last week was therefore somewhat traumatic for me and my peers. In the post-hoc analysis, it became clear that this wasn’t an unreasonable outcome for applicants in our position. Even if our program had already been accredited, most people seek internships in their 5th, 6th, or even 7th year, whereas we were applying in our 4th year. This means that in addition to lack of accreditation, we probably had comparably fewer cumulative practicum hours, publications, types of experience, and so on.

Basically, this all wouldn’t have been so shocking if we hadn’t been hearing since the day we interviewed for this program “Oh, when it comes time for internship, don’t worry—we’ll get you all internships [insert various reasons, such as the greater number of classes, the higher number of practicum hours required (for time spent), certifications, staff networked with at internship sites, etc. etc.]” I don’t think they were lying, but I think the expectations were quite unrealistic. (It also meant that we completely worked our butts off for three years trying to vastly surpass other applicants when it may not have mattered so much.) Unfortunately this makes me now doubt every bit of soothing assurance that I hear from the department about pretty much anything.

However, I have now digested the idea that I will be staying here for at least another year, doing clinical work and teaching.
My Florida trip was, as I may have mentioned, perfect in that it was rainy and overcast but warm. (I’m not sure that my fellow conference-goers felt the same way about that.) The streets were curiously empty of people, which may have just been because it was a downtown on the weekend. Still, that was a bit eerie. Also, the area around the hotel was like a giant gated community. It felt very artificial and claustrophobic. I can’t believe that people pay the toppest dollar possible to get into those kind of areas.

I used the power of MapPoint to find the nearest Kinko’s so that my friend/colleague (frolleague?) Melanie could copy her presentation onto overheads. We got slightly lost on the way, so I had to stop and view the map again on the way (see photo of me inside my portable computer-viewing booth [i.e. jacket]).

Later I escaped the conference to patronize a local bistro kind of place, where I had the traditional classy Florida lunch of chicken satay with a can of Boddington’s.

I also took a picture of the restaurant’s cool Vespa calendar specifically for Mark, but the low light made it blurry. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the pint I drank.

I really wanted to visit the Aquarium, but by the time the conference sessions were over at 5 on Saturday, it was closed. (What kind of a tourist attraction closes at 5 on Saturday in the height of tourist season?)

Tampa has a convenient and quaint little trolley, which I took to the Latin Quarter (Ybor City). I think that was my favorite area there; the streets were blocked off and full of pedestrians. The populace was less uniformly white there, which seemed less unnatural. I also liked the cobbled streets and older architecture, even though the whole area had obviously been made into a giant tourist trap. There was a cool vintage store, where I bought a tie for the evening’s dance back at the hotel.

(As you can see, the tie really completed the effect of my suit. Annie Lennox, eat your heart out.)

A guy on a street corner in Ybor City enthusiastically offered me a personality test, which I declined, saying that I was a psychologist. When several of my frolleagues arrived, we walked past the same guy, and a few people thought they would go along with it for a while, until we realized that he was a shill for the Scientology storefront around the corner (they apparently thrive in areas where there are plenty of tattoo parlors.) When we then declined, saying we were all psychologists, he jokingly (?) made an anti-vampire kind of cross with his fingers at us.

We also saw a most excellent mullet, of which I managed to get a hasty photo.

This morning I was peacefully washing dishes while listening to a CD on my headphones (to allow TheLimey to listen to his beloved NPR while he works). Suddenly I was yanked from my Morrissey reverie (“…you see the life that I’ve had / would make a good man / bad…”) by TheLimey exclaiming something about scratching noises at my 3rd-floor window, which turned out to be the case. Apparently one of the phone-wire acrobat squirrels had made the leap to the window. Unfortunately, he leaped to the wrong window—the living room one without critter snacks instead of the kitchen one with critter snacks laid on. You can see his astonishment at this mistake in the photo below.

Okay, okay—now to the big stuff you’ve been waiting for. In reviewing my blog, I see that it’s hard not to notice the increasing presence of TheLimey over the past year. So it may not be an incredible revelation to learn that we recently decided to—ah, merge our files, as it were. (Probably late this summer.) I’d post the obligatory photo of the ring, but that part of the process is still being worked on. Let’s just say the decision involved a clipboard, an engineer pen, and a graphic representation of a timeline, rather than the default knee-ring sequence. (This really shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows either of us.)

I’m reasonably certain he was convinced by my inventing the onion-marmite-cream cheese bagel, whereas I was convinced by the three dry-erase boards in his home office (featuring short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals).

Monday, March 07, 2005

While traveling the 20 minutes or so from my place to TheLimey's last Friday (as is our wont), we saw a new antiques store (Near the Lord Fox, as matter of fact) that was open although it's a pretty rural location and it was after dark. We went in and perused their books, and he bought me two "antique" science magazines, one from 1948 and one from 1953.

Now that I don't have them with me, I can't remember which they were--Popular Science might have been one. Was the other Science and Mechanics? Anyway, they have really cool covers mainly depicting the kind of future that Americans were imagining at the time. Rockets and flying cars aplenty! I wanted to scan them immediately, but after some agonizing had decided not to bring my beloved scanner with me for the weekend. I regretted it immediately, as those covers are pretty damn cool.

Now I have them scanned, but have not had time to touch them up and smallify the files and so on. They would make fantastic posters.

One of the mags has an article about how to make one's own Ice Box or "Freezer" in order to take advantage of summer's cornucopia in the winter, and the other has an article about a way to Motorize a Wheel Chair.
Now that I've had a chance to get my head around a completely different life plan than I've had in mind for the past 8 or 9 years, I feel okay about the whole academic trajectory thing. I (representing the others in my cohort) met with our department head, director of clinical training, and another interested faculty member to discuss the ramifications for us, the students. It'll be okay, just--different. There are additional life-changing things going on that I'll talk about later.

Clu has been behaving very strangely; I am afraid he may be on his last...what, processors? I spent an hour messing around this morning just trying to get his display back to normal, as it would become progressively snowier and snowier with each little operation or physical tap on the computer itself, and gave strange unreadable messages about Windows. After a while it just got better, although some things like checkmarks, the mouse pointer, and scroll bar arrows still intermittently turn into weird fuzzy little objects . (That still work, but look weird.) I spent a couple hours this afternoon backing up everything, although I did already back up my important docs recently.

There is definitely a tinge of Spring in the weather--rain washing away big mounds of dirty, grainy snow. The wind smells like wet dirt again. And of course there appear to be some new young squirrels in the Squirrel Tree. Yay!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Welp, still no internship. This has definitely been a Titanic week.

One more person finally got one the other night--it was the one remaining place that had asked me for my application materials.

This basically means that now my entire life is going to be in limbo for yet another year. If I were ten years younger, this wouldn't be such a terrible thing, but I am turning 38 this year, and I have really been wanting to have kids sometime this life--not the next one (and I don't believe in long-term daycare for infants.)

Clearly I am going to have to drastically rearrange my expectations for some very important things in my life. I was really ready to be done with school after--what, ten years? So knowing that I will be doing this for at least another year, if not two, is a bit disheartening.

While I don't really think I feel that bad, I have had three nightmares already this week (I almost never have nightmares.) They are pretty classic, standard nightmares--I'll probably have the one about teeth falling out pretty soon if this keeps up, although I'm a little old for that one.

1. People are stealing my stuff!
A classic anxiety nightmare. This dream involves having all my most important and precious possessions with me in some really squalid environment, and I can't protect it from theft because the doors won't lock or even close, I can't carry it all around at once, and I have to get somewhere. At some point, the garbage workers come and haul away most of my stuff to the dump when I am trying to get my door to lock--that is, what's left of it after people on the street have already picked through it.

2. Bugs, bugs, bugs!
A classic creepy nightmare. (My apartment has ants, so of course they found their way into my dream, too.) I dream that while I am trying to get ants off my food, I realize that they are coming from a hole in my right arm!! I realize that while I wasn't watching they must have found a way into my arm and made a nest there, and all I can do is hope that I can get most of them out. (This is the dream that has found its way into the urban legend about face powder.)

3. Trapped underwater in car.
A classic panic nightmare. I am riding in a car with a friend, and while looking at some beautiful moonlit lakes next to the road, I suddenly realize that they are violently overflowing across the road at the bottom of a hill. It's too late to stop, and although we think we might be able to get through it, we are swept off the road by the torrent into the dark waters of the lake. Yikes!