American Indian museum, the Teddy Roosevelt Monument, Arlington National Cemetery, and seeing my friend at Catholic University. Click on the pic to see it larger (will take you to my flickr page, where there are a few more pictures):
I'm on spring break now and quite happy to not be going to classes today. This is definitely a much-needed break.
I spent last night in Pittsburgh with my friend Joe. We've known each other since junior high, so it's always nice to catch up. We played video games, and Joe sweetly got me both dinner and breakfast. Then, today, I drove to my uncle's place in the suburbs of DC. En route, I had two firsts: I went through both Maryland and West Virginia! I went through just about 2.5 minutes of Maryland, so I think it's a good thing I'll really get a good chance to see it on Thursday and Friday when I visit Baltimore.
En route, I also stopped to see Jimmy, a friend I met via blogging. We met up for lunch in the super cute little town of Strasburg, Virginia. I took a lot of photos, but they're all on my manual camera, so I can't share just yet (I decided to use my film camera on this trip in order to run through a lot of old film I have). We both got crab cake sandwiches. Much thanks to Jimmy for treating me to lunch :-) I have some really fabulous, giving friends.
West Virginia was really pretty. I liked the rolling hills.
I'll be spending a few days in DC (Tuesday and Wednesday). Not quite sure what I'm doing yet -- I'm hoping to go to the National Zoo and Aquarium tomorrow, and then I might go see Quantico on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday, I'll be in Baltimore with my friend Amy. Saturday will be spent in Alexandria seeing Zandria, and then I'll head back to Pitt on Sunday and be back in Ann Arbor on Monday in time to help my students cram for a test, proctor said test, and then grade the test. Just writing that makes me quite grateful for this little respite.
I had no idea it had been so long since I last posted! I'm sure glad we have RSS readers these days so that most of you can keep up with me no matter how sporadically I post.
This past weekend was recruitment weekend for my department. We invited a bunch of potential students to check out the department, see how they like it, and have interviews with our faculty. The weekend made me a bit sad; it really hits home that I will not be here next year to see this new crop of students. And I will definitely miss all the friends I've made here.
I've been doing lots of reading recently. It's a pleasant side effect of no longer being in a relationship (glad to have something to counteract the not so fun parts). In the fiction realm, I finished Middlesex by Eugenides and My Sister's Keeper by Picoult. Don't let the Oprah's Book Club seal on Middlesex throw you off; it's actually an excellent read. Come to think of it, I've enjoyed every Oprah's Book Club book I've read. I think she typically has pretty good taste.
On the non-fiction side, I've just started Overtreated: Why too much medicine is making us sicker and poorer by Brownlee. I'm only a chapter in, but it's been really fabulous so far. In the book, Brownlee lays out some of the problems with America's health care system as it is. The worst problem, it seems, is that physicians are paid on a per-procedure basis, so they have more incentive to complete procedures than to actually make sure the patient gets better and stays that way. While it sounds really cynical, Brownlee is actually quite level-headed in her book. Supposedly, she also discusses potential solutions to provide health care for all Americans without reducing the ultimate quality of individual health care. Predictably, from her thesis, one of the main ideas is to become more scientific and consistent about which treatments are necessary and which are overtreatments and procedures that do not need to be done.
I'll write a more thorough report when I'm done with the book. At the moment, it seems quite promising, and it's definitely making me consider the medical care I receive and whether or not all of that is really beneficial, necessary care or if it is care for the sake of care (example: the yearly CT and hearing test I receive just in case the hole in my eardrum starts acting funny. They're worried about the hole growing a layer of skin and filling with dead skin cells, which is potentially quite harmful. But I think that if the hole ever closed in, I'd definitely feel it, seeing as how I've had tremendous pain any time doctors tried to fix the hole). Don't worry; I'm not abandoning doctors. But I think the book does remind us that we all need to be intentional about our own personal health care.
In other news, I am studying for midterms and preparing for a spring break trip to DC. I'm also trying to decide what digital camera I would like to buy (mine is 4 years old, and the zoom just broke, and I've been saving up money forever for a new camera). I'm still really stuck on the "point and shoot or digital SLR?" question. Enh.
In any case, I should get back to studying. I'll hopefully be back with more frequency after this crazy week o'midterms.
This is a joke I sometimes make about the general biology class I teach. An astounding number of students enter their freshman year intent on making it to the doctor status. Several don't even make it through general biology, and a number say "well, I like biology, but I don't know if I'm cut out for medicine anymore." I like to think my class just shows them what they need to learn about themselves.
I read PhD comics, and the recent two days of strips have hit home. Celia, an engineering grad student, has been teaching a difficult class this semester full of students who don't attend review sessions but still whine about grades.
I honestly find so many interesting articles almost every time I read the NYTimes Science section. I'd love to share all of them, but I realize that's a little overwhelming. For today, I'll share a little snippet with links to the articles, and I hope you check some of them out!
Scientists have found Pre-Columbian lice. This means that Columbus and other explorers likely did not spread lice to the Americas. Even more interesting is the possibility that the explorers brought diseases back to Europe. In the article, a few scientists postulate that perhaps Typhus was brought from the Americas to Europe, which is an interesting twist of conventional wisdom.
A strange epidemic of illness is explored at a meat packing plant. Quite interesting article. In a nutshell, doctors realized that aerosolized brain particles (which are produced when a high air pressure hose is used to liquefy brain tissue for harvesting out of the skull) may be responsible for some mighty strange symptoms. Seems human bodies go into overdrive when itty bits of pig brain enter the body.
love: the amazing final two minute drive toward a touchdown (and did you see that pass? And that jump catch? Oh my goodness!)
hate: that they had to clear the field with only two seconds remaining in the game and a Giants' ball. Why couldn't Eli just grab the game ball, kneel on the field, and call it good?
okay, time for school. Yeah, it's almost noon. In my defense, I have to teach late tonight, so I won't get home until 9. And I got up early and ran lots of errands. Maybe that makes it better.
Last Sunday, I let you guys know about the really awesome Slice of Pink. This week, I'd like to highlight some wonderful posts I've been enjoying over at Keep up With Me, a blog authored by the wonderful and talented Zandria.
Zandria is an empowered, single woman living in Washington D.C. She does blogging for Blog Her, an online community for women who blog. I've been reading Zandria's blog for a few years now; I believe I started sometime after I returned from studying abroad in the Netherlands. Zandria also studied abroad there (in Amsterdam), but we didn't meet up then. I'm hoping to meet her on my "spring" break trip to Virginia and Maryland at the end of February.
One of her more thoughtful blog posts is Being single doesn't mean unhappy during the holidays. I love Zandria's single gal posts, as it's a happy reminder of the very best of being single. Sometimes this is single in a not-married sense; more often, her posts cover single in the no-boyfriend-no-obligations sense. When I read her posts, I realize how far we've come in the past decades in terms of women's rights.
I declared today my personal cleaning Saturday. My roommate is gone doing something, and I'm trying to avoid studying. Okay, and my apartment really needs some deep TLC.
So far, I've scoured the entire kitchen, which included scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. It needed it. My roommate has been in charge of mopping so far, so this is the first time I've cleaned the floor. While I'm sure my roommate mops, I don't think the floor has been deep cleaned in years. I did a lot of scrubbing and picking at various bits. The floor now looks pretty darn fabulous.
I've also repotted several plants. I had a sickly looking pothos with just a few good areas, so I've cut up the good areas and stuck them in water to reroot. I've got a nice big pot to set them up in once the roots get started. I moved a plant overgrowing its boundaries up into the previous pothos pot. Hopefully, this will take care of the majority of my recent plant problems.
I've just finished the bathroom counter. My roommate wears a lot of makeup, and I never realized how much that can muck up the bathroom. We have separate sinks, and it just occurred to me that the makeup is probably why her sink gets dirty so much faster than mine. This further strengthens my resolve not to wear makeup on a daily basis.
I'm hoping all this deep cleaning means that it will be easier to keep up with stuff on a week to week basis. We'll see. I like Janet's resolution to clean daily for 10 minutes. If I don't get into that here, I plan on instituting that as a personal rule as soon as I live by myself (hopefully starting in Aug/Sept!).
-> vacuuming the carpeted areas
-> cleaning off our glass coffee table (note: I received this one for free. It will be given away when I move, and I am never owning a coffee table with just glass on it again. I can't imagine them to be kid-friendly at all, given how dirty it gets now)
-> straightening my room
-> cleaning the shower/toilet area of the bathroom
Alright, I'm off now to finish my day of cleaning!
Can I just say that January was an interminably long month? It's not my favorite month (sorry to my mom and brother and their Jan birthdays!). It's just . . . it's a whole 31 days, and it's such a dark time of year, and it's often been tumultuous for me.
In '02, I spent the month of January on a Navajo reservation. The Navajo part was cool. The getting flu, and the living with people who won't cook meat but refuse to work around my lactose intolerance? That was not so much fun. Made the month much longer than it should have.
Back in '03, my brother left for Iraq for the first time in January. And I was taking this awful Spanish lit class for the 3-week long winter term my undergrad offered.
In '04, I spent January adjusting to the Netherlands. Okay, that time, January wasn't so awful.
In '05, I spent January praying that I would come up with some sort of thesis so that I could graduate already.
In '06, January was a horrible month full of waiting to hear about grad school.
In '07, January was an awful crunch month wherein I realized I was crazy to try and take 4 classes and teach. Yeah, crazy. But I kept doing it anyway. I'm lucky I passed all my classes.
And this year . . . '08 started out so much differently than January has ended. It's not just the boyfriend thing. I'm feeling much better now that January is gone, and my last week was pretty good. But the first few weeks of January were awful for a litany of reasons (no heat in my apartment, some not-so-fun times at school, and attempting to buckle down and work even though I want nothing more than to be done with my stupid degree).
So, I welcome February readily and with open arms. Yay, February!
I thought I'd try the "Friday Five" for today, just for fun. If I like it, maybe I'll do it more often. Before I answer the 5, though, I think everyone on my blog should know that I'm awake at 7.30 am. This is a rare moment for me. Mostly, I'm awake so that I can go to the gym in half an hour to go run before class. I don't know if this tempers my amazing feat, but I did go to bed at 9 pm last night. I was pretty draggy, so I decided to just get homework done today instead (explains the early gym visit).
Anyway, on to the Friday Five!
01. What types of portable audio devices do you use?
I used an ipod for my walking about and listening pleasure. It's a 3rd generation ipod, which means that it is almost as old as Moses. I got it right before I studied abroad. It's 40 gigs, and it cost $450 at the time (and the $450 is only because we bought the $500 machine on the post-Thanksgiving "10% of all things music" sale at Apple).
For other out-and-about listening, I still use CDs. And tapes. But both of those are just in my car. I do still own a discman, but I don't know where it is, and my walkman crapped out on me at the end of high school.
02. What format of music do you listen to most often?
Probably mp3. Am I over/underthinking this question?
03. How do you get your electronic music files? (pay service [i.e Napster, iTunes, eMusic, etc.], file sharing, artist/label web sites, etc.)
I get most of my music files from a few sources: my little brother, the library, CDs I already own, and iTunes. I don't download anything personally, but I'm well aware that some of my music sources may have downloaded songs that they then gave me. If I'm getting just one or two songs, I will usually get them off iTunes unless I already had the CD from the library. I do have a large CD library available to me (some of which are my dad's, to be fair), so I get a lot of mp3s that way. This now explains my large collection of Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Denver.
04. What type of headphones do you use?
My headphone use is actually somewhat embarrassing. I'm not a music snob, so I don't use any huge, fancy headphones even though I like them. I just hate lugging that crap around.
At the gym, I used these really old headphones that came with my walkman. The padding has all fallen off, thanks to sweat and the ravages of time. But they're steady and work well for gym purposes.
Everywhere else, I use a little pair of Panasonic earphones. They still have earpads on them, but the connect to your head part is this little coil that wraps around the back of my ear. I can't find a really good picture anywhere. Basically, they're just earpads with a bit that wraps around the back of my ear. They're nice and low-profile, but they begin to hurt after I listen to them for a few hours. Before my next plane flight, I think I'll try and find a better pair of headphones.
05. What is currently on your portable music player that you are using? (Post artist, album title, please.)
I'm not listening to my ipod right at the moment (silence is golden!), but I'll go find it. Okay, the last song I was listening to was "Down to the River to Pray" by Alison Kraus, from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.
Thus ends the Friday Five for today. Hope everyone enjoys a fabulous Friday!