Friday, March 31, 2006

A place to call home

I finally have an apartment. I just found out yesterday that I got the place and can move in in May. It is quite nice and very close to a T station and to the Minute Man bike trail. It is the second floor of a family house and there is laundry and storage space in the basement. I will also have two parking spots, one of which is in a garage. The kitchen is a little on the small side but it is a really nice kitchen with lots of storage and nice appliances. And the counterspace, while a little minimal is large enough to work on. I was also talking to the old tenents and they have asked if I wanted to buy their really nice dining room table. So I will have a really nice dining room table with no chairs. I will get chairs when I can I guess. It is an Ikea table so maybe they have nice matching chairs I can buy to go with the table. I will likely have to buy themone ata a time as they are somewhat expensiva and I still have to pay off the car and feed my hiking gear habit. It has been getting hungry again lately. I noticed that REI is having a Garage Sale so that may appease it for a while. And selling off old gear to buy new gear will help.

So I will be moving in the first weekend of May and hopefully everything will go well. I hope I can find enough people to help move so my knees don't die on me. In the mean time I have to arrange for utilities and a moving truck. I think the utilities part will be easy and the truck part will be the hard part. I will find out soon enough. At least it is not close to Quebec's official moving day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Back in Boston and still looking

So, I made it back in one piece from DC. I wish I had been a little more with it while I was there. I also wish the equipment had been running properly so I could have been a little more productive. So now I am back in Boston and still looking for an apartment. The search radius has been expanded a little. I would still like to be relatively close to a T station. Since the end of the month is coming, there may be a new influx of apartments to look at too. I am still hoping for something really nice to turn up.

I actually felt productive in the lab today. I did a maxi prep for one of the post docs and that took most of the day. A maxi prep means I isolated DNA from bacterial cells. I will also be talking with the invetigator about starting to work on one of the mawy projects they have going on in the lab. At least now I know I will not be off jet setting to DC in a few days. Now is the best time to get involved in a project. I kind of know where most things are in the lab and I have time. I also have organised a good chunk of the lab and the rest can be either left until later of tidied a little then ignored. I think I finally figured out how to use the pipets I found. They had a very interesting button under the finger area that caused the piston to lock in the down position. When released, the piston snapped back up which is not good for pipetting purposes. I figured I had to hold the lock closed when pushing down on the piston the first time to prevent it from locking, then I draw up the liquid. When pushing down the second time on the piston to release the liquid then I let the piston lock and that ensures all the liquid was ejected. Now all I need to do is find pipet tips that fit it. It seems it is a larger diameter than the tips we currently use. Oh well. I need a set of pipets and this is a perfectly good set so I might as well just get tips for them. I don't think it is necessary to order more pipets at this stage so this is the cheaper way of getting a really good set.

I get the feeling I have very boring blog entries. Who really wants to read the drivel that comes out of my fingers. I guess I am really doing this for me and no one else so what do I care.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bored and sick

Since the machine is down and there are no samples to prepare I am basically down here in the DC area doing nothing. I was supposed to meetwith a friend yesterday evening but her car decided it needed to die. I did chat with her on the phone for an hour and a half. I als got a phone call from my boyfriend that morning and later that evening as I was vegging out and reading I got a phone call from my parents. I don't think in a normal week I ever hear from that many people. I am still a little on the sick side but I seem to be getting better. Mostly I feel like crap in the morning with an extremely dry throat due to the dry air in the hotel room. I tried to humidify the room with a steamy shower but that really only lasts a few minutes and I feel bad running the shower for longer than 10 minutes. Tonight I will be meeting with the people I stayed with when I first got off the trail. That should be fun. Then I leave in the morning. Hopefully all will go well. I will try to remember to not go through security with metal knee braces on.

The knees do feel better for the wearing of the braces while I am moving but for long term sitting, they are uncomfortable and unnecessary. Maybe once I get back to Boston I will just wear them occassionally. Mostly I have a lot of stairs on the commute, so I could put them on for the commute then take them off at work. I really hate having the restriction of not being able to walk up stairs. My knees feel fine until I do actually start walking up a lot of stairs then they complain a little. If I rest them they are fine. I think I am pushing then more than they are ready to do at this point. I think having the braces on will be a continual reminder that I shouldn't be doing lots of stairs and then they will get better. Rather then my thinking they are better then having a set back or pushing them more then they are ready for.

So it is back to the apartment rental lists. I will still try to work on the landlady one last time about the great apartment I say and wanted but I think it may be too late. I am also wondering if it was the agency's fault. There were a few badly written statements in the lease and they seemed unwilling to reword them and may have just presented a list of demands to the landlady who them balked because there was no prior discussion about them. Well now I know, next time make sure the landlord can come for the lease signing or modify the lease to something I feel I can sign and see if they will sign that.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Down in DC again and lease woes

Well, I never thought I would be down in DC so soon after getting off the trail. I figured I would get back down here eventually on my way to finish my remaining 922 miles but little did I know I would be coming down for a business trip. So off I go to see the NIH in Bethesda. The flight down was mostly uneventful if a little turbulent. I did find out from airport security that there is metal in my knee braces. Note to self, remove braces before going through security if you don't feel like getting frisked. I have taken to wearing knee braces as I keep denying the obvious, my knees are not full healed and taking the stairs is bad for the healing process. At least with the braces on, it is a vivid reminder that I have to be careful. I really should not ignore what my body tells me but I find I am good at doing just that. I think that is what got me in trouble while on the trail.

So, my new job that I have been working at for just over 2 weeks has decided to send me down th NIH to get additional training in various techniques that they want to do within the Harvard labs. I am currently learning how to harvest mouse urine and how to wash special metabolic cages. It is a smelly job but if that is where the grant money is coming from then that is what gets done. There is also the problem of cage stress on the mice when they are in these special cages that everyone is trying to find a way to get around. The stress to the animals is actually affecting the experimental data and may be masking real results as a result of that. Tomorrow I am supposed to be learning a few mouse handling techniques and I hope that all goes well. Saturday I am not sure how many hours I will be working but I will be getting together with a friend that night. Sunday should be a half day and then maybe I will have time to go into DC to check out the Cherry Blossom Festival. I will also be meeting up with the people I stayed with when I got off the trail. It will be nice to see them again and I hope that both of them can make it.

I am still waiting to hear back from the apartment rental agency on whether the landlady will agree to the changes in the lease that have been requested. I don't think that a landlord should have the right to just enter the apartment without out just cause or emergency but that is what this lease seems to imply. There was also a clause that allowed the landlord to decide no animals whenever they wanted which would result in immediate removal of all agreed upon animals. That is hardly fair. I wish to rent that place because they are allowing me pets. It is starting to get a little crazy. I hope they are able to pitch the changes to the landlady in such a way that she understands why they have been requested. So in the end I am still waiting on edge for word back as to whether there is a lease or not. I don't want to think about it but I may just have to start looking again or accepting a lesser place. That would be a shame because the place I finally decided on is really very nice. It is the first floor of a house plus two bedrooms on the second floor. It is called the Philidelphia style. There is a nice large kitchen and basement storage with washer and dryer. There is no off-street parking which sucks a little but then maybe she can be convinced otherwise since she is requesting shovelling in the lease. I am not shovelling unless I can have my car in the driveway. Shovelling the driveway is a small price to pay for an off-street parking spot.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Potential Apartment Sighting

What a weekend. I think in total, we went to see 9 apartments from Friday to Sunday and I have another appointment set up for tonight. Of those 9, 2 where definite takers and it boils down to which will offer us the better set up. One will only allow 1 cat which is not very good since I have 2, they also have a crazy to access basement which would make storing the kayak very hard. But they had a totally renovated kitchen with new applicances and a new, huge bathroom.

The other potential taker is a two floor place with a nice large kitchen and mostly easy access to the basement, the door is short. The land lady will even allow off-street parking when we asked about it. So in the end there is really nothing against the second place but a few strikes against the first place. A decision will have to be made tonight once we see the last place. I am ever so grateful to have company while looking at all these apartments. I think I would have given up several apartments ago. So at this point I guess I am in the finally stretch. Hopefully, I will have a place to move into when I get back from DC. The landlords will be told tomorrow what the decision is and from there is cutting cheques and signing leases. Then I have to arrange for a bit of time off to go up and get my stuff and figure out how to get it all down as cheaply as possible.

In the end, I am completely exhausted from all the running around and will be looking forward to having a place and taking a relaxing weekend, which this next one will not be. The business trip to NIH will involve me working this weekend and getting Monday off as that is the day I fly back on. Basically, I will either have comp-time or over-time this week.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Equinox Party

I was trying to get in touch with a couple of friends for a diner and movie night but unfortunately she was busy with work. Fortunately they were having an equinox party the next night so in the end it worked out. In the end, Saturday afternoon and even was a crazy day. It actually felt like one day in and of itself with the morning being another day. A nap would have made the perfect break to the two in one day but no nap was had. In the end, misery loves company. My boyfriend and I had two apartments to see, although one fell through. We then had to run down to Providence in his company's pickup so I could get my aquariums from my ex. That didn't really go well. It didn't help that he seemed to be purposely pissing me off via email so I would get angry with him. Anyway, I got the last few things of mine from him that he didn't give away. I will be surprised if the fish survive the trip. They are in somewhat scummy water and the stress of the trip plus new water might put them over the edge. Then we went to get a friend and had some chocolate therapy to help soothe the pissed off feeling we were both experiencing. That helped a lot. Chocolate helps makes eveything better.

Then the party. We ended up being fashionably late due to the drive back from Providence. We had arrived just as a drining game was starting so I jumped into that with a Smirnoff Ice. The game was ring of death, I think. Must have been quite the game if I don't remember. I do remember having a great time, and drinking two Smirnoff Ice's. I was in no pain. It was great to see Some of the Providence people again and a friend was up from Delaware who I hadn't seen since I left Providence. All in all it was a nice evening to play catch up. Hopefully they can come to an apartment warming party when I finally settle in. We ended up leaving first but it was getting late and it had been a long day. Today is going ot be hard as there are more apartments to see and now I am really exhausted from lack of sleep. Alcohol does not help me to sleep any better.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Chemical Training

Nothing like starting a new job and having to go through all the training programs again. This is made even more sad by the fact that I started a job in January that just wasn't working out. So now I am staring another job and having to go through many of the same training sessions. At least this job looks and feels so much better. I actually can't wait for this job to get rolling as there are many interesting aspects to the research that I want to learn about and potentially even get a project in. But in the mean time, I spent about 2 1/2 hours learning about chemical safety and what not to mix. As the training session started at lunch time, everyone was encouraged to bring lunch and eat there. I managed to stay alert and with it for the first half of the session, but then we got another instructor for the second half of the training session and he nearly put me to sleep. Actually, I think he would have if I wasn't fighting so hard to stay awake. It was hard because I was tired, I had jsut eaten and his voice tended to drone a little. It didn't help that I couldn't hide in my chair and take a nap. The room was set up so that everyone can see the lecturer which meant they can see you. Makes for harder hiding.

I managed to book about a dozen apartment showings for the weekend. Hopefully there will be a gem in there somewhere. I am a little sick of looking especially when we see a tiny little place for a high rent or a large place for a resonable rent but where there is a stupid layout or repairs are needed. I don't think I am being unreasonable in wanted hardwood floors, a lrage kitchen and off-street parking. Storage for my kayak and the desire to have my cats with me are also required. I guess I will see what the weekend has in store for me. It is going to be a very hectic weekend, we have to look at placces, run down to Providence to get my aquariums and some friends are having an equinox party. Should be a crazy weekend.

Oh and Happy Birthday, you know who you are.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hump day

It is the middle of the week. I found out I did start working in the middle of a pay period so this Friday I will only get one weeks worth of pay even though I worked two weeks. That sucks a little but I guess I could have started at the beginning of a pay period and not received a pay for three weeks. I still have a ton of paperwork to fill out for benefits and stuff. I think I am almost done with that though. I also have three training classes scheduled. One tomorrow, one noxt week and one at the end of April. Hopefully that will be it for a while. Next week I also leave for DC to get additional work related training down at NIH. Hopefully that will be okay. I am not sure how I will amuse myself at night when I am not working. I will be cooped up in a small hotel room with nothing to do. I can bring a few books and maybe some knitting but other than that I will have nothing to do. Hopefully I will be able to get together with my friend in Delaware and the people who hosted me when I got off the trail. I will be there 5 nights though. Maybe the person who is showing me techniques will know of some things that are going on. Mafbe i will just catch up with sleep and writing.

The next few days will be full of more apartment viewing appointments. I really hope there is a jem in there that screams, "Pick me, I'm the one". Otherwise, the last one that was nearby might be the one merely our of lack of energy to keep looking. The kitchen was small and there was really no dining area but it was workable.

I found out today that the sleeping bag I was supposed to be testing has fallen through. This is the second sleeping bag test I have applied for and gotten that has fallen through. Maybe I am destined to not test sleeping bags. Oh well. Guess that frees me to apply for more items I can test. There are a few interesting test calls going by right now that I think I could give a good test run to. I will have to start thinking about writing a few apps for them.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Apartment Hunting, Still

Spent most of the week and weekend looking for an apartment with my boyfriend. I am really glad to have company on this task as it means there are two sets of eyes to look for any flaws in the apartments that may make them unbearable to live in. So far there are two niceish ones that we have seen that may be possibilities especially if nothing better comes up. One of them has everything on the list of wants and needs. The only deficiency it seems to have is that the kitchen is small and as an eat-in-kitchen that is not good. There is not much counter space but the rest of the apartment is huge and there is a loft like space on the second floor. And did I mention it has two floors. It really is a nice place and I am sure a little creative furniture placement and it would be great. The other place is much more expensive and is of a resonable size. It is over two floors also, but in a more annoying way. It does have the ability to have a dining area and computer room with livingroom. Unfortunately, no off-street parking.

So in finally got my computer up and running. It is still a little bare-bones right now, but it is getting there. Finally things are dropping back into place and I am relearning my operating system again. Seems that four months on the trail made me forget many things. I am also having to relearn how to use the dvorak keyboard and so I am in slow typer mode. It is a little painful but it seems to be coming back. It really doesn't help that at work I use Qwerty. I figure by tonight or tomorrow, the computer will be up and runner better than it was before I started. The only problem I can foresee is trying to get the 3D acceleration up and running as that has always been a problem in the past for my install. I guess I will see soon enough.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First few days

So the first few days of the new job are going well, so far. I had very little to do on Monday, mostly just filling out papers and running around getting an id card and email account. Tuesday was not much more exciting as I had new employee orientation and a benefits orientation. The highlight was the free lunch, unfortunately. The lady running the computer for the first presentation could not work it and accidentally closed powerpoint then couldn't open it again. It was quite painful to watch. There were only three people in the audience and myself and another guy managed to get her back on track without getting up and doing it for her. Today was okay if a little boring. I am still in learning mode so I really don't have anything productive to do. I got a few articles to read and I am still getting the computer up to par with more programs I feel I will need in the future.

Speaking of computers, I finally got my computer sort of up and running. At least it now boots up without the bootdisk, which is always a good thing. This means I can now proceed with the next stage of the install. I am in the process of reinstalling Gentoo, and they have changed their instructions a little. So that gave me a few problems. I ended up having to do the install twice. At least it took the second time with a little fiddling. So now I am installing the graphical component, which in the past has always been the most fiddly part of the install due to a no quite compatible nVidia card. Oh well, I shall see what happens this time.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chili Night

I decided to pick up a 2-alarm chili mix. Having bought one just like it in the past and really enjoying it, I thought it would be a nice easy meal to prepare. I picked up an onion, a can of corn, a can of pinto beans and some meat. So of course I forgot to pick up a can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. In the end the tomato paste was not needed but the tomatoes are a crucial ingredient. So off to the market we went last night. My boyfriend did most of the cooking tonight which was really sweet. We ended up spicing the chili to his level then I used the rest of the powder on my plate. I did find that the mix is not as good as what I do with fresh spices. I wonder if it is a freshness issue or if I have changed the proportions. I also like to put in a little ground chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Gives is some zip and a nice smoky flavour.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I made it to Boston

So I finally got my passport yesterday, went to the bank and got money, then packed. This morning was the last of the packing and cleaning then loading the car. I always hate passing through the border but this time it was almost trivial. They barely looked at the letter, which was very well written actually. They didn't seem to look at my diploma, which they have always demanded to see the original in the past. They took a photo and index prints and way I went. So I am now eligible to work in Boston at Harvard for one year. That was the least stressful crossing I have ever experienced. Once I hit the Boston area, I went to a grocery store and picked up a few things for suppers and lunch like things for during the week. I also now have a bus pass that my boyfriend picked up for me. I think I am set to go.

I emailed a few friends who are in the area and maybe I will be able to meet up with them sometime soon. I think that the best time to see a lot of people will be when I have an apartment warming party. I hope I don't have trouble finding a place. Maybe once I get settled in a bit, I will try to go to the knitting thing at Brown every once in a while. I also want to get back on the trails soon. I will check on every once in a while but I may have to post to get what I want.

I am trying to make a somewhat special supper this evening for my boyfriend since it is his "birthday" (read Feb 31) today. I picked up a few ingredients for something that is really easy to make. Basically roast a few potatoes and sweet potatoes and pork roast and eat. I couldn't find any salt and pepper. I am not sure he has any. Oh well. It will still turn out, but who doesn't own salt and pepper? Good thing I made the pie at home this morning.