Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gearing up for Hiking

I just got back form DC yesterday and now I am running around trying to get everything together for a backpacking trip. I have Friday off and will be leaving Friday morning. So I have to plan my food, get all the gear together, bake some breakfast cookies and get the maps out. I will be hiking with someone else who has hiked before but never backpacked so I will be lending him a pack. Had to run down to the storage cubby twice looking for all my gear. The weather has been cooler and I expect it to be cold un in the mountains so I had to track down my thermal underwear. I assumed they were in the drawer with all the other hiking gear but I was wrong, they were in the storage cubby in a box. So I think I have everything piled up and ready to go. The pack is weighing in at 28 lbs. Not bad but it is 3 lbs more than last time and I am trying to account for the difference; thermals, extra cookies maybe, extra sleeping bag as one is not warm enough, and I impulse bought an Orikaso solo set to play with. I think that actually accounts for the weight difference from last time I hiked where I was only carrying 25 lbs. I really can't wait until I am done with the testing of the tent. Then I can remove 5.5 lbs from my pack in one shot and replace it with something in the 1 lb range. I think this will end up being the last backpacking trip before I move. Not really sure if I will get any hiking in after I move either., so it may be the last trip of the year. I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Crazy Trip

I had a rather hectic last few days. I spent the weekend in Montreal. It was a whirl wind visit. It was nice that my brother was also in Montreal at the same time. I spent most of Friday shopping with my mother which was nice. I picked up two pairs of pants that fit better than my current jeans. I also broke down and bought two purses. This will look better than having cell phone and wallet bulges in my pockets.

So after a busy weekend, I went to work Monday and Tuesday then left straight from work to go the airport. I had to check my overnight bag which was just a small backpack because it had toothpaste and hair gel in it. I flew down to DC to see the new lab space and see the campus. The flight down was crazy, basically I spent 2 hours on the runway waiting for the weather to clear up and the backlog for take off to clear up. So I didn't arrive at the hotel until 11:00. I basically walked in and jumped into bed right away. The next day was full of running around seeing lab space with the boss, checking out the animal facilities, and talking to lots of people. Good thing I had the laptop and some work files. The deadline for submitting some of our animal protocols was the end off the month. So I got them in in time. Then the boss and I ran over to the NIH to catch a talk from one of our collaborators who is normally in Europe. It was nice to see some of the project coming together.

I left from the NIH by Metro to go back to the airport. I arrived in time for the earlier shuttle flight but was told if I had checked luggage I should stay on the original flight. So I sat in the airport for another hour. I arrived in Boston and after waiting for the bags to come off, I noticed my bag was not there. Turns out they put it on the earlier flight which I was told not to bother with. I could have been in bed early but no. And to add insult to injury, I just missed the silver shuttle to the T so I had to wait another 15 minutes. Ack!

Monday, August 28, 2006

My new toy has arrived

My new Macbook came. Actually it arrived on Friday but I wasn't here to enjoy it. So today I have been installing needed software, doing updates, fixing settings, and putting needed work items on it so I can use it on my trip to DC tomorrow. This will be really nice and handy to have. I will be hitting REI after work to see about picking up a laptop sleeve. I have it in the protective sleeve supplied with it, but it is really not going to hold up well.

I did walk over to the Boston REI but they only had the medium and large sleeves and I needed the small sleeve. I decided to drive out to the Reading store as they did have the small sleeve in the store. While I was there, I picked up a map for the hike I am planning this weekend and I also bumped into an aquaintance from the outdoor site. We chatted for a while and then I impulse bought some Keen shoes that were on sale. I also did get my laptop sleeve, thankfully. The Macbook fits well across but the sleeve is a little too high. It does come with a nice pocket on the front face for the power cord and other small accessories. Maybe I can fit the cord extender inside the sleeve.

Weekend in Montreal

I spent the weekend in Montreal. I got to have some poutine and steamies. And we saw a film together as a family and went to Barbie's, our favourite resaurant. Basically, a food feast. But a good time had by all. I put the final touches on my mothers sweater and she was thrilled to get it. Good timing too, as the weather is starting to cool off in the mornings and evenings.

I decided last minute to bring the cat with me. Thought it would be fun and he could play with my other cat. I had fun but it seems the cat didn't. First, Percy (my little cat) didn't remember Scotty (my big cat). So Percy was hissing and spitting at Scotty and although Scotty really didn't care, he did care when he couldn't eat in peace. Looks like someone was caught in the litter box too as there was litter everywhere. So I felt a little bad bringing him, but they eventually came to a truce and accepted each other. Then I tossed him in the car and drove back to Boston. Poor cat. And it rained the whole way back.

On a good note, my wipers are finally fully operational. The wipers gave up the ghost a while back and when my father and I worked on them, we thought we had fixed them. Seems we hadn't. They gave up again on the drive up so we fixed them on Saturday. Seems that not only had the nut popped off, but one of the arms had actually seized up. So I picked up a used arm assembly and we popped it back in. Now they work perfectly. Good thing the motor was still in good shape. I dread to wonder how much a new motor and arm assembly would have cost.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

As this movie is really only playing at select theaters in Canada (maybe only in Montreal) I had to catch it this weekend or wait for it to come out on video. I went with my brother as I don't think it was playing out in his neck of the woods either. This movie is really geared for a select audience hence the limited release. If you are not from the Montreal area or do not know the culture then this movie will not make a lot of sense. It really pokes fun of the french culture as seen by someone from Ontario while poking fun of english culture as seen from Quebec. The movie has both main cahracter talking in both languages back and forth. The subtitles are very close but really can't capture the flavour of the frensh swearing which is liberally used. This movie is a great cross of comedy and action. The best part is when a pot house goes up in flames and both characters are so high, they can hardly stop laughing at their boss. Not something I would expect to see in an American movie ever. This was definitely worth watching and I am glad I caught it. I may have to get it on DVD when it comes out. Well worth another viewing or three.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Illusionist

Caught this movie while in Montreal. We did it as a family thing. It was nice catching a movie altogether for once. It was actually a good movie. It had the feel of a ches game. The main cahracter skillfully manipulated his opponents pawns and made them work for him rather than against him. There were a few huh? moments in the movie but after putting them in context with little details from earlier in the film, they made much more sense. The little aha! moment at the end came with a nice flash back of all the things we likely didn't notice and really helped piece the whole game together. Overall, very well done and worth seeing.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

And the down side is...

So the bad-ish news is that all this moving is going to happen in October, most likely in the middle and all at once. So we will have to pack up the lab, and find a moving company. I will also have to give notice with my landlady and find another apartment. I will also have to try to find a roommate to replace me. I will have to move around the same time as the lab so I can be here for the packing and in Georgetown for the unpacking. I will have to figure out where everything will go and organize the lab. Should prove interesting but I think it will be nice to organize the layout of the lab.

I am actually feeling a little bad for the cat. I am sure he is not going to want to hop in the car for a long trip to DC and I don't think I want to fly him down. Besides, the car will have to get down there somehow, might as well drive it down with the cat. I will likely have to drug him or I don't think either of us will survive the trip. Google claims it is a 9 hour drive. Might have to have a litter box available too.

Washington, here I come!

So it looks like its official, the lab is relocating to Washington, DC. I will be going down to visit the campus and see the lab space. This will be nice and give me a chance to talk with the animal facility about protocols for sending down our animals. The boss claims that the animal facilities there are very nice, I really hope so. While the animal facilities here seem to be nice, once you have been working in them you soon discover it is all an illusion. Once that happens, it is hard to take the facility seriously and even harder to bother following the rules. On a good note, I am getting a really nice pay raise and I think a new job title. I would like Jack of all Trades, but it was not available. Oh well. We did see some pics of the lab space. It looks spacious, actually a little bigger than what we currently have, but the layout is not very nice and things are not very new. The lab we are in right now was refurbished and is nice a clean. From the pics there does not seem to be any individual cubbies for us to work in and the benches and shelving are only okay.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm getting a laptop

So I finally have enough disposible income sitting in the bank account to seriously consider getting a laptop. I have been wanting one for quite some time now and I think now that I have a Harvard discount available, I might as well use it. If I plan carefully, I don't think the purchase will hurt that much. I had a hard decision to make. I wanted to get an IBM thinkpad but I wanted something compatible with my iPod. I also wanted something that had the potential for linux. So in the end I think I am going to break down and buy a MacBook and sell the Mac desktop. This will leave me with the same number of computers but one will be more portable. I don't think I want to start accumulating computers right now. So next pay will be the perfect opportunity to drain the bank account.

Giant crop logos

This is great, a giant crop circle showing off the logo of my favourite web browser. Seems every time they hit a mile stone in their downloads, they do something to show this off to the world. AT 200 million downloads, why not celebrate. I love the Firefox browser. I also love the fact that it can be used across all the different platforms. I use it at home on linux, at work on Mac and I have seen it used on a PC.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Finally a credit card

I finally have a credit card. I didn't realize that by not using my Canadian credit card that they would just up and cancel it due to non-use. When I called them they claimed it would be easy to get another one, trival the guy said. Little did he know that I had just started a new job and as such was ineligible. As I was at my new job barely three months before running off for a better job, I have been sitting around in limbo waiting until I was eligible, or at least where my chances of rejection would ben lower.

So the other day, I finally got up the nerve to try again for an American credit card. I have long been denied this as I am not a student, have no credit history and am not a resident. Not that the last thing should matter, but without the first two you are basically up sh*t creek without a paddle or a credit card. After talking to someone else who is a member of the same bank as me, I decided now is the time. As I am with the Harvard credit union, they understand that people who work here are not all students, or have credit histories, so supposedly they are a little more lenient. And with little fan fare, I noticed when I logged into my account that there was a new entry for my credit card. Now all I have to do is figure out how to develop a good credit history and rating so I can eventually buy a big ticket item like a house.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

Once I finished with work, I hit Ben and Jerry's for a treat, then went to the movies. I watched "The Devil Wears Prada". It was a very good movie and quite well done. And wow, was she the boss from hell. I have had a bad boss before, but she tops the charts of evil. One character did make a valid observation, that had she been a man, everyone would have praised him for being a great dedicated businessman, but because it was a woman, she was the Dragonlady and a big B. Overall, a very good movie and it was definitely worth watching.

More I-don't-feel-goods

What a wonderful start to the weekend, first yesterday now this morning. I am not a morning person and waking up in pain just made me really cranky. I wasn't even going to get up but Mother Nature called loud and clear. So I dragged myself out of bed and took something. After an hour and a shower, I was feeling much more human. Ready to tackle the day and go to work. Work? On a saturday your ask? Yes, we have these experiments running that require contant care. As I had the last two weekends off and I was not going to Montreal this weekend, I gave one of the other post-docs a break. We have a new post-doc starting on Monday and she will be working on this project until she gets settled. So I need to get her access to the facility so I can have a break during the week to. At least we wrapped up one of the two experiments. Running two experiments at the same time, in the same cages is a real pain in the butt. This experiment is a short one so it will finish end of next week. Then I will give everyone a little break before starting another experiment.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A bad case of the I-don't-feel-good's

I had a bad case of the I-don't-feel-good's, but just to make matters worse, I also had a headache on top of that. Today felt like a long day. It wasn't a bad day but neither was it a good day. I have nothing to do tonight either so I am going to kick back, relax and wait for the pain medicine to kick in. I also think that my allergy pills are not cutting it anymore. Either that or I have an especially bad allergy to something else right now and it is not able to keep up. I will have to think about going in for an allergy test soon. So many things to do and so little time. I have been knitting up a storm lately. If I dedicated as much time to getting things on my list done as I do to my knitting, I would have a pile of yarn and a clean to do list rather than a pill of finished or mostly finished knitting projects and a cluttered to do list.

I am knitting my first lace piece. It is a circular lace shawl that can also be used as a table doily too. It is very nice but not as delicate as it should be. I am using the right yarn but the wrong sized needles. Unfortunately I didn't have the size 5's so I an using size 4's. I think I will try to sell this piece and get the right sized needles then do it again. It is coming along quite nicely though. It will be hard to part with. But then, its sale will allow me to get the right sized needles, more yarn and something to ball the yarn. The yarn for this particular project comes in skeins, which means that the yarn was wound around the legs of a chair, then twisted into a long roll then folded back onto itself. Needless to say, you cannot knit with yarn in this state as it will knot up, and the project would not be transportable at all. So I hand wound the skein into a ball, but this project uses three skeins, so I still have two more skeins to hand ball. It takes a while to hand ball the yarn and for the duration, I am protty much committed to working on that and nothing else. Plus it gives me a sore back as there is no where comfortable to sit while doing this. I might try the bed next time, with the yarn wrapped around my feet. Maybe that will control the knotting and be easier on the back.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My very own Lion

I finally made an appointment for the cat to have him shaved. I put his harness on him this morning and he was not impressed. He did play with the little red dot but he didn't want to some out of my room. Oh well. He was really not impressed when I got home and snapped the leash on. So I had to carry him out to the car. And he started howling even before I got him in the car. Good thing the place was just up on the corner. I dropped him off and walked back. And now I have my very own mini lion. The lady left a nice hair tuft on the tail too. Click the picture to see the anather pic with a better tail view.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Canadian Night

I went out last night to meet up with a group of fellow Canadians. It was a little worrying to be there at the appointed time and no one was there. I started to wonder if it had been cancelled or moved. People did start to show up shortly thereafter so that was nice. There ended up being a very large group of people with lots of first timers. We met at John Harvard's pub so I got to try out a new restaurant too. It was really nice to talk to a group of people who could all pronounce Toronto correctly and could sympathize with how bad the Coke is in the States. Quite a few of the people were in the science field in some way. I had a great time and it is too bad that the organizer is heading back to Canada. I hope someone takes over.

Not to revisit this topic too many times but the restaurant offered a black bean veggie burger. Mmm, wonder how the body takes to that.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Farmers Market

I finally made it to the Harvard Farmers Market. After about 3-4 weeks of trying. I couldn't go last week because I worked late, didn't go the week before because it was really very hot and I think I talked myself out of it the week before that. In the end, it really wasn't worth the trouble. Maybe if I really like tomatoes it would be worth it but I don't. I did pick-up some corn on the cob, a cuke and a zucchini. I haven't had a good zucchini in a long time and the ones at the store don't look very good. I picked up a few other items at the grocery store when I got back to the apartment so I will be having some nice stirfry's soon. I also have a nice short grain brown rice to try out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

I decided do go catch a movie outing with a group of people last night. Mostly it was because I was in a slightly foul mood and needed people and a movie to make me feel better. As I had not seen previews for this particular movie, I had no idea of what was about to come. And looking back on that, I think this might be a good way to go about doing it. At least I had no preconceived ideas about the movie and how it would shape up. Also, as in some cases, the preview is basically a 30 second short of the film that tells the public everything. There have been a few times where I feel I don't have to watch the movie because the preview told me everything I wanted and more. So off I went, the group ended up being 8 people total. As we entered the theater a little late, we ended up splitting up. The movie was great. I was laughing so hard that by the end of the movie I was coughing. The movie is about a beauty pagent but that is so secondary to the film that I kept forgetting about it. The family portrayed in the film is so disfunctional on so many levels, you can't help but laugh. The father was so full of himself, I just wanted to wring his neck and so it seemed did some other characters. The mini-bus they were driving in one in part the best part of the movie. All the things that went wrong with and in that poor bus was hilarious. I loved it when the horn gave up. It didn't really die, but rather kept fading in and out in a really pathetic way that added to the hilarity of the movie. Overall, I found this to be a great movie and I am glad I went to see it. We ended up going for food after the movie to a really great fajita place and yakked for another hour. I am glad I got out and enjoyed the night.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Liquid Fart

I went to knitting last night and had the most horrible thought. One of the knitters went to get some food for supper and came back with the soup du jour. The soup happened to be black bean soup and the first thought that popped into my head was what the effects of eating pureed beans would be on the intestinal system. I am sure the outcome is less horrible than I imagined, but the thought was there none the less. I ended up getting an almond pastry as a snack for the trip home. I managed to demolish it on the ride. It was okay but I don't think I will be getting it again. It just didn't seem sweet enough and the almond flavouring was also quite faint. About half an hour later it made its presence felt and I ended up on the toilet until about midnight. So much for a good nights sleep. Maybe that is what I get for thinking about farts, a ring of fire. I am still not feeling all that well today. We went out for a lab lunch and I merely rented the food. I think I am skipping supper tonight to give my gut and butt a rest. I think I will be having a nap when I get back to the apartment too.

On a better note than the about experience, I am working on a sweater for myself and have just attached the arms to the body, so I have shoulder shaping then neck shaping. I am mostly finished my mother's requested sweater. I have four more pattern repeats to do, which I should be able to do on the ride home tonight. Then all I have to do is motivate myself to sew in the ends and piece the thing together. I should sew in an end every time I sit down to knit. That way it will get done but will not require that I do a ton at once. My sweater is looking quite nice. I was going to do the small size as that is what the sizing chart recommended but I changed my mind after starting the first sleeve as it felt a little too tight. Good thing I got enough for a medium. Must have had the medium on my mind when I bought the yarn.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Washington, DC?

So I received some interesting news today. Seems that the lab may be relocating to Washington, DC. I have been asked to go along too. I think this will be a nice change. Washington has a lower cost of living compared to Boston, but I am not sure I will be making the same salary. The trouble is, if I stay in the Boston area, there is no garantee that I can find another job as they are scarce right now. And my most marketable skill is one I no longer which to use. Plus I actually like this lab and some of the research they are working on. I figure with the move, I may be able to switch things around a little and start working with one of the other post docs on their project which is much more interesting than what I am currently doing. I dislike working with mice and would much prefer to work in the informatics area. As of yet, this is only tentative news. This is not for sure and we won't know for a few weeks. I hope he decides to go for it. Harvard has been giving him a hard time and has fallen through with their promises. Georgetown has the money in the bank up front, ready and waiting. On the plus side, the Appalachian trail is nearby and that is about where I got off, so I could explore new sections of the trail.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mmmm, Tripe

I had a chance to try tripe today. Actually, I had a chance to do dimsum with a small group of people who are part of a writitg group. So I decided to be brave and get out and meet new people with similar interests. The dimsum was quite good. And the tripe was okay. I did try it and found it really didn't have much actual flavour. It was mostly the sauce that gave it any flavour. The tripe itself was just very chewy, and looked very, well not sure how best to decribe it. It is the cows stomach and it looked like the inside of a stomach, having seen one in HS biology class. I had heard of tripe before but I couldn't remeber what part of the animal it was, I thought it was tongue but soon learned it was not. It seems that when having dimsum at a very authentic restaurant, the best thing to do is order tripe and they take you more seriously. I didn't know anything, so I let the other people, who are more experienced do all the picking. Most things were very good. I would have liked a nice sticky rice to wash some things down with though. It was all very meaty and doughy, at least the one noodle dish helped.

I wandered around the Boston Common after the dimsum to try to walk off the bloated feeling of having over eaten. The had the cows on display. Artists sponsored by various companies had painted up some large cows as part of a charity drive for the Jimmy Fund. Some of the cows were really amazing. Mostly I liked that the names are puns, some are very bad puns, that are witty and cute.

I put new inner tubes in my bike this morning and took them for a spin. The bike is so much better now. The old ones just didn't seem to hold the pressure. I also had picked up some cycling gloves as the grips an the handle bars are very uncomfortable after a few minutes of biking. My ride is so much better now. I find that this has encouraged me to get out on the bike a bit more often. Just like how being able to load and unload the kayak by myself has opened up going for a paddle anytime I want. I think I will be going for an early morning paddle tomorrow. Then I have to do some house cleaning. I have been putting things off due to the heat. So tomorrow is the day.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Crazy hot weather

We are just coming out of a very nasty hot weather period. Temperatures were expected to be about 115F with the humidex and we managed to reach about 108F with the humidex. As the school is attached to the hospital, they share the same power plant. So when there are high demands on power, the hospital gets priority. So, unfortunately, yesterday when the weather was at uts hottest, it started to warm up quite a bit in the lab. I pulled out a thermometer and it was just hitting 27 in the lab. It wasn't too bad as the humidity was quite low. But when I stepped outside later on, the wall of heat and humidity was incredible. I got back to the apartment and turned on the AC right away. I had reheated leftover chili with some cheese for supper and I ate that in the cool bedroom. I even brought the cat and his food bowl in. He did not seem that happy but at least he was happy following me around and I did not have to carry him. He eventually ate, so he must have cooled off enough. I kept him in the room until he whined at midnight. I feel really bad for him. I tried to get him shaved earlier but had some problems. So he is still covered in long hair. I gave him a good brushing which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. At least today is cooler and the lab is much more comfortable. I hope the apartment is okay, I was thinking of whipping up a quick stirfry before heading off to knitting. I also thought I would make some rice to go with it. I guess I will find out soon enough.