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July 02, 2008

Thanks, Eukanuba!

As many of you longtime lurkers will remember, the Elder Princess has been a severely allergic dog for most of her life. You may recall we've done all the tests, antihistamines, steroids, shots, human anti-transplant-rejection drugs, and of course special foods. We never did find out for certain what the culprit was, but circumstances have shown that it lives in Chapel Hill, and not California, so our Boo is doing a lot better over the last three years.

The one thing that changed for the worse, though was her weight. Venison and Kangaroo are both lean meats, and usually less fat is added to the mix in allergy diets. Coincident with our move out here, most pet stores stopped distributing the Eukanuba brand of prescription diets, so we had to switch her to regular Eukanuba adult food (Lamb and Rice, actually, since we knew rice was ok and she'd never had lamb). And well, she put on a few pounds. Especially since the townhouse we lived in didn't have a yard and we had to walk her every day instead of playing....

But I digress. Today we went to the Smart of Pet to get food for the puppy (the Princess currently is being kept on a diet of weight control rations, which is not good for a growing girl). And to our surprise, what did we find in the regular food aisle? Eukanuba Naturally Wild Venison and Potato formula!

It looks and smells a lot like what we used to pay the same price for with a prescription. They both love it, or so it seems by the empty dishes and sleepy bodies. We'll see what their tummies think tomorrow!

I know Eukanuba has gone downhill in quality in recent years, but my dogs love it and they're both incredibly healthy, so we'll see how this goes one bag at a time.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


You'll find some changes in the right-hand sidebar. Many dormant and dead blogs sadly deleted, a few new additions (especially under the Green Parrot -- Pasadena Bloggers) and a long list of NEW bloggers I have actually met.

I'll be uploading pictures to Flickr, too, sometime later tonight or tomorrow, so check here for new pics shortly.

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 04, 2008

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one
People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and







Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 07, 2008

The NEW Racism: Picky Eating

A government-sponsored organization (organisation) in the UK now says that picky-eating toddlers may be "exhibiting racist behaviours" bt refusing to eat or saying 'yuck' to flavorful foreign foods. A daily Telegraph article says:

" The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."

It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: "blackie", "Pakis", "those people" or "they smell".

The guide goes on to warn that children might also "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'".

Staff are told: "No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action."

OFCS*. Are you KIDDING ME??? A three year old says "yuk" to spicy food and automatically they're considered little KKK-wannabes?? Some of those words, sure, those are clearly racist, but even then it goes a bit too far to suggest that a TODDLER has malice in their heart for a specific group of people.

If a three year old hears a group of people called "apples" or "chairs" they'll use that word just the same as if it was (as mentioned above) "blackies" or "pakis". All they understand is the LABEL, if that. They are incapable of attaching racist meaning to it at that age because they are incapable of understanding (in an adult sense) what race is.

Furthermore, I find it highly unlikely that a toddler can associate foods with races. Oh, I don't like curry because THEY eat it, where they is some other group.

As for the other labels mentioned in the article "those people" is a way that small children break down the world. These people vs those people, us vs them. It's an easy way for their young brain to learn to classify people and things, to sort out their environment and make sense of everything around them. It's not evil. It's not denigrating, it's just a baby brain learning to work.

I think my favorite of the report's objections, and the one that best demonstrates nanny-ism run amok, though, is "they smell."

Let's face it, small children are absurdly honest and have no politeness filter. they say what's on their mind. Including that some people smell funny to them. It's clear that different cultures come from homes that smell differently. Some burn incense or use flavorful, aromatic spices in daily cooking. To a toddler unused to those smells, someone who comes from that environment WOULD smell funny. Again, not racist, just honest.

The bottom line here is that kids are kids. They are simple, funny, honest, and open. Because they haven't learned how to be polite or appropriate yet. They don't understand that what they say can hurt. And frankly, if a toddler wants to insult you, they're more likely to say "poopyhead" than "blackie" or "paki". A kid who is rude or insulting should be dealt with, but not as an incipient racist. They should be disciplined accordingly, and taught that ALL rudeness and insult is unacceptable, including racism. We should explain why it's not nice to say that another child smells funny without pointing fingers and shouting accusations.

This report, in sum, says a WHOLE LOT MORE to me about the agenda of the authors than the intent of the toddlers.

This whole debate about racism and children is funny to me. Children today are so unaware of racism. They get their ideas about it from what WE (the ADULTS) project on to them. Kids are blissfully unaware of race problems until we tell them that they should be experiencing them.

This brought to mind a more local story. Charter Oak High School in Covina recently discovered that parodic African-American sounding names ("Tay Tay Shaniqua," "Crisphy Nanos" and "Laquan White") were printed in the yearbook under a picture of the Black Student Union, apparently as a racist joke.

I can't help but wonder if the motivation was really racist in nature or just bad taste, and a joke gone sadly awry. Do teenagers really harbor the kind of overt racist feelings implied by these actions? Was it entirely about race? Or were they just making fun of some kids they didn't like, by badly ripping off certain black comedians?

The community is up in arms and the parents are demanding action, but I have to wonder if we're missing something. Are our kids racist? Did WE make them that way? If not, why do they do and say racist things? Is it because they are SO OVER racism, that it CAN be a joke for them. Wouldn't that be considered a good thing?

It's like that classic South Park Question: How long does it have to be with us before AIDS is funny? When can we laugh? Can we EVER laugh about racism? And if we do, who gets to laugh? The opressed? The reformed opressor? The subsequent, non-racist generations? When does it get to be OK? For whom?

*Oh For Christ's Sake!

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:39 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Possibly the BEST LOLCat of all time

Sums up my life most days.....


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July 10, 2008

Summer officially begins tonight

With the premiere of the first of our Summer "Must Watch" TV. It's not just new to me, it's NEW.

Burn Notice premieres 10pm tonight. Not only does this show kick ass, it features Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell. JD rocks. I've been a fan since his turn as Jarod's scary psychopath brother Kyle on my favorite show of all time: The Pretender. Bruce Campbell, what can I say. He's the perfect semi-drunk sidekick. If you haven't seen it, you're missing out

We've already been watching summer TV (Celebrity Family Feud, Shear Genius, etc.), including the first actual show of the summer, In Plain Sight. Which kicks ass, BTW. You should make time for it, 10 pm Sunday, USA Network.

But tonight marks the return of what has come to be known as busy season for the TiVo. The rest of our shows will be back over the next week or so, and we can't wait. Over the next week we get back Psych, Project Runway, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and the Closer as well.

Summer Must-See on our TiVo:

Deadliest Catch
After the Catch
Mind of Mencia
Dog the Bounty Hunter
In Plain Sight
Burn Notice
The Closer
The First 48
Celebrity Circus
Celebrity Family Feud
Project Runway
Shear Genius

Funny how most of our shows are on USA, Bravo, A&E, and Discovery. Hmmmm.

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Puppy's First....

... real bath!

Pictures posted to Flickr... here's a preview:

black, white, and blue

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 13, 2008

Colon cancer can FOAD. In the most unbelievably painful way possible. **

Somehow I missed the news about Tony Snow this weekend. I feel terribly sad for his family. Colon cancer is a wicked, wicked bastard. It's insidious, it hides. And it steals wonderful vibrant lives a little at a time.

I wish I had had a chance to meet Tony and tell him how much I admired his complete lack of BS. No matter how hard he was spinning, he always seemed to be completely without BS, and that that was important to him. I wish I'd had a chance to thank him for his grace in dealing with this awful disease, how many people his illness has touched, and that maybe he was responsible for saving the lives of more than a few of them.

His faith and remarkable attitude toward death are on display in this article Tony wrote for Christianity Today about a year ago:

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases, and there are millions in America today, find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this, because of it, God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life, and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts, an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live, fully, richly, exuberantly, no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension, and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

Read the whole piece, it's a beautiful statement of faith and how we can use adversity to our advantage. Thanks to Jen for finding this.

Tony is surely in heaven tonight, and I hope his family has peace knowing that his ordeal is over. Rest in Peace.

** FOAD -- Fu*k Off And Die, also CCFOAD -- Cancer Can Fu*k Off And Die. see here

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July 15, 2008

I don't need your affirmative action OR your pity

According to some, the "lack" of women in science and engineering is so critical that Title IX-like protections should be put in place until women are equally represented.

Are you f*cking kidding me? Women have no barriers in science, probably fewer than in any other general field. Over half of students entering medical school this year are women. More than 60% of graduate students in biology and biochemistry and psychology are female. My department chair is a woman. There's no lack of women in science, even at the highest levels.

Yes, you might argue, but the article focuses on Physics and Engineering. And true, there are relatively few women in physics and engineering. But is it possible that maybe women don't choose these fields because they are less interested? Should we force girls into jobs they don't want? It's not like the demands of an academic career in physics are that different from the demands of an academic career in biology or biochemistry. Which even these researchers had to admit was the case:

[T]he institute found that women with physics degrees go on to doctorates, teaching jobs and tenure at the same rate that men do. The gender gap is a result of earlier decisions. While girls make up nearly half of high school physics students, they're less likely than boys to take Advanced Placement courses or go on to a college degree in physics.(emphasis mine)
At least the Universities so far are ignoring it:
So far, these Title IX compliance reviews haven't had much visible impact on campuses beyond inspiring a few complaints from faculty members. (The journal Science quoted Amber Miller, a physicist at Columbia, as calling her interview "a complete waste of time.") But some critics fear that the process could lead to a quota system that could seriously hurt scientific research and do more harm than good for women.
Yep. And considering today's cuts in research funding and endless Federal investigations looking for reasons to increase cuts, this could be a nightmare for small institutions that don't have the resources to bring in enough female scientists to meet an arbitrary quota.

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Dr. Horrible has arrived! - UPDATED!

Joss Whedon's latest project, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has finally arrived! The miniseries in three acts is being released this week.

Act I is available today, Act II will be released on July 17 and Act III on July 19.

But hurry, it all goes away on July 20!

Click over, turn up the speakers and enjoy!

Update: Also, now you can find a super cool Dr. Horrible button in the left sidebar below my Yahoo! Avatar! There are lots of different sized buttons and other widgets on the Dr. Horrible site, just scroll down and click the "get some resources" button. And be sure to read the EVIL Master Plan as well!

My brief review: It's Flash Gordon meets Little Shop of Horrors with Firefly sensibility. Perfect combo.

Posted by caltechgirl at 04:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

Forest for the trees (and some TV notes)

It was a busy weekend at the Casa de CTG. For the first weekend in about a month it was cool enough to work outside, and we were actually IN TOWN to get things done.

Despite the fact that GMT is home for the summer, the yard has been getting away from us shamefully. It has just been too hot to work in the yard for long periods, so the list of things to be done has far outpaced the the things we can GET done. Add to that a tree that decided to DIE in the middle of the yard, and well, it was starting to look like there were a few dead cars arriving to be parked on the lawn in a week or so.

Finally this weekend we were able to tackle some big projects. First up was the dead tree. Our lovely plum tree just turned brown and withered. We'd known it was sick, with some disease that didn't affect the other fruit trees in the yard, or the neighbors yard. But then it just up and died. So we took it down before it fell and killed someone.

Hubby clipped off all of the small limbs and branches with pruning shears and then we borrowed a friend's chainsaw and chopped it down a piece at time into a rather cheerful looking pile of firewood.

When Hubby got to the stump, the reason for the tree's downfall became immediately clear: Termites had infested the base of the tree and killed it from the inside out. Of course, we sprayed the stump with bug spray and threw the termite pieces in the trash. They live in the soil in Pasadena, I know, but the fewer the better is my motto when it comes to Termites.

When the plum tree was done, we moved the operation to the front yard, and using our awesome pole trimmer and tree saw, we took out all of the lower branches on the nasty tree that shades our driveway (and drops leaves and makes the car sticky from its secretions), mostly because the branches were likely the cause of our cable having loose connections, and because the branches were beginning to brush the roof. Yeah, not good. I've noticed these trees all over Pasadena, and it seems to me that most people who park under then DO NOT experience sticky, leafy car like we do, and I realized, most of the other trees are higher above the cars, so hopefully the trim will help with that, too.

Then, later last night we went over to some other friends' house and picked up their mini-whisper-chipper. This should allow us to get rid of most of the tree waste by making it into some lovely mulch. YAY!

I am totally exhausted.

Also from this weekend, it seems we stopped watching House entirely about the time we went into escrow on the house. Regular lurkers will know that was well over a season ago, strike or no strike. So this weekend we picked up where we left off, and have watched 9 episodes or so, which brings us up to just about the last pre-strike episode. It's nice to have all that TiVo space back, too. Just 12 to go. I expect we'll get through them in the next couple of days. Then we have a whole season of Ugly Betty to get through. As well as a whole slate of summer shows.

Speaking of summer shows, we were both very impressed with A&E's The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt. Despite a few cheesy moments (including a Pulp Fiction-esque heroin rescue and a very amateurly foreshadowed suicide), it was gripping and we're looking forward to the second episode on Tuesday.

Also, our all-time favorite, Psych, is back on USA. This season started off with what I consider to be just a "meh" episode, despite the much ballyhooed arrival of Shawn's Mom: Cybill Shepherd. She was actually excellent, and seemed to fit right into the cast. The plot was MORE than a tad contrived, with Shawn resorting to fraud and blackmail to keep Gus's "dayjob" from forcing him out of the agency. Not his best work, and certainly not the best script of the show. Surprisingly adorable: Henry getting all mushy about his ex and Lassiter crying on the therapy couch after boasting to Jules that he was kicking a$$. Looking forward to a much better season once the writers get over their long winter break.

And a final thought on TV: All-time Foodie fave Ted Allen returns to weekly TV with a new show on Food Network starting next Tuesday (7/29). It's called "Food Detectives" and looks to be the gay love child of Alton Brown's Good Eats and MythBusters. Even if the concept wasn't so cool, I'd be all over this show. How can you not love the man who once advocated that bacon should be its own food group, and later described it as the "best two words in food: Ba. Con."?

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

Summer Reruns

One of my favorite things about summer is that my schedule is less crazy and I have the flexibility to do things I usually can't in the winter: catch up on TV, knit and crochet, read good books, and especially, cook.

Hubby has been working like a fiend in the yard getting all the detritus up from this weekend's festivities and mulching it with the mini chipper of doom. So I thought I would treat him with one of his favorites, Stuffed Peppers. I hate 'em, but I'll totally eat the filling and we had some beautiful green peppers I picked up at the Fresno State farm market last week when we were in town that I needed to use.

My stuffed pepper recipe is the easiest ever (especially when you use pre-cooked rice from Trader Joe's), so it makes a quick summer rerun. And a very happy hubby, too!

Go here to see just how awesomely easy it is!

Posted by caltechgirl at 06:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

Blogging from the deep end

I haven't really had a chance to brain dump lately. Despite the fact that it is summer, and therefore I am NOT teaching, I have been as busy as ever. Stuff just piles up on my desk and I am trying to get through a thousand small things just to get to see the top of my desk.

In some sense this is my fault. Being the person who is NOT on vacation means a lot of things that wouldn't otherwise come my way get shifted to me. Plus I am adding a new class in the Fall which I have to prep. Although it has been taught before, the focus of the class is changing, and the massive increase in enrollment (5 to 15, yeah I know, but it is TRIPLED) means I have to rethink the way labs and some assignments are done, almost as if it were a new class. I am also taking the opportunity to switch to a more rigorous text and need to make the syllabus reflect that text. With my "old" class, I need to re-arrange some of the units and make the syllabus more reflective of our designated Student Learning Outcomes (yes, we are going through Accreditation, why do you ask?) and combine the lab and lecture syllabi into one with a less formal schedule for the lab, because, as we all know, sh!t happens.

Along with this is the possibility of getting some grant $$ for research, which means I need to write a formal animal protocol which explains exactly what I plan on doing with my animals and how and when and why. This is the last thing I want to do. Boring. And pissy. And I really really really could give 2 shits about doing research anymore. Srsly. And anyway, I research stress hormones. Why on Earth would I want to hurt my animals? It only screws up my data.

I am also deeply embroiled in University politics. So far I have managed to play the naive child role well enough to slide through some serious controversial sh!t, while behind the scenes I plot and maneuver and try to come up with mature solutions. Who ever it was that said that Academic politics are worse because they are meaningless was right.

It doesn't help that I am trying to work from home as much as possible. On days when I can really focus, telecommuting is great. I can work all day on my schedule and get other things (like laundry or a trip to the dentist) done at the same time. I don't have to waste time or $$ on driving in to campus, either. I figure it costs me about $60-70/ week to drive in, just in gas costs. The inconvenience and creepiness of the Public transit makes that a less useful choice. Especially the creepiness. Someone was shot at the stop for my office a few weeks ago, and there have been a number of muggings and other violence.

Outside of work, things keep swimming along. Tomorrow is our 9th Anniversary. I can't believe it's already late July. Classes start again in a month. Also, I've "graduated" from physical therapy, and I continue in the pool, working on my own. So far so good. I like the pool, I like the workout, and I've gotten to know the group of "regulars" at the therapy pool who come every morning (lucky retired gals) to workout. Most of them are also therapy graduates. We switched my class schedule so that I can continue going to the pool in the morning twice a week. YAY.

Oh, and I have a ton of pictures to post. I'll try to do that tonight after I get home. I'm staying late for a student orientation "mixer" on campus. Yecch. But it gets me out of tomorrow's festivities and therefore I can hang out with hubby for our anniversary!

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July 24, 2008

I finally figured it out!

Happy Fun Ball is made of Wonderflonium. That's why you ahouldn't bounce it!

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nine, nine, number nine.

Happy Anniversary to the sweetest husband a girl could ever imagine. Even if you are a complete and utter dork.

I like you that way.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:44 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 25, 2008

A Rose by any other name...UPDATED

Helen's post yesterday, about names, got me thinking. You see, I can't just say these are the names I would choose for my children without explaining why. There's a whole list of rules that hubby and I came up with many, many years ago. Long before we even started dating.

You know those long, rambling conversations you can have with your closest friends? The rules sprung from one of those. WE were just sitting around, BS'ing one day. I don't even know what started it off, but eventually both of us (and Ben. He was there, too) were tossing out rules for what names you can and can't give your kid. Over the years, we've gone back to them, as friends have had and named their own kids, and had a few laughs, I must admit.

So here's a list of our rules:
1. It must be a classic American name, spelled in the most standard way. Our children's heritage is classic EuroMutt with a dash of Native American and heaping helping of Armenian. The best way to describe them will be American. So we think their names should be, too.

2. It can not be one of certain names. I would list them, but I don't want to piss people off. It's just that, with a few exceptions, in our collective experience, everyone we know with these names is some kind of asshole. To the point that it's like "well his name is (one of those), you expect that".

3. It can't be a family name. Too much animosity. If I name my kids after my side of the family you can bet his family would be pissed. And vice versa. There may be some leeway for dead relatives used as middle names, but in general, it would cause more fuss than I'd care to deal with.

4. Probably best listed as a corollary to 3: There will be no juniors. There's enough confusion in the house with 4 different names now (two of which, I might add, belong to DOGS), I don't need to add on the confusion of calling for DH and getting answered by DH, Jr. Plus, we both think our kids should have their own names.

5. They must be full names. Alexander, Elizabeth, Johnathan, Katharine are all acceptable, for example, while Alex, Beth, Jon, and Kathy are not. Give the kid the whole name, and they can choose from a multitude of nicknames for themselves.

6. The Asswipe (that's Os-Wee-Pay) Rule: No easily made fun of names. Hubby's name is very similar to the quirky title character of a popular song during his childhood, and my last name laid me open to years of taunting comparing me to a comic villain. We'd like to spare our kids as much as possible. So under this rule, no Richard (Dick), Peter, Johnson, etc.

7. No rhyming. Dear God no. Thankfully, neither of our last names rhymes with many first names.

8. No multiples. This is mostly an issue for people with first names as last names, and we'd really have to stretch it to get that to work for us, but seriously. You couldn't think of anything more creative than Thomas Thomas (my mother's orthopedic surgeon) or Martin M. Martin (a teacher at our high school)?

9. No objects. Thing names are for animals. "This is our daughter, Ladybug." "This is my cat, Ladybug." "how nice." NOT. There's a reason some names refer to people. Abstracts are ok, however, such as Faith, Joy, Hope, Honor, etc. Although in my experience such names often turn out to be no more than wishful thinking on the part of the parents....

10. Fictional Characters are sometimes ok, under these conditions: the character must have a real name (Luke is acceptable, Han is not), and the character's reputation won't come back to bite the kid in the ass (again, Luke is acceptable, Homer is not). Naming your kid after a villain is usually a bad idea, as well. Especially if it's a villain in a kid's movie....

11. There should be a reason you're willing to share. Someday your kid will ask you "mom, dad, why did you call me Paris Nooner Lastname" and you have to be willing to explain your quick trip back to the hotel that ended up being more than a bag drop-off....

12. Gender appropriate names are a must. Gender neutral names are ok, but for GAWDS SAKE, don't give a girl a boy's name or vice versa. Even if it is acceptable as a name for the opposite gender. Leslie is a girl's name. As is Stacy. Cameron is a boy's name (see Ferris Bueller). So is Kendall. Trust me, it's hard enough to pronounce the names people give their kids. Don't make me look a fool by calling a "he" a "she" in class.

I'm sure some of our rules go against what you like or even some of your names, but this is what we want for our kids. Because life is hard enough without being known as Chlamydia Vagina.

More on the worst baby names ever compiled here.

So what do you think? What are your rules? Which of these do you agree with? Disagree with? That's what the comments are for, hint, hint.

UPDATE: Check out this poor girl's name. I would like to beat her parents. (h/t Richard Cocking)

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RIP, Randy Pausch

The "last lecture" Professor has gone. He passed away this morning at age 47 from the Pancreatic cancer he fought so well and so long. I hope his sons come to understand how much their father's grace and courage meant to so many people.

I can only hope my final lecture teaches half so much.

Below is the entire lecture, all hour and 16 minutes of it.

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July 29, 2008

We're ok

Officially re-revised to 5.4. Some loose plumbing under the sink, but nothing fell or shook loose. Pictures didn't even move askew on the walls.

Dogs were completely non-plussed. One was laying in the grass chewing a toy, the other was chilling under the coffee table.

At least now we know what the house does in an earthquake.

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July 30, 2008

Return of the Boromir

Here's a NEW Boromir plan... since he can't get Ninja Wizards.....

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Wonderful weekend

This weekend was our un-official staycation. We went out and had fun on both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday evening, Hubby's college roomie and his wife joined us for dinner and a movie. Had some terribly overpriced Mexican food at Paseo Cantina and then wandered over to the Paseo theater for a moderately over priced film. $21 just for the tickets. Ouch. Especially considering the last time we went to movies regularly, we'd get in for just $10. For both of us. Of course, this is was Sunday afternoons in Chapel Hill, not Friday night in Pasadena.

In case you're wondering, we saw the X-Files movie. It wasn't terrible. I'd give it 3 stars out of 5. Mostly because there was nary an alien to be found. It was, has our friend described it a "monster-of-the-week" episode, albeit a long one. Mulder-Scully shippers will truly appreciate the film, because (spoiler here, sorry) it pretty much answers the "Are they or Aren't they?" question once and for all, portraying our favorite odd couple in a long term, somewhat committed, and intelllectually intimate relationship. My take: It was a good X-files fanfic. But I appreciate that as a Mulder/Scully fan.

On Sunday we drove out to Simi Valley and took in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. We also met Jen and Beau and Jesse "Speaks" there! They are in CA on vacation, and were staying with family in Santa Barbara, so we met in the middle!

Jen and Beau are both as fun and awesome as you would imagine from their blogs, and that little Jesse is a charmer. If a bit shy.... although he seemed to really warm up to DH and even let DH hold him for a bit in the elevator!

The museum itself is really amazing. It was a lot like the Presidential Gallery in the Smithsonian, but more up close and personal. My favorite exhibit, other than Air Force One, which deserves its own post, was the Reagan Diaries display with his personal diary on the desk, laid open to March 30, 1981, the day he was shot. At the top of the right-hand page, he wrote "Getting shot hurts."

DH was also a big fan of the doodads and geegaws and random things that were given to the Reagans as gifts from people around the world. The sheer randomness of some of it was just unbelievable.

A funny story: The former president oversaw much of the construction detail, especially the White House replicas (the South Portico, Colonnade, and the Oval Office), and he was very concerned when the contractor indicated that the Oval Office would be an exact replica of the White House, except for the ceiling, which would have to be 2.5 feet lower in the museum due to the building's engineering. Never one to back down, Mr. Reagan replied, "Well, if you can't raise the ceiling, lower the floor." And indeed, you must go down a ramp to the Oval Office, and then up 4 stairs to the rest of the museum and the gardens.

We took lots of pictures, which are posted at my Flickr page. Most of them are public, so click over!

After the museum we headed over to Marie Callendar's for dinner. Now, I know it's maybe not the nicest place in town, but I knew where exactly 3 restaurants were in Simi, and they have Applebee's and Chili's in Virginia! So Marie's it was. Food was good, company was better, and we had a nice meal. And pie. Until Jesse got tired and his dad had to take him out, so we finished our pie and said goodbye to the Speaks clan, knowing Jesse would conk out in the car on the way back to SB.

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