Friday, September 05, 2008


Apparently California is so happy to see me it's literally shaking with excitement. Yay?

Update: Magnitude 4.0 [usgs]
Also, neat map of people's accounts of shaking [map]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The weather here in Seattle has been downright dreary and winter-like this week. Good thing I don't have to put up with it for much longer!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Top Banana

Possibly the best episode of Arrested Development ever.

My favorite quotes:
-- There's always money in the banana stand
-- Doing the time... of my life!
-- [note: Dead dove do not eat] Well, I don't know what I expected
-- Wow, I'm Mr. Manager!
-- I have a job Michael, it's called supporting my husband
-- Do you need a cage for that? // No, I'm a magician. *bumps into door* What is your return policy, by the way?
-- Is there a carbon monoxide leak in this house?
-- Then why don't you marry an ice cream sandwich!
-- So, mom, I'm trying to find these... // I don't know where they are. // ... flight records. You know, it's really more believable if you let me finish.
-- It's a fire... sale.
-- Definitely the work of a flamer.
-- Gob was intrigued. He also suspected he couldn't return a completely frozen dove to the pet store and receive the full refund he felt he was entitled to.
-- There's always money in the banana stand...
-- We throw away a banana for every buck we take so no one finds out. // Wait a minute, I think you should do that math again. // Wh-why, is it wrong? // It's fine. He's an arsonist, not an embezzler.
-- Gob had not mailed the letter. But, in an act of defiance, dramatically hurled the letter into the sea. This proved a more difficult dramatic gesture than he'd anticipated.
-- Did you burn down the storage unit? // Almost definitely!
-- You mailed that insurance check, right Gob?
-- Are you crazy? There was money in that banana stand.... There was $250,000 lining the walls of the banana stand. Cash, Michael. How much clearer can I say, THERE'S ALWAYS... MONEY... IN THE BANANA STAND!! // NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Go, grease lightening

Natural fireworks
Originally uploaded by gecko_12.
The sky put on quite a show this evening with frequent lightening strikes out to the distant east. I grabbed my tripod and (borrowed) camera and tried to get a shot of the show. I had to take many, many shots of the sky in the general vicinity of the lightening show that were completely blank in the hopes that I'd get lucky. I had actually taken the camera back inside, but then I noticed this cluster of strikes and went back outside to try again. Fortunately, one of my exposures managed to capture this elegant strike. That I think this looks like blood vessels is a sad sign of how much I've been working lately.

I hope the weather is a little less dicey on Friday!

Update: storm has moved much closer but I'm too tired for more pictures...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

(Mary) Ruth Brower Small

April 19, 1916 - May 29, 2007

My grandmother is the second-to-last rower on the starboard side in this photo from 1934. She was on the first women's crew team at the University of Pennsylvania, long before women's athletics were even close to mainstream.

I rowed for three years in college and one in grad school, and it was really fun to know that I shared that experience with her, in a way.

My grandmother lived for 90 amazing years and was only sick for the last 3 months or so of her life. I'm so thankful that her mind was sharp till the very end and that we were able to spend so much quality time with her. One year ago, less than 12 hours after arriving in California following a 60-hour trip across the country in a medical transport RV, she passed away with my mom and sister by her side.

Grandma grew up during the Great Depression, and that experience shaped her life. She and her brother and sister had to take on lots of responsibility around the house, no doubt instilling her strong work ethic and no-nonsense attitude about life. She and her older sister Doris were only 15 months apart in age and were bosom buddies their whole lives.

After my mom and her brother had moved out of the house, my grandparents traveled the world with my grandfather's Glee club. They also took cruises, like one through the Panama canal (I still remember the t-shirt they brought back for me with a tropical bird on it), and one on the Rhine river, when she and Aunt Doris won a hat-making contest.

My grandparents moved to Florida 20 years ago to retire; my grandma must have been the longest-residing person in her retirement community!

She loved to play cards; her favorite games changed a bit over the years and recently we played lots of Aggravation - which is a truly aggravating game. But you could always talk her into playing just about any game - pinochle, bridge, kings in the corner, double solitaire, hearts, you name it. My mom and sister and I spent many spring breaks in Florida playing cards all day when I was in junior high and high school. She also loved her crossword puzzles, and she and Aunt Doris always argued about whether to use pencils or pens to fill them out. Grandma eventually embraced the erasable pen - which seemed to settle the matter for her.

When she came to stay with my family in California for a few months, she fell in love with Panera Bread (I don't blame her) and wanted to go there every day for lunch. She loved simple foods - ham and cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, soups. She also liked her food hot - coffee, soup - if it wasn't hot enough, she didn't want it. A few years ago we were all having lunch at the Nordstrom cafe, and my sister ordered tomato soup. My grandma wanted to try some, and since my sister was under the weather, she had Grandma take the first sip. Grandma took her bite and proclaimed it to be very good. My sister then took a spoonful, only to discover that the soup was really hot, and she burned her tongue so badly it had sores for several days. Grandma didn't seem to realize that her temperature sensors were much less sensitive than my sister's!

Nearly the entire time that Grandma lived in Florida, she'd go to the pool and do her water walking. She really rejuvenated her lifestyle when she moved, and there's no doubt that moving to a warmer climate helped extend her life.

I wrote this last year right after her death, but didn't feel like posting it then. Now that a year has gone by I decided to post it so that people may know what an amazing woman she was. Obviously this isn't a catalog of her whole life - just the parts that stand out to me when I think about her. I still miss her very much.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stimulating the economy

This morning when I woke up (with my not-quite-dry nailpolish stuck to my pajamas, oops) I didn't think, "today is the day I'll buy a new computer". Nonetheless, that's what the day has turned into.

Having been obsessively checking my bank account for W's $600 check this week, I finally got it today. I really wanted to buy Canon's Rebel XSi DSLR, but pl reminded me that with my 5-year-old Dell laptop, I wouldn't be able to do anything with the pictures I generate on said camera. Besides, I reasoned, I've got access to a great DSLR right now (the 10D) and the price on the XSi is only going to go down the longer I wait.

I've been thinking about getting a MacBook for about a year - I really like the ability to use both OSX and Windows and it sure would be nice to be able to take my computer to a coffee shop without hauling 10 pounds of accessories along with it (for example, my Dell needs an external wireless adapter because when I purchased that computer I didn't think I'd ever need wireless and didn't want to pay for the extra charge. Oops). Aside from my old roommate who seemed to get a lemon of a macbook, I haven't met anyone who didn't like theirs.

So I decided to get a refurbished macbook (one of the most recent models), which, much to pl's dismay, is faster and lighter than the one he bought in Jan. 2007. I'll buy some 3rd party RAM to make it zing when I'm editing photos.

Maybe this means I'll finally get around to editing photos and blogging about my recent trips to southeast Asia, the east coast, and California.

It's been nearly 10 years since I owned a mac (I had a molar-style mac, possibly this one, for my first two years of college) so it will be fun to see what's changed in all that time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wishing I'd brought a raincoat today

It's hailing for the third time today. Since I was in sunny California during the recent Seattle spring snowpocalypse, I think I'm allowed to say, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?!?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


My bus ride home tonight was interrupted by a jumper on the Aurora bridge. All manner of siren-bearing vehicles were racing up Aurora to shut down the northbound lanes (and presumably try to coax the jumper out of jumping). A policeman hopped on our bus while we were stopped and told us they didn't know how long it would be before the traffic got moving again (because, you know, who can predict the plans of a jumper?). Our bus driver then took a sharp turn down to Dexter (apparently this was only an option because we weren't in an articulated bus) - which wouldn't have been much of a detour - if the Fremont bridge had been open. But that bridge was closed for construction work. So we drove down Nickerson St. - all the way to the Ballard bridge - then up to Market, and back to 45th, rejoining our normal route at Stone and 45th. We lost only a surprisingly small segment of our normal route (from the Bridge Way offramp of Aurora up to Stone and 45th). Looking at the map I'm now thinking we should have come back along Leary, which would have allowed us to rejoin the route even further upstream... although there may have been some turns along that route that are too difficult for a bus. Overall, I think our driver did a good job of getting everyone where they needed to go.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Well, I think my day can be summed up by the fact that about 2 hours after I inhaled a granola bar (my only food for the day thus far, at around 7pm), I vaguely remembered that I had actually brought food in for lunch today and it was still in the fridge. Hurray! thought my stomach. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to eat said food until 2 hours after that (now, it is 11 pm).

In many ways my return to the lab is just a BIT too familiar... the long hours I worked as a grad student (as a temporary, hourly employee, not eligible for overtime, you'd think maybe I'd find a way to keep it to 40 hours a week, but somehow the cells and my experiments always seem to dictate otherwise), the extended periods of time without eating, unable to break away from what I'm doing to grab a bite, the exhaustion every day that then prevents me from making a dinner or a lunch for the next day, thus leading to the aforementioned fasting and further fatigue.

Today started out innocuously enough... auspicious, even. My morning experiments went really smoothly, and although I was running a little late to make it to my agreed-upon time to hand some cells to my collaborator, I managed to hitch a ride with CM as he was walking out the door to drive to campus. I guess things went off schedule when I ended up staying in the collaborator's lab until 6:00 working on the joint experiment; in my mind I had thought I'd just drop off the cells and come back.

Upon my return I realized how much more I really had to do today, especially since I'm planning on attending the annual lab ski trip tomorrow and will be gone all day (not that I won't come to the lab in the evening and feed my cells, but some things had to be dealt with more urgently than that). So starting at 7:30 pm, I proceeded to trypsinize, count, and replate four different cell types into various vessels for experiments I'll be conducting later this week. I also fed three other cell types that I have going, and neglected several other flasks that just couldn't be dealt with.

Obviously this isn't sustainable, but I feel like I'm in a huge hurry because I only have 3 months and so many experiments to do. I also clearly have no mechanism for prioritizing anything else in my life besides the lab. I hope my next job is just a tad more manageable. Scratch that, I hope I can even FIND another job, since at this pace I haven't even had time for the job hunt!

In just 7 short hours I have to be back here, with all my ski gear, ready to hit the slopes. I hope I wake up on time!!