Sunday, January 17, 2010

It may be a sigh of relief.

winter beach

After a lot of procrastinating, and a lot of thinking and reading and rewriting, I think my grant application may finally be done. It's almost 2am, and I've sent the (hopefully) final draft (it just needs to have references added in and my reference software is being defiantly uncooperative) in to my PI and to two friends for added eyeballing. I would go to sleep now, but I had coffee with my dinner, at about 8, and that was not a bright idea considering how little coffee I'm typically drinking these days.

I am somewhat ashamed at the amount of procrastinating I indulged in while writing this. Clearly I'm out of practice writing, but I also feel like I'm out of practice thinking. Just goes to remind me how much MORE work I really should be doing, most of the time. And that's just frustrating sometimes.

Anyhow, that's the not-so fascinating stuff going on in my life. In the rest of my time, I've been doing the usual - playing Bejeweled 2 obsessively, cooking things, watching CSI:SVU and occasionally knitting things. I am still in the grips of a wicked bout of startitis and fighting yarn buying urges. I went to a knitting group gathering on Saturday, where we worked on sock yarn blankets. I now want to buy tons and tons of mini skeins and swap them. I also restarted my blanket, as I didn't like the 13 squares I knit on size 3 needles, and decided to go down to size 2 needles instead. I now have 3 squares knit, but I'm in no hurry.

Today I also got the bug to knit a hat, and grabbed some Koigu to cast on for a new Purl beret, as the last one I knit is larger in the crown than I really wanted, due to the fact that I am a surprisingly loose knitter on size 3 needles. I started the hat, then realized that although I love the colors of this yarn - absolutely adore - they're knitting up like clown barf. I am thinking that I might make another chevron scarf with it instead, even though I know it's not the most exciting knit in the world. I tried gloves, but that was a disaster.

In the meantime, I have no shortage of things to work on. I'm loving knitting Clapotis again, this time with Handmaiden sea silk in a solid orange color. I'm also trying to finish a pair of fake isle socks, just a mindless knit but cute socks. They're especially timely as I had to darn two pairs of my oldest socks out of Knitpicks yarn. And yes, by darn I mean hold it over the garbage bag and say "darn." If there's light tomorrow, I may try to take some photos.

Speaking of tomorrow, my plan for the day is to go to the gym, check my email, and take the morning off. I want to go to the LYS to get some additional needles. I broke another 1.5 needle, and I need 2's in a smaller size. If there's yarn there, I might get something to make a hat. The afternoon is probably lab again, although if I don't have to be there, I'm going to go back home. This weekend didn't feel like much of a break, despite my not getting much accomplished.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Science and Momentum

I just read this and really liked it. It points out something I think people are woefully unaware of - scientists don't control their creations normally, and the public has to play a role in guiding the use of discoveries. If we take grant money, technically, we're working for your interests.

In other words, if it's important to you, speak up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Must be a blue moon, because I'm blogging...

blue moon
and there are pictures.

I got through the first week back from my vacation. Things are slowly picking up again - there's a bit of a lag from things shutting down, and I'll be back up to full speed in another 2 weeks. During the slow time, I'm working on a grant submission and we're cleaning and rearranging in the lab. I'm trying to readjust to being back here.

One of the strange things is that winter at my house looks a lot like this:


When I left my apartment, there was snow. (No complaint here - just strange to go from the ground covered with white stuff to the ground covered with leaves.)

Over break I worked on a few things, including some Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks.

Gent's closeup

It's a straightforward pattern, but with the usual nice little touches that Nancy Bush puts into her designs. Very clean, very clever refinements that no one would ever notice. Of course, I ran out of room in my suitcase and had to leave this behind. Hopefully it will be shipped back to me soon.

And for New Year's, I cast on for a new pair of socks. Neither the yarn nor the pattern is new to me, but the combination was novel. (Sanguine Gryphon Eidos, and of course Monkey.) I love this green.

monkey monkey

Knitting? There's tons of that going on. At least the starting part. I'm doing a KAL with my local group, and yes, I'm knitting a Clapotis again, this time out of orange sea silk. When I cleaned up my apartment, I found a scandalous number of things that are in progress, and if I get more organized, I might blog about them or even actually finish them... But I'm still working under the constraint of having little time for knitting. This isn't getting better any time soon, either. I'm still working long hours, plus I'm really trying to cook more meals for myself, and find time to read. Plus, my sister and I are having a bit of a competition - we have a pretty healthy sense of sibling rivalry, and we're trying to use that for good. Both of us have some weight to lose, and so we're competing - not for number of pounds lost, but for consistent weekly losses. There's money at stake too, but I think bragging rights are the key. In my case, that means I'm now trying to find time to exercise daily (in addition to walking to work.) Stuff will get finished, but it would be great if I could find a way to comfortably combine reading and knitting in the evening.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ranting and raving.

I uploaded photos to my computer last night, but ran out of steam before I wrote anything about them. The knitting can wait until later, however, as I have a rant.

This morning, I logged on to Facebook (a nasty habit, and one I really would give up, if it wasn't for Scrabble) and read a post by a colleague of mine. She's a fitness enthusiast, a fighter, actually, who is in enviable shape. As you might imagine, she is a regular attendee at the gym. Her post was about how she just laughs at the people who show up at the gym for 2 months before falling off the wagon and becoming fat and lazy, and how these people had no motivation.

On one hand, I understand her point. If you are a regular exerciser, it probably is very annoying to have more people at the gym, using the equipment you normally have all to yourself. However, I think it's really unfair to say these people don't have motivation. And frankly, it generates a hostile attitude at gyms, particularly for people who are making a genuine effort to try to get in shape. It's not easy to be on display, doing something that's hard, and nobody needs critical judgements when they are working out. (This is why I don't like the gym, and why I prefer running. When I'm on the street, and I pass another runner, I've never gotten anything other than a smile and a wave, regardless of how quickly or slowly I'm moving. Unfortunately, it's cold, and I need to run, and the treadmill is my only option, so I am waiting for my spanking new gym membership to activate.)

I don't necessarily agree with the idea of making grand New Year's resolutions - but at the same time, I think it's reasonable to take some time at even an arbitrary starting point to think about your life, figure out where you are, what you want, and how to get there. I think taking any steps to meet your goals is also a reasonable action.

There's another underlying point here, that I'm trying to get to. Last night I watched Michael Pollan's interview on The Daily Show. As a food enthusiast, I've been following the discussions about vegetarianism, sustainable agriculture and suchlike with a fair amount of interest. (A disclaimer here - I have not read Pollan's books, nor have I read Jonathan Safran Foer's latest book. I am also neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, and I am not, have never been, and will never be a member of any animal rights groups.) Again, I agree with some of the points that keep being made. We all should be eating more real food, less processed crap, and we should be engaging in much better animal husbandry and agricultural practices as evidenced by the increasingly more common outbreaks of food-borne illnesses (salmonella and E. coli O157 being obvious examples). BUT - and there's a big but here, we should also be aware that there is a class issue at play here.

Yup, I'm playing the elitist and classist card here.

Purchasing "organic" meats and produce (I'm sorry, my science background makes me hate the term) costs more money. Processed food costs less. We subsidize crap food, and it's cheaper to purchase and takes less time to prepare than real food. Pollan touched on this last night, and suggested we should stop the subsidies, without providing a real solution. I keep hearing people saying we should accept higher food costs, and try to live in a more sustainable way. Which is great - but a) we can't make enough affordable food for people that way, and b) there are a lot of people who are having financial troubles now as it is. What's the solution for people who aren't in the upper middle class or above? If you don't live in an urban area, it's not that easy to have access to the healthiest of foods. Plus, the urban folks I've met who suggest that Walmart is always an option have not lived in some of the rural areas I've been to. Walmart isn't always there, and a lot of them aren't like grocery stores. And finally, growing your own garden isn't realistic either - it's a matter of time, cost, and presumes you have access to land.

I think that we as a society have become increasingly more critical of the obese and overweight. It's always been an issue, but now greater negative commentary has become justified by health reasons and discussion of the "obesity epidemic." Time to exercise is not necessarily a given for all people - if you're working 2 jobs and taking care of children, it's unlikely you're going to have a lot of time to hit the gym, or even have the extra money to pay for a membership. My concern is that people are engaging in these discussions without considering the greater societal commentary they're making - it's not just about weight, or appearance, or what you're choosing to eat - it's part of a larger discussion about financial worth and societal status, and there are some much bigger issues that really need to be addressed.

I've been rambling here, and it's well past time for me to stop and get on with my day. Thanks for sticking with me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hello 2010.

I'm not going to do much of a yearly wrap-up, but I'm stealing a meme from Kim since I think it will make a nice summary. Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to attempt to find some time to reorganize things over here a bit as well.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

  1. Went to Rhinebeck
  2. Moved to Pennsylvania
  3. Learned a whole bunch of new science stuff.

2. Did you keep your 2009 resolutions, and will you make more this year?
These were my resolutions:

1. Run a half marathon. - No.
2. Eat out less and cook more. - Sort of, as I cooked more.
3. Read more books. - Yes!
4. Find a new job. - Yes!
5. Travel to a new city. - Yes!
6. Go camping. - No.
7. Learn a new skill. - I learned new science techniques, which I think counts.
8. Write a paper. - Sadly, no.
9. Knit more than I did in 2008. - Nope.
10. Go shelling on the beach.- Yes!

So that makes for about 50% success rate. Not terrible.

This year's resolutions/goals are similar:

1. Run a half marathon.
2. Cook.
3. Read books.
4. Go camping/hiking.
5. Write 2 papers and a book chapter.
6. Knit.
7. Go shelling on the beach.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not close friends, but I know some people who had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, last year no.

5. What countries did you visit?
No travel outside the US for me.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Publications. My immediate family in one state.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finding a new, and good, job.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Giving too much notice on my previous job.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing physical. ;)

10. What was the best thing you bought?
iPod Touch.

11. Where did most of your money go?

12. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier, slightly thinner, better off in many ways.

13. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Sleep. I don't do that enough. Running. Relaxing and enjoying myself.

14. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying, stressing out, and having insomnia.

15. What was the best new book you read?
Nothing's really standing out - I enjoyed several things I read, but nothing was that memorable.

16. What was your favorite new TV show of the year?
Glee, I guess.

17. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Being unhappy isn't always your fault. Sometimes walking away can be the best solution.

And with that, let's not speak of 2009 any more. Today's my last day with the family, and I think I have convinced the larger and smaller boy that a trip to the beach might be nice. A run is in my plans for the afternoon (it's not running that hurts, it's not consistently running that hurts.) I have some knitting to do - I cast on for a pair of Monkeys in some Sanguine Gryphon yarn which I haven't been able to match a pattern to well, and I have another pair of husband socks on the needles. I also want to pack up a box of stuff to ship back to my apartment, as I want to make sure I'm really traveling light for my return. There are a few photos on my camera to post when I return, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the family time I have left.