Sunday, October 7, 2007

Weekend writing wrapup #5

There's not much writing to wrap up this week, which is why I'm posting so late. I really don't want to put down in pixels how little effort I put into writing this week. I got one weekday, and that's it. I made some good progress that day, but I have definitely sagged.

It's partly because I've been really busy at work and partly because I've been feeling like crap this weekend. Mostly though, I just need to restart. Same as last week, really, only moreso.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Coshocton County Fair

Last weekend, Josh and I went back to Ohio for the Coshocton County Fair. Josh used to go every year, along with everyone else who lives anywhere near enough to get there. He hasn't been back for quite a while, and every fall when the weather starts to get cold, he suggests that we should go. This year, we got smart and started planning before the weather got cold, so we actually showed up.

It was a blast. The weather was perfect - sunny and warm, but not too hot. We drove to Ohio on Friday (I had worked Thursday night, so no one expected to see me four hours later on Friday morning... good thing). I thought we would spend the evening with Josh's family and hit the fair the next day. Boy, was I wrong. We walked in the door, said hello to everyone, picked up passes to the fair and went there to get dinner. I had missed that one of the main attractions is the food. During the day and a half we were there, I had stromboli, these delicious ribbon cut potato things that were basically fresh, perfect potato chips, a funnel cake, a footlong hotdog, soup beans and cornbread, fresh mini doughnuts, hot fudge cake, a chocolate milkshake, and steak on a stick (most things I split with Josh). I may be forgetting something, since we spent a majority of our time either deciding what to eat or eating something.

We also did the typical country fair things. We looked at pigs, goats, sheep, cows (briefly; I still don't like them), ducks, geese, turkeys, and horses. I think Josh may have picked up a tiny hint that I might maybe like horses a little. (Possibly because I told him that the only thing I wanted in order for the weekend to be a success was to pat a horse. I did.) So we watched harness racing, little kids in showmanship classes, and every horse-ish pursuit we could find. We also watched part of a tractor pull (more fun with earplugs, I think), bull riding (until I chickened out and made Josh leave) and tiny children in a roping contest. (There isn't really anything I can say to convey the comedic value of small children with big lariats and only a vague notion of how to go about roping things. They all get the idea of swinging the rope over their heads, but they always stop swinging the rope at exactly the wrong moment; i.e. when they're about to throw it. Usually they rope their own hats.)

We wandered through the extensive exhibits, and that was surprisingly fun too. I saw the biggest collection of antique irons I ever imagined, and some really lovely quilts and things. I also decided that if I ever live in the country, I want to win a prize for baking at the county fair. And, of course, we played games. Actually, the only game I played involved squirting a water pistol at a target. Guess which one of us aimed at the target and which one aimed at his girlfriend? Go ahead. Guess. I did end up with a medium sized frog, two small frogs, something that was intended to be a puppy but looked more like a Tasmanian Devil, and a penguin, so I had adequate evidence to show everyone that I was loved. It's a status thing. Plus no one won me a live bunny, thank goodness.

On the ride home, Josh and I noticed that we didn't want any of our normal road food - too greasy. Apparently we ODed for the moment. Instead, we munched on fresh apples. Therefore, I conclude that the Coshocton County Fair is good for your health.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Yesterday, I gave my LAST STUDENT TALK EVER. That's right, you heard me. E-V-E-R. (On the internet, that's the equivalent of screaming loud enough to be heard in Kansas.)

This student talk thing is an annual requirement in my department. It's actually not that big a deal, although it's gotten me tied in knots once in a while. Once a month, usually on the first Monday, usually at lunch, two students give 25 minute talks about their research. The entire department is supposed to attend, and since bribery is the only way to get even a fraction of those people, lunch is served. (It's stuffed pizza. Always.)

Once a student has passed their qualifying exams, they have to give a talk annually. I have now given four: one from each lab. That's getting pretty old, I have to say. I think I will be the only student ever to graduate without giving 2 talks from the same lab. I'll have to check.

My talk was originally scheduled to take place in June, and it was cancelled. I didn't find out about the cancellation until about 40 minutes before the talk, and I was less than amused. It's all for the best though, because I didn't have to do too much preparation for this talk - just update the data slides, since I have actually accomplished something in the last few months.

There are a couple of small "unfortunately"s: unfortunately, I managed to get my computer into "practice mode" so instead of showing the slide as intended, it projected the slide, the next slide, a clock including seconds, and a running timer of the talk's duration. On the bright side, that allowed everyone to appreciate how exactly correct my timing was, in contrast to the other student who spoke. Also, neither my advisor, nor his wife, nor most of my thesis committee were able to attend. On the bright side, that meant that no one asked me hard questions, so yay.

All in all, it went well. I looked pretty, I spoke confidently (if maybe a bit too quickly), I answered all the questions asked, and I don't think anyone's in doubt that I'm back on track. I'm glad of that, and I think many other people are too. And, as of yesterday, I am 10 months away from graduating. Now that's progress.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fall Solstice Destuffing, Part III

This event really wasn't exciting enough to take up three posts, but since we're still feeling the good effects (and since I still haven't done a couple of things I needed to do to finish getting rid of stuff), it seems appropriate that I'm still talking about it.

After we spread everything that needed to move out on the floor of the apartment, we very wisely decided to leave it all there and go do something else. Aquiring more stuff, to be precise. For some reason, destuffing also tends to result in us buying things. You wouldn't immediately think that would follow, would you? We were very good, though. We pretty much just bought things that were directly related to organizing. Carrie bought a box to organize her jewelry in so it wasn't spread out all over her dresser. I bought a basket to keep bottles of vinegar and sauces standing up in our pantry. I bought wine, of course, because that's required for any organizational effort.

Most importantly, Carrie bought a five shelf plastic unit from Home Depot. It was sort of providential, as we didn't even know there was a Home Depot in the area we were going to. We were initially heading to Target, but we had to choose a Target that was near a Petsmart, since I needed to go and spend a lot of money on my cats. (Sigh... but I digress.) They really didn't have what we wanted, and we'd noticed a Home Depot as we were driving to the place. Now, if we'd come the usual way to the Target, we wouldn't have gone as far West as the Home Depot. But since we were coming from the Salvation Army dropoff point, we were coming the other way. The shelf is our reward, I think.

Or rather, that beautiful, organized storage cupboard you see above is our reward. We spent the rest of the night with the door open and the light on, just checking it out every so often. (This practice resulted in us accidentally locking a cat in for a few hours once we did eventually close the door.) And it still looks like that, so go, us!