Friday, June 30, 2006

Sleep sweetly, Miss Maggs. You were tremendously loved.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Too hot

It is too hot. Bleh.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crazy Linda Hirshman may have a point

Somehow I've managed to find 3 things to write about/link over at random detritus, but I figured I'd cross-post this one here since a) it's the longest thing I've written in a while, and b) I'm curious to see if any of you kind folks has anything to add.
Okay. Yesterday I read this Slate review of Hirshman's new book, Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, and while I think she definitely goes too far by saying it's socially irresponsible for women to leave the workplace to stay home with their kids, I also think she raises some perfectly valid points. Or the reviewer does, at any rate.

1) A recent study found that a full 93 percent of "highly qualified" women who have opted out [of their jobs] want to find a way back in and can't. And, according to several studies, women in the United States suffer a 10 to 15 percent dock in future earnings when they have children—a drop that doesn't affect men.

I worry about this one for myself, particularly working in the sciences, where recent experience and study is key. Granted, I've seen plenty of women go back to work after taking time (as in several years) off to raise kids, but do they all go back doing what they wanted to do before? Some do, I'm sure, but not all.

2) Affluent and well-educated men rarely leave the workforce (and when they do, it's usually to return to school or start a business); a portion of affluent and well-educated women do opt out (and when they do, it's almost exclusively to raise children). When these women choose to devote their skills to childcare rather than to the workplace, they are "perpetuating a mostly male ruling class" — precisely the type unlikely to help make the case for more flexible work arrangements that would allow more women back into the workforce.

I firmly believe that if by some genetic mutation, men suddenly became the bearers and birthers of children, we would see daycare centers open up overnight in every law firm, every bank office, every pharmaceutical company, etc., etc. I don't really like to buy into the shrill feminist cry about those darned male opressors, but sometimes the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Or the profit sharing. There are a lot more men in high-paying jobs than there are women, and if all those men suddenly wanted to be able to bring their babies in to the office and take 10-minute nursing breaks every couple of hours, while still being able to do their jobs and contribute to the company, I think it would happen. Yeah, I know it's not exactly practical to have child care services at every place of business (mines, lumberyards, restaurants, hog farms), but for the ones where it's not utterly insane to do so, why not? Besides, every daycare center needs employees, so you're creating jobs in the process. It's a win-win.

3) If women really do stay in the work force, even part-time, a few decades from now it may be easier for parents to opt out according to their personal preferences, rather than their gender. If one parent didn't want to assume the bulk of the child-care duties, as may well be the case, two could split it. The demand for elastic or part-time work by men and women alike would lead to more flexible jobs.

Sometimes the only way to get what you want is to force change. I'm not sure this will do it, but it's worth a try. The one thing I'm not sure about here is whether or not both partners working part-time can bring in enough income to do things like save for retirement and buy a house and pay for their kids' college tuition. Then again, I guess if you're working part-time at $35/hour, it's not so bad. (Good luck finding a gig like that now, though.)

I do resent Hirshman's implication that child-rearing isn't really 'valid work,' but I also know that it's not going to be all that long before I'll be at that work-or-kids crossroads myself, and while I can't imagine that either Tom or I will want to miss out entirely on all the 'firsts' of our offspring, I also can see myself losing my mind if I have to stay home full-time. I'd sure like the option of being able to work a few days a week in a job I felt was worthwhile and mentally stimulating. (I'm not saying that raising kids isn't worthwhile and mentally stimulating, but rather that I would not want to leave the house a few days a week to work at WalMart.) The whole issue certainly bears thinking about.

Of course, it's entirely possible the woman's completely guano after all:
She advises women to marry only men who will commit to a 50 percent housework/childrearing division of labor — or else to engage in a reproductive strike, limiting the number of children to one. And she counsels — so much for l'amour! — that young women marry only much older men or men who earn less than they do, in order to have more economic bargaining power.

Monday, June 26, 2006

You can call me Annie

As in Oakley.

For my birthday, my dad got Tom & me a family membership to the local indoor shooting range. Whoo-hoo! We went on Sunday and shot 100 rounds on a fairly nice 9mm Beretta before trudging back home to do all the weekend chores. I'm pretty excited, because the range is conveniently located between work and home, and with the membership all you pay for is ammo. At $10/bag, that's pretty cheap entertainment. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be spending quite a bit of time improving my marks(wo)manship this year. ;)

New little "nephew"

Saturday as I was driving to San Diego, I called my friend Meg to chat. She married a farmer a few years ago and lives way in the far northeast corner of Oregon, so we don't get to see each other more than a couple of times a year, but we make an attempt to talk on a regular basis. Anyway, when I called on Saturday, I was surprised that her mother-in-law answered the phone and even more surprised when she informed me that Meg's water had broken that morning. Meg wasn't due to have her second kid until the beginning of August, so this was a pretty early exit. Since the local hospital up there isn't exactly equipped to handle preemies, she and her husband had to fly up to the regional hospital in eastern Washington.

I worried about her all weekend and then decided to try calling her cell phone last night, even though the chance that she'd have brought it with her was slim. So yes, I was yet again surprised when she answered, and very much relieved to hear that everything was fine both with her and her new son. He'll probably have to stay in the hospital for a few weeks, as he needs some help with breathing, but all other signs point to good health.

So welcome to the world, little one. If I may say so, since you insisted on being so early, you picked an awfully fine day to make your entrance. The 24th of June has served me well, and I'm sure it will do the same for you.

Medieval Times

Fanfare, flag-waving, fighting and feasting...sounds like a good birthday to me. :)

It was pretty dark in there for most of the show, and we were in the very top row, so I wasn't able to get many photographs. But it was a splendid evening, and I had a really great time. :)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Just another Saturday

After I put in my 4 hours of work this morning, I'm headed to San Diego to take my Trace Evidence final. On the way back, I'm picking up Tom, who is riding the metro down from Pasadena, and we're going to Medieval Times (thanks, Mom!) in celebration of...the first day of my 26th year of existence on the planet. Yep, today's my 25th birthday. And while I'd much rather still be asleep right now in my cozy, cozy bed, it seems to be an okay day thus far. The really nice thing about working on Saturday is that, at least in my little corner of the plant, there's really no one around. Ahh, peace and quiet, how I do adore thee.

Best get back to work (and perhaps a bit of studying). I'm sure there will be photos of the knightly sort posted later. ;)

Update: Hehe...amusing observation. Since I write 6/24 in sequence way more than once a year, it takes a concerted effort to finish it off with /06 and not /81. I don't think my supervisor would very much appreciate it if I handed over batch sheets dated two and a half decades ago. ;)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Zombiecat blogging


Er, sometimes the camera catches us not at our best...

Are all jobs like this?

A lot of the time at work (recently, anyway) I feel like I've got this big cement wall I have to get over, which isn't so bad because I built sturdy ramps on either side so I can run at it full speed and continue up and over and on my way without incident. Except when I'm not looking, somebody comes by and takes the ramps away so that the next time I go running at the wall, I smack into it and break my face. It's awesome.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Keys to a happy marriage: #1 - Know Thy Spouse

I cannot believe we've been married a month. It's crazy. Most of the time, I have to admit, it doesn't really feel all that different. We've been living together for almost 2 years, and have been a couple for nearly 4, so after the wedding we just returned to our life without incident. Same apartment, with the same cats and furniture, same jobs, yada yada yada. And yet, there's a silly little happy twinge that strikes me when I refer to Tom as my husband or when I see his last name attached to my first name on documents and such. And then I remember, oh yeah, we got married. Neat!

I'm still learning new things about this husband of mine. For example, when I talked to him on the phone last night after my class, he said he was watching The Last Samurai on TV. The following is an approximation of the ensuing conversation.

Tom: It's really quite good.
Me: That's what I'd heard. I was going to suggest we rent it, but I figured you'd mock me.
Tom: (laughs) Yeah, I would have. I've determined, however, that I will pretty much watch anything if I come across it while it's playing. That's how I finally saw The Matrix.
Me: I see. So I should just get movies from Netflix and put them on without letting you know what they are first.
Tom: Yeah, and don't let me open the packaging.
Me: Sounds like a plan. I'll have to take down the "Now Playing" section on my blog sidebar though.
Tom: Nah. I never read below the list of books you're reading anyhow.
Me: Really?
Tom: Yup.
Me: You're an odd one.
Tom: Yup.

I love him though. ;)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Total Burnination!

Sealing ampoules is kind of fun, when it's going well. It's going well today, so far.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Let me go on, like I blister in the sun

Summer will not officially be starting for another 5 or 6 days, but hoo-boy does it ever feel summery out there. It is, at this moment, 97 degrees outside my office door. I'm wearing dark gray pants and a black shirt. I am teh smrt! Too bad I made the mistake of believing the weather report that claimed it would be about 10 degrees cooler than this today. Oops.

During my lunch break I uploaded a bunch of photos to my Flickr account. Mostly silly stuff. Check 'em out, if you like.

School's going fine. We've been doing a lot of microscopy, which is fun. It'd be nice if we had the equipment to do some actual instrumental analysis, but alas, we don't.

Not much else to report, sadly. Between work and school and the occasional few hours of sleep, I've been a busy gal.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gymnasticat blogging

Loki is limber!

Off the sauce

I decided on Saturday that I would quit drinking caffeine again. I figured, while I'm at it, I might as well swear off soda altogether. (Yeah...we'll see how well I'm able to actually stick to that one.) I've been pleasantly surprised thus far by my lack of any major withdrawl headaches, but boy am I tiiiiired... Driving down to San Diego yesterday was tons of fun. I may have only barely managed to make it down here without falling asleep and careening off the road, but at least I managed.

The weekend was really nice. We watched a bunch more Doogie Howser episodes; that was a great show, or at the very least, the first season was great. Such cheesy synthesized theme music, with the occasional horrifically-bad 80s wardrobe artifact. Clever though, and fun, so I'm enjoying it. We also saw The Greatest Game Ever Played, which I enjoyed more than I expected to. It's typical Disney fare - boy struggles against class and circumstance to prove that wealth and parentage aren't the only requirements for success - except it's also a true story, so that made it vastly more interesting. "Wow, that's so improbable...but it actually happened! Crazy!" Anyway, it wasn't the Greatest Movie Ever Made, but I think if you go into it not expecting much, you'll be pleasantly surprised.*

On Sunday Tom packed us a very nice lunch, and we went on a picnic. We got a really neat picnic basket (more of a bag, actually, and complete with four place settings and a cheese board) as a wedding present from the folks in Tom's group, so we figured we ought to use it. Caltech has an absolutely beautiful campus, as nice as any park, so we found ourselves a good spot and settled down to enjoy our food. It was an excellent break from weekend chores and studying. :)

That's all I've got for now. Hope everyone has a nice week.

*Wait, did I just endorse having a pessimistic outlook on things? Oops. ;)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Day of da debil...

'Twas a delightfully sinful day indeed. I slept til 9:00 or so, lazed about on the beach, took a nap, did absolutely no reading for school. And the weather was so nice! I wish every day was 06/06/06! ;)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chronicling a Coupla Cool Cats...

It's been quite warm here the past few days. Here's what the boys have been up to in order to try and stay cool...

Ice cubes make great hats when one is roasty-toasty.

This glove has been filled with water and put in the freezer, so it's perfect for spooning on a hot afternoon.

Oh yeah...

And I've been a married woman for two weeks! Tee hee! ;)

Worn. The Heck. Out.

I started up class in San Diego again this week. Because of Memorial Day, my class was scheduled for Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, instead of M/W evenings. This means that I got to have a full paycheck this week, but I probably spent the difference on gas since I had to do twice as much driving. The combination of the long commutes and not sleeping very well would have been enough to wear me down, but it was also damn near 100 degrees today. I ought to change the name of this place to The Burn of the Sue...both in the thermodynamic sense and because I was entirely burned out by the time I got home this afternoon.

Fortunately, it has since cooled down some. Not nearly enough for sleeping, but it's getting there. I think I'll go have another frozen strawberry fruit bar and call it a night.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Overwarm and Lethargic

It's 95 degrees outside right now. It feels like it's about 94.7 degrees inside, even though it's probably closer to 85. Either way, it's too friggin' hot. And this makes me laaaaaazy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Weekend Thrills! Chills! And...waiting in lines.

We decided to buy season tickets for Magic Mountain this year, since it's only a short drive away from Pasadena and, well, roller coasters are awesome. Long lines, however, are not awesome, and neither Tom nor I are willing to wait in more than one 3-ish hour-long line per amusment park visit. The obvious solution, of course, is to buy into the "pay for a day, get the whole year free" deal, which is just what it sounds like. For a limited time (the first 5 or so months of the new year), you can buy a season pass for the same price as a day's admission, plus they give you a little booklet with discount tickets to Hurricane Harbor and other goodies.

So anyway, we decided to go to the park on Sunday to activate our passes and ride the brand new coaster, Tatsu. We knew the line would be long, so we slathered on the sunblock and grabbed a couple of books to read. We also planned to get to the park right at 10:00 when it opened, in hopes that the line wouldn't be quite as long as it was bound to be later in the day.

The best laid plans...

Mistake number one was not stopping for cash before we left. Granted, the last 3 times we've been to Magic Mountain, it cost $10 to park. I, conveniently, had $10 in my wallet, so I didn't think it would be necessary to stop and get parking money. However, after waiting in the long line up the driveway, we got to the lot and were greeted by brand new signs over the little toll booths, which proclaimed that it now cost $15 to leave your vehicle in the custody of Six Flags (TM) for the day. And between my $10 and the contents of Tom's wallet and my car's ashtray, we had a grand total of $11.05, which clearly wasn't going to cut it. And of course they didn't accept credit or debit cards, so we had to turn around and go all the way back down to the gas station at the end of the driveway. Figures.

By the time we obtained the requisite funds, parked the car and walked to the front gates, it was almost 11:00. We then learned that we'd have to stand in another long line to get our season passes activated. By the time we actually got into the theme park, the idea of standing in yet a third long line was just too daunting. So we delayed that chore long enough to buy and eat a turkey leg.

I'd like to stop here and note that nothing makes you feel like a savage quite the way ripping hunks of flesh from a rather sizeable roasted appendage with your teeth and fingers does. I swear, I felt like a freaking caveman*.

Empty bellies filled, we made our way over to the Tatsu line, where we proceeded to wait for two and a half hours. It was uneventful, except for the part where a group of uncivilized weasels (read: teenagers) cut in front of us. They thought they were being oh so sly, weaving through the line one or two at a time. We waited a little while and then walked past them. Snide comments were exchanged. We hoped they would be refused entry to the ride, since security folk had been walking down the line earlier handing out little ride tickets that, in theory, would prevent line-jumpers from getting on the coaster. Unfortunately, this nice little plan wasn't enforced, and the weasels were let on the ride anyway.

Now, you will note the orientation of riders on this new beast. You go through the ride in a prone position, hanging below the track. It's supposed to give you the sensation of flying a la Superman, which it does fairly well. It also made me ridiculously nervous, as every time you go around a corner, you're pushed not into the "seat" but against the harness, out toward the wild blue yonder. And a lot of cement. Now I know the ride's been engineered to the last detail and that it's perfectly safe, but I couldn't help worrying about the certain death that would accompany any minor equipment malfunction. As a result, I thought Tatsu was pretty enjoyable, but in no way worth waiting more than 15 minutes to ride. Maybe next time we'll spring for the speed pass thingies and I will have a different opinion, but for now, I can safely say I won't be standing in line for that one again any time soon.

When we were done with Tatsu, it was about 3:00, and we decided to just get a frozen lemonade and call it a day. This is the beauty of the season pass - you don't have the sense that you've wasted a bunch of time and money if you go to the theme park and only go on one ride, because you know you'll more than get your money's worth over the course of the year. So all things considered, it was a good day, and we still had the whole afternoon open to us. :)

The other mentionable item from the weekend was that we did all the usual domestic chores on Monday, which included busting out the brand new vacuum we got for a wedding present. I knew our old vacuum was past its prime, but I didn't realize the extent to which that was the case until Tom finished vacuuming the living room with the new one. Good. Freaking. Lord. The amount of stuff that was pulled out of our carpet was unholy. Absolutely horrifying. The carpet actually became several shades lighter and brighter. And it's one of those bagless vacuums, so we could see all the gunk sitting there in the semi-transparent holding tank thing. It was...educational. We could make a jacket out of all the hair our cats shed. Or a sweater vest, at least.

*Woman. Whatever.