Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I started a rock climbing class six weeks ago. It's a six week course, and so now it's over. Yesterday was the last class, and I have to say I had a terrible time. Not because the class was terrible. It was great! The instructor for the course, who also runs the rock climbing wall at Pitt, is very informative and entertaining and encouraging. I normally love the challenge of the rock wall and look forward to pressing my limits by attempting feebly to move up or over the wall. But yesterday I just didn't feel into it. I felt...afraid! I haven't felt afraid to do something that may endanger me physically in a long, long time - and I've NEVER been afraid that rock climbing would hurt me! I have much confidence in the cushiony floor beneath me, the rope that holds me up, and the belayer on the ground. It was a very odd feeling to be afraid to try. Very abnormal for me, who loves trying new things and doesn't mind answering a question wrong as long as I've tried. I think I just have to get back up on the wall and try. And perhaps a good fall that I survive from would also be useful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

the best foods in the world

One of my coworkers returned today from maternity leave. Another one of my coworkers brought in a cookie cake to celebrate. Cookie cake is one of the best creations in all the world!!!! I could eat a whole one by myself in one sitting. ...If I had to. It is pretty filling.

There are still some people who apparently don't know what a cookie cake is. It's just a gigantic cookie (usually chocolate chip) 10 or 12 inches in diameter with decorative frosting on top. I got my first one when I was a freshman in college - on my birthday (October 12) a cookie cake that said "Happy Birthday" arrived at my dorm room from my parents via the University bakery. Mmmmmmm!

I'm not totally a junk-food-aholic. One of the other best foods in the world, in my opinion, is the apple. To be more specific, I'd say a red delicious apple, but lots of other varieties of apples have many good points. I never realized how much I love apples until I wore braces in middle/high school and couldn't eat apples for 3 years. There used to be some orchards by my home where during the fall one could go take a ride on a tractor-drawn wagon into the apple orchard, pick an apple from the tree, and bite into its crisp, juicy goodness on the ride back to the parking lot. Nothing beats that.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

i knit

I just finished my semi-annual thesis committee meeting, which requires a fairly generous commitment of preparation time. In light of this and a few other out of the ordinary things occurring in life, I haven't felt justified in "wasting" my time with hobbies, the most frequent one in which I indulge being knitting. I can't say that it really is wasting of time, because knitting is a great stress reliever most of the time (it can also CREATE stress, depending on which project it is). Anyhow, it's over now, so I can get back to knitting ferociously, at least sometimes.

The story of why/how I began knitting...

I am tall - six feet tall. Every part of me is tall/long. Long legs, long torso, long arms. This makes purchasing clothing a bit difficult. Sure there are specialty store for tall women like me, but I don't happen to make enough money to shop there, nor do I really like the clothing they carry. And so, one late-autumn day in 2003 I sat thinking about warm, cuddly sweaters and realized that I could get them to fit me if I made them myself. That would require knowing how to knit. So I set off to learn. I went to the local Michaels' store and picked up a "teach yourself how to knit" kit and a skein of yarn that I envisioned becoming a wonderfully snuggly pair of socks. I then set to work following pictures and words from the book in the kit to work the yarn around needles and make it look like something I'd seen before in a sweater.

Learning the knit stitch was simple. For some reason the purl stitch confused me for many a day, and I opted out of my roommate's birthday outing to sit at home and figure out how to purl. Lame-O! I finally figured it out, then read about the continental style of knitting and learned that instead since it's supposed to be faster than the English method I had originally learned. With knit and purl under my belt, I created my first "project." I was supposed to make a swatch of stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row, repeat), but I was getting bored at about the 5th row, so I formed a penguin into the stitches by using the opposite stitch prescribed for the row. Why a penguin? I don't know. It was cute, and there was a picture of it in the book I was learning from. ???

I still have that penguin-thing, because somewhere along the line somebody told me to save the first thing I knit to look back on it and recall my humble beginnings. It was quite a while after I knit the penguin-thing that I heard this advice, but fortunately I rarely throw away things that could have some sort of use. Not that the penguin-thing had much of a use. I tried using it as a coaster for a while, because that was all it was good for.

I'll have to find it and a digital camera and get a picture put up. It's...pretty ugly.

That's how it all started!

Friday, June 24, 2005

some stuff about me

I noticed that some people went to my website or my blog, I can't tell which because...I've lost most of my computer literacy. So I guess I should make this a little bit more interesting in case other people show up. Therefore, here's stuff about me:

Current "occupation": Graduate student. I've learned that most people don't know what that means. And to be honest, I didn't know what it meant before I got here, and even sometimes now I wonder what precisely the significance of such a title should have on my life and the way I live it. In general, it means that I am pursuing a PhD degree in biomedical science - specifically molecular virology and microbiology or in normal human terms "viruses and bacteria." In order to pursue a PhD degree in biomedical science, at least here at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, one takes a few required and a few elective classes during the first 2ish years. From then on, one spends a large period of time in a laboratory doing experiment after experiment after experiment to get enough research results to prove something and write a thesis about it. And throughout these 5+ years the person gets paid. Not much, but getting paid money BY the school sure beats paying money TO the school. Oh, and we help teach some classes, too, although not a lot - it's a few days a week for about a month each year.

I work on a project in the a lab devoted to HIV research. Technically I focus on SIV, which is a cousin of HIV and infects monkeys. I am working on generating a vaccine that can be taken by mouth. My work is looking up for the short term. That's the thing about science - a lot of the time what you get are failed experiments or weird results that don't make any sense. At least I do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

my first entry

Well, this is my first entry. It's been a long time since I used anything webby. My website lies in ruins (although it still exists, much to my surprise), my online diary got deleted, I don't remember how to chat, and I've forgotten most of the HTML code I used to know, which wasn't much. And now I think I'm somehow going to keep up a blog? Yeah...we'll see how that goes. In between work and working out and going out, who knows how much attention this will receive. But here's trying...!