Friday, September 30, 2005


There are many things I really enjoy about shopping for yarn online. First is that online yarn, even with shipping, is usually cheaper than in-real-life shopping. Second is that nobody looks over your shoulder and says, "May I help you," every few minutes when all you want to do is check out the price. Third is that nobody, when you decide to inquire about the yarn, makes you feel like you really have to, need to, should feel guilted into purchasing the yarn right there and then.

I obviously had a bad experience with this. I was in a yarn shop anyhow to pick up something else, and I decided to check out if there was any decent yarn for a project I'm thinking of knitting. The store person was very knowledgable in leading me to the type of yarn I was looking for, and calculated how much I'd need (which isn't hard by any stretch of the imagination), and then told me how much it would cost. It was a lot. Especially for a piece that, by its very nature, is supposed to be sort of dumpy-looking. I said, "That's expensive." The store person argued that any yarn I bought that was wool, as this was (part wool, at least), would be expensive and told me all about how it was worth it and all that jazz. Normally this is okay and I can just say, "All right, maybe I'll come back," but not this time. Store person tells me that there are only x number of balls that are in stock and if someone came and bought some for something else, there might not be enough for my project - e.g. BUY IT NOW!!!! I thought that was semi-good salesmanship, but also really tactless considering the fact that I was already concerned about the cost. Would it really be good for a person to buy yarn, paying three times as much as they wanted to, just because they felt like they HAD to? Would they be likely to come back to the store anytime soon? Certainly not, especially since their finances would be completely wiped out.

I chose to live in that fear (sarcastic) that someone might come and buy up my yarn (there ARE other ways to buy yarn, you know...). I purchased the little things I had come for and left and now don't want to set foot in that store again unless I am there to buy that yarn, because that's the thing with local stores: the store people remember you. They remember what you buy, what you don't buy, how much you spend. And I feel like I'll be judged by that. Like they'll say, "You never buy anything, don't come in here!" Perhaps they've never had a budget and had to take into account more than "Ooh, the yarn looks pretty," when they go to make a purchase.

Unfortunately, THIS client, for one, is not like that.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yeah, so I was right - Harry Potter WAS overdue at the library, although only by a day. So was a magazine (also one day) and 2 books (certainly more than one day). Oops. I stuck them in the book return last night.

What have I been up to in the last week? That's what I'll attempt to address in this overdue update!

Let's see...

The end of last week was a mixture of a disaster and a lot of fun. Thursday was attempt number two to start an experiment with my mice, but it failed. But that was okay, in the end, because I had to present a poster for the IDM Research Day. Not too big of a deal. As you can tell from the website, I didn't win.

Friday was the IDM Retreat. As metioned yesterday, I knit there. I also participated in the Sedentary Olympics, a set of fairly fun and easy games that didn't require much physical activity. My team, Team Gupta, tied for second place!! And we won second place in the horseshoe toss and first place in the don't-drop-the-water obstacle course (I think we were supposed to get a prize for that, but stuff got a bit confusing and that never panned out). As usual I won one of the gift baskets that are door prizes. I feel bad for always winning, but I happen to put my door prize tickets into drawings for prizes that not a whole lot of other people seem to want - thus my odds of winning increase. This year it was a basket of foot-softening agents, which I had been wanting to purchase myself anyhow. How nice.

Saturday I went to Spring Meadows, a Christian retreat facility. It's run by a couple from my church and is loacted about 45 minuts northwest of Pittsburgh in a beautiful area. The 16-acre property has a pond and some rolling hills and a big field and a small orchard and a little pine forest. It's so calm and relaxing there, and Rosa Lee serves unforgettably wonderful food and beverage! This Saturday they were hosting a listening prayer retreat where participants spend time in quiet praying over selected Scripture passages and listening to what God is saying to them through the words. I went to my first one in June and was very excited to come to this second one. I had a great time!! It's so good to get away for a day and not worry about life and craziness back at home.

After Saturday it was back to that life and craziness... The first regular youth group meeting took place on Sunday night, and it was...good. I find that I learn a lot at youth group, even though I'm a leader and am supposed to be there to help "teach," not to learn. God uses everything, however.

Monday I served as a semi-informatant at a college fair for local high schoolers. It was neat to meet some other Michigan State University alumuni and talk to people about MSU. I could actually do that for a was fun!

Tuesday night I went to the Pittsburgh Opera's production of Rigoletto by Verdi. My friend Craig was in it (he's a professional opera singer), and it's always a good excuse to go to the opera. Michelle and Lori went with me, as well as my friend Su-Lin. I was reminded how nice it is to spend time with people, especially my roommates, whom I actually don't see a whole lot of most of the time.

Somewhere along the line I ended up getting sick. I now have a non-terrible but still annoying cold. There's been some bad stuff going around, and I think that lack of sleep and a bit of stress wore down my immune system just to the point where a little bit of the virus could creep in. Good thing I started taking my vitamins again! Probably helped it from not getting too bad. Hope it gets better. My plan for making it get better involves going to be early/on time tonight and hopefully Friday night and curling up with some tea on Sunday while watching the first two episodes of this season's Arrested Development, which, while rather crude, is an incredibly witty and hilarious show, IMHO.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

knitting update a day late

It's Wednesday, I know. I tried to write yesterday, but it was a very busy day that lasted very long and involved zero breaks. Thanks for your patience.

I finished the Harry Potter bookscarf!! It is now sitting happily in The Goblet of Fire, which is probably pretty close to being overdue at the library (along with 2 or 3 other books...oops), and I'm slowly making my way through it.

I started a new project. Maybe I should actually FINISH one of my larger projects before starting a new one, but...hey, I was inspired, so what can I do? I'm making a wine cozy - it's going to be part of a gift for the winner of a game at a bridal shower for my long-time friend Amber. Not that I would normally make a wine cozy for anyone, but I was standing yet again in the Target dollar spot and decided that the fuzzy novelty yarn really was cute and I should make something out of it, and then other things from the dollar spot screamed out at me, and before I knew it I had a romantic-candle-lit-dinner-with-wine-in-a-box scrounged together for about $5 (without the wine and the dinner...). I stole the wine cozy pattern from the dollar pattern book (why buy a book that tells you how to make stockinette stitch scarves and a wine cozy that only has about 6 rows of increases when you can easily copy down the directions on a spare piece of paper?). Thus, the wine cozy is my new bus project. It's getting there quite rapidly, and I actually like novelty yarn. Never thought about using it for anything before now, but it's sort of cool. Scarf, perhaps? I could be so fashionable!

Worked some on my favorite sweater, Starry Night, while listening to various professors explain their research at the annual IDM Retreat Day on Friday.

Worked none on the Aran, although I'm thinking about buying another set of $1 4's from Target so I can transfer that sweater onto them and use the needle cables to start on the Wave Skirt in the round. Being that watches are on sale at Target this week and I have been watchless since mine broke at the end of the Habijax trip, I may be starting the Wave sooner than I thought since I've GOTTA go to Target! :-) Perhaps while I'm there I'll bother to drop off my film to get it developed finally so you wonderful people can see photos of my "stuff."

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I must say that the best compliment a person can give to a knitter is to say, "Wow, you MADE that?!" I've heard that a few times in the past month, and it's just delightful to hear. It means that my pieces look handmade but not homemade! It means I must be doing something right!! It encourages me to keep at it, to work through the tough times (like when I have to rip out the Aran again and again), and to consider making items for other people instead of just populating my wardrobe with knitwear.

Thanks, everyone, who has said that to me recently! It has made my day(s).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

i love it, i love it not

Work. Ugh. Not my favorite topic at present.

Two things I do not love at work:

One - me. This morning when I came into work I discovered that I, myself, had completely screwed up last night when I put my samples in the incubator. Instead of filling the incubator with FULL tubes, I for some reason thought it prudent to put in completely EMPTY tubes. Why????

Two - my project, which, according to my "annual department review," has my committee "concerned." At least they're not (according to the report) concerned about ME, just the project itself.

What I really, truly, absoultely love about work is the cold room. This is the room that is kept at 4C all year round. Most people would just say it's cold and a place to store things that need to be kept cold, but I think I could spend at least a long afternoon if not an entire day in there. I do like the cold, but even more I adore the smell of the refrigerated air (I guess that's the smell). It's...refreshing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

a surprise is coming

Knitting!! Just the word is so relaxing to me...

It would be great if I could write here about how wonderful the knitathon for victims of Hurricane Katrina was on Sunday at the Knit One store, but sadly I could not attend due to a serious amount of work that I needed to get done that day. How I would love to knit with some others, and soon!

I at least have been able to knit at all, albeit by myself. Most of my time has been spent on the Harry Potter bookscarf, which I work on mostly on the bus. This morning, before getting off the bus and running into my classmate Derek who was walking to where his fiance?/wife? had gotten into a car accident up the street (! - she's okay, although car is not), I finished the third (of five) set of stripes. I'm still not the world's best jogless jogger, nor am I especially skilled at counting to 16 (I have a row or two more than 16 between a couple stripe sets...), but at least the scarf is looking all right. I'm also encouraged that I am learning how to use the small yarn/thread and needles employed by this tiny project. When I first started, I thought the microscopic materials were most difficult to work with, but now it's not problem. Hooray for progress!

I was very happy to get some time to knit on Saturday afternoon. I put all my projects in a basket, took it down to my favorite chair in the living room and pulled out whatever suited my fancy at the moment. I worked a little bit on the Starry Night pullover and the bookscarf. OOH - and I also created a special surprise for some special people who shall remain nameless until they actually receive what I knit for them. Exciting (to me, at least)!

Other than that, my "knitting time" has mostly consisted of attempting to transform my hanks of Cotton Fleece into center-pull balls, which has taken on average of about 1.5 hours per hank. This is NOT encouraging. Well, it's not encouraging me to ball more hanks...but it IS encouraging me to buy a ball winder and swift... My birthday is right around the corner (October 12), so perhaps I'll see what that day brings me before rushing off to order. Besides, all my circular needles are in use at present, so I can't even cast on the skirt that goes with the Cotton Fleece (unless, of course, I buy more needles...).

Speaking of buying needles, I purchased some bamboo 4's from Target's dollar spot over the weekend. Kinda just wanted to see what the Target stuff is like, plus I tend to use 4's a lot (I actually need 4's for the skirt...but certainly not bamboo straights...). I used them to make the surprise. Fairly okay, although I'm no expert in needles.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Not to complain, but...

I've been getting stomachaches after eating for over a week...

I'm exceedingly tired...

I've been getting headaches every day for a week...

I went to a seminar on Wednesday and there weren't enough chairs so I had to stand for the whole lecture, and now my calves hurt either from that or from driving long distances on the weekend (I think it's the former because they didn't hurt on Tuesday after the driving, it wasn't until Thursday)...


I finally called the doctor about the headaches, which I never get, because when I ran my symptoms through one of those online MD's it said I had a brain hemmorhage. I was quite sure that wasn't true, but I figured I might as well tell someone with a degree in medicine to see if they thought it was normal to have headaches every day for a week. The doctor prescribed me some medicine that I actually already have a prescription for but don't take very much and am running low on, so it's good. No, I didn't take Tylenol or anything for the headaches - I don't do medicine for the most part. I guess I will now, though. I just want all this to go away.

Why am I so incredibly tired, too? We're talking ready to snooze at 9:30, 10 o' clock, and that's not normal (although it's probably when I really should go to bed) - and then I want to sleep for 12 hours! Blaaaah.

Hopefully sleeping in on Saturday and potentially Sunday will help me feel better?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

a visit to the cape

This past weekend was wonderous! During it I drove with my friends Jason and Joshua 10 hours to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to attend our friends' (Kevin and Jen) wedding. I could write a whole book about the trip, but to summarize...

The Cape was beautiful. Jen and Kev couldn't have picked a better time of year or a better day. Gorgeous sun on a calm ocean bay on a perfect temperature afternoon.

My dear friends Jen and Kevin are dear friends of so many people, and this weekend it was easy to see why. They hosted a FABULOUS authentic Chinese dinner for all their out of town friends who had made cross-country and sometimes cross-ocean trips to make it to the wedding! They were cool, calm, collected, their regular easy-going selves through every single moment of the wedding and its reception. There was never a moment that I regretted making the long journey to celebrate this happy occasion with them!

I got to see a bunch of old acquaintances/friends and get to know some new people. As I said, the newlyweds have an extensive network of friends, and it was great to meet some I had only heard of before.

I spent some quality time in the car with three great guys - Jason, Joshua, and on the way back home another Jason. Good times. Such patient young men - not a complaint about how squashed it was in my Civic or a "when will we get there" whine. I guess they're all adults, so such childishness wouldn't be expected, but you never know...

Hopefully I'll have some more pictures back soon, but so far here's one I swiped from Jen's maid Gemma - the whole bridal party of friends, family, and Jen and Kevin.
Image hosted by

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

all systems at less than sixteen percent!

I have a few works in progress at the moment, and none of them are very far along...

1. The Aran pullover continues to get little attention. I knit a few rows over the weekend while riding to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for Jen and Kevin's wedding. I learned that knitting cables on a bumpy road is not a good idea. I spent more time sticking fallen stitches back on the needle than I did doing actual forward-progress knitting.

2. The Starry Night pullover is my favorite project at this moment in time. So blue. Worked on it several days on the bus. It's at the boring state right now, just stockinette stitch for several more inches.

3. The Wave Skirt still hasn't been actually begun. After colorfasting last weekend and waiting for the cotton to dry, I have been procrastinating putting the hanks of yarn into balls. I have one and a half of the 7 hanks in balls, but the first one took 2 hours to do because I managed to create a gigantic mass of tangles and knots in the yarn. I am thus motivated to purchase/make a yarn swift and ball winder before I proceed. ...But I need to examine how much money I have before doing so.

4. The Monk's Travel Bag is now on size 2 needles and seems to be the right-ish gauge on them. I need to work on it some more. Not much progress.

5. I cast on the Harry Potter Bookscarf (see Knitting with Laura) for the Weasley-a-long in relatively authentic Gryffindor colors last Friday after purchasing the DMC Perle Cotton yarn in a hurried visit to Jo-Ann on Thursday night. So far I've gotten up to the first stripe - row 18 out of 112. This I also tried knitting on the drive to the wedding and learned that knitting with tiny yarn and needles on a bumpy road is not a good idea. Again, the stitches kept falling off as I went to put my needle in the stitch and we hit a bump. But, for some reason, knitting with tiny needles and yarn on the bus is not so difficult, and this morning I was able to weave in a new color, knit a round of it, and jogless-jog after the first round. It's a nice, simple project that teaches me how to use tiny double-pointed needles and do that jogless-jog technique and practice my color transitions and provisional cast-on. I'm not altogether pleased with the colors I selected. They look better in some lights than others.

I took pictures of all my knits to finish up my roll of film, so as soon I should get them online next week after they're developed. ...I'm getting really tempted to purchase a digital camera...!

And how can I forget the best knitting knews! The new issue of Knitty came out! Yay!!!

Friday, September 09, 2005

dell and the disappearing file

I finally sat down yesterday to answer Part 15 for my training grant proposal - Long Term Career Goal. I ended up thinking of something to say that would please my audience and make me still feel honest. And, interestingly, when I got home at night and read through my daily devotional, I was struck by the fact that sometimes what I want from life, although it may be noble and all that, may not be what God wants for me. Maybe God doesn't have it in His will for me to be a stay-at-home mother. Obviously that's not the case right now, since I a)have no kids and b)am not married. And maybe He doesn't even desire me to be a teacher. I don't know for sure, honestly.

Anyhow, back to the point... I wrote three paragraphs about what my goals are, and I was quite pleased with it as a piece of writing. Saved it, transferred all my grant files to the USB memory drive, overwriting the previously saved drafts of all these files, and then went to a computer that attached to a printer in order to print off my manuscript and be ready to hand it in the next day (which is When I stuck the memory drive into the Dell computer there were three "ghost" files - you know, those ones with numbers and letters in the title that don't mean anything - as well as the files I wanted. I opened the research proposal file and the information-about-me file (birthday, address, etc.) and printed those, but I had to switch to a different computer that was hooked up to a color printer to print off some of the figures to accompany my proposal. On this Gateway computer the ghost files weren't there. I printed the figures, and then all I had left to do was print the Long Term Career Goals page and I'd be done. But when I opened that was my very first draft of the file, which said essentially nothing and was only 2 sentences long. AAAK!

What I had done was type up the REAL L.T.C.G. file directly onto the memory drive, so that meant that when I overwrote that file with the ones saved on my hard drive (e.g. the draft...) the real one went away - FOREVER!!! I tried everything I could think of to find temp files of the real file back on my original computer, but no - the computer doesn't save temps of files on external drives... I tried to trick MS Word into finding the real file for me, but it wouldn't. I tried to call my computer genius brother, but he was in the middle of driving from Grand Rapids to Columbus and didn't have a cell phone. I called the school help desk, but they said I was out of luck and there was nothing to be done.

I gave up, ranted on the Knitty board, and sat down to the worst task ever - trying to remember what I had written and then rewrite it. I absolutely abhor this... Maybe it's the writer in me, but I feel like I can never recapture the carefully selected words I had chosen in the original when I am forced to recall and rewrite. So...for the next hour I worked on that and was finally satisfied. I checked on the Knitty board to read some comforting replies, and one person suggested looking in the subdirectory where the real file had been stored to see if I could find the temp file. I had already done that, but then I remembered the ghost files on the Dell. ...Could it be...??

I ran to the Dell and plugged in my memory drive and - lo and behold the ghosts were still there... And when I opened one of them...IT WAS THE REAL FILE!! Yaaaaaay! I was so happy, although also so peeved because I had just rewritten and the files hadn't showed up on the other two machines I'd been trying to find the file on... Still don't know quite why only Dell will let me see the temp files, but I'm sure glad at least on of the three computers I was working with did. (Any thoughts???)

Amusingly, the words in the real file and the rewritten file were about 80% identical, which just goes to show that I guess rewriting isn't so inaccurate - but it's still hard because it's quite a strain to try to remember the exact words used.

Happy me printed that last page of the grant application, made copies, paper-clipped them together, and finally left from work to catch the 8p.m. bus... Blech. I had just enough time to grab a bag of greens and a container of blackberries, hop in the car, and drive off to find a Jo-Ann before it closed to purchase yarn to make a Hogwarts scarf bookmark for the Weasley-a-long. Then a stop at Target for contact solution, the grocery store for milk, and the gas station for finally cheaper gas...and then it was definitely time for bed.

What a day...what a week...this weekend will be also what-a, as it begins (and ends) with a 11-hour drive to Cape Cod (and back) with a lot of great food, time with seldom-seen friends, and a wedding in between!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

the sky is falling!

Remember how the ceiling fell down in the new room at work? Well, it's occurred again, although in a different room. Yesterday my coworker Ming walked into room 440 and discovered ceiling tiles (which looked severely water-damaged) all over her virus-testing equipment!! NOT good. So, once again it's time for the facilities management people to take a look into what's going on in this old building.

It's funny, I complain so much about the old building I work in, the old house I live in, all this old stuff...but I LOVE old stuff! It drives me nuts when great old things get ripped down, particularly rapidly by we silly Americans. And our idea of "old" isn't more than a few hundred years - what about thousands-plus years old things in other parts of the world? Obviously, for those things to have become that old, somebody somewhere had to say "Okay, well, sure it could use replacing, but let's keep it another decade...and another...and another..." I have to admit, can definitely be good. Perhaps buildings and other structures really were made better back in those "good ol' days." As the saying goes, "They don't make 'em like they used to!"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

fast, color fast - and some KALs

After my Wool-Ease find last week, I set to work swatching to get gauge for my next sweater - the Starry Night sweater from Sweaters from the Maine Islands. Only had to make two swatches - the first was on the recommended size needles and was too big; the second was on 2 needle sizes down and was just right. This is what normally happens to me. I don't know why I don't just start out swatching with the smaller needles...

I got out my graph paper on Thursday and worked out the instruction changes I need to make to get the sweater to fit me properly. Then, Friday night I cast on using the tubular cast on...and somehow for both the front and the back I cast on the wrong number of stitches - too many for one, too few for the other. Ugh. I redid the cast on and then did bottom-of-the-sweater ribbing and now am on the boringness of stockinette for 10+ inches. Hey, at least I can read (Harry Potter) and knit when it's stockinette! I do like how the piece is feeling - soft and warm!

I joined my very first knit-a-longs! One is the Another Weasley KAL in honor of Harry Potter. At present I'm probably going to make a small scarf as a bookmark for that KAL, although I am becoming more and more encouraged to shoot for making a Weasley sweater for Christmas. It sure is convenient that my first name starts with R just like the one on Ron's sweater...

However, I seem to be committed to the scarf-mark because Monday I purchased a set of double pointed needles in teeny tiny sizes, which will be good not only for the scarf but also for socks, which I hope to try out sometime soon.

I tried to find yarn for the scarf at Knit One over the weekend, but when I went in there, to my surprise nobody came over to help me, and all I could find was yarn too bulky for the scarf, so I left. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and try again later - they're still in the process of getting things settled, and there seemed to be lots of people working on organizing, stocking, and even building shelves for yarn.

I also tried to find some scarf yarn while out to get the sock needles Monday, but I had no luck. I'm quite convinced that I should have been able to find something at Jo-Ann, but I didn't look hard enough. Too bad - the weekend and thus the sale is over, so I'll either have to suck it up and pay full price or...wait for another sale. If only I had given the Weasley KAL more thought a week ago, I could have purchased that on-sale Wool-Ease for the project. Boo.

The second KAL is the Black Sheep KAL. I read about it on the KnittyBoard and, having always wanted to do a KAL, signed up. I happen to have a semi-abandoned black bag in the works, so I resurrected that from a big pile in my bedroom. Alas, the curse of the changing gauge hit me as I re-began work on this seed-stitch piece. The few rows I did on the size 4's that the piece was hanging out on look so loose, I had to bump down to size 2's. I think it's better now. I can't figure out why that gauge changed, since I have been pretty consistent with gauge for many months now. I can't quite remember when I started the black bag, but it seems like it was after I had achieved a pretty steady gauge. Oh well. What is, is. The bag pattern is the Monk's Travel Satchel, which I ran across one day on the Interweave website. It's now published in a book.

And, finally, I worked on color-fasting the Cotton Ease for the Interweave Knits Spring 2005 Wave Skirt. Cotton tends to bleed a lot if the dye is not set into the yarn, so on Saturday morning I set to work first hanking (or at least my version of hanking...wrapping the yarn repeatedly around my outstretched feet...) and then soaking...and resoaking...and resoaking the yarn in hot water. Every single time I'd come back and hope the find clear water, but NO - some dye insisted on coming out after each and every soak.

This is the first time I've tried to colorfast cotton, so I'm not sure if this is normal or what, but I finally got sick of it and decided the color was better than it was before and the day was almost over (there were 5 different colors of yarn...each had to be soaked separately) so I was done. Now the yarn is drying (it's taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to dry!). And I'm sad that I might have to reswatch that whole thing, too, seeing the result I had with the Monk bag. Blech.

I certainly have enough knitting on my plate!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

laborless day news

It's been a week. I'm glad to have this nice, long weekend, to knit and tidy up the house and read and do some work on the grant.

Perhaps the best news of the week is that our dryer is fixed!!!!!! It has NEVER worked properly since we moved in August 2003. It always took at least 2 cycles (70 minutes each) to dry a normal load of laundry because they heat just didn't exist very well. Now - POOF, just like that your stuff is dry!!! Will certainly change my laundry-doing habits.

School started this week. Not that this adversely affects my life. I only take 2 classes during the school year, both from noon to 1p.m. - on Monday it's talk about new scientific journal articles and on Wednesday it's talk about new stuff you've done in the lab. Not really a homework-heavy or exam-laden courses. Basically school starting again means I have a big huge hour in the middle of 2 days that I need to schedule my experiments around (actually more like 1.5 hours since the classes are in a building 2 streets over from my lab) and that the buses are packed full of students.

Speaking of buses, other great news -- stating Tuesday there will be another busline that stops at my normal stop and one other new one that will stop a few streets over from where I live. With any luck, this should cut down on the crowdedness of the buses. However, it also has the potential to be a big huge drag because it's possible that the buses will run less often. The new schedules haven't been released yet, though, so there's no way of knowing. It would make a lot of sense for Port Authority to publish the new bus schedules so people could know when to expect buses to get to work on Tuesday morning...

On Thursday I attended a meeting that I think I wasn't supposed to be invited to. It was for the church high school youth group, with which I've volunteered for the past 3 years. My presence wasn't completely uncalled for, but judging from the fact that I was the only volunteer there, I think it's safe to assume there was an error in the mailing announcing the meeting. Anyhow, it was good to see the students again, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of ministry things again. This year some changes are happening in the ministry. We're switching from meeting on Thursdays to now meeting on Sunday nights - and there will be a new church service geared for younger adults ( and students on Thursday evening.

I'm trying to decide if I'll go to that Thursday night thing or not. I have a goal to keep as many weekday evenings free this year so I can work longer. I know that sounds obsessive, but I often end up where an experiment has some disastrous turn of events and I need to make a split-second decision to either fix the experiment and continue working on it or leave, slurp up some supper, and scram to my next commitment. I've been known to be an hour late for events because of this... That's not something I like to do.

I haven't been reading much of Harry Potter lately. I picked it up yesterday and read a few chapters. It's always amusing to me how I don't remember the things that I watched in the movie until they happen in the book. My brain isn't so good at remembering much as far as details of movies.

Last Sunday I made tons of treats. In an effort to celebrate 3 birthdays for people in my weekly Bible study, I made cupcakes, pudding, and cookies. I learned today that it was no wonder the ginger-and-molasses cookies turned out so bitter. I used blackstrap molasses instead of the dark molasses the recipe called for. Bad reading of the labels, Ruth!! But at least the molasses was free because it rang up as 10 cents more expensive than it was listed on the shelf, and Pennsylvania law says that the first item you buy that is incorrectly priced, you get for free. So I did. Even with the blackstrap the cookies were really good; I can't wait to try them with the right ingredient!

Last night, while knitting (or trying to knit...), I watched East of Eden with James Dean. Wow, what a great movie!! I've never read the book by John Steinbeck, but I think I'll have to. It almost made me cry at the end. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch something that makes them think a litte.

Friday, September 02, 2005

lost in translation

My coworker Yue Chen just came back from China (where she was born) after a month working and vacationing there. She brought back everybody's favorite - Chinese candy!! It's always exciting to figure out what the candy will be since none of us can read Chinese.

One new specialty that returned to our lab this time was a big bag of tiny one centimeter beef jerky cubes. Very yummy - sugary and spicy. From this package comes today's funny for Friday.

Ingredients: BEEF, SUGAR, SALT, PERFUME..."perfume" is pretty funny; I'm sure it means something more like "flavoring," but that's still not the funny part..POTASSIUM SORBIC ACID, and finally (and since it's the last ingredient, I hope it's safe to assume that there's not much of it) THEREDSONGISRED.

Yes, that's right. The red song is red - all one word. ????? I'm guessing it's more properly translated "red coloring," but it certainly did not come out that way. My question is...WHY???

Can't complain too much - the jerky cubes taste great!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

aid and the media

Let me start out by saying that I feel TERRIBLE for everyone who has been affected by Hurricane Katrina. Obviously this was a devastating natural disaster, the response to which has been overwhelming. In fact, the response reminds me of what happened after the tsumani last year. It didn't take very long at all for citizens of the United States to start sending money to help people in countries they had never heard of before.

All this is well and fine, and I'm all for supporting ANYONE who has been affected by any disaster. However, it is astounding to me how certain crises apparently are more important than others, and I would venture to argue that a lot of this has to do with the media.

Take, as an example of the power of the media, the case of a missing person. How many people do you think turn up missing every year in the U.S.? Do you suppose it's more than the 2 or 3 that you hear of in the national headlines? Not too long ago I watched a report about a family in Florida who tried desperately to grab the media's attention about their missing family member. There were dozens of clues that would have even made for a pretty gripping "was it HIM? or was it HER?" story. Unfortunately, this missing person didn't "fit the description" of most other nationally-known missing people - she wasn't well-off and white. She was black. Infuriating, even to this Dutch girl.

So, what's this got to do with Hurricane Katrina? Well, it didn't take much finagling to get people to open their pockets for these unfortuante American citizens, whose country takes pretty darn good care of them and whose relatives in other parts of the country have the resources to support them. However, we're still stuck with that situation in Niger, which made a blip on the t.v. screen a couple weeks ago and then went away - we're talking 2.7 MILLION people who would be delighted to have some FOOD to eat on the ground and who could care less about salvaging china plates from their homes! These people have been living like this FOR A YEAR. How long do you think it will take for people to respond?