Monday, October 31, 2005

being passionate

There are a couple things about which I am passionate. I don't just like these things, I love them:
  • Learning. There are a few subjects I don't have much interest in learning about, but there are far more that I do. They are various and sundry. Many have a lot to do with science.
  • Eating with family or friends. I'm not talking about coffee and danishes, although that's pretty good, too. I mean a FEAST, like at Thanksgiving. Where you sit down with lots of warm, good-smelling, filling food, and you stay sitting for a long, long time. It's not the food that's so much of the draw here, it's the being with the people.
  • Animals. They are intriguing to me. I enjoy seeing them behave and learn and grow.
  • Manual labor for other people. Digging holes, weeding, building, moving heavy objects, sometimes even cleaning - it doesn't matter, as long as it's not for myself. I could do activities such as these for hours and hours on end and not get sick of it. And I'd do them with stellar quality.
  • Teenagers, especially high school ones. Like animals (although there are very significant differences), they intrigue me.
  • Truth. I very much dislike half-truths, deception, confusion, and lies.
  • Accuracy. Related to truth, I suppose, but different. Take for example, the incredible surge of emotion that I experienced when I overheard a woman relating to her friends a news story I had taken an interest in about a month ago regarding a large snake attempting to eat an alligator in the Florida Everglades. According to the woman, a boa constrictor tried to eat an alligator, but the alligator ate a hole through the boa's stomach and both of them died. I was quite perturbed that the snake's genus and area of origin had been significantly changed: in actuality, it was a Burmese python (which are from...Burma, or South East Asia, at least - boas are from Central America, or other boa-types are from Madagascar). In addition, as was pointed out by a friend who asked why both animals died if the alligator was able to chew its way out, it was the alligator's tail that was sticking out of the python, not the tooth-infested mouth. I had half a mind to go and correct this inaccurate reporting, but the other half of my mind told me this was a very ridiculous step to take, so I didn't.
Why these things? What is it that makes a person passionate about a certain thing but not others? I am NOT passionate about cooking or reading or even knitting, although I enjoy all these things. I am also not passionate about babies or children or virtues like patience and diligence. I sense that passions are very much inherent, that people are programmed by God to have certain strong likes and dislikes and soapboxes and indifferences. I don't have any evidence for this hypothesis, but it's what I'm working off of for right now. Perhaps one day I'll give this more thought...or I'll apply my passion for learning to understanding this exact subject; obviously, it's not one of those specific topics I'm passionate about learning about.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

knits away!

Ahhhhh. The happy joy of knitting. I actually did some this week! And I'm so much better for it. If only I could figure out a way to exercise and knit at the same time - I'd be relaxed and energized all in one go.

I've tossed the other projects aside and have been focusing on the wave skirt and the *cheer!!!* Starry Night sweater. The skirt lived in my big purse all week, so it got knit on the bus. Once I found the sweater buried under a pile of clothes in my bedroom, I didn't work on it because I was too lazy to join in new yarn.

The skirt is coming along slowly but steadily. I still love working on it - it's a very lovely texture. I am using those hoop earrings from my birthday as stitch markers. They work great!!

I've finished the bottom half of the sweater and, within a matter of rows, will be starting the texture and color portion that will add the silhouette of pine trees. I'm very much looking forward to that part, and thus I am motivated to knit the rest of the boring back and forth part. I joined one of the new balls of yarn on the bus! Gotta remember to take those needles out of my purse...!! Potentially very ouchie.

And last but not least, the joy of knitting - and giving! I'm procrastinating in picking out Christmas knits for various people, but in the meantime I gave the Harry Potter bookscarf to my coworker who loves Harry Potter and basically every other book and movie that I seem to enjoy. She reads way more than I do, so it will be much more useful for her than me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

get a life

I admit it. I'm a Sims junkie. I don't know what it is about this game that makes it so incredibly addicting to me, but I totally love it. I attribute it, in part, to my love for writing, for creating imaginary lives. With the Sims, I can see these paper-lives come to...well, digital-life at least.

My current Sims "project" is a variation on the "legacy challenge" generated by other Sims fans. The original challenge was to start with a person, have that person live and marry and have kids, etc., and have that family continue for 10 generations. You get points for various accomplishments and lose points for letting bad things happen. I'm not so much into such competition, but I decided it would be fun to at least play the game without cheating. :-) It's very easy to give your struggling Sims some extra money with a few pushes of buttons, and money means a lot in Sim world, although not everything.

Thus far, I started Mr. Jimmy Sanders out. Okay, so actually I cheated to get him "started". I wanted him to have a college education because that allows for some extra career options and SHOULD have also given a few other nice perks, but of course my cheating backfired and the added perks didn't get added because I was using outdated cheating software. Anyhow, Jimmy thus is a messed up character who lives for fun. Sims can have one of 6 different aspirations. Jimmy's is "Pleasure" which entails things like...juggling...stargazing...playing video games...going dancing. But, since I cheated, his life-long aspiration, for which he receives a lot of happiness-points, is to reach the top of the Law Enforcement career path. Jimmy married a great lady named Mackenzie. She's got a great job - a Professional Party Guest. Yeah...realistic, right? Unfortunately, Mackenzie's life-long goal is to marry off 6 children. This means that Jimmy and Mackenzie need to HAVE 6 children, which is a lot of kids, especially when you aren't super-rich to start with, as is the case with this lovely couple.

Through many, many hours of playing, a couple game-crashes, and at least one program glitch, I've managed to get Jimmy and Mackenzie to turn out fairly happy, live in a 5-bedroom home, own a car, and have 5 of their 6 planned children. (It got too crazy after 5. They're going to wait for a while.) Right now the children are...

  • Adam - he's a teenager but will go to college in a matter of Sim-hours. Current aspiration = Knowledge.

  • Brittany - also a teenager. Aspiration = Family

  • Cara - teenager. Aspiration = Romance, which is my most disliked aspiration. I hope she changes it in college.

  • Cora - Cara's twin sister. She's a little slow... Aspiration = Family. And let me just say, when Cara and Cora were born, Brittany was still a toddler, and life was INSANE!!! As a real-life application, having 3 under-5-year-olds in a household is really NOT a good idea (I would guess).

  • Danielle - a child right now. Chidren's aspirations are just to grow up.

I know this is totally useless and boring for many of you, but...hey, it's my blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

not much knitting

Haven't done much knitting, really.

I took the skirt on the bus today because I couldn't find the Starry Night sweater; got about one round done. Woo hoo - not.

I sewed up the wine cozy in time for the shower and decided it was pretty much a knitting disaster. I had somehow dropped a couple stitches way back within the first 2 inches - it it's 8+ inches long. Uuuugh! I "fixed" it with crazy sewing techniques, added some cute beads, and hoped that nobody would really notice that I had made anything. Nobody did.

I was inspired by I don't know what to knit Christmas gifts for about 30 people I know. I'm attempting to figure out who will get what and whether I'll realistically have enough time to get it all done in time for the holidays - especially with the Starry Night sweater's completion also a goal for Christmas. I need a day off - to do nothing but KNIT! Miss it.

Monday, October 17, 2005


This weekend I travelled to Kentwood, Michigan, my hometown, mostly to attend Amber's bridal shower, but also to spend time with my parents, at whose house I stayed. For most of my life, this has been home, and it's always been where I wanted to settle when I "grow up." However, as I completed my drive from Pittsburgh to the Grand Rapids area, a novel thought hit me. I could settle down in Grand Rapids. But I would be perfectly happy settling down somewhere else, too. This has NEVER happened before. Normally trips "home" are very difficult for me, because I just want to stay there forever. So this was quite a big step, if you want to think of it that way. I guess I'm just realizing that there's more to life than my dreams. Sure, it's good to have dreams and ambitions and goals, but one must also allow for God's direction. Maybe He doesn't want me in GR. Who am I to argue and whine, "But I want to live there!"?

I still really like Kentwood, though. I visited the Kentwood Ice Arena, where I began my hockey career. It was cool to see 16 and under girls playing there now as a travel team - to think that I was part of the team that led to their existance! While many things, like the ice arena, are staying the same, much is also changing. A huge shopping center has sprung up right by the high school, and the high school itself is going through major renovations. And then...old friends are getting married or are in the midst of being happily or unhappily married. "Change is the only constant" - so true. Just have to learn to like change!

Even my mom's interests are changing. One of her new hobbies is kayaking. She took me kayaking on Friday afternoon down the Flat River. BEAUTIFUL! It was a perfect autumn day, not too cold, not too warm. The river could have been a little bit deeper, but we were still able to go through the part we wanted without having to get out of the boats. Mom and I rescued two wooly-bear caterpillars who had attempted to commit suicide by leaping into the river. We saw snails and the remains of clams and turtles and kingfishers and great blue herons and tons of Canada geese.

Also on this trip I visited Ft. Wayne, Indiana. My good friend Sarah lives and works there, and I drove her down on Sunday. She gave me a great tour of the Ft. Wayne Children's Zoo, where she is a zookeeper. I there met a new favorite animal - the fossa, which I am now realizing is the "foosa" of the movie Madagascar, which I saw a couple weeks ago with my pals Leeann and Jimmy. They're a-maz-ing! Sleek, cute, mean-looking, agile. Quite a combination. Looks like a cross between a cat, a dog, and otter, and a squirrel. Also quite a combination. Here's a picture I stole from the University of Michigan (booooo!):

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

happy me!

Yes, it's my birthday.

And what am I doing to celebrate? Well, thus far I have:

  • Gotten to work on time

  • Given a presentation about malaria

  • Dashed to the post office when I realized my VISA payment is due tomorrow (where an old man cut in front of me!)

  • Ate left-over pizza

The point's just another day.

My charming coworkers got me a cookie cake, a fellow grad student in my lab got me a cute teddy bear and some earrings (one pair of which would make great stitch markers for knitting!), and another coworker got me a devotional/meditiations book (which I can already tell has great wisdom!). My brother called me last night to say happy birthday, Daddy emailed me to say the same, and I've gotten cards from the grandparents. Last weekend I purchased an early birthday present with some birthday money - it's lame, I know, but it's the latest expansion pack for The Sims 2. I'm totally addicted to this game...I try to play it in moderation (actually, I haven't played it in months, but when I get into it...I could be gone for hours...or days).

I'm finishing off my work at the moment, and then it's something...go to Bible study, where I am anticipating spending a great evening with my wonderful friends - and saying hi to Kevin and Jen again!

Yay for 25!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the purple people eater and a strange combination

The knitting of the week...

Not a ton exciting here. Finished the knitting of the wine cozy.

I need to finish sewing it together before the shower Saturday.

My roommate Ren gave me some yarn she came across randomly. Blue and orange. If you're from Illinois, you know that those two colors DO go together. I'd like something else to go with them if I'm going to make anything nice out of the yarn. J Crew suggests pink (look on the left-hand side of the open catalog...yeah, under all that glare).

What do you think?

And here's finally a picture of the Harry Potter bookscarf. Photo-taking skills are really bad with this one...

Other than that, I set aside the Wave Skirt for a while - as delightful as it is to knit, the temperature dropped significantly over the weekend, so I'm not terribly hopeful about being able to wear it anytime soon (plus I need to work out making a shirt to match it and I'm having trouble finding the right color fabric; going to try to dye this weekend!). Instead, it's been the Starry Night sweater on the forefront. It's getting there.

Monday, October 10, 2005


They're back!!

I got a call from the new Mrs. Jennifer Tan last night - she and Kevin are back in the U S of A! Hooray!!

Incidentally, on Friday I got my photos developed from their wedding.

Miss Jen getting dressed.

The "altar" on the beach.

You may kiss the bride. ...And there's a lot of sunlight giving a weirdness to the photo...

A bunch of us from Pittsburgh - see the Good Bias shrug I'm sporting!! Yay!

Jen and me.

Ruth (not me) taking a picture of the newlyweds.

And, after a long, fun reception full of crazy dancing...

Ruth and Tim's one year anniversary night at the beachouse where all the groomsmen stayed. Awww.

Friday, October 07, 2005

pictures are back

I have a really bad habit of not ever developing film. I don't tend to take a whole lot of pictures, so by the time a roll is finished in the camera I can't remember what I even took pictures of! So it was certainly exciting when I got three rolls of film developed all at once.

What did I find on these rolls of film...? (Just a warning, the formatting is totally messed if you view this with Firefox.)

My sister's high school graduation - celebrating with our grandparents...

...and Mom and Dad. In 2004.

My car after being hit by a deer at 65 miles per hour (the car was going that fast).

Saying good-bye to my friend Tonia (in pink at front) before she left for Boston. (I'm the one across from Tonia looking like I'm wearing no pants.)

Tim and Ruth's wedding in Harrisburg. (I am sporting a poncho I knit for the occasion.)

Beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada, for the Keystone Symposia.

The crew down in Jacksonville.

My friend Savanh climbing at Cooper's Rock. at Cooper's Rock. I did climb, too.


Savanh doing the splits while climbing.

Zeke and Zoe kindly sharing a catnip toy I knit them...and looking possessed because of the flash reflecting off their eyes.

Can't wait to take more pictures...and develop them!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

let down gone wrong

I must laugh at how life throws us curves, and sometimes good curves.

Yesterday was the day I've been waiting for - the recipients of the training fellowship for which I applied in September were going to be announced. My boss, after leaving the meeting where the recipients were selected, informed me that I had not been selected.

Boo. I had really wanted to get that grant, and I know I was up against good competition, but I still thought I had a pretty good application. I played it down, saying I hadn't gotten my hopes up very much, but in reality I still DID want to get the funding and, more importantly (is this bad?) the honor of receiving such an award.

It's funny how I revert back to the thinking patterns of my younger years. It was not a fortnight ago that I sat with my high school gals at the youth group I volunteer with and shared in a discussion about how girls tend to act like they can't be hurt. We say to the pretty girl, "Well, I don't want to be all obsessed with looks like you are," when in reality we know the girl ISN'T into looks, she's just naturally beautiful. Or we say "You don't like me? Well fine, I don't care, anyhow. You're not worth caring about." But we really are dying inside, thinking, "I'm not going to let anyone hurt me...I'm not going to let anyone see how I really feel." We build up these walls, we become emotionless, and that goes against the very nature of our being!

And, I became semi-bitter. I went through the list of people I was pretty sure must have gotten the fellowship spots. Yep, he's really smart, he should get one. She had good data; he's a good worker; she's got some good ideas. And one of the people I thought must have received the fellowship was one of those who's perfect. You know the kind - great in class, socialable, looks wonderful, has the wonderful significant other. The person I always try to beat out, not to satisfy some animal-like urge, but to make myself work hard enough to do better than that person who I think is the best. As I heard recently, "He/she literally made me a better person." Not that I'm the more stellar student or employee, but that without that competition, I wouldn't try so hard to do my best.

So I griped about how that particular person always got everything...I don't even know if the person actually got the fellowship, know...

And then a funny thing happened.

I checked my voice mail this morning on the bus - I'd turned the phone off before Bible study last night around 7p.m. My boss, who is in Puerto Rico for work, had left a message and said that there had been a mix up and I actually HAD received one of the fellowship positions. I was pretty sure I had heard incorrectly since I was on the bus and couldn't hear so well. But when I called the voice mail again at quiter work, it was confirmed, and it's now official.

That's what I was so let down about yesterday...and now I'm not, so that's good. But the period of thinking I was let down sure brought up some serious issues I have, wouldn't you agree? ...All occurs for a reason. Now I must get to working on how to deal with those issues. Perhaps the real let down is that, despite my ability to achieve such awards, I'm still a pretty imperfect person.

P.S. My sweet friend Su-Lin prayed last night that a great guy would become a reality in my life. Isn't she timely? *smile*

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

let down #1

Don't take this (and tomorrow's anticipated post) as a sign that I'm depressed, because I'm not. Let down, sure, but nothing I can't get over if want to.

Today's let down is actually sort of funny, in a sense. It's about guys. You must understand that I am not one of those gals who is desperately striving to land a guy. It's certainly more like I'm waiting for one to fall into my lap (not literally). However, I do have moments of impatience, and perhaps this could be classified as one.

The let down is that it seems no matter which guy I take an interest in, he's already taken. It all started many years ago when I ended up "liking" the guy everyone else liked, and everyone else dated said guy (which sort of make likeable guy not so likeable anymore). In the past several years, the guys I meet and have an interest in invariably get married within a year (friends reading this, don't worry, I'm not talking about any of your men!!). This recently occurred yet again, and it's not exactly a surprise anymore, just an annoyance.

There are a few things that might be learned from this:

1. It could be possible that I prematurely "like" guys - if I don't know them well enough to know that they're seriously dating someone, then I probably don't know them well enough to know if I actually like them, right? That one's up for debate. I could argue both sides right here, but that would be boring.

2. At the very least, I can be encouraged that I'm interested in guys who actually ARE good guys - at least in the opinion of one other female in the world. It could be worse - I could be attracted to guys who I then find out are horrible and aren't worth liking.

Those are my thoughts. I'm not terribly let down, but I do wonder when (if?) a guy will happen upon my life who fits all my desired traits of a man of God...and is available.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

adjusting my needles

This weekend I decided to start the Wave Skirt. This required moving the Aran sweater onto different needles so I could use the cable on which it has been hanging out. At first I thought I'd pick up another set of 4's for a dollar at Target to put the sweater on, but when I went to Target to buy them, I realized that they aren't really 4's! They're more like 2's... In the end it was all fine because they Aran sweater wasn't even ON 4's to begin with, it was on 5's. I eventually made the transfer onto the other needles, whisked away the cable, and cast on the Wave Skirt...!

It's fun!!! It makes me want to wear a skirt. It makes me want to get new stitch markers because the ones I'm using are big and are making there be holes that can eventually be fixed, but it's annoying right now. It makes me happy about balling yarn, because it's so easy to toss the big pink ball into my huge purse and take the skirt-in-progress on the bus and I don't have to battle with the tangled yarn like I have been doing with the Starry Night pullover's yarn that is NOT in balls... It, thus, makes me want to even more get a ball winder.

The present for the upcoming bridal shower is nearing completion (which is good, since the bridal shower is about 10 days away), although I threw it aside in the middle of the week because the stupid stitches kept falling off the needle and I eventually had to spend an evening correcting all the fallen stitches this caused further down the work. Blah! Fixing furry yarn isn't so fun.

I keep debating whether I should buy some yarn to make a Weasley sweater. However, just as I was leaning towards "YES!" I got word from a good friend that relatives of one of his coworkers had been hit by Hurricane Katrina, and everything of value in their home in New Orleans had been looted, including all their clothing, which would have otherwise survived the hurricane in their dry upper story. Now I'm thinking I'd rather spend the yarn money on clothes for these people. Probably will hit the store tonight to go on a shopping spree for...not me! I'm convinced that this will be much more relaxing than shopping for clothing for myself, since nothing ever fits me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

a new season of hockey

Hooray! It has officially begun!

On Saturday my team and I played our first ice hockey game of the year. We won - hooray! I am splitting the ice time 50/50 with our other goalie, Missy. She did very well and let no goals in, whereas I found myself knowingly being screened, distracted by this fact, and suddenly realized the puck was being shot, and I totally missed it. So the other team scored one goal. We stil won, but OOOOH did I want a shut-out!

Bad news when I put on my equipment. The palm of my blocker is now nearly completely non-existant, so I am going to get it re-palmed hopefully tomorrow. Not only that, but some of the lacing is now coming out. I don't think the whole things really needs to be replaced, but it is starting to show its age... I've had that since I started playing in 1996, and it even then it had already been through one previous owner. I'm going to go on a semi-reluctant shopping trip someday soon to dump a bunch of money into some new equipment. Sadly, ice hockey is not a sport for the faint of pocketbook. A new helmet and catcher will cost me somewhere around $300 to $500 dollars (could be even more if I had the money to spend on such things). A new blocker would add another $250 at least, but repalming it will only be about $50, so I'm going to try to fix the lacing instead.

Good thing I decided to not try to go on my Mexican vacation - I have a good chunk of money set aside that was originally designated for that and can now be used for good ol' hockey. Perhaps not quite as relaxing or warm as the Mexican Carribbean, but at least hockey is fun!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

what do you do when...?

What do you do when work isn't going well - AT ALL - and you're getting frustrated and confused and downhearted? What do you do when you're afraid people are going to think - or realize - that you don't have a clue what you're doing and you're making stupid choices and not working very hard?

Such was the case not too long ago as I walked down the hall at the lab. Nothing is going right, despite my best efforts even the "simple" experiments aren't working, and even if they were working, I'm not sure they'd answer the question I'm trying to address. It's sort of like how I felt this morning as I attempted to drive to work. I was happy with my discipline in waking up early so I could get to work at around 7a.m. Hop in the car and start the 3 mile drive. A half hour later I finally end up at work. I don't know if this is just a Pittsburgh thing, but it seems like the city enjoys closing roads without any warning (at least not any warning to people who don't watch television or subscribe to the newspaper - e.g. there aren't any road signs!). I was about halfway to work when all of a sudden in front of me is a barrier: road closed. Why? Not sure. I could go on the road driving the other way, and I had half a mind to do it, except there was an official-looking car sitting near the barrier. So I had to turn around and try a new way. In most places this probably wouldn't be too terribly difficult, but in Pittsburgh with its winding, one-way is. I was ALMOST to work via the detour when...yet again the road was closed. This one I had known would be coming someday soon - it's some celebration held by the University - but there was nary a sign along the approaching roadway to warn drivers that they shouldn't turn left onto the blocked road. What if you were not familiar with the town? No detours obvious way to get where you want to go... You would be so lost you would cry. One I find out to whom I should complain, I shall do so. In the meantime, this annoying episode shall serve as an example of what I've felt like about work for quite some time: trying really hard to go the right way, having the right way blocked, having no new directions, and having the new direction I choose blocked off, too.

So what does one do?

As I walked down the hall, the thought struck me that my value and worth are NOT dependant on what I do. It's an age-old truth from the Bible, but it's one I often forget. The rest of that truth is that my value and worth DO come from God. So, what does He think of me? He knit (yay!) me together (Psalm 139:13). He gave His Son, Jesus, to ransom my life (Ephesians 5:2). Jesus is on my side, fighting for my cause in the spiritual realm (Romans 8:34). God has done, and continues to do, so much for me - it is painfully obvious to me that He must, therefore, care about me an amazing amount. I can't really think of anything I've done that would have attracted the attention of the Creator of the universe, and I'm absoultely sure that I had no capacity to do so when I was still in the womb (the verse in Psalms says that's where He knit me together). Thus, I am valuable because...God says I am. I am valuable because God created me.

Now, if I could just get myself to live under this knowledge instead of trying to achieve value in some other way - through work, though respect of others, through "coolness" (yeah, we KNOW I'm never going to achieve that!), through success, through money, through good looks.

So, perhaps what I should ponder now is "What do you do when you know the truth but it's hard to remember it?"