Wednesday, November 21, 2007

not quite there yet

I'm trying to be more "environmentally friendly," which really means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I won't go into what it means to me at the moment, except to say that I want to try to be more responsible with my purchases of food. That brought me to Pittsburgh's East End Food Co-Op a couple weeks ago. I have shopped there on and off over the past year, but I had never gone on a Sunday. It seems that everyone and their mother shops there on Sundays, because I had never seen so many people.

I also guess that Sundays bring out the die-hards, because as I strolled around the store picking up my granola from the bulk food section and the organic greens for Joelle and selecting a locally grown eggplant (they are sooooooo good! I can't believe I have lived for so long without appreciating the wonder that is eggplant...!) I found myself feeling quite inept, and in fact not at all environmentally friendly.

Not that people are judging, but if they were, it would have been obvious that I wasn't a real tree-hugger, because real tree-huggers brought their own glass jars, prelabeled with the jar's empty weight, in which to put their bulk food items. None of those yucky plastic bags like I picked up. And real tree-huggers wouldn't look at the organic ice cream and say, "Oh, that's all the selection there is? And only in pints? And no store-brand? Nevermind." Real tree-huggers would embrace the fact that there are no less than five different brands of organic ice cream, in a variety of flavors, not to mention the soy-based ice creamy stuff; they would support the companies who are producing sustainably-grown products when the store brands are just going for cheapness -- and they would be happy that portion-control was built in to the size, because who in the world needs to eat a half-gallon of ice cream by herself anyhow? Real tree-huggers wouldn't groan internally and say, "Man, I can buy this same cereal at Target for about half the price...!" instead of choosing to support a locally owned and operated business. They would proudly flash their Co-Op membership cards...and they'd probably then hop on their bicycles and ride home, unlike me who mumbles, "No, I'm not a member..." and gets into the car and drives the three-ish miles back home.

But hey - at least my gets 40 miles per gallon and is certified to be an ultra-low emissions vehicle!!

I guess there are levels of environmentally-friendliness, and there is probably always more any given person can do to stop depleting the earth's resources ( be quite technical, I guess the best a person could do is DIE, because not only is the person no longer using the bounty of nature, he's now giving back to the earth as his body decomposes...but I'm not suggesting that's what we do to save the earth!). And I guess that my small steps are better than no steps at all.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Last Thursday Relient K made their closest stop to Pittsburgh on their Appetite for Construction tour with Switchfoot and an opening band ironically called ruth (I assure you - it's not me, and you don't want me to be on a stage singing...not pretty). Unfortunately, the venue was still 2.5 hours away; fortunately, it was in one of my most favorite towns and I know a few people there. Unfortunately, the weather was sort of ucky - rain and a little hail/sleet/iceball stuff - on the drive there; fortunately, there was little traffic congestion, even on the roads that are often jammed (that's what happens when one leaves much earlier than rush hour!). Unfortunately, the lack of traffic meant I arrived a lot earlier than I needed to (not actually a bad thing...); fortunately, someone in town called me and invited me over for a wonderful home-cooked dinner in the meantime, and there was still ample time to arrive at the concert and meet up with the group I was sitting with. Unfortunately, the lead singer of Relient K was not feeling well and sounded a little pained to be singing; fortunately, despite his illness, they did not cancel the show as they had been contemplating. I would have been really, really, REALLY bummed if they had canceled. I have been waiting for this concert for months.

Despite the not-feeling-well-ness, the performance was very enjoyable, and I was just happy to see the band in real life. They played some of my favorite songs and one off of their new Christmas album, which I just purchased and can't wait to start playing once Thanksgiving is over. I just think it's appropriate to wait until one major holiday has concluded before really ramping up for another one. Although I did put up my Christmas tree, lights, and nativity scene yesterday...but that was more of a logistical decision, because I won't have time for that again for another two weeks, and then it's too close to Christmas!

Friday and Saturday I attended a branch meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (I know, aren't I the most way-cool clubs???), which was at a small college on the other side of Pittsburgh. It was informative and interesting, and I enjoyed talking with many of the other attendees. However, for some reason it's left me in a work-related-emotional slump. I guess I had sort of been hoping to make some good connections for post-doctoral positions at the meeting, but that didn't happen the way I had envisioned. It wasn't all bad, and I did glean some information about a couple places I have been thinking about applying, but it wasn't what I had hoped for. It brings into question whether it's just utterly ridiculous to ever want something, because it seems that it's entirely too heartbreaking to deal with when what we want does not come to fruition. But maybe that's just real, true humanity -- wanting something, even though we know that it may never come into being, seems to be at the core of being a genuine human being. I guess that in many ways I would prefer to be disappointed than to become so callously apathetic that I don't care whether anything at all ever occurs. Doesn't make it any easier, though.

Monday, November 12, 2007

i can write

The day has finally arrived...!

Last week Thursday I had my sixth thesis committee meeting. These meetings occur approximately every six months and involve me meeting with the five professors who oversee my research, telling them about what I've been doing, and hearing what they think I ought to do next. For this meeting I pulled together all the data I've accrued from the past five years, sorted through it to put it in the most honest and yet favorable light, and presented my case. And lo and behold, the response I've been longing for arrived:

Stop doing more lab work and write that thesis.

Woo hoo! Know what that means? I get to graduate!! (Soon. Well, in a relative sense. Probably March-ish of next year, which is only a few months away.)

Thus, as I embark on the fun last stage of this journey with the companionship of my trusty computer, I think I'm going to need one major item that I currently lack: a workstation that does not contribute to the massive pain in my shoulders that I am currently feeling. If anyone has some thoughts, please do let me know.

Yay, thesis! ...Oh yeah - this also means I'm supposed to find a new job...! Starbucks a few miles from my apartment is hiring.... ;-)