Saturday, June 30, 2007

How rusty is your 8th grade science?

Why are there so many things out there comparing adult knowledge to that of an 8th grader? What's up with that? Is there something special about the 8th grade that I don't know about (possibly because I am not smarter than an eighth grader)?

I couldn't resist giving this one a whirl:

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz

Dang. A- is OK I guess, but with two masters degrees and many years of postgraduate education in physics, I shouldn't have missed any of these. In my defense, the two I missed had nothing to do with physics.

Friday, June 29, 2007

bad week

Friday was just as bad as the rest of the week. Dealing with fallout from the issue I found earlier kept me extremely busy (I hate it when I don't have time to read your blogs). I wanted to leave around 4pm, but someone else bailed out early and I got stuck there until 5:45. More stuff didn't work, or was flaky and/or unreliable, and my software did some weird things and caused me to have to repeat two tests for the fourth time each. I just love doing things over... particularly on Friday afternoons.

A nice Thai dinner and a bottle of wine helped me put it behind me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm fried, and the week's not over.

It's been a long week, and I'm too tired to come up with the witty blog post that I'd like to create. You'll have to settle for this:

You Are 66% Burned Out

You are very burned out.
You need a huge break from your responsibilities, starting as soon as possible.
And you need this time to reevaluate what you really want out of your life.
Because you're working hard and going no where... and that would burn anyone out!

I have to work late again tomorrow teaching a lab with the physics students. I hope it goes more smoothly than it did on Tuesday. It took a hell of a lot longer to do these tasks with the students than it takes me to do it alone, and I am not sure that I explained things all that well. I worked on Saturday to get the monthly QA done on time, and still have to test another machine by the end of the week. We're short staffed, and we have short tempers. With the annual testing on one of the linear accelerators I'm responsible for coming up, July isn't looking any better. Last year the annual test added 100 hours of work on top of the usual duties for the month. Except this year, the month is July and there is a holiday, I have some more teaching duties, and I will be in Minneapolis for a week to attend a conference. I'm starting to freak out a little.

At least I have a vacation to look forward to in August. The reservations are all made (southern California, not Canada), and it was not hard for me to convince PDM that we should rent a convertible instead of a boring car. It will be a nice reward for getting through July.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Meet Silvio

Just picked him up today (minus his nuts, poor little guy...).

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Things are changing a lot at work, and it has all of us feeling uneasy and unsettled. We said goodbye to one person, a good friend, on Friday. A physicist is leaving later this summer, and we also have another physicist who will be going on maternity leave any minute now. There is sure to be a new hire (or two, or three...) to adjust to, and assignments are likely to change and change again.

I was very busy on Friday and found myself comfortably in denial about my friend's departure. It may not hit until late next week, when I'm back at the main location and things are very different. Then again, I may be too busy to deal with it this week as well - there are several things going on that are out of the ordinary and likely to take up a lot of my time. I came in and worked half a day on Saturday and still expect to work late several days this week.

But enough about all of this. How was everybody's weekend? Ours was low key. A little more low key than we had planned. We've been thinking about taking in another kitty (June is Adopt-A-Cat Month). We went to the Atlanta Humane Society on Saturday morning to look at the kittens, after getting the house all ready for a new arrival. It was tough to decide on just one, but we finally settled on this little guy:

He has to be neutered before the shelter will release him, so we couldn't take him home right away. I can't wait to see how Moxy reacts to him. I think they'll end up being buddies. Zima, not so much.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday CatBlogging 2.0

Zima keeps her razor sharp talons of doom in top condition.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Solstice

It wouldn't be right if I didn't give you a geeky link or two.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cicada song

I saw this cicada on my patio Tuesday morning. Judging from the empty shell nearby (see below), I would surmise that he had just molted and was drying himself out. After 41 years of hearing cicada noises during the heat of the summer, I had never seen one up close and in person until this week. Kinda cool, isn't it?

Cicadas make a loud, insistent sound that is unique in the insect world. For me, those cicada songs define summer in the south. They are a constant soundtrack on sultry summer days; almost deafening at times. I even heard them on hot days in New England, where the sound never failed to transport me back home to Georgia in my mind.

This is the shell he crawled out of:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stealth Spam Attack!

I sent an email to my sister this morning asking for some travel advice about a possible trip to San Diego. She lives in a beach town north of there and I knew she would be full of ideas. I checked my mail a few hours later and she had sent a series of replies with blurbs and links about that area. All the new messages in my In Box were from her (or so I thought). So as I finished each message, I clicked "next" to get the next one on the list. It was all good stuff - cool places to stay and some things we might like to do. Finally, I opened the last one and it said:

"If you are in need for information dealing with which way you may foster some more mass for your rod, you've got to see our site."

Huh?!? What? Oh. It's an email with info and a link, but this one's not from my sister. I laughed so loud I had to get up and shut my door. "Foster some more mass for your rod" just cracked me up for some reason.

It doesn't seem quite as funny now. But imagine reading that sentence with its oddly formal choice of words to describe something crude, while fully expecting it to be about things to do in the San Diego area, and imagine the awkward, sudden shifting of mental gears as it becomes clear what has occurred. Yeah, it was damn funny at the time. I laughed myself silly.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hey, la, my camera's back!

OK, not the exact same camera. But close. You can expect some fresh Friday CatBlogging, along with many more lame attempts at artistic photography (as shown above).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pity Poor Pluto

Not only is it not a planet, turns out it ain't even the largest dwarf planet in the solar system.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Yes, it's another meme. But why not? They're fun. This is borrowed from kat, and beth, and trinamick.


So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening Credits: Piece of the Rock (Mother's Finest)

Waking Up
: Bell Bottom Blues (Eric Clapton)

First Day at School
: I Have The Touch (Peter Gabriel)

Falling in Love: D'Yer Mak'er (Led Zeppelin)

Fight Song: Choctaw Hayride (Alison Krauss & Union Station)

Breaking Up: Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing (Chris Isaak)

Prom: Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)

Mental Breakdown: Blue Sky (Allman Bros.)

Driving: Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)

Flashback: Send Me On My Way (Rusted Root)

Getting Back Together: Cold Shot (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)

Wedding: If I Fall You're Going Down With Me (Dixie Chicks)

Birth of Child: Come On In My Kitchen (Robert Johnson)

Final Battle: Two Trains (Little Feat)

Death Scene: Red Rain (Peter Gabriel)

Funeral Song: Eight Piece Box (Southern Culture on the Skids)

End Credits: What It Is (Mark Knopfler)

I'm shocked that iTunes did not try to slip in some Nickel Creek.

I'm no doubt supposed to tag some of you. If you like this meme and it sounds like a fun thing to do, consider yourself tagged.

Flag Day

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can This Be True?

I was reading a news article about high school graduation rates. The study the article was quoting said that Georgia has a graduation rate of only 56%. The nationwide average is supposedly 70%. I'm shocked. Those numbers sound awfully low. Can it be true that little more than half of Georgia teens get a high school diploma? I wonder if they are adequately accounting for students who move out of the district or state, but continue on in school.

If I had to guess about graduation rates, I would have put the number between 80-90%. Maybe I've lived a sheltered life. I grew up in a suburban Atlanta county, not a particularly well-to-do one, and don't remember many kids dropping out of school. A couple of girls got pregnant and there were a few druggies that left or got kicked out, but most of us got through it. I find these numbers disheartening. All those kids throwing away their futures. Why?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Humor Me

weird birdfeeder

I've got the 'blahs' today, so I thought I'd post a funny picture and see what happens. Think of it as a caption contest. Make me laugh. I dare ya.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"All due respect..."

I just uncorked a bottle of chianti in preparation for the last new episode of the The Sopranos. For the last couple of months, this is how we spent our Sunday nights. I can't say it has been a routine - settling in with a nice meal and a bottle of chianti - only because the show isn't on often enough for it to seem that way. It wasn't unusual to have to wait well over a year between seasons.

I'm curious about how they will end the show. The mood that has been building this season is ominous and dark. I don't have a preference - just hope that it will be the usual high quality, meaty fare.

Rather than mourning the loss, I appreciate what The Sopranos has done for TV. It has shown what is possible in this medium when the creators are free from network interference, ratings worries, the need to be an instant success, and broadcast standards and regulations. The result is a TV series that plays out more like a novel than a dramatic series. Add in lush cinematography, brilliant musical soundtrack choices, excellent writing and acting, and you have got one helluva show. I am sure that HBO was rewarded with many new subscribers who came because of this show, and stayed because of all the other great series: Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, ROME, Carnivale, and Deadwood, just to name my personal favorites.

Friday, June 08, 2007


It’s not the itching, it’s the oozing. Yeah, that poison ivy rash I got last weekend has turned ugly. Literally. I’ll spare you the details (sorry, LL, no pictures), but suffice it to say that I have to tape a huge gauze bandage on my right forearm every day so it doesn’t ooze all over my desk. I don’t know how it’s gonna dry up if I have to keep it covered all the time. Sigh.

Monday, June 04, 2007

10 Gees

Magnetbabe has covered the letter B in her latest blog entry. Why? It's another meme, silly! Why else would someone do it? And since it is a meme, it lives to be passed on to other bloggers. I was game and got assigned the letter G. The gist of it is that I should list ten of my favorite things that start with G. Got it? OK. Here goes.

1. Georgia Institute of Technology. This was an easy one. Kind of a softball pitch to get things rolling. Anyone who has spent any time here knows that I like Georgia Tech. Between the two of us, my husband and I have five degrees from Tech. I grew up in a Tech house. It's in my blood. My Dad had three degrees from Tech and worked there as a research scientist for 33 years until his death in 1993. He had football season tickets for most, if not all of that time. He was a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a helluva engineer (and scientist, and administrator). College sports are fun, but I am more proud of Tech's academic reputation. And I put my money where my loyalties are: this will be my 20th consecutive year of giving to support the institute.

Ramblin' Wreck

2. Geeks. I'm a geek. I'm married to a geek. Many of my friends are geeks. There are all kinds of geeks out there -- science geeks, computer geeks, music geeks, movie geeks, sci-fi geeks. There is nothing wrong with souping up your calculator and proudly displaying that pocket protector. Embrace your inner geek. It's hip to be square.

3. Gatos. Just 'cause my letter is G doesn't mean I won't find a way to work cats into my list. Dogs drool. Cats rule. [Disclaimer - I really like dogs, too. Especially big, goofy, sloppy dogs. Just not quite as much as cats.]

My Feline FriendOh, Did You Say Something?

4. Gort. Gort is the robot from the classic 1950s sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. He's in my list representing the science fiction genre in general. There is something very powerful and enduring about the older science fiction books and movies. Don't get me wrong. I like a lot of the newer science fiction as well. I grab a lot of books on their first day of publishing. Many of the newer TV series are extremely good (B5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Doctor Who), and who can resist the astounding special effects of movies like Independence Day or Men In Black? But there is something about old sci-fi movies and stories that appeals to me. I love the early visions of the future that were created when most of the technology was still just a glimmer in man's imagination. They were so imaginative and interesting. Way off base on some ideas, but eerily prescient on others.

5. Geometry. It may seem like a strange entry into a favorite things list, but geometry was the first math subject that I actually liked. I hated the elementary school math class material - memorizing multiplication tables and doing long division by hand was so mind-numbingly boring. But when junior high rolled around and we got to geometry, I lit up. I loved the logic of it, and enjoyed working out proofs. This new enthusiasm for math carried over into other advanced classes. I loved trigonometry, algebra, and even calculus. It was all so elegant and logical and beautiful. My careers in engineering and physics would not have been possible without a love of mathematics, and I didn't find that until geometry struck my fancy. Geometry is also something that, along with trig, I have consistently used over the years. Both at home and at work, it is handy to know how shapes relate to each other and to be able to calculate arc lengths, volumes, areas and angles.

6. Gardening/Green Thumb. This year hasn't been a good year for it, but normally I spend many of my summer evenings and weekends doing some sort of gardening project. It is a hobby that evolves on a different timescale than most other things in my life. The years I spend in a place are marked by ever-growing flower beds and landscaping. By the time I left my former home in Massachusetts, the yard had been totally transformed into a lush paradise (winter months excepted). I hear from my old neighbor that the flowers I planted still come back every year, better than ever. Gardens are fairly forgiving, and working in them can be a great stress reliever. There is always something that needs doing, but the demands are gentle and not urgent. I enjoy the work (except the part where I get poison ivy and can't sleep because it itches so bad), and love to live with the results. Steadily over the years, I leave my mark on a patch of land by making it just a little bit like an Eden.

daffodil with orange corona

7. Galileo. The list wouldn't be complete without a great scientist. Father of astronomy? Father of modern physics? Father of science? He was all of these and more. Galileo pioneered the use of the scientific method - using experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis. He was the guy who figured out that the earth revolves around the sun. He designed and built the improved telescopes that allowed him to make the accurate observations to prove it. He was persecuted as a heretic for daring to suggest that the earth was not the center of the universe. Galileo was brilliant and had the courage to stand up for his discoveries.

8. Gargoyles. I wish these were still used in architecture. Gargoyles are just cool. Twisted, strange, beautiful. I enjoy seeing them on old buildings, and in homes and gardens. There was (is?) this cool shop on Newbury Street in Boston that sold gargoyles. I always liked walking through it - it was like another world. The interior was moody and gloomy, with dead leaves scattered around as if it were always late October there. It was a bit hard to find, which only added to the mystique.

9. Getaways. It's good to change your horizons, even if it is just for a day or two. PDM and I like to go places off-season. The less crowded it is, the better we like it. Beaches, forests, waterfalls, mountainsides, lakes, caves, rustic cabins, country roads... they all have their place. I hope I can always make time to get away, relax and recharge.

Driftwood BeachJekyll Island Sunrise

10. Google. Yes, Google's definitely on my list of favorite things. There are other online sites that I rely on for instant info (Wikipedia, IMDB, etc.), but no one place is quite as useful as Google. Maps, images, blogs, news, info, satellite, email... there is a lot to love about Google.

So that's my list. If you'd like to join the fun, and haven't asked Magnetbabe or someone else further up the meme chain for a letter, ask for one in the comments and I will assign you a letter to run with.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Weekend Wrapup

So, another weekend bites the dust. What's new? Friday wasn't very good for PDM and me. He had to go in super early and worked a long day, and we had an emergency patient late in the day, so I ended up staying much later than normal. We completely missed the happy hour crowd at the pub.

As usual, it didn't rain here. But it was cloudy on Saturday, which made it cool enough to work in the yard. Since I can't plant stuff (due to no rain and all), I wrecked my hands pulling up weeds and monkey grass. I also managed to contact some poison ivy, which itches like crazy now.

On Sunday, we went to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Unlike Spidey 3, I really liked Pirates 3. Sure, it was a long movie, but not a boring movie. And I loved the little blurb after all the credits. I don't care what the critics thought - it was damn entertaining. I am a satisfied customer.

After the movie, we went to lunch and then shopped for furniture. Why is it that the majority of couches in showrooms are leather? Leather couches and cats do not mix.

Today, we turned on our air conditioning for the first time this year. Yes, in Atlanta, Georgia, we made it until June 3rd without any air conditioning. That's gotta be a record. There have been only two good things about the drought: very few mosquitoes, and low humidity. Today, it seemed muggier than usual and kind of hot, so we caved.

Did I mention that I got poison ivy, and that it itches? A whole damn lot.

I hope you had a more exciting weekend than we had. If you did, please tell us all about it in the comments!