Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blah, blah

I thought I had something to say, but now I can't remember what it was. So, I guess I'll just have to give you a bulleted list of whatever comes to mind.

1. I have this strange feeling that I should go home and pack. Not packing, as in some clothes for a weekend trip (which I will have to do for this weekend), but more like PACKING up the house to MOVE! Where am I going, you ask? I have no idea. I guess it's like when a pregnant woman feels the need to "nest," except this is sort of the opposite. Or perhaps it has something to do with my lack of control coming up in the next few months (what, with graduation, losing my job, finding a job, and moving somewhere far, far away)?

2. I will be driving to Little Rock, Arkansas this weekend, and am already nearly 1000 miles past due for an oil change. Yes, this needs to be taken care of very soon. Let me also say that we used to always do the Toyota's oil changes on our own, but the Xterra is a little harder (lower to the ground and less accessible). So, after all these years of KNOWING that the stuff only costs around $12 (oil & filter), it's hard to fork over the $30 that most places charge!

3. Why did R buy only 1 bag of the chocolate halloween candy (AND let the kids pick their own--duh, of course they'd rather have chocolate) and 2 bags of the "Kiddie Mix" which includes more FireBalls (yuk), JawBreakers (ouch), and Double Bubble (barf) than I would EVER eat? Oh, and he's already picked out and eaten all the Smarties!

4. The dog developed some sort of allergy back in September, and has chewed several areas on his legs, belly, and hiney nearly raw! The vet gave (right! really, they cost about $.75 each, and he takes 2-4 each day, depending on my memory) us some pills that help, but now he's out, and I'd like something a little more permanent. I mean, I couldn't even remeber a daily pill if I had to take it, let alone 2-4 for the dog! And, this is a relatively new thing (I'm thinking due to the chemicals/oils we've had in the shed since the arrival of the Jeep), so is it possible that his "allergy" will go away now that we've removed/cleaned all the chemicals?

5. R is playing a new computer game, some kind of "Capture the Flag," and I am slightly annoyed by the sexy lady who keeps saying "Blue flag taken," "Red flag taken," "Blue flag dropped, blue flag returned," and etc, etc! Sometimes it's more like "Re-Blue fla-red flag ret-blue flag returned." And that voice! If you didn't know english, you could very easily assume she was saying "Hi sexy, why don't you take those clothes off and get in my bed?"

6. Will I ever finally sit down and fill out a single.job.application? It's so intimidating and scary trying to explain that I do have the education and experience they're looking for! And then I look at the job descriptions and wonder, "would I really like doing that?" I know not everyone loves their job, but I hope to at least get a job I like, since I've "waited" so long and "done" so much school! Would any of y'all be interested in a part-time position as my Personal Assistant? The job details include researching jobs and completing applications, standing in for interviews is optional.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Resounding Sigh of Relief

The Defense is over. My presentation was received very well, I was told that my Thesis was exceptionally readable, and I only had a few challenging questions from my committee. So, let's all say *cheers* this round of drinks is on me! In another week or so, my Thesis will be completed with respect to the library requirements, and I will be able to return to my (happy place) position of Student! Thank you, EVERYONE for your best wishes and prayers! I truly appreciate each comment and conversation!

On another (lighter) note, the Halloween Carnival also went over very well! My mom would be proud to hear that my "booth" idea was quite the HIT, and we had a constant line of kids. See, what we've done in previous years is to set up "Mystery Boxes" that contain different animal furs, and let the kids reach their hands in to try and guess the animal (we also put up pictures of their possible choices). This was our attempt to link the scariness of halloween with the wildlife awareness of the Forestry/Wildlife departments. Let me also say that all the other organizations set up activities such as "Pin the Tail on Bully," bobbing for apples, and sack races (you know, the usual). Well, this year, as I was in charge, I decided to make ours a little more interesting. Although the weather and reloction to an indoor facility nearly foiled my plan, things worked out, and I got everything I had hoped for.
We set up the 10 x 13 screen tent that my gramma-in-law gave us (was it for Christmas?). Then, we lined the outside of the screen walls with black trash bags (to darken the inside and add a bit of mystery) and the inside with those nylon spider webs. We draped dark sheets from the ceiling (to make it darker and spookier) and attached my 4ft blacklight at the center of it. We set up a table along one wall and displayed several canine skulls (wolf, coyote, fox) and furs (possum, nutria, otter, gopher, fox). And we had two chairs on the other wall with R and another guy passing out the candy/toys. The kids would come in in 2 groups of 2-3, with one group going to the skulls and the other to the furs. In our attempt to squeeze a little edu-m-cation in there, we jokingly quizzed the kids on naming the animals. They were allowed to touch and hold all of the items, and most of them really seemed to be interested. After switching to the other side (skulls/furs), we told them to see "those two guys" for their goodies. We had tiny squirt guns, bubbles, stickers, pencils, and (some) candy.
I was proud, because it was ALL MY IDEA! Of course, a few kids were too scared to touch the skull/furs, and others wouldn't even enter the tent, but altogether, I'd say we were the Most Popular set up! Maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to expand on my ideas and put together a REAL "Haunted House," complete with spaghetti brains, scrambled egg stomach, and stewed tomato heart?! Though, that might be better suited to an older audience!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thesis What? Oh, DEFENSE!

It appears that tomorrow, Thursday, October 26 is the best day for all of my committee members to combine their critical and demanding powers as I prepare to DEFEND my entire Master's Research. At approximately 1:00 pm, I will stand before these four individuals who hold the key to my FUTURE. By accepting the challenge of my proposal, they expressed their shared interest in watching me struggle, stress, and succeed in achieving some result in my small niche of the scientific field.
My PowerPoint is complete, I have my notes ready, and I am (hopefully) adequately prepared to explain the dynamic components of Water Quality and Bacterial Source Tracking of a Cattle Pasture Watershed. I say: "Let's do this!"
At least I can be comfortable in knowing that after approximately 3:00 pm, tomorrow, I will no longer have to prove myself as a dedicated, motivated, laboratory worker. After that time, I will return to my long-time comfort zone of College Student Extraordinaire! I will no longer be responsible for maintaining bacterial cultures, preparing chemicals for intensive chemical reactions, or fighting with soft jello that apparently loves the floor. I can return to my Scheduled Regime of drawn out lectures, class presentations, and exams. I can participate in the Halloween Carnival without a second thought of the lab. I can enjoy the Haunted Adventures that Starkville has to offer without consideration of the sleep I'll be missing.
I will finally be FREE! (At least until my Molecular Biology exam on Tuesday.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Final Countdown

Okay, just let me point out that little ticker that's nestled comfortably in my title box. Do you see it? Take note of the extreme closeness of the STAR to December (December 8 to be exact). Yesterday I sent out my Thesis to my committee members and requested the date for my defense be next Thurs or Fri (preferably). If neither of those, the following Mon or Tues (at the latest). So, please let that be explanation enough for why I've been lacking in the Interesting Post department.
This coming week I also have 2 exams and a halloween thing I was volunteered to set up. No stress, right?
Today I have to get the housecleaning done (even with the knowledge that it'll be messy again in 2 days, right Mon?), give Guapo and the cats a bath, and (hopefully) make some progress on either my Defense powerpoint or Studying for Exams. All the while, it's about 50 degrees in the house and I'm hesitant to start up our Dinosaur Heater (gas prices to rival our summer electric bills)! Maybe I'll get the housecleaning done quicker since I'll be moving real fast to keep my blood from freezing! Fingers numb, must stop typing.
I promise, One Day I'll be back to my regular blogging!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Stewie!

Our nephew, Elijah had his First Birthday Monday (yesterday), and I'm sharing some of his adorable-ness with you. All pics from our last visit (Sept 29-Oct 2).
Here he is walking (YES, he started walking a few weeks ago) with R out in the yard. The kid refuses to wear shoes, and loves to wiggle his toes in different textures.

Sitting in a surviving oak tree (across the street from the beach) in Pass Christian, MS.

At IHOP, making the face (yeah, that cute one that he mimics from granny). With grits smeared across his mouth.

First time at the beach. I'm sure he's thinking "Oh MOM, it's just water, lemme go!" He did so well in the water & sand and didn't want to leave!

After the beach, we all needed a good bath. This must be his favorite part of the day, because he couldn't stop grinning! Thank goodness for strategically placed bubbles!

Happy Birthday, Kiddo!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Game Addiction

Over the past couple of years, before I found myself too busy, R and I used to play a lot of games. Not board games (or bored games, as he calls them), but video and PC games. Occassionally, I could convince him to play one of my games, but more often I was happy just to have a few hours of US time. Usually we'd start playing after dinner and dishes (around 8) and stay up until 10 or 11. Sometimes the games would carry over into my dreams and next day's activities. Oh, those were interesting times!
Now I don't have much time (or interest) in playing most of the games, although R still plays for an hour or two before bed. Let me also share that we have a nearly complete collection of game systems. Our current systems include: Atari, Nintendo (NES), Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, GameBoy Advance (2, Nintendo), GameCube (Nintendo), PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2, XBox. I think the only thing we're missing in the Sega DreamCast.
At times, I believe the games become an addiction, so I make it a point to not play all the time. Anyways, I thought I'd share some of our favorites. Feel free to ask about any of them, I have very strong opinions and am more than willing to share!
Games we played together:
Age of Empires (PC)
Stronghold (PC)
Mortal Kombat: Deception (XBox)
Rampage (Sega Genesis)
The Warriors (PS2)
Zelda (Nintendo GameCube/GameBoy Advance)
Games I played:
RollerCoaster Tycoon (PC)
The Sims (PC)
Mean Bean (Sega Genesis)
Dr. Mario (Nintendo)
The Sims2 (PC)
Majesty (PC)
Games R played/plays:
Zelda (Nintendo)
HalfLife/CounterStrike (PC)
Command and Conquer series (PC)
Halo (XBox)
Hitman 2 (PS2)
Halo2 (XBox)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Time In A Bottle

Some moments in my life that I will never forget:
1. July 28, 1990. The day mom and dad got married. I was 9, wore a long sleeved lavender dress, and was the ring bearer. The ceremony was at the on-base chapel in Gulfport, MS.
2. July 19, 1992. The birth of my baby sister, Ruthie. 8lbs 6oz, 19in. She was born (near) Aberdeen, MD. I almost actually saw her being born, but there were minor complications, and mom and to have a c-section. (I did actually see about a 4 in diameter view of the top of her head.) She had lots and lots of hair, I need to find and scan some pics, cuz she was such a cutie!
3. March 16, 1997. The day I got a new brother and sister, Gary and Jeannie. I can't get too personal, except to say that their mom called dad and told him to "take your kids." I spent the night at my friends house and when dad came to pick me up (Jeannie was in the car) all I could think to say was: "So, do you miss your mom?" I know, that was terrible, but it didn't last long. Eventually they grew on me and now we get along like any other bro and sisters.
4. May 22, 1999. The day I graduated from high school. My 2 best friends and I had a huge party at the lake, and I also got my first (driving/speeding) ticket that weekend, go figure.
5. December 16, 2003. The day R proposed to me. I've shared this story before.
6. November 27, 2004. My Wedding Day. See above link.

7. December 10, 2004. The day I graduated from college. Okay, so what if it took me 5.5 years to finish my Bachelors? I also have a minor in spanish. And, all that extra time allowed me to take very interesting classes like Abnormal Psychology, Medical Ethics, World Literature, and Floral Design. (You caught me, I never really took Floral Design, although it is offered.)

8. May 9, 2005. The day R's dad passed away. We got the phone call from R's cousin who lives next door to where Big R was staying. Oh, and it was 2 am. After getting over the initial shock, R had to call his mom to inform her and his sister. We took a week off work to get his final arrangements together. It was a very long and taxing week.

9. February 2, 2006. The day my grampa passed away. Since December, we had all been waiting for the call. Grampa had gone downhill very fast (alzheimers + who knows what) and was in a home. I've also talked about this before.

Coming Soon:
10. December 8, 2006. The day I graduate from college, again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The First Drive

R was true to his word. After checking the gears (to make sure that R was reverse, and 1st, 2nd, & 3rd were good, I got to drive the Jeep FIRST! I drove around the block and back, then R got his turn. Wow! What a thrill!

That's right, no seatbelts, no doors, and no windshield! Good thing there wasn't any traffic because the brakes are a little tough, too! See that look on his face? That about sums up his attitude when working on the Jeep! (And he calls this a hobby!)

Oh, and in case you're concerned for our well-being, I should let you know that we would NOT drive it like this on any major road! That would require at least a windshield! Ideally, we will also install roll bars and modern seat belts (belts were not standard when this jeep was made).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Today's Thoughts, In Bullets

Since I can't come up with anything more interesting, and I have a few minutes to kill before I finish this thing in the lab (Yes, I'm at work on a Saturday morning)... I'll cover the high points of Today's Thoughts.
  • I have mixed feelings about the currenly working status of my lab procedure. For the past 2 years nothing has worked the way it should, but here I am, 2 months away from graduation, and I'm getting amazingly beautiful results! This is good, because it proves that I am not a complete idiot in the lab. But, it's also frustrating because now I have to RUSH to get as many results as I can before my defense!
  • My best-bud, AJ just signed paperwork for a house! It's in a new development in Gulfport, and will take 6-8 months to complete. Last Thursday she picked her lot, chose colors (carpet, linoleum, countertops, cabinets, shutters), and got the proverbial ball rolling! I am SOOO happy for her (she lived on her own--after college for 2 years before going back to her parent's house (due to rent hikes after Katrina) and she deserves it!
  • AJ's house plans have brought on my (literal) dreams for my "Future House." Oh, do I have PLANS! Now, I wake up in the middle of the night taking "walking tours" of southern-style plantation homes in the mountains of Montana--yeah, like that's not weird.
  • I have a stack of "possible jobs" I could apply to, yet I have not even begun a single application, or mailed a single resume. I am more than qualified for several of them (I was qualified with my B.S. in Microbiology), and the pay on most is pretty good for "entry level," so what's holding me back? ANXIETY!! What if I'm only accepted at the jobs in Maryland and California (two places I'd rather not live) while the places I'd love to be (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado) turn me down? And, am I really willing to take a job in New Mexico? There, R and I would have a great place to stay (gramma's), we'd know people (my family and family's friends), and we're familar with the area. But, at 25, and a M.S. graduate, would I want to live so close to my parents? What if it gets very comfortable and we Never Leave??
  • As I said at the beginning, I'm in the lab right now, and I'm doing this thing called gel electrophoresis (CHECK OUT this link, it's animated & interactive!), and normally it's really easy, but I'm trying to get clearer bands so I'm using the "High Resolution" gel and it's very, very, very delicate (like soft jello) and the danged thing ripped/flopped onto the floor and into 3 pieces! I'm supposed to take a picture of it and use that in my thesis, but it'll probably look like crap with all the tears in it! This makes me SO MAD!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs

But it only takes One Student and Many Months to write 50 pages! That's 50 pages not including title page, abstract, signature page, list of figures, table of contents, or bibliography! And, that's where I'm currently at in my Progress of Completing the Thesis. By the end, I suspect I'll have about 60-70 pages, so that means I'm nearly 85% finished. Total, my thesis package will be 75-80 pages. That's 2 years of my life, and a Master's Degree, nicely rolled up into a book the size of Maintaining and Reparing Your Scale Model Trains.
I know that has absolutely nothing to do with Cool Hand Luke, but I've been wanting to share that little piece of movie trivia (yes, I've watched the movie).
I'm thinking that I'll go ahead and take it down to the library (maybe Monday) to let them start looking over my formatting. I'm pretty sure I have things close to right, but you never know. And, since I'm trying to get my defense set up SOON, it can't hurt to get a little head start where I can. Really, I could have up to a month longer to get it all together, but I really hate being late! I'm hoping to have my defense in 2-3 weeks, but sooner would be better! You know I would really prefer to be like this other grad student (he's who I ask about nitpicky thesis questions), and already have my defense done and thesis turned in to the library, but...
Okay, I've made good progress today, and have a few things to do in the lab before class, so I better go. Hopefully (if I have time) tomorrow I'll tell y'all about my weekend in Gulfport.
Oh, and I'm sorry I'm slacking on my posting "schedele," but surely you understand that I've been very busy!