Monday, June 30, 2008

Not a plumber

We've had some plumbing issues chez Weasel. The shower has been persistently leaking for oh, years, now - it baffles actual plumbers, too, I don't feel so terrible about that. But I tried yet more things today, and... nuthin'. Still leaking. Sigh.

Of more immediate concern is the non-draining drain in the other shower. This means that we don't have a working shower. I've been showering at the apartment.

This is sub-optimal.

It was fine until the cleaning crew tried to "fix" it - it was working before they did whatever the hell they did last week, I can only imagine that some solid object fell down the pipe. Perhaps it is a small pony. I've now jammed an apparently inadequate auger down there several times, and seem to have hit the proverbial wall. On the plus side, water does now trickle slowly out of the tub. On the minus side, I think the antiquated "trap" system needs cleaning out, which my cousin's husband (who is an actual plumber) showed me, and all I need to do is get the flashlight and wedge myself sideways into the weird little space under the sink and find the damn thing and do something or other with it. This assuming that the pony stuck in the pipe is very small indeed. If it is a malicious sort, I'm probably screwed.

Guess what item's batteries are dead? Guess what size batteries I don't have?


Thank you so much for the birthday wishes, you guys - you're kind and spiffy and all kinds of cool. Yay!

I think I'll go read some more about specific brain disorders now. Cheerio.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Birthday

Hey, happy birthday to me!

I have class later and some reading to finish (ahem), but it is still my birthday. In our family, this means birthday cake for breakfast. My mom brought some over last night to make sure I'd have some at breakfast time.

I am a dauntingly ancient old lady of 44, now. Whoo hoo! Off to make coffee and do things I like to do (besides write, that is): read neuroscience, enjoy what looks to be amazing weather, and putter around. My kids are amazing. My friends are amazing. My family is amazing. I am grateful for all of you beyond all telling.

MK and M and I spent the last few days hammering out the details for fall Shakespeare, and it's now up here, which is locked but trust me, it's pretty cool. Here's my bio from it:

Liz A****s, Asst. Director/Coach for Loudness and Arm-Waving/Wild Ideas Generator Liz brings eight years of professional acting experience, multiple intensive Shakespeare seminars at university level, love of language generally (down to the molecular level) and Shakespeare in particular. She has been working in theater as an actor/singer/dancer, director, designer, or crew member since she was ten years old. Liz is currently finishing her degree in neuroscience at Harvard Extension and promises not to talk about oligodendrocytes unless asked.

It's going to be fun. Have a good day, all! And have some cake, too!

Friday, June 20, 2008

123 tag!

Lucia tagged me, and, well, I think I've only been tagged maybe twice here we are, with the Book Challenge. Rules:

Pick up the nearest book.
Open on page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Now, *nearest* book is something of a problem. I'm sitting in one room of my house which is almost entirely devoted to books, and some careful measurement may be in order. It looks like the stack on the floor near my foot is closest, and the book on top is Edward Said's Orientalism. The three sentences are:
To reconstruct a dead or lost Oriental language meant ultimately to reconstruct a dead or lost Orient; it also meant that reconstructive precision, science, even imagination could prepare the way for what armies, administrations, and bureaucracies would later do on the ground, in the Orient. In a sense, the vindication of Orientalism was not only its intellectual or artistic successes but its later effectiveness, its usefulness, its authority. Surely it deserves serious attention on all those counts.

Lucia is of course my tagger; and yes, the book is something to do with Japanese history, in fact, since I haven't completely cleared away the rubble of my coursework. Who to tag, now? FIVE?? Eek. Okay, um, taggees are Lorena, Mel (who won't have time to do this for some while owing to a certain happy event), farm witch, Lynne (who's really a good sport about these things), and Anna-Karin.

There! It's fun, really, I swear. You guys narrowly missed being treated (if that's the word) to a selection out of Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, in its marvelously expensive new Feb. 2008 edition.

In other news (because this post just isn't long enough), I've settled on what I'll take this fall. I think. It's awful trying to decide. There are a couple of courses I really, really want to take, and some that are basically spinach (ahem, gen chem and physics, cough cough). Things are offered at the same time as each other, and when they aren't, they have required sections that cause a schedule conflict even if the actual main course times fit together. This is driving me crazy.

The things I really really want to take are biology of neurodegenerative diseases, which is on Thursdays in the fall (& I think I've now amassed enough preparatory material that I'll be allowed in), and fundamentals of neuropsych, which is on Tuesdays in the spring. The spinach courses are physics, on Tuesdays (and all other waking hours), and gen chem, on Thursdays (ditto), both for the full year. So I can either do physics and take neurodegenerative diseases, or chem and wait patiently (NOT) and do neuropsych. It is almost physically painful.

I spent most of the day agonizing over it yesterday, and also figuring out my grade point average (yay! it's still high enough to declare a field of study! and probably to apply for special student status! whoo hoo!). I've settled on Tuesday physics (sigh), Wed. the new course on stem cells (WHEEEEEE!), and Thursday neurodegenerative diseases. Assuming I'm allowed into neurodegenerative (note to self: email professor and ask). Plus possible additions of whatever writing intensive I can find, or maybe abnormal psychology. At that point I will have nearly exhausted all conceivable neuroscience options within the Extension School. I can also do a reading and research project - other schools call this independent study. I don't particularly want to be doing the whole med school prep thing, but after looking again, most of the PhD programs I'm interested in expect a list of stuff that's effectively... med school prep. Sigh.

I can take gen chem in summer school, but physics is *never* offered in summer. So physics this coming year, gen chem next summer, and orgo in my final year - I'll have enough credits to graduate after fall 2009-2010, but graduation only happens once and I might as well do something substantive while I'm waiting for June, and I'll have to take organic chemistry eventually. The undergrad versions of courses are cheaper, too, even if it's the same course. It's all a big puzzle that I'm mostly having fun trying to fit together. When I'm not in agony over schedule conflicts.

Oh: it is impossible to read biochemistry when a certain dog decides to make her squeaky beachball noise incessantly all afternoon.

I'm just saying.

EDIT: Lucia is quite correct; I forgot how to count. Sentence number three, added; enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

131 - 92

We saw 'em last season, when they couldn't do anything right - come on, not even managing to have The Worst Record in basketball? *second* worst?! geez! - and now, they can't do anything wrong. Playing their hearts out and still losing Sunday in LA, to come back and Totally Kick Ass - sweet. The joy on Pierce's face: priceless.*

Um, okay, we now return to your regularly scheduled blog...

Got my textbooks, in the end *all* of them from used book vendors on Amazon - holy crap, the biochem book new at the school bookstore was $197.20! Found it online for $130 and felt damn lucky (it's a new edition that came out Feb. 2008, "used" copies are pretty thin on the ground). Classes start again next week! Whee! "Brain and Behavior," which I'm absurdly excited about - oh, how I've missed neuroscience - and biochemistry, which should be pretty great, too. I'm hoping I get the TF I had for molecular from this spring; it's the same professor, so maybe. Lab! Field trips! Did I mention neuroscience? Yay!!

Been getting into a rhythm again with the homeschooling, which is fun. This spring was so flat out for me that things were pretty haphazard; it feels good to be a bit more structured.

And I kinda sorta met a nice guy on the dating site. We met for coffee, got along fine, had a good conversation; he emailed me "eh, damn, no chemistry, oh well" and I wrote back, "oh well, I'm pretty clueless about that stuff" and then he asked if I wanted to go sailing in a couple weeks. I feel like a science monastic these days - not a bad thing, just my head is pretty totally into some demanding stuff, and I don't much care about Boys.

A. asked me at pilates Sunday night, so are you finding you have all kinds of time now that your semester is over? and I went oh! today I made chicken stock, and strawberry-rhubarb crumble, and chicken pot pie, and tofu pot pie, and got some meals together and into the freezer - she goes, so that's a yes?

Uh, yeah.

I'm finding I have all kinds of time now that my semester is over.


The tofu pot pie:

1 sheet of puff pastry
3 or 4 carrots
2 or 3 stalks of celery
2 potatoes
1 large onion
1 stick of butter (1/4 lb.)
about a tablespoon of sage
salt & pepper
1 vegetable boullion cube
1 pound extra firm tofu

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for about an hour ahead of time. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the spices (including the soup cube) and saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Chop all the vegetables. Saute onions until clear, then add potatoes and carrots. As the butter gets absorbed, add water. Cover and let the root vegetables cook over medium heat for a few minutes; add celery, stir, cover and let cook again. While that's perking away, cube the tofu and let it drain. Get a casserole dish out and preheat the oven for whatever the puff pastry package specifies (probably 400 F). Spoon the vegetables into the baking dish, and then cook the tofu in the butter-spice-water that's left in the pot. Cover and let cook for a few minutes, stirring enough so that the tofu is spiced on all sides. Put it all into the baking dish and stir to mix the vegetables and tofu as evenly as you can. Top with puff pastry sheet; trim away extra pastry and cut a hole in the center to let the filling vent. Put the whole baking dish into the oven and cook until the pastry is browned, about an hour. I roll the extra pastry out and cut into strips and cook that at the same time, usually with some herbs or something. Surprisingly, Yum!

I doubled all the above except the butter to make enough for a chicken version, too.

Have a great day!

*The preceding is about the Celtics, y'all; they won the NBA championship last night. Back in the 80's when they were doing a lot of that, Celtics basketball was arguably the Weasel's religion.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Because it's there

Again, with the pictures. What is this, two posts in five months now that have pictures? Clearly I'm on a roll. (Actually I have once again found the camera doohickey and the camera at the same time)

This is how the teeny apartment that I love so much looks:

Cute, eh? I think so. It's comfortable and peaceful and there's a lovely breeze right now (the joys of being on the fourth floor!).

And I was supposed to meet D. and go out to the theatre, but he was on a shoot all day and it went late and and and... well, I was closer to here than my house. And I had to go to the bathroom, and I was hungry, and I could use a beer, and here there is a bathroom and food and beer and my beloved shiny Mac on which I can blog all about all of this.

So there you go. Cheers!


Monday, June 09, 2008

BLAH, hot

I hate being uncomfortably hot. Really. I know, this isn't exactly earth-shattering stuff unique to Moi, but still, it's about all I can think of today.

It is hot.

It is yuckily hot.

I am moving slowly and sluggishly. Being in air conditioning seems to make the blasts of hot air even worse.

I am trying to think of cool things, and drink lots of cold water, and run my hands under cold water, and stuff like that. Mango popsicles from Trader Joe's and a little toast are all I can handle for non-liquid ingestibles today.

My birthday's coming up. It's been a long while since I was in the crying-every-day place, but what with Father's Day, and birthday, and kid birthdays, and oldest graduating and being in an existential quandary, and classes-being-over withdrawal, I've been a bit blue and withdrawn.

I'm mixed on how I feel about being close to finishing my degree, too. It's good (duh), but also another shift away from what my life used to be like, toward what it is becoming, and it's a little scary.

Some loud cheerful music is clearly in order - I like this whole cd, really; enjoy, and keep cool, you guys:

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Grades are in! So even after catastrophic bomb-ola on portions of my final exams, I got B's and a B minus - YAY!!!

B in biology, B (god only knows what the curve must have been...) in molecular bio, B in Japanese history (again, by an act of divine providence which we shall not examine too closely), and a B- in biostatistics.

Ta da! Yay! All things considered, this is pretty damn good. I was hoping that if the fates were especially kind, I *might* squeak out B's in molecular and Japanese - and apparently Atropos didn't have it in for me this semester.

This means hope is not lost for declaring a field of study in bio, that I am maybe still eligible for applying for special student status - all kindsa good. That stuff's dependent on a reasonable grade point average, which I have not totally wrecked. Not yet, anyway.

Um, if I start muttering about registering for another history course, will someone please either shoot me with a tranquilizer dart or talk me down, until that particular madness subsides? I do like studying the sweep of human events, of course; I just can't bring myself to give a crap about names and dates. Sort of important when you're taking history. Go figure.



Sunday, June 01, 2008


When oldest was a wee small person who rode on swings and needed a push now and then, dh used to oblige. He had a special, super push - The Blast-Off. "Ready? Steady?" "YES!" Then he'd back up, pull her way up high, and give her a running push with all the energy he could muster, and she'd sail high in the air, laughing all the way. Blast Off!!

We celebrated her graduation Friday night, with a small group of other homeschooling teenagers, all amazing in their own particular ways. I thought of her blasting off with as concentrated a push of love and energy as dh was able to cram into the time we had with him. He put his heart into the kids, care and time and creativity and fun, a big push that I hope carries them all fast and far and high. They're terrific people. He'd be proud. Blast off, my dear girl.

Once when she was about three, we were at the playground. She was playing with another child for a while, then came storming over to me and fumed, "She won't give me a turn holding the invisible dolphin!" Oh, the outrage!

I've watched make her own dolphins now, dolphins and secret agent cats and warrior princesses. She's made music and art and amazing, wonderful stories, and made relationships that sustain her and her friends. Happy 18th birthday, happy graduation, happy springtime, to an amazing young woman.

(Love, Mom)