Thursday, December 18, 2008

I must produce more words

On Wednesday I labored all day on a paper and managed to eke out a page of writing. Then I went home and cranked out a two page Christmas letter in under an hour. Of course these two types of writing aren't precisely the same (thank goodness my Christmas letter isn't peer reviewed) but it does make me wonder if I might be able to loosen up a bit when doing my academic writing and produce, say, two pages a day. It might improve my chances of finishing my thesis in the next decade.
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I overheard a conversation sorting out the difference between Wayne Newton and Isaac Newton. Wayne Newton was the one on "Dancing with the Stars" and Isaac Newton, apparently, was not. Just in case you were wondering.
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I'm stressed. It's not exactly due to the appearance of Christmas, but Christmas + paper draft deadline + preparing for two weeks overseas. This has resulted in an increased consumption of Tums. I also (this is so pathetic) told Andrew what I was planning to buy him for Christmas and asked him to buy it himself so I could gain an hour in my day.

How are your holiday/winter break preparations?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wintery thoughts

We had our annual Christmas party this weekend. I forgot to take any pictures, but if friends send some my way, I'll post them. This year I repeated a trick I've used before and asked everyone to dress up a bit. We had two tuxes, a bunch of ties, and some lovely gowns, ranging from the floor length prom style to the sophisticated little black dress. Physicists rarely dress up (while the rest of the world wears suits to job interviews, we opt for khakis and a less rumpled button-down shirt) so most of my guests actually think this is fun. Add finger food, mulled wine, and much discussion of academic topics and you have a night of fun.
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Today's newspaper reminded me why I'm glad to live in Maryland, and why you should be glad to live wherever you live, as long is it's not northern Minnesota. The weather map, which shows the daily predicted highs, shows the full range of colors from red in Florida to the blues in the northern parts of the country, which correspond to temps of 90F all the way down to the teens. But when they got to northern Minnesota today, part of the state is white (-10F) but then the top part is just more white (-20F). They ran out of colors, it's so cold there.
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May I return to the topic of mulled wine? I was introduced to this lovely concoction in Germany, where it's called Gluehwein ("Glow wine"). I hadn't drunk any in a few years, but a friend brought me a packet of the proper spice mix from Europe so I made it for the party. I need to figure out a way to brew this by the glassful, instead of by the kettlefull, so that I can have a mug every night during the winter.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kibbles vs. livers

My cat eats homemade food. This means that about once a month I chuck a great deal of meat, a tub of chicken livers and some assorted vitamins (actual recipe here, in case you're interested) and boil it until everything is mushy. A quick spin in the food processor and the freezer is filled with homemade goodness. That is, I know that it is homemade goodness, but Phi is less convinced. She eats the concoction that we ladle into her bowl every day, but she does so grudgingly.

When Phi goes to visit my parents it's a different story. We supply my mother with sufficient homemade food, but a lot of it gets returned. That's because, according to my mother, Phi doesn't eat the homemade food and she's forced to feed her dry food. (In other words, the cat capitalizes on my mother's grandmotherly instincts and looks sad and hungry until she gets the kind of food she likes.) After the last visit my mother even sent a little bag of commercial dry food home with us.

The other day I decided to feed this stuff to Phi just to use it up. When I poured it into bowl, the sound of the little dry chunks hitting the bowl woke Phi out of a sound sleep and she bounded across the room to eat up every last morsel. So the question is, am I an especially bad cat cook or do they put cat narcotics in the dry food?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

We've joined the cool kids

Our house finally shows up on Google Street View. You can more or less tell when they took the picture because our car is in the picture, and we can date by the bumper stickers displayed. This is exciting because you don't really exist until the Internet says you do, right? Although the address matched with the picture isn't actually ours, so maybe we still don't exist.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bits and Bobs, Part Four

As usual I managed to have a Thanksgiving which mainly avoids the traditional foods. Highlights of the table included curry, tofu pockets, Hungarian stuffed pancakes, and Sangria flavored soda. (From Mexico - who knew?) Our Thanksgiving guests are always a set of physics students who don't have family nearby to visit, and mostly we only see each other on Thanksgiving (even though we all study at the same school and live in the same town) so you still get to enjoy that old "So what have you been doing all year?" conversation, just as if you were seeing relatives.
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I've been eating popcorn a lot, lately. Like every day. My mother gave me some terrific popcorn, which pops up about twice as high as the store-bought kind. (Presumably her popcorn was also bought in a store, but probably the Amish-run kind.) I also decided to try sprinkling nutritional yeast on the popcorn and after some experimentation I've come up with a recipe of popcorn, a bit of butter, dried garlic (rehydrated in the butter), lots of nutritional yeast and some season salt. It's a bit unhealthy (see salt and some butter) and a bit healthy (half my fiber for the day and a quarter of my protein), so it doesn't seem too bad overall. I do wonder, though, whether there will be unintended consequences resulting from eating it every day.
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A project at work has been nearly done for two weeks, and yesterday I finally finished it. It felt pretty terrific to have an end result. At my next meeting we'll start discussing whether my end result proves what I want it to prove, but I think it looks promising.
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We put up our tree this weekend and it is sporting even more Star Trek ornaments this year, due to a convention visit last spring. We found a geeky artist who makes hand-painted Star Trek ornaments which are about a hundred times better looking than the plastic action-figure style put out by the Hallmark and the like, so the tree looks a bit classier this year.