Monday, August 30, 2004

The Weekend Update

Saturday morning- woke up with a sunny disposition and the resolve to go teach my aerobics class, eat a little lunch, take a care of a few errands, pick up Dianaverse at the airport at 3:00 (she's bringing ScaryKittie on the plane with her), and then go for a long bike ride. Sticking to the diet should be a snap.

Taught the aerobics class- we had fun, it was step, and we listened to some classic scary-disco.

Ate some lunch

Did some laundry

Cleaned up the old house

Ate a big snack because we were taking a long bike ride later.

Waited for the airplane to arrive. Find out D is rebooked on a different flt out of Chicago because the first one was cancelled. No biggie, she'll arrive an hour later. We'll ride after 4:00.

Snack. You know, fuel for the ride later.

Flt #2 is delayed. Well, of course it's delayed, this is O'Tortoise airport. We'll take a nighttime ride in the state park instead (Breakin' the Law!!!)

Flt #2 has departed! Yay! But poor D- you know how much O'Tortoise sucks. You can NEVER.LEAVE.ON.TIME.OR.FROM.YOUR.SCHEDULED.GATE.OR.ON.YOUR.SCHEDULED.AIRCRAFT.

Um, if Flt2 has departed, why did the arrival time move back again?



Hey, she's still on the runway! How dare the airline say that they've departed already when they are obviously still on the runway? D is going to be in a crappy mood if she ever gets home. Did I mention she's traveling with a Balrog? I hope the cockpit security door is in good working order.

Departure time has stabilized. They must have departed at last.

Go to Whole Wallet and get a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates-- after that kind of day, the Keeper Of The Balrog will need to be placated.

Go to the airport for D and B (aka SK). How is this flight delayed further? Did they decide to stop at a McDonald's on the way?

D finally arrives at 7:15, in a daze. SNG and I take D and TimebombInAPetbag home and look at some of her Marquette pictures.

Carboloaded for Sunday's long ride.

Sunday morning- 3 1/2 hour, 55 mile bike ride with SNG and KiltGuy. Big lunch afterwards.

Snack. Hey, it was a long ride!



It's D's birthday today! BBQ and chocolate cake at D's. The balrog seems to be in a tender mood. As in, "Your hand looks tender and juicy. So does your throat. And your eyes. Come closer. c'mon." But D has cable, and BBC America is on. I.Am.Entranced.

This morning we woke up to the leftovers of tropical storm Gaston. I like hurricanes and tropical storms. They're so cleansing. But they're not as nice in Raleigh as they were in New Orleans. Here, the pine trees are quite tall and they flex in the wind, and after a good hard storm there are dead squirrels everywhere. I suppose they run up the trees to escape the water, but then the trees send them catapulting through the air to their deaths. Now that you've got this shining image in your mind, allow me to sing for a you a selection from the broadway production of Schindler's List. Aah, isn't that nice?

But I still like big tropical storms. It's easy to like hurricanes if you've always lived above sea level. Our house in New Orleans was about 3 feet above sea level, so unlike much of the city, we didn't get flooded. The bayou would rise up enough that we could go canoeing down our street, but the water never quite got up to the front door. Afterwards the yard was full of nifty turtles and frogs.

Um, yeah, tangent.

Anyway, it hasn't stopped raining yet but I don't care because I'll be on my way to Irvine/southern CA tomorrow morning. :-) I will tell you how it goes. Hopefully there will be a bike for me to rent and a place to ride it.

Friday, August 27, 2004

I finished that book. I was right about it.

The question now is, Would I recommend it to others? Actually, I would BUT- only if you're a bit of a romantic (I mean that in the true sense-- not as in, flowers and candies, but as in driven by emotion and intuition). I'm too much of a scientist to be able to really let go and enjoy something with so much transcendent melodrama, but the writing really is good and the author definitely knows how to keep the reader engaged. It's a great airplane read.

Speaking of airplane reads, I'll be flying to LA next week and am going to need a good read. Don't laugh, but I'd like to read Les Miserables (unabridged, in English). Sadly, all I know are the musical and the movie. Victor Hugo is a national hero in France and I'd like to find out why, first-hand. If anyone's read it and it's just horrible, let me know before I start on all 1463 pages of it. It'd definitely last for the whole LA trip, and the return as well. And, speaking of return trip, I somehow scored first-class seats the whole way home from LA. Go me! I guess I could use some of my upgrades to also fly First for the trip out there. It's long enough it'd be worth it. We'll see.

This weekend-- taking lots of brush and other yard waste to the dump, hoping to sell the House, riding our bikes a lot, and possibly house guests on Sunday night. Oh, and Dianaverse comes home from Marquette so we'll be getting her at the airport.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Campbell's Soup Again, Just Can't Wait to Eat Campbell's Soup Again...

(sung to the tune of on the road again)

*warning: semi-spoilers for The Virgin Blue in this post

Willie Nelson is on my mind again. I bet he doesn't go on diets. I wonder what he thinks of Minneapolis? Not too many honkytonk bars here. I get to go home today. Yay! Good thing, because my hotel room was not conducive to good sleep (Pop!! Thunk! Hisssssshhhhh!-- all from the A/C across the room).

I'm still working on that T Chevalier novel. Darn book. It's really addictive, but I'm SO on the verge of vomiting with all the supernatural "woman's intuition" bullhooey. I mean really, come ON. OK, so this character who is living in today's world, is a midwife (Gasp! So was her Ancestral Grandmother from the 16th century!!!) whose name is Ella (Gasp! AG was named IsabELLA!) has found her family's old bible (GASP! She's from New Jersey and just HAPPENED to end up in AG's birthplace in southern France and found a LONG LOST FAMILY RELIC) and is having nightmares (GASP! That are reminiscent of AG!!!!) and then visits a distant relative who (GASP!) lives in the Swiss town that AG and her family relocated to in the late 16th century, meets another cousin who is pregnant and has had the same nightmare (GASP!! under the exact same circumstaces-- clearly it is a semen allergy of some sort), and when they visit the (presumably CURS-ED) house that AG once lived in (unbeknownst to them), BOTH our heroine and pregnant cousin have abdominal pains and cousin even has a miscarriage when they approached the (presumably CURS-ED) hearth, where (OK, I haven't read far enough to know for sure but here's what I predict) AG and/or AG's daughter were BURIED ALIVE in the 16th century (probably wearing a blue dress) but no one knew this, and I think soon they'll find an excuse to dig up the floor, be shocked, and then stop having nightmares and run off with the swarthy cabana boy (I mean, the librarian) and live spookily ever after. Oh, I can't take the SUSPENSE.

But I have to finish it. It's just so well written. Good writing, goofy story.

BTW, this is the same autor who wrote Girl with the Pearl Earring, which I've neither read nor seen (the movie). I hope it's better than TVB.

/*end of rant*/

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Dianaverse sometimes uses writing cues to get her blogs started, so that's what I decided to do today. Today's theme is 5 things I like and 5 things I don't like. I'm avoiding the truly obvious, since everyone loves puppies and kittens and everyone hates traffic.

5 things I like:

*the first cup of coffee from a really full pot

*the peanut butter stalactites (stalagmites?) that form on the lid of SNG's jar of natural peanut butter after he shakes it up and leaves it in the fridge (I eat them with my fingers. I wonder if he knows?)

*public transportation

*the smell of the woods on a morning bike ride to work

*buying produce

5 things I don't like:

*the smell of jet fuel at the airport

*being called "Mrs."

*blue jeans

*having short, stubby fingers

*icky black-and-yellow centipedes that are always on the bike trail after a rainstorm

Hm. Well. OK, so that made me think about stuff I like and don't like, but it didn't seem to spark a writing frenzy.

I'm in Minneapolis this week. I'm still on a diet. And I'm PMSing. I ate 1/2 a can of salted smoky flavored almonds last night. Before dinner. Needless to say, that made me grouchy and lethargic, so I stayed in my room watching Shrek2 and ordered room service. Then I walked on a treadmill for 10 minutes listening to a book on CD. I'm listening to The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier which my friend KiltGuy recommended. Before you chide me for not *reading* the book and instead listening to it, I get motion sickness on planes and treadmills if I read. OK, and it's just easier for someone to read to me. I do still read real books, I swear!! Gr, damn PMS. Anyway, I'm ambivalent about the book-- as in love-hate-- because the first chapter is all about a marriage of necessity resulting from what most of us would call rape, and that marriage turns (of course) violent and increasingly repressive, and I really really really really really really hate depictions of rape and domestic violence in TV, books, movies, whatever. For some reason that's the kind of thing I've never been able to get desensitized to, and it's really unbearable and painful to see (or read). But once the horrible horrible rape scenes are over, the rest of the book is intriguing. Oh, except that the *other* heroine in the story is a complete IDIOT and stupid flaky-magic things keep happening that are completely IDIOTIC and STUPID and only work to make the story completely FLAKY. And there are all these STUPID COINCIDENCES like YEAH RIGHT, I don't buy for an INSTANT that the only thing left after 500 years of town history is the bible that belonged to YOUR ANCESTORS and that YOU found it after only 2 days searching. Give me a break! Or maybe it's the PMS talking. I do like getting to practice my french a bit, though, although none of the french in the book is very complicated. Memories of catholic school-- she recites the Our Father in french. I'm surprised I remembered nearly the whole thing.

Today for lunch I'm having a lean cuisine and some chunky soup. Maybe 2 non-lunches together will make a decent diet lunch. We'll se if I'm sneaking into the Krispie Treats by the end of the day.

On other topics, Hi CzechChick!! We missed you when mom and I were in Europe last January- I hope you had a good bday in the US, and I hope you're doing great!!

Gotta go for now. There are some annoying people I need to give dirty looks to.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sadness, Relief, Bewilderment, Admiration, Reflection.

Those were the words for the day yesterday.

My cousin Teresa Truxillo (aka Sparky) passed away peacefully yesterday morning after a 17-year battle with cystic fibrosis. She was 19. She lived longer than anyone had expected, but not as long as anyone had hoped.


To say that we'll miss her doesn't do justice. There will be a little less laughter at the Starbuck's. There will be a little less attitude thrown around on cousin-outings. We won't have to watch our margarita glasses as closely, and my cousin Duck will have to find someone else to call "Squirt."


This one is a multi-use word of the day. First, relief that she is no longer in pain. Second, relief that some of my cousins and I made one last visit with her a week ago, and another cousin made it down to visit 2 weeks ago. Relief that I think she knew how much we all loved her.


That diseases like this still do not have cures. That there are drugs to improve erectile dysfuntion and to grow hair and there is not a cure for CF. More money is spent on finding an effective cure for "those last 5 vanity pounds." How can priorities be so backwards?


For an older sister who gave so much of herself to her little sister. She never gave up hope, she never stopped fighting on Teresa's behalf, and she was there with her to the end. They were more than sisters or best friends but something that most of us can only wish they shared with someone. T was lucky to have such a great force in her life. They were both lucky to have the time they had together.


Reflection on a life that was not long enough, but that lived enough for 2 lifetimes.

Remembering a little girl who laughed easily and ran around at full speed almost all the time.

In memory of a young lady who, pound-for-pound, was feistier than anyone I know.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Life Is Just One Big Social Psychology Experiment And There Are No Confederates

FYI, only my colleagues and the statistically oriented out there will understand this entire post. You've been warned.

So I'm teaching this class in Rockville on multivariate statistics, and for the most part it's a normal group of students-- some are considerably less well-prepared for the material than I'd like, but eh, so what. They're still learning stuff that they can use.

Except I've got this one student... So many stories start out this way. "So I've got this one student, who keeps hollering MURF!in class" "So I've got this one student who keeps asking inappropriate questions and taking up a ton of class time" " So I've got this one student who doesn't even know what a standard error is..."

Well, I've got this one student who has got a really bad wedgie. She sits with her arms crossed in front of her, and when she is actually looking at me, she is scowling and (no kidding) rolling her eyes. But usually she isn't looking at me. Usually she is loudly flipping pages in her book, looking ahead at the next chapters or clicking around through the software documentation on her computer. AND, she is asking some pretty darn inappropriate questions.

HER:"So, this isn't the same as logistic regression"

ME:"No, it's not. It's discriminant function analysis"

H:"So, why isn't this the same as logistic regression?"

M:"Because that is a different model"

H:"So, are you saying that all logistic regression models are bad? They're not all bad, they're all great, and I take offense at you saying that they are all bad"

M:"No, I'm just teaching you a course on multivariate statistics, so you are learnng about discriminant function analysis. There is another class that teaches about logistic regression"

H:"Well, you should just teach logistic regression analysis."

M:"I'll be sure to pass along your opinion to the appropriate people in my department."


H:"OH, so you *reject* the hypothesis when the p-value is LESS THAN alpha? Why didn't you tell us that at the beginning?? It's not like we're expected to know all this statistical theory" (I really wish I was kidding here)


"Can we just save all the exercises until the end of the last day of the class so we can leave early?"

Oh, lordhavemercy, if you want to leave early just go.

So I have not killed her yet (go me!!), but I can also see that she is grating on the nerves of other students in the class. Lots of dirty looks coming from behind this student. Poison darts shooting across the room.

You've all heard of the Prisoner's Dilemma, right? Well, this is The Professor's Dilemma: on the one hand, she is a customer and thus deserves respect and to be treated as a professional. On the other hand, I am the instructor, and have a responsibility to ensure that the other students in the class are able to benefit from the course as much as possible. Even just considering my own self interests, if I berate her, she will be furious, probably complain loudly and I'll be berated by my supervisor. If I don't, other students might complain and I'll be berated by my supervisor. Truth is that she isn't really making it impossible to teach, she's just seriously rude and kind of dense.

Needless to say, I never have berated a student (not *really* berated). If you know me you'll know that I only *really* berate those that I love the most. I've got to respect you to holler at you. ;-)

On a happier note, had a great time with ChocolateCake and his family last night. Cute kid, and now I've filled my quota of Kid Exposure for the month and I don't need any more until at least October. And because it's good to learn something new each day, I did learn a few new songs, including a really good one about Dinosaurs. (*MarchingMarching...*) Hopefully SNG will be able to learn the song too in a couple of weeks when ChocolateCake and his family pass through Raleigh on their way back from vacation.

Thursday, August 19, 2004



Just in case you didn't know.

Went out to dinner at a place called The Front Page near Dupont Circle last night. The food was OK, but the waitress was a little surly. Waiting tables is one of the suckiest jobs around and I respect people who are good at it. But there's no need to take out the surly mood on people who are friendly. Oh, wait, I'm in DC. She must've just had a wedgie.

Summer is almost over. I am looking forward to some cool fall weather, and some fall-madness house shoppers. I know a really cute place in Raleigh that's for sale, at 20% cheaper per square foot than most of the comparables in the neighborhood. A Back-toSchool Bargain!!

NewGuy was making fun of me for always pushing the house on my blog, but you know, it really is quite a steal. And cute! You should see the custom-built front proch with benches and planters, it's like having an nglish garden right outside your front door. We'd be willing to lease it, if someone isn't ready to buy.

Tonight I'm going to have dinner with my old friend from grad school and his family. ChocolateCake was the first person I TA'ed for in grad school. He always seemed like a square when he was teaching, but he's really cool. I guess he is a little square, really, but in a good way. The students all liked him, and so did I. I think he's still teaching at George Wash university in the evenings.

All for now- I'll ramble on a little more later. And HEY! Check out the new comments thingie! Try it out! Say what's on your mind! Don't lurk in complete silence, let me now I'm not alone in here! 8-)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Catty Town

In college, my roommate GlowingMan had a cat named DC. DC was pretty mellow, but had a deep pathological hatred for a stuffed animal of Socks, which was the Clinton family's cat, as you may recall. Now, Dianaverse has a cat (who I will call Voldemort) that is madly in love with a similar stuffed toy. I mean, love. Muskrat love. Afternoon Delight. Hm. Funny, I always pegged Voldemort as a republican.

I am in DC this week. I get out here a couple of times a year and I always use the Metro. DC's Metro system is one of the best in the country. It's clean, safe, and it goes almost everywhere. You get to see some colorful characters and sometimes talk to an interesting person or two.

Maybe it's too small a sample to judge, but it seems like the people of DC are really grouchy this week. Usually if you catch eyes with someone, you smile, and they smile back. This time, everyone who catches my eye, I smile, and they scowl. It's more like Chicago. Yesterday I was on the Metro in a double-seat with my suitcase on my lap and a lady was sitting next to me (on the aisle side) and when I told her mine was the next stop (so she'd let me out), she snarled at me, "Calm down, I'll let you out when the train stops. Sheesh!" Extra wierd because she'd been having a perfectly friendly conversation with a friend only a few minutes earlier.

It's as if the people of DC want to be left completely alone. Perhaps it's the election. Perhaps it's all the terror alerts. Perhaps they all have wedgies. But it hasn't always been quite this bad.

Tonight I'm going to Dupont Circle for dinner with La Francaise. That should be fun as long as we don't have to interact with any other human beings while we're out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

HEY! Did you notice you can leave comments on my blog now? Thanks, PartnerInCrime for clueing me in to how to do this. Leave me a comment-- I'll feel so special!!


When I was a kid, the Ranzinos lived down the street from us on Bancroft Dr. They were a lively and loud New Orleans Italian family. They had 3 kids- the older two were older than my brother or me (they were in high school when we were in grammar school).

I remember that the older girl had a subscription to Playgirl magazine, which was truly fascinating. She one time ran over her pet kitten on her bicycle, and since the cat seemed totally unfazed by it, she did it again. I guess he really didn't mind. Mrs R. was a classic NOLA 'yat. She cooked constantly and said things like "We gotta go ta Schwegmann's to make groceries, dawlin'" and things like that. The younger child was about a year younger than me and we were friends. She had a lot of My Little Ponies, so we mostly played with them and made mudpies. Sometimes He'sBuggingMe and I would walk to school with the Ranzino kids and so we watched the Jetsons in their family room most mornings before school.

Their dad spoke no english that I could understand, but he was always saying "Bella bella" and that's all I needed to know. He was a very nice man. He owned a doughnut shop and would bring home the day-olds at the end of each day. The kids were sick of donuts, which made no sense to me at all. He'sBuggingMe and I ate our weight in twisted crullers, glazeds, cream filleds and jellys. They taste a lot better when they're day-old and free.

The dad apparently had fond memories of a vineyard back in Italy, and they grew concord grapes on the fence alongside their driveway. We ate concord grapes off the fence in between watching the Ranzino kids yell at each other, chasing their little dog Snookums and watching TV before school started in the mornings. You pop the inside of the grape out of the skin in your mouth and chew on the skin. Then you seive the sweet juicy pulp through your front teeth to filter out the seeds and spit them out. Preferably at another kid. Or Snookums.

Someone brought in to work today a bag of concord grapes picked off the vine this morning. I hadn't thought of the Ranzinos in a long time. I hope they're all doing well and realize how lucky they had it with those day-old doughnuts.

Me And Willie

Willie Nelson has a special place in my heart. He loves to sing, he loves to write music, and he loves his fans. He loves to travel in the Honeysuckle Rose and almost never misses a show. And he's just so darn nice.

Well, I'm on the road again this week, with a trip to DC (Rockville, to be more exact). I like going to Rockville because I stay at an Embassy Suites (fridge in the room!) that is in a shopping mall (with a Filene's Basement *and* a J.Crew!) near lots of good eats (The Grill From Epanema!). Hm. OK. Let's consider this. I'm trying to sell a house (want a house??) so I can't go shopping. I guess I could just look in the windows and try things on and then go to a nice restaurant. Oh, wait, I'm on a diet. Gotta drop 10 pounds before my cousin Twinkie#2's wedding in October. No problem, I'll just look at the menu, smell the nice food, then go to the grocery store and buy some Lean Cuisine(r) and go back to my room and cry softly into the TV remote control.

No, it's really not so bad. A friend from grad school and his wife/baby live in DC so I'll see them. I see them about once a year and it's always great. There's also my buddy OldMan who lives there, but last time I saw him we partied and drank too much until 2am and I had to work the next day and I am never going out with him again.

Yup, crackers, water, and good friends. Willie would do it too, if he had to squeeze into a teeny cheongsam dress in 8 weeks. And he'd have a good time doing it, and he'd never complain.

Hey, my cousin Cosmopolitan was wondering why she got her name. (sing songy voice) I'm no-ot te-lling! But I can say that she is the most cosmopolitan and chic person from Mississippi *ever.*

No evil intentions, I promise. HAPPY (2 days late) BIRTHDAY Cosmo! I hope it was a good one!

Monday, August 16, 2004

OK, so as you can see I've decided to use blogger for my blog. I am so bad at creating webpages that this is going to be the safest for all parties... I've linked to it from my homepage. Perhaps someone will look at it now and then-- maybe you can bookmark it and see what's up from time to time!

By the way, just a reference point, I disguise all names in this blog, borrowing after the style of dianaverse. Not because I plan to say anything particularly controversial, but mostly because it is fun to give everyone pseudonyms. I bet you can figure out who you are, if I'm talking about you and if you know me pretty well, you'll figure out who almost everyone else is, too.

If you were wondering, the title Living in the Woods refers to the new place that SNG and I bought a few months ago, which seemed like such a good idea at the time. Who would have known that the old house would NEVER SELL. I can't tell if it's because our realtor sucks, or if it's a bad economy, or what. All I do know is we put the house on the market in March, and here it is mid-August and we've had 0 offers. Nada, nil, zip. *sigh* And we can't get a fence or eat out or anything until the old place sells. Good thing I travel on expense account.

Poor SNG. Ramen at home with the dogs.

OK, so it really isn't all *that* bad.

On another note, I just got back to town from a weekend trip to Atlanta. It was definitely what you'd call bittersweet. My cousin Sparky is sick and not doing well at all - she has a terminal childhood illness and it has taken a turn for the worse in the past few months. So a bunch of us went down to visit with her. My cousins PartnerInCrime, Cosmopolitan, and SammyC and I all flew in on Friday. We got to see Sparky, and we were also able to lend support to our other cousin StrawberryShortcake and Paternal Uncle #1. Paternal Aunt #2 also lives there with her new partner, so we had a chance to meet New Partner. I think we all liked her a lot, so that was cool. But talk about bittersweet. It was really great to all get together, but also really sad. It was a reality none of us are ready for- losing one of the cousins.

While there, I stayed with some cousins from mom's family, and it was really cool to catch up with them. Twinkie #3 seems really happy with school. And I tell you, it really is funny how 2 years can pass and it's like it wasn't even a week ago that we were staying up late in our pajamas talking about whatever. It's the same thing with ParterInCrime. We can meet up for the first time in years and it's like we're just on the same page where we left off. Kind of cool, I think.

So now I'm back at work and trying to get some work done on these revisions. I guess I'll be doing a lot on the plane tomorrow. Next 3 weeks I'm out of town: Washington, DC, Minneapolis, and then Irvine, Ca. Then one week home (MS150 weekend and my birthday!) and then off again to Charlotte. Not too bad, I suppose since I was home for 4 weeks (which hasn't happened in a very long time). Well, I hope someone is reading and having a good week!


Well, we bought a new (not new, but new to us) house last March- seemed like a really good idea at the time, and I guess it was because it is a terrific place. BUT… the old place hasn’t sold yet. No, not yet. No, it still hasn’t sold. Oh, wait, oh nope. No Sale Yet. Anyone want a house?

Anyway, with the old house still draining the bank account, I haven’t been able to do ANY shoe-shopping. Or any other kind of shopping, for that matter. You have to know how much that hurts me. But there is a bright side- we have no cable! Yes, this is a good thing. I managed to sneak us into a cable-free lifestyle for most of the 4 years of graduate school. When I got a real job, though, I no longer had the “we can’t afford it and I can’t have the distraction” excuse. Damn. So for the next 4 years, we had not only cable, but Super Fancy All The Channels Digital Cable with On-Demand® bells and whistles and even High Speed Internet Access. *sigh* there goes my attention span, Bye-bye! Have you ever tried to have a conversation with me when there is a TV on in the room?

You: So, Cat, it looks like your dog was hit by a car

Cat: uh huh

You: I’m so sorry

Cat: Oh, thanks, yeah.

You: And Tony told me he is going to become a Republican

Cat: Oh, gosh. Uh huh.

You: And you have to leave for a 2-week trip to Omaha, NE tomorrow

Cat: OK, cool.

In other words, Welcome, Pod Person. I love not having cable. I want a few local channels, maybe some rental DVDs, but nothing where I have too much choice. I am already working on the excuse I’ll use once the old house sells. And by the way, still not sold yet. Want a house??