The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bye bye Blago

This @#$% thing is %$#@ golden...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Clip it good

I am very proud of myself! I cut the boys' hair myself--and it looks perfect! I have been watching haircutters doing clipper cuts on the boys for years. I initially assumed there was some kind of trick to it, maybe professional quality clippers or some kind of beauty school training. However, after watching closely, I never saw much technique going on. So, I paid $20 for the clippers, and after cutting the boys' hair 1x each, they have paid for themselves.

There was an article in the NYTimes the other day scolding people for baking their own cupcakes and doing their own nails because they were robbing good bakers and aestheticians of their livelihoods. However, I have always baked my own cupcakes, washed my own car, and mostly painted my own toenails. So this is actually the first thing that I have done to adversely affect the economic growth of the country. However, I defend my actions by pointing out that even after two years, we have never really found a place around here to get the boys' haircut that successfully balanced skill and price. (So, hardworking barbers of Normal, if you want my business, stop giving my kids bad haircuts with random wisps of uncut hair, and put those naked lady magazines out of sight!)

Sam after the haircut. No, he's not bald on top--its just the picture. He looks exactly like he does after the barber does a good job. For both boys I used a longer clip on top, so they won't look like beanheads.

Joseph! He is never delighted to get his hair cut, and he sassed me more than he would the barber. Next time, I will provide a handsome bribe for compliance.
Joseph is rather vain about his hair. He feels that his hair looks good when he slicks it forward with his sticky little hands. I keep trying to get him to brush it to the side, but Joseph has some very strong opinions.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama dream overshare

Last night I had a dream that Barack Obama was mad at me. In my dream (and actually for real) I was out drinking with my PI and lab mates. When I returned to the lab (in my dream), I was told that Obama was on the phone for me. I was delighted! But when I picked up the phone, he bellowed at me that a humidifier running in the growth chamber sparked a particulate explosion that injured a facilities worker. (Why were these facilities guys in my growth chamber anyway?) I explained that we did not have money to buy a sparkproof system, and Obama grudgingly said that he would earmark some money for that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good news and Normal news

Ahhhhh. Much better.
I had a crappy day, but any day without Bush as president is a good day. I listened to the Inaugural address 3x to hear the part where Obama pledged to devote more attention to Science.

By the way, the Pantagraph has kindly summarized the top stupid local news stories for your persusal.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold phobic

I have overcome my fear of extreme cold weather. By Friday, ISU was open, and I couldn't stand being cooped up anymore. Sam and I went in to the lab to try to freeze-dry some samples. (Arrggh--the freeze-drier broke! Why does this always happen when I am on a deadline!)

Later I went for a run with Argos. It was @0 degrees, and I wore many layers. Note to self: when running at 0 degrees, never take a break! I stopped for @ 1 minutes to blow my nose and the condensation on my balaklava froze solid! Argos was delighted to be running again, but wearing all those pairs of long underwear and socks made me feel like I was running through molasses.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More snow day

We are all still at home. The temperature never got to 0 today. I think that the high was -5 with a windchill of -33. The kids' schools and ISU were closed. Tonight it is supposed to go down to -22 (with windchill -40).

The news emphatically warns that no one should go outside unless absolutely necessary. This piece of information is eating me alive! All morning I gazed longingly out the window at the perfectly clear blue sky and brilliant white snowdrifts. I can't stand it when someone tells me not to do something--it makes me crazy to do the thing.
Luckily, I got an email from work telling us that even though the university was closed down, we should risk death and come in because we had a job candidate visiting and we really needed to hear his seminar. My reaction to this commandment is (not surprisingly) hell to the no. However, now that I am doing the opposite of what someone wants me to do, I can lie around and enjoy my home incarceration.

I went in to work yesterday while Danny watched the kids, so I watched the kids today. Activities of the day:
The kids and I did a thorough room cleaning.
We freed all of the small toy parts that were trapped in the crack in the play table.
We watched Yo Gabba Gabba. It was the episode about manners--so great!!
I did lots of laundry and cleaned the kitchen walls.
We built waterbugs out of Bionicles. (I answered many questions about water bug copulation and egg-carrying behavior, as well)
I made them open-face cheese melt sandwiches for lunch.
Joseph played with Legos
Sam practiced spelling bee practice words. (Including watching the Futurama song where Bender defines 'irony')
We baked foccacia.
We did yoga, including both real and child-invented poses.

Also, the dog is really disappointed with all of us. He spent a few hours outside, with me peeking out at him every 15 minutes to make sure that we wasn't dead. Every time I looked out, he looked back at me as if I were nuts. He was totally comfortable, sunning himself in a snowdrift and watching the crows. At our usual running time, Argos got all excited and I had to give him a bone to alleviate my guilt.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow day

Last night it snowed 6 inches, so today the kids were home from school. Surprisingly, ISU didn't close, so I had to trudge in to campus.

Tomorrow the high temperature is predicted to be 0, so school will be canceled for the kids again. I am really hoping that I don't have to walk to school in sub-0 temperatures with 6 inches of snow.
Argos: the only dog at the dog park. He had a mighty good time running through snowdrifts and trying to track down foxes.

I took off work early to take the kids sledding. It was rather difficult sledding weather: it was so cold that the snow fell as a fine powder that didn't pack well. Joseph got mad and stopped sledding after he slid into the side of a snowdrift.

Video of a little sledding accident

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where is blogboy?

So why hasn't Joseph been keeping up on his blog posts? He tells me that he is too busy doing his nails.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wedding Bells

Why? Why is this a top news story? It has made the national press big time--I have been hearing about it all day.

  • Admittedly 'off-beat' couple gets married at Taco Bell
  • By Mary Ann Ford and Sharon K. Wolfe, The Pantagraph
  • NORMAL -- Paul and Caragh Brooks wanted an off-beat wedding and they got one Friday evening — at Taco Bell.
  • Caragh Brooks, dressed in a $15, hot pink dress, said her vows with Paul Brooks, who wore a lavender shirt and purple and magenta tie in honor of Taco Bell’s colors, in the dining area of the fast-food eatery at 1527 E. College Ave., Normal.
  • The entire wedding cost about $200.
  • “It’s appropriate,” the groom said of the Taco Bell choice. “It’s an off-beat relationship and we figured that would be off-beat.”
So, yes, I have heard the story about the couple who got married at the Normal Taco Bell. So stop asking!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Slow start Sunday

Today is off to a slow start due to technical difficulties. I have discussed in previous posts my 5-year-old's remarkable ability to produce bowel movements of enormous size. Twice in the past 12 hours have I needed to use the restroom, only to find that the toilet was entirely obstructed. I would guess that my son optimistically flushes the toilet and slams the lid down. Any plumbing problems that he may have created are usually discovered by me, at the most inconvenient time possible. This morning, I had to sit with my legs crossed for 90 minutes while Danny snaked the toilet to clear the clog. We had planned to drive out to Starved Rock State Park to see a sled dog demonstration, but our technical difficulties put the kibosh on that.

So, I decided to get some work done. I wanted to make some lovely publication-quality graphs on Excel. However, I had not anticipated the incredibly retarded renovations to Excel that were made as part of Office 2008. It took me over an hour of puttering and web searches to create a graph that would normally take less than 8 minutes to produce. Thanks Microsoft! I can only imagine how horrible it will be when next I teach. The students could barely produce Excel graphs when the software was reasonably intuitive.

On the plus side, I finally bought new towels for the bathroom. I have been putting off buying towels for so long that our current ones are fraying into shreds. I have tried to buy towels at least three times in the past two years, but there are so many choices between features that may or may not be important that I get overwhelmed. When I came home with lovely new brown towels, Danny reminded me of this David Sedaris story which kind of brings things back around to the topic that started this post...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to work overshare

Aaahhh. Back to work. I have been putting off doing some challenging revisions, so I have not been looking forward to going back to the lab. However, it felt great to take care of all of the loose ends that have been nagging at me. After a day of lab minutia and revisions, I feel much better.
Also, I have almost lost the weight that I gained from all of the delicious food in Baltimore and New York. (The fact that I have a cold and everything tastes like snot is a big help, I would guess.)

Also, every single morning of my vacation at home my shower was disturbed by someone or another coming into the bathroom to drop a deuce. One day I will have two bathrooms! Now that everyone is on weekday schedules, this elimination problem has been eliminated.

Also, we had a light snow last night which gave everything a beautiful dusting of white. Except for the black splotch of ice that was revealed when I slipped and smashed my knee on the way to work. On the way home from work I noticed that there were two more assprints in the same spot, so I guess that I wasn't the only unlucky one.

Alyn, I saw this cartoon and thought of you. Maybe the muttsies aren't just begging for food and attention?

Blog-related cartoons

This is my new favorite blog-related cartoon. I think that it's from Natalie Dee:

This one is good, too:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Home vacation

Last year we got home from the east coast early and had a great time on vacation at home. I came to the shocking realization that if I didn't actually go to campus and sit in my office for 8-10 hours a day, no one came after me to do things. I was able to catch up on household chores, play with the kids and also get work done.

This year we had a week off of school at home. I spent the first few days convincing the kids that despite what they may have been told by their grandparents, they are not the center of the universe. Also, I do not wake up every morning with the goal of finding new and interesting ways to amuse them. That said, we had a good time this week. The kids, Danny and I did a major toy sorting and reorganization to make room for new toys. We wrote thank you notes and finished mailing out our holiday cards and newsletter. (Hint: if you didn't get one, we may not have your snail mail address!) Joseph worked on a pictorial diary of his vacation for school. I painstakingly cut and glued 100 cricket box lids, restocked the groceries and cooked about 25 meals. I got to go running during daylight hours, which Argos and I enjoyed very much.

We went to the Normal Children's Museum for their 3:00 pm New Year's Eve countdown. The kids had a good time, although a little boy snatched Joseph's truck and ran away shortly before the countdown. Joseph couldn't get the truck back because the little bruiser had a death grip on it, was too young to be reasoned with and was unsupervised. Joseph spent the countdown sulking under the table.

We looked for a hiking trail at Lake Bloomington, but found nothing. The kids enjoyed one of the many playgrounds. Argos discovered a new favorite snack plentifully spread across the ground--crunchy frozen deer poo.

The historic Normal theater was showing Wall-E. Sam and Joseph were the only kids in attendance, but they enjoyed themselves.

We went skating for the first time this season, and Joseph learned how to skate on his own!

A little girl noticed Joseph and offered to teach him to skate, and I think that her attention (you know how Joseph is such the ladies' man) may have spurred him to risk letting go of the wall.

He can skate on his own without help, and can get up from the ice without pulling up on the wall! By the end, he was getting kind of fast and reckless--next time I will have to bring a helmet for him!

Video of Joseph skating (and falling)

By the way, if you lived here, you would have gotten this delicious cookie assortment... (Yes, those are vanilla vodka/coconut rum balls.)

Big city haul

Every year, I amass a list of things that I can't buy in Normal. I count on our trips east to complete this list, and this year was especially bountiful. I scored several decorative window menorahs on sale ($5 each at Staten Island Pathmark!) as well as Light Coconut Milk from Trader Joe's and fancy pearlized brown rice (Pikesville SunSplash Health Foods). Danny and I also acquired several unusual family heirlooms: a set of rooster cocktail glasses (they each have one owlish eye that follows you wherever you go...) from Danny's mother and a small glass barrel with Polish on in from my grandmother ("You could put toothpicks in it!")
I also scored @90 new containers in which to individually house crickets for the lab (Staten Island Dollar Depot: 3/$1). Believe me--we have been looking all over the Bloomington-Normal area for containers that meet our exacting specifications with no luck. I have spent the better part of the weekend modifying the lids and inserting screens for proper cricket ventilation.