Friday, January 26, 2007

They're talking

I believe the radiators in my apartment talk to each other. Particularly the ones in the front room and my room as they are close to one another, probably like brothers and the rest of the radiators are more distant cousins and second cousins. You know, the kind that just don't get the same jokes as really close relatives do. I can hear them talking to each other. Or at least that's what I imagine they are doing since they're so loud about heating the place. I mean, all that racket can't just be for warmth, can it? So I imagine their conversations go something like this:

"Fred, hey FRED! Wake up man, hows it going? DID YOU HEAR ME!?"

"Yeah, yeah, jeeze, Sam, quit shouting that girl in here woke up, don't want her putting damp socks on me again."

"He-he, you get damp socks on you."

"Not funny! Well, you're the one who has to deal with The Furry One"

"Humph, pesky little brat puts his fluffy tail in my ribs no matter how loud I yell at him. And I'M ALLERGIC TO CATS!!"

"Ha, serves you right for teasing me."


"Wow, Sam, you really are allergic!"

"I can hear that girl, Fred."

"Yeah, she's swearing at me."

(singing)"You're gonna get wet socks on you, you're gonna get wet.."

"Shut-up, jerk!"

"You shut-up!"

"No you shut-up!"


That's just an excerpt from last night. I'll keep you updated if any juicy gossip comes from these late night radiator conversations.

With a Clang

The temperature in New York has plummeted, finally. I've been waiting for a nice cold snap. I'm used to them from back home, and I love the feeling of bundling up to face the icy wind outside. I love cuddling on the sofa indoors wrapped in sweaters, blankets and a furry cat.

I'm not too keen on running in it, though. I've finally joined that runners group in Brooklyn. True to form, I manage to do it on one of the most uncomfortable weeks of the year (weather-wise). Still, I'd rather freeze than overheat any day.

The group meets in the evening after work and last night I could literally feel the temperature dropping with every passing minute as I waited for people to show up.

Only two did.

I guess only the hearty or fool-hearty would venture out when the mercury drops into single digits. The run, although tiring was a blast. Runners love to talk, to gossip, and to tell stories. That's one of the reasons I love being a part of a group, it allows me to run without really thinking I'm actually in pain up that mile long hill on the back stretch with the freezing wind pelting my face.

OK, maybe I did feel a bit of that, but at least I was entertained all the while.

Turns out I was running with two former pro-athletes. One, a pro-soccer player from Mexico who retired and began running marathons at 38, (he's now on his 10th), and the other a retired pro-tennis player who began running at 34 and is now somewhere in his 50's.

Yeah, you laugh, you think, ha! Ldbug can only run with old men, she's so out of shape. Trust me, you'd weep to try and keep up with these guys. They're fit, fast and both look at least 10-20 years younger than they are. I idolize people like that!

Anyway, I managed to keep up for 4.5 mi, then headed off home. This was my second, fairly intense run of the week, so I'm a little sore and tired when I get home. I shower, eat some dinner and retire a little later than I should've onto my ever deflating air-mattress.

'Clank-clang, hissssssssssssss ---- bang'

I wake up about 4am when the heat turns on. We live in an old brownstone, and the heat comes from radiators. Very loud radiators.

My room is small, and there is one radiator in there. A very loud, very loud radiator. Now as much as I love heat in the winter, I cherish sleep more. But unfortunately, it seems I can't have both.

The radiator in the living room (close to my bedroom door) likes to have a nice, metallic conversation with the radiator in my room. Between the two of them I'm woken up when the heat kicks on, which it does about every hour in the early morning, for about 5-10 minutes.

I think the land-lady has a schedule on the heat. The heat is low during the day, off for late night hours, then on for mornings and evenings.

Used to be the heat would wake me up around 7:30am, but with the cold, it's on a lot earlier. There was one night early this week when the heat didn't kick on, but the temperature dropped. So I froze all night long. The land-lady must've adjusted it after that to compensate.

To freeze or to wake up with a start to constant clanging. Not sleep because I'm freezing or because of noise.

I think I'd rather freeze.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Future Never Seen

Oh, I’m sure I’m going to get slammed by this one, but ah well, I’m used to it so here goes.....

I was reading a blog the other day, and came across yet another guy who’s gotten a vasectomy because he feels he will never want kids. What is with this new fad? I mean how can a person at a young age decide they will never in their entire lives want to be a parent? First of all, I know that vasectomies can be reversed, most of the time, but isn’t birth control and such methods an easier choice? Also, I understand wanting one after procreating and all, but before? It’s just beyond me.

Yes, kids are irritating at times. But how could a person know, really know they’d never want one of their own. In my experience, every single person who chose to never have kids has either suffered a divorce with a difficult separation due to the decision. Or they’ve gone through painful and expensive fertility treatments, and/or spent again a lot of money, time, and heartache on the adoption process. One example is my former neighbors. They proclaimed they never wanted kids, ever, period. Yet, at 43ish and 55 they decided they had missed out on a valuable part of life and went through fertility treatments. Took three years, I think and they were lucky to have a little girl.

I’m sure some people are never meant to be parents, and maybe it’s the right thing to make that choice to prevent becoming parents if you don’t feel you have what’s needed. I just wonder at the jump to make it as permanent as possible so early on. I mean, what’s wrong with waiting on the permanent thing until you’re a little older? Yeah, again, I know vasectomies can be reversed, but there’s just no guarantee, none. You could be 40 and decide that now you’re ready and then, oops, tough luck. Can try to adopt, but really, now you’re kind of an older parent, which puts you at the back of the list, unless you have a lot of money. Even then, it’s harder than it seems. There are millions of orphaned kids, but the red tape is disgusting.

Children are our immortality. We all grow old, die, fade from memory. Even our words will, inevitably be forgotten. But the generation we begin, we continue, will belong to that future we can’t see or imagine and, through them, we will live forever.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Razored Grants

I loped a finger-nail off this morning while shaving my legs. I'm not entirely sure how I managed to do that, and not end up bleeding. For educational purposes, I tried to re-enact the incident but only succeeded in a lost gel-shaving cap and a minor injury.

In other news, I'm applying for grants. It's absolutely incredible how much money is out there, just waiting for someone to apply for it. NSF, NIH, HHMI, and all the societies have funding for at least two years for studies and research.

Unfortunately, a lot of the grants go for studies relating to the environment and drug abuse. Not that I'm disregarding one or condoning the other, but exactly how many studies need to be done on the effects of global warming on the sub-species of fern-related spore-producing-and-activated plants in Africa?

It won't change global warming, it won't help feed anyone. Unless fern-related spore-producing-and-activated plants in Africa are really magic arctic-inducing hunger-avoidance cancer-curing super-ferns that no-one's bothered to utilize before.

And drug abuse is horrible, but shouldn't the money be focused more on neurology to understand addiction and drug-discovery to reduce addictive side-effects in medicines? I mean, yes education is important and so is treatment, but exactly how much money is required to gather statistics on drug abuse in rural Arkansas? It seems a lot of grants are tailored to an extreme.

Another problem I seem to have encountered, is that I'm not minority-affiliated or disabled enough. But really, I'm a woman, so that reduces me to roughly 50% of the world's population (6,525,170,264 - July'06) I'm from Montana which reduces me to roughly 50% of 902,195 people and Montana represents 0.014% of the population on the planet witch comfortably puts me in a group representing roughly 0.007% of the world's population. I'm rare!

Ah well, I'll apply for what I can, and hopefully get lucky since it's a lot easier to have your own money in research. At the least, it's a learning experience to try...(still a little grumbling going on).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bloody Marys at Midnight

On Saturday night a girl at the office held a small party at her place in upper Manhattan. After a very long couple train rides, then a half-mile brisk stroll through the very cold night, the roommate and I arrived, only an hour late. We felt bad for getting there so late, but in all honesty we had left our place at 7:30pm, it just took until 9:00pm to get all the way up there!

It was an interesting party. A small mix of people from literally all over the world. India, Russia, and THE SOUTH were represented. Of course the mid-west (roommate) and west (me) were also there in force.

Right away we began mixing bloody Marys for the crowd. Don't ask me why, it was a strange craving for a Saturday night. Pizza arrived, very good pizza arrived and the party hid full stride with THE SOUTH stumbling over Jack Daniels and a couple of forties.

Music was played, pizza was eaten, half of a couple began doing shots of vodka and whiskey. Then, a brilliant plan: playing poker.

It's been awhile since I've been able to play a game, and the Russian guy and a girl from work also backed the idea. Since the couple had to leave, that put the poker players in the majority -- well, actually half and half, but THE SOUTH didn't really have an opinion one way or the other.

So we set up the table and confronted the next two problems, where to find cards, and what to gamble with. Well, no one was up for gambling money, since none of us have any money, so it was decided to use the little caramel candies (called Nips) that had been set out as desert.

There weren't quite enough of those, so we dove into the walnuts and put together a scheme: half a nut = 25, full nut = 50, a Nip = 100 and in reserve, everyone got one chocolate = 500.

So, to the cards, it was suggested..what, I certainally didn't suggest, really that THE SOUTH knock on the neighbors' (note the plural possessive) door for cards, which THE SOUTH staggeringly did. We had cards.

Yes, we played until almost 4am for Nips and nuts. All the while sipping on bloody Marys.

At 5am after a long, rocky ride home, the roommate and I crashed.

Although I left the party with the most Nips and nuts, I also left with the strong desire to never drink bloody Marys at midnight again.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The great wall

BBC news
I'm a little busy today, applying for positions and preparing work for the week, so I just put up the link above. While I don't agree with all of it, the story makes me think. Who will suffer the most if Iran does create nuclear weapons? Honestly, you can't believe they'll be able to shoot the suckers over the Atlantic. While the US is a target of terrorism, it's harder to get to us as an organized, fighting army. So look around you're city, how uncomfortably close are you to the fire? And who will you call upon when it gets too hot?

I wonder about the day we all get fed up with the rest of the world, close our boarders and build a wall like China did.

Friday, January 19, 2007

It's all fairly trivial

Our work hosted a trivia game last night. They provided some burnt popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and a few beers. They were also kind enough to provide the host of the event, a young man fresh from London.

I'm sure he's been to the states before, and he did make a valiant effort to chose questions that were pertinent to a mainly US crowd, but I think we all would've preferred if he'd left off two rounds: New York and Sports. While the other rounds were fairly international, film, literature, geography etc., the New York round and the Sports round really should've been written by someone who's lived a vast majority of life here.

I mean, not anything against cricket, but it's a sport that we pretty much know next to nothing about.

Somewhere in our past, someone decided it'd be a lot more fun to change the bowler into a guy hurling a hard ball closer to the batsman's head. Then the batsman got all pissed off and decided it'd be a lot more fun to get a good hard over-the-shoulder swing at the ball in order to aim better for the bowler's head.

Then the other guys in the field got really bored and decided they were going to make the batsman run if he made any sort of contact with the ball so they could chase him down and whack him over the head with the ball. So the batsman got all huffy and started really going for the bases.

Then another batsman, who was particularly bad at actually making contact with the ball, pissed everyone off so they booed him off the field after he'd missed three times. Sound familiar? Yeah, baseball. That's what we know here, that's what we all play from the instant we are walking. Not everyone likes the game, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that any American has a hell of a lot better chance at knowing the answer to a baseball question than a cricket one.

Nice guy, and fun time, but next time leave out the cricket?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


When I get bored at work, which happens frequently, I tend to veer off the work path and check out blogs and read the news. Often I end up surfing through the daily BBC news articles and this leaves me alternately horrified, alert, slightly sick and numb.

Actually, all news does this. It's a depressing world when seen through the eyes of a news reporter. Anyway, that's most of the time. Then there are the few times where some celebrity or another comes into focus and is IN EVERY STORY!

As in the Madonna thing. I could give a crap less about her adoption. Fine, so what? She's not the first or the last rich person with a name that'll adopt some kid from a country that isn't doing quite as well as is acceptable to the rest of the world.

And yesterday? Big Brother. I've never seen the show, well not willingly. I have happened on it once or twice, moments which were followed by confusion, agonizing screams, tears and a frantic search for the remote while the roommate sobs and desperately attemps to change the channel "the old fashioned way."

So, you can imagine my response to all the news focused on this show. Yes, there were some tears, maybe a little panting to keep from being sick. I didn't scream though, I was at work after all.

Here's the thing. The show is being accused of racism against one of the contestants. I actually read one of the articles after controlling my initial panic. One girl in the house said things about the other girl, who is Indian. They were not nice things, and yes, the girl is an ignorant racist. So, sue her, kick her off the show, or better yet, cancel the stupid thing. I DON'T CARE. In fact, I'm sure very few people care what a bunch of idiots on a stupid show say. Just, please, for the love of God, and for my sanity, stop writing a half-dozen news reports on it every five or so minutes?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cat vs Women

Round six has begun with cat = 5 and women = 0.

The gate leading from the third floor flat is the source of all this anxiety.

The women have been thwarted thus far with cat outmaneuvering their engineering genius. In a strong push, the women have constructed a new model. They've pulled out all the stops, string, boards, chair and small, imposing suitcase.

Will this be it?

Can they win?

Will cat again thwart their efforts and escape?

It all hinges on this day, friends. It all hinges on arriving home this evening to discover the awful/joyful truth.

The game is afoot and the women aren't optimistic.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A couple notes

Reason # 237 of why I have a Love-Hate relationship with my work computer: It automatically switched to some formatting nonsense in word that I can’t switch off. My sentences now look like this “→Just·trying·to·remain·calm. ·Shhhhhh·computer·is·listening.”
(there's a few other symbols in there that blogger refuses to copy over)

Good news is keeping me buoyed however, it seems as though my work is going to give me health insurance! I haven’t had health insurance since, hmmmmm, maybe sometime in ’05? I’m actually looking forward to seeing the doctor, eye, teeth, etc..

Friday, January 12, 2007

A bumpy ride

I thought I'd regal you guys with a few stories of my adventures in Montana for the next few posts. I have a lot of work to catch up on, and I'm still in "recovery mode" so I'm using some old material until I'm up for more New York adventures.

Anyway, since it's kinda windy out today, I got to thinking about the last couple days I was in Montana. I woke up last Saturday to the wind. I'm talking howling wind. The kind of wind that jumps down from the mountains and tears shingles off of houses, rips trees in half, drives so hard the walls around you shudder. Not being the delightful morning person you might see me as, I stayed in bed. I was also coming down with a cold, so I did the math, (Cold blizzard winds) + (painfully sore throat) = Stay in bed till noon.

When I finally ventured out to the local college basketball game with my parents, I saw some of the real damage the storm had caused. Montana's a dry place, at least on my side of the divide, so the trees there root deep for water. It takes a lot to knock a tree over, and even this storm didn't manage to pull up roots. Instead it snapped the trees in half! We saw two on the way, one toppled at the old Kalzak's place smashing through the front yard fence, and the other at a park. And this is the protected part of town, in the valley; some people lost their roofs.

Ok, so fast forward to Sunday, I'm packed and ready. Heading to the airport, my parents helpfully point out more fallen debris and I anxiously put the weatherman's report of "severe wind for Sunday" out of my mind. We get to the airport, hang around for a bit, then I walk out to the tarmac and board the little plane. Oh, goody, the wind is blasting away. Everyone sits, they close the door and then the flight attendant followed by the pilot repeatedly warn us to make sure out seat belts are tight because it’s going to be “a really, really bumpy ride.” Great. Lovely. Have I mentioned how much I hate flying? Now imagine how much more I hate flying during a windstorm with a tight seat belt. Good. Keep imagining now as the flight attendant stresses again how bumpy this ride is going to be. Now imagine my reaction as I study the exit routes. Got that so far? Ok, now we take off, the plane takes longer than usual to get off the ground, maybe the wind. We get up a bit and start getting tossed about. Oh joy of all joys! I can’t feel my legs! Possibly because the seatbelt is cutting circulation! And hell, I know that seatbelt isn’t going to do a damn thing if we – what the hell? Why are we turning? In-this-wind- (imagine gritted teeth, nervous passengers, a sharply banking plane turning north, full circle around the valley as we climb through the wind to head south) Now my stomach drops out as the plane is buffeted by a gust, we straighten slightly, then continue with the turn.

An hour later we land safely in Salt Lake and I, sore throat and all, head to the nearest airport bar. I’m not getting on that plane to New York without a little more support than a seatbelt.

picture courtesy of:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

When is it rude?

So I've been sick. And I'm not just whining here, because I've been really, really, wish-I-had-health-insurance-to-go-to-the-doctor sick. I had to take yesterday off of work, since I spent the night vomiting up all the phlegm I've been choking on since there pretty well wasn't (isn't) anything else in my stomach. Oh, that was a joy, let me tell you, to come back to work on Tuesday, hack up a lung, then begin the chameleon trick of turning various shades of purple, green, then blanching completely. I couldn't eat lunch, barely made it to five, then stumbled out of the building toward the train. I was lucky to get a seat on the A, but at the transfer, the train was delayed. I leaned against a pole , because God forbid they put benches on the platform and prayed with every inch of my body not to throw up, pass out and get robbed. Finally the train pulled up just as I'm contemplating sitting on the ground (I'm in a skirt, in a subway station -- this is NOT a place to sit on the ground). Ah, my lucky day, the train is packed full, I barely lurch onto it, I really didn't have much other choice. It was that or stumble topside in a strange neighborhood and pass out on a police officer.

If you've ever fought the good fight to not throw up, you know the complete agony I was in. Add to that a rocking train, no seat, the smell of too many people, and crowded heat. I know my face was completely white, I was trembling, sweat was dripping off my face. I was holding onto the hand rail with both hands, a death grip is more like it, and had my teeth gritted together. I barely breathed because if I started coughing I'd start throwing up. I stared at those seats, at the perfectly happy people in those seats. I just needed to sit down, put my head on my knees. That girl looks nice maybe if I ask her...the train stopped at Carrol street and the girl I'd been imploring with my panic got up and off the train. I didn't move fast enough and another took her place. If I'd had any energy at all I'd have killed her. At Bergen street I thought about getting off the train if only to puke against the wall, then miraculously a seat opened up and I fell into it. I made the last two stops with my head on my knees, moaning softly and choking back my coughs.

That was fun. But even more fun was going to bed at 7:30pm after managing to swallow two tablespoons of applesauce and one weak swallow of water. Oh joy of all joys when I woke at 10pm and threw up all over one side of my bed. Well, I felt better. Just good enough to get out of bed, take the messed bedding to wash out in the tub (really, not much was there, remember) grab a bucket and collapse gasping onto the cleaned air mattress. I will say this, those things are easy to mop up.

So I didn't go to work yesterday. After the whole episode on Tuesday I couldn't even get out of bed, much less dare to attempt a dreaded train ride.

But I'm here now. I feel much, much better. I managed a little soup, some crackers and ginger ale yesterday, and I've almost finished an orange today. I've also succeeded in getting a few tables and documents typed up for work and made some corrections to the thesis. All well and good. A colleague has even complemented me on how I've lost weight. Ha-ha. Thank-you, but I'd rather not use the so-sick-I-can't-eat method to lose weight. I'd rather run. When I'm better.

Finally, as to the title, I ask you, when is it rude to ask someone to give up their seat on the train?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dirty looks

After spending two weeks in fresh air, mountains, small town life, I’m back in the city. I feel better prepared, got the fabulous boots, wearing a skirt to work, and received a perfect, long coat for Christmas that effectively blends me into all the other women here.

All well and good.

Ah, but the city life has worn on me. Either that, or I’m just exhausting myself from coughing, which is putting me in a fairly rotten mood. I’m back at work, after a commute that seems longer than when I left, a stuttered start running up and down stairs at the apartment for missing items, and a long, frustrating search for my work ID through my bag (not there).

There is one other thing nagging me, OK, several things are on my mind, but one stands out. I saw a job opening to teach Biochemistry at the private, local college in my hometown. All that is needed to apply is a Ph.D. in a related field by August 2007.

No Post doc necessary, no more hoops, just the degree and I could be home, be around people I understand, mountains I recognize, around my parents who are getting to the point where they’ll need their kids to be close to help out from time to time.

Unfortunately, I’m short on those letters. According to local lore, a Masters could work and I could go for the Ph.D. later. But I’m unsure. I think I’ll still need the degree. Besides, I'd prefer be done with the studies sooner rather than later.

So as I sit here under the resolute glare of co-workers as I unsuccessfully attempt to remove my left lung in between conversations lacking volume control since my ears are clogged, I’m resigned to search for a program. I’m going to find that place for me. I’ve a list of 25 schools in Britain, which could work. I’ll start at the top and work my way on down. Looks like Abertay is the first. Anyone know anything about the area?

Monday, January 08, 2007

I caught it in Montana

Ugh, I'm sick, sick, sick. Sore throat, stuffed nose, can only hear out of one ear, phlemmy coughs. The works. I'll post tomorrow since I have to be back to work eventually. Till then, I'm going to try and get some sleep cuddled next to my box of Kleenex and bag of menthol cough drops.