Thursday, May 27, 2004

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY

The most interesting thing of late would seem to be the near daily
thunderstorms we've been getting for over a week. The Red Cedar river is
higher than I've ever seen it. I should have taken some photos of it when I
last walked over the to library but I didn't have the camera with me.

With all the rain we still haven't been able to have grass seeded on our
lawns. The grass guy plans to bring some top soil and grade it, but when the
ground is as wet as it has been he can't do it. Not only that, but in all
likelihood the rain would have washed away much of the grass. Even the
farmers are complaining, as the rains have prevented them from planting and
doing some of the things they normally do to try to ensure a health crop.

Ellie and I had our two year anniversary on Tuesday. Unfortunately Monday
night I was busy meeting some collaborators for work that evening (had a
very nice dinner of salmon steak at the Evergreen Grill). Tuesday Ellie had
to entertain clients at a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game, so we didn't get to
sit down together until late that evening. She gave me a wonderful card and
some DVDs of the Kids in the Hall (the first season). I was pretty
impressed, because I never would have thought to ask for it but I do like
the Kids in the Hall very much.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Checked my blog this morning, and I realized I haven't posted since last Wednesday. Ouch! Although I suppose the baby picture counts as two or three posts.

The past weekend was rather fun. Ellie and I went with our neighbors, Todd and Sherry, to East Lansing for the art fair. We saw some outstanding photographs, especially from Paul James who does the European-Images.com website. He had on set that I thought was outstanding:


We went out to Sansu for some sushi, then returned home for our weekend nap. I watched the end of "The Grifters," and I will say that the end was not the end I was expecting. I've started watching "Midnight Run" and have found it pretty humorous so far. I've been Tivo'ing moves off of AMC (American Movie Channel I think). I finally got to see "Spartacus" that way. I thought it was outstanding, and I understand now how it gets its reputation with the homoerotic overtones (I wonder what the Google AdWords are for "homoerotic". Probably something I'd rather now see).

Sunday I went out and got Ellie a few anniversary gifts. Originally I had planned to get her an iPod, since I can get the Apple educational discount, with a custom engraving on the back, but in the end that would have been over $300. If we didn't have a baby on the way I would have gotten it, but at this point we're going to try to save more money for it's arrival. I got some simpler things that I hope she'll like. I just don't want to post about them because she may read about them before I can give them to her.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

First Picture Of Our Baby


I suppose since many aren't used to looking at an ultrasound (as if I am), the part to focus on is the dark circle, which is zoomed in in the bottom right corner. The dark circle is the sac that surrounds the baby. The lighter blob that looks to be at the top of the sac is actually the growing baby! When one is watching it one the screen you can see the fluctuation of the pixels rhymithicly, which is the beating of the heart (only two chambers at this point if I recall correctly).

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

As an effort to share more semi-humorous moments I’ll briefly write about one that happened today. For those that know Ellie well they understand that she has the sometimes frustrating gift of gab. It is also one of the characteristics that makes her fun to spend time with and know, while frustrating her husband when he just wants to get one thing from the grocery store and leave without delaying to talk to the lady with the cute kids in line. Ellie is very personable. It occasionally leads to somewhat humorous anecdotes, like the time Ellie was trying to tell some of the Pharmacology/Toxicology graduate students about what a nice time we had when we went to San Diego and ended up making an unintentional double-entendre.

Today we were returning from the Ob/Gyn following our first ultrasound (which went well, I’ll post the picture once I get it scanned), riding the elevator down from the top floor. When we got on a physician in the Ob/Gyn practice group was getting on the elevator at the same time. Ellie was understandably excited about the ultrasound and photo, so having noticed the emblem on the physician’s jacket was one and the same with the one on our billing copy, was chatting with him as we rode toward the first floor. The elevator was becoming more and more crowded with typical hospital goers as we descended, probably with a mean age of 70 years. Everyone is standing basically elbow to elbow and Ellie is explaining to the physician that she’s very happy at the results of the ultrasound (he said it looked good when he glanced at it), as she had been nervous after a bit of spotting. Now I know I’m a bit more uptight about revealing my personal information than the average person, but I remember thinking “My wife is talking about her vagina in a crowded elevator with a bunch of seniors… they must be mortified!” We didn’t get any odd glances that I noticed, so perhaps it slid by without being too shocking. I guess everyone knows someone like my wife, and it’s just one of the wonderful things that make her who she is.

Monday, May 17, 2004

So all in all I think this last weekend was nice. On Saturday we went to Bennigan’s with two other couples, Jeremy & Christy and Kelly & Mike. Jeremy & Christy are both expecting too, just a few months ahead of us. Had a nice piece of salmon and encouraged Mike and Jeremy to form a boy band with me so I could practice my choreography skills. We haven’t decided on a name yet. Perhaps the Overeducated White Folks. Just doesn’t have much of a ring to it. Ellie and I also got invited to go over to the neighbors (Todd & Sherry) house Sunday for burgers and we had a nice time relaxing and chatting. It was Todd’s birthday so we all had some cake. We may all go to Grand Haven or Saugatuck sometime over Memorial Day weekend. I’ve really enjoyed their company when we’ve been able to hang out.

Ellie and I have our first ultrasound tomorrow. We should be able to hear the baby’s heart beating, but that may not necessarily happen I guess. Should be interesting.

Work continues to move along. Seems like it’s always a hurry up and wait kind of thing. I always have this feeling like when I run an experiment we’re going to succeed in finding what we expect to find, and then at best we get only a hint of what’s going on. Biology is such a tease. So finicky, complicated, beautiful. That’s right. In all the chaos that seems to govern the world of biochemistry there is also exquisite control. It’s so immense in its nature no one person can hope to grasp it in entirety. I guess I’m off on a tangent, so I think I’ll finish on that note and perhaps something better will come to be later to write about.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Friday night, Ellie's gone off to bed and I'm just doing some reading on Tivo hacking. Apparently someone has figured out how to hack the Series2 Tivo without soldering in a new PROM (a chip inside the Tivo that contains information that tells the Tivo how to start up), and that was a step I didn't want to take.

Back when the Tivo software was version 3.1 there was a software vulnerability that allowed a person to gain "root" access to the Tivo. Basically once one has "root" access there are all kinds of special tricks and tools one can do (like making the Tivo into a web server, or directly extract video from it without having to rerecord it through a camcorder). The folks at Tivo patched this bug with version 3.2, which was long ago now (Tivo is on to version 4.0 now).

Someone far more familiar with Linux (the operating system on the Tivo) than me figured out a way to get the vulnerable version of the Tivo software to start to load, avoid a step in the boot process that prevents users from modifying the software, and then load a later version of the Tivo software. They call it "The Tivo Monte" after three card monte. Perhaps when my warranty finally runs out I'll try hacking the Tivo. I really do like my Tivo and would hate to cause it any injury. At the same time I'd really like to backup the drive in it so that if it ever fails I can simply fix it with my backup rather than having to drop $300 on a new one. I really think I would have to get a new one too, I don't think Ellie and I would want to go back to watching TV in the conventional manner. I guess I'll have to do a bit more reading if I really want to do it. Perhaps by the time our warranty runs out (December 2004) there will be a good guide on how to do it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Last night I watched the latest episode of The Shield and my thought is that was the second best revenge I've seen in script. The most memorable revenge is actually from a Shakespearean play, Titus Andronicus.

If you haven't read it or seen the film (starring Anthony Hopkins) based on the tragedy then I recommend it. It is very difficult to watch, very dark. I forced Randy (VanWagnen) and Mike (Staake) to watch it with me once. Randy kept complaining that it was horrible (not the acting, the sadness of the story), to which I kept telling him he just had to wait until the end. It does get a little preachy in the final scene of the film, which if I understand correctly the director added as a symbolic of how the cycle of violence can continue.

Friday I'm supposed to go to Kalamazoo for the Michigan Society of Toxicology meeting. Unfortunately Ellie may have her first ultrasound that day, depending on her blood test results today. I'm disappointed I won't be there for it. I'd be much more disappointed if it were later in the pregnancy though and we'd be able to visualize the child. Ellie's told me that mostly they'll be listening for a heart beat. We had originally scheduled for May 25th which I could make without trouble, but it seems like the OB/GYN has Ellie do one thing, then jump on another thing. I've got a fairly flexible schedule and work with people who are very understanding and supportive, but I don't like getting a call at 10:15AM that my wife is going to the hospital for lab work at 11AM.

I had a humorous anecdote I wanted to write about from a while back but cannot seem to recall which one I wanted to tell now. I think next time I'll write it as a draft and just keep it on Blogger. Then I can post it when I really don't have something to write about.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

We got our first inkling that something new was in the works on Tuesday May 5. Immediately I felt a bit nervous, but the kind of nervous excitement that comes when you're in anticipation. We got confirmation the following day: Ellie is pregnant. She's been calling as many people in the family that she can think of to tell them. From what everyone says they're very excited, but I think Ellie and I are naturally most looking forward to it.

At first we thought about all the changes that were going to come. No late nights out with our friends over drinks, not that there were really any of those nights anyway, but it seems that you don't miss something until you realize you won't be able to have it. Natural humanity to take things for granted until they're reaching their end. We went to St. John's Student Parish on Sunday and I noticed someone with their tiny little infant, hanging over the shoulder, looking at all the people around.

I think that was the moment where I realized I was truly comfortable with the changes that would come. I got a bit choked up thinking of all the things there are to share with and show to our child. I'm sure the road will at times be trying. I'm reminded of the time when I was about 7, standing on the steps leading upstairs in our house, screaming at my mom that I hated her and wishing hateful things (man, do I ever feel bad about that now). That will be me on the receiving end somewhere in the future. I also recall when I was somewhere between 2 and 4, how I always wanted to be able to cuddle up to my Mom to help me fall asleep when it was time to nap. Or when my Dad would carry me on his shoulders and I could see above all the people. I'll get to pass those feelings and experiences on, and it gets me choked up thinking about it.

I haven't called any of my friends to tell them yet. I've just never been one to call people up and say "Hey, guess what I did!" I suppose now would be one of those times that my friends would like to hear about it. Perhaps I'll get on the phone tonight, I'm a bit hesitant to call during the day since Ellie's been burning up the daytime minutes calling family. I just checked the minutes on our account: 441 daytime used of our 800. We're close to half way through the month, so I suppose it's fine. I guess it's a good thing we upgraded our phone plan to 800. I talked with Ben this weekend and he was saying that he thought T-mobile would have to do something soon to remain competitive, which I'm hoping is rolling nights back to 7 or 8pm.

Monday, May 10, 2004

This Is Interesting

Blogger.com just "upgraded" themselves and appears to have added a ton
of new features that I'll have to monkey around with and decide how much
I like. The first feature that I'm going to test is the "Blog by Email."
Seems simple enough. Write an email, send it to your blog, and it should
get posted. That stands to be pretty interesting, and make it much
easier to make posts. Right now one has to login, which isn't a terrible
hassle, but when one can simplify usually that's desirable. In fact this
post was written as an email. I wonder how it will handle pictures. I'd
be pretty impressed if I could attach a picture below inside my email
and have it post the image as well. In fact, I bet it will take an HTML
tag with the image location and publish it, but then one still has the
problem of where to host the pictures.

TEASER: I've got some very important news to post, but I think I'll take
some time to write it. It will be a suprise to many I think, and at the
same time right in line with what many would expect. CMN

Friday, May 07, 2004

I think this will prove an interesting anecdote, especially from the perspective of wondering what the GoogleAds will be above after I post it (since they’re context sensitive to what one writes about).

For the sake of not terribly offending any offending party I won’t use the person’s name when writing about them. Suffice to say I don’t work directly with them but occasionally come into contact with them during my routine. He’s really a bit of a character from some of the history I have heard, but that’s not the focus today. The focus today was what I will refer to as “The Incident with the Postcard.”

Apparently Mr.X had gone on a vacation recently, somewhere in Italy I believe. He was showing two of the women I work with a postcard that he had brought back from Italy which was pictures of penises from famous Renaissance paintings and sculptures. I immediately thought to myself “Gee, isn’t this inappropriate.” Unfortunately I instead pointed at one and said “I know that one. It’s a painting of Priapus.” Don’t I seem like an insensitive jerk now.

I thought some more about it and said to myself “Colin, why would you have such a puritanical attitude.” I don’t really feel I do. I guess what seemed inappropriate about it was that the photos were solely of penises for the sake of showing penises, not for recognizing historic art. Would I have been equally offended if it was famous vaginas? I think so. Perhaps more so. Would it be offensive if I worked in an office and had a sculpture of David? I think it likely would, but should it? I feel like it shouldn’t be considered offensive, but I’m sure there are people who hate nudity of any form, so that wouldn’t work well in an office. Guess I’ll just have to stick with the Periodic Table of Elements :-)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

It’s been several days now since my last post, and it was extremely short, so it’s time to roll out a new edition. Work life is continuing as per normal. My projects continue to sputter along. I was telling my Dad that it is really a grinding process. You run an experiment, get the results, and interpret them. If they didn’t work out as expected (and they almost never do the first time) you have to ask what could be done differently that will influence the results. Go back and try it again. I’ve been repeating this process for months now.

Everything is coming into bloom around campus now. Undergraduates are leaving for the summer, weather is warming up. The smells of spring and flowering trees are all around. The gardens behind the Toxicology Center are coming around.

I’ve downloaded some more tunes from AllOfMp3.com. Been pretty happy with everything there so far. Ryan Adams seems to be getting a lot of play on the iPod lately, though I also just got my hands on Jason Mraz’s Waiting for My Rocket to Come and that’s great too.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Day to Day

This is my wife's blog. I'll have to add a static link off in my sidebar a bit later. Even though we talk every day, it's also nice to be able to sit down and see what she's writing about things. That way I don't interrupt her or get off on my own mental tangents. She's got a relatively humorous anecdote up there now about nylons.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Last night Ellie and I had a good time out with some folks we haven’t hung out with in the past. Jim (our lab’s ubergradstudent) and I have been trying to arrange things so that we could bring our wives out to dinner and get chat a bit. Ellie doesn’t get a chance to socialize much with the people she works with because for the most part their older than us and at a different point in their lives. Our weeks of scheming finally came together last night when we meet up at the Stillwater Grill in Okemos. We even had a chance to enjoy Lyle’s company (another ubergradstudent, just in a different lab).

My hope is that I didn’t scare them off. Inevitably it seems that conversations and anecdotes always turn into embarrassing stories, so Jim, Liz, and Lyle got to hear some embarrassing ones about me. As I’m writing they escape me, so I won’t write about them this time. It’s safe to say if you’ve spent anything more than a few passing meetings with me you’ve probably heard them.

I’ve also been doing a bit of browsing on the AllOfMp3 site and found that one of my gripes (no ID3 tag information) is solved. One just has to use the site’s download manager, which will collect the info for you so it doesn’t have to be entered by hand. I’m still a little leery of the site, but I plunked down another 5 dollars for 500mb of transfers. I’ve been mostly looking for some of the electronic music that I’ve always wanted but never cared to pay much for. When a whole album costs about $1.50 and it doesn’t have DRM I can afford to download it, listen to it, and delete it if I really don’t like it. I’ve focused on the things I’ve like though, so I haven’t had to delete anything yet.