Thursday, August 31, 2006


I'm back to doing it. Thank you for the well-wishes for my meeting. A bit about committee meetings:

By committee I mean my Thesis Committee. The people who decide whether or not I will graduate. Our program requires meeting with your committee once a year so that they can haze you you can get their opinion on your work. The idea is that by gathering their input, you will have a better thesis project. Near the end of your graduate career, you have what is known as the penultimate committee meeting (the ultimate one being your defense) at which time your committee says, yes, you have done enough, you may start writing your thesis now (up until this point, it's all been lab work). Today was not the penultimate meeting. But it was the meeting just before the penultimate meeting--the pre-penultimate meeting if you will.

I had been feelling pretty good about the thing. I had been working hard and was tired, yes, but I had some solid data (which I've never had before), and it was the kind of data that you build a thesis around. Then, I stupidly did another experiment earlier this week. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I should've known the results would contradict some of my previous results. It's Murphy's Law of Labwork. Anything that can go wrong will, and at the least opportune time.

When I got my result, I freaked out. I almost started crying. I was two days away from my meeting and now I had to rewrite everything. I had, in fact, already given my committee my report which contained the erroneous data. After talking to my advisor (who thought I was getting a little too carried away), I started to realize that it wasn't as bad as I thought, but I was still up a creek with a teaspoon.

Then, I went to a baseball game.

Not because I find baseball particularly soothing, but because it was a lab event and the tickets had already been bought. So I sat and knit and tried to relax.*

I spent the entirety of yesterday putting together my presentation. I put a sign on my bench chair that said, "Do not disturb except for tea or chocolate," (we don't have offices, just the desk attached to the lab bench, and if you're sitting at your desk, people just come and talk to you). I spent hours in Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. Making figures, fixing figures, putting together slides, practicing, running things past other members of the lab to see if I was being coherent. All of it. I forgot to eat lunch. I remembered around 3:00. I forgot supper and managed to find two pieces of bread to eat. I lost all track of time. Twelve hours later, I had a finished presentation. I was dead tired. John came and picked me up, and I had a bowl of cereal and a banana because I was feeling nauseous.

All of that stress for nothing.

It was fine. They liked my experiments, wasn't worried about the conflicting results and think it's reasonable for me to finish in March. Such a waste of perfectly good hysteria.


can't talk, committee meeting, feeling sick, not ready, data screwy, sunny out, wearing socks, nauseous, nauseous, must focus, they're smarter, no I know more about this than they do, but they're faculty, that doesn't matter, I can do it, I can do it, no I can't, must buy refreshments, don't have time, practice, practice, practice, husband moving to California, no must focus on meeting, tired, must graduate, must convince them I can graduate, it's okay, no it's not, pass the ativan

Friday, August 25, 2006

Well, thank God!

Imbrium posted a comment yesterday about how the snakes got on the plane. I won't reiterate it here in case someone skipped the comments yesterday because they didn't want to read a spoiler.* So, on to the next big question:

How did Samuel L. Jackson get stuck in this movie? Is he being punished?

I have to say, snakes on a plane is a pretty Bondesque way of killing someone, if you know what I mean. Wouldn't poisonous gas work just as well? Or, I don't know, a large bomb? I mean, if you can sneak anything you want on the plane, why snakes? Although, if this were a Bond film, James would probably whip out a flute and demonstrate his snake-charming skills that he learned while undercover in Egypt to lure the snakes into one of the bathrooms and lock it up. Or, Q would've conveniently equipped him with a tie-tac that, upon pressing a specific point with a pin, emits a high frequency sound capable of knocking out snakes.

Please don't mind me. I'm on the verge of sleep-deprivation induced hysteria.

Turns out that if you overwork yourself (or at least if I overwork myself), you get a little loopy. Not the good kind of loopy, like with yarn, but the bad kind, like when you start running into doorways and think it's funny (which has happened to me in the past, sadly). This morning, I was reading a Terry Pratchett book while eating breakfast and I got into a giggle fit. Now, I don't know if you're familiar with the writings of Mr. Pratchett. He's a favorite of mine, especially when life has been going rough. He writes deliciously smart satire that will make you laugh your arse off. Now, I often laugh a little while reading a Pratchett book. But, it's usually something like, "Hah!" Then I go back to reading. This morning, it was more like, "teeheehehehee" *stifle*stiffle*snort* "teeeheeeheeee, okay I'm going to stop now, heeeheeeheeeee" *lays head down on table*stifle* "teeheeeheee" *eyes start watering* "teeheeeheee, the vampire, heeeheeheee, is a photographer, heeeeheeeheee, and when the flash goes off! Heeeeeeheeeeheeeeee." Ten minutes later, I was still giggling at odd moments and John was staring at me and I know he was thinking something like, "well, she's finally gone around the bend, but I didn't think it would look quite like this."

So, I'm actually going to leave work early today, go home, take a nap, read a little more Pratchett, watch Stargate, and go to bed.

*I can't imagine this is true, but I want to be polite and not spoil anyone's movie-going experience. *snort*

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just. don't. get it.

So, not all that long ago, I saw a commercial for a movie, and thought, this movie looks like the most gawdawful thing ever, then saw it's title, Snakes on a Plane, and thought, it's so bad, they can't even come up with a better title. At least they aren't trying to trick you into thinking it's good with a clever name.

Despite this, it seems some people have gone to see it. From the knit bloggers, it has been getting solid Ds (for Dreadful). This does not surprise me in the least. Personally, I have no intention of seeing it, especially since I have a little snake phobia. But, there's one thing I want to know.

How do the snakes get on the plane?

Try as I may, I cannot think of any quasi-plausible way to get a large number of deadly snakes onto a plane. This is probably why I am a cell biologist and not a screenwriter (or a terrorist). Here are the completely ridiculous ways I've come up with.

How are we going to get this exhibit full of the 50 most lethal snakes to the National Zoo by Wed.? I know what let's do! We can send them by plane in flimsy crates that will fall apart as soon as it hits some turbulence.

Honey, how are we going to get Jimmy's lethal snake collection to our new home in California? The moving company said they won't handle them. And anyway, the poor things would starve on the way. What do you think about putting them on the plane with us? We'll just pay the fee to check extra luggage and not tell the airline what's in there. People bring their cats and dogs on planes on the time, it can't be too much of a hassle. I'm sure we can just keep them in their rubbermaid containers. Just fasten a belt around them so the lids don't accidently come off. Oh, and put an extra one around Bob's container. You know how he likes to sneak out. Naughty snake!

Okay, folks, bin Laden has given us two thumbs up for the snakes idea, so we're going to roll with it. This is going to be slightly more complicated than the exploding latte idea, but we're running out of options, people. And, anyhow, we've made them so paranoid about the carry-on luggage, nobody will even think to check the cargo! Anyone have ideas about how we're going to disguise the sounds of snakes? Yes? Lable the container Madagascan cockroaches? That's brilliant! Everybody knows they hiss and nobody will want to look at them. Right, now let's get to work on the device that will blow the lids off the containers once they're in flight.

"Hey, Frank, whadya think's in these crates?"
"They say diplomatic papers, Charlie."
"But they're hissing."
"That's probably some device that maintains a constant pressure on the documents."
"I ain't never heard of such a thing."
"Well, ya' gotta start reading the technology magazines, keep up with current events."
"But it feels like there's something moving in there, Frank."
"Oh, that's probably a device they use to help keep the crate level."
"I wouldn't think documents would have to be kept level and at constant pressure, Frank."
"They don't pay us to think, Charlie, just put the crate on the plane."

I'm dying to know how the snakes get on the plane. It's the only reason I can think of to watch the movie. But I'm not going to pay big bucks to find that out (plus, I'd have to leave before the movie's over because, I have this little snake phobia). So, if you've seen the movie, could you tell me how it's done? Please?

Monday, August 21, 2006

How did this happen?

When I first started in this lab, I was on my way into a serious depression. There were days when, if I managed to be in lab for four hours a day, that was a success. For awhile there were too many days when I didn't make it in at all. There were a couple of weeks I spent almost entirely in bed.

For the last couple of years, I've been (mostly) sane, and therefore have been in lab on a more regular basis. And, I've been able to put in 35-40 hours a week. But there has always been a certain limit to how much time I can spend in lab on any one day. It didn't matter if staying one extra hour could save me an entire day*, I just couldn't do it.

But, lately, I've been working like a complete maniac (for me, that is, there are still people in the lab who work many more hours than me). I've been in lab for 14 or more hours some days. I've spent the better parts of the last two Saturdays in lab. I've had days (like today) where I get to a certain point, an acceptable stopping point, and I'm dead tired, and I've stayed the extra couple of hours in order to save me a day. Some days, I've stayed a whole extra 4-6 hours so that I could have the data by the next day.

I used to do this a lot when I was a research tech, but I haven't had it in me for a long time. In fact, I thought I would never be able to do this kind of thing again. I had accepted the fact that I just get tired more easily than I used to and wasn't going to berate myself for not going that extra mile.

So, I'm not sure where all of this stamina is coming from. I didn't expect it. I didn't try to muster it up. I didn't sit down and have a real heart-to-heart with myself to say, "Self, you have just got to work harder." I just....started working harder. I know I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but this is one of those rare moments when I am actually amazing myself.** I'm sitting here thinking, "Damn, you're starting to kick some ass with these experiments!"

Perhaps it's because the end is in sight. Perhaps it's because I know I get to go to California as soon as all of this is done. Perhaps it's my biological clock egging me on so that I can go make babies soon. I don't know. I'm completely bewildered. The cynic in me says it will only be so long before I collapse from exhaustion, but even if I do, I'll still have gotten an amazing amount of things done in a short amount of time.

*An example of this is the following: a certain procedure takes 1-2 hours, then has to sit at least 16 hours before the experiment can continue. If I stay the 1-2 hours to do it, I can pick it up again sometime the next day and continue on. If I don't, then it will take me an entire day longer to do the experiment because no matter what, I have to wait those 16 hours.

**Generally speaking, I am my own worst critic (as many people are). Accomplishments that would have me saying congratulations and patting people on the back are nothing special if I am the one who did them. This is One of Those Things I Need to Work On.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Behold the power of The Block

As I mentioned on a previous post, my DNA scarf was looking a little rumpled around the edges. So, before I got any further along, I decided to block it to make sure the problem would go away with blocking.

Here is a pre-blocking picture:

Here it is post-blocking:

I now pronounce blocking to be a Good Thing.

So, I decided to go ahead and continue working on it while watching Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis last night. I was able to do about half of a pattern repeat (the above picture is one pattern repeat, just to give you an idea). I probably could've done more, but the TV was taking a lot of my attention. The fact that I am able to work on it at all watching TV is due to the fact that I regraphed the pattern:

The arrows on the post-it note were key to stopping all of the tinking back; I kept reading the graph from right to left for every line. If you are at all familiar with graphs, you know that you read row 1 right to left then row2 left to right and so on. The post-it note itself is an indispensible tool for graphs. Without it, I have a hard time focusing my attention on the line I'm actually on. I thought I was really clever when I first discovered this, then I found out that this is a pretty universal method for reading graphs.

I continue to be pleased with the way the scarf is coming along. In the process, I have uncovered another one of the positive side effects of sock knitting. When I knit socks, I use fingering weight yarn and size 1 or size 2 needles and I have around 70 stitches per round per sock and I knit both socks at once. So, I'm used to rounds taking awhile. Not so with 40-stitch rows of worsted weight yarn. Those things just fly by! I feel like I'm zipping back and forth, especially the wrong side rows where there's no cabling. Plus the yarn itself is so soft and smooth. It feels great on my hands while I'm knitting.

One thing I had been worried about was whether I would have enough yarn (even though I had done the math and even bought one more ball than I thought needed), but I'm no longer worried about that. The scarf is seaman style, meaning it's just ribbing around the neck. Each of the sides is composed of 5 pattern repeats. I bought six balls I'm definitely going to get at least 2 repeats out of the first ball of yarn, so I'm pretty sure I will be fine.

In Other News, we found out we got the apartment we wanted! Yay!!! Now, we are trying to find a good moving company. If anyone else has moved across the country and has any words of wisdom please share them!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A day in the life of Elisabeth

ETA an important afternoon event that somehow slipped my mind!

7:45am: Wake, shower, pray that the janitor will deal with the bathtub drain sometime before we have have to stop taking showers and start taking baths instead, eat breakfast.

8:30am: Start bikeride to campus. Nearly run over the Rev. Al Sharpton as he comes out of the dry cleaners (yes, he lives somewhere near me, either that, or there is someone out there trying to be his clone).

8:40am: Get to lab. Read email. Start experiments. Read more email.

10:45am: Leave for psychiatrist appointment. Discuss pregnancy and psychiatric meds (for the future, guys, don't be getting your hopes up). Discuss finding world class psychiastrist specializing in the above in LA.

12:00pm: Get back to lab. Throw out experiment because cells aren't growing. Curse the nature of biology. Sit around wondering if I have time to get lunch before next doctor's appt. Look up doctors who specialize in depressed pregnant women because the wait lists for new patients are often quite long, so in order to see a doctor in April, I might have to make the appt. now. Look up Caltech health plan. Realize none of the doctors I found are on the plan.

1:00pm: Female doctor's appt. (I don't want to talk about it, but I left feeling like a dumbass.) Curse the nature of biology.

2:00pm: Continue to feel like a dumbass. Try to pee in a cup.

2:30pm: Finally pee in cup. Take back over to hospital. Everything normal. Feel that it was all worth it. *snort*

2:45pm: Wonder if I am ever going to get any work done today. Still feeling like a dumbass. Can't concentrate on labwork.

3:00pm: Sister calls. She's getting married! Next year in October. Wonder how it is I could be living in Chicago for the last 10 years (a mere 7 hour drive to my mother's) and then the moment I move to California, two of my three siblings set wedding dates that force me to fly back to Iowa only months apart (although in Meghan's defense, when I moved to Chicago, she was 10; oh, and the other brother has bought the ring, he's just waiting for the right moment--but shhhh....don't tell his girlfriend!).

3:45pm: Labwork. Right. Going to get around to that.

4:00pm: Set up some cultures and leave. Ride bike home without almost running over any celebrities.

4:10pm: Take nap.

7:30pm: Wake from nap. Go watch TV.

7:50pm: Go buy pint of Blue Bunny Cookies 'n Cream ice cream. Eat said pint for supper.

8:00pm: Watch Eureka. Think about how the characters are so unlike scientists and still so like scientists. Wish that I lived in a talking house with a really great bed.

9:00pm: Talk to John about health plans, specialists, and money. Argue merits of expensive health plan that will pay partial out of network charges vs nonexpensive health plan that won't pay out of network. Wonder how much it costs to see superspecialized doctor and how often I would have to see said doctor. Blow up at John when he suggests maybe we should wait longer before having a child.

Him: We don't want to go into debt to have a child!
Me: I'm 32, we can't wait much longer!
Him: I'm just saying maybe we should wait until I have a better paying job!
Me: My eggs are old! Every year we wait it'll be harder for me to conceive and more chance that there will be birth defects!
Him: It's just that maybe now is not the best time!
Me: There is never going to be a best time! As soon as I graduate we are going to have a baby and that's final!!!

9:30pm: Go into bedroom with laptop and continue mad hunt for psychiatrists who specialize in depression and pregnancy in the less expensive Caltech health plan.

10:00pm: Start losing hope I will find such person. Email current psychiatrist to ask about the necessity of having a superstar psychiatrist.* John comes in and appologizes for being crazy about money.

10:30pm: Read knitting blogs.

10:45pm: Apply antibiotic cream (please don't ask where). Tell John I hate being a woman.

11:00pm: Go to bed.

11:15pm: Resolve that if John piles the blankets on me one more time, I will go sleep in the living room.

11:30pm: Fall asleep.


*It's not, btw. The medications I'm on are so benign, it wouldn't cause a problem. I should just find someone I like that is covered by my insurance and keep in mind the names of the superstars in case something goes horribly awry.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mondays and Mutagenesis

Have you ever noticed that the more you have to do, the less inclined you feel towards doing it? While, in theory, I should be busily tinkering with experiments and writing in my lab notebooks (because, you know, I want to graduate soon), I have spent a huge portion of the day checking my email (despite the fact that I haven't had any new messages in the last couple of hours) and reading blogs. And then, when I ran out of blogs to read, I looked for more. Then, I went to get some tea from my new favorite beverage kiosk, Argo, in the Center for Advanced Medicine which is down the street. This despite the fact that I have a perfectly good cup of licorice mint tea on my desk already. And I bought a whoopie pie (frosting sandwiched between chocolate cakey cookies covered in chocolate) despite the fact that I had just eaten lunch and was not at all hungry.

This is the usual Monday routine. Absolutely nothing of importance gets done. Well, I did schedule a medical appointment.* But that's it. I feel (and I think I'm not alone on this) that Mondays really serve as a buffer between the weekend and the rest of the week. It's a day to ease back into the idea of working. Nothing too important should be done because it's bound to be screwed up in such a way that will take you the rest of the week to resolve.

In knitting news, I have done one pattern repeat on the DNA scarf. Which means I have enough to show you a picture in the near future. I have a small concern, however. The bottom seed stitch border does not lay flat. It bulges in the areas that have the beginnings of the helix cables. This is something that I dearly hope will come out in blocking. One approach to this little glitch would be to continue to pray it will come out right, knit the rest of the scarf, say a rosary, and block the hell out of it (in order to get the hell out of it, perhaps I should also wash it in holy water, too?). Another approach (and one that is slightly more sane, I think), is to block what I have and see if, indeed, the problem can be resolved by blocking because, while I have already spent some significant time on it, I have not yet devoted months of my life to it. Since, I am working hard on avoiding unnecessary denial, I think I will choose the latter option. I will try to remember to post before and after pictures for you guys.

Otherwise, I'm quite pleased how the scarf is coming out. The fabric has a nice drape (although that may be why I'm getting the irregularity at the bottom edge--perhaps the pattern needs a stiffer yarn), feels soft, and the cable is coming out well. However, I do make a lousy polymerase. I can't tell you how many times I had to rip out a couple of rows and reknit them. Even so, there is still a slight mutation at the very beginning. This does not bother me in the slightest, I am calling it allelic variation. (Sorry guys, the biologist in me can't resist). I do think one of the reasons I'm able to catch the mistakes relatively quickly is because I know what DNA should look like and if it doesn't look like that, I've done something wrong somewhere.

Today's biology lesson was provided by Elisabeth, a graduate student who is more interested in education than research, and Wikipedia.

*The appointment was about a "female issue," so I called student health and asked to have an appointment with my favorite nurse practitioner. "She's gone until Sept. 6," they say. I try to make an appointment with my second favorite nurse practitioner, "She's gone until Aug. 31," they say. At this point, I say (and I'm using my actual quote here), "Well, hell, just give me whoever's available that's a woman." The appointment specialist found this hysterical and kept giggling through the rest of the phone call. I'm glad I could brighten someone's day, even if it was at the expense of my own discomfort.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Enough with the bitching

It seems like everytime I post these days, it's to complain. So, here are 10 things I'm thankful for:

1. I will be finishing grad school sometime in the next school year.
2. I have a husband who loves me (and I love him).
3. I have the greatest kitty in the world.
4. I can knit and that helps soothe me.
5. The DNA scarf is going well so far.
6. I am moving to a sunny place and that will certainly help my seasonal affective disorder.
7. My bedroom is air-conditioned.
8. My boss is understanding and helpful.
9. I like most of the people I work with.
10. I am quasi-mentally stable (hey, that's more than I could say not that long ago).
11. My experiments are actually working fairly well. (Hey! One more thing that I was aiming for! Bonus!)

Yes, I have started my DNA scarf. I haven't gotten very far. Imagine 8 rows of seed stitch in camel colored wool and you pretty much have it. I started on the cable part and had to stop so that I could chart out the whole thing. The DNA cable is charted but I was having a hard time keeping track of the flanking mini-cable rows which were not charted. Overall, though, I'm liking it. The yarn is soft and a joy to work with. And it has fabulous stitch definition so the cable is going to look terrific.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Back in Chicago

And hating every minute of it.

Honestly, if I wasn't a few months away from finishing my PhD, I would've said screw it, let's just stay in Pasadena and send for our stuff.

We got in really late on Wed. and went straight to the hotel. We started the apt. hunting bright and early on Thurs. Half of the places we went to couldn't show us an apt. because the apt. was still occupied. The other half showed us an empty apt. identical to the one that we would be getting, but they couldn't show us the actual one we'd be getting because it was occupied. It seemed odd to us because we've moved a couple of times in Chicago and every time, the manager has showed our apt. to people while we were still living in it. The last apt. we saw on Thurs. was the one that we liked the best. They wouldn't let us take any pictures, but this website has pictures of the outside. We are going with a one bedroom, one bathroom that is more expensive than our current two bedroom, two bathroom with separate dining room and sun rooms.


Still, I'm excited about it because the apt. is nice with new appliances and a gas fireplace and a patio. And it's within blocks both of Caltech and a major shopping area, as well as only a few blocks away from this:

A lovely yarn store called Elegance. We stopped in and had a chat with the owner who was very friendly and told us all about the events in the area and about their Wed. night knitting group. She offered John a chair and even managed to include him in the conversation.

And then, of course, we're only a short drive from this:

But, really, I'm more excited about the shopping area. You'd have to be familiar with my current neighborhood to understand why. Hyde Park has almost nothing to do. There are a few restaurants (that is, there are an absurd number of Thai food places and a smattering of other things), but almost no shopping, there's no movie theater, there are no cafes, there's pretty much nothing. To get to anything of interest, you either have to drive and pay around $10 for parking (if you're lucky), or you have to take public transportation. It takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to get downtown and that's not even where the fun stuff is. If I wanted to do anything north of downtown and was going to take public transit, I'd leave a good hour or more for transit time. In Pasadena, everything is right near where we want to live. Parking is cheap ($5 or $6 maximum on the parking garages! in Chicago, it's $20 maximum). But, for a lot of things, we wouldn't even have to drive.

I've been in Chicago for 10 years now, and I'm sick to death of it. In fact, I hate it. I might not feel that strongly about it if I could live in another neighborhood, but with grad school being in Hyde Park, I have to live here. Prior to grad school, I worked at the University, so I had to live here.

I'm from Iowa. I'm used to having nothing to do (though, it was easier and cheaper to go to the movies at least). But having nothing to do is not the only problem. The buses are loud and they go right outside our windows. Our window sills are covered in more grime that I ever saw on any window in Iowa even if the sill had not been cleaned in 10 years. And this is only a few months worth. I can't keep up with it. It seems fruitless anyway. And the crime. My roommate and his boyfriend were mugged at gunpoint a few weeks ago. I would say half the people I know have been a victim of a crime. Being held up at gunpoint is not uncommon. And just last week at 6am, two women were accosted and "fondled" by a man not two blocks from my workplace.

In short, Hyde Park has all of the disadvantages of living in the city and none of the advantages. I cannot wait to get out of this hellhole.

But, to continue on with the Pasadena trip, on Friday, having found a place we liked, we wandered around a bit during the day going to a children's museum and the yarn store, and had a nice dinner. Sat., we left and got back ridiculously late in Chicago due to airline issues.

We have submitted our application so the management company can see how much we owe in student loans and check to see if we're serial killers or anything like that. I don't anticipate having any problems (juvenile records are sealed, right? j/k), but I'm still nervous. We should know by the end of the week and then I will feel better.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An embarassing moment leads to S.E.X.

Monday evening is supposed to be Stitch 'n Bitch night. However, last week, the Yarn Harlot was in town (more on that in another post), and this week, Arcadia Knitting was having a Meet the Bloggers party. How could I resist this opportunity to meet Franklin?

Boy am I glad I went because in addition to meeting the delightful and charming Mr. Habit, I came home with this:

I won this set of goodies by being brave enough to tell a room full of knitters my most embarassing email story. I got a signed original Franklin Habit drawing:

Knit Two Together

Which would've been more than enough, but I also got: a signed copy of The Happy Hooker, a sparkly addi crochet hook, two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, and a gift certificate for the store.

What? You want to hear the embarassing email story? Well, alright. Never say I don't love my readers.

I was a sophomore at Boston U and I was emailing a friend in Iowa who had recently started a relationship and had commented that he found the array of condom choices bewildering. So, I very helpfully wrote him a review of the condoms I had some, ahem, experience with, full of reasons why I liked or disliked them. Then, I sent it to the university bulletin board instead of to him. At the time, the bulletin board was being used as a sort of chatty newsgroup for a large number of people at the university, including the vast majority of my friends.

The shop owners picked their top three choices and then read them to the crowd. The one with the most applause won. And, well, it's hard to compete with sending your condom preferences to the entire university. Who knew that one day that moment of horror would lead to a Stash Enhancing eXperience? When I got home and told my husband I had won all of the above with an embarassing email story he said, "The condom post?" (Interesting aside: we weren't dating when I wrote that email).

Everyone who attended got a goodie bag:

I got some Fiesta ribbon yarn, a sock pattern, several yarn samples, a list of classes, and an invite to their first yarn swap. Everyone pretty much got the same thing although which yarn and which pattern you got varied.

I also bought these (not with my gift certificate, I'm saving that for buying a decadent yarn for something for myself):

When these guys grow up, they will be a DNA scarf for my advisor which I plan to give him after I pass my thesis defense. I'm going to try to make scarves for the rest of my thesis committee members, too, but we'll see if I actually am able to get four scarves done in between now and then (whenever "then" is--hopefully sometime this winter).

Well, today I'm off to California to look for an apartment. Wish me luck!