Saturday, May 19, 2007

Slight upswing

More good news. One of my lab projects (another "winding up a ball of yarn" project) is starting to work out better. Unfortunately, the problem was I was a dumbass and was doing something wrong and I had what I needed all along, but was doing the wrong tests so I thought it was bad. Oh well. It's all straightened out now so now I can move it forward! Hooray! Also, somebody else in my lab was having a problem and I gave her some advice and it fixed the problem so that felt pretty good. See, I really am smart, it's just that my own projects hate me.

In knitting news, I worked a few rounds on the pink tank top last night while watching What Not To Wear and Numbers. Do any of you watch Numbers? They film it on CalTech campus sometimes, so John sees the film crews. Anyway, I was totally not ready for that ending! I can't believe it--he seemed like such a nice guy!

What Not To Wear always makes me want to throw all of my clothes in the trash, take out a personal loan, hire a fashion expert, and go shopping. It also makes me long for the perfect "structured jacket" that will solve all of my body torso issues (unfortunately, it's not going to fix the fact that my butt and thighs are apparently way too large in proportion to my waist such that pants that fit my waist don't fit my butt and vice versa). I'm afraid to let Stacey and Clinton at my wardrobe, though, because if they threw out my handknit shawls and my handknit bolero, I'd have to walk out and give them back their $5,000 gift card. Last night, this woman had all of these sweaters and they were throwing them out. They weren't handknit, but still. Also, Stacey pointed to a cabled sweater and said something about crochet which made me cringe. If you're going to insult the craft, pick the right one!

In other news, I'm going downtown today to pick up some yarn I ordered from my LYS. It's Wick in the blue green colorway and I'm going to make some socks for John from it. It's made from soy and polypropylene (which is weird because we have tubes made from polypropylene in lab) and is supposed to "wick moisture" away from you. It's a really nice yarn. Last Friday my LYS had a "yarn tasting" where we got to knit up samples of various summer yarns and this was one of them and I loved it. I haven't made socks for John yet, so I really should since I seem to make them for everyone else.

Speaking of socks, I am trying to figure out what kind of socks to make for my sock pal for Sockapalooza 4. She indicated no preference for color or kind of yarn. She lives in the Midwest, so wool would be okay for winter, but she's going to be getting them in August and that is definitely not the time to be wearing wool socks. And I still don't know what pattern to make, either. I've checked out her blog and her finished projects, but she doesn't keep most of the things she makes for herself, so I'm not sure what her personal style is. I'm kind of hoping I will wander around the LYS and something will just jump out at me. Maybe a nice lacy pattern--I haven't made lacy socks and that might be fun. Hmmm.....

Friday, May 18, 2007

Laughter tinged with hysteria

There's a lot of that going on at my lab bench these days. Every day seems to end with me sitting at my desk with my head in my hands and saying, "I don't get it." And everytime I get a result I just laugh--laugh and laugh and laugh--because they are so absurd I can't do anything but laugh. I really don't understand how it could all go so horribly horribly wrong.

The good news is that this isn't a really experiment, this is just ingredient preparation. It is the equivalent of winding a ball of yarn before you start knitting. The knitting is the experiment, the ball winding is what I'm doing now. Except, instead of a lovely, center-pull ball, I have a horrible knot. A knot that is so big and hairy and loopy and heinous that I may have to just cut the yarn and start over.

Most of what I do in lab is the equivalent of winding balls of yarn. In fact 90% of my time is winding the yarn and 10% is the knitting. I am very very sick of winding yarn. I just want to knit so I can wear my sweater.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm all about the analogies.

Anyway, keeping with the "lab is like knitting" analogy, I am basically putting this yarn aside and winding a different ball of yarn for this project. It will work almost as well, and I can't stand the sight of the previous one. The previous one is so bad, I'm considering doing the equivalent of getting new roving and spinning the yarn again. I'm going to need it for something else later, so I probably shouldn't put it off for much longer.


On to real knitting! I was having some difficulty knitting my new tank top (the pattern is from Artyarns--you can see a picture of it here; the yarn is bamboo from Southwest Trading Company and you can see a picture of it here). The bottom part is lace and I was consistently screwing it up--on the first row! Finally, last night, I got the first row (round, really, because it's knit in the round) set up properly and I am on my way! Yay! Something's working!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shawl photos

So, um, I forgot to post those pictures of me wearing my April Wedding Shawl for the Cabin Cove Along.

I want to take some nice pictures of the shawl by itself to send to Dave for his gallery, but alas, I have been putting it off. I'd like to take them outside, but that means I'm going to have to wait for nature to cooperate. Maybe this weekend.

As for the rest of my Cabin Cove stash, I'm feeling a little apathetic about the projects I have started or planned for it. I was making a pair of socks for my Roommie as a gift, but they are wool socks and he is going to be moving to South Carolina and I'm wondering how much he's really going to need wool socks. So, I need to to think about that a little bit. That and the fact that I'm worried I may run out of yarn for his humongous feet, and I'm thinking maybe I should think about making those socks for my husband who doesn't have sasquatch feet and find a nice bamboo/wool blend or cotton/wool blend, or soy/wool blend for Roommie.*

I still want to make a shawl with the grey laceweight, but it's been pretty warm in Chicago lately and I have this burning desire to make a tank top.

So, with one thing and another, I've been neglecting the Cabin Cove. But, I'm not worried about it. I'm certain that I will soon hear the siren call of the Victorian Lace Today and want to knit up that shawl and everytime I see the started socks, I feel their pain--the pain of neglect--so it's only a matter of time before I pick them up again.


Lab is still lab but fortunately not as crazy as it was yesterday, so maybe the Laws of the Universe are settling down and taking a break from trying to screw me over. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

*Yes, I know, my husband lives in Southern California, shouldn't that be worse for wool socks? But you forget that he goes to the telescope on the top of the mountain in Hawaii and it's very cold there (winter coat cold) and so for one week out of every six, he'll be needing warm socks, at least for the forseeable future.

They're coming to take me away-ha-ha!

They're coming to take me away-ho-ho!

He-he Ha-Ha He-He Ho-ho--to the funny farm!

Where life is hysterical all day long!

Yesterday, I had one of those days. Those days where, in everything you planned to do something is so seriously screwed up that you realize that astrology cannot possibly work because if it did, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn would have to be aligned and Jupiter had reached critical mass and became a star a la 2001 in order for so many things to have gone wrong at once. It's nothing tragic, nothing really all that horrible, just little bits of my labwork failing in the most absurd and completely unforseen ways. Ways in which you think, Yes, there is a God and he really doesn't want me to study transitional ER sites in Pichia pastoris. To use a knitting analogy, let's say you are working on a plain stockinette sweater in a lovely cream alpaca and you've been knitting on it for awhile and everything is fine and then one day, you pull it out of your bag and there's a bizzaro cable in red acrylic about halfway down the sweater and you think, how the hell did that happen? Was I smoking crack last night when I was working on this? There's not even any red acrylic in my stash! And I don't know how to do cables. And there's no way to fix it but to rip it all out and remove the offending red cabled portion and go back to knitting your lovely cream alpaca sweater. And you become convinced that there are little gnomes who come out at night and mess with your stuff. Or wonder if you can get an exorcism done.*

I am becoming more and more convinced that there are indeed gnomes who live in the walls of our lab who come out in the wee small hours of the morning (the only time when there is nobody in the lab, you'd be surprised at how late people are here at night) and spit into my reagents and mess around with my experiments and change the labels on my tubes. I'm not sure how to counter this considering I already have an evil eye hanging over my desk (a friend brought it back from Turkey for me; my desk is attached to my bench) and an Infant Jesus of Prague mini statue on my bench (one day, it showed up in the mail [at home, not in the lab] with a request for money; I get a lot of Catholic junk mail, especially since I do make contributions to a convent in Indiana)**. Perhaps I should purchase some good old fashioned gargoyles.... Suggestions, anyone?

*We have a post-doc from Greece and apparently it is relatively common to get a priest to come and bless your home or whatever, especially if you have a run of bad luck. I suspect though, that if I went to the campus priest and asked him to do an exorcism of our lab, he would be very amused. And then say no. Maybe I could just steal some holy water, put it in a spray bottle, then spray down my bench....

**Molecular biologists are very superstitious--you wouldn't believe how many good luck charms there are in our lab. We have this little finger puppet called the PCR monster that sits on our PCR machine when we are having a problem with the PCR reaction working. You cannot actually use the PCR monster the first time you do a reaction because that is abusing the PCR monster. The PCR monster can only be used when you have already tried the experiment and it failed and you are trying it again. Someone else in the lab has a buffalo figurine/toy called Al that she uses for all sorts of things. Somedays you come in an Al is sitting on top of an incubator or in her ice bucket or on top of the PCR machine. Al is a very well-traveled buffalo. I wonder if I should get a buffalo for my bench. Do you think the gnomes would be scared away by a buffalo?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us!

By the numbers:

Years we have known each other: 13.5
Years we have been together: 12.5
Years we have lived together: 7
Years we have been married: 7
Years we have lived together while married: 3

We need to work on that last number a little bit....

Some interesing tidbits about my wedding day:

*There are several pieces of advice I give to people who are planning their weddings. One is: don't do your own hair. I had practiced doing my hair and it had always turned out fine, but the day of the wedding, it was just not behaving. I had bought this beautiful hair comb and made a veil that attached to it that could be removed. I had planned on removing the veil for the reception, but my hair was such a disaster, I left it on. To let you know how frustrated I was, I actually looked at my very good friend from college and said to her, in all earnestness, "Okay, here's what we'll do. You're going to cut my hair...."

*John and I have similarly sized hands and therefore, similar ring sizes. At the ceremony, the best man (John's brother) put the rings on a glass plate for the priest to bless. The priest then picked up a ring and gave it to John to put on my finger. Which he did, but it felt slightly loose. I didn't think much of it until the priest handed me the second ring and I tried to put it on John's finger. It wouldn't go past his second knuckle. At that point I realized that the priest had given us each other's rings! However, as soon as the priest saw my confusion he made a gesture that amounted to, "just go with it," which we did. Immediately following that was the candle lighting. After lighting the candle, we stood behind the altar and waited for the song to be over while contemplating our lit candle. The timing was perfect. I nudged John, and whispered, "give me your ring." That's when we exchanged rings. Literally.

*I had my bridal shower two days before the wedding because that was the only time I could have my family and John's family at a shower. We decided that we should send the men off to dinner for John's "bachelor's party." The men included all of my male relatives and all of John's male relatives. I wasn't worried about it getting out of hand. Besides, that night several people were flying in, so they decided to have this dinner at O'Hare (the airport). They asked the people at the airport where they might have such a dinner, and they suggested a steak place in one of the hotels. They showed up at this "steak place" which has a rather innocuous name like "Fireside Grill" or something, to find that the waitresses were dressed in high heels and teddies. To this day, I am amused at the thought of my poor, straightlaced husband at such a place with his (even straighterlaced) father (the man once left the room during an episode of Rosanne because they were talking about breast reduction surgery), my stepfather, and my two brothers, among others.

*My brother was one of the people flying in two days before the wedding. He was flying back from a semester abroad in The Netherlands. In fact, this was one of the reasons we chose this weekend for our wedding, because he would be back in the country. He ran into some delay in New Jersey and so called me to let me know so I could tell the people picking him up at the airport. He had this advice to give at that moment, "Never drink so much that you can't remember how you got home the night before a transatlantic flight." Imagine, if you will, him arriving at O'Hare, seriously hungover, tired, confused, and then led to a "steak place" in the airport where there were scantily-clad women to have dinner with a bunch of people, of whom he knew less than half. Apparently, "surreal," didn't do it justice.

*The photography company was a pain in the butt to deal with, but the photographer they sent was fun and took wonderful pictures. John's brother and my aunt spent the evening trying to decide which one of them he was hitting on. I'm not sure they ever came to a conclusion about it.

*My reception was in dowtown Chicago and one block away from the Hard Rock Cafe. At some point during the evening, I was looking for my brother for a picture and was told, "he's at the Hard Rock Cafe." Apparently, John's cousin had a burning desire to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and he convinced my uncle and my brother to go with him. He also tried to buy them a drink there, but my uncle convinced him that was crazy seeing as there was an open bar at the reception. The next morning we had an informal brunch at our apt. John's cousin wore his brand new Hard Rock Cafe Chicago t-shirt.

*The petticoat I wore under my dress has since been worn by two other brides. It is so full and stiff that it can stand up on its own!

*The other piece of advice I have given to people is the following: "Remember, the purpose of the wedding is to get married. If, at the end of the day, you are married then it was a complete success." This is how I approached my wedding and I gotta tell you, it was very liberating. It allowed me to let go of all of the silly little fears about things being perfect and just enjoy the day. Once John, the priest, and I (and the marriage license) were all at the church, everything was going to be fine. All we needed were those three people and that document.

Even now, years later, there is very little I would change about that day.

Well, I would've hired a hairdresser!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I lied

I forgot to get a picture of myself wearing the shawl. But, I'm going out for my 7th wedding anniversary tomorrow, so I'll have another opportunity for a picture. In the meantime, you'll have to be satisfied with this one:

Ghiradelli helped with the blocking process. It's entirely possible that bit of the shawl wouldn't have laid flat if he hadn't laid down on it. The diamond you see there is actually the sunlight shining through the window.

It does look like I pinned it unevenly but in fact, I measured across it as I was pinning it to make sure that the width was even.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


In trying to post anonymously on my sockpal's blog, I created a new gmail account. Little did I know that it would link it to my current blog and email address. So I have been back-tracking, trying to fix it just in case. I erased the new email account but it still shows up in the google profile. So, I've blocked my profile and so on for blogger just in case. So much for trying to be sneaky! I didn't think I was logged in, but some cookie must've told Google who I was. It's hard to be anonymous these days! Hopefully, my sockpal won't investigate too closely..... I would hate to ruin the surprise.

And a good time was had by all

The wedding was wonderful. The weather was beautiful and actually a little too warm for my shawl but I wore it anyway because that's the way I roll. (I'm still needing to buy something in order to get pictures off my camera by the way. I promise to post pictures as soon as I can.) The groom was a member of my entering class in grad school and we joined the same lab. So, I know a bit of what he went through in his quest to find the right mate. He was a big fan of internet match sites for Jewish singles (it was very important to him that he find someone who was Jewish; as an aside, about half of the people in my lab are Jewish, one person is Hindu, and the rest [except for me and a new post-doc who is Greek Orthodox] are agnostic or atheist, this is very different from where I grew up where religious diversity meant being either Methodist or Lutheran) and went on a lot of dates (several years worth) before meeting his wife. It was a rough road for him, but he persevered (spelling?) and you could tell by the look on his face it was all worth it.

People generally are happy at their own weddings, of course. But sometimes it feels like they are no happier than their usual relatively happy state. And then there are some people where the happiness they are feeling is palpable. This guy fairly radiated joy and it really was wonderful to see. And even though I was missing my husband (who couldn't come with me) and I was tired and fretting about my lab work, the joy of the happy couple was coming off in such huge waves that I couldn't help surfing along on it.

The wedding itself was at a country club and was a fairly traditional Jewish ceremony. The wedding program had lots of information about the various rituals for us Gentiles and included the story of the first recorded Jewish wedding in that county of Ohio which was officiated by the man who started the Reform Judiasm movement. The huppah was a log frame made by the bride's father covered with a quilt top made by the bride which will eventually become a quilt for their bed. The ceremony included the stomping on a wine glass which was in a little pouch also made by the bride. The bridesmaids were all in dresses in the same spring green color and fabric, but of different styles. I never would have thought of that yellowy green color for bridesmaids but it was beautiful and flattering. The flowers were yellow and white. Between the green dresses and the yellow and white flowers and the log frame on the huppah, it felt like we were in a spring meadow.

After the ceremony, there was a wonderful reception full of Israeli dancing led by a member of the band. I'm not sure I've ever seen people have so much fun dancing. There was also the traditional "chair dancing" in which the bride and the groom sat precariously in chairs that were raised high above the crowd while people circled around them. As a sign that it was a fabulous party, nobody wanted to leave and the reception hall people had to kick us out. Following the reception, members of the "younger" crowd (including myself) congregated by the nearby river at an old railroad trestle bridge to have criminally strong mixed drinks made out of illegally obtained vodka and whisky (some of the bride's cousins bought it from the hotel management; the illegal part comes from it being a Sunday night when no liquor is to be sold) mixed with scanty amounts of Sierra Mist or Pepsi (why yes, I did have a tiny headache the next morning). It was very surreal--like I had suddenly been transported back in time to high school, except that I was never invited to do such a thing in high school (and may not have went even if I had been invited). All we needed was for someone to suggest we toilet paper some trees and I would've been convinced that the last 15 years had never happened.

Sadly, nobody commented on my shawl except for my roommate who knew that I had made it. Oh well. You can't have everything. Besides, it was perfect for me and this occasion and that's all that really mattered, right?