Oh man I've been neglecting this site. Here's what's been happening:

I met with a biology professor to talk about becoming a research assistant and someday a grad student. He can set me up with lots of work, from cataloging a department library to dissecting pocket gophers to identifying the invertebrates that live inside the pocket gophers. Lots of work to do, as long as I don't need paying. Also he warned me that funding is getting tighter, that people are getting into the biology doctoral program at Local Land-grant U and discovering that there aren't enough TA positions and research assistantships to go around. I quietly began to freak out. I'll get back to you, I said, and shook his hand.

I went home and read up on basic science grants. Bush's proposed budget would freeze the NSF and NIH. Less money every year. Maybe I can't be a researcher when I grow up.

Then I had the run-up to my thirtieth birthday, which freaked me out in its own distinct way.

Then my volatile work situation moved into a not-just-intense-but-actually-hostile phase.

It was about then that I noticed I was a wee bit suicidally depressed around the edges. Just in time for spring break, which I spent under the covers except for 40 hours of zombie-like cash register work.

The week after that, I had to transition back into school, and attend 35 hours of database training. My boss jumped down my throat when I asked a question she thought was subordinate. When she paused to catch her breath, a database classmate offered me a job at his store in California. That raised my morale nicely! I'm not going to California, but I thanked him for the gesture.

Things started to get better. I got flattering attention from a guy (and he doesn't have a stupid name, Em!). The geeky college boys next door let me join in their trebuchet festivities over the weekend. I went swimming for the first time in months, mmmm.

Then I got a call. "We know you got a letter that thanked you for your application, and said we filled the position. However, things didn't work out, and we would like to interview you. Are you still interested in the position? Can you come in tomorrow morning?" Two days later, I was offered the job. Can you see me grinning? I gave notice yesterday.
"Drop of the key, Lee, and get yourself free."

I haven't forgotten about school. I'm going to keep aiming at doctoral admission, but I'm going to take my time and avoid as much student debt as I can along the way. The new job is more flexible, and I plan to take one or two classes next semester. And hey, if the message keeps coming across that the world has enough research scientists already, it won't be the end of the world. In two weeks I'll be working for a company with a much lower coefficient of insanity, which won't eat my soul for breakfast, and I could probably stay there until I'm eighty if I choose.


How not to continue a letter

I've been emailing a new prospective sweetie this week (Em, he passes the no-stupid-name requirement!). He asked me about music, and this is what tumbled out through my fingers:
I'm excited that you mentioned Cream. I'm always amazed at how many people have never heard of them, for whom Eric Clapton's career began with his accoustic sets in the nineties. Blind Faith is almost the same lineup as Cream but with a completely different kind of vocals. They're one of my favorites - good sunny day driving music. I have a soft spot for the music my played when I was growing up, stuff like early Beatles, late sixties rock, a bit of CSNY-era country rock, and the fabulous New Wave of pop/art music that was peaking when I was in first grade. (Look! I made a list again.) I tend to keep a record player around somewhere because every so often I want to break out the family-childhood-remembered-well-loved records and, for example, hear the *pop* in the third line of Neil Young's "Comes A Time." Why do I like those albums, beyond sentimental value? My taste is all over the place, from one-in-six-billion performers (Clapton, say) to music that sounds homemade (Neil Young again). I sing a little, and I like songs that weave through complex harmonies. I like music I can dance to. I like lyrics that are literate, and express nice chewy ideas. (Look! More list. Be careful what you wish for. . .)

As a kid I was up on current music, but that got a lot harder sometime in my late teens when Rolling Stone magazine suddenly became insipid (did I change, or did the magazine?) To be honest, if I'm ready to listen to something new, I'm much more likely to go back and immerse myself in some masterwork of music (Coltrane or the Ramones) than to spend time developing a taste for the New Hot Thing. That's a big part of what Rolling Stone used to do and doesn't anymore: make me think about music over a fifty-year continuum.
First of all, I didn't send the poor guy this big ol monologue - I'm having a nice conversation with him and don't want to bore him until he goes away.

Second, you guys who know me might notice that the closest I get to classical music is Coltrane. *Shrug* I did mention I was flirting with someone I barely know.

Third, this is what I put in my email message:

I just accidentally wrote a big ol' hulking monologue about music. It starts out: "I'm excited that you mentioned Cream." It goes on and on and on. I'll send it if you give me explicit permission to talk your ear off, otherwise I'll try to observe the conventions of small-talk (eg, no monologuing).
Haven't heard back yet.


Sex: Evil or just merely wicked?

Sex: Evil or just merely wicked? at Pandagon:

The prescribed life cycle of the human female from the anti-choice right wing
would go something like this:

  • Abstain until marriage
  • Start having children straightaway when you marry
  • If you have a job, quit it to raise your children like a good mommy
  • When you've had as many children as you can handle, tell your husband that you won't be having sex with him anymore.
  • Nothing will happen to you when you do this. We swear. Certainly nothing like finding yourself trying to get a job for the first time in 20 years while your ex-husband tells his new girlfriend that you wouldn't even have sex with him anymore.
Wow, now that's a summary.


Effect Measure: All's well at Homeland Security

If you can take a little more rage today, just go read this.

Via Aetiology/

What I really miss most about Oregon:

Trader Joes.

I heart Trader Joes. I've been worried that I'd never get to shop there again, or that the chain would get out to this part of the world but transform into every-other-damned-supermarket along the way. The cool thing is, it sounds like they keep opening more stores and keep being Trader Joes. Today's online NYT filled me in on the chain's history:
The Polynesian-themed chain was established by Joe Coulombe in Pasadena, Calif., in the 1960's, in an attempt to rescue his convenience stores after 7-Eleven came to town. 'We decided to go in the other direction � to appeal to people who are well-educated, well-traveled and underpaid,' Mr. Coulombe said.

Well-educated, well-travelled and underpaid. No wonder I like them!


How not to open a letter

I just deleted the following from an email, still in progress, to my old friend A__ who I've been in touch with a little this winter (Thanks, Shameless!).
Can I just contact you sporadically and jump into conversation without much in the way of preliminaries? It's hard to construct niceties when I am trying not to feel or act or be over-eager or smarmy or allow the thought to enter your mind that I might ever be an almost-crazy-almost-stalker-girl again. *shudder*. So, without any real segue, here's what I'm writing about today:
Ah, it's good to be old enough to not actually say things like that. Now if I could only learn not to think things like that. It is a fine line between being personable and sounding like Eddie Haskell when I'm feeling nervous/tired/out-classed/out of my element.


Study Proves Universe Created By Committee - Science - Avant News

Avant News:
[New analysis] proves the universe was created not by a single entity, as has been widely suggested, but by a "fractious and disorganized committee or committees given to groupthink and petty infighting"

via Pharyngula.


Pharyngula on the Dems

PZ Myers
is on form today. Paraphrasing Amy Sullivan:
"Screw liberal and progressive values-all that matters is winning."


If ala carte cable is the death of CBN,

good riddance.

Religious broadcasters fear lost viewership under pay-by-channel idea:

Pay-per-channel pricing would have a devastating effect on the inspirational programming we currently provide and decimate both the audience and financial support for religious broadcasting, according to the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition.

via AA


Man, shut up.

Respectful Insolence: "Mercury and autism: RFK Jr. drops another stinky one on the blogosphere"

Soooo frustrating. Shall we review? a) There's no evidence of a thimerisol-autism connection. b) There's no conspiracy of silence.


Show me the way to the next whiskey bar

Billmon paraphrases Whittington:
I clearly obstructed a very good shot by the vice president, one which might easily have bagged several pen-raised quail if my upper torso and head hadn't absorbed most of the blast,' Whittington explained. 'I only hope he can find it in his heart to forgive me for not getting out of the way faster when he whirled and fired without warning.

If there was an award for best tagline

This site would get my vote. "Basic human decency shouldn't have to be an act of rebellion."

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