Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Going to be a Good Day

I had a good night's sleep. While I didn't mean to wake up at 4am, that worked out ok too.  I caught up on some e-mail, then got laundry started, paid my bills and even managed to work out.  Now I'm mending socks, figuring out what to do with the job offer I got this week and writing up my grocery list. I ought to just about have everything I need to get done finished by 10am.Then I can spend the rest of the day reading and knitting and relaxing.


Last weekend, the Blue Mountain Wildlife Center had a display in town. They brought several of their birds, including a kestrel, two owls, two falcons and a golden eagle.
























Boy and I hung out in the city park for a while afterward and admired the spring flowers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Range Day

Spent the day out at the shooting range. Alas, I had range officer duty so didn't actually do any shooting myself.

I did, however, get a chance to admire a fellow RO's spiffy .50 cal rifle.  The trigger pull on it is lighter than the average light switch, which I hadn't expected.

There's a .50 cal fun shoot this weekend at the 1000 yard range. I may have to head out there to watch the fun.

Gym Day
I did a preliminary upper body workout the other night at home.  I am pleased to report that I have had zero elbow pain since.  Looks like I can get back into the gym rat routine again.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I am at least partly motivated by having sat through a software demonstration at work which was run by a guy who clearly hits the gym regularly.  He can't have had much over 10% body fat and very nicely developed shoulders, judging by the lumps underneath his polo shirt.  Yes, it's true. Seeing someone else in great shape makes me want to go to the gym and work out hard.

Now to get back into the routine of hopping out of bed at 0430 and spending an hour or hour and a half at the gym at 5am.... That might take a bit of practice and will definitely take a lot more discipline about my bedtime and how much caffeine I drink in a day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Warm starchy goodness

There's nothing like freshly baked yeast bread to cheer up a person.  I was a bit out of sort this evening, so I made a batch of pretzel bites.  They're not terribly exciting before they're baked.

But, when baked, they turn a lovely dark brown as a result of a quick dip in some boiling water with baking soda.
And after having half a dozen bites, I've got a happy tummy and a more cheerful outlook.  The whole process from start to finish took 90 minutes.

Speaking of cheerful, I bought myself a lovely bouquet of tulips this past weekend.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Spring is here!

Well, at least I think it is and here's why:

  • I have driven with the sunroof open on my car without having to run the heat to keep from freezing.
  • It has been warm and sunny enough lately that I took my plants outside for some fresh air. (I did have to move them back inside a few days later for a frost warning, but that's not the point.)
  • The trees in the neighborhood are blooming.
  • People are out and about more--walking their kids, walking their dogs, walking themselves, riding bicycles.
  • It feels good to open the windows in the apartment, let the breeze in and blow out all the stale air from the winter. It's also time for the annual thorough cleaning of where I live.

So I picked up a cheery bunch of flowers this morning when I did my shopping.  I'll do some spring cleaning in a little bit, then wind up with day with some relaxing knitting.


Speaking of plants....my aloe has thrived in the past year.  It used to be fairly spindly.  Now it has to be positioned just right or it tries to tip over.  The leaflets are enormous, both in diameter and length.  I'll have to figure out repotting it soon.  I should also repot the hen and chicks.  There are lots of spindly little chicks.





Hot Delivery




This is a periodic sight along one of the highways near town.  I can't decide if I like that the deliveries are low key or if I think they need to be labelled a bit more prominently.  These are radioactive waste casks headed to the long-term storage site north of town.  I think I see one about every other month or so on my way to or from work.  I don't know how often they actually arrive.

Pics from DC
On my last trip, we drove past Arlington National Cemetery.
We also had a delightful, delicious dinner at L'Auberge Chez Francois.  It is rather pricy, but I highly recommend it.  The roasted vegetable entree was a big assortment of various veggies, with a simple sauce served on the side. The raspberry souffle is incredibly light and flavorful, even before the raspberry sauce was poured into it. I would definitely get it again if I ever get back there.  There was creme brulee on the menu as well, which a colleague said was also delicious.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Life is just a Roller Coaster

All sorts of craziness has happened in the past month or so, from personality/working style conflicts at work and a threat of layoffs to a 36 hour trip to DC and renting my house and getting asked if I want to work in DC for the next year or two and buying an iPhone.

What I really want is to spend a week sitting somewhere quiet just relaxing while someone else completely cleans and declutters my apartment. (For some reason it seems to only get messier when I leave it unsupervised.)

Yikes. I'm flattered to be asked if I'm interested in the temp duty assignment. I have lots of questions though, mostly about logistics and finances. Of course, I just renewed my apartment lease. Given that this is temp duty, I don't think they'll actually pay to move me all the back across the country. Not sure if I could wiggle a housing allowance. Heck, I'm not even entirely sure what the job entails, just which program it's with. My current boss knows the program manager pretty well and thinks it would be good for me. Not sure what doors this would open or close for me. It would mean skipping the Republic of Georgia project though and I don't know if I'd be able to remain involved in any of the other biological weapons convention-related projects. On the other hand, it would gain me a different set of contacts in my network and could lead to other things entirely.

And DC could definitely be fun. I certainly wouldn't lack for things to do/see/hear. Just the museums in DC proper should keep me busy for half a year of weekends.

Of course, it would also put me that much closer to the Congress critters who haven't yet bothered to pass a budget and who are, as a result, holding up my work and the work of many others. We've been assured that we'll still get paid if the government shuts down, at least for a while.  I already have a week of work to make up thanks to the continuing resolution screwing up my time sheet. Going without a paycheck is a lot less tolerable than giving up nights and weekends.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Neato Science: The Belly Button Biodiversity Project

I stumbled across this project earlier today. Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a home schooling module to go along with this? Kids could play along at home!!

Ever wondered what microorganisms live on you?

You are alive, but just how alive? We know that species live under our beds or in our backyards. But how many living organisms are on a square centimeter of your skin? What do they do, and how they differ from those of your neighbor? Very little is known about the life that breathes all over us. Each person’s microbial jungle is so rich, colorful, and dynamic that in all likelihood your body hosts species that no scientist has ever studied. Your navel may well be one of the last biological frontiers. It is time then, to explore.

Sampling the nation for Belly Button Bacteria

We are a group of biologists and science communicators from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and we want to know what lives on us. But this project is as much about teaching as it is about learning. We imagine germs as bad, and yet most are not. Most are either good or simply present, whether in between your toes or up your nose. The diversity on our bodies is, like any biological diversity, fascinating and full of awe and we want to share the joy of discovering it, one body part at a time. You give us a sample, we will grow and identify the bacteria, and you get the results. Meet your personal ecosystem, in color! With time we will not only grow the microbes off of your parts, we will sequence them, to know the easy to cultivate species but also all the rest. The life on us knows no celebrity, or rather it knows them as well as it knows the rest of us. Lady Gaga may live the wild life, but she also hosts it.

For more info: The Belly Button Diversity Project