Hi, I’m back for a moment to say I’ve moved elsewhere! I’m at snoozical.wordpress.com, so I can be all matchy  matchy with my twitters and my email address.  Come say hi!


Caffeine Fallout

So, like I said, yesterday – way too much coffee.  I normally drink diet coke, maybe even a few cans a day, but I only drink coffee occasionally.  Coffee has about ten times as much caffeine as soda, and I tend to drink it like it’s a chore (get it over with!) rather than savoring the taste.  Point being – I get totally jazzed up, and then it’s like I’m on speed for a while.  Sometimes days.  This is one of those times.  I have been going a mile a minute since yesterday at 6:30 am.  Just constantly moving, fidgeting, mentally running through lists and lists.  I’ve been super productive, and sometimes I think about doing this on purpose semi-regularly, to take advantage – except that it makes me feel shaky, and it makes my anxiety shoot through the roof.  So, that’s a no go.  Instead I just do it every time I forget how crappy I feel.  MENTAL NOTE, IDIOT!

Anyhow, I still feel spastic today, but totally killed it at work.  I got so much done.  And now?  Now we are going to the county fair!  To watch a goat milking competition.  No shit.  So, obviously, that means I will have things to put on the ol’ blog later.  But for now, a story from yesterday….


Right so when I got my coffee yesterday, a hilarious thing happened.  This dude had been tailgating me for maybe 5 or 10 miles of my commute.  This is a small town, and the traffic is generally all headed to the same place – the lab – so tailgating seems pretty dumb, to me.  I mean, traffic moves god-awful slow, but come on…  not smart.  So he’s tailgating me, even though I’m going 5 over as much as traffic permits.  Then I get to the coffee joint and start to move into the turn lane (using my signal, of course!).  He WHIPS around me, accelerates into the turn lane and speeds into the parking lot.  I mosey in (elevated heart rate and all), and walk casually in the door after him.  He looks all agitated, so of course (OF COURSE) I say something.  “Sucks when the person you’ve been pointlessly tailgating for 10 minutes is going the same place as you, huh?”

He responds with “Learn how to drive, bitch!”, at which I laugh.

So then we proceed to hang out next to each other in line for 10 minutes (rush hour at a coffee joint!).  Here’s the rest of our conversation:

“What would you have had me do differently?  You know, to drive better?”

(sputtering) “You were going 10 under the speed limit!”

“No, I was going 40, except when pulling into red lights.  Then, you know, I slowed down, as one does…”

“There was too much space between you and the cars in front of you”

“Oh, you mean the ones that were stopped?  At the red lights?”

“Whatever bitch, learn how to drive”

“I hope you wreck you car.  Have a lovely day!”




I do love awkward.  I also love how this was probably the funniest thing that has happened to me in a month, and it likely ruined his day (and I maintain that he would have been totally aggro even if I hadn’t said anything to him).  My karma might have suffered, but I’m not sure.

It just seems so fraught to tailgate, or be rage-y in public in a town this small.  The walls have ears, here.  The person at whom you choose to direct your ire?  She works at the lab, in a senior position.  He’s the husband / brother / son of one of your co-workers.  She lives down the street.  Small town.  Don’t be dumb!


Let’s just ignore that hiatus, eh?  Yeah, I think that’s best.  I do love skipping the hard parts.


Ok, ok – I made friends, I play frisbee, I’m busy, things are good.  Things are really good.  I can go days without GA memories.  The memories, and the whole, well – it’s like getting punched, when I think about it.  About the lovely humans I don’t get to talk to everyday, the people whose lives I’m not a daily part of.  But on some level, I’ve been so surprised and so lucky to see how the distance doesn’t matter as much as I thought it would.  When I see my old friends, when I talk to them – it just doesn’t matter.

Ok enough of that sugar for now…

Let’s just do a high/low, eh?

High: figuring out some calculus.  I still got it!

Low: drinking 3 cups of coffee absent-mindedly, and subsequently feeling on the verge of passing out all day.  WwwooooowoOoOO.  Dizzy.


Stolen from Lawyerish, who stole it from The New GirlBut I’ve decided to add a couple of elements…


On what are you most often complimented?

Physically, I receive a lot of compliments about my hair – strawberry blond, stick straight, and softer than anything.  I have actually always hated my hair.  I want its antithesis – curly, dark brown – and have made it thus once or twice.  I loved it, but I am far too lazy to do such things consistently, and blond roots make you look like your hair is falling out.  My hair is a blessing for someone as beauty-challenged as I am.  I use a blow dryer approximately twice a year, and I don’t own any hair product.  The bit I really like is how soft it is – seriously haven’t met anyone with hair softer than mine.  Which leads to people playing with it all the time, which leads to me being happy as a kitten.

I also receive a fair number of compliments on my legs.  I noticed this playing frisbee – a lot of the other girls would comment that I had “nice skinny legs,” which sort of baffled me as I’d never given them much thought beyond they’re utility.  This lead to a nice bout of comparing my body to other women’s (always a lovely idea!), and while I do appreciate my legs more now, it’s at the expense of the total package – suddenly I’m hyper aware that my legs are disproportionately skinny compared to the rest of me!  Alas.

Aside from my physical attributes, I am frequently complimented on my intelligence and for “having my life together.”  Both of these have always felt a little squicky to me – they are the type of compliments I’m not sure how to respond to.  I feel my parents deserve as much or more credit for each of these than I do, and I don’t feel particularly ahead of the curve in either regard.  On surface, I’m “further along” than most of my peer group professionally and financially, but I do feel much of that is luck of the draw and poorly thought out choices (that turned out well!).  Below the surface, I’m sort of a mess.  Though, I think a lot of people are!

My sense of humor tends to draw lots of compliments from like-minded individuals (which is to say, people who are crass and sarcastic).  One of my friends in particular has always maintained that I should have a one woman comedy show, wherein I would sit on a stool on a stage, knitting, and talking about whatever came to mind.  I don’t totally understand her amusement, but I do love to hang out with her – making someone laugh that hard is incredibly gratifying.


What is the best compliment you have ever received?

I just finished my PhD in November, which felt sort of empty – anticlimactic.  I didn’t feel nearly so accomplished as I had hoped I might when I began grad school.  My parents came to my defense, and after I emerged victorious from 3 hours of questioning, my father pulled me aside.  My father, the physicist – one of not a small number of PhDs in my family – told me that he was incredibly proud of me, but not yet impressed.

I liked that, because while most compliments engender in me a mix of embarrassment and arrogance, he managed to curtail both in an incredibly sincere way.  Not to mention the modicum of sarcasm, which has always been our way of relating to one another – it has become one of my favorite moments with my father, sort of a summing up of our relationship thus far.


What is your favorite thing about yourself that people rarely compliment?

My eyes.  I think I have beautiful eyes, but I sometimes wonder if I am deluding myself because no one ever notices them.  It’s sort of ironic that in the past year I have lost a notable portion of my vision, and developed chronic dry eye – perhaps I should pick a new favorite feature!

Stranger in a Strange Land

I moved to Washington seven days ago.  Eight days ago, I was playing frisbee with half my best friends, and the other half were parading along the sides of the fields.  Eight days ago, I hugged a lot of people and said goodbye and marveled at how well I held it together.  Eight days ago I got the last full night’s sleep I’ve had since.


I have seen the sunrise every day since I arrived.  And the sunset.  It’s only light for 9 hours a day right now, and I am at work for all of those hours.  My boss drove me home on my first day, because Husband was dealing with the movers, and I realized as we entered my neighborhood that I had no idea what my house looked like.  We drove past it twice, because I couldn’t see the number over the garage.  I didn’t really remember what color my house was until yesterday, the first time I saw it in daylight.

I have been diligently unpacking boxes and putting things in cabinets and drawers.  I can see the beginnings of a home, in this beautiful house I can’t really believe I own.  I’m just not sure if it’s my home.

I have work to do after work, gotta get those papers out, gotta apply for that award, gotta get that presentation ready.  Gotta read and read, so they are impressed.  And so I keep forgetting to call my friends until after dinner, when it’s already well past 11 pm on the other side of the country.

My job is actually great so far, as I knew it would be.  Professionally, this is the best place for me to be.  My colleagues are fantastic, the research is interesting, the lab is perfect.  If I am going to succeed in my field, it will be here.

People assume newcomers will have a hard time adjusting to the landscape – deserts aren’t for everyone, I suppose.  But that’s not it for me.  It’s beautiful here, even in the winter.  You can see for miles and miles, and the essentially treeless mountains underscore how amazing the earth itself can be.  The sky is breathtaking, even when it’s grey, as it so often is during the winter.

I’m just afraid I won’t be able to make the connections I need socially.  It’s a small town, a family town.  I know it’s only been a week, and it’s the doldrums of winter, it just seems so unfathomably difficult.  And so unlikely!  How could I possibly find people like the people I already had?


There is a well written article on NYT regarding mammogram screening that I want everyone in the world to read.  The author describes the underlying motivation of that poor panel, much excoriated at this point: that statistically, financially, and for the women in question – physically, emotionally – it just doesn’t make sense to screen before age 50.

I’ve tried explaining this to a number of my friends, often to no avail – it’s a tough subject.  The author points out the fact that understanding very large and very small numbers, and even more so, very large and very small probabilities, is not intuitive for many people. Because it is intuitive to me, and also because I have spent the last several years learning to understand those ideas, I have a hard time explaining it to them.

Without even considering the negative effects of frequent and unnecessary exposure to radiation from mammograms (which is a very interesting part of this problem to me), it’s simply not worth it.  There are too many false positives, false negatives – reading the article for the discussion of these concepts alone is worth clicking over.  Can you imagine the emotional and physical toll of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, only to find out you don’t have it?

The problem is more easily explained with colon cancer screening, I’ve found.  Colonoscopies are uncomfortable, embarrassing, and risky.  Perforation of the colon occurs at a rate of about 1 in 1400 to 1 in 1000 – that is, for every 1400  (or less!) people who get a colonoscopy, a hole gets ripped in one of their colons (source below).  This requires surgery, with its inherent risks – you know how you sign a piece of paper that says you could die every time a scalpel or anesthesia is involved?  Yeah.

So the fact that colonoscopies are recommended for everyone over the age of 50?  A little scary.  I would wager that I know at least 500 people in that age group, professionally or personally.  That number will obviously go up as I get older.  And as you are to get one per year?  God, I’m getting scared just thinking about it.  But, 1 in 1000 is considered a low risk – that’s only 0.1%.  It all depends on how it is presented – I interpret the latter as less risky, intuitively, than the former.

Back to mammograms.  It’s tough to say whether I will follow the new screening advice (you know, if it hasn’t changed in 15 – 25 years when it becomes more relevant to me).  It’s hard to weigh the more nebulous risks of exposure to an invisible mutagen, and the possibility of unnecessary treatment against the more tangible (and publicized) demon – breast cancer.  It’s hard for me – for us – to consider “invisible” risks (things that will happen so far in the future that they seem disconnected from their stimuli) in a rational way.

What do you think?  Will you get mammograms before age 50 if you are asymptomatic?


Panteris, et al. 2009.  Colonoscopy perforation rate, mechanisms and outcome: from diagnostic to therapeutic colonoscopy.  Endoscopy 41, 941 – 951.


While I’m trying to get back into this (I think I’m out of it more because I’m in personal life limbo than anything else), I’m not going to be quite as discerning about what I post.  Which is to say, today I’m posting an incomplete list of open-ended goals.

1.  Bake my own bread regularly

2.  Run at least once a week (preferably in addition to other exercise)

3.  Take more pictures of every day life

4.  Make a household chores schedule and find a way to split them up evenly

5.  Take pictures of my knitting and update my ravelry site

6.  Stop buying food I can cook just as well for cheaper

7.  Be the kind of person who sends holiday letters.  Or any letters.

8.  Take advantage of what my new city has to offer (i.e. play outside a LOT)

9.  Learn to repair minor household things, like leaky faucets