An...Update???

Wow, I don't think I realized how long it has been since I last updated this thing. According to Livejournal, it's been four weeks. Crazy! I would apologize, but no one else seems to be updating either. Could it be that we've all outgrown Livejournal? Could it be that our days of updating each other on what we had for dinner last night are over?? COULD IT BE?

My guess is that we're just too lazy to put our thoughts together in any real coherant way. At any given moment, my brain scatters and I momentarily can't even remember what I had for dinner yesterday...oh OH, I had a Wawa sandwich! Yes! Perhaps there's hope for my head yet!

Anywho, on to some sort of update on the Life and Times of Gina.

As any of you who use Facebook and have some friends in common with me know, Lyndzapalooza pulled off our first annual BYM Fest (pronounced Bim...apparently, only LP staffers were aware of this as it seemed to be a mystery to various guests of the event), and I would definitely say that it was a success. It was super professional and the caliber of musicians was the highest yet, plus Arcati Crisis...har har, self depricating humor is so funny. It was a really fun day and a fun night filled with bonfires and guitar circles. I believe that this is all that is required to call it a music festival. Yep, done and done.

Now that the shindig is over, I realize that it's late in May and apparently, the statute of limitations on my whole graduating thing is going to run out at the end of the quarter. I pretty much have to get done by graduation, or I'm S.O.L. (Peter says that 5 years is the limit...that's so depressing that I let it go that long, but, I can't feel too bad about myself. I'm successfully working as a chemist, so the money spent wasn't for nothing). I had pretty much given myself this deadline anyway because Mikki was my last friend in undergrad and I figured that if I didn't get this done by the time she was out of here, then really it's a useless cause. So, I've given myself the deadline of the end of Memorial Day Weekend...that's right, THIS weekend to stop being a deadbeat. To recap, I have already emailed the prof 4 of the 8 (shitty and half-assed) labs. I am currently working on one that I will finish tomorrow night (Intermezzo tonight, so no labbing for me this evening). That leaves just TWO to do this weekend...email them and hope for the best.

Everyone is convinced that as long as I send in something, the professor will pass me. They have a lot of faith. I'm terrified, but they're probably right about the professor. It's the rest of the school I'm worried about. However, if anyone in the chemistry department tries to get in my way, I have big plans to march into the office of the dean and demand a degree. Apparently, Peter wants to march in with me so that we can both make the case that I am currently living the Drexel Dream (having gotten a job directly because of my awesome work ethic/experience during my co-ops). As I have mentioned before, I would venture to say that I am best trained, best UV formulations chemist for my age bracket (and sometimes I think beyond that, because really, I'm pretty good at this and there's not too many of us in the world) and that I owe a lot of it to the opportunities bestowed upon me through co-op. I'll put myself on a freaking billboard. Whatever...just give me my fucking degree.

And then, once I have the piece of paper, I will find a ridiculous frame for it, either gilded or neon light-equipped and I will laugh every time I look at it.

So yeah, that's pretty much what's going on right now. How are you?

Monday? Already?

As I have mentioned often, now that it's Spring, I find that I am thoroughly enjoying my weekends because I've been so productive with things around the house...but that also means that I've been very busy. So, by the Monday comes around I can barely believe that I was just away from work for two days. Alas, what can you do?

On Friday, Wes and I went to Laurel Lanes for the first time in years to bowl with Mikki for her birthday. I bowled three terrible games, but I had a really good time. Also, since it was Friday night, we were present for Galactic Bowling (ie Black Light Bowling) and I was dressed perfectly for the occassion. I glowed...a lot. The best (or most frightening) part is that at work every day all day I work with optical brightener. Optical brightener is an additive that is put into coatings and paper to appear whiter under standard light. It does this by fluorescing slightly in the visible region, but it fluoresces like a son of bitch under black light. My hands and face had a fine mist of it all over and so I glowed a little bit too. Awesome! Sort of!

I spent almost the entirety of Saturday working on painting the porch fence. As with most DIY projects, it turns out that it's going to take me a hell of a lot longer than I thought. I spent about 7 hours on it and managed to get 2/3 of it primed and one section painted with the schnazzy copper paint. Fortunately, it looks super good all painted up and so it's worth it. So...yeah, that's what next Saturday is going to be about as well. The inspection in on May 1st and I just want to pass so we can not think about it for another year. After I was done painting for the day and Wes was done studying for his upcoming finals, we grilled some pork chops and had a fantastic dinner on the deck. We discovered that Canal's sells this one brand of Belgian beer that we really like (he likes the dark brew, I like the kriek) and we started that with dinner and then took our beers down to the arbor/bench and lit a fire in the chimeneya! It is times like that when can't deny that life is good. Really really good.

Yesterday I spent all day baking and getting the house ready for my mom's little birthday party. I made some more bread (it came out even better than last time) and I made a yellow cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting from scratch. Tarra came over and made this amazing shellfish pasta. And, because my mom is a big Bruce Cambell fan but has never seen any of the Evil Dead movies, we downloaded Army of Darkness for her to watch and she really enjoyed that. Truly a successful birthday shindig! Joan was there as well (she came over early to plan more stuff in the front yard, which looks fantastic even with half the stuff not blooming yet). It's been really nice having her be part of my family stuff since she has always provided extra family for me. She seems to really like my parents and my sister and I think that my mom is a good councelor for her once in a while.

So there's the weekend update. Tonight I have to be a juror for Wes' trial advocacy class final trial. Tomorrow evening, Peter, Lindsay, Andra and I are going to Studio Luloo for their open mic. Wednesday I'm getting together with Andra to work on some stuff for BYMFest. Annnnnnd, then I'll be home in the evening on Thursday! Yay! I've got a table to finish, er, finishing!

Man, work really gets in the way life sometimes, ey?

A Touch of the Zombie

Well, folks, I have made through another week, pending getting through today, of course. I'm a bit proud of myself for that. In the beginning of the week I was taking this Stress Formula vitamin (lots of B vitamins, potassium, etc) and, based on no scientific proof, I decided that by Stress Formula they meant stress INducing, not REducing. The only proof I have is that I didn't take it yesterday or today and my persistant anxiety is less than when I was taking it. Yes, I know, this is a stupid experiment...I mean, my stress could be less just because I have reached the end of the week and it's going to be a beautiful day and an even prettier day tomorrow, but I can generally say that the vitamin didn't seem to particularly help anything. In addition, I think I have developed a mild chest cold, something I have never had and wierd. When I get sick, it usually stays out of the chest and lives in my throat instead...anyway, let's just say that working in a chemical plant with lots of fumes and powders does not make a pleasant feeling when such an illness arrives. In addition, working in such an environment and getting a mild illness likes this brings out my paranoia...OMG CANCER, or some such nonsense.

In conclusion, I feel very out of whack, so making it through the week AND being productive in the process is an accomplishment!

I've got a busy weekend ahead. Tonight, classy bowling for Mikki's birthday. Tomorrow...I will finally take on the major task of repainting the porch. That will pretty much encompass my entire day. I have to sand, prime and paint...an intricate porch. And, because I'm just SO creative, I'm doing it in two colors. Clearly, I watch too much HGTV.

Sunday, the family is coming over to celebrate my mom's birthday. I will be baking bread again...because I'm pretty stoked that I managed to do it last week without a bread machine. I'm also baking a cake and various other things. Tarra's got the main dish.

So yeah, I don't think it's going to be a very relaxing weekend, but I think it will be a very satisfying one. I'm going to be working hard on the porch tomorrow, but then I think I'll reward myself with some beers and grilled items that will be enjoyed in the backyard. Yes, that is a fantastic plan!

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Update?

Ugh, I really have been trying to write in this thing, but I haven't been able to finish an entry! I've been busy. Now that Spring has sprung, Wes and I have been spending most of our free weekend time in the front and back yards, sprucing them up and making them places we want to be.

The front yard improvements are all aesthetic, but that's what front yards are for. We bought a bunch of scalloped edging stones to go around the two flower gardens and I am amazed about what a difference they make. The front yard suddenly looks manicured and organized. All kinds of stuff is growing back from last year, and Joan brought a bunch of plants over on Friday. It's so exciting to watch things come alive after winter!

The back yard is becoming a really cool project. Our goal this year is to continue to make it a place we want to hang out. I have this general goal of making the house cool enough to be a good alternative to going out and spending too much money. We've done simple things like just keeping up with the mess, making sure the kitchen is always cleaned up. I realized that one of the reasons my addiction to going out to eat had grown so much was because we kept letting dishes pile up and the counters were dirty a lot. Now we stay relatively on top of it and I'm cooking a lot more and enjoying it. We realized that we didn't really use the yard a lot last summer. I mean, we went out to the garden and we sat on the deck, but we didn't hang out in the yard and it has seemed like a waste. So, Wes designed this super awesome arbor that we have the super cool bench he built last year. We have grape plants planted on each side (which will hopefully start growing soon) and I'll be planting some morning glory vines this evening to grow over the top for some extra shade. This past weekend, I built a tile-topped table to go out there as well. We have big plans to build a small patio and a stone path going from the deck stairs to the patio to the gardens.

In other words, I'm pretty stoked about the house and Spring in general. This past weekend was pretty great. My hands are a bit mangled from working with them the whole time, but that is, of course, rather satisfying to me. Word to the wise, wash grout off of your hands immediately. I still have some on them after two showers! On Friday, my parents, sister and Joan came over for dinner (and some Joan birthday celebration) and it was great. I made a second attempt at baguettes (the weekend before I tried and it didn't come out too well...but the recipe sucked, I mean since when do you not knead bread dough?) and they came out really well. I was amazed. I also made stuffed shells, salad and infused olive oil for bread dipping. And of course, I made a German Chocolate cake that was perfect.

So yeah, I barely feel like doing anything anymore that isn't at the house on the weekends. It's just such a nice place to be!

Update in Brief

Hello! Yes, yes, I know. I have been lax in my updating. I've been home from Europe for over a week and I haven't really sat down to write about it...and no, I'm not really going to write about it now because there's too much to tell and I have to go to an eye appointment in a minute.

That's exciting news right there! I'm finally getting some new glasses! Ones without cracks in them and are the right prescription!

Anyway, I really just wanted to write to thank everyone for the birthday wishes on Facebook and otherwise. I had a very nice weekend. On Friday, after an annoying but ultimately productive day at work, Wes and I headed to my parents' house for corned beef and cabbage, birthday cake and, of course, presents. My parents got me everything I asked for, which were all things I wanted for the garden (tools, some plants, a rolling garden stool, awesome tomato cages) and a gift card to Old Navy...apparently they know that work clothes don't stand a chance when they become mine and I always need new ones.

Saturday, Wes and I worked on getting the berry garden built and planted and then we went out for Mexican Post and a viewing of "I Love You, Man" (which was surprisingly funny. I had my doubts). Sunday, I did some more gardening in the morning and Wes built a fence for the berry garden and then we headed out to Roxborough for Peter's and my show at Crossroads Coffeehouse. Then we came home and I gardened some more. Definitely schnazzy. The weather couldn't have been better.

So, um, yes, this is brief. I promise to write some more soon.

Filling Every Minute

So, as per usual, I have managed to make the week leading up to my departure for Europe both fun and stressful. Last week, I was super tired everyday and when Friday rolled around I had this idea like I was going to stay up and do things in the evening. I completely failed, of course. After dinner I sat down with Wes to read comic books (him) and The Watchmen (me, in preparation for the film) and I couldn't make it past a few panels before I started falling asleep. Reading is a notorious sleep aid for me (see also: Highschool and College Required Reading) so this wasn't particularly surprising given that I was already tired to begin with. I made it to about 9pm or something and decided that it was a losing fight. I woke up early-ish on Saturday and managed to read a good chunck of the book and then got up to do something about breakfast.

Saturday was Pasta Day at my parents' house wherein my dad and I were going to try out his Kitchenaid mixer with pasta-tacular attachments. I got him various ingredients to make several different flavors (and more importantly, when it's me we're talking about, different colors). We made four different kinds: garlic (white but smelled delicious), spinach (deep green), tomato (light orange) and beet (deep pink). Because it was my dad and me, we of course made some multi-colored pasta as well. All in all it was quite fun and now I want a machine...I mean, I keep buying them for friends as wedding gifts, but I never have to front the total cost! Someday...I just really enjoyed the whole pasta making experience. It was one of those kitchen things that you could just do all day and not realize how much time has passed. Maybe I'll have the money by the time our tomatoes start growing and I can have super Italian days where I make fresh tomato sauce that simmers all day and make my own pasta and feel pretty good about myself.

On Saturday night a bunch of us went out for drinks with Chas for his birthday. It was a good time. We ended up upstairs at Time and it was this bizarre mini-club with rotating colored gobo lighting on the wall. There was a bachelorette party going on and Hoffman got pulled into the middle of the dancing circle to be That Guy at the Bachelorette Party. Nice. Sunday I woke up tired and didn't really snap out of it all day so I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped.

Last night I also got little done. As you may or may not have noticed it snowed just enough to be a major pain yesterday and, after spending a half hour shoveling my car out and shoveling the walk, I felt a wee bit frozen. Then, for some reason, the office was cold all day and half of the plant staff called out due to weather, and after sitting in the cold for an entire day I was freezing when I got back. Long story not so short, I made dinner and decided to veg out and get warm.

Tonight I am going with Joan to the Philadelphia Flower Show. She had mentioned it when I was visiting a couple of weekends ago and at the time I thought it was going to be going on during the week Wes and I were away. I was pleased to find out that it is this week and not next week since she seemed genuinely disappointed that I would be unable to go with her. So, that's tonight. Upon hearing that I could go, she immediately went and bought tickets and said "I'll bring dinner!" You can't really say no to an offer like that!

Tomorrow there is a LP meeting at Intermezzo followed by Peter and I hosting. Thursday I have rehearsal with Peter and then he, Wes, Mikki and I are going to the midnight IMAX showing of Watchmen at Leows because we're nerds and it's the official start of our crazy vacation. Somewhere between all this I have to get the house back in order for another inspection on Friday morning, pack and various other things. Needless to say, I'm feeling a little stressed and a crazed, but being the procrastinator that I am, not doing anything wonderfully effective about it. I think I'll be able to spend a couple of hours on Thursday before Peter gets there catching up on some stuff and then there's Friday morning.

Work is just generally annoying right now, so a vacation should do me good, even though it won't be the most relaxing vacation ever. What can you do? Being broke also sucks, but it was nice having brand new tires to deal with the snow, so, you know, silver linings and all that.

Impending Explosion

When I was a senior in highschool, my biology teacher had us do weekly science current events presentations every Friday. It was seemingly an excuse to just discuss and relax for one day and generally everyone actually did the assignment, which led to many enlightening things such as one presentation about the evils of douching and another article (presented by yours truly) about how a bunch of vague evidence suggests that God meant for the giant squid to be our master. One day, someone presented an article talking about spontaneous human combustion.

In a society where slap stick humor is so very engrained, the idea of a person spontaneously exploding is, by definition, absolutely hilarious...if only the whole death thing didn't go along with it. Generally, I can't think of many funnier responses to ridiculous situations than someone's head blowing up...maybe that's just me.

But here we were in class with someone talking about the actual issue of human explosion and they explained that it is caused by an incredible excess of electrical activity in the brain. The article asked, "Have you ever found yourself thinking very hard about something to the point of exhaustion? Do you ever have ringing in your ears? YOU MIGHT BE AT RISK FOR HUMAN COMBUSTION!"

I went to a nerd school, so of course, everyone looked around nervously as this inquiry wormed its way into our thoughts. Of course we think hard about stuff, there's always something not so obvious to figure out. And yes, I would have ringing in my ears from time to time...apparently, the ringing can often be attributed to electric current whirling around in the brain pan. And basically, the article was suggesting that smart people were more likely to randomly explode than idiots. I suppose this makes sense, but it's so not fair.

So I've been working on a rather strange and difficult project now for two days straight, going into my third. It feels like so much more than just a coating formulation to me because it requires me to think about awful things like magnetic fields and inorganic chemistry...two things that never made a heck of a lot of sense when I was in school. We should take a moment to recall that I had to pretty much beg my way out of an inorganic chemistry failing grade and then I went out into the hall to cry because it sucks so very much. FUCK YOU, TRANSITION METALS! Fe2+ or Fe3+? Make a decision!!! Yeah, I said it. But now that I'm not in school and therefore a far more effective human being, suddenly some of these things are making enough sense that I can weed my way through patent language and sift through for ideas on how to get to the next step with the project.

Long story short, I am thinking really really hard about it...to the point of exhaustion and, though I have not yet begun to hear ringing in my ears, I fear that I may be on the path to this whole personal explosion thing. I woke up this morning incredibly tired and thought that maybe I'm getting sick or something. Then I got to work and looked at a formula and felt my eyes glazing over and my brain numbing. Oh, I thought, I guess I'm just going to blow up then. Awesome.

In addition, I'm in a script-in-hand reading that my mom is directing that is about J. Robert Oppenheimer...the father of the atomic bomb. We had rehearsal last night and I thought I was going to pass out. Chemistry, it seems, is everywhere.

Tonight I have to go to an LP meeting to talk about planning for LP's Backyard Music Festival in May. I don't know if there's room in my brain for it. I mean, what does that have to with intermolecular forces and electron spin? WHAT? TELL ME! Then I have to host the open mic and tomorrow I have to rehearse for AC.

My life is also a joke, Peter.

Where Is My Motivation

I have been completely unmotivated to do any work today. I made a couple of pails, answered a few phone calls...that's about it. It's Friday and I've felt generally fried all week...my brain just doesn't want to deal with anything anymore. The way I look at it is that Monday is the beginning of another week.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have accumulated a list of very difficult brain-liquifying formulation projects. I don't even know what to do about half of them. Seriously. I realize it's difficult for a lot of people to understand exactly what I do and why it's sometimes difficult. I mean, as far most people know, I mix stuff together in a can and see what happens. What I don't go on and on about is how much thought is required before I get up to go put stuff in the can. On one of the spectrum, I have to solve a problem that can be handled with a quick additive change...on the other end, I have to sit here and stare at a wall envisioning molecules orienting themselves in space and devising ways to convince them to do what I want. And then sometimes I don't even know how to think about it, which is the most frustrating scenario.

In addition, I haven't really been at home for most of the week. Monday I was, but I went to the gym first. Tuesday, Peter and I went to the open mic at Studio Luloo (a little place practically around the corner from me). Wednesday was the Intermezzo open mic and last night Peter and I had a very productive rehearsal. Tonight, Wes and I are going out to dinner and seeing a movie. This should be fun...we haven't gone to a movie in a while.

Today we had our annual fire safety inspection...apparently, it's annual because it's NJ and we're a rental property. I don't really have anything to back this theory up, but Luke thought that was true and it seems plausible. It's a pain in the ass because in NJ you're not supposed to have any extension cords and things like that. But, Karen, you'll be happy to know that I finally replaced the battery in the one smoke detector, so it's not beeping...currently.

What we didn't know was that this wasn't just a fire safety inspection, but also a general housing code inspection...and we failed for a lot of stupid reasons. For instance, we have to clean up our yards and paint the front rail. Yes. We failed for aestetic reasons...I didn't know it was possible, but apparently it's a suburban thing. In addition, we can't have a propane tank less than 15 feet from the house...like our grill is...and apparently there's not enough clearance around the gas/electric meters. We have 30 days to remedy all these things. We're going to Wegman's tomorrow anyway, which happens to be near a Home Depot. We'll get some paint and whatnot...fixing these things isn't parrticularly a problem but failing for some of these reasons makes me generally want to say Fuck You.

Tomorrow I'll be doing house repairs and then we're heading over to Kate and Lindsay's for a bit and then back home to cook top knotch steaks. Wes' grandfather gave him some money to take ourselves out, so we're going to buy quality slabs of meat. Mmmm.

Sunday is when we're celebrating my dad's birthday. Which reminds me that I have to bake a German Chocolate cake tomorrow as well...I'm buying him stuff to make pasta and then making a ticket that says that we will make pasta together sometime soon. He keeps not making time for it.

And so there you have it!

So much excitement!

As I mentioned a little while ago, Wes and I were pleasantly surprised to see that flight prices to Belgium were, relatively speaking, low and so we decided that we are going to go for a visit in early March. Tickets have been purchased and we have quite an itinerary lined up! We will be flying into Brussels where Kelly and Gurdun will meet us and we'll wander around the city. Then we'll head to their place in Leuven. We're staying with them, which is awesome, because it means that we can actually afford the trip. We're going to spend a day in Paris and then we're going to do a two day bike trip up to Holland with Kelly, then a lazy day, then a day in Amsterdam, then a flight home where we will probably sleep like rocks.

I'm so excited! I'm so glad that Wes is coming with me this time. He's been planning routes of wandering around the various cities and buying train tickets and all that fun stuff. Kelly's going to be able to take off several of the days that we're there which is awesome.

In other news, Peter and I are slated to play at the Lyndzapalooza Winter Artist Showcase at Zot (122 Lombard St) on February 28th. The show is 8:30-11pm, just $8 with drink specials and lots of awesomeness. We're sharing the bill with Josh Popejoy and it should be a lot of fun. You should all come (it's a Saturday!). You get to see us play, drink really good beer, and it benefits Lyndzapalooza's efforts to throw our first Backyard Music Festival at Snipes Farm in May (we already put down the deposit for the site rental, so we're doing it...but fundraising needs to happen).

Wes' mom bought tickets for her, Wes, Luke, Molly and me to go to Colorado in July. Part of the trip is to spread some of Larry's ashes, and the other part is to do some great hiking in the mountains.

All in all, 2009 is shaping up to be a good year. Work is stressful, but admittedly in a good way since the stress is from being busy and requiring my brain to be in top form all the time. It may be stressful, but it also means that my job is important and probably won't be one of the ones that gets cut super soon...at least, this is what I tell myself.

Belgium!

On a whim, I checked out the price of round trip flights from here to Brussels and was pleasantly surprised to see that Wes and I can fly out there, non-stop, the second week of March for significantly less than it cost me to go a couple of years ago. As it turns out, my tax refund worked out quite well this year and I have enough to afford a big credit card payment and, with a little saving, this trip. So, we're doing it! We're going to go during Wes' Spring break and it's going to be awesome. We're talking about doing day trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Brugge and Luxembourg. Not bad, ey?

In honor of this, I have finally posted a bunch of photos from my 2007 trip on Facebook, so feel free to go over there and take a look.