Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Girl Humor

There are three types of humor I enjoy. The first is Universal Humor...things that are unequivocally funny to all audiences, like someone falling. In a funny way. Not like off-the-edge-of-a-tall-building funny. Or The Mansy. If you don't think the Mansy is funny, there is something wrong with you.

The second is Science Humor. Things that are funny to only to scientists. Here's an example of a conversation my coworkers and I had about Barry Bonds breaking the home run record:

"Hey, did you know that the guy who caught the ball is a lab tech at a DNA
sequencing facility?"

"No way! What do you think he yelled when he caught it?"



Yep, we're nerds.

The third is Girl Humor. Things that are funny only if you're a girl. Contrary to popular belief, Girl Humor does not mean lame romantic comedies. A big part of it is alluding to something within the female realm, like making a reference to the Baby-Sitters Club or Anne of Green Gables. The girls who write Go Fug Yourself excel at this. Sarah's posts frequently crack me up, and a couple of times my friend JR has seen me reading them and been all "What's so funny?" and I say something like "Oh, you wouldn't understand." whereas I can't wait to show my roommate.

Here's a recent email exchange between my sisters that made me laugh, but I'm guessing it's probably only funny if you're a girl. Or have been involved with a lot of weddings. (Hmmm... now seems like a good time to tell everyone that if you send me an email, I might just share the content with the entire internet. Unless you object, of course.)

From: Eri
So... Ryan and I have picked the following colors: Brown, Gold, Ivory, Kiwi Green (as offsetting color). Please look at dresses that are either brown or gold. Let me know which one you think works better.

From: Kerry
Sounds good. I'd vote for brown dresses, gold accessories and shoes, and ivory flowers with a kiwi accents and a kiwi ribbon. It's going to look hot.

From: Eri
I like your idea on the dress, I am not sure of the ribbon, I guess it depends on the dress, but it's for sure not a deal breaker, whatever you guys feel most comfortable in.

From: Kerry
Dude, the ribbon goes on the flowers. I'd look like an ass with a kiwi ribbon on me.

For the record

I am going to the Celtics game tomorrow night, and if they don't win, I seriously might throw up on myself.

I want a win, and I want a dominant one. I want Gino!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Report

Friday- My college friend Justin was in town searching for apartment, spending his days roaming around town with various realtors (a word I can't pronounce correctly- I say "real-a-tor" but whatever) looking at overpriced studios in Brookline and the Fens and his nights sleeping on a couch approximately two feet shorter than he is. We joined a group of friends for tapas and sangria at BarLola. I've been there a couple of times and always enjoyed it- decent prices, tasty food, friendly service and a fun atmosphere. It was too chilly to sit on the patio, so we ended up inside at a comfortable booth in a cozy little alcove. After the tapas, JR, Justin, Ern and I decided to class things up (for once) and hit the Oak Bar for martinis.

Saturday and Sunday flew by in a whirlwind of work, soccer, apartment hunting, friend visiting, and Lost watching.

Three Items Or Less

I have decided that I have a threshold for the number of objects I can keep track of at any given time, and that number is three. Wallet, keys, and phone. Throw something else into the mix, let's say an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses, and something is bound to go missing. Fortunately, it tends to be the umbrella or sunglasses and not the more crucial items. However, the outcome is that for me, umbrellas and sunglasses are essentially disposable products, good for one use only. And you know that theory that if you buy an expensive pair of sunglasses, you'll take better care of them and not lose them? Well, my data* disprove that hypothesis. I once bought a really cool umbrella at the Museum of Fine Arts that cost around $40 dollars, and I lost it the very same day, within two hours. I think if I ever get engaged and my fiance gives me a diamond ring (two very big ifs, considering that I don't have a boyfriend and I'm not really into the whole diamond thing, but bear with me, people.), I will inevitably lose it, and be all upset "Oh my gosh I am so sorry that I lost the really expensive diamond ring you bought me! Waaaah!" and he'll reply "Oh, that's okay. It was fake." and I'll be like "You jerk! THANK GOD." because obviously fictional fiance would know me well enough to realize that I would lose said diamond ring.

Anyways, yesterday I bought my third pair of sunglasses of the year.

*data = plural, datum = singular

Friday, April 25, 2008

List #39... Names People Call Me Instead of Eileen

People screw up my name all the time. For example, the guy that delivers packages to my lab thinks my name is Elaine, even though Eileen is clearly written on all of boxes. He comes in a couple of times a week and calls out "Elaine!" with a booming voice, much to the amusement of my labmates. At this point, it's futile to correct him, so I just go along with it. Sure, a lot of names sound fairly similar, but I don't think Eileen is particularly difficult to remember. Apparently, I'm wrong about that, but at least it doesn't bother me. I know a couple of people who get pissed off if you misspell their names, let alone call them a different name entirely.

So, here's List #39....Names People Call Me Instead of Eileen

1. Ellen
2. Elaine
3. Irene
4. Aileen
5. Arlene
6. Colleen
7. Maureen
8. Erin

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things You Don't Necessarily Want to Hear From the Stranger with Whom You Are Sharing a Lane at the Pool

"I like your tattoo. It is very sexy."

The fact that the above was said to me by a female teenager from Japan make the incident more unusual than creepy, but still!

McSweeny's Open Letters

My roommate Ern recently introduced me to McSweeny's series of Open Letters To People Or Entities Who Are Unlikely To Respond. They are absolute genius. I can't believe I had never come across these before. The titles themselves are perhaps the best part; scroll down to the bottom of the current letter to read the list.

I read through several, and so far, my favorite is An Open Letter To Lifetime Television For Women.
I was also highly amused by An Open Letter To Shirley MacLaine From A Former 11-Year-Old Who Was Sent To Her Apartment By George McGovern's Presidential Campaign in 1972.

I did notice multiple people writing open letters to their cats, complaining about various feline transgressions. If I ever wrote an open letter, it would go something like this:

An Open Letter To People Who Write Open Letters To Their Cats

Dear Unhappy Cat Owners,

There's an easy solution to your problems. Don't own a cat.


It would be longer, though. And don't get all riled up, cat owners. I like cats. But there's a reason why no one has written an open letter to his or her dog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Weekend Report

I had a very busy past few days. I went to a couple of birthday parties, saw a concert (Rustic Overtones, a late-90's sounding jam band from Maine- they were great live), hung out with the nieces in Cambridge, and went to the Red Sox Patriots' Day game. Here are a few photos:

Rustic Overtones at the Paradise:

Eating noodles, riding the bus, and making friends in Cambridge:

And enjoying a sunny day (and fantastic seats) at Fenway Park:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Patriots' Day!

Today is Patriots' Day, also known as Marathon Monday here in Massachusetts.
The holiday marks anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the start of the Revolutionary War. I had no idea that it wasn't a national holiday until my freshman year of college.
I'll be celebrating our country's freedom by going to the Red Sox game, drinking beers, and cheering on the runners.

Friday, April 18, 2008

PILF (I can't believe I just typed that.)

Is it wrong to think that the pope's assistant is sort of....um...hot?


Turns out I'm not alone...according to this article on CNN.com, Monsignor Georg Gänswein is known as "Gorgeous George" by the Italian press and has inspired a clothing line by designer Donatella Versace.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Review: Saturday, by Ian McEwan

I just finished the novel Saturday, by Ian McEwan. I thoroughly enjoyed his earlier Atonement, an epic tale of love, crime, and betrayal set in wartime England, but Saturday shares almost nothing with the prior work. The entire story takes place in one day, a Saturday, in the life of the protagonist Henry Perowne. Perowne is a successful London neurosurgeon, married to a beautiful lawyer and father of two accomplished children, a blues musician for a son and a published poet for a daughter. His life is a happy, serene one whose only blights are the senility of his mother and the caustic manner of his father-in-law. A traffic accident eventually escalates into a dangerous confrontation that threatens to turn his dream life into a nightmare. (Not a spoiler... it's described on the back of the book.)

I won't delve any further into the plot, but I will share some personal observations about the book. I enjoyed it, but felt distinctly underwhelmed. As a reader, I have one very strong (and narcissistic) bias: if I can't relate to any of the characters, I have trouble really liking a book. In Saturday, Henry Perowne is THE character- all others are defined by how they are related to him and described through his eyes. And, frankly, he's sort of dull. Intelligent, successful, loyal, but maybe too aloofly perfect, and therefore lacking in depth. The modern setting, with anxiety about the upcoming Iraq War lurking in the background, doesn't add much to the book, either. I did enjoy the medical descriptions and felt sort of gleeful stumbling upon references to RNA interference and CAG repeats, but they couldn't help but strike me as a bit cloying, in a Famous Author Understands Science! kind of way. The foreshadowing was laid on thickly, and I became a little impatient waiting for the big conflict to finally occur. However, there was one little plot surprise that I didn't forsee, so that spiced things up a bit. I think Saturday also suffered from being the book I read after Midnight's Children. McEwan's certainly a talented writer, but the language and images in Saturday pale in comparison to Rushdie's comical, elegant, and imaginative prose. I don't mean to sound overly negative- I did like the book, but if you haven't read anything by McEwan, I'd definitely recommend Atonement over Saturday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Your Birthday Song

Look here to find out Billboard's #1 song on any given date.

So, what song topped the charts on the day you were born? Leave your answer in the comments. The best result (as in, the one that I think is the funniest) will win a prize.

My birthday song? "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco.
It appears that I was destined for a life of nerdiness.

For Sale: Black Keys

I have two tickets to see The Black Keys at the Orpheum on Saturday, May 17th. However, I will be down the cape at a bachelorette party that weekend, so I can't make the show.

The tickets are $35 each and the seats are pretty good (orchestra level). I put them on craigslist but thought I'd mention it here in case anyone is interested. I'm bummed out about missing them- apparently they put on a great live show.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not your typical European vacation

My friend Lisa and several other teachers are currently accompanying a group of 23 Boston high school seniors on a trip to Europe as part of the Facing History program:

Facing History is a curriculum that teaches students about racism and prejudice through the lenses of the holocaust and other examples of genocide. Using empathy as a guiding theme, the program examines human suffering through history and around the globe, so that we might avoid such events in the future.

During the 2007-2008 school year, 24 high school seniors studied the Facing History curriculum at TechBoston Academy, a Boston Public High School located in Dorchester, Mass. The trip to Europe is the culminating project for the class. The trip will include visits to concentration camps such as Dachau and Auschwitz, and will include a visit to Nuremburg and Checkpoint Charlie. Also, for the first time this year, we will include a trip to Paris at the end of our journey where students will have the opportunity to meet survivors of the camps we have just seen for a question and answer session. Students will learn about the history of World War II, the holocaust, and discuss real-world examples of genocide happening today in other parts of the world.

And yes, they're blogging about it. I think it's a really cool program and a great opportunity for the students, many of whom come from low-income families.

I just thought I'd pass along the link for those of you who might be interested in following along. Most of the media coverage of our local school systems focuses on the negatives, so we tend to forget about the positives. Plus, I wanted to bump the mansy down the page a bit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Mansy

Did anyone else notice a certain full page ad in the last issue of the Improper Bostonian? Let me refresh your memory- it was for a male one-piece yoga suit named The Mansy:

The Mansy was the talk of the workplace all last week. Laughs were had, jokes were made, and photoshop pranks were threatened. The Mansy was deemed both ridiculous and obscene.

Then, I read the fine print: "Available in limited quantities, April 1st."

The Mansy was an April Fool's joke! Turns out Lululemon is a Canadian apparel company that makes yoga gear for people who shop at Whole Foods and drive hybrids. (I only mock them because I don't have enough money to be them.)

Well played, Lululemon. You may have outdone my Ryan Seacrest story.

New Blog

My friend Phil started a blog about beer: Beer Crusade.

Oh great, now I'm thirsty.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend Report

Friday- Went out for drinks at the Hill for a friend's birthday. Saw the World's Saddest Birthday Cake. Discovered Celtics themed beer bottles. Fun.

Saturday- The BU employment office posts Quickie Jobs, which, despite the suggestive name, do not generally involve hanky-panky, but rather encompass things like party help and moving heavy objects. I took a job on Saturday to cater at a Bar Mitzvah. I got to the temple at 7AM and spent the next eight hours prepping food, arranging platters, washing dishes, and cleaning, and was paid a decent sum of money plus about three dozen leftover bagels. Because my hometown has a sizable Jewish population, I went to a ton of bar and bat mitzvahs during my middle school years, and Saturday definitely brought back some memories: the girls were taller than the boys, and everyone had braces. Oh, and apparently I haven't been around large packs of 13-year old boys in quite some time, because I was stunned by how bad they were! Breaking things, taking bites of food and putting it back on platters, dropping stuff on the ground and not picking it up, pouring soap all over the floor of the bathroom, climbing on the roof, etc... Individually, they seemed like fairly nice kids, but once they banded together, watch out, it's hellion time.
Sunday- Met Kim, Mike, and Maya at Laurel to celebrate Kim's birthday (which is today...happy birthday!). I ordered the latkes with kielbasa and fried eggs- one cholesterol special, coming right up! I regretted it later. After that, I spent the day in the lab and then headed out to watch some of the Red Sox- Yankees game. You know that story about the construction worker from Boston who embedded a Red Sox jersey in concrete in the new Yankee Stadium? Well, I didn't believe a word of it....until I found out that the Yankees actually excavated it. Last night, I finally finished my taxes...I owe $205 to the feds, and I wish it were possible to just deduct that from my $600 rebate so I wouldn't owe anything. Alas, it isn't. In case you're interested, here's the schedule for when you can expect to receive your $600 economic stimulus payment.

Todays "links"

I have a love-hate relationship with typos. I hate them, yet I feel sort of giddy and elated whenever I find one. A friend's sister has a blog devoted to typos, grammatical errors, and all sorts of odd signage: Pedestrian Typography.

A related "phenomenon" that I "flat-out" hate is the unnecessary use of "quotation" marks. For this reason, I can't remotely handle Zagat's restaurant guides. However, the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks is truly a marvelous creation.
Update: Ahhhh! They're everywhere! And what do you think they mean by "time?"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't you hate it when

you pack a lunch to take to work and then you leave it on the kitchen counter?


I do this at least once a month.

On a more positive note, here are some things I've been enjoying lately:

1. Yesterday's warm weather! Yes, folks, it was the first time in 165 days that the temperature in Boston reached 70 degrees.

2. Sandwiches. They really do taste better when someone else makes them. If you're ever in the South End around lunchtime, check out Francesca's on Tremont Street. I had a sandwich there last weekend, and it seriously was the best thing I've eaten in months. Although they get points off for not having a website. What the fuck? I tried to call ahead and order something from this menu, but I asked for something that isn't offered anymore. "Are you looking at a menu from The Internet?" the girl asked me "Those are really out of date." I have a solution for you: put up a frickin website, already! It's a trendy South End cafe, not some mom and pop House of Pizza- they really have no excuse. If my grilled bread smothered in pesto with fresh tomatoes, prosciutto, and grilled chicken wasn't so darned mouth-watering, the no website thing would have landed them on my blacklist.

3. Dirty martinis. Even though I like olives and I like gin, I never really got into martinis. Until someone (um, a bartender) had the bright idea to pour a bunch of salty, delicious olive brine into one and hand it to me. Yum!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Opening Day at Fenway

Aside for the whole grad school quagmire, I must admit that I lead a pretty darned good life. Yesterday, I attended opening day at Fenway Park, complete with the ring ceremony to celebrate the Red Sox 2007 World Series victory.
I went to the game with my roommate Ern and her brothers Colin and Timm. We had standing room only tickets but nabbed a decent little area in which to stand up in the grandstands behind first base. The reason why I am wearing a ridiculous hood in this photo is that, despite the sunshine, yesterday was really frickin cold and windy. For some reason, I don't mind watching football games in 20 degree weather, but when it comes to baseball, anything less than 60 degrees is practically intolerable.

We got there early to watch the ring ceremony, which was by far the highlight of the day. They started out by lowering banners for each one of the 20th century World Series Championships:

FYI: the little flags along the scoreboard are the "Flags of the World" and the orchestra in the middle contains members of the Boston Pops.

Next came a giant banner for the 2004 win:

At this point, the cheering was getting louder and louder as everyone awaited what we knew was coming next. However, the strong gusts of wind created some technical difficulties, so there was some initial trouble getting the 2007 banner to properly unfurl. Apparently whoever was in charge of this never hung a homemade banner out a dorm window, because they would have known to weigh down the bottom.

Aaah, that's better:

The lowering of the giant 2007 banner was my favorite part of the day. I'm getting goosebumps again just thinking about it. Next up was the ring ceremony. Red Sox coaches, staff, and players proceeded down the red carpet one by one down to receive their rings.

Youk (easy to spot by his big, bald head):

Everyone knew when Papelbon was about to come out...because since when did the Pops start covering the Dropkick Murphys?

Last up was the team's heart and soul, David Ortiz:

After Papi picked up his ring, he beckoned to the rest of the team and they started following him into the outfield. I was initially confused "Where is Papi taking them?" until it was announced that they were going to raise the smaller, permanent 2007 World Series flag.

Once that was through, they hung a gigantic American Flag across the Green Monster (In case you're wondering, those holes were deliberately cut into the fabric to mitigate the wind problem, a fact that I realized a split second after I loudly exclaimed "Oh no! It ripped!"), the Pops played the anthem, and the now-forgiven Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch. Play ball!

Here are some photos from the game. Anchored by a strong performance by Dice K, the Red Sox ended up defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-0.

Outside Fenway before the game:

Ladies Love Jason Varitek at bat:

Ern and I during one of our numerous trips to the beer line:

Colin attempting to warm himself against some sunny bricks:

Steven Tyler singing "God Bless America." For the record, I hate this new tradition. The Yankees started it; let it be their thing. I don't see why the rest of the league had to start copying them.

We can have our own traditions, like a hawk that attacks anyone named A Rod. I did see the Fenway hawk swooping around during the game, but luckily it didn't get close enough for me to see the bloody dead rat it was carrying.

For the 8th and 9th innings, we moved down to the good seats after all of the corporate types had cleared out. Okajima on the mound:

Overall, it was a great day, a perfect day except for two little mishaps. Somehow, both Ern and I managed to fall down and injure ourselves on the uneven Boston sidewalks after the game. Multiple trips to the beer line had nothing to do with it, I swear.
I had never been to an Opening Day before, and as a Red Sox fan, it was really a special treat to be there for the ring ceremony.
If the Celtics win the NBA title, this year will be my apex as a sports fan.

Monday, April 07, 2008

This Just In: Misery Really Does Love Company

I've been feeling pretty depressed for, oh, the last year or so. No, not a lie-in-bed-chain-smoking- Nicaraguan-boredom depression, more like a crying-in-the-work-bathroom depression. If you've been reading this blog, you're probably aware of the fact that I'm currently in the process of getting a Ph.D. in microbiology. Year five and counting. I don't talk about work much, because hey, bacterial ribosomes aren't exactly hot blog fodder, and I generally make an effort to keep things light. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a bad deal: I like my project, I like my coworkers, and I'm getting paid to get an advanced degree. However, on the smaller scale, it's failed experiment upon failed experiment, 60 hour workweeks, very low pay, no finite ending, and the only feedback you ever get is negative: "You haven't made enough progress. These data don't support your hypothesis. You're not thinking deeply enough. You're overthinking things. You didn't do the proper controls. You need to be doing more experiments simultaneously. You're all over the place- you need to focus." I don't take it personally- that's how scientists are trained to think, and how they're training me to think. Find the flaws. Identify the alternative explanations to your data. Design and execute experiments accordingly. The problem is that after five years of hearing people tell you that your work isn't good enough, you start to believe them. Maybe it isn't. Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe I've chosen the wrong career, after all. Then you feel like shit, and you feel like shit about feeling like shit. Geez, it's not like I'm in a refugee camp in Darfur. There are far greater tragedies in life than a few crappy Western blots.

So, that's the mindset I've been battling for the last several months. On Friday, the first member of my incoming class of five defended her thesis. We went out for martinis on Saturday with a couple of other grad school friends to celebrate. We started talking about our various struggles, and I learned something. They're miserable, too! No progress. Fighting with their P.I. (Principle Investigator, a.k.a. lab boss) . Lack of a publication. Stress. Endless demands...do this experiment, then that one, then another one, then maybe you'll have enough for a paper. Listening to their complaints, a wave of relief just rushed over me. It's not just me! Grad school depresses everyone. It's not that I want them to be unhappy; it's just nice to know that I'm not alone.

Friday, April 04, 2008

What dog breed are you?

I saw this quiz over on Carmen's blog and just had to take it. I thought to myself "I'm totally going to be a golden retriever; I just know it. Friendly, bourgeois, blonde." Lo and behold, here are my results:

Click here to take the quiz. Your email address is required (annoying!), but you can enter a junk account because the results will pop up in addition to being sent to your email account.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It Came From The Internet

This incident occurred a few months ago, but I just heard about it recently. A mother hires a gorilla with balloons to surprise her son at school for his 16th birthday, but due to a mix-up, the entertainment company sends a stripper instead. Hilarity ensues.

Highlights from Allen Iverson's high school games. Football games. AI played quarterback, safety, and returned punts- pretty impressive. He also looks a lot taller when he's not surrounded by guys over 6'8".

I'm not much of a sweet tooth (lactose intolerance and a chocolate allergy essentially decimate the dessert category), but who can resist a blog all about cupcakes? Cupcakes Take The Cake.

Another YouTube gem: somewhere in China, a teenage boy shows off his moves to MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This," all while his mother calmly knits in the background. Recently, my friend JR found a video of his 13 year old brother doing a hip-hop dance routine while the disinterested family dog lounged on the bed behind him. I guess it just goes to show that teen boys videotaping themselves dancing is a worldwide phenomenon.

And lastly, but not leastly.....an Interspecies Friendship! Family dog rescues orphaned baby kangaroo. I can't get over how tiny the roo is. Either that, or Rex the dog is seven feet tall. A resident Australian related this story to me.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

You guys are never going to believe this!

The warm weather inspired to walk over to Copley to buy lunch today, and I was craving a burger, so I went to B. Good. I was staring at the menu board when someone asked me if I had eaten there before. The voice sounded oddly familiar, and I turned and found myself face to face with Ryan Seacrest. (Heaven forbid I run into Tom Brady or KG...right?) Anyways, of course I couldn't help but ask "Aren't you...? and he just smiled and said "Yes." I then went on to tell him that I had eaten there a bunch of times and rambled on about the various sandwiches I had tried and the fries and whatnot. Turns out he was really friendly and nice and is in town filming a commercial. We chatted for a bit longer, and he asked about fun places to go out in Boston, and I was all "Murphy's Law in Southie is AWESOME!" (Just kidding. I recommended the Beehive.) Then, the kicker...he didn't have any plans for this evening and asked me if I'd want to meet up with him for drinks. So yes, instead of pretending to go to the gym but actually going home to lie on the couch to watch Lost and drink a bottle of wine with my roommate, tonight, I'll be hitting the town with Ryan Seacrest. Don't worry, I'll definitely bring my camera.