Friday, January 18, 2008

Food for Thought

I was recently informed that if you google the words, "North Carolina, frosty, and sperm," you will get my blog.

I thought that was an interesting piece of information about the wide-array of diversity within this blog. Hell, I think they were all even within one post.

At any rate...

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Christmas Story (Part II)

The month of December seemed to move by pretty quickly, and before I knew it, it was time to fly back and see the family. I’ve been spoiled in this regard, because I have never lived further than a 2 h drive from “home.” Well, except the one year I was in the U.K., but I digress… There was never much preparation involved, throw clothes in bag, and leave. Now, I must plan months in advance to obtain a reasonable airfare, coordinate the drive to and from the airport etc., and most importantly budget the money. I had gone home for Thanksgiving, and that was pretty uneventful so I became brave and decided tried a different airport an add in a layover to get an *extra* cheap flight. Everything seemed like it would work out just fine. I was leaving rather early for Christmas, thereby missing the usual holiday rush. The other airport added another 1 h to the my drive but that was fine, I was saving $100.

It was madness up until the day of my departure. I was rushing to get critical experiments accomplished, which honestly, any experiment I rush to get done never works. It is a universal rule, and I have yet to learn my lesson. A friend from grad school was also visiting the day before I left. I haven’t seen her in a couple months and there was so much to talk about in so little time. Then the next thing I know it was off to the airport at 8 am the following day. I am happy to say I didn’t get lost, but it was further away then I initially anticipated and it was a very small airport. Good at that second b/c there were not long lines, and it was a breeze to get through check-in and security.

Now I neglected to inform you that when I tried to check in online the airline I booked my ticket with, I’ll call it airline A, would not allow me to check-in. Instead, I was redirected to another airline’s website (airline B) where I figured out that my first flight had been booked by airline A for airline B’s flight. OK.

I’m sitting at the appropriate terminal waiting to take off, when they announce the flight is delayed. I don’t know what traveler isn’t used to such an annoyance, therefore I wasn’t really concerned. I expected to miss my connecting flight, but was confident that the airline would work something out for me. Much to my chagrin, I find that airline B was unable to put me on another flight with them b/c I ordered my tickets via airline A, and they couldn’t book me an airline A flight as my connecting flight was indeed an airline A flight. Confused yet? Their advice: my best course of action was to find an airline A attendant and beg for help. Being at a super tiny airport (although they claim it is an international airport…I think maybe one flight leaves for an international destination) there were no airline A attendants to be found. I could go back through security and try at the check-in kiosks, but then I would miss the already delayed initial flight. I even tried calling airline A (I was on hold for 30 min) only to find out they could not help me either. I “yelled” (I’ve only actually yelled at someone twice in my life) at them for tricking me into flying on another airline, and if they could mix and match passengers why couldn’t they do the same for me now??? Phone guy: “Well miss, next time check your itinerary for this circumstance before you book your ticket.” Me: “Bite me.” No, no I didn’t say that but I wanted to. I have a PhD, I feel confident enough to say that I CAN read, and it didn’t say I was taking another airline until I tried to check-in online (24 h before departure AFTER the ticket was paid for). What makes the situation even more annoying is that another couple booked the same flight as myself from airline B and was told their flight was really an airline A flight so they were in the same boat as I was, just in reverse. Now, does that make any sense??

To make a long story short, after running around Cincinnati airport for over an hour, I did get my flight situation sorted out. After finally doing so, I asked the attendant, “What will happen to my luggage,” his response, “hahahahahahahahah.” I started to cry internally. To all those reprimanding me for checking bags, my response to you is I HAD TO. I did eventually receive my bags 2 days later, and left on the front steps of my mother’s home somewhere between the hours of 12-1 AM. That is another story in and of itself…

What I’ve learned from this experience:
1. Airlines are the devil.
2. Spend the extra money and take a direct flight from a *real* airport
3. Count your blessings, I complain, but my flight could have plummeted and crashed into a ball of flames/toxic fumes. I arrived, late but alive, and stuff is just stuff. Right? (;

After all this bad spiritedness (I don’t think this is a word but I will use it anyways) on my part, once I arrived at home I had a great time. It was probably the best Christmas I have had in recent memory. Lots of instrument playing, carol singing (my uncle got a karaoke machine and we went to town with it!), alcohol and family. Who could ask for anything more? It was the perfect prelude to the start of the New Year.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Christmas Story (Part I)

I haven’t posted as frequently as I envisioned in my head. I have no excuses. Now, I am used to being *very* busy, but I had always managed to fit everything in, plus. Currently I cannot say that I am so preoccupied with work, social things, etc that I have no time to post. I am just lazy. I don’t know if it’s b/c of everything that’s happened in the last 6 months that has completely stripped me of doing anything then just minimally functioning or that I no longer have an ounce of motivation (probably a combination of both I imagine). I manage to find a way to utilize all my new “free” time by doing absolutely nothing. It’s quite easy actually. Anyways, that kind of set the tone for the holiday season. Summing up, I was just bah humbug.

Usually by Dec 1st, I have orchestrated a Christmas cookie party, festively decorated the home, blasted the holiday tunes, and sent out the Christmas cards way in advance of any US postal service backlog. This year however, to no surprise to those who actually read the first paragraph, I did nothing. It didn’t help that we were getting 70 degree weather here in the Carolinas, so to someone used to 3 ft of cold powdery stuff…wearing tank tops, flip flops, and basking in the sun outside didn’t have me anxiously waiting for Santa Clause (not that I am at all complaining about the glorious weather!) To all my faithful friends who didn’t receive lovely glittery cards, I am sorry but I just couldn’t get myself to do it (nothing personal and I hope you don’t remove me from your own lists next year). I did manage to set up a tiny tree, but that took me about three weeks to fully undertake. I also participated in the departmental holiday dessert bake-off which is the closest thing to Christmasy that I can claim. This leads me into my story of sweet disaster…

In lieu of the usual Christmas cookie party, I participated in the lab dessert contest for our departmental holiday party. Now this is a big deal, as the boss made sure to point out this fact during lab meeting. My self, along with two other women in the lab decided to take on this lofty task of creating the best holiday dessert the department has ever seen. After tossing around a number of ideas, we decided on reconstructing a three-dimensional version of Frosty the Snowman. Most sane people would realize this is next to impossible, but alas, we are scientists, nothing is impossible. Now, I have to let you know that we were doing this all free-hand, no molds, no recipes, just our pure creative geniuses.

We put Frosty together, frosted and decorated him. He ends up being about 1.5-2 feet high, we inserted a 50 mL pipette down the center for structural stability. His midsection was a little heavy and leaned slightly forward, as if he was on roids with a barrel chest, but nothing too concerning (at least at the time). Everything was going exceedingly well; a little too well. The night was still “young” in fact. Since we all take the bus to work in the morning, we decided to drive Frosty to the lab where he would be stored until he needed to be transported yet again to the Christmas party. We all had our reservations about the moving him part, but we had no choice. We took many pictures beforehand to document how awesome he looked in case something happened.

Frosty (before)

The rest is a tragic story. Frosty didn’t survive the car trip to the lab. He had severe structural damage that even 5 tubs of Betty Crocker’s frosting could not fix at 12 am in the morning. I was so disappointed. We, with the advice of the others in the lab the next day, spun him off as Frosty the half-melted snowman due to the unseasonably warm weather at the time. We fashioned a paper sun and positioned it next to our leaning tower of Frosty right next to his “before” picture. Although, not as aesthetically pleasing as he once was, Frosty sure was delicious. We even tied with another lab for “most creative” dessert, but honestly, the fertilization lab we tied with always does the egg and sperm theme, so to tie with them for most creative was a let-down.

Frosty, the half-melted snowman

I guess if you label something as Part I, you should probably have a Part II… I promise the rest of the Christmas series is not a modern rendition of "A Christmas Carol."