Friday, October 31, 2008

Dunder Mifflin, Richmond Branch

For Halloween, my lab dressed up as the cast from The Office.

Back row: Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly, Kelly Kapoor, Meredith Palmer, Holly Flax, Dwight Schrute
Front Row: Angela Martin (yours truly), Michael Scott, Jan Levinson with baby Astird

In what may easily be the best picture from the day: Meredith and Angela.

Unfortunately, there weren't that many people in the laboratory as a whole who understood our gag. They all had to ask why we were dressed up. We'd tell them who we were, and they'd say "ohhh.... ok... i don't really watch that show... "
Meh. what do you expect from a bunch of science nerds?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

another day, another microsoft office application

I'm giving a presentation next weekend, at the Virginia branch ASM meeting, on my fellowship project.

It's weird to see so many months of work and research and technical experience wrapped up in a paltry Powerpoint lecture. But hey, that's research for ya.

I'm honestly not that jazzed about giving a presentation. I did one last fall at last year's meeting, and it was fine. I don't have a fundamental problem with giving lectures or presentations, provided I know what I'm talking about. I even sort of enjoyed it during my school days, especially if I could inject some humor or creativity into it.

I don't quite feel the freedom to do that nowadays. Now that there's real taxpayer money involved. Stupid apperance of professionalism. What a farce. I'm no professional. I dance in the laboratory. I do the elevator/escalator/stairs/rowboat gag when I walk by the windows of the PCR lab sometimes. shoot. I'm not trying to fool anybody.

Oh well. Mycobacteria are NO LAUGHING MATTER.

On another note-- diatoms just blow my mind.

Monday, October 27, 2008

a riot a minute

One week and some change into the internet dating scene, and I'm a little overwhelmed.

I've also joined an additional network, thx to plumpdumpling's behest: OkCupid. dot com.

Since OkCupid is free and has a bit of an edgier user interface, I made my profile a little less serious and a little more snarky. Plus, I was (still) worn out from the exhaustive introspection I'd had to do in order to whip up my profile.

Either way... there are so many people out there. Sometimes I kind of feel like I'm trying to out-wit fate by doing my own self-matchmaking. Cheating. Give me the old fashioned days when a gentleman caller would come a-courtin' in the family parlour.

Mind you, quantity does not mean quality. I'm sure there are good guys in the mix (perhaps the male equivalent of myself lurks within), but they are hard to weed out among all the average, ho-hum kind of gentlemen in the field. All the dudes start to look the same after a while. Yeah, yeah, we get it. You're looking for a nice, friendly, athletic girl with a sense of humor who is just as happy sitting on the couch with you watching Family Guy as she is getting dressed up and going out on the town with you. No drama, no games. You're looking for something real. Blah, blah, blah. YOU AND EVERY OTHER DUDE ON THE INTERNET, JUNIOR.

Good thing I've got that whole "Christian, and yes I actually mean it" thing going for me. It's a good qualifying factor for interested parties. Best damn birth control I ever had. That and my sparkling personality.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

i think i just wasted sixty bucks.

Yesterday evening, while I was browsing, a local young gentleman contacted me (you can chat while you're logged on to the site).

I don't really like to chat with strangers online... but if I don't go out of my comfort zone just a hair, then I'll never get this dating business off the ground.

So I decided to say hello back to the gentleman. This wasn't even a guy whose profile I had looked at, or anything. His profile was sparse and uninformative, and all of his pictures were of him flexing, shirtless.

Muscleheads don't go after chicks like me, ok? It upsets the natural order of the universe. So I knew something was up.

After an especially brief exchange of small talk (hi. what's up. nothing much. what part of town are you from.) he asked if I wanted to come over and watch a movie. at 9 pm on a Wednesday.


I said that it sounded fun but I was awfully tired, and perhaps might be up for meeting for a drink sometime. (in public. where i can have friends come and make sure there's no, uh... funny business.)

His response?

"it's still early. i have bud light, do you like that?"

um. one of us is getting the picture, and one of us is not. i declined.

Online matchmaking at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

get ready

Obama's in town today.

From our building you can see the hordes of people outside the stadium he's going to be speaking in. The doors aren't opening for another hour, but people have been lined up for some time already.

I went to a presidential campaign rally once-- a Bush rally in 2004. THAT was a life experience. I was fresh off the heels of my study abroad trip to Europe, fresh from having met a world of new people with divergent ideologies (all of whom made it clear to us Americans how much they hated Bush and plead with us not to vote for him). I was back in the US with a new perspective, a new sense of independence, and a new eyebrow piercing.

-- Say what you want about the eyebrow piercing; I will maintain until my dying day that I liked it and have no regrets about having had it. --

Anyway... the Bush rally. An NHL hockey arena full of screaming Americans waving signs and chanting slogans for one man. My God, I don't know what it's like to be that excited about ANYTHING. Nothing's that black-and-white to me.

How absurd, it seemed, to see grown men in business suits booing the competitor as if he were a cartoon villain twirling his mustache and throwing a sacrificial virgin into a volcano.

I fully expect passionate people to care about the candidates they endorse. Don't get me wrong. If everyone approached politics the way I do, things just wouldn't get done.

But I wish people wouldn't approach elections as battles of good vs. evil. Because that is not what this is. Both candidates are human beings. Both parties have strengths and weaknesses, and obviously most people find they resonate with one's ideas more than the other.

It bothers me that I would actually lose some of my friends if I aired my political beliefs. That some people I know would truly think less of me if they knew I disagreed with them. That some people have such a misdeveloped sense of Truth, Justice, and the American Way that they don't see how anyone could be a worthwhile person and still vote for [whomever].

Some people even have the balls to say that someone "can't" be a Christian and still vote for the candidate they disagree with.


That's right, guys, I can't possibly have a legitimate, deep-rooted Christian faith and disagree with you. I mean, hell. There's no WAY my viewpoint could have any merit or resonance with the Bible, right? 'cause Jesus was clearly a bleeding-heart liberal/whip-toting conservative, right? With the American flag pinned on His lapel, right?

Wrong. He equally championed Justice AND Mercy.

Vote for the candidate whom you want to be President, but remember it's two politicians running for office. It's not Jesus vs. Beelzebub on the ballot.

Monday, October 20, 2008

i'm shocked. SHOCKED

Thus far into the game, I'd have to say internet dating is a lot like regular dating:
The ones you want to hear back from, you don't hear back from.
The others are in endless supply, and they're persistently interested.
Why did I think it would be any different?
On the plus side, my much-atrophied flirting muscle is getting a good workout. It's like a simulator for learning to navigate the bar scene. It comes so easily and naturally for some people, but others, like me, are constantly behind the social curve and thus in dire need of extra help. (um, it SAYS SO in my Briggs-Meyers personality profile, so it must be true)

Really! What's the natural flow of interactions in the world of the regular, well-adjusted folk?

(get ready to look inside the mind of, like, "my people" or whatever)

Where you have potential hangups at the rhombus-shaped action points, "reciprocate flirtation" and "decline advances." With online matchmaking, you can decline advances from the comfort of your own home, with the cozy blanket of anonymity to cover you. You're not rejecting a person. You're rejecting an internet profile. Rest easy, weary introvert.
The internet also makes it easy to respond with appropriate means of flirtation reciprocation. Where a regular nerd might strike out by making a terrible joke or a deer-in-headlights face (:: Andrea raises hand meekly ::), Match gives you the handy, tried-and-true options of winking back or sending an email.
And you go from there.
Not that you can ever really CURE the date-deficient with such simple means. You can lead a horse to water, after all...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

dot coooooooooommmmmmmmmmmm

I have a new toy. It's MATCH DOT COM.

Yes, the online dating service.

Recently, it came to me: "I should be going on more dates." I don't know what social rubric I'm measuring myself against, but once I had that epiphany, I was sure I was on to something.

I SHOULD be going on more dates. They are fun. I like them. I'm young. I'm in the prime of my life.

(actually, i kinda hope not. i hope it gets better in many respects.)

I'm probably not gonna get a whole lot better looking, though. And thus I should be going on more dates.

I filled out profiles on both match-dot-com and eHarmony-dot-com just to see if the fish were biting, so to speak. I know eHarm's supposed to have the more in-depth method of calculating what's a good match for you and what's not based on this EXTENSIVE personality test. I'm sure there's merit to that.

But I don't always agree with what personality tests say I am. I especially dislike the personality tests that just have you pick an opinion on a gradient of Not Important ---> Very Important or whatever, because I hate to pick an extreme opinion on things... I try to be balanced! And the alternative to picking an extreme opinion on things is just having a sort-of-lame stance on things that makes you appear, as my friend Melissa put it, "milquetoast." (ha! great word.)

Plus, on eHarm, they'll match you with someone for free but you can't see their pictures or communicate with them until you pay. (the communication part I understand, because they've got to make their money, but I am not gonna pay exorbitant fees just to find out my luuuurve match is some fugly dude. call me shallow.)

I would rather see what someone has to say about himself than what a test says about who he is. I might not be "the norm," but I --personally-- can tell a WHOLE LOT about a person by how they write and how they groom themselves. Which Match was willing to offer for free-- you just have to pay for the option of communicating with them. That seemed reasonable enough for me.

So now I wade through the sea of "winks" (analogous to the Facebook "poke") to see if anyone might be an option for me.

I dunno what I can say for myself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Darryl Hall ISO John Oates -- w4w

What do all these characters have in common?

Paul Simon
Ethel Mertz
Felix Unger
Jennifer Saunders
Bud Abbott
Oliver Hardy
George Michael
David Spade

Although standing alone you sort of know who they are... they are not HALF as special without their counterpart. Seriously, what's George Michael without Andrew Ridgeley? He might have a little merit with a solo career, but if we're really being honest with ourselves we know he was at his best as half of Wham!.

I'm lacking a counterpart these days.

Don't hear what I'm not saying, now... I'm not lacking friends. I have friends here, and I like them a real lot. I don't want to diminish their value.

I've been embarking on my metaphorical solo career for the past year or so. I've had a couple of hits here and there... coupla chart toppers... but it just ain't what it could be. I could be so much more with a Garfunkel. I WAS so much more when I had people who could fill the place of Lucy, R2D2, Louise, et al. in my life.

They weren't easy to come by, and their current absence is a real loss. It just kinda takes a special person to complement my weirdifesto. Someone who sees the world through the same puce-colored glasses as I do. Someone who loves that I used the word "puce," for example.

I'm thinking about placing a Richmond Craigslist Personals ad for my local counterpart. I really might do it. If she's half the train wreck I want her to be, she'll be lookin'.

Or he.

I guess it could be a guy.

I spose if I found a guy good enough to be my cohort, it wouldn't be a bad idea to marry him.

meh. cross that bridge, etc. etc.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

vent thyme

So, I've mentioned before that my cubicle is in a central office area. There are eight cubicles surrounded by eight offices.

Only one of the cubicles is regularly occupied. That'd be me. There used to be a lot more people in here, but not anymore for one reason or another. Transients come in and out of the administrative area through the day to mill about, have meetings with the managers, check and see if anyone brought in snacks or candy, and use the cubicles for a spell.

Apparently since I'm still here, and since I'm probably typing or reading or something and not making baking soda volcanoes, that makes me a secretary and not a scientist.

No, I do not know where Manager X is.

No, I do not know how to fix a copier.

It's one thing when people ask me simple, quick questions. That's okay. We all do it.

It's the ABSOLUTELY POINTLESS self-justifying explanations that follow I can't take.

"well, i was just asking because we were supposed to have a meeting at four but it's five after and i called her blackberry and she didn't answer and she needs to approve this before the end of the day. well! that's fine, if she's not going to be around then i can just take off too, blah blah blah"


"well, i was trying to do this one thing where the page is longer and part of it is collated and i think we're supposed to use this special paper but i saw someone do it another way and nobody said anything about the server being down so blah blah blah"

Ladies and Gentlemen, you are not going to find someone on this earth who cares about your trifles less than I do.

I don't work with your manager. I don't even work with YOU. Obviously I must have "please come and complain at me" written on my forehead. I realize you are just trying to make yourself feel justified for being high-strung and petty and in a foul mood. But that's why they give you breaks during the work day, so you can go have a bitch-fest in the coffee room.

If I'm at my desk typing or studying, are we having a coffee break? No. We are not.

Do the math and let me work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If you depleted Dr. Torres of melanin...

Recently, someone said to me, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Dr. Torres from Grey's Anatomy?"

That's not a show I follow, but I've seen a few episodes of it. So upon hearing the compliment, I thought...

"enh? seriously?"

I did a Google Image Search (GIS) for Callie Torres and Sara Ramirez (the actress), and had trouble making the connection. She's a curvy Latina. And apparently her character is currently experimenting with a female paramour. Picture after picture was of her being her voluptuous exotic self in a satin awards ceremony dress, with a starlet's camera smile on her face.

Not Andrea.

Although, let's not be skin-deep here, people. I kept looking for pictures to help me see what someone else saw.

[Dr. Callie Torres] - [hot lesbian latina action] = [Andrea]

NOW we're talkin.
I've cast that furtive glance many-a-time.

I don't have any photographic proof of that handy right now. Unfortunately, much like Ms. Ramirez, I'm hard-pressed to find pictures of myself on Les Internets that don't involve a fat grin on my face. But take my word for it.

Monday, October 6, 2008


If I had to pick a favorite time of year, autumn would be my answer.

It seems simple enough-- leaves turning, cooler weather, football games, bonfires, the upcoming holidays, etc.

But I get depressed every autumn. What the heck for? Nothing's wrong. Empirically, life now is just as good as it was two months ago. There aren't any major troubles that pop up when the leaves start turning.

There is something, though. And whatever it is, I am severely allergic to it. Not allergic in the well-understood "hay fever" sense... no sneezing, no runny nose, no coughing, but it's still a physical allergy.

My entire body is itchy and irritated. Everything I wear is uncomfortable. End result: moody, miserable Andrea.

Last night I lay in bed, irritated by the fact that I could hear my roommate eating. The simple, irregular noise of her hand rumpling the plastic lining of a box of cereal every 30-45 seconds was enough to drive me over the edge. And sometimes, God forbid, she would cough. How dare she make such human noises at the ungodly hour of 11 p.m.!

I was tempted to bust out the door and petition that she pour out the amount of cereal she wanted into a bowl so I would not have to hear the crumpling of plastic and rustling of honey-glazed, toasted oat tori every god-forsaken minute. Fortunately, I was still able to understand what a ridculous request that would have been.

And even if I had gotten her to stop that racket, I'm sure some other innocuous noise would have driven me up the wall. Like... her breathing or something. Maybe a cricket chirping outside would have had to meet with the business end of my shoe.

So here I am, at work, feeling miserable and uncomfortable. BUT YAY, IT'S FALL.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

100th Post

Have I really posted 100 times on this blog? That seems like a lot.

I'm currently updating my resumé.

And I really hate that I had to look up the Windows Character Map to find out how to make that stupid "é." But I think I'd hate it more if I were updating my ruh-ZOOM.

Anyway, I know I have a lot of assorted professional skills... just like anyone who's done lab rotations for a year ought to have. But I don't enjoy finding the most grandiose verbage to describe my work experience. Unfortunately, unless I use said grandiose verbage, I know I'm not actually doing my resumé correctly. And if I'm going to bother writing a resumé at all... I'm going to want to do it right... because it actually matters these days what goes on my CV (that's curriculum vitae, or the Latin way of saying resumé).

There's actual pressure on me now, to be accurate and thorough on my CV. If I don't list everything I'm competent in, then I'm potentially short-changing myself out of the right job. I feel, though, that the more I list, the more I look like a pretentious schmuck. But apparently I have to TELL employers that I can make a 70% ethanol solution, because it's just not safe to assume that sort of competency in a job candidate anymore.

I didn't work the cash register at Kohl's. I carried out point-of-sale transactions.

I was not a babysitter. I was a child-care technician (kidding... I'm not really listing that).