Sunday, February 29, 2004

Whatever Happened to Saturday Night? ("Sunday Morning!")

*sigh* so, the first Saturday night o' work's going as expected... not a blessed thing to do, except a few make-up samples which I'll get to later. Cleaned some glassware, dashed upstairs to sample the remains of my celebratory lunch (I made a small spread for the crew on the occasion of completing my probationary period. The gang was most impressed with the dolmades I made), and brushed up on my websurfing.

Saw an old friend from years gone by over Shabbat. Twelve years, one marriage, and two kids later, and she looks the same as I remember... truly unfair; still, wonderful to see her again. Weird thing: she asked how I, "the genius," was doing. I guess I was something of a brainiac back in the day, but after all the people I've met since we last saw each other, it's hard for me to think of myself as smart. I went to school with so many brilliant people at Cooper, and I'm struggling to crank through my current program. I make a decent salary, but I'm sure that I'm in the median-to-low range of people whom I graduated with, and I'm not in any high-tech/ high-visibility field. It's kinda nice, though, to have people think you're intelligent.

Actually, I ran into two old friends this week, having re-read Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, which I first read about a dozen years ago. As magical a piece of storytelling as any I've ever experienced; I laughed, I cried, and I wanted it to never end. How you can have an Alabama murder mystery set in the '60s turn into the universal coming-of-age story is beyond my ability to explain, but McCammon does it with an effortless prose, incisive psychological insight, and boy's-eye view of life that is simply breathtaking.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

We'll Have a Gay Old Time...Not!

Despite the political blog links on the right, I try to keep out of political discussions/ arguments; however, this is one that I've just gotta say something about. Looking at the amendments made to the US Constitution over the years (I'm ashamed to admit just how little I've looked at this document in my life), I'm struck by just how ludicrous President Bush's proposed amendment is. The US Constitution has been amended 17 times in the 200 years since its original publication. Of those amendments:

  • 2 deal with Prohibition (enacting and repealing it)

  • 1 deals with the clean-up of the aftermath of the Civil War

  • 7 deal with purely procedural issues (elections and successions)

  • 5 expand rights and give protections to different groups

  • 1 grants states limited immunity from lawsuits

and one gives the federal government a power that it didn't have before (Number 16, allowing Congress to levy a national income tax).

Now, apparently, we need a second such amendment, giving the Federal government the right to tell the states what they can consider "marriage." Apparently, marriage, despite being an essential social stabilizing force, is such a fragile one that making it more inclusive to a minority population will completely ruin it.

Three-plus years ago, I received the most wonderful gift that I could ever ask for. Someone agreed to join my life permanently and accept the responsibilities of sharing my future existance, in exchange for my doing the same for her. My family loves me because that's part of their responsibility. My wife chose to love me and make my struggles and despairs a part of her life, and still thinks she got a good deal. To think that anything anyone else does will somehow diminish the staggering magnitude of that reduces the divine to a matter of competition.

Yes, I am an Orthodox Jew. Yes, I believe in the divinity of the bible, and yes, I've read Leviticus. I have many beliefs which are not reflected in American society, and Bush's amendment isn't based on the morality of homosexuality anyhow (I'd have much more respect for him if it were... I might disagree, but at least there would be some consistency in his arguments). Marriage might well need defending, but it needs it from those who break it, not those trying to join it.

The woman who first told me to marry The Lovely Wife(tm) has been together with her partner for decades now, and they've supported each other through difficult times, insane working hours, and a trans-continental move. They're a couple, have chosen each other, and deserve whatever benefits TLW and I have. Period.

I'm liable to edit this thing to make some more sense at some point, but that's gonna do for now.

Saturday Night's Alright for... PCB Analysis?!

Well, it looks like the shouting's finally gonna be over... From here 'till September, unless someone changes shifts with me, I'll be working morning shifts from Tuesday-Friday, and a Saturday-into-Sunday midnight shift. No late nights at Marie's or Brandy's for some time now... *sigh.* On the other hand, I can now make Ikea runs on Sunday, and install the stuff on Monday. Chez Efrex is not likely to look like an "after" picture from Queer Eye, but we can at least get some of the stuff littering the place put away.

Monday, February 23, 2004

I Go Workin' After Midnight

Ah the joys of the overnight shift.... yes, we still have no resolution as to how exactly my schedule can me re-arranged, but we've managed to squeeze another week of deliberations in: I'm working the Sunday midnight shift (aka the "waay too early" Monday morning shift) in exchange for my colleague's working my Saturday. TLW, as can be imagined, is not amused by this, but such is life. On the other hand, it is quite cool to have completely finished off the current job backlog (not a blessed thing to do in the place: every smelly chemical has found its home, and every jar of dielectric fluid its bin... okay, I'm getting a little too sleep-woozy here: I'm about to start reciting Goodnight Moon to the lab benches).

Baruch Hashem (thank G-d) for competent financial advisors. This morning, our accountant (yes, she keeps Sunday hours) handled six w-2 forms, a shower of assorted loose investments (make that losing investments... :(), several different school-related forms, and a barrage of questions from me with her usual aplomb. I don't care if it only takes her ten minutes to make out our return: it would take me a week of pulling my hair out (and I'm not so follicularly enhanced that I can afford that activity at my time of life), and I'd probably still end up making a mistake that would bring the delightful chaps of the IRS around, making polite inquiries.

G'night lab bench, Good night GC's, good night moisture meters and dielectric machines...zzzz...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Dum da dum dum...

Union-management meeting coming up in 2½ hours to figure out just what we're going to do with my schedule (currently Tues.-Sat. morning). We're gonna float the idea of my taking the Saturday midnight/Sunday early morning shift (currently a scheduled overtime shift) in lieu of Saturday morning, and opening Saturday morning as an OT shift. While there are no really good reasons why someone would have a problem with this, there's always the chance that someone'll complain about something. Of course, working Saturday midnight means bidding adeiu to a major part of my social life; then again, Sunday nights might turn up interesting things...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Good, the Sad, and the Scary

Ah, the joys of work politics: Looks like there's a reasonable chance that I'll be able to hold on to my job for the next eight months at least, assuming that my colleagues act somewhat civilized, give me a break and allow me to give up my Saturday nights for eternity. Still, it'll be nice to put this mess behind me and get on with working with smelly dangerous chemicals at weird hours.

None of the regular master's students besides me was able to make it to lecture today, so I got to demonstrate my mastery of some of the material before an early dismissal. Good to know that I have some clue as to what's going on, and that the 36-hour marathon review-and-homework-session over this weekend did me some good (nobody should have to read 400+ pages of organic chemistry over three days... I'm getting nightmares of enolate reactions).

The sis, bro-in-law, and niece are bidding sayonara to Washington Heights in favor of greener pastures in Joisey this week, which means that we've gotta prepare a big farewell lunch (according to TLW, comings and goings require celebratory meals)... so in addition to the two of us juggling a combined three jobs, a master's course, a sore throat, and missing a new episode of Queer Eye, we've gotta plan, shop, clean, and cook... feh!

Scary sight of the week: I got around to checking out one of the Easter eggs on the Rush in Rio DVD: a 1975 performance of "Anthem" from Fly by Night, featuring the boys in full 70s tight-shirts-and-perms, and Geddy Lee looking like Joan Baez *shudder* boy oh boy was fashion messed up the year I was born

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I Can Feel St. Elmo's Fire Burning in Me (No, Nevermind, it's Just Heartburn)

Talking to self: I chose to take organic synthesis, I chose to take organic synthesis, I chose to take organic synthesis...

So, my textbook is just as incomprehensible as I feared (I used its prequel for an earlier course), but I'm slogging through. Sentences read "the equilibrium will favor carbanion formation only when the acidity of the carbon acid is greater than that of the conjugate acid corresponding to the base used for deprotonation" instead of just "you want a strong base to make this thing work" (all you non-chem geeks who find both equally incomprehensible can just ignore this part...)

Anyhow, I've gotten most of the homework problems pretty well solved, I think; I'm gonna want to do a bit of library research on the remaining ones just to be sure, though.

Still playing iTunes in alphabetical order... fun combination of the moment: "St. Elmo's Fire" (hence the post title), followed by "Stars" from Les Mis, two different versions of Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and Moon," "Still Hurting" from The Last Five Years, and "Strange Fire" by the Indigo Girls. TLW isn't quite as amused by all this as I am, but I'm putting that down to her having to sit through a few gazillion hours of Disney movies in preparation for her lesson plan on animation. Oh, didn't I mention? She's now teaching an intro to film course at her not-quite first alma mater. I'm still waiting for her to teach her theatre course so that I can correct all her lesson plans ("Lesson 1: Sondheim Rules." "Lesson 2: Sondheim Rocks." "Lesson 3: Sondheim Kicks Tush." "Lesson 4: Webber & Wildhorn Stink." "Lesson 5: Rogers & Hammerstein, Gershwin, Porter, and a few Other Guys Wrote Some Good Stuff Too.")

Oh: "Strange Fire" was followed by "Stray Cat Strut..."

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Ugh, Ugh, Ugh...

Finding out just how little undergraduate orgo you remember/ ever learned is a painful thing. Figuring out just how much you're gonna need to bone up on (and pronto) is, well, really painful. I expect to be buried in two textbooks, and up to my neck in index cards over the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, in my own personal Dimension of Pain (sluggy reference, for those who get it) I've gone from talking in agony to swallowing in agony... feh.

Schedule wars at work are heating up nicely... the way things are currently filled in, I'll be scheduled to work Tuesday-Saturday from 3-11 pm for the entire year, which very neatly simultaneously conflicts with my religious practices, my school schedule, and my married life... something had better give, methinks, or ConEd's gonna be short a lab technician, and I'm gonna be short a salary :(.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Language, language...

Opening of this week's parasha makes me wish that I had room to carry more than just the Pocket Tanakh that I carry with me... I'm sure there's much commentary on the points that I've got, but I'll try to find them later:

1) Why is Yitro referred to by name in the beginning of the first section, but only by the appelation "Choten Moshe" at the end? For that matter, why is he simply "Yitro" when he praises G-d, but "Yitro, Choten Moshe" when he brings sacrifices? Would he not be allowed to bring offerings otherwise?

2) When Yitro sends word to Moshe that he's on his way, he says "I am coming, and your wife and her two sons are with her. Seems like an odd structure. Would seem to make more sense to say "and your wife and your sons are with me, no?

Friday, February 06, 2004

You say "the-UH-ter", I say "the-AY-ter"

As per the persistent insistence of The Lovely Wife(tm), I have corrected the horrible misspellings of "theatre" on this site's headings and FAQ. For someone who can't pronounce "forehead," "orange," or "Florida," correctly, you'd think she'd be somewhat forgiving of her husband's use of a perfectly acceptable spelling.

Seth, this means you haveta update all your links to me so that my Google rankings get back up there. :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Aren't we eclectic?

One of the most surreal things I've done in a while: play my iTunes library in alphabetical song order. When Rush's "2112" is followed by "867-5309 (Jenny)," you just gotta laugh, or something.

Now, if I can just find something for this aching throat o' mine... it hurts to talk, and for those of you who know me, that means that I'm in a LOT o' pain...*sigh*

Monday, February 02, 2004

I'm Super, thanks for asking...

Hmm... look's like yoxio has gone the way of the dodo, so I'm gonna haveta try to find some new image hosting service... any suggestions?

Ah, the traditional Super Bowl party in Brooklyn last night... much fun seeing old friends (and when did all these little kids start showing up? Sheesh, I'm gettin' ancient), and whatta game! Because of work, I didn't see too many snaps during the regular season (considering how my team did, that might be considered a blessing), so it was nice to actually see a complete game for the first time in a year. Not to be catty, but is Janet Jackson trying to match her brother in plastic surgery? Looks like Dow Corning might haveta dedicate a new wing of their next plant to her... *sigh* and she used ta be pretty. The Lovely Wife(tm) took the most offense, not at the whole breast-baring thing, but the murder of a perfectly good decent annoying, but still enjoyable 80s song ("Hey Diddy!" *shudder*). Great game, though, and Jake Delhomme impressed me to no end... this guy's got guts, mental presence, and a great arm. Head's up, Jake... you'll probably be back in the big game soon enough.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Ergo, Orgo!

Is this the way a career is supposed to get started? The way it looks, I'll wind up being an organic chemist when I grow up finish my coursework... not because that's really my primary interest (I always thought of myself as more of an analytical type, considering my original intentions), but that's what courses fit into my schedule. Fortunately, having an excellent instructor teaching my elective courses makes the regrets a bit less painful, and as long as I can get myself into a research project that lets me put chemicals into machines that go ping, I should be ok.

It's also a bit daunting to see some 20 PhD students sitting in on a 3-student master's class, but that's another story entirely. I'll get used to it, and turn into the appropriate mad scientist soon enough, I s'pose. Now, where can I find something to generate 1.21 gigawatts?