Friday, February 15, 2019

Placeholder for less vague updates

I quit one of my jobs this week. I'm finishing the semester and I'm out. Hurrah!

I'm interviewing for another job, which would be full time but not permanent. My co-workers are all desperately curious but I can't talk about it at ALL. No, really, guys, not at all.

I'm keeping my current second job because I'm in the middle of a big, successful joint project with someone else whom I a) like and work well with and b) don't want to ditch. And it's going so well! New Maybe Job is okay with this and would schedule around it.

(My current third job - no, I'm not joking- is only this semester. Thank goodness. The constant rushing about is extremely wearing.)

My oldest kid has been stealing small stuff from friends. This has inspired despair but also a future post about the stuff that I know I'm doing right.

Also! Turns out having two jobs pays more!

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Irritating Co-Workers

From: Dude, Dinosaur White
Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 1:09 PM
To: Scientist, Jenny F; Professor, A.Visiting Chemistry
Cc: Technician, Chemistry Lab; Chair, Department
Subject: Laboratory Room

[I have had to paraphrase extensively but I ASSURE you the original was just the same.]

I want to communicate to you how the conditions in our lab classroom have been changing, as we share it for the non-major lab courses.

Back when I was a Cub Scout, decades ago, I learned an adage about always leaving a place tidier and cleaner than I found it, which is a standard I, myself, have always rigorously enforced.  Today I went into lab an hour early and found a distressing amount of 'mess' [sic]. We can and must do better than this.   

I would never leave a lab in such a state and I am appalled that any of you would do so; it's outrageous to expect the next class to come into a lab in such a condition.  I always come early and stay late so I can make sure everything is maintained in acceptable conditions.  You need to make your students be accountable for keeping all the materials orderly and if they do not I expect you to clean it up yourselves.  

It is not the lab technician's job to clean up even though he does it sometimes.  The students are always moving things and it is your job to make sure they do not.

Please, let’s all try to work together a little more to make our work as agreeable as possible.

Thank you,


Hi Dinosaur Dude Co-Worker,

Let me edit that for you so it's more likely to meet with success:

"Hi!  I've noticed the lab in RoomNo is getting kind of messy.  How about next week we all pitch in and tidy it up?"


J.F. Scientist
[Also, fuck you.]

My spouse says my response is too snarky and I ought not to send it; he should have seen it BEFORE I took out four more sentences, including one about learning the Golden Rule in Sunday School decades ago.  Note that this is ANOTHER ADJUNCT NOT MY EFFING BOSS (I don't think I'll need to burn down my job over this but I HATE teaching this damn lab anyways.) I am PISSED at the presumption of some mediocre white dude thinking he gets to order around two other instructors because we're younger and female.  Burn. It. Down.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year, New Migraine

My only real goal for the year to come is to figure out what the hell is setting off migraines (after a hiatus of seven years!) without engaging in magical thinking ("I had some turkey sausage three days before and also some chocolate and also I had a sinus infection aaaaaand was up all night with a sick kid but it was the chocolate, right?")

Wish me luck! The nearest competent migraine doctor is a 90 minute drive away, so, bah.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

House Renovations

Dear Readers, the spouse has taken the children off for a week (a week!) with his terrible family.*  My dad came over for a few days, we made a lot of curry (the traditional Christmas food of my people), and we:
  • Replaced the kitchen faucet and a bathroom faucet
  • Replaced all three showerheads
  • Swapped out a bunch of outlets** and switches
  • Painted the bathroom ceiling
  • Fixed the leaky roof
  • Put a new glass panel in the storm door, as it exploded one day
  • Hung a curtain rod
  • Patched three holes
  • Painted Sweetpea's room, which suffered from grubby flat paint
  • Polyurethaned two sets of shelves and a set of wooden crates
I also went to a Christmas eve party, went to a knitting party, did the grocery shopping, and cleaned the house.

I have two days to do all the touch ups, re-polyurethane the shelves, and assemble them.  I can do this, right?  Right.

* I have suggested he NOT GO next year
** Only one of which is now completely broken; I think if I get a different/right one it'll fix it

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Life Renovations

Thing I did this year (or continued doing) that greatly improved my life:

  1. Continued to mostly) not read Books By Dudes.
  2. Read a lot of books.
  3. Offloaded a significant amount of child wrangling to the spouse.
  4. Did a bunch of reorganizing and culling.
  5. Bought a robot vacuum.
  6. Went to a loooooot of physical therapy.
  7. Disengaged from everyone I know who a) has severe anxiety/mental illness and b) refuses to seek any treatment.
  8. Started a huge Science Project at work, which makes me happy/ is useful/ makes me like my job way more.
  9. Took the kids to the beach just because they wanted to go.
  10. Stopped drinking alcohol almost at all (health stuff; I'm not HAPPY about it but it's better for me).
  11. Quit F@cebook and stuck with it.
  12. Stopped grocery budgeting.
  13. Bought one pair of really comfy shoes.
  14. Made the kids take over some cleaning chores.
  15. Taught Hebrew School.
  16. Put more effort into eating in a way that helps my body feel better.

What made your year more awesome?

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Marshmallow Making Tips

In a moment of... something... I decided to make fancy marshmallows for my entire department as a holiday gift.  (There are 24 people in this department.) Here I have collected all the things I learned from the internet and/or painful experience.

Figure 1: Supplies for Less Sticky Marshmallow Making
  1. This recipe is mostly fine and this one is extremely detailed.  (I am trying coffee marshmallows next!) Use a recipe that calls for a thermometer and boil the sugar to 240F.
  2. Use cooking spray, not oil (the silicone helps maybe?  I don't know.)
  3. Spray your marshmallow-forming tray or dish, then wipe it with a paper towel so it's evenly coated.
  4. After your marshmallows have set, take a piece of parchment paper and spray it too, then wipe with a paper towel.
  5. In a bowl, mix about 1:3 cornstarch and powdered sugar.  I used one cup of powdered sugar and it was enough for four batches of marshmallows.
  6. Spray and wipe a knife and kitchen scissors.  Cut strips with the kitchen scissors, then transfer the strips to the parchment paper.  Cut them into squares with the knife.  Roll in the sugar/starch mixture and store in something (here I have a Ziploc bag).
  7. Re-wipe the knife and scissors regularly.
  8. If you run out of corn syrup part way through, use the equivalent mass of sugar (about 3/4 cup white sugar per cup corn syrup) and add a teaspoon of lemon juice* and simmer to temperature more slowly.
  9. Add the salt to the gelatin bloom.
  10. You can add the flavoring after the mixture is stiff, but it doesn't always mix in well (see also: some marshmallows which are VERY PEPPERMINT right now).  You can add it to the sugar syrup, but your marshmallows will be slightly flatter, especially depending on the oil content of the extract.**  If you add it at the very end, make sure to stir well with a spatula.
  11. I have only succeeded in smoothing the surface by putting a well-oiled parchment paper on top.  Spatulas resulted in sticky mess everywhere.
Happy marshmallow making!

 1. We have lost the pizza wheel so I have no data.
2. Chilling does make them easier to cut!
3. I made the Bravetart  marshmallows with exactly four drops liquid smoke (and a little butter vanilla flavoring) and they are the best marshmallows I have ever eaten (warm: when cooled they were not smoky enough, rats.)
4. If you're going to drizzle with chocolate don't roll in powdered sugar first. It doesn't stick.

Finished product:

* You get acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of the sucrose, which prevents crystallization because you have a mixed system then.
** Oil tends to destabilize water-protein emulsions.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ill Advised Choices

Thursday night at 5 pm, after Thanksgiving lunch, my mom and I went to the local Walmart. Not for discounted holiday shopping, oh no: for a plain old air mattress for my cousin. I would have gotten one last week, but they didn't say they were coming until the last minute. Anyhow.

My friends, I have never seen such a sight. Camo jackets as far as the eye could see! All the registers blocked off awaiting 6 pm! Hordes of people prepared to wait a full hour for an array of discounted electronics, toys, household goods, and socks! It was like a living commentary on consumerism, poverty, and the rural south all in one.

My mother and I extracted the air mattress from a shelf with the help of some bystanders, made a circuit until we found the only open cash register, and fled into the night. We hopped in the car, buckled up, and...

...heard the clicking wheeze of a starter turning over, and over, and over.....

Eventually my dad came and jump-started the car but, dear readers, I have seen Hell and it is a Walmart parking lot after Thanksgiving.