Memorial Day Weekend 2010

31 05 2010

First, thank to those who have served to protect our country and freedom.

Wow. Nice 4 day weekend.


I spent Friday helping Birthday Girl & Giggles again.  Got a slight sunburn on my back, but it’s not bad. The column we started, is completely finished.

So I got to start on the big railing. I got most of one half of it done.

I spent Friday night hanging out with Giggles, Birthday Girl, ME and Artsy. Grilled chicken, salad from Giggles & BG’s garden, grilled kielbasa, corn on the cob and macaroni salad from Kuhn’s (the best mac salad EVER.) I love cookouts at Giggles & BG’s place. So laid back, and I love spending time in their kitchen with BG making the salads that we always have.


Saturday was the Yinz Team baseball OTA batting practice. I still fail at fielding a ball, but I did manage to get a few decent hits. I’m looking forward to this season and my team: Team Porkchop Express.  I also spent a few hours at the library, being a good student on Saturday. 🙂 Go me!


Sunday was the infamous Memorial Day Weekend party at Pseudo-Twin’s house. It was low key this year.  So much less crowded than last year.

We were treated to HowIMetYourRugger playing in the hillside of weeds… No real idea of what he was trying to accomplish…

We did manage to scrape together a Beer Olympics. Being that I do not, nor have I ever, participated in such things, I was the Beer Olympics “official.”

The teams of two participated in a beer pong tournament, a beer hurdles event (involving a beer poured into an ice cube tray and straws) and a dizzy-bat flip cup event (spin around the bat 5 times, run to the table, drink 1/2 of a beer, flip your cup, tag your teammate, rinse, lather, repeat.)

Yeah, these are things I’ve never wanted to be a part of. Thankyouverymuch. I was happy to be the score taker and announcer.

HowIMetYourRugger also brought some lobsters to the party… to be cooked on the grill.  He apparently also brought filet, but I didn’t get a picture of that.

Around the time these lobsters went on the grill, I left. Around 10pm. I drank maybe 2 1/2 beers during the 6 hours I was there. I wasn’t in the mood to drink, definitely didn’t want to get pulled over, and I had to study today since the library closed before I could get there on Friday.


I let myself sleep in till around 10, and I took a nap. I spent the whole day inside, studying on & off and watching TV and watching the rain outside. Nice, lazy, but responsible day.

And wow the rain and thunder today. Especially late in the day!

Tomorrow I’m back to class at 8am. The first big exam is on Wednesday, so I’ll be going to the library immediately after class and staying there as long as I can manage. I WILL get an A on this test.  I’m actually excited to get done with class & lab and get to the library.

I know, we’re all confused with this “responsible” person studying and trying to do her best as a “student.”

Thanks to all of you that I’ve seen this weekend who have asked how things are going and congratulated me and gave me support to continue how I’m doing. I have some pretty awesome friends. Yinz Team and ruggers. I love you guys.

Sad news.

28 05 2010

I was at Birthday Girl & Giggles’s place tonight for a cookout and got a phone call from Dilbert. He was relaying a message with some sad news.

Zotter the Potter, a long-standing regular at My Living Room passed away today.


Zotter’s studio and home was across the street from My Living Room. He was such a nice guy. And an incredibly talented potter. His gifts were purchased by many people, all over the world. I bought his wedding crock for a friend’s wedding and my sister and her husband.

One Christmas, he made all of the female employees at My Living Room tiny little versions of the wedding crock. I loved mine. I took it into work and used it as a pen holder on my desk.

It’s going to be very strange to walk into My Living Room again and know there’s no chance of Zotter being there.

Zotter, we’ll miss you.

10 Questions from Kim

28 05 2010

I got home from class last Wednesday and decided to take a look at my Google Reader. I went through some posts and saw that Kim had a new one out there. So I start reading. And by the time I got to Question #5, I just knew that my name would be at the “tag” list at the end…

And of course, there I was. I commented and said I’d get to it soon. And Kim, being who she is and a good friend, told me not to let it get in the way of school. 🙂

And I didn’t. But I’m taking a night off from school (see previous post)

So, here are the questions she gave us:

1. What’s your favorite color?

Any bright, vibrant primary color. But I usually tend to lean towards blue. Bright, royal blue.

2. If you were headed to a desert island and could take just one CD, what would it be?

This is a tough question. I’m a music lover. All kinds. ALL. This is like making me choose a favorite child, assuming I had children.

I guess I’d want something I’ve always liked, that makes me happy and that gets me moving. Huey Lewis & the News Greatest Hits would probably be it.

3. Ginger or Mary Ann?

I’m old, but Ginger and Mary Ann is truly before my time. And I really don’t remember watching Gilligan’s Island reruns growing up, or knowing much about the show… But, from what I do know, I’d probably say Mary Ann.

4. Cake or pie? Why? What kind? (Yeah, I’m calling that one question.)

Assuming I’m presented with both, I’d choose cake.

However, if I could have Sugar Pie from Rôtisserie Laurier BBQ in Montreal, I’d chose that. Hands down. It’s delicious.

5. What was your favorite book when you were in high school?

I have never had a favorite book. There are ones I really like, ones I enjoyed reading, but I’ve never had a favorite. I have always been a BIG reader. I started reading my The Nana’s mass-market paperbacks (mostly murder mystery type things) when I was in 6th grade or so…

The only book I’m POSITIVE I’ve owned since HS is the French version of The Little Prince. I read it then, and I’ve read it multiple times since then.

6. What is your dream car?

Back when I was in HS and the Mazda Miata first came out, that was my dream car.

Now? It’s my Midgie. She’ll be mine, all mine, in August… I know my answer should be something more fancy or advanced, but I loooove the car I have now. And I’m pretty sure now that my car loves me back.

7. If you had unlimited resources for a service project anywhere in the world, what would you do and where?

Before you read this, see #2 and #9. Band geek on the premises… I love me some music. If I had unlimited resources? I’d do a ton of research, figure out where the band/musical instrument void was and then try to help fill it. It would be the most fun thing ever – to buy a ton of different musical instruments and deliver them to kids. I still remember the day I got my clarinet and the day I started playing the euphonium. I’m so moved by music that it amazes me, still.

I really believe that music education in schools is important.

8. Do you speak a language other than English?

I can kind of speak French. Or rather, I should be able to speak French, but haven’t even tried in many, many years. I can understand it when I hear it, for the most part, and I can still read it pretty well. French was actually my major when I first entered college. Hah!

9. What is your musical guilty pleasure? (Stolen from Tara’s list)

I don’t know that I have one. My musical tastes range include Classical, Country, Rock, Pop, 80’s music, Bluegrass, Rap, Punk Rock, etc. etc. But lately, Glee and the songs from the show are probably my guilty pleasure. I don’t spend much on my iTunes, but I seem to buy a song from each show, or the soundtracks, when they are released. Love them!!

10. What did you do on your last vacation?

On my last, real (not a holiday,) vacation, I went to Florida (imagine that!) to meet Little C last June. We didn’t really do much except take walks with Little C and the dog, D. And it was a wonderful vacation!

I’ve decided not to tag anyone on this. Not because I don’t want to, but because that would require me to think about whom to tag, and even though I’m taking a night off from classwork, I do have other things to catch up on!


27 05 2010

As of today, I am one-third of the way done with this Bio class. Wow. Kinda crazy, right?

But that’s what speed bio is.

I got a 9.5/10 on yesterday’s lab report. I thought I did better, but I mis-read a question and of course, my response was wrong. But it was only 1/2 of a point, so that’s okay.

Anyway, we had a quiz on basic chemistry today. As per the professor’s info the first day, after the 1st quiz of each section, we’d be given extra credit questions covering the previous material.

Before class, a classmate and I were quizzing one another. I seriously seemed clueless! Oh, goody. But I’m writing it off to sleeping poorly, waking up crazy early & not being awake. Because when I got the quiz, I breezed through it. In the review, there were just TWO questions I thought I got wrong – one about at which energy shell an atom is and the specific definition of a buffer (it neutralizes.)

There were also 10 extra credit questions from the last section of class – “Biology of Life.” Once again, the darn organ systems tripped me up. As did my complete ignorance of the atmospheric gasses, and my reading the word “lithosphere” as “biosphere.

When the professor handed back the quizzes during lab, she stopped me to tell me again that I was doing a great job, and asked why I was taking the class & if I planned to continue into a medical career. I told her I had applied to the Radiology program and she told me that again I was doing great and that going into radiology was a great idea for me. I can only assume that she knows what she’s talking about since she sees students all the time who are headed into various medical programs.  🙂

I ended up getting 28/30 on the actual quiz and 6.2/10 on the extra credit, so 34.2/30. Woo hoo!!!

So, one-third of the way in, all scores tallied, I have 107.9 points out of a total of 110. That’s 98% people!!

Wow!! I wanted to do well from the start in this class. I was determined to do well from the start. But I have to be honest:

1. I did not expect to LOVE biology like I do right now. It’s so amazingly interesting! Why couldn’t I have turned my brain on in HS to learn this? Oh, right, ADD. I was spinning off in space back then. Ugh.

2. I also didn’t think that I’d have that grade at this point. I was determined, but I was realistic. This was my first class in 12 years. And it would be my first tests in nearly 13. (My last year of college was seminars that didn’t really have tests – just papers and reports.) But apparently my multiple hour trips to the library every day and  that determination have paid off.

Let’s hope this continues. I plan to spend some time tomorrow, Saturday & Sunday in the library. I assume all of them are closed on Monday.

By the way, the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is really nice & kinda funky. I really like it there.


26 05 2010

Well, for now anyway, I seem to be relatively intelligent…

I received 10/10 on the lab from Tuesday on Atoms & Chemistry*.

I took the 1st quiz today, and then the professor collected the quiz and separate answer sheets. She then went over the answers. She’s really good at giving some kind of partial score if you get part of the answer right, but when I kept score along with her discussion, I came up with somewhere between 23-26 of 30 correct. There were two I KNEW I got wrong (dang endocrine and lymphatic organ systems! AND why I could not remember that producers were the first step in the food chain, I have no idea. I wrote down something completely, entirely wrong);  one I knew I spelled wrong & would be marked wrong (fresh water floor name – profundial, and I wrote profundatory. WTH?) and for three questions, I wondered how she’d interpret my answers since they weren’t verbatim of the answer she reviewed.

Later in the class, after our break, she had partially graded all of them, and commented that she was very disappointed in the results. This led me to think I had done worse than I thought. I was miserable for around an hour. Terrified to tell you guys, Twitter & my family the results…

But the results of today’s quiz? 25.5 out of 30. 85%.She returned the graded answer sheets to us temporarily during lab session later in the day. I scored the highest B grade, according to what the professor told me when she handed me my answer sheet. From above, I entirely missed the organ system question, the fresh water floor name question and the producers question. But the others I questioned, I did receive partial credit for, leading to 25.5.

Whew. Also, YAY!!!

In the class, there were 2 A’s, 3 B’s, 3 C’s. We all passed. WOO HOO!!!

I think there were 3 D’s. And those that received F’s, I think, were equal in number to those of us who passed & received D’s!!! Yikes.

The professor commented to me that I was doing very well & to keep it up. She doesn’t have to worry. I will.

Tomorrow is the quiz on Chemistry*. I spent three hours at the library tonight copying notes, making note cards, testing myself. There are a few things I still don’t recall each time, but I’m confident I can do this. I’m going to wake up a little earlier tomorrow so that I can go over the note cards again before leaving for class.

* Side note…. Lili and all of you who offered to help me with this class: NONE of you told me Chemistry would be involved here at all!! I nearly jumped out of my skin when she started this section! I think I did WORSE in Chemistry in HS than I did in Biology!!!!!

I’m actually enjoying learning all of this – again – and The Nana, The GrandPa and Lili, sit down before reading this… As someone who has only ever really understood Physics, I’ve given Lili eye-rolls and questioned what the heck she was doing loving Bio and Anatomy & Physiology from HS enough to become an educator who teaches those subjects. (Not being a teacher, keep in mind – but those subjects!!) I’m eating my words now, with Bio. I really like it. I really do. And I am really looking forward to A & P. And, if I can, I will choose the same professor for A & P as I have for Bio. A & P is “her” subject. She’s tough – but I’m glad I have her now –  I will know what I need to know. And if I have her for A & P, I’ll definitely know what I need to know…

My family just read that paragraph and fainted, laughed or was shocked… I’ve hated Bio and feared A & P for so long, the fact I like it, might cause massive brain trauma for them to learn I like it. Sorry! I love you!!!! Or maybe they’re happy, who knows.

Also, nothing from the radiology program yet. I’m terrified. True story. Say a prayer for me in that department. Eek.

Speed biology.

25 05 2010

That’s essentially what my class right now is. Speed biology. Each class is supposed to cover what would normally be covered in ONE WEEK in the Fall or Spring semesters.

So doing the math, I just finished the 4th week of a “regular” bio class. Good grief.

We spent last week & the beginning of class today learning basics: Scientific Method, the Organization of Life etc. A TON of material. And tomorrow we have our quiz on that material – the 1st quiz of the course – and it doesn’t feel like a quiz. It feels like an exam.

Today we covered basic chemistry. We breezed through that in the remainder of today’s class and have a quiz on it on Thursday. Because of tomorrow’s quiz and the amount of material that may be included on the quiz, I didn’t get a chance to re-write my notes or even start to make note cards etc. for Thursday’s quiz.

Tomorrow we start Biochemistry of Life or something, will have a quiz on that probably Tuesday and will most likely have an exam next Thursday.

Good grief. We just started class ONE WEEK ago…  And per the “speed” method, I’m now entering the 5th week of “regular” bio class tomorrow.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is.

I have to be honest, I want & need a part-time job, but WOW am I glad I don’t have one right now. The whole original plan my dad and I discussed, about having one full day per week to study? Yeah, that would NOT cut it. I’ve studied every day since class started, and the professor even said last Thursday that we should plan to study all of last weekend, and to study every day as well. I can’t imagine having another class or a job or rugby or anything, really, while taking this class.

Oy. Let’s hope I do well on tomorrow’s quiz. I have no idea what to expect, but I feel pretty confident that I know the material. I spent a few hours today in the library testing myself with the note cards I made (over 60 of them!)

Relay for Life.

24 05 2010

I feel like I post a lot of things asking for donations here, so I hope no one is bothered by that, but my friends support some really great charities and I like to help spread the word.

That being said, my friend Bobby is very involved in the Relay for Life of Moon Area. He recently sent the message below to myself and his other friends.

You can find out more about what Relay for Life is here.

Please consider donating $10 to Relay for Life, especially if cancer has affected anyone in your or your friends’ lives. Thanks!

Dear friend,

In less than two weeks, my year-long commitment to organizing the Relay For Life of Moon Area will end. But the need to fight cancer won’t.

Thanks to the many donations and financial support offered by folks like you, we are making a difference in the fight against cancer.

Want proof? Did you know that today in Pennsylvania…

  • More than 1,900 people find answers to their questions about cancer through 1-800-227-2345 and
  • Four cancer patients will receive rides to their treatments through Road to Recovery?
  • Six women undergoing treatment will learn how to care for changes in their skin and hair, and regain their self-confidence through Look Good…Feel Better?
  • Four women recently diagnosed with breast cancer will receive emotional support from someone who’s survived the disease through Reach to Recovery?
  • Seventeen people will have a place to stay while receiving treatment through Hope Lodge locations in Hershey and Philadelphia.

Because of donations received from folks like you through Relay For Life of Moon Area, we all can make a difference. Please help fight cancer by offering your financial support today!

Today in Pennsylvania, YOU are lessening the cancer burden of many.

To make a donation, click here.


24 05 2010

I spent today helping BirthdayGirl and Giggles at a house they are working on in the Mexican War Streets area of Pittsburgh. They are replacing the front porch which was in sorry shape.

Apparently, since the Mexican War Streets is designated a Victorian-era historic district, they have to attempt to re-use and restore all of the original decorative items – columns, banisters etc. I don’t know all the details, I just know they needed help removing many layers of paint from a 3-4 foot tall decorative column and a small banister.

That’s just the base of the column. I managed to get all of the paint you see visible removed. The wood work is quite beautiful, but unfortunately the wood is not in the best condition. Some pieces broke off in chunks, others flaked off, and at least one side of the base looks like it could just fall off.

Another friend of BG & Giggles was also helping me, and we managed to get more than 50% of the remaining paint removed.  Man, there was a lot of paint. White, brown, dark green, cream, lavender and I think yet another layer of brown. And those were just the ones we could readily identify. I think there were more.

To remove the paint, we used something resembling a hair dryer and these nifty little differently shaped tools. There was even one that fit the grooves in the middle of the column. But, wow, are my hands tired, sore and cramped. And I’m exhausted.

Oh, and lest you think we’re not safety conscious, we did wear respirators. I’m sure I looked gorgeous in mine. I forgot to take a picture or me wearing it.

I’ll be back to help on Friday. I think we’ll be working on the banister by then. That should be interesting.

I’ll try to get a picture of the paint-free column and one of me in the fancy respirator on Friday too.

School. Day 2

19 05 2010

Today was pretty interesting.

When the professor showed up, she held up a stack of our lab reports from the day before. The lab was on Scientific Method, the material presented in class yesterday. When I left on Tuesday, I felt pretty confident that I did well. The professor proceeded to say that while we had all nodded & said we understood the lesson, the lab reports proved the opposite.

She began to go over some of the questions and answers. And I began to worry. Some things she said, I remembered writing on the report. But others I did not. By the time she was done, I was a hair shy of panic. She passes back a few reports and gets to mine. Hands me mine, and then mentions that the top score was a 9.4 out of 10, which just a few of the class got. I was convinced I didn’t want to see my score until later… But I went ahead and looked and BAZINGA! I got a 9.4/10!! Sweet.

Eventually, we begin class, get to our break, and then spent nearly 50 minutes – FIFTY MINUTES, PEOPLE! discussing politics, health care reform, social issues and… I don’t know… I kind of was shocked that my Bio class went from the assigned topic of the “Biosphere” to current political topics. Huh? Another guy in the class actually had to raise his hand and request that we return to the topic at hand. WOW.

I ended up pairing with the same guy as yesterday for lab. He seems nice enough, and I think I’ll be working with him for the whole course, and I’m cool with that. He’s nice, and as I found out today, we work well together and since we’re not Biology Superstars, (yet!) we caught each others mistakes two or three times.

Today’s lab was Metrics. Converting meters to centimeters, Fahrenheit to Celsius, liquid measurements etc. The professor stopped by to ask my partner and I about our Biology background. When we admitted (none for him, none since eons ago in HS for me) our lack of experience, she was kind of surprised and said we were both doing a great job. Hooray!

I’m kind of excited for tomorrow to see what I get on today’s lab report.

School. Day 1.

18 05 2010

Hooray for school starting!

For once, I was able to wake up not just on TIME, but a full hour and a half before I needed to get up to get ready for class. Nerves, anyone? Did I mention I didn’t sleep Sunday night? Like, at all? Good grief.

The professor told us NOT to buy the textbook that is sold in the bookstore. Yeah, the one I bought yesterday… (I nearly didn’t buy my books on Monday & considered buying them after my 1st class, but being how I am, I wanted them before class…) We DO need the lab manual, but she said we don’t need the text. For reference, she said that any collegiate-level biology course text from the past 3-4 years will suffice. (Anyone have one they want to donate for the semester or charge me next to nothing to take off your hands?)

Anyway, today’s lesson was about the Scientific Method. Really, basic stuff in my opinion. This opinion could be because I suddenly remembered stuff from my 10th grade Biology class… or learned it from Lili somehow, since she’s the Biology Master… and totally understood it all… (including concepts that I totally failed to understand in HS. Things like deductive and inductive reasoning, and dependent and independent variables. The extent to which these confused me back then is SILLY.) But I totally got it today.

The only negative was the number of people a) arriving late. VERY late… who does that for the first class? Or at all? and b) the number of questions about some very basic concepts of the Scientific Method. This kind of confused me… how do I remember this from high school and people younger than I do not? And then I remembered I’m an uber-dork, with a sister that teaches HS Biology and Anatomy & Physiology, and that I have a memory that allows me to remember the STRANGEST things on the planet, but forgetting things I need to do day-to-day.

School part 2 started around 5:45ish when I showed up at the Backstage Bar in Theater Square for “Crappy Beer School.” As I said before, I was attending for CPG who wouldn’t be home in time. Between that post and tonight, Mr. HowIMetYourRugger managed to find two additional people to attend: a non-rugby friend and my rugby buddy, Giggles!

Before HIMYR & Co. arrived, I entered the venue with two other friends (Shadow & his lovely wife-to-be.) because the jazz band in the bar was OMG. SO. LOUD. The Beer School venue is set up with a bunch of tables on the floor, and then, in the back, three rows of tiered seating, 13 seats per row. Turns out the folks I entered with were in the row behind me, just a seat over. Then FatherSpoon showed up. And sat down next to me. Since his lovely wife couldn’t make it, he brought Mr.Dirby…

Around then, HIMYR showed up with Giggles. I went to give HIMYR to give him his ticket and he decided to give his ticket to Giggles and sit with his buddy at the table. Yes, my “date” bailed on me, but I WIN! (Little mini-date with Birthday Girl’s boyfriend!! Giggles & BG invited me over a few times last week, but I couldn’t go because I was sick…)

Next, MrsCrappy and a new (first IRL) friend, Andrea, showed up and sat right behind me. Ergo, I WIN = Giggles, Spoon, Dirby, Shadow & lovely wife-to-be, plus MrsCrappy and Andrea… All of 8 us in the same oh, approx. 8 foot by 4 foot area. Welcome to the bad kids section of the event… lol.

Besides Giggles, most of us Tweeted (sorta live-Tweeted, but not that serious… See Spoon’s tweets… ahem.) the event. Like I said, sort of… A certain Nash-vegas transplant requested that we start the wave. I showed the request to all involved and they all agreed. However, we were literally in the clear back, the event was about to end, and well, most people had drank at least 2 bottles of beer (4 beers total, to share between 2 people) and perhaps other beers before the event, so it didn’t happen. Sorry, Nash-vegas transplant!

Being that I’m NOT a beer lover, per se, (although Uncle Crappy certainly is convinced that he’ll make me one) I really did have a great time.

I did not drink that much. I did try each beer, but those I couldn’t or didn’t want to finish, I gave to Giggles. School tomorrow, and my absolute fear of more heartburn took over. Look at me being all responsible… Also, family, please do not fall onto the floor from that statement.

Would it have been different if a bunch of my good friends, and a new friend, were not in the same area? Maybe. Did the presence of friends that were there (and not just the ones sitting in my area or hosting) make it better? Absolutely.

Thank you, CPG, for letting me go in your absence. I owe you something… Figure out what & let me know. 🙂 I wish you could have been there, and we should definitely go to one of these together in the future. And thank you, friends, for making the end to such an important day (biology class, yo!) in my life that much better.

Sorry I had to leave you early. But please understand, I have this cheering section for this class, and for my future: The Nana, The GrandPa, Lili, (and maybe Little C, I’m sure Lili could get her to cheer… Or laugh, clap, say “Burr” aka bird, and giggle and babble…), and you Tweeps, and I appreciate the cheering and support SO MUCH that I cannot let these folks down, most especially, my family… I CANNOT. I WILL. NOT. I’m going to kick Biology’s butt myself, and for them.

**Quiz #1 is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, and if it IS happening, that means my attendance at the Marathon Volunteer party & baseball game will NOT happen, unfortunately. Sorry, but I just can’t risk it. I know you that know me understand. 🙂 And I thank you for it.

Ready to kick some more Biology butt tomorrow! WOO HOO!

Oh! And thanks to all my Facebook friends who wished me luck & “liked” my status and wished me luck. Thank you. 🙂