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Packing tetris

Well. That game of packing tetris got a little out of hand. I blame the potted plants and four bicycles.

We made it to Denver, only 8 hours after we'd intended. There are some huge advantages to driving through Denver in the middle of the night, though.


I think we're maybe at about 80% packed. I play a mean game of Moving Truck Tetris. I can also tell that I have gotten a decent amount of practice at this game over the last couple of years. I suspect my younger sister sytharin is still going to be horrified by how much stuff I own. A byproduct of living in my own house and hating furniture shopping. That said - I still have a few too many boxes of t-shirt memorabilia.

In the morning:

-Go to lab, pack up dried ant samples, turn in keys and ID card, pack lab stuff into moving truck
-Pack up remaining kitchen items, dresser, roll-up futon bed, remaining three bicycles, door-table
-Cleaning sweep, then we're off.


Yesterday evening I went to Bike Commuter Happy Hour, and then to a local bar/pizzeria for a going-away gathering with the lab gang. I'm going to miss everyone here, bigtime. When S arrived, he mentioned that Emma had been tearing around from room to room, yelling, when he stopped by the house. She was still in an unhappy state when the two of us got back. I don't know if she just ate something she shouldn't have, or if she is stressed out because she can tell I'm getting ready to move, but she was having troubles at both ends of her kitty system. Eventually, she curled up on a blanket on the bed, and by the middle of the night seemed to be starting to do better. Poor cat. It didn't help that I've been fighting off a head cold and thrashing around at night.

Today, I have been packing in earnest. It actually hasn't felt all that grueling, at least so far. I have reached this point where I just put certain things in certain boxes, and then I'm done. There's less head-scratching over how to organize different categories of stuff than during previous moves, because I've been working on that level of organization for a while now. I figure that eventually I won't even have to unpack the cardboard boxes - I'll just open them up and put them on the appropriate shelf, and be done. Or something like that. Actually, my office arrangement at work is close to this state of affairs.

I'm not looking forward to dealing with all the miscellaneous administrivia that goes along with moving: closing out utilities, change-of-address stuff, getting a California driver's license, probably some other category I'm presently forgetting. I only just got my Nebraska one!

Ah well.

The whole move still doesn't feel entirely real, yet.


Packing up my office at work took all of 15 minutes.

Properly disposing of the remaining radioactive samples has been taking considerably longer, in particular because I need to make sure the data are sufficiently high-quality. But that's almost done now, too. I feel good about my contributions towards lab clean-up overall. Campfire rules and all that.

The ant samples won't finish drying until Monday morning, which is when I'll stop in to drop off my keys and ID card, and haul away the stuff that's boxed up here. I could do it as two bike trailer-loads (one of office stuff and ants, one of cricket cages), but I suspect I'll just swing by in the moving truck instead.

It makes my brain hurt a little to think that I will have lived in 3 different states this year. And that's just geographical states, not mental ones.

I really am getting better at paring down my possessions, although I will confess that I am saving some chunks of foam pipe insulation that I should probably just toss (used them to pad Froinlavin when I took her to Europe). For instance.

I'm probably just alternating between stages 3-5 by now.
I have learned so many different things in so many different categories from my mother, when it comes to how to live a good life. One of the things that I decided to wait for was to see how she would share the latest news about my dad's health on social media. She likes to accompany her stories with a photo, whether they are stories about wonderful visits with her grandkids, or difficult stories about grief and loss. I am grateful that she speaks up because she is a centering voice for our family.

So, the news, which we are all still digesting. When we learned that my dad's 6-month CT scan results prompted a follow-up MRI of his liver, I had to turn over this course of events in my mind. As much as I hoped the CT scan had raised a false alarm, some cynical part of myself thought, "At this stage they are probably using the MRI for confirmatory information." Two of the three places appear to be tumors, while the last appears to be a scar from liver surgery.

Now, the cascade of thoughts. We have been here before, and this now-familiar territory is filled with a different sense of unease. The first time through, I could make a joke about "semi-colon surgery," not yet knowing of the depths of sickness that would occur at the end of the first round of chemotherapy. Even in those depths, I could come up with a plan for something whimsical and ridiculous and impossible to look forward to at the end of the second round of chemotherapy.

The thing we are confronted with here is simply that the road ahead is unknown, and unpredictable. I can remember so vividly the experience of the unfolding of my dad's early diagnosis, and how plans for that liver surgery had to change, as much as we all just wanted everything to be over with so we could move on to other things.

For some reason, my photo to go with the words is simply of this little patch of grass in Nebraska that I ride past every day on my way to work. Sometimes things happen, and we don't quite know the metaphor or life lesson or meaning, and that's okay.

Nebraska grasses


Thanks, ants. Thants. [Look Around You]

My friend J introduced me to the phenomenal series Look Around You several years ago. Obviously my favorite one would be the one that includes ants.

I don't know why this has popped up again, other than that it's fun to run around going, "Thanks, ants. Thants."

I have put the final cricket ovarian samples into the scintillation counter today. I am now running around and cleaning up all of my stuff, plus more of the stuff left behind by former lab people. I have a bit more early-stage data analysis to wrap up just to ensure that it's okay to toss my remaining samples, and then that's it for Nebraska.

Other than, you know, packing up all my stuff at home and getting the rest of these ant samples dried out.


Exoskeletons in my freezer

Today's bike commute haiku is:

Bike-powered science
Pedaling my ant samples
...'tis no Sperm Bike, though.

Quaxing by the little park

After I graduated from ASU, on successive trips back to Arizona, I rounded up all of the ant samples from my final experiment and brought them back with me to Texas for further processing. Specifically, I dissected all of the ants, eggs, larvae, and pupae out of the fungus gardens, to count and weigh them. Then I stuck everything back into the lab freezer for a while, because I was busy with other projects and hadn't decided about the next steps (discard, or analyze more specific nutrients?).

My future roommates have declared the freezer in California to be "a lawless, raging arctic chaos full of yetis, wampas and Imperial AT-ATs."

So. It's finally time to dry the samples, four years after the experiment. Unfortunately, my home oven is too warm. Temperatures above ~60 degrees Celsius (~140 degrees F) will trigger the Maillard reaction, converting carbohydrates into those toasty caramelized compounds that make so many foods so delicious and flavorful.

The good news is that it turns out we actually have drying ovens in the lab here. It feels slightly ridiculous to cart in the samples when I have less than a week left of work here, but on the other hand I could still potentially learn a lot from analyzing their protein, carbohydrate, lipid, and fungus content. And who doesn't enjoy bicycling around with a trailer-ful of leafcutter ant carcasses, anyway?


Umm, yeah.

scrottie and I had a useful discussion over the weekend about the house-moving logistics, and it is starting to feel like things are falling into place, in a kind of amazing way, thanks to friends and family.

One of the things I'm a little sad about is realizing that Princess TinyHouse should probably stay in Nebraska. That leaves 'er in a good place for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives in the Midwest, but also means fewer opportunities to just bop around like glamorous hobos in other parts of the country. For now, at least.

On the other hand, for me it is less nerve-wracking to think about instead driving a moving truck halfway across the country through a couple of snowy, mountainous states. And, annikusrex and my sis-in-law's family have come up with some good ideas for what to do about all of the household goods and furniture I wish to store while living in the Bay Area. Yay-phew. Now all we have to do is get them all packed up. Details.

I found myself regressing back to Stage 1 Packing on Saturday. But I feel good about it, because I got a whole bunch of stationery stuff organized, got all my old financial files organized and archived for Deep Storage, and managed to consolidate some of the random stuff living in various file folders. Progress.

Status: Packing

I have reached Stage 2.

(side note: why couldn't a Google-powered search of my own blog pull up an entry that's only slightly over a year old? Google, you suck. I had better luck searching my old Facebook entries, then going through blog archives by hand!!).

Things are going into three different categories this time around:

1. Stuff I won't need for the next 2 years (large furniture items, leafcutter ant containers, bulky cooking items like the KitchenAid mixer and mixing bowls, all of the decorative ceramics that have survived previous culling, Mister Pushy the push-mower).

2. Stuff that I might want occasionally that will fit through the small entrance to the attic in A's house (new housemates: A and P, yay!). E.g. large pot for canning, canning jars, mementos.

3. Stuff that will go in my new bedroom. It's gonna be crowded in there, yo.

Things that are going to go away: cheap IKEA coffee table, large particle board shelf, small particle board shelf, massive three-drawer filing cabinet (I have VIVID memories of hulking that thing up the back steps into this apartment. That and the loveseat were the most challenging to move by myself.).

For Category 1, I have a dilemma. Where should I store these things? scrottie found a decent storage place here in Lincoln. Denver and Salt Lake City will be en route for the drive, and I know people in both cities, so those are candidates, too. I'll be middle-of-nowhere Nevada is cheap. Berkeley is probably too expensive and I won't plan on needing access to any of the Category 1 items - so, like the moving pod but for a longer timeframe.

Bike Commute Haiku

I believe it was my good friend DM who first introduced me to the #bikecommutehaiku concept. I got inspired to write them while riding to and from campus in Texas because I was spending a lot of time on roads that weren't especially cognitively demanding but were busy with vehicles racing to and fro. Somehow they are also part of my reaction to the often solitary nature of bicycling, combined with the sensory experience of being on a bicycle.

For a similar reason, I've returned to composing them this fall, in part because I really love my bike commute and want to share the joy, and in part because this is the time when a lot of people hang up their bikes and do I-don't-know-what instead (hibernate?). I find that the sensory experience of bike commuting feels even more rich as the seasons turn.

A sampler:
August 18, 2014 (Texas one):
Someone else wrote, "August morning chill / Squirrels dart across the road / Nuts! We must have nuts!"
And that inspired me to write: "August morning heat / Dead armadillo rotting / Hobo shower now."

August 21, 2014:
Rainclouds and headwind
Drippy drippy drippy wet
Hobo shower now.

August 24, 2014:
Up before sunrise
Trundling towards breakfast first
Bike-friendly Fridays

August 26, 2014:
Past the oil derrick
Roadways clogged with motorists;
Students returning

August 27, 2014:
Hints of autumn cool
Thunderstorms still forecasted
Batten the panniers!

September 18, 2014:
Thunderstorms again
Nervously checking forecasts
Poncho and fenders.

September 23, 2014 (sorta summarizes biking in Texas - witnessing the animal slaughter caused by speeding cars):
Dead raccoon, dead skunk
Dead snake, dead armadillo
Dead dog. None mine.

September 29, 2014:
Headlight is even worse than
No headlight at all

October 1, 2014:
Pollen's still around
Biking requires breathing

January 23, 2015:
Remembering I've
Neoprene booties at home,
But at work, shoes soaked.

-Just a few from the Nebraska period-
June 18, 2015 (upon seeing a small plastic dinosaur in the middle of the bike path):
Trailside dinosaur
Camera batteries dead
Just imagine it

May 4, 2015 (along the Antelope Creek bike path):
Shreds of thunderstorm
Waters send the creek flowing
Dodging the raindrops

October 27, 2015 (right after the new trailside coffee roaster/coffeeshop opened):
Sensory bike path:
The smell of roasting coffee
Wildflowers still bloom.
Fall colors near the Jane Snyder Trail Center

November 6, 2015 (now taking advantage of the trailside coffeeshop):
Coffeeshop bike ride
Autumn sunrise, fresh croissant
Life is pretty good.
Lovely morning for a coffeeshop bike ride

November 13, 2015 (coffeeshop before work, AND a bike commuter happy hour after work today - the latter with other people!!):
Bike-friendly Friday
Celebrate bikes everywhere
With breakfast or beer
Bike-friendly Friday, Lincoln, NE

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November 2015



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