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Okay, this time the fire really is over 50% contained! And we've had marine layers rolling in since Friday night, which helps a lot. I've never been so happy to see fog. Our friends' home is okay, although we have their dogs here until Friday (long story). Phew!

And in other news, we found out the sex today -- it's a boy! I'm kind of excited about it being me and this menagerie of boys in the house. How very Jo March of me. I have a younger brother, and the eeee! has an older sister, so we're definitely breaking new ground in terms of sibling dynamics if we have a second kid. Starting from scratch could be a good thing, though.

(I was convinced it was a boy, so I'm also kind of gleeful that I was right.)
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Oh, fuck.
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The Jesusita Fire is still burning, but the winds last night were calmer than expected. If the winds pick up again tonight, our friends' house will likely be in the path of the fire, which is nerve-wracking. But a lot of progress on the fire has been made -- it's certainly less smoky here than it was yesterday -- so we're crossing our fingers and toes.

So, a few other tentatively good things going on:
  1. We leave a month from today for our trip to Denmark! When we were planning the trip, I had been a bit nervous about how I'd be feeling, since I'll be about 5 months along then. People had told me that the second trimester is a breeze, but that's different than experiencing it myself. Anyway, given how I feel now, I am looking forward to the trip with no hesitation! My energy levels are back to normal, and I don't think I will have trouble maneuvering with my belly, or anything. (My belly is definitely at the point where I'm always conscious of it, and it slightly affects how I sit. But it's not at the point where people will immediately guess that I'm pregnant.)

  2. And oh, my conference in Italy begins two months from today! I am curious as to how I will feel when I am six months pregnant. Whatever. This should be good motivation for actually doing some damn prenatal yoga.

  3. I'm not sure I fully understand the focus of the Trifter website, but an article on Mt. Popa used two of my pictures, with mostly proper attribution. (I have to check Creative Commons to see if my name should be listed there, but I'm generally not bothered as long as there's a link.) Anyway, nifty!

  4. Things might improve for the Penguins now that they're playing at home? Oof.

  5. If you like sports, TV, and smart women talking about those things -- as I know many of you do -- you should listen to Play Ball, my SIL's podcast!


Right, back to work. (What? You mean it didn't end with the defense?)
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We're currently dealing with a wildfire in the hills a couple of miles away from us. We're not in any danger, but friends of ours had to evacuate. Their house is actually in more danger now than it was back in November. Once again, we're watching their dogs and hoping for the best.

Fire season "officially" starts June 1.

It's going to be a long summer.
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The other day I mentioned that I was picking fights in the comments of a local libertarian blog. Yesterday, I got a mass email from the editor of the blog that was a digest of the week's posts. I guess that's what I get for posting with my real email address? I sent a sarcastic email in reply, congratulating the editor for being the first blog to do that, and asked to be removed from the mailing list.

Later in the day, I found myself writing yet another sarcastic comment in response to a blog post. I have since un-subscribed to the blog, because goddamn, I have better things to do with my life. Unfortunately, the only other locally-focused blog is rarely updated.

On a more upbeat note, for those of you who've seen Coraline in 3D, how is it in 3D? I only made it through ten minutes of the 3D episode of Chuck, but that was with red-and-blue glasses, not polarized glasses. Right now it's only playing here in 3D, so I'd have to wait a few weeks to see it in 2D.
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You may have heard that there's another wildfire here. Last night, around 8 p.m., we could actually see the flames from our house, and at that point they were five miles away. And now this morning, we're about a mile away from the edge of the evacuation warning zone. It's houses between here and there, not thick brush, so I'm not too worried. But worried enough that I have a mental list of things to grab if we have to boogie out of here.

The air quality sucks, although since the winds have shifted and died down, it's no longer thick smoke. And there's lots of ash everywhere. Hopefully there will be progress in containing the fire before the Santa Ana winds kick up again this afternoon.

We're watching the dogs of friends who had to evacuate. Three dogs in one small apartment -- luckily they all get along, and are the three sweetest dogs ever.

So like the last fire, I'm listening to the helicopters overhead (fire-fighting and news alike), and hitting refresh constantly on the Indy site. At least we still have power. And the cell phone network isn't entirely hosed. But oy.
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Yesterday had all the ingredients of a bad day:

  1. My students had a midterm, which isn't so much bad as nerve-wracking.
  2. Due to the nearby wildfire and the direction of the wind, it was raining ash on me while I waited for the bus on campus.
  3. Said bus was too crowded, and refused to let passengers on, and once I can talk about the Santa Barbara MTD without using the word "cocksuckers" they will get a nasty letter from me.
  4. If I ever finish the goddamn thesis and reward myself with the XSi camera, it looks like I might have to upgrade to Leopard. Boo! Unless they add that in a Tiger update . . . hmmmm.
  5. Our power was out for about four hours last night, due to the fire.


And yet, we had a lovely evening. We made roasted red pepper sauce -- hooray for a grill and a gas stove -- opened a nice bottle of wine, and had a candlelit dinner. There was no pressure to do work, so we then played Scrabble by candlelight and generally had a nice, relaxing evening. (Our power came on a bit before midnight, quickly enough that we didn't lose anything in the fridge. Hooray!)

Last night we saw the smoke in Santa Barbara, but the winds have shifted and it's fairly clear here right now. The eeee! tells me that on campus you can see lots of smoke, and there's ash everywhere. And the fire grew quite a bit last night, due to high winds, so this could be a while.
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Oh, things are crazy here.

  1. We live in a (small!) duplex, and there's a laundry area in back that we share with the neighbors. The washer is on our electricity, and the dryer is on the neighbors', which makes sense for both billing purposes and not-blowing-a-fuse purposes. (We cannot run any combination of the microwave, the toaster, and the hair dryer at the same time.)

    However, the apartment next door is currently empty, and the power was turned off the other day.* So for each load, after running the washer we have to unplug it and plug in the dryer. Because I have nothing better to do than laundry in serial.

  2. Work is going okay. It would be better if I could figure out

    1. How to put arrows on top of bolded, italicized letters in Powerpoint
      and
    2. How to put carat hats on j's and k's. (I can get one on the i just fine, using alt-i (î), but I cannot force the j or k to get under the carat -- ˆj and ˆk are the result.)


  3. We've been watching bits of the Euro Cup, and the color commentator on today's Italy-Spain game was cracking me up. He was so emotional and over-the-top.

  4. I'm reading One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson right now, and enjoying it. A while ago I'd tried to read Behind the Scenes at the Museum and couldn't get into it. Anyway, I'm enjoying watching all the storylines diverge and converge again, and I am absolutely fascinated by Gloria's storyline.

  5. It's finally cooling down here! It was 86 F this morning, but it's down to 83 F, and you can feel a coolish breeze that's trying to get through! We watched yesterday's Solstice parade from a friend's office along the route, which meant that we were in the air conditioning. That somehow made the heat feel even more brutal when we went back outside, and we ended up skipping the post-parade party in the park.



Okay, back to work! I'm trying to tell myself that I'm too busy to notice how busy I am. Or something like that.

* Luckily I was home, because I don't know if the meters are crossed or the guy was an idiot, but our power was originally turned off. Argh!
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Things here are insanely busy, but pretty good!


  1. The eeee! and I are going to see R.E.M. tomorrow! Yay! This will only be the second concert we've gone to together -- the first was Tom Petty, years ago -- and it will likely be the last, unless there's a Throwing Muses reunion or something. There is very little overlap in our musical tastes. Anyway, he's never been to an R.E.M. concert, and they put on a good live show, so I'm very excited about this. (Their new album is pretty good, by the way.)

  2. I've been happy with the Couch to 5K plan so far. The intervals are really working for me! But ask me again when I hit the two-mile runs.

  3. I am in love with this house. Stained glass windows! Built-in bookshelves! A walk score of 91! Not that we're looking for jobs now, or that we would find anything in Pittsburgh, or that I'm sure I'd want to live that close to my family . . .

  4. I am really getting the hang of Santa Barbara! Our place has a walkscore of 82, which seems about right. I really like that we can and do walk most places. And the ocean smelled really good this morning. (Okay, the ocean is by campus -- our place is at least 2.5 miles from water. But it still smelled awesome.)

  5. I am not in love with the Santa Barbara library, which sucks. Their email reminders don't work consistently, and there is little to no relation between what is listed as available and what is actually on the shelf. And, and, if you request something (either from another branch or because it's already checked out) they charge you fifty cents! FIFTY CENTS! I am going to have to start buying books again. Man, I was spoiled by Ann Arbor's library.

  6. Oh, but I'm reading some of The Sandman volumes (by Neil Gaiman) that I've borrowed from a friend, and so far I'm really enjoying them. I really liked "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Facade", especially. The former almost makes me want to read Marvel 1602, except for the part where I wouldn't actually get any of the Marvel references.



There's a lot of other job and thesis crap I have to worry about right now, but overall, things here are good.
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  1. I got an email today from the Body Shop with a free shipping code with a purchase of $29 or more. Great! I need more face wash, and . . . the code expires on February 29. Of 2008. Well done, Body Shop.

  2. This Mark Trail strip really pisses me off. Now, I only read it ironically, so I'm not entirely clear on this, but I thought that part of the goal of the strip was to teach the kiddies to respect animals and nature. Maybe I'm being bizarrely touchy about this, but pets are not interchangeable. Excuse me, I have to go hug Doc now.

  3. I'm giving a short talk on Friday, which is good because it's forcing me to put together stuff that's going into the short paper (Chapter 3 of the thesis!) that I'm writing right now.

  4. I have to submit the talk by 1 p.m. Thursday. This is sort of annoying, yes. But my students have an exam on Friday morning, meaning that my Thursday afternoon is free, free, free!* I'm going to get a pedicure, and we might finally make it down to First Thursday, which we always forget about until about the second week of the month.

  5. I've started using Twitter. I'm still not sure what to make of it, but there it is.


I hope the rest of my week makes a little more sense.

* It also meant that my week was very top-heavy -- I spent the weekend and yesterday writing lectures and a midterm and working on the talk and aaaaaah.
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Doc is fine, but taking him for a walk is frustrating, because I spend the entire time yanking his schnozz out of bushes and tall grass. I retraced my steps from yesterday morning twice, and I didn't really see anything. It doesn't help that I don't know what I'm looking for -- I spent about forty minutes googling, hoping to find pictures of snail bait, and all I learned is that it's a blue or green pellet. Or sometimes a powder. I have no clue what size the pellets could be, or the color of the powder, or what the pellets might look like if they've been smashed -- nothing.

Eli's suggestion (did I mention that he's in Germany this week? missing out on all this life-threatening action?) was:
We should make a sign thing and post it on the telephone poles with "Somebody in this neighborhood poisoned our dog" with a cute picture of Doc.

And a statement "stop toxic snail bait". Or something.


I was going to take a less insane approach -- put together a packet explaining what happened, and what non-toxic (to non-snails) alternatives there are to snail bait, and take it to any houses along the route that looked like they may have had snail bait out. (And maybe imply that while I'm not a litigious individual, other dog owners might be . . . ) But I can't identify the fucking snail bait, so I don't know where it could have possibly happened, and I don't know what to avoid, and aaaaaah.

Anyway. I'm going to go hug Doc again. And I'll stop rambling about this, I promise.
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If you must use snail bait, for the love of christ, please do not use acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or metaldehyde.

My dog -- who is spending the night at the animal clinic -- and I thank you.

(He should be fine. Based on how long it took him to react, he probably didn't get that much of it, and they're giving him muscle relaxers and the antidote.)
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The lovely [profile] pescana asked me some questions, so here we go!


  1. So how are you finding life in Santa Barbara?

    I like it. I don't love it, but I've barely been here two months, and for me, that's not nearly long enough to meet people and get involved with things locally. A lot of the day-to-day things are really nice -- the weather, the food at the farmer's market -- so I'm trying to take advantage of all of that. I am not particularly outdoorsy or athletic, but I want to step that up, now that I live somewhere I can enjoy the outdoors year-round. It's a small town, though -- smaller than Ann Arbor, and I had previously marked AA as the minimum size town I needed to live in.

    I don't think I could stay here long-term. It's not really an option, since we can't afford to stay here long-term, but I don't know if I'd want to even if I could. But who knows -- ask me again in six months!

  2. How do you think being a science geek influences your view of the world? (I'm specifically thinking things like feminism and the working world, but feel free to go where ever you want with this.)

    This is an awesome question, so I am copping out and giving it its own entry. I've been thinking a lot about this, particularly about how physical scientists and social scientists aren't generally capable of talking to each other.

  3. What are you reading these days? Any trends, or no?

    I seem to be on a food memoir kick. I just finished Heat, by Bill Buford, and I'm reading Julie and Julia right now. From the library I just got Ha'penny, by Jo Walton, and Children of Men, by P.D. James, and I'm really looking forward to both of them. So I suppose I'm veering into dystopia sci-fi alternate fiction genres.

  4. If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation with no issue of expense, where would you go? What would you do there?

    Oh, I want to go everywhere -- Southeast Asia (again), Spain, Turkey, Tanzania, New Zealand . . . okay, I'll limit myself to two itineraries:

    • Southeast Asia: I'd go to Bangkok and Phuket (and maybe Chiang Mai) in Thailand, then to Vietnam to visit [profile] zoje_george in HCMC, and then to the Mekong Delta. I'd see everything -- beaches, floating markets, modern SE Asian cities, the back country, you name it. And the food! Oh my god, the food. But, I've been to SE Asia, which is why I would also consider:

    • Spain: Traveling all around and hitting Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Granada (and the Alhambra), plus some of the islands. This gets me islands and beaches and a variety of awesome, old cities. I love old cities. And the food! And the wine!


  5. What's your favorite leisure activity?

    It's a tie between photography and reading. There is something seriously wrong with me -- I go for a walk, and the next thing I know I've spent half an hour taking pictures of a fence. (And then I don't get any of them quite right.) Going to the beach with the dog is gaining, though!



Happy Friday, everyone! And if you want questions, just ask for some.
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I'm in Santa Barbara, and so far we've had a lovely weekend! Yesterday we rode our bikes down to the farmers' market to buy produce, took Doc to the beach where he fetched in the ocean, and had some friends over for a cookout. It was a delightful, delightful day.

Today we were thinking of hiking, but I'm coming down with a cold so who knows. We might also swing by the neighborhood bar to watch the Pats-Cowboys game.

The long-distance thing is sort of strange, and I know that once I'm in Santa Barbara full-time, it's not going to be all sunshine all the time. (Just most of the time!) But I do think we'll keep up with biking to the farmers' market, and with taking Doc to the beach nearly every weekend. I will definitely get used to this!
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So we found a place in Santa Barbara! It takes big dogs, has a big kitchen, is in a good location, and is in our price range. And, it has a lemon tree in the front yard.

The very next day, I found out that the drive that stores all of the simulation data for my thesis failed. Until I find out what's been lost, and when the last backup was, I'm trying not to panic -- for all I know, the last backup was while I was on the road.

At least I'm excited about teaching, both at Michigan this fall and in Santa Barbara in January.

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