Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life: Reformatted.

Cold night. Upcoming topics at a glance: puts on a new tuxedo; a discovery about health insurance; walks down memory lane; book reviews; setting off on a new old adventure.

I'm in between again. Yesterday I sadly concluded a lovely visit with Eugenie here at my folks' house in the "arctic" as she refers to it (Trying hard not to think 'bout how it could be a good 3 months or so before we can visit again). And Monday morning marks the beginning of my next road trip, heading back to the biological station where I spent this past summer to work. I've been using the intervening hours to address some projects that have needed attention for a while, and may not get any again for quite some time.

First, and the only one any of y'all would notice, I've changed around the format of my friendly old blog here. I pick up occasional complains about the white text on black background business. They haven't gone entirely unheeded; months later, I've done a bit to address the problem. Still really like the black and white feel, but hopefully this is easier for the aging eyes of my readers ;-) With so few of them, probably it behooves me to heed their complaints on occasion, lest I end up lonely in cyberspace. I'm moderately pleased with the result, although I'm having the darndest time trying to make the grey boxes be the size I want them to be. Years ago I dabbled with html just a bit, but having spent the last 3+ years working with C, Mathematica, Matlab, and R, all languages that actually like dooooo things in a logical, orderly progression of steps to solve problems, all this edit html template business is highly confusing and seems only to create problems. Sigh.

Paralleling the changes in my cyber-life, I spent a good chunk of today cleaning out years worth of accumulated paper files that I've been storing in boxes in my parents' basement. The final tally for this recycling spree: 1 year physics notes; 2 years chemistry notes; english papers galore; page upon page of environmental activism material I used back when I was much much more, well, environmentally active I guess; old correspondence; a whole public speaking course; assorted materials from 6 years worth of higher education and a couple of high school. For the most part, I hate going through stuff like this, either because it reminds me of times gone by and I feel guilty remembering the people I haven't kept in touch with, or in the case of course notes, I realize how much knowledge has used my head like an exit ramp motel - staying for a night/semester, then hopping back on the highway and heading off towards greener pastures in the distance. In other words, there's a junk load of stuff I knew at one point and definitely do not anymore. This makes me sad. Also, it just plain out hurts to recycle notes and assignments that consumed hundreds of hours of work and cramped writing. Alas.

A few parts were amusing though. Like coming across a print-out of the very first computer program I ever wrote, in visual basic... a language I haven't tinkered with since. My dad got all excited back then when he saw me getting into it, and came home one day with 3-4 "learn to program visual basic in a week" books, all of which I pretty much failed to make use of. Guess I ended up going down a pretty similar path in the end anyways. Also amusing/bitter sweet was coming across the only yearbook I own - from seventh grade, as most of my life I was homeschooled. The page in the back is still there, where everyone scribbled messages and such. I'm not in contact with any of these people anymore, and haven't been for years. The puzzling message scrawled in one corner is still there though - someone thought I was "hot" (!?!?!?!), cautioned me to stay out of trouble, and signed anonymously. Probably someone's joke, as best as I can figure. Just one of those things though that makes you think of the "what-ifs" every time you come across them. Strange to think of myself almost a decade ago(!)

One of my favorite leisure indulgences is reading sci-fi and fantasy novels. It's been a good long while since I've been in any place with a quality library long enough to hold a library card and visit with regularity. So I'm wayyy out of touch with what good new stuff has come along. But last night I started and finished "Chalice" by Robin McKinely, one of my favorite fantasy authors for years and years now. It was pretty good, and delivered some of her usual uniqueness (a strange phrase come to think of it!), although I was sad at how fast it ended.

Also new and inspiring, I've been reading "Vagabonding" by Rolf Potts, a book about how to set things aside and go off on an adventure. Something I rather dearly want to do, especially with interviews looming in the immediate future, and grad school kicking off this fall. The way this guy writes makes it seem so easy and possible and in reach to strike out on an adventure with just a bit of advanced planning and an open mind. It's been very therapeutic, to dream of escape and adventure. That alone is worth having bought the book, and who knows, it might just pump me up enough that I'd take a leap and see where I landed! Chock full of really good quotes too - I'll add some when I get a chance.

It's definitely time to get back to work, although I'm sort of begrudging packing again and leaving home. But, I have projects that need finishing, and I need to get myself back into the academic, near-drowning-in-science mind frame in preparation for upcoming grad school interviews. Also, a paycheck is going to become rather necessary in the near future...

*Warning, rant*: (had to shell out 345 bucks for dental care last week... yay vacation?). Fortunately, after many hours of confusion, misdirected paperwork, faxes, emails and phone calls, we ended up determining after all that I'm still, remarkably, covered under my parents' health insurance for another year after all, despite what we had initially been told, even though I just had another one of those birthday thingies happen. This is really good news for me, as it saves me 130 plus dollars a month, and I'll have more than just bare-bones hospital coverage. Universal healthcare people. Seriously. Can we do it already??? Any maybe while we're at it, simplify the tax code, in the hopes of helping this poor math major here be able to figure out how to do income tax returns for 3 different states and the federal government??? Not looking forward to that part.

Ok, bedtime... I was up wayyy too late last night reading, and I've got lots of driving coming up in a few days. Might be more posts before I leave, but who knows. Keep your fingers crossed I don't get stuck in a blizzard somewhere.



Eugenie said...

ah. I think that anonymous person was on to something....

sarcozona said...

I really like the new theme. Also, I definitely agree about throwing out old notes/schoolwork. I was looking over a high school chem test at the beginning of the semester (which I threw out) and I was absolutely amazed at how little I remembered.

Karina said...

I always intended to read the Vagabonding book but never did. I hope you get to go Vagabonding before grad school starts!

That's good news about your health care. Happy belated birthday! When are you coming to Big City?