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January 26, 2007

New Eyes

Not yet, but soon. As in, at around 4 PM today. I'm at work for the morning, and will leave here around 2:45 to go to the eye doctors'. Nutty, eh? I guess not for those people who have already had LASIK--people like Clark, who say, "What are you waiting for?"

My plans for the weekend include listening to French lessons on CD (I decided it's time to learn another language) and maybe a book on my iPod, and working on a story. Without looking at the paper or computer. I'm supposed to try to keep my eyes closed for the first 4 hours and to not read or work on the computer (much) the day after.

By Monday, supposedly, I will be back to normal. Wish me luck!

Oh--and anyone need some contacts, prescription -5.75 or -4.25 (~20/800 and 20/600)? Or some glasses?

Posted by beth at 5:01 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 24, 2007

Super Me

I can't resist. Jen and Nicole did this and posted their results, so I have to, too. Actually, they first posted their super*villian* results, but I wasn't very impressed with mine. I'll have to do it again. If I'm a superhero, though, it turns out that I am...


Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Posted by beth at 8:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 23, 2007

Office Day

I woke up thinking the world had ended. Okay, no, but I woke up thinking I was about to be late for an eye appointment. Knowing that if I set my alarm clock as usual I would probably wake up thinking I was going to work as usual and hit snooze too many times, I set the alarm on my cell phone as well. My cell phone, however, keeps correct time, while my alarm clock runs slow. So somehow, when my cell phone alarm went off and woke me up and I looked at my clock and saw that it was 7:58 I thought that it was *8*:58 and that I was scheduled to be at the eye doctor’s in two minutes. An impossible task. I figured out my error before even getting out of bed, but just the same, it was a very traumatic way to start the day.

I went to the eye doctor because I am having LASIK surgery on Friday. Yep, I’m taking the plunge. It seems that technology has marched along well enough for me to feel comfortable taking a laser to my eye. Not 100% comfortable, but comfortable enough for me to do it. This Friday, nonetheless. I went in for my consultation on Thursday of last week, and scheduled the surgery for just barely a week after that. A little crazy. But, I’ve got a bit of a lull before my next major trip and I put aside the money in my Flexible Spending Account at work, so I figured it’s time. Wish me well.

For the appointment today, they dilated my eyes. I forgot they were going to do this, and neglected to bring sunglasses. That’s okay, because they’re prepared for people like me—they have these sweet little tinted plastic sheets shaped kind of like lenses that slide in behind your regular glasses. Very convenient. I don’t know how I would have gotten to work without them, with the bright sun reflecting off the bright snow. Holy cow. It was really, really bright out.

When I got to work, I realized I had forgotten my key card and had to wait for a co-worker who pulled in behind me to come to the door. “Nice shades,” she said. I offered to pick some up for her the next time I was at my eye doctor’s.

“Hello everyone,” I sang, when I made it into our min-cubefarm. “It’s just me,” said Nicole, somewhat dejectedly. I offered to show her my dilated eyes, and she freaked out. She hid behind her hand and looked at me through a slit between the fingers. I knew she didn’t want to watch the surgery on Friday (there’s a window to the surgery room), but I didn’t realize she was this incredibly squeamish. Okay, that’s cool, I said. You don’t have to check it out.

I sat at my desk and started up my computer. I had opened and read one, maybe two e-mails—a little hazy, but actually not too bad—when I was interrupted by the voice of the big boss behind me. “Beth!” he exclaimed from my cube doorway (cubeway?). I turned around. “Hey, I just got my eyes dilated!” I said. “Do they look weird?” I stood up and took off my glasses for him to see. We maintain a very professional work environment. “Can you read?” he asked. “Yeah, well, kind of—I’m doing pretty well,” I said, squinting back towards the computer. “This is actually a serious question,” he said. “I want your help with a proposal we’re putting together.” He wanted me to read it, and offer input. Which was kind of funny, considering that last-minute proofreading has virtually never been part of my job, so of course it would happen to be an issue on the day I got my eyes dilated.

And that’s the story of how I came to edit part of a proposal we’re submitting. Okay, it merits just a little more explanation than that—I actually didn’t even know we were proposing to do this, and I think it’s really cool. So I’ve talked about what I do, and how we measure where things are and how they move. We can do so in small scale networks (several meters) or large scale networks (several 10s or ever 100s of kilometers). So far, we’ve done it with GPS. In this proposal, we propose to buy a fancy instrument for “TSL,” or Terrestrial Laser Scanning. And use it in the polar regions to support science funded by NSF-OPP (the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs). Rather than measuring the location of one point, like we do with GPS, this method measures the distance between the instrument and …. the surface of whatever you’re measuring. So, for instance, you could set up your instrument on a tripod on bedrock alongside a glacier, and then measure the glacier surface in, say, a several hundred meter square area, and then go back a year later and measure again and see if the glacier surface has lowered. Do that for a few years, and if the glacier surface is consistently lower, you could say that the glacier is thinning. Then you could think about the big picture and ask whether the glacier thinning is indicative of global warming, and how this thinning glacier (and others like it) may affect the things around it, like the adjacent ecosystem or the level of the sea. That’s only one application. Think of this as coming up with a really high resolution map of whatever you want to map, in 3D (except that you can’t get underneath whatever you want to map). You could map the topography of your favorite couch. Then, if you wanted, you could measure again after your next party and see just how much your couch has moved. Okay, maybe that’s a boring example. Go ahead, think of your own.

I have to try to go one month without rubbing my eyes after LASIK. That will be hard.

Posted by beth at 12:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 7, 2007

AAA Saves the Day

Ready for my morning saga?

First of all, I am now sitting in Cafe Sole, a coffee shop not too far from my house, with a large chai and a poppyseed muffin, my computer (obviously), and wet socks. I was leaving my house to come here several hours ago when something happened to change my course of events.

Getting to and from my apartment can be confusing for the first-time visitor (or, if you're Tara, the second- and third- and fourth-time visitor as well). You enter a different way than you leave, both in getting to the neighborhood and getting around in the parking lot. Significant in the events of today, the parking lot is one-way. You enter going one direction, and to leave you have to follow the parking lot as it curls around the building and funnels you onto a narrow lane which dumps you back onto the street. Everyone leaving the parking lot has to go through this lane. So I hate it when people park there. Okay, I don't know that I've ever seen anyone actually parked there, but there's a short length of the lane that comes up against the apartment building and sometimes people will use this spot (clearly marked with a sign that says "No parking, violators will be towed") to load or unload people or gear. My general take on this is that unless you can pull way over to the side so that there is still ample room for others to get through (and there are a lot of biiiiig trucks that park in our parking lot), it's a bad move. Inconsiderate. So I was pissed off when I came upon a car parked there late this morning on my way to this coffee shop to hop online.

Granted, the car wasn't parked for the long haul--it's blinkers were on and the passenger door open--but still. With the snow, it wasn't pulled over far enough for me to get by, and why should I have to wait for them? This is everyone's parking lot, not just theirs.

The driver came out shortly and, without apology, took her time closing the passenger door and getting into the car. She began to pull out, but couldn't. Her wheels spun. I backed up to give her more room. She kept spinning, forward and back. Since she was parked where she shouldn't be, I didn't get out to help her out. No way. Instead, I decided to go out the wrong way and be done with it. So I again backed up--and right off the side of the lane. My wheels spun. When I opened my door, I was greeted with snow--all the way up to the base of my doorway. The snow was packed against the low curb, giving no indication that I had even reached the curb, and I had swiftly driven both my left wheels off into the soft snowbank on the other side, where the ground drops off. Quite a predicament, I realized quickly.

As I watched the woman drive by me going the other way, I flipped her off. I guess I shouldn't admit this online, especially since it begs a lecture (or at least a little disapproving gasp) from my parents, and I don't often do this sort of thing, but I did. There was a slow-motion moment in which she was looking at me and I was looking at her and little besides my raised finger intervened between us. I knew she saw me.

I had to step into snow up to my mid-calves just to get out of my car. What to do? Who to call? When I saw the woman walking back my way, I pulled out my phone to look busy. Was she coming to offer help? I hoped not. I didn't want her help, didn't want to deal with her. I was relieved when all she offered was a snide comment--"When you lose patience and flip somebody off it makes a person less inclined to help out." She went into her apartment. Too late, of course, I thought of saying, "This isn't for parking, lady, it's a driveway." So I didn't even get my jab in about what had annoyed me so much. I hadn't noticed the no parking sign yet, so I didn't point that out, either. (I had plenty of time to notice the No Parking sign later.)

I locked up and went back to my apartment to find the number for the apartment complex's maintenance group. It took me a bit of fumbling, but I did find it eventually, and headed back down to attend to my car. On my way, I passed a painter carrying gear into the complex. "Do you have a car with a winch?" I asked him. "No, I don't," the man said apologetically, "but she might." His coworker approached from the parking lot and agreed to help me out. "Yeah, I have a tow-rope," she said. We met at my car.

I felt a little silly. Maybe a lot silly. This woman had a huge, beefy, well-used-looking truck (complete with stickers of naked women on it--can't say I envied that part) and wore work clothes--Carhartts with different tools and such stuck in the pockets. She lied down on a mat she had in the truck to find something to hook her rope to under the front of my car. She looked tough. And there I was in my clogs and striped socks and skirt, with no gloves (I was just going to a coffee shop, after all), watching her while she worked on my vehicle. Yeah, I thought, I'm just a dumb girl...

Meanwhile, a car drove up behind me. My car was only mildly in the way (it was pretty far to the side, incidentally, since two wheels were over the curb...), but her big monster truck completely blocked the lane. Now *I* was the one. I imagined the driver that had blocked me in the first place sitting by a window overlooking the whole scene, smirking with a smug satisfaction. Well, lady, you contributed to this, I thought, no matter what you're thinking now. The driver of the car got out. He could have gone out the other way (against the one-way signs), but he came over to check things out. He admired the big truck, chatted, helped out with the operation. He and his friend just moved out here a month ago from New York, and have already been skiing 10 days. He said they got ski passes and didn't have money to do much else, so they've just been skiing.

The woman with the truck, finding nothing else, looped her rope through my drive shaft. She got in the truck, I got in the car, and she pulled. But I wasn't going anywhere. With my wheels over the curb, which I guess she had not realized, she was afraid she would damage my car if she pulled it hard enough to get it up and over.

I thanked her and Dean, waved to his friend in the car, and they were all on their way.

I called AAA. Due to high call volumes, they said, yadda yadda yadda. I was on hold for quite a while. Luckily, I had a book. I just hung out in my car, reading and waiting. With Driver looking on (I imagined), snickering.

I expected to have to wait forever for help, but the man on the phone told me to expect someone within 75 minutes. "After you get your car out, do you need a tow anywhere?" he asked. I was a little taken aback. "Not unless you break it," I said.

I settled in to read. My feet were wet. I took off my socks and let my feet dry in the sun. Then, before they got too cold, I put on some exercise socks I had in my car from a long-ago plan to exercise after work one day. I worked on reading "Longitude," a book I started yesterday and one which seems fitting for my job. So far, I recommend it.

After a good while, I was interrupted by a knock on my window. The AAA guy? No. A small, Mexican man who flashed a friendly and metal-filled smile. He was offering to help me out. Very kind. Why not? Who knew how long the AAA guy would actually be, after all.

The plan was for him to attach his car to mine and pull while I gave my car gas and two or three of his buddies pushed my car up to get it over the curb. We ended up with at least four men on my car, all pushing and pulling and I won't say my car didn't budge, but it certainly didn't budge very far or very effectively. So, after only a brief effort, we gave up. And, before the last of them had wandered off, the AAA guy showed up. With a tow truck. Very helpful.

This rig had me out in almost no time. Well, sort of. He hooked on to the loop at the back which Dean and I had found, had me turn my wheels, and pulled. And my car slid right along the curb. He put a block behind my real wheel and tried again, and this time it worked. The front tire was a little more problematic--he pulled, and the car slid and slid and slid. No purchase on the side of the curb, and it just kept sliding, pushing the snow behind it. I got in the car and held the wheels straight, and the same thing happened. He put a block behind the wheel, and the same thing happened. Then he repositioned his truck, pulled again, and I was up onto the lane. That stupid lane. "Wow," he said, "this is a weird place to not have marked" (of the curb). It made me feel a little better, but still. I had driven off the side of the road which I drive all the time, living there and all. Sigh.

I was going to go home and regroup, get dry socks and such, but screw it. I turned out of the complex and came straight here. And here I am now. Living to tell the tale. I hope you picked up the moral of this story. Some people are mean, and some people are nice. Sometimes we as individuals are mean, and sometimes we're nice. And lack of patience is almost always trouble, even if we think we're justified. That driver is the one who spent her afternoon warm in her apartment with whatever it was she wanted to carry inside from her car, and I'm the one with wet socks.

Posted by beth at 9:05 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 3, 2007


Back in Boulder. Back in my apartment. It’s in the same state of intense disarray that I left it in over a week ago, which I suppose is a good thing—I’d be a little creeped out otherwise. I am listening to the Mountain Music Lounge CD my parents gave me for Christmas, and thinking of the northwest. I miss it. It feels like home. I think it is home. So, who knows what will happen, and I’ve had it in the back of my mind since I moved away, but here I am thinking seriously of ending up back there. Family, lots of good friends, mountains, and lots of big, natural bodies of water. If it just had the sun that Boulder does, it would be perfect. But then, we would not have the tall, somber evergreens nor the lush, bright ferns. So nevermind.

I don’t have any photos of my trip home, unfortunately. I did take some, but not many, and only with other people’s cameras. Hopefully some of those will trickle my way. The big bonfire at Randy’s for New Years, and Mom somehow drawing a bird ornament on the Christmas tree in pastels with Tio, her cat, taking up about 7/8 of her lap.

What for the New Year? I think I’ll go with my parents’ resolution, which is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Also staying hydrated. I resolved to be better about blogging last year, and wasn’t, so I won’t risk resolving to do that this year. I’ll just try to do it. Fresh fruit and veggies, by the way. Frozen only as the exception.

I think I’ll be reading more, and I hope I’ll be writing more. I also hope to do more domestic outdoors trips. I guess that sounds funny. I meant in-country. I’m not planning to don an apron or break out the sewing in the backcountry.

Change is in the air. Hopefully. I guess I’ll leave it at that. Oh, and that I’m excited about it. That’s important, too.

Posted by beth at 5:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack