Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Zappos has created a monster

I've recently discovered a new website much to my husband's dismay, Zappos.com. It's a website dedicated to shoes. Thousands upon thousands of shoes! If you have a shoe fetish of any kind whatsoever, beware. It is really addicting. I can't tell you how much time I've spent browsing the shoes in the last few weeks.

Last week I finally took the plunge and made my first online shoe purchase. I needed some new brown and black shoes to wear to for school. The shoes I had been wearing were decidedly past their prime, and no amount of shoe polish would cover that up. It is no tax and free shipping both ways! If you don't like the shoe, you have a full year to send it back. (As long as you don't take it running outside or anything.)

Thursday afternoon the doorbell rang. "Ding dong! Your shoes are here!" it sang. (I just love getting packages in the mail, so much fun.) I ran to the door, grabbed the box, and opened it up. I was so excited. They only took a few days to get here!

The brown shoes I ordered didn't fit quite right, but the black shoes fit great! Actually, I couldn't decide between two different pairs, so I ordered them both. It turns out that the black pair I didn't keep also comes in brown. And guess what!?! They are scheduled to arrive tomorrow! I guess this is why my husband is a little bit worried, it didn't take me long to make my second purchase! I don't plan on buying and more for a while, but I have some bookmarked in "my favorites" just in case...

Mmmmm is for Mondays

For the last couple of weeks, Nathan, Timmie, Olga and I (friends from school) go out to eat for lunch after our Monday meetings are over. Lately we've been going to Los Molcajetes, a new Mexican restaurant in town. It's named for the particular way they cook food in a molcajete. A molcajete is a stone pot for cooking meat stews. It is warm an wonderful, especially on a cold day like today. It's served with beans, rice, and tortillas, and this place makes the best homemade corn tortillas I've ever had. After lunch we ran by Starbucks to get some caffeine to keep us awake during the afternoon seminar. It's not that seminars are always boring, it's that a nice, warm, full stomach can be hard to fight in the afternoon. Los Molcajetes has turned a potentially dreaded Monday full of meetings into a day to look forward too. (Plus it usually means great leftovers that night!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

She's at her fighting weight

That's what the dog trainer said to me last Thursday night in our agility class. (I didn't fall down this time!) Quite a different comment than six months ago when the vet called her "a full figured gal". We've been working really hard on her weight: making sure we measure how much we feed her and seeing that she gets plenty of exercise. We are lucky that her favorite thing to do is play frisbee!

I admit right here and now that I'm a nerd. I thought it would be interesting to track her progress through the whole weight-loss thing. I guess that's not that nerdy, but then I decided to graph it in Excel. Yep, I'm a nerd. A really big nerd. Anyway, here is a chart of her progress. It's been amazingly steady. Why can't it be that steady for us? (Probably because Audrey doesn't really have a choice in the matter.)

Happy wife day

Last Monday morning, a FedEx truck pulled up to our house. Nathan said to me "Surprise, Happy Wife Day!" "Happy Wife Day?" I wondered. He answers the door and comes back with a HUGE smile on his face. He hands me a little brown box.

I start racking my brain. What could this be? I had absolutely no idea. Had I asked for anything lately? Dropped any hints? Not that I could think of.

Excited, I open the box. Inside, gleaming, is a brand new iPod nano! Not only is it my very own iPod, it's red! The exact color I wanted! I mentioned it to Nathan a few times, but I was thinking of it more as a Christmas gift tops. He also got my name and email engraved on the back. How cool is that!

After showering him with hugs and kisses, he tells me that's not all. Also coming in the mail is the Nike running sensor. Now I have my very own iPod to listen to while I run with Audrey! Now that I've had it for almost a week, I can honestly say that the running sensor is much cooler than I thought. It allows me to track all my runs, set goals (time, distance, frequency, speed, etc.), and see how pace changes during a run. It is really neat.

I say all this to say that I must have the best husband ever. He knew exactly what I wanted and surprised me on top of it. I love surprises! Thank you, Nathan!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Candy cheer

There's nothing like candy to cheer up the lab. It's a Friday afternoon and surprisingly the lab is pretty full. Everyone was looking pretty gloomy, so I took it upon myself to spread some cheer. My officemate had some extra jolly rancher candy to get rid of, so I passed it around. It's Friday so spread some cheer of your own. :)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

All work and no play

I feel like one of the kids that couldn't go out to play for recess. Instead, I just have to sit and work and try to ignore everyone else playing football just outside the window enjoying the beautiful day...

I'm at the annual "Molecular Biophysics Training Retreat" this weekend. (I feel like a nerd just saying it.) For school, I do some research in computational biology. Every year we get together with the other professors and students at A&M that also work on biochemistry and biophysics and go to Camp Allen for a weekend "retreat". Basically, we just sit in lectures all day long given by some of the students.

This year I escaped this responsibility and another student from my research group is giving a lecture. So while I don't have to prepare a presentation, I do have to help him practice his. Which ordinarily I wouldn't mind one bit, except that we get an hour and a half of free time (a.k.a. recess) in the afternoon and that is the exact time that my professor elected to practice the student's presentation. So while I sit here listening to his talk, I'm watching everyone else play football just outside the window.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Farm fresh eggs really do stand up

I just finished reading http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifthe book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. It's about food production in the United States, how food gets from the farm to your plate. It's a pretty good read. I guarantee you would think differently about your food after reading this book. I know I do. And no, I'm not talking about becoming a vegetarian. I'm talking about supporting your local farms.

Nathan and I thought we would give local food a try, so we went to the local farmer's market the other weekend. We were slightly underwhelmed by its size (it's the off-season and there were only 5 vendors and 3 customers, 2 of which were us), but we were able to buy some "farm fresh" eggs.

The book I read said that there is a noticeable difference between farm fresh eggs from grass-fed, free-range chickens and eggs from the supermarket. Grass-fed eggs are supposed taste better, be easier to cook with, and healthier than their mass-produced counterparts. So I thought I'd do a little experiment. A side by side comparison if you will.

At first glance, the eggs did look different than the "organic" eggs I usually buy from the supermarket. They were varying shades brown, not bleached, and not quite so uniform in shape. When I cracked them, I noticed that the yolks where a richer yellow than the others, almost orange in comparison. So far so good, they at least look different.

The second test was taste. Could I tell any difference between them? To make as unbiased an experiment as possible, I decided to fry two eggs up over medium (the way I like it), one farm fresh egg and one supermarket egg, in the same pan. That way there would be no difference in cooking method. I cracked one, then the other into the pan. Immediately I saw a difference. The egg white of the farm egg "stood up". Instead of spreading out all over the pan like the supermarket egg, the whites stayed together and stood about a 1/4 inch high. As far as taste, the farm egg yolk was like silk, rich and creamy, and the egg white as light and fluffy. The supermarket egg tasted pale and flat in comparison.

Now I have no idea if they are any healthier (of course I'd like to believe they are), but they definitely tasted better. I'd take the farm egg over the supermarket egg any day. Even if it costs more, which incidentally it didn't.

Although the local farmer's market was a little depressing this time of year, I'm sure I'll be going back. The honey looked pretty good too... I should try that next. Sopapillas anyone?