A long day and then some

I got up this morning with a spring in my step. The reason? The first exam of the semester was today. πŸ™‚ Not mine, silly. I’m merely a facilitator. We (the professors and I) hauled asses to make this happen and by all accounts, it was better than last year. That comment by the powers that be made my day/morning because I know that my efforts weren’t wasted. Cleanup was a ridiculous affair and I’m dreading the inevitable “where’s my dog’s forelimb” questions I will be inundated with when lab convenes tomorrow. Still, I think things went well and I look forward to seeing the scores and the fun task of putting their scores into a spreadsheet, etc. lol. It’s fun being on the other side of the equation and seeing how teachers set exam questions, etc.

I realize I never talked about the fun weekend I had. Well, I don’t remember how Saturday went. Actually, I do. My mind chose to blank it out because it was horrible. Thankfully, Sunday more than made up for Saturday’s fiasco. lol. I won’t name names, but trust me when I say my experience on Saturday nearly made me pull my little hair out. πŸ™‚ It’s really  not that serious so don’t go worrying, mom & dad. Anyhow, my week is shaping up nicely. It’s been really hectic, but I’ve been equal to the task thus far and gotten some compliments along the way. I am, however, not looking forward to digging through scores of embalmed dogs to look for my professor’s prosector dog. lol. I forced myself to make to-do list today and I got a lot of stuff accomplished. I really love my job although it’s really getting crazy. I survived the first exam experience and I’m looking forward to a smoother exam experience.

Windows Vista Ultimate on my dv9700t = Sweetness. :P

*dun dun dun dun* lol. She’s here!!! Yes, I am really typing this at 5am in the morning. You see, I didn’t entirely want to do this (wake up this early), but my allergy/unknown ailment/itching kicked into high gear. Voila! I was sleepless at home. I figured I might as well wake up and do some “work”. lol. I have to say that there was quite a bit of crap installed. By crap, I mean stuff like Norton and the trial Office Suites. I have no need for either of those items because I am getting educational/enterprise versions of these tools (not for free, by the way). Just saying because I have a reputation around here and my pirate-y name is Bootleg Jane. I have J’s hubby to thank for that. lol. Overall, I love my laptop. I’ve got a decent Windows Experience Index score of 4.6 5.0. The crossed-out WEI base score was the out-of-box WEI score I received for my dv9700t laptop which is unsurprisingly one of the top sellers on HP’s website. I have since installed a bunch of upgrades and largely (I thought) possibly brought down my score. Well, it climbed up without me doing anything to it except uninstall the crapware that came with it. Here are the brief scores: Note, you will have
dv9700t windows experience scoreto click on it to see the full thing. I didn’t want this to eat up the whole post. I definitely see myself getting comfortable with this computer and upgrading some components in the future. A few words of disappointment:

  1. I was disappointed that my BIOS was not TPM-enabled. One of the reasons I sprung for Vista Ultimate was for the feature called Bitlocker Drive Encryption. Now, Bitlocker can still run, but there’s the perfectionist in me that wants everything to be just right. I can still use the Bitlocker whole disk drive encryption feature. It just involves an extra step i.e. it needs to store the encryption key in a USB drive. I’ve got USB drives out the wazoo so once I’ve backed up my laptop, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and dive into the depths of the murky waters of Vista. *cue evil laugh*
  2. Next, the fingerprint reader sucks. Like royally sucks. At this point, I’m just using it as a piece of decoration. It has refused to read my fingerprint and I’m going to have content myself with signing in regularly like everyone else.
  3. I’m still torn up as to whether or not I did a good thing in not getting the TV tuner. I’m not sweating it though. It’s not a deal breaker. I just need to get me some hi-def content to view to console myself. lol.

I am in love with this piece of art. The only part I’m dissatisfied with is the fingerprint reader. I’ve tried to get finger-printed, but it keeps telling me that I’m too fast/slow, etc. I’m getting a little irked that I added an extra $25 for this feature. In any case, thanks to the timing of my purchase of the Cables To Go 28270 USB 2.0 Mobile Office Retractable Cable Kit, I was able to use the teeny-tiny mouse it came with to get around and get connected. Believe it or not, the experience of setting my laptop up was not as painful as dealing with my desktop PC. I will say that the desktop PC being refurbished probably had something to do with it. That being said, all was not honey and oats in my home. πŸ™‚ For the weirdest reason, the updates kept failing to install until I resorted to installing 2 or 3 at a time. All should be well now because I stayed up rather late doing the installations. I’m also anxiously awaiting my big bluetooth mouse from Logitech and ethernet cord (via Amazon) so I’m keeping my eyes peeled. Until then, I’ve got to go grab lunch. Ciao

Newfound respect for mothers and wayward parishioners

As you may or may not know, Matt’s sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy over a month ago. Since then, there have been trials, but she & her hubby have pulled through by the grace of God and the wonderful family members they have been blessed with. As Matt’s dad & I have become accustomed to doing, we went to see little B and his parents. Her husband was exhausted from pulling night duty while his wife caught a few winks. We helped her with grocery shopping and I got to take care of little B for a little bit. Man, I tell you, carrying a 11lb baby is no joke and trying to burp a baby isn’t a walk in the park either. When I think of J carrying the little one in her arms, I mentally doff my hat to her. As she always does, she hooked us (her dad and I) with fresh farm produce which, in this case, were tomatoes. After we were done visiting, we went to church and had our seats in the worst place possible. We were running late and thus ended up with the worst pick of seats. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t hear much of the service, but sitting at the back did allow me to see some of the unseemly behavior that people tend to reserve for the back of ‘the bus’. The case in point: a woman’s cell phone rang loudly twice and she answered the phone both times. Everyone around her turned and she kept on the phone, rather oblivious to her surroundings. A parishioner actually called her on her misbehavior and it felt like she was being a bit combative towards the elderly man who reminded her of her surroundings. It was rather sad. Thankfully, her phone didn’t ring again. I would hate for her to be have been publicly embarrassed. Continue reading Newfound respect for mothers and wayward parishioners

Blogorrhea. :)

So sue me. I realized I had more to talk about and I hit the “write post” button. I finally bit the bullet and called an old aunt of mine. It was one of the best moves I’ve made in a long while. We had a long chat and it was our first since the new year began (I think). It’s amazing how absence does make the heart grow fonder on both sides. I definitely intend to keeping in touch and M & I are now talking about the possibility of a road trip!! It’s only about 10hrs to my aunt’s place and we could literally be there in a day! This led us (M & I) to discuss the pros and cons of taking our car vs. renting vs. Greyhound bus transportation/Air/Train, etc. Being a cheap skate, I immediately vetoed any flights because I dread losing my luggage or undergoing any TSA hassles and the obvious expensiveness of taking any air flight these days. At Delta Airlines website, it’ll cost ~ $234 per person for a roundtrip flight which is right around where I thought it would be. That’s almost ~ $500 for both of us. We are not willing to spend that much on transportation for a flight experience that will be less than fantastic. The option I’m more fond of is traveling by bus (a.k.a. Greyhound). However, I have since run a cost analysis and it seems that the Greyhound option is only ~ $100 cheaper than the air flight. Given the large number of transfers (around 2 – 3), the dinginess of the Greyhound buses coupled with the long bus ride (over 21 hrs) make this a rather unattractive option. The third and most fun option is a road trip. πŸ˜€ Now, the obvious demerits of taking our personal car on a relatively long trip (over 20hrs total) include:

  1. Racking up the mileage on a car we are trying to preserve (it’s at 158,000 miles right now). I’m talking a little under 1,300 miles total.
  2. Prohibitive gas prices may take the ‘cheapness’ out of this option. Right now, I think M gets over 22 miles per gallon. This means we will run through around 59 gallons of gas. At $5 per gallon (I suspect it might even climb higher depending on how soon we make the trip happen), the cost of fueling up the car will be the price of one person’s round-trip flight to my aunt’s state of domicile. So, our fuel budget for the entire trip will be ~ $300.
  3. The car might not like being stressed out so much (wear and tear). It’s got some issues, but M’s been working to straighten out the kinks. These adjustments would have happened with or without the road trip.

Nevertheless, the benefits of taking our personal ride include:

  1. Freedom to move around. We can rest as we please or even quit the journey without fear of losing our money. πŸ™‚
  2. We will be able to explore the areas along the trip. Ideally, this will happen on our way back when we can be more relaxed.
  3. Our car now has a bike rack which M procured from a friend of his (Addictive Cycles). It’s a used Thule bike rack to be mounted on the roof of the car and it came with the trays to hold the bikes for a very good sum of $200. We totally got a great deal on it. I mean, if we had purchased it new, we would be talking about dropping over $500 for all the parts we got with the roof rack. Check the website out! The point of this: we sure as hell are carrying our mountain bikes for some kick ass biking while we are away from home!

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons and as my people say, the majority carries the vote! Well, not so fast. How about renting a car? Well, for starters, no roof rack on rental cars. That’s a biggie. Additionally, check out the prices for the privilege of renting their cars:

So, the only ‘advantage’ to taking a rental car is that it will save our car from the wear and tear. However, I’ve heard horror stories about people getting charged for dents and things they are pretty sure didn’t happen on their watch. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of making sure I document every ding and stain on the car before taking it out. The point: we are willing to take the risk on our old car. πŸ™‚

Enough about the road trip. M’s dad also got me a bike pedometer to track my speeds and mileage on the bicycle. It’s rather nifty and it’ll be good to help me accurately tell how much exercise I’m getting. For instance, my altered route yesterday was over 9 miles. I got my heart rate up a couple of times, but I was already tuckered out from some earlier expense of energy. M & I missed out on the group ride I had previously talked about and I felt pretty lousy about it. Still, M cheered me up and we made lemonade out of lemons. And it didn’t turn sour on us. πŸ™‚ We ended up at a bike shop (The Hub Bicycles) and got me a nice Camelbak Rogue pack (for storing water and liquids on long rides). Surprisingly, the store price of ~ $50 is actually the average price I’ve seeing online and that’s a refreshing change. M ended up getting a pair of bike shorts because he finally got tired of his threadbare shorts. πŸ˜€ Alrighty, that’s enough fodder for one day. Have a great Sunday all!

Deals and more deals

You guys, I think I may have taken the concept of shopping therapy a little too far. lol. Actually, I think I’ve been very restrained. I bought a cute summer dress for the princely sum of $6.41 at Old Navy and spent ~ $32 for 2 pairs of shoes (Mudd and Skechers) at Rack Room Shoes. I had earlier (about a week ago) purchased a pair of black jeans for $6.99 and a pair of knee-length jeans for ~ $13 at Old Navy. All these items were obviously on clearance, but they are pretty cool for clearance-items. I totally look forward to rocking my summer dresses.

In other news, I’ve got a bit of a feminine problem. My face is super-oily. I never noticed this in college nor did I notice this while I attended graduate school. It has only come to my knowledge because M & I, in the time-honored tradition of primates picking fleas off their partners’ backs, routinely screen each other’s face, back, et cetera for ‘anomalies’. Well, I am not used to any daily facial cleansing rituals and it is really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my skin may need some help. So, I’ve turned to almighty Google for answers to my dilemma. Now, M firmly believes that my application of body cream to my face is the root cause of my oily facial skin. His solution (amongst some others) is to not put cream on my face. Well, that experiment not only leaves my facial skin dry, I’ve just learned that it can cause my skin to produce more oil! I’ve got to do more research although I think I may have to talk with someone to get the skinny on these things. I need to take better care of my skin. πŸ™‚

In other news, I am in love with WordPress more than ever! It gets more intuitive with each release and I hope it stays free as long as Automattic founders can hold out. πŸ™‚ I love the enhanced plugins and themes management. Now, I just need to find an awesome and hopefully free theme that will fully represent the kick-assness that is my blog. I entered into a little ride (not a race). It is for the benefit of the organization, P.L.A.C.E, which “promotes a strong accessible local food culture“. This should be interesting for several reasons being:

  1. It is a group ride
  2. I have never done a group ride of larger than 3 (me, Matt and his friend, John)
  3. I am really really nervous about doing the group road ride on my single-speed mountain bike. Apparently, I will be at a disadvantage and will have to work harder to keep up the pace if the riders feel like hitting hard. Here’s hoping that they do not. lol.

I am preparing for this by: (i) not riding today (ii) silently freaking out. It’s theoretically not a big deal, but if you understand me, you’ll know that this event means I’m putting myself out there. Rationally speaking, I am capable to of doing the ride. I guess I’ve just gotten a little psyched out (thanks M! lol). It’ll be fine because he’s riding with me so I’m definitely happier now. πŸ™‚ I’ll leave you with a picture of me on the bike. I blinked.

An exhilarating ride and Independence Day

Ever heard this unattributed quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!”? Well, I felt like that about 2 days ago. M, John, M’s dad and I visited a state park with our bikes and we hit the trails hard. I felt that competitive spirit in me rise as I saw a couple of riders and egged on by M, I caught up to them. It was fun and I cannot wait to do those kind of long rides again. πŸ™‚

A belated happy independence day to Americans far and wide. This year’s celebration was memorable in that there was B who experienced his first 4th of July celebration after being born last week. I do wish I got a bit closer to see the fireworks. J whipped out his grilling tools and cooked up a delicious storm. I stuffed myself and I’m aching from it this morning. J’s edema during her pregnancy was apparently a whole lot because in a space of 1 week, it’s fair to say she’s dropped over 60% of her pregnancy weight which was due to water! She looks pretty darn good for a new mom. I took some pictures of the little tyke which didn’t turn out too well, sadly. However, J has invested in a Canon camera which takes fantastic pictures. My trusty old Fujifilm’s not doing too shabbily anyway. As proof, here’s a picture I took yesterday using the macro setting on the camera:

I also have to commend the WordPress authors for the ease with which I was able to insert these photos. I think it’s fair to say this version of WordPress is the best I’ve used so far.
As far as my movie watching madness, I’ve chugged through: (i) Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer: I’m glad I didn’t pay $8 to see this in the theatre. As I’m renting more movies and discovering how awful some movies are, my tolerance level for movie fluff/fillers is dropping drastically. Remember how I had to fast forward through the painful love scenes in Mr & Mrs. Smith? Well, I found myself leaving the couch and going about my business while watching Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and only coming back when it sounded like they were on the move.
(ii) Bourne Ultimatum: I loved this movie. I’m a big Robert Ludlum fan (God rest his soul) so I definitely went into this biased. I’m glad to say this movie didn’t disappoint. If you rent this movie, make sure you check out the bonus features and watch the footage of his choreographed fight scene with Desh (an assassin in the movie). πŸ™‚

I’ll leave you with another gratuitous flower shot: