Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold: It's the new snow!

So, as people may be aware, most of the central and eastern part of the US is unusually cold this week. For the last several days Madison has had low single digit highs with terrifying wind chills. Today the forecast high is between -6 and -2, depending on your source. Leaving for work this morning, it was around -13 (windchill: -28)... I had to remove my gloves to lock my front door and thus learned the following valuable lesson: -13F degree metal on bare skin is extremely painful. If my hand had been at all wet, I suspect it would have frozen to the door.

On a related note, night-before-last I had a pleasant dream. In it, I was watching the news and the newscaster explained that meteorologists had underestimated the speed of the current weather system and that temperatures in WI would be returning to the low 20's immediately. When I remembered it after waking up, I wanted to cry; even in my good dreams, temperatures no longer exceed freezing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh no, not again...

The cycle is starting again: extreme cold, followed by moderate cold and 10" of snow, followed by extreme cold, followed by moderate cold and more snow, followed by...

WI does have four seasons, but to the untrained observer three of them are indistinguishable from winter. Oddly, knowing that I've lived through this before does not give me confidence in my ability to do so again. It just makes me nostalgic for my previous ignorance. Damnit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I'll be surprised if this ever happens again, so I would like to publicly note that downtown Madison is even more filled with drunk screaming people than usual, and I empathize completely. Even I am slightly hoarse. :-D

Monday, September 1, 2008

Amusing flashbacks

If a good party is one that's highly entertaining for the people there without causing irreparable property damage, a really awesome party is one that continues to entertain people two years after the fact - including people who weren't actually there.

I'm not sure if my readers will recall the gingerbread Columbia party that was thrown by my suitemates during the fall of our senior year. It was, without question, the single most awesome thing my suite did. Recently a librarian at CU came across the evidence on Flickr and sent links to the pictures around to one of the library mailing lists (one of the recipients emailed one of my suitemates for an explanation and she forwarded it along to the rest of us). The consequence of all this is that I've gotten to watch as the number of views of some of my pictures rapidly increased over the last week. It's pretty cool.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Forays into civilization and the pursuit of shiny objects

Well, it's been over a month since my last post. For half of that time I was on vacation back on the East Coast. It was unnerving to discover, on my first trip into Manhattan after an absence of six months, twenty-six days, and sixteen hours (not that I obsessively monitor these things), I had totally forgotten proper street-crossing technique. So, in an effort to avoid an untimely death by speeding taxi I had to resort to waiting for the light to change color. *sigh.* On my second day of walking around, however it came back to me: Step into street, look in direction opposite oncoming traffic for bike messengers, step farther into street, look in direction of oncoming traffic, proceed across street in between cars, arrive at destination on time. Now I'm back in Madison, but I haven't readjusted my street-crossing mentality yet, so I've caused several people to flinch by walking into the street well in advance of the walk signal turning on, after verifying that I was not going to be hit by anything. Ha! This weekend, however, I am going to Chicago to visit a friend who's starting grad school there. I will have to be careful. Chicagoans will definitely try to run me over.

Anyway, I went to the Met when I was in New York, and found the current roof garden exhibit (sculptures by Jeff Koons) to be highly amusing. Specifically, there's a sculpture of a 10'-15' tall balloon dog made out of yellow high-chromium steel. It's very shiny and reflects the skyline and Central Park and fills my inner child with glee. There's another, smaller (I think), orange version of this sculpture (and another one of a rabbit) currently on exhibit at the Meuseum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. This, after visiting my aforementioned friend and generally enjoying a final weekend of urban life before classes start is my main reason for going.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Roommate hunting, some true observations

A few months ago, I realized I was going to need new housemates to replace my current ones and that these new roommates were not going to materialize out of the blue. So, I, the intrepid protagonist, put an ad on the university's off-campus housing listing site. This, I assumed, was likely to attract a random sampling of graduate students, who may be irresponsible in their own absent-minded ways, but whose situation I can relate to and who I would, therefore, trust to pay the rent. The alternative was craigslist, which, in the stories of one of my current roommates, attracted several normal people, one recently paroled, extremely jittery, homeless person with $500 who was hoping to move in immediately, and one other guy who seemed ok and was permitted to move in, but had to be kicked out again when it became apparent that he was a verbally abusive, asocial, kleptomaniac. Right. So. University listing for me.

The responses to my ad came from mostly grad students, which I consider a success. However, for future roommate-hunting purposes, I have learned that ads aimed at reasonable grad students will not produce potential roommates who are all a) grad students, b) observant, or c) obviously capable of taking care of themselves.

For example, I received phone calls from the fathers (and it was always the fathers) of several undergrads who were looking for housing for their incoming freshman children. The questions I asked myself before failing to return their phone calls included: What parent, who has raised children I want to deal with, calls potential roommates themselves instead of making their 18 year old kid do it? As a >21 year-old, what <21 year-old would I want to assume the legal liability of living with (assuming I will neither hide, nor constantly monitor my inventory of judgment-impairing beverages)?

There were also a few incoming grad students (all of them for non-PhD programs, though) who came to visit with their parents. This did not inspire my confidence. When I moved to a new city, I managed to find accommodations for myself. I realize I'm unusually independent, but my grad student friends also found housing for themselves. If you want me to believe that you're old enough to feed and dress yourself and be a grad student and live without a babysitter, you probably should too.

Finally, there are my favorites - the women with cats. Necessary background information: the listings allow you to specify pet policies as "No pets", "Cats only", or "Pets negotiable" and then has a text box to explain the negotiability. My listing has "Pets negotiable" and the explanation says, "No cats. Dogs negotiable." So I've gotten a number of emails from people (always women) looking for someplace they can live with their cat(s). The first one said, "I know your listing says 'No cats' and I have a cat. However she's a very cute and well-behaved cat, does that make a difference?" I replied, "Unfortunately, that won't work. The prohibition on cats is not only because I dislike them, but because I'm allergic." The second one came today and said, "I know your listing says 'No cats' but I'm looking for a place to live in Madison with my two cats, is the room still available?" I haven't replied, because I have been unable to convince myself that the correct reply is "No, sorry the room has been taken." What I want to write would have the same effect, but would require lying: "Yes! The room is still available, and how fortunate! You have two cats. I hadn't previously noticed the typo in my listing, which I intended to read 'No cat' - singular. I would be allergic to one cat, but of course, everyone knows that if you have a pair of cats the dander from cat 1 will counteract the dander from cat 2, leaving me and my respiratory system happy and functional. Hooray!"

So anyway, I did successfully find new roommates. I don't think any of them will require extensive looking-after. They don't seem to have overbearing parents. They're all of legal drinking age. And when everyone is moved in, we will be able to bond over our shared hatred of cats.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I've caved

In search of new and exciting ways to procrastinate, I caved in and set up a twitter account for myself. I don't know yet how much I'll use it, but it's here: if you care.

Note that this doesn't mean I'm abandoning the blog, it just means that I will no longer feel obligated to wait until I can think of a complete sentence to write something. There will probably be a post here at some point in the next week or so.