Archive for April, 2010


why i broke up with facebook

April 30, 2010

I’ve had a profile on facebook since spring of 2004.  Yes, facebook existed in 2004, if only at a handful of universities.  I remember having it showed to me in my dorm room late one night (at least I assume it was late at night; most of my life circa 2001-2007 took place late at night).  As soon as I joined, the indoctrinating party encouraged me to friend him so he could “have 30 friends.”  Oh dear.  It was easy to see how things would go from there.  Why did I even get in in the first place?

Well, at the time, facebook was novel.  For me, fresh out of nerd boarding school, it was great to have an easy way to get in touch with all those friends who were important to me but went to universities in other time zones.  It was cleaner, simpler, less messy and angsty than myspace (I never did have a myspace profile).  Even as facebook evolved over the years, and 30 friends turned into 300 and on up from there, I always like to think that I kept my page that way.  I never really bought into the apps craze, never felt the need to log in every day, and didn’t even start using it to share pictures until I’d been on it for several years.  I do, I admit, have a bad habit of thinking up pithy status updates whenever something noteworthy happens to me during the day, but that goes way back before facebook, to my days of AIM away messages.

But the key here is that facebook did evolve.  It turned from a cool idea into a potentially lucrative project, and well, as they say, the rest is history.  As it got bigger, it got harder and harder to protect your privacy, and facebook certainly never made it easy on you along the way.  Every major change brought another layer of complexity to privacy settings; at this point, I’m just ready to give up.  I have no idea what’s private and what’s not anymore, and that scares me.  I find it especially scary because I have made a major effort to stay abreast of the latest privacy changes, and have always updated my settings accordingly.  The simple fact is that I joined a semi-private network of college students; I’m leaving a sprawling public data mine for companies.

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snow snow go away, and take your migraine with you

April 29, 2010

Apparently my post-concussive migraines are not gone, as I was beginning to hope.  Oh well, that’s why I haven’t settled with the insurance company yet — I was waiting for spring to beat me up and see how my brain handled it.  Not well, is the answer.  And of course, as these things always work, I was fine until I got on the bus and no longer had a way to get home before 4pm.  Go figure.  My $9 pill is starting to help a little bit, though.

At least if I’m still going to get migraines, I know it takes a combination of basically all of my triggers to cause one.  I’m sleep deprived (sleeping on couches does that to you), haven’t been eating on a rational schedule (no excuse here really), am extremely stressed out (hooray flood), and traveled to sea level and back over the weekend (to see Pvt. Little Brother).  Then, the weather had to go and do this:

Thanks, weather.  I really appreciate that.  There’s also a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon.  I can’t wait.

In other news, my apartment situation got worse, but then it got better.   The one-sentence summary is that it seems likely that I’ll only be homeless until next week, and my stuff just needs to be shuffled around during carpet replacing rather than completely moved out.  I spent yesterday looking for short-term leases and working under the story that I would need to move out entirely, and nobody would be able to fix the place for three weeks or more.  Also my insurance doesn’t cover floods, and Colorado’s tenant laws are the worst in the country, so I was pretty much up shit creek.  But today it’s better.  Yay!

Except, of course, for this whole migraine thing.  Migrainey data analysis, here I come!


more proof that the universe hates me

April 26, 2010

This morning, all I wanted was one simple thing: I wanted to take a short nap in my own dog-allergen-free bed.  I was dreaming about this the entire past week on fold-out hotel beds and on my folks’ futon; I was definitely dreaming about it on my ride home from Fort Collins this morning (took a detour from the airport last night to facilitate a car transfer, and more importantly,to facilitate seeing the partner for the first time in more than a week).

So I get home, stop the dog from ripping the community gardener’s throat out (yeah, that peace of theirs really lasted, huh?), and drag myself downstairs with all of the stuff I traveled with.  I throw it all on the couch, kick off my shoes, and head into my bedroom.

My feet get cold and wet about a third of the way across the room, and I hear an ominous squish.  I look at the humidifer; it’s empty, but it was that way before I left, and there’s no puddle on the dresser where it is.  I look at the window; it’s sealed.  I go around the room touching the ceiling; it’s dry.  So it’s coming from the floor.  Great.  I look at the box spring (which sits directly on the floor; I am a consummate grad student, I know.  At least I have a box spring), and it’s wet and stained all the way up.  I check the mattress, and am immediately grateful for that vinyl allergen cover I insisted on putting on there even though it makes the mattress pad slide around everywhere.  I check the bottom of all my wooden furniture; yep, it’s all soggy and starting to swell.

Welcome home!  Turns out the kitchen is flooded too, though obviously there’s no carpet in there.  After moving out all my furniture (definitely the first thing I wanted to do when I got home, of course), I find that I can actually splash around on my carpet.

Yes, the universe hates me.  After having sent work an email about my absence today (since I spent half the day cleaning things out of my room already), I am now at my favorite coffee shop while my landlord rips up the carpet, and have lined up a couch and a floor for me and the dog for the foreseeable future.  I guess the upside here is that I will soon have a bedroom completely cleared of all dog allergen, right after finding out about that unfortunate little quirk of my immune system.  The downside, well,  is obvious.  It also affects you fine blog readers you, since you don’t get the post with all the pictures and stories of my trip back east, complete with shots of the newly-minted Pvt. Little Brother of the Marine Corps.  You will just have to wait until I am done bitching about how much my life sucks.


the evil horse welcomes you to denver

April 20, 2010

In about 12 hours, I’ll be boarding a plane bound for the east coast.  My little brother is done with boot camp, and has a fancy-schmancy graduation ceremony on Friday, plus a bit of on-base liberty (“family day”) on Thursday, so I’m headed down to Parris Island to be around for that.  Afterwards, I’ll be headed northwards to the real Carolina, to spend some quality time in Chatham County with the folks and the brother while he’s on leave.  Looking forward to it, for sure.

That, however, is not really why I’m posting.  Instead, I am posting to tell you about the awesome and horrifying sculpture that sits at the entrance to Denver International Airport.  Its name is Blucifer.

Hi, Blucifer! (photo credit: Westword)

Blucifer is not actually this horse’s name.  The blog article I snatched that picture from (funny and worth a read for more perspective on the evil horse sculpture, though I’ll warn you it’s headed with a close-up snapshot of the horse’s anatomically-correct ass) seems to refer to him as “el mesteno,” but I’m not really sure that’s his name either.  At any rate, this dude is freaky.  Oh, and he’s 32 feet tall, and his eyes glow red.  The first time I saw this beast, it was foggy, and all I could see was a looming shape with red eyes glowing out of the mist.  Yeah.  Welcome to Denver!

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nooooooooooooooooooo, plus an apology to the cottonwoods of colorado

April 19, 2010

Went to the immunologist today for a skin test.  Fun times, that.  In case you’re not among us lucky ones and are unfamiliar with skin testing for allergies, the gist of it is that they stick you full of allergens and see if you react.  You get a little prick of essentially distilled allergen, and if you get a mosquito-bite-like reaction, congratulations!  You’re allergic!  This process takes place on a grid they’ll mark out on your back, and typically you get something like 20-30 of these pricks.  Then, if you’re extra lucky, they’ll re-test for the substances you didn’t react to, in a stronger concentration, and injected under the skin in larger quantity.  Depending on how thorough or how much of  a sadist your doctor is, you can get a bunch of those, too.  I got 24 injections in my upper arm after the 30ish pokes on my back.  I am full of holes.

So, first go-round didn’t have any surprises.  I reacted to cats and cat dander, and dust mites.  Those I’ve known my whole life.  I suppose there was a minor surprise in that I didn’t react to any of the pollens they tested.  Second-go round was more fun (joy) and more surprising, too.  Again, I didn’t react to a single pollen.  In fact, I only reacted to one substance out of the 24.  Unfortunately….


This is a really big problem.  This means that I could have been significantly healthier my entire life.  This means that every time I pet my dog, I am being irresponsible.  It means that my health crashes the past two springs are probably due to Pecan (my immunologist says it’s almost certain).

What am I going to do?  Well, I’m not going to get rid of the dog.  I can’t just “get rid of her” like an old shirt or something — I can’t imagine how stressful and horrible the experience of getting re-adopted would be for little miss neurotic.  She’s a pretty needy pup.  Also, there’s the not-insignificant point that I adore her.  So, I suppose it’s just management that’s going to happen.  She’s not going to be allowed in the bedroom ever again (she was only occasionally and for a brief time, anyway), and I’m going to have to wash her more and vacuum more.  I’m looking into allergy shots, which would be good since it could tackle my dust mite and cat allergies at the same time.  It’s a long and awful-sounding process, though.

Anyhow, this was horrible news, and I’m still not sure whether to be mad or to cry.  Not much point in either, really, but still.  I would also like to issue an apology to any trees who may have been offended by my rage at them; it was misplaced, since I’m not allergic to any Colorado trees at all.  Now I know the true culprit, and she’s too cute to rage at.  Sigh.

Too cute to blame.


this late, great unpleasantness

April 14, 2010

A serious post for you today!  My apologies if you’re here for inanity.

I noticed recently that everyone who’s anyone on the internet has felt the need to remind us all that slavery was bad, and announce that if you don’t think it was the reason for the Civil War, then you’re a big redneck dumbass.  I did not, however, notice what happened to precipitate this increasingly irritating lecture from the internet.  Last night I went hunting, and found a couple of little gems from the governors of Virginia and Mississippi.

From Virginia, we had a formal announcement from the governor’s office that April is “Confederate History Month”…but conveniently, there’s no mention whatsoever that slavery was ever a part of the Confederacy’s history.  When the Mississippi governor was asked whether he felt this to be inappropriate, he had this to say about the importance of mentioning slavery in relation to the Civil War or the Confederacy:

“To me it’s a sort of feeling that it’s just a nit. That it is not significant. It’s trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly.”

Whoops.  Now, to be a little bit fair, this sounds like it could have been taken highly out of context, and he could have been referring to the general ruckus surrounding the Virginia governor’s whoops moment.  That would be charitable to assume, but still doesn’t entirely take away what makes his statement feel a bit shady. The dude is saying, one way or another, that slavery isn’t important, or it’s not important to correct someone for assuming it’s not important.  All this is shitty, sure, but it has definitely inspired me to do a little bit of reading and to think a bit about my own ideas about the Civil War.

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in which lady quantum is sad

April 14, 2010

Remember my Friday post about how excited I was to get lots and lots of data and have everything generally go so well?  Yeah, turns out not so much.  Now, my personal opinion is that this data is grand and lovely and that small furry woodland creatures should sing about how awesome it is.  The fitting program’s opinion is that this data was collected by lobotomized monkeys who like to shoot lasers at things.  I get offended when the fitting program tells me that I am a lobotomized monkey.  That shit’s personal. Tomorrow I get to try collecting it again, I suppose, while staying on careful guard for the lobotomized monkeys.  If the fitting program won’t play nice with new data, we are going to tangle, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

WTF indeed. Where the program pulled out those horrid-looking oscillations is anyone's guess (actually I know the answer, but it still shouldn't be doing that).

In other news, I am also sad because of the cottonwood trees.  They are gettin’ it on all over out here, and it’s making my eyes burn like crazy.  Bonus: the rainy/snowy season seems to be over, and the winds have been picking up, so it looks like extra tree sex awesomeness is in the forecast for the indefinite future.  I don’t like it.  Burning eyes, a runny nose, a constant low-grade headache, and a low-grade fever in the evenings is really not my idea of fun.  Especially since the weather’s so nice and I want to be outside as much as possible — and need to be, for my ultimate frisbee team.

Another way in which Colorado is making me sad (I’m totally blaming the state for the tree pollen and the tempting weather to go along with it) is through its ridiculous income tax rates.  I owe the state lots of money, lots and lots of money.  This is uncool, because as far as I’m aware, the vast majority of the services that I really love are funded by local taxes…which I pay every time I buy something in a store, via our ridiculous (but worth it, for bike infrastructure and a usually-great bus system) sales tax rate.  What am I paying for, my dear adopted state?  Because I’m pretty sure I’m not getting my money’s worth.  Just as a note, I also owe the feds a lot of money (oh, the joys of not getting issued W-2’s, or having any tax taken out), but since they’re the ones paying my salary and funding my research, I don’t mind quite as much.  They’re the ones who gave it to me in the first place.

One weird tax note: I incorrectly entered the income from my fellowship stipend the first time I did my taxes, and it told me that I owed the feds less than two hundred bucks (I’ve been paying estimated taxes every quarter).  When I realized the error and correctly entered it as scholarship income, suddenly my owed tax almost tripled.  Joy.  What kind of tax system do we have where  job income is taxed less than an equivalent amount of scholarship income?  You think with all of their happy tax credits  for education they’d be happy to cut us students a break.  Maybe the federal government thinks “scholarship” means “free money you didn’t earn.”  Yeah, they can go jump off a cliff (but only after they pay my stipend, then they can go jump off a cliff).