Archive for May, 2008


I’ve been doing yoga for several months now. It’s really works you out, but then you also feel relaxed afterward. As an ex-swimmer, a good work out is one that’d have you wondering how you were going to make it to the locker room.

With my several months of yoga, I’d at least expect to get to a point where I’m not ridiculously sore after each work out. Not there yet. After Tuesday’s class, I’m still sore in places I didn’t even know I had! The instructor’s so sweet and cheery when she’s really a slave driver! Here’s a sample of the work out. Be sure to read this out loud in a melodic, soft whisper.

Hello and welcome to yoga. My name is Sebrena and this is my normal class.

Do I have anybody here that’s new to yoga, as in you’ve never done it before? [waits a sec and glances around the room]. Great. I always get newbies in my classes. The only reason that I ask is so I can keep an eye out for ya.

Remember, this is your class. Take it to your level. Throughout our class, I’ll show you modifications to make a pose either more difficult or easier. If you want to challenge yourself with the harder modifications, that’s ok. If you want to make them easier, that’s ok, too. Take it to your level.

If you have one of those squishy mats, I’d highly recommend that you buy a sticky matt from Ross. They’re like 6 bucks. When we get to some moves like down dog and other poses your squishy matt will slip and slide around. Simply step off the matt and do the pose on the ground. 

[music starts] [she speaks groups of sentences in one breath, in time with the music]. Lay back on your mat, feet together, toes flop out, arms next to your side. Close your eyes or find your favorite ceiling tile. Breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs. Breathe out through your nose, emptying your lungs. Remove that crease from your brow. On your next exhale, relax your mouth and jaw, allowing your tongue to fall to the roof of your mouth. On your next exhale, relax your shoulders. Relax your hips, your legs, and toes.

Sounds innocent, right? Then, she proceeds to get all crazy s#!t on us for an hour.

Thank you for coming. I’m really proud of you for staying the entire class! I’ll see you next week. 


I think namaste means something like “The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.” Sad, because I feel anything but divine afterwards.

The Strangest Book Title Ever

Does this book title make sense to anyone?

ASTM Volume 15.08 Sensory Evaluation; Livestock, Meat, and Poultry Evaluation Systems; Vacuum Cleaners; Security Systems and Equipment; Detention and Correctional Facilities; Food Service Equipment; Homeland Security Applications

I mean what do vacuum cleaners and homeland security applications have in common?

Memories from Work

Frank: Well, Mary, you know my counselor’s got me going to these classes to help me out with a couple of things [jingles change in his pocket]

Mary: [nods cautiously]

Frank: So, you’re a golden retriever.

Mary: What? [thinks: He thinks I'm a female dog?]

Frank: And Mike’s a beaver, Rodger’s an otter, and I can’t figure out what Lindsay or Kevin are.

Mary: That’s nice. What’s this mean.

Frank: You’re a golden retriever. You’re loyal and faithful, but not always so bright. Mike’s a beaver because he just goes about his work without much fanfare. Rodger’s an otter because he likes to play all day and eat.

Mary: Interesting. [thinks: Not really.] Why can’t you figure out what Kevin and Lindsay are?

Frank: Yeah, I’m going to have to give them that 400 question test.

Mary: Four hundred questions?

Frank: It’s the standard test that they give.

Mary: None of us took that test, so how do you know what we are?

Frank: Well, you can just read the descriptions and figure it out.

Mary: What about Lindsay and Kevin?

Frank: I think they’re combinations of a few different animals. I really don’t know.

Mary: But you work with them the most. [egging him on]

Frank: Well, Kevin’s the most confusing of the two. I talk about him to my counselor more than I do about my ex-wife!

Mary: Really? Why?

Frank: He’s just… [inaudible] [jingles change in his pockets] [walks away]

One Month to Go!

I just confirmed my move date with the movers and car transport people. June 25, 2008 is my last full day as a Californian. That makes me a 10-year veteran of the state almost to the week. In the middle of June 1998, my family moved from Chicago. I remember the anticipation of a brand-new life, new school for my senior year :( , new swim team, new friends.

The transition wasn’t easy either. I saw my mom cry for almost the first time. The airport personnel took our dog, Page, away in a kennel and she was barking away. As the barks started to fade, Mom started to cry. She sounded like she was laughing at first, but her body told a different story, tears down her face, slumped shoulders, folded arms.  Dad put his arm around her shoulder for a tender hug, kissed her on the back of her head, and whispered a few words of encouragement and understanding.

Later, she explained that the move was the biggest in her life. Sure, she’d moved before, but nothing to this scale. She lived in Riverside, IL, for most of her life. When she and dad got married, they lived in her childhood home with Grandpa until they moved to Bolingbrook. They’d been moved 3-4 times in the city. Nothing had prepared her for this. This move marked the end of life as she knew it. Her close and supportive friends were gone. The comfort with the area was gone. Really, her whole life as she knew it was gone. Dad had already done this when he moved from Minnesota to marry her, so it wasn’t as deeply significant for him.

I’m now faced with this transition again, but this time without any support moving along with me. I’m really looking forward to all the “news” that await me in DC. I’m also afraid of the “what-ifs” and the “how tos”.  I mean with all the cosmic forces that have coalesced to bring me to this job have definitely done this for a reason, and I’m sure that the transition will be quick and solid.

We added the word “prevention”

posh trainingUsually, at work, we say we’ve got to go to sexual harassment training, ignoring the implication that we’re being trained in how to perform sexual harassment more effectively.
Some genius, or probably, a group of them actually, must have figured that one out and renamed the training to “Prevention of Sexual Harassment” or (PoSH). Now, I, in my last few days of work have to take it again before the end of the training calendar. Even though this is produced by EEOC (the Equal Opportunities Commission), I wish someone had reviewed this one. It’s always the evil, over-sexed men harassing the men and women of the workplace.

Another Blow

Most people receive the news of my new job with excitement for the opportunity but sadness at the loss of a friendship. One of those conversations had a distinctly different flavor. When Chris found out, the look on his face was as if a boxer had given him an unsuspecting upper cut to the jaw. It really hit me hard too. We have been classmates, worked on the same research projects, and some of the movers and shakers of the department. We’d traveled to awful places like Detroit and places like Boston the few days before finals to present research. We’d suffered lots of the same departmental shenanigans. We have also had lots of fun. We TA’d together and amassed countless stories of our undergrads… sweet, sad, funny, mind-bottling. Planning departmental parties for Christmas (Winter), Chinese New Year, etc. 

We have a lot of history together. And it seems that this news was just another one of those punches-in-the-face moments that we’d become used to in grad school. Maybe it knocked a little more air out to hear that a close colleague is dropping out (or moving on to better things) while Chris was still there, chugging along, with a little less support.

Memories from Work

Angie: [heavy Spanish accent] Kevin, come here.

Kevin: Ok, one second. [goes there]

Angie: I wan you to [inaudiable].

Kevin: You want me to choke you or shake you?

Angie: I wan you to shoke me.

Kevin: Are you sure?

Angie: Yes. Put jour hands aroun my neck.

Kevin: Ok. [puts hands on her neck]

Angie: [raises her arm up and twists from her waist]

Kevin: [his hands are pushed off her neck and unintentionally slide down]

Angie: [continues talking like nothing happened]

Kevin: [realizes that his hands are on her breasts and immediately pulls them off] Oh!

Angie: What happened?

Kevin: [turns really red] I think I just got sexually harassed.


Correct Procedure?

The Boss’s Boss: So, has your boss talked with you about becoming a full-time government employee?

The Employee: No, I’m actually a government employee already.

The Boss’s Boss: Ok, that’s right. [leaves]

The Employee’s Co-worker: And you’ve been here for over 5 years, too!

Correct Procedure?

One of the fastest 500 freestylers in the country is competing at a dual meet. The lap counter advances the numbers on the display immediately after the swimmer turns at the far end of the pool, instead of waiting for the swimmer to turn at the start end.

The rule:

The lap counter changes the visual counter to the next higher odd number, or fluorescent orange card, as the competitor makes each turn at the starting end.

The referee disqualifies the swimmer for the lap counter’s error, citing the following rule:

PENALTY: For the lap counter aiding the swimmer, violating deck position, or interfering in any manner with the competition, the competitor in that lane shall be disqualified.

PS This happened this season. 

A Quarter Late and A Few Thousand Short

I was offered a teaching associate (as in instructor of record) position last week for 2 undergraduate chemical engineering classes. I’d have loved to teach them, especially with all my advanced pedagogical training. It’s too bad this offer didn’t come for Spring Quarter, which would have paid my $3,571.50 tuition. I had to let my status as a grad student lapse because I didn’t have the money. I’ll be in DC and unavailable to teach those classes. Wish I could have.