Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tires are not my friends

So I just had my third flat of the summer. 

Yes, that is correct - three of my four tires have gone flat on me this summer. 

You will all recall my earlier post about my tire going disastrously flat on the 84/384 split and trying to kill me.  That was one.

Then, as Dan and I drove to Torrington earlier in August to visit the UConn Torrington campus where I am teaching, another tire went flat.  This time, I could tell early.  I am not a paranoid crazy person for being suspicious of every time my car starts shaking, it was indeed a flat tire.  HA!  Except oh, we still never got me a tire iron.  So we still couldn't change the tire.  :(  And also we were about 40 minutes away from home and 40 minutes away from Torrington, and we would still have to drive back to Torrington, so really, I needed to get a new tire anyway. 

We called AAA (That's why we pay for it, right?)  The very nice tow truck driver took us to a Sears and they replaced the tire (my front driver's side), and then rotated the tires so that the two Kelly's were on the front (the old tires) and the two replacement tires (mismatched because Sears didn't have the brand we had bought at Town Fair Tire) were on the back.  We eventually made it to Torrington.

So today, I taught my first class in Hartford (which went really well, yay!).  On my way home, on Buckland Street as I'm coming off of the exit, what do I feel.  Of course, it's my tire going flat.  I am totally an expert in what it feels like to have a tire going flat now, by the way.  I knew, I KNEW! 

So of course there is no where to pull off to the side of the road so I pull into the Home Depot parking lot and call Dan.  Because of course, I still don't have a tire iron.  Dan was supposed to purchase a tire iron for me when he went to Auto Zone to get a bunch of car stuff so he could replace his brake pads.  So yeah, he was like 3 minutes away obviously - and luckily had not started taking the wheels off of his car.  So he drove over and brought out my new tire iron and his new hydraulic lift (which I have totally claimed to live in my trunk when not in use) and changed my tire. 

We're going to replace the other Kelly tire at the same time.  Clearly something is wrong with my tires.  Once - well, I was probably due, I'd never had a flat before.  Twice - well, that's just unlucky, an unfortunate coincidence.  Three tires in less than 2 months, that means something is wrong and the 4th one is just biding time. 

So yes, tires are not my friends, they do not like me, and they enjoy costing me lots of money, because of course, I can't get one of the buy three get the fourth tire free deals now, even though the result has been to replace all four tires.  ::sigh::

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back in the Nutmeg State

We just spent over two weeks in Ohio, if anyone missed that.  I think we saw just about everyone that we still talk to while we were there, so yay!  My summer class was cancelled due to low enrollment, so we decided to take a trip back before the school year started.  I started our trip back by going to Chrissy's bachelorette party, which was super fun!  Dan got to end the trip by going to Luke's bachelor party and we arrived home to find the invitation to Chrissy and Luke's wedding in the mail!  Yay!  (The wedding isn't until October, but Chrissy's a teacher and therefore has way more time for parties in the summer). 

Dan's sister Ally is moving to Houston, TX for grad school in Psychology.  She even has classes during the summer so she will be living in Texas for 5 years and only back about twice a year for visits.  We're all extremely proud of her however, and were so glad to get to see her a bit more before she left. 

We also got to spend time with my family for my birthday, which was very fun!  Dad took us to Olive Garden where he had the most amazing potato-encrusted tilapia.  He let me take home the leftovers!  It was so much better than food from the OG should be!  (Not that I don't love Olive Garden, but it's pretty standard middle of the road chain restaurant Italian food.  This fish was amazing - like something you would order at a pricy seafood place).  It was wonderful to get to see everyone!

We got to see Shannon and Dan, who took us out for Sushi and Mini Golf for my birthday (which was totally awesome, thanks guys!!!!).  There is now a sushi restaurant in Grove City!  What is the world coming to?!?  It was pretty good and I enjoyed the "Grove City Roll" that the sushi chef created!  We also got to see several of Dan's friends from high school.  Noah and Heather hosted a barbecue that a bunch of people came to, and then we went to the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy with Noah and Heather and Ken and Kari!  I had gnocchi and Dan got ravioli and then we had gelato (because it was in the 90s).  Then we got eggplant parm and cassata cake to go since it was super hot outside.  YUM!  One of my favorite August in Parma activities! 

I got to hang out some extra time with my family.  Mom took us to the Dublin Irish Festival, which was awesome!  Free admission if you come before 11am on Sunday.  We went to the Episcopal U2charist which was interesting (not a huge fan of using U2 music in place of liturgical music) but at least we could take communion!  I'm thinking about buying an Irish Flute and got the websites of a couple vendors.  Grandma and Rachel got tired, so Grandma and I went over to Aunt Carol's to take a nap, and Mom took Rachel and her friend Marissa home.  Then mom came back and she and I went to watch the Columbus Police and Fire Pipes and Drums, Irish Step Dancing, and my favorite Irish band - Vinegar Hill!  Totally awesome day!  It was nice to get to spend extra time with Grandma and Rachel during the day, and even though Emily is working full time now, we got to hang out a little bit and we got to go to the gym together! 

We also got to visit with Mandy and Curtis, two of our friends from BG.  We wanted to try to actually make it up to BG but most of the people we would visit were busy or out of town that week, so no dice.  Maybe in January.

As wonderful as it was to see everyone, our schedule was jam packed!  It's nice to be home in our own space with a little more time to take it easy.  Except now we are busy trying to plan our classes for the Fall!  We just got back yesterday and we've been pretty busy running around picking up our held mail, going to the bank and the grocery store and doing laundry and unpacking.  And August is the lean month for us.  We took out all our money for the trip in cash, which helped because we still have a little left.  And we were able to stay under budget at the grocery store!  My goal was to get enough food to feed us until the end of August for under $100 and with sales and coupons we succeeded!  Yay coupons! 

I think it's probably bed time now.  I just took the last of the pumpkin muffins out of the oven (we're visiting Sarah and baby Anna tomorrow and pumpkin muffins are Sarah's favorite) so time to wash up and go to bed. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Summer" Time

One of those crazy misconceptions about being in academia is that you have your summers "off" so you can do whatever you want. Yeah, that would be nice, but not exactly the case. See, (1) we still need some sort of income, (2) school year craziness means there is a lot of stuff that needs done that just gets put off until the summer, and (3) academic work never really stops--books and journals keep coming out (which we need to read), we have to try to get our own stuff published, and, oh yeah, once we get far enough along as grad students, we have to write a dissertation. So yeah, not so much with the breaks. But, with all that said, I am getting the first meaningful slow-down in my schedule since the beginning of July last year. Last summer I taught my first class on my own, which basically ended at the start of the fall semester, in which I taught another class, wrote my prospectus, and took a class. Then, in the Spring, I taught two classes at one of the regional campuses, took one class, and presented at 4 conferences (one of which was technically the summer), which led directly into teaching a class this summer. Now that my class is done, I actually have some time to slow down, take a breath (catch up on some video games finally--I finally beat Zelda after not playing it for over a year), and, oh yeah, continue (start?) to work on my own stuff before I have to prep my class for the Fall (a 200 person lecture class).

But, with all that said, I absolutely love what I do. I really enjoy teaching, and I get to research and write about what I want, which is a good feeling. I'm currently editing a paper I've been working on editing for about 2 weeks now, and I think I'm finally getting close to the end (at 40+pages...), and Corinne and I will be heading back to Ohio soon to visit family and friends before the school year starts. So, although things are still pretty hectic, I completely enjoy what I do, and that is a great feeling. In fact, I actually just intended to make this a short post about my summer class that just wrapped up, but I got a little carried away, plus I haven't posted in awhile, so there was a lot to talk about--way more than I plan on posting about as I'm just too lazy and have probably forgotten most of what I wanted to talk about.

Anyway, I was scheduled to teach Modern Political Theory this summer, and seeing as the term "modern political theory" is so broad as to basically be meaningless, I decided to do things the hard way and get really creative with the course. I centered the class around the question of the roll of capitalism in modern political theory, as well as how these ideas relate to the current economic crisis. I set up the syllabus around political theorists who talk about the implications of government and markets for capitalism, and looked at theorists who praise markets as well as demonize them, and a little bit of stuff in between. I knew I was taking a bit of a risk, especially for a summer class, as this was either going to be amazing or completely tank, with very little chance of any middle ground. Fortunately the class went really well, beyond my expectations even.

I ended up with seven students, all but one of which participated a lot in class and offered really good insights into the class discussions. I really loaded the students with reading, so as incentive (compensation?) I heavily weighed the grades towards doing the reading and discussing them in class and on the class's discussion board, which worked out really well. The students all worked really hard, and were not afraid to offer their ideas--and more importantly--to admit when they did not understand something. I found myself, several times, with really good pedagogical moments when I would ask a question, would get silence in response, and then one of the students would say something like, "I didn't really understand this part because..." and then explain what he (it was an all male class, which was a little weird) thought was going on and where he got lost. This provided a unique opportunity to then go through exactly what was confusing and work with the students to come up with a reading of the various texts. Prior to this class I never had anything quite so rewarding, and I'm still super excited about how the class turned out in the end.

I also had a student who had taken the class twice before with other professors, and for various life-related reasons, ended up not getting credit for the class. He was trying to pick up GPA and wanted to take the class again and needed special permission, which I gave him. This was definitely one of the smarter things I have ever done, as he was one of the hardest workings students in that class, and ended up going above and beyond what I expected for an A, and I tend to have fairly high expectations. It is really nice to have students like this (especially in a small setting where I have a chance to get to know my students) to remind you that the students are human and fallible just like everyone else, and that sometimes life can get int he way of school work, but this says nothing about who these students are or will become. Also, it is a great testament to giving people second and third chances, as you never know when they will solidify your faith in others.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

That doesn't sound like a present

So my car tried to kill me.  Well, really it blew out a tire on the freeway right before I-84 and I-384 split.  So I was of course in the middle lane (of 5 lanes) to stay on 84, and suddenly I hear this noise, and then smell this smell and suddenly am having a hard time keeping control of my car.  My brain worked enough to go, OMG, my tire is no longer inflated, must get over to side of road.  So I manage to get over through two lanes of traffic, thanks to a very nice man in a large truck who also pulled over after I got over and helped me change the tire.  Yay for the random kindness of strangers! 

Of course there was no way that I was going to be able to get back over to get on 84, especially not driving on a donut.  I took 384 and my wonderful Droid navigation app got me home safely.

Yay, I survived!  And we're going to get my tire replaced and a couple other things fixed on it and all that jazz.

But now I'm kind of scared to drive on the freeway.  I'm sure a couple times without having a tire blow out on me will help, but starting to lose control of your car at 70mph in heavy traffic is pretty terrifying.

Actual Story:
So I can't get a ride from Chris and Sarah to church tomorrow.  Normally not a problem, I can drive myself.  Except my car is not really drivable for long distances at the moment and also I'm kind of scared to drive on the freeway.  Solution: Ask Dan to come to church with me.

So I ask Dan again tonight (I had asked previously because I'm playing flute tomorrow as well).  This resulted in a pretty hilarious conversation.  I present this in dialogue format in case anyone would like to reenact it.  :)

Me: "So will you come to church with me?"

Dan: "Yeah, how else are you going to get there."

Me: "Because I'm afraid that if I drive on the freeway something bad will happen again?"

Dan: "Well, I guess you would take my car, but that doesn't really fix the problem."

Me: "No, the Fear is still there."

Dan: "I was actually thinking you and mornings and that you won't be awake enough to drive."

Me: "No, mostly the Fear.  And the Cougar."


Dan: "I know I already got you a birthday present [my Droid Incredible], but I am totally painting a cougar on the hood of your car for your birthday."

Me: "That doesn't sound like a present."

Dan: "But it is, the greatest present."

Me: "No"  :(

Dan: "Ooookay, but I'm still painting shake 'n' bake on one side and El Diablo on the other."


We're all fine and the car is going to be fixed, but Dan and I are a little nutty.  :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

PAX East

So rewind back to March.  Santa brought Dan and me tickets to PAX East for Christmas, so we splurged on a hotel room and blew off work for a weekend and went to enjoy ourselves! 

We had  a wonderful time!  We got to go to a lot of great panels, we got to go to the Paul and Storm and JoCo concert on Saturday night, which was totally amazing.  We got to meet Wil Wheaton and Mike Krahulik!  Wil Wheaton blessed my dice! We got to play in a Dungeon Delve which was super fun!  We met some really cool people when we were looking for dinner, had dinner with them (Lobster Mac and Cheese = Heaven) and then went and played Rockband with them.

More than any of the really fun stuff we got to do, probably the best part was being around geeky people and feeling totally at home.  We can't wait for next year! 

However, next year, we will probably do a couple things differently...

1.) We will not forget our actual camera and have to buy a new one and then promptly lose it once we get home.  Please see earlier post.

2.) We will just splurge and stay at the conference hotel, or at least a hotel very close to the conference.  See, on Saturday night, we assumed we could take public transportation back to the hotel.  Or catch a cab.  Because it was in Boston.  That's a big city.  A real city.  It's not like we were trying to catch a cab in Cleveland or something.  Except... the public transit was no longer running.  At 2am!  Seriously! And we could not catch a cab to save our lives.  You know how after a concert lets out and there are cabs everywhere, just lined up, waiting to get paying customers.  Yeah, we didn't have that.  Which was dumb, because there were hundreds of people trying to get cabs.  We tried walking around.  We tried getting a hotel to call a cab for us.  It took us over an hour to get a cab.  So yeah, next year we will be staying someplace within walking distance.  It's worth it to not be wandering around Boston at 2am in March. 

Enjoy some pictures!

Corinne with Wil Wheaton!

During the "Watch Mike and Jerry draw Penny Arcade" Panel.  Mike was having a bit of fun while Jerry talked.  One of the least inappropriate examples of Mike's "going off script."

 Penny Arcade fans know what this is.  Everyone else, just think of him as an extreme juicer :)

Corinne and Dan get to meet Mike!  And he signed our book! 

This is Robert Khoo.  He is responsible for Penny Arcade being something other than some jpegs online.  I eventually worked up my courage and asked him to sign my book. 

One of the questions at the Q&A with Mike and Jerry was who would win an arm wrestling match.  They decided to answer it.  Jerry egged Mike on, Mike didn't want to do it.  Mike won.  Oh sweet delicious irony. 

And it all ended with the final round of the Omegathon.  This year, it was a classic video game relay.  If anything went wrong, they had to restart.  So of course something went wrong.  One team was incredibly far ahead when that thing went wrong.  After the restart, the other team won. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Busy as little Grad Student Worker Bees

If there's anyone still reading this, you may have noticed that I've changed the blog around a bit.  I decided to mess with a new template and made it very very purple.  We are back from Ohio and are back to work.  Dan is teaching a class on Modern Political Theory that is going pretty well so far.  He's also supposed to be working on his dissertation and getting papers out for publication. 

I am supposed to be reading for comps, and working on publications, and preparing for the class that I might be teaching in July and August. What I have actually been doing is conducting a massive cleaning/organizing spree of the apartment.  I'm almost done, so I should have pictures up next week (pictures of where we live, only a year after we moved in!). 

I leave for a week long ICPSR workshop on time series in Ann Arbor, MI on the 19th of June.  This is also affectionately known as math camp in our department.  I'm pretty excited, although a little worried that my stats background will not be advanced enough.  I'm sure I'll be fine though, I'm a quick learner and I'm persistent enough to bug the professor teaching the class if I'm not getting it. 

On Saturday my friend Jamie and I are throwing our friend Sarah a baby shower.  I'm super excited about it (and about Baby Hampson)!  Hopefully I'll be able to take some pictures there as well.  I still need to write up a post with pictures from Chicago.

Another post that I have been meaning to do is a recap of PAX East, which was amazing.  The primary reason for the delay was the great camera fiasco of 2010.  So we forgot to bring our camera to PAX.  Because we are idiots or something.  I don't know.  It was even on the list.  But we left with no camera.  And realized as we were waiting for the train near our hotel to take us into the city.  I watched someone else take a picture of his friend and it hit me, our camera, at home, not with us, OH NOES!  So after a quick consultation with Dan, we decided to hit up a Best Buy or other such store, pick up a cheap digital camera, and use that, because decent disposable cameras cost usually around $10 each, it would make more sense, and be easier to carry, and easier to put the pictures on our computer if we just got an inexpensive digital camera.  So we did that.  Best Buy had a camera package on sale for like $50, and we grabbed a larger memory card and thought we were all set.  The camera works fine, we get tons of pictures, very exciting.  We bring the camera to school on Monday to show everyone pictures.  The next day we can't find the camera.  We look everywhere.  We empty all of our bags.  We search the car.  We check our desks at school.  Nothing.  So we decide that we must have left it at school and someone took it, it's not like anyone ever locks our office.  We become very paranoid about leaving our computers in the office. 

Fast forward to two months later, I'm in Chicago and emptying out my purse so that I don't have to carry so much stuff around and I find the camera.  Keep in mind that I have emptied this purse three or four times since PAX.  I have flipped it upside down with the pockets unzipped to get crumbs out.  But yet, the camera is there.  There was much rejoicing.  We do not understand how this has happened, but we're just happy that we have our camera back and our PAX pictures.  Which we will post on the blog very soon.

Now that it is summer I have also been reading a bit more, rereading some of my old favorites (Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies, and the Sorcery and Cecelia Trilogy by Pat Wrede and Caroline Stevermer), and finding new books to enjoy (The Elemental Masters books by Mercedes Lackey and a couple books by Joanna Bourne).  I've also enjoyed the Kindle app for my iPod Touch.  It has made reading and buying books while traveling very convenient. 

I've started playing Kingdom Hearts again, and I've finally gotten off the island and into the story.  It's becoming more fun.  Dan and I started playing Mario Galaxy, which I think we are going to do for an hour or so before we go to bed. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whirlwind Ohio

First, congratulations to Ally on being a college grad (and having been accepted to grad school with an assistantship)!

Second, Corinne and my break-neck speed visit to Ohio is coming to close. It's been good getting to see family and friends, and sorry to the many we couldn't see. After a couple of days in Grove City, a couple in Seven Hills, and now off to Chicago. But, oh wait, of course it is not that easy. My dad and I checked my car, and although the brake drums did not want to come off, the breaks are fine...except for the leak we found in one of my brake lines, in addition to the two placed in the engine block where the threads for the spark plugs appear to be cross-threaded. All of this means before heading to Chicago I need to get my brake line fixed, and if they can re-tap the engine block, great, if not, just the brake line. Then, Chicago! Woot.

OK, this has been a rather boring post, but I'm posting, so that's something :P


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Second Tagliarina

OK, so we've had this blog for almost a year now (I think), and this is actually the first time that have posted on it. So, hi. Yeah, I kind of really suck at this whole blogging thing, but I'm going to try to work on that and let any of you who are crazy enough to actually care what is going on in my life have some way of knowing. I told Corinne back in January that I was going to start posting on this thing, and it looks like I finally have, and only 4 months later.

Corinne and I are currently on our whirlwind tour of Ohio before heading off to Chicago for Law and Society, where I am attending the grad workshop, presenting a paper, chairing a panel, and generally planning on enjoying Chicago. Plus, you know, I should probably try that whole networking thing seeing as I'll be on the job market in a year or two.

Speaking of Law and Society, I'm still working on the paper that I will be presenting, so I need to hurry up and get that done. Yesterday was a nightmare for working. I could not focus, figure out what I wanted to say, how to say it, or overcome the feeling that I had completely lost my mind and forgotten how to write. Not good when you are facing a deadline and dealing with material directly related to your dissertation. Fortunately I got some good advice, I read a bunch of old Penny Arcade comics, and got some sleep. Today was much better. I got about 4-5 single-spaced pages written, and I think most of it is of pretty good quality, which is a huge plus. Writing academic papers really is a funny (not haha funny, but still funny) thing. Sometimes the ideas flow and I can get a lot of work done fairly quickly (i.e., today). Other times I stare at the screen unable to form a coherent thought and wonder if I will be able to finish (i.e, yesterday). Consistency sure would be nice, but I've yet to figure out how to obtain that.

This post has officially become way too long and too rambling...and probably not too interesting at all. In the future I'll try to have more of a point and be more entertaining. We'll see.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bad at this whole blogging thing...

I am just terrible about remembering to post. Dan had to remind me 3 times to write up the yogurt story.

So right now Dan is currently in Philadelphia presenting at the APSA Teaching and Learning conference. Yay him!! I've been getting over various illnesses and am attempting to actually be productive. It's been half successful. I really need to get it into gear though because I have a conference at the end of the month and I'm not nearly where I need to be on this paper. Argh!

Classes are good this semester, but between my masters papers, my research papers for classes, the project with Sarah and Jamie, and a new project that I'm working on with my advisor and another grad student, I have 7 papers that need to be written or rewritten before the end of the semester. It will be another busy semester for me, I just need to get energized again.

Dan is teaching at the Stanford campus, two classes back to back on Thursdays. Which means that I am home all alone on Thursdays, which is sad, although hopefully productive.

I will post some pictures once I get my computer back, I'm on the old one right now because I managed to spill water on my macbook pro. Hey guess what, water's not so good for laptops. It was not totally trashed, luckily, and is getting fixed, so I'm back on the Dell, which is still chugging along, if slowly. At least it works and runs the programs that I need, even if only one at a time. Water goes on a second desk from now on, even if it does have a lid. Extra luckily, I have all my data backed up, so I shouldn't have lost anything.

That's about it at the moment. Maybe I'll be better at keeping this current. Probably not though.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's just Yogurt...

So today Dan and I went to Target for our 10% off day. We tend to get things like yogurt and morningstar stuff at Target because it has better prices than the grocery store. We have been at Target for like an hour and a half and finally yogurt is the last thing on our list. We pull the cart up to the cooler aisle and there is someone already getting yogurt, so we stand there and wait. This woman opens the door and pulls out a Yoplait yogurt. She looks at the back. She replaces the yogurt. She pulls out an Activia yogurt. She looks at the back. She replaces the yogurt. She pulls out a Yoplait yogurt again. Looks at the back, replaces the yogurt. Then she pulls out an Activia yogurt, lather rinse repeat. She repeated this little ritual no fewer than 3 times. She finally decided on Activia yogurt and grabs a few of those for her basked. But then, oh goodness, she spots the Danactive smoothies. She replaces some of the activia yogurts with the Danactive smoothies. Every action must be taken with at least a minute of silent, motionless consideration throughout this whole process. She then appears to be done, so I swoop in to get our yogurt in about a minute. I get our yogurt and she's back! Appearing irritated at my consulting Dan on flavor preferences, she hurries as soon as I step back, leaving Dan holding the door. She doesn't take the cooler door. Rather, she climbs on the shelves to get another Activia yogurt that is on the back of the top shelf. Dan is still holding the door. We are done grocery shopping but I can't leave my husband hostage to the crazy yogurt lady. After a few minutes she finally decides she's done and we hurry off to get in line. Of course our check out cashier is confused by the fact that we brought our own bags, despite the fact that Target offers 5 cents off for each reusable bag you bring. Oh the people that we run into :)