Saturday, February 26, 2005

I'm feeling a certain amount of old-lady guilt today, for having slept through a labmate's going-away party.

I was supposed to join the group for sledding after work, and then a late-night trip to a local bar. At the last minute, I punted on the sledding because I realized that I really should call Rick and brainstorm about the disposition of some of our superfluous property before he completes the move from Kalamazoo. (We also had to deal with some bank-account stuff, his sister and her kids were getting ready to drive up from Indianapolis to help him, and parts of the situation really did require some privacy.) So I went home instead, spent some time on the phone with Rick, and then decided to take a nap before going out. And, of course, I didn't wake up until nearly 11 PM, ready to do nothing but move from the sofa to the bedroom and complete the task of sleeping through the night.

Actually, even when Rick and I were dating twenty years ago, we learned not to make any late-night plans on Fridays, because we both usually wound up becoming testy and irritable. After repeated failures to have a good time, we both realized that Friday nights were the absolute physical low points of both of our weeks. Even if things had gone perfectly at work all week, by definition any day that one is awakened by an alarm clock is a day of sleep deprivation. Doesn't matter how much sleep preceded the alarm -- I'm convinced that being awakened by a loud noise, instead of awakening spontaneously, is just plain bad for us. Since most of our lives leave us without any choice in the matter, though, other workarounds are necessary.

If this is true, then Friday night can't help but be the worst night of the week for those of us who are overly sensitive to tight schedules. Five days in a row of being rousted out of bed unready, and no chance yet to recover from it. If we tried to overschedule the evening, someone's head would get bitten off by nine-thirty, so we always tried to limit late-night plans to Saturday. And, of course, on Sunday nights, when we're as well-rested as is humanly possible, we're usually ready to stay awake and party. Kind of cruel, when you think about it.

Right now, though, all I want to do is stay up reading and websurfing all night. I've been trying to make it to one or the other of Rochester's two UU churches on Sunday mornings, since I think it's important to tap into the freethinking community here. I do wish, though, that church services were at 2 PM instead of in the morning. There are morning people and there are night people, and then there are people like me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Since I'm eating most of my dinners alone at home right now, I've been tinkering in the kitchen a lot, especially with foods that I don't cook for Rick because of his allergies. And I do mean "tinkering". Today I added eggplant, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and green olives to a bottled tomato sauce and poured it over spaghetti. Worked okay, although it would have been better if I'd taken the time to make my own tomato sauce base.

This led me to think: Some of us like to experiment with food, but how many of us experiment with beverages? In our culture, most of that effort takes place in bars, and is focused on alcoholic drinks. I do drink alcohol sometimes, but rarely consume high-maintenance beverages; I prefer wine, beer, or more rarely, a very simple mixed drink. (The concoctions with cream and egg whites and chocolate shavings and eye of newt in them usually don't do much for me.)

The post-1990 boom in coffeeshops did expand our horizons somewhat, but most coffee drinks still follow a basic pattern: Coffee, flavoring, maybe whipped cream. Not bad, but -- yawn. I suspect this is very different in other parts of the world. For instance, a year or so ago I attended a party where the hosts and many other guests were observant Muslims, so of course no alcohol was served. However, the hostess did serve an absolutely amazing cold drink that she said was popular in her native Pakistan. It was a fresh-squeezed sweet limeade with lots of grated ginger, a touch of salt, and a generous lacing of cumin and red pepper. I don't remember ever having drunk something so delicious before or since -- and I can usually take or leave cold drinks of any kind.

So here's the question: Has anyone out there concocted or otherwise experienced creative non-alcoholic non-coffee drinks? Inquiring minds -- mine, at least -- want to know.

Monday, February 21, 2005

After a mostly pleasant day at work, I had to deal with some unrelated, severe bureaucratic hassles for a couple of hours, and don’t really want to re-live that experience. So, I’ll take a hint from Fred in order to construct a pleasant entry.

Ten things I've done that most of my friends probably haven't:

* Had my photo in a small-city newspaper because I was reading the previous day’s edition aloud -- and because I and was 4 years and 3 months old at the time.

* Eaten fresh scallop sashimi on the hoof, on a dive boat off the California coast.

* Played on a quizbowl team, as a full-time student, with a teammate whose mother is younger than I am.

* Co-wrote a full-length musical comedy with someone whose other collaborators have included Douglas Adams.

* Scared away a pair of fellow tourists at Uluru (Ayers Rock) by chattering excitely to them -- in French -- about the queen honeypot ant that was crawling at our feet.

* Played my own original songs on stage at the Rat in Boston. (The Police once played there too, albeit on a different night and to a much larger audience.) :)

* Voted for the first woman governor of a U.S. state who was elected in her own right (rather than to succeed a family member).

* Co-discovered a strange, previously unsuspected phenomenon of insect reproductive biology.

* Had (separate) conversations with Jane Goodall, Jim Hightower, C. Everett Koop, Sir David Attenborough, and Noam Chomsky.

* Won a gift certificate at a sandwich shop for submitting the best story of how my parents met.