The frantic pace of non-profit life... or not.

Sorry for being incommunicado for the last few days. After months of the same old thing at work, I received an email from the head of our department asking whether any of us might want to apply for one of the fellowships being made available for young museum professionals to attend the American Association of Museums'Annual Meeting in Denver. Of course I was interested, but there was just one catch: applications were due in three days. Great. So, gathering up my skills, finely-tuned from years of procrastination and last-minute productivity, I proceeded to crank out an application essay, budget, a new resume, and even a letter of recommendation for our library director to sign off on for me - all in the matter of two days (yesterday was a write off because I had to get up at 4:30am, drive to Champaign-Urbana, do a full day of lecture, and then drive home - but that's another story). On a side note, why is it that most supervisors want you to write your own letters of rec? Is it because they don't want to be hassled, or do they legitimately want you to do exercises in self-reflection like that? I've had this happen to me a few times now.
Needless to say, I feel like wonder woman right now. I really hope things work out; I would love to attend the conference, and possibly meet up with my old boss who now works at a major museum in that same city. I'm sure he won't be up for another impromptu soccer match on the lawn of his museum for old time's sake, but I'd love to get dinner with him if at all possible.

So, keep your fingers crossed for me, lovely blog readers!


Field Museum anthropologists solve the mystery of Maya blue

For all you anthro dorks out there, or anyone who finds other cultures interesting, a groups of anthropologists from The Field Museum and associated Illinois institutions believe they have unlocked the secrets of Maya blue - a pigment used by that culture that miraculously retains it's vivid color for centuries. Check out the full story here. Sorry for reposting all these news stories of late; it seems like things going on in the outside world are much more interesting than those occurring in my own, run-of-the-mill life.


Rider killed in Tour da Chicago stage 3 last weekend

Sad news for those who follow the alley cat scene either here or in other cities, or simply just enjoy riding. Cyclist Matthew Manger-Lynch was struck and killed by an SUV while he and a pack of cyclists attempted to go through a busy intersection against a red light. The full story is here on the Chicago Tribune's website. My sympathies go out to Matthew, his wife, and the driver involved in the accident; this is a terrible time for all involved.


Obama propaganda part 2

This is completely awesome!


Pain in a good way

I recently signed up for a gym in the area because their rates were decent, they had nice classes, and they allowed me to sign up without a contract and the ability to cancel at any time (provided it's 30 days before the next billing cycle so that I don't pay for a month I won't use). I did the free training session yesterday and completely got my butt kicked by this tiny but determined girl. In the end, I had muscles in my legs hurting that I didn't even know existed, which I found to be completely awesome. I decided to sign on for 8 sessions with her, meeting once weekly to supplement the cardio I've been doing (provided she doesn't cripple me to the extent that I'm crippled right now so that I can't run). I have a lot of things I'd like to work on, and obviously I'm not getting it done on my own, so I think this is the best course of action.


Reflections on 1/2 a season of winter biking

It's almost the end of February, and we have reached the heart of what is the most brutal stretch of a Chicago winter. For those of you who live here, you're already well acquainted with the bone-chilling, gale-force blasts of arctic air that carry a wind chill punch of -23F or worse; you know all about overnight snow dumps of a foot or more, and well-timed whiteout blizzard conditions just in time for the evening commute home; you know that, while visually awesome, it kind of sucks. For those of you not from here who don't know these things, consider yourself lucky, unless you live somewhere like Buffalo, NY, in which case I'd feel sorry for you for the kind of hell you all have to put up with.

Despite all this apparent whining, I actually DO consider myself to be a winter person, and generally love being out in the cold; I guess I see braving the snow and ice with a smile as giving me some kind of life-long native street cred. "Oh yeah, this is how winters used to be like when I was a kid - where did you say you were from? Florida? That stinks." Part of this love for winter outdoors has extended into continuing my bicycle commutes to work as long into the season as possible. I managed to do it every day, through cold and snow, up until about the second week of this month. February has knocked me into driving mode, not so much because of the weather, but because my hibernation instincts have kicked in, and this makes it much harder to argue with the excuses I make for not biking. An extra hour in bed when it's 2F outside and still dark sounds so much better than donning the bike tights and other regalia, and hoping I don't absolutely kill myself hitting a patch of ice on the paths that lead from my street section of my commute, all the way to the museum.

These paths are my solo excuse for not riding right now. For those of you who haven't been to the museum campus, there are a series of paths that lead from Roosevelt Road, and Columbus Drive, all the way to the museum doors. These paths are very poorly maintained, so there is often a solid layer of ice or a few inches of snow that pedestrians and cyclists have to deal with. Add to this the fact that a lot of these paths go down hills and into turns, this makes them downright hazardous on morning where the areas that were salted and all melted the night before have once again refrozen into an even harder to spot sheet of black ice. Not good. All I can do now is wait for a minor thaw to get back to riding which, hopefully, will happen soon. By next season I hope to have some kind of cheap mountain bike (I want to try trail riding this summer anyway) so that I can have some studded tires with which to traverse these icy fields with confidence. Until then, I'm stuck with my 60lb steel monster with street tires which, while completely adequate on a nicely-plowed and salted street, don't really help me much when I get to ice and slush territory. Ah well, at least she's more reliable in messy conditions than my old-but-lite street bike that has skinnier tires.

It's all a learning curve, but I'm pretty happy with how well I've stuck to it so far. For a first time winter biker, I don't really see a couple week's setback as too terrible, but I can't wait to get back into the saddle!


Jungle legend sentenced to 4 years in a Dubai prison

So the verdict is finally in - Grooverider was sentenced today for four years in a Dubai prison for having pot on him. I can't say that I am shocked after some other Brit got the book thrown at him for having a speck that customs found on his shoe (not kidding on this one), but to someone from outside that culture 4 years for anything that isn't meant to be sold seems a bit insane. All that being said, Groove knew full well the laws of the land, and by all reports had been thoroughly warned, so you can't say he was nearly as innocent as that poor sap that could very well have stepped on crumbs in a club somewhere, though I guess if he had removed everything from his clothing he still could have gone down for missed crumblys. All I know is that if I have learned anything from all this, aside from thoroughly checking all pockets of everything before packing (which seems common sense without an international dance music legend getting done), I need to remember to wash my shoes as well before traveling in that region.

In the end, I feel bad for Grooverider, though all he seems to have been doing since his arrest was badmouth all those who were trying to help him and sneer at the laws that caught him up (neither really helps his case much); his imprisonment will be a huge loss to a relatively small music scene, and, needless to say, a huge personal loss for someone who is used to a completely different set of moral values. I'm sure a lot of us would have a hard time wrapping our heads around receiving a sentence like his. He has two weeks to appeal the ruling, but considering how things have gone for people who were convicted of similar 'crimes,' I'm not holding out much hope.


Busy weekend, but an awesome one

This weekend was like witnessing a total solar eclipse in it's awesomeness and it's relative rarity; for once we had two oldschool jungle nights in one weekend. Unheard of. For someone who has been a veritable hermit for the last couple years, getting out twice in one month, let alone three days, was a big accomplishment. Friday night brought out all my old crew, and we got really rowdy to the sounds of my brother starting the night out with his first live set in Chicago; Eric Rosati blending some Dub, Ska, and Jungle; and finishing off the night with local hero JJ Jellybean doing what he does best. There was an attempt to go to smart bar after Cafe Lura closed for Speedy J, but Dan and I grabbed a cab and went to bed - one club was enough for two so out of shape in the clubbing game!
Last night was more old school at a place called Evil Olive (formerly Big Wig, for those of you who remember the Seminar nights from the boys at BBP). The staff at the club were completely-overzealous douchebags about checking IDs (I don't think there was a single person there younger than about 26), but the music was really good. Much time was spent sitting in the loungy booths and talking to old friends. It was a nice way to cap off the weekend, but though I didn't drink a thing, I'm having a really hard time dealing with having been in the club until about 3:15 am, and having my alarm go off at 7. The mind was willing, but the flesh is definitely weak! Oh well, I can definitely manage a zombie day every year or so.


Sorry for the slacking this week

I've been in and out of work feeling under the weather since my posting about it. This morning brought some news that brightened my day, and hopefully it'll do the same for your's.

Behold Badger Cam! Live images are only available at dusk UK time, so you'll have to be doing some math, but be sure to check out past images in their archives. As of 9am on Valentine's morning everything is really sluggish and the pics aren't loading, but I think that's because everyone reading about this site this story on the BBC News site are slowing things down. Check back in a day or so to see a bit more.


On a side note, I just noticed that this was my 100th blog post - hooray for badgers!!


Brain dead

As of about 930am this morning, evil demons have laid claim to my sinus cavities and now are working their way through the various passages in my head. I have a feeling they're working in cohort with the demons that seem to be trying to invade my stomach and intestinal tract. I think they're all working with a loosely-knit terrorist organization called F.L.U. (F**k Lisa Up).

Sadly, a double agent within the library cunningly asked to use my last packet of EmergenC last month sometime, so I am now without any defense system of my own. I will be frantically trying to stave off the attack with some weak green tea and unsweetened applesauce. Stay tuned for more updates as the invasion continues.

Breakfast of Champions

On today's menu: two slices of cold cheese pizza and orange juice out of the carton just as I'm running out the door. Sometimes I feel like such a frat boy.
But in all honesty, though I get it very rarely, cold pizza in the morning is just about the best thing ever; Dan brought me a couple pieces home last night, so I figured that would fill me up till lunch and then some. I need to get to the store soon so I can make up another batch of muesli; my spot in the fridge at work is looking a little bare!


Back on track again

All fatigue from last week is now, thankfully gone. Today's run went really well; I needed it after the bacchanalian weekend I had for Dan's birthday. One thing I find really funny is, no matter how good or bad I feel while doing my actual run, nothing compares to how inadequate I feel when I have to climb the 10 flights of stairs back up to my office. There's a special something about stair climbing that just plain stinks. I made the decision a while back to start doubling up on stairs (step on every other one to make it more of a workout), so I feel like I'm getting something out of it other than being winded. My wonderful, giant of a husband's comment when I told him of that tactic was to ask what the big deal was because he took them two at a time already. Well, for those of us who aren't the Jolly Green Giant, it's a bit more of a challenge!

Anyway, today's hike up wasn't nearly as bad, which I see as a big positive. I was even able to run the first 5 (doubling up) before I had to go back to a walking pace. For those of you envisioning me doing an awkward run up the grand staircase in Stanley Field Hall, never fear - I choose to keep my personal humiliations as private as possible by choosing to use out-of-the-way stairwells.



Random acts of awesome

To the facilities management guy who gave me a bottled water from your cart of scavenged post-meeting goodies (we all raid those), thanks! I didn't even ask you for one, but you must have noticed I was wearing my gym clothes and thought I was in need. I forgot my usual travel mug elsewhere in the library, so you made my run all that it should have been.

You rock.

Confusing greeting issue...

I've come to realize that I don't really understand the greeting 'how you doin'/heyhayadoin'?' It would seem that this form of address means different things to different demographics. To me, when someone asks me how I am, I always say 'fine/good,' and return the question to the asker. This works all right in certain circumstances, usually older ladies who appreciate courtesy and often carry the conversation further, but in others it falls flat. When walking past a middle-aged or older males, 'heyhayadoin?' seems to be more of a greeting than an actual inquiry about how I am; when I say 'fine, you?' these gentlemen usually keep walking brusquely by like I somehow dropped the ball and dragged the interaction further than it needed to go. When walking by younger males, 'how you doin?,' when answered by 'I'm good, you?' makes me feel like the worlds biggest square; clearly here, as well, it's meant just to be an acknowledgment of some sort - I'm not very cool, so I don't get it. It's a moot point when dealing with younger females of any demographic because they always speed up as they pass me by, and avoid my smile; I guess here I'm still seen as competition, so contact is to be avoided at all costs. Other demographics break off into their own forms of acknowledgment that aren't nearly as lodged in the gray area where 'how you doin'/heyhayadoin'?' lives. Life would be so much more simple if everyone stuck to the nod.


Chicago ladies who love a good cause - tonight!

Come check out the Purr party at the G-boutique. Where else can you mix shopping for naughty with being so nice? The proceeds of the Purr party go to ARFhouse Chicago, a local animal shelter where Julie adopted her awesome running companion, Molly from.

Entry is $20, which includes drinks, appetizers, prizes, and gift bags for the first 25 guests.

7 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Neighborhood: Bucktown/Wicker Park
2131 N. Damen Ave.

Chicago, IL 60647

But really, can you say no to a face like this?


Today's run + TMI?

This post may contain too much information for male readers, unless you can read the word 'period' without getting a little anxious; if that is you, that's cool, read another day - if it isn't, feel free to read on.

Back in the summer when I tried running for the first time, I noticed that some days I was full of energy and could just blow out my run in no time, and others I was just exhausted and couldn't even make it a third of the way without stopping. At first I thought this could be attributed to sleep, or not eating right the day before certain runs, or any of a million other causes. After talking to a friend of mine who is in sports medicine and nutrition, the issue was cleared up. I seems that many women (though not all) can experience a dip in energy levels in the week leading up to their period, and even a bit during. This week, I am feeling that pain. I went for my usual lunch time run this afternoon and felt like death the whole way through. I managed to finish, but that was about the only good thing about the experience. For those of you who think they might be experiencing the same thing, here is a bit of the science behind it, as explained by my friend:

"If you can't chalk it up to hydration or how much glycogen is in your muscles, FYI it's medically proven women are weaker during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose in a muscle cell. Exercise uses up glycogen. And the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is the week before your period, PMS time."

I guess next step is to find out how to combat that, or to take it in stride and accept that I'll just be a bit slower one run or two out of a month.


I came, I saw,

I voted. I felt bad for the guy who had to work for the Republican party at the polling place; while I was in there voting, about 20-25 other voters came in. As each voter approached the table, he hopefully asked 'Republican?,' but they all were voting Democrat. I later heard him remark to another worker that he was a Democrat himself but had to pass out votes for the competition. That's pretty indicative of the political leanings of my fair city.

Now all that's left to be done is wait, and celebrate Pączki day with my fellow Poles.


Your daily dose of Obama propaganda...

because you know it makes sense!

Great little video. Get out and vote tomorrow.


Snow Day

Not feeling too well, and it's been snowing for the last 24 hours; I think I'm staying in bed today. So, here are some photos taken from the warm safety of my own home. Enjoy (especially if you are in warmer climes).