Thursday, July 28, 2005


Liquid Nitrogen (fo' real yo!)

Yes, that is correct. I actually used liquid nitrogen and made liquid nitrogen ice cream. I am not a pioneering blogger on this front but I was the first to do it in SC. Regan did it in her lab down at Emory a few months ago.

I was blown away. It was really, really good. Very creamy and delicious. And someone brought toppings and that only helped enhance the experience. I unfortunately don't have pictures, but will try and describe the steps to the best of my ability.

Feel free to tweek the recipe as you see fit:
1) We put 1 quart of half & half, 1.5 pints of regular whipping cream, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract and 1.5 cups of sugar in a bowl. Stir until you think the sugar is dissolved (or have an undergrad summer researcher whose idea is was to make it taste it and see if it's okay)

2) Slowly pour liquid nitrogen directly into the bowl while stirring. Preferably the stirrer should have on low temp gloves as they might get splashed some while pouring and stirring.

3) Check the consistency and keep adding liq. nitrogen until it is the consistency you want. Ours was a little harder than soft serve frozen yogurt. We were tired of stirring, but I hear that you can get it fairly hard and ice cream like. I think a hand mixer or Kitchen-Aid would be very helpful with the stirring.

4) Serve and enjoy. And add toppings if desired.

That's it, from liquid sweet milk products to yummy ice cream in 2 minutes. Damn. Especially good for any high school or intro college chemistry instructors. With that recipe we were able to serve around 11 people.

And a big thanks to Regan for being the guinea pig on this experiment.

I had a dream last week that I was bald. I got out of the shower, looked in the mirror, ran my hands over my head and then it was like my toupee came off. I was left with a smooth shiny top of my head with hair around the edges. Very very strange.

I'm not too concerned with losing my hair, but I don't want to. My dad has very thin hair and my mom's dad (whose genes I apparently received, hence the chemistry thing) is sort of bald. He has some hair on top but is mostly bald. He's also pushing 80, so he obviously doesn't care.

We had the group ice cream social in honor of our two summer undergrad researchers who both did amazing jobs and hopefully are now a little clearer on what goes on in graduate chemistry labs and what actually goes into research. And maybe they'll decide to go here and join our group. Maybe.

But I now have regained control of the "group" computer, but since every in the group has a laptop but me, I see it as mine. But I try and not spend too much time on it, I'm trying to freakin graduate here.

Oh, one of the first activities that I coordinated as president of the grad student org was a paintball trip. That was last Saturday. And it was awesome. Stupid hot but awesome. Luckily the field is very woodsy so we weren't playing in the sun but I lost about 7 pounds of water weight. I think I finally got my kidneys straightened out yesterday. I only got shot twice, once on my chest (a glancing blow) and once on my side above my belt (direct hit). They didn't really hurt but that's part of paintball. Temporary badges of honor. We are definitely going to do it again once it cools down some, late October to early Novemberish.

If any of you want to join in the festivities, you're more than welcome. And it's fairly inexpensive. We charged $15 which covered the field fee and goggle/gun rental and then we payed for the water (very necessary) and the paintballs (also necessary).

Good times.

Monday, July 25, 2005



Look at the title in a mirror.

I had to escape our lab to get this post up. Our undergrad working with me this summer has a presentation and a paper due on Wed. so she's kind of on it now and I would feel crappy saying "Lemme use it so I can screw around and delay your actual work." And Boss is going to Charlotte on Wed. so we need to finalize both by tomorrow afternoon. No problem, that's two whole days, okay 1.5 now but still, plenty of time. And she's almost done with the paper.

First, health insurance. As of now, same company, roughly the same benefits although we did increase the "drug" limit to $750 instead of $500 which is good I suppose. So the cost is going to be $365 for the fall semester and $505 for the spring/summer. And if you are an assisted grad student (like all the chemistry dept. and alot of other grad students) then we get $125 in the fall and $125 in the spring to help offset the cost. So $240 fall, $380 spring/semester which is very reasonable for real health insurance. So I'm pleased and hopefully the assisted grad students will help fight off the mob of unassisted grad students. So that's a bonus. Of course now I really don't know what the role of the health committee will be. But I'll worry about that once school starts.

Second, this computer lab is about to close because it's reserved for a class. Jerks.

Third, no autocross preview because it happened yesterday. I dominated my class. I was the only one in my class. But I placed 23 out of 41 which is very good. Lots of fast drivers and cars out there. Here are the results. Scroll down for class winners. But I beat the class higher up from me, so once I do move up to F class, I should be okay. And I think I sealed my point total for the end of summer G class winner's trophy, which is cool. Damn it was hot though. But all in the name of racing. Oh and CC1 is an older RX-7 that is incredibly well set up and is one of the most neutral handling cars I've ever seen. And it's on sticky race tires. So that all equals really, really fast. And I'm fairly certain I could've walked around the course faster than the lady driving that S2000.

Seriously, if I was a woman, it would enfuriate me seeing a woman get out there in a very capable car and not even try to go fast. It just gives women drivers a bad name, and that topic doesn't need any more fuel added to the fire. I can't wait until I get Joan out there racing. She's gonna be hell on wheels. She's got the driving record to prove it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Exploding tuna melt

I've been slacking on my posts. No time. One day I'm going to have to post from home and not work. Some day.

Good stuff coming tomorrow. Discussion of Morgan Spurlock (of Super-Size Me fame) and his new FX show, 30 Days, which sent a Christian to live in Dearborn, MI with an Islamic family. Very interesting.

Our new health insurance info. It isn't too bad.

Discussing last week's race results and preview for Sundays autocross.

And please keep Tricia and Zach in your thoughts as they are recovering from surgery.

Monday, July 18, 2005


My ankles hurt

We left Friday to head down to Columbia. Arrived and it was around 9 and we had to get up early, so we stayed in the hotel room and played Nintendo 64 a little bit. I was fairly certain that the TV would have RCA inputs and for someone to bring a PS2 for movies and games, but no one did, so it was N64 time.

Woke up Saturday morning. Hot. Sun. Sweat. We arrived at the SC fairgrounds and got our cars prepped, teched and registered. Fortunately, the surrounding area was grass and we were able to stack our crappy-up from Wal-Mart up. If you don't do this, it falls down at least 4 or 5 times when a gentle breeze blows through. But it saved us from skin blistering sunburns, so we only have skin irritating sunburns. I forgot the front part of my neck and the uppermost portion of my forehead, so I have various shades of red. But I also forgot to do the insides of my ankles. Apparently you have to put sunscreen there also. I've never burned an ankle before but now I know, which is half the battle some might say.

Really, really enjoyed the course the SCCA had set up, even if I don't like their classing system. I was in a fairly large class, 9 drivers I believe. I think I placed 5th or 6th in there. I can blame tires all day, but bottom line is I got beat. And I'm not real happy about it, but we'll get 'em next time. And maybe I can get some new tires or a rear sway bar by the next SCCA event at the BMW plant in October. Or maybe I should learn to drive faster. But Andy and the Turboge won his class and got a nondescript trophy. We at least have ours engraved with the class.

But the SCCA did run a very smooth event. 110 drivers and we got everyone's 4 runs in from 11 am to 3:30 pm. For reference, the Clemson club has around 40 drivers and it takes us from 11 to 5 or so and we get 4 to 5 runs. But our lot is also a big part of that. But it was a good day.

Went back to the hotel, showered, napped, got lost several times on the way to the wedding shower and then finally arrived. Met alot of the family, had some great food, played horseshoes, almost passed out from the Columbia heat and humidity, went inside to cool off, got attacked by the father and godmother because I said my sunburn hurt (Here rub some vinegar on it, takes the sting right out! Okay, I'll bring this vinegar back later), found out that apparently it does work, still haven't tried it, said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel and we all passed out.

I am then awoken by someone hitting my foot at 8 am. Ugh. J had to close on Sunday and be at work by 2, so she wanted to get on the road and get home and relax some before she had to go to work. So we're up and out of the hotel by 8:30 and home by 10:45. Good weekend and I get to race again up here on Sunday. Score.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Toasty Posty

I haven't had a Pop-Tart in a while. At least 3-4 years.

During undergrad and my days in a dorm, Mountainview and yes it did, we were not allowed to have hot plates, but we had a microwave and a small fridge. But the freezer was small so any microwaveable munchies were out. So I usually had some bread, maybe meat, but mostly pb&j for snacks and when I was too lazy to go to the cafeteria, which people referred to as "the caf" which is a homonym of calf and I refuse to eat somewhere I call the calf, so I always called it "cafeteria". We also experimented with other parts of the word. Let's go eat at the "ria". Exactly that's disgusting. So cafeteria it was.

But the majority of my dorm room snackage came from Sam's. Why? Beats me. I had a membership and the idea of shopping every 1 or 2 months appealed to me. And the less I was in there, the less money I spent which was bonus. But I have made alot of food mistakes and I would like to share.

Mistake #1: NEVER buy the 3 or 5 lb bags of candy for yourself. It seriously took me 6 months to finish that goddamn bag of Mike and Ikes.

Mistake #2: NEVER buy the 5 lb tub of peanut butter. It just encourages you to put waaaaay too much peanut butter on sandwiches. But it was damn good.

Mistake #3: If you enjoy something, do NOT buy it from Sam's. I enjoyed Pop-Tarts and they're an easy snack/breakfast food item. I bought the 36 pack and was so sick of stupid Pop-Tarts that I since have stopped eating them. That and they're not healthy at all.

Mistake #4: Do NOT try and save money by buying the large vat of ranch dressing over the two-pack of HUGE ranch dressing bottles. We had that stupid thing of ranch in our fridge for a year and only used it about 3 times. It's hard to pour ranch from a vat onto a salad and not drown it.

Mistake #5: Just because it's at Sam's does not mean it's a good deal. Milk is usually cheaper elsewhere and I believe sodas are cheaper when on sale at grocery stores. But I don't really price sodas. Carbonic acid is bad and I believe causes kidney/gall stones.

Mistake #6: Don't go to Sam's unless there is at least an hour before closing time. You don't want to be rushed trying to pick out which 6 lb. bag of pasta you want to get.

Mistake #7: Don't buy the 5 lb bag of shredded mozzarella unless you have plenty of cheese heavy recipes planned. Pizza, calzones, baked ziti, lasagna, cheese toast, omelets, etc... I have thrown away too much green cheese in my life to feel good about it.

Mistake #8: For the love, stay out of the candy aisle. There's nothing there you need and everything you want. 16 PayDay? Done. 24 Twix? Gotcha covered. Tootsie Rolls? What flavor. And the list goes on and on.

The only thing we really get at Sam's now is meat, non-perishables, snacks for lunch (big box of goldfish), Red Bull (if they sold the sugar-free, which they don't), toiletries, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent. And sometimes sliced cheese and deli meats. And DVDs.

We're going down to Columbia for the weekend. Our autocross starts early and to save the waking at 6 am and then driving 2 hours, we're staying the night and then Sat. evening after naps and showers, we have a wedding shower for some friends. And then we might go out downtown somewhere. But the hotel we're at is $40/night and is quite possibly, or definitely, in the ghetto. So if I'm not here on Monday, please let someone know where I am. Thanks.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Just another manic Thursday

I have decided to post the email that I sent to my parents, but it will be taken down tomorrow to avoid searches.

*Edited by author*

I figured that I wouldn't be able to convince them that the Bible really isn't against gays. In fact I read somewhere that the word "homosexual" doesn't exist in Greek, which will be included in the next email. Since my dad has been to seminary and is at least familiar with Greek and Hebrew, he should be able to give me a good idea about that. It's very hard to argue Bible with someone whose entire life is devoted to it. It would be like arguing astrophysics with Stephen Hawking. You're just going to lose that argument unless you're VERY prepared and I'm trying to get out of grad school, not become a biblical scholar. Although I do plan to read more holy books when I have more free time. Koran, the Torah, Holy Bible, etc...

At 11 am is our big meeting with the Redfern people about our new "for the grad students" health insurance plan. I'm scared. I really don't know how this is going to go over, especially since the board of trustees just approved a 12.9% tuition increase. Fuck. This state is too poor to support our projected goal of "Top 20 public research university". We just can't compete. And it all comes down to money. Always. But we'll see what happens. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 11, 2005


I taught you self-reliance

3rd Indiana Jones movie.

I love Terkel. Alot. She is such a trooper, and damn she's a cheap date. I fill her up about every two weeks and it doesn't cost much more than $20. $21.47 to be exact. And then she goes and gets around 35 mpg around town. For those who don't know, Terkel is J's 1992 Toyota Tercel, 1.5L of 4 cylindered fury (okay, more like a mild irritation) and thanks the efforts of a somewhat misguided father, she also has a 600W sound system with 2 10" subs in the back. She is definitely a cruising car and not a high performance driving car. That and I'm fairly certain that a few vital suspension components are shot. Of the 4 cars that I have owned, 3 have been girls, the '93 Saturn, the '92 Tercel and the '04 Focus. The male of the group was the turbocharged 1989 Plymouth Voyager SE Turbo and we know he was a male because he was too damn ugly to be a woman, and I beat him senseless and didn't take care of him and I take care of my ladies, mechanical or otherwise.

J and I had a discussion about my parents again. But this time it sunk in. J telling me that my parents don't know me anymore, partly my fault and partly theirs, E-Lo's post about her staunch support for gay rights, and me watching a documentary on Logo, MTV's new gay and lesbian channel, about gays in the media and the gay movement. But I realized that my family is a little petri dish of the current situation in this country. I believe in gay rights. All of them, adoption, marriage, health care and I am fairly certain that my parents, do not. I do not know this 100% but I'm about 80% sure that's how they feel. But I'm going to compose an email right now to try and get to know my parents better, or at least so they know me and the person that I have become and am still becoming. And I need to check out PFLAG and see what they're all about.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Poor Ms. Havisham

I enjoyed reading Great Expectations in 9th grade. And I liked the most recent film adaptation of the story even though they changed alot. Bobby DeNiro can shine in any role, Ethan Hawke is awesome and so is Apple's mom.

Tried to repeat the Frankie's Extravaganza last night but Hurricane Whatever rained all over our parade. We'll get it next week though.

But we played arcade games for a while and then went downtown and played some pool. There were 6 of us and 4 out of 6 wanted to go home after pool and the other 2 didn't drive, so they went home with us. If they were under the impression that it was going to be a late night, they were sorely mistaken. This isn't undergrad. We actually have to do some work on Fridays. And getting drunk is expensive. J's bar tab was $31 that included my beer, Dos Equis draft, or XX draft, and her multiple Red Bulls and mixer. Next time, we're bringing our own Red Bull. That way it's much cheaper and we are guaranteed to have the sugarfree Red Bull.

It's hot. Not especially hot, just typical May-October weather in the South. But most people get to wear shorts. Technically we are not supposed to. OSHA and all. And the head of our OSHA is a complete safety nazi. We HATE when she comes around, but fortunately we don't have the nastiest lab, and we have very few dangerous chemicals. But we're supposed to wear long pants, closed toed shoes and lab coats or long sleeves. Not my favorite summer attire. And my calves are killing me. If anyone has access to a man with hair on his legs who wears longs pants the majority of the time, I have a request. Could you check the outer part of his calf? I have two bald spots where my jeans rub my calves and have very little hair left there. It isn't very noticeable but it feels weird to hit a smooth spot when I'm rubbing my legs. No I don't do it often, but when I do it feels odd. So please check on that.

Hopefully I can go climbing today at the gym in Anderson.

If I don't swing by later, have a great post Independence day weekend and keep all the Londonites in your thoughts.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


There are no cats in America

Imagine small animated mice singing that to get this reference.

First, our thoughts go out to London as they had several terrorist attacks on their transportation system. 3 subway and 1 bus explosions. Please keep the volunteers helping sort through the devastation and the families of everyone involved in your thoughts.

Remember Chilean dictator August Pinochet? Well, the Santiago Appeals Court decided yesterday by a vote of 11-10 that he no longer has immunity in the killings of his political rivals and dissidents. Pinochet Loses License to Kill

And in our own legal system, the Queen Bee gets sentenced to a year and a day in jail for lying to the police about a shooting between her posse and rival rapper Capone N Noreaga's posse. She said she didn't see the two members of her crew at the shooting, but video surveillance and witness accounts show them holding the door for her and her chatting with her friends. Oops. So she becomes the first big name female rapper to go to jail. Lil Kim goes to jail!

If the hurricane remnants cooperate, we're going to try and do the Frankie's outing again this week but with more people. Hopefully all the rain stays north or blows over by 7 tonight. Enjoy your Thursday.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

Bleh, I hate alcohol. It serves no useful purpose in society, but since it's one of the few legal drugs in this country, we make do. Okay, it is used in communion and to help people overcome inhibitions in public settings but that's it. And they sponsor things but that is just to help us forget that it kills thousands of people per year.

We had a Independence party on the 3rd, mostly because I didn't want to be hungover today and I'm not. I was hungover yesterday. Even puked in a bush the morning after. But I'm 100% today and will improve even more tomorrow. We set off lots of fireworks from Shelton's Fireworks, exit 2 on I-85 just across the SC/GA border. I always forget that fireworks are illegal in certain places until I hear stories of people almost getting arrested in NJ and NY for fireworks. So we grilled burgers, sweet and hot Italian sausage, corn on the cob (which was great), a few chicken burgers and veggies (zucchini and squash). It all turned out excellent and as usual we had too much food and that means we get leftovers!

Lots of beer and fireworks and then my stupid drank too much ass had to go outside and sweep up the firework remnants which you never think about until the morning after the festivities. Luckily it was all in one little area and didn't take long to sweep up, but it did feel strange sweeping pavement.

All of this happened after the race. I didn't have my best day but I still beat who I was supposed to beat. Autocross results here and be sure and scroll down and look at the class ranking. I was 21 out of 50, won my class by over 1/2 second and beat the class ahead of me by over 1.5 seconds. And Andy (Protege) did very well in his new Turboge and got 3rd in class and 16th overall. He was off his class winner by 3 seconds which is alot and he's about maxed out on points which means he can't do much more to his car without moving up to D class, and nobody wants to move into D class.

I tried to go fast everywhere and you can't do that, but luckily my 2nd run was fairly fast and that's the one that stuck. My last two were embarrassing. But it's okay and there's another on July 24th. Yay!

Work did not happen yesterday. I wanted to come in and do a few hours worth of work by my stupid ass drank too much and I barely cleaned up the house yesterday let alone leave the house and interact with others. But J. and I did some Pilates which while traditionally a "chick" activities, this is the 21st century and gender profiling is lessening, so I can openly admit that, but the stuff works. I have awful flexibility. Horrible. I can barely touch my toes and I think my lower back is the culprit. So I think this will help alot with that, which will help in my climbing and everday activities.

Hope everyone enjoyed their day off! And at least saw one firework explode.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Tales of Interest!

So the last few titles have been from the Anthologies of Interest I episode of Futurama where Dr. Farnsworth invents a "What If" machine.

I don't know why, but I had never thought about what I would ask that machine before. It's a question up there with "If you had one wish what would it be?" or "If you won the lottery/had assloads of money what would you do?" etc...

I guess the first question would be "What if my parents weren't missionaries?" Would I still be the same person? What would their jobs be? Would I still have ended up here for grad school? Would Joan and I still have found each other?

"What if I didn't have a brother?" I love my brother but this one would be an interesting sociological experiment. I'm sure I'd be much different.

"What if there were one world religion?" Oooooh, that's a good one. Would everyone be at peace? Would we have roving gangs looking for anyone not a Sethist? What if I were the god of the one religion? Hahahahaha, that would be fun.

"What if there were no religion at all?" Hmmm, that's a good one too.

"What if life were more like a video game?" Futurama did this one, but I liked it and want to experience it.

I could do that all day. I hope the afterlife has a "What If" machine. Or someone really invents one.

There's a race tomorrow at Clemson behind Lee Hall if anyone is in the neighborhood. I'm betting that there won't be alot of people there, or there will be alot of new faces considering it's Independence Weekend. But I don't care. All I know is I get to go do some driving that would get me thrown in jail normally and wail on some tires. I can't wait. And if the last autocross results hold true, I should place in the top 10, but I'm not making any promises.

Um, I had something else but it left, so I might drop by later. If not have a glorious 4 DAY WEEKEND! America, Fuck Yeah!

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