Monday, November 29

National Hug a Stressed Architecture Student Day

Today is National Hug a Stressed Architecture Student Day! (Well, at least on Facebook.) While I'd love to come visit all my Arch. friends slaving away at their desks, with hugs and chocolate-covered espresso beans, I'm stuck here in Sveeeden and I'm going to have to settle for a virtual hug. I'll preface this post by insisting that not a single word of it is made-up, nor even exaggerated (anecdotes sampled from friends' and my own experiences).
Let me briefly explain the setting of Architectural Education, for those of you who aren't familiar. Within a towering campus building dedicated to Architorture (and sometimes Arts/Art History), there are classrooms called "design studios." In each studio, every student has their own desk where they store their supplies and work on their projects. Often, a decades-old, tear-stained couch is tucked in the corner to provide relief from our voluntary insomnia.

Since I graduated, I've been wondering what, exactly, makes architecture school so stressful. I've met Law School students who pity us, for goodness' sake. I think the stress comes from the personality traits that Arch. school attracts into its exacto-blade talons.

First of all, most of us are crazy, OCD perfectionists.* Second, we are viciously competitive (yet strain to not let this show). Third, we have Jack-of-all-trades, Renaissance-Man brains that yearn to perfectly integrate every last detail and function of the building we're designing (down to the drain spouts and sidewalk curbs. One sleepless night, I was moved to tears by my friend's perfect perspective-drawing of her gutter outlets. I am. NOT. kidding.)

Every term, you picture your finalized project as The Grandiose Production to End All Grandiose Productions. As the ten-week deadline looms closer, the time-intensive reality of eating, other classes, and personal hygiene slowly chip away at your dreams. You struggle to keep them afloat by sacrificing sleep and social interaction. Suddenly, you realize you've allotted yourself five weeks of work... for the last two weeks. At this point, most people would admit, "Wow, my over-achieving goals for this project were so naive. This happens every term; I guess I'll just have to take it down a giant notch."

Architecture slaves students buckle down and say, "I'm going to have to take this UP a giant notch."

Well, HELLO, little snuggle buddy.

"Taking it up a giant notch" denotes an even more depressing priority shift. You draw an hourly schedule for the next two weeks, penciling in an optimistic four hours of sleep per night. You calculate that going home is about a 30-minute round trip, which, if sacrificed, could add 12.5% to this nightly sleep quota. You sleep on the aforementioned couch (which, as you have just learned in your ECS** class, is now approximately 20% dust mites/dust mite feces by weight).

Later, you dash home to collect a few changes of clothes, and every can of food out of the cupboards (mostly corn). You forget your toothbrush. Your roommate graciously brings it on her way to class, where you instantly shove it into your plaque-overrun mouth, and make noises that cause your studiomates to poke their heads above their computer screens to investigate... ehmm... who's watching something they shouldn't be.

You take showers at the school gym. The whites of your eyes slowly, but surely, become the same shade as the rest of your face. Coffee becomes a strategically-administered design tool. You pass out in your seat mid-sentence, and start sleep-talking about Sketchup.*** You try to drive home with one of your studiomates, and BOTH of you simultaneously fall asleep at a red light (aHEMMM, Kody & Adrian).

Much of this perfectionistic hysteria is fueled by the amazingly skilled people who surround you in studio. The selection process for Architecture School is a vicious one, and most who make it through are accustomed to being The Best of the Best. You arrive with a padded ego, only to be knocked flat on your back by the talent that joins you there.

At the same time, these people share a certain insanity that you once thought was your own sole burden to carry. Their attitude swoops up & down between killing themselves with criticism, and a taunting, playful arrogance. Their brains are on fire with creativity, leading to 4-AM studio dance-karaoke parties, exacto-knife-flinging contests, and jumping in the courtyard fountain to pull themselves through 48-hours straight of consciousness. Within a week, your shock and intimidation has morphed into a profoundly genuine enthusiasm for your classmates' success.

For those of you still in school, I know you'll ROCK Review Week over the next few days. For those of you who graduated before me or with me, I hope you're happily employed. And to all of you, I want you to know that going to Architecture School was like meeting 100 of my long-lost brothers and sisters. We're masochistic, music-obsessed, expensive pen-collecting, visually-driven freaks who reacted like Portland cement and water. And-- you know this-- the result is a lot of warmth and a permanent bond.

HUGS to you all.

*If you're an Arch. student, take this quiz. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, yes?!
**Environmental Control Systems. Here is a little song about the class's textbook. And I AM NOT KIDDING about the dust-mite fact... same goes for the pillow in your bed.
***Sketchup is a 3-D computer-modeling program. (And sadly, this anecdote was me... ask Jason and my dad.)

I should acknowledge that the whole 48-hour sleep deprivation isn't every Architecture student's experience. About 1-in-30 possess a magical talent for perfect focus, realistic expectations, time management, and knowing where to get illicit supplies of Ritalin (I kid, I kid). Seriously, these people astound me. And I suppose they can have a hug today, too.

Friday, November 26

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I am trippin' on tryptophan and unable to write a coherent post... so here are a jumble of leftover thought-scraps from Thanksgiving:
  • Is it just me, or do you guys also feel starving the day after Thanksgiving? My lifelong, elephant appetite has always led me to suspect tapeworms, so this day-after Thanksgiving hunger usually makes me wonder if the feast causes an overnight population explosion. Mmmm, a lovely tradition.
  • That turkey ended up tasting ALL KINDS OF AWESOME. Even though I substituted "cumin, red pepper, and garlic powder" with a packet of Sveedish "Taco Spice," and substituted "nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger" with "Pumpkin Pie Spice." Bygones.
  • The Mama Bear shipped some baking soda & baking powder all the way to Sveeden, just so we could have leavened products in our Thanksgiving dinner! (The sweet potato biscuits & cornbread thank you for their existence, Mama B.) She even sent entire boxes of both, even though I only requested a small amount of each (in clear plastic baggies, clearly marked clearly as "Anthrax" and "Crack-Cocaine").
  • Okay, I promised TMI from the very first post and here is your latest helping of it: This morning, I ran to the bathroom with a gurgling stomach, only to turn the toilet water bright RED. Not a pleasant sight to wake up to. An image of the turkey marinating in the mop bucket immediately flashed before my eyes, and my lips went numb as all blood drained from my face. (Although I still had the clarity to think, "I hope it's not draining into my intestines.") I woozily covered my head with my hands, took a deep breath... and remembered that I had scarfed down a TON of beets at dinner. So, beware that beets make it look like you have bloody bowel syndrome. You're welcome.
As sick as my sense of humor is, I can't leave you on that note. So enjoy some  pictures of our Sveedish Thanksgiving table!

We pulled off everything listed on the menu... tada!

Thursday, November 25

Counting my blessings:

and many, many others!

You! Whether you're rooting us on, or judging the heck out of us with every post-- I'm flattered that you're reading this. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My sweet friends who have been so amazing about staying in touch. I can't wait to see you all in a couple weeks!

My fun, hilarious, warmhearted family in-law. You make me feel so cozy, loved, and at-home when we get to spend time together. Thank you for raising the awesome man I married. (And I'm thankful that Granny is on her way to playing golf again!)

The Mama Bear & the Papa Bear, whose kind, loving souls gave me the best childhood a kid could ask for. Thank you for teaching me about what really matters in life. I count you two among my very best friends.

The Baby Sister Bear, who didn't tie me to a chair and lock me in a closet when I told her we were going to Sweden for three months. (If the roles were reversed... that's what I would have done.) I love you more than the world.

The Handsome Hubster, who listens (really listens), encourages, cares enough to give me reality checks when I need them, and understands when the "reality" thing is just a lost cause. I never imagined I would laugh so much, everyday; most nights we giggle ourselves to sleep like 8-year olds at a slumber party. I wake up every day excited to be next to you, & I love you more every minute.

Wednesday, November 24

Good Glögg this is exhausting... and FUN

Holey moley, amigos. I don't understand how those of you with children find the time to do this whole Thanksgiving schtick. (Oh-- potlucks.) I've been running around like a turkey with its hea... nevermind.

Leading into the arena for the final round, let's hear some updates:

Le Turkey
The air is thick with excitement! The National Day of Overeating is upon us! Time to celebrate food, family, and count our blessings! So, Sweden...
...Sveeeden? Hello?

Why are your grocers not grocing any turkeys?

Oh. I see. You don't annually rejoice over British pilgrims settling in North America.

About a week ago, I began getting nervous about the lack of turkage. I started evilly wringing my hands together whenever pigeons crossed my path. Then, Praise be to Veely's, a new frozen food section suddenly appeared at the store.

All sorts of frozen fowl abounded! We had a choice of duck, goose, turkey, or chicken. For one vengeful moment, I considered getting goose instead of turkey (a large portion of my childhood was spent being terrorized by geese). I went with turkey instead, considering I'm not the sort of person who feasts upon your flesh because a fellow member of your species was cranky. You can all sleep soundly tonight.*

Once we got the bird home, we realized that we needed something to marinate it in.

I spy, with my little eye, something that will hold a turkey. (Yeah, in the cleaning closet, so what?)

Jason washed it, but I'm looking up Sveedish Poison Control tonight just in case.

The bucket didn't exactly fit in our fridge, so:

(The tin foil was just in case there were any cannibalistic crows in Sweden.)
(Two hours later, there were crow prints next to it.)

Also... within the next 15 hours (hopefully 8 of which I'll be sleeping), I need to find something to cook it on. You know, other than the pizza pan.

Lingonberry relish
As I skipped off to the store today (for the FIFTH FREAKING TIME, to get the latest "two things I forgot,") I patted myself on the back for preparing a traditional Swedish food on Thanksgiving. Ironically, I found that Veely's no longer stocked lingonberries-- in their place gleamed little red cranberries. Shipped straight from the U.S.

So, along with fresh cranberries, I grabbed a jar of lingonberry jam to mix in, for some Symbolic Diversity at our table. Much like the original Thanksgiving, yes? We Matthewsers are deep like that.

As I walked home, I daydreamed about my Grandma Jean's fresh cranberry relish. I wish I could give each of you reading this a spoonful of that stuff. It's heavenly. And I was about to make it!

Such an easy recipe, too. Just chop apples and oranges, and mix them with blended cranberries...
...blended? Like with a blender? Ehmm...

I spend the next hour crushing individual cranberries through our garlic press. I have the beginnings of blisters on both hands. My table, hands, and face are splattered with exploded cranberry bits, giving "Ocean Spray" a whole new meaning. Grandma Jean will be so proud.

Romantical things
Amidst mashing yams, crushing berries, brining turkey, logging miles between here and Veely's, baking cornbread, and unplugging the smoke alarm, I did some more Hurricane-Martha-style decorating today.

(i.e. decorating with weeds, empty food containers, food, and clothes.)
(And cheating about $6 to buy some flowers.)
Please pray for my yellow scarf (aka table runner).

While we miss everybody very, very much... VERY much... part of me is excited about this opportunity to do Thanksgiving with just us tomorrow. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that the two of us are a little family of our own now, and it's tackling crazy projects like this that really hit it home.

(But, still... thank Glögg for Skype!)

*I shall get my revenge on the ornery University of Oregon postman another day...**
**In SOME OTHER MANNER, of course.

Monday, November 22

Life is short. Cook dessert first.

Remember the Cheesy Seasonal display? Well, now there's only one pumpkin left. Cowering in horror.

Sacrificial Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Serves 2 for weeks and weeks (which is a good thing since those suckers cost beaucoup bucks.)

1) Appeased the kitchen gods with a slimy bathtub massacre.

2) Baked it, then satisfied my inner five-year-old who wishes I could smoosh stuff all day, every day.

3) I replaced 50% of the recipe's flour with smashed gingersnaps (because flour is a tasteless waste of calories), added lewd amounts of lard, and smooshed the ingredients together by hand. I tried not to cry out in pain as cookie shards shanked my palms cookie crumbs exfoliated my hands invigoratingly. (My inner five-year-old is done smooshing things for a while.)

4) I chilled the dough, floured the counter, then realized we have no rolling pins. I substituted a tall glass with surprising success.

Trying to transfer the perfectly-rolled dough, I discovered that it totally crumbled in my hands.
WIMPY, crust. Wimpy.
I angrily started tossing chunks into the pie pan with a slew of foul language. Amused and curious worried and thoughtful Mr. Matthewser heard the deluge and came to investigate. He showed his empathy by trying to steal some crust. A brief squabble ensued as I attemped to defend the meager dough resources.

Myself-- salvaged enough dough for thin crust. 8 points.
Jason-- generous helping of lardy gingersnap flour, PLUS he left floury hand prints on butt of my black sweatpants: 15 points. He resumed working on laptop (happily chewing).

I started to wonder if a single pumpkin sacrifice was a sufficient offering after all.

5) I managed to smoosh the dough into a pretty crust! Success. I carefully placed the crust into the oven. Returning after baking time... I found it inexplicably BURNT. Also, there were huge bubbles under the crust from air pockets expanding underneath.

I reread the recipe and saw that the temperature was correct, but I was supposed to fill it with "pie weights" to prevent bubbles. I put in the second crust, and set glass jars on it to prevent bubbles.

Bad idea.
(Although Jason is thrilled with all the spare crust to eat.)


7) Woke up. Made coffee that I'm not supposed to drink. (Due to health issues that you don't want to know about, not to mention coffee makes me SWEAR AND ABUSE THE CAPS LOCK KEY!!!!)

8) Now fully drugged, I smashed more cookies with an effing vengeance. IT FELT EXCELLENT. I repeated Step Three, and said SAYONARA to all the remaining epidermis on my hands.

Perhaps this will make the pie crust light and flakey.

9) Made pretty pie crust #3. Made filling.

Let me take this moment to say that "Sweetened Evaporated Milk" DISGUSTS ME. All I can think of is leftover cereal milk that's been sitting in the sink for a week. the filling supposed to look like that? I'm concerned.

10) We pulled them out of the oven. After waiting some 90 cliffhanging minutes for them to set...
Looks like only one will survive until Thursday.

*This is the recipe I used, more or less. From the one & only.

Friday, November 19

OPERATION: First Thanksgiving Without Parental Supervision

This is our mission if we so choose to accept it:

    • Pickled beets
    • Pressgurka (cucumber salad)
    • Lingonberry relish
    • Sveedish Meatballs
        • Garlic mashed potatoes with creme fraiche
        • Spice-cured turkey
        • Cornbread stuffing with green apples
        • Sweet potato biscuits

        • Sacrificial pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust
        • Pears poached in GLÖGG

        • Steaming hotGLÖGG

      Percentage of these recipes I've never tried before:

      Likelihood that I will forget to convert °F to °C and burn the living dickens out of something:
          89% (That's okay, I generally prefer my food dickens-free.)

      Does our smoke alarm work?
          DEFINITELY. I have "tested" it quite often while we've been

      Do we have the proper equipment?
      Why yes, a bottle opener IS a cooking tool in this house (wink).

      T-MINUS 144 HOURS.

      Thursday, November 18

      An Ode to Glögg

      Perusing the aisles of Willy's one day,
      I spied your carboard carton.
      I thought you'd only be a bore,
      and leave my checkbook smartin'.

      Your awful name intrigued me, though,
      "Is it swamp water?" I said.
      I tossed you in the cart that eve'
      and moved on to the bread.

      Once at home I cracked your lid
      (I wondered if I'd need to chew).
      I took a cautious swig, unnknowing
      Life would soon begin anew.

      A flock of cherubs sang out my ears
      My heart, it nigh exploded.
      Everything my taste buds once liked
      was now, by far, outmoded.

      You're Christmas in a glass, dear glögg.
      You're Jesus-Inspired Brew.
      You're sugar and spice and everything nice
      But you've got some puppy tail, too:

      I spied upon your blessed vessel
      A note saying "Alkoholfri."
      There must be a naughty version out there
      But let's keep it away from me...

      I'm hunting down your recipe, glögg,
      I must have you on demand.
      Back at home, they need to meet you--
      The Glögg Party's already planned.

      Wednesday, November 17

      A moment to savor

      I think the long hours in the lab are getting to him. Jason finally--

      as in, after seven years, FINALLY--

      had an April moment.*

      *e.g.: My phone has been known to hide inside the refrigerator.

      Sunday, November 14

      We now have clean clothes and I am not undead

      Warning: If you're within the first two seasons of Lost, and "the Hatch" doesn't sound familiar, then you might be subjected to mild spoilers.

      After our fourth week of living in Sweden, Jason & I admitted that it was time to wash our two-weeks-worth of clothes. When you've worn all your underwear once-- and then once again, inside-out-- you know you're slacking on the whole "responsible adult" gimmick.

      Seeing as Jason spends twelve hours a day in his Physics lab, it was my Sveedish housewifey doom to find a nearby washing machine and put our clothes in it. I soon came across a sketchy-looking door:
      We're definitely looking at some long-lost Dharma Initiative Station here.

      and tried my key on it. Nothing.

      Relief washed over me, because this whole scenario was giving me some serious Lost flashbacks. Namely, the part when John Locke finally dynamited open the Hatch, and went inside despite the BIOHAZARD/ QUARANTINE sign. He totally deserved the surely impending zombie buffet on his brains.

      Well, Karma loves a Judgy-McJudgersons like myself, because I suddenly had an idea to hold the blue, plastic thing that came with our keys up to the lock... and I heard a muffled click as the light flashed green. Sh*t.

      I slowly cracked the door open, and this is what I saw:
      It's impossible for me to look at this without imagining Resident Evil creatures scrambling across the ceiling.

      I've put off writing about this little misadventure for over a month now, because I knew my writing skills will utterly fail at communicating the SHEER TERROR I felt at this moment.

      I may or may not use an inexusable amount of artistic license when writing these posts... but it would be impossible to exaggerate my neurosis about zombies. Debilitating neurosis. I don't even like typing the word.
      • The night after I saw "I Am Legend" in theater, I didn't sleep a wink. I trembled under my covers until the sun came up the next morning, and all those undead demons outside returned to their lairs.
      • The one time some friends & I wandered into an abandoned Japanese theme park at night, I tearfully begged everyone to leave with me, lest we awaken the zombie infestation lurking in the shadows. ...That's an embarrassing memory.
      • The night a stumbling drunk tried to break into my apartment when I was home alone, I DIDN'T SNEAK OUT THE BACK DOOR because I was completely convinced he was a zombie, and that he surely couldn't be the only one out there.

      So. I believe the use of the word "debilitating" is justified.

      And you'll be quite proud to hear that I actually entered this demonic-looking hallway, and let the door close behind me.

      I shakily tried my key on various doors along the dark hallway until one finally opened, and I nearly... ahem... rendered yet another pair of pants ready for the wash.
      That plastic bag made me scream a tiny bit.
      Seriously, what IS this place?!

      Finally, a windowed door revealed a dark room with silhouetted, whirring machines and red blinking lights. But the door wouldn't open.

      Guys, at this point I was so terrified that it felt like an out-of-body experience. Although I could no longer feel my face, I could hear my teeth chattering. Every last survival alarm had gone off in my brain, and my adrenaline levels were such that I probably could have Edward-Cullen-ed a car.

      To the side of the door, a metallic box displayed the same emblem the outside door had, so I waved my magic blue key at it.


      I went Rambo on the buttons until it started to look like some sort of scheduling system. I guessed at making an appointment for the next afternoon and got the hell out of there. I didn't stop shaking for another twenty minutes.

      * * *

      The next afternoon, after a morning's worth of pep-talk and dread, I literally sprinted down the demonic hallway to the laundry room, our 40-lb laundry bag knocking me against the walls like a rubber pinball. This time, my key turned the lock light green and granted me access to the insidious-looking machinery inside.

      Checking my back every three seconds, I began stuffing our clothes into a washer.

      I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. This was the end. I knew it.

      Body frozen in place, my head slowly turned to the side to behold two eyes glaring through the door window with black, bottomless RAGE. Like, 28-Days-Later RAGE.

      For those of you with z-o-m-b-....etc. neurosis (seriously, I hate saying that word. I understand why wizards call Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named)... anyway, those of you who suffer from my condition-- when you find yourself in this situation, you pray to God Almighty that that door opens. Because you know that if they ARE infected, they no longer have the mental capacity to open doors. Much less the advanced forethought to show up the day before and make an appointment with a magic 007-style key.

      Well, it was not yet my time to succumb to viral cannibalism (ahhh, thank goodness for technical-sounding euphemisms), because the door swung open to reveal a disheveled, spandex-clad Sveede with a giant pregnant belly and a hamper full of socks. I could have hugged her.

      She proceeded to rant at me in hormonal Sveedish as I smiled at her, semi-slumped against the washer in relief. I happily interjected to tell her that I didn't speak Swedish, and without missing a beat she switched to English and told me I was using HER washing machine that SHE had scheduled a week ago. Bless her fertile, still-human soul.

      I gleefully moved my clothes to the next washer as she glowered behind me. If anyone could stop hordes of staggering undead, it was this ass-kicking, hormonal woman on a F***ING SOCK- WASHING MISSION.

      I was safe. We now have clean clothes and I am not undead.

      Saturday, November 13

      Elevator Music

      Here, let this smiling baby goat via thatcutesite distract you from my blatant blog abandonment.

      The weather was way too gorgeous today for me to be blah-blah-blahging. Rain is forecasted tomorrow though, so perhaps we shall have some storytime then!
      For now, let me shoo you along to these other, more interesting websites:

      You're not the only one who wants to KILL your printer.

      Thanks to clicking on Sveedish facebook ads, I now know what I'm wearing on the airplane ride home. ►

      Christmas sweaters for Jason & April.

      More 'Trekky stuff.

      Only a small snippet of the funniest TV show ever to grace the internets: What happens when you try to get Abed to talk to a new girl. Then this. (From NBC's Community.)

      Jamaican Poodle!

      Also, how to tell if your dog is retarded.

      Ever feel the need to be obnoxiously cheerful? Lay this one on 'em.

      ¡Happy Saturday, mis amigos!

      Thursday, November 11

      I didn't realize I would take this so seriously

      Good morning! While all of you were resting your weary little eyes, I was... preparing. I stared at my tea, and meditated on what I was about to do in twenty minutes. Five minutes prior, I bundled up, took one magic dandelion (saving one for Jason), and headed outside.

      I checked the watch. One minute left. I rehearsed the lines in my mind, making sure there were no disastrous loopholes.

      On 11/11, at 11:11 and 11 seconds, I made a sincere wish about my own life. I also wished for peace and healing for a few of my loved (very, very loved) ones. And just as unexpected tears started to burn my eyes, I noticed all the little seeds I'd sent bobbing along the breeze and grinned. I remembered to wish that they all grew into resilient little offspring just like the stubborn yellow flower they came from.

      If you make a wish today, I hope it comes true too

      P.S. I'm going to start planning next year's wish (11/11/11 @ 11:11:11) now. That's going to be legendary.

      Tuesday, November 9

      Sveedish Sveets!!

      On Halloween night, we went to Veely's and stockpiled a bulk-candy smörgåsbord (yes, from now on I'm going to be a snob about spelling that word with all its vowel decorations).

      First of all, we didn't find any Swedish Fish. HowEVER-- we did find Swedish Dolphins. They're as if a crunchy cereal marshmallow, a s'more marshmallow, and tutti frutti gum had porpoise babies.

      Jason: How much time does that pizza have in the oven?
      April: About 15 more minutes.
      Jason: Okay. I'm gonna have a dolphin.

      Other candies of note:
      The black & red soda bottles : They're covered in fizzy stuff! Very exciting. (I tried to make them say "cheers!" but it looks like one had been drinking something other than soda...)

      That long chocolate thing on the bottom right corner: turned out to be a fake-banana-flavored marshmallow dipped in chocolate. One of the grossest things I've ever tried to eat.

      Top & center (light brown/gray): Strangely licorice-flavored hard candy. When you bite into it, there's salt in the middle. I like salt. This is pretty cool.

      Bottom left owl-mask things: Also salty licorice. However, this is some sort of mineral salt that tastes like... how a match smells when it first ignites. Sulphur, maybe? It also makes your tongue tingle like cuuhRAZY. I freaked out after the first bite I took (jumped straight off the couch and made a-fish-biting-a-lemon face, then shook my head frantically like that one time my dog ate a bumblebee, then stifled a gag).*

      ...but now I'm strangely addicted to nibbling on them. (Suffices to say: I can't convince Jason to try them.)

      Thanks a lot, Sweden. You've gotten me addicted to sulphur-salt licorice. Awkward.

      Glory be to Veely's, I've since discovered a "Nicorette" for this ailment:

      Now you can enjoy all the freakish flavor without getting sticky black stuff stuck in your teeth and scaring the Sveeds and turning your toothbrush gray!

      (Sulphur breath still an issue.)

      *This reaction may also be partially explained by the fact that I rarely eat sugar and was pretttty on-edge at the time.**
      **Which may also explain why my dad hid my Halloween candy when I was little, and rationed out one piece per day until it was "all gone" two weeks later.

      (Leave a comment if you're curious about any other candies in the picture. We might even send you some.)

      Sunday, November 7

      When I get home, remind me to build a stone mansion and cover it in ivy.


      Friday, November 5

      A day in the life of the Hubster

      Brace yourselves, amigos: I'm going to try to explain what Jason does all day here. And by all day, I mean in his laboratory 9AM-9PM, weekends included. PhD stands for "piled high and deep" for a reason.

      So, what is his research here all about?

      Short answer: I don't really know.

      Long answer: I'll pretend like I know...


      Once upon a time, there was a field of study called thermoelectrics. We discovered that if you have a wire that's cold on one end, and hot on the other, it generates electricity!!

      Okay, I lied. It's a little more than a wire.
      This is very exciting.

      Stick one end in the ocean, and put the other in the sun-- whammo. Charge your cellphone. Thanks, thermoelectrics.

      However, Jason's professor decided this wasn't nearly complicated enough. So Dr. Professor thought to himself, "Hmm, what else is cool and mysterious that we can throw in here that might make it even cooler and mysteriouser?"

      And the answer was: Quantum mechanics.

      Here's QM in a nutshell: when things get tiny-- really, really, subatomically tiny--  their actions stop happening as specific events, and start existing as mere probabilities.


      Once things get really small, the certainty of their actions gets very vague. In other words, it sounds like God really needs to get a pair of glasses.

      Jason's making really, really tiny thermoelectric "devices" to see if they work more efficiently than their big brothers. Here's a closeup of one of the pieces:

      Take a look at a single hair on your arm. That's how wide each of those squares are.

      I asked him what these pieces are used for:

      "It's the interface between me (the large world) and the device (the small world). It's the rabbit hole."


      So... what does the device itself look like?

      Here's one part of it. It's 200 TIMES SMALLER than one of the squares. Rabbit hole, indeed.

      He says he uses this part "to play billiard balls with electrons." What this has to do with thermoelectrics, I have NO idea. But I'm impressed.

      To make photographs like these, he goes into a "cleanroom"--because a speck of dust on these things could potentially cover it up completely!

      I'm not allowed in there, but here are some webcam screenshots:

      Beyond this, he tinkers with a lot of expensive-looking machinery and occasionally gets really excited about it, or really mad at it.

      For example: "The *&^%$#! Needle." All I know about this needle is that when it points to a certain number on a dial, he can tell the computer to start recording his experiment and leave for the night. Alas, it's not that simple. It seems that as soon as it starts to steady around the right point, it jumps somewhere else. Leading to NIGHTLY email correspondences like the following:

      (For those of you who don't know him so well: Jason is such a wholesome fella, he'd give Grapenuts a run for their money. Needless to say, he rarely swears. So this is really, really hilarious.) (Sorry, dear.)

      That's a frowny-face puking in frustration. I laughed so hard that I drooled a little bit.

      On the weekends, I get to go keep him company in his lab. I sit in The Wife Chair, abuse The Miraculous Instant Hot Chocolate Machine, and obnoxiously photograph him for your entertainment.

      P.S. He made this for you guys!

      Wednesday, November 3


      There's been a very exciting development in our apartment over the past week. Apparently, if you bring a dandelion flower inside (who does that?! ...oh), it goes to seed!

      And check this out-- one of them flopped over, but then used its last bit of planty-life-force to curl its poof up off the ground. Man, these things really want to have babies. I'm just impressed.
      "Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them."  A.A. Milne

      Tuesday, November 2

      He calls it "The Claw"

      He's not sure how he feels about it.

      Little does he know... the feeling is mutual.