Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What hot, molten crazy will get you at times

I've been taking some time off from Science (does this make me a bad scientist?). As I've previously mentioned, I decided to take a week off commemorating the end of the semester and visit Dr. Man. In fact I was encouraged to do so. (I think this might have something to do with me spewing hot, molten crazy all over Advisor about two weeks ago. After I was done and my face had returned to a normal color, but before I could get embarrassed and realize how much I had just screwed up, Advisor said, “It's fine. Don't apologize. I understand. Classes are done on the 24th, I don't want to see back her until the 2nd. Take some time, enjoy yourself. Consider it a present.”)

I've spent the past several days doing absolutely nothing. I've played around on the internet, watched some Babylon 5 (yes I'm a dork), eaten the good food Dr. Man has made, and enjoyed going on long walks with the Dixie Dog and Dr. Man. I've even indulged in napping, which is one of my favorite past times. Yesterday I stretched out on one end of the couch with my legs on top of the Dixie Dog and my feet resting on Dr. Man's lap. I could feel all of us breathe in sync. In and out. Dog would snuffle every so often and then settle down. Eventually, Dr. Man got up and poured us some wine. We continued lounging and reconnecting throughout twilight and into the dark of night. We spoke of plans for the future, current events, and reminisced about the past.

This is what I needed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lyrics/Shuffle Meme

I was tagged by CAE for this meme. I think I should add as a caveat that my music collection has some really random, very embarrassing stuff. This is because I started ripping CDs from my music collection in college and (somehow) managed to rip all of the CDs I owned prior to that time. I have, as will soon become obvious, not been that efficient since.

Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.

Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song. (I did skip some songs that had the song title in the first line.)

Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.

Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right. 

Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING.

1. What's a matter Mary Jane?
2. I can't stop myself from calling
3. You brace and hold it all inside
4. As they pulled you out from the oxygen tent
5. I've been watching you and all you do for quite some time
6. Steve, Gordon, Ali, Pam, Sue, I'm Angel, Tom, Collins
7. Let me tell you about a girl I know
8. Harry Truman was our president/A coke a burger cost you 30 cent
9. I could've been a sailor/ I could've been a cook
10. I live at the end of a 5 and half minute hallway
11. I'm wide awake in the dark
12. I know I should be happy in your land
13. In a room full of people, hanging on one person's breath
14. He scares easily, it makes him so angry at me
15. I love the east
16. You've got your ball
17. If only we could fly
18. I heard a word from on high
19. Some day mother will die and I'll get the money
20. Drink up baby doll
21. Not saying, not charmed at all
22. My love, my love, my love, how could you do this to me?
23. Don't go changing
24. What's wrong baby?
25. Baby you pretend that things ain't what they seem

Monday, April 28, 2008

I want to be a doctor when I grow up

I met Laura when I was twelve and she was eleven (ok, so this is more than ten years ago). We both wrote poetry, had siblings, and like to read. And a friendship was born. We'd whine and plead and beg our mother's to let us have sleep-overs and make brownies. Then, one weekend Laura's mother told her that she couldn't have anyone over that weekend because she was having treatment. Laura looked sad and asked if she promised to be quiet for the time of her treatment, could I still come over? Eventually, her mother caved and I came over armed with a “Sweet Valley High” book. That was when I found out that Laura had a chronic illness that required enzyme replacement therapy. Within a few weeks I decided to be a doctor and cure my friend's disease.

This kept up through high school where I read “Hot Zone” and told everyone I was going to be a doctor. Friends would joke that I'd cure cancer. I took every science class that I could take in high school (which I wouldn't have done without my parent's encouragement) and declared that one day I'd go to medical school.

Then, I went to college and got a job doing research. That was it. I loved doing research. I liked finding answers to questions. I even liked coming up with more questions. I also realized that if I wanted to discover the cure to any disease the way to do it wasn't through being a medical doctor, but a PhD. So, I shifted my goal of being a “doctor” slightly.

It never occurred to me to plan further than that. When pressed I told people that I'd probably be a professor after that. I wasn't too concerned about the hours it would take or the time or the uncertainty. After all, five years ago all I had to worry about was myself.

Then, Dr. Man and I (somewhat abruptly... we'd been good friends for about three or so years) started dating and decided to get married.

Now, I'm in the new position of being uncertain about what I want to do in the future. I like the idea of being a professor, but what if I can't do it? I've got to figure out a way for Dr. Man to be able to move with me to my post-doc, as I did my undergraduate degree at the same institution I'm doing my graduate degree (Dr. Man was going to medical school here before I went to grad school-- and we didn't want to do the long distance thing). Then there's the move to get a job somewhere. And then what happens if I don't get tenure? There's another move. And now I'm thinking I may want to have kids sometime in the near-ish future. Can I really do everything?

So, now I'm looking into alternate career paths and places other than the large research-intensive institutions I had planned on working at. I'm being very careful in deciding what I'm going to do next. I'm trying to honestly evaluate myself and figure out what I'm most likely to be successful at. And I'm angry at myself for not just deciding the heck with it, I'll give it my best and let the chips fall where they may. Then again I owe it the other person/hypothetical people in my life to be sure of what I want and what I can do.

I think this is what is bothering me the most about my position. Despite putting up with years of people telling me I can't do something because I'm a woman, or criticizing my job as inappropriate because I'm a woman, or discouraging me to have a career because I'm a woman, for the first time I'm doubting myself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

House!

Dr. Man and I put an offer on a house in our favorite neighborhood... and it was accepted! Now, we're in the process of home inspections, pest inspections, final mortgage approval, etc. We got the house for a very reasonable price (below market value... even in this market). It has a yard and everything! The only sticking point is that the house needs a new roof. I think we're going to see if the sellers will help us pay for it. If not, we'll have to go from there. (We may still take it because it is a good deal and HGTV says that it's a very worthwhile improvement.)

Anyhow, for your viewing pleasure... House!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Carnival of GRADual Progress

I'm hosting this month's Carnival of GRADual Progress. This is the first time I've ever hosted a blog carnival. So, it'll be a learning experience. Speaking of which, I think that would be a good theme for this month's carnival: Learning Experiences.* Tell me about various learning experiences (both good and bad) that have occurred during your time in Grad school.**

I'll be posting the carnival around May 15th (so I'll set an arbitrary deadline of May 14th 5pm). You can email me submissions to: grad[dot]carnival at gmail[dot]com. Also, while Advisor will readily tell you that I spend a lot of time on the internet, I don't read every grad student blog out there, so please let me know if there's a grad student blog out there that has an awesome post or that I should be reading!***

*As usual if you don't like the theme or if you just have non-conformist tendencies or you just have another post you're dying to get out there, off-topic posts are more than welcome.
**I think that post-docs and profs can play, too. But since this is about grad school, I think the posts should be related to such. (If someone knows better, please let me know.)
***Someone please help this poor run-on sentence!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lots of updates

I rode my bike into work for the first time today. I learned two very important things:

1. I am not in as good shape as I think I am.
2. It's harder to ride in dirt than I remember.

Overall, it was a nice easy ride. It took less time for me to get in than it takes to drive or ride the bus. So, I rode about 2.5 miles in about 16 minutes (I timed myself on my watch). I'm at work right now and pleasantly tired. I'm hoping to recover enough to ride home. If not then, I'll take the bus home.

To answer questions that people asked:

- Dr. Man works craaazzy hours. So, he'll probably be driving in just so that he can go home and sleep.
-Parking on campus is insane. Parking permits run upwards of $100 and they don't guarantee you a spot. You just have the right to hunt for a spot. And my guess is that I'll get to the lab faster if I bike than if I drive.
-I am hoping that by putting on the daylight hours only restrictions I'll get up early and leave work early. Put me on regular hours and all that. And possibly cure me of the sleeping in thing.

----
In other news, Dr. Man and I have put an offer on another house. I'm hoping that this pans out... I'm not feeling too optimistic, but that's because I was so optimistic the last time. I just don't like uncertainty and having to wait. I guess I'm a bit of a control freak that way.

----
I'm taking a whole week off! I decided that I really need to see Dr. Man for a while and I'm making progress on the yeast stuff. I'm working today and tomorrow and then I'm off. I'm trying not to feel guilty about taking the time off (I should be making more progress, be done with project, etc.). However, it's not like I've made no progress. I've got a couple of constructs and am preparing one for the plasmid shuffling. So, I've got stuff done. What I need to get done by July is grow assays and those take about 3 days. So, I think I'm good. Sigh. All this stress over taking time off to go visit Dr. Man. Even Advisor is telling me to go.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bike Commuting

As I'm preparing for the eventual buying of a house and move to said house, I'm also preparing to give up my bus route. College Town (where Public U. is located) has a fairly decent public transportation system for taking people to the university (this is limited only to and from the university and only in certain regions of town). Alas, the houses we are looking at are not within this area. This is because (1) there are only a few houses in this area-- most dwellings are apartment complexes, (2) there are a high concentration of loud undergrads in this area, and (3) all houses in this area are well out of our price range. So, being the moderate liberal that I am, I'm looking for alternate means of transportation to the lab.

So far I've come up with a few ways of minimizing my impact on the environment/gas prices. The least environmental of these is to car pool in with Dr. Man. The most would be to just walk in to work. I think the most reasonable of these would be to bike at least one way. The one way contingency is because I do not feel comfortable riding my bike by myself after dark (whether or not this is a reasonable safety concern I do not know). If it's after dark, then I'll catch a ride with Dr. Man home.

However, there is one snag in my brilliant, yet modest, plan. I do not own a bike. I've thought about buying one at Target/Walmart for about $60, but Marie (who happens to be very into biking) has cautioned me against such a move. She claims that the weight of the bike matters a lot and the positioning of the bike. The bikes that she recommends are in the $300-600 range.* That strikes me as a lot of money to spend on this, especially since (as one might assume from my lack of a bike) I don't ride a bike now. What if I decide that I hate riding a bike and walking would be better? Or some other unforeseen problem (like laziness) that causes me to not want to ride a bike? I'm willing to save up for a more expensive bike, but I don't want to sink a lot of money into something untried.

So, right now I'm stuck. I usually try to avoid soliciting advice from my readers (as that seems rather selfish-- I'm already making you read my words and now I want you to act as Dear Abby?). But as I said, I'm stuck. So, if there's anyone out there with tips for me with commuter biking-- help!

ETA: *I've been checking craigslist, but I've yet to find anything. Besides I don't know a good bike if I see it on there... sigh

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Progress and Review

Today, in comparison with rest of my week, has been rather calm. Things ran relatively smooth, I'm still having some minor problems with one of my many projects. However, it's not looking like a huge problem (famous last words, right?). So, I was able to get things done and even make it to see the department's rotation students present.

The presentations were rather good for first year students. Only one went over time wise, most made me motion sick with the laser pointer, and some had actual data. It is somewhat nice to see how far I've come over the past few years (at least I understood everything and could reasonably critique their presentations/experiments).

Also, I (finally!) finished Girl's Night In. It's a collection of short stories by various chick lit writers. The proceeds of the book go to charity (War Child). If you like chick lit, then this book is excellent. There are a collection of fun stories that have the usual chick lit theme (Girl meets Boy. Boy turns out to be Famous/Boss/Some Public Figure. Girl gets into ridiculous situation. Girl gets out of situation through series of improbable events to find Boy on other side.) Others were more unusual and had a twist at the end (especially What Goes Around and Rudy). Overall it's a good collection of a variety of stories and the proceeds go to a good cause. Fun all around.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Like an ant

Am I busy? Oh, but let me tell you how.

Saturday was a crash course in house hunting. Imagine: Fifteen houses in approximately 6 hours. We (or I rather as Dr. Man is still in Residency State) put in an offer on a house. Talk about stressful. I signed us up to agree to pay a very large amount of money. I call Dr. Man to tell him and say, “I bought a new closet. It was very, very expensive, but the house was free.”

Sunday morning I get a phone call from the realtor telling me that the owner has asked for more time. So, I agree. The rest of the day consists of angst, housework, and lab stuff.

Monday I find out that the owner has countered with something (that I consider) extremely unreasonable. This is, after all, a buyer's market and I offered her full list price (but I did ask her to pay closing costs). Owner countered with “How about you pay your own closing costs?” I countered with, “Take it or leave it.” Most of Monday is spent with me getting things ready for hosting a seminar speaker on Tuesday. Monday evening I find out that the speaker has missed his first flight, then his connecting flight, then his rescheduled connecting flight. He decides to fly to NearbyLargeCity and rent a car to drive to Public U. I find this out from my fellow committee members and have to figure out the logistics of how Public U will pay for these detours.

Tuesday is the big day. I spend most of the day chaperoning the speaker to and from meetings with various groups of students. To explain this unusual circumstance (a visiting speaker speaking with students?!?), this speaker is being hosted by the Biochemistry Grad Students. As such, we decided to have a variety of students meet with the speaker as opposed to faculty members. We did have a time slot where various faculty members could speak with him, but for the most part (since we were doing the work) students met with him. He gave a good “big picture” talk. Then there was dinner and taking the rented car to the airport. (I'll have to blog more about this later.)

Today has been less stressful. I took the speaker to breakfast and then to the airport and pointed him in the direction of the plane. I went home, took a nap, and went back to work to finish things up. Now, just recently I got a call from my realtor telling me that the owner of the offer-house has just raised her asking price. She can consider my offer withdrawn.

Sigh. But on the good side all the reagents and things I need came in today. Including the construct that another group promised us several months ago. So, the next few days should be very eventful in the lab (and this weekend there's more house hunting).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Message from the cave

Been very, very busy. Put offer on house. Seller has asked for a 24 hour extension to make decision. Stupid Seller! I'll find out tomorrow. Will emerge from cave later today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Substitution of Words

I've decided to cut back on my cursing. My language has been described as unlady-like at best and drunken sailor-like at worst. A few days ago it reached an all time low when I had to change the word sh!t to shhtuff in front of Advisor when I was explaining how a protocol worked (as in you vortex this stuff a lot). Since then I've started substituting various other words for curse/swear words. This includes the following (I've attached explanations to those that Labmate has questioned):

"Son of a biscuit-eater" In high school someone thought that m-f-er sounded like biscuit-eater and it's just kind of stuck with me.
"Jiminy Christmas"
"Bloody frigging junk" This guy in middle school, who I had a crush on, was from England and used the word 'bloody' a lot (it all seemed very daring at the time). So, to assure him of the violence of my affections, I mocked him with it. And now it's part of my vocabulary.
"Oh go perform some anatomical near impossibility."
"You know, you can put that... in a meadow filled with pixie dust."
"It's all great. I'm just pooping rainbows over here." Oh, how I hate long days, incompetent people, and meetings.


Suggestions that Labmate and various other people have suggested:
"Temple and Arch!" Grad student from other lab suggested this. He's a Neil Gaiman fan.
"There's a special place in the Bush Administration for you for people like you." Contributed by Advisor
"I prefer to do thinks donkey, rather than mule style." Labmates suggested when I was looking for a way to say that 'I prefer not to do things half-assed.'

There are some other suggestions, but these are the ones that made me smile. We'll see if these actually improve my language at all.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mutually Inclusive

Ever since SIL-1's revelation about the necessity of my being an atheist due to my scientific career, I've been thinking about how many other people may think this.* Is this how Americans think of scientists?**

After talking to several people in my department and in my program, I've found that the religion thing is pretty much a 50-50 split. [I should note that my unscientific survey counted all forms of religion, not just Christianity. However, Christianity is what I'm most familiar with so it's the focus of the following.]

In America 55% believe in creationism; that is God created Humans as they are today. This is despite any scientific evidence to the contrary ("Pah! All that anthropology and archeology stuff is nonsense!"). There were (are?) presidential candidates that steadfastly support creationism and there still is controversy over whether or not it should be taught in the science classroom. But I don't want to turn this into a debate over creationism. I'm using this to illustrate how (it appears to me) many Americans separate religion from science; that is they find the two to be mutually exclusive.

I remember that my high school physics teacher was thought by many students and parents (!) to be an atheist.*** That was until some (very nice soul) said that he was seen at Christian Church. Kids at school and church used to tease me that my Dad (an engineer) wasn't a member of the church. At the time he was agnostic. I told some kid that and his mother wouldn't let us play together much anymore.**** Also, there were various terms used to describe famous scientists (Marie Curie was a Godless Heathen. Charles Darwin was a Heretic-- honestly, one of my teacher's said that. And so on). These are rather extreme examples from a rather small sample size. However, I can't help to wonder if there is something to that.

This is what I think may be the problem: the inability to can reconcile scientific data/fact/theory (take your pick as to the word) with their religion. It seems that many people have an all-or-nothing approach to religion. That if the entire thing isn't true, then none of it is true. This approach is completely against how scientists think. Much of science is starting with a hypothesis and devising tests to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Some times the data from such a test results in only partial dis/proof of the hypothesis or some alternative reason for proving the hypothesis in/correct or perhaps a refining of the stated model. Hence scientists are willing to allow for part of the theory to be incorrect without discounting the entire thing.

So we can take evolution, the story of Lazurus, and the Great Flood and put all that information together in one somewhat cohesive unit. Also, we can look at the chemical processes and interactions within the cell and still see wonder in it, not some "soul-less machine." The two (religion and science) do not have to be mutually exclusive.

In the end, religion is a choice. It is something you either chose to believe in or you don't. One that each person makes for him/herself. Out of all the people I talked to who did not profess to believe in a religion, none of them said that Science made the decision entirely.



* I'm adding the usual disclaimer here. I'm not saying that everyone has to believe in a religion. I'm just making the case that religious beliefs do not have to be mutually exclusive with Science.
** I'm American, as is SIL-1. So, I'm not sure how Science and Religion are viewed in other countries. However, I am curious. So, if anyone would be willing to enlighten me, please point me towards a good source.
***Yes, I'm revealing the backwards-ness of HomeTown. The fact that this was any kind of scandal, enough so that I remember it many years later, says something in and of itself.
****This wasn't too much of a tragedy. He was an annoying know-it-all who loved to make himself feel smarter by putting others down. I think he works at his dad's car dealership now (and Devil-Amanda adds a very spiteful snort to the end of that sentence).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Top Five Tips for Long Distance Marriage

Long distance marriages/relationships suck. There's just no getting around it. It's hard on both parties and anyone who tells you otherwise is either (a) lying or (b) delusional.

However, there are some good parts to it. It has forced Dr. Man and I to really work on our communication skills. We've gotten more tolerant to each other's moods and have learned to let some things go (eg. neither of us are at our best when stressed). We also value our relationship a lot more than we did previously. This isn't to say that we didn't value it before, but we now really know how important it is to both of us and how willing we are to keep it.

With these things in mind I've been thinking about the best tips I've received in dealing with a LDM (I received most of these either in real life or in anonymity, so I'm not crediting anyone here, but if you would like be credited let me know!) and what I've found. So, I figured that I'd write about it here in true Ladies' Magazine style.

Tip 1: End the conversation when there is nothing left to talk about.
This may seem obvious, but it isn't. Many times you feel that you have to keep talking for hours a day to make up for not being around each other. This isn't true. Just sharing your day/thoughts/feelings is important and if it only takes twenty minutes, so be it. Staying on the phone long after the conversation is over just leads to fights.
ETA: N commented below about using Skype. I think it's excellent. It sounds like a good way to hang out without forcing a conversation!

Tip 2: Share the mundane details of your day.
Yes, having a new thing for lunch or getting into a minor territorial argument with your Labmate sounds minor. But you would probably share such things with each other normally and not all phone conversations have to be deep soul-searching ones. Plus, just knowing these simple details help make you feel closer (even if you geographically aren't).

Tip 3: Let the small things go.
This was the hardest one for me to follow. People get cranky when they are stressed (well, maybe not all people, but most people that I know) and can act out in stupid ways. So, if you snap at your Significant Other or s/he snaps at you, take some time to figure out if it's really worth arguing about or if your S.O. just had a really rough day. Many times it's the latter and being on the phone or email makes it hard to discern between the two. This leads me to my next tip...

Tip 4: Give your S.O. the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe your S.O. sounds like s/he is reading you the riot act while talking about things like (including the following, but not limited to): budgeting, time spent visiting one another, buying of cards for families, or where to spend the holidays. Maybe s/he is just tired and is thereby sounding cranky. It is always better to kindly inquire as to whether or not s/he is really cranky or maybe s/he should just get more sleep. This is much better than the following approach: “Why the f*ck are you blaming me? If you want X/Y/Z done and you're not happy with the way I'm doing it. Then do it your own damn self.” Or something similar.

Tip 5: Enjoy the time you have together.
This was very important. Sometimes it's easy to spend the entire time you are together focusing on how much it sucks that you live apart. It sounds silly, but despite being warned Dr. Man and I found ourselves doing this a lot. The times you are together have to get you through the times that you aren't, so enjoy it! Even if you are just lounging around during the weekend focus on that and not what happens come Monday.

(ETA 2) Tip 6: Ideas for things to do together, while apart.
I'm adding this after reading some more comments below and I'll add to it as I think of more ideas.
-Play games together online. Facebook is great for this. Also, Yahoo! Games. This is also great for conversation fodder.
-Plan your visits. Is there a new restaurant in your area? Or maybe a good hiking trail? Planning your visits together gives you both something to look forward to.
-Plan vacations. This is something Dr. Man and I did. We both liked planning our time together and vacations were even better. Since we tend to pick locales that give us limited internet access we were really able to get away from everything and have a stress-free time.

This may or may not help other people in a similar predicament. But, at the very least, I'd like to think that this experience isn't a complete waste.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Money Matters

I paid taxes today. I actually ended up having to pay taxes. I've spent the past several years supporting Dr. Man in his medical school endeavor. However, he started residency in July and started making money. So this means that not only have we broken the poverty line, but also we've started paying taxes. (I do want to make it clear here that I've filed taxes, but just haven't had to pay anything.)

I told Dr. Man that I was glad that we are finally paying taxes and he made a noise that sounded a cross between him choking, laughing, and making a frustrated grunt. I'm still glad that we're paying taxes. We can afford it and I feel strongly that tax money can be used for good things (along with juniorprof) like healthcare for the poor, improvements in public education, etc. So, I'm willing to contribute to my ideal. Hell, I'd even settle for body armor in Iraq.

Still, I think that perhaps taxes are a bit more complicated than absolutely necessary. I spent a large amount of time trying to figure out the cost basis for some mutual funds that Dr. Man's parents sold recently (and that he subsequently used on funding his and mine Roth IRAs). The crowning glory of tonight was trying to get Turbo Tax to realize that I (while the person preparing the taxes) did not actually live in Residency State and made no money in Residency State. But the wages from the W-2 that were from Residency State corresponded with Dr. Man. Eventually I gave up and tried to figure it out myself. Just figuring out the filing status took me a while. Then, the income that we both earned (i.e. dividends, mutual funds, etc.) versus the amount that Residency State would like to tax. I now understand why Friend With Poor Math Skills always asks me to do her taxes (ratios, percentages, addition, subtraction, etc.).

In other news, I got the pre-approval letter in the mail today for our Mortgage (and yes it deserves a capital letter). The bad news is that although I am the one that spent hours on the phone with the mortgage banker, guess who's name is listed as primary contact, etc. on the mortgage? That's right, Dr. Man. Granted he does (now) make more money than I do. However, it's my email address, my phone number, but his name. So, now when I call up the Mortgage Company I get referred to as Mrs. Dr. Man and I'm questioned as to whether or not I can make decisions on the loan. Or the best one I got was today when the nice man on the other end of the phone told me that he'd just discuss it with my husband. I promptly asked to speak to his supervisor and proceeded to tell Mortgage Company Supervisor exactly what I thought of Jerk On Phone. I now get referred to as Ms. Amanda and am dealt with directly.

I know that Devil-Amanda occasionally makes an appearance and she appeared today when I was speaking to one of my more spendthrift colleagues (who never understands why I don't want to go out to lunch/dinner/spend money on X). I told him that Dr. Man and I are buying a house (we've been saving for this for a long time and have been scrimping for years). He just stared at me with his mouth open and asked me “how?” I replied with “Remember all the time you made fun of me for not going out?” And I left him with his mouth open.

Ok, this is a long post. Maybe this is why I don't drink and post. However, after doing all the taxes (which were less organized than I would like) and dealing with the mortgage people, I think I deserve a glass or two of wine-- at least that's my justification.