Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recap of Aubreya’s Weekend – 2

Bea spent Saturday night with Mouse and Dave in Socorro. When Matt and I got there in the morning, the whole Socorro crew was kind of groggy. They had apparently had a pretty rough night: there had been a 5 car accident just by the Sunport (the airport in ABQ), so it took them twice as long to get home as it should have. It had taken them over an hour just to get outside of Albuquerque proper. Mouse was awake enough, however, to get up to make a delicious breakfast of sourdough waffles and crepes. You could just taste the love in them, mmm.

After brunch, Bea got to see their sweet backyard in the daylight, and Matt and I went to the store to get the necessary items to make a big bowl of guacamole. Mouse and Dave’s landlords, Chris and Andy, are also their neighbors. They were having a big cookout shindig around dinner time, and we were all going. Parties at their house always involve crazy amounts of food and drink, so it isn’t really necessary to bring much with us. Homemade guacamole, however, is always welcome. In addition to breakfast, Mouse had also been up early baking some cakes, and she also brought enchilada casserole. Like I said, crazy amounts of food.

After the cookout died down some, we stuck around to play games at Andy and Chris’. All of the company for the evening was, in the most loving way possible, pretty geeky. Andy, Chris, and their friends are all gamers. Matt, Bea, Dave, and I got in a game of Settler’s of Catan, while Mouse, Andy, Chris, and their friend K Scott played Power Grid. It just wouldn’t have been a complete weekend visit if we hadn’t played Settler’s with Bea.

After the party, Aubreya came back to Albuquerque with us. She was heading home the following afternoon, and we were trying to figure out what to do. Rather than try and rush a trip to Santa Fe, we decided that the Petroglyphs would be a good last thing to do for her visit. We had another leisurely morning with a late breakfast at the Frontier Restaurant (more green chili!). Mouse and Dave decided to come back down to Albuquerque to go to the petroglyphs with us, and Bea was so excited to be able to see rocks! Apparently outcrops are hard to come by in Louisiana. I can verify this from my own visit, I can’t recall much in the way of topography and there is a lot of obscuring vegetation. In the high desert where we are, though, we have the mountains and several basalt flows; the petroglyphs are on the basalt cliffs. We spent a couple hours exploring, looking at the drawings, and trying to imagine what they mean.

Before Bea headed back to Louisiana we got lunch at another local chain, Flying Star. We both got Mexican lattes (coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon, mmm), and I had my usual green chili chicken enchiladas. We still had a lot left that we wanted to do, the next time she visits we’ll make it a point to get up to Santa Fe.
I think Matt and I are pleased with the number of visitors we’ve had so far in the year we’ve been in New Mexico: his parents, Sam, Dan, Lev, Fabia, and now Aubreya. We’ve had more visitors so far than we had the entire time we were in Pennsylvania. Maybe it’s because we’re further away, so it seems like more of a “destination” than State College, PA. Maybe it also helps that the four of us (Matt, Mouse, Dave, and myself) are kind of concentrated here, so a lot of visiting can happen in one shot. Whatever the reasons, I’m happy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recap of Aubreya’s Weekend – 1

Almost three weeks ago, Aubreya (our friend and former roommate) visited us for Labor Day weekend. It worked out really well because she gets every other Friday off from work because she her company has a 9-80 work schedule. Additionally, she had Labor Day off, so it was a really long weekend. She flew in late Thursday evening and we got a full 3 and a half days of visiting in.

Friday morning was laid back and we had brunch with Pnina, an acquaintance from PASSCAL. Pnina and Aubreya had met in Africa while she was doing a seismological study, and it had been years since they had seen each other. Pnina and our other friend, Mouse, both work together. We met at Mannie’s for a HUGE breakfast/lunch. Bea and I both got the same thing, the “Pileup at Central and Girard”. It consists of eggs, hash browns, beans, cheese, and chili all piled up together on a plate. It is delicious and filling, which fits my criteria for a good brunch meal. I don’t have it often, it’s a little rich for every-day consumption.

After brunch, I gave Aubreya the 30 minute tour of campus before I had to run off to the only class I have on Friday’s, BioBLOG. I introduced her to a couple of my friends, and showed off my office and some of the pretty architecture on campus. While I was at class, she and Matt went to Nob Hill to check out some of the stores. When I was finished I took the Rapid Ride down to the Co-Op to meet up with them again. We wandered some more, found the most adorable kitty for adoption in a store front, and got some gelato at Ecco. 

One of the places I always bring people when they visit is Old Town. It’s kind of touristy and I don’t usually eat or shop there, but there’s a lot of art and pretty things to look at. It’s also the oldest part of town (as the name implies) and there’s a neat looking church and town center. It’s also kind of fun to poke in and out of stores, and we did find a fairly new art gallery belonging to an artist we recognized. We had seen some of his bird paintings at the New Mexico Tea Co., and I got a pair of earrings that had miniature versions of some of those paintings.

Our next stop was dinner at Sadie’s. The three of us planned on getting our fill of New Mexican food that weekend, which naturally includes sopapillas. In my opinion, Sadie’s has some of the best sopapillas in town. Sometimes Matt and I just go there to get margaritas and sopapillas. Then we headed home for the evening to hang out and play games. I invited Fred over, and we had kind of a late night playing Dixit and Flux. Dixit was new, and Fred brought it over. It very much reminded me of Balderdash, only in Dixit you make up stories that go along with weird pictures. 

On Saturday we had breakfast at our apartment. Matt and Bea had bought some tasty lemon and lavender at the Co-Op the day before, which were delicious with tea. Mouse and Dave drove up from Socorro to spend the afternoon with us. We got some sandwiches to-go from Which Wich?, because we were going to be riding the tram up to the top of the Sandia Mountains. The tram is really fun, you get a great view and it’s the fastest way to the top of the mountain. It’s only about a 15 minute ride in either direction. We had lunch at the top and wandered around some. Bea found the tiniest baby horned lizard, and we observed the fattest rock squirrel I had ever seen.

Later in the afternoon we went to the Bernalillo wine festival. New Mexico isn’t exactly known for its wine, but there were a large number of wineries there. My favorite variety that I tried was Casa Abril’s dry red zinfandel. It had a spicy, peppery quality that was really nice and Matt and I both liked it, I would probably buy it to have at home. We did try some red and green chili wine. It was kind of gimmicky, and I probably wouldn’t ever buy it, but it wasn’t bad either. I was told before by someone that it was terrible, which turned out to be a major exaggeration. 

After we got back from the wine festival we had some dinner at Il Vicino, which is a local chain that does micro brews and brick over pizza. I decided that I had enough to drink, alcohol wise, and decided instead to have some of their homebrewed root beer. Root beer is always better when it’s made in the traditional way and you can get it on tap. I also love the pizza at Il Vicino, as far as thin crust pizza goes, it’s the best in Albuquerque. Dinner was followed by more gelato, I’m pretty much always in the mood for it.
That evening, Bea went back with Mouse and Dave to fabulous Socorro. We would be heading down ourselves for brunch and a cookout the following day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Car is Getting Old

I was reminded this weekend of my Dad. It’s kind of too bad that something unpleasant like my car falling apart made me miss him; but he was always there to help me deal with life, and life can often be a pain in the ass. Oil changes, check engine lights, tax returns, odd transmission behavior... these were things my Dad taught me about.

The other day I was on my way to go buy canning supplies. I got about three-quarters of the way to my destination when my car started to stall out when I was accelerating. Past experience told me this was likely a transmission problem. I’m no mechanic, but I will say that I’m pretty good at identifying common car troubles by feel and sound. My first car had a transmission that leaked like a sieve, so I know what it feels like to suddenly realize you’re low on fluid. 

I got home, popped the hood, and checked my fluid level. To my dismay, the dipstick indicated that I had a dangerously low amount of fluid. The only way you lose fluid levels in automatic transmissions is through a leak, and I had no clue that I had a leak. Therefore, I have no idea how long I’ve been low on fluid or if any permanent damage has been done. I keep thinking about how we took this car up the Sandia Mountains last weekend, I am so glad it didn’t break down that night. Anyone that might have rescued us was in my car. A transmission fix will cost more than my car is worth, and I’m not exactly rolling in dough with my stipend.
At any rate, I’m kicking myself for not keeping a closer eye on my car. I know better than to not check under the hood occasionally. I checkout out a few other things while I was at it and I’m also low on power steering fluid, but unlike the transmission, that won’t leave me stranded somewhere. I already figured that would be low, given the whining noise I’ve been hearing for months now.

So Matt and I made a Pep Boys run yesterday to get transmission fixer and some more fluid. I’m terrified of overfilling the transmission in my desperation to get the stuff back in there. Everything I’ve read from the internet and my owner’s manual indicates this can be as bad as not having enough fluid. In the mean time I’ll need to the car out on a short ride so that I can check the level when the engine is hot, and then add fluid little by little until it looks good. And from now on I’ll check it every month. Sorry Dad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sorry for the Absence

I just realized it's been an unacceptably long time since I've written.

I do have plenty to talk about (Aubreya's visit last weekend), and I have some catching up to do (on everything, yikes), but for now I'll just explain my absence.

I'm writing for the UNM BioBLOG again this semester, and probably for every semester here on out. I was on deck this past week, so I was furiously getting my post together. Without giving too much away, the post is on the state of scientific literacy in America. It turned out kind of long, but everyone who's reviewed it so far says it's great. I'm really excited about it going up later this week. Scientific literacy wasn't at all what I planned on writing about, I try to stay away from really heavy topics when my reading is going to be public. However, I was inspired, and when inspiration calls you just have to go with it. I'll let you all know when it gets posted. Also, the most recent post is on my labmate's 6-week adventure in Australia. It's good, you should check it out.

The other reason I've been MIA is that I have been hopelessly trying to work on an assignment that involves writing a research proposal. I'm having many issues, including: being organized, my brain drifting, not having a firm enough grasp on what I want to write about, and my computer being a pain in the butt (i.e. slooooooow).

I am going to start posting on my personal blog more frequently. I found out yesterday that if I do some fun writing, tedious writing comes a lot easier afterward. I guess my brain just needs to get warmed up before heavy lifting.