Saturday, May 31, 2008

just a day short...

Oh Manny, Manny, Manny.

You are the best. Just wish it had been yesterday.
I know, I ask too much.


finally a win on the road

We saw this game last night!

Something to note: this game was 13 innings. That's thirteen. Most baseball games are 9. This one went 4 1/2 hours (finished around midnight). Another thing to note: this is the first year we opted out of renting a hotel room by the stadium and planned to drive home after the game. 3 1/2 hour drive. But that's without a flat tire on the interstate. We pulled into our driveway around 4 am.

At the Babe Ruth and the
Camden Yards Sports Museums:
But it worth it! I was convinced Manny was going to hit his 500th homer there. 1) It was his birthday. 2) I was there. 3) He had something like 6 (or 7?) chances with a THIRTEEN inning game. 4) We toured the Babe Ruth museum before the game and were looking at the 500 HR wall of fame. Q noticed a very prominent blank space, just ready for the picture and caption. It had to be a sign. But no, Manny was busy being Manny. (You should have seen the flashes that rippled across the stadium every time he was at bat. It was pretty exciting. How much fun when he does hit it!!! Maybe today?)

And can I say that my boyfriend was awesome? Stealing 2nd AND 3rd??? Mikey!! And key hits and awesome, flawless fielding. I guess that contract extension is looking like it was a

Sitting where we were - right down the 3rd base line, here's what I saw of him most of the night. (I'm not complaining)

And we got to see Josh Beckett pitch! One was watching him warm up. He was positioned right beside us in the outfield, looking directly at us. Through the binoculars, it was like I was right there batting.

And we got to see Paps close it out in the bottom of the 13th!! No jigs. No autograph either. My kids were too busy eating dippin' dots to join the crowd that he was signing balls for. (I nearly exploded when I came back from getting a beer and saw them.) E did snag an autograph on her ball from Aardsma to add to her collection though.

Fun game. Time for a nap.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Well I got totally reamed out yesterday - chewed up and spit out and stomped upon. I'm still picking pieces of myself up off the ground. I am not Q's baseball coach's favorite person anymore. Actually, he kind of despises me.

First, we are talking REC LEAGUE here. Little League. Fun league. (This is all kind of funny since I just posted about how great I felt about my kids' sports leagues recently).

Q's team, the Cardinals, currently have a 11-1 record. The other team anywhere close to them is the Braves (8-1, with 3 games left to play before next Wednesday). It's probable that next Wednesday, the two teams with the top record will play for the regular season "title." (again, this is Little League).

Next Wednesday is also Q's end of year band concert. He's 1st chair clarinet and keyboardist in the jazz band. I had the pleasure of telling Coach that Q would not be at the game on Wednesday. (by the way, he's not missed a single game or practice this entire season).
I figured coach would be disappointed. I did not figure that he would turn red, start talking about how the season is now ruined and how he's ready to retire. Apparently, Q is the key player for the entire team (c'mon. He's good this year but doesn't stand out from the other top players!). I was asked several times why I thought Q should attend his band concert rather than support his baseball team. I was asked if my husband agreed with me. I had to walk away and hide for a while and call my mommy and my neighbor for some moral support.

He's had 12 games so far this season, and the one next Wednesday will be the 13th. After that, his team will qualify for the playoffs. We won't be missing any playoff games, by the way. He has had one Christmas band concert, one spring band contest, and this one spring concert. That's three performances for a full year. Band is a class he's taking at school. He is graded on it.

Holy Moly.

I went up to the Coach's wife later in the evening and told her I really did feel bad about it. Her response was "you should."

I fully took the heat. In NO WAY would it be acceptable for Q to feel any kind of responsibility here. I TOLD him he was going to the concert, and did not give him a choice (he was obviously relieved not to have that decision on his shoulders.) I told Coach that Q would rather be playing ball but that I was making him do the concert (I don't want Coach to say ANYTHING to Q to make him feel guilty). I will be the heat shield protecting my son here. But yowza. Part of me is happy that Q is so talented and important in so many things. But I'm wondering if this is just a little taste of things to come in the future. Q has already told me he's trying out for the school's baseball team next year. He loves baseball. Don't know if he'll be able to keep up both band and sports. He'll have to make some hard choices, and at some point I won't be able to do it for him.

Well, for problems to have, it's not a bad one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

et tu brute?

I've long been angry at the way that the media, the conservative pundits, and the global warming deniers have slandered Al Gore. I suppose it's the en vogue thing to do - to sit around and talk about what a hypocrite he is. But for my friends to join the chorus? Well that's just freakin' depressing because it shows the power of populist media. I suppose it'd be easier for me to laugh it off and agree with the crowd, but there's this damned thing in me that insists I stay true. I cannot tell a lie. I think Al Gore ROCKS.


OK - the whole Gore "carbon footprint" thing? Besides being wrong and besides being so "last year", it's obvious that this was an orchestrated attack. It's no coincidence that the Tennessee Center for Policy Research put out a press release the day that Gore's documentary won an Oscar. (By the way, this Tennessee Center for Policy Research? Who are they? Their website's links include the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Heartland I really need to say more?). But anyway, that's enlightening but not relevant. They didn't lie, exactly....however...

However. Their "analysis" consisted purely of sloppily checking out his electric bill. They didn't bother to include in their press release that the Gores were in the process of trying to install solar panels (check out these links, please) and geothermal heating and cooling among other energy-saving technology. Didn't bother to mention that the Gores work from their home, meaning heating/cooling and lights are on all day, didn't bother to mention that they don't commute to and from work each day. Didn't bother to mention that he buys carbon offsets each month (not that I think that's a good solution ultimately, but he does, and he's doing it). Selective reporting.

Here's a response, probably somewhat biased toward Gore but I feel a little balance is required here. The fact is that the "common knowledge" Average Joe cites that Gore's home is an energy guzzler is flat out wrong. It's so hard to argue against a soundbite. It's hard to interject reason against knee jerk reactions. I hardly even try any more. He's been slandered, in my opinion.

Besides, all this ridiculousness is irrelevant.

Gristmill had a post last year when this came out that summarizes my feelings on this well. His point is basically something that I have long held true.

Almost by definition, very few people are going to attempt that kind of lifestyle. Does that make all greens who fall short of that mark hypocrites?

Of course not. The primary message of the green movement is not that everyone should become monks. The primary message is that we need to change the system -- the laws and physical infrastructure that underpin our collective life. We need a new industrial revolution that makes eco-friendly living the default choice, the one that requires little thought, much less heroics.

We're not going to solve global warming one household at a time. Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic, but what we do as individuals is not ever going to come close to solving the problem. This is a government and international issue. Individual carbon footprints are meaningless when the lifestyle of our society is so intricately tied into carbon use. Those who call Al Gore a hypocrite? Give me a break. Better go check your own glass walls before casting stones. How many of us could stand up to the relentless scrutiny and life under a magnifying glass that this family has had to endure? These people could make Mother Teresa come off as a hypocrite.

I worked for a year at Princeton's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab. I remember one lunch a bunch of us had where the director (Jerry Mahlman at the time) was there. He had recently returned from a trip to DC where he met with Senator Gore (still pre-VP Gore) to discuss climate change science with him. He was blown away by how intelligent Mr. Gore was, and repeated to us several times how much he understood about climate research. He was obviously so impressed by him that our conversation made a lasting impact on me and I still remember it clearly.

As climate science has matured and we know something about the future potential impacts of carbon usage, it has become clear that this is no longer a scientific debate but a populist one, and scientists are horrible at public outreach. We desperately needed someone who could communicate the science to the public in an understandable way, who could communicate the urgency of the issue. We needed someone with a high profile.

I believe Al Gore knew full well that by taking on this task, he would be walking right into the line of fire. He knew full well that he and his family would undergo attacks and slander by various interest groups and would be portrayed in the media as an opportunist, as a power-hungry elitist, as a whole slew of negative stereotypes. And he was willing. The Nobel Peace Prize committee recognized this, as well. I hold Al Gore in the highest esteem, and am grateful to him for putting himself out there. There are very few people who are both capable and committed enough to have done the same.

crossing my fingers

If the planets stay aligned just right, it looks like it may turn out that when we go up to Baltimore on Friday to see our boys, this guy might be pitching .

I just may pass out from the excitement. We'll be on the 3rd base side, close to my boyfriend, and my firey Texas let 'em have it friend might be pitching. If we can assure that Jacoby will be in Center Field (or right or left or whatever), I'll have to enter Camden Yards with ankle weights attached.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

rah rah team

To say I was never very athletic is, oh, a little bit of an understatement. (Mare, quit laughing).

For one thing, when I was growing up there weren't really many options for little girls to play. For another thing, I was/am a bit of a clutz. I was much more interested in music and reading. And it was fine. I had a great childhood. As a result, however, I never thought much about athletics other than watching college football and participating on rec-league volleyball teams, more for the beer afterwards than the game.

I guess you can say I'm a convert now.

Daughter E during her final soccer game this spring
(Yes she chooses to wear skorts with her jersey. She's a fashion hound, what can I say?).

Son Q at his favorite position (center field).

We've been lucky to have coaches that value teamwork and are encouraging, while wtill emphasizing working toward excellence. No, I'm not all about winning, but competition is a skill that we all have to learn to handle. We've been lucky to have parents that not only whoot and whistle for our team but give shout outs to all the good plays, no matter what team. We also mostly keep occasional grumblings about the umpires to amongst ourselves. Can't find much to complain about the teams my kids have been on.

I can't think of a better way for my kids to learn about commitment and teamwork, and they are being active and healthy to boot. Plus, it's just FUN. Even for the parents cheering from the sidelines. I understand now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



I saw this comic on one of my favorite science blogs, and it's originally from here. This is one of my favorite comics EVER. My DH laughed too, though I imagine our laughter comes from different perspectives. But still.

This is so perfectly my life for the last few weeks and so perfectly why I've been preoccupied and weird that I could melt. This is me, down to the earnest look of desperation on that sweet blank face.

Stupid, I know. Tell me.

I cannot convert the entire community of global warming deniers in one fell swoop. Or even 1% or them of .01% of them. But I persist in thinking I must try.

I am not going to save the world. Yet I think I must try.

I am barely able to make dinner for my kids and keep them from throwing mud on the neighbor children (OK, I am NOT able to keep them from throwing mud on the neighbors. Fodder for another post one day. I simply thank the universe that my neighbor likes my kids.) What in the hell makes me think I can impact the world in even the smallest way?

I cannot.

But I try. And that's enough for now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

the cake is GONE once you've eaten it.

I will be going to Cold Lake Canada (Alberta) for a week this summer as part of the second deployment for our airborne campaign at work.

...because it is more equitable.
def: Just and impartial. Fair and reasonable.

Ouch. I'm still feeling the sting.

I began down the road of becoming a scientist well before I'd given any thought to the realities of being married or having kids, much less to how I felt about balancing a career with having a family. My simple single life simply evolved into a science career, and I was thrilled about that. I ended up defending my thesis two weeks after my honeymoon. And then a year or so later, my first baby was born.

I tried to make things work with the status quo for about 18 months after my son was born before I admitted that I do not do misery well. One afternoon after I visited my son at daycare on my break and then had to leave him to go back to to work (again), I dried my tears, lifted my chin, threw back my shoulders, and marched over to human resources to switch to part-time hours. I called my husband to inform him of what I'd done after I did it. It seems a very spontaneous decision, but I can assure you that there was no decision, really. I absolutely knew that this was the only move for me to make.

That decision made it clear to my coworkers that my babies came first, and you know, I didn't encounter the tiniest bit of opposition to that. In fact, the support I received was overwhelming. I nursed my babies, I spent my days off packing them into their strollers and taking them to play groups. We played Candyland and ate crackers and made cookies and drank hot chocolate while we sat outside and watched the rain. I took naps on my day off when I was pregnant with my daughter and read stories and had a full arsenal of craft supplies ready for making popsicle stick picture frames with hot glue guns and sparkly pom-poms. My decision, my priority order, was not only acknowledged by my coworkers and neighbors and friends, but it was celebrated and supported.

These days, my children are older (9 and 12). My children are no longer babies. And now I find that the impression by others of their need for me is vastly different than it used to be. The label I used to proudly wear - that of mother first and scientist a close second - is no longer a badge of honor.

Every mother of preteens knows that the idea that the work load of caring for children decreases as they approach the preteen years is ridiculous. I have spent seemingly every weekday evening for the last three months schlepping children between baseball and soccer games and girl scouts and piano lessons and jazz band and Odyssey of the Mind and birthday parties and the library and craft stores to buy supplies for projects. We do counseling and homework and watch TV shows together at night. They don't need me to wipe their noses anymore, but they do still need me to help dry their tears. The question is, apparently, whether I still need to work less than the normal "full time employee" in order to care for my children effectively...and the question is whether that is something to be valued anymore.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself - I'm really not.

My coworkers have me completely and totally shut out in the area of travel. Wonderboy has been working at headquarters for three days a week for the last two YEARS, leaving his wife and three young boys back here at home for that time. GC has been out of country for probably a total of 2 months this last year, maybe more. He will be on travel for the next 6 weeks, part of which is the summertime ARCTAS deployment. Wonderboy has a wife who stays home with his kids for the most part. GC has a son in high school.

My job requires travel. I have an amazing, exciting job. We measure species in the atmosphere from regions all over the globe. We probe places that are polluted and places that are remote. We find surprises and we make new discoveries. We collaborate with a broad spectrum of scientists from all over the globe and have international conferences where we present our in-progress results. To really do this job effectively, you need to be able to travel. And it really is not fair to expect my co-workers to do all the traveling for me. Is it?

I made it clear long ago. that I was not willing to travel while my kids were young. I told everyone that. And that was OK as long as I had babies, because they needed me "more". But they're not babies anymore. So that immediate "need" is not there. I suppose.

When I wrote my proposal for this campaign last year, I did not put in plans for myself to travel. I discussed this with Wonderboy and GC and they assured me that they were happy to travel and do the in-field work without me (again). Then a few months ago, they changed their minds and convinced me I really needed to go to Alaska, and this week, they changed their minds and have been working on me to go to Canada.

I spoke to Wonderboy privately about it today and told him I could probably work out the travel if it is truly necessary. He said he thought it was necessary - to take some travel pressure off of GC, and also he thought it would help because GC was feeling the travel arrangements have been "inequitable."

Though the temptation was strong, I did not flip him off nor did I flip off GC when I walked back to my office.

Inequitable? WTF?

Part of me wants to throw every last brick I can at them with every last feminist-driven, family-first, mother ounce of strength I have in my body. Part of me wants to ask them how much time they devote to the PTA or how much time they spend arranging schedules and cleaning rooms and folding laundry and packing lunches. Who does grocery shopping and makes dinner in their homes? Who organizes birthday parties and sleepovers? Who makes doctor and dentist appointments and buys school supplies? (I honestly don't know but I can make an educated guess and I bet I'm right.) But I didn't flip them off because part of me actually understands.

One thing that I've learned in my life so far is that despite all the feel-good feelings and warm fuzzies and empowerment rushes, you can not have your cake and eat it too. It's ridiculous. Once you eat it, it is gone. It's not that complicated. It's impossible.

There is only so much time in each day. It is not possible to devote yourself full-time to your kids and also devote yourself full-time to your career. It's not. You can make priorities, which means you make choices and concessions. There's not a right or wrong - there are only your personal choices. But no matter what the choice, in order to get something, you give something up. It's simple.

I'm making my plane reservations for Cold Lake tomorrow. It's only for one week this time and it'll be fine. But still it sucks. Despite being "Equitable."


I am cautiously beginning to think about getting back to my regularly scheduled life.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

penny wise and pound foolish

So the other day, I found that I needed to run to the grocery store (I think I was out of wine) during E's soccer practice. The store is about 2 miles away from her school (where she was practicing). Easy Peasy. Should be a quick drive over and a quick drive back.

I was singing along to Five for Fighting as I drove up to the stoplight, not paying much attention, until I noticed that there was a very large back-up from the grocery store up to the light where I was attempting to turn in, and down the road. I was NOT going to be able to turn left into the store parking entrance without pissing off many, many drivers and possibly causing an accident.
"Huh." I thought. I did a u-turn and back-tracked to take the other entrance into the store, thinking there must have been a fender bender in the parking lot backing up traffic. But I was wrong.

They were selling gasoline for $2.99 a gallon at the store's gas station. The average price around these parts is about $3.50 a gallon. As I drove in the direction opposite to the line that had formed across the parking lot, I tried to smile and flirt in order to cut across to get into a parking space, then finally just bullied my way through the line, irritating a nice elderly lady. And while I did this, I did a quick calculation. They were offering gas for $0.50 cheaper than the average. Most cars take what? about 15 gallons? We're talking a price savings of a whopping $7.50. I am not exaggerating when I estimate that cars at the end of the line had probably a 45 minute to hour wait to get to the pumps. (This is to save $7.50, remember)
Because I'm a dork, I googled around to find that every 30 minutes of idling costs about a 10th of a gallon in wasted fuel. So an hour of idling would cost 2/10 gallon or $0.70. That would lower the savings that these folks were getting to $6.80.

My state currently recognizes the minimum wage as equal to the federal minimum wage, or $5.85 per hour. So these people were sitting in cars, emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, in order to receive a discount on gas only marginally better than minimum wage for the time they spent sitting in line. What they would save, relative to minimum wage, was 0.95.


What is WRONG with people!!!???