Saturday, January 31, 2009

Writer's Block: Left Behind

Today's Writer's Block question on LJ is: What do you want done with your body after you die?

I'll be donating my body to science! Let me explain my reasoning..

A few years ago I had the unfortunate luck of having to go through many, many funerals in a short span of time, and I remember making some noteworthy observations.

Funerals are expensive. Caskets are expensive. Burying people is *expensive.* The stressful responsibility of paying for and orchestrating these purchases falls on those who are grieving and probably the least deserving of the burden. It seems like an awful system, in a way. During this time, I thought, how could I make my funeral less of a painful ordeal to my family?

From living several years with Scott during the time when he was often working and teaching in the gross anatomy lab at UofL, I learned some things about the cadavers that I hadn't known. After being dissected and used in class, the bodies are gathered and cremated, and the school holds a nice little memorial service for all of them. The ashes are then returned to the family, if they want them.

What a nice system for the family! When I die, the university will take care of moving my body. My family won't have to purchase a casket, and look...FREE cremation! So much less stress!

Sure, they won't get the ashes right away, but that's partially a good thing. That way, if they DO want to get a fancy urn for me, they'll be doing it sometime after the initial grieving process, and probably while in a much better state to consider that decision.

And yes, someone will cut off my arms and legs and head with a bone saw so that I can fit in the cremation bag, but the family doesn't have to deal with those details.

Oh...yeah...and some students learn some stuff blah blah whatever.

In spite of this plan, I STILL have not completed the paperwork necessary to authorize the donation. Part of this is because I've been between primary doctors, but I think that the next time I go to see my Pittsburgh doctor, I'll bring it along. I also have to have a few other people sign it, but I forget exactly who...I'll have to look at it again.

ANYWAY! Looking for a way to make your death less of a pain in the ass for your family? Consider donating to science! Just sayin.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Random Things

I don't like to tag other people to do these memes, but when tagged I feel compelled to complete them...

1) I used to do synchronized swimming when I was young. It gave me super strength. We had to put knox gelatin in our hair and smile brightly during our routines, even though we were in terrible pain for most of it (or at least, I was).

2) When I drink soda, I have to swish it around in my mouth before swallowing.

3) My first crush was on Egon from the animated Ghostbusters. It was less of a "I want to marry you" crush and more of a "I want to be you" crush.

4) When I was little, I always wanted to play Little Red Riding Hood, and I was always the wolf

5) I kissed a boy for the first time in my life when I was 21 years old

6) I'm TERRIBLE at practical math. Horrible. Calculus? No problem. Subtraction? SO HARD.

7) When I was in the second grade I wanted to be a fighter jet pilot. I think I believed that they just got to fly the jets around all day for fun.

8) I'm pretty sure I'm the happiest when I'm in the water.

9) As a child, I tended to step on rusty nails by accident during summer vacation. I stepped on nails so frequently that I assumed that it was just part of life: that every year I'd step on a rusty nail, as sure as Christmas or my birthday.

10) I went through a phase when I was young where I was obsessed with symmetry. If I took a step and put so much pressure on one foot, I would HAVE to match the exact pressure on the other. If I accidentally touched my face, I'd have to touch the other side of my face in the same spot. I thought it was going to drive me mad before I grew out of it.

11) If I'm at the ATM and there's a line behind me and I have multiple transactions to make, I will make one and then get back in line for the other. Similarly, if I'm paying at the grocery and there's a line behind me, I get too stressed out from the prospect of getting out exact change, for fear I will slow down the people behind me.

12) I used to think that the Kentucky Derby was a holiday that *everyone* celebrated, like Christmas.

13) Pianos give me anxiety attacks (not hearing them, but sitting at one, or the thought of having to play it)

14) I am a tactile/kinesthetic learner and communicate with the world best via touch and movement.

15) I have a second degree black belt in Kempo

16) Sometimes I know the future, it's an AWFUL talent.

17) I hate The Vagina Monologues. I HATE THEM!

18) The music of a cello makes me cry, or feel like crying. It's like an on/off switch.

19) The first video game I ever beat by myself was Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES

20) When you get dinner rolls from the store that have the vertical slice in them for easy cutting, I always ignore it and slice the roll horizontally (more surface area for butter)

21) I like vinegar and I like cucumbers, but I do not like pickles.

22) My favorite poem is "Out, Out" by Robert Frost

23) I tend to wave my arm in front of automatic doors, as if I am opening them with the Force. I do this mostly without thinking anymore.

24) I inherited my two favorite kinds of cake from my parents: yellow cake with chocolate icing from my mom, and spice cake with vanilla icing from my dad

25) I can't make the number three with my fingers. Like, putting your thumb on your pinky and holding the rest up? I can't do it, and forcing my hand into that position has always been painful. I dreaded the number 3 while learning to count because of this agony!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Results of the Sleepathon

So, my internship at Schell Games has started in full swing and is awesome thus far! However, I thought I'd post about what I learned, or concluded...or just theorized from my 2 week sleep study.

1) I think I caught up on an amazing deficit. The first few days I was sleeping upwards of 14 hours a day, and eventually this tapered off somewhat to around 9 or 10 hours a night. I felt it was good, rejuvenating sleep, though. Kind of like the subconscious version of a 2 week cleanse.

2) I am, at heart, a night creature. I've denied this for ages, because for some reason I had some deep resolution that my being a night person was "bad." The world, after all, does not cater to us very well. But screw that. I harbor tons of nocturnal energy, and this can't be corrected by a rigid sleep schedule, which I think causes more harm than good. I've started working out at midnight, doing my grocery shopping at 1, going to bed around 2 or 3 and that's okay, because that's how I roll.

3) I've identified my napping needs more closely. I tend to need a small nap in the early afternoon, even if it's just 45 minutes, to kick me back into gear. Around 3:00pm seems a good time. This is often followed by a longer, evening nap. I used to get so stressed about taking naps at 8:00 at night, worrying that it would "mess up my sleep schedule," but now that I've embraced point number 2, I'm much less worried about it (and being less worried means I get to bed more easily when I do sleep at 2 or 3).

Overall during the test, my sleeping periods tended to be vastly erratic. At first I was concerned about this, but I think what I learned is that spaced out, shorter blocks of sleep just work better for me in general. This is roughly what my most comfortable sleep schedule has ended up being...

2:30am - 8:30am (6 hours, my "main" night time sleep)
3:00pm - 4:00pm (1 hourish, my afternoon nap)
8:00pm - 11:00pm (3 hours, my evening nap)

With this, I still get the 9-10 hours of sleep that I seem to need a day, and I'm not tired during the day or stressed out about the fact that I'm staying up late. I imagine that on the weekends I will let myself sleep more freely, to catch up on any deficit, and I will stop beating myself up over it.

One thing that has helped me IMMENSELY during this experiment was this little device, the Sleeptracker Pro:

Jesse lent it to me. Basically, it is a watch with an accelerometer in it that you wear at night. It detects "near-awake" periods based on your movement. When you set your alarm to wake up, you give it a window of time instead of an exact time, and the alarm won't go off until it detects a "near-awake" moment in your sleep cycle during that window. Thus, you're more likely to get woken up when you are in the light stage of sleep, versus being yanked out of REM or stage 4 sleep, and all groggily.

I'm normally not one for gadgets, but I'm in love with this thing, and am going to get my own as soon as I am able (Jesse kindly is lending me his for the duration of my co-op, and I really think it will help).

So! There are my sleepy conclusions, and it's midnight now...time to go to the gym! :D

Friday, January 23, 2009


Well, the tumultuous 48 hour dog saga draws to a close. Attempts to get my landlord to meet the dog and negotiate the pet agreement were unsuccessful. I sent him a lengthy email about it and we had a phone conversation, but no such luck. Resounding no.

In thinking it through, the thought of trying to find a sublet for 4 months and move and juggle my stuff would be too stressful for me to create a conducive environment for the dog, so I'm just going to wait it out.

On the bright side, at least I will still get to work with Minnow at the shelter as often as I like , and maybe I *will* get another chance to adopt him after I graduate.

On the flip side, GODDAMMIT!

Thanks to everyone who's lent advice and support and whatnot.

I feel like I've had 3 months worth of drama packed into 2 days!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brick Wall #1

Internet, you're so good at giving advice! I'm just going to keep on thinking out loud.

So I've hit my first brick wall in the adoption process. I asked my landlord about the process for doing the pet deposit (he's known there'd be a chance I would adopt a dog since last spring) and he sent me the paperwork.

The pet agreement has a section on specifically prohibited breeds, one of which is the pit bull. It also prohibits any dogs mixed with any of the listed breeds. Drat!

Now, my first course of action is to see if this is negotiable. We've had a really good relationship with our landlord since moving to this house (the last time he came in to fix something he emailed us complimenting us and thanking us for keeping the house so nice). I also know that these sorts of blanket statements over stereotyped breeds are only to protect the landlord; if I had an aggressive dog and it bit someone, the landlord could be held responsible as well as me (the other prohibited breeds listed are pretty classic: doberman, rottie, german shepherd, husky, etc.)

The shelter requires me to bring in all of my roommates to meet the dog and make sure everything is square, so I'd like to ask if the breed restriction is negotiable and propose that the landlord come along as well to meet the dog. I also have a few other things working in my favor...

- I've volunteered at this shelter and worked with this dog specifically, so I'm already familiar with the dog
- I only have about 4 more months living at this place. Even if I stay in Pittsburgh after I graduate, I'll be moving to a different place, so it's a pretty short term to have the dog in the house.
- I would be crate training and keeping the dog limited to the first floor of the house
- The dog is 4 years old, so less fear of puppy-keeping destructive woes.

Even still, I want to word my email to him in the most positive way I can without sounding accusatory or overbearing, so I may need some help looking over drafts.

If, after this, the answer is still a resounding "no," I have a few options left. One is to find a pit-friendly place to sublet for the rest of my stay in Pittsburgh, which would be a pretty crazy and stressful ordeal. The other is just to hold out and hope that Minnow doesn't get adopted out from under me, then get him when I graduate.

I'll cross those bridges when they come, though. As always, any tips on the matter are always welcome!

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who gave me advice and encouragement regarding the dog decision!

I have placed my application and initiated the whole process, so we shall see! I think the only obstacle would be if someone is in line before me to adopt Minnow, but I haven't seen any "application pending" signs on his kennel.

I'll keep everyone posted!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The dog for me?

I may have found my dog.

Most of you know that about a year ago, I resolved that I needed a dog in my life, and started volunteering at the animal shelter. This was both to get experience with dogs, and to hopefully find *my* dog should he or she show up.

This is Minnow...

I've been working with Minnow a lot on my shelter visits lately, and he is a dear heart and a fast learner. He still has manners to work on, but for some reason, I find I have fallen in love with him among all the dogs I've worked with. I didn't realize it until I came in one day and he wasn't in his kennel. Normally when dogs or cats I'm fond of have been adopted, I react with "hooray!" But when I thought Minnow had been adopted, my reaction was sadness, alas!

It turns out he was just offsite for the day.

I never thought I'd ever want a male pit bull mix. I always figured I'd fall in love with a bigger, leaner, softer dog (like Brenna). But I am stricken by this pup!

The biggest obstacle between me and this dog is purely self confidence. My family never owned dogs, and so for some reason I have this mindset that owning a dog is something that I am incapable of doing, something beyond my possible realm of experience. I know this is silly, but it's a real fear.

If a stray cat wandered in, I would have no hesitation in taking him in, knowing exactly how to care for a cat and make a cat a member of my family. But a dog, that's different! What if I don't know how to own a dog??

And then all the questioning factors come in..
Do I have enough money to support adding a dog to my family?
What if I end up having to move to California after school? Is it too soon for relocating the dog too?
Will I have the proper time to devote to the dog?

What if what if what if.

Logic grown up Lisa knows that she can handle all of these things, and emotional Lisa longs for the companionship of a dog. It's weird self-doubting Lisa who thinks "maybe now is not the right time, maybe you should wait..."

But what if it ISN'T the right time??


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Question of Manners

Answer me this, Internet...

Which is the more polite action when someone is trying to sell you something...

1) Interrupt them early (like, at "we'd like to offer you...") and say no thank you.

2) Let them finish their 10 minute speech that they are obviously forced to do by their supervisor and then say no thank you.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

People say silly things

This is purely for archival purposes. I've started tagging quotes in my journal (as seen here:, and so I'm transferring my old notepad quote log to journal form.

Carry on, internet, carry on.

Scott: it takes something called "Terotacone" which i've never heard of! But it sounds like teratogen and will probably give us all cancer!
+15 to all stats cancer!

Brad (on Kempo): Doing katas is a lot like integral calculus...

Tim (from Australia): wow, you get cheesy dinosaur shaped pasta in tomato sauce over there??

Steph (on proofs): That's what TI-85 calculators are for. They're ALL the proof you need!

Steph: Any machine that lets you program pong onto it must be omnipotent.

Jeff: (startled) You bit me! ...That's kinda like makin out!

Ken: theater people---artists look at them and think, "damn, those people are crazy"

Steph: Yeah, but exams and papers are annoying. Like flies.. meddlesome flies... in my soup of life and vitality

vargr: I could never see the point of the Quarter Horse. I mean, if you're going to own a horse, you might as well save up for the whole thing.

Steph: Jesus died so you could eat dinosaurs.

Dr. Oldham: Your entire generation is just WRONG!

J as Adam: I can't connect with the children, I never had a little brother or sister so I just don't know how to bring myself down to their level.
Strother: SQUAT!

Professor Moore: SHIZAAM!

Steve to Woody: You know, if you ever get tired of wrapping you can always try hip-hop.

Red Feanarth: "Save the planet - reduce waste of energy - be generally happy" ;D

DC: Whoah! Didn't see that coming. That's - Shoulda realized that when you said no to Harpo

Klandagi: A building does not a church make, just as standing in a garage and going vroom does not make you a car

Athauglas (on the badguy character from REBOOT): only MEGAbyte? I could detain him on a floppy disc!

(playing FFX, fighting Don Tonberry)
Carleton: Why is called "Don" Tonberry?
Lisa: It means like "boss."
Carleton: Oh, like Don Corleone?
Lisa: Yeah.
Carleton: Huh, I always just thought his first name was Don.

Ken: don't you just wish you could have some chocolate covered irrational fear right now? :-)

Willr: Every friday I am obligated to eat large quantities of animal carcasses, simply because so many cannot. We must maintain the balance.
Brendan: I kill baby seals just to make up for the existence of veganism.
Ken: i kill vegans to make up for the existence of baby seals.

Bill: Spike's dead, Johnny Carson's dead, there're no heroes left in the world.

Carrie: Wait, does this make you an out-tern?
Bill: Just be careful not to turn into a re-tern

Bill (on zombies in today's schoolsystem): Using brains for food is better than using them for nothing.

Pearce: I *just* realized this, but I could be a millionaire if I stole stuff.

Bill: If you liked CO, you'll *love* CO2!

Hanna: what do you need two Oscars for?
Marji: so my fireplace won't be uneven!

Ken (on adware): i, for instance, would intentionally never buy a product that i saw advertised like that. it could be a fucking pill that would make me superman and give me 11 billion dollars and i wouldnt click it, out of principle

Brendan: We got caught in "light snow toward the evening" Which apparently means BLIZZARDIA '05

Will: I have 0 tails and get up and down ladders just fine

Wheeler: I think the closest thing to a martial art I do is spyware removal

Will: I heard that there was this second degree black belt who was eating at a diner, and when some dude dropped a spoon, they killed the whole town.

Wheeler (on finding the cure for cancer): "What's this under the couch? HOLY SHIT!"

Will: it's like Columbine, except nobody dies

Will: What is a human but meat that hasn't been cooked yet?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Do normal people do this?

Me: Can you use Iceweb Spider Silk for anything?

Will: I can make pants upgrades. The pant enchants

Me: pantchants

Will: enpanting

Me: panchanting

Will: pantgalactic chantleblaster

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Sleepiest Chimera

As a present, Jesse gave me the little chimera figurine that comes with the fancy-pants edition of Resistance 2. It does not look fierce, but rather as though it is yawning. Perhaps it was put on some uneventful patrol and is bored out of its mind. Poor guy.

Speaking of sleep, I've been conducting a sort of sleep experiment of my own for the past week. Basically the idea is that I've taken 2 weeks of my life in which I will sleep as much as I please, with no obligations to guilt me awake. I just want to see what my sleep patterns are when left to my own devices.

So far, the patterns have been incredibly erratic, but I have been getting about 11-12 hours of sleep a day total. I have been otherwise keeping active and making sure I have access to sunlight, but it seems to make no difference.

Jesse is loaning me some sleep-robot thing that detects your near-awake periods at night, and figures your sleep pattern based on those. It seems to only work with long stretches of sleep, but I'll give it a try tonight and see how it works. It's a nifty little device, at any rate.

I have no idea what I'll do with this data after the end of the 2 weeks, but I feel like it's good to have, and I'm just generally curious. Plus, after this semester I'll be a working woman. No more luxurious breaks, so I'd better work one in now!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


A leaf bug has decided to board with us for the winter. I noticed him at first before leaving for break, hanging out on our dish drying rack. Today, I found him again in the shower.

First, yes, I know that it is extremely likely that these are two entirely different leaf bugs. But what harm is there in pretending that it's just the one?

Anyway, I presume his lingering on dishes and in the shower is for the available water source. Today, though, he appeared to have been caught in there while someone else was in the shower, and was quite waterlogged. I brushed him with a toilet paper square to soak up some of the excess water (enough so that he could pull his antennae apart, at least. They were stuck together) and he scuttled along the rim of the bath.

Part of me was concerned that I should move him out of the bathroom, for fear that one of my roommates may not be so keen on having a bug in the house for the winter. But, I decided that he probably knew what he was doing, and didn't want to disrupt his access to a water source.

Winter is always tough for me, because my typical method for finding bugs in the house is to catch them and put them outside. But during the cold cold winter, I of course can't do this! What am I supposed to do with these bugs? Usually I just let them be, but I don't want my roommates to stomp them, so where can I hide them for the winter months?

Maybe I should start a bug terrarium in the basement.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stupid love

So, in light of yet another incarnation of my track record of becoming very close friends with someone, falling in love with them, and having it be unrequited, I have resolved to start dating this semester.

I am, fortunately, on the cusp of the generation where the use of online dating services is not only no longer a taboo, but is actually the norm for people meeting one another. I have been assured by many a friend that dating is not as miserable an experience as I think, and so far everyone seems excited by this new prospect.

Well, everyone but me, but I'm sure that will all change once I find someone decent to distract my affections.

So far my initial exploration of the famed dating site experience has yielded:

1) Some guy inviting me to a hookah bar (who was kind of an idiot) and

2) Some guy sending me a nice little email in which every single sentence in the ENTIRE email had the EXACT same structure.

It's a start, I guess, because I'm already learning about things I want in a relationship. I've learned that I need my potential other to be eloquent, and I've learned that I'm SEVERELY annoyed by people who respond to a casual question by asking "why?"

I'm also being forced to take into account what I find physically attractive in males, versus my typical means (which is to fall in love with the brain and then become attracted to whatever body it happens to be in).

Granted, I probably won't go on any actual dates until my 2 week sleepathon is up, but baby steps count as steps.

I'm kind of miserable about the whole ordeal at the moment, but if stupid emotional brain wouldn't keep going and screwing up my friendships, then I wouldn't have to drag her through this nonsense. So it's her own damned fault!

Stay tuned for a most likely more-positive outlook on dating. Give it a month or so.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Masque of the Red Death

Okay, so, I have this thing about the Masque of the Red Death. No no! Hear me out on this...

I feel like I've talked about this before, but if I have it's been ages. I think I read the short story first in the 8th grade while we were doing a segment on Edgar Allan Poe, and have re-read it many times sense.

In spite of my frequent reviews of the story over the past 13 or so years, and in spite of Poe's specific description of the many rooms in the suite where the story takes place, I can NOT wrap my head around the way the place is laid out. I've gone so far as to scrawl maps onto grid paper, and I still can't grasp it.

Part of the problem, I think, is my ignorance of the typical architecture of the story's time. I don't even have a basis to begin with to imagine what a *normal* imperial suite would have looked like, let alone Prospero's bizarre rendition of one.

I've often contemplated doing some renderings of the rooms and the layout, but I think this is the year I'm actually going to sit down and do it. You will not conquer me, Poe, not this time!

Likely, the internet could help me in my need of a map, but somehow I feel like this is something I have to generate straight out of my brain. Will I succeed? Mystery! Intrigue!

2008 Review

The first thing I learned when looking back on 2008 was that I forgot to do a year review for 2007. Doh! Oh well, such is life!

08 was a good year for me. I think I have changed into something different by the end of it, but something for the better.

- The ETC West Coast Trip: adventure and fun and education! I went to Disneyland for the first time and sniffed out more companies than I had any right to see. It was a fantastic opportunity, and I'm so excited to see this year's first-years head off on the same trip. Wee!

- I was lucky enough to land a sweet deal for my first project course at the ETC. Bandology was amazing, and I was so grateful to be on a team with such awesome people. I feel like it was a first step in boosting my confidence, and convincing me that yes, I could be a designer.

- speaking of which, GDC '08 was a pretty big turning point for me. That was when I figured out that I should be looking for a design internship, not a production one. For some reason, I'd held the role of game designer in my head as something that I couldn't do, reserved for people more awesome than me. At GDC I reached up and plucked it out and held it right there in my hand. It was some kind of magic.

- Ah, the summer. Pre-Insomniac Lisa and post-Insomniac Lisa were two completely different Lisas. Oh, Insomniac, you will forever be the incubator that hatched a new phase of Lisadom.

- Dorky though it may be, '08 was the year where I did some semblance of end-game content in WoW. Rather, it was the Year of the Tank. Confidence boosts come in more forms than one would guess, you guys.

- Imagine my luck when my second ETC project team was also awesome! Get In Line harnessed a freshly hatched new Lisa and drove her to new levels.

- I got to go to Project Horseshoe! What an awesome experience. I met cool people and stretched my brain in cool new ways and learned a thing or two about myself in the process.

- Which brings us to the most recent: ringing in the holiday season with the Tuesday Night Ballers. It was as though we'd all gone off on our own adventures, then came back to enrich one another with all that we had learned. Such wonderful friends, I am lucky!

I am extremely excited about 2009. A little scared, sure, but who isn't? It's going to be some kind of adventure, I can tell already.