Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crisis Averted

On Monday after lunch, my throat started feeling a little scratchy. By Monday evening, I was sure I was getting sick as my throat was getting worse.

It was worse on Tuesday and I felt really sluggish. I left work early to take a nap and rest.

On Wednesday morning I wasn't any worse but I still didn't feel great. I decided to stay home, work from there for half a day, and rest the other half. I took a nap and ate healthy. By evening, I actually felt a little better. I went to bed super early, though, just in case.

This morning, I feel pretty good, outside of a headache. (I always get a headache when I sleep too much. Sucks, I know.) I can't say that I slept the entire time I was in bed but the rest seems to have done me good!

Hopefully, the sudden change in weather caused this - not some nasty virus. But it's imperative that I not get sick. Mr. Higgins and I leave for Colorado in a week and there can be no illnesses! We have roads to travel and mountains to see - and climb!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


No real post today due to illness.

Some kind of virus has taken up residence in my throat. Here's hoping it doesn't spread and become any nastier. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Textbook Feud

While checking Facebook last week, I heard about some breaking news via the secretary of my old grad school: the Texas Board of Education approved a resolution to keep pro-Muslim textbooks out of classrooms. My old secretary (and friend) said that Texas should "succeed" - and, while we're at it, just "break off and float away." I did not correct her typo - or slip-up - but instead went in search of a news article on this story. (I found one here.)

This is troubling, for sure. The Board of Education is either completely unaware of the volatile situation with the Muslim community in America or they just don't care. I have no doubt that these textbooks have absolutely no Muslim bias. The man who came up with the resolution went through textbooks and counted the terms "Muslim" and "Islam" and compared that number against "Christian." I've never heard of anything so absurd!

The last thing we need to do right now is inflame an already precarious situation of rampant anti-Islamic sentiment. Instead, what we need - and what I've said - is education. Textbooks are a way to educate. A country where textbooks are censored by ignorant conservatives makes us no better than the Middle Eastern countries that censor Western culture from their people.

And, furthermore, grouping all Texans together and wishing the state would "succeed" - or, perhaps, secede - goes against everything my friend is actually protesting... Grouping all Muslims together, saying they're all terrorists, and trying to minimize their impact on American culture. Perhaps someone needs to practice (tolerance) what they preach....

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Perfect Coincidence!

Mr. Higgins and I timed a visit out to the country perfectly! True fall weather moved in yesterday and we got to sit on a porch, savoring the cool temperatures - purely by chance!

The highs yesterday were in the 70s and the lows last night were in the 50s! There was the perfect breeze yesterday and the air was so gorgeously clear... Ah, fall! Nothing beats a good porch and bench for such weather. Add Sookie the Cat to the mix for entertainment and you never get bored! I could have stayed on that porch for hours!

It was also good timing that I was able to exchange my summer clothes for winter wear! I needed a sweater this morning! Awesome!

Friday, September 24, 2010


With all the talk - and actions - of religious intolerance going on these days, working in a religion department is an interesting place to be. It's cool to see the people I've come to admire do all in their power to educate the community against such intolerance.

It's also frustrating to hear of parents calling our department, angry that their son or daughter is being taught the Koran.

Ignorance is the greatest enemy of freedom. We must all work towards an educated society.

On that note, a professor sent this map around yesterday. And to think that these are only the reported crimes...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Granola Bars

I made Chewy Granola Bars the other night and they are so delicious! Em recommended them and they are so much better than anything you can buy in the store.

On that same note, here's an article on how to put together a recipe to your liking.

I'm a bit obsessed with baking at the moment. I haven't actually made much, but I've been enjoying gathering up some good recipes for future baking.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Common Courtesy

Last week (and the two days of this week) was rough at work. Nothing big is happening - no deadlines or stress of that nature - but something else is irking me.

It seems that very few people acknowledge or respect others' personal space. Gone are the days of knocking on an office door. Why not just walk in? If there's something shiny on someone's desk, why not pick it up and play with it? There's a stapler, why not use that one instead of my own?

My office is different because it contains the common printer for my floor. Therefore, my office key is the common key; anyone can come in at any time. But that's no excuse for these things....

-My mother called early the other morning. Though very few people were around, I still wanted privacy so I shut my door (something I very rarely do). Within minutes someone was trying to open my door. They apparently found it difficult. It took them so long that I stood up and opened it for them. They got their printed materials....but came back soon thereafter to get more, though it should have been obvious I wanted privacy!

-A student stopped by my office, not an inch outside my door, faced my office, and proceeded to have a conversation on his phone. I had to physically turn around and glare at him before he took a hint that a doorway to someone's office is probably not the best place to talk to his girlfriend.

-There's one professor who, no matter what I'm doing, thinks that he needs to talk to me as he waits for his paper to come through the printer. Yesterday - when I was clearly working - he asked me, "I wonder how much paper one tree produces? You're a researcher, go research that." Yeah? Well, you can shove it, jackass.

-Why does an open doorway automatically mean that I want to talk to you? I don't. Really. No, really. If I want to talk, I'll find you, knock on your door, and ask if you have a minute.

-One professor walks in to get stuff off the printer. Another professor walks in to do the same. They strike up a conversation...a conversation I'm not a part of. In my office. And they don't leave.

-I come into my office to find my top desk drawer (the common pen and pencil drawer) slightly open and riffled through. Seriously?

I'm more than a little tired of people. Why don't they afford me the same courtesy I give them? Professional courtesy....common courtesy? In general, I think professionalism is dead - at least from where I'm sitting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Knitting

It's finally cooling off here (upper eighties and lower nineties for highs) after a scorcher of a summer. The idea of fall makes me think of pumpkins, beautiful foliage, sweaters, hot tea.....

....and knitting! My knitting time has been none existent lately but a blessing in disguise has happened.... Mr. Higgins loves college football and I like knitting to sports. It's the perfect combination: Mr. Higgins + sports + knitting = happy!

I've already started knitting two key Christmas presents. At my current rate, I'll finish them in mid-December....ha! I'm also idly crocheting on my first (and only) crochet project, a scarf started in a class.

Now I just need it to get cool enough for hot tea! Yay, fall!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I'm not really capable of coming up with something for today. I'll do better tomorrow.


Friday, September 17, 2010

476 Years Ago...

I read an interesting op-ed piece yesterday regarding the pope's visit to Britain. No pope has ventured to the small isle in 476 years. Why?

History buffs will know that a little brat of a king, Henry VIII, decided to sever all ties to the Catholic Church in 1534. One could easily argue that he wanted the Church's lands - and the revenue from them - just as much as he wanted a divorce...and heir.

Britain had a rich history of monasticism from the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century. All of these lands were not taxable by the government. By removing the Church, Henry gained a substantial new income.

In case my tone is unclear, I've always disliked Henry....and British history. Everyone in my graduate program was intrigued by Britain and I could care less. Now, sixteenth century British history is more popular than ever before, with books, TV shows, and movies abounding. I hate it. There are more interesting stories in history than that of a fat, sex-crazed, tantrum-throwing monarch from a tiny, gray island.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Army of....Kittehs

There are about ten stray cats that live around my house and the neighbors' house. From what I can tell, they're around because the neighbors have an outside cat, so there's always food out. Most of them run away from me if I take one step towards them. They have no problem, however, sleeping on top of my car!

Despite that, I've had fun trying to name them all....and keep them all straight. One who always hangs around my backyard is now the owner of a good, solid Roman name: Lucretius. Of course, he may actually be a she, for all I know!

My favorite kitty - and the only one who lets me pet him - is all black. I've named him Lucius. He's so skinny it's painful! I've set water out for all the kitties throughout the blazing hot summer, but now I've started giving Lucius some food every other day. In my mind, the less he has to wander, the less likely he is to get hit by a car.

There are also two kittens that live, apparently, under the neighbors' porch. It's all I can do to not adopt these precious little ones! I just need to train all these kitties in the art of ninja warfare so that they can attack any would-be burglars. Ha!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Uneasiness

My uneasiness in my new, albeit temporary, neighborhood has increased.

When I went to mow the lawn on Friday night (yes, so much excitement on a Friday night!), I found that someone had undone - and messily re-done - the chain on the backyard gate. Instead of breaking the lock, they undid the hook in the fence that holds the chain.

I tried not to panic and thought perhaps the power company had been back to check the meter.... But a smart meter was installed in June, making house visits obsolete. I didn't sleep much Friday night. On Monday I called the power company and they confirmed that there has been no house visits since July.

Someone was definitely in my backyard. There's absolutely nothing to steal back there but that doesn't make me feel any better. I fixed the hook and tightened the chain so much so that a wrist can't even fit through the gate. Hopefully that will keep this from happening again.

I hope.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vatican Library

The Secret Knitter was nice enough to share this with me....

After a prolonged restoration project - which frustrated many researchers (this one included) - the Vatican Library has finally reopened. The pics are amazing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Craziness on the Road

Sometimes, despite living here most of my life, driving in this city scares me.

On Thursday night, while going to Mr. Higgins' well after the rush hour crowd had passed, I passed a guy before getting on the highway. I was in the correct lane; he was in the lane required to merge with mine. Apparently he didn't like that. He merged onto the highway a good 500 yards before it was legal to do so, forced me to slam on my breaks and merge behind him (or else be forced to exit in an exit only lane), cut me off every other time I tried to change lanes, and finally slammed on his breaks to send me - almost - crashing into him. At that point, I was so furious I tailgated him for ten miles. He rode the fast lane, though people were tailgating me for going too slow behind him!

Now, I'm sorry, but the idiot needs to grow a pair and learn that a light blue truck is not at all manly...especially when driven by a moron.

Then, at night, I passed a guy who was going too slow. I didn't tailgate him or get mad, I just passed him like a normal person, using my turn signal when appropriate. He apparently didn't like that, so he turned on his high beams for five minutes once I was in front of him.

Now, he needs to learn to take it like a man and not endanger everyone on the road with his adolescence.

And the other day, I saw a woman brushing her teeth while driving at over 60mph. Stupid!

I get so frustrated sometimes! Driving is like an obstacle course. You must dodge idiots and morons at every turn and one moment of inattention on your part can lead to someone else careening into you. Sigh. Defensive driving is the only way to go out there.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lunch Ideas

I've officially stopped eating microwaveable dinners. My only exception is Amy's burritos, which are healthier. Why? Simple: I got tired of dreading lunch every day at work. And there's that little thing about getting cancer from the plastic you microwave those things in.

The main reason I ate them was convenience. Now, I think I'd rather have more to do in the morning and actually look forward to lunch all day long - rather than dread it!

So, I came up with a healthy lunch. Thanks to Mr. Higgins and friends, I've had great fun eating out at lots of yummy restaurants. Unfortunately, that has me paranoid about gaining weight. So, I devised a lunch that is healthy and, together with snacks, will get me 80% of my daily fruits/vegetables. All I need once I get home is one more serving of something green! Plus, I get my dairy out of the way! It's a win-win (-win!) solution to a boring lunch. Here's what it is (with Weight Watchers points!)....

-Carrot sticks (a little more than a handful) and 2 tbsp hummus (1 WW point - some brands are 2 pts)
-5 Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers and 1 slice of 2% Cheddar Cheese (3 WW points)
-1/8 cup of almonds (2 WW points)

It doesn't sound like much but it's actually really filling! (And, of course, I'm going to change it up from week-to-week.)

Then, for snacks throughout the day, I munch on...
applesauce (natural with Splenda) and/or raisins (1 WW point each)
another fruit, such as strawberries and blueberries (2 WW points)
sugar-free pudding (Splenda!) (1 WW point)

I throw in a few more snacks (and breakfast!) (alternating with granola bars, WW snack cakes, Laughing Cow cheese with Triscuits, etc) so that I don't get hungry. Yes, I eat a lot but these are small portions spread out through the day - in the hopes of helping the metabolism (more small meals vs. three big meals). Personally, I think it works. My dinners out have not affected my weight in any way over the past few months. I've kept up with my four 30-minute workouts a week and nothing has changed. I've only had problems getting enough fruits/vegetables, so hopefully this new lunch plan will solve that problem.

Truthfully, I love food way too much. I'm a bit obsessed. But my dinners at home are nothing exciting (ranging from cereal to a chicken breast) - cooking for one is not much fun, after all. So, when I go out, I don't want to be confined to eating salads and chicken breasts....though I eat those at times. Life is too short to be afraid to splurge! That's my new motto, at least!

Anyway, I thought I'd share as several of you have asked about my Weight Watchers meals.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Well, we survived Hermine.

It rained all Tuesday and Tuesday night, causing crazy flash flooding and power outages. A few tornadoes touched down. The rain continued Wednesday morning. On the west side of the Metroplex, however, the sun came out around 2pm yesterday and, with the strong southerly winds, things
quickly began to dry out.

All total, we got about seven inches of rain. Wow. Now, I'm guessing, all the grass will perk up and I'll have to mow again. Bleh!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Mr. Higgins and I were watching a 9/11 documentary the other night and it's still on my mind.

For those of you who don't know... I landed in Frankfurt the morning of 9/11. About four hours later, we got word of the tragedy happening in New York. It was a surreal experience watching the BBC play and replay what had happened. Due to a crazy schedule, none in our group saw the Twin Towers get hit or fall in real time. I felt completely disconnected from my country and the emotions of my countrymen. All I could do was stare at the TV, all night long, and try (and re-try) to get through to my parents in the US (all the phone lines were jammed).

I can't say that it was bad to be overseas. The show of support by Germans, Austrians, and Czechs was amazing. They always asked us where we were from and we would mutter "Texas," so far from NYC, and they would still say, "I'm so sorry." Tributes of candles and flowers popped up around various memorials and US embassies. It was an amazing experience that proved how ignorant we are to not think in a global mindset. These people felt our pain.

And so it is both educational and difficult for me to watch documentaries recounting the sequence of events on that day. One new bit of info (for me) which was surprising.... Al Qaeda was planning to assassinate the late Pope John Paul II. This is just appalling to me. I can understand wanting to assassinate presidents and prime ministers, but the pope?! I mean, there was the bit with the Crusades but the Muslims won those, in the long run.

It's all a mystery to me - any kind of fundamentalism. It is the mark of ignorance and nothing is scarier than that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I know it's been a while since I've written. It was a great long weekend. Mr. Higgins and I had a quiet few days after I made a quick trip to the country on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Monday brought sad news... My great-uncle - my last link to my grandmother - is doing very poorly. He is saying his good-byes from the comfort of his home in East Texas.

I know it seems like a far-flung connection, but he was always my favorite uncle. I only ever had one "real" uncle, so my great-uncles were always thought of as uncles. So many memories come to mind of my grandparents playing cards with my uncle, of his smile, his contagious laugh.....

He will be truly missed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I can't tell you how happy I am. It's September! Finally, the dreaded month of August is over and done with!

After having lived in Michigan for two years, fall became a favorite time of year for me. I love the falling leaves, the cooler temperatures, and the vibrant trees. I'm hoping - though I'm afraid to jinx it - that our 100+ degree days are at an end. Fall, though not quite here, is on the horizon. The forecast looks promising so I'm cautiously hopeful. Never mind that our forecasters are rarely correct. Last night, for example, they did not accurately predict severe thunderstorms!

I think I shall celebrate this weekend with cookie baking! And muffin baking! Yes, that sounds perfect! (For some reason, I'm in a baking mood!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Every morning, I listen to NPR. That's the only way to get news and noise in the morning (I live without cable). But they do have really fascinating stories.

All this week they're following a reporter's journey through the Congo. This country is the size of western Europe but barely has a system of drivable roads. Most people live without basic plumbing and electricity. The Poisonwood Bible took place in the Congo so I feel like I know a bit about the area.... But things seem not to have changed in the least since the 1960s, when the novel took place.

Most travel throughout the region must be done by river, via the Congo. In the report, they travel ten days to get to their destination, the capital, Kinshasa. Can you imagine ten days to get to your destination?! Or, can you imagine a place and time when travel, because of this, is rare and almost never happens? Travel has been hazardous throughout history but the Congo is happening now. Rebel raids are frequent, famine and disease are constant, government corruption is debilitating....

See the pictures on NPR here. You won't believe it.