Jul 21 2014

Two Strikes and We’re Out

On Wednesday July 9th, 2014 my apartment flooded. Now, if this sounds familiar to you, you might be remembering this post.

That’s right, this is the second major flood to hit us in this location. The Hubby and I live in a garden-level apartment, but the flooding has never been due to excessive rain, or to an upstairs neighbor forgetting to turn off a faucet. This is has been burst plumbing every single time. I say every single time because we’ve actually had plumbing issues which resulted in water being outside of the pipe in which it belonged four times. Twice the flooding was caught early (stains on the ceiling), and before theyt caused any damage. Another time the pipe burst we caught it as soon as it happened and we were able to get everything out before anything was irreparably damaged. The fourth time – this last time – the pipe burst sometime during the workday and I came home to water pouring from the ceiling and thousands of dollars of private property damage. Let me be clear – the thousands of dollars of damage happened to our stuff – I’m not including the landlord’s property.

Flooded carpet, soaked bed, shoes, a dog bed and a bunch of cords sitting in water.The water had been streaming from the weakest point in the ceiling: the light fixture. The light fixture is located directly above our bed.

We did lose a lot of things in this most recent flood – our bed and mattress, some art prints and frames, our big, comfy CordaRoy bean bag, some shoes – but that’s all replaceable. The only thing that bums me out is that we lost our IKEA 5×5 Expedit shelving. We thought it would be easy to just order up a new base to replace the waterlogged particle board, but it turns out the Expedit was discontinued earlier this year. *sniff*

To paraphrase an infamous president: Flood me once, shame on — shame on you. Flood me — you can’t get flooded again.

Translation: We moved out.

Our landlord was very nice and professional about the whole thing. We’ve always enjoyed renting from him, but we just didn’t feel comfortable continuing in that space.

Our friends were amazing. I started putting out calls for help on Facebook almost immediately upon discovering the mess, and before I knew it six people had arrived to haul out wet furniture, clothes and books. One of our friends drove me to Home Depot to pick up moving boxes (I was not in a good mindset to drive), my in-laws came by to pick up the cat and dog, and then everyone started boxing up everything that wasn’t wet. We also had multiple offers of storage space, and several people sent information about properties that were available to rent. <Big heart swells>

We had everything out of harm’s way late on Wednesday night. On Thursday we rented a U-Haul truck and started moving things into that. More packing, more packing, more packing. Late on Thursday night we reviewed the properties that had been emailed, texted and DM’d to us by friends and we picked out four that might have worked. We sent inquiries by email that night. On Friday: More packing, place a claim on the renter’s insurance and follow-up phone calls to the rental properties. Two didn’t respond, the third was already taken and the fourth invited us to stop by to tour the property at 11am. By noon we had filled out the rental application and by 1pm we were back home to continue packing and loading the truck.

Because the application wouldn’t be processed until Monday we had to drop our stuff at a temporary storage space. That sucked. It would have been much less exhausting to unload the truck directly into the new apartment, but the U-Haul fees would have been extremely expensive to keep it that long. And if there had been any delays on the application we would have had to keep the truck out even longer. Plus, after having taken Thursday and Friday off to deal with the initial disaster, the Hubby and I had to get back to work; we couldn’t afford to take Monday off to unpack. So on Saturday we and a number of friends loaded and unloaded the truck – twice – into a friend’s garage. After that we cleaned the apartment as well as we thought was warranted; we spackled some holes in the unaffected walls, cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen cabinets, oven and fridge. We left one final half-load of stuff in the truck and went back to Roseville (where we had been staying with family since Wednesday) at 2am. We woke up at 6:30am, came back to Minneapolis, brought the last truck load over to the garage, unloaded it and returned the truck to U-Haul at 10am – 30 minutes before it was due back.

And then there were massages. Seriously. We each booked 60 minute full-body massages and then went to lunch. Because that’s what needed to happen.

The next week was a blur. On Monday I spoke with the insurance adjustor. Later in the day we signed our new lease and picked up keys. On Tuesday we stocked the new place with the essentials. On Wednesday night we found our air mattress and began sleeping at the new place. We worked really hard at our jobs to catch up from the unexpected time off. We moved a few car loads from the temporary storage garage to the new place every night. We shopped for a new bed. We were both bone tired from the mental stress and the physical exertion.  And this past weekend we rented another U-Haul and moved everything that was left in the garage to the new space.

So tired. A deep weariness that feels like I suddenly gained 100 pounds across my entire body. But we’re in good spirits; nobody was hurt or got sick during the move, and there is a feeling of optimism and a confidence that moving out was the right thing to do. We already feel much lighter knowing that everything is now in the right location. And we’ve even started unpacking.

A coffee maker is on a counter. Boxes and newspapers are stacked in a small room. In the middle of the chaos is a shelving unit filled with neatly-arranged board games.

The Keurig and board games. Because you have to have priorities.

Jul 01 2014

Wasp Threesome

Today at work we found some wasps enjoying the lovely sunshiny afternoon.

Three mud daubers stacked one on top of the other.

I think these are mud daubers. I can’t find much on why three mud daubers might be stacked together like this, but whenever there’s odd behavior and animals involved, there’s a good chance that it has something to do with sex.

Muscle guy having his arm groped by an impressed-looking lady.

Jun 23 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Sculpture

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Sculptures.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

A large gold-colored sphere is poised on top of a metal column. In the foreground is a white bridge over a stone-riddled stream and a grassy park.This is the Sunsphere from the 1982 World’s Fair Park. Saw it with Brianne on our Southern tour last year. Love car trips.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

A giant spherical mass of curling glass hangs near a ceiling. Photo is in B&W and only the ball is in focus.Artsy-fartsy filtered photo of the artsy-fartsy Chihuly glass sculpture in the lobby of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

A green mowed field and blue sky with white clouds dominates the photo. In the distance an obelisk-style sculpture is seen.One of the 90+ memorial sculptures at Antietam National Battlefield in Western Maryland.

Jun 16 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Hidden

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Hidden.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

Small black dog digging in the dirt

Searching for groundhogs at Antietam National Battlefield.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

A backyard garden with a large butterfly statue.Mary Maloney’s has a hidden garden right in the middle of Biloxi’s casino strip. The tree, The Patriarch, is said to be 2000 years old! The giant bug is not.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Hidden BrianneNO – do not want to wake up. Cannot make.


Jun 15 2014

Cosplay: We Made A Thing Today!

One of my favorite things about CONvergence -and of which there are many – is all of the cosplay. The Hubby and I love to people-watch, and we like to dress up when it’s creative and convenient. This year we decided that we had the time and energy to put together a few costumes. We spent yesterday planning specifics and shopping, and we made some amazing finds. I’m not going to put up photos of the complete costumes until CONvergence weekend, but here are the descriptions:

The Belcher FamilyTina and Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers – Aaron is repurposing a wig from a previous V for Vendetta costume for Tina, and he has a pair black thick-framed glasses that will serve.  We found a simple blue skirt, blue t-shirt, and yellow barrette for the him at Target. Black high-top Converses came from Famous Footwear. The retro tube socks will be picked up from Sox Appeal tomorrow. We had a bit more of a challenge finding a green dress for my Louise. There was nothing at Target, Savers or TJ Maxx, but then we lucked out at the Dress Barn: Kelly green with sleeves on the clearance rack, only one left AND in my size, 35% off. SCORE! Pink bunny ears hat ordered from Etsy. Black flats with strap from Famous Footwear. Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 12 2014

Sadomasochism isn’t a dirty word.

Today Planned Parenthood supporters and opponents spoke out on Twitter with the hashtag #SexEd. The tweetfest was organized by the anti-abortion organization, Live Action, to denounce the Lurid! Disgusting! Immoral! Dangerous! advice given by Planned Parenthood counselers to a young woman who pretended to have honest questions for them about BDSM. She filmed the clinic workers – without their knowledge – answering the questions openly and honestly. Live Action calls this “undercover investigation.” I call bullshit. The film that Live Action is so very proud of can be seen on YouTube.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 10 2014

Freeze-Dried Plasma

My nerdy interest du jour is battlefield medicine, tactical combat casualty care and field medicine (the non-military side of emergency medicine, used in disaster relief). The concept of triage and how to tackle logistical hurdles such as how to carry or transport sensitive equipment and items that need special storage (like refrigeration or freezing) in sparse or hostile environments is fascinating! I just ordered Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan on my Kindle and can’t wait to dive into it (just have to finish A Feast for Crows first…)

Read the rest of this entry »

May 26 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Adventure

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Adventure.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

A line of about ten bikes parked on asphalt, riders in various states of milling about.Sunday was a group ride with the Twin City Riders. We rode northeast out of the city, along the Mississippi River and through some really beautiful rural areas in Western Wisconsin. My friend and rider took this photo – that’s me in the foreground.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

A lake, grassy hill take up the majority of the photo. In the background, larger hills rise to meet the blue sky and white clouds.From our Memorial Day adventure to Lost River in West Virginia. It was a shocking beautiful trip. This view is of Kimsey Run Lake.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

A large commercial jet gets refueled and restocked at the gate.This is usually the start of my adventures.

May 20 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Owl

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Owl.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

CCC Owl MomMy birthday cake from last year.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

A white stuffed owl rests against a giant "Metropolis" poster from the original movie.Disheartened owl wants nothing to do with your dystopian future.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

CCC Owl ErinAnother specimen from work at the National Museum of Natural History.

May 15 2014

CONvergence Programming Is Announced!

I’m very excited for CONvergence this year. Not only is it my first year as an Invited Participant, but I made it onto FIVE panels, including an author reading which I’m organizing (more on that below). Our fearless SkepchickCon organizer and CONvergence volunteer, Melanie Mallon, has been busting her butt for the past several months to help ensure that we are going to have awesome programming, including some killer science, skepticism and social media panels.

Here are mine:

Food Allergies At Con: How to Cope - You have a food allergy, yet are trying to survive from the limited opportunities at CONvergence: how do you cope? What can you safely bring, keep, and prepare in a hotel room? Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Richard Wielgosz, Karl Tingelstad, Marie Porter, Renee Petersen

Real Monsters - Reality is stranger than fiction. The deep seas and uncharted lands hold unimaginably bizarre creatures. This panel explores some of the strangest, ugliest, and most unlikely creatures known to live. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Ryan Consell, Matt Kuchta, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers

It’s (Not) Written In The Stars - We’ll explore the myths and beliefs of astrology and why some people still find it convincing in the modern age of science. Panelists: Jason Thibeault, Brianne Bilyeu, Dan Berliner, Matt Lowry, Nicole Gugliucci

Kids Ask a Scientist - Our panel of scientists will answer questions, with the answers geared for the 12-and-under set. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Camille McAloney, Nicole Gugliucci, Siouxsie Wiles, Lori Fischer

Skepchick and Freethought Bloggers Author Reading – Join the bloggers of Skepchick and Freethought Blogs as they share their favorite original writings. Topics may include science, social justice, atheism, skepticism, art, online community, blogging and random geekery. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu (mod)

I’m geeking out over Real Monsters because Holy Shit Weird Awesome Nature!!! I’m already getting annoyed (in the good way) about the anti-astrology panel, and Food Allergies will be interesting (plus I’m excited about getting to share a panel with the Evil Cake Overlord). I’m probably most intimidated by Kids Ask A Scientist because kids ask weird shit and you can’t just throw out “Rayleigh Scattering” and leave it at that when they want to know why the damn sky is blue. The author reading is my baby.I’m emceeing 10-15 bloggers (including me) who will each read one of their favorite original writings, and they only get 3-5 minutes each. It’s going to be a fast-paced bonanza of Skepchick and FtB readings.

At the time of this writing there are FORTY-SIX panels tagged as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). 46, y’all. That gives me such a happy…I can’t even describe it.

You can see the full schedule here. It’s on Sched, which means you can create a profile, create a customized schedule of the panels you want to see, and take a peek at what your friends are signing up for.

Click here to register for CONvergence. Or click on the giant banner below. Either way, really.


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