Thursday, January 29, 2009

Night Skiing, Anyone?

Yesterday was a perfect example of how well Matt and I get each other. Tuesday, I promised pictures and yesterday, Matt just decided to post some! Granted, he probably read that blog post, but the timing was still perfect for him to do a picture post. Now I’m off the hook for a while!
Tonight, I will hunker down and get every possible piece of school work done that I can because tomorrow, I am taking a day off! Of course, I still have to work but I will be able to leave early because I already have plenty of hours. Matt and I are going to try night skiing at Keystone. Basically, they have a couple runs lit by lights and they keep them open at night. I still feel like this is a crazy thing to do though. It will be MUCH colder, for one thing. And limiting visibility while I’m still learning doesn’t sound very smart. (Mainly because I don’t want to run into any trees.) However, the run that we will be taking is the only run we have skied. We know it very well, and perhaps this will help me approach skiing in a different way.
In puppy news, Perdi graduates from puppy school on Saturday, despite the fact that I have not been able to be very diligent with her clicker training “homework.” This is partly because I have been busy with my own homework and partly because Pongo is scared of the clicker and he doesn’t really understand what is going on when I use it with Perdi. I will probably work with him over the summer when I have some free time so that they are both clicker trained. I am excited because Matt will be able to come to this last class with me so he will know how to use the clicker too. It has very specific rules on when to click and reward. Perdi learns very quickly and the clicker is effective with her. She can sit, stay, lay down, come, potty, and more on command. My favorite is lay down because all I have to do is stretch out my hand like when Moses parts the sea and say "DOWN." She lays right down and stays there!
I admit that I am a bit jealous of Perdi. Four weeks and she is done. She’ll even have an official diploma. I still have 2 ½ years minus four stressful and sleepless weeks. But hey, no one ever said that getting a Master’s would be easy. Matt has been a great help with everything from encouragement to doing stuff around the house that I can't get to. I really aprreciate that, probably more than he knows.
Today at work, one of my co-workers who has a window office called me in. Standing right outside his window were 5 deer! They couldn’t see through the window because it is mirrored glass, so they were looking directly at us! It was so cool. I see deer all the time, just not so close I could touch them!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pics from Matt

I don't have a lot to say, other than I have been working a lot and keeping up with sports which I love. I did, however, find some time to take some pics of the puppies and thought I would post them for everyone to see. I hope everyone is well and we do like the comments!

This one is of Perdita just laying in the sun. --->

Here is Pongo being all stoic in his usual perch by one of our windows.

Puppies at the dog park with the sunset behind them.

Our mischievous little one with all of her toys! --->

And finally, presenting the most vicious dog in the world: Pongo

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beagle Tendencies

There are two things that completely capture Pongo’s attention: unattended human food and horse pens. This is quite a random pair of items, I realize. The food part is obvious, and he will jump on counters to get it!
We have discovered his attraction to horse pens during our recent adventures at the dog park. (Don’t ask me why there is a horse pen in the middle of a state park). Last week, Pongo ran into the horse pen TWICE to cover himself head to toe in horse droppings! I believe that this is a hunting instinct, but what a smelly one! And of course, Perdi follows him in there because she is a puppy and that’s what puppies do. She does not roll in droppings…she just eats them!
As the second horse pen incident was happening, I was at first absolutely incensed at Pongo. He would not come to me until he was satisfactorily covered, no matter how many treats I offered. (Treats get Perdi out in a split second.) In the meantime, I am dragging Perdi out and worrying myself to death about Pongo getting kicked by a horse or stepped on, etc. Then a kind lady walks up to me and tells me that if I can’t control my dogs, I should get them shock collars because dogs are not allowed in the horse pens.
That really made me mad because P & P come to me whenever I call them anywhere else in the park and I am certainly not going to torture them for this one incident. When Pongo finally comes to the fence, covered in stinkyness, my new friend informs me that I “sure have a chore to do tonight.” (To clean him off, in case I didn’t notice that he was completely BROWN.)
I’m sure my face was bright red, as it gets when I am angry, embarrassed, or pretty much for any other emotion you can think of! I didn’t say anything to her and walked away with my smelly dog (on his leash). Luckily, she and her dogs went in the other direction.

Last night, I got done with almost everything I needed to do for the first round of lectures today. (There’s only so long I can program in Matlab, you all know that!) So I decided to organize all of our DVD’s. Matt and I just bought a “ladder” bookshelf, which just leans against the wall. (I’ll post a picture later.) This shelf’s sole purpose is to consolidate all of our movies in to on area. So I got to work and even alphabetized them all! We have lots of movies…
I also watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE) from Sunday. I DVR’d it because Matt and I watched The Great Debaters (great movie!) on Sunday evening together. Anyway, Sunday’s EMHE was done in Chapman, KS. Chapman is not far from my hometown and got hit by an F4 tornado last summer.
The people that received the new house couldn’t have deserved it more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more emotion-filled episode of EMHE. What I really liked was that they did other projects in Chapman besides just the one house. They built a community storm shelter and planted a garden for an elderly woman whose new house didn’t have one. They also fixed up a couple other houses and filled them with furniture for people who had lost everything. It was a wonderful show!
I’ll try to post some recent pictures soon!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Catching Up

This week has been one for catching up on many things in many different ways. I'll admit, most of it involves school. I got embarrassingly far behind the first week, while trying to figure out and navigate the distance learning program. I will also admit that I almost dropped out! I am getting no help from my professor at all! First of all, it took me a really long time to figure out how to connect my personal hard drive to Purdue's server so that I could access the files I needed to turn in the very first home work assingment. My professor didn't know anything about how to do that, nor did he offer anything constructive when I emailed him for help on my programming homework. For example, after a few vague and condescending suggestions, his email ended with: "I'm afraid this code needs major revision. Good luck."
I also emailed him to ask if we could exchange emails between the distance learners, since we have no support group like the students on campus. The students at Purdue can form study groups and go to the professor in person for help. We have none of that, so an email exchange seemed like a decent solution. Nope. My professor will not do this because it is a violation of student privacy to release email addresses. While he has a valid point, he could have even done something as simple as send an email to the distance learners and ask anyone if they would be opposed to it.
The final straw happened during the last lecture on Thursday. My saving grace with assignments has been that the distance learners have a couple extra days to turn in homework, since we are listening to the lectures as they fit with our schedules. Well apparently, this has not gone over well with the on-campus students because our professor can't give homework solutions until everyone has turned in the assignment. So now, distance learners have the same deadlines, no student support network and only our professor to turn to for help.
The class I have been referring to is my GPS Satellite Surveying class. I am also taking an engineering stats class, which has fortunately been all lecture and no assignments so far. My GPS class has taken up ALL of my time, aside from simply being able to watch the stats lectures. Wednesday, I had a breakthrough and figured out my Matlab program. I also finished another GPS assignment and watched 2 lectures. The rest of the week, it was like a weight off my shoulders! I had caught up on school so much, and successfully at the same time! (Successfully meaning I didn't just turn in the incorrect code in order to just get it off my plate.)
So naturally, with all this school and work stuff going on, I lost A LOT of sleep last week, as I mentioned in my previous post. Since I was able to get so much done in the middle of last week, I used the weekend to catch up on sleep. I know this is not the doctor reccommended way to get enough sleep, but it definitely helps me!
This week has also been one for catching up with people I haven't seen out here in way too long! Tuesday, I had lunch with my cousin Andrew. I hadn't seen him in probably 6 months and he is recently engaged, so we had lots to catch up on. He works in the Denver Tech Center, pretty close to where I work, so it worked out well for us to meet up for lunch. We had Mediterranean food, which was a new experience for me. It was very good and it was nice to be able to talk with someone who is also working and getting his Master's. Andrew understands what my life is like right now! :)
I was also able to have dinner with my friend Liz on Wednesday night. We met up in downtown Denver and did some major catching up. Liz and I have been friends since we were born. We grew up about five houses from each other, so we walked to school together every day in grade school and jr. high. Every time I go downtown, I am in awe at how beautiful it is. Sorry K.C., but I think Denver has one of the most beautiful downtown skylines I have ever seen, especially at night. Liz and I had chinese at P.F. Changs, so I am had some very culturally diverse meals this week.
And now, after this long blog post, I have caught you all up on what is going on in my life right now. I will really try in the future to steer clear of school stuff. I know it's boring, but I have to rant somewhere! Be sure to leave me a comment and catch me up with the things going on in your lives!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sleepless in Denver

One of the things I really hate is when I am super tired and just can’t sleep. Last night was one of those nights. I tossed and turned until 12:30 or so, which probably doesn’t seem bad to some of you, but I get up at 5:30am and 5 hours of sleep just doesn’t cut it these days. I guess I just have a lot on my mind lately. Plus Matt got home late and I really don’t sleep well until he’s home. For one thing, Pongo howls when the garage opens, which also disturbs Perdi in her kennel. It’s hard to get everybody settled down again.
I am somewhat bothered by the remote software package I am allowed to access at Purdue. It is great in the sense that I don’t have to buy any expensive software packages. I can just type in my password and use whatever program I need! The problem is that I spent hours and hours writing code for a class project and I can’t get the files I need off the Purdue server to email it to my professor for guidance. I tried everything, but it doesn’t recognize my computer as a drive.
Now I have the help desk working on it. Adding to the frustration is the fact that my work computer won’t allow me to access the software, so I can’t see if the help desk’s guidance worked. I know I will get this all ironed out just fine, but operating under work and school deadlines is pretty stressful, especially when you can’t do something as simple as access a file! Distance students have an extra week to complete assignments, but I am trying to stick to the hard deadlines so I don’t get behind.
I am excited that today is Inauguration Day! I realize that not everybody shares my sentiments, but I have so much hope for the future of our country! President Obama has a really tough job to do in the next four years, and I just hope he gets the support he needs in order to succeed! I sure wish I could be in D.C. today! If anyone is going to be there, I would sure love to hear stories and see pictures!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is It Winter or Spring?

I sincerely apologize for the lack of blogs lately! I am working on my time management skills now that school has started. Sometimes I wonder how I’m even supposed to get any work done during the day unless I force all of my school questions out of my head.
I am not thrilled that our first assignment involves programming. Any of you that went to school with me at KU, or even knew me at that time, know how bad I am at programming. I think I have made some decent progress on the assignment, but it just won’t work! I hope I am not in over my head. I am going to send my code to my professor and see what guidance he can give me.
This weekend was so nice, in many ways. First of all, I got to spend two whole days with Matt! (Besides the time I spent on school). We took the opportunity to drive to Boulder on Saturday afternoon to watch KU play CU in basketball. We sat in the 6th row! That would never happen in Allen Fieldhouse, but CU definitely doesn’t have the same magical atmosphere as Allen Fieldhouse. I hope KU never builds a new facility.
There were SO MANY KU fans at the game Saturday. It was at least half full of Kansas’ Crimson and Blue. So that was really cool. I just with KU would have played better, even though they won.
Another way this weekend was nice was with the weather! I have heard so many people talk about how cold it has been where they live. Well in Denver, we have been spoiled with 50 and 60 degree temperatures. Tomorrow, the expected high is 70! I feel like we’ve completely skipped winter, but now that I say that, it will probably be cold and snowy until June.
The dogs enjoyed another trip to the dog park yesterday. They both ran and ran. Perdi slept for a while in the evening, but it seems like she never really gets tired. I wish I could steal some of her energy.
Here is my final thought for the day: When Matt and I buy a house, we will NOT have white carpet anywhere. We have white carpet covering our entire rental house and it is SO HARD TO KEEP CLEAN! We are so lucky to have received a Little Green carpet steam cleaner for Christmas. We have certainly kept it busy. Also, whoever decided to put white carpet in the bathrooms in our house was just silly. I just think carpet in kitchens or bathrooms is silly in general. It is so time consuming to keep it all clean, but very important to do so in a rental house just the same!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chease Deep and Other Recent Adventures

I just finished my first lecture as a grad student! I have to admit, I'm feeling a little intimidated by the whole process of distance learning. I do really like my teacher though! He has been nominated for numerous teaching awards by his students and i can see why.

I am a little dissapointed that I only finished one lecture tonight. I still have my stats class to view and take notes on. I focused on GPS Positioning tonight because it pertains most to my career, and it has the corresponding textbook that is FILLED with long and scary equations. I realized tonight how rusty I am. I haven't used some of the required software (Matlab, for all of you engineer/meteorology/geography people who want specifics) in way too long!
Well, I figured it would take me a little bit of time to download the lectures and figure out how to view them. That actually turned out to be the easy part. The difficult part will be getting a copy of Matlab or remote logging in to Purdue's computer labs (if that is even possible) to complete the first assignment. Luckily, our second class has already been cancelled! My professor will be attending a conference on Thursday, so I will only have my stats lecture that day.
Perdi complicated the school part of my evening a bit when she woke up this morning. I have been letting her sleep with Matt in the bed so that he gets more rest in the mornings. She will not sleep otherwise. Well, she woke up and Matt was still sound asleep. She managed to shred a few pages of New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series, which Matt and I are reading. Fortunately, she only got to the title page and table of contents before Matt woke up and caught her. The bad part is that she also managed to potty on the bed, even though I had just taken her out about 1.5 hours previous to the incident. She has quite a big bladder now, so it soaked through the comforter and onto the sheets. She has quite good timing, since I was super productive on Sunday and washed everything on the bed, including the duvet cover. So I got to repeat that process today. Not a good way to start off the semester. But I do have to say that she must have felt bad about it, because she slept all through the lecture while I watched it and took notes. I was worried that she would be energetic and I'd be distracted by making sure she wasn't getting into anything.
Pongo is pretty much an angel lately. He is so patient with Perdi and even accompanied her to the vet for her last round of shots, even though he didn't need to go. (I really just wanted to teach him that going to the vet isn't always about getting poked and stuck with needles.) Tonight, he was watching me take notes and then when I set my notebook down with the first page open, he sat up and looked directly into the notebook. I wish I been able to take a picture. He looked like a student himself.
Alright, enough about school. I'm sure you are wondering about the title of this post. Well, on Saturday night, we drove to Golden for an evening of fun with Nick and Carlene. We ended up going to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. We ordered our food and an appetizer of cheese dip. We were surprised when we got the bill and saw this:

Now, I don't mean to make fun, but we just thought that this restaurant should have know how to spell "cheese dip," since it is one of the main appetizers requested! It sure was good chease deep though!

Also notice on this check, that someone ordered a "Grande #2." Yes, Matt ordered a large dinner. And it was this HUGE plate of food that no one could ever finish. That is unless you are Matt Millard and you are dared to finish it by one Nick M. Here is Matt, taking his last bite. The funniest part is that the waitor came and tried to take his plate when there was still some food on it, but Matt told him he was still eating. I love Matt. He doesn't let a bite of food go to waste!

On Sunday, I caught the productive "bug" right as Matt headed off to work. I decided the dogs deserved some freedom from the house, and because it was such a nice day, we went to the Cherry Creek dog park. These are older pictures from a previous visit, but this is a good time to post them.

I also cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, did laundry and vacuumed. I accidentally caught a shoelace in the Dyson when I was vacuming and the brush stopped spinning after I pulled it out. I thought I was going to have to have Matt fix it when I noticed a little red button on the side with a picture of the brush. I pushed it and turned the vacuum on. The brush started spinning again just like that! I have never seen a vacuum that is so easy to fix!

The dogs were so tired Sunday evening after the dog park and running errands with me. It was nice to just have Perdi sleeping instead of wondering what trouble she is getting into. I wish we could get to the dog park every day!
I think I am going to end the post here, though I'm sure you are all so eager to hear about Perdi's puppy class. :) I figure you've all had enough dog talk for the day, so I'll save that one. I will say this though: between the two of us, we sure have a lot of homework already!

Friday, January 9, 2009

School Girls

This week will be a big one for the Mountain Millard women. Perdi and I will both start school! I am taking Perdi to puppy school tomorrow for some much needed training. She will have 4 classes this month and learn obedience through "clicker" training. The clicker is supposed to attract the dog's attention so that they respond better to commands. I am interested to see how she responds. Pongo will probably get to learn clicker training as well so that we are consistent.

Perdi is definitely giving Matt and I an adventure in life these days. Her latest vice is her consistent chewing. I don't know how much money I have spent on chew toys for her, but she would still rather chew on ANYTHING that she is not supposed to. For example, last night she chewed right through the cord that connects my new iPod to my computer. I was NOT happy about that. She also enjoys shoes, sticks and Pongo, when he is caught off guard. I don't remember Pongo being this bad. On a good note, she is doing great with potty training and a little better at letting Matt sleep in the morning. She goes to bed very well at night with little complaint and is quiet in her kennel during the day when we're gone.
Purdue finally sent me an email explaining how I will need to go about accessing my lectures online. I was worried about this, since classes start Monday and I hadn't heard anything. It is so strange to be starting school again, but not be in a campus setting. I keep thinking of all the things I'm going to have to cut out of my life. I am not sure if I am ready to give up my freedom in the evenings and weekends! It is going to be a challenge, but I know it will be worth it. I have given everybody at work the opportunity to do some homework for me if they feel so inclined. :) Other than that, we really don't have much of interest going on in our lives right now. It's nice to just get back in a routine after the holidays. We are looking forward to watching KU take on CU out here in Boulder next weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Year

So here it first post of the new year. I suppose that not blogging on January 1st is a bad omen for how well I will keep this updated. (Hasn't it been said that what you do on the first day of the year is what you will be doing the rest of the year?) Well, I wasn't fact, we were celebrating a combination of Christmas and New Year's in Kansas City.
Our Kansas trip was a whirlwind of seeing friends and family, attending a basketball game, eating A LOT and fabulous weather. I was treated to a warm overcast morning on Saturday, which is my favorite. We took Pongo and Perdi along again, and they were great travellers. I think they are getting used to the road, even though we still had to use a mild sedative with Pongo. It was nice to have extra room with our new car to spread out. We even stopped in Manhattan on the way back on Sunday to have brunch with my family.
The whole trip was wonderful. It sounds like we will have a new slate of visitors this year, some of whom have already been here! It was sad to leave Kansas though, because I got to thinking about the next time we will see everyone again and how I don't even know when that is! I'm sure we will have to plan a weekend plane trip back sometime in February or March. But I am certain that I am sick of that drive for a while after doing it twice in a month's span.
I really have much more to say about our trip back, but I have a lot on my mind lately. Particularly, I was shocked to hear the news about the death of our long-time neighbor in Manhattan. Here is the short story from the Manhattan Mercury:

Local woman dies from accident injuries
Staff reports
A Manhattan resident who was injured in a two-vehicle accident on I-70 Dec. 19 has died.
Amy Gatschet, 71, died Sunday, Dec. 28 at Via-Christie/St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, from injuries she sustained in the collision. Her husband, Frank, 73, also was injured in the crash.
The Gatschets were struck in their 2004 Toyota SUV when William L. Speulda, 67, of California, lost control of his vehicle due to icy road conditions and slid across the median. Speulda was driving a 2003 Ford pickup that came to a rest on the north shoulder of the road and caught fire. Gatschet's vehicle came to a rest in the north ditch.


Amy Gatschet was the best kind of citizen and neighbor anyone could ask for. The whole community of Manhattan and beyond will truly feel the loss of such a wonderful person. It is hard to think that she will not be there smiling and waving anymore when I visit Manhattan.
I have so many memories of Amy, ranging from Seven Dolors bell choir to orchestra trips. Her daughter Diana is close in age to me and is an amazing cellist, so naturally our families spent quite a bit of time together at concerts and orchestra trips.
Frank and Amy were always willing to take in local kids who needed a place to stay while finishing school, in most cases when their parents moved from Manhattan. It was really hard to hear about the tragic accident on I-70. It made me think about how fast things change and how easily it could have been my own family. (They made the same journey only 4 days later and in quite a snowstorm.)
My dad added quite a profound statement to one of his emails which really struck me: Life is unpredictable. Change is certain.

I get so caught up in the changes and stresses in my own life that I am shocked when the comfortable and familiar things from childhood are suddenly gone. Change is certain, whether we like it or not.