Monday, October 26, 2009

Luckily, I had (pretty) good hair

My last-minute assignment today: go to prestigious hair salon, watch demonstration to staff by world-renowned Belgian hairstylist, ask questions.

I had never been to this salon before today; it's too high-end for my budget. Part of me would love to have one of the stylists tell me how to solve my hair malaise and help me achieve perfect hair. But since I don't have pocketfuls of money to throw at a hairstylist, I have stayed away from this particular salon.

Thankfully, I curled my hair today. But I still felt self-conscious in a room full of stylists, and I wanted to apologize and explain how difficult it is, you see, to curl the back of my hair, and even more difficult to make it stay curled.

I sat next to a guy who commented on my face shape and my best features, and how all women should have a hair consultation and a good stylist (and, I felt, coming just short of saying "You probably should re-think your hair," but maybe that was just my self-consciousness talking).

I should have said what I was really thinking: When you wake up the morning after getting your hair styled, and you shower and your hair is back to square one, how do you then make it look as spectacular as it did when you walked out of the salon? And is it even possible to achieve picture-perfect hair every day? And how much does it matter?

There are lots of magazines and sites out there devoted to the subject of perfect hair, and how it is critical you achieve that look.



But I don't think it's possible to make your own hair look salon-style perfect, simply from a logistical standpoint. I can't style the back of my head in the same way a hairstylist can because my arms don't bend in the right places, and I can't see it properly.

That's not even accounting for my lack of education. If all women are supposed to have that kind of hair, we need more than just good stylists, or magazines with great before-and-after makeover photos. We need to take our own hairstyling classes from master European stylists. (But then, hairstylists would probably be out of a job.)

And this is assuming it really is critical to have perfect hair. Watch this piece on hair ads from a TV show that examines the lengths advertisers will go to reach the female demographic. (I've just discovered this show and I really like it.)

,


We want our hair to look good, but is it worth the hundreds or thousands of dollars some people spend? And do regular people take notice and appreciate the time, effort and dollars that go into just attempting to make our hair perfect?

In conclusion (as though this long blog had a point), I may never have incredible hair, but if I just stay out of prestigious salons, then at least I won't notice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dear New York Fashion Show,

I have a suggestion: Why not use girls from Third World countries for your runway shows? You wouldn't have to feed them any more than you do the current models, and you'd be giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You'd be helping impoverished girls, highlighting the troubles of their native countries, and holding an exciting, new kind of fashion show at the same time!



But maybe I just don't understand you and the position of utmost importance you hold in society, and your impressive dedication to fashion, culture and the body as art, and your benevolence to the fashion-ignorant among us, who can't grasp the subtle differences between a delicate, ethereal runway model and a gaunt, starving inhabitant of one of those poor countries over there.

Photo by Getty Images, in case someone gets mad at me for using it

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A lesson relearned

I learned today why reporters shouldn’t send articles to the subjects of those articles for review.

Of course, I knew that already. I learned it years ago during that naïve, post-high-school summer when I wrote articles for a newspaper for the first time.

No matter how much they beg, if your first instinct says “No,” don’t send it to them. They will want to rewrite your article and change everything they said.

My editor wanted me to send a particular article to a particular subject, so despite my misgivings, I did it.

Big mistake. She’s that Type-A, do-it-herself, in-control type of person. Those are the dangerous ones, because they want to reword the entire piece in their favor.

I am a writer, not an advertiser. My job is to write a coherent, consistent story, a whole that is made up of its parts. I leave out what doesn’t fit, I include what is necessary for my angle, and I do it within the word count I have been given. That is my job. (And incidentally, the article is a profile! It is a favorable article! But she wanted more.)

Fortunately, my editor understands; she’s good like that. She’s a writer, too.

But unfortunately, now I have to deal with the consequences. Do I write her back and tell her “I’ll see what I can do?” Do I just ignore it and wait for the fallout when the article comes out and she sees that her changes have not been made? Do I tell her that her suggested changes don’t really fit the tone of our magazine?

The best thing may be to defer to the editor, because a good editor has your back. I can tell the lady to take it up with the editor, and then it’s out of my hands. Sweet relief.

It almost makes me rethink my dreams of becoming a book editor.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday's post

I didn't have time on Thursday, but here is today's prompt.

Prompt: The word "saturnine," which means gloomy, sullen, and sluggish, or sardonic and bitter.

I realize a couple of these pieces have been rather dark and gloomy, you could say saturnine (ha ha). I'll try to find a happier prompt next week. And I also realize I haven't named any of these people. It just happened that way. I'm really just freewriting, and I guess I can't think of names while I'm doing that.

-----

The man’s face is stone. Hauling a girl into the cell by her upper arm, he is unaffected by her screams. He releases his icy grip and she falls to the stone floor, sobbing. The door shuts with a screech and a slam. The hint of a bitter smile creases his hard lips as he turns and walks away, the girl’s moans echoing off the walls.

She lies on the ground for a long time, willing herself to get up, but her will isn’t strong enough. Instead, she feels the cold from the floor seeping into her back and chilling her bones. From the grate in the ceiling, light streams down from the sun that had been hidden by cloud. It falls on her face, and she blinks in the brightness, tears in her eyes. It feels warm, and she doesn’t move for fear she will scare away the beautiful light. Then the moment passes as a cloud covers the sun again, and now she is blinking in the dimness.

She finally gets up, but painfully; the bruises on her body are tender, and she winces at the pain in her knees. Pulling herself to a sitting position, she brings her knees to her chest, draws her veil over her head, and huddles for warmth under the patch of light, where she waits. And waits. And waits.

The girl doesn’t move. It is futile to try; this cell seems built to hold her forever. She has stopped shivering from cold and fear; it seems the cell has numbed her body and her mind.

After many days - she never counted them - of waiting in the patch of light, the cell door opens, and she is dragged once again, out into blinding sunlight and heat that could bake a loaf of bread. An instant later, a blindfold is placed over her eyes, but she is too exhausted to be afraid, too parched to cry.

She is hauled, dragged, then carried across the dry ground for an age, and is finally dropped to her knees into a bank of sand. She waits for the shot to come, for the pain and the blood. Will it come from the front or the back? she wonders. It seems a strange thing to wonder at this moment, but she stopped thinking rationally a long time ago.

She waits, seeing nothing, hearing nothing.

Finally, she feels brave enough to peel the blindfold off her eyes. When she can see in the bright sunlight, she is all alone in a vast sea of sand.

Wednesday's prompt

I wrote this on the 26th, but forgot to put it up.

Prompt: write from the point of view of a woman (actually 3, but I ran out of time) from Marmora.

I had to look up Marmora. There's one in Ontario, one in New Jersey, and one in Greece. Greece sounded so much more interesting.

----

I could hear Papa’s voice on the balcony, loud and booming through the blue-framed windows. From the kitchen, I couldn’t tell what he was saying, but I knew he was telling one of his funny stories – probably one he had told a hundred times already. His voice crescendoed, and then he paused, and it seemed as though the whole house held its breath.

In my mind’s eye, I could see him quietly uttering the next words with a nonchalant wave of his hand the way he always did, as though the punch line was nothing. Suddenly, all the friends and family crowded onto our tiny balcony burst into guffaws, and I smiled.

I placed the last of the hot keftedes and spanakopita triangles onto platters. They steamed and filled the kitchen with the savory scent of mint, paprika, and feta. My mouth watered, and I couldn’t help snatching one of the little meatballs for myself.

I carried the platters out to the balcony, still loud with the sound of laughter and chatter. The warm, salty evening air mingled with the rich spices; it was the smell of every summer I had ever known. One of my uncles stood so I could sit in his chair. I thanked him with a kiss, then popped another meatball in my mouth and settled in to listen to another of Papa’s stories.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A mid-year's resolution

I want to write fiction very badly, but I've been having a lot of trouble with commitment and ideas. I've expressed before that I think I have writer's ADD. Anyway, I found this site that gives writing prompts, and I'm going to try (repeat, TRY) to use them to write for a few minutes every day, like 500 words or less.

So with this photograph prompt (that came from Flickr's le vent le cri), here is my little piece.



(Keep in mind, it's very rough)

She kicked off her little yellow flats and leaped into the snow, squealing and throwing the little flakes into the air.

“Isn’t it cold?” he asked her.

She turned to him. “The snow?”

“Yes, of course the snow. You’re barefoot.”

She giggled, her cheeks and nose pink by now, her breath coming in little rhythmic puffs of steam. Snowflakes dotted her wild hair like stars, melting and dying only to be replaced by twenty more. Ducking her head and shoulders, she bolted for him, and in shock, he didn’t move, didn’t even take his hands from his pockets. He fell to the cold ground with a thud, and she just laughed.

But instead of laughing along, he kicked and struggled to get free.

“Ow!” he wailed, pushing her off him. He frowned and got up, brushing the snow off his jeans. “You got snow in my shoes.”

He hobbled on one foot while taking off his other shoe and beating the melting slush out of it. She was still sitting, only this time she was glaring at the white field, which was edged by gray spindle trees. It was still and quiet, with no birds tweeting in the trees. The snowflakes were falling harder now. It was hard to tell the difference between the white-gray sky and the white-gray snow. Her toes were pink, and she wiggled them to chase away the cold that had finally numbed them.

He was now standing above her, his hands back in his pockets and his shoulders drawn up tight.

“You used to like playing in the snow with me.”

He didn’t say anything.

With a deep sigh that came from some inner source of regret and sorrow, she heaved herself off the ground. He didn’t extend his hand to help her.

She slipped her cold, wet feet back into the flats, hardly remembering why she had chosen to wear them on such an icky day to begin with. They were pretty, but he hadn’t noticed.

Stuffing her hands in her jacket pockets and mimicking the stiff, hunched-shoulder pose that he was holding, she trudged up the white road. The footsteps they had made on the way down were already nearly invisible, buried by the new flakes that fell fast as she walked away, leaving him standing alone, gazing at the gray spindle trees, and wondering where was the fun in all this cold.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

If it's not one thing, it's another

I'm so frustrated at all these "healthcare plan opponents" who are just inciting fear and spreading rumors. Everything has been blown wildly out of proportion, and people are protesting things that aren't even factual anymore. "It's going to be FASCISM!!! Or SOCIALISM!!! They'll kill old people!!! The government is taking over our lives!!! It's just like 1984!!!!!!"

I want to slap them, tell them to wake up, chill out, take a breather, and look at the facts. You know why? Because I really want this public option insurance. I am a hard-working, college educated, legal American, who doesn't pop out kids to get welfare, who lives within her means, but still can't afford health insurance.

I can't go to the doctor. Not if I need to, not if I want to. Not if I get swine flu this fall, or bronchitis, or even strep throat. Not if I need a prescription. Not even if I can pay with cash! So many clinics won't even let me talk to a doctor without insurance.

It feels like all these protesters are just selfish. If it works for them, it works for everyone else too, right? Maybe I'm totally wrong on this, and maybe I'm the one with all my facts screwed up, but all I know is that the current system is not working for ME.

I wish I could say this somewhere where it would get some attention. I'm afraid the six of you who follow my blog don't have much say in the matter either:(

Maybe I should write my representative in Congress.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's not exactly a collection

Some people collect stamps or coins. I used to collect banana stickers (those ones that come on bananas, like Dole and Chiquita), and old calendars. But I was young and weird.

Anyway, I have recently (and I don't even know how this happened) developed an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. I think I would like to make it a goal to visit his houses and structures, at least the ones that are available to tour, sometime in my life (there are about 400 total, but most of them are private and you can't tour them).



I really can't explain why I want this. I have some friends who like to visit lighthouses, and have visited as many as possible. It's like collecting themed experiences rather than little objects.

It's just a thought I've been formulating for a little while.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I don't understand

Businesses that don't have websites. They seem upscale and popular, but they don't have websites.

It's appalling and, to me anyway, the equivalent of a shocking faux pas at a party. "You don't have a website?! Oh dear me!" And then I proceed to slink away, aghast, in search of other conversation.

Ok, I've never actually had that conversation, but that's how I envision it in my head. I want to take the owners by the shoulders and shake while saying loudly, "Idiot! You have a good business here! Don't ruin it by neglecting your online presence!"

I see this all the time at the magazine. Businesses will run print ads, but either don't have a website or don't include it in the ad. They must seriously underestimate the importance and the impact of the internet. Truth be told, if a business doesn't have a website, it makes me much less inclined to shop there. Ever.

This is 2009, not 1999! Websites are not optional anymore!

I just don't understand.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New puppy!

We finally got a puppy! No, not an expensive Australian Terrier, but a perfectly good (and much cheaper) substitute. He's an 11-week-old Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix. We named him Miles, after putting it to a vote on Facebook. (We had a hard time agreeing on names).



I'm taking this opportunity to write while he's napping. I try to exhaust him as often as possible, so I can have a few minutes of free time. Ugh. It's like having a child. (I'm seriously rethinking any aspirations to have actual children one day.)



We've officially had him for two whole days. And he's a total mess. Potty training is not a quick process. We're also trying to teach him not to bite and chew people, but toys instead. Thankfully my learning curve is just about as quick as his, and I think I'm finding more effective ways of teaching him. For example, stuffing his mouth with chew toys when it opens and not giving him the opportunity to get his teeth on my fingers. That works pretty well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More puppy disappointment

So I found some really cute puppies on Petfinder. Adorable. They were going to be available in Nashville this weekend!

I thought about them all day long, intending to talk tonight with Andy about whether we should get a puppy right now. I emailed the place just to make sure they'd be there.

I get home, I go exercise, I have dinner, I check my email.

They're not available. People have been applying for them all week. I just missed it.

I think my standards are lowering. I wanted an Australian Terrier, but when that fell through, I wanted one of the adorable puppies. Now, I just want a puppy at all.

I should just be patient. So with a sigh, I'll wait until tomorrow and check the postings again. If there's a cute puppy out there, I'm not gonna be the last to know about it this time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Puppy disappointment

I went yesterday to see the women who breed the Australian Terriers, and we had a great visit. The dogs are adorable! I love them, which makes this even harder.

I figured they might be expensive, seeing as how they come from breeders who primarily show their dogs rather than breed them for sale. And since they are an uncommon breed.

But I didn't expect this.

$1,500? Really?

I didn't say anything when they told me. I think I was too shocked to really let it sink it. But now, as I think about it, I don't know how I'll ever afford that much for a puppy - or if I should even try.

It seems exorbitant. Is that the normal cost? Does anyone know a good Australian Terrier breeder who will sell them for less? I'm not exactly rolling in dough here. I want a puppy, but I don't want to sell my kidney to get one.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recipe time!

Every now and then, I cook something good. Occasionally, I feel like sharing it. No pictures today though. I don't feel like getting the camera out.

Barbecue Pizza (based on a Pampered Chef recipe)

1. Roll out refrigerated pizza dough on a pan. I say this because I am too impatient to make my own, but I prefer homemade.

2. Spread barbecue sauce on the dough instead of pizza sauce. Sweet Baby Ray's is great BBQ sauce.

3. Sprinkle with chopped pineapple, diced fri-chik (for the vegetarians. I suppose chicken or beef or something would work great too) and sliced green onions. You could also add things like spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, or whatever else you enjoy, but the three main toppings of pineapple, chicken, and green onions are great.

4. Top with mozzarella cheese.

5. Bake until it's done. Sorry, no temperature or time recommendations. Consult the pizza dough packaging or just guess.

6. Eat. Yum. You could serve with some kind of summery drink like pina coladas.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I know, I know

*sigh* I haven't written in a long time.

I blame it on school. Suddenly school got out, and I discovered there was actually time to do other things I want to do, like reading, cooking, exercising, being crafty, shopping, sleeping, watching movies, etc., etc.

So the blog has taken a back seat and has not been given the option of expressing its opinion on the matter.

Maybe one of these days, I'll put things into balance and start getting on the computer more often. For the past few weeks, I've hardly touched it. This is really a good problem to be having, I'm sure, of all the problems I could possibly have.

Here's a fun picture:



They're Australian Terriers, and I'm going to see a lady tomorrow about getting one in the fall. I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not such a great idea

This is yet another ad by that Dr. Oz "forever young" magical cure guy.

Forgive me if I don't understand the appeal of this.



A teenager? Again? Really?

It was great to be a teenager once, but I wouldn't want to be that way now. Pimples, awkward body, flat chest, bad haircut. I do not associate my teenage years with the word "gorgeous." And judging by the other photos in my yearbook, I'm pretty sure nobody else does either.

Maybe this guy's ads work for some people, but every ad so far has just been a turn-off for me. His marketing people should probably try a different approach if they want to get my seal of approval.

Because that's what they're going for. Right.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's beyond me

I find it amusing to point out stores with names that were probably thought to be clever puns at the time, but are really not because they're cheesy, or they don't make sense, or both.

I've found two of them in Atlanta.

"Lettuce Souprise You" is a restaurant with just too many food allusions that don't really make sense, because when you say it out loud, "Let Us Surprise You" is simply not a good name for a restaurant. It does not make me want to eat there.

Or how about the sex shop named "Inserection." It makes me think that the creators of the store just wanted the name because they just wanted to somehow "cleverly" use the word "erection." They make some sort of link to a "sexual revolution" or something on their website, but it's a stretch.

There's another crafty store some where in North Carolina called "4 Seasons 4 U." Or maybe it's "Four Seasons 4 U." It really doesn't matter. It's heinous either way.

Maybe I'm just anal about these things, when other people think they don't matter. In the long run, I'm sure they don't, but they provide me with a momentary wry laugh and a sigh for the plight of our culture and creativity.

I probably shouldn't even get going on badly designed websites, misspelled and mispunctuated signs, eggcorns, and the nonsensical common use of the word "literally" in place of "figuratively." Like, "I literally laughed my head off" or something. Fortunately, there are lots of people who agree with me, and there's even a blog devoted to the many abuses of the word.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A plant story

Remember those pretty plant seedlings from a few months back?

Well here's the tomato.



Home Depot killed my plants. Sort of.

For a while, my plants have had these little bug things crawling in the soil and flying around. I learned from the internet that these were called fungus gnats. I went to Home Depot to find a solution to my problem.

After examining various ominous and deadly pesticide concoctions, she handed me a bottle and said "Let the soil dry out, then spray this on it."

"Thanks!" I said with glee and clutched the poison tight. I was going to rid my plants of these bugs forever.

I didn't wait for the soil to dry out. It was going to take too long, and those bugs were everywhere. So I squirted and sprayed the white pesticide with abandon.

Well, a few hours later, my plants drooped and choked for breath. The spinach died. The tomatoes died. It was a plant massacre. The larger plants, like the cilantro and the zucchini, are slowly suffocating, gasping, and turning yellow. It's too bad, because both of those plants were blooming.



It was then that I picked up the bottle and examined it myself. Nothing on the bottle says it's acceptable for plants. It's the kind of poison you spray directly on spiders and ants and wasps and stuff. And now I can say with certainty that it also kills plants.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's true

After much cartoon zombie-slaughtering, I have decided this is one of my favorite games.



It's definitely the opposite of spooky. In this game, the zombies are called the fun-dead.

Here's the site.

Tell us please - how?



One word: Photoshop.

Do people believe this?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For Freedom and DIY Projects!

While looking for ideas on decorating the apartment, I ran across these pretty pictures on the Pier 1 website:



But they're $30 a piece, and I just can't afford those on my budget, but I still want them, so I spent Saturday afternoon painting my own. (Excuse the wrinkly futon cover/sheet. I plan to hang them as soon as I decide where.)



Does this make me a plagiarist? A cheap-skate? A crafty genius? I'm not really a painter - I just wanted to test myself and see if I could do it, and show up one of my favorite stores by ripping it off.

I'm not sure what to call it, but I have an individualist, self-sufficient, John-Locke-ish-Don't-tell-me-what-I-can-and-cannot-do, do-it-yourself attitude streak. I think I get it from my mom and Grandpa Wallace, who have been known to build/craft/design just about anything in a defiant effort to outwit the system. Mom says I can thank the rebellious Wallace influence.



I'm not really a descendant of Mel Gibson, but his picture looked so much more interesting than the real dude.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Green thoughts

I just interviewed an architect for my job at the magazine. He calls himself a naturalist, and tries to be as non-invasive and sustainable with his designs as possible. His opinion is that this “green wave” isn’t new, but is part of humanity’s oldest instincts to work with nature.

I re-watched The Matrix the other day (can you believe that movie is already 10 years old?) and I was struck by how relevant the film is even today. At one point, Agent Smith gives his famous tirade about how humanity is like a virus, consuming all the resources in one area before moving on to another area, rather than living responsibly as the animals do. It struck a chord because this idea is now a major discussion point, and we’re changing – we’re finally thinking responsibly.



But while it’s good that we’re aware of our impact on the Earth, personally, I'm not sure I can afford to act on that awareness. As a recent college graduate still trying to learn how to balance my budget, I have learned that the green, organic products at the grocery stores are often more expensive than the mass-produced or processed ones. Do I choose the organic, expensive option, or the processed, cheaper option? I’ll admit that often, my wallet takes precedence over my conscience.

Is this green wave a new trend? A return to humanity’s roots? Will it stick around? And will the prices come down?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Finally

I just moved. And graduated. Last week.

I've been exhausted. Hence, no new posts. I wanted to take a picture of the messy, box-filled apartment for your enjoyment, but I'm not entirely sure where my camera is.

In the mean time, I have been dreaming about having a "tea corner" ever since Prague. There was an amazing place on Vaclavske namesti called Dobra Cajovna, which means "Good Tea Room." It's a Czech chain that has a number of tea rooms throughout the country. Anyway, it's got this great middle eastern flavor and serves every kind of tea you can imagine. The place in Prague had a number of low tables with cushions on the floor, where you would remove your shoes, sit and drink freshly brewed tea from pots sitting above candles to keep them warm. Andy and I went there all the time.

I couldn't find a good picture of the place in Prague, but here's a picture of one in Brno. You can see the low tables with the cushions. The place in Prague looked similar, though there were tapestries on the wall.



Anyway, I've been dying to find an exotic-looking low table and cushions so I can make my own tea place in my house. The cushions are pretty easy to find. The tables, not so much. I found this cool thing in World Market today, but it's way above my budget.



I guess I'll keep looking. Not like I have any place to put a tea corner anyway with all these boxes in the way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's finally cool to be a veggie

I've spent most of my life as a vegetarian (not counting about two years there when I ate meat).

When I was little, it was weird to be a vegetarian. The kids at school didn't really get it when I refused their offers to share their Lunchables (remember those?)

Not only has vegetarianism finally become cool from a health standpoint, but you can also be a veggie and save the earth! Livestock farming accounts for an awful lot of the gasses and pollution in the world today. There's a new movement called "Meatless Mondays" that encourages everyone to stop eating meat once a week.



Get this: "Scientists estimate that if every American lowered meat consumption by just 20%, it would lower greenhouse gasses as much as if everyone in the country switched to driving Toyota Priuses" (that's from this website right here).

How cool is that? I've been saving the earth all my life and I didn't even know it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My new obsession

I love books. And I love arts and crafts. And I love just doing things for yourself.

I fallen in love with Rebound Designs. The creator, Caitlin Phillips, makes purses out of old books that would have been thrown out. What an idea! Why didn't anyone think of this before?

If you're confused, take a look at these photos from the website:







There are books for everyone - classic literature, obscure titles, retro school textbooks. My personal favorite:



Unfortunately, a lot of the good ones are already sold. And at $125 and up, they're a bit pricey for my budget. So I can only daydream.

Seriously, check them out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Snack time

We found some ripe avocados at Sam's Club today, and we got a great idea.



Fresh guacamole, homemade with cilantro from my little plants.



Yum.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Graduation

It's just 17 glorious days away...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maybe this will be easier to remember than canvas grocery bags

FreeRice is fun, but impractical (other than expanding your vocabulary).

Reusable canvas grocery bags are fantastic, but I forget to bring them with me to the store (I'm trying to remind myself more, especially now that I have a really cool looking one from Publix).

But now, all you have to do is search the internet and save the world!



Hoongle is a search engine powered by Google. Every time you search a term, they donate 20 grains of rice to the UN food program. Now, 20 grains of rice doesn't seem like much to me, but I guess it adds up. Every little bit counts, right?

Now let's see if I can remember to use it...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ugh.

Big story due tomorrow. Big research paper due Wednesday. Big photo project due Thursday.

"Stressful" is an understatement.

On a lighter note, here's a cute picture.



It's the Obamas' new puppy. So adorable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Moving!

Yes, we are moving! For sure and certain. Definitely.

They approved our application today. They say we can officially move in on the 25th, though we probably won't until like the 29th or 30th, because we figure it's wiser to wait until exams are over.



It's super nice, with two nice bedrooms. A dishwasher (no more doing stacks of dishes by hand!). Bigger (no more stuffing everything into this little place - did I mention it's only like 450 sq feet here?). Pest control (no more big, nasty, hairy spiders creeping in through the cracks). Better reception (no more dropped calls every few minutes). And a pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and we can have pets (I can't wait to get a dog!). And it's a total of 5 minutes from there to where I work. No more driving half an hour there and half an hour back! It's closer to Andy's school too.

That picture is from the site. Hamilton Pointe. Check it out.

I'm super excited about it. I actually haven't been inside, but Andy has, and he says it's perfect.

So...anyone have a truck we can borrow?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Moving?

We've been following the available apartments at this one place for the last few weeks. In those last few weeks, the prices on apartments have been cut, and cut, and cut again, to where now a 2 bedroom, 1016 sq foot apartment costs $625 a month. Super good deal. Well, sort of.

There's only one of those apartments, and it opens up April 21.

Andy and I have been going back and forth as to whether we should jump on that now, before it's gone, or wait until we know what the finances are for sure. I'm pretty sure I'll be getting at least a part time job. And he can work during the summer.

But that means spending the next couple of weeks packing in addition to finishing up research papers and final projects. If everything goes well, we could move in the 30th, after my exams are over. That would be cool.

So I'm praying hard that everything will work out, that they will accept our application, that it won't be crazy stressful, and that we're making the right decision.

We put in a request tonight to hold the apartment, and Andy's going to talk to them tomorrow.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Victory garden

I have plants - and they're actually growing. Here's proof:



Cilantro, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, jalapenos, and basil. They had a nice time today on my back porch in the 70+ degree weather. I'll admit, some of the cilantro is very wilty, and the basil is struggling. But the zucchini is doing well. In fact, the two zucchini plants seem to be struggling for domination. Natural selection in action. They've been brawling for the past few days. I'm going to have to do something about that. I think a transplant is in order for one of them. Either that or a termination. But which one?



And here's a nice shot of some of the stronger cilantro. My cilantro seedlings are practically dead, so I bought a couple of little plants, which is why the cilantro is so much bigger than the other plants (other than the zucchini). I'm thinking something Thai or something Mexican is in order...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Job status, part 2

The phone call came early; they didn't get the bid. My editor thinks it was probably decided long ago, and a bid was just a formality to give the appearance of more choice.

I know she was feeling really bad and stressed about it, so I didn't feel like going up to her and saying "So, what's my job status?" I'm sure it's on her mind.

They're going to start another similar project on their own, as competition with the other project, and as a way to fill gaps that the other project has. I'm hoping that they'll need my help and want to keep me on.

Actually, at this point, I'm pretty sure I'll have some kind of job there. Just how many hours is up in the air. Will I have to find another part-time job? We'll see. I'm just waiting...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Punch

Tuesday night. Another class, another blog.

Last night Andy and I went to see the Punch Brothers in concert. This bluegrass/jazz/classical band was formed by Chris Thile, member of Nickel Creek and widely seen as a prodigy. He's not only skilled at all kinds of instruments, but he's a composer as well, and that was obvious on the latest album, Punch.



Thile wrote an incredible, 40-minute, four-movement piece called "The Blind Leaving the Blind." It's about his recent divorce. Now, divorce is a terrible thing and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I do think that the pain from that divorce led him to write one of the most beautiful, powerful, haunting, emotional pieces of music I have ever heard. It was good on the CD, but they played the whole thing last night, and it was perfect.

And they were really cool and funny, and we got their autographs.



Anyway, Andy and I had a great time. Amazing music and talent. Check them out.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yesterday

Drove 6 hours in windy weather to Memphis.

Saw Andy's brother, wife and cute little baby (who also drove 6 hours to Memphis from OK).

Drove back 6 hours to Chattanooga, the last two hours of which were spent in torrential rains that followed us from Nashville.

Slept really well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Job status, part 1

I worked up the courage to talk to my boss today. I shouldn't have been nervous, though - she's really cool. Anyway, I wanted to ask her what I could expect after graduation as far as the job goes.

She said she likes the work I do, and she would be willing to increase my hours to four days a week (though they can't put me on full-time). There's a hitch, though. The magazine is having to bid right now for a project, and if they lose the bid, they'll have a tough year as far as finances go. So if the bid goes through, my job goes through. If not, well, no one knows yet.

They'll know the bid status next Friday.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday night blues



I'm in an evening class tonight. Every Tuesday night, I attend this class. It has a mouthful of a name: Mass Media Law & Ethics. It's taught by this old guy who likes to spend the two-and-a-half-hour-or-so class going off on tangents. He's not a full-time professor; I think he's an editor of some kind at the newspaper. Whoever he is, he's interminably boring, especially considering that he doesn't actually test us over any of the things we discuss in class. Tests consist of opinion-type essays, so there is no real incentive to pay attention. Needless to say, I spend the majority of the class surfing the internet or doing homework on my laptop. I come to class early so I can get one of the coveted back-row seats, so as to better surf/study. It's boring, it's a waste of my time, and worse still, it's a waste of my money.

Since I'm a senior and I'm graduating in a total of 40 days, I don't really even want to complain. I don't care enough.

But what's worse is that most of the other students in this class are from the current senior class. They all know each other and hang out all the time. They have inside jokes. They love having this class together. And I am not a part of that.

My class graduated a year ago. I got to have those classes with all of us together, where we laughed and talked and loved class. But at that time, I was a junior and they were seniors. Spending a year away from college is, I have come to discover, bittersweet.

So these are my Tuesday night blues. I'm bored and alone, and I can't wait for class to end.

That's not a picture of my dog or anything. I didn't even take it. It just looks sad, so I thought it was appropriate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My first wedding

Ok, it's not my first wedding. It's just the first wedding I've ever shot.

I was asked by a friend to help her take pictures of this wedding. I am very amateur and I am a terrible novice, so my ratio of good pictures to total pictures was pretty low. And just before the reception, my (slow) camera got itself all twisted up and started corrupting the pictures, so I had to turn it off and spend the evening waiting for Tanya to finish shooting the reception. I was so scared I had lost the pictures, but when I got them home, I happily discovered I had only lost four.

Here are some of the good ones.






Sunday, March 22, 2009

About robots

I have been tempted to think that there are no more inventions to be invented. Could there possibly be more, other than better spaceships? Maybe I'm just distracted by my ideas of the hundreds or even thousands of inventions that were being created back in the day. Now, it seems as though the inventions have slowed.

Well, now I realize the problem is that I just haven't been to Japan.









I'm amazed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A train story

For those of you who don't know, I live next to some very active train tracks, by which I mean there are trains coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

The road I take to go to school/work/anywhere parallels those tracks, and at the very end, it curves around and I have to cross those tracks to continue my journey. I can go around, but it takes a lot longer.

So this morning, I come out of my driveway and the front engine of the train is right next to me, barreling down the tracks in the direction that I also need to go.

I think I can beat it. I have about 3 miles between me and the crossing.

The train is going about 50 mph, so I go like 60 (in a 30) but lucky me! There are no slow cars in front of me to block the way! The road is clear and the train is in my dust.

About half a mile before that final crossing is a smaller crossing. I'm almost to that first one, and I am so excited that I am going to beat this train.

Uh oh. Just ahead are two cars going very slowly, and in front of them is a big tractor, holding up the line. I can't pass.

I'm not stressed at this point. I actually think it's kind of funny that the one day I can beat the train is the one day I get stuck behind the tractor at the last minute. I'm just about at that first crossing, and I think maybe I can ditch this tractor and make it across, but the bells start dinging and the beams start lowering.

Oh well. Nice try, anyway. But then again, now we're on the straight part of the road and I can pass the tractor!

I step on the gas. I'm almost at the crossing. The tractor is way behind, but the two or three drivers in front of me do not seem to understand the urgency of the situation. Every second feels like an hour.

Finally, I make it to the crossing. I'm clear. I bump over it. Just behind me the beams lower and the bells ring and the train honks.

Yeah.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interesting...

Normally I'm not a proponent of any kind of diet plans/pills/substances or anything related to those. Especially the ones that claim you can "Eat anything you want and still lose weight!!!"

And I'm also not a fan of the kinds of diets that try to deprive you of things like, say, grains or vegetables or something. Fresh nutrients are important, as is a balanced diet. Granted, I'm not the example of perfection on this issue, but that's what my ideals are, anyway.

So it was a surprise to me when I found an article on something called Sensa Tastants, and actually thought it sounded plausible. Basically, these are some sort of compounds (not sure yet what exactly) that you sprinkle on food and then you can eat anything you want and still lose weight!!!

No really, they work by stimulating your sense of taste and acting on the part of the brain that makes you feel full. So you can eat anything you want (though you should eat healthier things, of course), and your weight will improve because you'll naturally eat less. You'll eat less because you'll feel full faster because these little sprinkles made your brain think you were full. The scientist who developed them supposedly spent 25 years researching this.

My first thought was: really? And my second thought was: hmm, interesting. And my third thought was: well, I guess that makes sense, right?

I'm not touting this as a miracle diet. I'm sure it doesn't work on everyone all the time as well as they claim, but still, it's interesting to think about.

But it costs money, so I suppose the best alternative would just be to eat less of everything naturally without little sprinkles.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

49 days

Just 49 days until graduation (not counting today). I am having such a hard time concentrating or feeling motivated to do any kind of school work at all. It sucks because I have a lot to do, and I really need to do it well. I just don't want to do any of it. And as each day goes by, I feel less and less concerned about that. At first I was upset and confused to find myself so unmotivated. Now, I've come to terms with it, and I just don't care. I'll be honest, I'm usually a driven, motivated A student. This semester, I'm not doing A work, and I can't seem to get myself to want to.

I want to do anything else.

I baked bread last night. I should have taken pictures of it, but I forgot. Cinnamon raisin bread.

Andy and I are looking for a decent place to move into. We're too far away from my job and his school. Plus this house is really small. And I would really like a dishwasher. And two bedrooms would be nice, because having all this office and computer stuff right in the living room is a pain.

I picked up an apartment guide the other day and have been flipping through it. I told Andy to hide it from me because I keep looking at it, trying to pry apart the curtain of time just a little and peer into the future. I really, really want to know right now where we're going to move. I want to go apartment shopping today, this minute, and tour apartments and neighborhoods. I'm shaking with anticipation but I'm paralyzed by my current situation.

You see, the way it stands now, we can't afford any of the apartments in that apartment guide. However, if I get hired full time at the magazine after I graduate, my income will expand significantly, and we'll be able to afford a relatively nice apartment - maybe even one with a pool and tennis courts! But I can't know right now whether I'll get hired full time or part time, or even if I'll get hired at all. And it's too soon to ask. I need to wait a couple more weeks to talk to them about it.

So we can't know my income, which means we can't budget, which means we can't look for a suitable apartment to fit that budget, which means that I'm sitting here impatiently, desperately wanting to know the future.

This sucks. I should go do some homework.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Love in one season?

I have never understood the popularity of The Bachelor.

That's not really the point of this blog, for those I may have just offended. I understand that people out there like The Bachelor. Obviously, people like it. After all, it's on its 13th season, and has an audience of about 10 million.

I have lots of reasons for not liking it but I won't go into them here.

I was just interested to see the status of all those couples brought together by this wildly popular TV show. Everyone wants to believe that love can happen like this, but the stats aren't too good. Only two out of twelve bachelor's have stayed with the woman they were engaged to at the end of the show. This thirteenth one remains to be seen. You can find this information on Us Magazine and on Wikipedia.



I don't know the stats of The Bachelorette but I imagine they're pretty much along the same lines.

Why does this show keep running when the concept is so obviously unsuccessful?

Maybe we want to believe anyway. Maybe we just like to watch attractive people be attracted to other attractive people, like a modern form of romance novel or something. Everyone loves a good love story.

Thing is, it's not a love story. It's a tragedy. These are relationships of real people on the line, emotions and feelings and real people. And they're failing.

But you won't see that on The Bachelor. They only go to the "Happily Ever After" ending, but no further.

Incidentally, that couple up there, that's one of the couples who broke up. Too bad.

I respect this guy for not choosing anyone.

Chewy Chocolate-chunk Cookies

I found this recipe in Cook's Illustrated and decided I had to try it. So last night I slipped on my apron and busted out the flour, sugar, and cocoa. Here are some pictures of the finished product.





They turned out perfectly. They're just a little crispy on the outside, but soft and warm and chocolatey on the inside, with melted chocolate chunks in the center. Delicious.