Archive | March, 2011

On the Town

29 Mar

Apparently, a cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo. What did he do upon gaining freedom? He joined Twitter, of course. Normally I’m not a fan of anything Twitter-related, but this I can appreciate.

http://twitter.com/BronxZoosCobra 

CBS News: Bronx Zoo cobra

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Ten Things Tuesday – March 29

29 Mar

Ten favorite writers:

1. Jane Austen. Sure, her conversations might be hard to follow sometimes, but once you get in that Austen frame of mind, she really is quite funny. Hers are the kind of books you can go back to, again and again, like old friends. Her female protagonists, while certainly preoccupied with love and marriage, are strong characters that you can really look up to. Women you can admire because they are complicated, real, and clever at outwitting the pressures of men and society are tops in my book. Or, in this case, Austen’s.

2. John Irving. No matter how many years it’s been since I’ve read one of his books, I still vividly remember them; they stick with you for a long time. He tells beautiful and heartbreaking stories that I just adore. A Prayer for Owen Meany has long been one of my all-time favorite books.

3. JK Rowling. The woman wrote some of the most creative, imaginative, and original books in the history of children’s literature. Coming from nothing, she relied on her own brilliance and talents to, first and foremost, spread her message of love and acceptance around the world, and second, make a life for herself and her children. That kind of genius only comes once in a lifetime. Lucky for us, it came seven.

4. Gabrial Garcia Marquez. His intricate stories are peppered with beautiful descriptions, making me wish I coud read them in the original Spanish. I’ve heard they are even more beautiful in this language. Any writer who manages to be eloquent in many languages is one I’ll gladly read. So far I’ve just read One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, so I need to get my hands on more of his work. His writing has an exotic, ethereal quality to it that I just love.

5. Ken Follet. He has a way of writing the most complex characters you’ve ever read. The evil ones are definitely evil, but also with sympethetic qualities. The good ones aren’t always entirely good. In The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, the stories span many years and follow characters through the trials and triumphs of lifetimes. You root for the good guys, hate the bad guys, and in the end, good outweighs evil. Sure, it might take many years for it to ultimately triumph, but it always does. It reminds you that the same is true in real life; that it sometimes takes years for you to get what you want or deserve, but ultimately everyone gets there.

6. Brian Jacques. I can’t think of another writer who could make stories about woodland animals so interesting. It’s kind of a Watership Down meets Lord of the Rings, if that makes any sense. He, like JK Rowling, has created an entire universe that just comes alive, jumping right off the page. His Redwall series is more than 20 books strong, chronicling and overlapping the lives of the creatures living in the Redwall forest. It’s brilliant.

7. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The writer of a childhood story with lessons most adults need to learn. The Little Prince is a story that everyone, no matter their age, should read.

8. Suzanne Collins. Besides Orwell, who else would write a series about a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society about children who must kill or be killed? It’s gruesome, yes, but brilliant. Brilliant in that slightly screwed-up, warning-to-society way.

9. Dan Brown. I might get some flack for this, but you can’t argue that his books aren’t exciting and thrilling. Not necessarily the upper tier of literature, per se. Probably the least like any other author on this list, but hey, it is my list. His writing, while based on fact (sort of), opens the debate for the possibility that history got it wrong. I don’t think he’s trying to necessarily be factual, but you have to admit it’s fascinating to consider all the things we’ll never know about the truth. It might not be Shakespeare but it sure is thrilling.

10. Rob Sheffield. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so emotional about a book, basically knowing the ending at the beginning. I laughed and cried so much while reading it. I vaguely remember some of the music and other things of the late 80s/early 90s that Sheffield writes about. Of course, being several years older than me, he has a much different perspective, but the feeling is universal. No matter when you come of age, the music you did it to remains part of your soul. The music has the ability to recall memories you thought long forgotten, and Sheffield gets that. More than anyone, he gets that.

An Inconvenient Truth

27 Mar

I must confess that I have been cheating somewhat to keep up appearances. In order appear to have not fallen off the face of the earth – or at least the blogosphere – I have backdated several recent posts to get them out of my Drafts folder and off my to-do list. Playing catch-up is so hard to do sometimes. I admit that I’ve really been too busy to do much of anything lately besides working. For that I am sorry, to you but mostly to my myself. I miss having my creative outlet when I don’t take advantage of it. I find that life gets monotonous, and one day fades into the next without me stopping to appreciate the moment. It’s days like this that are easy to forget, because they are uneventful an boring. They are, unfortunately, far too numerous these days.

Despite my backdating in an attempt to keep up with posting, I haven’t really posted anything about myself in a good two weeks. Here’s a brief little update:

I have done more BioFuels outreaches than I care to recount. I’ve finally finished the required number for the grant, meaning I’m finished with all of that. Now I have to move on to the next big project, which is, unfortunately, also BioFuels-related. It never ends. I have done a St. Patrick’s Day workshop for kids on spring break, outside of the Museum. This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like that. It was fun, but definitely different. I have been to a board meeting after work. I have been to a Blue Plum meeting after work, for a second-consecutive long day. I have not really been working on Earth Day, mostly because I’m too busy, but also in the hopes that someone will take the lead and lift some of the responsibility off of me. This sounds lazy, but it needs to happen that way, as it isn’t really in my job description to plan Earth Day all on my own. Besides BioFuels, I have done several other Outreach programs in the area. One of these was an all-day, 5-program package of Eat a Rainbow, which required hours and hours and hours of prep work. Two words: never again. I have also been to an after-school summer camp fair, to promote our summer camps and let kids pet the cockroaches. It’s been a very, very busy two or three weeks. No wonder I don’t feel like I have a life.

Socially, things are a little more low-key. I have had dinner with Alli, discussing graduate and medical school possibilities for the both of us. If she and Andrew end up at Virginia Tech next year, that will put her much closer to me. Definite win.

Not that this is socially related, but more personal than work: I have recovered from a mysterious eye infection resembling pink eye, with the help of antibiotic eye drops and two days of wearing glasses all day. I’m getting ready to go to Nikki’s, which I haven’t done in such a very long time. We finished Lost, with our somewhat anti-climactic finale (because of weird circumstances, not because the finale itself was anti-climactic), and have now moved on to watching Felicity. I remember watching that show years ago, but never saw the whole thing. Hopefully we’ll finish it before I move.

I’ve slowly been building up my iTunes library again. I put out a call for help on Facebook, but so far haven’t had any tangible results. Hopefully I will see some soon. I did discover, to my great delight, that I could copy about 100 missing songs from my phone back to my computer. This was a huge discovery, making me ever more indebted to that brilliant little phone. I really don’t know what I would do without it – it’s so much of a lifesaver now.

So, there you go. A very brief life update, which are harder to come by around here anymore. I don’t think my life is really all that interesting, come to think of it. But it is what it is.

Health Nut

26 Mar

Sometimes I think we overreact when it comes to our health, appearances, and well-being. You see all these commercials warning you about eating healthy, losing weight, staying active, drinking responsibly, and not smoking. Those things are all wise, of course, but then you get into all the conflicting views about wellness.

You should have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. But all that acid in the fruit wears away the enamel on your teeth!

Use anti-bacterial EVERYTHING. And screw over your immune system by never building up tolerance for bacteria and germs.

Use a fresh, clean paper towel in your home bathroom every time. And fill up the landfill more quickly.

The truth is, we’re never going to find that perfect system. That exact balance of eating right, taking care of our bodies and minds, not causing waste, protecting ourselves from germs, etc. I just don’t think there’s a way to do it all. Every day we live takes us one day closer to death. That’s a pretty grim fact of life, but it’s true. You might as well live it while you can.

And that means to go ahead and eat that last cookie.

This is What my Heart Looks Like:

25 Mar

Isn’t this simple wooden heart just gorgeous? I found this on Design Sponge back around Valentine’s Day and thought I would share. I really want to make one myself – it’s so clean and elegant!

Stuff I Want Wednesday

23 Mar

Ever since my computer crash a few weeks ago, and finding out I’m definitely going to GW, I’ve been considering getting a netbook. Something small and lightweight that I can carry with me on the metro, to class, random study sessions in libraries or bookstores to be discovered. I still have my laptop, which is up and running again (although still missing quite a bit of music and several yet-to-reload programs), but I want something extremely portable for the life of a grad student. Any suggestions out there?

Ten Things Tuesday – March 22

22 Mar

Ten alternate jobs/college majors I should have picked (you know, on the off-chance they let you have 10 majors):

1. Fashion Design. I really missed my calling on this one. Maybe I just like to look at fashion and wish I’d made it, rather than having an actual talent for it. But of all the fields I most desperately wish I could get into, this is it.

2. The Beatles. I love them. Probably more than a healthy amount, but whatever. I did actually take a class on them in college, and have recently found a school where you can major in Beatles studies. I’m seriously reconsidering my grad school plans for this…

3. Useless trivia. I’m a wealth of it. Not that it will ever come in handy, mind you. That’s the point of being useless trivia. Although it does help in random bar games.

4. Cupcake Baking. If I absolutely had to narrow down my baking interests and abilities, it would probably be cupcakes. I realize I’ve completely missed the boat on this fad, but hey, I live in The Middle of Nowhere. It takes a while for trends to get down to us. Anyway, I’ve become quite the proficient cupcake baker. I’m working on a couple of new recipes right now…

5. British Men. I mean really. Who wouldn’t want to major in this?

6. Anthropologie. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about anthropolgy  here. The spelling error is intentional. I don’t need to go into more detail about how much I love this store. They pretty much own my bank account.

7. French. I’m actually quite good at speaking French, when I study and retain the information. Sadly, my French-speaking abilities have gone by the wayside, as I am a lazy American and I have not attended a French class in several years. Thus there is no reason for me to remember how to speak this language, no matter how much I want to become fluent in it.

8. The 1960s. The era that I feel I was meant to live in, even though I was not born to live in it.

9. Journalism. I don’t know how good of a writer I really am, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I like to think that I’m clever, and people would be interested to read what I have to say. Of course, that’s a rather inflated view of myself, but nevertheless I think I would have done well as a journalist or magazine writer.

10. Personal stylist. Or personal assistant. I’m very organized, know how to get things done, and have great taste. When Melody becomes famous, I’m going to be her assistant – schedule everything, make dinner reservations, return phone calls, and tell her what to wear.