Friday, December 22, 2006

2006: Year in Review

Like all the newspapers, magazines, etc, I am going to write a series of posts with my Bests Lists. I am going to start with the Six Best TV Moments. For those of you that may not know, I have a horrible memory. These moments came to me without research or the use of memory devices. When I get to listing movies, books, song/albums, etc, I will be using my Netflix Rental History, Date Added on iTunes and the list I keep of Books Read. Why six instead of five? I refuse to feel constrained by numbers.

SPOILER ALERT. If you aren't up-to-date on LOST, 24 or The Office, don't read my list.

6. NBC Thursdays: This isn't a moment, but the first Thursday that NBC aired My Name is Early, The Office, Scrubs and 30 Rock was genius. I love that all of these shows are non-traditional, no-laugh track, high-quality comedies. I didn't watch 30 Rock until it moved to Thursdays, but it has moments of brilliance. And yea for Scrubs returning before January!

5. Stephen Colbert's rant at the end of his Midterm Midtacular broadcast. Colbert is so funny! I thought about just putting his show in general on the list, but this rant showcases everything great about his show. Here is the text. "Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a Brave New World, a world where the constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags. Where Tax and Spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, and everybody's high! Whoo!"

4. The Grey's Anatomy Super Bowl episodes. Who knew this show could be suspenseful?

3. Jim tells Pam that he loves her on The Office. Everything from this point on in the episode was fantastic, and kudos to the writers, because most viewers just expected Jim to tell Pam he was taking a job in another office.

2. Michael kills Anna-Lucia and Libby on LOST! This was jaw dropping! The episode was progressing slowly, and then - BAM - everything changed in an instant.

1. They killed President Palmer on 24! The promos hyped the premier of S5 of 24 by saying, "The first 10 minutes of 24 will change everything," and it did. They killed off another main character, left one in a coma (or in critical condition) and had another one running for her life. I did not see the assassination of President Palmer coming, another jaw-dropping moment on television. Anytime I see All State commercials with Dennis Haysbert, I mourn President Palmer's death on 24.

What are your favorite moments from television? I purposefully omitted sporting events from my list. I haven't decided if I'm going to do a sports list or not. I'll be back with my Top 10 (+ or -) Combined Media List (books, TV, movies, songs/albums) when I get back to my memory devises. (I'll try to think of catchier title.)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paint and Snow

I've been painting my "new" bedroom every night this week. Painting red is not fun because it takes so many layers. And I can only paint one layer a day because I can only work at night. It's a slow process. (In case you didn't read Jaime's blog, we are renting a house together starting Jan. 1.) Our nice landlords let us in early to paint and move stuff in, but we don't start paying rent until Jan. 1. I lived in this house for two years when I first moved to town, so it already feels like home. I'll have the same bedroom and everything.

A cold front came in on Monday, and we got a little snow last night. I love snow, even in small quantities. I don't love ice that presents like another layer of paint on your car. Hard to even scrape off. But soon I'll have a garage and won't have to worry about that.

Tomorrow is my last day of work until Jan. 2. Working in higher education has it perks.

The radio stations started playing Christmas songs more frequently once the temperature dropped. I'll admit that I would have thought it strange to hear a Christmas song on Saturday when it was 82 degrees. Wise decision.

The Cowboys are in the playoffs and Tony Romo is in the Pro Bowl!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Search Kindly

I don't know how many of you out there are like me, but I Google everything. Is Grey's Anatomy new tonight? Google. How do I renew my driver's license online? Google. Where do I want to stay when I visit New York City. Google. And magically, Google answers.

Let me introduce you to Search Kindly. The whole point of Search Kindly is to take something that you'd be doing anyway, like surfing the Internet, and turn it into a really meaningful action. All the money generated by Search Kindly is donated to charity. For November and December, all the money they make is going to Invisible Children, an organization committed to ending the war in Northern Uganda where children are forced to fight as soldiers. For fear of being hunted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), these children commute on foot every night to find safe places to sleep in their town centers.

I've started using Search Kindly for all my search needs. Google provides the search engine for Search Kindly, so it's like nothing has changed, except that with each search, I'm making a small difference. (They aren't making a lot of money, so spread the word!) You can even add Search Kindly to the search bar in Firefox and IE7 to make it your default search engine.

Give it a try!

"If you're going to search, why not Search Kindly?"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Parade

This is what I've been working on for the last week. The parade was Saturday night. On Friday, I got the converter to power the lights, and our wattage was too high. So I picked up a generator from facilities. The generator didn't have a muffler, so it was crazy loud. The students riding on the float were singers, so I knew we couldn't have a ridiculously loud generator. So on Saturday morning I rented a generator from Home Depot. Life is good. Then on Saturday night, we could not get the trailer to hitch to the truck. It took us 30 minutes! About 3/4 of the way through the parade, the rented generator ran out of gas. I kept the original, loud generator in the truck, so we switched power supplies. It was all downhill from there, until we got the float in storage and tried to unhitch the truck. The hitch would not come off the ball! We had to trick the trailer by raising the "leg" and putting a brick under it. Once we did that, we were able to raise it off the truck. Crazy! This morning I returned the generator. It's over! Until Monday, when I have to rally the troops to strike the float.

My weekend has not been restful, but I'm taking it easy this afternoon and willing my Cowboys to a win an important game that probably has playoff implications this evening. If you've seen me watch a Cowboys game, you know it's not relaxing or restful.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brrrr!

I ran this morning before work, and it was cold! I don't think my legs ever warmed up. You would think that the part of your body in motion would get warm and stop feeling numb, but it was not so. This is the first time I've run in the morning since it's been gloves-and-earmuffs cold. Now I just have to get out there again on Thursday morning knowing how cold it will be.

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I can burn TiVo recordings onto DVDs now! And I didn't even have to buy the special software! Awesome! And I can even edit out commercials!

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"I'm being very 'American Beauty' right now and taking lots of random pictures, so just ignore me." - student that walked into my office and started taking close-up shots of pictures on the wall, wreaths, etc. Must have an interesting project due in his photography class. You don't hear too many people referencing "American Beauty" these days. I need to watch that movie again.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holiday Edition

In response to Elisa's blog, here are my answers to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends.

1. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yum, especially the fruit flavored ones.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Wraps, sometimes weeks before Christmas.

3. Do you hang mistletoe? No

4. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Dressing.

5. What is your favorite holiday memory as a child? I have very few childhood memories, and I can't recall any holiday memories at this time.

6. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Don't remember.

7. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We open all the gifts from our immediate family on Christmas Eve and exchange presents with my uncle's family on Christmas day.

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With ornaments.

9. Snow! Love it or dread it? LOVE IT!

10. Can you ice skate? Yes, but nothing fancy.

11. Do you remember your favorite gift? What's with these questions that require a memory? I got TiVo as an early Christmas present this year, and that was pretty awesome.

12. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Chocolate Mirange Pie, Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookies

13. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Eating? I can't think of any unique traditions my family has.

14. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I love finding the perfect gift for someone, which is always my goal, but I like receiving the perfect gift as well.

15. What is your favorite Christmas song? All I Want for Christmas is You by Vince Vance and the Valiants, O Holy Night by John Berry.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

SNOW!!

The weathermen were right, and we DID get snow last night! Is there anything better than getting out of bed in the morning, peaking our your window and seeing snow covering everything?

I decided to drive to walk this morning due to the howling winds I heard outside my apartment. The snow was dry and the roads were horrible (drove 10-15 mph the entire way to work), so I should have walked.

When I opened my door to leave, snow fell into my apartment. Due to the wind, my apartment building had snow peaks in front of our doors. I'll post pictures later.

I love the snow!

What is the weather like where you are?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let it Snow!

We hit our high at 8 a.m. this morning, and the temperature keeps dropping. We have a 40 percent chance of snow this afternoon and could accumulate 1-3 inches. I don't know if this will actually happen, but just the possibility is exciting. I love the cold weather and I love snow! If it's a dry snow and not windy, and I like to walk to work in the snow. People think I'm crazy, but it makes me happy. With the low being in the teens tonight, I should probably turn my heater on.

I am in charge of organizing my company's float entry in our local Christmas parade. I know absolutely nothing about float building, so it should be an experience. All the major components are taken care of, but I think we have to get a generator or battery on our float to power the minimum of 1000 lights we will have. Not sure how that works. Also don't know how to outline a carriage in lights without damaging it. I guess I'll find out.

I lost half a pound over the Thanksgiving break. I only exercised twice, so I consider that pretty good. Especially since I made five pies, and there ended up only being five people at our Thanksgiving meal this year. Oops.

Saw Casino Royale and Stranger than Fiction over the Thanksgiving break. I like Daniel Craig as James Bond. I liked that most of the cheesy dialogue was mission from the movie. The action seemed more realistic. It's a prequel movie about James Bond becoming a 007, and they set up the character well. It was far too long, though. Stranger than Fiction I liked, but it's harder to describe and not as mainstream. It's like watching a book, but because the mediums are different, some of the more bookish elements didn't' quite work. It's why I think The Producers the movie didn't work. The Producers is made for the stage, and they essentially made the stage production into a movie without adapting it to fit the new medium. Stranger than Fiction works much better than the Producers though. I'm glad I saw it, but it was different.

I love the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo is my hero! He has energized not just the team, but the entire city of Dallas and the Cowboys faithful. I also think Romo is adorable. Here is a picture of his cute, smiling face. He's on 26 and he's the quarterback of America's Team! Crazy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How 'bout them Cowboys?!

I don't think I've been that excited about a Cowboys win since the days of Emmitt, Aikman and Irvin. As we got closer to winning, I moved closer to the TV, and I couldn't stop screaming. I was all alone in the house, jumping in circles with my hands in the air screaming. Anyone who saw me would think I was unstable. Your team beating the undefeated Colts, arguable the best team in the NFL, will make you do that. Now we just have to win again on Thanksgiving day and take that winning momentum with us to the Meadowlands and win us a spot in the playoffs!

I went to ACU's playoff game against West Texas A&M on Saturday, and we lost in overtime. We were up by 15 points with seven minutes left, so we should have won. College football games last too long; that game lasted 4.5 hours. Ridiculous!

Janie and I played tennis for an hour in this fabulously cool weather, and it was perfect. We had to drive around to three separate courts to find one with lights, but it was worth it.

I'm making a pumpkin spice cheesecake this year instead of the traditional pumpkin pie. Hope it turns out well. The second installment of the Biggest Loser Challenge started Friday, so I'll have to eat small portions and get plenty of exercise.

We have the whole week off, so I'm back in GP. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Vote Emmitt Smith

Tonight is the finale of Dancing with the Stars, and the competition is fierce! Emmitt Smith, the best NFL player ever, faces off against Mario Lopez, better known to many of us as A.C. Slater.

I'm a little worried that all dancing being equal, Mario is going to pull the teenage girl vote, which almost always decides who wins these reality TV shows. I'm sorry, but the NFL's all-time leading rusher, former Dallas Cowboy and three-time SuperBowl champ CANNOT lose to a washed-up, former Saturday morning sitcom actor, even if we all loved Saved By the Bell.

Emmitt needs your vote! You don't even have to watch the show; you can vote on principle. Vote here. (Of course you can't vote until after the show tonight.) You do have to register, but it is a simple registration that doesn't even ask for your address. Each registered email address can vote up to five times. So if you have roommates or spouses, they can register and vote as well.

I'll be honest with you, I haven't been watching the show. I watched the season premier, and Emmitt looked like he was having a blast out there. I've read the same thing in commentaries on the show. But nothing beats hearing from the man himself.

"Cheryl [his 22 year-old partner that won last year] understands my strengths as a dancer, and she keeps the routines as fun and upbeat as possible. She encourages me to shimmy and shake my hips like nobody's business, but mostly I think she does that so she can get Carrie Ann to keep calling me Twinkle Toes. [how cute is that?] Cheryl has adapted each dance so that we can make it our own and give it our own flavor, which is why we have so much fun performing them. I can't help but smile through the whole routine because I really am enjoying myself. I hope the viewers are, too.

"I already have three championships from my days as a Dallas Cowboy, and on Wednesday, let's hope Cheryl and I get another. The only difference is that this championship has a trophy instead of a ring. But I've already told Cheryl that if we win it, we can get it melted down into championship rings so we can each wear them proudly, as I do the ones I've won for my Super Bowl victories."

Let's get out the vote, and help Emmitt Smith win!

Dancing with the Stars is on at 8/7 C on ABC if you actually want to watch. I TiVo three shows on Tuesdays, and there is enough overlapping that I can't TiVo this show. I think I'll only be able to watch the first hour, so hopefully Emmitt dances first.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Devil's Playground

I watched the documentary Devil's Playground yesterday. I'm sure all of you know what movie I'm talking about, but just in case you've forgotten, here is the premise. When Amish teens turns 16, they have the opportunity to be part of "english" culture: movies, cars, fashion, and lots of drinking, smoking, drugs and sex. At the end of this period, called Rumspringa, which can last any length of time, they can choose to commit to the Amish church and be baptized. Like church of Christers, the Amish don't consider you saved unless you've been baptized.

I did not know this about the Amish. Almost everyone they interviewed said that at the first party they went to at age 16, they got drunk. One of the main "characters" in the movie was an 18 year-old guy that used and dealt drugs. He knew he wanted to become Amish, but wasn't ready.

As I was watching the movie, I wondered what kind of retention rate the Amish church has now. I'm sure decades ago it was much harder to get a hold of the alcohol, cigarettes an drugs. Would the teenagers prefer that lifestyle and not want to give up their freedom or would more teenagers miss the simple life? Turns out the retention rate is 90%, the highest since the founding of the Amish church.

I also found out that the Amish church began when they split from the Christian churches in Europe because they didn't believe in baptizing infants. They thought being Amish should be a choice, thus the Rumspringa period.

They talked about being a chosen people, being the light of the world, being known by their good deeds, living a simple life to focus more attention on God's creation and each other. Those are things all Christians believe in or strive to achieve.

One of the girls that was joining the Amish regretted a lot of what she had done during Rumspringa. No one gave an opinion of whether they though Rumspringa was a good idea or not, probably because they don't question tradition. One guy did say he thinks they have this period so they can experience the outside world just enough to not be tempted later in life, and feel like they had a choice in how they lived their life. And once they are baptized into the Amish church, they are expected to adhere to all the rules, for lack of a better term. They didn't really address how many Amish stray, but it seemed like once they made the commitment, they were happy with their decision and maintained the Amish way of life.

The Amish situation is different because they are raised in isolated communities. The rest of us live in the world and are exposed to what the Amish only experience during Rumspringa all of our lives. For us it's a juggling act. Each person decides for themselves how much they can be in the world without being of the world. Do you watch R rated movies? Do you go listen to a band you like in a venue where everyone is drunk? Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner? Do you watch TV during dinner or sit around the table together with your family?

What do you think of this Rumspringa period? Do you think we would see less hypocrisy in our churches if everyone experienced the temptations of the world and then choose to give that up? Technically that's what we do, but I would guess the majority of people raised in the church didn't experience everything that was out there before they made the decision to give their life to Christ. Do you think you have to experience something to decide if it's something you want or not?

Before you think I'm having a crisis of faith, these are just the things the movie made me think about, so I thought I would put them out there for you to think about as well.

'Tis Done

I no longer have a date with the bus driver. He called to see what I was doing Monday, and I told him I couldn't go out with him because the age difference made me uncomfortable. He was nice about it. I'm glad I got it out of the way before the weekend.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Isn't it Ironic?

I was walking across campus today, and a male student I know well was sitting on a swing with a female student. As I was getting close enough to exchange pleasantries, he said, "Hey hottie. How's it going?"

In light of the information I've been sharing with you lately, I found this statement ironic.

Weather

I cannot believe it is 90 degrees outside in November! We are supposed to experience a cool front with a 20-25 degree drop in temperatures tomorrow. That still makes the high 65-70, which is too warm for two weeks before Thanksgiving. Crazy.

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Elisa commented that judging the Biggest Loser competition by weight loss only might not be fair. I agree with her. I've been running, spinning and toning. I have not lost any weight, possibly gained a half pound, but I am thinner. Probably not noticeable to many people but apparent to me. Most of it is in my upper body and torso, but today when I put on my Capri pants I haven't worn since the summer, they were noticably looser. But when I weigh Monday at the conclusion of the Biggest Loser competition, I probably won't notice a difference. It doesn't help my team out, but it's still good news.

Several people have asked to extent the Challenge another eight weeks to get us through the holidays; I think our office is going to continue participating. My spinning class will be over, but I'll just increase the frequency, intensity and distance of my runs.

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I was surprised that Donald Rumsfield resigned.

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If you missed the Daily Show/Colbert Report LIVE Midterm Midtacular, you missed one of the signature Colbert rants that makes his show worth watching. I've already rewatched it several times. Gotta love TiVo. Colbert's delivery is half the reason his show is so funny, but here is the text.

"Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a Brave New World, a world where the constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags. Where Tax and Spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, and everybody's higigh! Whoo!"

Stephen Colbert was my favorite correspondent on the Daily Show. One of these days I am going to get a copy of the "wrath of God" segment that made me love him. I'll settle for the Colbert Report until then.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cancellation

I've decided to back out of my date with the bus driver. He used to drive one of the student groups to events, but they stopped using him. The sponsor had to remind him that these were college girls, and they were uncomfortable with his flirting. A male and female student on this particular truth described him as creepy, and said that he "weirdly hit on" one of the girls.

Those of you that know about the crush I had on a student worker my first semester here probably find this ironic. But I NEVER acted on it, and always thought it was inappropriate. And I was only three years older than this guy. Bus driver is 36 and hitting on 18-22 year-olds. No. And he smokes. If I was cruel I would post a picture of him so you could see for yourself how old he looks, but I won't.

So when he calls back I am going to tell him I am uncomfortable with our age difference, and let that be the end of it.

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Tonight the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are broadcasting the Midterm Midtacular live from 10-11 p.m. CST on Comedy Central. Their humorous and ironic take should be entertaining. In case you've never watched either show, they do a great job of pointing out the ridiculous and hypocritical in events, circumstances and people. And they seem to excel during election cycles. Watch it and laugh!

I hope everyone voted. It's probably not too late where you live, so get out there and exercise your constitutional right to help decide which direction our country is headed!Besides, you can't complain if you don't vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Bus Driver Asked Me Out (UPDATED)

I thought it was over. I went to see Billie off for her Branson trip this morning, just like I always do. The 36 year-old divorced bus driver was there. Not much interaction. He called me this morning because Billie asked him to relay a message to me. I come back from lunch and have a message from him. He wanted to talk to me about a trip on Monday. What trip? He's on Billie's last trip of the season. I check the basketball schedule, and he’s not driving the teams anywhere. I call him back, and he’s acting all awkward, and I know it’s coming. The trip is that he wants to know if I’d rather have lunch or dinner with him when he gets back. Oh yeah, that’s how he asked me out. I was kind of shocked, so my reply was, “What?” Hey, it’s better than laughing. Anyway, I tell him, “Sure” and I don’t think he was overly thrilled with my blah response, but I did not expect him to call and ask me out while he’s technically working. For everyone concerned about safety, he returned my phone call when the bus was stopped for lunch. So I told him to give me a call when he got back and we’d figure something out.

The story gets more interesting. I end up telling all the ladies in the office this story. And I talk about how the nine-year age difference bothers me. And one of the ladies in the office tells me that her son (who also works here) is 37. I go into how I don’t view guys his age as potential dates. My exact quote was “I don’t go around thinking Mondy is hot." This gets a big laugh from everyone, and literally seconds later Mondy is at the door! We all completely lose it laughing, and he is so embarrassed.

I think I'm going to agree to a casual lunch with him, and meet him at the restaurant of my choosing.

Apparently he made a comment in October that his divorce was final or about to be final. So, yeah, I’m going out with a guy that has been divorced for LESS THAN A MONTH!

Oh, a guy in my office thinks he looks much older than 36 due to his grey hair. Mid-40s is the consensus. For those of you that didn't think the age thing was a big deal, he looks much older than he actually is.

I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE. He called me back right before 5 p.m. to make sure I knew that he was serious before, and he wasn't kidding around. I tried to play it cool this time, but I couldn't believe he called to tell me he was serious! I just told him I assumed he was serious. He gave me a chance to get out of the date, but I didn't. I'm just going to assume he was extremely nervous, and after my unusual response, he started second guessing himself. But why would he think I thought he was joking? Who jokes about something like that with a stranger? Definitely a lunch date now. And if he calls me anymore during this trip, I may just have to cancel on him. Just kidding. Maybe.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Afternoons

I love Sunday afternoons during football season, especially when the Cowboys are playing. They don't make me quite so happy when we lose games we should have won.

Met the 36 year-old divorcee last week. He sat at my table, but didn't talk to me.

Last week we had gorgeous Fall weather. Blue skies and highs in the mid-50s. Perfect. So I was surprised Saturday when I walked outside at noon and was hot in my long-sleeve shirt. All this week the high is predicted to be in the mid-70s. I'm disappointed that the Fall weather isn't sticking around. But I enjoyed it last week.

In fact, on Halloween, I spent two hours standing outside in the grass, shoes off, handing out caramel apples to faculty and staff. The weather couldn't have been better. It's nice to work at a place where I can pass my afternoon that way.

Has anyone seen The Departed? Tried to see it Saturday night, but it was sold out. I don't understand this town. That movie has been at the theatre for about a month, and it sells out? I did get some gelato out of the botched trip to the movies, so that was nice.

I'm currently reading Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. Obama lived in Indonesia for several years as a child. I don't know if the Senator is going to run for President in 2008, but I thought I would check his book out from the library while it was available. I don't have a definite opinion on him as a candidate yet, but I do appreciate his intelligence.

I only have two more weeks of spinning class left. It's so hard. I don't think I like it. I'm a slow, steady runner. Spinning is a complete change of pace. From the moment the class begins, I can't wait for it to be over. I'd rather run six miles any day. I've actually stopped running due to inflammation of the tendons in my left foot, but I think I'm going to start it back up again tomorrow. Must finish strong for the Biggest Loser Challenge. Our department has only lost 1.59 percent of our beginning weight. Another department has lost more than 3 percent of their beginning weight, so we're not winning.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting Development

I was informed this morning that a 36 year-old divorcee kind of has a crush on me.

Billie, a woman I work with that leads the bus trips for senior adults, was giving me all sorts of grief after I said I wouldn't be attending her trip reunion luncheon. I normally attend, but they always serve chicken fried steak, mash potatoes and gravy. Yummy, but not an ideal meal when you are trying to finish your Biggest Loser Challenge strong, and have eaten that meal twice in the last month. Anyway, she kept pestering me about it, which I thought was odd.

She finally asks me into her office and informs me that the driver for her last trip "has an eye" for me. He actually manages the bus company, and only drives for her and the girls' basketball team because he's good friends with the coach. She tells me he has a degree, he's really nice and funny, everyone loves him. And he told her he would come to the luncheon if I was there. I don't remember ever meeting this guy! She said he's always asking if I'm coming to things, and wants Billie to convince me to go on their upcoming trip!

I'm not supposed to know this, but when she realized I wouldn't be coming to the luncheon after I'm sure she told him I was, I think she got desperate and told me. I don't think I want anything to do with a 36 year-old divorcee. My MO is cradle robbing, so I'm thrown by his age, but it's the divorced thing that makes me not interested. Lots of baggage. (His wife cheated on him.)

I just think the whole thing is odd. And humorous. Should I go to the luncheon and at least meet this guy?

Friday, October 27, 2006

More Reviews

First the good news of the day: my TiVo channel lineup is accurate. I can now TiVo normally again.

I finished reading Running with Scissors yesterday. I have nothing positive to say about it. I have now decided I will not see the movie, which is sad because I hear Annette Bening is great in it, and I like her. But I want nothing more to do with Running with Scissors.

I watched Marie Antoinette today. I didn't love it like I wanted to, but didn't hate it either, like so many of the critics. The movie did a great job of depicting what life was like for the very young Queen of France, how ridiculous and miserable so much of it was. The ending rang a little hollow, mainly because all historical context was missing. I haven't taken world history in quite some time, so I needed a reminder of why the masses turned against the monarchy, primarily the queen. At the same time, policy and politics would have seemed out of place in this one-sided portrait of a young lady. I would not pay full price or choose to wait for the DVD. I expect a lot from movies, so if you go see movies solely for a good time, you should probably get your recommendations elsewhere. Wait for Jaime's review.

I started watching the Iranian movie Children of Heaven, but turned it off about five minutes in. The acting was pretty bad, and I didn't think I could take 90 minutes of it.

Grosse Pointe Blank with John Cusack is on TV. I think this movie is hilarious. I do love "death humor" and this movie is full of it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fast Food Nation

Elisa wanted a review of Fast Food Nation, so here it is. (WARNING: Long Post)

Overall, the book is fascinating and disturbing. Now I have to decide what to do with my new knowledge. These are the main things in the book that stood out to me. Be prepared: you might not want to know some of this.
  • Franchises are not covered by federal laws that protect employees.

  • Out of every $1.50 spent on an order of fries at a fast-food restaurant, perhaps 2 cents goes to the farmer who grew the potatoes.

  • Chicken McNuggets are wildly popular among young children - and contain twice as much fat per ounce as a hamburger

  • The entire chapter about slaughterhouses was disturbing and appalling. The people that clean the slaughterhouses at night cant see or hear anything. And the machinery they clean is usually moving. Some workers are literally ground up into nothing or beheaded. At a beef plant where five men died the same way, National Beef was fined $480 for each man's death. Way to communicate that dangerous working conditions are unacceptable.

  • The US government can demand the national recall of defective toys, sneakers, stuffed animals, but it cannot order a meatpacking company to remove contaminated, potentially lethal ground beef from fast food kitchens and supermarket shelves. In most of the cases presented in the book, the USDA knew about contaminated meat and had to NEGOTIATE with the company to pull meat off shelves. And the companies always get to say they are voluntarily recalling meat, giving the appearance they are being proactive, when usually this step is taken weeks or months after the contamination has been discovered. And they are under no legal obligation to inform the public or state health officials that a recall is taking place. The USDA now informs the public about every recall, but will not reveal where the contaminated meat is being sold. (Is it any surprise that we had a problem with spinach recently?)

  • 10,000 pounds of beef laced with glass were distributed

  • Current FDA regulations allow dead pigs, dead horses and dead poultry to be fed to cattle, and dead cattle to be fed to poultry.

  • In 1999, USDA tests showed that 47% of a Dallas-based plant's ground beef contained Salmonella, which indicates fecal contamination. With this knowledge, the USDA still purchased thousands of tons of meet from this plant for distribution in schools. The USDA finally took action and shut the plant down. They sued to get their plant back open and won. In 2000, they argued successfully that high levels of Salmonella did not prove that conditions in the plant were unsanitary.

  • One of the Bush administration's first food safety decisions was to stop testing the National School Lunch Program's ground beef for Salmonella. In the 10 months the USDA had been testing, 5 million pounds were rejected due to contamination. Due to bad publicity, the administration reversed course three days later. But why would they want to stop testing in the first place?

  • The USDA recently decided to perform E.Coli tests on the ground beef it buys for schools; this decision was made more than seven years after the Jack in the Box outbreak. Why the long wait?

  • Super Size Fries have 610 calories and 29 grams of fat.

  • The manufacture of frozen cheese pizzas is regulated by the FDA, but if a pizza has pepperoni on it, the USDA, which can't demand a recall, has food safety jurisdiction. Eggs are regulated by the FDA, but chickens are regulated by the USDA. Salmonella has been almost entirely eliminated from Swedish and Dutch eggs, but more than half a million people in the US become ill from eating Salmonella-infected eggs and more than 300 die.

  • An American food processor can expect a visit from an FDA inspector, on average, once every 10 years.

  • At the time of printing (January 2001) the roughly 200,000 fast food restaurants are not subject to any oversight by federal health authorities. Yeah, that makes lots of sense.

  • Texas is the only station in the Union that allows a company to leave the workers' comp system and set up it's own process for dealing with workplace injuries. When a worker is injured at an IBP plant in Texas, he is presented with a waiver. Signing the waiver means surrendering your right to sue. If you sign the waiver, you may receive medical care by seeing a company-approved doctor. If you seek a second opinion, you lose all medical benefits. If you don't sign the waiver, you could be fired on the spot. And the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that is perfectly legal. Wow, that sure makes me proud to be a Texan.
Now do you see why I don't know what to do with this knowledge. Do I boycott all fast-food restaurants, even though meat from restaurants and supermarket chains must come from the same place. Do I become a vegetarian? But then I'd have to worry about spinach. What about the federal government? What can I do to make the FDA and USDA effective? It's appalling that the government can know about contaminated meat and not do anything about it. The book is pretty hard on Republicans because the majority of lobbying money from the meatpacking, restaurant, supermarket and fast food industry is paid to Republican politicians. We do have an election coming up, so I could find out where the candidates stand on this issue. I doubt this is something I can find on their campaign websites. I'm sure there is a way to find out what companies contribute to each candidate's campaigns, but I don't know how.

Do I shrug my shoulders and assume nothing will change, or do I try to be the change I wish to see in the world? I've just listed a few things that stuck with me reading this book. The book taken as a whole is much more damning. The write makes a good point: the execs who run the fast food industry are business men. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if we demand it. They will sell whatever sells a profit.

But can we make them? Has anyone totally given up fast food restaurants? I boycotted McDonalds for five of six years, but that had more to do with their treatment of my friend. But if I would do that for my friend, why couldn't I do it for all other the voiceless people that experience something similar. Do I not worry about everything in this book, as one person suggested, because if I worried about everything wrong in the world, I would go crazy.

Can you tell that I'm completely torn about how to react to this book? So much that I read was hard to read. I can't imagine seeing it come to life. But I will go see the movie when it comes out. And I suggest you read the book or watch the movie. Then you can join me in my moral dilemma and state of absolute confusion.

Spinning, Take 2

My spinning class last night was a complete 360 from my first experience. It makes a huge difference when your bike actually has resistance. Suprisingly, my legs aren't sore at all. We have a different instructor on Thursday, so it will be a new experience. Our instructor on Tuesdays always has us go around the room and say our name and a something about ourselves. Last night it was our favorite type of exercise. I think this is odd, but I am working out at a university gym, so it's probably normal for them.

I saw the Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman last weekend. I thought it was a good movie, but it was pretty easy to see what was coming. There were a few surprises. If you've seen it, I didn't put together the opening shot of the movie with what came later. I usually figure out movies, but every once in a while one comes along that completely shocks me, or keeps me so engaged in each moment that I don't even think about solving it. Alas, this was not one of those movies, but it was good.

I've finished reading Fast Food Nation. Up next is Running with Scissors. Has anyone read that?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Letdown

I'm still a little depressed about the Cowboys game last night. The Cowboys humiliated themselves on national television. I'm not going into a long football discussion because I'm sure most of you don't care. I haven't made up my mind about the QB controversy. What I'm the most angry about from last night is the smile from T.O. after he dropped a crucial pass on fourth down. The Giants took over and scored a touchdown after we failed to convert. But it was the smile from the guy that flies into a rage when he doesn't get the ball or his quarterback throws a bad pass that got to me. So a pass is thrown into his hands on a crucial down, when he is supposed to shine and make us forget why we hate him, and he drops it and laughs about it? No sir, not acceptable.

Bebo Norman and Aaron Shust are coming to town. I scored free tickets. Jeremy Camp and Hawk Nelson are also coming, and I'm trying to secure friends to go with me. No free tickets for this one. I saw Jeremy Camp in Ireland before he released his debut album and love him. He came to Ireland with a mission group from California. I liked his music, but was shocked when I first started hearing his music on the radio. I couldn't believe he achieved success to easily. So I guess I need to buy the new Bebo and Jeremy CDs so I'm familiar with the songs they will be singing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Night Football

I went to the Fair this weekend, but I'm not going to write about that until I have pictures. Let the anticipation begin.

Ah, Cowboys vs Giants on MNF. Does it get any better than this? Division rivals fighting for first place; a coach going against his former Super Bowl-winning team; a star running back, at the top of his game, playing in his final season, not because he needs to retire, but because he wants to; a drama queen wide receiver coming off a great game who is just as likely to blow up at his teammates as he is catch a touchdown. I'm sure I've left out some of the drama, there is so much. I'm glad the Cowboys have home-field advantage for this game.

In other news, my cable line-up still isn't accurate. But I know my cable company is working on it. I still can't believe that my after-hours phone message to a VP was returned less than an hour later, and the VP got to work trying to fix the problem immediately.

Here's hoping I have a better spinning class tomorrow. I'd like to actually sweat and get my heart rate up.

Gotta go. Can't eat, watch the Cowboys game, blog and read the DMN Cowboys blog at the same time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Advice

I met one of my neighbors last week. I see him sometimes, coming and going, but we've never spoken beyond the casual greeting. I always see him talking to my other neighbors, but he's never talked to me. So one day I'm walking from my car, and he asks me if I went to ACU. Turns out he went to ACU, as did most of his family. I've had the "Abilene Christian Alumni" sticker on my car the entire time I've lived here. He's doing most of the talking, and I get the impression he is kind of a lonely guy. Nice, but lonely. I get back from Homecoming, and there is a yellow Post-it note on my car from him. He wrote:

Jamie, Hi. Wanted to see how you were doing. Didn't want to ring the door bell and disturb you. Sorry I don't know your telephone number, but you are welcome to call me at xxx-xxxx. Thanks. Signed his full name.

Should I be concerned by this development? Or I am paranoid and this is normal apartment neighbor behavior? It kind of creeps me out. I might be less concerned if I had a roommate or a husband, but I live alone, so I'm a little more guarded.

Thoughts, anyone?

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I'm off work Thursday and Friday. Yea for Fall Break! I'm going outlet shopping in Allen! I'm (hopefully) having a Girls' Night! I'm going to the State Fair!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Homecoming Continued

Here are a few things I wrote in my Happy List over the weekend.
  • the first glimpse of the Tower of Light as you're driving into Abilene
  • Jacob's Ladder, sculpture by Jack Maxwell
  • laughing at inappropriate times during GATA Breakfast and being glared at the MC
  • being silly with friends
  • Ryann getting free coffee
  • training Ryann on how to manipulate boys
  • singing around the GATA Fountain after Chapel
  • "That could be his Indian name: Cries-at-Corn!"- Jamie
  • your 5-year college reunion
  • running into old friends at the Parade
  • the singing at Homecoming Chapel
  • singing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to dismiss HS Chapel (and all major ACU functions)
  • Judy feeding us a home-cooked lunch on Sunday
  • worship at Highland
  • Mike Cope preaching
  • Jack and Jill painting to illustrate Mike's sermon
  • seeing the children of friends in person (blog pictures are great, but not as good as real life)
  • a rainbow after a storm
  • watching one of Brent's videos
  • eating Joe Allen's twice in one weekend
Did I forget anything? I'd love to read your happy lists for the weekend! Maybe you'll start with a list of Homecoming highlights and keep updating the list until you have your very own Happy List. I've been keeping a Happy List since before I met most of you, but the one thing I haven't done is entice anyone else to keep their own list. I started my junior year in high school. I'd been meaning to start mine, but never got around to it. Then at church one Sunday, I opened right up to the page I was looking for in the song book. I went home and wrote that down in a spiral notebook. And thus my happy list was born.

I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it belongs to my friend Janie. Robin Williams made her laugh, and the Happy List was born. She started asking everyone we knew what made us happy, and she wrote it all down. Then she typed it up. I still have a copy of THE Happy List.

Those of you that lived in Nelson Hall might remember the communal happy list I kept on my door. Anyone could write on it. I typed everything, and near the end of our freshman year, I posted copies of the Nelson Dorm Freshman Happy List on my door for everyone to read. I remember sitting in my door and hearing people stop and read through the list until they came to something they wrote. Laughter usually followed. Ah, memories.

I didn't intend for this to be a post about the Happy List, it just kind of ended up that way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Homecoming

It was great to be back at ACU for our five-year reunion. I can't believe we've been out of school for five years! Like usual, I didn't take nearly enough pictures.

I was amazed by the improvements on campus. I'm jealous of the library the students get to enjoy now. And the jogging track around campus is perfect. But the best addition to the campus has to be Jack Maxwell's Jacob's Ladder sculpture. I just wanted to keep looking at it. I wish it was more visible from the road, but it is worth visiting campus to see.

I liked the laid-back nature of our reunion dinner. It makes me laugh that not enough people submitted pictures from our college years to make a slide show. It was fun getting to visit people I haven't seen since graduation or haven't kept in touch with well enough. With the popularity of blogs, it felt like I knew everything about everybody all ready. Most people looked the same. Five years isn't much time for a lot of change to take place.

GATA Breakfast was fun. Our pledge class always seems to laugh at inappropriate times during breakfast. Or maybe the other tables just aren't having as much fun as they should be. I love circling up and singing GATA songs at breakfast. And I love that our club has a tradition of singing around the GATA Fountain after Homecoming Chapel. It's so much fun! The purple water was a nice touch. Remember, 2008 is the year we will have our 10-year pledge class reunion. Spread the word!

I mentioned blog reading in a previous paragraph, but I wanted to bring it up again. Allison mentioned how she reads several blogs she wasn't "invited" to read, and I do the same. I think all of us do. I know I never feel like I'm allowed to comment on the blogs I silently read, even though I'm sure the author wouldn't mind because I wouldn't mind reading comments from someone who found my blog through a friend of a friend of a friend. So in the interest of full transparency, leave a comment on my blog if you are a regular reader. I will do the same to you.

Rachel and I have a long tradition of taking cheesy pictures, and this one is no different. If you can't tell, we are wearing the same shirt in different colors. We bought them at Homecoming last year and did not plan to match. Great minds think alike.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Random Thoughts

My posts have been pretty random lately. Not much is going on, so I don't have any exciting adventures to report. But I thought I was pass along a few random thoughts.

  1. I signed up for the spinning class; I start next Tuesday. In honor of completing the 10K and knowing my body is going to rebel against a combination of running, weight training and spinning next week, I've taken the week off, exercise wise. Getting to sleep in is nice. We are halfway through the Biggest Loser Challenge at work, so this spinning class better work!
  2. I went to a United Way meeting today where someone sang The Lord's Prayer for the benediction. (I couldn't remember if that was the official word for opening or closing prayer, but I thought I would go with it anyway.)
  3. I love that Thursdays are Must-See TV nights again. It just feels like everything is right with the world when I can be a couch potato on Thursday evenings. I even start on NBC watching Earl and the Office, just like back in the day when FRIENDS was on. NBC loses me to ABC for Grey's, but the whole evening just feels right. (I know many of you are laughing at me right now, but I don't care.)
  4. I know there is a lot of complaints out there about LOST, but I love it! It's a three-part season premier, just like last season. We wouldn't like LOST as much if it addressed the Jack-Kate-Sawyer/Sayid-Sun-Jim/Locke-Desmond-Ecko-Hatch questions in one episode. You can't cover that ground adequately in one hour. I think one of the Hatch survivors has magic powers now. We'll see how that goes. You should check out Doc Jensen on ew.com. He writes a LOST conspiracy-theory column each Wednesday; it's quite entertaining.
  5. Fall Break is next week. We get Thursday and Friday off. I have no plans, other than to go home and go to the State Fair on Saturday. I'll definitely run before I go so I can have my fill of fried foods. What's the Fair without something deep friend?
  6. It's finally cold here, sort of. Something blew in Sunday, and it never got out of the 50s on Monday. Then it was in the 60s on Tuesday, in the 80s on Wednesday, and today it is in the 50s with a low tonight in the 30s. And yeah, the high on Friday is 70. Mother Nature is crazy!
  7. I'm addicted to Matt Mosley's Cowboys blog on dallasnews.com. I became an avid DMN sports blog reader during the Mav's playoff run. And now I read the Cowboys blog before, during and after each game, and I check it at least two or three times a day during the week. I'm obsessed. But it's one of the best ways to keep up with the team when you don't live somewhere with constant Cowboys coverage.
That's enough random thoughts for the day.

I look forward to seeing many of you at Homecoming!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mission Accomplished

I ran a 10K (6.2 mile) race this morning, and I didn't finish last! Six people finished after me. I've really got to work on increasing my pace. It felt great to have people cheering for me as I crossed the finish line. This race is pretty casual, so the MC gets the crowd involved; he had them cheer for me. I swore I heard a spectator say, "Way to go, Jamie." I looked over at him, but I didn't recognize him.

That's all. I'm looking forward to my dessert tonight.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Five

Here are five things I am looking forward to this weekend.
  1. Three friends are visiting this weekend. It's always fun to get back together. When they lived here, we had ALIAS watching parties every week. Ah, good times.
  2. Guys and Dolls. I love musicals, and I've loved this one every since my friend Janie played Sarah in our high school production. She was so good! I have another friend playing Sarah in this production, so I'm excited.
  3. Red Raider Road Race. Tomorrow I run my first 10K race ever.
  4. T.G.I. Fridays. Anytime my friends (from item No. 1) are in town, we go to Friday's for dessert. This started when Meg and I worked with Camps and needed to de-stress at the end of the day. Luckily I'm running that 10K in the morning, so I feel OK about eating dessert. Normally it wouldn't jive with my Biggest Loser goals.
  5. Cowboys vs. Eagles. This is normally a big game because these teams are division rivals, but with T.O. leaving Philly and becoming a Cowboy, the drama is much higher. It will be T.O.'s first visit to Philly with another team. I'm not happy the Cowboys signed him, and so far, he hasn't really done anything on the field to prove his worth. So here's hoping the drama queen finally catches an impossible ball or turns a short pass into a big gain or wins the game for us in dramatic fashion. Even if we lose, it should be a good game. (I could write an entire post about how professional athletes are not held accountable for their actions as long as they produce on the field, but I won't. But that is why I'm upset with the Cowboys for signing him, for saying all his behavior is acceptable as long as he gets us to a Super Bowl. It's not a good example to set for college and high school athletes.)
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In last night's My Name is Earl episode, I laughed so hard when Joy's husband slowly gave the deaf lawyer a quarter in exchange for the pencil he took from her hand. Something else in that episode made me laugh almost as hard, but I can't remember what it was.

I loved how Michael dealt with Dwight's betrayal in The Office. His demeanor toward Dwight after he got off the phone with Jan, starting with offering him M&Ms, was fantastic. Michael's "Hug it out, b**ch," was the best line of the night. Lines like that make me wonder how much Steve Carell is ad-libbing. The kiss between Michael and Oscar in the season premier was not in the script.

I'm glad McSteamy is a regular on Grey's Anatomy.

I cried again in last night's episode of Ugly Betty. The show is so over-the-top and absurd, but America Ferrera is so genuine and easy to root for that I hate seeing her hurt or abused. Enough for me to well up two weeks in a row. So I'm sticking around.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

For your enjoyment

Elisa, this is for you.

Yes, that is actor John Corbett from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Sex and the City. And yes, that is me with a "Sex My City" shirt. And yes, this picture is authentic with no adjustment in Photoshop.

John Corbett has decided to pursue a career in country music. He came through here on a tour to promote his new CD. I made these shirts for me and Lis to wear under our clothes. After the concert, John was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. We were near the end of the line, so I decided to tell him about my shirt. He wanted to see it, so I showed him. Then we took this picture. I also got about five or six hugs and a butt slap.

Hope this brightens your day, Elisa.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Spin City

Has anyone ever taken a spin class? I'm thinking about signing up for a five-week class at the Rec. It's not included with my fee, so I'd have to pay a $25 supplement.

My Biggest Loser goal when I joined the Rec was to take a weight training class twice a week and a step class twice a week. I've reduced my running to 30-40 minutes twice a week and added a long run of at least an hour on Saturday. My shins are feeling a little delicate, so I've stayed away from the step class. So my cardio has dropped to only three days a week. Not good enough.

Adding spinning would give me much needed cardio. It's also a good compliment to running because it doesn't stress my legs. Is it worth $25 for five weeks? I have to decide by Wednesday.

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Not much else going on. I'm watching LOST season 2 on DVD to prepare for the season premier on Wednesday.

The weather has started to warm back up, so I think I'm going to close my windows. It feels like a defeat, like closing my doors is admitting that Fall hasn't arrived. I really thought it was here. Hopefully this spring-like weather quickly gives way to cooler temperatures.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cowboys and Sewing

My Cowboys won convincingly today, 45-14, against the Tennessee Titans.

One of the Tennessee defenders knocked the helmet off a Cowboy on the ground and then stomped on his head! Almost as bad, he responded like his actions were OK. And it was in no way accidental. He was rightfully kicked out of the game. The Cowboys player he stepped on reportedly required 30 stitches!

Poor Vince Young had a rough conclusion to the Cowboys game. I wonder what the ratings for the game were in Texas? Former UT QB Vince starts for Tennessee and T.O. starts for Dallas after all the hoopla last week surrounding his "accidental overdose."

Almost as significant, I sewed a button on a pair of pants! It doesn't sound like much, but it was the first time I have done any kind of sewing. My washer and dryer keep ripping buttons off my clothes. I have a skirt that needs a button, but I think one act of sewing a day is plenty.

Off to plan my menu for the week.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Race for the Cure

The Race this morning was great! I started out slowly, but that is normal for me. About halfway through, I picked up my pace and finished strong. I can't remember the terminology for running the second half faster than the first, but I did that. I saw my dentist and some people I work with. Normally I don't see anyone I know. I brought back lots of goodies, including Sun Chips in pink Race for the Cure bags. That's a first for this particular race. And as always, I ate sausage on a stick after the run. Probably not the best decision, but it tastes so good.

I need to catch up my Texas Monthly reading. I subscribe to so many magazines that sometimes I can't keep up. But the stories are so good in Texas Monthly.

I've given up watching Dancing with the Stars. Even Emmitt Smith can't make me watch reality TV.

I think I'm going to eat Freebirds for lunch today. That sounds like a good post-race meal.

I think I'm on the edge of a cold. My throat feels like a little scratchy. Hopefully I can keep it at bay until after Homecoming.

Who is going to be at Homecoming?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Nothing to Say

I haven't had much to say lately. Here are some random thoughts.

I thought The Office was good on Thursday. The more Jim in the episode, the better it is.

I got all emotional in the Ugly Betty pilot. It was predictable and a little corny, but it got me emotionally involved, so I'll try it again.

Second episode of Grey's Anatomy was much better than the season premier.

I'm running the Race for the Cure tomorrow.

I saw a shooting star the other morning.

I talked Blockbuster into waiving half my rental fine after I turned two movies in ON TIME to the wrong store. Last time I did this, they waived the whole thing. Didn't get as lucky this time.

I transferred a TiVo recording to my VCR. I fast-forwarded through one of the commercials, and my VCR recording the act of fast-forwarding. The VCR records whatever is on TiVo, so if I had paused the show, the VCR would have recorded that. TiVo is awesome!

I don't have any deep thoughts to share, but I've enjoyed reading the thoughts on your blogs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

10K and TV

I just registered for a 10K race. I've never officially run 6 miles. I don't think I've unofficially run 6 miles either. But I've been running for an hour the last couple Saturdays, and it hasn't been too difficult for me. Each time I stopped, I felt like I could have gone longer. As always my goal is to not finish last. That's easy to accomplish with the 5K because so many students "race" for club intramural points. Here's hoping a few other slowpokes race the 10K so I can beat them.

Anyone watch Gilmore Girls last night? Thoughts? I was glad Lorelai stood her ground with Luke, even though I'm sure it won't last. It was hard not to overanalyze the writing knowing the lead writers left the show. Would I have noticed a difference if I was unaware of that information?

I only have two more episodes of 24 S1 to watch. If you haven't watched S1 and plan to, stop reading now. I love when Jack kills Victor! Keifer does such a great job of showing us his thought process. You see him hesitate, and then you see a slight change in facial expression that gives away what he is about to do. Glad he finally won his Emmy. I remember that one scene more than any other in the first season.

Once I finish 24, it's on to LOST S2 to prepare for the season 3 premier next Wednesday.

I don't know why people think I like TV.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Evening Ritual

I've discovered a new favorite evening ritual: being invited to a steak and tuna dinner on the drive home from the gym. Much better than returning home and cooking for myself. Wednesday's offer is dove. It helps to have friends that hunt.

I watched Weeds on DVD Saturday night instead of the Notre Dame game. I enjoyed Weeds, but come-from-behind victories are one of the reasons we watch sports.

I've had the windows in my bedroom and living room open for more than a week. I'm loving it!

I worked the Chalupa Book for my company at the local fair yesterday. I ate cheesecake on a stick dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts. Totally not allowed on the Biggest Loser Diet, but totally worth it. Cheesecake is my weakness.

I'm still reading Fast Food Nation. Once I finish, I'll post some of the disturbing things I've read. The entire book is disturbing. The movie adaptation should be interesting. And disturbing.

That's enough filler for this post. Hopefully I've have something more interesting to say later.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday Fun

Fridays are great because I only work until noon. But this Friday I watched live tennis. Three singles match and one doubles match for only $5! I watched Robert Kendrick lose in straight sets. This is the guy that almost knocked my boyfriend Nadal out of Wimbledon. I have no idea how this guy took two sets off Nadal.

To give you some idea of the quality of play, Kendrick is ranked No. 141 in the world; he was seeded No. 1 at this tournament. But the majority of players in the Top 10 played in the Challenger league at some point. The Next Great American Hope is supposed to be Bobby Reynolds. I watched him lose a close doubles match. Maybe I saw the future No. 1 player in the world.

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I don't know what the weather is doing where you are, but it's cooling down here. I love it! It's great for morning runs.

Is it horrible that I took a nap at 11 a.m.? I did wake up at 6:45 to run. I finished eating breakfast, turned on football, covered up with a blanket, and crashed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ah, West Texas

Stepping outside, getting hit with a gust of wind, inhaling dirt and looking into a brown sky are all part of the West Texas experience. Isn't it great?

My plan tomorrow is to go watch some live tennis. My city is hosting a ATP Challenger tournament, and 10 guys that played at the US Open are here. The American that almost knocked my boyfriend Nadal out of Wimbledon is also playing. I hope the wind leaves town by tomorrow so I can watch some tennis. I wonder if they are even playing in these conditions.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Public Speaking

I've always given good presentations, but I never like speaking in front of a group. I've been going around campus meeting with different departments talking to them about the United Way. But this morning I stood up in front of a crowd of 1500 judgmental college students. My legs were shaking so much! I could hear a few employees sitting close to the stage whisper to each other, "She's shaking." and it made it worse. I tried changing my position to stop it, but it didn't work. I was wearing a dress, and my shaking was more obvious because the material was moving. It's funny because people that know me well on campus told me they could tell I was nervous. Everyone else told me they thought I did a great job and couldn't believe I got up in front of so many people. I was in theatre until I graduated from high school, so my voice doesn't usually betray me, but I've always gotten so nervous. My elementary school performed musicals every year, and in the fourth and fifth grades I had speaking parts with solos. I remember sitting in our cafeteria just shaking before going on stage. Some things never change. Hopefully I don't have to do that again until the spring when I raise money for the Children's Miracle Network.

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Besides, Allison, has anyone switched to Beta? What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Biggest Loser Day One

I ran this morning and just completed a Body Sculpting class at the Rec. It was obvious I hadn't done any kind of strength training in a long time. It felt good, and I'll feel it tomorrow.

One guy in my office decided to "go to the dark side" and join another department's Biggest Loser team. Today was his birthday. We bought fruit and veggies to celebrate his birthday....and one cupcake, just for him. But he didn't eat it. It sat on our conference table until I gave it away around 4:30 p.m. to the one guy in our office not participating in the challenge. Talk about discipline! Most of us in the office are also trying to give up cokes, even if we normally drink diet versions. All went well today. Now we just have to keep it up for eight weeks.

Don't worry, I'm not going to chronicle the Challenge every day.

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Last night (and today) I watched the pilots for the "shows that defined a generation" on the WB: Felicity, Angel, Buffy and Dawson's Creek. A fitting farewell for the WB network. I'm not sure I watched any of those shows during their initial run, at least consistently. Lack of cable might have had a role in that decision.

In a scene from Felicity, Felicity and her new friend are taking notes with bright-colored pens I used to use. Ah, memories. Buffy is a great TV show. I need to go back and watch the entire series. I don't think I've ever seen the pilot of Dawson's Creek.

Was anyone addicted to any of the above TV shows?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Random Thoughts

"This is the place God has for me at this very moment in my life. I feel like I am standing on the threshold of something that will change my life forever."

I have a friend doing mission work in Ireland, and this was at the end of his email update. It's a great feeling to believe you are right where God wants you to be, doing what he wants you to do . I don't feel like that right now, but I have. I remember when I was a Leadership Camp counselor and felt like God had been preparing me my entire life for that summer. Sometimes everything in life clicks.

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It's a cool Sunday afternoon. I've opened my windows to let the breeze in. Perfect atmosphere for watching football. Ah, football season. Way to go TCU! It's not popular to root against the local team, but I can't help it. I ran some errands yesterday, and I could tell it was game day. Home or away, fewer people are out on game days. Works for me.

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I want one of the new iPods! The clip iPod shuffle is so cool! Perfect for exercising. Much more functional than the shuffle that hung around your neck. Who wants something bouncing against their chest during a run.

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I almost through the first season of 24. I'm to the span of episodes I missed when I moved from London to Ireland. It's interesting to watch the first season after I've seen all five seasons. Jack will say something like, "I'm the last person you want to see if I don't get my wife and daughter back alive." I'll think, "Classic Jack Bauer." But it's the first season, so technically it's not classic Jack. It shows you how well the writers have done at making the Jack character consistent through five seasons.

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Will my Cowboys win tonight? If not, they will be 0-2. We're playing at home, so I think we'll win. Go Cowboys!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cooking

I'm not sure who started this, but here is a list of my five favorite foods to make.
  1. Three-Pepper Pasta with Pesto, because I like alliteration in my diet. I got this recipe from one of those small books at the check-out stand. I usually add a little shrimp to it. So yummy.
  2. Zucchini-roni Pizza. Delicious and much better for you than pepperoni pizza. A Rachael Ray recipe. I can eat leftovers for days, always good for a girl on a budget.
  3. Honey-Gingered Pork Tenderloin. No explanation needed. Most of you have had it. Grilling doesn't get better.
  4. Mamaw's Chocolate Pie. This is THE family recipe. I have a reputation for not being able to cook, and this is a time consuming, complicated recipe. My mother can't even make it. So everytime I spend 30 minutes stirring chocolate pudding, I smile at how far I've come since catching the stove on fire.
  5. Salmon Salsa Wraps. Quick, easy, delicious and healthy.
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Good news! My TiVo ToGo is working! I transferred my first program from my TiVo to my laptop. Awesome! Now I just need to burn the program to a DVD. I have to buy a specific software to do that. Good thing TiVo is my Christmas present.

The Biggest Loser

My company is initiating a Departmental Biggest Loser competition. It begins Monday and lasts two months. My department is participating. Normally, I focus on running, but running does not equal weight loss for me. But I want to run a marathon one day, so I cannot give up on running totally. I was finally able to renew my membership at the Rec Center, which is the best deal in town, so now I have a plan. I am going to combine running, step aerobics and weight training. And a healthy diet. Luckily I have that part down for the most part. Wish me luck!

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I gave blood on Wednesday, and it was not pretty. My body does not react well after I have given blood. I used to always get lightheaded and almost pass out, until one person listened to me when I said I did not give blood well. She elevated me and put ice packs on me while I gave blood. And then brought snacks and juice over to me while I sat in the chair and recovered. I stopped having problems. That did not work as well this time. I felt kind of rushed to get out of the chair, and got up too quickly. Even though I went from sitting in the donor chair to sitting someplace else, it was not enough. Pretty soon I started sweating and everything started to go white. They got me back in the donor chair, elevated and covered with ice just in time. I think I freaked a few people out with the almost fainting and the loss of color to my face. Hopefully I did not scare anyone away. I won the door prize though! I think it was a sympathy win. I wish I had a second TV to go with the DVD player I won.

I think next time I give blood I will try the option that takes a little less blood and gives you plateletts back. I might react better to that. We will see. Or I will go back to giving blood in the afternoon when I can have two meals and more water in my system. Or giving at the blood bank and not at the company blood drive so I can take my time.

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I am going to see Pat Green in concert on Saturday for free. How is that? By working the United Way booth at the music festival. Nice perk.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TiVo-land is Complicated

I haven't been able to get my TiVo ToGo working, the nifty feature that lets you transfer programs you record, like the entire season of LOST, to your computer and burn them on DVDs. Very frustrating. The TiVo people told me my internet people would probably have to allow my TiVo and computer to communicate. Having "free" wireless internet included in your rent is fabulous, except when you want to do unusual things, like TiVo to go. If my computer could communicate with my TiVo, anyone on my apartment network could communicate with my TiVo. Not very secure, which is actually a good thing.

This just means I have to buy a router to connect my TiVo and computer. And then, I have to switch my computer over to my home network to allow TiVo ToGo transfers, and then switch it back again to access the internet. Confusing. Cross your fingers that it works.

Today at work, before I left early to work out my TiVo issues, I was elected as Staff Senate President. They bullied me in to it. A few ladies have been campaigning for me without my approval, and today, last year's president starts the meeting by saying, "We need to elect a new President. I nominate Jamie. All in favor raise your hand. (Hands raise.) OK, Jamie you are our new president." Seriously, it took less than 30 seconds. Everyone was so shocked, myself included, that we couldn't stop laughing for a while. Then she took more time and did it for real, but the result was the same. So if my actual job can't keep me busy, my extracurricular activities, like Staff Senate President, United Way Loaned Executive, and Children's Miracle Network Change Bandits coordinator will. Actually, being president will be less time consuming than my role last year on the Sense of Community committee. I think I will try to make SS big on advocacy, making sure our voices are heard by the administration. You can't fix something if you don't know it's broken.

Off to buy a router!

No Words Necessary

Monday, September 11, 2006

24 Season One

I broke down today and bought season 1 of 24. It was on sale for $18.99 at Target! Last time it was on sale for this price, I stood paralyzed in the DVD aisle weighing the pros and cons of buying it. I passed. Not this time. The downside to subscribing to the Target weekly ad via email is that you discover sales you can't pass up. I know all the trappings of sales promotions, and I still let them work. For you Nip/Tuck fans, S1-2 are on sale for $18.99 and so is the first season of Arrested Development. I think S3 of Gilmore Girls is also on sale. Jack looks so young in the first season. Little does he know what heartache awaits him in the next five seasons. And there is no Chloe. She's become such a beloved presence on the show, you forget she wasn't there in the beginning.

The tennis season is more or less over. Shockingly, Roger Federer won the US Open, his third Grand Slam victory of the year. His third consecutive win. The man is too good. Hopefully my boyfriend Nadal can stop his rapid ascent to "best player ever." Not likely.

Recent Happy Thoughts
  • homemade tiramisu
  • Clinique Bonus Time
  • Clinique employees wear white lab coats
  • lazy weekends
  • colorful sunsets
  • the US Open
  • playing tennis for two hours on a Saturday morning
  • resisting the urge to drink a Diet Dr Pepper
  • the smell of roast slow-cooking in the kitchen (this is obviously not my kitchen)
  • rain during a drought
  • "You've always done documentary form, right? Do you not have the imagination to tell a story?" - Stephen Colbert to Morgan Spurlock (Director, Super Size Me)
  • Billie Jean King, and everything she means to tennis and female athletes
  • when I said I made a blonde brownie, Dustin thought I made up a phrase, like "purple orangie" (this man is a doctor-scary)
  • the smell of fresh strawberries

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

This blog is in response to Elisa's blog. I'm listening thirteen books I like. For those of you that don't know, I have a terrible memory. I have to keep a list of every book I read if I want to keep from accidentally rereading it. That doesn't always work. I started reading East of Eden and it didn't take long for me to realize I'd already read it. I did reread a Holocaust memoir, but the title was different here in the States than it was in Europe, so it was an easy mistake. So I'll only be listing books since I started keeping a list in college.

  1. Best Purposeful Reread - Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This book is about a missionary family in the Congo. I wouldn't classify it as a religious book, but it does have religious themes. Every chapter is written from the perspective of a different daughter in the family, and they each have a unique voice.
  2. Best Autobiography - Personal History by Katharine Graham. Graham was the editor of the Washington Post Co. during Watergate and the Pentagon Papers scandals. If you like journalism, it's a great read. Very well written and she talks about being a woman in a man's world.
  3. Funniest Book I've Ever Read - Lamb by Christopher Moore. I love to read and love to laugh but very rarely do books make me laugh. I laughed out loud all the way through this book. This is a religious satire, so if you can't handle reading about Jesus doing "sacrilegious" things, don't try it. To me, that is what made it so funny. And because I read this book, I had a conversation with a stranger exploring Christianity about religion and politics, separation of church and state, Christians and Bush, abortion and homosexuality
  4. Best Series - The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. (The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten) I've heard this compared to an adult Harry Potter series. Kind of sci-fi meets literary allusions. Thursday Next is a literary detective in England in the future. Silly, but fun and smart.
  5. Best Religious Books - Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner. I don't read many religious books and really liked both of these.
  6. Best John Grisham - A Time to Kill. This is the first book he ever wrote, and was made into a movie after the success of The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client.
  7. Best Written - The Hours by Michael Cunningham and All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. The Hours is emotionally draining but so well written I've read it twice. Shoutin' is a written by a journalist that won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. It's more about his childhood than the journalism stuff.
  8. Best Travel Book - McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. It's about a man with Irish heritage stopping at ever bar with his name on it with Ireland. I wonder if I would like this book so much if had read it at a different time in my life. I read it after spending four months in Ireland.
  9. Favorite Childhood Books - A Wrinkle in Time and Bridge to Terabithia. I've reread Wrinkle recently, but not Terabithia. I don't feel like crying.
  10. Best Page Turners - The Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. If you've seen the movies, the books are completely different. The movies took the premise of the books and created their own story. Once you start reading, you can't put the book down. Too much suspense!
  11. Book I Really Want to Read but Can't Get Through - Anna Karenina. I just have trouble with this genre of book. All the characters, all the history and description. I've almost finished it once and started it three times.
  12. Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. I don't know what category to put this is. Easy read, uplifting Oprah book.
  13. Worst Book - Acherlitz by WG Sebold. I don't even remember what this book is about, but it was a pain to finish. When I was done, I actually threw this book away. When you are traveling through Europe, you leave books and swap books at hostels, and I knew if I left it somewhere, someone else would pick it up. I didn't wish that torture on anyone.
  14. Book I'm Currently Reading - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It's very good and I want to finish it, but tennis watching got in the way.
Your turn!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I'm in mourning

Nadal's US Open run came to a close in the quarterfinals. It was tough to watch because Nadal's passion and level of play was not up to his usual standards. He still had a great year. French Open Champion, holds the all-time record for consecutive matches won on clay, Wimbledon finalist, first quarterfinal appearance in the US Open. And I still love him. Vamos Rafa!

Now I have to pick between Andy Roddick and James Blake. Roddick faces a tough quarterfinal tonight between former champion Leyton Hewitt. Gotta love James Blake for his personal story, coming back from an almost career-ending injury and losing his father. He does have to play the reigning champion and No. 1 ranked player(Federer) just to make it to the semifinals. Anything is possible in sports; that's why we love it so much!

So I'm watching the Sharapova match. Her dress isn't solid in the back; It has a slit in the middle and is connected by horizontal straps, like a prom dress. And the collar is sparkly. And her shoes are silver. If you look at my profile picture, Sharapova has a ribbon on her athletic dress just like mine. I know this is the US Open and the players, especially the ladies, enjoy the wardrobe freedom, but it's odd to see an athlete in an athletic prom dress. The commentators remarked that it was a classy choice. And it is. It's just odd. The Williams sisters really started this fashion trend. I know you are all super interested.

It's not obvious that I've been watching tennis at every opportunity is it? It's not like it's all I can talk about.

To prove I'm well rounded, I've been watching Veronica Mars S2 on DVD. And socially watched the House season premier. I may be sitting in front of the TV all night, but I'm running in the morning.

Dental Torture

So, I've met a boy. He came out of nowhere, and is as close to perfect as I've found lately. Granted I've only seen him twice, but this is what I know:
  • he's a dentist
  • he's a Christian
  • he's hot
  • he's very nice and friendly
  • he's funny
  • he's my age
  • he likes to travel
  • he isn't a crazy I-Adore-Bush-and-Everything-That-Comes-Out-of-His-Mouth Republican (harder to find than you might think in conservative West Texas)
  • he likes tennis and played in HS and college
  • oh, yeah, he's married
See what I mean about almost perfect. Does God enjoy torturing me? :-) I've had conversations with some of you about my relationship patterns, and maybe this guy is so perfect for me only because I can't date him. Sigh.

Well, Mr. Hot Dentist filled one of my cavities yesterday (did I mention Mr. Hot Dentist is my dentist?). Only three more fillings and one extraction to go.

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I don't know if Fall has officially arrived, but it sure feels like it. The great thing about rain in West Texas is that it almost always brings with it cooler temperatures. And they stick around a few days. When I walked out my door this morning, I wanted to go back inside and put on a jacket. Fall is my favorite season. The weather is fantastic, but it's a great season for many reasons. I love the clothes. I love football season. I love watching new episodes of my favorite TV shows. I love watching high-quality, Oscar-bound movies. I love overeating at the State Fair of Texas. I love it all! Bring on Fall!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Au revoir Agassi

Two tennis posts in a row, I know. :-)

Well, Andre Agassi finally lost. For a while there in the fourth set it looked he might make another miraculous run. His immobility finally caught up with him. The eight-minute standing ovation the crowd gave Agassi after the match was very moving.

If you are interested, SI Magazine published a great feature about Andre Agassi. I always rooted for Sampras over Agassi, so cheering for him has never come naturally. But after watching him at the US Open and being reminded about how he get there from the SI story, I have renewed respect for the guy. He gives a lot back to the community as well. Read all about him online.

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I had a good Labor Day weekend. I went to WestFest on Sunday. WestFest is a Czech festival in West, Texas. The city of West is home to a large Czech population. The Czech Stop gas station is also a Czech bakery, and they make yummy kolaches. So in August I went to the Czech Republic, and in September I reminisced at an authentic Czech festival in Texas. And Nadal beat at Czech player today. Everything's coming up Czech.

I played a little doubles tennis over the weekend as well. We lost to old men, but it was still fun to be out there hitting for two hours. I need to find tennis buddies here.

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Amazing Andre

Sorry, but I love tennis, so you'll just have to accept an occasional tennis post during the next two weeks. I confidently predicted that Agassi would lose his second-round match against Baghdatis, the No. 8 seed. I watched Baghdatis play in the Australian Open Final against Federer and the Wimbledon Semifinal against Nadal, and he was good, very good.

I'm obviously rooting for Agassi (up to a point - remember my crush on Nadal) but I like this player and expected an entertaining and competitive match. Baghdatis didn't start playing good, consistent tennis until the third set. Agassi won the first two sets, but Baghdatis came roaring back to win the third and fourth sets and force a decisive fifth set.

Baghdatis started cramping at 4-4 in the fifth set. You can't receive treatment mid-game, so he just had to limp it out. It kind of freaked Agassi out, so he almost won the game despite his lack of movement.

A few games later Agassi won in five sets (I was wrong.) Thrilling. I'm sad an injury had to play such a big part. But conditioning is part of sport. Can you believe the 36-year-old with a bad back outfitnessed the 21-year-old?

Staying up late to watch an intense, how-will-it-end sporting event definitely makes me happy. How can anyone not love sports? Especially in a match like this, when the standard of play is so high you find yourself rooting for both players and feeling like the match itself transcends the outcome.

In other news...
No. 2 Nadal won and advanced to the third round. He's never won a third round match at the Open, but I predict a victory Saturday. Rafael Nadal will see the fourth round in 2006. Vamos Rafa!

The most accurate kicker in NFL history missed TWO (2!) game-winning field goals in OT. He's missed as many field goals in this game as he missed the entire 2005 season! So the Cowboys went 3-0-1 in the preseaon.

Little Miss Sunshine

I wholeheartedly endorse this movie and suggest you see it today. I can't remember the last time I have laughed so hard in a movie theatre. I was laughing to hard I was crying. When the movie was over I realized I was sweating. Jaime and I sat and laughed during the credits. As we got up to left, we kept laughing. I kept myself up last night laughing as I remembered scenes from the movie.

If you plan on seeing it, don't read any reviews. The funniest moment is at the end, and if you know it's coming, it won't be as funny. The whole movie is enjoyable, populated with these brilliantly funny moments. There were times when the movie tried too hard, but I can overlook that. I'm going to see it again on Friday!

The movie is rated R, mainly for language and sexual content, but not sex scenes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

World Cloud

I saw this on Summer's blog, and thought it was cool. The program searches your blog and compiles a list of the most commonly used words. The bigger the word, the more times it appears in your blog. Here's mine!


If you want to try it yourself, go to this site.