Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tagged

Rachel tagged me...

8 Favorite Restaurants:
1. Moe's
2. Orlando's (Lubbock)
3. Bogie's (Abilene)
4. Joe Allen's or Sharon Allen's (Abilene)
5. Jamba Juice
6. Rockfish
7. Cheesecake Factory (one day I will live in a city that has one!)
8. McAlister's (love that sweet tea!)

8Things that Happened Today:
1. I scraped ice off my car
2. I ate someone else's leftovers
3. I had a "gut check" meeting with my new boss
4. I received Christmas presents from coworkers
5. I wore a scarf for warmth (not fashion!)
6. I bought a Christmas present
7. I drank hot chocolate
8. I cooked dinner

8 Things I Look Forward To:
1. Making double chocolate pumpkin pie for Christmas
2. The year 2009
3. Making new friends in a new town
4. One day, not driving a station wagon
5. The return of LOST on TV
6. Weekends
7. Cowboys games
8. Loving my new job

8 Things I'm Scared Of:
1. Not being good at my new job
2. Not making new friends
3. Missing opportunities
4. Not reducing my debt substantially in 2009
5. Making a huge mistake
6. Losing ANYONE I love
7. Severe pain or serious illness
8. Not realizing my potential

8 Things I Wish For:
1. To live in a house
2. Another international travel adventure
3. Peace
4. Happy, healthy marriage for my sister
5. A baby for Rachel and Joe
6. A job I love (hopefully my new one)
7. The economy to turn around
8. Continued happiness

8 Things I Watch on TV:
1. Pushing Daisies
2. LOST
3. 30 Rock
4. The Office
5. Chuck
6. Bones
7. How I Met Your Mother
8. Ugly Betty

8 People I TAG:
1. Wendy H.
2. Janie
3. Wendy K.
4. Jenise
5. Elisa
6. ABL
7. Megan
8. Terri

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Five: New Beginnings

  1. I've worked one week at my new job. The week included an evening board meeting and a home meeting in Austin. Next week I actually get to start doing my job and contacting volunteers and setting up meetings. Yay!

  2. I miss the cheap gas prices in Lubbock. I'm paying about 20 cents more per gallon here, but at least the price is dropping.

  3. I went to Wine Wednesdays with the other newbie at work and four girls that work on TV. Being surrounded by 22-year-old TV personalities was a definite change in pace. They make me feel old!

  4. I went to a tumor conference this week. Being surrounded my doctors and nurses for the past six years in Lubbock came in handy because I wasn't totally lost. That didn't mean I knew what I was looking at on CT scans though.

  5. I started my ACS t-shirt connection today. I'm going to collect ACS and Relay for Life shirts quicker than I collected LCU shirts. I didn't think that was possible.

Friday, November 21, 2008

News!

I'm moving to Waco to work for the American Cancer Society!

Today was my last day at my old job. I've got a busy weekend of packing ahead of me. I'm heading to Waco to find a place to live on Monday, then on to to GP to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I'll move sometime after Thanksgiving.

It's a quick transition, but I'm exciting! It was time to leave Lubbock.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Friday

I'm skipping the Friday Five format this week.

I'm reading Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright. It's fascinating to read about the inner-workers of the UN and a White House administration, especially as it parallels to the administrative transition we are experiencing. As ambassador to the UN and Secretary of State, Albright dealt primarily with foreign affairs. Reading about the international response and investment in our election helps remind me that nothing happens in our country without repercussions around the world. That is a lesson I believe the Obama administration understands.

I'm started watching the critically-acclaimed TV series the Wire. I've only watched three episodes, but I'm already invested. The show centers on the drug scene in Baltimore, shown through the eyes of both drug dealers and law enforcement. It aired on HBO, so pretty much everything you associate with those subjects is depicted. The pace is pretty slow through the first few episodes as they set the scene and introduce the characters. From what I understand, the entire show - all five seasons - focused on the same investigation.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Friday Five

  1. So I spent four out of five weekends in October travelling. Last weekend I spent $75 on gas, and that was with buying gas for less than $2. I'm excited about staying home this weekend and not spending money. I plan on reading, watching Netflix movies and cooking.

  2. I am the official pie maker for my family. My great grandmother made a delicious chocolate meringue pie for every Thanksgiving and Christmas. After she died, my mom took over the pie-making duties, but she didn't have the patience - or the gene as my family calls it - for the job. So my aunt starting making pies. One Thanksgiving, they asked me to make the peaks on the meringue. Apparently I made such great peaks they determined I must have the gene. Tough criteria. I've decided that because I will be making pies for every holiday until I die, I want to introduce my own pie to to the family tradition. My experiment begins this weekend when I make a German chocolate pecan pie.

  3. Barack Obama is the next President of the United States! Regardless of whether or not you voted for him, the significance of his historic victory is something all Americans can take pride in.

  4. Did you watch 30 Rock last night? Funny and timely, as usual. Sleeping pills that cause "dizziness, sexual nightmares and sleep crime." Two characters, a white woman and a black man, debating who has a harder time in American. Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) outpouring of personal details to Oprah after taking sleeping pills. Tracy complaining about all the things white people stole from black people, including Will Smith and heart disease. Liz Lemon dressing up as Princess Lei and saying she can hear people's thoughts to get out of jury duty. (I should try that!) Oprah turned out to be a "spunky little tween." Those sleeping pills again!

  5. The Cowboys don't play this weekend, which is probably good for my nerves. Texas Tech plays a big game against Oklahoma State on Saturday. I hope they can sustain their momentum.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five

  1. Don't see the movie "The Happening" by M. Night Shyamalan. Awful. The dialogue is cheesy, cliche and unrealistic. The acting was bad. I like Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, but both were horrible. They didn't have much to work with in terms of character development and dialogue, but they were painful to watch. Shyamalan has officially lost the benefit of the doubt. I didn't see "Lady in the Water" but I heard from several people that it wasn't as bad as the reviews. Now I don't want to give it a chance.

  2. So glad "30 Rock" is back on TV! With Tina Fey's popularity this Fall, I can't believe NBC didn't capitalize on that buzz and launch the show earlier this month and try to build a larger audience. Wasted opportunity. SNL didn't need Thursday specials to drive traffic to their show during this election season. The episode wasn't one of the best, but it's still good. Loved the facial expressions in this episode. If you aren't watching this show, you need to be! If you missed this episode, try watching it on the NBC website. I wrote this Monday night after watching it online.

  3. I voted, and I hope you have to. I love early voting. If you haven't voted yet, don't forget to cast your vote for President on Tuesday! The only time I remember not voting for a major office was the 2002 gubernatorial race. I did all sorts of research to determine who I was going to vote for, and then the night before the election, I found out I was registered to vote in Abilene and not Grand Prairie. I could have driven 300 miles round trip to vote, but I didn't. I've talked to several people the last few weeks that don't plan on voting, and I don't understand that. We live in a democracy, where our voice is our vote. Why choose to be voiceless? Next time you are at your grocery store, pick up the Voters Guide or click here for the Texas edition. You can take it in to the voter's booth.

  4. The Vietnam Ministry of Health has recommended banning small-chested people from riding motorbikes! Why? To improve driver safety of course. I guess their thinking is that larger drivers are less likely to suffer serious injuries if they are involved in an accident. What will we think of next?

  5. So did anyone watch the Obama "infomercial" on Wednesday? I was traveling and missed it. It's an interesting tactic, especially since McCain can't afford to buy the same airtime. I'm curious about the response/backlash and the ratings, although as you read this on Friday, you've probably formed your own opinion after watching it or already know how well it went over.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friday Five

  1. Here is a picture of me and Eileen from the Cowboys game a few weeks ago. We had a blast!


  2. I spent last weekend in the DFW area. On Saturday, I participated in the Dallas Race for the Cure. So much bigger than the one in my town. Here is a picture of my team - the Pirates.

  3. I can't believe the month of October is almost over! It was 38 degrees when I headed out of the house this morning. I loved it! Today it's chilly with blue skies and sunshine. Those conditions create the perfect Fall day.

  4. I'll be at ACU Homecoming this weekend. Hope to see you there! Next weekend I'll be in the DFW area again. I always seem to be traveling in October.

  5. I haven't read the book "The Shack" since I wrote about my lack of interest in recent post. I probably need to give it up so I can start a book I want to finish. I can't read more than one book at once. Usually that is not a problem because I finish them so quickly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Five: Fall Break Edition

  1. Oh the joys of working at a university. I have Thursday and Friday off for Fall Break.

  2. Fall makes me happy. I love the seasonal food offerings, specifically pumpkin and eggnog. I've been eating pumpkin bread for breakfast this week. It's store bought and not super, so I've been searching for recipes online and have found a few to try. I'll let you know what's worth making. Not worth it: pumpkin pie blizzard from Dairy Queen.

  3. I tried four new recipes this week: acorn squash quesadillas, chicken apple chili, salmon soft tacos and ginger & cilantro tilapia. How did they fare? Acorn squash is delicious all by itself. These quesadillas took an hour to make and about five pots and pans. Too much work. I could eat acorn squash all by itself. The chicken apple chili was interesting, but not something I'll make again. I like the salmon soft tacos; the cilantro crema had a unique flavor. I'll probably make those again. No report on the tilapia. Jaime took the router with her to Seattle and I haven't set mine up yet.

  4. My poor Cowboys. First, they play poorly and lose. Then, injuries force their starting quarterback, explosive running back and Awesome-Aussie punter off the field. To top it off, the NFL suspended cornerback Adam Jones indefinitely (minimum four games). It's his own fault, but the timing couldn't be worse. At least the Redskins and Giants (!!!!) lost this week. They did sign receiver Roy Williams, which should help, but I worry T.O.'s response could be negative.

  5. My landlords are awesome! Even though I'm losing a roommate and even though they know I'm looking to move out of the city, they are not making me pay Jaime's half of the rent for the rest of the year. It pays to be a good tenant.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Friday Five

  1. I had a fantastic time at the Cowboys game! What started out as a potential blowout ended up being a competitive game. It's fun to be part of the crowd, especially when you feel like you have an impact on the game. I'll post pictures as soon as I get them from Eileen.

  2. I've decided to follow one of those Couch-to-5K training plans. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I used to be a runner and then over training (stupid spinning class!) resulted in tendinitis in my left foot. I've had to take several breaks from exercising as a result. I miss running and want to do again, but I don't want to do too much too soon. I figure this slow-build plan should do the trick. Plus I'll keep up the anti-inflammation diet I mentioned in this post.

  3. How many of you have read the book "The Shack?" I'm just not that into it. I had to force myself to read it last night, never a good sign. It's such a cultural and religious phenomenon that I made myself read it. I just don't get what all the fuss is about.

  4. I don't like watching Presidential debates. I'm following the election enough that I don't learn anything from the debates. I didn't watch the one this week, but I read the transcript the next morning. The polls said Obama "won."

  5. I watched two high profile summer movies this week: Iron Man and Sex and the City. Both movies could have been shorter, but I enjoyed them. Jon Favreau seems to be a talented director. Elf and Iron Man couldn't be more different. I didn't like the choices the characters made in Sex and the City. Seemed written to advance the plot and create conflict instead of reflecting the characters well.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Five

  1. Political Rant of the Week: The Presidential Debate. I don't know how many times McCain said "I don't think Obama understands..." during the debate, but every time he said it, he made me angry. If you listen to Obama, he's obviously educated and knowledgeable, even if you disagree with his policies. He also called Obama or his policies naive several times. Piggybacking on my rant about sexism and politics two weeks ago, can you imagine the response if Biden had said either of those things about Palin? Uproar. If it's OK for McCain, it's OK for Biden; if it's unacceptable for Biden, it's unacceptable for McCain. The same standard should apply. (I wrote this BEFORE the VP debate.)

  2. Blog Discovery of the Week: Foreign Policy Passport. If you are interested in affairs outside the United States, check out this blog by Foreign Policy Magazine. I just started subscribing toit, but I already like it. When I was living abroad, I continued my subscription to Newsweek, and I received the English-language international edition. I like it better because it includes major stories and issues in the United States, but doesn't leave out the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it feels like you have to seek out that international perspective more here in the States than you do elsewhere. And I seek it out. I enjoy the "Morning Brief" post that provides an overview of the top news stories here and abroad. Check it out.

  3. Embarrassing Moment of the Week: Crying at TV shows. Most people that watch TV and find themselves emotionally invested in a show or fictional characters have probably experienced this before. My embarrassment doesn't come from the act of crying but from the TV show that brought me to tears. The O.C. Yep. I'd always heard that the show was good, at least in the beginning, but never checked in out. Then I found out that Warner Brothers was launching thewb.com to stream episodes of their shows. I figured I'd try the show because it wouldn't cost me money. Last night I watched the season one finale and cried. So much pain and separation. I'm still surprised at my reaction.

  4. I'm Art Walking Friday night, Racing for the Cure Saturday morning and dying of happiness at my first ever Dallas Cowboys football game at Texas Stadium Sunday afternoon.

  5. I'm out of things to write about.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday Five

  1. I went to the Opening Night Gala of the Metropolitan Opera... at my local movie theatre. Spending four+ hours in the movie theatre after a day at work was uncomfortable, but overall it was a neat experience. Going to the opera at the movie theatre has several benefits. It's cheaper than the real thing, they provide subtitles so you know what is going on, and the shots are up close and personal so you can actually see the facial expressions of the singers. I'd like to go to an opera in person, but until that day, watching the opera in HD at the movie theatre is a good option.

  2. Last week I killed my iPod nano. A day of mourning indeed. The new nanos had just been released, so I ordered a (PRODUCT) RED nano online. It arrived Wednesday. It's so pretty. Because you have to purchase the (PRODUCT) RED editions directly from Apple, I had never seen one in real life. The color is so vibrant. Here's the story of how I killed my iPod. I still can't believe it. I put my iPod, which I keep in a hard, plastic case, in the outer, narrow pocket of my purse. I sit my purse down next to my chair at the movie theatre. I open my smuggled Sprite Zero, and it explodes, with Sprite Zero falling on the ground. And into the outer, narrow picke of my purse, apparently. I leave the movie theatre, get into my car, and plug my iPod into the car charger/iTrip. The volume is strangely low. I turn the volume up and nothing happens. Then my iPod just quits. I give it a few minutes to reboot; still nothing. I look at my iPod and think, "Odd. It looks wet. Oh no." I unplug it from the charger, and Sprite Zero drips out. My heart sinks. I Google ways to fix my iPod. General consensus is that iPods are resiliant creatures, and will dry out and work fine, unless, of course, electricity passes through and fries them. Oops.

  3. TV Show to Watch: Firefly. This short-lived but excellent science fiction drama holds up after multiple viewings. Great characters, fun dialogue and creative stories. Joss Whedon of "Buffy" fame created the series. Every once in a while, usually after I see Nathan Fillion (Waitress) in something, I get in the mood to watch it. It's completely different than anything you've ever seen, and that is a good thing.

  4. Thursday night television is back! If only NBC had aired an episode of 30 Rock, the night would have been perfect. Jim proposed to Pam in the rain on the office! Awww.

  5. I don't really have a political rant of the week; I must not have been paying attention. I do hope there is a debate or not. Regardless of whether I truly understand what is going on with the economy and the best way to fix it, I'd like to hear what the candidates have to say about it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five

I'm a little bit annoyed with Blogger right now. I typed part of my post in Outlook and then copied it to Blogger. When I hit the "Publish Post" button, I was told my HTML was unacceptable. No matter what I tried, it wouldn't go away. So I had to retype this entire post. If you read it to the end, you will understand why I'm so annoyed.

  1. New Music Discover: The Wailin' Jennys. LOVE the name. If you like female singer/songwriters with gorgeous harmony, you'll like this Canadian folk band. When they aren't singing traditional folk songs, they write songs independently, and take the vocal lead on songs they write.

  2. Movie Update: Son of Rambo. This British film about two boys that make a home movie about the son of Rambo on a search to rescue his dad is adorable. I started smiling during the opening credits, and that sense of enjoyment never left. The soundtrack added to the somewhat whimsical nature of the movie. Rent for a feel-good, upbeat movie experience.

  3. Book Recap: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Janie was right; this was a good book. Here are my three favorite quotes, one from each section.

    "Still, despite all this, traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt...that travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel... I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, cocky, restless newborn baby - I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it is mine. Because it looks like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to - I just don't care."

    "We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, one with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don't realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist ad Supreme Self who is eternally at peace."

    "Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it and sometimes travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you...leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you are in distress, but continuing to pray when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to it's good attainment."

    Bonus quote: "He's got a smile that could stop crime."

  4. Best News of the Week: I'm going to a Cowboys game! I love the Dallas Cowboys. My obsession started in high school for no apparent reason. I used to pain my fingernails blue and silver to celebrate the start of every season. In the majority of my high school pictures, I'm wearing a Cowboys shirt. I even took a Cowboys-themed senior picture. On a clear day, from a certain spot near my high school, I could look toward Irving and see Texas Stadium, something I did every time I drove past this spot. I have never been to a Dallas Cowboys football game. That changes on Oct. 4! My awesome sister somehow got her hands on two tickets for the game and game them to me as an early Christmas present. Best. Present. Ever.

  5. Political Rant of the Week: Sexism and Politics
    (Yep, I'm going to rant every week. Whether you agree or disagree with me, hopefully you will do your own research and engage with this campaign. And vote, Wendy H.! No excuses! I'll try to keep them balanced, but right now it's the Republicans are doing and saying stupid, offensive things. I'm sure the Democrats will get their turn. Joe Biden has never had a successful bid for president for a reason.)

    I start this rant by acknowledging that sexism, racism, ageism, etc. exist in this country and are part of the campaign narrative. I believe that true sexism should be challenged when it exists. False charges of sexism for personal, or in this case, political gain, should not be tolerated. And that is what the McCain campaign and the Republican machine are currently engaged in. It's insulting. I'm sorry, but asking someone running for president or vice president about their experience, qualifications, opinions and world view is not disrespectful or sexist. Now, the argument and discourse about the Palin can be a good mom/wife and VP can be sexist because Biden isn't being asked the same thing. However, Biden has made his commitment to his family part of the discourse because of his decision to take the train home every night to Delaware.

    I just read an opinion piece in Newsweek that set off this rant. The author seemed to imply that asking female politicians tough questions is inherently sexist. She said she thought Charlie Gibson was sexist in his interview with Palin. She was offended that she and Palin were given a "foreign policy exam" in their interviews. The author, the first female every nominated for the vice presidency, said, "But who the the hell does he (Gibson) think he is, acting professorial and getting impatient and annoyed because she didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was. Frankly, I'd never heard it called the Bush Doctrine either, although I know what Bush's foreign policy is."

    (CAVEAT: I read a transcript of the interview but did not watch it. I thought it was going to be aired much later than it was. So his tone and non verbals could have been sexist. I read the questions and thought they were fair.)

    I did a Google search on the Bush Doctrine, and it's a fairly common term. Obama and Biden have each been asked how their doctrines would differ from Bush's. I can't see how the question was inherently sexist, and I think Palin did a decent job of answering the question, even if she didn't say exactly what Gibsom wanted her to. Does the author consider the fact that Palin in completely unknown and these questions are being asked so we, THE VOTERS, can make our minds up about her? No one is asking Biden these questions because he's been around forever and the media knows him. A Google search let me know everything I want to know about him. That is not the case with Palin. As a major and governor in Alaska, she hasn't had foreign policy experience. (The ability to see Russia from her state does not count.) She didn't even have a passport until 2007! Without these questions, how am I supposed to be an informed voter? It doesn't make me sexist for wanting to know her answers. No one said the media was being racist (or sexist) when they questioned Obama's experience and qualifications during his campaign against Hilary. So you can question a male's experience, but when you question a female's, it's sexist?

    But this quote from one of McCain's spokesmen about Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin is a perfect example of what I'm ranting about. By the way, I thought the skit was hilarious and spot on and the only good thing about the season premier of SNL.

    Fiorina: Well, I think that she looked a bit like her. I think that, of course, the portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so in that sense, they were defining Hilary Clinton as very substantive, and Sarah Palin as totally superficial. I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme, and yes, I would say, sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hilary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance. She has a lot of substance.

    So suddenly it's sexist to compare and contrast two politicians? Objectively, Hilary has more experience than Palin, not just different experience. How can reporting that be sexist? How can thinking someone lacks substance by sexist? That comment is just as bad as when the Republicans accused Obama of making a sexist remark directed at Palin when he made his comments about pigs and lipstick. Quit insulting my intelligence. Most people can recognize sexism when they see it an don't need people fabricating something.

    Now, in all credit to Palin, I haven't read anything about her saying Gibson and every other journalist covering here is sexist. But she did say this about Hilary's claims of sexism during her campaign. "When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, 'Man, that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, or women in general, trying to progress this country.'" So why is she letting McCain and the Republican machine cry "sexism" on her behalf?

    It does do more harm than good. It should backfire on them, but it probably won't. It's going to make it harder to stop real sexism if we focus on false charges.

    And that is my political rant of the week. And the end of my post. Did anyone make it to the end?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday Five

  1. I've had two short work weeks. Last week included the Labor Day holiday, and this week I took Monday and Tuesday off to go wedding dress shopping with my sister. Short work weeks are fabulous.

  2. I'm just finished reading the "Twilight Saga" book series. In case you haven't heard of it, it's a Young Adult series, aimed mainly at girls I would assume, about a normal teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire. The first book is being made into a movie to be released around Thanksgiving. It's like Harry Potter for girls. Apparently there was a reader backlash against the final book, but I don't really understand the hate. I like the simple cover design of the books and the appropriate color choice (see examples.) The books are a quick and enjoyable read.

  3. I don't offend easily; I never have. But the Republicans offended me during the convention. I support Obama, but I've always generally liked McCain, well, until he became Candidate McCain. During the convention, both Giuliani and Palin attacked Obama (to be expected because that is what happens at these conventions) for his service as a community organizer. They treated that position with absolute contempt and disgust, which upsets me. I'm not a community organizer, but I am involved in my community and do not take kindly to people that undermine the great work community volunteers do. People who use their talents and resources to make their communities better should be commended not scoffed at. I just keep thinking of all the great people I work with and how much time and energy that put out to do everything in their power to make our community better. Our country has always relied on community organizers and grassroots efforts. As a female, would I even be able to cast my vote for president, would Palin even be on the ticket, if it wasn't for the people that fought for my rights, and did it as outsiders? It's also unsettling that so many Republicans supported and cheered the negative view of community organizers that Giuliani and Palin share. Anyway, I'm angered and offended, and I will not be voting for John McCain. Oh, and that wolf ad McCain has out now claiming Obama will try to destroy Palin? Wow. During campaign season I wish we lived in England where the candidates actally had to talk about issues because they use public financing. It's much more civil and educational.

  4. I'm off work today. Apparently the city flooded (and I'm far away from the Hurricane) and our campus shut down. I've worked there five years and never once has the campus closed, even on snow days when the rest of the city shut down. They didn't send out text messages as part of the emergency communication plan like expected, so I showed up to work as usual.

  5. I'm about to start reading "Eat, Pray, Love." Janie said the beginning is annoying she the author wines about divorce that she instigated, but once you get past that part, the book has a lot to offer. So I'm trusting her judgment and trying the book. Here's hoping. Anyone else read it?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Five

Five Things I Think I Think (Who knows where I "borrowed" that phrase?)
  1. Sarah Palin. Really? I'm still thinking this decision over days after the announcement, which I guess was part of the plan. The Republican party definitely took the story away from the Democrats, but it hasn't all been positive. I don't like what this choice says about McCain. It seemed so rash. He only met her once before asking her to be his running mate, and potential leader of the free world. She gave an interview last month saying she didn't know what the VP does and that the job didn't seem productive. The cynic in me sees this choice as a blatant political move. "The Democrats didn't nominate a female president, so I'm going to nominate a female VP and all those Clinton supports will become McCain supports." Palin and Clinton don't appear to have anything in common other than gender. I would hope McCain has better judgment than that. Same goes for the voters. Her selection has also set off another round of Mommy Wars. Will those other end? What is interesting is that the Republics are defending her for things they traditionally criticize and the same goes for the Democrats. Politics as usual. As a person, she appears to have a compelling personal story.

  2. Brett Favre in his Green Bay Packers uniform everywhere to market the 20th anniversary of Madden NFL on Xbox. Brett Favre playing for the New York Jets in 2008. Gotta love that. (How wrong does Favre look in a Jets uniform?)

  3. Has anyone ever tried Pandora to listen to music? The new computers we have at work have embedded speakers, so I can plug my external speakers into my iPod and still listen to music or videos on my computer, which is a nice change. I don't love Pandora because I just found it, but listening to free music online is a great thing, especially when it's customized to match your taste.

  4. Microsoft Vista. Can't make up my mind about it. Do you use it? Do you like it? It seems dumbed down a little to me. At work everyone received a new computer running Vista. I didn't use mine all summer because I was at camp. The first few days back I couldn't get any work done because so many programs weren't running properly. And Bloglines, the program I use for RSS alerts, isn't compatible with Vista. Boo! But I can subscribe to RSS feeds in my inbox with Outlook. I like that. No one will ever know I'm not working.

  5. I'm ready for Fall to arrive. It stayed in the 70s here yesterday, and it was so nice. It was a short reprieve from the heat, but it made me crave cool days, colorful leaves and everything else that comes with my favorite season.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Five: One Week Late

I'm so out of the habit of writing on this here blog that I up and forgot to write a Friday Five post last week, after I advertised it and everything. Oops. But today, I do have five things to share with you.
  1. I've been watching tennis for the first time all summer! Gotta love the US Open. Just turn to USA on a weekday to catch a tennis match or CBS on the weekends. The night matches that start at 6 p.m. are usually entertaining.

  2. I made a delicious salmon with blackberry brandy sauce last night. Thanks to Steamy Kitchen for the recipe. My sauce was a little tart, so next time I'm going to add more blackberry preserves to sweeten it.

  3. Check out my friend Janie's blog, "Inside the Sparkling." Be sure and read the great explanation for the blog name in the "About" section.

  4. Even though I spent my summer in the mountains, I managed to not read a single book that entire time. That fact blows me away because I love reading. With all the reruns on during the summer, I usually devour books in that time span. I must have missed being absorbed in great book because I picked up a book last week and read it from start to finish in one night, with the Olympics on mute in the background.

  5. I said I would prove I spent my summer outdoors, and here is your proof. My friend Jenise visited and we hiked to the "crevice." (I have no idea how to spell that word. Pronounce that word with a French accent, and you are probably saying it correctly.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I'm back in Texas. I was not prepared for the heat. I wore a sweatshirt every night this summer.

Monday was my first day in the office since the Thursday before Memorial Day. Wow! I'm pretty sure the few readers I had deserted this blog when I stopped writing this summer, but now I'm back to regular blogging. I'll be posting pictures from Canada in the next few days, as well as proof that I actually spent my summer in the middle of nature. And of course, the return of Friday Five! I know you can't contain your excitement.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

There's a First Time for Everything

The summer has been going along smoothly. Time moves so slow up here. I talk about things that happened at the beginning of the week, and they seem so far away I can barely remember them.

It finally started raining, and we had our first campfires two weeks ago. We got six inches of rain in four days this week. The forest needs it, but that quantity is bad for the camp because activities have to be postponed.

We had a great week. Some drama of course, but overall, a fun, unique week. How did I end it? While the campers were getting ready to leave, I was firing an employee. Yuck. First time I ever had to do that, and hopefully the last. It gets worse. This person didn't have a car, so I had to wake her up and let her know so she could get a ride back with someone that was leaving camp today. Not ideal circumstances. I'm comfortable with the decision, however unhappy it makes me, and I keep telling myself I had to do what was best for the camp, even if it was difficult. This whole camp experience is definitely beneficial and extremely educational.

In more upbeat news, I'm getting a break from this camping life and leaving for Canada on Thursday. I'm leaving my counselor unsupervised, which is hard because they are so exhausted. They are a good group and I don't worry about them too much, but because they are so exhausted, it will be easier for them to be lazy. They'll be OK. I'm taking 12 people to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec. It should be fun!

Nadal won Wimbledon! I so wish I could have seen it! And Venus won! My two favorite tennis players won my favorite tennis tournament.

Time to get back to work. Have a great day!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Camping Life for Me

I've been at camp for a week now, but today is the first full day of camp with campers. There are 60 4th-8th graders running around making life interesting. My day has been easy. I've had plenty of time to get work done, check email, and blog. This afternoon I might watch a movie. Who knows! Every night that I put on long pants and a sweatshirt, I smile. And I enjoy looking at a sky full of stars every night.

We are in extreme fire danger, so campfire is out, but we do simulate a campfire using flashlights. I think tonight is our first time to truly do that. I took the counselors up there last week, but we just used spotlights.

So overall, I think I'm enjoying myself. Of course, it's only day one of week one of nine, but still. I was worried about orientation with the counselors because all of them have been campers and know more about the camp than I do. But it went well. We went hiking and got lost as a group, which is much better than getting lost on a mountain by yourself, like I did a few weeks ago.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Five: Looking Forward To It

This is my last regularly scheduled edition of Friday Five for the next three months while I'm at camp. Here are five things I'm looking forward to this summer.
  1. Change. I've worked with summer camps the past five years, but the same ones each summer. I really think I'll enjoy doing something completely different.

  2. The weather. I can't tell you how excited I am about waking up to 45-degree temperatures every day. I know the days are warm, but they are not 100-degree warm. Makes a difference.

  3. Nature. I love the outdoors. Grew up camping. Since college, I haven't had that much opportunity to go camping or hike, but I'll be doing plenty of that this summer. My goal is to go hiking every morning for my exercise. I'll be eating camp food all summer, so I will definitely need to exercise. And exercising outside is my absolute favorite.

  4. Canada. I'll be leading a small group of 12 people to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec during my week off of camp. I'll be exhausted, but I'm really excited to see these cities. I might even be able to catch a tennis tournament in Toronto.

  5. God's work. Summer camp was in important part of my spiritual development, and I know the same thing goes for hundreds of teenagers that will pass through camp this summer. I'm looking forward to seeing how God works in their lives, in the lives of counselors and my life.
I'll try to update my blog periodically throughout the summer, and definitely after my trip to Canada.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Five: Tagged

It's time for another installment of Friday Five, and I've been tagged, so I'm expanding the original tag.

What FIVE skills or hobbies would you learn if you had unlimited time, money and tools?
  1. Become fluent in Spanish and French. With my unlimited time and money, I would live in a Spanish or French-speaking city to truly learn another language. As it appears I'll be moving to Costa Rica in five years for a year-long medical mission trip, I can learn Spanish there.

  2. Travel. I want to visit every country in the world. I would have to have unlimited time and money to accomplish that. I'm making progress on visiting every European country, but not so much with the rest of the world.

  3. Cooking. I cook a lot for someone cooking for one. But I can't improvise or cook without a recipe. I would love to be able to do that! I also limit what I make due the cost of rare ingredients, so having unlimited money would mean I would never have to reject a recipe for that reason again!

  4. Photography. I would love a expensive, fancy camera that took great pictures. I'm tired of my camera that befriends blurriness. I would combine my hobby of traveling with this skill and focus on travel photography. I've always wanted to visit a place I know well, like London, and focus on photography instead of sightseeing.

  5. Learn to sew. I just sewed on a button for the first time a couple of years ago, and that is the only sewing I've ever done. I think it would be fun to make my own clothes, clothes that fit me perfectly.
I tag Wendy and Wendy. The original tag was for only three skills or hobbies, so you don't have to come up with five. Five was pushing it for me.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Five


  1. I want one of these cars! I live in a small-ish town, and I could totally drive to and from work, the gym, the grocery store and most shopping establishments in this car. I wish it was a little more affordable.

  2. Still watching Battlestar with my friends. On season two now. It's great to spend time with them since they are moving and will be gone when I get back from camp this summer. Sniff, sniff. On the downside, I spent money on groceries for the week, and I've only cooked once. My Netflix movies aren't getting watched, and the books I checked out from the library on Friday are collecting dust.

  3. I'm leaving for camp in three weeks! I should probably start preparing or it will sneak up on me, more than it already has.

  4. I have mixed feelings about this "Office" spin-off that is going to premier after the Super Bowl. I love the "Office" but lately, haven't felt like it's really on it's game. Doesn't seem the ideal time to start a spin-off. Will one of the characters leave the show for the spin-off or will it be just like the "Office" with a different set of characters? Not convinced. I'm also not convinced that Pam is going to say yes to Jim. Did you see her reactions to the marriage conversation and the fake proposal? She didn't appear excited or ready. Maybe the writers are just messing with us, and she reacted that way so we would think she would say no to this forthcoming proposal, and when she says yes, it's an even better moment. Or she is going to say no because she just got out of long relationship and isn't ready to take that leap again. Who knows. I did love Jim flashing us that ring. He's adorable!

  5. I ate some delicious grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp covered with Fischer & Wieser Mango Ginger Habenero sauce. Their Papaya Lime Serrano sauce is great too. The sauce is crazy expensive, but the ingredients are pretty straight forward. I think I'll make my own version and save money. None of the ingredients are words you can't pronounce, so if you see Fisher & Wieser in the store, jot down the ingredients and make some yourself! I had the sauce on grilled tuna, and it tasted great. The sauce is made in the Hill Country, so it's local.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Five

  1. I now use the scheduled post feature in Blogger in draft to post my blog. I work on posts throughout the week and when I finish with one, I publish it with a post time of Friday at 6 a.m. On Friday I didn't have to worry about it. Awesome!

  2. I recently created two individual tracks from those annoyingly-long songs with a hidden track after several minutes of silence. One of my favorite SheDaisy songs comes at the end of a Christmas song, which I never get to listen to because it's holiday music and filtered out of my playlists right now, and I because I always hit skip once the silence begins. Not anymore! Follow this guide to create individual tracks in iTunes.

  3. I'm stressing about my job at the camp in New Mexico this summer. It's hard to create a training curriculum for a camp you have never been to. And this camp is unique because each week is the responsibility of a different director, so each week is different. No one really knows what goes on each week on this end of camp because no one has spent an entire summer there. So it's going to be a learning experience.

  4. I've started watching the TV show Battlestar Galactica with Dustin and Eileen. We've watched one or two episodes a night since Sunday. We're about halfway through the first season.

  5. Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and most importantly, LOST, returned Thursday! Thursday is my busiest night of TV watching because I also watch 30 Rock, Scrubs and the Office (and occasionally My Name is Earl.) Good thing I get off work at noon on Fridays so I can catch up! I'm sure you are jealous of my social lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Shuffle

I'm listening to my iPod on shuffle mode, which is almost all I do. These are the last five songs I've listened to.
  1. Keith Urban, Raining on Sunday
  2. Love Syndicate, Ain't No Sunshine
  3. Dido, Thank You
  4. Martina McBride and Bob Seger, Chances Are
  5. Chris Rice, Hallelujahs
Now it's your turn: Hit that shuffle button, and share the first five songs that play. Editing to make yourself (and your taste in music) sound cooler is frowned upon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five: A Week in Food

I've been reading cooking-related blogs recently. I enjoy looking at the pictures of the food, so I decided to give you an idea of what I eat during the week in pictures. The photos aren't great - my camera kept blurring all the close-ups and the lighting in the kitchen is horrible - but it's a visual guide to my week in food.
  1. A few weeks I blogged about the anti-inflammatory diet I put myself on, the one that Wendy said made me sound old. Thanks! This is a picture of the blueberry buckwheat pancakes I eat for breakfast every day I exercise. I eat them with butter, powdered sugar and fresh strawberries.


  2. I make Rachael Ray's Zucchini-roni Pizza, and I love it! You use jarred roasted red peppers as the sauce, mozzarella cheese and sliced zucchini with Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes as the pepperoni. I can't find prepared whole wheat pizza crust, so next time I'm going to make my own. Anyone have a recipe?

  3. The chili-salmon with zucchini and corn I made this week was a new recipe. I broiled it in the oven. Every time I opened the oven, the smoke detector went off from the heat; there was no smoke. Annoying.

  4. I also used the broiler for this simple pesto pita pizza. I used my own pesto recipe with a little red pepper flakes for flavor and heat. This is a great lunch meal if I make the pesto in advance because it only heats in the broiler for a few minutes.

  5. I've experimented with several tortilla soup recipes and this is my quick-and-easy favorite. I chop an onion, but everything else I dump and heat: canned diced tomatoes, pinto beans and green chiles, water and chicken brother. Crumble chips in the bottom of the bowl and top with cheese.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Green Challenge

I'm trying something completely different for my Friday Five post this week, so I'm actually blogging on a day other than Friday!

I try to be mindful of my impact on the environment. I recycle, carry my own canvas bags shopping - and this awesome on-the-go, fit-in-your-purse Chico Bag (pictured) - instead of the horrible plastic ones, replace burned out bulbs with CLFs, wash my clothes in cold water, drink tap water instead of bottled water, and walk to work when I can, which hasn't been lately due to the logistics of making it to the gym on time, but I have a plan to remedy that. But I also use paper towels, paper plates and disposable razors. So my new green challenge is to stop using those three products. Not using paper plates will be the easiest. It's just one more dish to wash. No big deal. Not using paper towels will be harder, but that is more about breaking a habit than anything else. I went to Sam's on Saturday and bought a pack of towels that I plan to use instead. So far so good. Whenever I wash towels or sheets, I'll just throw those in with the load. I've always used disposable razors because it seemed ridiculous to spend $10 on a razor and as much or more for new blades. I still think it's ridiculous, but every time I throw a razor away, I feel guilty. I was at Target over the weekend, and they had a razor and three-blade refill package for $10, so it was like getting one item for free. (The thrifty Jamie can't believe I spent so much money on a razor!) Those may seem like small changes, but if everyone makes small changes, it will make a difference. Anyone else have their own green challenge?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five

  1. We took a family photo when I went home during Spring Break. My parents, my aunt and my younger sister are in the picture with me, along with my aunt's dogs. She refused to let us take the photo without them.



  2. I finished reading Bee Season by Mayla Goldberg. I recommend it. Near the end, it gets a little weird, and the final spelling bee performance was totally predictable, but I enjoyed it. Now I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which is vastly inferior to Bee Season. It's not nearly as well written as Bee Season, and I can't get a handle on the characters. The structure of the book is partly to blame - in each chapter the characters are different ages - but I don't feel like I know them. I don't picture them in my head. I don't even picture the actors playing them in the upcoming movie. And the author has used the word resplendent to describe the same male character's appearance twice. Please. I'm enjoying the book, but I'm halfway through and I can't figure out the point.

  3. Someone out in the blogosphere directed me to The Pioneer Woman. If you have some time on your hands, read her series "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." It's the compelling story of how the author met and married her husband. You won't be disappointed.

  4. I've agreed to go on a blind date. I know. I'm waiting on the guy to contact me. He's has a bit of an advantage in this situation. Due to my work with the United Way, he received at least one email a week from me for six months. It was one-way communication, so he knows a bit of my personality while I know nothing about his. Apparently people try to set him up on blind dates all the time and he refuses. My emails must have been mighty impressive! :-) I'm not excited as much as I am curious.

  5. I always play tennis with Janie when I go to DFW. We played twice over Spring Break, and the last time we played before that was during Christmas break. Our play is erratic due to our inconstancy, so we made a pact to play with other people before the next time we play together. I am playing next with with a guy at work that played in college. I'm expecting to underwhelm him with my "talent." If he can stand it, hopefully we'll start playing on a regular basis. I played in high school for those of you out there that didn't know that. That also explains why I love watching tennis. I'm upset at the TV coverage of the tennis match that just ended. They only aired the final, but there were several exciting matches along the way that an American TV audience would have enjoyed. For instance, every time Andy Roddick plays Roger Federer everyone talks about his chance to break his losing streak. Federer always wins and keeps the streak alive. Not this time. Roddick beat Federer and no one saw it. I know all of you are sad about missing that match.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday Five: Saturday Edition

I'm late in posting my regular Friday "column" due to a shotgun trip I made to the camp I'm working at this summer. I went up on Thursday and left on Friday. That sure is a boring 5-6 hour drive.
  1. Here are a few pictures of where I'll be living this summer. I wish I had taken more, but I meant to leave after lunch, and it was 5 p.m. before I left, so I took a few quick pictures on my way out. I'm excited to spend my summer there!


  2. I've been listening to the new album by Zooey Deschanel, the actress from Elf, Failure to Launch and Almost Famous, among others. The album is She & Him: Volume One. It's the perfect spring soundtrack. When I listen to, I envision a couple wandering around Paris on a sunny, spring day. Part of the reason that image comes to mind is because some of the songs sound like the waltz Julie Delpy plays in Before Sunset. I bought it with a gift card, but I would spend money on it.

  3. I like to discover new music anytime I have gift cards. If I end up not liking it, it's not as big of a deal because I didn't waste my money on it. It addition to She & Him, I also bought two albums by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Another good purchase. Her music is a mix of folk rock, southern Gospel and other genres. Of the two albums - Nothing but the Water and This is Somewhere - I would recommend This is Somewhere, but my favorite songs are the title tracks to Nothing but the Water.

  4. My experience as an alternate delegate at the county convention was uneventful. I spent a couple hours in the morning waiting in line to get my credentials, then spent a couple hours sitting at the convention. My precinct didn't need to call up any alternates, so I left when they started voting on chairs and other things. Alternates can't vote. It was neat to be part of the process though.

  5. I'm reading "Bee Season" right now and enjoying it. Up next is "The Time Traveler's Wife." Anyone read either of those?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Five

It's been almost a month since my last post! I don't know if I have any readers left, but if I do, I plan to write a Friday Five post every week (until the summer). My life isn't super exciting, so I'll have to be creative with what I put on the blogosphere.

  1. I'll be spending my Saturday at my democratic county convention as an alternate delegate for Barack Obama. By living in a Republican town, in a Republic precinct, I became an automatic delegate just by staying at the caucus until it was over. The whole process is fascinating to me, so the county convention should be interesting. I have to check in from 10 a.m.-noon and get my credentials, and then return at 12:15 when the doors open. I don't know what time the convention starts, but I've been told to plan on being there until 3 or 4 p.m. We can't bring food or drinks into the caucus (what is that about?), but I did make a trip to the library today. I've received two postcards in the mail about the convention, a recorded phone call from Barack Obama and a call from a someone who attended my precinct caucus. I never get any political mail, so this is a whole new experience for me.

  2. I'm addicted to Danish cinema! I've watched four Danish films since Spring Break, and another one arrived in the mail today (love that Netflix!) My new "celebrity crush" is Nikolah Lie Kaas. You've never heard of him! I'm aghast! :-) (I tried to add a photo, but Blogger wouldn't let me.)

  3. I'm on a self-title anti-inflammatory diet. I've started exercising again, but it seems like any exercise results in the tendinitis in my foot recurring, not necessarily full force, but I'm aware of my left foot the way you are with something is wrong. Make sense. So I did a lot of research, and I'm incorporating foods that reduce or prevent inflammation into every meal, or attempting to. Omega-3s are a great anti-inflammatory, so I had salmon four times this week. Pineapple has an anti-inflammatory ingredient in it, and most produce, especially green foods with chlorophyll in them are good for inflammation. I also made buckwheat pancakes that are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse!

  4. I'm crazy busy at work, which is a nice change. The preparations for my trip to Canada and summer camp planning is almost too much work at once. Today I even lost track of time and was happily working along after hours. I've adopted the work-to-live mentality of Europe (instead of the live-to-work mentality so many Americans have) and always leave work on time, especially on Fridays when I get off at noon.

  5. One of the new exercise classes I'm taking is cardio circuit. You spend 1:30 at each circuit. By the way, ever tried doing push ups for a minute and a half? It's a lot longer than you think. Anyway, the instructor claims that the class burns 1,500 calories. The instructor is a athletic male, so that might be true for him, but I don't buy it. I am exhausted at the end of the class, and usually have to take breaks in the middle of multiple circuits. It burns a lot of calories, but 1,500 in 60 minutes? I'm only taking the class every other week due to the high impact involved. Gotta keep that tendinitis away!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Pesto Recipe

As per ABL's request, here is the pesto recipe I've used. This was my first attempt to make pesto, so I know there are probably better recipes out there. If you have one, share!

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (I skip the toasting step)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped (I use the refrigerated kind)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the pesto: combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth (you may need to add a splash of water so that it blends well).

The first time I made pesto, I bought a cup of pine nuts. The next three times I made it, I only had to buy basil. The other ingredients I always have on hand. This is much cheaper than buying the expensive store-bought kind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Random Tuesdays

''I am totally overwhelmed with joy and sparkles and fireworks!'' - Marion Cotillard to the press corps backstage after her win for Best Actress at the Oscars. How can you not be happy for her after reading that?

I haven't had caffeine since Feb. 6, and I sure am sleeping better at night. My next step is to stop drinking carbonation all together. Sprite Zero and Diet A&W are my friends right now.

Have you ever made pesto from scratch? It's surprisingly easy and cheap. I'm trying out a cilantro pesto tonight.

I've added a new role to my job. I will be managing the camp my company owns and operates in New Mexico. So from May 27-Aug. 8 (ish) I will be living in the mountains of New Mexico working with counselors and camp directors. This new position also pays! I will be doing this in addition to my other duties, including taking alumni to Canada in July and my work with the United Way. Summer camp was important to my spiritual development, so I'm happy to do my part to make sure other teens having a good camp experience. If you are looking for a place to send fourth graders - high school grads this summer for a week, I can help you out! You can come with them and visit me!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

A long title and a long movie. The running time was two hours and forty minutes. After Jesse was assassinated, I tried to will the movie to end, but it didn't work. I enjoyed the movie; it had gorgeous cinematography and good acting (Casey Affleck is nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor), but it was too long. Maybe I shouldn't have watched it at night, but I really think it could have been reduced to two hours and been just as good.

Extra long films appear to be epidemic right now. I'm torn about my own feelings about this. On one hand, I think filmmakers should be able to make the movies they want to make and viewers can accept or reject that vision. If studios make all the decisions about movies, we'd live in a wasteland of films designed to appease the lowest common denominator. Who wants that? But the viewer in me wishes filmmakers had advisers or studios that called them out on their indulgences, especially the ones that are somehow above the system. No Country is another film that could have shaved 20 minutes off its two-hour run time. I haven't seen There Will be Blood, but it's 158 minutes - two hours and 38 minutes! I doubt that every frame was necessary.

And Juno is a fun, enjoyable movie, but the first third of it is overwritten and therefore comes across as fake and unrealistic. Screenwriters are always going to fall in love with their words. Someone needs to tell them when enough is enough. Honest to blog. (That is a quote from Juno, in case you were wondering.) It doesn't help when self-indulgent movies or parts of movies are nominated for prestigious awards, like this year.

Anyway, that is my soapbox for today.

(My spell check isn't working, so I apologize if there were errors in this post.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Walking

I've started walking to work again, and I love it! I bought some cheap but comfy walking shoes so I don't have to factor in footwear every morning. I love the fresh air and additional exercise. If I walk home for lunch, which I usually do, my walking totals 32 minutes. And I'm saving on gas. My savings will add up if the price of gas keeps climbing.

One of my favorite things about living in Europe was walking everywhere, and I'm glad to have it back in my life. If you live close enough to work to walk or ride your bike, I suggest you give it a try.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Best of 2007: Books

I'm at home watching football - the Seahawks vs. the Packers (so much snow!) - and I decided it was a good time to write about my favorite books of 2007. Nothing fits with football quite like literature.

This list is the hardest one for me to make. I keep a list of the books I read, otherwise I wouldn't be able to tell you what I read last week. I also use Amazon.com to compliment my memory when summarizing books. If only Amazon could remind me what I thought about the book right after I finished reading it. I might need to add notes to supplement my list.

Here is my list of the best books I read in 2007 in chronological order.
  • City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. This is a nonfiction book about Venice with the mysterious fire of the Fenice Opera House the main character, besides Venice. If you've been to Venice, you'll probably enjoy reading this book about life in this unique city.

  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I read this book in elementary school and decided to read it again when I found out Disney was making a movie out of it. The relationship between Jesse and Leslie is written so well that you can't help but be heartbroken by the way the story plays out.

  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Almost nothing like the movie, this book is about an American couple that lives in Italy during the summer and holidays and their experience. Being someone that has lived in a different country and adapted to a different culture, I enjoyed reading about someone else's experience.

  • Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I remember liking this book. I remember feeling engaged with the characters and enjoying the story and writing. But I had to read the synopsis on Amazon to remember what it was about. I still can't remember any details. I still feel like it should be on my list.

  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. Anytime I read a book that has been translated to English from another language, I wonder if I'm missing something in the translation because other languages have expressions we don't have and words can be translated different ways. How do translators make their choices? That won't stop me from reading translations, but it's always on my mind. This is one such book. You've got sex, war crimes, literacy and guilt in this book. What more can you ask for? Oh, a movie version with Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet! Excellent casting choices by the way.

  • His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, the Amber Spyglass. Just like the Harry Potter series, each book in this series was better than the its predecessor. All the talk about these books and the movie being anti-religion are missing the point. The story is about children fighting an oppressive, corrupted authority and making huge sacrifices to do what is right for the world. It just happens that the authority in the book is organized religion, but it could be any authority with corrupted values and leaders . The heroine Lyra is a great character, and it's nice to read a children's fantasy book with a female heroine. If you saw the movie, the actress did a great job of personifying Lyra's attitude and strength.

  • A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini. The author of the Kite Runner has created another great book about living in Afghanistan, this time following the lives of two women through several decades and leadership changes in the country.

  • Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Here is what I wrote about the book after I read it around Thanksgiving. Under the Banner of Heaven is an intriguing study of Mormon Fundamentalism. The author dissects the case of the two Lafferty brothers who murdered their brother's wife and child because God told them to do it and places it in the context of Mormon Fundamentalism. To understand Mormon Fundamentalism, you have to understand the history of Mormonism and why the Fundamentalists have broken off from the official Mormon church. It all seems to boil down to polygamy. The book was fascinating. Occasionally he made statements that I wish were followed by a source ID, but he provided a lengthy reference list at the end of the, so I guess that counts.

  • Atonement by Ian McEwan. It look me a while to get into this book because I don't generally like long, narrative passages, but once the exposition and initial character development were out of the way, I didn't want to put the book down. McEwan is a great descriptive author because I read all his words and can clearly form pictures in my head. (Literature snobs, don't hate me, but I have a tendency to skip long, descriptive passages.)
What great books did you read this year?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Best of 2007: Movies

I had a hard time picking my favorite movies of the year. I saw a lot of movies, courtesy of Netflix of course, but few wowed me enough to put them on this list or recommend them to other people. I saw several movies over the Christmas break, including potential Oscar-nominated movies, but I had a hard time putting those on my list (I'll get to that in a minute.)

Here is my list, in no particular order.
  1. Waitress staring Keri Russell. I missed seeing this in the theatre due to it's limited theatrical run in my market. I finally watched it on DVD. I've already blogged about, so I won't say much more. It's a movie with heart, which I always like.

  2. Once. Another movie I've already blogged about. A non-traditional musical with plenty of heart and a realistic resolution, even if it's not one we "want." I love the song "Falling Slowly" the two characters play together that starts their relationship.

  3. Jesus Camp. As a person that helps plan and run a Christian camp, this movie might be more interesting to me than you. The film focuses on a summer Bible camp for children as young as five. I don't want to live in a Christian church state (church states don't work anywhere else in the world, so why would we want one here?) and the goal of this group alarms me a little. Regardless of where you stand of the role of religion in politics and government, you should find this doc intriguing.

  4. Bourne Ultimatum. I love Jason Bourne. I've read all the books, which are more of a jumping off point for the movies instead of an adaption. A lot of people don't like Greengrass' quick-cut editing, but I think it illuminates Bourne's role as the weapon against anyone he faces. One of the best action flicks I've seen since, I don't know, the Bourne Supremacy. :-)

  5. Zodiac. If I expected this to be an adrenaline rush like the Bourne Ultimatum, I might have been disappointed. I'd read enough to realize this was more of a slow-boiling, psychological thriller. I thought it worked. Seeing the emotional and psychological toll trying to find a killer took on difference people involved in the investigation was fascinating.

  6. Atonement. I was not expecting the artful direction of this film. Gorgeous film! I read the book and the film took advantage of it's medium well to tell the story. I loved how we would see part of scene as witnessed by one character and then see the full scene without losing the scene's impact or significance. This method also helped the audience understand why Briony did the things she did because we saw what she saw. Atonement is a good story with good actors beautifully filmed.

  7. Hairspray! This was the best experience I had at the movies all year. I didn't know much about the play or the music. The movie starts with the in-your-face "Good Morning Baltimore" sung by Tracy. At first I was unsure of what to think, but by end of the song, I was sold. It took me to the "Elephant Love Medley" to feel that way about Moulin Rouge the first time I saw it, but Hairspray accomplished that with the first song. I left this moving smiling and humming the songs. I saw it again in the theatre and bought it on DVD the first day it came out.
Over the Christmas holidays I saw Juno, Sweeney Todd and No Country for Old Men. None of them made my final list. Why? It was a mix of high expectations and bleak, dark subjects. Juno is not dark. Juno is uplifting and funny. However, the reviews I read for this film were so glowing that I expected something magical. What I saw instead was your basic, feel-good comedy/drama that is being touted as the most original work to ever come along. Obviously the critics have never watched an episode of Gilmore Girls. However pop-culture happy, witty and snappy the dialogue on Gilmore Girls was, it still seemed natural. With Juno, especially in the beginning, it didn't seem real. The movie couldn't recognize it's own limitations and tried too hard.

I couldn't put the book No Country for Old Men down when I started reading because I had to know what happened. And despite the fact that I knew who lived and who died, the Coen brothers set up scenes and chases so well, I was tense and anxious during the movie. But something about the conclusion, when the Sheriff is processing everything that has happened and his role in it, rubbed me the wrong way. I thought the same thing as times during the book, but because there was so much inner-monologue throughout the the book, it didn't take away from my overall experience. With the movie it did. And the movie was too long; near the end I was waiting for it to be over. Well made but hard to like, like Sweeney Todd.

The dreary art direction fit the tone and spirit of the movie; Tim Burton was the perfect person to make this movie. I wasn't bothered by the lack of singing talent of Depp and Bonham-Carter. It's the character of Sweeney Todd that I don't like. He has a valid reason for wanting revenge, but that is all that matters to him. Does he care about the welfare of his daughter? Only if it helps him get revenge against the person that ruined his life. I didn't like him any more than I liked the villian, which is problematic. Maybe I'm not supposed to, but I doubt it. It's hard to not like a movie that is as well made as this, but I don't.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Resolution

I don't usually make these, but last year I got out of the habit of writing in my happy list, and I want to be more consistent this year. Keeping a happy list serves multiple purposes. The most obvious is that the list helps me focus on the joy in my life and not the negativity. I've always been a glass-half-full person, and a great way to express that is by keeping a list of things that make me happy. The list is the closest thing I have to a journal, and the happy list is probably better because it focuses on anything and everything that I take joy in. So an entry like "kettle corn" is followed by something like "family that will love and support you, no matter what." Anyone interested can read my happy list; it's meant to be shared. It's also a good snapshot of my life. I've given personalized happy lists as gifts to my friends, and I'm in the process of entering everything into the computer. Even though the idea came from Janie, it's been part of me since I was a junior in high school.

Anyway, all that to say, I didn't write in my happy list as much as I would have liked in 2007. Sometimes it was a matter of not having my list with me when something came up. More often than not I just didn't think about it. Part of keeping it up is habit, and I lost that. I tried carrying the list in my purse so I usually had it with me, but that plan backfired. It is my goal to write consistently in my happy list. I started a new book for a new year, so I'm heading the right direction.

Whether we live in the same city, only exchange emails or you read my blog anonymously, feel free to ask me what I've written in my happy list lately. Hopefully the answer will be "Plenty!"

And I encourage you to keep your own list. It can start with anything. Next time you laugh, write down what made you laugh. Mine started because I opened the songbook right to the page I wanted. (Remember when we had songbooks in church?) I went home that day and started writing in a spiral notebook. More than 10 years later I'm still writing.