Monday, August 20, 2007

Sympathy for the People in Mexico

It's that time of year again. And what a way to start it off right-- Category 5 Hurricane beats on 5 countries. It makes me glad that I don't live in Florida anymore and have to coordinate my vacation schedule with hurricane season. No kidding-- my parents just got back from San Francisco and are glad they didn't have to fly home sooner (or in the case of a Cat 5, stay longer). So they are sitting at home for all of September and early October just in case. They have it down to a science now. All of the major financial and identifying information is already packed up in rubbermaid boxes easy to just pick up and throw in the car, family jewelry and photos are likewise in pre-packed containers, and they have a new speed record on packing food and clothes in the car for an 18 hour drive.

Remember when you were in elementary school and you had to pretend that if a fire started in your house what 1 item would you take with you? I think the whole exercise was to try to get you to remember your siblings and pets, but my family is practiced in it. We do not just take one thing, but one pre-packed waterproof container that has everything we really value and can absolutely not be replaced.

So now my sympathy goes out for all those people living in the Caribbean, Jamaica, and Mexico (and possibly Belize, depending on where Dean lands). They are going to get demolished. I don't think people truly understand the power that wind and rain can cause, but when you've seen thick steel signs (the highway ones that are 20ft high and about 5 feet in diameter) twisted like a pretzel on the side of the road after a hurricane, all you can do is cower to the power of mother nature. I'm always amazed at people who say they're going to stay in their house and "protect it" from the elements. All I have to say is- dearie, the steel, cement, and wood frame of your house is a LOT stronger than your bones and don't believe for a second you're really that strong to push back the sea. Because, really, that's what you're fighting.

I read that Dean will be pushing 25-30 foot waves onto the beach. I've seen waves half that size pick up houses out of their foundation (and these were SECURE foundations) and lift them out into the sound. When the homeowners came back, they found their house 1,000 feet away sitting in the water. Yes, everyone wants to live "on" the water, but not quite literally.

Anyway, this time of year always brings out the melancholy helplessness in me. Best of luck to all those people who have to face Dean. I hope you make it through.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Clothes Horse

Alright, enough with the over-indulgent philosophizing and time to get down to what really matters--CLOTHES!

Ok, I admit, I'm a clothes horse. But this time I had to. As I was trying to think about what I would wear on my first day of work, I decided to go try on all those dress pants that I haven't worn for the last 8 months. Oh yeah, none and I mean NONE of them fit. It's a tad depressing, but I've sworn that I'm not going to freak out about going up from a 2 to a 4 (I have more issues about not buying any 6s, but that's another story). So, yay for me, I get to console myself buying clothes.

It really just isn't fair when all of the stores are having sales at the same time. You lose your focus, get distracted by all the beautiful things and all the crazy discounts. That and none of the Banana Republic pants fit me properly. What the hell kind of models are they using on these skinnier pants anyway? size 4 hips do not correspond to size 2 waist and thighs, and it doesn't work going up a size either. It's really bizarre. I mean tailoring is all about fitting the individual, not mass producing the Barbie fit.

Anyway, I gave up and was sucked into United Colors of Benetton. It's not usually a place I shop, since trying to figure out and remember my European size is a bit more confusing, but as I said they were having this fabulous sale. So I got sucked into 2 suits, 2 pairs of pants (beyond the suit pants), 2 skirts, 3 tops and 1 dress. Not too shabby. Yes, it feels like a totally new wardrobe, but then it's a totally new job. And I did need pants.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Yes, it's that 3am time when you know you should really be in bed sleeping because tomorrow is going to be a really long day, but there's just too much on your mind to rest before you get it out. So here 'goes. . .

I'm not really one for believing in destiny or "plan" for my life. I generally see things as the result of hard work and dedication, but every once in a while you sit back and think that fate is a curious thing, particularly when you don't believe in it.

That doesn't mean that only good things happen, but sometimes it feels like even the bad things happened for a reason, or at least taught you something that you wouldn't have seen otherwise. Perhaps it's just conjecture or the need to feel like it all has a purpose, but it's enough to make me wonder.

I have been job hunting for about six months now and was right on the verge of getting very discouraged. I had been working a part-time spot which was going well and enjoyable, but not exactly on my "career path." It's one of those double-edged situations where I was happy with how things were going, succeeding, but also wondering "is this really as well as I can do right now" and "why did I go to college, again?" Just when those doldrums started to hit, I got a call from a job possibility I'd been waiting for (crossing my fingers and wishing for). Not only had I been waiting for this job, I'd been dreaming about it. It is my ideal job (or at least second to working for the state department and travelling the world as an American diplomat). When I first started looking I was wondering "how do I get into this field" and whoosh it happened. Now I am an event planner. I mean, could there really be anything more perfect for me?! I LOVE to plan, especially plan parties, and working for great nonprofits, and planning fundraisers for them!

Somehow it just feels like the stars aligned for me this time. I wasn't looking for it. No, I was looking to be an analyst of some kind and use all that great political science knowledge in data manipulation. But this one just couldn't be turned down. I'll still have to see how it goes, since I haven't actually started yet, but I have great hopes and worlds of possibility.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maps Just Keep Getting Better

I don't know if you were a kid like me, but I just loved to look at maps of cities over time. They even made a few books that started out with Greece, Rome, or Paris in ancient times and as you flipped the page the map of the city expanded showing the growth in centuries and then how rapidly it increased in the last 200 years.

Now archeologists, anthropologists, computer specialists, and engineers have all come together to rebuild Rome. First, I would love to be the person standing in the middle of that room looking head-on at the actual model, but I'd be happy to settle for seeing the video too.

These guys should really get together with the google earth folk and let lay people explore ancient rome. They could even have the little flags with information about the building and its history while you were zooming in and out or perusing down the ancient streets. Hey, we could even learn something while exploring the virtual city!

Yes, I understand that the gurus are trying to use the model to advance theoretical understanding of the ancient city, but wouldn't it be cool to pass this along to lay people? I can't imagine a cooler way to get kids involved with learning about the ancient culture than to let them tour it themselves. After all, we don't all have the opportunity to go visit it in person. (And for those of us who did, those 3 days in Rome was really just a whirlwind that could have easily been 3 months spent without ever seeing the same thing twice).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Happy Dance

I'm so excited! I got a promotion at work the other day. I love me some Dream Dinners action and it's just so cool to feel appreciated. Oh yes, and I've only been working there for 1 month-- started May 1 and at our June 5 meeting I got asked to train for a management position. I feel like I've set a record (probably not, but it still feels great anyway).

Whereas in school when you get singled out to be the "leader" everyone hates you. Yes, that was me, little teacher's pet. But no, now it entails pay increase and oh yes-- MINIONS!! I'm definitely in favor of the minions, or perhaps just not being one to quite so many people now. Regardless, I love my job and who knew that after a master's degree in political science I'd be drawn to food. Perhaps it's just about the essentials in life.

Yay, \\Happy Dance//

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Good Book

I'm having a very difficult time at present finding a good bedtime novel. I've recently read a string of great novels that I usually read before I go to sleep in that calm, wind-down time of night. Unfortunately, though, the books on my shelves are much to intellectual and not emotional enough for me. I'm sorry, but even Madeleine Albright's The Mighty and the Almighty just isn't doing it for me now.

I'm looking for something fun, somewhat light, but captivating. This is really the hardest part. How do you find a novel that you want to pick up and read night after night, but that you can also finish a chapter and put it down before you fall asleep in the middle of the page. Suspense is horrible for me-- I end up staying up all night reading it or fall asleep while reading and have crazy nightmares (recently of a cannibal coming to slit my throat in my sleep and eat me). Some of my favorite bedtime reads have been Memoirs of a Geisha, Prodigal Summer, Life of Pi, and The Red Tent.

I am looking for GOOD reads, but they can sometimes be so hard to find. Any s.uggestions?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Girls' Night Poker

There are two very distinct types of poker players: 1) the truly competitive, out to win it all type and 2) the I'm just having fun and playing tough to make the game more interesting type. Most girls are of the second type, or even if they're competitive, they're not so competitive that they are willing to gamble a friendship or crush your ego to win. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of combining Girls' Night Poker by inviting some of the guys. It's such a different game. Most guys playing poker are able to socialize, but are really all about winning. The conversation and heavy drinking (more common among the girls' games) are lessened, and tempers run higher. Albeit, we still had a great game and congrats to my neighbor who took home the pot. Next time, though, I might have to have an alternative activity when we bring the guys in for Girls' Night Poker.

In other news, I bought a couch!! Yay and halleluiah I will have a couch in my living room in 8-10 weeks (well, at least not a hand-me-down slipcovered couch). I also hung up all the pictures that have been laying against the walls downstairs and it's starting to look more and more like we live here and less and less like an empty dance floor. Oh the joys of decorating the house.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Oh how I love a craft fair. Especially a craft fair with a wide variety of artists and media. I have now been introduced to some great Raleigh art. It was so much fun too with all of the kids' events they had going on as well. I couldn't help from buying a really pretty mirror and a few glass beads. Although I did hold back from the $200 metal wall sculptures, which was tough.

There really is something about craft/art fairs, though. It's something that makes you think of what some great artists have to go through to be noticed and then some people who just think so much of themselves that they apparently don't really have to sell anything (or be nice for that matter). But in general there are so many great pieces that I admire or would love to put on my walls/table/anywhere but unfortunately cannot afford it all. It's like walking through a museum sometimes where everything is marked "Buy Me." If you were walking through MOMA for instance and you saw "Buy Me" stickers on everything there, some things you would want to carry out with you that minute, but some you would say, "well it's really interesting and I do appreciate it, but it's just not my style." That's how I feel at an arts fair. Unfortunately, though, there are still far more things that I want to carry home with me that minute.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Weekend Plans

First of all, I'm a planner. I have multiple calendars and they all integrate online, on my computer, and my PDA. I have separate calendars for work, church, KD events and so on. So it was funny to me that after I was checking on events this weekend, I have nothing planned. Not Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday. I mean, my Saturdays are already booked through July (or at least tentative activities I can go to). I am not afraid of being bored or anything, because I'm embrassing the gardener in me and went to Ace yesterday to buy soil, seeds, shovels, and things. So I do definitely have a garden ahead of me for the weekend. But this is not a time-scheduled thing and so I'm still just a little wierded out that I have no plans for the weekend. It's kinda cool once in a while and I think I'm definitely going to enjoy sleeping in for a day or so.

In other news, my VW Cabrio is getting its little top fixed, so I've been car-less for the last day+. I miss DC and it's so awkward trying to bum rides of people. I kind of feel like high school again when I was 14/15. But the good news is that the top won't actually cost me anything to get fixed (it's got such a major hydrolic problem with the automatic top that the mechanic just disengaged it and now it's a manual top, which is totally fine with me as long as it goes topless). Definitely looking forward to some wind in my hair this weekend and driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway on Tuesday (after hiking Chimney Rock, that is).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Continuing Education

Alright, I admit it. I have a problem with school. I just can't leave it. I have been in school for 19 consecutive years now. Yes, the last 3 have been grad school (2 working on my thesis while also working full or part time jobs). Nonetheless, I found myself today registering for another class.

But it sounded SO interesting, and like something that could really help my job skills for all those applications I'm sending out. So now I will be taking a summer grant writing class at Durham Tech. It's just one class and will hopefully help me out in the short and long term, but as soon as I register for one class I start looking at the online website development classes.

Hey, I'm also interested in some clinical research positions, perhaps I could get an RN certification along the way? NO! This is where I must stop and hone. I don't like the sight of blood nor do I want anything to do with taking it. Ok, moving on my career path. At least I already have a BA or I'd probably be worse. I guess that's why they call it continuing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I am an evangelist for the Dark Side

This weekend my college roommate came to visit me. She's a nurse and loves to relax and do outdoorsy things like hiking and rock climbing (yes the sweaty things that I only do on the rare occassion and with friends). I had a great time planned out-- going to downtown Durham, downtown Raleigh, shopping, and even walking some trails around Umstead Park. However, the first night she got here we relaxed at home after she'd driven up and my boyfriend introduced her to Guitar Hero.

Now like myself, my ex-roomie did not really engage in the gaming rage that brought up our generation. I opted for playing cards as a kid (and no I did not grow up in the 1950's). I just severly lack much of the hand-eye coordination that is required in such things. I admit to my Ms. Pac Man hours spent in the arcade, but it really only lasted about a year for me, which was when my allowance was spent up and I reverted to other past times.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, (like most men in their 20's and 30's) is a true gamer. He has an Xbox, PS2, Wii, and the super gaming computer as well. We have it all: Zelda, Tiger Woods, Gran Turismo, NFL, Soul Caliber, Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero (many more as well, but the other games are still in boxes). And since he has already beaten all the games, he loves to show them to new people.

Thus, I have corrupted my dear friend. At least 4 hours every day were spent on one of either Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, and sometimes both. While I was prepared to go hiking, my roommate was practicing her fingering for Sweet Child Of Mine. And after dinner, I asked: do you want to go see a movie or do something else? To which she replied: Can we go play some more Guitar Hero? Definitely a job well done. Now she's thinking about which system she wants to buy so she can play at home. I have brought her over to the dark side.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hooray for Stephen Hawking

If you didn't already know, Stephen Hawking rode on a Zero Gravity Corps flight to experience weightlessness. Although he was excited about the idea of it the quote tells it all:

"After one zero-gravity ride, crew members asked if he wanted to go again. Hawking dramatically stretched his eyebrows upward in an apparently emphatic yes. 'He was grinning the entire time,' Diamandis said."

I can't really think of anything right now that makes me feel more giddy inside. It's that whole childish imagination of space flight, of Stephen Hawking reliving his own little boy fantasies, and the possibility of exploration all rolled into one. Also, Hawking's flight was a fundraiser for Lou Gehrig's disease and Easter Seals.

Now I'm only shocked that these flights are only $3,500 and will be available through Sharper Image!! I remember sitting in my apartment not 6 months ago watching TLC with one of my housemates and watching the competition between companies to "fly" in space. At the time the flights were $1 million a piece, which still kind of seemed a reasonable amount for someone who wanted to do such a thing. But only $3,500 is like the cost of two people going on a cruise-- I can't imagine that everyone wouldn't want to try it. Who knows, maybe they'll get a 12-month payment plan going.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Politics of it All

My friend LMNtal Attraction wrote about an interesting issue today breaking with his all-too-relationship-centered blog world. I however have absolutely no qualms with getting into the nitty gritty of politics. Found an interesting definition that I think is the most perfect one I've ever found for the word politics (Of course I had to get past all of the other definitions that use the word politics in the description. Did everyone else forget that you can't use a word to describe itself?) So here it is: Politics- "The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society." How much truer could that be? It is after all the art of governing, and deciding between what we want as individuals and what is best for us as a nation.

While my friend LMNtal argues that people are slack in their knowledge of world events, I have to give people a bit more credit. Governance IS an art and it's never perfect the first time. As the first modern democracy in the world, the US has come a long way from appointed governors and senators, landed elite voting, and the 3/5ths clause. Just looking into that a bit more, voting rights have been only universally established for about three quarters of a century. You could really argue even less than that with southern Jim Crow laws and such. So for the last 50 years people in our own country have been granted (-for lack of a better word) voting rights who never had any engagement with government before.

Unfortunately what ails the US is not the lack of awareness of government and world affairs, but the disconnectedness of individuals with government. As we sit in our computer chairs browsing news headlines on our own separate continent, it's hard to relate to the sheer terror that occurs daily in the rest of the world. My college roommate had a huge picture of children starving in the Sudan hanging over her bed. It disturbed me every time I went over to talk to her, but it's a jarring image that can only hint at what some people around the world live with every day. Moreover it's difficult to know what I can do about it. I've worked in a senator's office and let me tell you how ineffective writing your congressman/woman is. So that leaves the voting booth as the last bastion of effective public engagement with our government. I do have to admit that after the response in 2006 I still have hope that people come together and act when they realize how government affects our everyday lives. Democracy is not the ideal government, it's just the best we've been able to come up with yet.

In a similar vein, HOORAY to Charlie Crist, governor of FL, for reinstating voting rights to ex-felons. It may be an unpopular idea, but the right thing is rarely ever popular.

"Never doubt that a small group of dedicated individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Men and Their Toys

OK, so this time it really worked out in my favor. How did it ever start with men tinkering with things to make them work? Not just work, but work BETTER! Every man I have ever known has definitely been partial to this at one time or another. Whether it's building something from scratch or fixing some electrical gadget, there's just a guy-thing about tinkering and doing more with the appliances you buy that makes them just not quite good enough and in need of expansion.

So back to my initial discussion. This time it worked in my favor. My boyfriend is a game buff ('course I don't know many guys in their 20s who don't own at least 1 game console). Anyway, I don't really care much for the games. Even the Wii-- yes, it's great that it's wireless, but I only have so much patience for the games. Could be the poor hand-eye coordination I've got going too.

Anyway, if you've heard anything about Apple's iTV I have the boyfriend mocked-up version of one and I LOVE it. So all you need is a Netflix account, MactheRipper (for Mac users), a router, and an X-box. Netflix has now become so much more valuable to me. As soon as I get my movies I can run them through the ripper and they are on my hard drive. Then the amazing boyfriend set it up for the Xbox to recognize those movies and I can scroll through them and select the movie I want to watch. That means 1 day turnaround for my Netflix, which means more movies I can see (since I usually want to watch a whole lot at one time), and no fiddling with DVDs and cases and that whole putting it into the machine. I know it sounds crazy, but it's the best thing since Tivo. Props to the amazing tinkering boyfriend!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I love a Ball

So tonight was the Prevent Child Abuse NC "Picture This" Gala. I got to dress up in my beautiful gown and go bid on silent auction items for charity. It was great fun and I always remember how much I love a ball. Everyone smiles a little more friendly, chat more openly and generally have a great time. I wish there were even more balls I could attend every year. Now that I'm in a new city I have at least 4 gowns (that still fit) that have never graced the eyes of people here. I'm trying to think of excuses to wear them, but think I'm going to have to search out more charity balls. They really are the most fun anyway.

However, one very good suggestion was made--to have a party wearing bridesmaid's dresses. It would be a bridesmaids' party, only without an actual bride involved and everyone would actually be able to wear those hideous (or um, unique) dresses that they had to buy. We could have a contest for worst dress and just lots of fun. Unfortunately I can no longer wear the bridesmaid's dress I wore to my sister's wedding, so I'll have to scrounge up my other one. I think it'll work.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The New Foreign Service Exam

So every April the US State Department gives their once-a-year Foreign Service Exam, which is universally renowned for being one of the hardest tests in history. It comprises such varied questions that are nearly impossible to study for (their list of suggested readings and study materials is 3 pages long in 10point single spaced font). Also, only about 1% of the people who take the exam pass it, which is only the first step to a 3-part selection process.

So as I was going to their website to check out taking the test this year (because it is my ultimate dream career to work in an embassy, particularly the one in Prague) I found out that they are changing the test. BRAVO to the State Department! Again, they have reinforced my admiration for being probably one of the best government departments in the whole federal system. But sadly, no test this year; or in April at any rate. Yes, it seems this summer they will be releasing their new test, which will be computer-based (I'm thinking GRE) and given 4 times a year during an 8 day window. What a great idea! Instead of forcing everyone to sit down one day a year, they are giving you a window to schedule it. Unfortunately, you can only take the exam once in a 12 month period, but that's not so bad.

This message brought to you from an utterly devoted civilian.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Chocolate Jesus

So this is a little bit of yesterday's news, but it's still amazing to me. What really blows me away is not that religious groups are boycotting the show, but WHY they are boycotting. You'd think with Easter coming up they would take offense to the comparison of a chocolate Jesus to the Easter bunny-- as in a commercialized idol that can be dismissed by adults like Santa and the Tooth Fairy. But oh no. They are upset because Jesus is depicted as a true nude (no shroud).

It's so great to know that we have come so far in the past 500 years. Michaelangelo refused to cover the nudes behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel, so the pope ordered a lesser painter to go back and paint shrouds over all these nudes. Only in the 1990's during cleaning and refurbishing of the paintings were some of the nudes thought to be med discovered to be women. It changed the whole meaning to some of the characters. I'd just like to applaud the advancement of human understanding for the protesting religious groups thinking so deeply as to oppose the statue on such visible grounds rather than the underlying metaphor.

I just have one last question for them, though. Do they really think Jesus was a eunuch? If not, what's so objectionable?

I hope I've successfully delivered your daily dose of politics and religion for the day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hello and welcome to the world.

Alright. I would like to take this opportunity to initiate myself into the world of blogging. I know that it was suggested to me only about 4 years ago, but I am now finally getting around to it. So although I am a late-comer to the game I hope you enjoy.

So this totally got me started.

Because it was super cool and I love all things in the personality test genre (it's like going to a palm reader, but FREE!). However, I wasn't able to post it to a friend and figured I'd start a blog to show it off.

So now that you can see my personal DNA I'm sure you can figure out exactly who I am and that might be just enough for one day.