Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 World View

Being a politics person I also wanted to make a post about important news stories of 2008. Here is what I came up with.

I think, by far, the biggest American news story of the year is the Presidential Race. It dominated the media for the first 10 months of the year - first the amazing comeback of McCain against his republican foes, then the highly contested battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both with strong supporters, both historical candidates, and then of course the race itself - positive and negative adds, the ridiculous introduction of Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber "real America" fear mongering... I watched all but one of the debates. Looking back, most the things I remember about the campaign were nasty or stupid things that the McCain campaign did. I hardly remember any of the Obama ads or strategic moves.. I just remember the out pouring of hatred, fear, and ignorance from McCain's campaign. I guess slow and steady won the race! I worried and stressed, got mad at the media, got mad at the candidates, did my research, and went out and voted, then sat back with my friends drinking Ouzo and watched the results role in. Amazing. Breathtaking. America has elected the first African American president. America has voted to stop supporting a party that is falling apart at the seems, unable to uphold its own everly increasingly conflictual values.

Of course, tangential to the election was the incredibly massive collapse of first the housing market, then the lending sector, then the entire economy. The only good side to all of this? Oil prices dropped. At least we don't have stagflation people!! We managed to buy our house just before the mortgage industry really went berserk - meaning we got the low prices of the housing declines but were still able to get a great mortgage rate before they clamped down on lending. Good timing us! The economy cycles, that is just the way of it. We have had unprecedented streaks of growth, so this was bound to happen. I hope though that society has come far enough that despite the similarities of this to the Great Depression, things will not be the same.

Perhaps the most depressing story of the year was the terrorist attacks on Bombay. I don't think most people in America realize how big this attack was, how many people were involved, how many people were killed, how many landmarks of day to day life for the people of Bombay were destroyed, and how much tension and fear it has caused. I have a professor from India who sent us an email saying that a week before the attack he had been in India visiting family - he chatted over coffee at a cafe where many people were killed, strolled casually down the street past two hotels that were destroyed, to lounge on a beach where people were massacred. The death toll was not as high as the World Trade Center, but the psychological effect is similar. And, the terrorists there are probably getting what they want as tensions between Pakistan and India escalate.

Some other majorly depressing news stories from last year involve mother nature - the earthquake in China that claimed so many homes and lives, the typhoon and following starvation in Myanmar, hurricane Ike, and more. According to the German company Re, 220,000 people died in natural disasters this year, well above previous years. It seems like there are more and more natural disasters every year.

And of course, the wars. Iraq continues to boil, Afghanistan flares, Russia and Georgia squabble, Kenya falls into disarray, millions flee the fighting in the Congo. Humans never ending quest to kill each other continues. South African natives violently attack immigrant encampments. Israeli and Palestinians go at it again. Men fight with bow and arrows in a land dispute in Kenya. Zimbabwe's leader won't step down and violence their increases. Tibetans clash with the Chinese. And these are just the conflicts I can list off the top of my head.

On a more positive note, there were lots of good sports stories, my favorite being the Olympics. What a great Olympics it was! Amazing opening ceremony, 8 medals for Phelps, everything was just really fun to watch. In other exciting sporting stories, Eli Manning beat the patriots in the Super Bowl! That was an amazing game, it seems so long ago. The Devil Rays created excitement even for me in MLB, and the Columbus Crew won the championship this year in MLS! A man tried to cross the Pacific ocean in a row boat and made it most of the way (he was 60km from Australia when they picked him up). People can be amazing.

Thats all I got right now. I am sure there is some huge story I am missing, but I decided to do this mostly from memory rather than go research and link to other sites etc.

It was an eventful year people! Hope this coming year brings more good stories and less bad stories, but somehow I doubt that.

Her Life, in a Nutshell

It is hard to believe that it is the last day of 2008. I have no big plans tonight, Aaron requested a quite night in and, feeling very exhausted, I am happy to give it to him.

My 2008, In a Nutshell

January, February - I was in school, taking an independent study on India, an independent study in Chinese, and the first half of time series. The first was the most useful class I have taken here at OSU, the last two were the least useful.

March - We chose, bid on, and closed on our first home! There were several nice runner ups, but I think we made a good decision. It is really the sun porch we could not get out of our minds. In the middle of that process we also snuck in a week long trip to the west coast, my first trip west of Wichita (pathetic, eh?) My ILs were living in California for six months and we took full advantage of it. I was surprised to like LA (or actually, the area north of it, around Oxnard). I never realized the mountains would be so close to the ocean, and there is no denying how much I enjoy being around large bodies of water. Whale watching was also amazing. I think seeing whales mating may be a once in a lifetime experience for most people. We also drove from LA to Tuscon. As expected, I am not a big fan of the desert.

April - What a crazy month it was. I, in my spring quater, was in Time Series and a very difficult game theoretics course, so very busy with school. Aaron was spending every spare minute at the house painting. Even with a full month between closing on the house and moving in we struggled to get everything done that we wanted.

May - We moved into our house on May 3rd, with help from good friends. May 4th we got our dog, Grim. It was amazing how quickly Gandalf got used to the dog. I was worried he was being too brazen and would get himself hurt. Everyone settled in so quickly. Shortly after that, our friend Ben moved in with us. I know I was busy in May with school. Aaron took me out for my Birthday and he burnt his mouth on a chipotle pepper... thats pretty much all I remember. LOL.

June - School ended, my friend Tracy threw a Birthday part for several of us. I planted my garden. My parents came and visited. I successfully hosted a BBQ at my house for my Dad's side of the family. We went to my Cousin Rachel's wedding. Michaela stayed with me after everyone else went home and she fell in love with Easton.

July - We spent July Fourth in Michigan with Laurelyn - Grim's first road trip. It went smoothly. We introduced her to Joey, LEKs horse, and just generally enjoyed spending time up there. I started studying more seriously for generals, which was an unecesarily lazy process. Summers are horrible, lazy times of year that never seem to go as well as they could.

August - My family came to Ohio again! We went up to Cedar Point for two days. I had forgotten how much I loved roller coasters, such a sense of Freedom. It was so great seeing them and spending time having fun with them. In the middle of August my sister in law (SIL) visited. We had fun playing Rock Band with her. At the very end of August N&N, my ILs visited. It was great showing them the house and other fun things in Columbus, like the giant corn cobs.

September - 100% misery, undescribable stress and helplessness. We also had the wind storms in September, which delayed my general exams by a few days. Some people went without power for a week! We were lucky and only lost it for around 24 hours, but that was still enough to force us to throw out a lot of food. I finally took my oral exams, but that just sent off another round of stress with preperation for oral exams and the beginning of class. I felt like there was no way I could accomplish everything that was being expected of me, especially with regards to my economics course and oral exams.

October - At the very beginning of October we found out about DH's impending job loss, which was bad news when I already felt like I could take no more. I finally was relieved of the burden of general exams on October 13th, (10/13 for you X-files fans), when I passed my generals. The feeling of relief from that seemed to flow through all parts of my life and things were looking up.

November - I chugged along, the excitement of earning my masters slowly fading, slipping back into the duldrums of day to day work. We got a third cat, Little Caeser. He was SO incredibly flight at first. He still is, but he is improving. I wonder if he will ever be 100% comfortable in our home. Some of my Cousin's visited town. Chris and Casey stopped in on their way to moving to California, Ike came right before Thanksgiving and we ate at a great Indian resteraunt. We spent Thanksgiving at my Grandma's house with extended family.

December - The last couple weeks of the quarter were very stressful, partly just life, partly my procrastination. I got to take a wonderful week long trip to Duluth, spending most of the time snowed in. Then, Christmas in Kansas, and a brief relaxing day in Saint Louis. I am spending the last day of 2008 in my office alone, finishing the syllabus for my first course - Political Economy of Development. This coming quarter should give me a lot of insight into what direction I want to take in the future.

One thing I am sort of not happy with is the ammount of reading I have done. These past few days have reminded me how much I enjoy a good story. Not counting the last three days, I can count on one hand the books I have read for fun this year - The Amber Spyglass, The Last Lecture, The HERetics Daughter, The Middle Place... that might be it for recreational reading before Twilight, and that is downright pathetic. I did not even choose three of those four books, they were for book club! I shall reflect upon this pathetic pattern in my New Years Resolutions.

Despite the fact I spent much of July-October miserable, I would label it a good year. I did things in 2008, I had new, fun experiences and made good memories. I know that at the end of 2007 I felt like the year had passed me by and I did not want that to happen again, and I don't think it has.

Life is good.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of the Year Reflections 3

Another Meme, of course. This is pretty much the last one, though I will no doubt post again on the ending year.

Here we go!

1 minute ago... I was looking at pictures on my Dad's blog
1 hour ago... I was walking the dog
1 day ago... I was enjoying a relaxing morning in St. Louis, watching Sydney White and reading Twilight
1 month ago... I was trying to get everything done for the quarter, study for economics, write for dissertation workshop, etc
1 year ago... I was getting back from Minnesota where we spent Christmas
1 decade ago... I was 14, a brooding 9th grader, probably running around, enjoying all my christmas gifts, beating up my brother
(2 decade ago... I was four years old. I am sure I was running around enjoying all my Christmas gifts, driving my sister nuts)
1 lifetime ago... I think I was in communist Russia.

5 minutes ago... I was reading an online message board
5 hours ago... I was sound asleep having stayed up until 4am reading
5 days ago... I was in Columbus for 24 hours, and then flying out on Christmas eve to see DH's family.
5 monthes ago... I was stressing out about generals
5 years ago... it was the end of 2003. I was a Sophomore in College, probably pining for Aaron who was at home with his family for Christmas.


Its 3:45am. In the last 28 hours I have

(1) Opened Christmas presents with DH's family, recieving many wonderful things, including the first two books in the hotly popular Twilight series.

(2) Slept 7 Hours.

(3) Ate Breakfast with the ILs and socialized

(4) Watched most of the movie Sydney White

(5) Gone out to a late and extended lunch with friends from college (and got horribly turned around/lost on the way there!!)

(6) Repacked all my scattered belongings

(7) Flew from Saint Louis to Columbus,

And... most significantly, inbetween (or during all of these things), read the first two books of the Twilight series. 1000 pages worth.

Hmmm. I think we can classify this series as addicting. Readers, beware!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas! Its a day early, but I will not have a chance to post tomorrow, so today will have to do. Here are some Christmas pictures!!

Me (in the orange hat), LEK behind me, Mom infront of me, Dad in the very back center, Michi infront of him, then Max on the right, and his girlfriend Kelsey, who fits right in! The entire Duluth Keener clan!!

Aaron and I, infront of our Christmas tree on December 23rd. We had just finished opening gifts. Of course, as usual. Gandalf had to sneak into the picture!!

In about two hours I leave for the airport again, headed off to Kansas (then Missouri) to spend the Holiday with Aaron's extended family. It should be really fun! Now, if only the forecast would be wrong and we could get a White Christmas in Witchita!

Hope everyone's travels are safe and the holidays are filled with joy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

101 Posts

Unbeknown to me, the last post was my 100th on this blog. Perhaps if I had known it would be something different than a meme, but no biggie. At the rate I am going I will soon be celebrating my 200th post.

I cannot believe it is already my last full day in Minnesota. I fly out very early Tuesday morning. So, now you are saying "geez, if this is your last day, why are you spending it writing us a post instead of enjoying the time with your family?" The answer is simple enough - I am "home" alone. I put the home in quotations because while my mother and sister are both on the property, they are out playing with (feeding) the horses. They will be in shortly, and then my Dad will get home from taking Michaela to school, and we will all head off to town for some Christmas shopping and to have lunch with friends, but for now I am alone in my parents house, the sun beaming through the kitchen windows, with Radio Heartland, the offspring of the recently retired morning show, playing in the background. The snow is glistening so brightly in the sun it hard to even look outside, but if you can, its beautiful. What a nice morning, despite the -12 degree temperature.

Last night my sister LEK and I wandered outside around midnight to look at the stars, not letting the subzero temperature deter us. We turned off the outdoor lights and walked down the drive, eyes skyward. LEK took an astronomy class in college and thus was able to point out a number of constellations I have never been aware of - Draco the Dragon, Cassiopeia (the winter W), the amateurishly named "mini dipper" that is actually a tiny galaxy very far away. I miss the stars, its not so much something I cannot get in Ohio, just something I cannot get in Columbus. If anyone who reads this that lives in Columbus knows a good place to go to look at the stars, let me know.

By the time we came in, my face was getting numb (the only thing exposed to the cold), and the moisture on the bottom of my snow pants had frozen solid, making then clunk against my boots. A lot of people do not like cold, they hate it in fact, but there are many things that most people do not understand about snow, I think, that contributes to this dislike. I have been meaning to post about it, perhaps a top ten list of things people do not realize about snow/winter that is what makes it wonderful to me. I have spent a lot of time in the last few days outside playing in the snow, enjoying it, trying to absorb enough of the joyful feeling that it gives me to take back to Columbus and store up for the rest of the gray, rainy depressing winter that awaits me there. I will take deep snow and cold temperatures over slush, sleet, rain and temperatures constantly fluctuating between freezing and not, any day.

When I get back to Columbus I will post more - more pictures, more stories, now I am going to go enjoy being here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Meme Collage

My sister loved the meme I posted with the pictures so she wrote another one, and I must oblige!

To do this, go to your favorite image search (I use Google) and type in the answer to each question, then go to Mosaic Maker and put them into a collage.

1. Favorite Christmas Carol?
2. Favorite Christmas cookie?
3. Favorite holiday tradition?
4. What do you hope to receive for Christmas this year?
5. New Year's resolution?
6. Memory from 2008?
7. How do you celebrate New Years?
8. What's for Christmas dinner?
9. Favorite holiday activity?

Can you guess what my answers were?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Today my Dad and I were given the assignment to go out and pick a Christmas tree. I love this activity in any circumstances, but especially here in Minnesota where it means a healthy romp in knee-deep snow. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts from the Air

For some reason, being on an airplane always inspires me to write. Here are the results:

It is December 16th and I am flying from Columbus, my immediate home, to Minnesota, my home home. I am gaining more and more landmarks to search for as I fly out of Columbus, really getting to understand the geography of the city. Today, when the plane took off, I immediately identified where we were, what direction we were turning, and what I might fly over that I would recognize. I managed to see the house of a friend, somewhere I have only been twice but has distinct geography, and also the whole northern length of high street with the OSU campus, which seems so far from Worthington when you are on the ground, right in plane view.

The ground slowly faded away and for sometime we were in greyness, then emerging, the clouds took on a sea-like quality: smooth and whispy navy blue below us. A thin veil of clouds still above us, and when I say veil, I mean as transparent as tulle, really noticed only by its movement. It made me wonder how windy it is out there, and what it would fell like to be suspended in the air this high, breathe in, breathe out, feel the cold air on your skin.

Minnesota has been preparing for me - trying to cram as much Minnesota goodness into my time as possible. On Sunday it snowed 10 inches of beautiful, white powder, and then the temperature dropped. What more could one ask for in Minnesota than plentiful snow and subzero temperatures?


Same day, many hours later, different plane. My flight from MSP to DLH got cancelled, so I was put on a later flight. I used the lunch voucher they gave me, then spent the next three hours playing DS, listening to Christmas music, and kid-watching. The family sitting near me was coming from Australia, headed for Grand Marais. Quite the trip! A four year old girl and two year old boy who were remarkably well-behaved did not seem to mind the wait, or even realize it was unusual. I guess that is ignorance as bliss.

In the meantime, between when I should have arrived in Duluth and when I actually would board a plane, snow started falling, and not exactly light snow. By the time our flight rolled around, the runways were caked in white. The captain informed us we would be taking off, just as soon as we get de-iced. We roll out onto the runway, and sit, and sit. I don't even know how long. There is this lingering, growing dread that each minute of stillness increases the chance that we will get the announcement that the airport is shutting down. Tick tick tick. I do a sudoku, doze off, wake up, and then finally the plane moves forward and the pilot announces we are getting de-iced, and then when thats done we will get in line to take off. While this is precisely what he said before, I don't think we understood the time frame when he said it the first time. Trucks pull up beside us and the plane is given a bath of what must be thousands of gallons of de-icing agent. It is vaguely pink as it washes over the windows. Then we return to waiting, this time slightly more confident we will be allowed to proceed. The plan in front of us takes off. It is amazing how clear the actual runway is, given the condition of everything else around it. It should be our turn. We turn towards the runway and stop. The engines kick on, but we don't move. I imagine the cockpit, "Ready for takeoff", "You are cleared for takeoff". Then finally, we go. Faster and faster, rushing by planes being de-iced and snow covered buildings. I feel as if the passengers should cheer when the wheels finally leave the ground, but no one else seems to agree. Perhaps such jubilation is better saved for a safe landing.

The flight to Duluth is extremely short, 25 minutes from lift off to touch down. We don't reach crusing altitude, and so we never escape the solid grey enveloping the aircraft. This is not the normal varied greys and whites of flying through a cloud. It is nothingness. Tiny waves of de-icing fluid make their way across the windows. The flight is so short, a normal beverage service is not possible. Instead, we are given tiny childish plastic cups with foil across the tops. As I slurp mine down greedily, realizing only when the liquid hits my mouth how dry the air is, the plane makes a noticeable shift in direction as descent begins. The lights of Duluth appear, and the flight lasts no longer than it takes me to hurriedly write out these two and a half pages.

Here is too a safe landing.


Obviously, since I am typing this in my parents kitchen, the landing did go well, as did the drive home (though slow due to lingering traffic issues from the weekend's blizzard. It is zero degrees and snowing, and absolutely beautiful. So refreshing. I don't understand how people could not like cold, I feel like it brings out the feeling of being alive, but perhaps more on that another day.

Good night!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Quarter Conquered

I just sent out my multilevel modeling paper. Although it did not turn out as well as hoped, it's submission means I am done for the quarter!! This means a lot less than it did in years past, even less than it did just a year ago. It used to be that when I was done for the quarter I could turn my attentions completely away from school work and focus on whatever I felt like for a glorious week or two. Now that I am past generals, and school is more about completing my dissertation than actually taking courses and such, break does not mean doing entirely what I want and forgetting about school. The dissertation is a burden I have to carry with me, home to Duluth tomorrow, then to Kansas to see DH's family, then back here for the last week of break in Columbus. Additionally, due to my own procrastination, I do not yet have a syllabus prepared for the class I am supposed to be teaching next quarter. It is due Friday, January 2nd, and must be strictly followed by me. I am not sure how I am going to get it done.

Despite all of this, I am still very glad to be done with my classwork and grading for the quarter. I still am spending the rest of the day here on campus though, which means I can clean my office, send out the stack of Christmas cards waiting to be sealed, and perhaps get a start on that syllabus. Then, tomorrow, I am headed to Duluth!! I do not intend to do much posting over break, so you will all have to survive without my random thoughts, movie reviews, and boring accounts of day to day life. I am not sure if you will make it, but thats a risk I am willing to take.

In other news, I entered into anumber of free book giveaway on Good Reads, and was delighted to be selected to recieve a free copy of the book The Help by Kathryn Sockett. I think the idea behind these book giveaways is that the book is new (just released or soon to be released) and they want to create good buzz. I will very willingly be the guinea pig if it means free books!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

End of the Year Reflections 2

A second reflection for the end of the year, just the standard survey version. I think one of the best things about doing these year to year is getting to look at all of last years answers as you replace them with this year.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
paid a mortgage instead of rent
planted my own tomato plants
owned and cared for a dog
owning and caring for THREE cats
earned a masters degree
saw the pacific ocean
saw the desert

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I had many resolutions last year, like working out, watching less TV, treating school like a job, reconnecting with old friends, practicing "honesty is the only policy", improving my housekeeping, and travelling somewhere new. I kept some of them. I went to California, I started spending 8 hours a day at the office, I go to the gym twice a week, I reconnected with some old friends (but not with others). My housekeeping is still abysmal (but DH has picked up the slack). I have practiced "honesty is the only policy" and have been much happier for it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope, but there is some new babies coming in the new year!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Very thankfully, no. Many people I know right now are dealing with deaths of loved ones and I have been very fortunate to not have that as a challange yet.

5. What countries did you spend time in this year?
Just America, but I got to see a lot more of it!

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
A more clear idea of what from my career.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 3rd, moved into our first home. May 4th, got Grim. October 13th, (10/13) I passed generals, the most stressful time of my life ever.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Passing generals. Did I mention it was really stressful?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not deciding what to do with my life.

10. Did you suffer any serious injury or illness?
Nope, thanfully!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The house! Of course!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Everone who passed generals with me deserves some serious recognition. (shout out to the third years!!) The American people voted for change, both from the last president and from history, which I think merits celebration.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Corporate America, congress, the president, you know, the usual suspects.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and bills, pet care, car care, furnace parts, a new bed, food. We spend a lot on food.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Holding a BBQ for family at my house in June
Going to California/Going whale watching in California
Getting a dog
Getting a third cat
Visiting our families at the Holidays (I AM currently excited about this)

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Anything from Rockband probably, lets go with "Won't Get Fooled again" by The Who.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? as happy
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had done more things outdoors, had more fires on our deck, took more hikes, etc. I also wish I had written more, and read more for pleasure.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying, studying

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We will be in Kansas with Aaron's family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
I already was in love, I fell more in love.

22. What are the main websites you used?
Gmail, Columbus Nesties message board, facebook, blogspot, livejournal, BBC, NYtimes

23. How many one-night stands?
This question is useless, the answer will eternally be NO. I should write a new question.

23.5 Did you write anything worth reading this year?
Maybe a poem or two, thats about it though.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
I enjoyed Top Chef, America's Next Top Model, Project Runway

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I try to avoid hating people, it never brings anything good.

26. What was the best book you read?
Lets go with The Amber Looking-Glass. Really I did not read much this year.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Pink. I know, she has been around forever, but I never realized I like her style until this year.

28. What did you want and get?
I wanted and got a dog, a house, a third cat, a garden, lots of visitors, and a lot more I am sure.

29. What did you want and not get?
Nothing pops out. We got so much this year, I cannot complain.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Just trying to remember what I have seen in theaters this year is a challange. I know I very much enjoyed Kung Fu Panda and The Dark Knight, so we will go with those.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Aaron and I went to Banana Bean Cafe and he burnt his mouth. I turned 24. There was also a group Birthday party for several of us in my cohort hosted by Tracy, which was loads of fun.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If DHs job was as secure as we thought it would be when he accepted it, we would be so much happier.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Whatever is comfortable.

34. What kept you sane?
Aaron, Laurelyn, other friends, walking the dog, jokes, laughter, and insanity... wait...

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Didn't do much new celebrity crushing this year.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election of course.

37. Who did you miss?
Many, many people. Anyone who doesn't live within an hour of me, and some people that do!!

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Some of the wonderful nesties! I don't know when I went to my first get together, but I have been to many this year and always am meeting new people.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008
Life is what you make of it. You cannot blame unhappiness or boredome or stress on anyone but yourself.

40. What sums up this year? (a word, a quote...?) Segmented. It does not seem like one cohesive unit. There is BEFORE the house, and AFTER the house, BEFORE generals, AFTER generals. Its not dates that determine the pace of our lives, it is big events.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thirteen on Thursday?

The morning show boys just got the entire live audience to meow like cats incessantly. Did I mention I will miss these guys?

I just joined Good Reads and strongly recommend it for anyone else out their that loves literature... granted I am going to be adding a new book every three or four months with my schedule, but it is still fun to see what other people are reading.

I should be either grading or working on my multilevel model paper. I am sure you guys are sick of me saying "here is what I SHOULD be doing". The problem is what I should be doing rarely aligns with what I WANT to be doing. Do you know what I really miss? Writing fiction. When I was growing up (think fourth grade on), I wrote fiction all the time. In high school I won a short story writing contest, and my senior project was about writing and publishing fiction. But, as I got into college I sort of left it behind to pursue "more realistic" or "more stable" things. Now I really miss it and wish I could get back to it.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

End of the Year Reflections 1

I mentioned I have several end of the year me-mes to do, and as I am very busy procrastinating on my write up for dissertation workshop, I thought I would do the first one.

The instructions are simple:
Post the first line sof the first entry of each month of the past year.
Because this blog was created in August or something, I will be using my old blog for the first half of the year.

Happy New Year!!It was a low key, but fun New Years Eve. I invited anyone who was in town and had no better offers over, resulting in Will and Miryam coming. Of course I made enough food to feed an army - Crab Ragoon Wontons, apple wontons, and I intended to make pork wontons, but they never got cooked (until this morning).

Thats right, its the first day of February, and its raining. And its the second time this week it has rained. I have decided that places where it gets cold and warm and cold again give a bad name to cold. Of course the first day that its 15 degrees it feels cold! But if we were farther north, after a couple weeks of 15 degree weather, we would be used to it and enjoying the winter. But here, it gets down to 15 (or lower) and feels cold, and then after 2 or 3 days the temperature goes back up, and we never get used to it being cold.

I cannot believe how delinquent I have been on keeping this up. Please forgive me, I hope to be better in the future (as usual, always trying to improve). Lets see. The last time I posted was three weeks ago, and we had just had an offer accepted on the house. That seems SOOO long ago. Ages and ages.

Pictures of the House!

Tomorrow we move! Crazy times here in Columbus.

I have this bad habit of delaying posting about things until I get the pictures uploaded, which can take a really really long time.Here we go!!Wow. A month ago I went to my cousin Rachel's bridal shower. It was a LOT of fun. Lots of laughs. I did not get very many good pictures, but here are a couple:

Its already been over two weeks since I posted! Crazy! Its hard to keep up with this when I am busy out having fun. Michaela was here for a week after my parents left. I took her shopping, we went to Easton, a big outdoor mall area here. I think she fell in love, she is such a girly girl when it comes to shopping (though not when it comes to most other things).

I have not been posting much because not much has been happening. For the most part, I have just been studying during the day and playing video games at night. We went to see Batman and liked it very much. We also have enjoyed having some people over to play video games and watch project runway.

"What's life without a few dragons?"
- Ron Weasley, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Welcome to my blog! Its title and theme, Life without Dragons, is inspired by this quote from the Harry Potter series.

I am cat sitting for a friend for the next five days. That means we have four cats in the house, 8 living beings in the house total. It has been less than 24 hours and already this has produced interesting situations.

The day after I finished the written portion of general exams I took the day off and did whatever I pleased. I got up at a reasonable hour, loaded Grim into the car, and headed off to have my second experience with the Metro Park system, large parks around the outskirts of Columbus.

Strange to think that in 31 days it will be 2009. December is always a time of reflection for me. I will try to hold off for a week or two at least, but I have about five end of the year blogging me-me's to do, that I always find quite amusing.


I think that its clear that the first half of the year shows why I moved my blog, I was hardly every posting, and constantly apologizing for it. I needed a blogging change, and although I brought some of my audience with me, I like my audience over here much better.

Its weird to think we have only lived in this house for six monthes and that I spent so many weeks this year (maybe months would be more appropriate) being miserable and stressed about school. hmm.

Farewell, Morning Show

Tomorrow morning the radio show I grew up listening to, the Morning Show with Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole on Minnesota Public Radio will put on its last performance. This is a very sad thing for many Minnesotan's, and I am sure very hard for anyone who did not listen to understand.

This show was one of a kind, not to be reproduced. They played music that no other radio shows play, and always entertained in a goofy, unpredictable way.

Today, on the second to last day, my father managed to get a request played. He recorded it from their online archive and sent it to me. I do not really have a way to play it here, but you can go to their site and listen to it if you want. His request was played at 7:52 this morning, so if you want to hear it you can open up the 7-8am hour and skip to 50 minutes and thirty seconds and listen to them talk about my Dad any my family both before and after a great song he requested, an old family favorite.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I think I might have passed...

I have cleared another set of hurdles standing between me and Christmas Vacation - the administering of the exam to the class I TA for and my final exam in ECON 804.

The econ exam went surprisingly well. I went in not knowing nearly as much (or at least not understanding nearly as much) as I would have expected was necessary, but I came out thinking I got a lot of the answers right or partially right, which is a big accomplishment in this class. I mean, the average on the midterm was 50, so if I got most of the questions, that is above average, LOL.

In the meantime, another shameless plug - go take my geography quiz!!
Quizzes for the Well-Informed
"There is no shame in not knowing something, but there is no reason not to find it out." That is my new quote, think its catchy enough? I want to write a whole entry on it, but alas, time is of the essence.

Finally, my friend bought me one of these, and it rocks. Guess she gets added to my list of people to buy gifts for!!

Monday, December 8, 2008


It has been probably three or four years (at least!) since I was last too a dentist, and in the meantime I have chugged soda after soda, eaten every sweet that crossed my path, and been delinquent in my flossing (though I do brush religiously). So, with a sore spot or two amongst my teeth, and expecting a reprimand, I headed into the dentist today.

I went to The Gentle Dentist in Worthington, five minutes from my house, which was great. Apparently I was deprived as a child (or times have changed, or things are just different in bigger cities due to increased competition). This dentist has (1) seat warmers (2) a TV in each cleaning cubicle (i.e. - you could watch TV/have it on while they worked on you, channel of your choice). They also offered me six different flavors of polishing agent, but being boring I just took mint anyways. If they had had strawberry, I might have gone for it, but alas. I was tempted by the cookie dough flavor, but the hygienist made a joke about it being for kids, so I didn't. Anyways, everyone who worked there was extremely nice. They asked me frequently if I needed anything, and were very efficient. Oh, and did I mention, as I am paying out of pocket, this dentist had a significantly lower price tag for this introductory appointment than any other dentist I called? Luxurious, friendly, competent, and cheap. Can't beat that.
And the conclusion? My teeth are healthy, very healthy considering I haven't seen a dentist in so long. No cavities, no decay, a few gum issues, but those are easily (and cheaply) remedied. I think some people are just more inclined to teeth problems than others. My sister flosses everyday and is still told she should floss more. I have friends who have had 40 cavities despite brushing everyday etc, and here I am, 24 years old with one minor cavity ever. Yay for healthy teeth!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ohio was listening...

Ohio must have been listening when I lamented being here instead of Minnesota, as now the view out my office window as I slave away over economics is this:

And its still snowing at a decent rate!

Also, Little Caeser has decided to keep me company while I study and has also discovered the joy of our cat bed. I recieved a cat bed free from a friend a long time ago. Nox and Gandalf never used it, but apparently now we have a cat that loves it!!

Finally, while I am at posting pictures, yesterday I saw a hawk on campus! As in, this huge hawk was sitting 15 feet away from the sidewalk, inbetween the sidewalk and my building, picking at some sort of dead thing. I have never seen such a large hawk this close up in the wild. The chest of this bird was the size of a basketball! If I had my dad's camera, this would be amazing, but alas, these are the best shots I got with my little point and shoot.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dreams can stink...

Last night, the rerun of House I watched at 9pm, along with my friends trying to tell me my chronic cough is Asthma, slipped into my dreams in a disturbing way.

I dreamt I was at a class reunion in Europe. Yes. Europe. France to be specific. I am not sure what level of school. The only specific person I remember I went to both elementary school and high school with, and traveled to Europe with, so she is not a good determinant. I am sure there were other real people there, but I don't know who. The whole time we were on the trip I felt sick, I was coughing, etc, and the doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. When I got back from a particular trip the leader was waiting at the door and told me, in a very depressed/serious tone that the doctor needed to see me. I went to find the doctor (who, incidentally, was the detective from House), and when I found them, they told me I had two days to live (the exact prognosis on House last night). Well, that was some fun emotional stuff!

My dreams are too flipping realistic. I don't need to spend the first two hours of my day depressed because the mood my dream put me in. I would rank this among my most intense dreams ever, though not nearly the worst. I had one dream during undergraduate that's emotional content undid an entire spring break of de-stressing. (i.e., I had it right after spring break and felt as stressed as I had been before the break!).

For the record, I think any death that comes on relatively suddenly, where you don't have time to ponder your own mortality, is preferable. I wonder what the general probabilities are... am I more likely to die in an accident or from some protracted disease where the end is imminent for months? Its not death itself that is scary, its the idea of death that has the power to terrify. As humans, we have a built in self-defense mechanism that allows us to ignore the idea of death the vast majority of the time, because if we spent all of our time dwelling on it we would not live, we would go insane. Some peoples arsenals are greater than others. I am afraid mine is relatively weak, which is why my dreams do not need to be waging war on it.

DH said I should hire a bouncer for my dreams. Anyone know any good imaginary temp agencies?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I lost my moral high ground on housework. OK, its not actually "moral" high ground, but sometime in the last six months we switched from me doing most the housework to DH doing most of the housework. I don't know quite how it happened. I think it had to do with generals... as in I used that as an excuse to not do housework for a while and then never got back into the habit of doing it. Not that I do NOTHING. Its just, I have no right to complain about what does or doesn't get done. I am mainly posting about it because I feel sort of guilty about it. Perhaps I should try to chip in more.

On a related note, yesterday, after Aaron did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and started the laundry, I went downstairs to change the laundry, only to discover the dryer was unplugged. Upon further inspection, the plug of the dryer is completely corroded. Very scary! I don't like electrical problems, especially not when they involve a nearly new (less than year old) dryer that cost $500. I don't think we have a warranty... and even if we do I am not sure its the dryers fault. What could cause a power cord to corrode like that? Anybody? Any clue? I will be trying to sort that out in the next couple of days.

In other news, I have started the countdown to the end of the quarter. Five days until my ECON exam, ten days until my Multi-Level modelling paper is due, 11 days until grades are due and I am officially done for the quarter. Wish me luck!


Every morning when I am getting dressed I cross my fingers and peak out the window hoping to see beautiful, white snow covering everything. I don't even demand that much - just an inch or two. Every morning I am sorely disappointed and part the blinds to the same gray and brown ugliness.


Oh Minnesota,

How I miss thee? Let me count the ways.
I miss thee in July when its too hot,
And when humidity is all we've got.
Oh, how I long for your cool summer days.

If you could only know my hearts dismay,
When in December it just rains a lot
The elegance of snow Ohio knows not
For your soft white blanket my heart doth pray.

Thousands of lakes can cheer me from my grief,
These many rivers are just children's toys.
Palisade head is my sweetest relief,
When flatness here has power to annoy.
Your absence to me is just as a thief,
Stealing that which brings me the greatest joy.


Hmm. Not sure how that happened. I did not open this empty blog page to write a sonnet, but once I typed that first line, I knew I had to. Not my best work, but it will do pig, it will do.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fun Mosaic Meme

I may get addicted to this.
(1) Go to Google, or the image search site of choice, and type in the answer to each of the following questions
(2) Copy the link of the pictures and paste them into the mosaic maker
(3) Save your picture, and post it your blog. Its your choice whether to tell people what the answers to the questions are!

The questions:
1. What is your nickname?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. Where did you go to high school?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite desert?
9. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
10. What should you be doing right now instead of this meme?
11. What is one word to describe you?
12. What is the name of your blog?

Can you guess me answers?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome to December

Strange to think that in 31 days it will be 2009. December is always a time of reflection for me. I will try to hold off for a week or two at least, but I have about five end of the year blogging me-me's to do, that I always find quite amusing. I changed the background of the blog to be a bit more wintery, but am still seeking out a good winter theme. Messing around with blog layout can be extremely time consuming and at times frustrating. I spend a half hour on a new header, only to try it and realize it is too small for my layout, and I do not have the HTML coding skills to change the layout itself that much. I used to... if only I remembered more of high school Computer Science.

If you have been anxiously awaiting it, my new quiz is up. Go test your geography knowledge at Quizzes for the Well Informed.

As soon as I finish this post it is time for me to get back into the swing of things, an unfortunate position to be in when I was hoping this weekend would help me solidify study habits. There is only one week of class and then its finals week. I will have loads of grading to do, and of course I need to study economics if I expect to pass that class. My dissertation work has been very slow the last two weeks, despite my own high expectations, I am just not getting much done. This is unfortunate since I present again to the workshop next week.

Time to kick my butt into gear!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

I am sure I will post a gazillion random lights pictures this year. I heart Christmas Lights. Sometimes I like the pictures that blur more than the ones that don't, sometimes I blur the pictures on purpose.

My Day Off

So, Friday was a day off for me. I intended to do a little shopping, and then come back home and crank out some serious productivity, both in terms of cleaning and studying. Alas, this was not meant to be, due to my own idiocy. After hitting up Target (and getting the best smelling hand soap in the history of Christmas by the way), I stuck a leftover potato in the oven for lunch. I took it out, ate half of it, realized the center was still cold, and stuck it back in. The second time I went to take it out, I picked it up with my right hand in an oven mitt, turned around to put it on my plate, and promptly grabbed the 400 degree pan with my left hand, for no apparent reason. Ow!

The skin instantly blistered. I of course immediately put it under cold water, took my wedding ring off, and called me Dad. With it under cold water it did not even hurt that much. I asked my Dad if I needed to go to urgent care, or could just keep it on ice. (For those of you not in the know, I value my parents medical advice for good reason - my mom is an RN and my Dad has a doctorate in physiology, not to mention their loads of personal experience and common sense). He, of course, sent me to urgent care due to the blistering. Next came a lengthy call with DH figuring out where I should go, how our insurance worked, etc. By this time my hand was on ice, and it still did not really hurt. I drove myself to Polaris Urgent Care, and after signing in, and getting an ice pack from them, sat down for a lengthy wait. At least I remembered to bring a book from school to read while I waited. Ultimately, I was at urgent care for 4 hours. I discovered as I waited that taking my hand off the ice made it feel like it was still on fire. The doctor prescribed codeine and Silvadene creme. The pharamcy was another hour long adventure that grew more and more painful and frustrating as my ice pack melted. In the end, I got home around 4:45 PM, five hours after I burnt my hand. I spent the evening being pathetic, holding an ice pack, drowsy from the codeine, and goingto bed early.

I was very pleasently surprised to wake up in the middle of the night, moving my pillow with my left hand, and it not hurting! Wow! What a drastic change! The human body is an amazing thing. I still kept my hand on ice the rest of the night, and in the morning reapplied the cream. I have some blisters on my thumb, and first three fingers (the pinky is fine). I decided, since it no longer felt like my hand was on fire, and I no longer needed ice, we could go get a christmas tree as planned! I put my hand in a plastic bag inside of a mitten and we headed out to Timbuk Tree Farm. It is a really great tree farm, so big, so pretty, bustling with Chrismas activity. We cut down our own white pine and it now is in our kitchen, fully lit (still lacking ornaments however).

I think being in a plastic bag all morning with Silvadene actually really helped the hand out, kept it moisterized and all. By the evening I was using it (carefully) to help hang lights. It did eventually say "stop!", so I did. More Silvadene and relaxation the rest of the night. This morning it still is a little sore, but I am using it to type right now. I was also able to put my wedding ring back on today. I am waiting to see what these blisters are going to do.

And that was my day off... not exactly as relaxing, productive, and enjoyable as I had hoped. The timing sort of sucks. I was planning to use this weekend to get BACK on track as far as housekeeping and studying, and instead this injury pushed me farther off track. But, as I already said, I am amazed again by the human body. How could something that hurt so badly two days ago be usable today? When I said this to DH "the human body is amazing", his response was "that is probably why your Dad studies it." So true.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belated Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving post is a little late, but that's OK, since really we should recognize what is good in our lives everyday, and not take them for granted.

The reason my post is late is because I procrastinated. So, Wednesday night found me on my way to the grocery store on one of the busiest grocery days of the year. I was lucky. The store was only busy, not insanely busy (though I did have to hunt down a cart), and they were only out of pecans and pie crust. I spent the rest of the evening cooking - green bean casserole, pumpkin pie (in a Graham cracker crust), pecan pie (Aaron spent the evening shelling pecans for me), and two kinds of cranberry sauce. Then, Thursday I got up early and did the double-baked potatoes. With many many foil covered dishes in tow, we headed up to my Grandma's and joined the celebration. My Aunt Karen, Uncle Bob, Uncle Curt, Cousins Becky and Eric, and of course my Grandma, all enjoyed a good holiday together, with way too much food to even describe. Or maybe I can describe the excess - 8 people, 8 pies. I got what I have been craving for weeks - Maple Pecan Pie. Also known as a slice of heaven, especially with a generous dollop of fresh whipped whipping cream on top. mmmmmmmmmm.

I love Holidays, they are great. I love everything about them. It was so nice seeing everyone and just relaxing together for a day. As many of my blogging buddies have done, I think its only appropriate that I take some time to reflect what I am thankful for in my life - these are things I should be thankful for everyday.

(1) My husband - sweet, smart, and as goofy as me
(2) My family - also as goofy as me, and thats the way I like it
(3) My Pets - who keep me honest, cheer me up, and generally make every day happier
(4) The health and happiness of everyone mentioned above
(5) Our first home, and the money to pay the bills for it, put food on the table, and decorate it for Christmas
(6) Modern convienences. Read The HERetics Daughter and you will realize how lucky we are to have things like a refridgerator, showers, etc.
(7) Modern government. Read The HERetics Daughter and you will realize how lucky we are to have things like comparative advantage, a global food economy, seperation of church and state, a rational legal system, and a social safety net.
(8) Planes, so I can go to Duluth in December and also to see the ILs. Do you realize how long that trip would take in a wagon?
(9) Education and the ability to learn
(10) Opportunity. That is something everyone who will read this has loads of, and something we don't see or think about often.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Banana Leaf

Last night we had the great experience of dining at the Banana Leaf. It was a unique experience and very tasty.

This is a great restaurant for people who...
  • Love Indian food
  • Like Indian flavors, or want to try them, but do not know where to begin
  • Want an authentic experience
  • Are vegetarian or Vegan
  • Like understanding what they are eating
  • Like trying new things
  • Like great service
  • Want a leisurely and luxurious meal
This is not a good restaurant for people who...
  • Hate Indian food
  • Are super picky about ingredients
  • Want to get in, eat, and get out
  • Don't think a meal is complete without meat
  • Hate talking to the owner/service staff
  • Are overly concerned with ambiance
  • Hate trying new things
Banana Bean is an Southern Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, a hole in the wall type place on Bethel road (across from Micro center). Its not much to look at, just a thing slot in a strip mall. The decor is bright and modern, but very modest. Upon entering we chose where to sit and sat to wait for the rest of the party. The owner came over, explained to us how the meal worked (it is a whole meal, you do not order off a menu), and brought us samples of their various Lassi flavors (a yogurt drink, they had Mango, Rose, Citrus, sweet, and salty) while we waited. When the rest of our party arrived we moved to a bigger table and he explained how the meal worked again, giving us printed versions of the various customs and descriptions he had told us about.

The meal started with Lassis, which were unlimited throughout the evening. Once we had tasted the various flavors and each chosen our favorite for a bigger serving, he started bringing us freshly prepared plates of Chaats. He described this as the street vendor food of southern India, bite size morsels packed with flavors. We had a Vegan in our group who requested non-dairy, and they brought him seperate plates for any appetizers that are normally made with yogurt. In total, the meal includes seven Chaats. Some hot, some cold, some spicy, some sweet, some were crunchy, they all were delicious. Following these appetizers, we moved onto the buffet itself, which included three more appetizer style items (including the very popular battered and friend hot peppers), three curries, a soup, and of course a wide variety of chutneys and sauces. This course also included a variety of fried breads being brought to the table, some to eat with the buffet items, and others that were stuffed with potatos and onions. Considering we were all pretty much full after the appetizers, we were certainly stuffed after sampling the buffet.

Everything I tasted (which was pretty much everything) was delicious. The buffet also was vegan friendly, with only one non-vegan item. When we had our fill, they then brought us chai tea to finish off the evening (a variety of desserts are also available upon request, we were too full to partake).

The food was amazing and fresh, the owner and other workers were exceptionalyl helpful, friendly, and accomodating. They explained what everything was, what chutneys are usually paired with which foods, how they make things, even their "secret" recipe for the tea. The owner repeated several times throughout the night that we should feel like we were at home and that anything we wanted we would get. He encouraged even those who were not paying customers (DH came to socialize but does not typically like Indian food) to try a few dishes, allowed (and even encouraged) us to take home a to go box from the buffet, gave us a free to go box for someone who could not make it, and made sure we were satisfied with every course.

I strongly recommend trying out this resteraunt. It was a really fun and unique experience, and a great value at less than $15 per person. 5 stars!!

Banana Leaf
816 Bethel Rd.
Columbus OH 43214
(614) 459-4101
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-9pm

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Owie mama, Owie!

Its not a good sign when you start off the day wishing you were just a little sicker. I know, strange phenomenon. Why would anyone want to be sick? But when you have a migraine that is making you slightly nauseous, and you really want to stay home but know that a migraine is no good excuse (especially when you are likely to have it for two or three days), a low grade fever or sore throat sounds really appealing. Just enough signs of illness to justify laying in bed all day and nursing your headache. Alas. Besides the pounding behind my right eye and the occasional wooziness that comes with it, I am healthy as a horse. If I ever remember, I will make a doctors appointment and get a new prescription of Imitrax - slayer of migraines.

But here I am at school. Trying to get myself to stop messing around on the internet and write up my econ homework. I am going to dinner tonight with my cousin, so I won't have much time to do it then. I am off to do that now... but wish me luck in vanquishing the headache.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Busy Bee

The weekend flew by, just like I expected it to. That's what happens when you don't leave a spare moment to breathe.

Friday night we hosted a rock band party. It was tons of fun and completely hit the spot. We even got a few people to play that were originally reluctant. People can claim they don't want to play rock band, that they will not like it or they will embarrass themselves, but if you can get someone to play it, they will realize how great it is!! One of the people that was originally reluctant even started asking me about prices and such.

Saturday we got up early and headed off to hang out with some friends before walking over to the game. If you are in Ohio, you would have to be under a rock to not realize I am referring to the OSU-Michigan football game. It was pretty cold, my toes especially did not appreciate it, but the game was so fun. The crowd was revved up and weird play after big play after weird play kept the intensity high, even after the score made it clear we would be winning. To give you a few examples, on the first drive of the game OSU threw an interception that was returned to the 10 yard line or so. OSU then proceeded to give Michigan negative yardage for three plays running, and then Michigan missed the easy field goal. OSU had something like six plays for 40 yards or more. We recovered our own punt. We ran big, we threw big, it was a blast.

We were invited to go out to a German resteraunt on Saturday night but passed it up in favor of a quite night at home, I got a little studying done, though not nearly enough.

Sunday morning I got up early to meet some friends and head down to the Jeffersonville Outlet center for some christmas and clothes shopping. Since I start teaching next quarter, I am actually going to need to start dressing appropriately. I would consider the trip a success, even though I only got one piece of clothing I got a jump start to my Christmas shopping, and after 8 years with a really cheap cloth wallet from Deb (or some similarly teenage-esque store), I now am the proud owner of a leather wallet from my favorite purse brand - Fossil. It is even orange, and it was cheap cheap cheap.

When I got back to Columbus it was a twenty minute stop at home before heading out again, this time up to my Grandma's house. My cousin that lives in Seattle is in town, and I also got to see another cousin and his kids who live around here but don't head to Grandma's much. It was fun, but complete chaos. Hopefully I can see my cousin from Seattle again before he leaves, in a situation where there is not complete chaos so we can actually catch up.

Oh! And in all this running around, I did manage to see atleast a big of the MLS championship game, which was won 3-1 by the Columbus Crew! Go Crew!

I have to go now and start all the work I should have been doing this weekend and failed to do. I know there are other little things to say, but alas.

Until later...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why do I overschedule my weekends?

I actually managed to wait until Friday to post my Geography Quiz! Go and take it at Quizzes for the Well-Informed

I had my first presentation in dissertation workshop yesterday. Its not a formal thing, we just turn in whatever we have, whatever we are working on for people to read and comment on. It went very well. I got lots of fresh perspectives from it and my adviser thinks I may be on to something.

When you tell people you are going to take 4 years to write a dissertation, they look at you like you are crazy, especially if they do not have much academic experience, but I see more and more how four years is actually entirely reasonable. I have been working on the dissertation now for just over two months, and what I have is a topic that might work, and I am the fortunate one. Some people don't have a topic that might work yet. And note, that is a topic, not a specific question about that topic.

Anyways, life is chugging along. I really feel like I need a day to regather, and that is just not coming anytime soon! My weekend is packed (which is my fault). For some reason I have issues taking down time even when I need it. I prefer to be throwing Rock Band parties and going to football games, despite that fact that will perpetuate the chaos and stress in my life. Maybe the Friday after Thanksgiving I will take the time I need to regroup - organize, plan, run errands, sleep, etc. But then again, I have a lot of studying that needs to happen in those three days. We will see.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've been Tagged...again!

Apparently people like me! And I am only too happy to oblige when it means I get to post random facts about myself. Tbonegrl at tagged me.

This means I should list seven random things about myself. In honor of tbonegrl, I am going to make them all about music!!

(1) I started playing violin when I was in Kindergarten because my Grandpa had a violin he wanted to leave to a grand child and I was the only one who was interested.

(2) I consider said violin, made in 1928 in Ohio, my most valued material possession, and wish I had more time and energy to use it.

(3) In 5th grade I started learning Baritone, and then in 7th grade switched to Tuba. Unfortunately I did not have the stick to it/devotion to keep up two instruments, so that didn't last long. I am pretty sure the only reason I even got into it was because my sister played the trombone, and I constantly tried to be like her... but not identical. LOL.

(4) I can sound out pretty much any melody you want, no matter how complex, on either piano or violin

(5) I have a secret desire to learn to play the harp, but the start up cost is so high it probably will never happen.

(6) In high school my orchestra played string versions of "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" and "Crazy Train". It was really fun.

(7) When I was little, I sang everewhere we went. All the time. Ask my sister, I drove her nuts. Shopping, waiting for school, I just made up songs.

I am not going to tag anyone... I already tagged people last time and don't know who else to tag! But, if you haven't been tagged and want to, go ahead and let me know!

List Five (Happy Thoughts)

I find it amusing that a post with only pictures and no text, and no real substance (its about the WEATHER) gets five comments when I have had post after post about real, juicy substantive issues go by with little or no response. I guess its just that everyone has something to say about the weather... eh? I was getting close to posting a post complaining about not getting enough comments when Google analytic tells me plenty of people are reading. But, since I just got five, I will save the sermon.

The rest of this post is a Meme. Feel free to steal it for your blog!


List five...

...things you like to see.
snow falling (the harder the better)
people being kind to one another
little kids
large bodies of water

...things you like to hear.
Wind in the Trees
Vivaldi Concertos
The score to Harry Potter
White-throated sparrows

...things you like to taste.
spicy sweet buffalo wings with bleu cheese
coconut curry sauce
Greek salad

...things you like to smell.
autumn (dying leaves)
spring (mud and rotting leaves and new plants)
sauteing onions in bacon grease

...things you like to feel/touch.
Aaron's arms around me
cool skin
cool fresh water
snowflakes on my face

...things you like to do.
watch football
pet animals
lay in the snow

Monday, November 17, 2008

Making My Day

Human Nature

Its 8am and I have already been on campus for an hour and a half. DH has an hard deadline coming up and needed to get to work early. I could have driven myself, but I figured it might be good for me to have more time at school, and parking is no picnic without a parking pass.

I just finished reading my book club book, The HERetics Daughter. I did not realize that the title had strange capitalization until just now, which certainly gives it additional meaning. Its about the Salem witch trials. As that topic would suggest, its less than cheerful, especially when one is already a cynic, prone to skepticism depression concerning human nature. I have never given way to full out misanthropy, but I know how one could end up there. Anyways, I was reading this book at my Grandma's last night, and mentioned to her and my other relatives how depressing it was. My Grandma's response was "aren't you glad you did not live in that time period," to which my all to jaded response was, "yes, but humans still do things this to each other now, though they don't tend to call it witchcraft." My cousin said, at least we don't burn people. I am sure I could find recent cases where people have burned each other. The recent anti-immigrant riots in South Africa come to mind. And, if your thinking "oh, but that's a savage third world country, we don't do stuff like that in America, read about Marcello Lucero's murder in New York City, where a group of teens set out to "kill a Mexican" (Lucero was Ecuadorian, but this differentiation did not save him from hate and prejudice). Of course, he was not burned to death, but Aaron Taylor, a homeless man in L.A. was. I know, I am a cynic. But the worst thing, the most depressing thing about the The HERetics Daughter, or the Salem witch trials in general, is not that they were horrible in and of themselves, which they were, its that this sort of crap goes on all the time in the world. People kill people, in the harshest ways possible. Humans can't just live in peace, they have to form groups, they have to hate someone, as if somehow that makes living more worthwhile. This is also my main complaint about the book. One of the "catch phrases" being used to advertise the story is "Life is not what you have, or what you can keep." The problem being, I take no message from the book of what life IS, besides perhaps suffering, which in my attempts to not give in to jadedness I cannot accept. Maybe someone at book club on Thursday will enlighten me as to another interpretation to take away. The alternative interpretation is probably about family and the parent-child relationship, but its hard to pay attention to that when much bigger things are thrown into question.

In another twist of fate, this very same morning I am thinking about all of these things, a mistake in my past is brought once again to light. I did not do many stupid or bad things during high school, I was a goody two shoes. (I can only hope my little sister is following in my footsteps in this regard). However, I was also an egotistical know it all, probably your typical teenager, and in my "infinite wisdom" I did some cruel things (I can only hope my little sister is not following in my footsteps in that regard). Not cruel like Carrie, but emotional cruelty to my friends. Strange, isn't it, that I can say that. How can I classify them as friends if I was so callous towards them? But I can, its the only way really to describe that time. Its as if I was looking for drama, or at least embracing it once it was thrust upon me. I did not want to be understood, I wanted to be utterly complex and misunderstood. Every time we had a new idea we thought it certainly was the right idea, no matter how many ideas we had were proven wrong. I have made my apologies for those years, at least all of them I know needed to be made, and learned a great deal from all of it. But I was reminded today that even though I have been forgiven and everyone has moved on, that our past shapes us, and what I did back then is still impacting people's lives, if only as a memory that haunts them. They say the teenage years are formative, and just as they were formative for me and I learned from my mistakes and observing those around me (I realized in 11th grade that the vast majority of drama in a person's life is self created, and this knowledge has served me well), but I also put a stamp on other people's formative years, a stamp I wish I could take back. Too late now, eh?

(PS - Don't feel bad for making me think about these things, its a truth of life, eh? And this post is a lot more pessimistic than I actually am.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Little CaesarOk. So his name is not finalized, but it will probably stay as Little Caesar. Since he came he has also been called Frankie Hejduk, Playstation, Spaz, Rotary, Hermy, and the dreaded "Skippy". Each of these has an explanation, well, at least sort of, but I won't get into that here. The name Little Caeser was a compromise as we struggled to agree. As DH puts it, its a good name because "It sounds good. And pizza is really yummy. And the company Little Caesar is owned by the same guy that owns the Red Wings Tigers, and it mirrors the term 'Little Emporers' that is a phenomenon in China relating to how the one-child policy has lead to spoiled brats." Its a good name, but we will see if it grows on him. Anyways, this orange beauty is very loving and attention hungry, but at the moment at least, extremely flighty. He bolts whenever anything moves pretty much, though he gets better every day. When you can get him to calm down, sit on a bed with him or something, he will roll over for a belly rub and purr his heart out. I think once he gets settled he will fit right in.
Oh, and here is an example of him being a spaz. This is the first picture I took of him, before he figured out the camera would indeed not eat him.


Yesterday was the 15th of November, and today is the 16th. Its hard to believe its already mid-November. Time has been going so fast, which is both a curse and a blessing. I am looking forward to the holidays, and a break, but at the same time I am not ready to be in 2009 quite yet. Curse or blessing, time is flying!

Last night we went to a game night with a different group of people than we normally hang out with. It was loads of fun! We played Cranium, Trivia Pursuit 90s Edition, Taboo, and Catch Phrase. For some reason, these people have the impression that I am some sort of genius, which is very flattering. I have a good head on my shoulders, but its not the kind of smart that will help me with trivia questions or tell me what the definition of the word callipygian is. (It means "someone with beautiful buttocks" by the way.) It is the kind of smart that can help me spell words backwards. We enjoyed spending time with a new group of people and I even managed to win catch phrase once. I may have to get that for my family, they would enjoy it, especially with Simi's special rules.

This morning I took Grim to Highbanks Metro Park for a good long walk. I meant to go yesterday, but it was raining. Today the rain had turned to flurries, much more pleasant for a hike. The trees have all lost their leaves, though grass and low lying bushes remain a strangely bright yellow green. The weather was nice and cool. The forrest looks strange this time of year. Things that are hidden when the leaves are out or their is snow on the ground lay fully visible, especially fallen and twisted wood with its own unique beauty. We stopped at a babbling brook, extremely picturesque, shallow rapids over thin stones, and Grim sniffed around in while I just lay my hand on the cold water, utterly refreshing. I discovered that the best part of the trail, the part that is most like a hike, is the section I skipped last time. I will not skip it again. After passing a dog off leash, a little black schnauzer that was terrified for Grim, I decided to let Grim off leash for the deepest interior loop of the trail. I knew we would not encounter another person on that loop because the way the trail loops back on itself, they would have been just kind of hanging out in order for me not to have seen them. She very much enjoyed that part. Back on leash, entering the last field, a bluejay swooped low over the trail. It stood out so beautifully against the brown and grey back drop. I stopped to watch the birds for a few minutes, eyes upwards to the trees. There were two blue jays and one small red-headed wood pecker. It was just so peaceful watching them, the cold wind blowing on my face. Grim waited patiently until I was ready to move on.

Last night at the party there was a short discussion of who amongst the group was a "country boy". I grew up on 40 acres with horses and a haybarn, but it was not a full working farm. My family used to, teasing, calling me a city girl. It was true in comparison but not objectively. That is, I was a city girl when compared to my older sister or brother, but not when compared to someone who actually lived in the city. My older sister spent 10 hours a day at the stable and then came home to feed our horses and muck the barn, all with a smile. My brother would rather be driving a big truck through a mud pit than almost anything else. Me, I never was quite as into that stuff. I hated hay season (at least the handful of years I was expected to help). I hated going out in all weather to feed horses. I hated dealing with horse manure. I hated the dirty, dusty feeling that came from being at the stable. However, I am not really a city girl either. I was never really in a big city in any meaningful way until high school, when my Math League team went to the state competition and our awesome coach/teacher arranged for us to have the morning free in the Twin Cities to wonder around on our own. The next place I really explored a city was Europe. I have been in more big European cities than big American cities. (Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels, and London versus Chicago, the Twin Cities, Columbus, Memphis, St. Louis and New York City). I love Chicago. I like being in big cities, but I can't imagine living there. I am not a city girl or a country girl. I am something strangely in between. I know how to ride and take care of horses, climb trees, I love spending time outdoors, hiking, exploring, I don't mind most bugs, I am not afraid of wildlife, I don't mind getting dirty. But, I like convienence. I like being near the store and movie theater and having friends within a few minutes rather than a half hour away. What does that make me?