Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tell me where's the challenge if you never try

One my goals this year was to read 52 books in 52 weeks, a challenge proposed by Eilonwy.

As of 2:42 AM, this morning, I accomplished that goal by finishing She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot. I finished listening to book 53 (Notes from a Liar and Her Dog) as I was packing just now.


I made this challenge even harder for myself by choosing not to read books I'd already read. I'm a re-reader, and love reading certain books multiple times, so to not pick up one of my comfortable standbys was quite the challenge sometimes.

Instead of re-reading what was already on my shelves, I made use of the new library branch very close to my house, as well as downloading audiobooks to listen to at work. I discovered new authors and lots of new stories. Some of them were pure brain candy - books without any substance but entertainment. Much like Twinkies. But I also read a couple non-fiction titles, something I said I wasn't going to do because my brain was already so overloaded with school work. Of course, I also read everything in between.

One of the reasons I accepted this challenge was because of school. I've always been a voracious reader, thanks to my mom's weekly trips to the library. We were allowed to check out six books every week, and I almost always finished them by the time we went back. I can't tell you how many books I bought at book fairs or through book orders.

However, during high school and undergrad, I slowed down, at least a little. Especially in undergrad, I had so much other reading I had to do, that my reading for pleasure fell by the wayside. I didn't stop reading completely, but if I had countd my books those years, the number was significantly lower.

Then I was burned out. After hundreds of plays and articles and essays, I couldn't read anymore. I hardly remember where I even put my bookcase in my first post-college apartment, and I rarely had books strewn about. When I moved to DC, I started getting back into it more, and was just picking up reading steam when I started school all over again.

So, when Eilonwy proposed this challenge, I figured it would be a great way to not get burned out again, as well as have a way to escape from all the madness.

I was right. Some weeks I read 4 books and I'm sure there was at least once I didn't read a thing for 4 weeks. Still, it all averaged out, and by the end of next week, I'll probably have finished at least two or three more.

I love reading.

As for my other goals, I mostly triumphed as well.

I did buy that book, and I played tourist a few times, particularly when I had visitors.

I took a dance class, but realized it was too far away to make it a habit. So, I took piano instead.

I ran not one, but three 5K races, until I was told not to anymore.

I didn't quite maintain my 4.0, but my current 3.87 is nothing to be sad about.

I also didn't really add to my official personal history, but I did journal every night (except one, as I recall).

Not too shabby!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Laughing all the way

In honor of the Festivus "Airing of Grievances", and to borrow a feature often found on Darin's blog, I now present you with my

List of Things That Must Go - Christmas edition

Reindeer antlers on cars - Your car just looks silly. A big SUV with reindeer antlers on the front windows? Silly. A tiny sports car? Silly. I'm all for Christmas spirit, but your car does not look like a reindeer at all. The jury is still out on wreaths on the front of cars.

Bad Christmas music - It seems that Christmas music falls into one of three categories - Awesome, Bad, and Awesomely Bad (like the Shonen Knife song on my playlist). Just because you are a popular music artist does not mean you should record a Christmas album. 20 other people have recorded an equally bad rendition of that same song. What you should do is find Christmas songs that are appropriate for your voice OR write a totally new song!

Christmas without snow - It hasn't really snowed here yet, so it's just gray and cold, and that's not festive. At least the sun is shining, so it's not dismal, and I'm going home to a place where there is, reportedly, a lot of snow.

Do you agree? Disagree? Have grievances you'd like to air? I certainly feel a lot better, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Merry Festivus!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Grant my last request

Most of the materials requests I get from teachers are pretty straightforward: title, author/composer/artist, call number. It's easy enough, and that's what I ask for when I send out my "how to use the library" letter at the beginning of the year.

Not everyone seems to get that memo, and this afternoon met with some strange requests.

Me: _____ Libary, this is Amanda.

Teacher: Hi! How are you?

Me: Good . . . You?

Teacher: Good, thanks. This is Hugging Orchestra Teacher. (Upon hearing her name, I think first of a former boss, which is unnerving.)

Me: Oh! Hi!

Hugging Orchestra Teacher: I'm looking for one of the Brandenburg Concertos, but I don't know what number. Can you pull all the ones you have and sing them for me?

Me: (without hesitation) No.


Me: I mean, my sight-singing isn't all that great, and it's orchestra music.

HOT: Okay. Can you still pull all of them and then tell me which one starts with 8th notes?

Me: That could take awhile.

We proceeded to narrow down the possibilities. To 50%. I have to tell her at least 5 times that one of them is checked out and that both of the ones I do have start with 8th notes. I answer other questions at least two or three times each. Then, my next favorite:

HOT: So, it's grade three. Does it look hard?

Me: I have no idea. I'm a pianist. (All orchestral instrument music looks hard to me.)

After twelve minutes, we eventually decided that none of the titles were what she was looking for, but she wanted me to send her them anyway. So I did.

Then, an art teacher called.

Art Teacher: Hi, this is _____ at ________. I'm looking for some Frida Kahlo prints I usually check out this time of year.

Me: Okay! Great! Which ones did you want?

Art Teacher: The big ones. They're self-portraits, I think.

Me: (huh?) Great!

Luckily, I found some things fitting her description.

What strange requests have you been asked for?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Making Christmas is so fine!

I told Eilonwy that I wasn't going to be doing a single craft project for Christmas this year. I guess I lied. I thought up this little project for the parents of my "nephew" and it wasn't all that time-consuming. Of course, I had to wait to do it until this no-schoolwork week.

I think it turned out well. I still didn't have time to do crafts or sewing projects for everyone this year, like I have in years past. One day I'll have crafty time during months other than parts of May, August, or December.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Did you ever know that you're my hero?

This weekend and I are not getting along well. In fact, it's bad enough that when I called The Spy tonight and asked her to pick me up from jail, she actually believed me, even if only for a split second.


Regardless of everything that had been happening, I still had to do my final project for my web programming class. The assignment was to take what we learned and do something fun. That's it. No checklist of requirements or anything. When I proposed my project idea, my professor liked it, so off I went!

Why is it always the assignments with the least amount of guidance that end up being the most difficult?

I started this morning (nothing like a little procrastination - it's due Monday). I knew exactly what I wanted my program to do, but, as always, I wasn't entirely sure how to get it to do that.

Enter today's Hero of the Day! Theater Geek!

Of course, he wasn't available the minute I needed him. His power and phone lines were out and his cell phone was dead (I blame my bad weekend for that) so it took a couple of hours for him to get back to me. He pointed out a couple of mistakes and then we discussed how to get the "magic" of the program to work.

The good news? The ideas I'd had on how to do so were correct! I knew what I was doing! Mostly . . .

I still couldn't have done it without Theater Geek. He's the best. And, last of all, he found the semi-colon I was missing that was throwing the whole thing off. Could I have asked my professor or classmates how to do what I was doing? Maybe. But it wouldn't have happened instantly, or been nearly as fun.

So, Theater Geek, thank you! Again! You are most certainly the Hero of the Day.

Now, I'm free until January 15. 4 weeks of sweet scholastic freedom! Next semester? No web programming for me. Oh yeah, and I'm graduating in 20o9!

To see my final project, just play Rock Paper Scissors!

Now, I just hope my weekend improves. Finishing the project certainly should help.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Question existing

When you sneezes, someone else (if they are polite) will say "Bless you", "Gesundheit", etc.

[Side note: In Spanish, the proper response to the first sneeze is "Salud"("Health"), the second - "Dinero"("Money"), and the third - "Amor" ("Love"). My freshman year of BYU boyfriend would always respond to my sneezes in Spanish, and would teasingly get mad when I only sneezed twice.]

If you cough, you, generally, say "Pardon me".

What about when you hiccup? Why isn't there a proper response to that? Instead, when you hiccup, everyone just looks at you like you're insane. The looks get worse the louder or more often you hiccup. It's just uncomfortable for everyone, but the poor victim of the hiccups gets increasingly embarassed and all the other people just get annoyed. That's weird.

Secondly, I'm all for saving the planet and using reusable lunch containers. Also, I love pandas.

These are great - insulated, reusable, unfold into a placemat (also great for cleaning).

But I think the tiger looks mad, the bunny sick, and the panda sad.

Oh, and the placemat looks like a diaper. Who wants eat their lunch out something that resembles a diaper?

Just some "What's up with that?" moments I've had tonight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Christmas, and I want everything

We haven't decorated for Christmas yet. The roommates don't really have anything in the way of Christmas decorations, and I don't really want to unpack all of mine, as I may be packing them AND everything else I own rather soon. So, it's not beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. Since I've been listening to Christmas music (at least once a week) since October, it's only sort of helping me get into the Christmas mood. I'm doing the vast majority of my Christmas shopping online and shipping it to my parents' house, where I won't be until Christmas Eve. It's only kind of snowed, but the Christmas decorations (everywhere but my house) are slowly popping up. So, it's a little strange at some times, but Christmas is, mostly, in the air.

Mom asked for Christmas list again, so I thought I might post it here. As always, I would be happy with just a hug, and blog comments, and knowing that everyone I care about is happy and healthy.

A set of silverware (mine are very cheap and don't match all that well)

Board games (we have a whole game closet at the parents' house, and now I only have a few)

KitchenAid stand mixer (in black or red)

1.5" barrel curling iron

digital video camera

speakers for my iPod

sewing machine

enough tuition money for the rest of my grad school career

a boyfriend

What do you want for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holdin' out for a hero

I am introducing a new feature here at The Book Guardian - Hero of the Day.

It's an award I give out on occasion, as a thank you for any number of things, but it usually doesn't mean anything else.

Until now!

Anytime I give someone the "Hero of the Day" award, they shall receive a mention on my blog. This guy certainly qualifies, as do some from this weekend.

I spent most of this last weekend with CorryZahn, who so graciously let me stay with them for the third time this year. However, on Saturday night, I stayed with the brother and girlfriend of the friend who did the driving (the first time I didn't drive to NYC, it was great). We were just all chatting and I realized that this brother knew a LOT about computers and networking.

Now, since about May, my computer has not wanted to connect wirelessly to any network but my own at home. This is highly frustrating as that's kind of the point of a laptop - mobility.

I finally got the courage to ask this relative stranger to look at my compy. He did, and within 15 minutes, I was on the internet again! I was thrilled!

Then I got home Sunday night. And the compy wouldn't even connect to my home network. Great. I left it until Monday, hoping it would magically fix itself (hoping for the old "restart" trick to kick in), but it didn't. Luckily, I had the foresight to email my professor from work to say that I might not make it to class.

By 7:30 (class is from 7-8), the computer wasn't any closer to working and I was getting calls from my FHE "kids" asking what was going on. So, I left, picked up Simon, my new FHE co-chair, and we were off. The subject of my computer came up and he said he might know what was wrong. So a little later, on our way back to his house, we picked it up and took a look at it at his house. This time I watched him so I knew what to do, and once again, within 10 minutes this time, I was back online! I even IMed Alvin to tell him hello from his kitchen.

These guys are definitely my current Heroes of the Day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I survived the trip home. Apparently everyone else on the Eastern seaboard was making the same trip, so what usually takes 4.5 hours took more than 8. About hour 6, I started thinking about strangling the boys I was traveling with, so I took a nap. And missed the Bon Jovi sing-along. Otherwise, it was a great trip!

Sad that you didn't see my fantastic red coat in the parade crowds? Well, that's because I wasn't wearing it. I was snug and warm in the office building of friends of friends of parents of a friend of a friend that overlooked the parade, just off Columbus Circle. I got to see everything, but without losing feeling in my face.

The rest of the weekend was also lovely. I enjoyed friends both new and old, got a lot of homework done, played Guitar Hero by myself for three hours, ate the most fantastic dim sum, bought a new purse, and relaxed.

Now! It's Christmas time! To celebrate the season, I've changed the playlist to Christmas songs. You may hear an abundance of "The Carol of the Bells", but you'll certainly not hear "Walking in a Winter Wonderland". Or "Let It Snow". I've decided that I don't like those songs. Possibly because I'm jaded and bitter, because even when I've had a boyfriend during the holidays, I've certainly never done any of the things they sing about. Sad, really.

I had a hard time with "I'll Be Home For Christmas" last year. I knew I was going to spend Christmas in Paris with my grandparents and all, but I wasn't going to be home.

I will be this year though, and I'm counting down the days!

Monday, December 1, 2008

This'll be the day that I die

If you see this post, it's because we're still driving home from NYC. Could have gotten on the road late, could be in traffic, could be dead on the side of the road. Hopefully, it's not the latter. Check back tomorrow to see if I survived.

No matter what my fate, I hope you've enjoyed my attempt at NaBloPoMo 2008. I certainly have!