Thursday, August 28, 2008

Captain Planet, he's our hero!

By now you should know that we're trying to save the planet. There's been a HUGE interest in the last few years about going green. I've always tried to recycle and be eco-conscious, so I'm all in favor of this movement. I can't build a completely green house and bike everywere, but there are things I can do.

If it fits me, of course.

A little over a month ago, I decided to make more an effort to take my lunch to work everyday. Mostly, it's healthier and saves me money. I used the plastic grocery bags as my lunch bag and tried to convince myself I was recycling by using twice before throwing them away. I toyed with the idea of getting a lunch bag, like I had in grade school, but that just seemed so lame.

Until I found this:

Doesn't lunch just look so much more fun in this box?
It makes me happy. Then Fran (completely forgetting that I showed her my lunch box before and all she said was "I don't like Dr. Pepper") showed me this site today, and I really want this one, among others. Like purses and shoes, I need lunchboxes for every outfit! Just kidding. For now. . .

Since the grocery bags were starting to pile up, I knew it was soon time to invest in reusable grocery bags. Today, picking up lunch fixings at Giant, the bags were everywhere, and I knew that their time was now. I asked for two, thinking I might really need three or four (which is how many plastic ones I would have used), and all my groceries fit in one and a half! Brilliant!

They are even kind of cute!

When I first moved here, the Giant near my house was kind of scary. Dingy, dirty, small-ish, and not the best selection. I often went to Safeway for my major grocery shopping and only went to Giant when I'm in a rush.

After today, I think I'm changing my mind, and here's why:

1. They've completely re-done the store. Much bigger selection than before, including locally grown produce, brighter, larger, and much more inviting.

2. Cheaper.

3. Much more convenient.

4. Discounts when you use the reusable bags! Yay! I saved 20 cents today!

So, I'm saving money and the planet and looking good doing it. Sweet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is for my people's who lost their grandmothers

After two years, someone from my family finally came to see me!! My grandparents, who got home from their mission in May, are taking a big cross country road trip, visiting places they've never seen and people they love along the way. They admitted that they wouldn't have visited DC if I wasn't here, but I'm so glad they did.

They arrived last Wednesday before I got home from work, and patiently waited for me. After the grand tour, they took me out to my favorite Chinese restaurants, Jasmine Garden.

I arranged to take the rest of the week off work, so that their vacation was my stay-cation. Thursday, we took a tour of the Library of Congress (of course), followed by a stop at the National Archives (of course). We had a picnic lunch in the shadow of the Washington Monument, or rather, in a shadow of some trees across the street from it. We spent the afternoon on what turned out to be one of my favorite things of the weekend, a walking tour for tips of the monuments, from DC By Foot. I'd spent time at almost all of them before, but I learned a lot of new things and trivia, which has already come in handy. That night, we had Josh & Courtney & Co. over for dinner, so I finally proved to them that I do have family, as I've pretty much met all of theirs.

Friday, I discovered that the webmaster for the National Cathedral has no idea how to get there via metro, so we scrapped that plan and just went to the Zoo. It was a lovely Zoo day. Unfortunately, on the way home, I did something I never want to do again.

I lost my grandmother.

At the Woodley Park-Zoo metro stop, Grandma got on the train, but Grandpa and I didn't. Grandpa was quite calm about the whole thing, and we both hoped that she would be waiting for us at Metro Center, if see remembered that we were to change at Metro Center in the first place. We were wrong. Grandpa waited, unmoving, whilst I backtracked and searched every stop between the two. When I came back, sans Grandma, Grandpa had me run up to street level and call her. Hooray for cellphones! An angel had pointed her in the right direction, and she was waiting for us at the home stop. I was so relieved!

We celebrated our reunion by going to the temple, and either Grandpa or I, or both, were holding her hand almost the whole rest of the night.

They left early Saturday morning, which made for a very short trip, but I'm just delighted that they spent any amount of time here at all. I love you both!

For those of who haven't visited me yet - my futon is currently vacant. So what are you waiting for?

The rest of my wonderful stay-cation involved my "nephew's" first birthday (how is he already a year old!?), meeting the rest of his grandparents (told you I've met Josh & Courtney's whole family), and watching the last of the Olympics (miss them already!).

I really enjoyed seeing my dear grandparents and my local "family", and having a great 4 days off before heading back into work and school. Thank you for coming!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The book I read was in your eyes

DISCLAIMER: This list, and the claims made by someone on behalf of the BBC may or may not be entirely accurate. But it was fun and has therefore spawned the following post.

A meme from Pezao:

The Big Read (apparently sponsored by the BBC) reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love. (I'm skipping this one. The only one I didn't love that I read is #43.)
4) Place an asterisk (*) by those you've seen a movie or stage performance of (added by Pezao). If there are multiple *, I've seen both a film and a stage adaptation. (added by me)
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.

1. The Lord of the Rings**, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice*, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire*, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird**, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh*, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (I tried to read this in 9th grade and just couldn't get into it. I would like to try again, because I do loves me some Dickens.)
18. Little Women**, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (I hated Scarlett O'Hara so much, I slapped the book. I'm not even kidding.)
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone*, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets*, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban*, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit*, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland*, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory*, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island*, Robert Louis Stevenson (I'm so counting that I've seen Muppet Treasure Island)
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion*, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma*, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables*, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby*, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo*, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol*, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden*, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha*, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (actually, this is my current book, as you can see on my sidebar)
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda*, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary*, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House*, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes*, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries*, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

You may notice I italicized everything I haven't read, except one. That's because I consider lists like this a challenge, and I would at some point, love to read all these books. When I was in high school and undergrad, I didn't read as voraciously as I did when I was a kid. I was just too busy, or so I thought. I didn't give up reading entirely, and I did miss it. When I graduated, I was so burned out that I only read a handful of books in the two years after.

Thanks to the 52 books - 52 weeks challenge from Eilonwy, I'm reading like I used to, 3 or 4 at a time. My goal this year is not to re-read anything, and I'm really trying not to start too many books at a time.

How am I doing? It's week 34 and I'm reading my 41st and 42nd books of the year. A lot of them have been audiobooks whilst I'm working, but that totally counts. You would think that my grad school schedule would not allow for so much outside reading, but I'm making time and reading at least a few chapters a night. I hope I'm not so burned out this time.

And no, I have no plans to read Midnight's Children. I acquired a copy four years ago, and tried to read it then. I got about halfway through and completely lost interest, and actually gave my copy to KT just last week.

Gosh I love books.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dream a little dream

I've been dreaming about work lately.

In the first dream, my library (the stacks) looked a lot like the BYU MAD Library, and I was the only one responsible for it, like in reality. The woman who we have helping me catalogue was there, but she had cancer and was wearing a scarf over her head. I don't remember any specifics, but there was, as usual, the overwhelming feeling that I'd never get it all done and was concerned for my colleague.

In the most recent dream, the library looked a little more like my library, but when my colleague came over to ask me a question, I took her into the stacks to find what we needed. To my surprise, the library was even more disorganized than I anticipated, with piles of videos and general music materials that I'd never seen before. I answered her question, but I was so distraught that this would keep happening - I'd keep finding things that needed cataloguing and never complete the automation project.

These feelings mirror that of my waking life. I'm getting to the point where there is a light at the end of the tunnel with this project, and I know that I WILL complete it. At the same time, I'm concerned that I won't. I'm concerned that it will never reach a place where I'm satisfied with my work and feel like I'm ready to brag about it.

I'll just keep going though. It's certainly helping me recognize how much I don't know about this field. It seems the more I learn, through running my library and through my grad work, the more I realize I don't know and still have to learn. I'm confident and not at the same time about what I'm able to do, and I'm the first to admit I have a long way to go.

Sadly, not everyone has that reaction. A lot of people feel like now that they've taken a few classes about a certain subject, they are the absolute expert. They begin to act like they are best ever, in everything. I probably had moments like this in undergrad, and still battle it on occasion.

2 Nephi 9:42

And whoso aknocketh, to him will he open; and the bwise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their clearning, and their dwisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves efools before God, and come down in the depths of fhumility, he will not open unto them.

Since I can only change myself, I need to be the best I can be in my work and school and life, and recognize that there are others with invaluable insight and learning that can aid me along the way.

And soon, I'll have a library that's up to 21st century standards.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My life is better than yours

This week has been lots of fun. I'm much more relaxed without school, and am not even stressing that I have less than a week now to get my room in tip-top shape. Last week, I was staying up until 1 AM or later to work on my term project, and Lack of Sleep + Stress + Anxiety = A Very Tired, Grouchy Stretch. This week, I've been staying up until 1 AM watching the Olympics and letting the clutter pile up around me, and Lack of Sleep + Fun + Men In Swimsuits = Happy, Only Kinda Tired Stretch. Also amusing is talking to Eilonwy on Gchat and commentating on the Olympics together. Our transcript from Tuesday night is still making me giggle.

Tonight was dinner at Indebleu for DC's Restaurant Week. I looked hot in my new skirt and earrings and rhinestone ankle band stilletos, and the food was just yummy.

Virgin Blackberry Mojito

Crab Fritter
tempura jumbo lump crab flavored with fennel & chili, curry remoulade

saffron and chili rubbed, lobster butter, roasted garlic potato puree, broccoli rabe, buttered mint peas

Bread Pudding
chocolate & banana, mint ice cream

This weekend I hope to be somewhat productive, but if not? Oh well! I'll blame the suddenly intriguing water polo.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm just trying to do this jigsaw puzzle

The singles ward of the LDS church is an interesting phenomenon. The idea is that the young, single adults of the church will be able find companionship and camaraderie with people at about their same age (18-31) and place (students and young professionals) in life, which is can be one of the most difficult decades of life. People tend to get a bit lost during all the changes and decisions that happen in young adulthood, and studies that have shown that most people who leave the Church do so between age 16-25, and singles wards are designed to combat that. Of course, this is a very optimistic ideal and it doesn't always come to fruition.

There's also the idea that the men and women in the singles ward will meet, fall in love, and get married. When my dad was in a singles ward bishopric, he made it clear (to me, not necessarily over the pulpit or anything) that marrying off the people in his ward was one of their goals. I'm totally fine with that, even though I've never even seriously dated anyone from any of my singles wards. In fact, that ward of my dad's (which I was in for its last two years) was so successful that it was eventually disbanded. There were only 50 people or so in the ward records, and only 50-75% attendance. One weekend, shortly before the discontinuation of the ward, we had three couples from our ward get married. I really liked that ward. I felt comfortable there and was friendly with everyone in it. I also credit that ward for solidifying my relationship with Fran. Long before it stopped existing, when I'd been in the ward for two years and five months, I really felt like I belong.

I have yet to totally feel that in any ward since. I was getting to that point in the ward I went to after the first one I mentioned, but then I moved far, far away. I've been in my current ward now for just over two years, and I still don't always feel completely comfortable there. I have made some good friends, for which I am quite grateful. Still, I often sit alone and have never accidentally/on purpose skipped Sunday School just to talk to someone (like Fran and I did on occasion). Also, I often feel like my conversations are still small talk, even with people who have been in the ward longer than I have. I don't blame anyone for this, and I'm sure there is more that I could do. I really like the people in my ward (especially the ones reading my blog, hi!), but it's just as not perfect of a fit as my ward was with my dad.

Eilonwy made some interesting observations about the maturity level of people in a singles ward. I agreed and commented that there is immaturity and self-centeredness, and I do include myself in this. I'm very certainly just as imperfect as anyone else, which is why I know I need to more to improve my experience at church. I can take advantage of the fact that I came alone to find someone else who did the same. They might feel the same way I do and would appreciate the company.

I also sometimes feel like the married adults of the Church don't know what to do with us. As I mentioned, we just changed to 2:30 PM, and moved to a new building. The building is no longer centrally located in the ward, or accessible by metro, which might make it difficult for some of our ward members. This last Sunday, our first in the new place in time, ended right after Sacrament, and we were given the instruction to get to know our new building. That seemed really strange and unnecessary, but I did appreciate being home earlier than I'll be for some time to come. I complained about the new time in the comments of another blog I read, and received this response from the mother of the blog owner:

AmandaStretch, you get the crappy time because you are single, meaning, without children,
Which, I'm sorry to say, kind of sounds like a punishment, like "That's what you get for waiting to get married." I'm sure she didn't intend it as a slam, but it's not the first time I've heard something like that. None of my singles wards have ever been in the building's rotation for meeting times. There's talk that we singles wouldn't come at the other times, because they're too early or too late, but I know that I, and most people I know, will come at any time because the church is not about us.

The good thing is it's not all about the social interaction. That's a big part, especially in a singles ward, but it's not the most important part. The most important part is the doctrine, and I feel like my ward is very doctrinally strong. I hear stories of testimonies being borne in their missionary language, long after they've returned home, and talks that have nothing to do with doctrinal topics at all. We have a few instances like that, and the occasional testimony that's treated like a stand-up comedy routine, but overall, I feel like we have a good focus on the gospel and I am often touched by a lesson or a talk.

I love this gospel, and I know that this where I belong - this house, this ward, this church, etc. I just still need to figure out where my puzzle piece fits.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If only it was Saturday

Oh wait! It was! And it was a pretty rad Saturday at that.

First, however, I want to address last night's Olympic Opening Ceremonies. How awesome were those!? Amazing spectacle, precision, history, and spirit! I love the Olympics, and the Opening Ceremonies are one of my favorite parts. There may have even been a little tearing up. I plan on having the tv tuned to NBC for the next 17 days.

Now onto Saturday. As of Thursday, when I turned in my final project and made my class presentation for my Summer II class, I am officially halfway through with my grad program. 18 credits down, 18 to go. YAY!!!! The class presentation was a little strange. My class met through Adobe Connect, so I made my presentation to my laptop, whilst sitting cross-legged on my bed. My classmates responded by typing into the chat window. I've never met these people, so it felt like I was presenting to no one. I just hope it went well. I should get my grades next week.

To reward myself, I took today off. I gave myself permission to relax and do whatever the heck I wanted to.

Things I Did Today:

  • Slept in until 2 PM. I guess I was tired, since I don't think I've done that in a very long time.
  • Read for awhile instead of getting right out of bed.
  • Ate two bowls of cereal - one of Quaker Oatmeal Squares, a smaller one of Honeycomb
  • Worked out
  • Watched the Olympics, including Michael Phelp's first gold of these games
  • Shopped, and walked aimlessly around the mall. I was only planning on stopping at LUSH, but I decided to just wander and browse for a while. Miraculously, I only spent about $20 more than I had intended.
  • Bought a skirt and a couple DVDs at Wal-mart. I usually avoid that store, but I was there for a specific purpose, and found a couple things I liked along the way.
  • Bought more clothes online. This is something I've been planning for a couple weeks, and I made my final decision today. One skirt and two shirts.
  • Found that I've lost a pound for every week of my family's fitness challenge. Two weeks - two pounds! I'm hoping to step it up even more next week, which should improve things even more.
  • Found my paring knife. The thought of losing one of my beautiful kitchen knives almost gave me a heart attack.
  • Admired my calf muscles. Seriously.
Things I Did NOT Do Today:

  • Clean or fix anything around the house, as much as they made be needed.
  • Check Blackboard for anything school related.
  • Worry about anything school related.
  • Eat a German Chocolate cupcake from Cake Love. I was in line to buy one, but stood in the line long enough to talk myself out of it, and I got to stay under my dessert calorie quota for the day.
  • Make my bed. I am not Fran's great-grandmother.
  • Buy new planner pages, due to a lack of feminine planner pages that I liked in the size I needed. Lame.
  • Find the flannel I went to Wal-Mart for. Eilonwy's the awesomest for telling me about it though. I'll have to send someone in Utah to get it.
  • Cook. I love cooking, but I avoided it today.
So, yeah. My day rocked. I hope yours did too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Next time won't you sing with me?

A little meme from Eilonwy. It's a lot more fun that working on my term project.

A is for age: 24. I like it so far.

B is for burger of choice: Five Guys Little Bacon Cheeseburger. So. Good.

C is for the car I drive: 2008 Honda Civic, navy blue, manual transmission. Still seems a little unreal, but 3000 miles in, I still love it.

D is for your dog’s name: Logan. He's pretty much the cutest thing ever. I miss him like crazy, and wish he could talk on the phone like the rest of my family.

E is for essential item you use every day: Clothes. I'm rather fond of them.

F is for favorite TV show at the moment: So You Think You Can Dance. This season, I knew two of the dancers. Chelsea Hightower was in my home ward, and Gev and I danced on a company together in Salt Lake City. I was rooting for them, but now I'm betting on Josh for the win.

G is for favorite game: Fluxx, or Cranium. I don't play games nearly as I would like. Anyone up for a game night?

H is for home state: Utah, though last time I was there, it seemed a little surreal.

I is for instruments you play: My voice is my favorite instrument. I also play the piano and percussion, and once upon time, I played the harp.

J is for favorite juice: Grape, or apple.

K is for whose bum you’d like to kick: The men who are not asking out any of the plethora of smart, beautiful women I know.

L is for last restaurant at which you ate: Buca di Beppo, with Smash, Reimsy, False Cathedrals, and several other fantastic women last week, in the Pope Room. Good times!

M is for your favorite Muppet: Kermit, for sure.

N is for number of piercings: Ears. My own, and I pierced 28 people's ears in the month I worked at Piercing Pagoda. What a random month.

O is for overnight hospital stays: None except my first few nights on this Earth.

P is for people you were with today: Everyone who came to church today, but ate dinner and played Clue with the Johns after.

Q is for what you do with your quiet time: Lately? School work. Otherwise, read. I'm looking forward to the books I got from the library yesterday.

R is for biggest regret: I don't have any regrets, really. There are things I would have rather not done, and a few I rather would have, but I've learned from everything so far and am glad for those experiences.

S is for status: Of what? Me? Sitting cross-legged on my bed typing this meme and watching "Serenity"

T is for time you woke up today: My alarm is set for 10:15. I think I woke up before that, but I didn't get out of bed until 11. I have hard time getting up early and being productive before 1 PM church. Starting next week, church is at 2:30. Lovely.

U is for what you consider unique about yourself: I'm the only one of me I know!

V is for vegetable you love: French cut green beans. Yum!

W is for worst habit: Procrastinating. I'm also easily distracted. I have 7 tabs in Firefox, 6 Word documents, one IM window (though the conversation ended an hour ago), one file folder, and one image. Most of them are related to my project.

X is for x-rays you’ve had: Abdominal, feet/ankles way more than I can count, and each wrist at least a few times.

Y is for yummy food you ate today: Pork ribs. So good.

Z is for zodiac: Gemini

Play along if you so choose!