Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm Hooked on Phonics

This weekend I'm heading to Phoenix, AZ. My relations will be running a triathlon. My goals are not quite so lofty:

  1. Eat Mexican Food.
  2. Bask in the sunshine.
  3. Eat as many meals as possible at In-N-Out Burger.
However, I'm secretly hoping to be able to do the following things:
  1. Play blackjack on the Res.
  2. Pan for gold.
  3. Sneak in and get a massage at the triathlon massage tent.
  4. Have a fireworks-filled Sacrament meeting at church. I hear Arizona wards are the craziest.
Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

An Unfortunate Name

Read a story about creative television commercials:

"'We all need to become more creative in how we incorporate sponsors into a program,' said Ed Swindler, executive vice president for NBC Universal ad sales."

Ed, perhaps you should have chosen a line of work that didn't involve persuading people to give you money.

A Very DC Weekend

I've never been to Arlington Cemetery before, and Memorial Day seemed like an appropriate time to do so. It was decked out in it's full regalia for the various ceremonies scheduled for the day, and was looking quite lovely. Unfortunately, on the honorary first day of summer, the weather fast forwarded to mid-August and was excruciatingly hot, humid, and oppressive. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and was rewarded for my pains.

I thought it would be rather boring, what with acres and acres of uniform tombstones such as these:

But much to my surprise there's quite a bit of diversity among tombstones. My favorites are below:

Here lies Pierre L'Enfant, the wiley French designer of this fair city. He's perched at the top of the Lee estate overlooking the city he designed. I hope he's not too ashamed of the traffic nightmares he inflicted on us.

This is the tomb of the unknowns from the Civil War. There are 2,111 soldiers beneath this slab. The front wreath is from the President. I know this because there is a note pinned to the ribbon that says "The President". The wreath laid at the main Tomb of the Unknowns was nowhere to be seen when I was there - so I'm not sure if there's only one and they have to share custody or what. I didn't get down there early enough to see the wreath laying ceremony, so this will probably remain a mystery.

I quite liked this monument.

This is the most unique monument I saw all day. For some reason it reminds me of the Masons. Or the Egyptians.

Decked out in flags, The Old Amphitheater is tucked into a quieter section of the cemetery.

The hot spot of the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknowns during the changing of the guard. I chose not to include an action shot of the soldiers clacking their heels together. But believe me, they make a very pleasing clack. (Largely due to a cleverly extended heel). I learned that this squadron (or whatever) of soldiers are commonly referred to as The Old Guard - which I thought was interesting because I like it when I find out how commonly used terms originate. I also learned that it is very difficult to understand barked military commands - they are excessively staccato.

My favorite sign, given my own feelings about chewing gum. Its good to be in a place where no one is allowed to chew gum.

After my tour of Arlington, I walked across the Memorial Bridge (my favorite bridge) and down the Mall in search of a hot dog, which I ate in my favorite little park next to the Smithsonian Castle.

After resting for a bit, I continued my walk up to Chinatown, where I caught the Metro home (if you are keeping score, walking from Arlington to Chinatown is a long freaking way).

I enjoyed my trip to Arlington. It was impressive and moving, and I was pleased to be there on Memorial Day. Judged purely on it's cemetery-ness it isn't quite as good as the best DC cemetery: Rock Creek Cemetery. But it is an excellent reminder of the sacrifices we make as a country, which is in and of itself valuable.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Marketplace Lottery

I've just devised a new game for me to play while listening to Marketplace, called The Marketplace Lottery. I've talked about Marketplace quite a bit before, and so if you read this blog at all you know that I'm a major fan. It makes money, markets, and entrepreneurship fascinating to the novice. I've created this new game to help me to pay better attention during my bus commute home, and to test my musical dexterity. It would probably work with most other public radio programs too - so don't feel like you can't play if Marketplace isn't your program of choice.

Here's how to play: Between stories they'll play snips of songs. There are roughly 4-5 songs per episode and the songs almost always relate to the story they follow. For example, a story about a gourmet bakery that specializes in cupcakes would be followed by a song by Cake. A story about viral videos is followed by the song "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai. Get it? Sometimes the relationship isn't quite so blatant. One day there was a story about something to do with Sweden, and the song was by Peter Bjorn and John a band from Sweden. Tricky, indeed! (I felt pretty smart when I made that connection, I'll tell you). To up the ante, the song snips don't include lyrics. So you need to know either the title of the song, it's artist, what the song is about, and, as in the case of the Swedes, other relevant facts about the song or artist. It's really quite tough!

You win the Marketplace Lottery if you're able to figure out the relationship between all of the songs and their stories for the entire program.

Prizes include:
1. The knowledge that you are a music and market diva
2. A "Like It" sized strawberry ice cream with brownies mixed in from Cold Stone Creamery
3. A satin sash that says "Marketplace Lotto Queen" and a bouquet of roses to carry as I gracefully descend the bus steps, pausing to blow air kisses to the crowd.

If you play and win - let me know! I'll hand-deliver your satin sash!

What games do you play to spice up your life? (Erin, I know you've got at least one up your sleeve. Little miss "I make faces out of the crazy foot lights on the Metro")

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I (heart) Lists!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Chopped up seaweed bulb mixed with mayonaise. Barf-factor? 100%

What’s something you do that you wish you didn’t do?
Freak out when trying to flirt. I'm really pretty spaztic.

What was the last song you sang when no one else was around?
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson

In the movie about your life, which actor would you choose to play you?
Cate Blanchett - mostly because she's really cool, and can play pretty much anyone. Since I'm a bit of a chameleon, this is important.

Where’s the last place you went on vacation?
Seattle, sort of. Half work/Half vacay.

If you were arrested, who would be your “one phone call?”
Add this to the reasons why it's useful to get married.

What book are you currently reading?
A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Schute

What historical event would you like to have been present for?
The First Lollapalooza

What historical figure would you like to have met?
Princess Diana or Eleanor of Aquitaine

Name something you can’t do very well.
Anything that requires coordination. Or math. I'm really no good at math.

What's the worst injury you've suffered?
A rollerblading wipe out that bruised my ENTIRE right butt cheek. I couldn't sleep on my back for a month.

Name one thing that makes you a “freak of nature.”
The extra squishy cartilage at the end of my nose - it's quite fun to poke.

What’s one thing you would do as President of the United States?
Either get shot (to get that sympathy vote) or resign. Being POTUS is a thankless job.

What day in your life would you like to go back and watch as a spectator?
Family vacations to our condo in Beaver Creek for Spring Skiing. With each of us thinking we were hi-larious, it would be quite a show to watch.

What song currently tops your “most played” list in iTunes?
Sexyback - Justin Timberlake

Name something you intend to do but haven’t done yet.
Re-pack all of my Grandmother's china into the boxes it came in.

If you could do anything you wanted today, then rewind the day and start over fresh—no consequences—what would you do?
First, I'd take some ibuprofen before I went to the orthodontist's office. Second, I would definitely not be at work. I'd probably be at the beach with a couple of novels and some frozen alcoholic drinks (you said no consequences, right?).

What’s your favorite city you’ve ever visited?

If you could be transported for just one day anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Green Island, on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

What was your most recent purchase?
A slice of poundcake.

Name one thing you’re looking forward to doing this week.
Getting out of work early because it's Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Favorite Quotes Gleaned this Week

"Fun First, Safety Third." Cyclecide, where corndogs are second.

"I've been working so hard I'm about to have a Mariah!" Usher. (I actually heard this a few months ago ... but since this is my first quote post, I'm including it.)

"If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less." General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

" The next day, I ask Nadine the gardienne
qu'est-ce que c'est the deal avec the monsieur
qui lives under moi, and Nadine says his femme
is toujours busting his chops, but il est afraid
of her, so il takes out his rage on the rest of nous."
- David Kirby "The Search for Baby Combover" from the collection of poems The House on Boulevard St. Top points for use of Frenglish.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Play that Psychedelic Organ, White Boy

OK, I'm a fan of The White Stripes. Who isn't these days? But I'm listening to their new single "Icky Thump" and I'm thinking to myself ... "Is this Spinal Tap meets Jethro Tull, with very special guest instrument The Rock Organ?" Quite a different slant than they usually take. During the organ solo in the middle, I keep thinking of that kid Lawrence in School of Rock, jammin on his keyboard.

I'll like it. I think. Take a listen, and see if you agree.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Beauty and Brains

When you read as much as I do it's very important to have a stockpile of books waiting in the wings. As I come across titles that I'd like to read, but am not quite ready for, I put them into my bookshelf at East 41 St. I've talked about this site before, where I go on and on about the wonders of being able to search for titles, see other related titles, store them in your bookshelf, and look them up at your public library. I worship this site.

But my worship just got a little more devout. I just discovered the "web friendly" view of my bookshelf. Now everyone can stop in and see what books I've saved (either for reading or re-reading). I love the cute little cupboard look, and the filler images of socks, newspapers, bottles, and other assorted miscellany.

So if you are at all interested in what books I've got on the docket, you can check out my bookshelf. And please, if you have a list of books somewhere let me know - I always need suggestions! Or if you have comments about any of the books on the shelf, I'd love those too!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A New Motivator

As you might have guessed from my recent posts about motivation, slack-i-tude, and dieting this has sort of been on my mind. Of course, my diet from last week crashed and burned ... we knew it was only a matter of time. I didn't even bother with a "Well I'm on a diet so I really shouldn't ..." before inhaling some chocolate cheesecake and homemade vanilla ice cream. (Honestly, excuses would only have cheapened what was otherwise a divine ode to dessert.)

Diet or no, I've found a website that I think will help me to be better about not only eating better, but ... wait for it ... Exercising too! The Daily Plate allows you to put in what you've been eating (includes all types of brand name stuff as well as recipes which is quite handy). And it calculates how many calories, fats, etc you've been ingesting. You can also record what kind of exercise you've been doing, and it will subtract the burned calories - so you can see exactly how you're doing. This is perfect for me, because when it gets to the end of the day and I only have 224 calories left to eat for dinner (which basically amounts to a stick of cheese and a pickle) then I know that if I just go to the gym I can easily subtract enough calories to move into a reasonable calorie range to eat dinner! See - eating better AND exercise! They aren't mutually exclusive after all!

I've been using this for two days and so far I really like it! It's got some handy little tools that let you quickly add things you eat frequently, which is pretty nice. I'll let you know if this crashes and dies ... but so far, I'm a fan.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Good Day, Bad Day

The difference between a good day and a bad day is really the level to which I stick to my ideal routine. If I stick pretty close to it, then I count that as a good day. If my inner sloth takes over, well then, not such a good day. Here's a typical workday:

GD: Wake up somewhere between 7AM and 8AM - This is flexible because I usually allow myself to wake up whenever I'm ready. (I assume that there'll be a point in my life where this won't be an option ... so I'm taking advantage of it now).
BD: Wake up anywhere after 8:30 AM, causing me to be really ridiculously late.

GD: Make lunch. Eat breakfast (or pack it to take along).
BD: Don't do either

GD: Walk to the Metro to catch my bus. Bonus points if there's a copy of The Express Mag in my lobby. Even more bonus points if I catch my bus right away.
BD: Too lazy/late to walk, and end up driving to work and paying for parking.

GD: Plenty to do at work keeps me busy and engaged all day.
BD: Not too much to do at work makes the highlight of my day my daily Diet Coke. (to be fair, that's a highlight even on a busy work day.)

GD: After getting home from work, doing something productive with my evening. This can include going out with friends, going to the gym, a church activity, going to the library or grocery store, etc. Bonus points for doing housework such as making dinner or cleaning one or more things in my house.
BD: Taking a nap or watching TV. Reading all evening is marginally acceptable - but I still feel like a half a slacker.

GD: Getting to bed before 11PM. Getting to sleep before midnight.
BD: Reading into the wee hours of the morning.

You see, it really isn't so hard to have a good day. It's basically the difference between behaving like a responsible adult and a lazy teenager. But you'd be surprised at how easy it is to slip into BD behavior. So the question is ... what can keep me motivated? Anyone bottled a cure for laziness?