Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving!

Just a few things I'm thankful for...

  • my health.
  • my wonderful husband - I don't think anyone could put up with me the way he does.
  • my parents - seriously some of the best people in my life. They are such an inspiration.
  • specifically that my parents are still relatively healthy
  • my in-laws and the fact that we truly enjoy one another
  • modern medical science - my mom is a new woman with new knees and my mother-in-law has no lasting effects from a recent stroke.
  • my friends - I wish we could see each other more often but they're still there.
  • my job - I really wish I could say I liked it better but I have one in this not-so-great economy.
  • airplanes - sure makes it easier to travel to see new places and old friends even if they are cramped and expensive
  • my education and the fact that I was lucky enough to not have to go into debt to get it
  • my sister-in-law, Kate, and best friend, Callie, and the fact that there are many more crazy people like them willing to put forth the extreme effort to become doctors and surgeons to help the rest of us live our lives to the fullest
  • the internet - it might sound weird but I am. I now "talk" to my brother every once and a while instead of just getting all of my info from my mom and keep up with friends all over the country. But yes, it's a time waster ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

new "do"

as promised, here's the after pictures.

I'm not exactly sure why I look so ridiculously cheesy in this picture

It's a heck of a lot darker but it looks much happier now. There are no highlights because as David said, "You and hair maintenance are not friends." He made me promise to get my haircut again before next Christmas. We'll see.

hairy issues...

I'm fairly low maintenance and anti-hair dying. But last year, I was convinced to dye my hair, complete with highlights for the wedding. I cut my hair off after the wedding in hopes that in a few months to a year, I might be able to cut all the dyed parts off. Turns out that my hair doesn't grow that fast after a certain point. But I haven't gotten it cut or otherwise attended to since last Christmas. So I've decided to do something about it.

A few before pictures:

honeymoon hair

current hair: way too long and unhealthy; note the awesome tonal differences (natural, gray, bleached out highlights - it's amazing)

Seeing as I have no intention of ever going so far as to get a pixie cut (which is what I would have to resort to for all the dyed parts to be gone) but the whole effect is driving me insane, I'm dying it again. I'm hoping for a nice dark brown, closer to my natural color than before and if there's any highlights, they will be auburn and not caramel or blonde.

Off to the salon. Pictures when I get back.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

christmas workshop

We start Christmas shopping early, and I mean early. We usually get started on whatever major vacation we happen to have gone on that year.

This year in particular, we had to really get a jump on things because we're going to be in Hampton for Christmas. One thing I'm not willing to do is send presents to NJ for Christmas when we're going to be there a few short weeks before Christmas. And since we're not going to see any of the TX crew, we have to send their presents early in order that they get there on time without costing an arm and a leg.

As we needed to get ready to go to NJ for Thanksgiving and have the apartment ready for my mom's visit the following weekend, I made Will a deal - if he wrapped the presents, I would clean the apartment. So our kitchen table became a Christmas workshop for a few days.

he wraps and I ribbon
We're pretty much done and it's not even December! We'll be done within a week or two. Yay!

Monday, November 23, 2009

odd things i miss about grad school

Since about mid-September, it's finally been hitting me that I'm done. I don't have to worry about grad school, assignments, getting forms approved to get my classes paid for, being somewhere 2-3 nights a week, etc. But I've also begun to realize that there are things that I kind of miss too....
  • having a specific purpose. Not a vague purpose but a specific "I have to read this chapter/article, write this paper, study for this test" purpose
  • having things to do at work that, while not being work, aren't ultimately useless or aimless
  • the random bits of computer time that I had while killing time between eating dinner and going to class - I haven't sent out a mass e-mail or cleaned out my yahoo inbox in ages (I have almost a 1,000 unsorted messages in my inbox)
  • regularly getting Potbelly cookies on my way out of Ivory Tower
  • the couscous salad, ravioli with broccoli salad, and pesto pasta salad from the buffet in Ivory Tower
  • the hustle and bustle of being on campus
  • being able to mentally make fun of all the fashion victim undergrads all the while wishing I had their disposable income
  • not always having to travel home on Metro during rush hour
  • the better people that I met and befriended (often just for the semester) in class
  • the mental stimulation - I have way too much time to think about really dumb things now
  • and, I'll admit it, having the excuse to slack off on housework and let my wonderful husband take care of me

(and yes, I am posting twice today both because I'm particularly bored and because I didn't post yesterday)

sighting on base

Ok, I don't have a picture of this dumb lady but I really wish I had had a camera on me one day a couple of weeks ago. I followed her all the way out the gates and for almost another whole block; I would have had plenty of time to get a good one.

But anyway... my sighting...

a woman rolling a dolly and carrying two clearly heavy tote bags.

So the question becomes: why didn't she just put the bags on the dolly and pull the dolly? Isn't that what dollies are for? Carrying heavy things? And the bags were clearly heavy because she stopped to switch hands at least twice while I was still following her.

At first, I thought maybe she didn't have any way of securing the bags to the dolly. Nope. There were definitely at least two bungee cords attached to the dolly. Clearly, this woman doesn't get the full concept of a dolly.

And an update on a previous sighting at the DOT, in the last 2 weeks or so (I actually think they may have done it while we were in Denver) they put the railroad car back on its tracks. But they didn't actually clean the parts that had been resting on the ground. I guess they can't think of everything.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

denver: extra pics

Here are just some random pics from the car as we drove around Denver.

Capital Building and a museum (we think)

Downtown from afar and driving through

Colorado Convention Center art

That's the biggest REI I have ever seen so I took a picture

Rockies! with snow

Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium where the Broncos play.

Here are shots of the creepy and controversial murals at Denver International Airport. There are quite a few conspiracy theories about DIA and at least one set of murals seems to have been removed.

I actually found out about all the conspiracy theories surrounding the airport in researching a paper for my Government Accounting class trying to discover how much the airport had cost to build.

Conspiracy Article
(if you click through to parts 3 and 4, those seem to be the murals that are now gone or maybe we just didn't look hard enough)

I wish I had gotten a pic of the "demon" horse on Peña Blvd (the road to the airport). Excuse me, it's the Blue Mustang. Here's one from the internet.

Pssst... it killed it's creator. Literally.

Friday, November 20, 2009

mission serve

I did find out that the challenge given to GW's students by Michelle Obama to complete 100,000 hours of service in return for a commencement speech in May 2010 is for real.

She set forth the challenge on September 11th as part of Pres. Obama's National Year of Service (as signed into legislation with the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April) and returned to GW on Veteran's Day to launch Mission Serve. In just 7 weeks, 19,000 hours had been recorded. I guess those annoying undergrads aren't as self-absorbed as I'd always thought. Go figure.

Even better - they still think I'm a student and I quite successfully signed up to record my volunteer hours to be included in the count. This is a good thing because, not being an actual student any longer, I have time for service. Looks like I have to step it up!

I may not be a huge fan of the President but I do like Mrs. Obama. How cool would it be if I were able to see her speak at my commencement?

you can find a short AP article on the event here.
you can find a copy of her remarks to GW on Veteran's Day here.
Picture courtesy of Mrs-O.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

denver: caching & snow

The weather for our last day was forecast to be none to pleasant so we'd decided to simply drive around different areas of town and check it out. As it turned out, we perhaps should have tweaked our plan a bit because the first half of the day was actually perfectly pleasant, if a bit colder than the day before.

I knew that Will was itching to do some caching because Colorado is simply covered in caches so after lunch, I pulled out his GPSer just to see what was around. Of course, there were several within a very short distance. I directed his driving and stayed in the car for the first few. During one, the cold front really made its presence known. I sat in the car watching the bank across the street display the time, date and temperature and the temp dropped 2 degrees in less than 5 minutes.

hilarious street sign we found

After a while I got tired of sitting in the car so I started helping. With the new GPSer (ok, it's a few months old now), he can load a whole bunch into the unit using selective criteria for an entire area. It really makes it easy to attempt cache after cache. We would just find one and then pull up the next one that was close and in a northeasterly direction (the direction back to our hotel). Once I realized how easy it was, I decided that we should try to get 13 for Friday the 13th.

All the while, the weather was just getting colder and windier until it was finally snowing. I was really glad that I'd thrown my scarf, hat and mittens in the car that morning as I kept adding layers with each successive stop. We made a stop by the hotel before going out to dinner because the last two caches we found were right by there.

our last cache of the day #13

Good thing we did too because we were able to check the traffic and decide that we were too hungry to fight snow traffic into downtown Denver (which had been our plan) for dinner. It was really coming down when we left for dinner.

We ended up at Elway's, a steakhouse in Cherry Creek. YUMMMMMMMY! Worth the money. One of the more interesting sights of the evening was the whole table of elderly couples all glammed up for a dinner out with 3 of the old ladies carrying little portable oxygen tanks. Clearly, a little snow and thin air wasn't going to stop them!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

denver: day in boulder

The combination of Mountain Time, the fact that I'd taken nyquil and gone to bed at 9 the night before meant that we got up really early (I'd actually been up off and on since about 4). So we hit up the local Jamba Juice for cold busters and got a great breakfast at Annie's, a diner that Will had been to before with his sister.

For our first full day in Denver and the day that was supposed to have the best weather, we drove the short distance (it's less than 30 miles) out to Boulder. We spent the morning on a nature hike that was also a very interesting earthcache published by a retired geology professor from CU. There were 16 stops specified by the earthcache with a description and specific points to notice that kept the pace slow which was perfect since I still wasn't feeling well. The whole thing was so much fun. Here's just a few of the 233 pictures we took in about 3 hours.

After we got lunch and wandered around Pearl Street for a while. There were many cute shops and things. The best shop was the book store, of course. It's built in what must have been a big, old house complete with gorgeous ballroom, 3 floors and a ton of nooks and crannies. But after a while, I was just tired and we had to call it quits. I took a nap while Will did a few nearby caches before dark.

We went to the often suggested, The Cherry Cricket, for dinner. Very nice bar with good food and lots of good beers. I wanted to check out Cherry Creek shopping center before heading back so we did.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

denver: originial chipotle

We'd already decided that one of the things we wanted to do while we were in town was check out the original Chipotle which as it turned out wasn't that far from our hotel. Since it involved no decision making, we went there for dinner shortly after getting to Denver. As a testament to how crappy I felt - I didn't even get a burrito. I know, sacrilege.
After we sat down with our dinner, the couple next to us got t-shirts and the manager came over and offered them a tour of the place. So I decided to pull a mom and start talking to them. It turned out that they were from Ohio and on their honeymoon when friends told them they should check out the original. I told her that we were visiting from VA and had come to check out the original as well and she asked if we wanted to go on the tour as well. OF COURSE.

We finished our dinner as quickly as we could and the manager came back and took us all on the tour. As it turns out, the offices are down a trap door in the floor so we descended into the basement to begin. They apparently do on average about 10 tours a week and you get a free t-shirt that says "I made the pilgrimage to Evans" on the back. They wrap the shirts up like burritos. Tradition dictates that you get to sign one of the rafters while you're down there.

After coming back upstairs, we got a tour of the teeny tiny prep area. Seriously, the original Chipotle is so small compared to a new one. I felt a bit bad about being around the food with my cold so I tried to breathe as little as possible. He told us that they go through about 160lbs of chicken a day, so much guacamole that they make it 4 times a day (I guess that's why it tastes so good), and massive amounts of cheese and other food.

Monday, November 16, 2009

denver: ida attacks

Ok, it wasn't that bad. But Tropical Storm Ida did wreak havoc on our flights out to Denver. We were loaded on the plane in DC for our 7am flight, taxied out and then got word of a ground stop in Charlotte as a result of Ida-induced weather. So we sat on the tarmac for about 45 min. We ended up landing in Charlotte only 5 min after our flight left for Denver at the same time as the 5:45am flight from National to Charlotte which was delayed due to a plane change.

I'll give it to USAir, they had everyone booked on to new flights with boarding passes ready when we got off the plane. I don't think I've ever seen that before. But the 5:45 passengers were given priority so we'd been booked on the 6:15pm flight to Denver instead of the 1:15 flight. We were able to get ourselves put on the stand by list before settling into Charlotte's rocking chairs for a few hours of Google-sponsored free wifi.

After getting lunch, we staked out the gate for the 1:15 flight with at least 2 others from our original flight. As they neared the final boarding stage, we got hopeful as a few stand by passengers were given boarding passes. When the flight agent rounded up the 4 of us and told us to stay close, we got really hopeful. Then she called final boarding and rattled of about 6 names, we really started to think we might just make it. Two of the 6 ran up to the gate but then she let all 4 of us on the plane and told us to take any open seat. Will and I were even able to get 2 seats together.

The only problem was that since we didn't think we were going to get on the plane until really close to boarding, we had no snacks. So I got off the plane in high pressure Denver starving and well into the beginning of a horrendous head cold.

first sight of the Rockies