Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the gold coast

gold coast After finishing Eggers’ terrible book, I picked up a book that I’ve actually read before, The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille. I read it back in high school but he has since written a sequel (The Gate House) that I intended to read upon rereading The Gold Coast (actually my whole reason for rereading The Gold Coast in the first place) but I’ve gotten distracted by other books.

The story centers on blueblood Wall Street lawyer, John Sutter, and his new neighbor and subsequent client, Mafia don, Frank Bellarosa. Bellarosa has been accused of murder and plots to have his socially connected neighbor represent him.

It’s the Mafia, what else is he going to do?

A few heads roll.

A couple of birdies sing.

A pair gets entangled.

The hardest thing about the book was remembering that it’s set in the ‘80s during the height of the crack down on the New York Mafia rings which is, of course, key to the course of the narrative.

It’s a page turner (for all 750+ pages even if I did read almost an entire book before I read the last 10 pages – don’t ask.  it has to do with 10 pages left + book weight + metro.) but I still haven’t figured out yet how exactly to write about books without giving away the plots.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

book club – may (supposed to be anyway)

staggering genius We never did end up meeting to discuss our latest book selection, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers. All of the ladies were just too busy and I guess still are. Normally, I would wait until we met up to post a review but I think it’s been so long that we’ll probably just pick a new book.

David Eggers appears to be the brains behind an odd website called McSweeney’s and its associated publications. I’d heard of the site before through a Facebook friend but I have to admit that while some of it’s funny, I don’t get most of it.

And that same “I don’t get it” feeling applied consistently to his memoir.

Of course, there’s the fact that he was only 30 when he wrote his memoir which I find a little suspect and self-indulgent. But apparently this is the new thing for young up-and-coming authors. Is it that they don’t have anything else to write about except themselves?

But seriously, I didn’t get it.

In doing a little wiki-research, the bones of the story are, in fact, true but the way he tells the story, it’s hard to figure out what is supposed to have happened, who/what is real, and what in the blazes is going on. It was so convoluted and, at times, utterly ridiculous that I had to mentally drag myself to the end. I’m a dedicated book club reader so drag myself I did and I did not feel rewarded for my efforts.

It kind of reminded me of something Augusten Borroughs or David Sedaris would write. I don’t particularly care for either of them – for similar “I don’t get it” reasons. I really don’t like books that I don’t feel like I understand. It’s probably a personal problem.

Another part of the problem for me was that I felt that this was the 3rd similar memoir type book that we’ve read since I joined the book club: You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas by Augusten Burroughs (review posted here) and Not Quite What I Was Planning edited by Larry Smith (review posted here). I’m a fiction girl for the most part so even though I enjoyed NQWIWP, 2 memoirs in as many years is probably enough for me much less 3 in six months.

Needless to say, I’m planning to have a few fictional suggestions in mind next time we meet up. If we meet up. Have we unintentionally killed the group?

Monday, June 28, 2010

“buy a new shirt or stop eating cheese”

Our friend Adrienne posted this link, “25 and Over,” on Facebook the other day and I really like it. I realize that I’m both over 25 and follow these rules but I think they bear repeating and a few caveats as to which ones should be mastered before the ripe old age of 25.

And it appeals to my much-professed love of lists, of course.

1. Remember to write thank-you notes. I wrote about this awhile ago.  I think this should begin at a young age. One of Will’s cousins actually does something really cute – she has her young kids draw a picture, makes it into a card, and then writes the note for them. By 2nd grade, a kid should be able to write his/her own with help from Mom or Dad.

2. Do not invite yourself to stay with friends when you travel anymore. As it’s been pointed out on FB, the key here is to not invite yourself. If your friends like you enough, they will offer and you can happily stay.

3. Do not expect friends to help you move anymore. I had help the last time I moved (when I was 26) but I didn’t expect it. I have since purchased a sofabed and with that came the decision to pay movers for all future moves.

4. Develop a physical awareness of your surroundings. This should probably start in high school or college so you don’t look like a huge dork and should include a caveat about not being so engrossed in your iPod/iPhone/Blackberry/cell phone/etc that you lose awareness of your surroundings.

5. Be on time. If you are old enough to travel under your own power (16 or 17 depending on where you live) and have your own means of transport, be on time.

6. Have enough money. I think this should apply once you have a full time job and a bank account.

7. Know how to calculate the tip. If you’re old enough to go out to dinner by yourself, you’re old enough to calculate a tip.

8. Do not share the crazy dream you had last night with anyone but your mental wellness professional. This one – eh, I like hearing about crazy dreams.

9. Learn to walk in heels. With your first pair, you should learn to walk in them.

10. Have at least one good dress-up outfit. I think this should apply to all ages. As in, parents should make sure that their kids can be presentable in a reasonable amount of time for an event.

11. Do as invitations ask you. If you’re old enough that someone thinks you deserve your own invitation to an event (and not just be tacked on with your parents), then you’re old enough to RSVP for yourself. Even my nephews figured this out for my wedding and they were 15.

12. Know how. There are a lot of things you should know how to do by 25. I’d add “know how to make a least one decent meal” to the article’s list.

13. Don't use your friends.

14. Have something to talk about besides college or your job.

15. Give and receive favors graciously.

16. Drinking until you throw up is no longer properly a point of pride.

17. Have a real trash receptacle, real Kleenex, and, if you smoke, a real ashtray. This can begin in college but should definitely occur when you have your own place to live. I would add that by 25, you should have begun amassing “real” furniture – furniture not made out of milk crates and cinder blocks. It can be hand me downs but it should be decent furniture that was purchased from a furniture store at some point in its life.

18. Universal quiet hours do in fact apply to you.

19. Take care of yourself.

20. Rudeness is not a signifier of your importance. This should be universal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

late june randomness…

  1. It’s H-O-T hot.  It’s 10:30am and it’s already 83 but it feels so much hotter.  It’s not even August, people.
  2. I’m really behind on blogging again.  There were just too many weekends in a row that were (a) super busy and (b) produced a lot of pictures that I haven’t waded through.
  3. We have a new dresser, a new TV, and Will has a new computer (which necessitated hooking up our “new” router – we’ve had it for over a year but couldn’t get it to work and it’s still being weird).  All things we can afford.  We just probably shouldn’t have done them all in the same week. As a result, we’re a little cash poor.  Ok, not really but we’ll be skimming off our savings to pay credit card bills this month – oops.  We didn’t plan the cash flow well at all.
  4. HDTV is pretty.
  5. Is it the economy or being green that all the places that are usually freezing in the summer – the mall, the movies, church – are warm?  Or is it that it’s just that hot?
  6. I’m trying to redesign this here blog for its one year anniversary next Thursday.  Can I tell you how difficult it is to find gender-neutral blog designs?
  7. Can it be September and time to go on vacation already?  Please.
  8. Have I really been blogging for a year?
  9. We’re going to see Sarah Harmer tonight.  On a school night.  I hope it’s not outside like Will said it was the last time he saw her at the Birchmere.
  10. and… sometimes life sucks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

it’s here!

Just a few pictures of the dresser since I heard at least one “oh, I’ll see it when you update your blog” today. :-)

Yeah… it’s a little big.  I mean, I knew it was going to be big but I think my spatial reasoning – or rather lack thereof – hadn’t really considered how big it was going to be.

Looking down the bed sitting on the right side.  Clearly, it needs to move over to the left so that it’s centered on the bed and not on the wall.

That’s all for now – more later!

P.S.  it’s pur-dee! 

P.P.S I wish you could feel it.  The finish is like satin it’s so smooth.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

dresser saga part 3

I have to write this today because we should have a dresser on Saturday!

After all the saga on deciding on a dresser and the adventure to PA to order it and the wait since February, it’s supposed to be delivered on Saturday.


But first we had to decide on a finish.  We had left Pennsylvania with a couple of color chips but Marlin was supposed to come up with something similar to one of the ones we had – a little lighter or a little redder, I can’t remember now actually.

I had to call a few times in order to get the extra chips but we did finally receive them – all 8 of them.
The bottom two are the ones we left PA with and then there’s the whole set that he sent us.

Then I quickly nixed half of the new ones for various reasons – mostly for being too brown – I think cherry shouldn’t be too brown.
So then I was left with these six and I ignored them for about a week.

Until Marlin started stalking us and leaving messages which I never returned and he resorted to calling me at work.  He was stalking me because a) our dresser is finished assembly and b) he’s going to be in Manassas on Saturday so he wanted to be able to deliver our piece in the same trip.  Reasonable. 

So we had to make a decision quickly. 

As in I talked to him on Monday (yesterday) and had to call him back Tuesday morning so that it could be stained and delivered by the end of the week.

I decided to take them into our room – future dresser’s new home – and put them up on the shelf to make the final selection. DSC_0703
all of the choices in a row.

Sorry #4, you’re out for being too light.  Thanks for playing.

DSC_0705  Could you take your friend #5 with you as well?  He doesn’t suit our need for darkish wood either.

And #1 is out of the running – a little too brown.  Like I said - I like redder cherries.

At this point our handsome co-host got bored with the selection process and decided to have a one-man shadow bunny show.

DSC_0708Our winner!  Oddly enough it’s one of the original 2 chips that we left PA with.  This picture sucks.  It’s the left one of the 2 by themselves in the 2 pictures above. 

It’s a special mix that he randomly had lying around when we were there.  It has the following formula on the back:

9 – Brown Sienna
2 – Yellow Oxide
1 – Raw Umber
1 – Black
1 – Brilliant Red

Now the bad thing is that as much I was thinking about needing to call Marlin when I got to work as I was on my way to work – I forgot! 

But then I remembered!  At 10am.  Still morning so not too bad.

I had to leave a message and then decided to follow it up with an e-mail just to cover my bases.

Can I tell you that I love that even for Mennonites the e-mail worked better than the phone message?

Now I just have to remember to call him tomorrow about delivery since he’s supposed to call me but I’m not going to be in the office – oops.

I just can’t wait to have real “adult” furniture!

Monday, June 14, 2010

1,000 visits

I have well-documented my love of my site meter -

and then somehow I just missed 1,000 visits - as I write this, it says 1,005.

I'm kind of sad but it happened during a fun-filled weekend in Hampton honoring Kate's amazing accomplishment of finishing her 5 year general surgery residency so I have a good excuse.

And I would list all the interesting site meter things but I think the same 10 people are reading this over and over again so there's nothing new to report in the stats. :(

maybe in LA, not in old town

Spotted on South Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria…

IMG_1409A car more worthy of Los Angeles or Milan – a Ferrari.

Who drives a Ferrari in the horrendous traffic that is Old Town at all times?  You’d barely be able to get it out of first gear – assuming,of course, that the owner didn’t commit sacrilege and buy an automatic.  Because buying an automatic in a sports car of that caliber would most certainly be sacrilege.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

commencement – sunday may 16

But the big deal for the weekend was Sunday’s Commencement.  And the big deal about GWU’s commencement is that it is held on the National Mall.

As such, we had to get there early to be able to get a decent parking spot. 
Two blocks from the commencement but in the view of the Capitol Building so we’ll take it.

Because of the presence of Mrs. Obama as the commencement speaker, the graduates (and only the graduates) had to go through “extensive” security.
There was list checking, ID checking against the list, bag searching, and metal detector-ing.  And they didn’t even check the tickets that were supposedly required to attend commencement for guests.

Amazingly they did manage to get all of the graduates through security before the “processional” began.
Even with the Capitol in background, I still look like a dork.IMG_1427IMG_1415IMG_1421
Secret Service, SWAT police and a fellow graduate expressing what the majority of us felt.

The “processional” was ridiculous and uncouth.  On the National Mall, one would expect an amount of pomp and circumstance if you will excuse the pun.  The “processional” consisted of a half hour of the camera men panning the crowd and getting the reactions.  I do wonder though if it had something to do with security because the First Lady was there.

Eventually the program began.  There was all the usual stuff that I’ll skip because it’s boring.

The first honorary doctorate was given to Dave Brubeck, a big deal jazz musician.  Will was super dorkily excited about getting to see him.  Surprisingly, he gave a short speech after accepting his honorary degree.

This clip, I believe, includes the whole process so you’ll have to go a few minutes in to hear his remarks.

Next up, the owner of Clark Construction, R. J. Clark, was given an honorary doctorate in engineering – something you don’t see all that often I don’t think.
There’s that orange that I wore proudly for my undergraduate commencement.  Typical for an engineer, he said maybe a sentence.

And finally we were at the point everyone was there for – I mean, really, it wasn’t about the graduates for a lot of people. 

It was time for Mrs. Obama.  She was awarded an honorary doctorate in Public Service.  Clearly a nod to the challenge she’d set forth for the student body.IMG_1454

In a slight departure from the usual format, she did not immediately begin her commencement address.  First President Knapp began by announcing the results of the challenge – 163,180 hours!  Pretty amazing.

This was followed up with a compilation video of moments throughout the year –

The video was actually rather moving and set the stage for the First Lady’s speech perfectly.

It’s a little on the long-ish side but she was very inspirational.  Encouraging the students to make a lifelong commitment to service and to be global citizens – well, that part I didn’t quite get because when she put forth the challenge, she seemed to want the focus to be on local service.  But it was still a great message.

You can read a transcript of her speech here.

Then there was a little thing wherein President Knapp conferred all the degrees upon the graduates – our real purpose for the day.  And then it seemed rather unceremoniously over.

I waited on the wall of the National Museum of the Native American for my people. 

Time for pictures when they finally arrived, of course.

Liz had come out to see me graduate – it had nothing to do with the choice of commencement speaker.  DSC_0123 Proud parentals. 
Will’s just glad that we don’t have to worry about GW for any reason ever again.

So then it was time for my graduation lunch.  I chose Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown – it was close enough to the Mall, Liz had just been there and liked it, and Mom loves Dim Sum.

First we almost gave the host a heart attack when Dad asked how we were going to fit 5 people at a 4 person table – he didn’t realize that sadly Liz wasn’t staying for lunch and would leave when Will got back from parking the car.  Then I think we annoyed our waitress by refusing to order for the longest time because we were waiting for Will to get back.


Once we did order, the food came fast and furious – dim sum at Ping Pong is kind of like Chinese tapas.  As a result, there’s no pictures of the food.  It was superb though.  We had some really tasty dishes – actually there wasn’t a single one that we didn’t enjoy.

Will and I want to go back and sit at the bar and watch them plate the dishes.  The only problems we had were that our waitress was subpar and all of their water glasses taste salty because they use the same glasses for their margaritas.

It was a great end to a fun-filled weekend.


In my post about my School of Business celebration, I complained about the speaker, Marcia Bullard, calling us graduates “millennials.” Will and I were both under the impression that the generational label of “millennial” applied to a younger subset of the population – namely the undergrads – anyone currently between like 15 and 25.  When we told others about it, they agreed having heard such labels as “Generation Y” and “Echo Boomers.”

After writing the post and publishing it, I went back to add a link to the term (because I like to add links to posts to further the understanding of a concept or some such nonsense – actually I just like having lots of links).

With a simple search of Wikipedia, I discovered that I was very wrong to be so quick to judge Ms. Bullard.

It turns out that there are several common nicknames given to the generation born between the late-1970s and the 2000s.

  • Generation Y
  • Generation Next
  • Net Generation
  • Millennials
  • Echo Boomers

Generation Y refers to the simple fact that we follow Generation X chronologically.  Easy enough.  I think this one was popular before they really had a handle on how to define our generation.

According to Wikipedia (awesome source that it is, I know because I used to get mad at group members in grad school citing Wikipedia articles but this is just a blog), two authors - William Strauss and Neil Howe – used the term “Millennials” because the population it described had coined the term itself to differentiate themselves from GenX-ers.  They seem to have also coined the phrase “Generation Next” using it in the title of a book - Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation.

I think the term “Net Generation” is fairly obvious.  We are the first generation to become truly proficient at and dependent on the “Net.”  It was all developed, made public and became ubiquitous by the time we were in college – or even high school if you were an early adopter.

The term “Echo Boomers” refers to the fact that many children of this generation are the children of baby boomers.  As such and regardless of the fact that many Boomers chose to have smaller families, there are a lot of us.  I actually don’t fit this moniker because my parents aren’t Boomers – they’re too old.

Anyway… this my long winded way of saying that I screwed up and I shouldn’t have judged so quickly and harshly.  And I thought it was kind of interesting to learn about.

Friday, June 11, 2010

i see clear headless people….

As we were driving around the Mall (after visiting Tudor Place) trying to scope out where we could park for Sunday’s commencement ceremony, I saw this girl walking down the street with lots of balloons attached to something.

Well, she conveniently needed a break when we were even with her on 17th Street. 

This is what she was carrying…

DSC_0079For some reason, she was carrying two clear people around the Ellipse.

We could only assume that she was the creator of the “sculpture” and was therefore an artist of some sort. 

God only knows where she was headed with those things. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

1 mile +/- a little bit

In honor of the fact that I wore myself out this afternoon swimming just over or just under a mile depending on how you look at it – I did 1500m of laps with 100m warm-up and 100m cool-down so I’m either 100m over or 100m short - a brief insight into what I think about while I swim….

wave line separator 2 copy
hmmmm… I get my own lane today.  Nice.  I hope it stays that way.

oh – I haven’t seen the whale and her mother lately.  thank god.

oops.  water in my goggles.

there’s the old guy who splashes a lot.  I’m glad I don’t have to share with him today.

what are the lifeguards doing when they stand up like that?

what does “every 5 min” mean?

what does “10/20” mean?

ohh – they got a new light up board thing-y. 

where’s the swim team?

oh please don’t try to share with me.  I’m enjoying my lane to myself.

what would make good baby names? (no, I’m not pregnant but this line of thought went on for quite a while several weeks ago and I did come up with a few possibilities but I don’t want to share)

ok, if I do 4 sets that’s 1200m.  I’ve already done one so 3 more to go.  If I do 5 that’s 1500m.  A mile is 1600m.  Maybe I should try that some day.

the weird new light thing-y is off.  odd.

man, my goggles are digging in.  they’re going to leave marks.  I should use more eye cream.

there’s a bird in the building.

was the first 50m or the second 50m? crap.

I should blog about the random thoughts I have while I swim.  I need to finish that commencement blog post.  What other blog posts do I need to finish?  Should I change my format?

please don’t let the bird poop on me.  especially not while I backstroke with my mouth open.

why does it feel so weird to breathe on the left side?

there’s the swim team.  they’re so young and so good and they swim forever.  I wish I could swim like that.

there’s going to be so much water in my right ear.

I’m hungry.  What should I make for dinner?  Is there any food?

I just did 100 breaststroke so now backstroke and then another set or two more sets?

crap.  now I have to pee.

why don’t I solve the world’s problems or even my own while I swim like that girl in that book?

why do I think about such random stuff?

I really need to finish that project for ---- when I get home.  (blanked to protect my recipient who is unaware of said project and, actually, is probably unaware of my blog too.)

was that thunder?  The pool’s inside.  Do I have to get out of the pool if there’s thunder if it’s inside? What are the lifeguards doing? (this was last week when there was a huge storm while I was swimming my laps.  Answer: nope, we don’t have to get out of the pool.)

I need to pack when I get home.

I’m tired.

wave line separator 2 copy

for an idea of how tired I was after swimming all those laps and thinking all those random thoughts, I will mention that I walked all the way into the locker room with the kick board still in my hand and had to walk back out (with all the annoyingly skinny teens watching) to put it back and I totally forgot to shower before I left.

I also felt like a “real” swimmer this week because I bought a “grab bag” swimsuit online.  It’s where you just buy a style and size and they just send you a suit.  No clue what it looks like.

ummm... WNY protesters??

So I've been bad and I've been driving to work a lot lately.

See, PT taught me that I can actually get to work on time while still leaving the house late if I drive. I just have to leave by 3 or I'm screwed and that's really the problem.

I drove on Tuesday because I had an errand to run after work (that took me 3 hours but I think I'll complain about that in a different post) and then I drove again today because I was being lazy and late because I was writing softball e-mails this morning before I left. The e-mails could have waited until I got home again this evening and I totally would have made the bus but I didn't feel like it.

Ok... my point...

My point is that there have been protesters outside the 9th Street gate of the Navy Yard.

I say "Navy Yard" and "protesters" and you might think "oh - they're protesting some new ship or new missile." Something defense related anyway.


These unfortunate hispanic guys are out there protesting because their employer is not paying their paychecks.

It would appear that a construction company has been contracted by the Navy to work on building 200 and said construction company is not paying their workers.

Now the question is: "is the Government paying the construction company and the construction company isn't turning around and paying its workers? or is the Government not paying the construction company and the construction company is passing that along to the workforce by not paying them?"

No clue.

But they're out there banging on their empty 5 gallon paint buckets and waving their signs and smiling at pretty girls who drive by - that would be me of course - and well, protesting.

What they probably don't realize is that by stationing themselves by the 9th Street gate (which I'm sure they chosen by virtue of being close to the building on which they're working), they're only being seen by about a quarter of the people that enter the Navy Yard.

They need to move to the 6th Street gate if they really want to make some noise and be seen by some admirals.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

lesson learned

So I learned an interesting lesson this evening. When rewriting recurring posts (g&p updates, for example), do NOT pull up the previous version in Live Writer, change the title and expect it to become a brand new post.

I learned after hitting publish on “g&p – 9 months” that apparently that is not how it works. (which, by the way, I should know as I have changed the title on previously published posts before.)

Live Writer completely wiped out the 8 months post that I started with.

Take a look.

Click the triangle next to May.

Scroll through the month of May.

There is no g&p post in May anymore.

It’s gone.

Actually, first it even put the new post on May 2nd where the original post had been posted. Then I changed the publishing date and it disappeared from cyberspace.

Now take a look at the specific web address for 9 months (hover over the link above or the title below).

Notice how there’s an 8 in there.

Great. Proof positive of my stupidity.

Never doing that again. Back to the old cut and paste routine.

I may go back and briefly recreate the 8 month post but I’m not sure just yet.

update: I got bored and recreated it here.

g&p – 9 months

I’m two days late – I know.  Sue me.

I’m so behind on posts – it’s all The Pioneer Woman’s fault.  She started blogging in May/June of ‘06 and I’m feeling compelled to read every word.  I’m in May of ‘07 now.

Also I’ve been thinking that my goals aren’t really working for me because, well, in 9 months, I haven’t really achieved any of them.  So I’m revamping them.

fitness goals:

  • I want to run 2 days a week, swim 2 days a week and do something, be it softball, bike riding, yoga, more running and swimming etc, 2 of the remaining 3 days of the week. I only got started on this plan about a week ago and so far it’s going ok.
  • I’m going to start with doing bicep and triceps curls while I do my single leg stands – ok, this, of course, presumes that I’m keeping up with my PT exercises so maybe…
  • I will continue to do my PT exercises… um, twice a week… 3 times. 
  • Oh yeah – and food.  I need to be better about what I eat but I haven’t decided yet what those particular goals should be.
    • at least one should be to not visit the vending machine once a day.

projects: (in no particular order)

  1. change thermostat to programmable.
  2. refinish kitchen table – I have a table top but now I’m just lazy.
  3. recaulk tub
  4. sell extraneous stuff on eBay – stalled though I did think today that if I make some extra cash I can buy more camera lenses.
  5. organize the basement, in particular label all the bins and boxes – we need a rainy unscheduled weekend.
  6. clean wood floorssee post.
  7. honeymoon scrapbook
  8. clean Snuffles
  9. Christmas stockings - Sara, Autumn, Austin and Will – I was making great progress on Sara’s.
  10. sort through stuff at parents' homes
  11. get the bathroom fixed - ceiling, drains, and tub faucet - We're continuing in denial about the worsening ceiling.
  12. organize recipes – I know I said “good enough for now” last month but then I figured out an “easy” way to organize them further.
  13. organize all of mom's pictures from the 80s and 90sfinished!.