Thursday, March 25, 2010

God bless those Tar Heel boys

The same day as the Carolina blue candy and tax unpleasantness, was also the day of rain, and the day of a jury duty summons. Thus it became the day I just gave up and went back to bed to watch British movies on Netflix. But then it also became the day of getting an email from the D.C. alumni club informing me that I had won an autographed UNC basketball from a raffle I entered. Needless to say, the day got infinitely better after that.

I'll be honest, I really just wanted to forget this season and move on to next year. But, even without this reminder, I can't do that. And I shouldn't even want to. Being a true fan means taking the ups and downs. As long as they learn from their mistakes, every stumble is worth it. It's a cliche that you can't win them all, but it's a cliche for a reason: it's true.

Half the stuff I write about basketball here, is rarely ever just about basketball.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On a lighter (Carolina blue) note...

After the trauma of doing my taxes this year, I needed some comfort in the form of Easter candy. In addition to my Reese's peanut butter eggs, I also wanted some pastel M&Ms. But this year -- the first I've ever seen -- there were bags of just one color, including...

...Carolina Blue ones!

And yes, I popped those delectable little morsels into a fancy martini glass/pseudo candy dish and have been munching on them every time I walk by.

I've said it a thousand times before and I'll say it again: it's the little things!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Everyone should have some basic security when it comes to their health." (President Obama)

Just one more thing about health care.

I debated writing the last post, and this one, because every time I post something political I regret it at first because I'm opening myself up to disapproval, disagreement, and derision -- none of which I handle well. But then I was so upset about the protesters and I knew I had to put it into words because I'm a writer and if I don't write I will burst.

One of my favorite bloggers/columnists to read is Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. He's really good at explaining complex subjects without dumbing down or being condescending. (He also tweets some pretty funny stuff.) He wrote a post on Who does health care reform really help? which made me happy because it reinforced why I support reform and this bill, even with its flaws. He also referenced an article in The New Republic written by Jonathan Cohn about his observations of the Capitol protesters:

The conservatives protesting on the Capitol lawn Saturday see things differently. Health care reform isn't about contributing money for the sake of their own security; it's about having their money taken for the sake of somebody else's security. When they hear stories of people left bankrupt or sick because of uninsurance, they are more likely to see a lack of personal responsibility and virtue than a lack of good fortune.
This kind of thinking goes against everything I believe. But seeing it in print and recognized by others, did help to ease some of my sadness and anger. And I realize this might be boiling down their viewpoint to a talking point, but it's the biggest issue I've had with the opposition so I'm focusing on that. Cohn continues:
The bill before Congress may be flawed. And the process that produced it may be severely flawed. But it is, nevertheless, an expression of the idea that we--as as society--are not prepared to let people continue to suffer such dire consequences just because they’re unlucky. [emphasis added]

And that pretty much sums up my government and life view. I'm not naive enough to think that government can fix everything. In fact, after Katrina, I put my faith in the people to fix things, to make a difference. But I do think we have a responsibility to others. For starters, one day it could be us needing a helping hand. But more than that, quite simply, it's just the right thing to do. I don't see another option. Nothing is black and white to me, except this.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This is what I voted for

I had the terrible misfortune of walking through the sea of anti-health care protesters at the Capitol yesterday. And I've been thinking about it all weekend. Weighing heavy on my mind has been one sign in particular:

Health care is a privilege, not a right

I can't even get mad over this because it just so completely breaks my heart. It was being held by a white couple in their 20s or 30s. I'm sure everything is a privilege for them, they're in the majority. And I'm a white girl in my 20s, I'm in the majority, too. But what about everybody else?

What about minorities? The poor? They tend to have the hardest time getting coverage. What about kids fresh out of college? Those who lost their job? People with pre-existing conditions? What if those sign-holders lose their job tomorrow, and with it their coverage. Will they still be singing the same tune?

Some people simply can't imagine a time when they will need a little help. And they can't muster the tiniest shred of empathy to care about how it affects others. And it just makes me very sad.

And please, please, if one more person says that the American people don't want this, that they are saying no, I will scream.

Some of us want exactly this! Some of us voted exactly for this! I want this! I voted for this!

You've had your chance for months to speak your mind and you have done that repeatedly, as is your right. But you don't speak for everybody! Your voice may be the loudest right now but you aren't the only voice. And it doesn't make you right.

Finally, to the people who spit and screamed racial and gay slurs at members of Congress, I just don't have anything left to say to you. I feel that you were probably the same people who spit and screamed during the Civil Rights Movement. And it didn't work then.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Soapbox

Today's soapbox has two parts.

1. The D.C. Council passed gay marriage legislation last week, paving the way for couples to marry this week. I am a firm believer in marriage equality and am a very proud District resident this week. The ceremonies and their participants were heavily covered, as they should be, and the stories were truly beautiful.

I will simply never understand why people want to deny couples together for 5, 10, 20 or more years the right to make the same commitment as straight couples. Don't tell me it ruins the sanctity of marriage -- look at the divorce rate. Don't tell me a religious reason. I'm religious too, but there's a reason we have separation of church and state. Don't tell me it's not natural.Though please do tell me how letting two men or two women marry is going to affect the value or importance of your marriage. I mean, it's garbage, but I would still love to hear an explanation.

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/Washington Post.)

2. The Washington Post ran the above picture on their front page, leading 27 to cancel their subscriptions. The Ombudsman wrote a blog post addressing this, and why he and the Post stand by their decision:

"Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display...News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent D.C. Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District...There was a time, after court-ordered integration, when readers complained about front-page photos of blacks mixing with whites. Today, photo images of same-sex couples capture the same reality of societal change."

As far as I'm concerned, love is love. And in this case, too much of it can't be a bad thing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I really should be nicer to Russia

I'm trying to spend less money and buy fewer things because, well, I just don't need to spend so much money and buy so many things. They're just things. (As I keep telling myself over and over again.) But...sometimes I just can't control it.

It was so pretty this week which meant being outside more which meant longer walks around all the shops near work which meant trying not to buy things I don't need. Except, sometimes I do need nesting doll measuring cups from Paper Source.

Are they not the cutest thing ever? And they're functional, which is my favorite thing about cute things. It makes me want to cook...a little. I have a set of Russian nesting dolls my aunt gave me when I was little and I adore them. Every time I see something with nesting dolls on it, I want it! I bought a manicure kit decorated with them last month, and I've had my eye on a stamp and a t-shirt from an online store for awhile. I've said it many times before, when I like something, I am relentless in my obsessive love for it. At least this obsession will lead to me cooking more!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Satan's Minions in Austin

I don't know how well-documented it is on the blog, but it's a well-known fact amongst those who have known me for at least five minutes, that I have a very real, very rational, very powerful fear and hatred of birds.

I can primarily trace it back to my first viewing of "The Birds," and even more so after "The Birds 2." Yes, it was a supremely inferior and cheesy remake, but it took place off the Outer Banks, which is only a few hours from where I grew up. Thus it stands to reason that if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. And hiding under a rickety wooden boat while seagulls peck it, and me, to death is not how I want to go. (Though, for the record, I still can't get over how utterly fake and offensive their portrayal of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was. I've been to the Lighthouse both before and after it was moved circa 1999, and it never looked like that.)

Those who do know me wouldn't believe it, but it actually has gotten better. The abundance of filthy, mangy, cocky pigeons in Chapel Hill, London, and D.C. made it so I had no choice but to chill a bit if I ever hoped to leave my dorm/flat/apartment. Though it still doesn't preclude me from:
  • Going out of my way to avoid minions on the sidewalk.
  • Having friends act as buffers if in a bird-infested area. (i.e. Trafalgar Square).
  • Switching tables or seats if I'm at a restaurant or park where they are congregating.
  • Hyperventilating and almost crying if one gets too close.
Which brings me to the point of this post: the birds of Austin. Seriously, not to be all Jerry Seinfeld, but what is up with Austin birds? There is some species of black, exceptionally pointy-beaked bird in the area that has the most annoying and jarring squawk/call/"I will kill you" sound that I've ever heard. It's one part smoker's hack and one part theme music from a horror movie. Not even exaggerating there. It starts out sounding like it might be musical, until you realize it's an ominous interlude before digressing into a hacking cough. I would not have been the least bit surprised to see a bird meander by like Hitchcock while puffing on a Marlboro.

I had noticed it within my first few days there, and it got more scary when I was eating brunch at Whole Foods and one bird was stalking my table. I kept trying to shoo it away, kept moving the table to scare it, but still it got within pecking distance. A girl at a nearby table kept staring, but I didn't care, I scarfed down my breakfast taco and got the heck out of there.

And three days later, just a few blocks from the same Whole Foods, a flock of at least 200 birds made their way down Sixth Street, just a few hundred feet ahead of my path. They all would move as one, and then land on any available service they could find, lining the street, for reasons I don't want to know. I started shaking and walked as fast as I could to get away. I know I'm a drama queen, but even my more rational side told me to get out of there. (As to why the birds seemed to congregate in the Whole Foods area, I don't know. Maybe they were just looking for some organic strawberries and granola.)

Austin may have great weather, cool shops, and an interesting vibe, but as long as it also has demon birds, I'll just stay put here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

God Bless Austin, Texas

All Austin pictures on my Flickr.

I returned on Thursday from a week spent in Austin for work. This was my first work trip, a big step into adulthood I imagine, which I promptly undid by having cookies and apple juice on the plane. Oops. (That's what you have to do when you've given up soft drinks for Lent.)

Moving on...the work part, i.e. the majority of the trip, went well. There was a bit of stress and some re-working that had to be done resulting in me staying in an extra day, but it all worked out. It was just nice to see something I've been working on for the past two years, come to fruition in the classroom.

The rest of my time was spent out and about in Austin. My hotel was in a great location downtown and I walked everywhere. Emphasis on the "walked" and "everywhere." I wish I could have figured out how to work the pedometer on my phone because I had to have walked at least 10 miles, if not more. But the weather was so gorgeous it would have been a shame to have spent it any other way.

I've been to San Antonio a number of times, which I love, but Austin is different. Most of the time I forgot I was in Texas. It's very progressive and a bit crunchy, which reminded me a lot of Chapel Hill.

State Capitol
This was just a few blocks from my hotel and was the first thing I went to as a tourist. I didn't actually go in it, just walked around the grounds and took pictures. I ended up walking around the grounds many times due to its location in my path to get to UT. It's a nice building with lots of trees and grass around it.

University of Texas Campus
I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I kind of loved my college and my college experience. Thus I really enjoy going to other colleges and seeing their campuses and trying to get a feel for their culture. I spent some time on the massive UT campus, admiring their pretty buildings and abundance of trees, if not grass. I never found a big quad area like we had, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. I don't think I saw even a fraction of the campus, but what I did see was nice. Guadalupe Avenue is their equivalent of Franklin Street, I imagine, so I bought a few UT items and then went into a boutique-y type story where I was lured into buying clothes and shoes. Damn those friendly Texan sales assistants who insist on picking out clothes and shoes for me they think I'll like. And damn me for liking them and buying them.

I wouldof course have to find something Carolina blue among all the orange:
LBJ Presidential Library
UT is also the site of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential library. This was one of the highlights of my trip as I love presidential history so much, and this was the first presidential library I've been to. I really don't know where to start to describe my favorite parts:
  • Mock up of his Oval Office. (I stood in the Oval Office!)
  • Large section on Lady Bird's contributions and a mock up of her WH office as well.
  • A selection of some of the pens he used to sign Great Society legislation. There must have been 30 of them and yet of course there are still more.
  • The animatronic LBJ that uses his real audio to tell funny stories.
  • The actual limo he used as president.
  • The clothes LBJ and Lady Bird wore when he was sworn in after JFK was assassinated.
  • A small selection of the gifts he received from world leaders.
  • The view on the fourth floor of several floors worth of the archives of his presidency, all in red boxes. It honestly made me gasp a little -- and scare a man beside me -- just thinking about his entire presidency in those boxes.

Sixth Street
One of the main draws of Austin is Sixth Street, which my guidebook compares to Bourbon Street, full of bars, clubs, and music joints. Other than admiring the pretty Driskell Hotel -- where LBJ and Lady Bird had their first date -- I didn't much care for East Sixth. However, West Sixth was fun, with restaurants, a huge Whole Foods, a cool music store with a Tube logo as its logo, and the biggest bookstore in Texas.

South Congress
Another highlight and the piece of Austin I most want to see again, was South Congress. There were tons of amazing vintage and thrift stores on this stretch, one of which I spent an hour browsing (and buying) in. It was just full to the brim with vintage objects, from buttons and lace to old maps and medicine bottles, to stuffed giraffe heads (which I don't approve of). I left with just two items, one of which is for my mom and the other is a stamp carousel. (I am such a dork but I love it. We had these at the library I worked at in college and I just feel academic when I see it. Though probably less so after I use it to display jewelery.)

Austin has a ton of great architecture and I got to indulge my love for pretty buildings and cool details. I was constantly looking up and was always rewarded.

Of course it wouldn't be a trip to Texas without eating. A lot. Of meat. Tex Mex and brisket galore. Oh, the brisket, I think I'll miss you most of all.

And that was Austin. Considering I was there for work I got to see a lot -- largely because I was also there for a weekend -- but I would still love to go back and see more.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

L.A. Day 3: Church, Los Feliz, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Anti-Valentine's night/Day 4: Goodbye

Pictures on Flickr.

We started off the day by grabbing a few pastries at Porto's, and then heading downtown to Jan's church, which is held in an old movie theatre. As I said to serious movie-lover Jan, "Leave it to you to go to church in a movie theatre." It was a great service though and a good start to the day.

Los Feliz
Next was a bit of shopping and enjoying the lovely sights in the Los Feliz area. We each got a few cute things and had fun trying on clothes and just walking around. I also got to cross yet another item off my list, which was eat at Pinkberry. For some reason I saw this as very L.A. in my head, and it was quite good.

Beverly Hills and Bel Air
After the shopping we did a drive through of Beverly Hills and Bel Air. No need to stop. I've seen "Pretty Woman" too many times and have no desire to be talked down to by snooty shop assistants. Speaking of that film, we did drive by the Regent Beverly Wilshire, but no sign of Vivian, as far as I could tell. We then drove through Bel Air, which I didn't realize really is little more than a neighborhood. As we drove through, we did what any good children of the 90s would do, and rapped a little "West Philadelphia born and raised..." Because that's just how we roll.

Santa Monica
It was then on to Santa Monica to take a stroll to the beach so I could dip my toes in the Pacific for the first time. They've now been dipped on both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the United States. The verdict? Cold and wet. Just like the others. But amazing nonetheless.

I saw Malibu from a distance and walked above the PCH; saw the Santa Monica pier and a "Baywatch"-esque lifeguard tower; went in a California surf shop and tried to shop at Jonathan Adler.

After our busy day, it was back to Jan's for some yummy take-out Italian, Jan's patented St. Valentine's Day massacre drink, and the terribly romantic "Zombieland." And then I had lots of shoving, I mean packing, and early to bed since my time in L.A. was coming to an end.

Day 4: Breakfast, Mulholland, and LAX
My last day was President's Day. We had a great and hearty breakfast at another of Jan's favorites, the Aroma Cafe. Which we got to by taking the scenic and winding Mulholland Drive. I am notoriously bad with directions and knowing where I am, and by the end of the weekend L.A. seemed a little bit smaller than it was at the beginning, but still wholly confusing and overwhelming to me. Thankfully, Jan did all the navigating and did it well.

With a little time to kill before my flight, we went by Jan's office. For the past several years, most of the time we Gchat or email, she's at work, so it's nice to have a visual to go along with our chats.

Finally, we put it off as long as we could, but in the end I did have to leave. As I've said, Jan is one of my closest friends and I am so blessed to have someone in my life who understands and knows me so well. (And still loves me anyway.) And I don't know how she did it, but she took this die hard East Coaster, and turned her into someone who could maybe sort of someday want to live out West. But that's a post for another day.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

L.A. Day 2: That sign, Observatory, Lunch and pedicures, Walk of Fame, dinner and a movie

More pictures on my Flickr, of course.

"Hollywood" sign

I use those oh-so-annoying "" because I didn't actually get to see HOLLYWOOD. Due to a campaign to save the hillside from developers, its protectors decided to cover HOLLYWOOD with SAVE the PEAK to raise awareness and money. (Or, as it read the first time I saw it, before all the letters were up, SAVE the POOD.)

But still, no trip to L.A., in my head, would be complete without getting closer. So Jan drove me up to see the sign, pose with it, and look out over L.A.

For the record, let me state that I am all for conservation, for preserving our natural resources and keeping corporations and condo developments from sullying our landscapes. That being said, did you have to do this, on my first trip to L.A.? (For more information:

Griffith Observatory
After the sign FAIL, we went to Griffith Observatory. I have wanted to go here for years, probably since the first time I saw "Rebel Without a Cause" in the seventh grade, as the observatory is where integral portions of the movie were filmed. It was an absolutely beautiful day and the long walk to the observatory from the car was lovely. We didn't go inside, but just walked around the grounds, taking tons of pictures, and enjoying the view.

Lunch and Pedicures

After Griffith, we got lunch at one of Jan's favorites, Porto's. It is now one of my favorites, too, and I do wish they could expand to the East Coast. I can't remember what I had for lunch but I had tirimisu for desert and it was perfect. We had then planned on seeing a movie, but got the times wrong, and decided to get pedicures instead. I was especially happy as the blizzard had impeded my feet-prettying efforts and they were nowhere near being West Coast ready. It was one of the best pedicures I've ever had, where they took their time and I really felt pampered. (And at such a good price, too.)

Walk of Fame
Next it was time to find my precious Audrey Hepburn's star on the Walk of Fame. Jan knew approximate whereabouts, and with just 15 minutes on the meter, we started the hunt. Of course it wasn't on the first street we walked down, but on the second one we found it. I used to have a photo of this I found on the Internet as the background on the computer I had in high school. And now I have this.

Dinner and a movie
That night I got to see a true movie premiere courtesy of Jan's roommate, who made a short film with her co-workers. It was very inspiring to see the fruits of their passion and creativity. We had dinner at a great Mexican place nearby and then I crashed pathetically early. And that was day 2!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Evolution of the Hamster Ball/Mind of Bonnie

If you saw the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night, you may have caught these wondrous globes during the Russian portion:(Picture from MSN.)
People rolling around in human hamster balls. I squealed in delight. And this is why.

I have a seriously obsessive personality when it comes to just about everything. I can't just start watching a TV show, I have to see every episode and research it until I know its history and purpose. I don't just read a book, I look up the author's life story and visit their web site/blog/twitter. If I see a grammatical error somewhere, I can't focus until I've fixed it or left the area. I missed the bulk of a lecture in college once because the end of the professor's tie was flipped up and it's all I could focus on. And if something catches my interest, I file it away and it pretty much never goes away. Thus I present: For the Love of the Giant Human Hamster Ball.

It began with this, on American Gladiators, circa 1990:

Next I took the concept and applied it to one of two rainy day inventions, after a particularly awful rainy day junior year, circa 2005:

Then I learned that you can apparently buy your own from, somewhere, like the guy from the Flaming Lips:

Then I heard about this, the Zorb, which gave me hope such as I have never known:

And finally, I saw this, which made me realize we really are never alone in this world, and that I'm not the only crazy one:

And there you have it, one of my Bucket List items: take a ride in a giant hamster ball. If you're still my friend after this, God love you, and feel free to take a ride once I get my hands on one.

Also, I've had this post in drafts for a year trying to make it just right. I wonder if there is an anti-obsession pill I could take. Like a chill pill! (Or is that what Prozac is for?)


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