Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Power

Saw this on a friend's blog, and since I have a deliverable deadline of "whenever I get it done tonight," why not start the night off with a little procrastiblogging fun. I swear I followed the Rules exactly... and some of the answers are a little creepy in their aptness.

The Rules:

  • 1. Put Your iPod on Shuffle.
  • 2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
  • 3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
  • 4. Put any comments in brackets after the song name.

1.) If someone says, “Is this okay,” you say? My One Thing That's Real - Ronan Keating [hmm...off to a rocky start]

2.) How would you describe yourself? Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand [that was definitely me last friday!]

3.) What do you like in a boy? Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day [haha...umm...yea]

4.) What is your life's purpose? Say I - Creed [oh dear...let's hope that one's not true]

5.) What is your motto? FNT (Fascinating New Thing ) - Semisonic [ooh - that's a good one!]

6.) What do your friends think of you? Hero Takes a Fall - Bangles [ouch]

7.) What do you think of your parents? Cheating on You [wow...has someone hired a P.I.??]

8.) What do you often find yourself thinking about? Little Sister - Jewel [good job yesterday, Les!]

9.) What is 2+2? Walking Contradiction - Green Day [deep]

10.) What do you think of your best friend? I Know Why - Sheryl Crow [yup, i def know why we're besties :-)]

11.) What do you think of the person you like? Stuck in the Middle With You - Stealers Wheel

12.) What is your life story? Weird - Hanson [ahhhh, busted...I totally have Hanson on my iPod]

13.) What do you want to be when you grow up? Lullaby - Creed

14.) What do you think of when you see the person you like? Chances Are - Sheryl Crow

15.) What will you dance to at your wedding? You're Beautiful - James Blunt

16.) What will they play at your funeral? Give It Up or Let Me Go - Dixie Chicks

17.) What is your hobby/interest? Let Your Love Flow - Bellamy Brothers

18.) What is your biggest fear? He Thinks He'll Keep Her - Mary Chapin Carpenter [maaaaybe]

19.) What is your biggest secret? Angel Standing By - Jewel [nope, still a heathen]

20.) What do you think of your friends? Live It Up [that's this friday night ;-)]

21.) What will you post this as? The Power - Snap! [yikes...my boss and i have a joke about this song - guess that means it's time to get back to work!]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Genius

Nearing on two months since I've updated this thing...shame on me. Never fear though, I've encountered a magical device that has brought me back to the blogosphere.

I'm so compelled to spread the word about the magic of the Nike+ Ipod, that I'm blogging tonight, despite the 2,000,000 other things I'm probably supposed to be doing.

So, long story short. This:



is genius.

That's almost enough said...but let me tell you just a few more things.

1.) The marketing for this gadget has been pretty misleading. You do NOT have to have the special Nike shoes to hold the sensor, so if Nikes have never really fit you well, or you've got good shoes and don't need a new pair, that doesn't mean that you don't need this gadget.

2.) It's incredibly easy to use. You basically just stick it into your Ipod and you're done. No software to download, no training manual to read, totally self-explanatory.

3.) You tell it your goal - time, distance, whatever, and go. No need to ever look at the screen of your Ipod. A little voice will come in your ear and tell you how long you've been running, or how close you are to achieving your goal.

It's absolutely stellar. I highly recommend putting it on your Christmas list. They're pretty small, so Santa should have room for lots of them.

Okay - more on my life later. In the meantime, happy running.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We fought the corn, and the corn won

This was harder than it looks...waaay harder.


I've always wanted to do a corn maze (we don't have those in Canada or Florida - I was clearly a deprived child), so last night my friend Margaret and I drove out to Frederick, MD, to attempt this oh-so-appropriate corn maze. Armed with our Maglites, Ivy League educations, fancy Washington resumes, and a set of clues which hinged on our knowledge of American history, we set out optimistic about our ability to complete the maze.
There was only an hour left till the maze closed, and we needed to visit 10 stations within the maze, each of which corresponded to a trivia question which we would have to answer correctly in order to continue in the right direction in the maze. Walking in, we found the first checkpoint easily, answered our first question correctly, and plunged further into the 19-acre labryinth. Soon after, we realized that there were many more forks in the road than the 10 numbered ones, and that the maze actually was going to required strong intuition or an above average sense of direction (fail).
At first, we were running into other groups trying to find their way through the moonlit maze as well, but at exactly the moment that we found ourselves truly walking in circles, passing the same location over and over again despite our best efforts to make new and better choices, we realized that we were the only people left in the maze! Even the little maze guards who had been up in a tower watching the patrons, turned out their light and left (that damn tower was the only thing we could find for about 30 minutes). Clearly those guys had more faith in our ability to navigate out of the maze, than they should have. As I began to get equally nervous at the thought of either 1.) spending the night in a cornfield or 2.) having to be rescued out of the cornfield by the gentlemanly Sheriff's Deputy who had said hello to us on the way in, we finally found a break in the maze! We made it out in a little more than the anticipated hour, but only hit about half of the checkpoints. We missed the opportunity for a post-maze hot chocolate treat because the whole place was CLOSED by the time we actually made it out of the maze.

Except, the Sheriff's Deputy was still there....and as we were walking across the field towards my car, he called out to us, asking if one of us was Heather. Creepy at first, but turns out my navigating challenges had started even before I bought my ticket to the maze, when I parked in the lot that wasn't open to the public. Whoops. At least I was reassured that the Frederick County Sheriff's Department wouldn't have let us overnight in the maze, which just might make me brave enough to go again next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did anyone else think of me when Amy Poehler rapped about 'mother-humping moose'?

To Do List for October 20, 2009 (Yikes...only a year to 30!)

Since today/yesterday was my 29th birthday, I spent some time tonight crafting the list of goals that I would like to accomplish by 30. Here goes:

  • Go skydiving
  • Write my favorite high school teacher(s) to say thank you
  • Attend a performance at the Kennedy Center
  • Watch the 10 #1 films in AFI's 10 Top Ten
  • Learn how to make a mojito at home
  • Attend a writing workshop
  • Run a half-marathon
  • Go to a hockey game
  • Spend a weekend in NYC
  • Read the Brothers Karamazov
  • Grow a plant (like mint for my mojitos - thanks, Vick!)
  • Make plans to celebrate 30 island-style!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sometimes I just shouldn't be let out of the house

I recently started volunteering with a youth mentoring program in the District of Columbia. It's a pretty intense commitment, requiring a 2 hour face-to-face meeting weekly with your student, as well as monthly "cultural" outings, to help expose them to art, theater, history, etc. The program is terrifically well organized, and I'm really excited to be doing it. I am passionate about education and sharing my own experiences, so I think it will be a really good fit for me. Last week was my introductory meeting, and while it went well overall, I did manage to remind myself that when they make a movie of my life, it is destined to be a comedy.

Scene. Heather and Student sitting at a round table in high school cafeteria. A student-painted mural adorns the wall, screaming in bright colors about the football team's big game and the upcoming homecoming dance. Heather and Student are diligently completing identical forms on blue paper. Both put down their pens, raise their heads and begin to talk to one another, comparing the answers on their respective sheets.

Student: The animal that best represents me is the panda. They are cute and cuddly, and I just really like them.

Heather: That's great, pandas are really awesome. I am like a moose, because I am from Canada, and there are lots of moose in Canada. Moose are also cute and gentle creatures...

Heather raises her head, looks off in the distance, and a voice-over begins.

Heather's Inner Voice: Ah shit. Moose aren't really gentle, and they can, like, attack people...I need to clarify my statement. I mean, what if some day down the line she tries to pet a moose, and gets harmed...I'm her mentor, it's gonna be my fault.

Heather: I mean, uh, unless the moose is angry, and then it can hurt you.

Student: (blank stare, silence)

Look of panic comes over Heather's face.

Heather's Inner Voice: Ah shit shit shit. Did I just tell her that I am like a moose, and that a moose might get angry and hurt her? How fucking creepy...who says that?!

Heather: ...I mean...uh...I'm not going to hurt you...

Student: (blank stare, silence)

Heather's Inner Voice: STOP TALKING!

Heather: (nervous laughter) So, moving on to the next question.

Student: Riiiight.

End Scene.

Seriously. This is my life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Subprime Primer

I don't know who developed this little Subprime Primer, but I stumbled upon it at this blog, and a Harvard economics professor's recommendation is good enough for me to consider sharing. This cartoon is worth a few minutes of your time...both educational and amusing.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tri-umphant

Earlier this month, I finally completed my 2nd olympic distance triathlon, along with two of my dearest friends. Here is a picture, confirming said accomplishment. Please take no notice of the fact that I look as though I'm shocked at something happening in the distance...and the fact that I'm the only one who couldn't manage to wear her finisher's medal in the way it was intended. It was probably just heat stroke setting in, as it was about 94 degrees at this point in the day, and I was the last one to cross the finish line.


It was an awesome day, especially spending time with friends and family I don't see very often. A few highlights from the race include:

  • Heading the alarm clock going off at 4:15am to start race preparations

  • Realizing that the day was going to be hottttttttt when I was avoiding pulling up my wetsuit until the last possible minute

  • Giggling when I started to see the Men's 24 and under age group put on their hot pink swim caps. The race officials must have had a sense of humor buried under their USAT militance

  • Taking my first (mostly unavoidable, and fully unintentional) gulp of Potomac water

  • Realizing about 1/3 of the way through the swim, that this was probably the most comfortable that I was going to be all day

  • Pushing through the absolutely painful first 45 minutes of the bike ride, most of which I spent wondering if I had actually trained for this event

  • Coasting on the sweet downhill slope starting around mile 14/15 all the way back into DC

  • Waving (delayed) hello to my friends when I saw them on the course

  • Seeing my awesome friends and their sweet sign (with curly ribbons!) at T2

  • Making my big mistake at T2 (forgetting to put my number on) which jacked up my whole race time - boo!

  • Praising the genius who invented ice cold sponges and made them available on mile 3 of the run

  • Seeing Ted finally get into his race watching stride, and reappearing at least three times on the run, after missing me just about every time during the swim and ride

  • Last but not least, running the home stretch down Pennsylvania



All in all, it was an amazing day and well worth the efforts put into getting ready for it. I'm still trying to figure out my next race goal. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hockey-mom-tastic

This is pretty much my favorite thing in life right now.

Lipstick...lipstick...lipstick!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The miracle of love

A dear friend just became engaged over the Labor Day weekend. Check out her adorable blog about the proposal :-)

Congratulations, Vicki!!

The miracle of life

Throughout my life, I've made decisions, some big and some small, to help me along the path to fulfilling my personal and professional goals, and often I have found that in achieving those goals, I have gained other experiences that are equally as valuable.

For example, I chose to go to graduate school in 2003 in pursuit of a successful professional career in a field that would allow me to feel fulfilled by the work that I do on a daily basis. It worked...mostly. I now have a sometimes rewarding, sometimes torturous career in HR consulting. Surprising to me, I also have something else even more dear - amazing graduate school friends for whom I am so thankful!

My graduate school program was relatively small; there were about 60 people in our class (I think). For the most part, a school full of HR people is a school full of people-people, and while that means that people were very social and friendly, it also meant for me that it took a while to find people who were really "real." Not just people who were willing to go to the bar on Thursday and Friday nights to blow off some steam from the week, but people who I truly connected with. It wasn't very long before I found two of those people - they make me laugh SO hard, they remind me never to take our HR world too seriously, and they are always up for making new memories even now that we've been scattered across the country for over three years!

Over Labor Day, I was able to hang out with these dear friends. We planned to rendezvous in Chicago, where Jenny Bigwig is already living, but we weren't quite sure that Chicago had enough to offer us...so we took a little road trip through Indiana, in addition to experiencing a taste of Chicago nightlife. Life has been a little hectic since I returned, but the highlights of the adventure are these:
  • Visiting the jail that John Dillinger once escaped out of. Stay tuned for this movie, if you don't know what I'm talking about.
  • Watching a calf be birthed...and ROE almost be sick over it.
  • A night of Alien Invasion; sleeping arrangements confidential.
  • Self-touring the Indiana state capitol. That's my eighth, added to the list along with Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.
  • A real night of dancing...the kind that you know is a great night because it ends at a diner at 4am :-)
The calf birthing was an inspirational experience - and prompted a little photo mania after we were done. So, I share with you...the miracle of life...







Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guess who?

sticki: is he flying?

me: haha. no, driving.

sticki: seriously? is he crazy?

me: seriously? are you asking me that?

sticki: why is he driving up? does he not like to fly?

me: he only flies when he absolutely has to (i.e., going to canada). if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. he does not like rules, lines, security guards, or places that he can't bring a gun. airports/airplanes are definitely not high on his list of places to be.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Whatcha doin' on September 14th?

I'm planning a little post triathlon C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-I-O-N with Betsie and Vicki, so for any of you blog-reading faithful who are going to be in the area, let me know if you want added to my Evite :D

Trying to head to bed early tonight. I'm planning go see Sex and the City tomorrow night (yes, I already saw it once), and so I'm getting up early to swim and run. By some sort of miracle (probably the Miracle of Laziness), I have yet to do a morning workout this entire training season - ah, that's a lie, there was that ONE morning that Betsie and I went running - but anyway, I figure I can handle one more before I re-enter official couch potato status on September 15th ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Heather From the Block?

For those of you who aren't quite as obsessive about celeb gossip...guess who else is training to complete a triathlon on September 14th?

Damn my clever blog title and it's subtle clues, because you probably guessed it.

Jennifer Lopez! Or as WWTDD likes to call her, Jenifaa Yopez.

Anyway, you can see the segment that she did on Good Morning America this week - talking about her triathlon aspirations here.



So her comment about fearing her ability to finish prompted a little bit of obsessive internet research to figure out just what kind of triathlon she's doing anyway. There are several standard race distances...and they range from the "pretty darn easy" level of effort to the "you must have lost your mind" level.

Anyway, turns out that the race that she's doing is some sort of in between type deal...longer than a Sprint, shorter than an Olympic. My race, for future reference, is an Olympic distance...and I'm toying with the idea of a 70.3 in '09. We'll see.

Anyway, just had to share...cause knowing that I'm gonna travel 10 more miles than JLo on Race Day is a little bit of extra motivation for the week!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cracked me up

'Hills' watchers, I think you will enjoy this as much as I did. James Franco is brilliant in his parody of Justin Bobby. Watch this video for 00:25 if nothing else. Ha.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Ponderings

A few thoughts have been floating around my head that are (mildly) related to the 2008 Summer Olympic games. I don't quite have the energy to put them into a coherent form...so how about some consultant-y bullet thoughts?

  • Knowing the Olympics are on makes me miss having TV in my house. I gave up TV about six months ago, in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle. Try as I may, I can't seem to avoid the lure of Flava Flave and other VH1 characters when I have cable, and I really did want to read more, exercise more, and clean my house more :p I typically watch trashy tv in the gym (I guess the thought there is that the calories burned balances out the brain cells lost...don't ask me for details), and keep up with the news and my few fave programs (The Office, Grey's Anatomy, Lipstick Jungle) online. I can honestly say that this week is the first time that I have missed it. Olympic coverage just really isn't the same online, so I was happy to catch some sand volleyball and swimming tonight while running.

  • I'm an Olympian in my own mind. I'm training for my 2nd olympic distance triathlon right now (September 14th! Write it down!), and as that is only a month away, my training is peaking right now. That means my life feels like it's down to a simple little ritual of eating, sleeping, swimming, riding, and running. My favorite sport is swimming - hands down - and my absolute favorite days are the ones when I go to the pool and I just feel....fast. The reality is that I'm not actually fast, and I'm well aware of this, but somedays it just feels like my body is slicing through the water, like that's where I belong. Today was one of those days :D

  • Betcha $10 that the singer grows up to be way cuter than the lip-syncer. Poor Lin Miaoke...both she and Yang Peiyi probably have some awkward pre-teen years ahead of them, but I've got a feeling that YP is gonna come out on top when all is said and done. I mean having your fifteen minutes of fame at age seven as a direct result of being deemed cuter than another more talented kid...that just screams bad karma to me. Oh, and do you think headlines featuring the word "lip-sync" still make Milli Vanilli uncomfortable? I'll put another $10 on that.
  • Weather modification is fascinating. The current focus of my internet research is weather modification...inspired largely by all of the press that Chinese preparations for cloud seeding during the Olympics. I'm currently trying to wrap my brain around this:
"Weather modification is an important government department, employing almost
40,000 people, 3,000 of whom work with an arsenal of 7,000 cannon and 4,687
rocket launchers. They have a budget of €65 million, but money is no object when
it comes to controlling the Olympic weather. And the government has spent
billions developing a weather modification programme."

It's late, and I'm tired, so I think my official response to that is...whoa.

Side note: If you think this is interesting as well, and like fiction firmly anchored in the realm of conspiracy theoriesy, check out Category 7. I read it last Christmas - it was a fast, easy, compelling read, in the style of Michael Crichton or Robin Cook.

Okay, that's enough from me. G'nite.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Vacay Part 2

Right, so after having rounded up these crazy characters, we basically planned to spend a week off from our real lives, hanging out in Vermont on the same lake as our camp. It gave us a perfect opportunity to go back and visit camp, see what had changed and what hadn't, and relax in the Vermont summer sun (and a little bit of rain :p).

Emma had brought a friend with her from England (Amy) who had never been to the US before, and we all felt a little guilty about her first trip to the US only consisting of Vermont, so I convinced Emma, Amy, and Ana to fly into DC instead of Boston, so we took a little detour to NYC on the way to Vermont. We stayed just long enough for Amy to some basic NYC activities:



Drinking cosmos...






Riding in a yellow cab...









And enjoying the bright lights of the big city.








Once that was done, we headed on to Vermont and our home for the week. The cabin slept six people, so it was perfect for our little group. It was located on the same lake as our camp, so it provided a perfect opportunity to go back and visit the camp.
I think Chris and I, the former waterfront instructors, enjoyed playing in the lake the most, though the others were good sports.

It seemed as thought no time had passed at all when we dressed up in our blues and whites and headed to camp for Sunday night campfire. Of course, that was when we realized that some of our campers were now on staff! This message was brought home when we were talking to one counselor, introducing ourselves and telling her what year(s) we had been there and what we had taught, and she looked at me and said, "Wait...were you Heather Hotdog?" Haha, yes indeed I was.


Side note: Our camp was very structured, and the campers signed up for classes every two weeks. During the first class, I would always play a name game with my class - say your name and a food that starts with the same letter - and we'd go around the circle and say hello to everyone. Well, my nickname, Heather Hotdog, really stuck. Not only did a lot of the campers call me that, but occasionally, some of them like to use my nickname as creative inspiration, and I was the recipient of many a well-meant Heather Hotdog drawing or craft.


The rest of the week was filled with Vermont-y adventures, like doing cartwheels on the Dartmouth green, visiting the Ben & Jerry's factory, and visiting Montpelier to tour the state capitol.

And...practicing our moves for our version of the NKOTB 'Summertime' video...we could obviously give any boy band a run for their money...

All told it was an awesome summer vacation! I'm so excited that we've already got the planning started on the next one :-)

P.S. I've been enjoying a little NKOTB-inspired 80's pop revival this morning while blogging. If anyone wants to share my NKOTB station on Pandora.com, let me know!

P.P.S. For all you lurkers who harass me about writing my blog, here you go. How about a comment?!

Summer Vacay Part 1

Ten years ago this spring, I was a confused college student trying to figure out 'what to do with my life.' All my friends were getting professional internships, most of which turned out to be of the photocopying and coffee making variety. I knew that the aerospace field wasn't for me, so that just seemed like a giant waste of time. One week, in the student employment office, I noticed a flyer for a summer camp that was looking to hire college students to be counselors. That little flyer piqued my interest and triggered several hours of internet research. Yes, I was obsessed with internet research as far back as 1998.

Anyway, I soon found a summer camp that seemed perfect for me - it was private, all girls, not affiliated with a particular church or religion, and in Vermont (approximately 1,317 miles from home!). It was going to be the farthest I had ever been from home for the longest I had ever been from home - and I was pumped at the thought! There was only one problem, as it turned out...at this camp, all the cabin counselors were also instructors in an activity or sport, and I wasn't actually qualified to teach anything! Long story short, the camp directors worked with me and sent me to a Red Cross Aquatics Camp in Cape Cod, MA at the beginning of the summer, where I became a certified canoeing instructor.

That summer was truly an amazing experience in my life. I was looking forward to the freedom, independence, and opportunity to enjoy nature over the summer. I received all of that, to be sure, but it was also one of the most stressful and growing experiences that I had had up to that point in my life. Our schedules were so intense, the demands on us were high, and the needs of the campers often had to come before your own. There were only few people who really could understand what the experience at this camp was like - the other counselors.

Lucky for me, I met a great group of girls who had the same day off as me, and so when we had that chance (12 hours twice a week) to leave camp and our responsiblities behind, we made the absolute most of it! Probably the greatest gift I received from that summer was the truly amazing friendships that have remained throughout the last 10 years.

Sooooooo.....since it had been 10 years since that fateful summer, we coordinated a reunion with the core group of us who were so tight during our Lochearn summers. I'm still so amazed that we pulled it off with people having jobs, families, and thousands of miles to travel, but we did it!


The main characters are:





Krista aka Nouf Nouf - Former beads and bracelets instructor, she's now the new mom of baby Harry, and still managed to be at our reunion for five days!



Chris aka Christy aka Nif Nif: Former diving instructor (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, divers don't take no jive...), she's is the proud mom of Ben and Ella, lives all the way in Indiana, and still managed to be at our reunion for two days! Plus she brought her van, so that she could drive us around - just like old times :-)








Emma aka Emma Dilemma: Former riding instructor and recipient of creepy crushes and awkward advances from every male who graced the grounds of camp while she was there, Em runs her own riding school in England, and I am SO glad that she made it over for a week!






Ana aka Jean Claude: Former tennis instructor and my co-conspirator for making this reunion happen - we actually dreamed up the idea during a trip we took to Canada last summer! A high powered European executive by day, this girl has some mad love for Abba and is my world-traveling hero!





And then of course, there's yours truly...H aka Naf Naf aka Heather Hotdog. Former canoeing instructor who has some trouble believing she isn't still 19...









Grr...picture posts are so annoying...gonna start over with pics from our week in Vermont.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back in the blogosphere

As I thought might happen, this summer has been flying by. Literally, the month of July is just a crazy blur to me. Let's see if I can manage a quick recap tonight, and then we'll see about August.

4th of July - Hung out with good friends BEMer and KIMer who live in the District. It was the most unorthodox and anarchistic 4th of July I have ever experienced. Somehow, people are able to shoot off these mad, exploding, professional grade fireworks all over the city. I'm told that while it's not exactly 'legal', the police have a history of looking the other way, and so people spend THOUSANDS of dollars purchasing these things, and it even becomes competitive in some neighborhoods, with families trying to outdo other families. It was wild, and a little nervewracking, to watch fireworks going hundreds of feet into the air, knowing they were set off on a neighborhood street, just three feet from my car. A few of KIMer's margaritas calmed me down enough to watch for a while, but after about two hours of non-stop fireworks, I realized that this could (and probably would) go on all night, so I rescued my car and headed home.

Chincoteague Beach Weekend - This Florida girl is really missing the beach this summer, so my friend Margaret and I tried to do a beach getaway weekend at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate in the slightest, so we aborted the mission early and turned it into a weekend of experiencing Maryland culture. Exotic, I know. It took a bit of a hunt, but we were successful in trying two Smith Island cakes. A Smith Island cake is basically a massive, dense layer cake which is soon to be considered Maryland's official state dessert. More on that here. It was just as rich as the article indicates - and really yummy, so the weekend was a success after all!

Next came a trip to Vermont with some very dear friends. There are actually pictures to accompany that story (thanks to my friends and their digi cameras) but that's gonna have to wait for another night :p Posting pics in Blogger is a bit of a trial, and I'm not sure I'm up for it tonight.

P.S. Caught half an episode of this season's Project Runway tonight. Can I just say that if Blayne withers and dies from lack of tanning opportunities, I wouldn't be all that sad? And Suede. Just...stop. Yea, like she said.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coinicidentally, I also <3 Summertime

Oh, and btw, I am loving Summertime! I must confess though, looking at the boyz on their website kinda freaks me out, and makes me feel olllllllld!

That is all.

I <3 Summer

A crazy picture from the Race for the Cure last weekend. The weather has been kind of wacky this summer, and for whatever reason, it was so bizarrely foggy during the entire race - this pic was snapped around 9am, and it was probably 90 degrees, if not hotter, yet visibility was at a minimum. It was like racing through a 5 kilometer sauna.



Of course, being part of such a great cause was a great way to start off a weekend that also included:
  • a day at the beach (complete with some rowdy locals providing entertainment)
  • a pit stop for post-beach slurpees
  • having some good friends over for dinner at my big girl apartment (thank you, Whole Foods)

I love summer!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So purrrrrty


Thanks to weatherjen for the me-mosaic inspiration. You can make your own too :-)

Instructions:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favourite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your flickr name?

P.S. Credit to the fabo artists: 1. Heather in snow, 2. Baba Ghannouj, 3. NY - Catskill Mountains: Kaaterskill Falls, 4. the highway is my home, 5. Robert Buckley, 6. Ritas, 7. Cinque Terre beauty, 8. tiramisu, 9. one with the sea, 10. Make a X-mas & new year wish upon a star (add a note), 11. Hilarious, 12. Paragliding along the Aurlandfjords

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Work it on out now

36 short hours after my dear friends departed from the Memorial Day extravaganza, I hopped a plane to the ATL to facilitate at a sorority conference for five days. Five days!!

Our conference was called The Workout 2008, and the focus was on recruitment and leadership. I had a small group of awesome women that I worked with through the entire week's journey, and they were really refreshing to work with. Their passion for our organization and their desire to make an impact on their campus and chapter was so strong - it was definitely a different experience than the risk management world I've been wrapped up in for the last two years.

We even dressed up in our fancy clothes and took time out for a group picture on the last day - these women are going to do great things on their campuses this year!


Of course, it was also a great opportunity for me to interact with some of the women who inspire me most in this organization. Listening to Ginny talk about the Gift of Sisterhood, getting a few brief moments with EBG to catch up on her life and her on mine, and discovering sisters like Suzanne and Jenna who have amazingly wicked senses of humor, was an uplifting experience for me - even if the days were 18 hours long (and I'm not even joking)!

I jumped right back into work upon my return from the ATL, but this past weekend I finally caught up on some much needed sleep. I think I spent about 16 hours sleeping on Sunday - felt SO good!

Monday, June 9, 2008

SO delinquent

And believe me, I know it. May just flew by, mostly I think because the whole month was pretty much spent in anticipation of things to come.

Memorial Day really kicked off the summer fun; three great friends came to visit: BSA, Lil, and Kirsten (who is not a fan of having her life available to be linked to on the internets, apparently).

We had an amazing time, including:

  • Getting mani's and pedi's to kick the weekend off in high style
  • Eating cupcakes from Cakelove - deeeelish!
  • Visiting Mt. Vernon (on the only day of the year when the place is overrun with high school students role-playing colonists, complete with period costumes and musical performances!)
  • Eating "meal" on the Potomac in Old Town Alexandria
  • Taking a unique nighttime monument tour, with our new friend, Clara
  • Brunching with old and new friends in Georgetown
  • Eating tapas and drinking yummy sangria
  • Hanging by the pool on Memorial Day
Wow, even though I was there for all those activities, I'm still a little bit impressed and exhausted seeing them listed out like that!


Anyway, since Lil was kind enough to act as very own paparazza, I actually have photos to share from the weekend!

The gang at brunch...

What's the point of vacationing in Washington, DC, if you're not going to get snaps with some cardboard politicos?


And I have abso no idea what is going on here, but I love it!


Okay, more to come, but that's all for tonight.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chuckle

I haven't been watching a lot of television lately...trying to do more enriching things, like reading books and riding my bike. Since the weather has been absolute shite for the last three days, though, I've given in and caught up on the last few Grey's Anatomy episodes.

Laugh out loud moment when Callie asks Meredith and Christina if anyone ever thought they were a lesbian couple, and Meredith doesn't miss a beat in responding, "No, because we screw boys like whores on tequila," and Christina follows it up with, "and then we either try to marry them or drown ourselves." Ha. That almost made up for having to watch a whole twenty minutes of Izzie.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Home

I found this little tourism video online, and it made me smile.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Good Life

This was an amazing weekend. The kind of weekend that you wish would never end, yet not the kind of weekend that requires an extension through Monday or maybe even Tuesday in order to recover from it. Just the perfect amount of fun :-)

Friday night, I had some friends over for dinner. They are new-ish friends, which explains why they naively accepted my invitation to cook them dinner before we watched a movie (Dan in Real Life - if you haven't seen it, my advice is - don't).

Anyway, I was trying my best to be a good hostess...I was making stirfry, and I had prepared some veggies to snack on before dinner, cooked the chicken that I was adding to the stirfry before anyone arrived, and even put the rice on to cook early, so that we wouldn't have to wait an hour or more (brown rice, it's SO much better for you) to eat. Things were going well. Then, things started going not so well. The progression of events went something like this:
  • Friends arrive.
  • We open a bottle of wine.
  • We chat.
  • We laugh.
  • Timer goes off for rice.
  • I remove from heat as instructed.
  • I reset timer for ten more minutes.
  • Timer goes off again.
  • I remove lid from rice pot - there is WAAAY to much water in this pot for this rice to be edible.
  • I silently curse my mistake of not checking the rice before removing from the heat.
  • I turn the burner back on and silently slide the rice back onto the heat. Surely we can just keep cooking it a little longer and this will all just evaporate.
  • I check the rice compulsively every five minutes for the next twenty minutes or so.
  • I even spoon some of this bastard water out of the pot.
  • I finally confess to my friends that all is not well with the rice. One friend comes over to inspect the pot and asks, "What is this? Is this really rice? It looks like gruel!"

I did offer to go and buy some white rice from the Chinese food store around the corner (Jonnay, where were you when I needed you??), but they assured me that it would be fine, and like true champs, they did eat their gruel and stir-fry. Not my finest hour of cooking, but somewhere in there we did manage to open a 2nd bottle of wine, so everyone ended up pretty happy overall.

Saturday I woke up with tons of energy and decided to take my bike out for my second ride of the season. I finally figured out how to get on the W&OD trail from my new home, and I actually rode from Arlington all the way out to the Vienna caboose. I think it was about 30 miles round trip. When I got out there, I stopped at the Vienna Farmer's market, laid down for a while on a bench in a park, read a book I'd brought with me, and had some snacks before I headed back. It was a great ride though and really got me excited for the start of triathlon training.

That's right...I'm doing the Nation's Triathlon again this year, and training officially started on May 5th. It was an easy 25' minute run on Sunday, not too bad at all. I'm actually quite excited about the May training schedule, because I am definitely in better shape this year starting out than I was last year, but man, those July and August workouts still intimidate the heck out of me! I'm excited to have my bestest, BSA, be my virtual training buddy this year too!

Tomorrow is the first swim practice, and I haven't been in the pool in a solid six months, so that should be interesting. Oh, and I'm not doing Team in Training this year, so I won't be doing any fundraising for this year's race. I'll probably still post some training updates here from time to time, but there's no need to guard your pocketbooks, friends :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gettin' Lo'

So growing up in Canada, I used to watch a television show, called Today's Special. The basic plot of the show revolved around a department store mannequin, who used to come alive at night for adventures with his friends of the children's television programming variety. As I recall, these adventures were loads of fun and educational for me and my siblings. I haven't thought about this show in a long time, until today.

So this afternoon, I'm walking home through the Pentagon City Mall, and I walk into what I think is the bottom floor of Macy's. I'm not paying too much attention to where I am or what's around me, I'm just looking for the escalator that will take me up to the next floor, so I can exit closest to where my car is parked. Eventually something registers about the merchandise around me...the shorts are short, the tops are see-through, and everything seems to be "barely there." This must be the juniors section for sure.

I hang a left, beginning to wonder why I haven't spied the escalator yet, when my eyes land on two mannequins, showing off the apparel on the racks around me. One, by all accounts, looks like a pretty straightforward mannequin - one foot in front of the other, shoulders back, hands in her pocket...you get the picture. But the other one...she was a piece of work. She was bent over from the waist, with her butt stuck out, looking for all the world like she's waiting for some guy in da' club to come up and start grinding up on her. Seriously? Is that necessary?

I take a quick scan around the floor, only to realize that this posture is affected by more than just this mannequin...she's got at least three skanky friends at various unexpected angles. I wasn't quick thinking enough to snap a pic, but this illustration below might help you understand my alarm...we're talking 1s, 2s, and 5s here...not exactly what I expect in a department store mannequin.


I'm really appalled at Macy's marketing decisions, until I look around again and notice the xxi on the hangers. Ah...I'm in Forever 21. While this did much to explain the level of skankiness around me, I couldn't help but have a flashback to Today's Special. These mannequins would be at the head of the casting line for an exposé on mannequins gettin' lo' after the lights go out. Now that Rock of Love 2 is over, maybe I should pitch the idea to VH1...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If you're thinking about a foray into the Alaskan wilderness...

then I suggest you rent Into the Wild first. (Some spoilerish stuff below, so you might want to stop reading if you are planning to see it, and somehow do not already know how the story ends).

Anyway, I did manage to grab a few hours of personal time for dinner and a movie a few weeks ago, and at my request, this is what my friend and I rented to watch. It wasn't exactly what she or I were expecting...but it was definitely one of those films that keeps running in your mind after you see it, demanding more processing than you could handle in the first sitting.

The film itself is very well done, tells a great story, and the character of Chris McCandless unfolds throughout the film. The cinematography was apparently done by the same person who did The Motorcycle Diaries, and I think the touch is very similar, with attention to including the landscape as a vital piece of this story that carried McCandless across the country (several times, in fact).

However, I must say that I was overwhelmingly unsympathetic to the story by the time the end rolled around.

Yay for spiritual journeys and rejecting the trappings of society and all of that, but seriously, this guy was just irresponsible. I am in firm agreement that what he essentially did was commit suicide, albeit in a long and drawn out fashion. What he was attempting to do was not impossible, but a total lack of preparation, in terms of knowledge, skills, tools and other materials led to his untimely death.

This quote from an Anchorage Press article sums up my thoughts pretty well, "For...many Alaskans, McCandless represents all that’s wrong with Outsiders: the hubris, the ignorance, the plain ol’ idiocy. McCandless was the ill-prepared pinhead who deserved to die."

Sad story for sure...but cult hero? Not so much.

Survivor

Yes, folks, I have emerged on the other side of a six week test of my intellectual endurance. As I may have complained (slightly) about in the last few weeks, I have been on a project that has absolutely just been insane in terms of working hours. I mean, 18 and 20 hour days during the week, and weekends which consisted of a 12 hour furlough between conference calls (got off the phone at 9pm Saturday, and resumed at 9am Sunday!) And yes, I did make the most of my furlough - Mr. Greengenes was playing less than a mile from my house - I couldn't miss it!

Before anyone starts to pity me too much, I have to admit that there were definitely perks associated with this project:
  • Exposure to a new solution - I'm becoming a de facto expert in our workforce planning solutions, so that's kind of cool
  • Building a stronger relationship with one of my mentors
  • Opportunities for step-out client management activities - leading meetings, presenting findings/recommendations, that kind of stuff

Oh dear, I think I need to stop this list, because I seem to have slipped into super-consultant-speak. I get that comment every now and then from my friends, "You sound like such a consultant right now," which always kind of makes me disappointed in myself, because in grad school I was so vehemently against those ridiculously over-used-to-the-point-of-being-meaningless words like "leverage" or "value-add." Yet, I must confess, they are most certainly a part of my vocabulary these days. Ah well, I never said I wasn't a sell-out :p

Anyway, I'm staffed on a new project already, but this one promises to be a little more in the work-life balance department. I took advantage of my newfound freedom tonight and went to my first book club meeting. It was so much fun! I really enjoyed sharing the experience of reading Angela's Ashes with the group, and I found the discussion insightful and helpful in terms of my own processing of the story. If you'd like to know more about what I thought of the book, you can check join and check out my review on GoodReads.

Alright, I'm pretty sure I have more to say, but this is all I've got at the moment.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dreaminess

Quick update from the land of those who have no life of their own to speak of....the kid who plays Kirby Atwood on Lipstick Jungle is so freakin hot. I'm not even sure I like this show...but I am as long as he spends half of every episode with his shirt off, I'll probably keep watching :p

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm still standing

While it is true that I am still standing after an awfully intense week last week, I suspect that feeling like a true survivor will probably not happen until after April 14th, which is when this project is slated to end. That day cannot come soon enough.

This weekend was lots of fun though. After our deliverable was presented on Friday afternoon, I made sure that I headed straight out the door, so that I could get an early start on the weekend. Good friends, Vicki and George, were coming in on Satuday, and I had some seeerious housecleaning to do.

For the first time since I've moved, I finally picked up the living/dining area enough to snap a few quick pictures, to appease those who have been asking to see some.





The couch looks kinda weird and faded there...but it isn't at all...it's pretty much a bright, primary red. Oh, and while I'm at it, let me post a quick shot, showing off the lovely housewarming gift for the bathroom from my sister - thanks again for the shower curtain, bathmat, and towels, Les :-).



Okay, so anyway, back to Friday. Ah yes. I tidied like a big girl, took a quick nap, and put on some fancy clothes to meet a friend out at a Georgetown martini bar we both wanted to check out - Blue Gin. We were not disappointed - the drinks were oh so yummy, the service was great, and while we got there early so we could chat and catch up while the night was quiet, by midnight there was quite a crowd.

On Saturday, I met up with Vicki and George to check out the cherry blossoms downtown. They are SO beautiful. While the crowds down there can be a total pain in the ass, I must say that I actually think it's worth it to be down at the Tidal Basin with the many thousands that flock here at this time of year. Once you have seen the trees in bloom, being down there at any other time of the year just doesn't compare.

The Smithsonian Kite Festival is a part of the annual cherry blossom celebration, and it was a do-not-miss event on Saturday as well. It's just an amazing sight - hundreds of kites in the air around the Washington Monument. Vicki and George teased me a little walking around, because I got a little nervous about kites crashing into me (tangentially related to the birds and balls fear). Luckily, there were no kite-hair encounters of a traumatic kind. Anyway, people really get into the whole thing, which enhances the people watching opportunities down there as well.

Today, we met up with another college friend for lunch. I may have made a slight faux paus when I told this friend that I thought her 8.5 month old son, Sean Charles, looked like Pigpen from Peanuts....but I kid you not, he had this halo of hair at the back of his head, that totally reminded me of Pigpen's little cloud of dust. I clarified that I wasn't calling her kid dirty...but I'm not sure she really believed me :p

Rounding out the weekend, I drove out to see another college friend, Sherlock, who just moved to the area. I am so, so, so excited to have her so close, and since she's moved into a beautiful mansion of a home, I expect to have a bedroom all to myself and to spend lots of time out visiting her and her husband. Yay for new friends moving to the area and reversing the 2007 exodus :-)

Okay - time for bed. It's going to be another long week.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Seriously...

Okay, okay, I know I really shouldn't use this thing just to whine, but seriously.

It is 10:55pm, and I have a call in five minutes with my project manager. To review the data analysis, charts, and slides I've been working on since our last call at 8pm earlier tonight. During that call, we were reviewing the things we had been working on since the 8 hours that we spent at the client site from 8:30am - 4:30pm.

I am not a kid who can function on no sleep. April 14th cannot come soon enough.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Still alive, but barely

I'm so lame. Like beyond lame. This isn't even going to be a fun post. I'm merely writing it, so that I can prove that I'm still alive.

After I recovered from last weekend's leprechaun-oriented celebration, it was back to the grindstone for work. We had a minor crisis on Tuesday (career limiting event narrowly averted--I'm not even joking), and it was ridiculous hours for the rest of the week.

This weekend alone, I've had three conference calls for work totalling over six hours...and probably double that amount of work to take care of on my own. Oof. I haven't worked these kind of hours for a while...and I really never was a fan in the first place.

Our first deliverable is due this Friday though, so hopefully I'll resurface soon...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm so slack...


and not really into picture taking...but since Ash just shared this one with me, I figured I'd post a shot of our super-fun spring Saturday. And yes, I did sport "Ithaca is Gorges" all day :-)

Hello, Sunshine

This weekend was amazing! Last weekend, my friend won* tickets to Shamrockfest, which is a huge St. Patrick's Day festival, with something ridiculous like over 50 bands playing, and thousands of people there to have fun, listening to music and drinking green beer. All week, the weather report indicated that the weather would not be favorable for the festival, but when I woke up on Saturday morning, I was so excited to see blue skies and sunshine. It ended up being a thousand times nicer out than I expected, and being outside all afternoon listening to some fun party bands and doing some serious people-watching was a blast. It felt like the official kick-off to what is already lining up to be an awesome summer.

In other news, work has been kicking my ass lately. I'm on a local project for another month, but the client site is practically in College Park, which is probably one of the least accessible locations from where I currently live. Last Wednesday, it took me two hours to get home...and we're talking a distance of about 15 miles. Ugh. I don't usually complain about traffic in the area, but that's because I have been pretty fortunate up to now in being able to avoid most of it. Game over on that one, apparently.

In addition to the horrendous commute, the workload is pretty high right now. I've been logging 3-5 hours after I get home at night, just to keep up with the project manager's schedule, which feels pretty intense compared to what I've been used to lately. I am enjoying the project though, so that's good.


*negotiable

Saturday, March 8, 2008

i <3 google

So you know how I google EVERYTHING? Now I don't have to wait till I get home to do it!

Google Mobile is amazing and will basically text you information in response to a query sent to 466453 ('GOOGLE' on most phones). Restaurant locations, flight times, word definitions, currency conversions, word definitions...I'm giddy at the thought of all this information at my fingertips.

Omg, and I just checked to see what it would do if you text the word "movies" and an actor's name. And yea, it texts you back a list of all the movies that actor has been in, courtesy of imdb.com. This is so brilliant. Thank you, Google!

Thursday, March 6, 2008




You Belong in London



A little old fashioned, and a little modern.

A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.

A unique soul like you needs a city that offers everything.

No wonder you and London will get along so well.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Laundry update

Bizarrely, some of the clothes have come out doll-sized...and others unscathed. I'm a little annoyed...but even more confused.

Anyone need some athletic socks for their Cabbage Patch doll?

Sunday miscellany

So part of the graduation to a big-girl apartment has involved a novel washer-dryer unit, which I'm told is "very European." It's not stacked, it's literally a combo-unit, and frankly, prior to this morning, I've been afraid to turn the thing on. My fear did not abate when I busted out the instruction manual to familiarize myself this morning and read this warning, "NEVER USE THE APPLIANCE WITH BARE FEET."

Ummm...huh? I mean, I wasn't planning to push the buttons with my toesies, but I gave a solid 60 seconds worth of thought to trying to identify the potential consequences of loading laundry and soap and pushing the On button in bare feet. Coming up with nothing, I decided against putting on socks and shoes, and I'm pleased to report that I've survived...so far.

I'm presently battling a sinus infection, which is a total bummer, because it's been a pretty weekend here in DC. I think the infection is retribution for my wild child celebration of the big move last weekend, so I suppose I can't complain too much.

I did finally feel well enough yesterday and today to check out the gym in the complex. It's much smaller than my old gym, but it still has those nifty flat screen TVs attached to each piece of equipment, so I was able to get my Celebrity Rehab and Rock of Love fixes while doing my cardio. Whew.

Time to check the laundry.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

So I went into my cave, and I plotted my revenge...

So, in the last week, I have managed to box up everything I own (for the sixth time in the last five years...I get tired just thinking about it) and move it into my very own big-girl apartment. The professional movers were a great help, and I managed to get the whole thing done without too many bruises. However, I did realize mid-loading on move morning that I didn't have any cash to tip the guys when they were done. Tipping is definitely customary in this industry, and since my family is in the business, I feel an extra obligation to play by the rules.

"No problem," I thought. "I 'll just stop by an ATM after they get done loading, on the way to the new place."

Easier said than done, apparently.
I pull into the drive-thru, stick my card in the slot, and wait for it to say "Hello, H," or "Please enter your PIN," or something, anything at all. It doesn't. The damn thing just swallowed my card and sat there taunting me with a generic "Welcome to Chevy Chase Bank" screen.
Argh.
I pounded on the key pad for a few minutes, hoping to generate some sort of action, but got nothing. I backed out of the drive-thru and marched into the bank lobby, where I was told that my ATM card could not be returned to me, but would have to be mailed to my bank. What a ridiculous policy.
I ask to speak to the manager, and I'm told I'll need to sit and wait for a few minutes. Mind you, I can see him through the glass walls of his office, straightening pictures on his wall. So instead of sitting, I stood in front of his office with my arms folded and just stared. Despite my anger, I was kind of amused when I could see him feel my stare and turn around.
When he came out, I told him I refused to leave until I at least saw that the bank had my card. It seemed obvious to me that I should be concerned that my card might be spit out of the machine at any point, as I had zero clue as to why it had been swallowed in the first place. Anyway, the manager, who I call Lumbergh in my head, looked a little scared when I threatened my sit-in, and ended up making "an exception" to the policy and giving me my card back. I think it helped when he actually realized that the machine feeder had malfunctioned. Haha, who am I kidding? It was the stare.
Anyway, crisis averted, I was able to head back over to meet the movers, who by then had gotten a nice 30 minute break. They were all done by 2pm or so, and that evening a good friend came over to help with the unpacking. The kitchen and bathroom were easy, but in the rest of the space I don't have quite enough furniture, so I've elected to leave many of my belongings in boxes at the moment, and have been shopping for extra storage before phase 2 of unpacking.
I've also been couchless for the last few years, but my new couch is scheduled to arrive next week - so much excitement!
Anyway, there's more to tell about work and life, but the saga of the big move is all I can muster tonight. However, if you haven't seen this Jimmy Kimmel vid -- freakin hilarious. If you're amused, you'll want to check out the Sarah Silverman one too, but I'll let you figure that out.


P.S. Wtf with the line spacing again?? Ugh. Whatev.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eloquence

"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people. Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud."
-John McCain, 19 February 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Doctor Is In

Still haven't finished my data analysis for work, but since I'm physically tapped from packing boxes all day, I'm going to do a little procrastiblogging action before settling back into deep PivotTable thought.

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who is madly excited about a new boy that she's semi-sorta-seeing. She might take issue with my choice of adverb in the last sentence, but she also probably knows it's true ;-) She thinks he's special, and wonderful, and brilliant, and who knows? I guess he just might be...

Like Lucy from Peanuts dispensing her "Psychiatric Help" for a mere $0.05, I slipped automatically into cynical friend action, encouraging her to have her fun but reminding her to be careful and protect her heart, just in case he turns out to be a Stupid Boy. Totally out of character for me, right? :-p (Haha...or not at all, and everyone who knows me has heard a similar sentiment from me at least once. Yea, that's probably more like it.)

To be fair though, I am also happy that she has found someone to be so excited about. It doesn't happen all that often, and personally, I always find it a little bit uplifting to hear a friend be so very excited about a potential someone. Like all my dear married friends who keep reminding me that they are living vicariously through me, tonight I am living a little through her :-)

Ummkay. Back to work.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Procrastiblogging about music and life changes

It is becoming readily apparent that my favorite time to blog is when I'm desperately procrastinating some other sort of heinous activity (in this case, Excel is back to haunt my Friday night). I really should have started this bloggy thing in graduate school. I probably could have been the most prolific blogger of the early 21st century.

So, what to tell, what to tell? Well, last weekend was much, much fun. I bought tickets to Matchbox 20 a few months ago, so a couple of friends and I went to that show at the Patriot Center on Friday night. It was so much fun! Matchbox was one of my favorite bands starting from freshman year of college when Yourself or Someone Like You came out. I have such a love for that album, because I always find that it suits my mood, no matter what I'm feeling. Angry, sad, happy, tired, it always feels therapeutic to listen to. Of course, I've followed them throughout the years, with the exception of the newest album, which I haven't gotten around to downloading yet. No worries though, the show definitely emphasized their older music, so I was able to sing out to my heart's content.

The remainder of the weekend was pretty much dominated by apartment shopping. I'd been doing some research over the last several weeks, because it's time for me to move. I put all my research into a well-formed apartment shopping action plan on Saturday and by Sunday I was putting in an application on my very own "big-girl" apartment. Definition of a "big-girl" apartment is something along the lines of:
  1. Does not include a roommate. (Therefore, does not require sharing of bathrooms, kitchens, living areas or storage space, and thus enables one to purchase big girl furniture...a whole home's worth.)
  2. Contains modern amenities such as a garbage disposal, washer, dryer, bathtub, defined bedroom with door, etc. (All of these items are things I've lived without in prior apartments, so I fully reserved the right to be selective during the "big-girl" apartment search.)
  3. Is an apartment home where one could conceive of re-signing the lease at its expiration. (This is something I have yet to experience.)

I am SO very excited. Anyone want to help with the packing?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Confession

Okay, so I just want to put this out there. I didn't vote in the Virginia primary yesterday. I know, I know. I totally suck. Somehow I didn't put 2 and 2 together about needing to doing absentee voting this year. Damn Jersey! But the thing I'm most torn up about...I didn't get the sticker. I love that sticker. Something about being a naturalized citizen, I guess...but nothing makes me happier than sporting that little flag all day. Ah well, I'll get it sorted out by November.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Dry Spell

It seems that in the afterglow of my big exam, I lost the blogging bug for a little while. Tonight's the night I'm getting back on the wagon, lucky readers.

The last two weekends have been lots o' fun. Two weekends ago, one of my dearest college friends, Sherlock, and her husband Mike came to town on a househunting trip! They are thinking seriously about relocating to Northern Virginia, and I'm so excited about the possibility of another good friend living in the area. Unfortunately, they didn't have a very good trip, because they had a long list of requirements (proximity to work, out of the Dulles noise path, space from neighbors) and did not find a lot of houses that met them. We arranged to go to dinner on the Friday night towards the end of their visit, and I was determined to make sure they enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately, we ended up hanging out in the Dulles area, which is not exactly my backyard. A little web research helped me find the Old Dominion Brewery, which ended up being the perfect spot for a bite and a microbrew. The only thing a little off-putting was the fact that it was actually located in a little industrial complex...but once we got inside we were pleased to find good food, beer and live music.

This weekend, I helped another friend from college (Mare) celebrate her 29+1 birthday! She had her first child last summer, and the birthday party had lots of other young families in attendance. I think there were nearly 10 kids under five, and three of them weren't even a year old! I made friends with 2&1/2 year old named Anna who was very excited to show me her princesses, her princess dress, her princess shoes, and her Cinderella movie, among other things. She had the totally precocious attitude of an eldest child (not that I'm biased, of course) and was smart as a whip. I was totally blown away when her dad started quizzing her on Spanish vocabulary that she had learned at her daycare program. Amazing!

The rest of the weekend was hectic, and I'm afraid that I ended up with a serious sleep deficit at the end of the weekend. Even though I feel as though I probably could drive to New Jersey in my sleep, I decided not to try and pulled over for a quick nap on the way up this morning, because I was not feeling super alert on my 3.5 hour drive. Which reminds me...it's time to call it a night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Data analysis shenanigans don't have quite the same appeal

For some reason, this week it really feels like Christmas vacation is over. I don't know what has kept me from this sad, sad realization until now, but whatever it was, it has abandoned me. Perhaps it is the fact that our client has finally provided the data that I've been supposed to be analyzing for the last three weeks, and I now have to perform the analysis...I just have three fewer weeks to do it. I spent all day today working on formulas to calculate retirement dates and project retirements into the future. Doesn't this look like fun?

=IF(OR(AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$7, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$7, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$7), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$7, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$8, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$8), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$11, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$11), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$12, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$12), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$13, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$13),), "Yes", "No")

After plugging away on those formulas all day, until Excel and I 'had a falling out," I packed up my laptop and swung by the awesome Banana Republic sale on the way home. I had heard good things, and I wasn't disappointed. I think I might wear my new shoes tomorrow :-)

My other big activity tonight was exploring the usefulness of del.icio.us. My project manager has been educating us on the value of social bookmarking, but tonight I finally had an epiphany about how to make it work for me. I decided it will be a great tool for providing resources to collegiate members on hazing, risk management, etc., so I spent the remainder of the evening searching and tagging a variety of articles on risk management topics.

Alright, it's late, and I'm tired, but I just wanted to mention that though I haven't been to the movies in forever, I finally saw Juno last weekend. I really enjoyed it. I thought Ellen Page's performance was just fabulous, and Michael Cera and Jason Bateman have special places in my heart.

Fave lines:

  • "This is one doodle that can't be undid, Homeskillet."
  • "I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"
  • "Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with. "

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Trust me, I'm certified

That's right folks. I passed my exam! I am beyond thrilled at this news. Now, I no longer need to feel guilty about free moments that are not spent getting cozy with my exam prep materials. More importantly, I can shower in peace, without quizzing myself on the various types of learning curves one might experience in a training program. (Though if anyone's got any burning questions about the meaning of an S-shaped learning curve, I'm your girl.)

Last weekend I did escape to Norfolk/Virginia Beach for a day to work with one of our chapters on nominating/elections issues. I had never been to that area, and I didn't quite know what to expect, but I still managed to be pleasantly surprised. In a flashback to my ELC days, I didn't eat anything all day while at the chapter event...so by the time I met a friend and her boyfriend for dinner, my 8am granola bar and Diet Coke were long gone. They had suggested a super fun tapas restaurant called Bardo, which did not disappoint. Thanks, Liss :-)

When planning last week's work travel around this little AXiDetour, I found a 6am flight to Jersey that seemed ideal. In actual practice, taking a 6am flight is a little rougher than it sounds. I actually rose at 3:30am (and I use the term "rose" lightly...it looked more like dazed stumbling for the first 30 minutes or so), so that I could return my rental car at the Norfolk airport. I am so thankful for my ability to sleep on planes, and I totally passed out on the flight to Newark. I was at work by 9:30 though, and it was a big day for our project team. We had a couple of bigwigs there to attend a meeting, and they took us out to dinner after work. Our client site is only about 20 minutes from some really cute Jersey Shore towns, so when we do escape for a work dinner, we have some pretty nice options, especially if you like seafood. Needless to say, Monday was a looong work day.

Rest of the week was study, study, study. I even took yesterday off for an all day last minute cram session. I looked pretty serious at the coffee shop down the street, with my six modules, laptop, flashcards, and practice tests spread out around me. This morning, I was up early to head to the testing center. I haven't taken a standardized test since the GRE nearly five years ago (!!!) but it was pretty much as I remembered. I was surprised though, when they made me remove my scarf before I could take the test. It wasn't a winter scarf....definitely a fashion accessory, but I was instructed to remove it. I guess there was some concern that it might aid me during the exam in some way (?). What an absurd thought.

While it's true that the scarf and I probably had about an equal chance of getting some of those questions right, I certainly wasn't going to defer to it. I am a certified strategic HR professional, after all.