Archive for November, 2009

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travels.

November 29, 2009

After being in Alabama for two weeks, I headed east to New Jersey and then west to Los Angeles. Both trips were for work, so it was very little excitement. These are my observations:

  1. aloft hotels – These hotels looked awesome in concept. And in a big chic city, they probably look just as good as they did in Second Life. But in the suburbs outside Camden, NJ – the neon light décor looks ridiculous. Sorry Starwood. I think it needs to be toned down just a little dependent on where you put the hotels.
  2. Couryard Marriott in Mt. Laurel, NJ has a fancy interactive screen. You can look at news stories, sport scores, airport delays, weather and nearby restaurants. Plus, the restaurant feature allows you to print directions to a nearby printer. Very handy! All hotels should have something like this. It’s like an automatic concierge.
  3. Awkward sexy art in the hospital. Actually, it was quite tasteful and not sexy at all – many little sketches of a woman. See, it looked like sketches of a woman at first. And then you look closer, and it looks like there’s another person in addition to the woman. It looked like copulating couples. But then, what hospital would put up art like that. I had to look again. It turns out it really is just a woman; the artist was just trying to capture movement.
  4. Cabs. I hate ’em. It’s a bit sad because it’s as close as I will get to having my own driver. But carrying all that cash is a pain. Since I only take cabs in cities I don’t know, it makes me incredibly nervous to trust a stranger to take me somewhere I’m unfamiliar with. I wouldn’t even know most of the time if they were going somewhere else. However, it’s still better than navigating public transportation by myself.
  5. I’m wiped. In an effort to actually take advantage of my vacation, my lack of sleep and travel is taking its toll. It’s a bit ridiculous – having to rest up for vacation. But in all seriousness, I’m not about to waste my vacation (or the boyfriend’s visit) by sleeping through it. I think I need to take some vitamins or caffeine or condition myself to sleep less.
  6. Unexpected music – Certain music has automatic associations and should only be played in certain places. Most notably, the music I dance to at the gym (I take zumba classes) should never be heard on the radio. But in L.A., the music in my cab sounded just like Zelda music. And then Over the Rainbow was playing at LAX. It felt like walking into Disneyworld.
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thanksgiving.

November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving has come as a much-needed break for me this year. After traveling the majority of the month and working 12 or 13 hour shifts for almost half of it, having 5 days at home is fabulous. I haven’t even been in Madison for 5 days straight this entire month! Plus, the boyfriend came to visit for a week (last-minute decision), and I haven’t seen him since early September. It’s the holidays that I love being so close to home. It’s nice to be able to drive home and not deal with flights and lines and holiday travellers.

Unfortunately the weather has recently taken a turn for the worse. It’s been cloudy, raining, and cold for two days – though I shouldn’t complain about the cold as it’s not snowing yet. Since my extended family lives on the East Coast, my family’s always spent the holiday with family friends who live down the block. It works out nicely because usually when I come home, I don’t leave the house to see other people. These family friends don’t have children my age (the kids are my brother and sister’s ages), but they’ve still known me since I was a baby. So I do love seeing them still.

The thing I hate about Thanksgiving is that the holiday doesn’t start until late in the day. To me, the morning and early afternoon both feel like any other day. So then it’s not even a full day of holiday. Although, now that I’ve been working for over a year, I’m starting to appreciate having the day off. I guess that’s special enough for a holiday. Plus I’m playing a bit of catch-up on my blogs. – the more productive I become at work, the less personal time I spend online.

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plane reading.

November 25, 2009

Due to my extensive traveling this month, I actually got down to doing some reading. I’m always depressed by how few books I read. This problem is mostly due to how many blogs I read. But blogs are not books; Internet writing is extremely different that literary writing and it’s probably killing my attention span. In fact, the “blogger getting a book deal” phenomenon will most likely be the world’s literary downfall. I’m also very picky about the books I like, which makes me very hesitant to finish books I don’t like right away. I’m a slow reader and if I’m not going to like a book, I don’t want to spend all that time reading it. So I tend to read easy, plot-driven books that I don’t have to think to hard to pick up the themes (I’m not a critical thinker when I read).

But the point this time is that I did read – The Guinea Pig Diaries (by A.J. Jacobs) and Bridget Jones’ Diary (by Helen Fielding). The Guinea Pig Diaries was a fun read. It’s about the experiments Jacobs decides to do in his own life – radical honesty, posing nude, outsourcing his life, etc. In fact, it’s probably a pretty good example of that blogger-book-deal bit. A.J. Jacobs was an editor for Esquire, so each chapter of the book was like a magazine article (or a long blog post). Since the chapters aren’t related, it makes it easy to put down and pick back up again – perfect for my attention span.

Bridget Jones’ Diary was unbelievably disappointing. Actually, I didn’t have very high expectations, but I disliked it so much that I almost stopped despite being halfway through and it being easy reading. I finished because I had a six hour plane ride and nothing else to do. I have to say, the movie, which I also don’t like, stays relatively true to the book, so it was pretty early that I determined I wasn’t going to like it. Two major complaints remained consistent though. First, I like to read full sentences and this book just did not always follow that convention. I know it’s stylistic – kind of like when authors spell words wrong in order to convey accents. But it’s ridiculously annoying. Second, though Bridget may be the penultimate female (god I hope not), she’s an awful character. Between her and Bella in Twilight, I would be torn as to which is the worse girl. At least with Bella’s lack of personality, I can make up my own. But Bridget has an annoying personality that is the driving factor of the book – it basically hits you over the head again and again.

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crying.

November 21, 2009

Just like I’m not a hugger, I’m definitely not a cryer. At least with everyone other than the boyfriend. He probably thinks the complete opposite. But given that I don’t cry too often, I don’t know what to do when someone is crying.

In the last couple months, I’ve had to deal with a friend crying more than I’d normally like – which is none. I know it’s out of frustration and a little bit of unhappiness tied up with a few hits to the self-esteem. But we’ll be having a conversation and I can see her eyes getting watery. Luckily, she’s good enough that she wraps up the subject pretty quickly and moves on to something less emotional. But what am I to do?

It’s not that I’m not sympathetic or understanding – I just don’t know what to say or do when someone else is in tears. So I just end up feeling uncomfortable because there’s nothing I can do. Because really, what can anyone do? I’ve always seen tears as an outlet. They’re kind of an end result that happens when I feel there’s nothing I can do to fix a situation. And even though I’m technically wanting a solution, it’s not going to stop the flow. There’s never going to be something that makes everything all better. It just has to happen and pass and then you can just go along your way.

But maybe that’s just me.

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name.

November 19, 2009

I hate name tags. I get it. At large events it’s nice to not have to rely solely on your memory for people’s names. It’s also nice to be able to address strangers by name when you’re helping them. But my name is not the easiest to pronounce. And wearing a name tag usually invites people to attempt to pronounce it. In turn, I have to correct them – sometimes multiple times. It’s not a whole lot of fun for anyone. I usually don’t correct people I’ll only meet once.

So if you even get the pronunciation right, I’m pretty happy. I’ve recently learned that many people find the stress is also important. Sure, there’s a right way and a wrong way. I always introduce myself in the right way – stress is on the ‘Kai’ not the ‘lyn’. But personally, I probably won’t notice if you get it wrong. For some strange reason, it bothers other people a lot more than it does me.

That’s why it was always easier to just shorten it to the first syllable – ‘Kai’. I almost never introduce myself like that anymore. So people who know me from college or high school call me one thing. And everyone since college calls me another. It’s strange.

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mickeys.

November 17, 2009

(aka In which I link to more MySpace pages than I ever have before. I’m sorry to all the people who hate looking at those obnoxious backgrounds)

The other night I went to Mickey’s to see the National Bee Keeper Society and The Honey Slides play. It was the first time I’ve been to Mickey’s, over on the East side, all the way down Willy St. It’s an interesting space – the bar is in an old house, so it’s got the various rooms decorated differently. It’s got a bit of a retro feel with the sixties style drapes, seventies style paintings and red lighting around the main area. The people are definitely leaning toward the hipster side of the spectrum, and especially last night, significant amounts of facial hair was a must for the males. As I’m not a big bushy beard kind of girl. Definitely more of a just haven’t shaved in a while look. So I think the crowd could be more attractive (Madison does have its share of good-looking people), but I’ll chalk it up to being a fluke night.

The bands weren’t slated to start playing until 10pm. I find it a bit sad that by that time, I was already getting a bit sleepy. The Honey Slides started the show. And they did a good job. I had no idea who they were until after they were done playing, but I was a big fan of their music. It was upbeat, almost 60’s style pop fused with a little bit of country. But they played well and kept the music going. Plus they covered “Secret Agent Man”, and who doesn’t like that song? I’d be excited to see these guys perform again (if I could just figure out where they’re playing next – their page is out-of-date with their upcoming shows).

The National Bee Keeper Society was actually a bit disappointing for me. In deciding to go see this band, I pulled up their page to get a sample of their music. Sadly, the first song “Look at me” is not a good representation of what they sound like, and it almost turned me right away. But fortunately, I tried a few others, and they sounded pretty good. But the show they put on was just lacking (and not just because they didn’t get started until close to midnight). My main complaints: 1) big talkers – I am not a fan of bands that just ramble between songs. I’m not there to hear you talk, I’m there to hear you play. Acceptable things to talk about: who you are, if you’re selling CDs/merchandise/etc, thanking your opener/venue/fans. I don’t want to hear jokes, especially if they’re not really funny – save it for when you’re super famous. 2) starting covers they couldn’t finish – I love covers. I think it’s an easy way to win over an audience. But it’s very different to get a crowd excited by playing the intro to a well-known song and then suddenly stop because you don’t know the lyrics or the rest of the song. Everyone gets super disappointed then. Do this multiple times and you seem like a liar.  3) the lead singer kept turning around – this would have been less of a problem if the other band members were more in front. I’m all about engaging the whole band and not forgetting about the drummer. But seriously, your audience is in front of you. Never turn your whole back to them as if you’re playing to your drummer. It appears quite rude.

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south.

November 15, 2009

It seems I never wrote about my first trip to the Deep South last year. This surprised me because it definitely was something new. Now after being in Mobile, AL for 11 days, I guess it’s better late than never. Besides, I experienced my first hurricane/tropical storm (Ida). I don’t think I’ve ever so avidly watched The Weather Channel before. And I’m not complaining, by the time it reached Alabama, it was clearly more storm than hurricane – lots of wind, lots of rain.

But one thing I love about the South (or what I’ve been exposed to here) is the friendliness. Unbelievable – which says a lot since the Midwest is pretty friendly. It’s nothing compared to the South. I think every single person I passed the entire time I was here (at the hospital, at the hotel, at restaurants, at the grocery store) said “hello” or “good morning” or “have a nice night”. And anytime possible, conversation was started. I don’t know if it was because I was in a hospital, but conversation included several topics I wouldn’t normal put into discussions with almost strangers. It was surprising, and hilarious, and a lot of fun.

Then there’s the food. Being so close to the water, I just can’t pass up any seafood. Shrimp and crab and oysters and fish – I can go back to Wisconsin feeling satisfied. Plus the typical Southern fried-ness (green tomatoes, okra, pickles), grits, sweet tea, pulled pork sandwiches, hush puppies… For some reason, Southern food will always feel like comfort food even though I have absolutely no nostalgic ties to it. Granted, vegetarians have no chance there. I suffered a severe lack of vegetables (that weren’t fried), but I also believe that partly has to do with just eating out in general

Last, and best of all, I got to go to the Gulf Shores. Yes, it’s November; yes, vacation season is over. But it’s still 60-some degrees in Alabama and I haven’t been to a beach in over a year. Let me tell you, this beach was beautiful – and empty. Luckily, Southerners think November is a bit chilly to go to the beach, so I had the whole thing almost to myself. The sand was clean and warm, the waves a bit chilly, but it was nice to get away from work. One thing to note, between Mobile and the Gulf Shores, there is absolutely nothing of interest.

But no matter how much I love a place, after more than a week, I’m always ready to come home.