Archive for December, 2009

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twenty-four.

December 30, 2009

I never had a problem having a birthday around the holidays. In fact, I prefer it. It means I’ve always been home with my entire family. Plus, there’s still the holiday spirit in the air. It’s festive, like everyone’s celebrating when I’m celebrating. But honestly, I’ve never been all that excited for my birthday. It’s not that I’m unhappy about getting older. I’m still at an age when older isn’t terrifying and in fact, I’m mistaken for being older all the time, so might as well get there. Maybe when I get to the later-twenties, I’ll start being less happy about it.

One nice thing about birthdays nowadays is that all the people from your past make their yearly appearance on your Facebook wall. It’s always interesting to see who will send you birthday wishes. I can’t even use Facebook to remember my good friends’ birthdays, let alone the people I’m just “Facebook friends” with. But I guess the Facebook wall post is so informal and easy, anyone can do it and it’s ok. Strange, since these people all have my email address too (because it’s listed in my profile) and they’d never think to send a personal email. I prefer those routes – the email, the text, a phone call. As much as it makes me happy for so many people to wish me happy birthday, I still only expect people who can unawkwardly use my personal contact info to do so. Anyways, thanks to everyone who did post on my wall, text me or email me.

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avatar.

December 27, 2009

James Cameron’s Avatar – I saw it. Twice. Once in 2-d; once in 3-d. To be honest, I thought the movie was going to flop. Given the hype focused on the 3d-ness and the animation, I figured most people don’t know enough about either area that it would make a difference. They would see a movie with a mediocre plot, and be extremely disappointed. Seems I was wrong.

I actually read very little about the movie before seeing it. I watched the trailer, read a few articles, but never had any other indication than rumors from friends that this movie was going to be “game-changing”. That’s a big description to live up to.

Anyways, the basics – it was long, like almost three hours long. Luckily, it was exciting enough the first time that the time flew by. The second time, however, didn’t hold up at all. The plot was extremely generic – not bad, but predictable. It was Ferngully meets the 21st century – with blue aliens instead of fairies. You can also compare it to Dances with Wolves, or Pocahontas, or any number of “humans learn to appreciate nature and other culture” movies. I don’t hold it against the movie, though. That plot line is a winner.

So what about the 3-d? The first time I saw the movie, it was without the 3-d effects. And without it, the movie was still pretty epic. Just the scenery, language, and computer graphic effects alone make the movie impressive.  But I didn’t think it was somehow more than other well-done large production movies. So I thought maybe I had to see it in 3-d, since that’s what this movie was all about, right? Plus, I heard good things about the effects. In the end, however, I was extremely disappointed.

Maybe my expectations of 3-d are too high; this was the first 3-d movie I’ve tried watching. Maybe I just got annoyed because the glasses don’t stay on my face all that well, so it requires constant adjusting. Maybe 3-d movies just require a larger screen than current movie theaters have. Maybe it’s just because I had already seen the movie and therefore, was too focused on the effects. And effects clearly can’t hold up the movie alone. So I admit the 3-d-ness is cool. But it’s not quite in the position to make a movie significantly better. In fact, I don’t think I would pay more at all to see it in 3-d instead of 2-d. On the positive side, at least when it comes to the small screen (and probably not in 3-d), I don’t think the movie will lose anything.

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presents.

December 25, 2009

This Christmas, my mom had surgery on her foot. She’s not suppose to walk around for a few weeks. That’s the reason she had it done over the holidays. Now that my youngest brother is in college, no one’s at home anymore. But over Christmas and New Years’, all four kids are at home for a while, so we can help out around the house.

Therefore, I have now done more cooking in the last two days being home than I have in the last two months. The first night, I made a pork roast, string beans and rice. For Christmas dinner, we’re making a turkey, spinach casserole, squash, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and two pies (pumpkin and pecan). Given my serious lack of cooking since college, I’m quite proud that I’ve been able to make this much food.

So on to the presents… this year resulted in mostly jewelry, some clothes, a pair of boots, a toolkit, two bags, and a Kindle. I’m super excited to try out the Kindle. Since jewelry is a bit tricky to describe, I’m going to post a photo instead. Starting from the left, my sister made me three necklaces – the silver one with black beads, the blue and gray pendant, and the two strands of gray beads with blue-ish rocks. My mom got me the silver bird (and some strands of pearls). My aunt/uncle always send me and my sister similar earring and necklace sets – this year I got dragonfly ones and Char got trees.

I also got a Timbuk2 bag from the boyfriend, which will be extremely nice to travel with. It’s red and has a lot of space. My mom also got me a large brown purse and two shirts. My mom always buys clothes for me and my sister to split. The best thing is that we’re so differently shaped – the stuff that looks awful on me looks great on her and vice versa, so we never have to fight over what we want to keep. My dad got me the toolset. I’ve been meaning to get one for the last year and never got around to it. So now I’ve got hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, and a level. Should be handy.

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re: models.

December 23, 2009

Yep, here I go on a rant. A friend recently posted on watching the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. He makes the comment that these models must be heavier than normal fashion models. And I hate to point it out, but he’s wrong. It also points out the weird fact that most guys say they want girls who aren’t stick-thin. But given what’s presented in the media, not “stick-thin” is still pretty damn thin.

See, all the Victoria’s Secret angels are around the 5’10” range, which is normal for models. Weight-wise, they’re somewhere between 110-125 lbs. I know it’s not a fair comparison, but do that math in your head boys. Think about how tall you are and how much you weigh. Then think about these models; even though they’re girls, it’s a bit ridiculous. The reason they look larger is a trick because they have curves in just the right places. So really, given how thin they are, it should be surprising that they can fill out their lingerie. I mean, it’s not really that normal, right? Take a look at most skinny girls you see. Chances are they’ve got a small chest too.

And what about Heidi? At 35, she’s looking amazing. And yet she hosted the event rather than walking because she has to lose 20 more lbs since she’s had her baby. It seems that more and more models are getting pregnant (say didn’t Gisele just have a baby?). Not saying they shouldn’t, but what’s surprising is how quickly they get back to the runway (or in Jourdan Dunn’s case, how long they stay on – walking at 7 months pregnant!). I guess that’s a different issue though.

But anyways, my point is that these girls’ looks are a bit deceiving. They look normal when they’re next to each other. But football players, and basketball players all look normal-sized too when you only see them next to their teammates. Even actresses in movies are usually exceptionally thin, though not quite as extreme as models. In fact, V Magazine has just made an issue where they photograph a normal model next to a plus-size model, in the same clothes and similar poses. The size difference is quite obvious, even though the plus size model is 36/31/41. Can you imagine what they’d look like next to normal people? At least plus-sized models still have the height factor. In the end, Victoria’s Secret Angels are always going to appeal more to men than normal fashion show models because that’s VS’s business – sex. High fashion designers are more into the art.

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faint.

December 21, 2009

I gave blood on Saturday morning. If I actually was able to fill the bag every time I tried to donate, I would have donated a gallon by now. As it is, I’m probably at a half gallon. In fact, the woman at the Red Cross looked at my veins and asked if I had ever filled a bag. Maybe that’s a sign that I shouldn’t give. But it’s pretty much the only thing I’m willing to do as charity, and I’m a huge proponent of it, so I’d feel like a hypocrite if I didn’t. Even though it works only half the time, it is working other half.

Anyways, I followed all the rules before my donation – ate breakfast and drank lots of water. The donation itself went fine, a little slow but that’s normal for me. And then I ate their cookies and drank some more water before heading out to do some Christmas shopping.

Then, in a store, waiting to make a purchase, I start feeling terrible. Overheated, dizzy, funny vision. Awful. So I’m the next person in line, so I just close my eyes and take deep breaths. The store itself is warm, so once I leave, I’ll probably be fine. Fine does not happen soon enough. I end up having to sit on the floor, and the nice woman behind me helps me finish paying for my things (me handing my credit card and ID up, and her handing the receipt down for me to sign). The salesgirl brings me some water and cookies they have in back.

But I can’t just keep sitting in front of the cashier, and I definitely can’t be leaving the store the way I’m feeling. The salesgirl helps me to a fitting room, where I can sit down until I feel better. Sadly, I’m almost 100% sure I passed out for a few seconds on my way there (which was like 15 ft). The only reason I know this is because I definitely spilled my water all over, resulting in me being quite wet and very embarrassed.

Once I recovered enough to find my phone, I started making some calls to find someone to come to the mall to make sure I don’t pass out on my way home. NO ONE answered. It should be noted, I only my guy friends. I feel like if I passed out again, they would be the most able to help. My 5’1″ housemate – probably not quite as much. It should also be noted that I did not call the boyfriend. I thought about it but realized there was absolutely nothing he could do about this situation. By the time I was on my fourth call, I was feeling much better and decided I didn’t need someone to come. While I did make it home just fine, I continued to feel weak the rest of the day.

However, this is probably my most embarrassing moment. It helps that I felt sick enough that it didn’t matter. And I think people bad enough for me that they weren’t judging me. But fainting is the worst – and this is only the second time it’s happened to me. Losing even only a couple of seconds is terrifying for me. One minute I’m standing and the next I’m on the ground and have no idea how I got there. Lesson learned – eat more after giving blood.

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escape.

December 19, 2009

In need of more vacation, I took off for California for a long weekend to visit the boyfriend. While the weather was warmer than Wisconsin – apparently it got quite cold after I left – it rained the entire time I was there. I like snow more than I like rain.

The boyfriend is in a new house since the last time I visited. It’s beautiful and huge. He has a giant bathroom, with shower stall and bathtub. I was extremely excited about the bathtub. In my house, I only have a shower stall. But I love taking baths, just soaking in the heat. To me, this was a big highlight of my weekend.

We visited Monterey Bay Aquarium the first day I was there. I absolutely love aquariums. I can just sit and watch the tanks of fish all day long. My favorite parts were the jellyfish exhibit. So incredibly beautiful. I also love sea otters. They’re like dogs (even though I don’t like dogs). They just seem so happy in the water. Same with the penguins.

We went to the San Francisco MOMA on Saturday. This museum was a terrible choice on my part. First, the entire second floor was closed to set up a new exhibit. I’m quite annoyed they didn’t mention this on their Web site. Second, I just wasn’t a fan of the art. I’m pretty sure it’s just the collection SFMOMA had. I remember visiting the MOMA in New York and being extremely impressed. And I can definitely handle art that most people don’t think is art. Third, which might be a contributing factor to my second, I felt extremely sick the entire time there. Like “legs are going to give out; I’m going to end up on the floor and be embarrassed” sick. This resulted in needing to sit down a lot and overall concentrating on not feeling awful.

And we went out for a nice dinner at Sundance. Sadly, this was also on Saturday, so I wasn’t feeling my best. But it was still fun. Usually, the boyfriend and I don’t do really fancy dinners that often. I’m not complaining; I’m usually the one who wants something ridiculous like KFC or sloppy joes. Anyways, Sundance had fantastic clam chowder – we each got a cup. I ended up getting scallops and shrimp, while the boyfriend got prime rib. While we didn’t get any dessert, we did look at the menu. There were all the after dinner drinks, including a 2 oz pour of cognac for $185. Dear life, please let me meet someone someday who is willing to spend that much on a drink. Absolutely ridiculous.

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skid.

December 17, 2009

The other week, Madison got a ridiculous amount of snow. It was the first true snow of the year, and it was a big one. We ended up with over a foot from just one storm. UW Madison even canceled classes and most people didn’t make it into work.

Anyways, it started snowing late afternoon on Tuesday. Just about the time everyone starts to drive home from work. I was scheduled to give blood, since I had missed my work’s blood drive the last week and wanted to donate before I went out of town. So I took the highway because it would be faster. Worst decision ever. As soon as I made the turn to go toward the highway rather than more normal route, I felt like it would be a bad idea. Should’ve just turned around.

I made it about halfway home, which is less than halfway to the blood donation center. It was snowing quite hard. I’m not a very speedy driver to begin with, so I wasn’t going all that fast. But while I was driving I noticed I was getting suspiciously close to the edge of the left lane – just a little bit over it. I moved to correct it and get solidly back in my lane. But I started sliding. You know how they always tell to turn into the skid? Well, I actually remembered that advice, but way overcompensated, causing me to go sliding in the other direction. And once that started happening, I feel like there’s so many other things on your mind that it’s quite hard to focus on which way your back wheels are sliding and which way you should turn the steering wheel. Just my opinion.

Lucky for me, there weren’t other cars around. Also lucky for me, there aren’t many trees right off the highway. I ended up sliding off the road and into the ditch next too it. No damage to me and no damage to my car. Overall, not terrible for my first time going off the road. Sadly, I was too far in and my little car couldn’t just drive myself out again. I had no idea what to do, so I did what I always do – called the boyfriend. He didn’t answer, but probably couldn’t have helped if he did. I called my housemate next, since he had gotten in an accident last year and he had to know who I should call.

He told me to call insurance and I did. I felt bad because I must have sounded like a wreck. Amazingly, I wasn’t crying – probably because I was too shook up to even think about that. But definitely could not stop my hands from shaking. The Geico lady was super nice to me, which really calmed me down. And the tow truck was on its way. Additionally, a very nice man pulled over and trudged out to my car to make sure I was ok, make sure I had a cell phone with enough battery and to see if I wanted him to wait with me. Also, the police stopped to check on me too (they were out because so many people were going off the road) and I learned that I can also call them, which never would have occurred to me.

Beyond being paranoid now about losing control of my car and being upset about missing my blood donation appointment, I definitely came out better. For a first accident, not having any damage to anything (car, me, anyone else) is definitely the best I could hope for.