Archive for March, 2010



March 24, 2010

Last weekend, I went to Milwaukee to see A Place to Bury Strangers and The Big Pink. When I decided to go to the concert, I’d only really heard one song from The Big Pink – Dominos. I’d loved it, but that’s all I’d heard. And I hadn’t heard anything from A Place to Bury Strangers. But I trust the friend I was going with. In general, I can get behind his taste in music. If I couldn’t, well the concert was only $10.

After watching some videos of A Place to Bury Strangers, I got a bit worried. They seemed loud – and that was about it. We bought earplugs before the show. As things turned out, they were pretty amazing. Loud – like “able to feel the vibrations in my chair” loud. But all three band members put on a great show. The drummer was incredible. Such a forceful act would be difficult to follow-up, but The Big Pink also did a great job. They came on with a lot of energy, looking almost like teenagers. It was a nice combination of their upbeat songs and the slower ones. I’m just sad they didn’t come out for an encore.

I’d highly recommend The Big Pink, if you haven’t listened to them. It’s pretty accessible music – nothing too strange. I’d recommend seeing A Place to Bury Strangers if you get the change, but I’m having trouble translating seeing the show into actually listening to their music on CD. It’s just not the same. I’d say try it, but I think it won’t appeal to most people.



March 22, 2010

With some friends, I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I love Tim Burton. Lately, I think his movies have only been so-so (Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, 9 – which I didn’t even get through). All his signature pieces are evident in those movies, but they just weren’t very captivating for me. Anyway, I’m willing to accept you can’t have big wins all the time. Plus, in addition to Burton, I also love Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp.

As an overall impression, the movie was good – not exceptional, not terrible – pretty much just average. I’m not in love with either the Disney animated Alice or the old 1985 live action TV movie version. In fact, I only remember bits and pieces of both. And I read the book years ago in school. Knowing that Burton’s version wouldn’t be a direct remake – like Charley and the Chocolate Factory – I couldn’t be significantly disappointed.

I think all the characters were well-played. Everyone was able to play the part of being absolutely insane, but in a way that’s just an exaggeration of normal people.  I liked the scenery and costumes especially. I absolutely want every single one of Alice’s dresses – specifically the one the Hatter makes for her (those tie sandals were awesome too) and the one the Red Queen has made. I liked most of the references to the book and the original story, with the little tweaks here and there (i.e. is it Wonderland or Underland?). On the other hand, I wasn’t a huge fan of Mia Wasikowska. I felt she had the same look on her face throughout the entire movie and of all the characters, she was the least developed.

With this being my second 3D movie, I’ve decided it’s definitely not for me. I would much rather not wear glasses that don’t stay on my face than see the 3D effects. It’s too much annoyance. Too often during the movie I feel compelled to adjust the glasses, take them off, do something that interrupts my concentration. And I always feel like my eyes can’t focus with 3D movies, which after a while makes me feel like I’m crossing my eyes.



March 19, 2010

Last weekend, I attempted to dye  my hair blue. I’ve been dying my hair since freshman year of college, when I bleached and went bright red. That early college experience taught met several important lessons. First, bleached hair is a pain. Not only does it make your hair feel terrible (and on some level ruin it), but it takes forever to get rid of it. Essentially, it has to grow out and be cut off. While you’re waiting for that to happen, you have to dye it to be the color you want. Second, L’Oreal Colour Rays is the best. It’s hair dye made for dark hair, so the color automatically has a bleaching product in it. No separate process to lighten your hair. The color automatically shows up very bright. Perfect.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Walgreens and the SuperTarget near my house do not carry Colour Rays anymore. This made for a great opportunity to branch out and try a different color and brand. I tried Splat, in blue – because I’ve been wanting dark blue hair forever. It looked like I was going to have to do my own bleaching and then coloring. But the reviews online were pretty good, so I figured it would be ok. At the very least, I’d have a blue hint to my hair in the sun, and it would be otherwise unnoticeable. That’s critical, so that I can still look mostly professional.

Turns out, Splat is not so good for me. First, I’m too impatient to bleach my hair and too afraid it’s going to be ruined. So naturally, I didn’t let the bleach sit long enough to really do anything noticeable. Second, the blue dye looked perfect, but was awful. It stains like crazy – my hands, my neck, my bathroom sink. It was all blue. Even worse, I made the mistake of getting a drip on my cheek, which then proceeded to become a giant smear as I tried to wipe it off. Anyways, when all was said and done, I ended up with a very blue scalp, a very blue shower, and very blue hands. However, none of the blue dye was noticeable in my hair. AT ALL. Not even in the light.

And yet, when I wash my hair, blue still comes out in the water and it’s still staining the Marriott towels I used. Essentially, I ended up getting all the crappy parts of dying my hair without any change whatsoever. Disappointing.



March 17, 2010

Top 5 reasons I love that travel is part of my job:

  1. Taking off and landing – it may sound childish, but I still get very excited when my airplane takes off and touches down. I absolutely love looking out the window watching everything get tiny and then again, when it gets larger and larger.
  2. Food – Travel provides a great opportunity to eat foods I can’t get in Madison. Best example is when working in Mobile, AL I can get my fill of fresh seafood and it is fabulous.
  3. Housekeeping – usually I don’t even bother to use hotels’ housekeeping services (I don’t like having to clean up before they come). But I do like that I don’t have to tidy up hotels ever. After three days, I leave and everything gets taken care of. It makes me extremely lazy when I have to take care of my own stuff at home.
  4. Status – One of the perks of traveling a lot is getting elite status with an airline. It’s one of those things you don’t miss if you haven’t had it. But once you can check bags for free, board earlier, and get upgraded, it’s a very very nice perk.
  5. Lessons – I’ve learned a lot of handy things while traveling. The best way to put your stuff through security, how to pack just as much as you need, etc. But also, since I’m not usually one to ask questions, traveling has taught me that it’s just way easier most of the time to just ask someone. Directions, restaurant recommendations, pretty much anything – someone’s usually there to help you out.

Top 5 reasons I hate the travel is part of my job:

  1. Delays/waiting – I don’t have to explain this one; it’s obvious. Traveling requires a lot of waiting and delays make it even worse.
  2. TSA rules – again, mostly obvious. I just can’t get over the 3 oz liquid rule or the need to take off your shoes. I constantly forget water bottles are in my bag. And for people who don’t fly very often, it takes them forever, which means more waiting.
  3. Home – I miss it after a couple days. Hotels are just not the same as my own bed.
  4. Working out – I hate hotel fitness rooms, and therefore, I never work out when traveling. That turns out to be a terrible idea. Combined with the eating out, I end up feeling gross after about a week.L
  5. It’s exhausting – even though most of traveling is just sitting in the waiting area or sitting on the plane, it runs me down. After a week of travel, I just want to stay at home all weekend to recover. It’s a little bit terrible and makes me feel old.


March 15, 2010

Last week, Madison had its first warm weekend. And by warm I mean mid 40’s in the middle of the day, but sunny and not windy. And to me this is a good enough sign that it’s Spring. People may be skeptical; it is still early March after all and there’s always the chance winter could be here til April. Sure there’s still snow on the ground. But it’s melted enough over the last week or so that I can see the grass again. I have confidence that no more snow, at least not in any massive quantities, is coming.

This is one of the things I love about Wisconsin – the anticipation of warm weather. After several months of staying inside and dealing with single digit temperatures, no one takes Spring for granted. Even this past weekend, when it was still what many people would consider cold, the bikes and the runners were all outside. It’s like those first warm sunny days in Ithaca when everyone goes outside and ends up severely sunburned. And in Wisconsin, we actually do get a Spring before the Summer.

With the changing of the season comes the rotation of clothing. Boots, heavy jackets, sweaters, and hats start going back into the closet. It’s sad because I love winter fashion the most. Tights and skirts, lighter jackets, and shoes that aren’t made for snow start appearing again. What I’ve realized is it’s incredibly hard to pack during this time of year. When there’s the possibility of it being cold or warm, you end up having to pack for both conditions, which makes for very full suitcases.



March 12, 2010

When composing emails in the work sense, I’m always surprised how much goes into it. And on some level, it annoys me because it takes time. But I do understand that in email, many things can come off the wrong way and you don’t want to offend or incite anyone without good reason. In the end, it’s hard art to learn to write strongly without upsetting anyone.

Then I read Clay Shirky’s Rant about Women. The point was that women don’t act as arrogant or narcissistic as men, and therefore, the females are missing out on opportunities. We never learn to brag or be aggressive, especially in writing. We don’t self-promote. We don’t confidently say “Yes I can do that” if we’re not quite sure. Are females naturally inclined to avoid looking like arrogant jerks? Or is it something we’re socially taught – to come off more compromising and sadly, less confident? Are we afraid to risk what others think of us in order to open doors for ourselves? Shirky points out:

“There is no upper limit to the risks men are willing to take in order to succeed, and if there is an upper limit for women, they will succeed less. They will also end up in jail less, but I don’t think we get the rewards without the risks.”

Yes, some of it may come from a much larger bias against women who do have these characteristics. But it has to be noted that men often come off the exact same say – whatever the masculine term for bitchy would be – they just care more about the reward than the risk. When it comes down to it, there shouldn’t be this clear of a difference in writing between genders. I had to take a moment to mentally go through any emails I’d recently sent to see if they sounded like that. It’s become an almost unconscious habit to tone things down. And that skill has a time and place. So does being able to say “this is what I need” or “I’m really great at…”



March 10, 2010

I recently finished the books The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire, both by Stieg Larrson. Both books were recommended and lent to me by my mom. These books have been on the best-seller lists, so why not check them out. There’s a third one in the series, I believe, but I haven’t gotten to it.

I’d recommend both books. Keep in mind, these books are not difficult to read. I personally like easy reads – books that I can finish in a few sittings (and that’s given that I read very slowly). They’re very plot-driven, solve-the-mystery type of books. Similar to the DaVinci Code, but a little less cliff-hanger, “made for the movies”-esque. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo took a while to get going, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put it down. I think you definitely have to read both of them. While The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can stand alone as a novel, the sequel brings a few more answers to the back story.

In addition to my reading, I’ve watched a few movies, that by themselves I don’t have enough to say. First, It’s Complicated. This movie looked amusing from the previews, but ultimately was disappointing. I also watched The Proposal. Not expecting a lot out of this one, and it lived up to exactly what you would expect. Plus, I like Sandra Bullock. District 9 was one of the better movies I’ve seen lately. It took me a while to get into it, but I liked it a lot. However, I hadn’t read most of the hype (just heard about it), so I didn’t start out with any real expectations. Couples Retreat – again, this is one of those movies that is exactly what you expect. And last, but definitely the best, The Brothers Bloom. Most definitely see this movie. It was funny and touching and I like Adrian Brody.