Monday, June 30, 2008

Mac or PC?

Mac or PC? I am asking myself the question that every laptop buyer must ask themselves in the year 2008. Mac or PC? And the answer isn't as easy as deciding between the old guy in the gray suit or young skinny guy in the commercials. (Although let's be serious, I wouldn't date either).

So which do I pick?? Mac's are definitely more expensive but people say they will last longer and cost less in the long run in regard to software. PCs I already know how to use. I'm comfortable, you could say, with their operating system. Mac's are better for artsy stuff but PC's better for document-type stuff. Well, I want a computer that is good at both!

The research out there on the web seems to be passionately for one or the other, so how on earth can one make an educated decision? Oh, I don't know. What should I do?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Get Smart

Went to see Get Smart last night. Wow. It's been a loooong time since I've been to the big screen and the theater raised their prices again. Geez, and to think, I could buy two cups of Starbucks for the same price...

But anyway, I thought this movie was going to be another one of those cheeky comedies that aren't really funny, but sad, sad that anybody would laugh at it, and namely, of course, I mean every movie in which Will Ferrell stars, but in truth, Get Smart was actually funny. It was amusing and even action packed. My favorite lines went something like this:

Mr. Boss Man: "You did great on your field agent test. You aced the essay on existentialism."
Steve Carell's character confused: "I left that part blank."

Teehee. Still makes me giggle.

Hopeline

As part of an effort to curb suicides and partner with one of my favorite websites, PostSecret (which I've blogged about here), I am posting this video. It is trying raise awareness about Hopeline whose goal is to save lives.
People sometimes need help. And having a hotline to call could be the difference between life and death. We don't always know what kind of struggles the very people around us are going through. Keep hope alive.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Civil War Recreated

Confederate SoldiersThis weekend in Shippensburg is March to Destiny, an annunal event that recreates the history of the civil war. I wanted to see what this whole reenactment thing was all about so I went to a live "skirmish" today. Men (and a few women) dressed in uniforms reminicent of 1863 took the streets with period equipment. They battled down King Street lining up and shooting their guns, practicing all the tactics they would have actually used during the civil war.

Union Soldiers
Licoln in his carriage after the North wonI have never seen anything quite like this before. It was educational to say the least. The shots were so loud, the cannon ones especially. My favorite part was when a soldier got wounded or killed. They fell in the street and men stepped over him until someone came (eventually) to drag him off the street. It was fun to watch---you know, in that sick kind of can't-take-your-eyes-off-of-it way.

Union Soldiers I couldn't imagine having been a soldier during the civil war. They had to be so close to the enemy while having next to no protection. You just had to stand there while a brigade of soldiers shot in your direction. There's no way you could expect to live to see the light of tomorrow. I think the reenactment made me glad to live in today's world and to be thankful for the soldiers who did fight to preserve the union and abolish slavery.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brave New World

Ehhhh. Just read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It was kind of boring. And kind of pretentious if I say so myself. I was expecting a lovely engaging dystopian read, but I found the concepts trite, overused, and frankly condescending. I think for the day and age in which it was written it would much more appalling and much more shocking. Today it seems like it has all been done before. Movies like the Matrix have spoiled us modern day readers.

I do find it interesting what Huxley was insinuating about consumerism. Are we being programed to consume? To not be able to live without using the products we are told we need? Maybe he has a something here, even in 2008.

Another point I found most interesting is that people were being conditioned to enjoy their social position in life. If you can't change it, you might as well be happy with it, right? Well...yeah. Luckily, America (and many other nations for that matter) has a relatively high level of social mobility (perceived or not). Let say for minute though, that birth did determine every aspect of our lives---then being happy with our life-situations would probably the best (if only) method to enjoy a productive and satisfying life. Any moron can see that. It just sounds so horrible to say, and almost to think. We Americans are in love with self-determination and nothing is ever good enough for us. Is that good or bad? Hard to tell.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Global Exchange

I've been checking out this site, Global Exchange, per the recommendation of a reliable source:). I love the message it promotes. I love it's purpose and it's vision.
Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.

We envision a people centered globalization that values the rights of workers and the health of the planet; that prioritizes international collaboration as central to ensuring peace; and that aims to create a local, green economy designed to embrace the diversity of our communities.
However (of course there is always a however), I'm not 100% convinced this community of people has all the answers. While I am passionate about obtaining "social, economic and environmental justice," I feel like the site is somewhat one-sided and slides into conspiracy theory group think. Don't get me wrong, they ought to be commended for their efforts and noble convictions, but I get the feeling that sometimes people get so caught up in their mission they never stop asses the situation correctly or to find the right cure.

I am reminded of Confessions of an Economic Man by John Perkins which was an engaging and disturbing read, but more than likely exaggerated account of evil corporate America and government.

That said, there's a lot to read over at Global Exchange, so go visit. There's a lot of pondering to do. What is truth and myth when it comes to globalization?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Let's Dope the Shy People

Oxytocin is a new drug/hormone that scientists are giving to shy people to make the less shy. Great. So now being shy is a bad characteristic? Come on now, does anybody else see how preposterous this seems?

I firmly believe that shyness is a positive tool with which people are naturally endowed to promote successful social relationships. Shyness is what keeps you from dancing on top of the table in a room full of strangers. Shyness is what stops you from wearing clashing clothes to business interviews. Shyness is what makes you hide your unflattering habits on a first date. Shyness is what helps you to appear calm, cool, and collected in high pressure situations. A world without shyness would be like having permanent drunken fools hopping and skipping around us at every moment.

Shyness is hardly such a bad thing, and in fact, I almost think some people could afford to take a drug that would make the MORE shy. Thank you.

Most disturbing to me, This is London and The Telegraph reports:
It could have other commercial benefits. For instance, it could be sprayed in restaurants to put diners at ease, or be used as an alternative to tear gas to calm rioters.
Does anyone else feel a sort of post-apocalyptic mind-control eeriness to this whole dope the shy people plan? I know I do.
_________

Also, with my love of the Spanish language and all, I was thinking "I am shy" in Spanish is "me da verg├╝enza." And, when translated back into English more literally it means "it gives me shame." This seems an like significantly more severe way of expressing timidness. Is it possible that cross-culturally or cross-linguistically the social stigma of shyness is even greater?

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Whole New Speedo

With the Olympics right around the corner, have you heard about the controversy concerning Speedo's LZR Racer Suits? The suits themselves are an amazing concept and product of intensive research and development.

Speedo says:
The ultimate suit offering a fabric with the lowest friction drag, constructed to compress the swimmer into the smoothest, streamlined shape and designed to ensure the full range of movement to win.
The LZR RACER concept was developed by Aqualab, Speedo's global research and development facility. Aqualab works with world class experts from diverse industries including aerospace, engineering and medicine.
I think it's amazing. How cool are these? There are no seams, and it takes 20 minutes to get into one. I think we should all pat Speedo on the back, not demonize them.

The idea of controversy goes something like this: For one, people are saying that the suit is making the sport more about 'technology' than talent. Secondly, people are upset that Speedo has a monopoly on the suits, making it nearly impossible for other corporations to compete and unfair for athletes in countries with other brand contracts.

Popular thought seems to be that swimmers can't win gold medals without the LZR suit. The Economist says:
Speedo's LZR swimsuit, which was introduced in February. Fully 38 of the 42 world swimming records that have been broken since then have fallen to swimmers wearing LZRs.
And Gizmodo says:
Known as "doping on a hangar" and the "Speedo surfboard," the LZR has hugged the bodies of 30 record-breaking swimmers since its introduction in February. Rivals complained about fairness, and the International Swimming Federation (aka FINA) scheduled a meeting with Speedo to discuss the seamless, ultrasonically bonded suit. The meeting went swimmingly, for Speedo. Not only did FINA dismiss rivals' claims, they also turned around and endorsed the suit for future pro swimming events.

I think it is ridiculous that people are getting so upset over a swimsuit. The athletes who wear them are simply the best. They train hard and they break records. If a piece of material can make swimmers glide through the water at marginally faster rate and give psychosomatic confidence, why not let them wear it? As for other corporations, they have just as much of a chance of making the same type of suit, and I am sure that in no time, they will. The Speedo brand has just risen in authority but hardly by "unethical" means. Lay off naysayers. The suit doesn't hurt the integrity of the sport.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?

Where the Hell is Matt?
When culture, art, community, and traveling (my most favorite things) collide this is what you get. It's fun. It's humanity. And it's beautiful. I'm loving it all the way! Gotta watch this video.


As he describes himself:
Matt is a 31-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. Matt achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on. In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it." He was referring to a particular dance Matt does. It's actually the only dance Matt does. He does it badly. Anyway, this turned out to be a very good idea.

A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on. Now Matt is quasi-famous as "That guy who dances on the internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I'll send you the link. It's funny."

The response to the first video brought Matt to the attention of the nice people at Stride gum. They asked Matt if he'd be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they'd be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another very good idea.
Well, yeah. That was a good idea.

I wish some company would pay me to travel the world for free and dance with locals. That'd be about the best thing ever.

PS. Also Check out his first video and the outtakes. Ahhh. Just so amazing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things Fall Apart

I just finished reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It was certainly one of the more interesting reads I've had of late. The story is based in tribal Nigeria, centered upon a male character who strives for manliness above all else. He praises bravery, masculinity, strength, titles, self-determinism, and all things machismo. The whole story I was waiting for when he was "going to get it." When he was going to realize how ridiculous patriarchal society is. How destructive blood-thirst is. How treating women as inferiors is disgusting.

As a woman reading this tale, I'm not going to lie, many things made me angry twinged with sadness, and that is why I think Achebe told his tale quite well. Any author who can rouse such emotions (even negative ones) has a gift. There are many issues that popped up within his writing such as sexism, culturalism, imperialism, religion, story-telling, respect, war, justice, status, and so on. While I had trouble getting into the book because I thought the tale would be overly simple, I am quite pleased with array of questions and slice of African culture that this novel has to offer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Horses

Just thought I'd share a favorite photo of mine with you.


I love this photo taken late in the day of a black horse and a white horse. What does it mean? What does it say? The day I took this, I was actually snapping a whole bunch of photos so I have a series where the horses are getting closer in each frame. It's kind of cool. If I say so myself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the ParkThe rain held out just enough to enjoy an evening with Shakespeare in Harrisburg on Saturday. Reservoir Park hosted "Love's Labour's Lost" for the city's Shakespeare in the Park. Let me tell you, free live shows at an open outdoor theater. Can't get better than that.

This particular rendition was a 1980's adaptation (clothing-wise) with the same tried and true Shakespearean iambic pentameter. I saw a different version of this same play as a groundling at the Globe Theater in London, but the truth is, you can't ever get tired of a classic.

Despite having seen the comedy before, I was still somewhat confused about the subplots on stage. I guess I will have to take a look at the text to actually appreciate the full complexity of the work. Nevertheless, a Shakespeare-laden evening made for a lovely time in Pennsylvania's state capital.

If you live around south central PA, You can check here for information about other free events the Levitt Pavilion sponsers throughout the summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy, Daddy, Look What I Made For You

Happy Father's Day!

Since I made my mother a gift for mother's day, it only seemed appropriate to make my father a gift for father's day.

My trumpet paintingAs such, daddy will be getting a 16 X 20 painting that I did of his trumpet. I posed it and painted it when he wasn't looking (mostly because I am not allowed to touch his baby). I zoomed in really close, changing it's shiny silver body to gold, but it's still recognizable, right? The golden yellow tones just seemed so much warmer for a painting. And the browns in the background will be much better able to match the decor of our living room where it will likely be hung. It's the thought that counts. Right? Not the resemblance.

Well, I hope Dad likes his present!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

The holiday everyone forgets.

Flags
Well, I didn't forget, because now I get to post another cool flag photo of mine. Whooo. Happy Flag day.

Oh, and just for fun I will share another photo of a Ben Franklin impersonator from Philadelphia. Mr. Franklin was sitting on a bench talking to a little boy and I just thought it was so adorable. But then, soon after, the situation started to disturb me.

It turns out, this pretend Benjamin was sitting next to the real Ben's grave. Hello? Creepy. Especially for the kid.

Mr. Franklin, didn't you die in 1790? and aren't you buried in that grave right there? How is it then you are sitting next to me right now? No, that kid won't grow up with issues.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday 13th

Survived another Friday 13th. Who was it that said they were so bad in the first place? This article says:
The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, so their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. It may be the most widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won't go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.

Just how many Americans at the turn of the millennium still suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias — and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia — the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.
Come on. I don't know about you, but I like Fridays any numeric day of the month. Nothing bad happened to me today.

Although, on second thought, there are still 11 minutes left until Friday the 13th officially becomes Saturday the 14th...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Doerr's The Shell Collector

I am reading The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr right now, and can I just say, it is amazing. I love this book. It is literary fiction at its finest. The short stories are well-crafted, intense, smooth, thoughtful, and delightfully written. I love the use of language. Doerr has a beautiful style that I highly appreciate. His sentences and ideas flow into one another to create acute descriptions and poetic phrases. He writes with authority and narrates with ease. I know. I know. This description is gushing. But it's true, I'm gushing over this book, especially fresh after my fiction writing courses. These are the caliber of stories that I aspire to. You have to read this book, especially if you have a thing for lit fiction like I do. Ahhhh. Beauty in words.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dominoes

I remember setting up dominoes as a kid when I was home sick from school. I remember having lines of them crossing under the table, over books, around obstacles, spiraling, straight, curved, expanding, shrinking, even loop-de-looping. Man, it was frustrating when they would fall over before you were ready. When your pinky toe accidentally hit the one on the end and they all fell over before another human being could appreciate you actually did set up 987 dominoes across the entire kitchen. I miss those times. I set up a few on my grandparents table just for old times sake. It's good to be a kid again.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Roses Are Not Just Red

I'm started to get an overload of gorgeous flower pictures. It's like this spring and early summer has boasted of a ridiculous amount of natural beauty. Here is a selection of roses in my grandparent's flower bed.



I am staying at my grandparents house this week until our air conditioning gets fixed. I swear, the air went out during a record heat wave for our area. I get the feeling it knew it was going to have to work overtime so it decided to shut down completely. On the plus side though, one hour in my house leads to lovely skin. The sauna-like conditions guarantee it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Confessions of a Pack Rat

Ok. I admit that I am a somewhat of a pack rat. I have trouble discarding precious items that symbolize specific memories. I fear that I will want that New Years plastic hat next year or that I will need those worn-out shoes for some day painting fences outdoors. I worry that I will not remember a vacation from 13 years ago without the novelty snow globe or think that I will be able to use those scraps of paper for some future craft project. I have a real problem throwing things away.

However, I've been researching "packratism" online and I realized that I am not nearly as bad as some people out there. Wikipedia has to say about the issue:
Compulsive hoarding (or pathological hoarding) is extreme hoarding behaviour in humans. It involves the collection and/or failure to discard large numbers of objects even when their storage causes significant clutter and impairment to basic living activities such as moving around the house, cooking, cleaning, showering or sleeping. Hoarding rubbish may be referred to as syllogomania or disposophobia. A slang term for a compulsive hoarder is pack rat or packrat.
Woah! I am not THAT bad. But I do have some advice for fellow packraters like me:
  • It's ok to let stuff go. There is no need to keep completely unnecessary things.
  • A good way to part with stuff is to just keep one item that can represent an entire group of things.
  • If you donate your nice old junk then maybe someone else can actually benefit from it who needs it. Lets face it, You don't need 20 purses, 14 of which you haven't touched in the past year.
  • Or if you have time, you could sell your stuff on Ebay which means $$ for the things piled on the stack of junk blocking the path to your bed.
  • The most important thing to remember is that it will feel good to clear the clutter from your life.
However, after saying all that, I filled up two huge bags of stuff to donate to Goodwill and my mom was practically going through everything saying, "You can't get rid of this."

Gosh. Way to make me feel guilty. At least I know where I get it from...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Could It Be Global Warming?

Sweltering. Yes, that is the word to describe the heat today.

Today being the first real "hot" day of "summer," it didn't take long until we realized that our air conditioning is broken. The air inside our house sticky as molasses. It feels like we are sitting inside a greenhouse with winter coats on. I am generally a cold person, but today is the exception.

The air conditioning repairmen originally said they couldn't come for two weeks since everybody is probably cranking up the air for the first time this season, but then they showed up at our door an hour later. They have been tinkering with the central air all day long, but nothing. They hacked up the bush surrounding the unit, been hammering, taking apart, putting back to together, making strange noises, and it won't work. Oh, now we'll have to back to the days before air-conditioning. I don't think I enjoy that prospect.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

i am neurotic

I enjoy reading about others' neuroses over on the site, i am neurotic.

People seem to have idiosyncrasies from fear of the letter E to irrational organizational behavior. Site visitors anonymously send in their secret little obsessions to share with others. For some reason, peeking at the crazy stupid unexplainable habits/fears of other people is amusing. Perhaps there is comfort in knowing that everyone has a little bit OCD-approaching behavior hidden somewhere.

I sent in one within the past week and it is published on the site. I won't tell you which one is mine, but maybe you can guess?

YOU should share your strange behavior with the rest of the world. Let me know if you do, so I can read it and laugh at your uncontrollable freakish neuroses too!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How To Make A Swan Angry

I always thought swans were beautiful, serene birds. After yesterday, I now know better. I stood in front of this gorgeous mama swan and her two baby swan ducklings to snap a good photograph. They posed nicely and I got my shot, but then I heard this wing flapping and hissing in the distance.


To my left a giant male swan is strutting toward me with his head tucked down, wings out, and feathers puffed up. I thought he was going to walk into my frame to make the picture a complete swan family. But he had something else in mind.

Instead of heading toward his family, he started cowering toward me. I slowly shuffled backward with my camera still out in front of me. The swan started hissing louder. And running. Then I started running. And he started running faster. So I screamed and spun around to sprint back to my grandfather's truck. I hopped in only to find the swan right behind me pecking viciously at the truck, making horrible noises. My heart was racing. If I hadn't taken cover, that big white bird probably would have pecked me to death. Shudder.

Lesson? Never mess with baby swans.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Strawberry Picking Season

Today is the first day of strawberry season! I woke up at the crack of dawn to go strawberry-picking with my Pappy. We headed over to Beam's Blue Mountain Farm and spent the morning taking ripe red strawberries out of the field. I love the sound of the fruit as they pop off of the rest of the plant. I'm not sure that as many strawberries made it into the basket as into our mouths...

Then when I got home, I made some tasty strawberry shortcakes. Instead of baking it in a round cake pan I lumped the dough onto a cookie sheet to make shortcake patties, or whatever you want to call them. This is the first time I've tried this method over the large round hunk of shortcake that serves pie-shaped slices kind. I think I like this way better so that all of sides can get golden brown. Although, I must admit, I may have done something wrong because they don't look as good as they taste. They look strangely smooth and biscuit-like.

But oh well. Mmmmmm. I love strawberry time!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Turtle. Really?

Communication Academic BuildingOn Saturday I drove down to Maryland to visit my soon-to-be graduate school and potential apartment for the first time. I love the UMD campus. It is huge and very nicely landscaped. The academic buildings are classic-looking and the other facilities are giant, especially after going to a small university. I'm really excited for the upcoming fall. We hit some of the DC traffic once getting close to College Park. I can't wait to live so close to the (or really any) city!

Unfortunately, we picked kind of an ugly day for touring outside. The rain was practically coming down sideways. And weather.com displayed a little gray cloud with raindrops falling out of it for absolutely every daylight hour. For once they were right--it rained all day.

Might I just ask one question? Who would pick a terrapin, namely a turtle, for a school mascot? There are various 'artworks' around campus triumphing the iconic diamondback, but I have to admit that it's kind of strange. And slightly ugly. A turtle. Really?

Also, they supposedly have this saying that goes something like, "Fear the turtle." And to that I would ask once again, really, a turtle?