Sunday, August 31, 2008

Corn Festival

Every last Saturday in August, Shippensburg hosts the annual Corn Festival. I'm not exactly sure why we refer to it as the "corn" festival as there are next to no usages of corn at the festival. But to be fair this year, they did paint ears of corn on the downtown shop windows, serve corn on the cob at a few vendors, and pay a guy to walk up down the streets in a scarecrow costume.

The Corn Festival is basically a giant craft show with food and music. Up and down King street hundreds of vendors come to sell their handmade products. I noticed a lot of jewelry stands this year and less of the antique-ish potpourri that usually dots the streets.

I got myself a pretty blue abalone shell bracelet. I couldn't resist. It was calling to me from one of the tables. It said buy me, buy me. I almost got one in pink too. But then I took a deep breath and put it back down.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin for VP

Ohhh, goody. I am quite excited at McCain's Vice Presidential choice. His campaign managers must be geniouses. Sarah Palin very well could win McCain the election.

Right on the shirt tails of the DNC that had the press buzzing about Obama's acceptance of the democratic nomination, McCain's announcement made everyone forget. Palin has the unique ability to stir up the mix, woo disgruntled Hillary supporters, soften McCain's image, and roundup conservative republicans. The McCain/Palin duo just made this election more of a competition.

I love what Marginal Revolution has to say about her:
Around the blogosphere you will see many left-wing writers criticizing Palin for lack of experience. Maybe this criticism is correct, but these commentators are falling into The Trap. Most American voters do not themselves know much detail about foreign affairs and their vision of an experienced leader does not require such knowledge...

The more the word "experience" is repeated, no matter what the context, the more it will hurt Obama. Palin needs to appear confident and capable on TV and in the debates, but her ticket is not going to lose votes if she cannot properly spell Kyrgyzstan or for that matter place it on a map.
Ha. Yeah. Somebody else I know doesn't have "experience" either. And he isn't just the candidate for VP. Talk about a complaint that shoots you in the foot.

Ironic. Obama doesn't pick Clinton and here McCain pick a female running mate instead. Hahhahaa. One thing is for sure, no matter which party claims the white house, a historic presidential election this will be!

Friday, August 29, 2008


I watched Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight. I loved how some people were there with their change signs and tears streaming down their face. Did they have auditions to make it into the Denver stadium?

As a rhetorician, I'll be the first to admit that Obama has smooth and collected public appearance. He is a good orator and resonates well with a younger crowd. He said all the right things and told all the right personal anecdotes. Poor little Barack, from a single-parent family, pulled himself up by his bootstraps. Yeah, Columbia. And Harvard. But he's just your average guy. McCain; however, he's a neo-conservative elitist, with money in his back pocket since the day he was born.

I like what blogger, Megan McArdle had to say:
Obama makes you want to believe in him. That's why the conservatives hate him really hate him--the way that many liberals still say the name "Reagan" the way my grandmother said "Satan". Obama will not change the world. But he makes his ideas appealing by sheer force of personality.
So True. Obama can rally the crowds. And this scares me.

Within Obama's flowing words tonight, he made some big promises. End dependence on foreign oil? Stop the war in Iraq? Fix the health care system? Tax breaks for 95% of the American population? Get big business to create job in the US instead of overseas? Great Obama. BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS? Change. Yeah yeah. We all want that. We all look forward to better days ahead, but let's be realistic, our friend gave us a bunch fancy words and with no manpower behind them. He can't do those things; and especially not with the policy that he promotes.

Sometimes hearing what I want to hear, (i.e. change for a better America), only makes me more skeptical that I will never get it from the source of those words. Show me how the government is going to be more responsible based on sound theory and practical implementation and you can have my vote. Republican Convention next week--hopefully empty promises with be followed by solid substance. Can't somebody have good intentions and the means for following through?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Get Out the Dust Buster

Someone once asked me what dust was, not dust of the earth, but rather those pesky amorphous flakes of unknown substance resting on all inanimate objects on our trophy cases. Hmmm. That is a good question. I've always thought that it was dead skin cells, but what is this mysterious stuff we call "dust" for real?

Well, I was partly right:
Dust is made of just about everything. Household dust is composed primarily of things like human skin and hair, waxes, pollen, mold, fungi, lichen, tiny particles of wood, paint, fibers from fabrics such as wool, nylon, rayon, acrylic (and in the disco '70s lots and lots of polyester), foam rubber, sheet rock, plant and vegetable matter, insect parts, and of course every form of pollution such as auto and industrial emissions, heavy hydrocarbon waste from your oil or gas heater, even tiny bits of metal debris from door hinges or any place where metal and friction meet, lots of food waste, and loads of paper fiber...

Ahhhh. Most disturbing: dust mites.
Unseen in the dust where we rest are colonies of eight-legged relatives to spiders and lobsters, mating, defecating and gorging themselves on our cast-off skin.

Arlian, who has studied dust mites for more than 30 years, says that by the end of summer our beds and easy chairs are often teeming with microscopic dust mites. He said past studies in Miami Valley homes have found as many as 18,000 mites per gram of dust.

Dust mites are more than just creepy; they're harmful. Researchers believe the critters and their waste can cause asthma, coughing, itchy eyes and running noses and may account for about 30 percent of all allergic discomfort.

Holy Cow! Gross. I had no idea that dust was as completely disgusting as it is. My question now is how can those silly feather dusters work? Don't they just spread the dead cells/mites/debris around more? I think you are going to have to excuse me while I go start my dusting.

What is Everyday Dust Made of?
Life Nuts and Bolts; Household Dust is a Fact of Life

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Orientation, orientation, orientation.

That is all I have been doing and will be doing this week. Teaching requirements, teaching tips, teaching liabilities, teaching pedagogy, teaching fears, teaching problems; teaching, teaching, teaching.

BUT, at the same time student concerns, student requirements, student adjustment, student needs, student life, student welcome.

How does one perfect the fine art of both being a teacher and a student at the same time? That seems to be the million dollar question of the week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Maryland Love

Oh my, I've been busy. I went into the city again on Friday for dessert (cheesecake) at Friendship Heights with friends of friends. Saturday I went out for dinner and walk in Clarendon, VA. Sunday I read a bunch of chapters from my textbook that I am teaching from. I still have a lot of rapid reading to do before classes start next week. Ahhhh. Today, orientation started bright and early in the morning. We met some of our faculty and got keys to our offices. Yay! I like this whole grad student/TA thing

We also walked around campus and the Comcast stadium is huge!! I think they take basketball seriously here. There is also a mini-farm right on campus and a multi-level super-awesome gym. They even have an Olympic sized pool outdoors in addition to the two indoors. This Maryland place is crazy. Every day I am more and more happy that I am here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Day in the City

Thursday, a friend and I spent a day in Washington DC doing the touristy things. We visited just about every memorial on the mall. From the Washington Memorial to Lincoln Memorial and back again. I really like downtown DC, it's such a good place to spend a nice sunny afternoon. The city has very clean feel to it; that is, except for the water edges of the Tidal Basin. There were a few piece of litter floating around and some lovely green foam/slime. We happened to find an abandoned ice cream sign floating in the water, and it just looked so sad. No thanks, I don't believe I want that Popsicle.

We are going to be experts on the Metro soon. Everything was going really well, until we messed everything up right at our last transfer when we literally ran on a train, sat down in delight, looked up at the sign, realized we were on the wrong one, and ran hurriedly ran off again before we were whisked away to who knows where.

At night we met up with people from our cohort in our department at UMD at Comet Pizza and Ping Pong (yes, you guessed it, a restaurant that combines pizza and ping pong). We got to meet all the people that will be spending the next 2-4 years with, and really think we have a good group. Everyone is friendly and sweet, and very intelligent. I can't wait to get to know everyone better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Settling In

Last night my new roomie and I watched Phantom of the Opera together. Yes, I think we will get along just fine. (Thank you Gerard Butler).

I also used the gas stove in our kitchen for the first time, and managed to make a horrible mess. I dumped a can of soup in my new pot, put the lid on, set it on the burner, and wouldn't you know as soon I look up, there is Campbell's Cream of Mushroom rapidly boiling over the top of the pot. I don't know what happened. I thought I had it set on medium heat, but apparently it was on super high. It takes real talent to mess up soup...

Today I explored campus with another newbie from the Department of Communication. I really think that I am going to like it here. The people I've met so far seem very friendly and the campus is nice. UMD has a completely different atmosphere than my undergrad school had.

I am so happy to be in the Maryland/DC area.

However, my new friend and I quickly learned that listening to eager direction-givers is not always a smart idea. Maps, on the other hand, never lie (if you can read them correctly). We took a few large round-about circles to get places, but that's ok, we chalked that up to exercise and adventure. That's what exploring is all about anyway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato

My grandparents sent along tomatoes from their garden and chocolate zucchini bread when I left. So that's what I'll be eating until I have a chance to go look for a grocery store nearby. I will go store searching this afternoon since I can not get a student ID card until I register for classes, without which I cannot sign my lease yet either. Oh complications.

As far as tomatoes go though, I never realized how good they are all by themselves. Slice them up, dump some salt on them, and gobble down. Why don't people eat them like this more often?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Moving Day

Saturday was moving day for me! Hello College Park. Goodbye Shippensburg.

Boxes, boxes boxes everywhere. I packed up an entire truck and still couldn't fit all my stuff in.

Moving isn't exactly the most fun task ever.

Getting my desk and bookshelves up the stairs was a precarious task. Some of the furnite had nowhere sturdy to grab onto, so the giant hunk of wood wanted to slip right out of our hands. My dad kept asking me when the football team was planning on running by to help out. Right. As I am staying in graduate housing, I told him the football players don't usually make it to grad school. Ouch, that was mean of me. Thankfully, we did eventually get everything up the stairs in one piece; my back and arms are sore though. All I wanted to do on Sunday is lay flat, and honestly, that's about all I did.

I still have everything sitting around the apartment, but once I'm finished unpacking and decorating I'll upload a photo for you to see.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fancy Smancy Laptop Case...and Handmade Too

I sewed something! I made a cute bag for my laptop and another one for the charger and cords. The first was actually just practice to see if I was up the task, and surprisingly, it turned out well.

Unfortunately, I still can't use my sewing machine that I got for Christmas two years ago (since I am a sewing moron, and every time I touch the thing, the threads from the bobbin get ridiculously twisted while the material gets jammed around the needle until it starts making angry noises), so this project was all done by hand.

I used scrap material and an old blue flannel shirt for the lining that ought to have been cut up years ago for violating every rule of fashion. I took pleasure in cutting the flannel shirt up and sticking pins in it. Bah ha ha.

But anyway, after I was finished sewing the first bag, the trim around the top turned out being uneven at the seams. That's ok, I had a light bulb moment. I found ribbon and tied little bows right over the bad alignment. Problem averted. Then I sewed buttons on side for decoration. Voila! A free laptop cover and cord-carrying bag. It only took me about 6 hours to make...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bright, Bright Sunshiny Day

Sunflowers waving in the wind. I am shocked at how tall those things get. How is it possible that stalks could get that high without toppling over? I am just amazed. What keeps sunflowers from drooping down?? They seem so top heavy.

I believe that sunflowers equal smiles. They take you away to a fun sunshiny place. They make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. They mean sunny days, water sprinklers, iced-lemonade, and the smell of freshly cut grass. Sunflowers just make you happy; that is, of course, unless you are crazy. Although, crazy people probably like sunflowers too.

Just for fun: Step by Step Guide for growing sunflowers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mac Love (And Hate)

My Macbook and accessories came in the mail last week (the FedEx man woke me up 4 different days in a row since I had to sign for the packages that all happened to be delivered separately. He probably thought I am a disheveled individual; I made a habit of shoving on pants over my pjs while hopping to the door, my hair a mess, and not being able to see the box to sign without my contacts in yet).

But anyway, I have a love-hate sort of relationship with my new Mac. I love the design and setup; it's so sleek. I hate that you can't double click or push a the delete button to erase to the right; those two things frustrate me to no end. I love the new programs that I am still testing out from iPhoto to iChat. I hate that it takes me 10 minutes to do anything that on my old computer would've taken me 1. Argh. I think it's just the adjustment period. Soon we will have a love-only relationship going on.

If nothing else, every time I look at the computer, I swoon at how pretty it is. The glowing apple on the back is the best thing since sliced bread. And did I mention that the Incase cover is purple?

Just my style.

Mac and I will get along just fine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Good Place for Hiking

Ironic. On Thursday, I starting writing this post about how much I love the South Central Pennsylvania area because there are so many nice hiking trails around, then, that very night, a trail took revenge. I started on a hike, it began to rain, the finale of So You Think You Can Dance was about to be on in a half an hour, so I brilliantly decided to run down the the mountain. Well, I was wearing old sneakers, and the rocks were really slippery wet, so I took a tumble and sliced open my knee. Smart, I know. At least I didn't break anything. I told my mom that I was close enough to the road that I could have at least crawled down the side of the mountain and laid on the road until somebody stopped. A great relief, it didn't come to that. It probably would've been a sketchy white unlabeled van that would be the first to drive by too...

However, as I started writing earlier, I do love living in a place where there is easy access to nature. I love the beauty and freedom of a solitary trail. I love the climb up into the middle-of-nowhere, where birds sing, turtles scuttle, mountain laurels flower, and vistas overlook the valley.

When my brother-in-law who lives in Texas was here, we hit up almost all the trails within driving distance to Shippensburg. When I make my move to the city at the end of this week, I am going to miss the nature I have grown to love this summer.

Maybe the DC area has lots of nature too? I know downtown DC is at least landscaped well. How about the suburbs? I guess I'll find out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Picasso's Bullfighting Aquatints

A snapshot in time.

Most people don't realize that Pablo Picasso had a whole lifetime of art apart from the cubism movement that he pioneered.

He did tons of other works.

When I visited the Museo Picasso in Malaga (the birth place of our beloved cubist), I was SHOCKED at the breadth and depth of his early works. There was one (quite good) realist painting of a girl sitting in a chair that was not abstract in the least which he painted when he was only 15. There was pottery and my favorite, his aquatints. Entitled, La Tauromaquia ("The Bullfight" translated from Spanish to English), this series of 26 panels includes some of my favorite images of all time.

Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking technique which is a variant of etching. Created in 1957, Picasso's aquatints are exquisite in line and form. I love the black and white contrast. The movement of the drawings. The character of the images. The hurried expressiveness of the bullfighting scene.

This lesser known side of Picasso is powerful, exquisite, and by far, my favorite.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Win Me an Olympic Medal, and I'll Pay You

8.8.08 The Olympics start today. Go USA!

My favorites to watch are beach volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, diving, indoor volleyball, synchronized swimming, basketball and the rarely broadcasted, rhythmic gymnastics.

Watching the opening ceremony, it sort of makes me feel bad that America is so good at everything. What athlete wouldn't want to train with the best coaches and resources in a country where the standard of living is probably 10 times better than their home country? It's almost unfair. Some small and poor countries march in with one lone person on their Olympic team, and you know they have no chance competing against giants like the USA, Russia, Canada, and China.

The NBC broadcasters were saying that some nations pay athletes from third world countries to compete on their behalf. In some cases, countries offer $20,000 for a medal win. That seems to go against the spirit of the Olympics to bring the nations of the world together for celebration and fair competition. I get the sinking feeling that "buying" athletes tiptoes toward a vague and undefined ethical boundary.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Evening Out the Happiness Train

I find happiness studies fascinating. According to Justin Wolfers at Freakonomics, happiness inequality in the United States is decreasing both among gender and race, despite increasing among those with education differences. The graph below shows how happiness inequality is generally decreasing in each of the groups listed.

Our key finding is that most of the movements in happiness inequality reflect changes in happiness inequality within even narrowly-defined demographic groups, and these changes are quite pervasive.

While this is a statistical explanation, it simply begs the question: What changes could have narrowed happiness inequality so pervasively? And juxtaposing our observed trends in happiness inequality with measures of income inequality — which have pretty much risen for the past four decades in a row — presents a real puzzle. How might we reconcile these trends?
I have my theories...perhaps happiness isn't as dependent on income as some would like to claim.

I believe that happiness is evening out because happiness has everything to do with life attitude. Richer people are becoming less happy because they have realized that money can't buy them the most important things is life, and they spend so much time concerned about their money that their enjoyment of it actually decreases. Poorer people are becoming more happy because they have growing access to all the fundamentals in life and often times their poorness is only poor in relative terms. People without money have been profoundly good at focusing on the more 'meaningful' elements of life throughout history.

The main idea??? HAPPINESS IS NOT DEPENDANT ON INCOME (beyond a basic needs/survival level). I get sick of hearing that assumption over and over again. Many people without money are the most satisfied and happy I have ever met.

When people do attempt to base their happiness on their real or perceived level of financial prosperity (or any other externality for that matter)---that is when they will never achieve the happiness that alludes them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Happened to Red Watermelons?

No no, it is not pineapple you see. It is watermelon.

Yellow watermelon is the new thing.

Red is out. Yellow is in.

For some reason, I don't think yellow watermelon tastes the same. Psychologically?? it tastes more like cantaloupe and less like watermelon, which is a sad sad change for any melony-fruit.

Also negative, the yellow watermelon I had was seedless. Why eat watermelon unless you can have a speed-spitting contest afterwards? I am just not a fan.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gross, Too Cute

I promised myself I would never be the type of blogger person who incessantly broods over anything cuddly, furry, or ridiculously cute (i.e. pets).

Example: People at these disgusting sites i can has cheezburger, Awwpix, Cute Cat, Daily Pets, Random Kitty Generator, and Cute Overload.

I am making an exception now. My sister's dog and two kitties are about the most adorable things ever. It almost makes me sick.

Especially this little guy. He's so lovable, and tired.

I have been reduced to adding a "y" or "ie" to every word I use when I talk to the itty bitty cutesie wootsies.

*Shaking my head* What has happened to me? I've turned into a bowl of mush.

Monday, August 4, 2008

iTouch, he he he

I started blogging this post from an iPod touch. Oh la la.

Soon Aemelia is about to be the proud owner one of these hot pieces of metal.

Funny thing. I didn't realize the official name of the device was an iPod Touch. I thought it was simply called the "iTouch." So in conversation, I start talking about iTouch this and iTouch that. My friends thought I was some kind of weirdo creep talking about how I like to touch things. Nooooo. An iPod. Really that's what I meant.

Now the jokes never stop. iTouch.

Good thing Apple saw the futility in potentially naming their product that. The puns would get out of hand in about, oh, one minute.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Movin' to the Country...Gonna Eat a lot of Peaches

Yummy. It's peach harvest season! My mom and I went to the orchard on Mt. Rock Road in Shippensburg today. Mmmmm. They had fans blowing in their little tent and the smell of fresh ripe peaches wafted to our noses. Oh. It was delightful.

The beautiful orange peaches were calling out to us, especially in their antique wooden baskets. My favorite thing about peach season would have to be a bowl of sliced peaches with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on top. Sigh. I am dreaming about it now.

The worst thing about peach season, however, would have to be peaches with the skin still on them. Ewwww, they are not meant to be eaten that way. Those fuzzies on my tongue?? Argh, I can't handle that.