Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Are New Year's Resolutions Doomed to Fail?

Make your resolutions. It's almost 2011.

I'm planning on posting mine on this blog once I figure out what they are because once you make a public statement of them, they become harder to break. It's all about the mental game. Make your resolutions and tell people about them so they can either keep you accountable or you can psychologically feel more committed to them.

If you're like me, your first thought was probably that sharing your resolutions with others will just make you feel more guilty when you break them--but at least you'll be able to say you tried if that ends up being the case. Don't let the fear of failure (or the social pressure of the fear of failure) stop you from making necessary and/or desirable change in your life. And maybe if your goals are measurable, specific, and realistic you'll actually be successful! Let's work on coming up with a few good ones and sticking to them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Tubing

Some people spend Christmas indoors in front of the fireplace, cozy and warm. Other people spend Christmas outdoors on the side of a mountain, cold and freezing...because they're snow tubing!

This year, after a yummy dinner and games with extended family we bundled up in scarves, boots, gloves, hats, and big coats; squeezed ourselves into the SUV and headed out to Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, PA. Most of us had never gone snow tubing before so I thought it would be a fun Christmas present for my family.

Once at the ski resort, we hopped into a shuttle bus and arrived at the snow tubing location on the side of the mountain. They issue you a pass and snow tube once you sign a waiver you won't sue the place if you break both legs and an arm. Then you ride a conveyor belt-type thingie to the top of the hill, pick a lane, and whooosh, slide down the mountain. At the bottom, the staff insists you "drag your feet" to slow down, but if you can't stop in time there are big red inflatables to cushion your stoppage.

I was surprised at the level of organization of snow tubing. I expected a free-for-all area of tubes bumping into each other, but there were about 15 lanes where you ride down individually and then clear out at the bottom to make room for tubers at the top. I was also surprised there were hills built into the tubing area so you didn't go straight down, but up and down, and at times, getting air if you went fast enough.

The staff at Liberty was really friendly. They would give you a good push down the mountain if you needed one and practically begged you to let them spin you. That style of going down was fun, but you couldn't do to too many of those before your head would be spinning faster than your snow tube. My favorite way down was on my belly with a fast running start to encourage speed.

I really enjoyed snow tubing and will be sure to go again in the future. If we have to have cold weather anyway, why not take advantage of it?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Fully human and fully God, Christ came to reconcile us with the one who created us. Through Him our relationship with God can be restored. The greatest gift we will ever receive is the salvation God provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. May we not forget the true meaning of Christmas in midst of all the other exciting things this holiday has come to mean. God gives good gifts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus

Get to bed. Santa's on his way!

Don't forget to leave him some cookies and milk.

And a carrot for Rudolph if you're really nice.

Almost Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve friends!

Heading out my Aunt's house for some delicious holiday fixin's. I can't wait to celebrate the season with my loved ones. Enjoy your time with yours!

And by golly I hope your done with your shopping. The malls are chaos at this time of year with frantic last minute shoppers, grouchy sales clerks, messy shelves, dwindling merchandise, loud music, long lines, and no parking. It's like high-speed Christmas on steroids in those places. Only step foot in them if you absolutely must.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

National Harbor

The National Harbor is a nice place to go to spend an afternoon or evening. If you're like me, you didn't even know we had a national harbor, but surprise, we do! It's not hard to get to at all from VA, MD, or DC, so if you live in the metro area you should try to visit at least once. It seems like it might be a popular convention location. At this time of year there's a christmas tree up in addition to pier year round and a strange body sculpture in the sand.

We ate at a lovely restaurant on the harbor, Rosa Mexicano They have interesting food and very cool, bright modern Mexican atmosphere. The dish I ordered included chihuahua cheese. I still have no idea what that is and it's probably best that way. I just hope it didn't come from a purse dog.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peep Peep

Due to some confusion in my family (names shall go unmentioned to protect their identity) over the definition of the word "peep" used in modern context, I'd like to clarify for the whole world: It is NOT a derogatory word for women. When you visit your "peeps" you are not visiting a harem of prositutes or even gaggle of attractive ladies. "Peeps" can be used to refer to both men and women equally and is simply short for "people" as the Urban Dictionary so graciously informs us.

Of course Peeps with a capital P are also delicious marshmallow candies in the shape of rabbits and baby chickens usually served around Easter.

At a recent trip to the National Harbor in DC, a life-size Peep was dancing around, posing for photo ops in front Peep Store (yes, an entire store devoted to Peeps) Cute no?

The Peep store also featured Peep artwork which a USA Today commenter aptly pointed out to the artist: "Thank God you found something to do with those things other than eat them," Amen. You'll also note my prior posts. My own Peep bomb, Peeps Research, and Drawing them on eggs. I have a fascination with the things even though I refuse to eat them. I fear human stomachs can't digest such hazardous material. Seriously. I feel the same way about taffy.

The newest fad, however, is apparently Christmas Peeps. No need to wait until Easter for your sugary crystalized neon-colored goo. The Peep Store gave us adorable cupcakes; but unfortunately, like I said, I don't eat them. They'd be cute to serve at a holiday party though. Maybe your "peeps" would enjoy some Christmas Peeps.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog

Wow, as of today I've been blogging for 6 years!! Yoohoo. That's a really long time. My blog has officially outlasted any pet I've ever owned (sorry Tutle). Yes, my blog has been good to me. It has seen me through the years, at some times more than others.

Fortunately, one's blog can never disappoint nor forsake (unless you accidently delete it because you didn't know the Spanish word for delete, in which case the magic fairies at will restore your blog after a bunch of frantic emails). So here's to you my faithful friend. Happy 6th Birthday!

Monday, December 13, 2010


I had another amazing semester of teaching some wonderful ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students! This semester we partook in some exciting conversations, jack-o-lantern carving, a UMD football game, and an American dinner at my house. And I didn't even poison them on the last one...I think. I learned so much about China and Colombia and made some great friends in the process.

This is my second semester as an ESOL conversation volunteer and I have to say, everyone should get involved in some sort of cross-cultural exchange on a regular basis. You will always be learning new things about another culture and about your own as well. I know conversation times were always some of my favorite times of the week; and little flashback to my time holding conversation circles in Uruguay. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, if you want to learn about somebody's culture or language, the chances are they want to learn about yours too. So if both parties take the time to share, everybody wins.

Photo courtesy of our resident photographer, Zhiwei.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To the Statue of Liberty and Beyond

If you want to visit the statue of liberty I highly recommend buying your tickets online before you go. Fortunately we did, and when we got there we had the privilege of passing all the other suckers in the really really long "flex" pass line. So do yourself a favor, buy your ferry tickets beforehand or you'll be waiting in the cold with the hobos (literally--they play music and beg for money nearby). No matter which ticket you get though, you'll still have to go through airport-like security twice. Yes, once before you board the ferry and once before entering the statue. A little much, no? The ferry continues on from Liberty Island to Ellis Island and if you visit both of the locations, you could make a whole day of it.

Lady Liberty, my does she look nice.

World Trade Center: Still Nothing?

Progress at the World Trade Center looks to be very slow. I mean it's been over 9 years and the area still looks like a big hole in the ground. Instead of worrying about a community center that might be built nearby, why don't we get our game together and get the memorial built?

Same with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in DC. I almost fainted when I heard it will take 5 years to complete and over $120 million. What is it the statue going to be made of, pure gold? I'd hope so for that kind of price tag.

The vision for the new WTC does seem to be pretty ambitious though, so I think we can give them a little bit of a pass. According to new World Trade Center embodies a bold vision: To remember, to renew, and to rebuild the future.

With five major new office towers built to the highest architectural, environmental, safety and security standards, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a state-of-the-art Transportation Hub, unparalleled retail opportunities, a performing arts center and more, the new World Trade Center represents the triumph of the human spirit.

The new World Trade Center is destined to become once again the world's premier destination for commerce, culture and community.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Early Show

Had an amazing time in New York City!!! We had few bumps regarding transportation, errr, thanks Greyhound. Great service. We almost missed our bus on the way there and almost missed the metro on the way back. Apparently the times on the ticket are just guidelines. But life wouldn't be very much fun it everything went according to plans.

We went to an early, yes, very early taping of The Early Show on CBS and appeared on TV numerous times although I have no proof of the fact. My mom taped cartoons instead of the show so we'll never know how great we looked waving at the cameras.

We did however, get a picture taken with the weather man, Lonnie Quinn, so yes, we're practically famous now. We also took a tour of the studio which was, in typical TV show fashion, not nearly as big as you would imagine. The set was rather small and all of it was a product of TV magic. The sofa was customized to be firmer or softer depending on where different hosts sit to make them all appear the same height. The floor was concrete but painted to look like wood. The stage where stars perform is really as big as a closet with 3 sheets of plastic behind them that are colored by fancy lights. The fans stand around the CBS gates in the middle of an open air plaza, so even the smallest handful of people can look like hundreds.

Never believe what you see on you see on the telly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hello New York

Off to the Big Apple for the weekend. It's going to be as fun as a barrel of monkeys there.

With all the express buses from DC to NYC why not go? Several bus lines offer unbelievably low prices including:


Greyhound had the best prices this round, especially if you buy online at least 1-2 weeks in advance. These cheap and easy buses remind me more traveling in Europe than in the States. And traveling in Europe is MUCH easier than here. I just wish we had the equivalent Ryan Air. Sure, you fear whether the pilot actually knows how to fly, and whether you'll make it to your destination; but there's not a whole of complaining for $20 a plane ticket.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Savor the Flavor

In the season of temperatures so cold you can see your breath, runny noses, frost on the windshield, and shivers down your spine, I must ask you: What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Mine is usually chocolate chip cookie dough because of those umptious spoonfuls of cookie dough chunks. Yum.

I used to get in trouble if I stole a bite of cookie dough from my mom and grandma's batter on cookie baking day because of raw eggs in the dough. I suppose it also had something to do with them not wanting me to eat all their cookies before they even made it into the oven. With chocolate cookie cookie dough ice cream though, you can eat the sugary lumps, and it's completely allowed. Ben and Jerry's is good, but so are other various brands--as long as they don't skimp on the cookie dough pieces.

Haagan Dazs' Pineapple Coconut is a flavor I just recently tasted and it was pretty scrumptious too. I also have a fondness for peach ice cream and classic vanilla with real strawberries on the side.

Turkey Hill has a scrumptious Honey Vanilla Granola that tastes just as good as ice cream.

Hershey's strawberry cheesecake is probably on my top flavors list too.

Oh gosh. I love ice cream. I could ice cream every day of the week if I allowed myself; even in the winter. It's just soooo good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Learning Arabic

I've decided to start learning Arabic, but let me tell you, native English speakers, it's not easy. There are several letters in the arabic alphabet that don't have equivalents in the English language. And vowels make NO sense to me at all. When do I use an actual vowel versus a line signaling a vowel? And why are letters written differently based on where they are in the word? There are different ways to write letters depending on their position at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. Not to mention writing in the opposite direction as well. This seems impossible!

But I'm determined. Although it seems like a daunting task now, I'm sure it will become easier over time. The writing is so beautiful. I can't wait until I can understand Arabic.

If you're a beginner like me and want to start learning Arabic, I recommend this Learn Arabic with Maha on YouTube. Also, this video is a big help with the alphabet for true newbies. And take a peek at this list of basic phrases from Linguanaut to get you started. I think you should join me in learning Arabic so we can complain about how difficult it is together!

Ma’a salama

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Big Chess

The turkey has been eaten, black friday deals are over, and Thanksgiving has been forgotten. Now it's back to the grind.

I already miss playing big chess with my dad. The black and white squares were painted on the floor of the hotel's game room and the pieces were about the size of a toddler. Seeing the lines was much more difficult because more than once I made a move and then thought, oh crap, that's not what I wanted to do. When I said check, I though my bishop in line with your king...

Playing chess made me miss gameknot where I played over 362 games in the course of several years. A traumatic loss in only 3 moves (to a high school boyfriend nonetheless) sparked an interest in improving my chess game even though I didn't join the site until years after dating him. It's funny the little things you tie to your self-esteem and never forget. In retrospect, I chalk that horrific loss up to not really knowing the rules; even though at the time I felt as dumb as dirt. It's all a matter of learning the game and developing your strategy. I have improved quite steadily since then, and I shall never lose in 3 or less moves ever again; so if you thought you could crush me in chess, think again buddy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ocean City Winterfest of Lights

It was sooo cold today so we canceled our walk up the boardwalk in favor of walking around in warmer places (read: went shopping). My toes were thankful; my wallet not so much.

As soon as it got dark, however, we decided to brave the cold windy weather to attend the Winterfest of Lights, a Christmasy light show at Ocean City, MD. You only really need to go to this winterfest once, but as my parents pointed out, they add a couple new things every year and it gives you something to do.

As it is now after Thanksgiving, I can accept Christmas themed things. I found it pretty annoying that radio stations starting playing Christmas music and stores started setting up their Christmas decorations before halloween even. Let us enjoy one holiday at a time. Geez, people!

Friday, November 26, 2010

What 3 things would you grab in a fire?

This morning the fire alarm of our hotel woke us up. Attention: everybody outside. Fun indeed. A whirl of pajamas, unbrushed hair, and screaming kids from neighboring rooms.

You know that hypothetical situation where you choose 3 things you will take with you if your house is on fire and you have to evacuate immediately? Yeah, well that type of clear thinking doesn't really happen in such a situation anyway.

The three things I grabbed when I thought the place was on fire were my computer (good choice), contacts (probably necessary), and gloves (huh?). I didn't bring other important things like my ipod, phone, credit card, keys, or coat. So much for clarity in the morning fire drill. The alarm likely awakened us because somebody burned Jimmy Dean sausages in their microwave, but still, I couldn't have grabbed more strategic items? Hopefully I'll never have to face that situation for real.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

I'm at the beach freezing. Brrrr.

I'm also eating at a buffet. This only happens once a year. Turkey beware. I shall conquer.

Now, if only I could find my stretchy pants...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is it Thanksgiving yet?

Cant. Wait. Until. Thanksgiving.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's seeing my family. Maybe it's taking a much needed break from school & work. Maybe it's going to the beach. Maybe it's the promise of turkey. Maybe it's the Macy's day parade and football game. Maybe it's the holiday spirit and chance at collective thankfulness. Maybe it's getting away from the routine. Maybe it's the Black Friday shopping.

What ever it is...Thanksgiving cannot get here soon enough.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who fills out consumer research surveys?

Toyota's research company dedicated to "buyer feedback and emotional response studies" keeps sending out these customer surveys for me to fill out every few months or so since I bought my car in January; and I keep filling them out. I am such a sucker. They take almost 20 minutes to read and go through, clicking radio buttons from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Who the heck actually does that?? Is it because I have no life? NO. Is it because I really think they care what I think? NO. Is it because I feel like I am accomplishing something meaningful or doing something nice for someone else? NO. It's because they have a drawing for a $20,000 cash prize that you supposedly get entered into for filling out the anonymous survey. It's because you click on the link and think, yeah, ok, that 1 in a million chance at 20,000 is worth 2 minutes of my time, and then, 18 minutes later you are still trying to decide whether driving a Toyota makes you feel more "powerful" or "secure" or hey, why not both?

It's all about getting customers to click on the link. Once they do, you've got 'em, because they're not going to stop filling the thing out mid-way through. And in my case, I'll click on the intitial link 3 times in less than a year. Clearly I don't learn. Is there anybody else out there who completes these surveys?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to get tickets to go up the Washington Monument

Even though I've been to Washington, DC a million times as a kid and have been living here for two years, I've still never gone up the Washington Monument.

For a couple years it was closed for renovation, but I do believe it's been opened for while since. You have to have a timed ticket to go up as I learned this weekend when I took this photo. Apparently you have to arrive on site at 8:30AM in order to get tickets to go up. Ha. Yeah right. On a day I would have time to go the monument (namely Saturdays), there is no way I'd wake up up at 8:30AM let alone be waiting in line for a ticket at 8:30AM. I love sleeping in on weekends. So what are those of us who are not early birds to do?

Well, we can order tickets at If you want to go on a weekend, it's likely you'll have to order yours a few weeks in advance. Or in the summer a few months in advance. The tickets are free, but there is a nominal fee per ticket for shipping and whatnot ($1.50 each when I checked), but the extra couple of hours of sleep is worth it.

I'm going to order my tickets soon, because it's about time I check out this DC from the best vantage point--within!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


As much as language shapes our reality, it is also largely inadequate. There is so much that language can say; but there is so much more that language cannot say.

So many times I have wanted to express a feeling or thought, but was unable to do so because words just couldn't fully grasp the nuance of the concept. I find this problem most often occurring to me when trying to express certain feelings or when trying to give accurate descriptions. I still love words though and think they lie at the essence of our being. Yet sometimes words can't suffice. And sometimes words must be twisted into artistic forms to more accurately represent the human experience.

All this thinking came about by stumbling upon these 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World . 20 words that don't have English equivalents. I know there are many many more out there, but I enjoyed this selection, which included:

Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh”

Spanish – “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.”

Arabic - “You bury me, a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them."

Japanese – “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune.

and my favorite from the list (I can't imagine why don't have this one in English...):

Pascuense (Easter Island) “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scary Glowing Pumpkin Faces

Yay. Nothing like carving pumpkins and turning them into jack-o-lanterns.

Students from my ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) conversation class managed to stump me. They asked why we call them jack-o-lanterns, and I had to answer, "I don't know." The best answer Wikipedia gives is the origin from the latin phrase ignis fatuus which is sometimes translated "will-o'-wisp, corpse candle, jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, gunderslislik, and wisp, a Folklore depiction of ghostly light sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes." Meh. That hardly helps. And the History channel will tell you a folk tale, but I think the common thread is that we don't know.

So why are you called jack-o-lanterns, scary glowing pumpkin faces?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birthing Tent Spectacle

Awhile back at the great Frederick fair in Maryland, they had a very unusual event for fair goers to experience. That being the birthing tent. Yes, that's right. A fun filled tent full of very pregnant animals ready to pop out baby animals.

Right before we got there, a calf had been born and another cow was is in the process of giving birth. I have never seen such a thing, and I'm even from the country. I found the birthing tent to be a very bizarre spectacle. Why would people want to stand around and watch such a thing?

The poor cow was losing blood left and right. And the people there before us told us in great detail how they had to attach chains to the calf to help the mother push it out of her ealier. At one point, the cow started turning around, and the farmer had to announce that some on-lookers were in the "splash zone," and it was then that I decided this birthing tent was really not for me.

Does anyone else think that a birthing spectacle is distasteful? Sure, the babies are cute once they're born, but I like my baby animals the way I like my steak--wIth no knowledge of how they got there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some More S'mores Please

Graham cracker.
Toasted marshmallow.
Hershey's chocolate.
Graham cracker.


Yum. It's s'more season. Get to having campfires people!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Falling for Fall

Even though I'm not too found of fall, because it represents the death of summer, I do appreciate autumn leaves (apple cider, campfires, fall fashion, and pumpkin carving).

There is no better place to experience fall colors than than in south central Pennsylvania. A drive through the mountains reveals stunning natural scenery at every turn. The photo above is from Laurel lake at the base of an amazing hike, Pole Steeple, that looks over the whole valley. So despite the dropping temperatures and shorter days, I still have a soft spot in my heart for fall foliage.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You may now Kiss the Bride. Not.

I want to take this post to reflect on weddings as one my best friends of all time got married this weekend. Congratulations Emily! You were soooo beautiful!

You know, I was thinking with her ceremony that it was the perfect balance between tradition and modernism. Sexist traditions were replaced with more female-friendly phrases. For example instead of the pastor saying, "you may now kiss the bride" he told both the bride and groom they could kiss each other. Instead of the bride's father giving her away alone, he referenced the bride's mother as well. She struck a perfect balance between the tugs of traditonality and modern sensibility.

I also enjoyed some of the other innovative things she incorporated into her wedding. Instead of throwing rice or blowing bubbles as the couple walked out of the church, the guests unraveled colored ribbons. Instead of lighting a candle, the bride and groom poured sand into a glass container; the grains of sand never to be separated again. She also had a great color (eggplant--purple for the color dummies among us) for the bridesmaid's dresses. And it didn't have any foo foo frills or ugly poofy sleeves. Emily is the model bride. Really, all brides should be like her.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Misheard Lyrics

Listening gone wrong. Beautiful examples of the catastrophe improper assignment of meaning can cause...

Fall Out Boy is also into cats.
Also into cats.

More of the best of the best misheard lyrics on YouTube, hand-sorted by yours truly:

Christina Aguilera-Ain't No Other Man I've been haunted by Sears
Sean Paul-Temperature I wanna be keeping you, worm
A collection of lyrics Hit me with your pet shark
Justin Timberlake-Sexyback Get your sexy "o"
Breaking Benjamin-Blow Me Away Caught inside this microwave
AFI-Silver and Cold I cleaned your bidet

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Anthony Bourdain Eats a Chivito

First thing I said when I saw this video was, heeey, I've eaten there before! Anthony Bourdain visited Uruguay and gobbled down a chivito for lunch at Chiviteria Marcos. There used to be one pretty close to our apartment in Pocitos although I think the show was filmed in Centro.

Here's my post on the chivito from last year. I wasn't as laudatory as Bourdain, but generally when a sandwhich has meat, meat, and fried eggs on it, I start getting worried about my arteries. Enough chivitos in a lifetime could lead serious heart conditions. Even Bourdain admits it's "a popular spot to risk gastric rupture." Haha. Don't worry though Uruguay, I still love you and miss you dearly.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Went to another Nats game. We lost...again. That's ok though. We still had a lot of fun. This time it didn't rain, and Lincoln won the president's race. And, I now have a pretty red hat which makes me an official fan.

I kept think throughout the game how many references in American culture have come from baseball. If you knew nothing about the game, you'd have no idea what these things meant.

Three strikes and you're out
Batter's up
Home run
Touch base
In the ball park
Threw me a curve ball
Came out of left field

And those are just the ones that I could come up with. WIkipedia did a much better job. Do you think the big fat list of idioms that originated from baseball proves it's our nation's favorite pastime? Or have we moved on to say, American football?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Uruguay vs. Philip Morris

While I was in Uruguay last year, I posted about the sickly, shocking, and unsightly images plastered on the side of cigarette cartons by government mandate. The disturbing photos were required to fill at least 80% of the package.

Now it appears Philip Morris has filed a case against Uruguay's public health measures. I'm not surprised. Images of dying babies certainly don't help cigarette sales.

Furthermore, Eyes on Trade suggests "the implication of the BIT [Swiss-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty] was not more jobs created in Uruguay, but a platform for a long existing entity to challenge Uruguay's efforts to reduce smoking deaths - and maybe, just maybe, put a chill on anti-tobacco legislation in other developing countries - now a primary market for Multinational Big Tobacco."

Personally, I'm for trade. Against Big Tobacco. End of story.

Friday, September 3, 2010

How do you zoo?

Took a trip to the National Zoo and was reminded how nice it is. Even after visiting the San Diego Zoo earlier this summer, I still prefer the good ol' free one in DC. The highlight? The pandas. The creepiest? All the critters in the reptile house.

I have but one complaint about the DC zoo though. Get some giraffes! What is a zoo without graceful, slightly awkward, long-necked giraffes?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is Consumerism Killing Our Creativity?

At first thought, maybe yes. People are more likely to shop online for good deals than sit in their houses doing needlepoint. People waste their energy on "things" and in the process stop creating ideas. Excess spoils and we know artists only thrive on want. With the lack of things people create.

I landed on the article, Is Consumerism Killing Our Creativity via twitter. "But why is consumerism – and particularly, an online hunt for the ideal purchase – so addictive? It turns out that our consumerist impulse stimulates the same part of the brain that fires when we’re on the trail of a great idea. As we go through the trial and error of executing an idea – What if I tried this? Ah! Now what about this? – we’re using those same wanting, hunting, getting instincts but in a nobler pursuit."

Yeah, consumerism is product of our creative impulses. If we stop to consider the questions, we begin to realize consumerism is not killing our creativity, but fueling it. In a consumeristic world, there is competition for better and more creative ideas. Boring, old, and stale thinking is mercily trampled by the market, and thus without creative solutions, one is rendered crippled. Consumerism accelerates creativity. Among the many options out there, the only way to stand out and remain relevant is to infuse your art/product/service/being with the utmost creativity. Consumerism does not murder creativity but relies on it as the key ingredient in modern life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cookie Monster Turned Yam Monster?

I was recently reminiscing about the joys of watching cookie monster chow down excessive cookies as a child, so I was intrigued to see this news story about taking Sesame Street to Nigeria.

Funded by USAID, this new Sesame Street, renamed Sesame Square, will teach Nigerians about subjects ranging from AIDS, malaria nets, gender equality to yams. Their version of the Cookie Monster obesses not over cookies but over yams. He sings, "I can fry the yam. I can toast it. I can boil it. I love yams!" It's no chocolate chip cookie, but that's the beauty cross-cultural adaptation. Yay, for educational television programming everywhere!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Runaway Dinner

The most exciting kinds of the dinners are those that try to escape.

I don't think I've ever screamed so much over dinner before in my life; although to be fair, it was probably more shrieking than screaming. Our task was to cook almost a whole bushel of Maryland Blue crabs which, in case you don't know, is a ridiculous amount of blue crabs. To make matters worse, live crabs are fiesty little critters that don't seem to like being dusted with Old Bay seasoning and shoved in a hot pot. They flap their legs around like crab-maniacs making little clicking noises. "Don't eat me. Don't eat me." We felt it prudent to apologize to each crab before sending it off to it's fate.

At one point, a crab popped off the the lid and jumped out of the steamer onto the stove and then onto the floor. Crazy crab. We had to use tongs to grab him, wash him off, and put him back in. Sorry.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sweetest Place on Earth

I'm was feeling Hershey Park Happy during those last days of summer. Hershey Park will always be the best amusement park. Where else can you see life-size candy bars dancing around while riding on roller coasters?

I hadn't been to Hersheypark (over the summer) in 3 years and was delighted to find that they now have 11 roller coasters and a new boardwalk full of water rides right in the park. I knew we were in for a good day when the parking attendent greeted us with, "Have a sweet day." Thanks. We will.

As always, the Chocolate World Ride was a great ending to an amazing day. Here is where you learn how the chocolate is made and leave with free piece of chocolate. Sweet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Avocado Juice

Imagine avocados turned into juice.

Sounds odd to those of us only know avocado as the main ingredient in guacamole, right? So why would you want to liquify avocados and mix them with sweet stuff?

My skepticism of avocado juice however, was proven wrong when I had a yummy homemade avocado smoothie/milkshake/juice this week (defining it is a little dicey because it is blended like a smoothie, creamy like a milkshake, and healthy like juice). All you do is add an avocado, milk, and sugar to taste into a blender, blend well, and serve. The taste is sweet; the texture is thick; the color is beautiful mint green. The smoothie/milkshake/juice drink is pretty nutritious too. What's not to love?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DC Restaurant Week

Don't forget, fellow Washington DC metro area dwellers, this week is Restaurant Week, where you can get a fancy 3 course meal for a fixed price well below the going rate at over 200 participating restaurants. Last night I had dinner at a restaurant that is way out of my price range as a poor graduate student. Yay for fine dining on a budget.

I know there are many people in the city who can afford to wine and dine at places like this every evening. Dropping a hundred bucks for dinner (or more) is nothing to them. To be honest though, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with that type of lifestyle even if I had all the money in the world.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shopping for a Camera

Is it bad that I spent more time shopping for a camera than I did for a car? It dawned on me that I bought my current car in a period of less than 3 weeks and my current camera in a period of over 2 months. Does that make me an irrational consumer? I guess the more pressing the need (ie. transportation) the quicker the decision?

But anyway, Amazon and Best Buy both have a deal going on where if you buy a digital camera right now, they throw in a 4GB SD card for free. I snatched up that deal, (ultimately on Amazon because there was no tax) because they also have the most competitive prices on the market for digital cameras.

I almost made a purchase from Delta Camera online, but googled the place before entering my credit card information and was saved by this blog. Apparently the site is a big scam. I thought the reason their prices were so low was because the camera didn't come with a battery and I could buy that separately elsewhere. Apparently though, the camera doesn't come at all, and the listed address is a Jewish Deli in Brooklyn, so I feel like I dodged a bullet there. That's just a reminder to do your research when buying online. If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. Always go for the reputable site. ReSellerRatings is a good place to begin your search.

I also used the Internet to read up on reviews of all the cameras I was considering buying. I knew I wanted a Canon Point-and-Shoot. I knew I wanted a 4x optical zoom. I knew I wanted 12 megapixels. So I worked from there and narrowed it down to the Cannon PowerShot A3100 IS and the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS. They are very similar cameras but one is 30 bucks more expensive than the other. This specs comparison shows nicely how they are basically the same camera in different shells. So what did I base my final decision on in the end? Yeah, I hate to say it, but color. Red won.

I hope to get my camera in the mail today or tomorrow!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crabbing for Maryland Blue Crabs

Even though I've been living in Maryland for awhile now, I have never gone crabbing before last weekend. And I don't know why not. It is such a fun regional activity!

What you do is this. Drive to the pier. Tie smelly chicken necks to the end of the string. Throw the string into the water. Tie string to the pier. Wait. See string move. Grab string and pull upward slowly. See crab eating chicken. Scoop up with a net, and voila, you have yourself a Maryland blue crab.

It really was that easy. We went at high tide during the month of August which is apparently the best time to crab. Almost immediatly after throwing the chicken necks in the water the crabs starting biting. The "crab police" also came around to check if everyone was meeting regulations, namely all crabs must be bigger than 5.25 inches and not female. We were unsure of said regulations and did not want to get a fine of $150 per illegal crab so we dumped them all overboard in a rush.

We then worked on re-catching the crabs and ended up with a nice bucket full. But, just to be sure we had plenty of crabs to eat, we stopped by the fish market in DC to buy more crabs. That was an experience in and of itself. There are heaping piles of fiesty crabs just waiting for you to pick them out and dump them in the steamer. Eating crabs is an experience too. You have to work for your meal! This YouTube tutorial might be of interest to all you newbies out there like me. It's basically snap, crack, smash, and pull. They ought to make crab-eating googles. It's a hazardous task.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Whats with DC Sports Teams?

I have to say, DC sports teams are weird. What's with their mascots? We have the Nationals which have an ugly bird and presidents with wrinkly faces. The Wizards which are a blue hairy wizard. The Redskins which are a politically incorrect Native American. The Capitals which are another blue bird-like furry thing. And DC United which is another bald eagle wanna-be. Come on! Why do you have to have such sucky mascots? If it weren't for the fact DC is a city full of nerds, i would say that's why DC sports teams never win.

Nevertheless, making fun of bad mascots is all part of the sporting event fun (as I'm getting quite used to with a turtle as my current school's public face). I went to my first Nats baseball game last night and despite the pouring rain that delayed the game 2 hours, wet seats, overpriced concessions, and loss to Florida Marlins, it was a lot of fun. I hate watching baseball on TV because it is soooo boring, but watching a game in person is actually exciting. I have to admit though, rather ashamedly, my favorite part of the game was the president's mascot race. Just when it looked like Abe Lincoln was going to win, he got sacked by a giant cat, and good ole George Washington pulled ahead. Yay first prez. But how come Teddy never wins?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Does Craigslist Make you Feel Uneasy?

The beauty of Craigslist. I love it. I really do. Where else can you can pine over missed connections in the metro, pick up free sofas, search for the lost Mr. Whiskers, advertise your Russian tutoring services, find a new apartment to rent, and post a no strings attached SBM seeks SWF personal ad all at the same place? The way it is divided into local markets so you deal with people in your own area seems to be the reason for its success.

I have "officially" used Craigslist twice. Once it landed me an awesome internship. My second experience with the website; however, provided less pleasing results. Tonight I waited for a complete random stranger to meet me in the parking lot of Ikea to sell me a new phone for a long time. Unfortunately this person never showed. Or at least I never figured out which one of the other 200 cars in the parking lot belonged to the stranger with the phone I wanted to buy. I didn't know anything about the person who I was about to meet and he/she didn't know anything about me. I'm sure they were perfectly safe, but I couldn't help being reminded of police report I read awhile ago about a guy getting beat up and robbed who had arranged to buy an iPhone off of someone on Craigslists.

Why does Craigslist seems so much sketchier than the other websites out there? Is it because it is taking the "safe" virtual nature of online relationships and causing it collide into to our real lives where we are thus, more vulnerable? There are scams on Craigslist to be wary of, but isn't that on every site with a community of users? I partake in many online transcations without the bat of an eye, but why is it that Craigslist makes me feel slightly uneasy? Am I paranoid?

P.S. If you don't periodically check out the Best Of Craigslist you're really missing out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Destroy Your Phone in 2 Easy Steps

Last week I wrote about how to destroy your phone in one easy step, but today I'm going to add one more step so you can be sure it's completely dead. After defacing it with nail polish remover you ought to get it irrevocably soaked. My preferred method of destruction is to leave it on the beach unattended. Find a nice sunny dry spot of sand where there is no chance the water will reach, and when you return you will be delighted to find all of your things soaked by a renegade wave. Thanks ocean! You really know how to finish off a phone. I suppose mine was pleading to be put out of its misery.

On a brighter note, this weekend was amazing! Great weather to be at the beach. Rehoboth Beach in Delaware is a nice place to go if you get the chance.

P.S. If you want to call me, don't. You'll have to facebook/twitter/IM/email/singing telegram/pony express me instead.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Is Social Media for Work or Play?

Personal or professional? Personal or professional? This is the question I've been mulling over since deciding to get back into blogging. Especially since I may be entering job market soon, deciding how I want to represent myself online is more important than ever.

I recognize that, in theory, I should be building a personal brand that is marketable. I should be talking about my excellent research abilities, my stellar communication, my positive attitude, my perfect writing, my superior charm and wit, my striking beauty, and...oh wait, maybe I got carried away. But on a more serious note, I do think about how I ought to be selling myself to the world via social media. Shouldn't I be creating an online resume, of sorts, that defines me professionally?

Those of us who like to share opinions, use humor, reveal preferences, carry on conversions in public forums etc. must recognize how it affects our professional image. Not every one appreciates our unique tastes. Not everyone gets our humor. Not everyone agrees with everything we say. Does this mean I shouldn’t post these types of things online? I would say no; because isn't the whole concept of social media sociality? To share with others that which interests us?

But that still doesn't give us much of a guideline for how much of our online activity should be devoted to developing our professional image, because in most cases, our personal and professional interests intersect. There are many career advisors out there who would suggest we should forgo the lure of using social media for our own evil pleasures (like sharing links to funny youtube videos, making fun of cakes gone horribly wrong, and referring friends to the delicious yogurt shops) in favor of only tweetbloglikediggfollowposting material related to our professional development.

But I don't agree; I feel like the lines between our personal and professional lives are very blurry. I'm not even sure if they are separate to be honest, and thus, I think people spend far too much time worrying about keeping personal and professional identities (notice I did not say actual work or play activities) artificially apart. Sure, any time an employer, colleague, or networking contact wants to, they can go online, do a quick search and access tons of "personal" information about you (especially if you utilize social media to its max), but that doesn't mean social media has to be all work and no play. I think the best users seemlessly blend professional and personal content with appropriate doses of descretion of course. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Frozen Yogurt Yumminess

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm in love with frozen yogurt stores (yes, even more so than ice cream shops). They are more delicious and less bad for you.

Ever since a friend recommended I go to Pink Berry in California, I've become addicted. Despite the pricey-ness, I went twice in one week, because I thought it was a Hollywood-only type of thing.

But to my delight, it seems like frozen yogurt stores are taking off everywhere across America. No Pink Berry in DC yet, but was walking through Tyson's Corner the other day and saw a ton of fruit and yogurt shops. In College Park, Maryland we have a great one called,Yogiberry. Apparently, frozen yogurt is the new trend and I didn't notice until now.

The typical frozen yogurt boutique is fun, brightly lit, modern, and defined by sleek logos. I have a theory they are going to be the next coffee shops. Cool cats who once went to Starbucks with their MacBook and skinny jeans will now meander over to the frozen yogurt shop down the street to pay designer prices for designer yogurt. Soon enough one brand will overtake the rest and become the dominant frozen yogurt chain. Any predictions? TCBY hasn't rounded up all the market shares in the biz yet.

With my personal fascination, I am especially fond of the colorful fresh fruit you can pile on to make your yogurt extra scrumptious, like mango or pineapple. And then they have healthy options like granola or almonds to sprinkle on top of those. The list of toppings at these places can be pretty impressive from zany breakfast cereals to decadent cheesecake bites. The choices of yogurt can be extensive as well, my favorite being taro at Yogiberry.

The pressing question, I suppose, is whether or not frozen yogurt is as sinful as ice cream. The answer seems to be almost yes, but no! The main differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream are the probiotic cultures, lower fat, sugar, and improved digestibility of frozen yogurt. The caloric savings aren't great, but I know I certainly feel a lot less guilty after eating a light yogurt snack than heavy ice cream dessert.

Friday, July 30, 2010

How to destroy your phone in one easy step

Crap! I had a bottle of nail polish remover in my purse so I wouldn't forget to take off my nail polish later, but I found out what a brillant idea that was about one hour later. The lid came undone ever so slightly and sloshed sticky smelly liquid all over my purse. Then when it dried it made everything stick to the side of my purse. It's not like I carry around anything too important, but my phone was in there and now it looks like it went through the Battle of Gettysburg. The entire face was eaten away by the acetone in the nail polish remover and it is not a pretty sight. Fortunately, it can still make phone calls. I just can't see who I'm calling. My apologies in advance--stranger I call mother.

BTW it looks like I'm in the market for a new camera (lens damage due to sand??) AND phone. If you have any recommendations for either, please let me know.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I started this blog excited to write posts quite frequently, but unfortunately have not lived up to that already, after only one post. I have an excuse though. A good one.

I have been powerless the past few days quite literally. A thunderstorm on Sunday knocked out power for a lot of the DMV, but in typical Maryland style, it won the race for taking the longest to restore power. I have been going to the university to hop on the wireless internet network at night, charging my cellphone at work, using a flashlight to get in the door, sweating at night in the humidity, and taking freezing cold showers in the morning. It's about time you restore the power Pepco! I have learned the worst part about a life without electricity is the lack of cold food and internet access. These two things are essential, and you don't appreciate them until you don't have them.