Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cherry Blossoms

A "memorable" time was had by all when my sister & her husband came to visit DC for the cherry blossoms. First we couldn't get into the Library of Congress after waiting in line for a half hour because someone doubted the advice I gave NOT to bring an assault weapon (ok, maybe just a standard, run-of-the-mill pocket knife) with him into the city. Then someone got stuck on the metro train because it was crowded as the doors closed and whisked her away while the rest of stood on the exit platform eyes wide open like in the movies. Then it rained at Arlington Cemetery and the tomb of the unknown soldier and hail pelted our faces at the cherry blossom grove around the tidal basin. Then the line to get down into the Smithsonian metro station was so long that there was no way were going to take that stop. Then the restaurant we had planned to go to was closed. And even though everything went wrong that probably could have, we had an excellent time at the cherry blossom festival, rain, pretty trees, fireworks, and all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Only in Pennsylvania

Only in Pennsylvania edition 2. The Easter Bunny waving to an Amish family in a buggy.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Roadkill: You Kill It, We Grill It

It's shocking, gross, disturbing, and it only happens in West Virginia. No, not incest, but the one and only Roadkill Cookoff. What would you be willing to eat?

In Pocahontas Country, WV, listed under "Exciting Events" the Roadkill Cookoff takes place in September. I couldn't even believe this was real, so I had to Google it, and lo and behold there it was. Featured in Lonely Planet and advertised on the county's website. As their saying goes, "you kill it, we grill it."

One travel blogger writes:
On a large, grassy field, the contestants were erecting tents, setting up grills, and preparing their meats and seasonings. Signs at the various stations advertised "Buzzard Breath Maggotini," "Turtle A1-A Road Soup," and "The Buck Stopped Here Pepper Steak." Boy, was I glad I'd skipped breakfast to save room for all this.

I decided to find out what might inspire someone to enter a roadkill cooking contest. Busily cubing pieces of venison for their "Deer Drop Chilli" were brothers Eric, Jerry, and Kevin Sarrett. "It's my thirtieth birthday and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it," said Eric. "I grew up here and moved to Florida, so I'm back, getting in touch with my hillbilly roots, trying to reproduce mama's good old cooking."
I wonder what the chances are of getting food poisoning after a visit to West Virginia's roadkill feast? I feel a little quesy just thinking about the cook off, let alone actually eating anything from it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nibble Nibble: The Easter Bunny's Gonna Get You

It's that time of year again! Yes, it's make-your-kids-sit-on-scary-Easter-bunny-at-the-mall time! To celebrate the season, let me leave you with these especially creepy human-size bunnies, primed and waiting for your children! Can you say nibble nibble?

For your viewing pleasure, here are few good creepy Easter Bunnies collections you should take peek at:

The Ultimate Collection of Strange, Creepy and Scary Easter Bunnies
Sketchy Bunnies by FAIL blog
The 65 Sketchiest Easter Bunnies

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your Lucky Day

I hope you find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Wear green so you don't get pinched.
And get kissed 'cause you're Irish(at least for the day).

Happy St. Patrick's day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day in DC

After months of trying lure them out of their cave in Pennsylvania, my parents finally came to visit me. The weather couldn't have been nicer on Saturday. I gave them a lovely tour of DC featuring...drumroll please...metro stations. Kidding!--that was just the secondary highlight. Mmmm, the smell of homeless men in rapidly moving confined spaces 100 feet underground.

For real, we hit up the American History Museum in DC, the Old Post Office & tour of the clock tower, the Washington Monument, an Indian restaurant, Dalchini, in Dupont Circle, and a winning Wizard's basketball game. My parents had never eaten Indian food before or gone to a NBA game so it was a day of firsts. Hopefully, I convinced them that they have to return again when the weather is even better for more fun DC touring.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sock It to Me

The other day as I was changing my socks in the gym locker room, I noticed little purple threads in the toe. Immediately I thought, awwww, I love my mom.

There is nothing worse than putting on your favorite pair of socks only to find them all stretched out because a sock thief has worn your socks only days before you. When I was still living at home with 5 people in the house, my mom used to sew a few strands of different color threads in each of our socks. Each person had their own assigned color. That way when they all went together in the laundry baskets, we wouldn't have to fight over the pile of clean socks. Purple went to me, pink to my middle sister, blue to oldest sister, black to my dad, etc. This ridiculously easy, yet ingenious system, was very effective. My mom is so smart.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Online Calorie Counting

I've decided to make good on new year's resolution #1. Lose 9 pounds. But let's revise that to 11 now, since my progress in the new year has, errr, gone in the wrong direction. So, in order to help me achieve this goal, I've decided to start an online food journal.

In 2009, I maintained a spreadsheet of all the food I was eating, but mostly it was just me guessing calorie content and typing it in a huge excel file. The format was very basic, but I really liked being able to scroll back through the days and see where my eating habits were getting the best of me and what trends I could notice in the way I ate. Plus, it was an extra dissuasion to eat that entire slice of cheesecake that would run up my daily total by an extra 1,000 calories. But, unfortunately the spreadsheet lost my attention over time, mostly because it was boring and not telling enough.

That's why I decided I'm going to start an online food journal. I researched a few (free) options online, and decided to go with Everyday Health's Food & Fitness Journal. I like that it has tons of foods already in the database, so I don't have to do independent research every time I eat something. I like that it can add exercises too. I don't like that it doesn't compile reports other than for the present day in addition to a very basic weight graph. I want to be able to look back and see the nutritional and caloric choices I've made in the past week/month/year. Like am I getting enough protein? Am I overloading on sodium? How can I make better individual food choices? I am open to any suggestions you might have for better online calorie/nutrition trackers, but for now, I'm going to fill out this journal and hopefully get a move on my weight-loss goals.

Speaking of which, you should check out 344 pounds. A great blog from a normal guy who lost 145lbs and kept it off. I've been following him for awhile now, and he inspires me to get healthier too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who chopped the cherry tree?

Happy President's Day celebrating our one and only George Washington, perhaps the greatest hero in American history.

When I was a kid my grade school teachers told stories about Washington that now seem overly simplistic and moralistic. The Cherry Tree story goes something like this: Little George gets a hatchet and likes to chop down stuff with it. One day he chops down his father's favorite cherry tree, but tells no one. Then later when his father asks him if he knows who did it, GW responds, "Father, I cannot tell a lie; I cut the tree.'' His father tells him he'd always rather know the truth and forgives him for what he did.

Unfortunately the story is all a fabrication published in a biography by Mason Locke Weems. So why on earth do we tell this to children? Weren't there enough good things he actually did that we don't need to go making up tales to tell our children?
George Washington's reputation as a man of moral fortitude reveals more about America's view of morality than it does about the man himself. Washington was an exceedingly bland heroic leader, embodying an eighteenth-century ideal of republican virtue that emphasized duty, sacrifice and honorable disinterest. Flamboyance and daring were emphatically not required. Washington's virtue was admirable, but not overly interesting. Perhaps this is why the most famous example of his fortitude of character is, in fact, just fiction.
I guess morality is bland (and chopped cherry trees have a way of spicing it up). The power is in the (fictional?) narrative.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laser Tag

Pow Pow Pew Pew Ping. Deactivated.

Ahh, the sound of laser tag! One is never too old to shoot lasers at complete strangers in dark maze of obstacles and black lights. A groupon had a laser tag deal for half off 3 games in Baltimore so I grouponed that. So fun! If you go to play, make sure you wear dark clothes...unless you want be glowing human target. The funniest part was how good the 8 year olds there were. Must be all those video games they play. Gosh, they're violent!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Commuting Hell

I'm sitting in Panera Bread right now while waiting for traffic to die down. I have my free coffee right beside me. All I had to do was open a mypanera card (for free). Recommended for all fellow bread addicts.

I have a long daily commute and my patience for traffic is wearing thin. I spend somewhere between 2.5-3 hours in my car a day; and that includes beating rush hour in the morning and waiting it out at night. I have been forced to organize my entire life around traffic. If I were to attempt the DC beltway during peak hours I'd be spending no less than 4 hours a day in my car. That is quite unbearable.

I remember some happiness studies I read awhile ago that suggested the length of your commute is directly correlated to your level of happiness. I still consider my self "happy," but I can understand why long commutes bring people down. I'm in the process of finding productive things I do while driving to take the misery out of it all. Note: painting my fingernails, reading journal articles, and napping have all been ruled out.

I enjoyed this blurb for The Atlantic Wire:
What About Commuting? At The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer confirms that a long commute is directly correlated to unhappiness before exploring a more interesting question: Why? "One reason is that it's a painful ritual we never get used to - the flow of traffic is inherently unpredictable," he posits. "As a result, we don't habituate to the suffering of rush hour." Lehrer contends the daily unknown of commuting explains its incongruity with human happiness, quoting Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert: "Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day."
One never knows what tomorrow holds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Step into Marrakesh

I had a great Valentine's day this year. Best one ever! I came home to a huge box delivered straight to my door, full of goodies--flowers, teddy bear, card, chocolates--the whole works.

Then I got treated to a seven course dinner at Marrakesh in DC. The food just kept coming. As soon as they took away a plate, another one came full of more scrumptious Moroccan delicacies. And then there was mint tea to top it all off.

The entrance is an ornate golden door that you must knock on to gain entrance and the inside is beautifully decorated. We ended up staying long enough to catch 2 belly dance performances; and I've decided that girl has an awesome job, getting paid to wear beautiful costumes and do ab exercises (my next career? heh heh). Overall, our entire dining experience lasted over 2 and half hours. For Valentine's, a perfect evening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is in the Air

To all of you hopeless romantics out there, today is your day! The one day of year you can ooze with mushy gushy expressions of fairy tale love and warm fuzzy sweetheart cheer. The one day you can prove your dedication for your snookum with the obligatory commercial tokens of true love.

Happy Valentine's Day Sweet Things!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Online Dating

Ever have that friend that wants to hook you up with her best friend's cute guy friend? Or worse, are you that friend? I think everyone has a secret desire to play matchmaker if he/she thinks they have the resources to help others find romantic bliss. Tell me you haven't ever considered individuals you know who might be a match for that person in your life who you've deemed needs a significant other?

We all love to play Cupid, and as Valentine's day approaches, we love it even more. So let me get out my arrows and shoot a few in your direction. If you're single and ready to mingle, try out OkCupid which caters to the young adult crowd in their 20s and 30s. It was [unfortunately?] just bought by for $50 million. So they must have been doing something right. And while you're at it, check out their amazing blog, OkTrends. Internet dating doesn't have the "omg, i'm freakin' desperate" stigma it might have had in the 90s. Everybody is doing it.

And in fact some sources, yeah ok, dating site sources, claim that "17% of couples married in the last 3 years, or 1 in 6, met each other on an online dating site." And, the online dating industry is worth about 1.049 billion dollars a year which surprisingly beats out even the porn industry.

Online dating expands your network for meeting people. It doesn't solve relationship issues or weed out the losers. You still have to do that yourself. It is a tool that lots of people are using to find the type of relationship they want with the type of person they want. I think it is the least talked about (yet most exciting?) form of social networking to transform modern society.

With Valentine's day right around the corner, why not give it a try?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Top 10 Super Bowl XLV Commercials

The commercials this year were a good bunch.

My prognostication for the best ad was far off though, Lipton's Eminem commercial was a disappointment. My top 10 favorites were as follows (with links for you to watch):

10. Doritos--Finger Licking Why you should wear your nice underwear to work.
9. Audi--Release the Hounds Prison doesn't seem so bad.
8. Coca-Cola--Border Crossing Crosses the line.
7. CarMax--I Feel Like Acrobat in a mattress store.
6. Bridgestone--Beaver He's got your back.
5. Doritos--House Sitting Never kill your friend's fish while he's gone.
3. CareerBuilder--Chimps Stuck between a bad job and a hard place?
2. Bridgestone--Reply all Every emailer's nightmare.
1. Doritos--Pug Don't taunt your girlfriend's dog.

USA Today's Ad Meter agreed with my top choice. Doritos had an excellent line up again in 2011. 3 of theirs were in my top 10. GoDaddy's were characteristically bad as usual, but worse were Pepsi's ads. They were violent and morally questionable, although I think they were catered to the male audience watching the football game.

The game was quite disappointing for us Steeler's fan, but at least the commercials could cheer us up at least a little.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Add up the Ads

Who's getting excited about the Super Bowl on Sunday? And by Super Bowl I mean Super Bowl commercials of course.

You know you can always expect good ads during the Super Bowl. Generally speaking it's a good bet, a company wouldn't spend 3 million dollars on 30 seconds of bad advertising. At $100,000 a second; that's no chump change. They are likely going to do something inventive, creative, eye-catching, funny, weird, or unpredictable. I'm giddy just at the thought. This is the one time of the year you don't want to run to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Go during the game.

Plus, I think this year's prospects show that our economy is bouncing back. As NESN reports, "This year's Super Bowl ad slot sales have seen a dramatic boost from last year, as Fox sold all 68 spots in October. Last season, there were still ad slots available six days before kickoff in Miami."

Any bets on who is going to have the best, worst, and most ads? I'm going for Lipton, GoDaddy, and Bud Weiser respectively. Check back for my post-game commercial analysis next week.

P.S. Go Steelers!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Before I had a GPS I didn't know what I was missing. Now that I've experienced the freedom and security of having one, I would never want to go back. I tended to get lost a lot pre-GPS.

What did people do in the days before GPS? I suppose I did mapquest before this Christmas, but whole lot of good a set of printed-out directions did me if there was construction or I made a wrong turn while on the road. But even before internet-based trip planners, what did people use to get from point A to point B?

Ugh, Paper maps. The horror! They were barbaric now that I think about it. Forget trying to navigate somewhere alone. If you wanted to look at the map you had to have a buddy in the passenger's seat do it or pull over. Plus you had better packed your magnifying glass, because it's going to take 15 minutes to find the name of the intersection you're located at in that tiny tiny print. Plus, in many areas, paper maps could get out of date very quickly. Not mention, it couldn't tell you where the nearest gas station is or show you the exit number for the road you need to take. My GPS even alerts me if I'm going over the speed limit on the road I am on, but I had to turn that beeping off because it became overwhelming, heh heh.

I find the GPS services fascinating.
The Global Positioning System is a constellation of over 24 U.S. Government satellites providing PNT [positioning, navigation, and timing] services to civilian and military users on a continuous, worldwide basis -- free of direct user charges. The system provides highly accurate location and time information to anyone equipped with a GPS receiver.
I just wonder for how much longer the services will be free?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

It's that time of year again! Februrary 2nd. Groundhog day!

Will the nation's beloved groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, see his shadow today? If so, that will mean we will have six more weeks of winter, and if he doesn't see his shadow that means spring is right around the corner.

That little big rodent better not see any shadows!

Looking through Google images from our groundhog day event makes me think what strange traditions we have...

Addendum: Groundhog didn't see his shadow. Spring is near! Yaaaay.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Every State Has Its Mark--Porn, Taxes, Arson, Rape, Etc.

My home state is good at something. Way to go Pennsylvania; highest rate of arson deaths in the US at a whopping 55.56 a year. We must be a bunch of pyromaniacs.

At least we aren't the ugliest like North Dakota, the most susceptible to identity theft like in Florida, or riddled with gonorrhea like in Louisiana.

And the negatives keep going. On the United States of Shame map you can find just what distinguishes your state from all the others. But be warned. It won't be pretty.

I could have sworn Maryland would've won the worst drivers award, but no, Massachusetts stole that from us. We just have the alarmingly highest rate of AIDS diagnosis in the nation.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let's start PotholePalooza earlier

DC streets are a mess. They are not only impossible to navigate but also dangerous. We went to the Air and Space Museum this weekend which admittedly, was cooler than I expected, but on the way a giant pothole took out a tire. The car made a loud BOOM as we drove over a crater in our nation's capital.

The giant hole in the middle of road took out the rubber part of the tire, bent up the frame, and knocked the hubcap loose. So what causes potholes?
Asphalt road surfaces eventually crack under the heat of the day and the constant stresses of traffic. These cracks allow snow and rainwater to seep into the underlying dirt and gravel. During cold winter nights, this water freezes and expands. Some of the dirt and gravel is pushed out as a result, leaving a hole when the water eventually melts.
DC has had problems with potholes for a long time. As seen here, here, and here. Maybe they need to start potholepalooza a whole lot sooner to fix DC streets. It's really unacceptable to have that big of hole in the roads. But until the marathon pothole repair, you still report the potholes, but I wouldn't hold my breath until they're repaired.

On the bright side, I learned the art of tire changing from an expert tire changer. It's something I have been wanting to know in case it ever happens when I'm driving in my car. Good skill to know. For those of you who don't: How to change a tire.

Then with a temporary tire, we stopped at every tire store we could find until one of them had frames for sale. And let me tell you, used tire stores aren't necessarily the nicest places in the world. But alas, what would life be without a little excitement to make things more interesting? Unfortunately the hubcap is still if anyone has an extra VW hubcap lying (not laying) around let me know.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Always Snowing

Seems like all it does around here these days is snow. Snow, snow, snow. At least it's beautiful on the bare trees of winter.

I had to shovel my car yesterday because in addition to the regular snow fall, the plow trucks made a lovely barrier between my car and the road. Hence the sore arms today.

Some of my co-workers though ended up getting stuck in 6-7 hours of traffic on Wednesday night because cars were getting stuck on the road or slipping all over the place. Some of them even slept at the office. I'm really glad I wasn't scheduled to work that day! But the next morning there were still abandoned cars on the middle of the highways. There would be a car with a small mountain of snow around them and cars are zooming down the road at 70+ miles per hour. I want to know where the owners went? Did they walk home off of the beltway?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sputnik Moment

Tonight was one of my favorite political events of the year again--The State of the Union Address!

I thought President Obama's speech (well, at least the two-thirds of it) was very good. I like what he had to say about immigration. I like what he had to say about education. I like what he had to say about innovation (specifically in the area of clean energy). He addressed concerns about America being surpassed by other countries, and challenged us to be greater, all the while, elaborating on what makes the US great. His call to action was empowering by calling this our "Sputnik moment." He then addressed the pressing concern of the crappy economy and rising national deficit. However, reinforced his former ideas by saying, "Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact."

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) the clapping/standing/sitting/frowning/cheering wars between parties wasn't as nearly as pronounced this year. Perhaps in the spirit of what Obama said himself:
And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth. We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything's possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.
Amen! Sometimes that can be easy to forget in all the ugly bickering and partisanship in our political landscape.

P.S. Anyone catch the Survivor Reality TV show reference? "We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world." Seriously Obama's speech writer? Did you really include that? Sounds suspiciously like Outplay, Outwit, Outlast...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Period. Space Space. New Sentence

I always follow the pattern when typing. In fact, I'm even a little anal retentive about it. I will go through every sentence in my papers, emails, blogs, etc. to make sure I've spaced properly. Every period that ends a sentence must have two spaces after it before a new sentence can begin. It's the way I was taught; and I don't plan on changing any time soon.

But some people adamantly argue against this practice.

Farhad Manjoo proclaims why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period by explaining why we started doing it in the first place--and not surprisingly we can blame those wretched typewriters.
The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks "loose" and uneven; there's a lot of white space between characters and words, so it's more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here's the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we've all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.
Ok, I get that it's an outdated practice, but I still think two spaces (in our digital age) makes it easier to distiguish sentence stops and starts. There's no way that two spaces diminishes readability. Obviously more space equals more demarcation between thoughts. Thereisareasonweusepunctuationandspacestohelpourreadersunderstandwhatweintendedtotype. Two spaces are like an additional tool in our typing toolboxes to help us deliver our messages with clarity. Why take away the tools that help us do our jobs as writers? Plus, I think the extra space is more visually appealing than one space. There is definitely something to be said about the aesthetics of readability.

I agree with Megan McArdle's statement, You Can Have My Double Space When You Pry it From My Cold, Dead Hands

Old habits die hard. [space][space] Haha. And I like my double spaces.

P.S. Ironically, you've probably noticed that this post, and all my others for that matter, don't have two spaces between sentences. That's not because I didn't put them there, but because I use Blogger's html editor which does not publish double spaces, even if you painstakingly type them in. I guess they're trying to teach us two spacers something...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Making Flan

Mmmm, flan. Flan, flown all the way in from Morocco. It's so easy to make, yet so good to eat. Just mix it up, stir, stir, stir, heat, stir some more, and pour. The hardest part is the waiting for it to set before digging in. Delicious dessert! I don't know why flan isn't more popular in the US. It's way better than our pudding or jello.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Minions of Satan

Not squirrels this time. But pigeons.

Why do we hate pigeons so much? "Affectionately known by most people as rats with wings, sky rats, gutter birds and flying ashtrays, pigeons must be one of the most unloved birds around. The hatred can be extreme, with extreme pigeon fearing labelled as peristerophobia, but it is so widely shared several clothing manufacturers produce "I hate pigeons" T-shirts."

I wouldn't even wear an "I hate pigeons" T-shirt because they're so gross. Save the pigeons, smigeons, you crazies.

Plus, pigeons do spread diseases: Pest control experts and public health specialists warn that there are dozens of different human pathogens associated with pigeons, including some that can be dangerous or even deadly. Many experts feel that pigeons are a significant health risk to people.

Get away from me you dirty birds!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making Sushi Rolls Fail

The first time I attempted to make sushi rolls was a bit of a failure. Let me tell you the 2 biggest mistakes that you should never repeat.

1. Using regular rice
2. Not having sharp enough knives

Not using sticky rice will make your "rolls" turn out more like "lumps", unable to hold their shape. Not having a sharp enough knife in the house will lead you to go crazy trying every knife you own, but consistently squashing every roll. If it can't cut through the nori (seaweed wrap), it's hopeless. You might as well not even try to make sushi rolls.

So after I correct these two glaring problems, I think I'll be able to make some darn good avocado and shrimp rolls. And if you're wondering, yes, you do see a strip of bacon in that photo. My dad and brother-in-law were horrified at the thought of eating any type of seafood, raw or not, in the sushi; so we made special "bacon asparagus sushi rolls", about as not Japanese as you can possibly get. And the worst part? They hated the sushi anyway. Last time I try that. Next time I'm going to put eel in it and really scare them. Bahhaha.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Have a Dream

Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!

It seems MLK's "I Have Dream" speech is always ranked the best speech in modern American history. And as somebody who has spent the past two plus years studying rhetoric, I concur. Here we have a true orator who was able to use discourse and non violent civil disobedience to ignite a massive civil rights movement in the United States.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beware of Baltimore

Baltimore is a special kind of city. I really like it. The aquarium is nice. The inner harbor is nice. The sporting arenas are nice. The universities are nice.

But some of the city is scary as heck. You'll be driving along feeling perfectly comfortable, and then, bam, you're in a sketchy neighborhood with no warning.

We unfortunately decided to eat at "Caribbean Paradise" thinking it sounded like a great, tropical, fun restaurant in downtown Baltimore. It turned out to be across from some shady casino and gas station. People were staring at us because we stuck out like a sore thumb. We were wandering around as if we were rabbits in a foxhole. Nothing bad happened, but I definitely felt unsafe. So lesson learned, if you go to Baltimore, stick only to the touristy areas, unless you packed your bullet proof vest.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wizards Basketball Game

Believe it or not, a DC sports team actually won a game last week! Yay, go Wizards. They crushed the NJ Nets by 20 points, a lead which carried on throughout the entire game.

The Wizards blue thing mascot and blue guy basketball player need a little work, but they're still lovable nonetheless. The best part about the basketball game was the stadium atmosphere. From 3-D glasses, the kiss cam, dance cam, wave your arms cam, insert your way to get on jumbotron here cam, free Chipotle, t-shirt launch, halftime show, and excited fans, being at the game was a lot fun.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Watching Birds is not Bird Watching

While we're on the subject of animals I think are super adorable (but in this case don't want to own), look at this chicken cutie. I'm guessing it's a chicken and not rooster, but I could be wrong since I'm not an expert bird identifier.

This chicken, with her funny feather hairdo is pretty adorable. Her movements are sudden and schizophrenic. She bobs around here and there; and has very strange mannerisms. I could watch her for hours, but then that would make me a bird watcher; and bird watching is altogether way too boring for me. I think it's perfectly normal a person could enjoy watching birds but hate bird watching. They're very different. And for very different types of people.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I want a bunny. Really bad. They're SOOOOO cute. And cuddly.

And furry. And their little noses sniff sniff sniff.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What does 1000 pounds of butter look like?

1000 pounds of butter looks a little like a football player, milkman, and 4 kids on monkey bars--if you're at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm show that is.

Every year the PA Farm show features a lot of butter carved up into beautiful sculptures refrigerated in a special $50,000 display case to promote the dairy industry. In 2009, "six butter manufacturers in Pennsylvania produced 79.1 million pounds of butter" Wow. That's a lot of butter!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What makes a bucking bull buck?

HeeHaw, it's time for the rodeo! This weekend kicks off the 95th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, PA.

We got to see the rodeo on Saturday and what happened, but the first guy who came out riding a bull got trampled on and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Bull riding has to be the most dangerous sport I've seen. Those cowboys are crazy!

I learned the reason the bull bucks for the full 8 seconds of the ride is because of special strap on a special area of the bull; and once the rope is loosened, the bucking dies down too.

Via Wikipeda: There is a heated debate between animal rights organizations and bull riding enthusiasts over many aspects of the sport. The first controversy is over the use of a flank strap. The flank strap is placed around a bulls flank, in front of the hind legs, and encourages bucking. Critics claim that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull. However, others note that the flank strap is anatomically impossible to place over the genitals; as well as unrealistic, pointing out that the bull's genes are valuable and that there is a strong economic incentive to keep the animal in excellent reproductive health.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Only in Pennsylvania

And now in this edition of Only in Pennsylvania, I bring you this sign I saw yesterday in Harrisburg:

Built Amish Tough. Where else would you see something like that?

I have to say the sign is rather accurate though. The Amish are skilled at woodworking, everything from furniture craft to barn raising.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cheesecake and Arcade Games

Last night my cousin took me out for a delicious dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed by a spontaneous trip to the arcade at White Flint Mall. What fun! We played a bunch of games at Dave and Busters as if we were 9 years old all over again.

For dessert, I had the most splendid cheesecake. White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut. White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Swirled with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel on a Blond Brownie Crust. A slice of pure decadence that I will certainly feel guilty about tomorrow morning when my pants won't fit, but will still totally be worth it.

Pomelo: the Drink or Fruit?

When my boss first told me about pomelos I wondered how on earth she had ever heard of the pomelo drink they sell in Uruguay made by Paso de los Toros (now acquired by Pepsi Co). That stuff tasted like sour grapefruit soda. Not my favorite, although very popular and interesting nonetheless.

Turns out she wasn't talking about the drink from Uruguay, but the fruit.

When I first walked in to the office today, I wondered why she had a watermelon sitting on her desk (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but this thing was no itty bitty fruit). The pomelo is the biggest citrus fruit known to mankind, some as large as a soccer ball. The fruit itself isn't much bigger than a big grapefruit though; most of it's size is just cushy membrane stuff that you shouldn't eat. Turns out the pomelo was a gift for me. Yum. It was sweet with just a little bit of sour. I think I should've included trying more new foods in my list of new year's resolutions.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

7 New Years Resolutions

I may be 5 days late in posting my new year's resolutions, but I'm not going to claim procrastination is something I'm going to work on in 2011. Late is better than never. So here they are:

1. Lose 9 pounds. Yes, just like the rest of the world, I want to lose weight in the new year. Surprise, surprise. Specifically I want to lose the 9 lbs. I have gained the past year since coming back to the U.S. I remember my friend Marcos saying, yeah, people always get fat when they go to the States. And oh is it true. I resolve to lose nine pounds, the sooner the better.

2. Graduate. Very important. I want to hold that beautiful M.A. degree in my hands and get hooded. I shall accomplish that this year no matter what. I shall absolutely, 100% certainly graduate.

3. Find a full-time job (preferably with health insurance). At some point in 2011, I hope to be gainfully employed at a job I love. Also very important.

4. Blog more often. I love to write. And I ought to write for fun more often. I don't care if people are saying blogging is dead. I shall single-handedly make it alive again...or something like that.

5. Learn Arabic. I already told you I was going to learn Arabic, but I'm going to be more proactive about it starting now. I'd like to be able to write and read basic phrases by the end of the year. And actually be able to hold a verbal conversations sooner than that.

6. Floss every day. Self explanatory.

7. Make time for what I love. This one includes painting & jewelry making, spending more time with friends & family, and traveling. It's true what they say: if you really care about something, you'll make time for it. So I resolve to make time for those things which are most important to me but can sometimes get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of ordinary life.

I think 2011 is going to be a pretty full and exciting year for me. I'm very excited for what the future holds. At the very least, I hope I can make good on all of my new year's resolutions.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You Snooze, You Lose

I've been reading up on polyphasic sleep, after stumbling upon a blogger who tried it for a year and not surprisingly reverted back to monophasic sleep after his experimentation phase.

The idea of multiple naps instead of one massive giant snooze sounds appealing. The idea of more waking hours in a day sounds very appealing. Going through the process of waking up 4-6 times a day does not however. I hate alarm clocks as it is.

Plus, ascribing to a different sleep schedule than the everybody else has its difficulties. I would imagine 6 naps a day would make it difficult to be successful both professionally and personally. Bosses and friends just wouldn't understand. Plus, once you gained a sustained concentration on any one task it'd constantly be broken by naptime, not allowing you to really focus or accomplish anything meaningful. I think I remember seeing a newscast once that a well-rested person should take 15 minutes to fall asleep once his or her head hits the pillow; otherwise you're sleep-deprived. So if you took that 15 minutes 6 times a day you'd spend all your time trying to sleep instead of actually sleeping. No thanks.

In my ideal world, I'd be a biphasic sleeper. Hello, mid-day siesta! Sometimes I think I ought to have been born Hispanic. Unfortunately the United States has not caught on to the glorious Spanish nap-time after lunch. I have to say, the time I spent in Spain were some of the most rejuvenating months of my life. Among a few other lifestyle differences, I would say sufficient sleep had a big part to do with that.

Right now, I love Sundays--because no Sunday is complete without a little nappy nap to get me ready for a week of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.