Thursday, December 31, 2009

Running behind...as usual.

I have lots of Wisconsin pictures, videos and stories to share. I have a brief recap of 2009 to cover, as well as my hopes for 2010. But, as always, I am woefully behind today.

I still need to shower, figure out what to do with my makeup, paint my fingernails, fix a botched pedicure, pick up my shoes from the repair shop, and change the broken tail light on my car (wouldn't want to take any chances of being pulled over for stupid sh*t tonight).

See, we're headed to a shindig in San Francisco hosted by JC, creator of Netmusique.com. Last time I went to one of JC's parties, I ended up sandwiched between two queens at 2:30am singing "Toxic" by Britney Spears on the karaoke machine. Upon finishing the single worst karaoke performance of my life, I was escorted to the punch bowl, where I proceeded to drink directly from the ladle. Good times!

So, hopefully its no biggie that I have to put off the Wisconsin recap until later...

I wish you all the best in 2010. You're all excellent people and you deserve amazing things in the new year. Cheers! =)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jack Frost is nipping at my patience...

Am I the only one who HATES Christmas music? Like really hates it? Its just that at this time of year, I can't get away from it. Everywhere I go, its playing...Starbucks, Trader Joe's, The Gap, Kragan Auto Parts, TACO BELL. Damn it! I can only handle so much of "Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" before I start to lose it.

I woke up this morning with "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" stuck in my head. Have a fucking HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS! Seriously! And I can't make it stop!!

There used to be one exception to this...and it was the Peanuts Christmas CD. My dad loves the music and played it every year during the entire month of December. He did this for years, but now that my parents are living far, far away, hearing this CD only reminds me of how much I miss them and how I won't be seeing them for the holidays. Consequently, this CD's out, too. Can't listen to it without getting sad.

In a nutshell, I'm over Christmas music and wish every establishment I walked in to would give it a freaking rest already! Yes, some may say that I am a Scrooge, but you have to remember that Scrooge came around at the end of the story and found the Christmas spirit in his heart.

I'm not as open to change. Fa-la-la-la-la....la-la-la-la.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My current stream of consciousness...

Finals. Stress. More arithmetic than I ever thought I'd have to do after leaving 4th grade...sans calculator. Stress. Headache. Sore shoulders and neck. 3 hours of hell and no time left over to check my math. Divot in my finger from holding the pencil too tightly. Hardest class I will probably ever have to take...even when I get into nursing school. Whether I feel good about my efforts or not, its over. Hope I passed. Not gonna lie...I hated every single moment of this class. Don't want to take it again. Ever. For any reason.

Now, Anthony Bourdain in Sardinia. Delicious looking foods. Fire-roasted cheeses. Fresh pastas and sauces. Cured meats. Mouth watering. Bubble bath soon. Sleep...perhaps soundly. Hopefully soundly. Dream of fire-roasted cheeses and house wines. Mmmm...

Tomorrow, the feverish studying will resume for Thursday's exam. Multiple choice. Infinitely comforting multiple choice. The answer's there somewhere. When it doubt, you've got a one-in-four chance. Pick C. Always C. Almost finished. Light at the end of the tunnel is almost visible. One more Starbuck's caramel brulee latte and one more lecture before the exam. Remember to buy two Scan-trons! Hang in there!

After finals, off to Wisconsin. Hellishly cold Wisconsin. Fun. Not. I'll blog if I can. Ugh.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gaga-rific

Ok, I'll admit it. I've got a deep-seeded love for pop music that I try my best to hide sometimes. Nevertheless, I just couldn't get on board with the whole Lady Gaga craze. I mean, yes, she is quite an exhibitionist, and who doesn't love a good exhibitionist, really. But I've always felt that she was...I don't know...trying a little too hard. Case in point:

I mean, whoa. Holy shit on a stick, woman. That is one hell of a get-up. I find it interesting that her facial features are almost completely indistinguishable, while her bare breasts are only covered by one single layer of thin red lace. Thank goodness she decided to wear underwear that day! I look at this and I can't help but think, "Can she SEE through that...thing?! Because if she could, she might have second guessed leaving the house." Really.

Regardless of the authenticity of her shock-value schtick, I can't deny that she is actually pretty talented and had a few songs out there that I found catchy and *gulp* cool (minus that "Pokerface" monstrosity that gets stuck in my head for days on end. Hate that one.). And she's definitely one hell of an entertainer with a very strong point of view. But I never really got it...until today. What changed? I finally saw her video for "Paparazzi". Here...devour it:



See what I mean? Its...beautiful. And God bless her for putting Alexander Skarsgard in it (yum!). I don't know why this is what finally brought me around, but I totally understand why people are nuts for this chick now. Quite simply, she might be WAAAAY out there, but you can't front on the fact that she's turning heads and getting people to talk about her unique "work". Thank god she's not another cookie-cutter pop star churning out low budget, generic, mediocre Miley Sirus Selena Gomez crap. Her videos, her music, her look...provocative genius.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"My pee smells like Cheerios!"

Today was the renal lab in physiology class. This involved peeing in a cup and dipping a number of strips into it to test for various things. No big deal, right? Every physiology lab I've ever been in has done this very same lab. I expected nothing out of the ordinary.

Imagine my surprise when several members of the class launched into a barrage of questions about drinking one's own urine. Literally, like 12 questions! You would think that it goes without saying that drinking one's own urine is TOTALLY unacceptable unless stuck in one of three following scenarios...

1. If you find yourself stranded in the desert, urine could be used to sustain life for a VERY brief period of time
2. If you find yourself lost at sea with no fresh water in site, urine could be used to sustain life for a VERY brief period of time
3. You wake up one day to find that you've become Bear Grylls and you're required to do so for your asinine TV show where you actually sleep in hotels instead of the "wild".

...but you'd be wrong. My classmates wanted to know ALL about drinking their own pee. I had to ask myself, "What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!?!". My poor professor fielded the questions as seriously as he could for a little while, but then literally threw up his hands and stated that the lecture needed to move on. Seriously. SO strange.

But the strangest things were yet to come. Of all the immature mutterings about urine I heard during the course of the lab, my favorite was "Hey, my pee smells like Cheerios!". This caught my attention because I have often thought that very same thing. Interesting.

Even stranger yet, one of the tests we performed on our cups of wee today was for the presence of blood. As soon as I dipped my test strip in, it turned a deep, deep shade of green, indicating I have quite a large amount of blood in my urine. Hmmm. I don't feel sick, and usually a UTI isn't asymptomatic. Usually, they REALLY suck. My professor quickly called everyone over to see what a positive test looked like. Not gonna lie...I was pretty embarrassed. He did this again for someone in the class that had a large amount of glucose in their urine, but no one owned up to the positive test tube.

All in all, it was a most bizarre day. Just when I expected nothing remarkable, I'm forced to admit this has been the most interesting and weird urinary lab I've ever taken part in.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday fun

Remember as a kid the cool thing to do to taunt your friends (or enemies) was to creep up quietly behind them and hit them in the back of the knee so that their knee buckled, causing him or her to stumble and/or fall? Remember? Good times, huh?

Yeah, well...today in Starbucks, I was almost taken to the ground by this very thing. But was it one of my friends messin' with me? Noooooo. As I nearly fell, I turned around to see a little fuckin' four year-old in pigtails flail wildly into me as part of the display case she had been hanging on broke loose. (awesome parenting, BTW!). Skank.

I'm pretty sure in most situations, its not OK to call a four year-old a skank, but I don't care.

I GLARED at the pigtailed spaz as her mother instructed her to apologize for almost causing me to fall over. Instead, the little girl simply glared right back at me as if to say, "What should I apologize for? YOU were in MY way!".

Well, let me just say that had I fallen, I would have ass-planted right on top of her...and then she really would have had something to be sorry about.

Skank.

Aaaaah, the joys of Black Friday, or as I like to call it, "My yearly reminder of birth control's extraordinary powers". Thank goodness for online shopping!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The straw that broke the camel's back

Before I get to the story, in this scenario, yes, I AM the camel. Just so we're clear...Mmmmkay?

As most of my faithful readers know (all 5 of you), DJC and I have the most ridiculous neighbors EVAR. They live on all sides of us; below, to the left and to the right. They do some of the most insane things I've ever seen humans do. A while back, I had a conversation with an old friend about some of the recent neighborly antics and he urged me to do a blog post about them. But instead of ranting on and on about how I almost lose my mind on a daily basis (because really, these people get me pretty heated), I chose to just not pay as much attention to the comically lame goings on...until today.

So, since I've already started down the road of ridicule, I may as well give you all the whole picture. Here are some choice events that have taken place over the months...

-The downstairs neighbors have two fat male children. They hoot and holler at all hours of the day and night. No, really...they actually hoot like animals. They also like to slam each other off of the walls while grunting and carrying on. Sometimes, I wake thinking that they've gotten a new pet orangutan. Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like.

-The neighbors to our left don't really have much to do during the days. Every so often the man will get into his car in the driveway, sit there and absolutely fucking REV his engine for all its worth for three to five minutes. In case you didn't catch that, he sits there with the car in park and puts his foot on the accelerator, guns the shit out of it, and doesn't let it up for three to five minutes. After he's satisfied, he gets out of the car and goes back into his house. I've also observed this guy lift the hood of the car and then point his leaf blower cranked to full power at the car's motor for the same period of time. Not sure why. Straight up bizarre.

-Recently, the city decided it was going to cut large chunks in the street in front of our houses, make a bunch of noise, create some of the most interesting detours ever, kick up a lot of dust, and then fix those large chunks a few days later. Not exactly sure what the purpose of all the construction was other than to completely inconvenience everyone on the street. One morning at approximately 8am, the city decided to start re-paving. Immediately after they began their work, a neighbor's car alarm went off. I heard the tell-tall "beep beep" of someone turning the alarm off, and then the "beep" of re-setting the alarm. Not two minutes later, the alarm went off again. By this point, I was looking out the window in the general direction of the commotion. I watched the neighbor walk outside and re-set the alarm. Not two minutes later IT WENT OFF AGAIN. She walked outside and re-set it a third time. You get the picture...wash, rinse, repeat. It went on like this for a total of 5 times before she gave up and just left the alarm off. My god.

-The neighbors to our right sometimes have loud dinner parties...at 3am...with every light in the house turned on. But those are pretty rare. Plus, they have a cute dog that looks up at me when I blow kisses at him, so we'll let them slide.

But none of these things were so offensive that I had to write about them. Annoying, yes. Puzzling, certainly. But whatever. What pushed me over the edge into complain-land was today's incident. Read on...

-As I was studying for my physiology lab exam this morning, I heard the "beep beep" of the alarm for downstairs neighbor's silver Toyota Highlander (note: when they got this particular car, the bumper was missing a significant amount of paint. No problem, though...that's what spray paint's for!). Despite hearing the man, who we call Big Tobacco because we've never seen him without a cigarette hanging from his lips, walk out onto the back deck, I just figured that they were leaving and paid no more attention. But the beeping continued...on and off, on and off, on and off...for FIFTEEN MINUTES! I looked and sure enough, Big Tobacco was just standing on the deck clicking the alarm remote incessantly. I have no idea why. When I came home later in the day, he was at it again, although not for as long. But seriously, WTF?!

So EMcK and everyone else, there you have it. I have finally had enough. My neighbors are clearly some of the strangest people on the planet. The stories might seem funny to you, but its only because you don't have to live near my weirdo neighbors. Still, reading back over them, I have to laugh. I mean, seriously, who can be that freaking out there?!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Figure skating originality FAIL

Here I am, sitting on my new couch, dressed in fleece, sweats and Uggs, eating a chocolate croissant and ready to catch up on several days' worth of DVRed goodness. So many trashy shows to watch! Whatever will I choose first?!

But alas, I made the mistake of checking to see what else was on TV before diving in. And I found a figure skating competition. Its a little known fact that I am an absolute SUCKER for figure skating. And with the 2010 Winter Olympics right around the corner, there's a ton of figure skating to be had on TV these days. Cool! But as the top female Russian competitor took the ice, I became frustrated. Here's the thing:

There's a world FULL of amazing music out there. Why must every freaking female skater for the last 20+ years use Bizet's "Carmen"?! I mean, seriously. There are only so many ways it can be done, and no one can really do it better than Katerina Witt in the 1988 Olympics:



I think the ice skating code of points should be officially revised to ban "Carmen" from ever being used again in any competition. My god. Since Witt's gold medal performance, anyone and everyone has tried to re-capture her magic. Its just soooooooooooo painfully overused! Hell, Beyonce even starred in an MTV atrocity of pop-culture called "Carmen: A Hip-Hopera". This stratospherically bad display of horseshit also starred Lil' Bow Wow. Based on that fact alone, the graceful, elegant sport of figure skating should shun "Carmen" from competition use forever and ever, amen.

That's all. I'm done ranting now. I just wish skaters didn't play it safe with such an unoriginal, yet beautiful, piece of music. Taking the easy way out never pays off. Pick some different music, for crying out loud.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Excuses, excuses...

There's a ton of things going on right now and I wish I had time to write them all down, but the reality is that I just don't. I feel bad about letting my blog fall by the wayside, but that's just how its gotta be for now. I apologize for the lack of posts and stories. I do have some good ones that I will get to eventually...promise. And if I'm not mistaken, I owe you all two more installments of gorgeous California pictures. One of these days when things calm down a bit...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Night photography

Take one full moon, add two people who are mesmerized by the light of said moon, one Sony H1 camera on manual mode, an amazing sky full of light, whispy clouds and this is what you get:


If the night could have had a soundtrack playing, this would have been it..."The moon and the stars were the gifts you gave..."



And then, the street with a few cars coming by...



So cool...

Friday, October 30, 2009

T Minus 364 days...

DJC and I will be married exactly one year from yesterday. We were a bit concerned with how the weather might be so late into October, but if yesterday's weather is any indication, we've got nothing to worry about. It was gorgeous. Warm, sunny, lovely. Perfect for our outdoor ceremony. It's all so exciting.

Speaking of exciting, I recently went for my first wedding dress appointment. My mother and my sister came with me, which was good because I was a little freaked out. I am not a size 6...hell, I'm not even a size 10, and I was a pretty worried that I would have a difficult time finding a dress that fit. I'm VERY broad through the shoulders, chest and back and I knew that these features would present some issues when trying things on. And I wasn't wrong. Basically, I will have to find a dress that fits my upper body and tailor the ever-living hell out of it to fit my hips and waist. As Evelyn, my consultant, said in her heavy Russian accent, "You are all boobs. No butt. All boobs". Yep. That pretty much sums it up. Needless to say, a strapless dress wasn't going to work. Straps were needed...and quickly.

However, despite all of the challenges, I did manage to find four dresses that I am in love with. Unfortunately, the salon I went to last week didn't have five out of the six dresses I found on their website and wanted to try on. Luckily for me, though, my friend MC's adorable wife is THRILLED about helping me find a dress and has offered to join me for an appointment at a salon in the South Bay (secretly, I think she's just thrilled that MC has a female friend). They carry the same designers as the previous salon, so perhaps I will have more luck finding the remaining 5 dresses that I want to try on. I honestly can't make a decision until I can try those last ones on. But my goodness, this whole thing is overwhelming! And despite my worries, it was also a lot of fun. My mother and sister were very honest, but not brutal. I can't wait to go through the whole process again with JAC.

My parents are moving to Florida in about two weeks, so I am doing my best to do as much wedding-related stuff with my mom as I can before she departs. I can't believe I'm going to have to do the bulk of the wedding planning without her here...but plenty of people do things all by themselves, so I shouldn't whine too much. But still, it'd be nice to have my mom here. Oh well.

This whole wedding thing is crazy and fun and totally daunting. But I'm starting to enjoy it...finally. =)

Monday, October 26, 2009

An open letter to Bay Area radio stations

Dear Live 105, 104.5 KFOG, and 106.1 KMEL,

Due to some sort of electrical glitch in my car stereo, yours are the only radio stations I am able to listen to. Hence, I've heard every song you all seem to play in an hour long rotation every time I drive to or from classes. I've had it with the repetition and the lack of playlist imagination. I'm prepared to bail on you once and for all if my demands are not met. Here's what I want:

*Live 105: Please do not play the following Sublime songs ever again: "Santeria", "What I Got", "Caress me Down", Wrong Way" or "Doin' Time" ever again. The last song in that list is especially out of place seeing as that its now almost November and clearly not summer time when the livin's easy. I mean, c'mon...Sublime was a most excellent band and they had WAY better tunes that these. Finding a few shouldn't be all that difficult, if you actually tried...or cared.

*And while you're at it, Guns N' Roses and Metallica DO NOT belong on the same station as Death Cab for Cutie, The Cure and Weezer. Seriously, pick one genre and stick with it! Are you an alternative station that plays cutting edge modern rock or a station that will mix in the redneck stuff just for variety?

*KFOG, this one's for you, but not exclusively because Live 105 is guilty as well...PLEASE, for the love of decent music, can ya'll retire the Bob Marley songs already? You may ask yourself, has anyone made ANY respectable reggae since Bob Marley? The answer is probably, however you all seem to think that Bob is the end-all be-all of this annoying genre of music and play the same five songs over and over and over. Again, Bob had quite an extensive repertoire...dig a little and give "Three Little Birds" and "Buffalo Soldier" a freaking rest! Oh and Live 105, you can also retire Damien Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock". If I hear the lyrics "Out in the street/they call it murrrrrrrrrrrder" one more time, I might lose it.

*A number of artists have covered Bob Marley songs over the years. One that comes to mind is Annie Lennox, who did a lovely cover of "Waiting in Vain". It really doesn't sound a whole lot like the original because Miss Lennox was smart enough to cut the reggae beat out of it. Perhaps this is why I enjoy this song so much. Anyways, there's a ton of stuff like this out there. Look, mmmmkay.

*Alright KMEL, you're up. As the best choice for hip hop and R&B in the Bay Area, I PLEAD with you never to play "LOL Smiley Face" by Trey Songz again. The lyrics are astoundingly asinine: "Shorty sent a TwitPic/Said come get this/L-O-L smiley face, L-O-L smiley face". The first time I heard this song I had to wonder whose fucking idea was it to actually produce this piece of shit? I can't believe someone at Atlantic Records didn't slap Trey Songz upside his fool head when he pitched this idea to them. Its quite literally the LAMEST song I have ever heard. The previous owner of this title: "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. I didn't think it could get worse than that...but I should know better. It can always get worse. Fuck me.

* And while we're talking about crap, what exactly is an "Ice cream paint job" anyways? God, has hip hop really been reduced to this kind of suckage!? Can't you all just replay some old Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul? Somewhere, Tupac and Biggie are rolling over in their graves.

* Overall, all of you, PLEASE try to expand your playlists. There was a time where I was in the car between 5 and 5:30pm daily. I knew that I could hear "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters on Live 105, "Jackie and Diane" (Really!?! How is this still on the air?!) on KFOG and "Here I Am" by Rick Ross on KMEL. EVERY DAY. The same songs at the same time. It went on like this for about a month. The complete lack of interest in actually playing something different or effort on the part of the "DJs" was not lost on me. There's SO much music out there in your respective genres. Please try to broaden your horizons and play something not so common and sucky and expected. Or else.

Love,

The Enforcer

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes, my commute doesn't suck all that much

I was on my way home from class today, angry that I could have gotten an extra nine points on my most recent exam had I only given my answers in the correct units (damn it!), when it started to rain. "Big whoop," I thought. It had been raining all day. At times, the ferocity of the downpour was such that seeing through the windshield became difficult.

But on the way home, the sun broke through the thick grayness while the rain came down steadily creating a gorgeous full rainbow. Luckily, I glanced over, smiled, and then immediately grabbed my camera. Note that I took the pic through my window which was covered in rain drops. If you look closely, the beginning of a second rainbow is there, too. Pretty cool. It definitely snapped me out of my angry funk. Suddenly, sitting in traffic wasn't so bad.

Good thing I always carry my camera with me...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The carnage

The Bay Area experienced its first good storm of the season today. It was a doozie, for sure. This picture was taken right down the street from my house. Even though it blocked nearly four lanes of traffic, the huge tree thankfully missed all the power lines and more importantly, the Comcast lines.

You see, I seem to have picked up a nasty little cold and all I wanted to do after physiology lab was curl up under a blanket and spend some quality time with the DVR. When I saw the tree, I panicked a tad. But all was well with the cable. Wish all was well with me...

See you all soon. *sniffle...sneeze*

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Early lessons learned...

After a little searching, a lot of worry and a metric F*CKTON of stress, DJC and I have booked a venue and set a date for our wedding. Believe me when I say that this was no easy feat. And its a HUGE relief to have that very large hurdle taken care of. I've honestly never been so stressed out by something in my life...not by midterms and finals, certification exams, car accidents, money issues, parental sicknesses, etc. When faced with the task of finding the perfect venue that would allow for the things that DJC and I want, I quite literally became sick to my stomach. More than once, I verbally said that I didn't want to do all this...I wanted very much to marry DJC, but I became nauseated at the thought of planning it all out. City Hall would have worked just fine. Everyone kept telling me how much fun I should be having, but I just felt ill and overwhelmed.

Single ladies, take note: No matter where you are in your relationship, its never to early to start thinking about what your ideal wedding would be like. I think part of my problem stemmed from the fact that I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted in terms of a venue, or anything else for that matter. It should be easy, right? Girls think about this type of thing all the time. I know some ladies who have every single detail planned, and they're not even in a relationship. For them, I can imagine that settling on a venue, caterer, dress, etc, would be a breeze. But for me, someone who thought she'd never be getting married EVER, I haven't actually spent any time thinking about what I wanted. And thus, choosing a venue became a huge stress for me.

I haven't started shopping for a dress yet, but again, I find myself in the same boat. I have no clear idea what I want. The only thing I do know is that my dress will not be white, ivory, cream, eggshell, or anything resembling those colors. But as far as silhouette goes, I'm totally clueless. I faithfully watch TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress", but all of those dresses are so over the top and *totally* out of my price range. The only thing I've seen on that show that I really dig is this, and talk about over the top...sheesh! Perhaps I should start looking at dresses, or at least start thinking about how I would like to look on the big day...

The take home message here is that its always better to have a game plan when taking on a new endeavor. I had no idea what I was up against with this whole wedding thing and I'm just starting out! I know it should be fun, and I'm sure it will be at some point. But for right now, I'm just going to enjoy the relaxation that comes from knowing that we've got a venue and a date locked up. Onward...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Monkey see...

Major dork-out warning. Read on if you want to get your nerd on...

When I registered for physiology this semester I thought to myself, "How much could have changed from when I took it during my undergrad days?". BTW, that was in the late 90s. The answer is, of course, LOTS. Some of the things that happen within the human body remain largely a mystery with new discoveries being made all the time. Naturally, there's plenty that I didn't learn back in the day.

During the neurological unit, the professor presented a short video about mirror neurons which was especially interesting for those of us in the class who play sports or dance. The basic idea is that the more athletic ability you have, the more you enjoy watching sports and the more you emotionally invested you get. Watching the sporting activity or dance produces the same neurological response as if you were doing those actions yourself.

Mirror neurons are located in the premotor cortex of the inferior parietal lobe of the brain. Recall that the parietal lobe plays a role in coordinating the body's motions and integrating sensory information. The video presented a study with individuals doing certain simple physical tasks, such as opening closing one's hand. EEG data shows that the area where mirror neurons are located fired strongly. Then, the same subjects watched a video of the same task. EEG data showed the exact same area of the brain fired strongly again, leading researchers to conclude that, as far as this area of the brain is concerned, watching the activity is the same as doing it.

Of course, this finding has implications that reach into a great many fields. One such field is childhood development. Current research is looking into how infants learn and understand actions from simply watching them. If you think about it, this makes sense. I know that I've successfully gotten more than one baby to clap his or her hands after demonstrating how its done a few times.

The mirror system has also been linked to empathy, emotions and intentions (or goals). Studies have been done on autistic individuals that have showed that the mirror neurons do not fire as strongly in autistic individuals, either when they are performing the task or watching it. They are able to imitate the action, but don't understand why they're doing it. Anatomically, these individuals have thinner regions of mirror neurons, leading researchers to suggest that perhaps autism is caused by a lack of mirror neurons, thereby leading to deficits in social skills, emotions, empathy and understanding the goal of various actions.

Basically, what all this means for me is that because I am a fairly athletic individual, I understand the goals of sports and dance, and therefore become more emotionally invested. My mirror neuron system is responsible for this link between action and emotion. This is why I get so mushy gushy when I watch ballet or why I find certain sports (OK, all sports) so interesting and entertaining. Chances are, if you played sports at some point or possess a fair amount of athletic ability, you like watching other people play sports, too. Suddenly, it all makes sense. Fascinating.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Neurons not firing...

Physiology lectures have been really interesting lately and on Thursday, we watched a video that have me a really great idea for a blog post. But DJC's dad departed earlier today, and I've spent most of my newly reclaimed time cleaning the house and attempting to recover from last night's debauchery. Ouch, my liver.

Suffice to say, I can't get it together enough today to make the blog post sound coherent and intelligent. And then tomorrow, there's Cal football. So, you know how it goes...

It's a really interesting and geeky post that needs to be done correctly. Forgive my inability to concentrate today...

Muchas gracias, mis amigos! Hasta luego...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My major food bender

Lately, I haven't done much but eat. Not that I'm complaining or anything. The food has been just delicious, but I haven't been to the gym in several days. I'm getting a little squishy. Whatever, though. It's all good.

Here are a few pics from my recent food adventures:



These pics are from Monk's Kettle in San Francisco where we had lunch on Saturday afternoon. The giant pretzel with cheese sauce and mustard was beyond freaking tasty. And oh yeah, the beer was pretty good, too.

These drinks were enjoyed on Sunday afternoon at Beretta, also in San Francisco. My good lord, they were amazing. No, your eyes do not deceive you...those are basil leaves floating on top of the right and left drinks. In the pic, we've got two Lonsdales (L and R), one Il Gitano (in the back) and one Old Rasputin motor oil beer. Aside from the beer, they were the most unique cocktails we've ever had. And the food was super delicious, too. The company was also an A+. Damn right it was a good day.

If I thought the pretzel from the Monk's Kettle was huge, I had no idea what was waiting for me at Suppenk├╝che in San Francisco earlier tonight. DJC's dad's arm is included in this picture for scale. It was seriously insane. After disposing of the onions, because you all know how I feel about onions, I dove into this thing and did my best to take it down. For dinner. Yes, that thing was my dinner. I did the best I could, but I could only get through about half, and that was with help. It was sooooooooooooooo good, though.

Suffice to say, if I don't make it in to the gym soon, I will be in serious trouble. We've got more dining outings planned for the rest of the week still! Wish me luck!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

More fillah...less thrillah

DJC's dad is in town this week which means I have little time to do anything but go to my classes, clean the house, drive to and from San Francisco, and eat. This last thing is killin' me, but my god, I've had some amazing food and drinks recently.

I know I owe you all another pictorial post, and I've got it coming soon. Really, I do. But for now you all will just have to work with this hilarious video:



Have I gushed about how much I love Joe Thornton recently? Bloody hell, this is almost too awesome. He is arguably one of the best players in all of the NHL and he is such a goofball. Love how he doesn't take himself seriously at all. Classic.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

California is just beautiful...Part one of a three part series

The following photos were taken at various points along the Pacific Coast Highway on possibly the sunniest day of the summer. DJC and I recently took a leisurely drive down to Big Sur, where after a lovely day of sun, adrenaline (courtesy of BL's Ferrari), and good food, he asked me to marry him. Its funny how we live so close to such beautiful sites, and yet as long as DJC has been in California, this was our first trip down the coast. Enjoy the pics!

The following pics are from Andrew Molera Beach, where after a long hike from the trail head through dust and dirt and horse manure, DJC and I sat on a log and talked about our past, present and future life together. He got down on one knee, gave me a ring and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I couldn't stop crying...in a good way.

This will forever be our beach. But if we ever return, I vow to wear better shoes that won't leave my feet raw, blistered and bloody:

____

OUCH! I didn't know I was in for a ~2 mile hike when I chose my footwear for the day! Ugh!

Regardless of the blisters and pain, this was such a fantastic day. A HUGE thanks goes out to BL for being the most amazing friend ever and letting us borrow his excellent vehicle to make the day that much more special. Hope you all enjoyed the pics. I've got more to come. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Your yearly VMA post

I kinda got suckered into watching MTV's VMAs this year, mostly because I was writing about America's Best Dance Crew for my other blog and the coverage just seemed to spill over without me noticing. By the time I realized what I was watching, I was already hooked and had to watch. And I really didn't plan on writing about all the goings on (mostly because I don't want to give Kanye more press...not like anyone reads my blog or anything), but then I remembered that BT gets her VMA street cred with her lawyer friends from my blog, and I figured that EVERYONE would be talking about last night and I wanted her to be able to throw her two cents in.

So, BT, here ya go. This one's for you...

Last night, Taylor Swift (?) won the award for Best Female Video. Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and other people that I am forgetting were also nominated. Well, as she was giving her acceptance speech for her very first VMA ever, Kanye West, who is possibly the world's largest asswipe, had to steal her thunder:



It's absolutely astounding to me how much I dislike Kayne. He wasn't even nominated for an award this year (because his music sucks) and he still had to be the center of attention. Listen douchebag, MTV can make you or break you depending on whether or not they like you. It has nothing to do with musical talent. People will like what they're told to like by MTV. Clearly, Taylor Swift is on MTV's good side and judging by the fact that you've never won a VMA, you're not. Period.

Whoever this Taylor person is, though, I feel badly for her. Poor little country singing lamb. This was her moment and Kanye had to make it all about himself...again. Ugh. I'm so tired of his attention-whoring antics and wish he would just disappear into the aether.

Anyways, later in the evening, Beyonce won the award for Video of the Year and brought Taylor back on stage to allow her to complete her acceptance speech. While Kanye showed just how disrespectful a person can be, Beyonce demonstrated a sky-high level of class:



See there? All better. Taylor gets her moment, Kanye is "escorted" out of the VMAs after committing the equivalent of career suicide, and Beyonce comes away from this whole debacle looking like a saint. All is well in the world of pop music again. YAY! Cotton candy and fluffy kitten hugs all around!

So there it is, BT. Hopefully, this will earn you some pop culture points at work today. =)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back...sorta

DJC and I have been traipsing around California lately and have some lovely pics and stories to share. But for now, I'm firmly planted on my comfy couch, not looking at those pics or resizing them yet. But I will. Promise.

Highlights from this weekend include one delightful wedding in the Yosemite redwoods, showing DJC around the park I loved as a kid, and seeing my very first ever baby squirrel (although we didn't get a pic of it...it ran much too fast, and we were driving).

Pics and stories soon. Hugs!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cupkates

Ok, I admit it. I gave into Twitter. I know that I ranted and carried on about how I'd never do such a lame thing, but yes, I've been tweeting. It pains me a little to say it, really. I am hanging my head in shame as we speak (thank goodness for touch-typing!).

But as silly at Twitter is, it does have some wonderful uses, too. Take, for example, this lovely tale of a simple girl who found the ultimate sugar rush in the vast Twittersphere...

Recently, one of the folks I'm following (@WHITEMENACE) tweeted about his experience at the Outside Lands festival. He mentioned that he sampled delicious cupcakes from a truck...like a taco truck, but with cupcakes. EFFING GENIUS!! I was intrigued and began to follow the cupcake truck (@Cupkates Truck). Cupkates. "How cute!", I thought. And since I've got an insatiable sweet tooth I was more than interested in seeing if I could meet up with them at some point. I do loves me some cupcakes, ya'll.

Lucky for me, according to their Twitter page, the Cupkates Truck was scheduled to be in the UC Berkeley area last Thursday. "WOOT!", I thought! I was so excited. I left my physiology lecture early so that I could haul ass over to Berkeley and find where they had parked. Conveniently, they had tweeted their exact location and I was able to find the adorable truck and snag myself some amazing treats. I also snagged a few pictures. Check 'em out:

Look at all those yummy cupcakes! Wonder what you're looking at? Take a look at what they were offering the day I visited them:


And here's what I took home:

That's two red velvet (because they are my absolute favorite), one double vanilla (DJC's favorite), one S'mores (OMG, graham cracker crust on the bottom!!) and one Twinkie (complete with burnt marshmallow frosting and coconut). They were all ridiculously tasty. I really enjoyed each and every one, and, yes, I did eat most of them. My only gripe was with the method of transportation. The large box allowed for the cupcakes to slide around and bump into the walls, thereby smooshing the frosting and leaving it everywhere. Sad face.

If you're on Twitter and in the Bay Area, you best follow @Cupkates Truck. She is delightful and so is her husband, who was outside of the truck chatting with the folks on the street. Good people, great cupcakes...mobile cupcakes! A brilliant idea I will continue to support!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Adventures at the local Safeway

College football starts today, which means that I needed provisions. Food, drink and the like. I put on my script Cal t-shirt and headed out to the grocery store.

As I stepped up to the meat counter, I was immediately greeted by the largest, happiest man I have seen in a long time. His name, according to his name tag, was Eric.

"May I help you on this fiiiiiiiiine day?", Eric asked me.

"Yes please. I'd like six slices of bacon.", I replied.

"SLICES?! I thought you were going to ask me for six pounds!!

"Well, I would get more, but I don't think we could eat it all and I certainly don't want to waste good bacon."

"Girl, please. I can handle six of these slices on my own!"

"Actually, I can too, but I really shouldn't. I do love me some bacon, though."

"Child, please. You're skinny! Unless you're pushing 225 on the scale, you're skinny in my mind!"

I laughed. I'm not sure when I was last told that I am skinny. Serious comedy. Eric happily packed up my half-pound of bacon and added a "Thank you, Jesus" when he handed it to me. In this context, it made perfect sense. I continued to smile as I walked away from the meat counter towards the beer aisle.

Once there, I encountered three guys all dressed in Cal gear. They immediately saw my t-shirt and hollered "GO BEARS!". I returned the chant, although not nearly as loudly.

"So are you going to the game?", one guy asked me.

"No, we're gonna watch it on TV", I replied, as I surveyed the beer choices.

"Yeah, its on ESPN2...". Immediately, I cut in.

"Which kinda sucks because I feel that ESPN never gives the Pac-10 the respect is deserves. Plus the game will not be in HD. Weak".

All three of them looked at me like I had just said the most amazing thing they had ever heard. We continued to chit-chat about how the national sports channels favor the east coast teams and how its total bullshit that one ESPN guy actually chose Maryland over Cal. We agreed that Cal would shut them up with their actions on the field. The conversation then turned to the Navy Ohio State game that had taken place earlier in the day. After about five minutes, I went on my way. They all looked a little sad as I walked out of the beer aisle and gave me one more "GO BEARS!".

Damn, I love Cal fans. GO BEARS!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Adventures in tangent land

The setting: Room D115, physiology lab, about 1:45pm today.

The people: Dr. Nixon, who is about 7 months pregnant, and us, her students.

The scene: She is lecturing about the various phases of mitosis. Some students are staring off into space. Some are feverishly writing down every word. Most of us fall into the former category. Standard.

"Now, during the interphase, which accounts for about 90% of the total cell cycle time, DNA is being replic....."

Then, Dr. Nixon just sort of unexpectedly trailed off, seeming to have lost interest in her own lecture. She stared out the window with an obvious look of longing on her face. We turned around to see a large truck whizzing by the window. It was about the size of a medium delivery truck.

"I really thought that was an ice cream truck just now," she said. "They always drive through my neighborhood, but they're always going too fast. They still play their little song, but they drive at like 40 miles per hour. I never have time to run inside and get money."

She said this all with a most serious tone in her voice. The room immediately broke into laughter. I definitely got a kick out of her little side trip into ice cream truck land, and immediately gained an all new level of respect for her. Despite never being pregnant or knowing what those kinds of cravings are like, I understand that sometimes only ice cream will fix things. Even though she was in the middle of teaching roughly 30 students,the need for ice cream took precedence. I totally get it.

Even after lecture resumed, I was still chuckling to myself...and really wanting some Rocky Road. You know how it goes...

He asked! I said yes!

YAY!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jump through those hoops

My physiology class started last week. As of this morning, I was still not enrolled because there is a chemistry prerequisite. No problem there. I took general chem as a freshman, and took organic chem two years ago. The problem lies in the fact that no one at my current school knows that. The physiology professor recommended that I contact the department head, show him my transcript, and he'd "remove the block" so I could then register. OK, I though. Easy enough. Except, yeah...not so much.

I have emailed the department head (Dr. Steiner) three times, I have stopped by his office on several different days, I have asked when his office hours are...and I have yet to actually speak to the man. I was getting a bit frustrated. And I NEEDED to add this class soon, as the remaining spaces were filling up. I awoke early today bound and determined to get this matter handled. Except, yeah...not so much. Here's a breakdown of how my day went, with a small detour:

9:40am: Arrived on campus and headed straight to Dr. Steiner's office. Of course, he's wasn't there. Shocking, really. Class wasn't scheduled to start until 10am, so I decided to make good use of my time.

9:41am: Marched over to the administration office to buy a parking permit. I was told I needed to go next door to the cashier's office because that's where they're sold. Fine.

9:43am: Alarmingly large cashier lady asked for my student ID number. When I told her that didn't know it, she huffed and told me that she could not look me up any other way. "Liar," I thought, but whatever. She then directed me back to the administration office, where I could use the public computers to figure out what my ID number is. Ohhhh kaaaaay....

9:45am: After a fair amount of frustration because I didn't know how to use their computer system, I finally determined my ID number. I almost stomped back over to the cashier's office.

9:50am: I presented my newly acquired ID number to alarmingly large cashier lady. She entered it and then looked at me like I was a total idiot. "Ma'am, you're not actually registered for any classes. I cannot sell you a permit if you are not taking any classes here". I tried to explain the chemistry prerequisite situation to her, but she was totally uninterested and actually shooed me away. Nice.

(As an aside, while I was standing in line for the cashier, I noticed the receptionist was taking a very personal call, very loudly, and was totally unconcerned with who might be listening. There were at least 5 people in line including myself. We all now know way more about Lamar than we'd ever care to)

10am: Physiology class, that I'm not enrolled in, started.

12pm: I resumed my search for Dr. Steiner. I started at his office. No dice. At the urging of my professor, I hoofed it up to the Business and Transportation office to explain my situation and see if they might be able to track him down. Helpful receptionist lady gave me a yellow "challenge" form to fill out and take BACK to the administration office. Apparently, this is what I needed to fill out to be able to register.

12:15pm: Another helpful lady at the administration office looked at my yellow challenge form, declared that she'd never seen "that one" before, and asked me again what I needed to accomplish. By this time, I was close to losing it. After explaining yet again what I needed, she looked at me and said, "Is that all? And you have your transcripts with you? Well, just go see a counselor! They'll waive that chemistry class for you!". I nearly died. "Is that all?". SERIOUSLY?!?!?! I had been trying to get this whole debacle resolved for nearly a week now!! And all I needed to do from the get-go was see a counselor?! FML.

After meeting with said counselor later in the day, I am now enrolled in the physiology class. It didn't need to be as hard as it was. Sometimes I think that people who work at junior colleges make you run around like a moron for their own enjoyment. If that's the case, I sure as hell made someone's day today...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bits and bobs

The Parking Debacle: I decided today would be a wonderful day to pay that $41 parking ticket I got from the City of Berkeley back in June. Yeah, I waited...MUCH too long. But today was the day. I knew it was going to be more than the original $41, but I had no idea just how much more.

I logged on to their website and clicked the link to enter my citation number. Imagine my utter SHOCK when the total came up as $123!! WHOA! And then, to add insult to injury, there's a $2 "convenience" fee tacked on for those who choose to pay online. Well, that just wasn't going to work for me. I immediately closed the payment window before going any further. I needed an explanation. But as I tried to click to other parts of the site, it froze. Then it just simply refused to load at all. After a few frustrating minutes, I decided to call. Yeah, that wasn't really working either. I kept getting the annoying three beeps with "We're sorry. All circuits are busy. Please try again later".

Finally, after trying another number, I was able to get through to a wonderfully helpful lady named Tamara. She explained that due to state budget issues, the City of Berkeley has had to impose some parking fee "increases" (I could totally tell that she was making the quote signs with her hands when she said increases. LOL!). What this means for idiots like me that forget to pay in a timely manner is that the fee has gone from $30 to close to $80. I nearly dropped the phone. I whined and complained and carried on until Tamara put me on hold. When she came back, she explained that she was willing to waive the late fee so that all I had to pay was the original $41 fine. I quickly gave her my credit card number before she changed her mind. TOTAL SCORE!!!

Chain Restaurants: Alright, I admit it. In some cases, I love a good chain restaurant. You always know exactly what you're getting, no matter what city you dine in. The quality is totally consistent, no matter if you're stopping at a Chili's in Honolulu, or if you're hittin' up the local Panera in Wauwatosa, WI. Its strangely comforting to know that your skillet queso will taste exactly the same in an airport in Nashville, TN as it does in Walnut Creek, CA.

Recently (like today recently), we finally got a Panera in one of the local shopping plazas. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I know their sandwiches and soups are generic at best, but its nice knowing exactly what you're going to get. I totally enjoyed my broccoli cheese soup with half a turkey sandwich today, which is exactly how its been at every Panera I've ever been to (although I must admit, I'm paying for it a bit now...heartburn).

In the same vein, DJC has informed me that there's a new Specialty's opening up right near his office. OMG, they have the best cookies in all of the land. Especially their black and white cookies. I could take down several of them if pressed. I'd hate myself later, but I could do it. Specialty's also has soups and sandwiches that are only slightly less generic than Panera, but equally as tasty. And dependable. You know that when you walk through their doors, you will always get a decent meal.

Ok, that's all. I'm too sore to type any more, thanks to last night's Core class from hell. I am looking forward to reuniting with old friends tomorrow at BT's BBQ, though. Mmmmm...BBQ.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thank you, state of California...Now with UPDATES!

...for changing my plans for nursing school entirely. Due to the massively fucked state budget, funding for community college classes has been slashed big time and the ONE class that I need to be able to apply to a certain college is full. I cannot get in this semester. Previously, the college had enough funding for two sections of this particular class, but this year there's only one. And since the applications for the nursing program are due in October, EVERYONE needs to take this class to be able to apply. What that means for me is that I'm gonna have to re-vamp my plans and not apply to this school (at least not this year).

Instead, I will now be taking pathophysiology and a basic nutrition class which will allow me to apply to a school I had previously ruled out. I counted this school out because I feared that getting in would be very difficult. I opted for the easier junior colleges that chose their nursing students via a lottery system. But the problem with the lottery system is that it doesn't take into consideration how well you've done in your prerequisite classes. You could have *just* skated by with the minimum GPA, have your name pulled in the random draw and get in, while others who might be more qualified (and would be more successful in the program) are left out. During the long car ride home today after the news that I would not get in to my class, I decided I'd rather be admitted to a program based on my academic merits as opposed to sheer luck.

Make no mistake, I will still be applying to several other junior colleges that utilize the lottery system in the hopes that I will get in *somewhere*. Because, in the end, I don't care where I get in...just as long as there's a nursing program out there that's willing to take me. The difference in salary between an AA in nursing or a Bachelor's is minimal, so that's not really a concern. But the quality of the program might differ between a lottery school and one that is choosy about whom they admit. I just don't know...

The point here is that the state of California has thrown me a nasty curve ball and I've got to figure out where I'm gonna go from here. At this point in time, I'm just not sure. Stay tuned for updates...

THIS JUST IN: In a shocking turn of events, this morning I got an email from the professor of the over-enrolled class letting me know that she was able to squeeze me in. YAY! Plan A is intact! Now, as far as the other school goes, I still have two prerequisites to finish up, but since that school accepts applications twice a year, I can take those classes in the spring and submit my application in July. That is, of course, assuming that my name doesn't get pulled out of the magic hat for one of the lottery schools. We shall see. Let the homework begin...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adventures at Lush


Yesterday, I stopped by my local Lush to stock up on some inordinately expensive soap that is not, in any way, shape or form, recession friendly. No matter, though. DJC and I are totally hooked and have been for years. I was greeted by this interesting storefront window as I walked in. I wondered what was up...

Lush has always prided itself on being very environmentally friendly, with some of its products being completely vegan and 100% natural. Lately though, they've decided to eschew palm oil altogether in an effort to preserve the natural habitats of orangutans. While I applaud their commitment to doing what they can, let me just say that I would use Lush products if they had the blood, sweat and tears of the Baby Jesus in them. They're that good.

I wasn't supposed to take a picture of the window, but I figured that after I coated both of my hands with green little kid finger paint to contribute to the "artwork" and support the whole "wash your hands of palm" movement, I didn't think anyone would mind. Especially because I was outside of the store. I even got a free sample of their Sexy Peel soap (sans palm oil, of course, even though the one in the link still has it) for planting my palms on the window. It was a strange experience, but I'm up for anything that ends with free Lush soap. =)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Recipe time

My blog friends always post the most delicious sounding recipes on their blogs. They use fresh ingredients that they've harvested from their gardens or bought at local farmer's markets to make all kinds of creative dishes that literally make my mouth water. Sometimes, I get pretty jealous.

I can't cook for shit, and ya'll have seen the "garden" in the back yard. But, in my new quest to consume as much Zaya rum as I possibly can, I did create a dessert last night that merits a short blog post. Here's the recipe:

Combine the following ingredients:
1 bowl of vanilla ice cream.
1 shot of Zaya Gran Reserva rum poured over top
Eat immediately and swoon with joy...

The bowl of ice cream can be any size of your choosing, but keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of rum you add.

Not gonna lie, it was delicious. Simple, not difficult, no complicated steps, but HUGE flavor. That's all.

This now concludes my attempt at online recipes. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The payoff

Two weekends ago, DJC and I went out for a frivolous night of drinking. We started out at Forbidden Island, a kitschy cute Tiki lounge, where the drinks are totally foo-foo and, if you're not careful, will knock you on your tush. Here's a pic:

Drinks on the menu come with strength ratings, or more correctly, a number of bottles with Xs on them, indicating just how much alcohol one can expect. They range in strength from zero (non-alcoholic drinks) to five bottles (the appropriately named "Zombie"). The drink on the left is called a "Boo Loo". Silly name...with four bottles and Xs. The blue one is a "Neptune's Garden" which kicked my ass with 3 Xs. Two or three drinks from Forbidden Island's vast repertoire might earn you a cab ride home, or at least a fun, stumbling walk. So, of course, we love this place.

Afterward, we headed over to Havana because I desperately wanted plantains, and Forbidden Island's limited menu of fried foods left a little to be desired. When DJC and I took two seats at the bar, we were greeted by bartender Johnathan. Just trying to make conversation, I asked what his favorite dark rum was. He immediately turned around a grabbed a bottle of Zaya Gran Reserva. He poured us a little straight up and asked us to smell it. I inhaled deeply and smelled warm sugar, vanilla, and caramel. It was positively luscious. Then he made DJC his "daiquiri", which consisted of a shot and a half of Zaya, fresh squeezed lime juice and a splash of simple syrup, all shaken with a crushed mint leaf garnish. Quite literally, it is the best mixed drink I have ever had in my life. Just delicious and lethal, especially on a hot day. I was so blown away that I came home and wrote a glowing, 5-star Yelp review.

Last weekend, we rounded up the usual suspects and headed back to Havana. The cocktail was so tasty that they HAD to try it. Bartender Johnathan recognized us from the previous week, and had read my Yelp review. We ordered two rounds of drinks and several appetizers. Johnathan sent over a decadent chocolate mousse dessert, on the house, and "forgot" to charge us for several drinks. He said it was the least he could do after the great Yelp review. He explained that they've been getting slammed on Yelp lately and really appreciated my nice words and that I had brought people back to try his drinks. We all had a great night and I've found a new favorite rum. Everyone wins!!

Most people only Yelp when they've had a negative dining experience. I get that...I've done it, for sure. But how frequently do we write about our good experiences? You never know when your review will be read and really appreciated by the owners or managers of the restaurants you visit. And if you're a regular, as DJC and I aspire to become at Havana, your positive review might even have unexpected bonuses attached to it! So, if you've recently dined somewhere outstanding or experienced excellent service, write about it. You never know who could be seeing your words and how they could pay off in the future...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adventures in karaoke

I've been meaning to write about this FOREVER, but blogging keeps getting pushed to the back burner lately. Without getting in to it too much, there's been a lot going on, so blogging is pretty far down on the list. But this story's epic, ya'll. And its guaranteed to make you laugh.

A few weeks ago, I hopped in my car and headed over to my sister's friend's birthday party at The Mint in San Francisco. My role for the night was to provide backup for my sister in the event that she ran into someone she really didn't want to see. Because that's what sisters do. Anyways, ever heard of this joint? I surely hadn't. All I knew was that it was a karaoke bar, and that alone scared me. But when I heard that it was a predominantly gay karaoke bar, I became interested. This might actually be kinda fun, I thought to myself. I had zero plans to sing any songs, but hey, I could do a night of karaoke and free drinks...sure.

When we walked in, someone was doing a HORRID rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends". It hurt my soul. Somewhere, John Lennon was rolling over in his grave. Everyone in our party looked at one another skittishly. Oh man, I thought. This was gonna be a LOOOONG night. But after several drinks, several songs by people who were pretty good, and several who where TOTALLY having a blast regardless of singing sucktitude, I stared to sing along in my seat. Before I knew it, I looked over to see TW (sis's significant other) BELTING out the lyrics to "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. Yeah, that's right, the Rick Roll. Funny thing was that I also knew all the lyrics. Alcohol was flowing, people were singing fun songs, and I had to admit to myself that this wasn't so bad.

Then, like 5 people in a row sang totally sappy, Debbie Downer, buzzkill songs. You could totally feel the place's energy go right out the door along with more than half the people. The vibe became so serious! Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" at a karaoke bar?! Really?! I don't care if you can totally rock that very difficult song (which the guy did)....karaoke is supposed to be silly and fun. Like Spice Girls, Bon Jovi fun. Like Sir Mix-a-Lot fun. Sir Mix-a-lot. Hmmmmm. That gave me an idea. In my drunken mind, I devised a sure-fire way to get people involved, hyped up and singing along again. I grabbed a pen and a request form, snagged $5 from TW, wrote down my name as well as my sister's and submitted it to the sleazy "DJ".

Ten minutes later, my sister and I found ourselves up on stage BUSTING out "Baby Got Back". Keep in mind, we're two very white girls in a gay karaoke bar. The details of the actual performance are a little fuzzy to me because of the nerves and the alcohol, but apparently neither of us looked at the screen once for the lyrics. There were mad dance moves on stage, dancing off stage, and people cheering us on. Because we were seriously working the dance moves while trying to sing, we were pretty out of breath. Looking back, I personally feel like I could have done a better job of bringing Sir Mix-a Lot's vision to life. But one fact was clear: the white girls single handedly got the place hopping again! Massive high-fives ensued as we left the stage. Somewhere, at the back of The Mint, I think I saw the "Nessun Dorma" guy giving us the stink eye.

I called it a night shortly after that. I figured there was no way I could top my performance, so I decided to end on a high note. There's no video, thank goodness, so the memory of bringing the bar back to life lives on only in a few pics that people managed to get. Regardless of how apprehensive I was walking in to the whole event, I walked out of the bar feeling like a freaking star. Karaoke's good like that. Perhaps next time, if there is a next time, I'll do it a little more sober, though...

Video of some of the most amazing moments I experienced that evening coming soon... promise, its worth it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gardening 101: Fertilizer


Yes, its that awesome KFC bucket from last post, now with a half eaten watermelon, small rind and wet paper towel thrown in for what I can only assume is fertilizer. How this whole setup will work is beyond anything I can understand. Perhaps my neighbors know something about soil science and osmosis that I do not.

Whatever the case, one gardening fact remains: I cannot make this shit up, folks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gardening 101: Planters

Lately, a few of my friends have been posting lovely pics of their gardens and the fruits of their labor. BT's tomatoes look mouth-watering (like, seriously!), Arvay's squash has me thinking about delicious soups and raviolis, and Miss E's garden looked to be coming along nicely (although I couldn't find pics!). Well, all you fancy-schmancy gardeners, have I got a treat for you!

Behind our house, there is a "garden", although it is not maintained by either DJC or myself. Our wacky neighbors have haphazardly planted all sorts of things that we can't identify in all kinds of unusual "planters". So, in honor of my friends' hard work and carefully planned out gardens, I present some photos that are the EXACT OPPOSITE of that:

What the hell is this thing? Honestly. And if you look closely, I'll bet you can see the KFC BUCKET that something else unidentifiable is planted it. The best part is that the KFC bucket is semi-planted in the ground. Nothing says garden fresh produce like KFC. Word.

More unidentifiable stuff. And look! There's that awesome KFC bucket again! I can't get over that thing!! Seriously, how much do proper planting buckets cost? I'll bet its a lot less than a greazy bucket of chicken.

This might be my favorite backyard sight. No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a bunch of random crap...planted in AN OLD BATHTUB! I don't get it. Where does one even get an old bathtub? And moreover, what possesses one to turn it into a planter?! Notice that there is plenty of good, old fashioned dirt all around the bathtub. So strange.

These are growing on one of the plants in the bathtub. They look like little chili peppers. Little black, poisonous, stinky chili peppers. What are they in reality? I have no freaking idea.

Another creative "planter", or, as the rest of us in the normal world call it, a recycling bin.

I believe the shrubbery on the ground is a cherry tomato plant that has all but killed the Meyer lemon tree that was originally there. This tree used to produce lovely, delicious, sweet lemons. It still kinda does, but the fruit is now MUCH higher up on the tree. The neighbors have over-fertilized the tomato plant to the point where it has taken over pretty much everything else in the area. The irony of the whole mess is that the plant hardly produces any tomatoes. Most of them spoil before they are ready to be picked.

Here's a better shot of the once prolific Meyer lemon tree. Notice that it's being choked by whatever is growing near it. Also, notice all the random junk in the background.

This whole area is a sore spot for DJC and I, as we would like to be able to use it, or at least make it nicer, but since we do not own the building and the other tenants are relatives of the person who does, we get bubkus. Its a bummer that we can't make the space a decent place to actually grow fruits and veggies, but every now and then I do get a strange laugh out of the plants in the bathtub....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter: A brief review

After my weekly waste of 3 hours (read: my "psychology" class), I needed something to cheer me up. So, I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie by myself at 3pm yesterday. I bought my matinee ticket, snagged a package of frozen (!!) Junior Mints, and took a seat near the back. I was ready to rock. Movies!! YAY! Fun!!

Ok, lemme just say that if I was looking for something to cheer me up, I picked the wrong damn movie. Man, this is a one hell of a dark tale. Around the time of The Prisoner of Azkaban, the tone of the Harry Potter saga took a darker turn and since then, all of the movies have been decidedly...well...dark with more adult topics. Half Blood Prince is no exception. Some of the scenes are downright scary (OMG, the chick with the necklace and the locket in the bowl scenes!!) and I'm 33 years old, damn it. I think any kid would be scared bonkers by this movie, but then again, some of the very adult ideas and themes might just sail right over their heads, leaving them a bit confused. For a series that has traditionally been marketed towards children, this movie is definitely geared more towards the adults in the audience.

I gave up reading the books after The Goblet of Fire because the books and movies didn't really match. Apparently, that's very much the case with this last movie. I'm kinda glad I didn't read the book, though, because there were some seriously shocking moments that I would have known about and expected and its much more fun to be surprised. But I hear from people that have read the book that the movie isn't even close. Apparently, they would have had to make it like 3 1/2 hours to fit in all the plot intricacies. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, I wasn't bored, but I wasn't loving every second either. I totally couldn't get enough of The Sorcerer's Stone and would have been happy to watch another 2-3 hours with no complaints. Not so with this one.

Anyways, I still loved this movie as a whole. I thought it was beautifully done and its great to see that some of the cast, who we all met as children, have actually become very good actors. Its just that I feel its not for kids. Parents, when your children have to ask what's going on every second of every scene, you know its probably a good idea to leave them at home, that's all...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend roundup...the photography edition

This truly was a gorgeous, but strange Bay Area weekend. The weather was all over the place...sunny one minute and raining the next. Yes, rain. In July. IN CALIFORNIA! Weird, I know. But the erratic weather really did make for some excellent photos. Here, have a look:


I took these at the Naval boat dock right down the street from our house after dinner on Friday night. A few minutes after we left, I noticed in my rear view mirror that the sky had become even more orange and amazing. I was bummed that I didn't get some better shots, even though these are pretty good. DJC always says I'm impatient. Guess he's right.

This was taken from our back steps minutes after it stopped raining early Saturday evening. BL happened to be on his way over to our house around the same time and described his weather experience for us: "One minute, the sun was so bright I literally had to put my sun glasses on and lower the sun shade in my car so that I could still see the road. The next minute it was raining, but it was still sunny. SO WEIRD!!" On the way up our back stairs, he pulled his cell phone out to show me a pic he had just taken of the resulting rainbow, but then I saw this one behind him. By the time I grabbed my camera, this was all that was left. Still pretty damn cool, though.

Recently, I've been experimenting with Trader Joe's fresh pizza crust. The top pic is my very first effort. I made a BBQ chicken pizza with thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes, lipstick peppers and aged gouda. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it was effing *delicious*. The bottom pic represents my attempt at recreating the "You Say Potato" pizza from Escape from New York. This pizza has a pesto sauce, thinly sliced red potatoes, roasted garlic, mozzarella, smoked fontina and parmigiano reggiano cheeses. Although it wasn't quite the same, it was still very tasty. I can't say I'll ever go back to buying frozen pizza or ordering takeout again. TJ's fresh crust tastes great and is way more cost effective, not to mention more fun.

Another great weekend in the books. What did you all do? Anything cool? Happy new week, ya'll. =)

OH! BTW, Dr. Cromartie accepted all five of my written summaries last Thursday (two from the first week, two from the current week, and one extra credit assignment). FINALLY! It only took me three weeks to figure out what he wanted. Damn.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Second verse, same as the first

After last week's "psychology" class from hell (refresher here), I didn't think things could get any worse or more ridiculous. By this point in my life, I should know that things can ALWAYS get worse or more ridiculous. Sweet.

For a detailed recap of how Thursday went, please see the refresher post. This week's time line was almost exactly like the last class, minute for minute. Because I had a hunch that this was going to happen again, I saved all of my reading for the two and a half hours of class where I'd have nothing better to do. I brought my laptop to the first class, but because the building where this waste of time is held is on the outskirts of campus, the wireless signal doesn't reach. Killing time on the internet was a no-go.

"But Enforcer," you might say, "you still have your cell phone." Wrong. During the first class, Dr. Cromartie made it very clear that if he sees anyone with a cell phone in their hand during class time, he will subtract 30 points from your final class point total. So far, he's done it to three people. He followed the third person into the hallway after he saw her pull her phone out of her bag. I've been known to take my entire purse into the ladies' room because he can't question me taking my purse and he certainly can't follow me into the loo to bust me. While safe in the confines of the stalls, I send DJC text messages laced with profanity and threats of violence. So yeah, studying is the only thing I can do during the first two and half hours of class.

Anyways, my turn finally came to deliver my video summaries. I learned during last week's slaughter-fest that shorter summaries are definitely the way to go. Dr. Cromartie glanced over the second week's summaries and accepted them. WOOT, I thought. I then handed him my corrected summaries from the first week. Immediately, he picked out the one freaking quote I included, circled it and informed me that the comma belongs inside the quotes, handed BOTH summaries back to me and told me to hand them in next week. Holy shit, REALLY?!?!? At that point, I was certain that he'd never bother to actually read the summaries themselves. He even had a ruler out at one point and was measuring margins. No shit.

Well, here's the real test. During class, I realized that one of the videos I watched and recapped was the wrong one. Let's see if he notices. My bet is that he won't. I probably could have written the entire thing in Farsi and he wouldn't have caught it. But put a fucking comma outside the quotation marks and look out!

And, I don't know why I didn't catch this before last Thursday, but the class, officially titled "Life Span Psychology," has NOTHING to do with life span or psychology. Our book is a sociology book. The videos focus on various aspects of society, such as the study of the social stratification throughout history. God help me if any of the nursing schools I apply to ever ask me about what I've learned in life span psychology. I honestly don't know what I'd say.

The worst part is that Dr. Cromartie happens to be the department chair for the Social Sciences program. If I were to complain (which I'm strongly considering) I'd have to go over his head, and I don't know who that is. He obviously has to report to someone, but finding that person is proving to be more than difficult.

In short, I'm pissed. I'm basically paying for overpriced basic grammar and discipline lessons, while not learning anything about a core requirement for most nursing schools. I've said it before and I'll say it again... I HATE when my time is so blatantly wasted. Fuck this class.