Saturday, February 28, 2009

Digital Cameras

I know there are a lot of purists out there, people who lament the ground lost from film cameras.  You know who you are.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that position.  Film has an aesthetic and emotional resonance that digital, in its cold 1, 0, 1, 0 perfection, can't match.  But...

Digital technology easily bests film in most other areas.  The resolution on high-end cameras is now larger than 35 mm. film.  And there's no upper limit.  We're limited more in our printing and reproduction capabilities than in image capture.  A 30 megapixel consumer point and shoot can't be too far off.

Digital images can be manipulated much easier than physical negatives.  Programs like Photoshop do everything an artist would normally do in a darkroom, plus a gargantuan amount more.  Granted, physical negatives can be scanned for manipulation digitally, but there's an inherent quality compromise.  Better to capture digitally from the beginning.

Getting prints made is so much easier with digital files.  Instead of having to either develop your images yourself, or drop the film of at a processing center, you can print your images at home.  Or digitally transmit them to a processing center of your choice.  This creates competition, because we aren't limited anymore to just our local processing centers.

Sharing images is clearly much easier as well, with the plethora of online photo sharing sites.

But the real benefit of no film is...no film!  It's expensive, and therefore limiting.  I went on a three week trek across Europe back in 2001, and I took along a relatively simple old film camera.  With only 24 exposures per roll I had to be very choosy about what scenes I captured.  I think in all I shot about 15 rolls of film.  If you figure (and I have no idea if these figures are accurate) six dollars per roll to purchase them, and then eight dollars to process them, you're looking at a grand total of $210.  That's 58 cents per print.  Today you can get prints online for as low as 6 cents per print.  And you're only paying for the images you actually print.  The other thousand images you have sitting on your hard drive didn't cost you a thing.

I can only imagine what images I missed because I didn't have the latitude then that a digital camera would afford me now.  I probably would have come home with many thousands of images instead just the 360 I did.  Of course volume is no substitute for talent...it's anyone's guess if any of those missed images would have been any good.


Soundtracks

I love a film that moves along with an equally profound soundtrack. Two films came out this year that had astounding performances, intriguing plots, and brilliant music. One was Vicky Christina Barcelona and the other is the award winning, Slumdog Millionaire. Vicky featured beautiful Spanish guitar pieces that captured the glorious Spanish locales. Slumdog's Indian tunes did quite the same thing, featuring Mumbai in its caotic, colorful nature.

I really enjoy collections of music tracks that tell a story and provoke a mood. My love for film has always been connected to my relationship with music. I think of films like Dancer in the Dark, Eternal Sunshine, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and how they were carried with such thought-out musical pieces. I admire the talent that lives behind such creations. A good soundtrack can be enjoyed for years and think it's time I explore that world again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"It Is What It Is": What It Is

That's a phrase I've uttered a few times, and I'm sure most of you have either said it yourselves or heard someone else say it.  I've always liked it.  A quick turn of phrase that fits an infinite number of situations.  But I've heard others disparage the sentence.  On different occasions I've heard people refer to it as "stupid", "meaningless", and "shallowness masquerading as depth."

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I'd like to try and change the doubters' minds.

"It is what it is" does, at first blush appear to be a trite truism.  Of course it is what it is.  What else could it be?  The dog is a dog.  The plane is a plane.  A=A.  You're not saying anything.

Not so.  To me, "it is what it is" encapsulates a very healthy mindset.  It's a simple phrase that conveys a more profound state of acceptance.  In any given set of circumstances, speaking these words primes the mind to simply let things be as they are, with no imposing of the will.  In a situation where the individuals involved can't change things, or the changing of things is fraught with far too much uncertainty, sometimes accepting things as they are is the best course of action.

Now, while "it is what it is" is a blanket statement, the same shift applies to the more specific phrases I mentioned earlier.  After a long, stressful day at work you finally arrive home to discover that Fido has torn up the carpet and eaten a pair of your shoes.  "The dog is a dog" is apt here.  It's in a dog's nature to act out sometimes when left alone for long periods of time.  And you, as the owner knew that proclivity when you purchased the dog.  So relax.  The dog only did what dogs do.  There's no blame to pass, and no need for anger.  The dog is a dog.  It is what it is. 

From that perspective, the phrase is rather potent.  And by speaking it aloud you're inviting others to participate in the acceptance of an immutable situation.

So to those who think "it is what it is" is a throw-away line spoken by the shallow in a vain attempt to appear philosophical, I say, try looking a little deeper.  And if you still don't get it...ah well, then it is what it is.

Wine and bubbles

Taking a bath can be such a stress reliever. It can relax the mind just as well as it relaxes the body. I prefer to lower the lights, light a couple candles, have a glass of wine, and play some nice relaxing tunes like Sigur Ros or Cat Power. I enjoy aromas filling the air with bath salts, oil, or maybe scented bubbles. I really think I'm needing one.

I can't help but think about Steph and John right now, they have officially entered parenthood; relaxing moments for them are going to be slim. I just truly feel for them, I don't believe either one has slept more than an hour at a time since Jackson was born. But, yes the positive for them is the amazement of bringing a new life into this world. I'm sending comforting vibes to all three of you tonight. Jackson it's time for bed, sweetie.

Back to the subject, baths are fantastic after any long day. Everyone needs time to decompress.

Goodnight all!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'll Send You Mine if You Send Me Yours


It may be a bit early for this post, but tonight (I don't know you that well yet, but thanks, Mela) I was turned on to paperbackswap.com, and all instruments register an 8.9 on the Richter Scale of Radical!

Anyone that's read previous posts knows that I can't control myself around used book sales.  One book becomes ten books, which eventually becomes an old Sutter Home White Zinfandel box full of books (the box isn't mine...it came with the books.)  So needless to say I have shelves and shelves and boxes and stacks of mostly unread reading material.  What's an overzealous bibliophile to do?

Swap them.  Paperbackswap.com is exactly what you'd imagine it would be.  List all the books you want to get rid of and receive credits when another user requests one of them.  That user pays nothing for your book, and you pay to ship it.  You then use your credits to "buy" books from other users, and they pay for that shipping.  No money changes hands directly between the parties involved.  You're truly trading books (and CDs and DVDs) with a very large community of people.

I just signed up for an account and tomorrow sometime I think I'll peruse my shelves and shelves and boxes and stacks for grist for the trading mill.  I will say though that my book addiction is tinged with the collecting bug.  Reading the book is important, of course, but that rarely happens.  The "having of" the book is motivation plenty.  It remains to be seen whether I can find books I can part with.  I'm hoping I have a copy of "Potat-OH!: An Illustrated History of Tubers" that I can get rid of.

Note: If any of you sign up after reading this entry, use jdbloom@comcast.net when they ask who referred you.  Apparently I get some small bonus.

Note Also: I didn't write this entry in order to get the above-mentioned bonus.  I just think the idea is a really good one.  If you agree, remember who told you about it.

Note As Well: The Richter Scale of Radical doesn't actually exist.  And that registers very low on the Richter Scale of Radical.

Sense of Style

I like having a sense of style. Whether other people agree doesn't matter...a sense of style is your own.  I've always had a very critical eye for fashion. My mom would ask me my opinion on what to wear and I would always be open to answer honestly. Yes, this did make me unpopular in some situations but I really felt then and still do feel that my opinion is valid.

I enjoy putting outfits together and creating something new out of my existing clothes. I like creating my own individual image and calling it my own. My usual style has hints of hippie and casual, with a pinch of rock and roll. I hope to learn how to make my own clothes one day, but I feel the time is just ticking away, sometimes. I least can say that style and fashion are passions of mine. I've never backed out of my style choices either, even though I definitely had questionable remarks from my family at times. I am working on increasing the professional, feminine aspects of my attire.

Flexible Employers

This is yesterday's entry.  Sorry for the late posting.  Earlier this morning I tried writing last night's, but my internet wasn't working.

So, I've had a frustrating day hanging drywall.  None of my measurements were working out correctly, and then I ruined a whole sheet...yadda yadda.  I decided to flip the situation over and look at the positive side.  The fact that my employer is flexible enough to make last minute vacations for hanging drywall possible in the first place.  It's a small perk, but it can come in very handy.

I haven't gotten as much done this workation week as I'd hoped, and I'm thinking about asking my boss if I can work two weeks of night shifts.  I get so much more done on the house during the day than I can get done at night.  Assuming client schedules permit, I'm sure he'll say yes.

I'm very glad that my company understands that people have personal lives, and sometimes those lives don't fit neatly around a 9:00 to 5:30 schedule.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Wonders of Netflix

Netflix is a glorious invention. I was one of those kids who could spend hours at the video store, starting at the new releases and then patiently browsing through the older films in sections like foreign or cult classics, reading the back of them to sure I didn't miss an enticing one. Even though I sometimes miss this venture I have now pretty much abandoned movie stores completely in favor of Netflix.

Jason and I both get 3 movies at a time.  There's no late fees, so there's no rushing to watch the films. The first few months were the best, being able to browse through so many sections. I think my queue was up to the hundreds in no time. Being able to create a wish list for all the films I've ever wanted to see is the absolute coolest. I don't remember my list ever being under 300 films in length. You really hope that you'll be able to see all those films before you kick it, but it's really unlikely. I will forever have 300 films I need to see.

Netflix is the wave of the future. I enjoy the friends and rating sections too, even through I have little spare time to mess around with them. Next up is Netflix in Blu Ray format. Really Jason, do we Really need to see all of our favorites or soon to be favorites in Blue Ray HD now, Really do we, Really..., I promise it's the same film, Really?

Latifah is a Boy Named Jackson


Kate's entry summed it up.  My sister gave birth yesterday to a 7 lb 8 oz. baby boy.  It was the first time that Kate or I had ever been even peripherally involved in a childbirth, and it was amazing.  Steph was a trooper, with a record fast labor (7.5 hours), and a granite composure (of course I did see her for the first time after the epidural was administered, so I can't speak to her unmedicated state.)

Most of you that know me know that I don't believe in miracles.  Not the supernatural, violate the laws of physics type.  The universe is plenty miraculous without them.  And childbirth definitely falls into the category of an astounding yet perfectly explainable, mind-bogglingly complex, and utterly beautiful miracle.  To think that Stephanie and John, starting from a single cell, were able to, in nine months, cook up a perfectly formed mini-human is incredible. It's akin to a skyscraper, with a built-in set of blueprints, assembling itself from the dirt of it's foundation.  A building which then adapts to it's surroundings and grows ever more complex as time goes on.  That's miraculous at first blush.  Then add to that the fact that even the process of self-assembling humans has itself been tweaked, evolved, and self-assembled from chaos, and you have one the most beautiful, unlikely and elegant miracles in any corner of the universe.

This was the first time I'd seen a baby fresh from the pot.  It's amazing how alert and engaged he already was.  When he wasn't sleeping, Jackson would look at you, react to you, and smile (I swear we saw him do it.)  He was already finger-gripping and murmuring to himself.  With all that can go wrong in development, it's awe-inspiring that so many babies, like Jackson, come out flawless.  It's a perfect demonstration of the potency and resilience of life.

Welcome to the world, Jackson.

Don't take any wooden nickels.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jackson the cutie



Jackson Kilawee Miller entered the world today. He is the first addition to the Bloom/Miller family. Stephanie, Jason's little sister, gave birth to babybird at 9:03am Febuary, 23 2009. He is so incredibly cute! Both mamabird and babybird had a successful labor with no complications. Jackson you have an amazing family that loves you unconditionally. Welcome, and I can't wait to watch you grow. My love goes out for all of Jason's family, thank you for welcoming me into your lives during this awesome miracle. Congrats Uncle Jason!

Catnip: C'mon Mittens...Everybody's Doin' It


Catnip and cats is the funniest herb/animal combination since marijuana and Chong.  Watching cats high on the nip ranks right up there with cats chasing laser pointers, cats chasing their own tails, and cats trying desperately to back away from the yogurt container they were previously licking, which is now firmly stuck on their faces.

It's great for cats.  It's legal, non-addictive, and clearly a blast.  The buzz only lasts about ten minutes, and has no adverse effects.  And it's just as much fun for us, the catnip enablers.  Every cats reacts differently, some more intensely than others, but all comically.  Anyone that has a cat has seen it, their feline friends rolling around in the dregs, swatting at non-existent critters, swatting unsuccessfully at existent critters, pouncing viciously on their compatriots and then forgetting where they are moments later.  It's like getting your younger sibling high, and then taunting them.  Not that I advocate that.

Because I don't.

Unless it's funny.

Strong, Independent, Vastly Talented Ladies of the Film World

This is a shout out to all the strong, independent, and incredibly talented women of the film world. I so admire whatever skill you've conquered or whatever accomplishment you've achieved.

The event that has brought this positive to my attention today was the airing of the Academy Awards tonight. I had my first attempt at an Oscar Party tonight and even though only two of the fifteen people I invited showed it was still a fun evening of conversation and movie gushing. The show highlighted Kate Winslet's performance in The Reader, Meryl Streep's nod for Doubt and her many other past Oscar performances, as well as new leading actresses like Anne Hathaway and Amy Adams, and the breath-taking Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. These are the kind of women I look up to and admire. Their talents shine through the screen and will forever be in our cinema-loving hearts.

There are so many woman I respect behind the camera as well, that may or may not have been recognized tonight. I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing lady leaders from the art department, production, directing, writing, and cinematographer roles. Here's to all those women who have stood out from the 100 people film crews and made a difference in this male dominated industry. The ladies are coming and will soon enough take over. Power to the V!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pool...Recreation for the Recreationally Challenged

If I were to draw up a list of the organized sports that I was reasonably good at, it would look like this:

1.
2.
3.


And this isn't truly accurate.  If it were it wouldn't extend past one, but a list with only entry isn't a list.  Thankfully making lists isn't an organized sport, because that wouldn't be one you'd find on my list either.

But I can play pool.  Pretty well.  I'm no Paul Newman or Tom Cruise, but I can play better than their stunt doubles.  Pool, or "billiards" to the Tom Collins crowd, is a game designed for people like me.  People with hand/eye coordination and a competitive streak that can't play games with the word "ball" in them.  It helps boost our confidence.  It proves that even geeks more prone to Dungeons and Dragons than Monday Night Football can excel at a sport that requires practice, coordination, and strategic thinking.

And pool is one of the few sports where you can actively engage in competition while drinking a beer...or a Tom Collins.  And if you learn to shoot one-handed you can do both simultaneously!  I'd like to see a running back try that.  Or a forward. Or someone double-fisting a Yagerbomb and a baseball bat.  You could be arrested if you tried it in Nascar.

I challenge anyone to name me a better pastime, one that combines the glory of skillful competition, the indoors, climate-control, and adult beverages.

Yeah...I didn't think so.

Creating a Home

I enjoy interior design. I don't know if I'd want a career in it exactly, but designing our home together the past year has been really amazing. Seeing all your ideas come to life is great, and there are so many more creative decisions to be made still. After we finally finish painting and plastering, which I think should be finished after this upcoming week, except for maybe the trim, we can start picking where all our art will be going. 

Jason and I have been collecting art since we moved into together 3 years ago. We are both huge art fans (but that's for another entry). Creating our home will continue to be an inspirational adventure. We went to Stephanie and John's today to celebrate her birthday (Steph, Happy Birthday, Darling! I wanted to tell you that you are going to do wonderfully.  Stay strong and positive. You and babybird are going to do great. See you soon, sweetie.)

 Sorry, where was I?  We got to see that their home is coming together beautifully. Their wall colors are great- I love the accent walls! Their furniture is so inviting and comfy, and the art on the walls is so fun and moody. I just can't wait to feel that way when I walk into our house. Soon, very soon, I can just see it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Greasy Spoons

I love breakfast to begin with, and eating it at a great, well-trodden neighborhood greasy spoon is even better.

I can understand how the term came to be used for high traffic, low rent establishments.  It's funny though that it's less pejorative than you'd expect it to be.  I've been in one or two greasy spoons that fulfilled the term literally, and I wouldn't want to go back.  I guess it's a case of romanticizing the underdog and claiming the negative to make it a positive.  Like using "bad", "gnarly" and "nasty" when you mean "good", "awesome" and "sexy."

Those words were randomly chosen.  I'm not calling greasy spoons nasty or sexy.  The thought of eating at a "nasty spoon" would turn anyone's stomach.  But a greasy spoon, with it's perfectly cooked over-easy eggs, house-recipe hash browns, and two egg omelets made with what must be ostrich eggs, is exactly what I'm craving right now.

Damon's is a short one block walk from our house.  If I can talk Kate into it, we might be headed there soon.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Old Tees

There hard to come by, so when you do come across one you better not let it escape. I'm talking about super soft, worn-out, perfectly fitting old tee-shirts. They are the best and I always seem to have only a few at a time. Most of the time they end up lost or they shrink to nothing. I really want to know the magic behind keeping a tee from shrinking and getting it super soft. Is it just fabric softener? I'm one of those woman who is still learning the tricks of the trade when it comes to household chores. I'm not necessarily interested in learning them all, but learning and perfecting the soft, old, worn-out tee-shirt look is a goal of mine. If anyone has knows the trick then please be my 411. What kind of fabric should the tee-shirt start out as, 100% cotton? I've gone through plenty, but most have been hand-me-downs or have been thrift buys. Right now I have an old yellow-orange tee on with a picture of Speedy Gonz├íles' face with "Mamacita!"written in bubble letters under his smilingly face. Very random, yet very original, fun, and comfy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stephanie Bloom Miller


Today is my sister's birthday - Happy Birthday Steph! Since this is a blog all about the positive, I can't think of a better place or time to call out Steph for being one the coolest people I know. It also doesn't hurt that she's one of our regular readers, so I know she'll see this.

Bloom. Bloom Miller. Miller. Mamabird. Whatever you prefer these days. You're an awesome chick. You've always been your own person, and you the older you get the more you distinguish yourself. No matter what role you take on in life, you take it on with gusto and passion, and claim it wholeheartedly as your own. As a hipster in high school and college, you embodied the image without being a caricature. As a waitress you were loved, as the bottles of Dom Perignon gifted by grateful customers attest. You seem to know as much, if not more, than most dental surgeons, without a day of schooling. You're a photographer, a gardener and a pet therapist, all claimed with equal vigor. As a sister, you're devoted and thoughtful, and I can say with no reservations that once you formally step into the role of "Mommy" you'll do a smashing job.

I've had the pleasure of knowing you your whole life, and most of mine. I've seen some pretty poor examples of sibling relationships over the years, and I'm pretty blessed to have been able to grow up with you as a friend. I'm quite sure I wouldn't be half the person I am today if I hadn't had you around. I have friends that grew up as only children, and I'm glad that wasn't something I had to face. Having a sibling around helped kill boredom and turned everyday into a play date. I can't imagine having grown up any other way. And of all the 29,000,000,000,000 alternate genetic combinations Mom and Dad could have scrambled out back in 1977, none could have been better than you.

Happy Birthday Steph. I'm glad to be your brother, and I'm glad that I can make you "Positive Thing Number 101." Love you.

Nine day tills Babybird rocks the mic.

My Folks

I love my parents very much. They are both dear to me for many different reasons.

My mom, Debbie, is so absolutely sweet and fun-loving. She is an amazing friend and a caring mom. I can't say enough wonderful endearing things about my mom. She will always be part of the cool crowd. She is incredibly young at heart and I just loved watching her play with her grandsons this past weekend.

Momma, you're the best and I am so happy and lucky to have you in my life.

My dad, Bob, has a tremendously large heart. He's taken care of people forever, being in the medical profession his whole life. He is a very intelligent and wise man. This explains why I've fallen for intellectuals my whole life. My dad is also complex and hard to read at times, but this adds to the mystery and wonder of my dad.

Dad you are my dear friend and I'm lucky to have learned so much from you.

Both my mom and dad raised Kerri and I to be independent, strong woman. They should be proud of how we've blossomed and grown to become the women we are today.

Mom and Dad I love you both with all my heart. Thanks for always believing in me and giving me room to breath and create my own adventures.

Here's a song that reminds me of our family road trips.  Sorry guys...it's not Buffet.


Dramatic Eyes

I love eye makeup, it has brightened my face up over the years by giving me color. This fair red head usually has white eyebrows and white eye lashes. Being able to apply color to them gives me a whole new look. Since I've been coloring my eyes for years now it's kind of hard for people to get used to me without makeup. I look like a completely different person with and without it or least that's how I see it. I became a fan of applying eyeshadow when I was living with my friend Brooke after college. Their are so many options out there and it's great mixing it up. Now I rarely leave the house without mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner on. Eye makeup creates a great dramatic effect, I really love the way it looks. I guess I've always wished I had darker features like my sister and I've been jealous of women who can just walk out of their house with no makeup and no one can tell the difference. I do like that I have multiple looks though. Hedwig said it best in her performance of "Wig in a Box".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

After the Pain Subsides


This is not a shout out to masochism.  Given my druthers I'd always opt for no pain in any given situation.  My pain threshold is fine, but I'd rather leave it untested.

I'm simply mentioning that there is something magical about how you feel after an acute pain has subsided.  Logically, it would seem, you should feel exactly the same as you did before the pain began.  In both moments you're existing without pain.  Except that the memory of pain recently past colors your experience of "no pain" in the latter scenario.  Maybe that comparison makes the "after" moment seem more pleasant.

As an example, after a particularly bad headache has passed for me, I feel happier and more buoyant than before the pain started.  It's almost pleasurable.  In both cases I don't have a headache.  There seems to be a double truth when one says, "I feel better."  Not only do you feel better than when you were in pain, you feel better even than your earlier, pre-pain resting state.

It may just be the residual endorphins floating around in your brain, causing a sort of mild euphoria.  Regardless I'm glad the human brain deals with pain that way.  I assume its part of the reason women give birth to more than one child.

As a related aside, my sister is due in ten days!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Swheat Scoop...Here's the Poop


What's natural, smells good, could be part of a sandwich, but is instead intended to gather feline poop deposits?  It's a good source of fiber and an excellent cat litter.  It's wheat.  It's what's for dinner, and a collection spot for dinner, post processing.

I discovered this litter a few months ago.  It's made entirely of granulated wheat, and functions just like common clay clumping litter.  The benefit is that the clumping occurs because of the natural starches found between granules, not because of nasty, somewhat artificial chemical reactions.

The argument against clay clumping litter has always centered on the dust.  This fine powder, which clumps and thickens on contact with water can be breathed in and eaten (while licking) by the cat, causing potential clumps in the lungs and the stomach.  I've never seen a documented case of death as a result, but I've never been willing to take the chance.  With Swheat Scoop you can.  There is no dust.  The granules themselves bond with other nearby granules to form a clump stronger than you find in clay litters.  And there's nothing dangerous to breath.  And eating the litter inadvertently is no more dangerous than eating wheat bread (which I suppose could be dangerous if you have gluten issues, but otherwise safe.)

The stuff works great.  It stands up to a multi-cat environment, and best of all, unlike clay litter clumps, Swheat Scoop clumps are flushable.  I love this stuff.  It's not cheap, but it's completely worth the cost.

Swheat Scoop.  Mention this blog on purchase and receive quizzical looks from the checkout clerk who 99.9 percent of the time will have never heard of us.

Shorter work weeks

Yep, we went back to work today, after a 4 day vacation in FL. At least I only have 3 days to go. 5 day work weeks can drain the hell out of you. On my first day back we had a rush day that made me and J have to stick around till 8pm. A nice 11 hr day to come home to. I really can't think of anything else to write about, cause all I can really think about is how much I miss my family. My nephews are the best and I wish I could be near them all the time. So here's to a four day week, may it be fast and productive. Let's keep it positive and painless. Nite, Nite!

There's No Place Like Home

It's such a truism, but it's so...true.  Traveling is great, but it's always nice to finally come home.  We had a blast with Kate's family.  But along with that came five days of sleeping in a different bed, living out of a bag, and having every routine we live with completely interrupted.  It makes you appreciate the familiar things.  It makes you appreciate routine and constancy.  A small break in routine is great not only because it grants you a new experience and a fresh perspective.  It also reminds of what's great about the routine you left.  And if you were in a rut and weren't aware, it grants you awareness.  Not that I came to that conclusion.  Just the opposite.

It's nice to be home.

HUG ME

Hugs can be so therapeutic. They provide a great feeling of comfort. They're what you need when times are not so good, as well as when it's time to celebrate. When you're seeing your family for the first time in months, it's the first thing you think about doing. I've always been a hugger.  I say it's either the second or third time I meet a person I start the hug greeting.  Even faster if the other person is a hugger, too. The hugs I like have to involve pressure, I love that Grey's Anatomy episode where the Doctor with Asperger's can only calm her nerves through human pressure.  In other words she needed people to hug her for as long as it takes. I like to believe this theory is true, but I know for a fact it's not just for Asperger's cases.

I love my parents with all my heart and right now I am thinking of giving them both great big hugs. It was great to see you both this weekend and I miss you both already.

Hugs and kisses to my dear family!

The Grey's Anatomy hug:

Monday, February 16, 2009

My dear sister

I love my crazy sister, Kerri. Yes, she's a bit of a hand full, when she talks to everyone she meets or encounters, but that just makes her the friendly person she is. She's a wonderful mother and she's raised two wonderful little boys. We are complete opposites at times, but we love each others differences and have learned a lot from each other. I'm happy to say that after many years of yelling and arguing that my sister, Kerri is one of my best friends. Thank you Kerri for everything, you are one loud, crazy lady, that I love with all my heart.

Old Friends

My old high school buddy Eric has lived in Florida ever since his parents moved down here before our senior year. We've kept in touch since then, with longer and longer stretches elapsing between periods of catching up. Now we really only talk when he happens to be in Maryland on business or I happen to travel to Florida. Which I do now, at least once a year with Kate to visit her family. And no matter how much time has passed, we can pick up right where we left off.

Good old friends are like that, and they're rare. But the beautiful thing is they don't require any maintenance. The friendship is there whether you talk or not. Whether you get a chance to hang out or not. You don't have to think about it. There aren't too many things in life that stay constant without constant supervision.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Humble Lens

This entry falls into the category of "Things We Take for Granted." Lenses. I was just reading the wikipedia entry on the subject, and was amazed to discover how far back the technology dates. The oldest lens artifact dates back three thousand years, to the Assyrians, and was likely used for simple magnification and light concentration for fire starting. Historically, lenses in varying degrees of complexity are found in nearly all of the world's cultures. The first use of lenses for vision correction is found in Ancient Rome, while the first mathematical proof for lens magnification came a thousand years ago from an Arabic physicist.

Today lenses are ubiquitous; found not only in the places you'd expect, like glasses, cameras, telescopes, and binoculars. They're also used heavily in communications, focusing light for fiber optics. Same for the medical industry, where fiber optics are used in endoscopic camera systems, allowing for non-invasive surgical procedures.

Not only do lenses allow billions of people to see clearly, they've extended mankinds view of the cosmos, bringing us nearly to the edge of the universe, and billions of years into the cosmic past. They've allowed us to find earth-like planets circling suns thousands of light years away, and may be hastening the day when contact, or at least evidence for other advanced civilizations is found.

The lens has been pivitol in the development of civilization, so I'd like to formally declare February 15th "National Ground Glass Optical Systems Day". It just rolls off the tongue.

Pistachio Queen

Pistachio nuts are fantastic, they are definitely my favorite kind of nuts. I think it must be a family thing cause we've gone through 2 1/2 large bags of them since I got here Thursday night. I especially like the white ones. I could eat them till I'm sick in the stomach. Man, I do love Pistachios.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Babysitting

I got to be a mother for the first time last night. Jason, my mom, dad and I got to watch the kids through the night into this morning, so that Allen and Kerri could spend a romantic night out alone. I had night duty and got up and rocked Blake back to sleep at 11, 2, and 3 am. It felt really sweet to be needed and putting him back to sleep wasn't too hard. I really liked watching my nephews. They have become so much more animated since the last time we saw them. They are both talking a bit and are so much fun. I know being a mother is difficult, but it has to feel good to see and feel that need for your affection everyday. Again, I'm not saying I want kids right away, but the idea and want is present. For now I'll settle with watching my two amazing Nephews, they are growing so fast and hate to miss a minute of it. I love you, Blake and Kaiden, thanks for putting your trust in me.

Food...on a Stick

I'm not sure why but food mounted on wooden sticks tastes better. Steak. Delicious. Steak on a Stick...delicious squared. Cheesecake. Not bad. Cheesecake on a Stick...transendent.

Kate and I, along with her Mom, sister and two nephews went to the Florida State Fair today. Along with camels, giraffes, pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens and entire herds of cattle we found that the tradition of skewering food at fairs has survived since the days of the Renaissance.

Okay, probably not. I've watched many hollywood blockbusters, so I know that people centuries ago were not shy about eating with their hands. Sticks would have been unnecessary. The practice of running food through is likely new. But regardless, Renaissance Fairs are the granddaddy of skewered food venues. There you can get steak, sausage, cheesecake, meatballs, fried pickles, chocolate-covered fruit, cheese, and more that I know I'm forgetting, all mounted on sticks for easy eating.

I'm not suggesting that we adopt this practice year round. The novelty of wrapping relatively small hunks of food around wooden rods and then overpaying for them only works when it's enjoyed infrequently. Plus, skewering a quart of shrimp lo mein is very difficult.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Crock Pots

Last week, for lunch and dinner, we ate beef stew. Not crappy Dinty Moore Grade D Beef Stew. We ate homemade, slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth beef stew. A stew that cows willingly give up their lives to participate in. One that could stand up as the model for which proper beef stews should be judged. So good that, if I learned halfway though the batch it was made from people, I would finish it, though grudgingly, and bring flowers of thanksgiving to the graves of the deliciously departed.

Crock pots are the lazy cooks answer to culinary school and talent. Slow cooking is like a flavor multiplier. It takes a modicum of prep time and simple ingredients and transforms them over a long period of time into stellar results. The rule seems to be, if you can't cook it well, cook it a long time.

I think we're making chili next. You're all invited.

70 Degree Weather

I love 70 degree weather. We arrived in Tampa today to visit my whole family, and the weather's been perfect. Come in the the summer months and you drown in your own sweat. It's horrible. I guess that's why you go to Florida during the cold months. A light breeze and you can choose to wear a light jacket or not. I've never been to California, but I've heard they have, in parts, perfect 70 degree weather all year round. I need to visit and experience this so called perfect weather for myself and because I've always wanted to visit there. Alright, so 70 degree weather is the bomb diggity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Travel

Traveling is so cool. Your options are endless, its sad that there's no way you can see and experience it all. Of course the economy is currently in complete disarray, which makes it hard to afford any sort of trip, but people must continue to decompress and escape from their forever stressful realities. And travel can be on the cheap if you plan ahead. Going even just 2 hours away from your home can be all you need to clear your head. One day I hope finally travel over the water to Europe, to England, to Asia, and all the other beautifully amazing lands.

Air Travel

Even with all of it's faults, and there are a LOT of them, air travel is still the best and fastest way to get from point A to point B, assuming A and B are sufficiently far apart.  And considering all the potential fail-points, air travel is remarkably safe.  I know I've seen statistics that say you have a much better of chance dying in a car wreck than dying in a plane crash.  I'm going to quote an answer I found on Yahoo Answers.

"To put it in perspective, roughly 30,000 people have been killed in car accidents in the USA in 2008. That's the equivalent of two Boeing 747's loaded with passengers crashing and killing everyone on board, each and every week of the year."

I read that in the last two years there hasn't been a single crash related fatality in the United States.  Given the number of flights each day, your odds are pretty good.  In fact, you have a better chance of being struck by lightening, or so I've read.

Air travel is fast and immensely safe.  I think I can live with the fact that I can only carry on three ounce of hair gel or it gets stolen.

Vacation \Va*ca"tion\, n. 1. A Well-Deserved Break from Labor; (see Kate and Jason)

It's easy to take it for granted, but it's a real blessing to work in a system where paid vacation is a reality.  It's said that Americans, relative to other Western countries, take very few vacation days.  I can't say I understand why, and I'm happy to blow the curve on this one.  If I have vacation time, I use it.  Even if I don't travel, which happens since I get considerably more vacation time than Kate (seniority has its perks).  I think vacation is just as important as work.  I need the decompression.  I think we all do.

We're leaving for Florida this Thursday for a five day family visit.  I'm sure it will provide us with plenty of material for entries.  I just hope it provides the time to write them.  Like this one, I suspect they'll be a little shorter than normal.

But rest assured, the positivity will be turned to eleven.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NYC, my lost love... its been too long.

That's right this entry goes out to the city I hold dear to my heart, New York. I miss the energy it exudes. I love seeing all the cultures and lifestyles you can possibly imagine on one subway train. I miss the freedom of expression and confidence people carry. With the jobs and the lack of friends I had, I never had a chance to really explore like I wanted too. Now 2 of my closest friends live there and I'm 3 hours away, and have yet to visit them. I need to go there with no strings attached and soak up the culture and explore all that I missed. That might take a couple visits. I want Jason to experience NYC through my eyes. Go to the parks, see the art, the theater, and go to amazing restaurants. We would have such a fantastic time and I would be able to rebuild my lost love, New York City. We also will have to go to Brooklyn. First we need some $ and some time, I will start planning this venture now., maybe for this Summer. Lauren and Brooke here we come.

The Doctor is In...ternet (nice, right?!)


Don't have time to make a appointment with your doctor?  Have a strange...growth that you're a bit embarrassed to show off in public?  Have a fear of cold metal implements and the associated prodding and poking?  Try internet self-diagnosis.  Google your symptoms and, within a few minutes, you can have a full health assessment.

Three years ago, during the summer, I was completely out of commission, for the entire month of June (or July, I'm not sure) from an unknown illness.  It turns out I was suffering from drug allergies and associated reactions.  But at the time no one could figure out what was going on.  Kate and I searched the internet for answers.  It didn't singlehandedly solve the mystery, but it helped eliminate some of the more severe causes. 
 
I'm not recommending internet self-diagnosis as a standalone diagnostic tool.  The web is hardly foolproof.  If something is wrong with you, see a doctor.  But access to doctors isn't a given for everyone.  Without health insurance, a lot of people have to go without proper care.  For some people, internet self-diagnosis is the next best thing.  At least as a second opinion to free clinics.

What got me thinking about this topic wasn't a health issue, but it's very similar, and illustrates the power of the internet as a means of diagnosis.  We've been finding what I was pretty sure were stink bugs sporadically on our second floor.  We're in the middle of some work upstairs, so there are small holes in the ceiling.  This is where I assumed our pests were getting in.  I went online, entered our homes "symptoms" and in pretty short order had a diagnosis.  They are stink bugs, which, during cold winters, sometimes invade homes for warm places to hibernate.  I know now what's going on, how it's happening, and how to prevent it in the future.
Replace "house" with "you" and "stink bugs" with whatever it is that's bothering you, and Google your way to health.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Imagination

I wish I was still a child. I think back to all my wonderful memories of creating imaginary worlds with my dolls. I miss the simple times, where every day was a play day. There were no worries. All you needed was your imagination. I guess adults can hold onto those imaginary worlds through daydreams, but who really has time to daydream or even allows themselves to escape from reality. I guess the closest thing people have is meditation or if you are a fiction writer. I want to live my childhood dreams and create huge elaborate worlds in my backyard again. Imagination is such an amazing possession, we all have it in us to imagine, why don't we all start dreaming of those worlds again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The "Free Wear"...Yes, You Get One

I would like this entry to be the authoritative answer to the question, "After buying a new pair of pants, or a shirt, or anything other than underwear, do you get a free wear before having to wash it?"  Yes.  The answer is a definitive "yes."

To all of you that fall on the other side of the argument, I beg you to consider the opportunity you're blindly missing out on.  The "free wear" is the greatest moment you can have with your new purchase.  Any article of clothing, prior to washing (with the resulting shrinkage, fading and other related fabric warping) looks the best it will ever look.  To not take advantage of your free wear is to never enjoy your clothing at the peak of its freshness.  To not use your free wear is to forever settle for looking just "okay."  You've got the life of the garment to be mediocre.  At least pluck that first moment of brilliance before it's washed away.

Set your benchmark high.  Contrary to intuition, this will not cause future disappointment generated by an inflated expectation your garment will never again match.  In fact, it creates a positive residual self-image into which you can live each time you wear your new Khakis.  You will imagine them as they were, and, in that moment, they will be, at least in your mind, as radiant as the first time.  Wouldn't that be preferable to consistency based on lowered expectations?  Would you rather your kids go to Yale or Hogtown Community College?

Fact is, eventually your new jeans are going to be your old jeans.  Beat up, battered, dirty and torn.  Fallen from grace.  Personally, I want to retire them (when I cut the legs off and make my 15th pair of work shorts) with a spotless service record and the best breeding available.  Clothes get one shot at greatness.  Don't stain them with dog food when they could sport a permanent smudge of caviar.

So, to sum up, you do get a free wear.  You deserve a free wear.  Your clothes deserve to be free worn.  Do the right thing.

Donut Heaven

J and I just got finished watching a movie that made me think of one of my favorite sweets - Donuts! I am a fan of so many different kinds of donuts. I love Dunken Donut's Boston Creme.  I enjoy munchkins, and love Krispy Kreme's classic glazed donuts. I wonder if there's a Krispy Kreme in Baltimore?  I don't think I've seen any.  Is it only a Southern thing? What a shame! We'll have to splurge a little tomorrow and get donuts for breakfast. I'm deterimined to have a good week, since we're going on vacation at the end of the week. We can start working out and finish working around the house when we get back from FL.   I'm going to have to Google Krispy Kreme right now, since my craving is strong. I can be such a fatty sometimes. I just love what I love, damnit. Donut Heaven here I come.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A King Size Bucket of Robot Chicken

Watch this short clip, and then keep reading.



A decade ago, maybe a little more, futurists looked to the burgeoning cable industry and imagined "the 500 channel universe".  Hasn't happened yet, although I just looked it up and found that we're nearly halfway there.  There are 231 official cable networks, as of whenever the random article I looked up was written.

I remember back then being baffled by the concept.  I couldn't imagine what programmers could fill 500 channels with.  Even 231 channels would have seemed a ridiculous figure.  I remember telling someone, after just having seen "Amazon Women on the Moon", which features a fake commercial for the fake store, "Spatula City" that "The Spatula Channel" would likely be channel 435.  You'll Flip for the Spatula Channel™.

It shows why I wouldn't have made it in television.  People with far more vision than I found more than enough programming ideas to fill the airspace.  And that much programming was bound to, and did, give birth to all sorts of wonderful opportunities for social commentary.  There's The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Mahr, and one of my favorites, Robot Chicken.

Free speech people.  Enjoy it while you got it.

TD



What does TD stand for, you ask? Well, only the best comedy/musician duo ever! Tenacious D, starring Jack Black & his brother, Kyle. I can quote their entire album backwards and forwards. It will forever make me laugh. Jason can now quote it too because of my comedic influence and because they're awesome! Flight of the Concords are not quite there, but they definitely have their moments.

Tenacious D's shows and movies aren't quite as funny as just listening to their songs and skits on CD. These guys are so freaking hilarious. Now I recommend you all do some cock push ups, get a four count Chicken Mcnugget and throw one of them away, cause your trying to watch your figure, and come on over here because I'm going to ball you discretely......Next Song....Next Song....

BOOOOOO

The fear and mystery of the unknown has always intrigued me. I've always enjoyed a good ghost story and love the feeling of being scared. A good horror movie is hard to come by, but when you do find one its fantastic. I like jumping out of my seat in fear or having a good scream. "The Shining" has always been a favorite. I also like going to presumably haunted locations and taking pictures and just walking around hoping to witness something abnormal. 

For the first short I made in College, "A Song of Ascents", we went to Beaufort, SC and shot at some great old churchs, deserted rodes, and any old remnants of buildings we found. Beaufort is so perfect for these kind of findings. I would like to go back to explore some more. I've never actually witnessed anything supernatural, other than some freaky Ouija Board experiences when I was young. I do love a good scare.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"I Inhaled. Frequently. That Was The Point."


When I saw the video of President Obama saying that I was overjoyed.  I'm already excited about his presidency and this statement just gave me one more reason to like him.

I'm not excited because I'm a smoker.  There was a two month period in college where probably more pot smoke passed my lips than oxygen, but that time is over.  No, I'm excited because it shows that our president, for possibly the first time in history, is truly not afraid to tell the truth.

Most politicians would consider that phrase a campaign killer, and would dance around it at all costs.  Now whether Obama felt more comfortable saying that because of the image he has cultivated for himself, and the fact that his base skews younger is inconsequential.  It was still a risk.  You could see him pause momentarily, carefully considering his words before speaking.

In the end he chose to say it, and gained that much more of my respect.  Now if only Michael Phelps would stop kowtowing to the media and accepting blame for something he did which isn't remotely a bad thing.  Tell the truth people.  This article makes the point that nearly one in two Americans have tried pot, and that pot smokers come from all walks of life; most gainfully employed, successful people.

Sorry.  I didn't mean to get off on that tangent.  My point is that we should all be excited by the fact that we have an honest president that isn't afraid to say difficult, unpopular things, and would rather tell the truth than apply the usual political gloss.

Here's to at least eight years of openness and honesty in government!

And Speaking of Furniture...


There are two sides to every coin.  Two poles to every planet.  Two sides to the Force.  Neither side is better or worse than the other (except in the case of the Force), and in this entry I'm featuring the cheese and sausage side of yesterday's crust.

The Amish, a Mennonite sect, is an offshoot of earlier Anabaptists known as the Swiss Brethren.  Jakob Ammann, the founder of what was to become the Amish Mennonites, felt that his brethren were slowly losing touch with some of the more radical aspects of the Mennonite faith, to their detriment.  Specifically, he felt that the practice of shunning, or socially ostracizing excommunicated church members, should be much more rigorously applied.  Jakob, a man gifted with second sight, also foresaw the development of motor cars, electric razors, Epiladies, and the comedy of Carrot Top, and decided that severing ties with the outside world was advisable.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Except for that last bit.

Whereas the Amish create high quality products with very low-grade technology, their Swiss cousins at Ikea create low quality items with the latest technologies and efficiencies available in the flat-pack furniture sector.  And I love them for it.  Amish furniture is made to last.  You can't say that about Ikea furniture.  But Ikea furniture is so stinking cool.  And cheap.  Kate and I, like many of you out there, can kill hours roaming an Ikea showroom, occasionally buying the odd item that we don't need but can't live without.  We have an Ikea TV stand, bedroom end tables, a lamp or two, baskets galore and assorted bowls and glasses.  Even our kitchen cabinets are Ikea (as an aside, the kitchen cabinets are actually very well made and very good looking.)

Walking through an Ikea showroom, you can't help but feel like some sort of jet-setting European hipster..."The couch is cool because it's uncomfortable."..."Sure it's made of plastic.  It's a dining room table, after all."..."Whaddya mean you don't know what a Fnord is!"

They say that, regarding any given thing, you can get two at most of the following three qualities.  Price, quality and style.  I'm replacing "expediency" with "style" because it applies better here.  And it's true in spades for Ikea.  Style out the yin-yang for an affordable price.

Cooking

I really enjoy cooking a good meal. I like taking a recipe and experimenting with it and making it my own. I never was interested in cooking until I lived by myself for the first time a few years ago. I don't necessarily know what brought it on, but I know it grew and evolved even more when I starting dating Jason. We both love to cook and in the past few years we have made some extraordinary meals. We used to be so proud of our creations that we would take pictures of the final products. I really want to start having dinner parties once our counter tops are installed. Tonight I made my mom's creamed spinach, Jason made his famous cheeseburgers and we used our new fryer to fry up some french fries. Probably not the best meal for you, but it turned out simply delightful. Bon Appetite.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Love the Amish...or at Least Their Markets


I'm sure if I got to know a few Amish people I'd find them to be very pleasant, agreeable people.  The few that I've met seemed to have big hearts and friendly natures.  But I've never had the opportunity to chat with them.  My interactions are usually far less social, restricted to requests for extra ketchup on my bison burger.

And that's really enough for me.  I love the purely financial, consumer relationship the Amish and I share.  The Amish market is a wonderland.  You need pie?  How about the greatest blueberry pie mankind has ever seen?  French fries?  Pah!  Try seasoned fried new potato slices slathered in some sort of delicious animal fat.  And the bison burgers?  Forget about it.  It's no wonder the early settlers nearly hunted the beasties to extinction.

But it's not just food.  Furniture, housewares, holiday gifts, and most other categories are represented (automobile accessories and electronics being the obvious exclusions.)  The Amish have the ability to take any given thing, and make it better than it's ever been made before.  It's seems almost compensatory, like a blind person's heightened other four senses.  By swearing off modern technology and simplifying their choices, they've developed the technology they do have into an immensely efficient toolset. "Aiy", they say.  "We may only have a handsaw, a pair of tweezers, and a grinding wheel, but we'll make you a chair better than anything your 'Herman Miller' could ever make."

The only downside is the hours, at least at the Amish market near us.  They're open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  That's it.  How can they do that to us?  That's like Chuck E. Cheese telling kids they can only come in on Mondays after 11PM, or ABC airing a new episode of "Lost" every seventh odd-numbered Wednesday only.  Torture.

So, Amish god, consider this a formal petition.  I, and the millions of others who live for your macaroni and cheese and meatloaf sandwiches, hereby affix our names and beseech you to allow your children to do what they do second best.  Sell us great stuff.  Please grant them more time to sell us what they do best; they take the mundane and make it great.

Thanks, Amish god.  You rock.

Perfect Slumber

I love sleeping, especially when I feel completely content with my day and have little to no stress. This perfect sleep usually comes on the weekends.

I used to take naps on the couch when I still lived with my parents, and I would have the most lucid dreams. I would always know I was sleeping. I would see rats or something crawling all over the floor around me, but since I knew I was hallucinating, I would think it was really cool and trippy as opposed to being grossed out or scared out of my mind. I don't seem to do that much anymore, probably cause napping usually doesn't fit into my lame adult schedule. I do enjoy a good nights sleep, though. I've always been a very heavy sleeper. I became even more so when I lived on 1st ave in the East Village, except for the nights I would hear rats in the kitchen, real rats, not hallucinations. Those were pretty restless nights.

I could sleep 12 hours a night if I never set an alarm clock. If I don't set an alarm on the weekends I can sleep till noon. I feel really lucky to be able to do this. Lately I've been having really interesting dreams, too.

All the mom's reading this right now are saying "those days will end the second you bring a child into your life." I know you're all right about that, so in the meantime I am just going to revel in the amazing beauty sleep I can get today. Sleep tight everyone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Woodworking...as a Concept

I love the idea of woodworking.  Taking rough-hewn planks and transforming them into furniture.  Creating something lasting from something inherently fleeting.  We go to the Amish market for lunch occasionally, and I'm always flabbergasted by what these guys can do with a tree.  One day I'd like to be able to do that.  One day I'd like a fully tricked out wood shop where I can try and make the same sort of magic.

I watch Norm Abram on The New Yankee Workshop occasionally.  This guy is a freaking genius.  If he were a filmmaker, he'd be Stephen Spielberg.  If he were an architect, he'd be Frank Lloyd Wright.  If he were a 70's prog rock band, he'd be Yes.  And I think we know what sort of hot chocolate he'd be.

Each show he goes to some antique center, studies an old piece of furniture, and then comes back to the shop and builds a perfect replica.  Like it was nothing.  Not that he makes it look easy.  It's actually very hard to follow him because he takes something difficult and makes you understand just how intricate and complicated it is.  But watching the process, and seeing what comes out the other end, is almost mystical.

That's why I say I love woodworking as a concept.  I've never had the opportunity to try it, apart from studding out a wall.  But I suspect that if I ever had the space, the time, and the money to put a shop together, I would fall pretty deeply in love with woodworking as a hobby.

Volleyball

One way or another, I played every sport by the time I graduated High School. For some the interest lasted years, while I just dabbled with others for a short time. Track and Field lasted a few months with only one actual Meet (is that what it's called, Meet?). I played volleyball for only one year in H.S. and for some reason whenever a volleyball game's being played nearby or I see a court, I just gravitate towards it. I love it as a recreational activity. I play okay and I know I could improve if I just played more.

Let's hope I do because my friend George at work asked if I'd be interested in playing on an adult Baltimore recreational league and I said yes. My folks won't be too fond of my decision.  Some friends might be nervous as well, because every time I join an adult league I get injured.  I find that balls like to fly at my head. Since I have a strong love for volleyball I hope I can remember the rules.  I will continue to think positively and just have FUN!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Basements are the Tops

I enjoy a lot of things about where Kate and I live now.  It's nice being close to most points within the city.  But one thing I really miss is having a basement.  At our old house we had one, and I loved it.  We have one here, but it's occupied by tenants.  I can't wait for the day that I can put in a staircase and reclaim that space.

I'm not sure why, but I feel very at peace in a basement.  The basement in my childhood home was my favorite spot.  As a kid there was plenty of room to play, and a lot of our toys were stored downstairs.  Most of our birthday parties were in the basement, and when friends spent the night, we all crashed downstairs.  Plus there was a pool table, a TV; everything a kid could want.  It was finished, so it was like a big, extended living room, with a toy chest.

And the basement, or rather the flooding of the basement, caused a situation which I remember as being a highlight of my childhood.  The stairwell outside the basement would back up during heavy rains, drenching the carpet, the furniture, everything.  The only way to dry the carpet was to pull it up, and flip it over the pool table.  The resulting folds in the carpet, and the covered space under the pool table created the GREATEST forts and hideouts of all time!  I had a blast!  I couldn't wait for the next flood.  It's funny.  I remember our basement floods as wonderful times full of adventure.  It wasn't until I had a house of my own that I suddenly realized how much differently my parents must have viewed those floods.  Ah, the happy ignorance of youth.

Once I got older my computer was put in the basement, and it became a retreat of sorts.  It felt like my own space, my own small piece of the house, even more so than my room, oddly enough.  I liked the quiet and the solitude.  I liked the separation.

Still do.  I don't have a basement now, but, when and if our tenants move out I have no plans of re-renting it.  I'm going to knock out the floor in the kitchen closet, which used to be the entrance to the basement stairs, but a new staircase in, wall off what is now the entrance to the basement apartment, get a new (used) pool table, and enjoy basement living again.

Sans floods.

Moisture Relief

Yes, you heard it right kids.  Like many folks out there I enjoy a nice moisturizing lotion, especially in the drier months. Baltimore, from December to February is so extremely dry.  My skin is already so sensitive and red-hair fair.  Add dry frigid cold weather to that and my skin starts to crack and burn. I found a recent moisturizer called Canus Goat's Milk and so far so good. It soaks into your skin and doesn't leave them oily. Your skin will feel soft hours later. I love the feeling of soft smooth hands. I am also a huge fan of lip moisturizers.  I like taking that minute break to apply my moisturizers.  It makes you feel refreshed and energized, ready to conquer the day, or it least it helps a bit and puts a smile on your face.

If You've Got Good Friends...

...you don't need much else.  This is going to be a short entry tonight because it's late and I have to get up early to meet with my accountant to finish my taxes.

What?  Taxes isn't the subject of tonight's entry?  Why else you would mention them in your introductory paragraph?

Tonight's entry is a simple truism, but one that everyone can appreciate.  Like Kate said, we had a few friends over for a hanging out and "oh, look...the Superbowl's on" party.  And earlier in the day Kate and I attended my sister's baby shower (men, I've discovered that baby showers are exactly like regular parties, except there is a lot more talk about breast pumps, stretch marks, and the relative benefits of differing lotions and skin balms.)

It was a great day filled with great people, great conversation, and barely a single morsel of food that wasn't intended to be dipped in another foodstuff.  Really, great friends and family are what make life interesting.  It's easy to get trapped in your own stuff sometimes and forget to reach out, but keeping important people in your life and around you is the secret to happiness.  One of them, at least.

Wine

I am a big fan of wine, both red and white, as long as it's pretty good. I wish I knew more about the different kinds and how to smell and taste wines. Tonight Jason and I had a get together at our house. It was kind of about watching the Superbowl, but it was mostly about hanging out with dear friends. We drank wine all night and it was a fabulous time. Finally our house is done enough to have a few friends over and not feel embarrassed. It's going to be a work in progress for a while. But we had it christened tonight with a few friends, a few bottles of wine and animportant football game. Go Steelers, I believe they won. Good night!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Uncle Jason

My sister Stephanie and brother-in-law John are due to give birth to her first child about a month from tomorrow, which would make me, for the first time in my life, an uncle.  It hadn't really hit me until today, the day before Steph's baby shower, how close it is, and how cool it's going to be.

I can't wait to meet Baby Bird (that's what Steph and John are calling her because they don't know the sex) for the first time.  Meet her for real.  I met her once in a dream I had a few months ago, but in the dream she was a seven year old African American girl named Latifah.  I hold this up as an example of the uncanny predictive powers of dreams.

Kate's nephews also call me Uncle Jason, but this will be the first time a blood relative will be able to use that name.  And I've been thinking about what kind of uncle I'll be.  Off the bat, I know I'll be the uncle that makes coins vanish, and then miraculously reappear from Baby Bird's ears.  Over and over again.  I remember my Uncle Gary that way, and I've always wanted to play that role.  And I'm sure later in life I'll be the uncle that cracks goofy jokes all the time.  Jokes that he thinks are funny but are completely lost on Baby Bird...mainly because they aren't actually funny.

Ultimately I hope I can be the kind of uncle that, once Latifah has grown up and become her own person, she'll remember, think is still cool even though he's a crotchety old man, and have fond memories of.  Gad, I'm talking as if I'll be dead...

What I want it to be cool, funny uncle Jason.  The uncle that Latifah would want to be when she grows up if it weren't biologically impossible for to do so.

Girl Talk

My crazy, down-to-earth hairdresser, Nina did my hair today. My friend Julianna and I always have Nina do our hair at the same time. The three of us have the greatest talks. It's really the best girl talk therapy I've had in a while and I really look forward to the once a month session. 

Nina's been out of commission recently, since she just had her breasts enlarged (they look and feel lovely by the way), so it had been a while. I had my hair cut short and spiky and dyed dark brownish red and Jules had a choppy short cut too, dyed a nice espresso brown. We both felt great when we left and loved our new dos. I never laughed so hard. Our talks usually consist of subjects like boys, family, movies, work, and we even hit on life aspirations sometimes. They are two amazing chicks and I can't wait for my next visit.