Friday, September 28, 2007

Learn something new every day

Here are some facts of which I have recently become aware:

1. An art project that creatively displays all sorts of interesting (and depressing) statistics about American culture. It would be much more effective to see in person, but the numbers and pictures are still striking. In a related note, I've been on a mission to reduce my usage of plastic and paper bags. I bought one of those canvas grocery bags. The next step is actually remembering to take it to the store with me when I go grocery shopping.

2. The protests in Myanmar have been all over the news lately. Guess who had no idea where or what Myanmar was? Um, me. I had a vague notion that it was somewhere in Asia, but wasn't sure if it was a country, a Chinese province, or an island. Good thing we've got the Google to shed some light on my ignorance! Myanmar is indeed a country, in fact, it's the largest country in Southeast Asia (see map). And hey, it used to be called Burma, which I've heard of, so I feel a little better about myself. Even though the name change occurred in 1989.

3. Did you know that you can use text Google for free on your phone? It doesn't work for everything, but it does give weather, sports scores, local listings, and even some translations. All you have to do is send a text to GOOGL or 46645 (I hate phone numbers that are spelled out. Just give me the number, I don't want to have to look at the buttons and decipher it. Another pet peeve of mine is when you ask someone for the time, and the person shows you his or her watch. Especially if it's a dial face that only has like 4 or less numbers on it. I'm not asking for permission to look at your confusing watch, I'm asking for you to tell me the time!). For example, if you text "pizza" and your zip code, you'll received a text containing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of local pizza places. Cool, huh?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who is your ideal Presidential candidate?

Take this quiz and find out.
Once you finish, click "view results" in the yellow banner at the top in order to avoid the ads.

Mine is Barack Obama.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- Ern arrived to Chigao around midday and we had lunch at a French place called La Creperie. I'm not much of a Francophile (mostly due to the fact that I don't speak any French and am afraid of mispronouncing menu items...this is also why I don't eat gyros) but it was a great place- I had a Ni├žoise salad, a banana dessert crepe, and half a bottle of wine. After that, we walked around the Wrigley area for a bit and eventually stopped in at one of Chicago's many beer gardens. As you can see in the photos, Ern loves crepes and wine, and I love flowers. I also love brown t-shirts and jeans, as you may have observe in photos from this weekend.

Saturday- Most of you are probably aware that I went to Notre Dame. Before this weekend, I hadn't been back to a game since 2002. So, it's true that the Irish are having their worst, ever, but nevertheless, I was really looking forward to heading back to campus for a football weekend with college friends. Despite minimal planning on our collective part, we ended up securing a place to stay, tickets to the game, and invitations to multiple tailgaters, so everything worked out perfectly. We rolled in to the stadium in the late morning, and the tailgating began. There was beer, and grilled processed meats, and all sorts of tailgater games (sort of like reindeer games, with fewer elves): cups, football tossing, and some sort of beanbag game that is apparently all the rage with the kids these days, at least in the Midwest. Tailgate photos:

Amanda, demonstrating that weird bean bag game:

Our host for the weekend, Kevin:

Me, spotting "the shirt" from our freshman year. Every year a different shirt is sold to the students. My four years featured the most hideous shirts of all time, and this version was the worst of all- a pink lighting bolt with the giant floating head of Knute Rockne. The second photo is that guy getting mad at me for making fun of his shirt.

Now, onto the stadium. Note the golden dome and the basilica in the background:

Unfortunately, the Irish lost to Michigan State, but did manage to score a couple of offensive touchdowns, so that's an improvement. After the game, we returned to the tailgater for more beer and games and a spontaneous parking lot dance party to "Twist and Shout." The only thing missing was Matthew Broderick in a sweater vest. We then ate some Mexican food for dinner and went out to the Backer. We only stayed for an hour, but did manage to spot "Twenty Dollar Deficit," the name we gave the annoying guy to whom we sold our extra ticket for a $20 loss, getting kicked out by the bouncers.

Sunday- It was a beautiful day, so we walked around campus for a while enjoying the scenery. We ate at the dining hall and visited our old dorm, where we were spotted by Sister Sue. It's always funny explaining to people that didn't go to Notre Dame that there was indeed a nun who lived in our dorm. More pictures:

Finally, we ended the day at the bookstore to purchase new ND paraphernalia, where I was annoyed by three things:

1. ND Crocs. I hated them so much that I couldn't even take a picture. They were gold, by the way.

2. The fact that there are only two changing rooms in the entire building. It's a new building, you'd think that a university that loves making money as much as ND does would make a sales point more consumer-friendly.

3. This sign:

Friday, September 21, 2007

More Chicago

Last night, I hung out with college friends Kelly and Amy and their GFs in the Jefferson Park area of Chicago. We went for ribs at the Gale Street Inn, and then walked around for a bit and observed some unusual signage.
I believe this one intends to convey the message "No Tank Tops on Dudes," but the phrasing sure is strange. Like, what if you wore a tank top and just brought some sleeves with you? Technically, you'd be "accompanied by sleeves," thus fulfilling the sign's requirement.
And this second one, instead of a short message like "Pick up after your pet" goes for ultimate shock value. Dog waste attracts and feeds rats! Don't you see the pair of vermin lurking behind you and your dog? Pick that shit up!
Next, we went to a hookah bar. I had never smoked a hookah before and I liked it- it's a lot smoother than tobacco, and comes in different flavors, like apple or peach. The place we went to was a complete trip- note the tables of Arab men playing cards, and the TV- nope, that's not Al Jazeera, it's the Arabic pop music video channel! There was also a table of college kids who I am 99% certain were smoking pot from their hookah. In case you are wondering, hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking, at least according to the Mayo Clinic.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Kind of Town

The conference ended today, so I had some free time to explore downtown Chicago. My hotel is right near Millennium Park, and I went for a run through the park and along Lake Michigan. I finally found a good breakfast spot, Yolk. I had a veggie skillet with cheese, hash browns, eggs over easy, and an English muffin. The bad news is that the cheapass generic Lactaid I bought at CVS didn't work very well, so I paid the price for my gluttony.

You know how they say everything's bigger in Texas? Well, I've been to Texas and nothing seemed that oversized, but here in Chicago, everything is huge. The buildings, the roads, the city blocks (they're like triple the size of a Boston block), and with all those corn-fed Midwesterners roaming around, I'm never the tallest person in a room, even when I'm wearing heels.

Since it was such a nice day, I went back to the park to walk around and take some photos. I was very impressed by the landscaping and all of the flowers- they were beautiful and the city must devote a lot of money into keeping everything so well maintained. And in case you were wondering when I became the sort of person who gets excited about flowers and takes pictures of them, the answer is TODAY.

A big fountain and an a big lake:

Another thing Chicago has in abundance is Evil Buildings. I've always found the Sears Tower rather malevolent-looking, the way it darkly looms over the city with its twin demon antennae.

However, if a Ghostbusters-like apocalypse ever occurs in Chicago, I believe this building will figure prominently:

Chicago Public Library? More like Chicago Public Library of Evil! That eagle is poised to swoop down and grab you with his extended talon!
Oh, and look who's peering over the library's shoulder- the Sears Tower!
They're plotting something; I can tell.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ode to Chicago Drunkeness

Showed my poster today, and some peoploe liked it and stuff, so that was cool.
Then, went out and met friend Kori for a drink downtown, then moved on to Lincoln Park and met my friend Raj and his bro for beers. here is wehen i stop correcteding typos. lot si of fuhn~! i forgot my camner A . stupic caps lock. i had a great mine with raj and comapry. he has a really retty girldfirend. i told them about my lvoe kive and they gave me bad avice. which i amy or amyno t heed.

pmh i need to leeok at scientific posterws tomoprrow. oi hope this post wasn;t annoying and i wish there wuch pictures; raj took one on his phone. i'm not that drunk,. i type bad nornally,

loved you all\.l besos.


The Daily Show tackles a question that I hate: "Is America Ready For A Female President?" with great hilarity.

via Freakgirl

Cubs game

Last night, I went to a Cubs game with my friend Kelly, who got us awesome seats right near first base. The Cubbies lost, but I had a great time. I've only been to Wrigley once before, and the game was cancelled because the opposing team's pitcher, Darryl Kyle, was found dead in his hotel room. No tragedies this time. Unless you, like my liver, consider my decision to drink two martinis at a drag queen bar after the game a tragedy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

People who think that hazing is universally unacceptable

never saw Dice-K dressed as a Teletubby.

P.S. Clay Buchholz has legs that would make Tina Turner jealous.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chicago Bound

I'll be in Chicago all next week attending this conference on antimicrobial agents.

It should be a lot of fun; in addition to the conference, I'll be meeting up with some old friends and catching a Cubs game at Wrigley. I'm also extending my stay in the midwest to go to South Bend for the Notre Dame vs. Michigan State game. I haven't been back to my alma mater since 2002, so I'm really looking forward to a traditional football weekend full of college friends and tailgating.

The bad news? Apparently, I'm staying at the worst hotel in Chicago, the Congress Plaza. I should have suspected something when it was the only one of the thirty hotels the conference reserved that still had availability. I checked out their website, and it didn't seem so bad. Then, I stumbled across the customer reviews. Here are some highlights:

  • "My stay there was a nightmare."
  • " The room smelled of mold and mildew, the bedding looked as if it hadn't been washed in decades..."
  • "DO NOT COME TO THIS HOTEL!!! It couldn't be worse, and this hotel is a terrible landmark for Chicago."
  • "Stay away from this place."
  • "This was absolutely the worst hotel I have ever stayed at."
  • "Very dingy hotel. Almost like the Tower of Terror in Disney world!"
  • " this is the weirdest hotel i ever stayed at. If you have ever seen the movie "The Shining" this hotel looked just like that hotel."
  • "The hallways did remind me of the hotel in the Shining, so a little spooky!"

I tried to switch hotels, but I made my reservation through the conference and they said everything else was still booked. Well, I'll let you all know if it's really like The Shining.

Blogtoberfest is Back

This year's Boston Blogtoberfest, organized once again by Jenny, will be held at the Pour House on Oct. 25. So if you're a blogger in the Boston area, go ahead and sign up. You know you want to, nerd.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Whitey sighting?

The FBI has posted new photos of an elderly couple in Italy who may be Whitey Bulger and his girlfriend.

Here's Whitey's page on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list.

Personally, I think Whitey's dead. And with all of the informing he did on the Italian mafia, I don't think he'd be in Sicily.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book Reviews

I've recently read two novels. The first was The Last Days of Dogtown, by Anita Diamant. The novel follows the lives of several characters residing in a small community on Cape Ann, Massachusetts during the late 1800's. Known as "Dogtown" due to the pack of semi-wild dogs that roam its forest, Dogtown has fallen on hard times, and the remaining residents, mostly female, struggle to eke out a living from its barren terrain. The eclectic group of Dogtowners include elderly widows, former slaves, and prostitutes. Personally, I preferred Diamant's first work of historical fiction, The Red Tent, to this one. The love story seemed too contrived, and a lot of pages were spent on characters who later disappear entirely from the story.

The second book I read I liked a lot more. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See follows the lives of two girls growing up during the 1800s. Snow Flower and Lily are matched as laotong, or old sames, by a renown matchmaker, joining them in a bond of lifelong friendship considered more important than that or a marriage. They first meet as small girls and communicate by sending messages written in nu shu, women's secret language, on a fan. The novel follows them through footbinding, marriage, and motherhood, giving the reader an often unsettling glimpse at the lives of women in China during this era. I almost had to stop reading when the footbinding process is described. I always assumed that women's feet were bound and restrained from growing, which seems bad enough, but no, it turns out that the four small toes are broken and folded underneath the ball of the foot, where the bones eventually fuse curled underneath the foot, leaving only the big toe and the heel to walk on. It is estimated that 10% of girls died from infections during the process (it takes two years), and many more were left crippled. Yeah, DISTURBING. After that, their lives don't get much better- they are treated like servants by their in-laws, and their only value is to provide sons. Aside from all the depressing "thank goodness I live here and now rather than then and there" aspects of the book, it is a beautiful, captivating story of two friends whose entire lives are interwoven.

Interspecies Friendship!

Via an anonymous tipster:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall has arrived

There's a crispness to the air, and one of my favorite autumnal treats is back on the shelf. Candy corn! How much do I love candy corn? So much that I decided to put a candy corn topping on the banana bread that I baked last night. Mmmmm.

I haven't been to Dunkin Donuts in a few days (shocking, I know) but I am keeping my fingers crossed for the Triumphant Return of the Pumpkin Muffin.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- Went out for drinks at Silvertone with friends. Sometimes that place can be annoyingly crowded, but it was just right on Friday night. Hey, that rhymed.

Saturday- Tried to go for a run at midday, then realized that 95 degree heat with intense humidity were not ideal running conditions. Retreated, lounged on the couch for a few hours, then resumed the run. Saturday night I went to Woonsocket, RI, to visit a friend of mine. We ordered pizza and drank two bottles of red wine, and spent a lot of time catching up.

Sunday- I joined a women's soccer league and my new team had their first game. Since all of my teammates are suburban soccer moms in their 30s and 40s, and I've been playing co-ed for so long, I was under the assumption that I would be younger, bigger, faster, and therefore awesomer, than everyone. Not so. The ladies were tough, good players, and I had trouble keeping up. We won 3-2. After the game, spent some family time in Metrowest hanging out with the grandparents and the nieces. Then, for the second Sunday in a row, candlepin bowling! This time, I went to Sacco's Bowl Haven in Davis Square, whose motto is ""We've got small balls, but we're big on fun." Far less shady than Boston Bowl, but drawbacks include lack of beer sales and unexciting vending machines. The place itself is hilarious, though, and definitely has that weird time warp vibe small, old bowling alleys exude.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sporting News

Roger Federer, dressed in all black, won his 4th consecutive U.S. Open. Hooray!

Patriots are looking good, folks. I, for one, am quite happy that Randy Moss is on both my favorite NFL team and my fantasy team. (Yes, I'm playing fantasy football for the first time ever this season. More on that some other time.) I especially love yelling "that's disgusting!" whenever he makes a nice play. Take that, Joe Buck.

As for that other football team I follow, things aren't looking so good this season. However, I am very excited for my trip to South Bend for the Michigan State game. Some friends and I planned to go, without making any real sort of plan at all, in terms of tickets, housing, and tailgating. To add insult to injury, there was recently a shooting outside of our old hangout. Last week, in a miraculous turn of events, we managed to acquire all three.

In other happy news, a friend and I split a 12 game pack of Celtics tickets. We did email draft to decide who gets which games, and I ended up with the Suns, Mavs, Pistons, Bobcats, Kings, and Nets. Not too shabby!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"I am popcorn."

A doctor recently diagnosed the world's first public case of popcorn lung, a severe respiratory diseased caused by inhaling a chemical called diacetyl used in butter flavoring. From the article:

"So I turned to him and apologised and said, 'This is a really weird
question. But are you around a lot of popcorn?' His jaw dropped, and he said,
'How did you know to ask me that? I am popcorn.' He described himself as a
two-pack-a-day user. Sometimes more."

Popcorn Lung had previously been observed only in popcorn factory workers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Weekend Report

Friday- My roommate Ern returned from her long trip to Argentina, so we quickly resumed our normal practice of eating dinner and drinking wine. Later that night, Yuki and Jonathan arrived from San Fransisco.

Saturday- More visitors! Kelly and Jen arrived from Chicago, so I had lunch with them before handing over the keys and heading to Rhode Island for the weekend to attend the wedding of a long-time friend and former blogger, Jon, and the lovely Heather. Several of my Framingham friends got together for a cookout at our Dennis and Jill's place before heading into downtown Providence to catch up with the wedding party. I somehow managed to take zero photos.

Sunday- My high school friends and I spent the morning acting like teenagers- we played Wii for a while (I'm not into video games, but I actually liked it!) and then went out for pizza at Papa Gino's. Then, off to the Biltmore Hotel for the wedding, which was a blast- lots of friends, a wonderful and very personal ceremony, and, of course, a happy couple.
Some photos:
It took a while to get a group photo with the groom, who kept getting snatched away by other guests wanting to congratulate him. Here's the first attempt:

Much better:

The Boston Girls:

Shoe photo (mine are the red ones):

Last, but certainly not least, Jon and Heather:

Monday (Non-Labor Day)- After a post-nuptial brunch, we headed back to Massachusetts to visit another friend who didn't make it to the wedding because she just had a baby. Then, off to my favorite diner in the Commonwealth- Harry's, famous for ice cream and fried clams. Monday night, Yuki and I introduced Jonathan to candlepin bowling, a.k.a "bowling." (shoe photo!)
Some of you may recall my last adventure to Boston Bowl, where we were completely mystified by the contents of the vending machines. Well, they did not disappoint. Check it out- for only $2.00, you can purchase your very own abridged version of Huckleberry Finn, Little Women, or The Call of the Wild! (so weird!)