Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Political Ad Done Right

Tad: "I have a new found respect for Bill Richardson."

And this is why...

Anyone Want The Rest of My Diet Bars? Bleck.

Now before you jump all over me saying, "What do you mean, Leffers?" pause a moment, keep reading and let me tell you that it's not about a weight loss thing. I only just recently started eating them as a bridge to get me from breakfast to lunch -- which is usually a six-hour span for me on work days.

My typical work morning is getting up at 7:15 a.m., finish getting ready by 7:50, make my breakfast and pack my lunch by 8 a.m., be in my car on my way to work by 8:15. Get to work by 8:45 a.m. and have a cup of coffee around 9:15. Time I start feeling hungry again? 9:30 a.m..

You see, I suffer from hunger headaches, severe ones that will pound on my brain all day if I don't feed myself within 30 minutes of my starting to feel hungry. So I have to eat when I'm hungry if I want to function. My previous solution? Snack on pretzels, fruit cups, yogurt, half of my turkey sandwich when I started feeling hungry again and try to eat a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal in the mornings.

Why that didn't work - the snacks, I suppose, didn't have enough calories to make my stomach feel satisfied; the breakfast, well, making eggs is time consuming and it only floated me along until about 10:30 a.m., so now it's an english muffin with peanut butter. I still end up eating almost my whole lunch before lunch time.

So what did I think I needed? Something that would hold me until lunch time and wouldn't force me to pig out all morning. Hmmm... and the diet bar idea was born.

Maybe it was just the selection from my local Giant that was lacking, but all of the four brands they had for sale were full of sugar and sounded very unhealthy: Chocolate, Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Caramel and Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream.

I don't want sugar. It's bad enough I put sugar in my Hazelnut coffee. I wanted to feel healthy and good, not sinful and blahhhh. Sinful snacking does not taste good before noon. Where was the fruit? I gave it a try anyway.

Actual taste flavor - chocolate flavored chalky cardboard.

Actual taste satisfaction - I now crave a Snickers and a big bag of pretzels to get the taste out of my mouth. Then I want some green grapes and a yogurt so I can feel healthy again.

Actual conclusion - I feel full, sick from all the sugar and I'm probably going to gain weight if I keep eating these.

Maybe I'm passing judgement too quickly, after all I've only tried two kinds in the past month: South Beach Diet Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch and Slim Fast (guaranteed to curb your metabolism up to 4 hours!!!) Chocolate granola bar.

The results: the SBD ones helped for about two hours so it was an easy way to edge off hunger but still got the headache. Slim Fast, well I just tried that today for the first time so we'll find out if it keeps me going all the way to 2 p.m., but I just feel gross and after a half hour in, starting to feel slight heart palpitations. By 1 p.m., I'm hungry again.

New plan - just eat grapes until I burst?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday NASA

I'm not turning into a big space nerd, honest. It just so happens that NASA's 50th Birthday is today so I have been spending my days at Discovery up until this point combing through NASA archives.

I thought this photo was incredible. It's Endeavour being flown from California to Kennedy Space Center, Florida in 1991. Imagine looking up in the sky and seeing that fly over your house! Better yet, imagine being on the plane knowing there's a space shuttle a foot away from your head?

oh yeah, and here's Discovery News' Top 5 NASA Videos:


Friday, July 25, 2008

Astronaut Bloopers

I had never seen ... or heard ... about this before in my life, but in searching through NASA videos for a Discovery segment, I came across this.

Turn up your audio.

And now I present, "Dad-Gummit" Apollo Mission 1972.


and "I Was Strolling On The Moon One Day"

Video credit: NASA video

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Goodnight Bed... Goodnight Chair...

That's what I said as I stood in my bedroom doorway at Commons apartment 3219 last night. Daozhong, Tad and I went over to move out the last of our stuff - mostly old bedding, a lamp and some winter clothes I had been storing there - to clean and to turn in our keys.

I couldn't help but feel a ping of sadness as I turned and locked my bedroom door for the last time and took a long look around the common room before heading to the front desk.

This was a place where Dao and I swapped stories until 3-4 in the morning and how she quickly became someone I had heard of to one of my closest friends.

It's where Sam Grieder and I got the great and powerful Andrew Friedson to swallow his pride, knuckle down and make tiny christmas cookies with us - and enjoy himself.

It's where Tad and I discovered the best beer pong table in the world, hidden behind the couch.

It's where we hosted a wild wine and cheese party that went to 3:30 in the morning.

It's where Diamondbackers and SGAers awkwardly congregated after publicly tearing each other apart all week, only to end up shaking hands and giving out hugs over cheap beer and manishevitz well into a Saturday night.

It's where I broke down and allowed Ashley and Sara make me watch Sex and the City - and enjoy myself.

It's where millions of cupcakes were made.

It's where we assembled 61 exam baskets for a SPJ fundraiser.

It's where Sam and I watched Dao climb on the furniture when she was stressed, and where we died my hair red when we were bored waiting for her one Sunday.

It's where the nickname "blackheart" was born and Erin and Melissa howled as they planned out what bridesmaid colors they wanted to wear to my wedding.

It's where one crazy roommate - who shall remain unnamed here - threw grapefruits at my bedroom door when she got mad at me.

It was the place I was referring to when I told my mom, "I'm leaving and going back to my real home," when she and I got into a fight one night in Cambridge over winter break last year.

It's where I studied, wrote, slept, laughed, cried and thought. It's where I lived for two years.

Apt. 3219 was small and cramped but it was a safe haven and a big part of my growing through the two most stressful years of my college career. I'll always look back on it fondly.

NOTE: Sara is not naked... just wearing a strapless shirt.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oh, I'm Totally Diggin' The Dancing Queen

My friend Erin, who I absolutely adore, is leaving me for a year-long adventure in South Korea and taking our other friend Melissa (who I also happen to absolutely adore) with her. They're leaving me at the end of August, and if two of your best friends were moving to the opposite end of the globe in six weeks, you would probably do whatever they wanted to do. Right? Yes, you would.

For me, that meant going to see Mamma Mia! last Friday.

Having seen the play in New York a few years ago and was left disappointed, I was less than thrilled about seeing the movie, but Erin was dying to see it and so, finding my time limited with her, I went.

Dragging my feet to the ticket exchange, I watched teenagers camping out outside of the Silver Spring theatre starting at 7 p.m., waiting for the 10 o'clock showing of The Dark Knight - a movie I'm dying to see - and sighed as I paid $10.42 for Mamma Mia.

As soon as the lights went down, and a silhouette of a girl with long blonde hair started singing "I Have A Dream" as she stared out over the sea from a Grecian beach, I was eating my words (and thoughts).

I got SO into it and was struck with bolts of emotion: Shocked at how well Meryl Streep could sing (and dance for that matter), cackled at how awful Pierce Brosnan's singing was and how he tried to make up for it with dramatic facial expressions, swooned over both him and Colin Firth as Erin told me it wouldn't be fair to have both of them, calculated how to do the Greek isles on a budget, made careful note of the beautiful frilly dresses ... it was the most giggly, girly fun I've had at the movies in a very long time.

Don't get me wrong. There were definitely times where I couldn't roll my eyes enough at the huge masses of girls skipping along together or the poor townspeople popping their heads up over the wall to sing - especially when some of the dudes looked like they had been in a couple of knife fights.

Worst of all - by the end of it I was singing along and broke down this morning and put the play's soundtrack on my ipod so I could listen to it on my way into work this morning. I'm so behind on the news, including Sen. John Edwards getting caught with his mistress and love child!

Below is the music video for "Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!" starring Amanda Seyfried (Sophie from the movie) - who, by the way, was the dumb blonde Plastic in Mean Girls who used her boobs to tell if it was going to rain, "It's like I have ESPN or something" - anyway, it's been stuck in my head all morning so here it is for you to enjoy - digitally and lyrically remastered.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Second Story For Discovery!

I won't be putting all of my stories up here but I'm just happy to get this one off my chest. I felt awful aboutit because it was supposed to go up early this morning but it was so complicated that I missed both of my deadlines for it. I'll get better at Final Cut with time right?

I'll have an update about my kayaking trip in another post. For now, enjoy Michelangelo. I for one am glad he's dead because I might have killed him myself otherwise. Do take note of the saucy minx in the purple haha.


Friday, July 18, 2008

My First Story For Discovery!

It's not an original piece but it was three days in the making and I'm pretty proud of it. Plus the robot is adorable!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Being A Grown-Up Blows"

I couldn't have said it better myself, Ruth.

I just went two rounds with the receptionist at my new dentist trying to figure out why my account on my dental insurance wasn't coming up in the system. Turns out I was in a special, hidden insurance group specifically for contract workers. Well that would have been nice to know. I need to find a doctor too for my annual.

Can't my mom just take care of this? Can't we all just go back to the days when Tom Cruise was a heartthrob and POGS were cool?

I think that would have put me at around third or fourth grade, so 1994ish? But did you hear that CW Washington is bringing back 90210?!?! I digress...

I also cleaned the whole house yesterday - scrubbed, vacuumed, mopped - while my roommate Roberto mowed the lawn. I'm starting to resent the grass we have to cut, the flowers I have to water, the bills I have to pay (before all of my utilities and cable/Internet were included) and the miles more of floor I have now for dust and dirt to collect on. Makes me miss my old apartment. Almost. I do enjoy having two closets in my room, tons of cabinet space and nights without screaming, drunk freshmen crawling up Knox Road now.

And what's all this about paying $5-$6 for a beer? There isn't a dollar rail and long neck happy hour special to be found within a five mile radius of where I work.

See friends, I told you I turned 45. Ten dollars says Issac is going to leave a comment on this post saying something like, "Welcome to the big leagues."

Aside, UPDATE: some of you have been asking about what "work appropriate" bathing suit I ended up buying ... the surfing trip was canceled last weekend so I didn't need to buy a new one. Yet. Stay tuned for the rescheduled trip in September.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Doesn't Vienna wait for you?

I was home again this weekend and my dad and I decided to check out my hometown's main street festival - The Taste of Cambridge. Naturally, we ran into about a bagillion people we knew, mostly old ladies who said such things as, "Oh I've known your dad for years, but I haven't seen you since you were THIS [ ] big!!!"

Through the booths of local restaurants passing out steaming bowls of crab dip, make-shift ice cream stands and local artisan tables, Dad stood proudly as I repeated the same story many times over to our neighbors: "Yes, well I just graduated from the University of Maryland. Yes, renting a house on the Western Shore (only Eastern Shore natives understand that term). Yes, got a job. Yes, it's very cool. Loving it. No, I haven't met Mike Rowe. It's nice to see you too."

The one question that was continually thrown at me and caught me off guard every time was, "Still with the same boy? Are you two going to get married?" or "When are you and Tad getting married? I surely expect to be invited to the wedding."

Married? I just paid my first water bill. I just became able to check the "independent" box on my tax forms. Was I already an old maid who had been left out to dry here in 2008 at age 22? I was stunned.

It's no matter in a small town for it seems the obvious next step after school when you've been with the same person for so long is to say "I Do" and most of the kids from my class have followed suit. Some didn't even wait that long!

From what I've picked-up through the local grapevines, between friends I made through childhood and those I met at college, nine are married, 14 are engaged and three have children. While they've been picking out locations for rehearsal dinners and bridesmaid colors (or buying diapers), I've been going to 21st birthday and college graduation parties. I thought life had been moving in a fairly normal fashion, yet I now feel worlds apart from those who ignored Billy Joel's advice as more and more albums on Facebook pop up with titles like "Just Married" and "WWWEEEDDDDING!!!!!!".

Married? That seems like such an adult thing to do and I'm just getting my feet wet. But yet here I was, getting the question and sitting in the chair at a hair salon flipping though photos of my childhood friend Angela in her wedding gown. Angela, weren't we just complaining how it was too hot for soccer practice and struggling through Mr. Becker's AP Chem homework, like, yesterday?

Well, Vienna is going to have to wait for me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A snake eating an eel!!!

This happened to two of our Discovery News correspondents during an interview in Annapolis yesterday. I wasn't there though; I was out in D.C. playing around on a SmartBike (to be explained later).

Maybe one day we'll get embedded links, but for now, you can check out the video HERE

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I love working for Discovery Channel because...

we get to do stories about stuff like this:


Summary: The phalarope, indigenous to western North America, swims in circles to create a vortex to bring small crustaceans to the surface. The bird then uses its beak to draw food-rich water into its mouth, but until now, no one knew how. Using a mechanical model of the phalarope beak, researchers at MIT and their colleagues from Ecole Polytechnique in Paris recently discovered how the birds use surface interactions between their beaks and the water droplets to propel bits of food from beak tip to mouth. - US NSF/MIT

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow"

I didn't go down to Kokomo, but that was definitely the motto for this year's Fourth of July.

It started off with a typical Thursday work day followed by typical pre-holiday sitting in traffic. Took my friend Nick and I over three hours to get back to the Eastern Shore (I can usually make it in a hour and a half), but we had striking conversations about politics and religion where we disagreed on everything from abortion to gay marriage to the Catholic church.

"I find that when I'm sitting around the apartment drinking or just hanging out with friends or what not, the conversation always turns to religion and politics," he said to me as I was forced to turn off my cruise control when we got outside of Annapolis. Why is there always back-up outside of Annapolis?

Friday came in a muggy, sticky, mostly cloudy Fourth of July with the usual threat of rain. No matter, I spent the day stuffing my face with mom's homemade potato salad at our family BBQ.

Tad, Nick and I had a rousing game of horseshoes in the backyard while the parents chatted about property taxes and my sister and her high school crowd pretended to be too cool to play horseshoes. No one is ever too cool to play horseshoes.

Now this would be the first summer BBQ where it would be legal for me to have alcohol. My parents were the exact opposite of those parents who let their children try sips of wine or beer. Not mine. Mine grounded me for three months in high school when they heard from a friend's aunt's neighbor that I had tried alcohol.

So anyway, my mother took this as an opportunity to make a big deal about it this year. Last Monday, (keep in mind the BBQ was still five days away) she called my cell when I was work and when she couldn't reach me, she called my boyfriend and this is how the conversation went:

Tad: Hello?
Mom: Tad? It's Ms. Kathy. Listen, what beer do you kids drink?
Tad: What?
Mom: I'm at the store. I can't reach Lauren. I'm getting you beer for the BBQ. What do you want?
Tad: I..uh...I..umm
Mom: Well do you want it or not? Just tell me!
Tad: Uhh...Cor...Corona...I guess...
Mom: Extra or Light?
Tad: Extra?
Mom: Thank you. Don't worry, I won't forget limes. *Click*

At the BBQ, my mother was all a twitter over trying to get us drunk, like she was trying to say to me, "Well Lauren, now that you're over 21, it's perfectly okay for you to get smashed with your friends." At one point I had to tell her, "No mom, I'm good. I don't want to drink anymore."

Loving life, Nick?

Our fireworks in Cambridge were rained out, but we did manage to help the neighbors light their fence on fire by setting off fireworks in their back yard. We also burned some plastic into the road pretty well.

I got up early on Saturday morning and Tad, Nick and I headed up the road to Stamford, CT for our friend Corey's graduation party. The drive was pretty uneventful until we hit the GW Bridge traffic and sat for so long that I couldn't wait and had to stop in Greenwich because I thought my kidneys would explode before I could use the bathroom. In case you were wondering, the uniform in Greenwich is polo shirt, kaki shorts, white sweater wrapped around the shoulders and raybans.

So finally we got to Corey's where the full stocked bar - complete with Polish Vodka and a Beck's keg - got some exercise. Eventually, everyone drank so much we convinced Corey's entire family - including her old Hungarian grandmother - to play flip cup with us. It was just has hilarious and amazing as you are imaging it to be.

Sunday was spent laying around on her deck overlooking the Long Island Sound, breakfast at Corey's favorite diner, and then out on her parent's boat for a while where we dined on fine cheeses and leftover Beck's on the front of "Lucifer." Ah, now there's a life!

Tad's artsy photo

Umm yeah... it was definitely before noon haha

I still regret not bringing my camera with me out on the boat - I was convinced I would lose it in the water - because a shot of Corey and I jumping off the side of the boat into the dark, frigid water of the Long Island Sound would have been Facebook profile-worthy for sure.

Eventually, Tad, Nick and I had to say goodbye to Connecticut and get back on I-95 South. We didn't run into many problems except that Jersey still smelled horridly awful most of the way and we lost all visiblity driving through a "hurricane" in Baltimore.

Along the way the discussion turned from Miley Cyrus and "Name That TV Show Theme Song" to politics and religion, specifically on what we disagreed with the Catholic church. Somewhere around exit 71, we watched a small town set off a brilliant fireworks display as we drove down the interstate.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Feedbag Fun

Alright so I was pretty busy this weekend and didn't have a chance to post this over the holiday, but this is what I had planned...

Three of my male co-workers have a weekly podcast call the "Friday News Feedbag" where they banter and poke fun at each other, but mostly it's a place where they gather over the airwaves to talk about weird science stuff. Examples from previous weeks include a claw-toed frog found in Africa and how caffeine could one day cure MS.

It's extremely popular - they have over a thousand listeners - and just to give you a bigger taste of how popular, when one of them signed up for a twitter feed and used the cow symbol from the Feedbag as his icon, people started twitter following him like crazy. He didn't even have to reach out to anyone.

Last week, one of them was out at NASA doing a couple different stories and I was asked to fill in. Scratching the itch from my radio days, this is what resulted: Go here and click on the "Listen Now" button under Discovery News. I'm on the July 4, 2008 podcast.

I had a blast making it and it certainly turned out an interesting result haha. If you're interested in reading the stories I talked about in full, check them out...

Here - Mayfly

And here - Egypt

And here - Devil's Slide

Coming up in a later post - a recap of the best Fourth of July weekend ever, wild and wonderful (without west virginia).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

This never gets old...

Just because it's the Fourth of July holiday and I have something much better in mind to post tomorrow, I thought I would bring this back. It's good for laughs any time of year.

BTW... scientists are working on a theory that says your brain allows you to laugh as a reward for recognizing a new and surprising pattern in the stream of life. Weird huh?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Work Appropriate Bathing Suit

Does such a thing exist?

Let me back up. So I have this surfing trip in Delaware with my co-workers coming up a week from Saturday and one of them is going to teach the rest of us how to surf on his three fantastic surf boards. I'm looking forward to it because I haven't been surfing since Senior Week in high school so it's going to be interesting... but what do I wear?

None of the suits I own now are super slutty or anything, but they're not all that conservative, certainly not enough for me to feel comfortable baring it all in front of my male co-workers (don't want any wives or girlfriends throwing stones at me), and none of them are surfing appropriate so that I don't flash the world.

According to my friend Erin, I should wear a burka...nice.

My sister-in-law told me I should go for long board shorts and "a cute top." Well there's a start I guess.

Other suggestions - a tankini. I haven't worn a tankini since I was in the 4th grade. I can't do the one piece because even that can be scandalous in the bikini line area.

And to paraphrase my friend Jess - will I have to go with a poncho?

I was thinking maybe boy shorts style and sports bra-like top but I don't know. Any suggestions will be appreciated!