Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everything is amazing... Nobody's happy...

As mentioned before, my coworkers and I take Brain Breaks once in a while. We pass around a funny blog post or video. This was todays...

Nothing makes me sadder to see a middle schooler with a cell phone, but this guy hits the nail on the head for a whole generation. Hilarious.

Quote of the Work Day

"I just walked into a wall, after seeing a SUPER HOT guy"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote of the Work Day

"You're good at pinging"

Disclaimer: This was not a sexual harassment comment. This was my coworker making fun of people on our team who like to say "ping me" instead of "IM me."

Friday, February 20, 2009

The most exotic animal I've ever owned was a guinea pig

Curiosity got the better of me and I listened to the 911 tape from the Stamford, CT chimp attack. I don't recommend it.

Most of it is the owner of the chimp telling the dispatcher to please hurry, but the first 30 seconds when you hear the chimp screaming in the background are absolutely bone chilling.

I'm not going to insert the YouTube clip here, but if you're curious too, you can visit Discovery News Jennifer Viegas' blog post about it. Viegas makes an interesting point about why keeping wild animals as pets in your home creates a completely different situation than keeping them in a zoo.

"The big difference there is that zoos are much better equipped to handle problems when they arise, and to prevent them from happening in the first place."

Scientific American had an interesting story on why a chimpanzee, an animal whose DNA is 98 percent identical to ours, would attack a human. One of the reasons they gave for this particular chimp attack was not natural. The chimp was on Xanax for an anxiety disorder. HUGE red flag? I think so.

Animals have instincts that are not the same as human instincts and it's unfair to assume that they do or can be trained to, especially if they're not bred for generations to be in our daily lives. Even animals born in captivity may only be first or second generation and still carry naturally wild tendencies, and even domesticated dogs and cats attack us. We should think twice about what we claim as a "pet" and what are actually captive wild animals. They might retaliate and it's stupid to take the risk.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update to "Facebook Cleansing" Post

I wish I had thought to make a screen grab before I accepted, but George Stephanopoulos sent me a friend request - unprovoked - this very afternoon. I haven't worked with him since Summer 2007. Hilarious. And awesome.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Cleansing

It's good for the online social soul.

With each passing wave of high schoolers accepted into college, adults wanting to be tech savvy and random guys from my hometown all trying to get into the social networking groove, I receive more friend requests on Facebook now than I did when I first signed on back in 2004.

Just yesterday, I got four. Two from guys I don't even know but apparently went to high school with, one older one younger, a girl who is now a senior in my high school and who I think is friends with my little sister but I've never met her, and one from my middle-aged/almost senior citizen neighbor who moved away two summers ago.

I didn't accept any of them. Today, one of the guys (the younger one from my high school) resubmitted his request to be my friend no less than five times. I finally blocked him.

I understand I'm going to get sarcastically ripped apart by Brandon and probably a few others in comments posts for writing about this because 'oh boo hoo me I'm so0o0o popular,' but really. Why friend someone you've never been actual friends with? Hell never talked to? And that got me thinking.

I started looking through the 823 "friends" I had on Facebook. Some were good friends, some were old friends, some were coworkers past and present, some were people I had worked in campus groups with. The rest I had no clue who they were.

Since I've been on Facebook, I have purged my Friend List of random "friends" twice and about a year and a half ago is when I stopped seeking out people to friend and stopped friending every person who friended me. Today, the number 823 seemed like dead weight on my profile and I thought, "Do really want these random people connected to me anymore?" I decided no, I didn't. I don't know who you are!!!

So began the "Remove Friend" process. If I didn't remember who you were - gone. If you randomly had a class with me one time, but we hadn't talked since that one group project - gone. If you and I had never had a conversation - gone.

Grand Friend List total now: 681, which means I removed 142 people.

Is that sad? A sign of the times? 681 friends is still an unreasonable number, but I had restrictions. I certainly don't chat it up with that many people regularly, but I can't de-friend my dad's real estate agent when he's getting the house appraised soon. Besides, you never know what might reconnect you. I suppose that's what the randomies thought too when they reached out to me but really, I'm just a random person to you too.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Come on, Let's Walk

If you're someone who hates Valentine's Day or cute stories about couples being cute, abandon ship now because this is a sappy post.

I started off Valentine's weekend in pain. I was coming down from the kidney stone extravaganza on Friday, when that afternoon I began having horrible cramps in my abdominal muscles and a pounding headache that just wouldn't go away. By 3 p.m., I asked if I could leave work early because I felt like my insides were going to explode and I couldn't sit up in my desk chair any more. I don't know what came over me, but I assumed it was the antibiotics since I had already passed the stone by this point. How I managed to drive myself home, I don't remember.

I clawed my way into bed and wrapped myself in as many heating pads we had in the house - two - and tried to sleep. Sleeping made me feel a lot better and before long Tad was dancing with me in the kitchen before we settled down enough to watch a movie... and this is the part of the weekend where our friends tell us we turned 50.

The movie I chose On Demand was Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn's debut film set in Rome (really, they showed a disclaimer at the beginning that said "This entire film was shot in Rome"). Neither of us had seen it, but it was adorable and hilarious. An American journalist take a princess from a far away land out on the town in Rome. Simple. Sweet. And nothing beats 24 year-old Hepburn beating a man over the head with a guitar as one of the guys yells out, "Hit 'em again, Smitty!"

Saturday, I slipped on my new red dress and Tad donned a coat and purple Jerry Garcia tie before we headed out to D.C. as was the plan for Valentine's Day. Metroing to Foggy Bottom, he convinced me to walk to Georgetown despite my two-and-a-half inch gold heels and numerous offers to split the cab fare. He has a way of making me want to prove to him I’m not a wuss. That, and this unspoken "anything you can do, I can do better" complex we share.

We made it to Paolo's on Wisconsin off M just in time for dinner and for my feet to rest. We determined nine couples after Tad suggested we play "count the couples" game before we were seated at a table for two across from the kitchen. Paolo's is a place my family used to go to for lunch every time we visited D.C. when I was younger so I was very excited to take Tad there for his first meal. I'm sorry to say I don't think he got a great first impression.

The food was delicious, but surprisingly the service was terrible. One waitress came to get our drink order, another waiter apologized for the wait and came to get our food order two minutes later. After that, a different waiter brought each dish. My lobster risotto had to have been for another table because it came seconds after I ordered it, while Tad's steak bruschetta came almost 20 minutes later - which ended up being a slab of meat on a piece of bread. Nothing bruschetta about it. My Chianti was brought half way through my entree and they completely forgot the palette cleansing sorbet between servings (as was stated in the prie fix menu, I'm not that much of a snob). My water glass was only filled after I set it on the edge of the table and giggled my ice around. I understand the restaurant business is suffering horribly in the recession, but it was a disappointment to see no extra effort on such a special holiday evening rush - especially with two managers working the floor - when they clearly weren't under staffed.

Check paid, we hurried out the door back towards M street and were Kennedy Center bound. Offering again complaints of my shoes and to pay for a cab, Tad pulled out walking directions and smiled at me before replying, "Oh come on, it's a nice night. Let's walk."

Carefully maneuvering through adorable brick-lined neighborhoods (who knew such cute row houses were on 25th street?) and only semi-getting lost but accidentally finding the Watergate (+1), we finally saw the grand marble building with the bronze columns. We were shown to our seats and settled in right as the lights dimmed. The sounds of the National Symphony Orchestra were soothing and breath-taking; I'm always so humbled by musical talent because it was never something I could master. Later, that calm was turned into cackles as the Smothers Brothers took the stage - another first for Tad and I (I had just bought the tickets because the NSO was playing, we had no idea who the Smothers Brothers were). They were hilarious and much like the gaffs back and forth on Prairie Home Companion that we had listened to with our parents growing up.

Strolling out into the bitter cold and eyeing the long lines for cabs and metro buses, Tad said, "Come on, let's walk." Back past the Watergate and up 25th street to Foggy Bottom we went, as I walked like a toddler trying to lightly stumble through the pains in my feet. By the time we made it home, I had six blisters but I can proudly say had walked over three miles in high heels. As my mom said, Thatta girl!"

Sunday was lazy as they're meant to be. I drove home to meet the newest addition of the Effron family: Ollie, a young male long-haired dachshund that leaped into my arms and feel asleep before I had even said hello. I thought my mom had turned into the crazy dachshund lady given that this is the third one now, but it's so easy to see why she fell in love with him, as we all have.

Coming back up, I spoiled Tad with mom's pork and sour kraut leftovers as well as boxes of girl scout cookies she had surprised me with. So from cramps to cookies - all in all it was a fabulous weekend and looking back on it, the walks in those heels with Tad's arm looped through mine was the part where I laughed the most.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Freaking out the Boyfriend

me: do you want to see the most amazing yet grossest thing ever?

Tad: uh oh

me: http://www.tmz.com/2009/02/12/octomom-it-was-a-very-goodyear/

Tad: okay i'm going to go throw up now

me: hahahah sorry one of my coworkers sent it to me

Tad: ick ick ick

me: don't worry honey I only want 7 kids at a time not 8

Tad: okay peace out

me: come on i gave you a nice card. you don't want to have multiples with me?

Tad: i dont want you to look like the purple people eater

Another "Explosion"

Some people get the flu, or a cold and maybe once in a while, a stomach ache, but my body doesn't seem to work like that.

No, my body likes to "explode."

I haven't had the flu or a cold in over a year - and that's with being flu shot-free - but I have managed to catch the most random sicknesses.

I suffered with a heavy gross cough for eight months about a year ago and was tested for allergies, asthma, bronchitis and TB before they discovered it was E.coli in my lungs. They think I go it from my visit to a farm on my Italy study abroad trip. Two months ago my tooth "exploded" and what sick valentine did February bring me this year?

A kidney stone.

Don't worry, I'm not going to post pictures of the stone or go into too much detail, but I will say having a kidney stone is one of the most uncomfortable and gross things I've ever gone through - like the worst period cramps combined with heart burn between your legs. I spent four hours at two different doctors offices to get checked out and an ultrasound on Monday and have never drank so much liquid in my whole life. I wouldn't wish kidney stones on my worst enemy.

The hilarious part was that my promotion to Associate Producer of News and Topics was finalized not 48 hours before I started having symptoms. I didn't want to blog about that because so many of my friends and loved ones are out of jobs right now and can't get hired anywhere, but talk about emotional roller coaster.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Teaching Parents Technology

(On Gchat)

Me: Dad!!!!

Me: You there?

Morris Effron is typing

(the typing message goes away. Ten seconds passes)

Me: Dad?

Morris Effron is typing

(the typing message goes away. Ten seconds passes)

Me: After you type the message press enter.

Morris Effron: Hello!

I can't get over how popular this is...

The "25 Random Things About Me" Note swept through Facebook this week and TIME reports over five million people contributed their random facts (guilty here too, but that was before I read the story.)

Now, Facebook has 200 million users to date, but still! OVER FIVE MILLION PEOPLE?!?!? That's gotta be the largest online social networking group participation ever.

When I got seven email alerts from Facebook - and that was just yesterday! - saying, "So and so has tagged you in a note. '25 Random Thi..." I knew it was only a matter of time before someone picked it up as a story. I don't know whether to be disappointed, sad, bored or in awe.

I do think Claire Suddath was right on when she mentioned her "25 facts I wish people hadn't told me about themselves." It's definitely true that I could have done without knowing my little sister's sleeping habits or reading several married coworkers thoughts on their spouses. Ugh, sucks the fun right out of it.

Conforming with the rest of them, I tried to keep mine light-hearted...

1. I tend to despise emails/FB notes that tell me to participate in chain mail, but I thought, just this once, what the hell.

2. I cannot live without sourdough pretzels as a snack. They always pull me through the toughest hunger headaches. I find that Herr has the best brand.

3. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but I really like country music. A lot. I grew up listening to Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood and Mary Chapin Carpenter, but sometimes I'll even shamelessly rock out to HORRIBLE contemporary songs like "Redneck Yacht Club" but I'll never admit that out loud.

4. For my creative writing thesis, I wrote a musical using only Mary Chapin Carpenter songs in three days. I have a citation (it's a step below a minor) in Prose.

5. I'm very allergic to cherries - both real and as artificial flavoring.

6. I've climbed Mount Vesuvius. If you ask the guide where the bathroom is once you get to the top, he'll point to the smoldering crater.

7. I absolutely HATE long distance running. I'll run suicides forever before I'll run the mile.

8. I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but I didn't learn how to pick a crab until I was 16. It still makes me feel sick to this day.

9. I love to bake and cook big dinner meals. I'll often spend a lot of time picking out recipes from cookbooks and Food Network.com and plan out my dinner schedule for the week.

10. I like to twirl. I used to only want to wear long skirts when I was little so that I could twirl in them.

11. My favorite movies as a kid were Mary Poppins and The King and I (1956).

12. My dad is a Jew (Polish decent) from Chattanooga, knows BBQ and says things like "britches" for pants and "hunny." My mom is Irish Protestant, from Pittsburgh, knows apple pie and says things like "did you stove your finger?" for "did you jam your finger?". It was an interesting childhood.

13. I really hate being scared and I have this unnatural fear where I can't look at mirrors in the dark.

14. I could have been a doctor if veins didn't freak me out so much.

15. My vacation goal is to save up enough money to visit a new faraway place once a year. This year, I'm hoping to make it to South Korea.

16. My parents were told the same thing every year at parent-teacher conferences: "Great kid. Smart. Has good grades. Does her work on time. Talks way too much and can be really hyper."

17. I have a hard time not being bossy and opinionated. Often my boyfriend will mutter, "Ugh, women."

18. My signature move in tennis is my volley. I earned the nickname "Ginsu" on my high school tennis team because they said my arms moved like a Japanese knife expert at the net.

19. The random blonde streaks in my dark brown hair are natural. They come from a birth mark on my scalp.

20. Sometimes I'm secretly excited when it rains on weekends so I don't feel guilty about staying in bed and watching movies.

21. I really, really, really want to get a tattoo, but then I start thinking about all the different things I'd consider getting and end up believing none of them are significant enough to be on my body forever.

22. If I had to choose between feeling really cold or really hot, I'd always pick hot. When I'm cold, I shut down.

23. It's really rare that I'll go back and reread a book. I feel there are too many glorious works out there I haven't read yet to go back.

24. I like climbing things - countertops, trees, mountains, - I think I just really like being high up.

25. Like the octopus, I die a little inside when I'm bored and have to constantly find things to keep me entertained, even if it means cleaning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Productive Meeting

A James and Lauren Production...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Duckpin Bowling

Surprise! There are fun things to do in College Park after you've graduated from Maryland and sworn it off forever (as I have). Who knew?


UMD has its own bowling alley on campus so while I was in school there, I never ventured off for other lanes. I had driven past the AMF College Park Lanes bowling alley thousands of times but since it looks like a rundown warehouse on the outside, I never gave it much attention.

Until we decided to go bowling on Saturday night.

For lack of better things to do, Tad pushed me to try the bowling alley in College Park, just to see what it was all about. Scowling and rolling my eyes the whole way, I was pleasantly surprised to find that - despite it's outward appearance - the College Park lanes were pretty nice inside: Full cafe, bar, 30+ lanes... and duckpin bowling. Exclusively.

This was your grandmother's bowling alley.

You kept score yourself on a paper scoresheet. You had to manually push a button when you needed the mechanical arm to clear away the deadwood and another to reset the 10 pins for the next player - things I don't remember ever doing in a bowling alley. It was different and fun.

After a couple of frames, I noticed right away I liked duckpin bowling better than regular bowling because the bowling balls are much smaller than regular ones, so my hand and arm didn't tire as quickly. Which was nice since Tad, Brandon and I signed up for EXTREME DUCKPIN BOWLING (channeling monster truck announcer voice) - From 9 p.m. to midnight, $15 got you all-you-can-bowl under some weak black lights and 1970's Motown jams. Woot!

To quote Tad, "It's like glorified Skee-Ball"

I started strong with two strikes and a spare all in a row during the first game, but it was all downhill from there. The boys did fairly well, but Brandon beat us all in the end and I was forced to admit that I actually had fun again in College Park.