Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Attempting to be a part of his world...

Tad thought it would be funny to make a character of me on Soul Calibur IV for xBox. I helped. The Viking hat is my favorite.



Let's be clear. I do not play xBox.

Although, sometimes I dabble in Soul Calibur because it's the only game where I can push mulitple buttons at once without strategy, still get lucky and kick Tad's ass once in a blue moon. Otherwise, I despise it and will often read a book while Tad plays. We debate over who is experiencing the greater mental stimulation often.

Forms. Forms. Forms.

I had two separate run-ins with forms (official documentation) yesterday and I failed both times. One time was not my fault, mind you, and in fact the other one probably wasn't either because who understands tax forms anyway.

It all started a year ago when I got a red light ticket. At the time, I was driving (and still am driving) my mom's old Avalon and so when the ticket was processed, it went under her name with her registration, tag, make, model... her record.

Claiming to never have had even a parking ticket in her life, my mother, bless her, was very unnerved that her scandalous, rebellious, red light-running daughter would tarnish her good record. Despite my explaining to her that once the ticket is paid off the ticket goes away, she decided right then and there to switch the title and registration of the car into my name so if I dared break the red light law again, it would tarnish my record instead.

Title and ownership of a nice "luxury" car without having to pay for it? Sweet! One problem.

When my mom filled out the forms, she filled them out with my old address in College Park. About two weeks before I was supposed to move. Now my registration, and even my license, was possibly invalid.

So yesterday, I dragged myself all the way out to the MVA in Beltsville, where I arrived promptly at 8:15 a.m., only to find that I was number 48 in line. Doors opened at 8:30. After being shuffled to different lines by MVA employees, repeatedly explaining that all I needed to do was a change of address, I was told to fill out a title tag renewal form (enter part where it's not my fault).

Knowing I had the wrong form in hand, I waited the 40 minutes for my number to be called, only to go up to the counter and be told I had filled out the wrong form and had to go back over to this other counter and wait in line there. Luckily, the sweet old lady behind the desk saw my look of frustration and anxiety, and whispered, "I can just do it for you here, but shh." Bam. Done in five minutes. Thank you sweet old lady!

Yesterday also marked the first day of my being officially hired by Discovery and becoming an official full time staffer -- which is awesome -- but it also meant lots of "new hire" paperwork to fill out, even though I've been working full time here for a year.

Happily skipping down to HR to accept my new, full employee benefits, I was faced with another form anxiety - tax forms. I've filled them out a dozen times and they still make me nervous and it showed this time around.

When I came into work today, an email was waiting for me in my inbox that said I had claimed exemptions and zero withholdings at the same time on one form, although they couldn't tell me which one, and payroll has rejected my both my federal and Maryland tax forms. I need to have new ones filled out by the end of today. Sigh. Can't they just reuse the tax forms I successfully filed to payroll a year ago? It would save trees and Advil.

Friday, June 26, 2009

House Debate on the Climate Bill: Hysterical

I've only been listening to the live coverage of the climate bill on CSPAN's website for the past 20 minutes or so, and I have laughed out loud at the absurd comments flying back at forth at least six times.

Excuses the Republicans have used for delaying the vote: Having each rep present come forward and ask for another hard copy of the bill, claiming the rules weren't made available to them, spitting, saying "don't vote for this bill" in every third sentence.

My favorite so far...

R-Georgia: "Madame Speaker, it has been estimated with great accuracy that between 2.3 million and 2.7 million jobs will be lost each year with this bill. I would ask for unanimous consent that the House rise to recognize those who will lose their jobs because of this bill."

Madame Speaker: "Gentleman from California reserves the right to object. Gentleman has objected."

R-Georgia: "I thank the speaker." (He leaves the podium and goes over to sit down.)

And...

D-California: "This amendment strikes the whole bill, and substitutes this idea of giving prizes. Can you imagine? Giving prizes. Why haven't you given out prizes for the past eight years? And maybe our energy problems would have been solved if we had given out more prizes."


Watch it LIVE here.

Phew! What a Week!

Goodness gracious! You come back from vacation and the whole media world is on fire!

I haven't had much time to catch my breath, and every time I sit down to blog, it seems like something else erupts! So here's two weeks worth of missed blogging in 3 minutes or less...

Avon was amazing. The long, warm, sandy beaches, the brilliant blue ocean, the lazy book-reading afternoons, the no computer (which I thoroughly enjoyed, actually)... I most definitely want to retire there. It was simply delicious to not do much more than sit on the beach, drink coronas, and eat fish caught hours before I relished in its seafood goodness. Fine by me!

I will say this though, without a doubt, that Maryland knows how to do crabs WAY better than North Carolina, but don't fret, NC. Your tangy BBQ is untouchable.



Work has been insane, trying to catch up. The DC Metro accident happened and as a result I had to put together a timeline on horrific subway wrecks around the world. Pleasant, and my idea so I can only blame myself haha.

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson all died this week, completing the death trilogy. Such a loss to the entertainment industry, but I have to fully agree with Erin. I paid tribute to them all by watching old Tonight Show and Charlie's Angels clips, and have been rocking out to Michael Jackson songs since last night.

Scary though, is that friends and I agree that Michael Jackson's obit and the video montage that all of the news station keep running was probably out together months, even years ago. Just like Britney Spear's obit was prepared last year when she went nuts and was put on suicide watch.

We also learned that it only takes one to break the Internet.

I cooked dinner at my apartment for seven friends last night, where chicken, pasta and cupcakes were consumed and multiple bottles of wine were poured. MJ played, friends who hadn't been there oo'd and ahh'd over our new place, good stories swapped... It was delightful and so wonderful to be back, hanging out with such good people.

Erin updated our 3 p.m on Sunday blog (Thanks Erin!) so we've made up for two weeks of lost Sundays.

Friday so far has been a work day of more work programs crashing and a big, impromptu Michael Jackson dance party in the hallway.

Phew! What a week! And those are only the highlights. Not sure what's going on for this weekend et. I'm hoping to maybe find a bar that's doing Michael Jackson night or perhaps sneak onto the set of the movie Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon are filming in Adams Morgan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thank Yous and UGH America

I wanted to say a quick thank you for all the calls, texts and emails from family and friends about the red line metro train crash that happened in DC this afternoon. Tad and I really appreciate your love and concern. We're doing fine; I was actually still at work when it happened, and although Tad was on his way into the city at the time, he thankfully missed the train that crashed and is safe. THANK YOU!

I have a back log of photos and blogging to catch up on from Donnie's going away party on Memorial Day to my OBX trip last week to upload. I know I'm WAY behind. I'm not sure I'll get to it tonight after all, given today, we'll see, but I hope to soon.

And in other news... I've been watching the "Jon and Kate Plus 8" special tonight to pass the time until Tad gets home (don't judge!) and I came across this headline from the Hartford Current... "On Tonight: Historic Turns for Iran, Jon, Kate"
UGH America!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back From Vaca, BRING IT ON, MONDAY

Number of new, unread emails in my inbox after being offline for a week:

Work - 837
Personal - 182

BRING IT ON, MONDAY

I've started reconstructing the wonderful, RESTFUL week I had in Avon, North Carolina, in another post but I'm on the shore for Father's Day today and I don't have my memory card reader thingy with me currently so I can't upload photos yet. When the perfect storm comes when I have my card reader thingy, a functioning computer (R.I.P. six year-old Dell) and time to blog, I'll post my OBX adventures. Hopefully by tomorrow or Tuesday.

I will say this though, for the first time I understand why people say once they've had a taste of North Carolina beaches, they're bitten by the bug. It's been less than 24 hours since I was there and I'm already longing to go back.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blogging Hiatus

Starting June 13, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. I'm officially unplugging.

Heading out to Avon, North Carolina for a week of fun and relaxation so I won't be blogging for a while. I know some of you keep tabs on my life via Always Fishing so this is my saying I haven't retreated into nothing, just gone beachin'.


I'm leaving this...


For this...


Tune in next week when I post pictures from my first vacation in 18 months (now do you understand why I can't stop talking about it?). Signing off.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where have all the good sounds gone?

NPR's News blog had a great post today called "Where Have All The Good Sounds Gone?". 'Good sounds' refer to sounds lost long ago in our digital world that most people -- even those from my generation -- can still remember from their childhood.

The examples they give are the old telephone ring, the 'Bong, Fuzzzzz' white noise sound old dial TVs made when you turned them on, the click-clack of a typewriter, the "classic thwackety-thwackety-thwack of a playing card pinned to a bicycle spoke," and hand crank pencil sharpeners.

I've had my cell phone ring set to the 'old telephone ring' for months now. Does that count?

And I used hand-crank pencil sharpeners until the 6th grade. It was someone's job every week to make sure all the shavings were dumped out at the end of the day.

Read the full article with the orchestra here.

I was surprised to find that not only did these sounds draw up memories for me, but it also made me sad to think that my little sister, who's only four years younger than I, might not remember them, and my children certainly won't know what I'm talking about.


I can recall getting my fingers caught in my grandma's robin egg blue rotary dial phone. My parents had a TV you had to turn a dial to change the channel (you only had three options anyway) for years. I have one of those 'Bong Fuzzz' TVs in my apartment living room right now (Made in China, 1990). Sadly, the typewriter was before my time, but I remember my dad's first laptop and how the only thing you could do on it was play Solitaire and type in Word93 -- but that was the COOLEST.


A No. 2 pencil scratching across fresh notebook paper, the satisfying 'click, whirl' of a cassette tape in a Walk-Man, the "murrrr" the VCR made when it ate your ballet recital video, printer paper coming out attached with a long 'Deeeee-Haaawww', like a loud, electronic donkey: Just other sounds I remember. Although one sound I'm happy to live without is the 'bbssshhh, eeeee, burn-ER, burn-ER," groan of dial-up Internet (Who came up with that anyway? Why not some funky techno beat instead?)



What sounds do you remember -- and maybe would like to bring back?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thunderstorm Photos

I took these photos of a massive thunderstorm moving across the D.C. area today with my simple Canon digital camera. This is in sequence from 4:32 p.m. - 5:05 p.m. as the weather monster rolled over our building right before it POURED. I can't remember the last time I saw clouds as intense and defined as this and the sky turn a putrid navy grey and aquamarine green.

Never have I wanted a wider lens more than now haha.







Coworkers looking on at the storm...




This was the weirdest thing of all... this crazy Eye of Sauron cloud swirl.










Random whale cloud!

Other side of the building, facing east (roughly).




I <3 weather.

Summer Reading

Since I've been out of college, I've not only had more time to read, but more time to enjoy reading, especially in the summertime. There's no rush to a paper deadline, no stress over finding the hidden meaning in something seemingly arbitrary like an apple core, and best of all -- I can appreciate the writing because I'm not forcefully dissecting it.

My dad, who has always made sure I have a book on my night stand, sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me I should begin writing my memoirs now while I'm young and my short life is fresh in my mind. "Pish, posh, Father," I said, "I don't have the patience or the energy to write a book. This is why I blog." But I can certainly appreciate and look on in awe at those who do.

Whenever I'm on the hunt for a fresh read, I always make an effort to choose at least one book that I should have read years ago, or that friends of mine read in high school or for college classes that I never did. I didn't read Jane Eyre and The Old Man and the Sea until last summer, for example. In the end, I figure if a teacher finds a book that's worth spending several weeks discussing, it's got to have some value to my reading it.

I'm also hesitant to go back and reread books -- even some of my absolute favorites -- because I know the number of good ones I haven't read greatly outweigh the ones on my shelf. Although, I am dying to give Watership Down another try because I'm sure I'll find it much more fascinating now than when I read it in 7th grade.

With that in mind, and a week of lazy beach sitting in store for me all next week, Tad and I headed to our local Borders on Sunday. Thanks to the "buy 4 get the 5th book free!" special, I went book crazy and chose two "school" books, two 'fairly' recent NYTimes bestsellers and a old murder mystery, none of which I have read yet:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan


The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards


Atonement by Ian McEwan


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote


I've started off with Life of Pi. If you have any reading suggestions for me, by all means send me a list. I tend to lean towards fiction as my genre of choice and I get wrapped up in novels about art, history and culture, but I'm open to other options. Especially if it comes teacher recommended.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Quote of the Work Day

"No, I'm just sayin', let her drive your wagon."

(real post about summer reading coming later tonight)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Grammar Slammer!

I have a love obsession with good grammar and I love people who get that I have a love obsession with good grammar.

To: me
From: Nick Chamberlain
Subject: Re: happy hour -- STILL ON

Lauren, I liked your use of "whomever." In that spirit:

Ryan: What I really want — honestly, Michael — is for you to know it so you can communicate it to the people here, to your clients, to whomever.
Michael: Oh, okay…
Ryan: What?
Michael: It’s whoever, not whomever.
Ryan: No, it’s whomever…
Michael: No…whomever is never actually right.
Jim: Well, sometimes it’s right.
Creed: Michael is right. It’s a made-up word used to trick students.
Andy: No. Actually, whomever is the formal version of the word.
Oscar: Obviously, it’s a real word, but I don’t know when to use it correctly.
Michael (to the camera): Not a native speaker.
Kevin: I know what’s right, but I’m not gonna say because you’re all jerks who didn’t come see my band last night.
Ryan: Do you really know which one is correct?
Kevin: I don’t know.
Pam: It’s whom when it’s the object of the sentence and who when it’s the subject.
Phyllis: That sounds right.
Michael: Well, it sounds right, but is it?
Stanley: How did Ryan use it, as an object?
Ryan: As an object…
Kelly: Ryan used me as an object.
Stanley: Is he right about that?
Pam: How did he use it again?
Toby: It was…Ryan wanted Michael, the subject, to, uh explain the computer system, the subject–
Michael: Yes!
Toby: –to whomever, meaning us, the indirect object…which is the correct usage of the word.
Michael: No one asked you anything, ever, so whomever’s name is Toby, why don’t you take a letter opener and stick it into your skull?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

O Rly, Weather?

Huh, that's one extreme thunderstorm that's going to hit our area in 15 minutes or less...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Real-ing and Dreaming

I love my job and I can't imagine doing anything else at this point in my life than staying put. But tonight, I had a rush of jealousy for Brian Williams and the wheels in my head began to turn.

NBC News aired the first installment of their special series, Inside the Obama White House hosted by Brian Williams. While eating my delicious goat cheese and asparagus pasta dish (thanks Smitten Kitchen blog!), I kicked back on an old futon and watched Williams kicking back in the presidential motorcade next to President Obama. It was the presidential seal stamped on the leather seat in between them that beamed out at me.

Brain, in an almost lazy attitude, asked Obama questions in the Oval Office such as, "do you just walk around the place and study it and think wow?" as he leaned back casually in his chair, as if his next question would be, "So do you want to get some beers and go bowling?" Which they probably did when the cameras were off.

I couldn't help but remember how I used to want to be Brian Williams (well Katie Couric actually, but you get the idea). I was convinced to my core that I was going to be this hardass, fire-breathing journalist leading a crusade for the truth. So enamored I was with this idea, that when I go back home to my small town, people still ask, "So you hosting the evening news yet?", "When will we see you on TV?". Even my dad tells me he's convinced I'll have my own show one day and it breaks my heart to laugh it off.

I still feel that crazy drive but it's shifted to what I do now, instead of this lofty dream and often I wonder what happened to it. Did I become lazier? Did I become exhausted from the local news reporting I was doing in college? Did I lose faith? Perhaps (and probably) all of the above. Part of me still believes that if I put my mind to it, I could be sitting next to a future president, but the other part of me feels exhausted by the thought of it.

People have told me that I've left my mark with my blog, and that's comforting and the realist in me who knows my limits says "well done, look what you have accomplished." The dreamer in me says my filling Katie Couric's shoes is still out there for me to grab. Time will tell who will win out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The BIG Move

This was just half of our stuff... mostly from our rooms, not even kitchen stuff yet...

My shoe bin...

Tad's shoe bin...


MOVING INTERMISSION

and Voila! We've moved! (These were taken about two hours after we stopped moving boxes so excuse the messes)

Kitchen...

Living room...

Balcony off living room... really, excuse the white trashy way we're using a cooler as a TEMPORARY side table.

View from balcony over looking Art Alley and Georgia Ave...

Master bedroom...

Master bath... plus Tad excited.

HUGE Walk-in closet in master bedroom... this picture just shows half of it.

Second bedroom...

Second main bathroom...


Come visit us!

Wildlife Sightings

Right in the middle of the big move, animals flocked to our yard. Remember the House finch on my house? Three chicks hatched in the nest and sadly two fell out, and one died.

The one, whom I happily named Pemberton, survived the fall and pathetically hopped around until Roberto bravely put him back in the nest. He was gone again by the time we moved out so we decided he flew to a big farm somewhere.



I like this rabbit. Rebel. No rules. Just chillin' like a villian. All stretched out relaxin'... doesn't it look like he's saying, "oh rly? Sup."