Sunday, February 28, 2010

Haircut and Love Poems

I bought these tulips a few day ago. What started out as buds in a pot are now two-foot-tall flowers.

I used the weekend to take it easy and sleep. Lots of sleeping. I read a study once that proved you can never actually "catch-up on sleep" but after all the time I've spent in bed, I feel like a whole new woman. Today was really the first day I ventured out.

My first stop was Bang in Chinatown for a haircut. Tourist tip: while they're still on the pricey side, Bang Salons are the most reasonably priced salons I've found in the city that have sleek, professional hair stylists. I really appreciate how they consult with you about what you want and give you several options before they even pick up a brush.

Anyway, today's goal: Cut and blend in the freaky blond splotch I have in my dark brown hair. It's a birth mark, but several hairdressers have asked me, "umm, did you dump peroxide on your head before you came in here?" The one today was no different.

I'll spare you the details and just show you the result:

Ta-da! I like it, though the color is lighter than I wanted it, but it's not orange, which is what the stylist said might happen if we pile on a dark dye. Good! Also, those bangs were fun for about two minutes, but now we have spats.

After pampering, I met up with Ruth in Dupont. A quick stop for a bite to eat at Zorba's Greek cafe for gyros (heros? yeros? eros? I never know) off Connecticut Ave., then we headed to a vintage and used bookstore I found online called Second Story Books on P Street.

Coming from a family of big time readers -- we just inhale books, my dad especially -- I was on the hunt for unique gifts and Ruth graciously obliged to check it out with me.

What I was expecting was a dusty, dimly-lit store full of torn and faded books of the past, so you can imagine how surprised I was to find most of the collection was contemporary used books. Hell, we found The Da Vinci Code among the shelves and boxes. A few locked cabinets held the ancient volumes I had anticipated, but anything behind lock and key is beyond my price range.

I ended up with two books -- a 1994 ed. re-purposed collection of the original 1892 Sherlock Holmes stories and a 1902 book of love poems. It was the inscription inside the poem book that made me buy it.

July 8-18, 1927
"Good bye to you Lil,
May the words of this book
bring many fond memories
of an almost blissful
summer romance -
'Till we meet again, Matt"

Ruth and I were both tearing up and I couldn't let it go, even though I felt a little disrespectful sneaking into (and purchasing) some one's private thoughts.

Total for the purchases: $9. Bargain!

I could spend entire afternoons in bookstores, but I feel a store like this where the books themselves have a story to tell outside the pages is truly special. Our next venture is to find the vintage bookstore President Obama visited shortly after he took office.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What can we do?

Usually, my animal rights friends call me a hypocrite because while I believe all animals should be treated with care and kindness, and I'm willing to pay more for meat if it was from free-range livestock, but if filet mignon or grilled shrimp are on the menu, it's pretty much guaranteed I'm ordering it.

That being said, I don't know why, but I've been having these pangs of sadness for this situation in Orlando with the orca whale killing its trainer. It's a terrible tragedy for the family who has lost their loved one, but on the other hand, my heart goes out to the killer whale. Here's this wild creature that was captured off the coast of Iceland and has been forced to breed and perform on cue in literally a bathtub for decades.

That's not natural. Can you imagine being forced to dance in your shower for food while people clapped?

My team at Discovery has done several stories about the orca's behavior and why it acted so violently, even why it had killed before, so it's something I've been immersed in every day since it happened, which is probably why it's starting to get to me. But clearly this animal is unhappy, even if SeaWorld is giving it the best care and nothing -- so far -- is being done to change it. Why?

Killer Whale Trainer Death Tied To Mating, Isolation
Should Killer Whales Be Kept in Captivity?
Killer Whale Testosterone Surges Documented by SeaWorld

To top it off, I've also been working on a slide show about endangered tigers this week too. Did you know there are only 200 white tigers left in the entire world? That's including the ones that are in zoos and nature reserves! Several conservation programs believe that all tigers in the wild will be extinct in our lifetime.

When we learned the alphabet in grade school, wasn't it "T" for tiger? Can you imagine them going extinct?

Why? Well, because of poaching, habitat loss, climate change and on and on and on. And then back to the whales, not only are we stealing them from their natural environments, but also researchers have now found a "garbage patch" in the ATLANTIC Ocean, not to mention the one in the Pacific that's been there for years, and on and on and on...

Ah! It's too much! The helplessness and hopelessness of it all is too heavy. What do we do? What can we do?

I have to say I've grown a greater respect for those animal rights friends of mine who have been thinking about these things and more for years, and will continue to think and act to protect animals years from now. I don't think I could handle it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who samples 20 minutes of three classes at once? Honestly...

This really made my lunch break.

An article in New York Magazine featured an email exchange between acclaimed NYU business professor Scott Galloway and one of his students who was a HOUR LATE to his Monday night class. Thank you, Tad for sending my way.

Grab the popcorn, and let the email blood bath begin... HERE.

I have to say I think I side with the professor on this one. The student acts like he's never been in an academic institution before.

Moron. How hard is it to ask another student who took the class last semester, "hey, how was that class with Dr. Galloway"? As I recall, NYU's Stern Business School is pretty prestigious so it's not like it would have been overwhelming or even hard to find someone, maybe someone like a T.A. perhaps? The article points this out too.

For all you Maryland broadcast jschool students, doesn't this sound like an email Dr. T would send if any of us ever DARED to show up an hour late to 360/361? I think I would fake death before ever tempting fate with the great one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog Redesign

Avid readers, look! New blog design!

While I loved the how the black background really made my text and photos pop, it was also making me feel dreary, so I'm going to try out a few new templates and colors schemes this week. Or maybe just stick with this one for now until I get bored with it. Just as long as it's not going to remind me of the piles of grey snow melt all over the city.

I need some COLOR!

I'm open to ideas, thoughts, suggestions for how I can change it up, if you have any! I know a few html tricks but not enough to hack Blogger... yet! ... so please, all ideas welcome!

The photo in my banner is one I took earlier this month of the underbelly of a train bridge in my neighborhood.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crafty

This is just one thing that can happen when I find myself with an hour to kill before I have to get ready to go out. I get crafty.



Yes. I painted a flower pot. It's for a fern plant thing from IKEA that not only has survived these past few months, but has separated and grown into two fern monsters. I even took the time to cut up a sponage to make sure the pretty diamond shapes were even, picked out some pretty colors and painted a pretty flower pot. On a Saturday evening. All while half dressed to go out to a bar.

Eat your heart out Home & Garden Network.

The bar we went to was Buffalo Billards in Dupont for Sam's "Gone Away" party (she left D.C. a few months ago in a rush and this was her first weekend back). And oh did we ever have a fabulous time! The dj (and other bar patrons surrounding the dance floor) either loved our enthusiasm or were overjoyed to see us leave, and that's all I have to say about that.

I'll post photos once I get them. Or maybe not...

I was shocked at how HUGE the place was! Billards, darts, dance floor all nicely tucked away in a basement bar that looked the size of a D.C. city block. Drinks were a little pricy (a Yaungling draft cost the same as a Jack&Ginger that comes in a 4 oz. glass? Come on). It was also great that the flat screen TVs covering the walls had the Olympics on because it gave everyone in our mixed crew something to talk about, but it was a bit of a buzz kill when you're trying to shake your groove thing to Britney and someone wipes out on a bobsled right behind you.

The best part of the night was that even though Sam, Amy, Jess and a few others in our group last night hadn't seen each other in weeks... even months... it was like we picked up right where we left off. Carrying on without missing a beat. That's when you know you're in good company.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Curling condoms

As if the sport of curling wasn't hilarious enough all by itself, come to find out they have their own condoms. WITH A MARKETING CAMPAIGN!!!!


From TodayShow.com:
"The U.S. Curling Association has its own official condom: “Hurry Hard,” named for a phrase curlers cry to encourage faster ice-sweeping. Vancouver organizers have stocked the Olympic Village with 100,000 condoms... which works out to 14 for each of the 7,000 athletes, coaches, trainers and officials housed in the Games’ two villages."

"The citizens of the village are young, remarkably healthy, and the definition of physically attractive. In such an environment, flirting is as natural as breathing."

Is there's really anyhing else to say but... WOW, and good job! I'll never be able to watch curling without giggling again, and I had just gotten over it from when I first watched them at the 2006 Winter Games, with the brooms and the intense faces... I have to stop myself there...

Get the full story here. Happy Friday!

Photo credit: HO / Reuters

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random rants too small for individual posts

OLYMPICS: I'm really getting into the Olympic skiing events. Incredible, aren't they? I can barely twist in midair off a diving board, let alone backflip off an icy jump going 90 mph on skis! I wonder how they train for the mogul events. My theory is they start on a trampoline first and then someone just pushes them out of a chair lift a couple hundred times so they get the feel for it.

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PEOPLE: Dear girls in the office wearing short sleeve shirts in winter,

What the hell is the matter with you? Are you out of your mind? You expect me to believe that while I'm bringing in extra sweaters to put over my first sweater in this ice box of a shared office space that you are comfortable strutting around in a t-shirt? It's fricken' -8 degree outside!!! Not 80 degrees!!! As I sit here in my high-heeled, pointy-toed boots, I'm all about understanding the sacrifice of comfort for cute, but COME ON! It's WINTER TIME! It's okay to cover those pasty arms until spring. Everyone will understand.

Love, Lauren

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TECHNOLOGY: Have you gone back through who you're following on Twitter lately? You might surprise yourself how many useless people you've been mindlessly following since the time when Twitter was shiny and new and you went Follow button crazy.

I hadn't really thought about it until last night when I noticed that TomCruise was really starting to get on my nerves with his "@Somebody Thanks!" "@SomebodyElse Huh? Thanks!" tweets. UnFollow. Then I started going through the list and I'm ashamed to admit I had a lot to unfollow, including the entire cast of fake FRIENDS profiles, some other TV show, country artists that only talked about their upcoming tours, ABCNewsNews, the list continues. Ah, Twitter detox. I kept a few... let's say "junk food" feeds... just for my personal enjoyment *cough* LadyGaga *cough*.

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MORE TECHNOLOGY: I once had a friend tell me that people in her office like to have competitions to see who can 1-Up one another.

I feel technology is now doing the same 1-Up game. Just as I was getting to know about FourSquare.com, a Twitter-esqe support site that lets you Google map where you are so people can find you (or avoid you, as the case may be), here comes along "PleaseRobMe.com" blowing up on everyone's tech blog. "PleaseRobMe.com" points out how stupid FourSquare is because duh, if you're at the coffee shop down the street, chances are your house is empty and willing.

Oh, the hilarity. I'm reminded of the Monty Python skit about an old lady who thinks she has new neighbors...
*Knock, knock, knock*
Old lady: "Who is it?"
Two men coming to rob her house: "It's the robbers!"
Old lady: "Oh! By all means! Come in!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making good use of all this snow

Note: Apologies to readers, future posts may get fewer and far between. Christmas 2010 will mark my computer's 7th birthday and the past few times I've tried to blog -- or really just tried to get past the Welcome security screen -- the poor dear has frozen or crashed or whatever you call it when it's hanging on by its last megabyte threads. Goal is to have a new one purchased by this summer, so bear with me.

I felt fantastic today. Like really, really good. I want to believe it's because I just came back from a refreshing and active skiing/snowboarding long weekend, but it could also be that today I had my first cup(s) of coffee since last Thursday. Woooo flying high.

Tad, Nick, Ruth and I set out for the poconos late Friday evening to the tune of everything on our iPods, from Miley Cyrus to Madonna, from T. Pain to the Temptations, doing whatever possible to get through the four-hour drive to Olyphant, Pa., a suburb of Scranton -- yes, home of The Office. Yes, there are places that do sell Office t-shirts. We ate in one.

Saturday was the big day, delicious homemade subs from M-6 Deli, a place only the Greenleafs and Vice President Biden have ever heard of (probably), and six hours of night skiing at Camelback. I was getting back on skis for the first time since middle school, and Ruth was getting on skis for the first time ever. We were all VERY impressed with how well she did, proving to the world that in fact, her words, "Jews DO ski!"

Snow conditions: AWESOME. The mountain still had almost a foot of fresh snow left over from when the Round 2 blizzard hit the Mid-Atlantic just last week.


People conditions: Surpringly good. The lift lines were fairly short, considering it was a Saturday on a holiday weekend. We only had to watch out for the all the punk ass middle school kids who think they're so cool when they give you the finger as they cut you off on their little punk ass snowboards. One of these days...

No matter, I was back into my skiing grove, just like riding a bike, complete with jumps...


Okay that jump seemed a lot bigger when I was making it.

After waking up on Sunday morning and feeling every muscle in our bodies, we decided to take it easy. Tad and I took the opportunity to show Nick and Ruth some of the downtown Scranton highlights, including lunch at the famed Cooper's (puts Silver Spring's Piratz Tavern to shame) and the "Scranton (WHAT?) The Electric City" sign.

We spent the evening squeezing in a couple more hours of night skiing (I switched back to snowboarding, feeling on top of the world). The four of us then polishing off the weekend with excellent greasy food and a beer sampler (and a few +1's) at Barley Creek Brewing House for a late dinner.
Monday morning, it was time to leave. Even now, after working a full day it seems so weird that about 36 hours ago, I was shredding down mountains and thinking to myself how maybe if I practiced more, maybe I could be competitive for the 2020 winter Olympics. Definitely itching to get back, despite all the snow and cold. We know how to make good use of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whiteout

Some time in June 2009

Feb. 10, 2010. 2:34 p.m. after a second round of shoveling and plowing the streets.

You usually can see the train tracks from here just on the other side of the white building.


Sigh. One day, summer will come again.

I enjoyed the Washington Post's sense of humor about people trying to drive in whiteout conditions: Snow is falling and flakes are on the road.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Speaking of this storm...

People are funny.

"A Safeway grocery store in the Dupont Circle area of Washington had milk and some bread Tuesday, but many other items were picked over from the last storm. There was no shredded cheese, and people who wanted Diet Coke or Brussels sprouts were out of luck," reported CBS News.

Tad at a grocery store in Silver Spring, Md. His text message to me was: "Omg you better love me lots for this."

A weather map I can follow



Even though this is a map of the storm from this past weekend, not this one that's going to hit us today... still love it.

Also... I miss my alma mater

Monday, February 8, 2010

S'now Joke

I was going to blog about Super Bowl Sunday... the story of the Saints' win and Google's commercial completely melted my heart...



But now I'm too distracted by WAVE 3 of 'Sno My Goodness Gracious When Will This Ever End,' or 'Snowpocalypse,' for short. This is getting SNO ridiculous.

Check this out... thanks Melmo for tweeting this. 'That poor little teddy bear didn't stand a chance'...



And no I'm not tired of the snow puns.

Millions of pounds of snow fell on our city. MILLIONS!!! Gotta do something to keep it interesting. Even Capital Weather Gang is now hosting a poll to name this next storm which could bring another FOOT of snow to our region.

What god did we piss off and how can we kiss and make up?

The office was a deserted waste land of 'pods' today (we don't call them cubes because they're more like half horseshoes desk things). I suspect the same will be for the rest of the week with this other storm coming tomorrow. On Friday, dozens of coworkers were milling around aimlessly, looking out the window, making phone calls, taking bets on when they were going to break down and finally go home before the panic got to be too much for them. Dozens more today were now unable of gettting out of their neighborhoods. As one coworker joked, "I'm staying in Virginia, so yeah, I'll see you guys next Monday."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And Snow It Begins



SNOWpocalypse. SNOWmageddon. SNObliteration. SNObomination. SNObama. SNOgasm.

My favorite is still the one my coworker came up with: Snowtorious B.I.G., but snOMG! also holds a special place in my heart.

Lots of names for the TON of snow we got dumped on us in the past 36 hours. AGAIN.

Tad and I went out walking around in it today and it was definitely a more violent storm than Round 1. No, not this little storm earlier this week. THIS storm from December, where 18 inches of big cotton-like flakes fell at incredible speeds. This storm from today was like wave after wave of icy, hard snow creating fantastic snow drifts and other hazards. Still, we were able to have fun with the 27 inches that fell in our neighborhood.

I'll stop here with the snow details because I know it's the only thing the news has talked about today and show you some fun pictures instead:

Facebook friends, see my profile for more shenanigans.

I was sad to miss out on the enormous snowball fight in Dupont Circle at 2 p.m. (and I was even officially Facebook invited!!!). BTW, AMAZING WaPo video of the action HERE. Maybe if I had some cross country skis I could have made the 8 miles trek, but with half of the Metro system shut down, it wasn't going to happen.

And did you hear we're expected to get more on Tuesday night/Wednesday? The aftermath from this monster won't even be melted by then. Insane right? What is going on?!?! AH! Must go buy bread!

I called my aunt, who is in Miami right now for the Super Bowl. She said to tell you all, "It's beautiful, 81 degrees and sunny here! And I'm sorry."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First Snow of the Week

The weaker storm for this week. Barely a warm-up for what they're calling for this weekend in the D.C. region.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, 5:43 p.m., just as the snow started to fall.


Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010, 8:12 a.m., the morning after.


It was so beautiful this morning to see all the trees holding several inches of snow.


Even on the chain link fences at a construction site.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Groundhog Has Spoken!

Producer to me: "That fucking groundhog always sees his shadow."

Big Pic I put together on Phil's shining moment. I think he looks like Elmer Fudd.

My favorite Groundhog Day headlines...


"US Winter To Last Six More Weeks, Says Groundhog"
-- Doesn't that just scream "competent superpower" to the world?

"Forget Groundhog Day! Feb. 2 = Marmot Day, Thanks To Sarah Palin"
-- Sigh. Again, who's happy she's not our vice president? This girl!

"Groundhogs Offer Contradictory Rulings on Big Day"
-- Poor groundhog, he weeps.

"Sammi The Pocono Groundhog Is Dead; Predicted More Winter on her Last Day"
-- Cheerful.

"Go Back in that Hole, Phil"
-- This is for you, Nick: That's what she said.

'I've always depended on the kindness of strangers...'

While sitting at a BoneFish Restaurant in Frederick, Md., the kindest thing happened to us.

Tad, Stu and I were coming back from our snowboarding/skiing trip at Liberty -- Facebook friends, pics are posted -- when we stopped at BoneFish for dinner.

Sitting at the full service bar, we were in heaven with our fish tacos, shrimp fetachini and all the warm bread the bartender could bring us, fully entertained by the bartender's multitasking ability to flip off a beer top with a martini shaker while pouring all three of us water.

As we were finishing up, commenting on how close Maryland was to beating Clemson, an older gentleman sitting with his wife three seats away asked, "oh are you all Maryland fans?"

Tad proudly puffed out his chest to show his MARYLAND TERRAPINS sweatshirt. "Yeah, we all graduated from there."

"Go Terps!" the guy said. "Go Terps!" we replied.

We asked for the check and as soon as the bartender brought it over and we were fishing out our money, he came back, snatched away the receipt, threw in the trash and gave us the thumbs up sign.

"Uhh... whoa, what? What just happened?"

Bartender: "Don't worry about it. It's been taken care of."

He had to nod his head at least four times towards the older couple for us to get what had just happened. Somehow, in the span of minutes, maybe even seconds, the older couple had picked up our tab, just because we were Terps. Stu, Tad and I spent most of the car ride home that night saying things like, "I was so blown away by that!," "That has never happened to me before!," "Who does that anymore? Not many."

I've heard other people say to me when I've asked for advice or favors and then try to thank them, "hey, someone helped me out along the way once too. It's nice to be able to return the favor."

That was one incredible favor that'll stick with me for a long time, and I can't wait for the opportunity to return it.