Monday, May 31, 2010

Love and Loss

It's taken me a couple of days to get back into the blogging groove....

Late last week, I got word that one of my friends from high school had died. I really hate that the way I've come to know that someone from home has passed away is when someone else calls or messages me and says, "Did you hear about so and so?" It never means anything good.

While we had drifted apart after high school and only saw each around the holidays, Kyle was someone I used to hang out with all the time. He dated a good friend of mine so we all went to dances together, went to games together, movies, the mall, riding around, the whole bit for years. He died after falling off a ladder while changing a light bulb and it was a shock to my system. That old cliche that life is so short washed over me all over again and it took me until after his funeral on Saturday to get out of this weird fog I've been in all week. I saw so many other old friends and that was a comfort, some I hadn't seen since last year at Karey's funeral. She was a close childhood friend of mine who was killed in a car accident on May 3, 2009. Several of us commented on how much it sucked that we usually see each other at either weddings or funerals.

R.I.P. Kyle Linder, forever in our hearts. 1985-2010.

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Cancer is something I'm very familiar with, breast cancer in particular. Grandmothers, aunts, my mother, girl friends -- countless women in my life have suffered with this horrible disease. So when I found out a friend's breast cancer was back and another mutual friend of ours was helping to rally us together for a Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure team, I signed up immediately. I've never done the Race for the Cure before, but I couldn't be more excited and ready to help out team PinkForTink.

Only caveat is our coworker who helped organize the team is bound and determined to make us all run it, like really run it, not walk it. Thus begins my 6:30 a.m. runs. Starting tomorrow morning... and the race is Saturday. I'm not a runner at all, but if Trish can take two tours of duty fighting breast cancer, I can make it through a short run.

If you want to run with us, search PinkforTink in the 'Join a Team' box: http://tinyurl.com/ycafbms or if you'd like to donate, check out the fundraising page: http://tinyurl.com/2bn8fve

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Discovery is hosting a "Discover Your Impact" Day on June 18th to encourage employees to get out of the office and help the community -- AWESOME! My first choice was to sign-up to help out at a horse farm in Mt. Airy (I'm a huge animal lover), but I'll be away on vacation that week.

For those who aren't able to actively participate, but still want to help, you can sign-up to make cards for sick children staying at NIH in Bethesda. I'm also encouraged to ask friends to participate so if you're interesting in helping make cards, let me know! I'll post details once I get them from the event coordinator.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hamster was LOST


This may be one of those stories where it's a lot more hysterical if you're directly involved, such a shame we didn't catch all of this on video, but nonetheless it has made me laugh to myself all day long so I think it's worth a shot at retelling here.

As everyone in the world knows now, last night was the series finale of LOST (as a die-hard fan, I don't think it has hit me yet that my Tuesday evening TV viewing will never be the same again). Tad and I have an old friend named Brandon who is responsible for turning this crazy TV show into an obsession for us, so it seemed only fitting that we would make the drive to out to his apartment to watch the final episode.

Not 10 minutes after we walked in his door at 8:25 p.m. Sunday evening (the episode started at 9) something happened.

Brandon was put in charge of caring for his roommate's two Roborovski hamsters (world's smallest breed of hamsters) while his roommate was away. After hearing all this talk about his roommate's plans to build Hamster-Topia, a 7x6 foot hamster tubing palace in his bedroom, I had to meet the little guys. As I looked around the cage...

Brandon: "Is there only one? There's supposed to be two. He has to be in there. He has to be. Is he buried? Seriously, he's in there right?"

Turning his roommate's room upside down, Tad and I began giving a quickly-flipping out Brandon advice on how to handle the situation, everything from going to the pet store and buying a replacement, to telling his roommate that the hamster got sick and died, or that the other one ate him. As Brandon suggests leaving the room and coming back to search later, Tad, staring at the back corner of the room, says, "I see him," in such a calm way that none of us computed what that meant. Tad would later tell us that he thought he was hallucinating and didn't really realize what he was saying.

About 1.3 seconds after his saying this, it clicks and we all spring into action at once, cornering the critter behind a book case. Not only are these hamsters small and can slip through the tiniest cracks, they are fast and can dart quicker than deer. Here, there, there, here, the three of us tripped over each other to corner him, taking out books and boxes and screaming things like "Grab him!" "AH!" "Close the bedroom door!" Just as the hamster runs along side said door, Brandon says "no way he can... OH MY GOD!" and away hamster slipped.

Chasing him down the hall and into the kitchen, I fell on my hands and knees and scooped him up before he got under the fridge. Triumph at last and the hamster was safely returned. We still don't know how he got out, but Brandon taped up every crack in the enclosure with industrial tape.

It took us a good 10 minutes to calm down enough to get off the floor from laughing so hard, just in time to settle in for the series finale.

The three of us and most of my office today have been going over the final episode again and again, judging each of our interpretations. One theory I heard was they all died in the initial plane crash and used the island to sort out their issues, but that that doesn't explain how some could die on the island and others couldn't. I think I'm with Tad and going with my original theory that everything was real, just shown to us in time-traveling parallel universes.

We also tried to make a list of all the plot lines they didn't explain or wrap up, but had to stop because it became too depressing. Some people were pissed at how it ended, but I thought it was appropriate with all of them dying. It gave some sort of resolution, even though we don't exactly know how we got there.

Gyros and Gypsies

I have two great girlfriends who specialize in tapping into the most obscure but awesome (and usually free) D.C. events, whether its a cultural festival, outdoor show or market.

Last weekend, I had a few hours to kill in my Saturday morning and Erin suggested we head over to the annual Greek festival near the National Cathedral. It was sunny and warm out, perfect day to meander through the booths of jewelry, pottery, clothes and amazingly good food.

Authentic spiced beef and lamb, topped which lettuce, tomatoes, onions and homemade tzatziki sauce all stuffed to the brim in warm pita... ooohhh my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I stole this photo from Erin, but I really think it says it all.

The festival was held on the grounds of the gorgeous Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Mass. Ave. NW.

and it was a good thing we got there early, because by 1 p.m., the line for gyros was easily 100 people long.

After browsing the tables, I picked up a necklace, Erin and I grabbed some hand painted plates. This is the one I bought, isn't the artwork incredible? I haven't found a place to mount it yet.

Then we stumbled upon a Greek fortune teller at the end of the row. Neither of us had ever had our palm read, so we figured we'd give it a shot.

This woman had to have been in her late 60s at best. Incredibly thick accent, leathery brown skin, gray braided hair, earring the size of softballs, and I think I counted a total of ten teeth. As soon as she grabbed my right hand, I instantly tensed. Maybe because I was a little nervous, or perhaps it was because she said to me, "Vokay, vhat ver I sees, I must tell vou, goot or bad."

Now, according to her, it's bad luck to tell others about your fortune, so I'll leave the mysteries of my life between us, but I'll say that she was close on most things, but also pretty vague. For Erin, she way, way off, according to her. I won't speak for Erin, but I certainly walked away feeling weirded out. In case you're wondering, I did not take the fortune teller up on her offer to come to her office for more to be revealed to me.

I'll say this, the ambiance from the festival gave me such an itch to go to Greece, a country that has been on my travel to do list for years. It's nice to live in such a cultural rich area that I can get a tiny taste of it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Randoms

I'll write a real blog post later, promise -- the next one I have coming up is about gyros and gypsies -- but I saw these links today and just had to share.

Turns out, it's a really bad idea to post your social security number on a billboard. Even if you're the LifeLock CEO.

Dear London, your 2012 Olympic mascot looks like you crossed a Teletubbie with a character from Monsters Inc.

SpaceX's Elon Musk was the inspiration behind Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.'s) character in Iron Man. DNews space producer asks, so Elon, are you "Rocket Man" or "Iron Man."

One of my friends used this when she was for applying for jobs. Glassdoor.com is a database of employee comments and interview questions from over 80,000 companies, domestic and abroad. It's a great way to get a feel for what your future work environment might be like.

Side note: I think I've watched the baby sloth video at least four times today. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Your Daily Dose of Cuteness

Baby sloths! Even with their dagger-like claws, they're pretty adorable.

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Updates

Here's what I've got for you so far...

A surprising number of you have asked about my hair. Sorry I've been so bad about giving you an update. It's all better now -- I went the brunette route, (sorry Tad) -- but no more tiger stripe highlights! Will post a photo later.

Top Chef D.C.'s contestants names, backgrounds and photos have been released. Everyone looks boring.

A dead "zombie satellite" is causing so much havoc over Earth right now among the communication satellites that it could knock out everyone's signal during the LOST season finale. I only have one thing to say to that.

College Park's beloved Santa Fe Cafe and bar will be closing its doors forever on May 22nd, just in time to hit up the graduation crowds then peace out. Sad. So many memories.

After 25 years of flight, space shuttle Atlantis lifts off for one final voyage. I think the photo is gorgeous. Makes me sad to think of a time when we will no longer have shuttle launches, they've been going on my whole life (NASA is killing the shuttle program at the end of this year).

Still haven't found out what caused the fire in downtown Silver Spring (DTSS).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fire in downtown Silver Spring



I saw this as I was leaving work today (took it through the construction fencing). Another "Mulberry Street" moment. This is an enormous construction site next to the Silver Spring metro station in downtown Silver Spring where a retail, parking garage and transport hub are being built. Not sure what happened other than there was a lot of smoke and the whole area smelled like burning tar.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chincoteague



For Mother's Day, we did something a little different this year: field trip!

My family's celebration of this day to honor Mom is usually expressed with brunch at our hometown country club -- shrimp and grits, eggs benedict topped with crab meat are not only to die for but also tell me I'm home. But Saturday we loaded up Dad's truck and headed down to Chincoteague, Virginia for a change of pace.

Where I'm from on the Eastern Shore, Chincoteague is slated as a gorgeous, quiet beach getaway -- you non-shore natives may have heard of the children's book "Misty of Chincoteague?" Same place, and yes there are wild horses down there. It was indeed very beautiful, but I was struck by how small, and for the most part beach-less, the community was. I could definitely see how staying at a local B&B or just walking the quiet streets would be very relaxing though.

Side note: NASA has a HUGE facility down in this area and as we're driving past it, my parents told me they almost sent me to space camp here when I was a kid, but decided to send me to Bible camp instead. Whaaa?! A monologue of something along the lines of "I could have been a contender" comes to mind.

Our purpose for making the drive was my mom had a few artist friends who were showing their paintings, jewelry and photography at the Chincoteague Mother (Earth) Day festival (I guess combining Mother's Day and Earth Day?).

Although it was a gorgeous sunny day, 30-40 mph wind gusts made it difficult to browse (and for the artists to keep things on their tables), but I managed to pick up a few things. This handmade gold ring for one...

And these paintings, which were FREE, frames included. Amazing, right!?

The incredibly talented artist who did them, Dawn Tarr, said she was cleaning out her garage and was trying to get rid of "some junk." I couldn't believe she was just giving them away. Although most of her free paintings were of near-naked men or topless mermaids, I found these nonsexual framed ones and I thought they would fit nicely in current and future dwellings. I know, how prude of me, almost Pottery Barn like, but they're so pretty! I think I'll put the peas in my kitchen and daisies in my bathroom.

The best event of the art show was this woodcarver who used a chain saw to carve lawn statues out of tree trunks.

This wooden flamingo was about six feet tall. My dad tried everything to convince my mom we needed it for the backyard -- he was not successful.

We wrapped up the day at Bill's restaurant around the corner from the festival before heading home, where I then laid out by my parents' pool and then watched movies all night on pay-per-view until I fell asleep at 10:30 pm. It felt awesome.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

"Margs to the face." -- Andy Heck (Andy, if you're reading this, I am sorry. This line has become the motto of all my happy hours).

Keeping it light this year, Tad and I headed over to Mi Rancho in Silver Spring just for tacos, enchiladas and, you guessed it, margaritas, in honor of Cinco de Mayo or our weekly date night (usually we do date night on Friday or Saturday, but I'm heading home for Mother's Day this weekend. I know, all kinds of "awwww" happening here).

Highlight of the evening -- live mariachi band!

Shameless self promotion again: Want to learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo? Sure you do. I had to write up a blog about it for Discovery News, so I can tell you all about it right HERE.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Randoms

Hilarious links I found while waiting for my laundry to finish so I can go to bed...

Muppet movie camera improv test from 1979
. Hysterical. "You're not a real bear. Have you ever seen a bear with a magenta nose?" ... "Do you know what you get when you cross a pig and a frog?" I've never seen Kermit so sassy!

Okay, I know I steal links from Emily way too much, but she is the Internet scouring champion, and this one was too funny. Comic Sans is definitely NOT my type. What is it about that font that's just... ugh.

"An ice cream parlor near M.I.T. will soon be serving Internet-flavored ice cream." Seriously. That's the first line of the article. I didn't even have to touch it.

Take five minutes to stop and smell the roses. It's good for your health.

Listed as one of the nation's leading pot consumption states, D.C. gears up to vote on legalizing medical marijuana. Several 20-somethings say it won't make a difference.

"Avatar" director James Cameron + NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab = kick ass 3-D camera eyes for the next Mars rover (warning: shameless self promotion here).

Song stuck in my head right NOW. Also not conducive to sleeping.

Hair Delimma! (again)

Not to worry, I didn't accidentally die my hair black again.

Should I go blond or stay brunette? Right now I'm dark brown with lighter brown under tones. Nothing dramatic. In fact, it has faded to dull, flat dark, dark brown color with almost orange-ish streaks. Trying to make a decision by Thursday because I'm trying to squeeze in a hair appointment to get my horrible roots fixed before Mother's Day this weekend (for all of you who forgot it was Mother's Day this weekend, you're welcome).

My hair looks like this now. You can see my dilemma. I have really dark hair with a blond streak from a birthmark on my scalp and as I've gotten older, the blond has turned from a golden to a grayish. This has fascinated every stylist I've ever been to:

P.s. it is IMPOSSIBLE to take a photo of yourself in the bathroom where the lighting is best and not look awkward.

So I could really go either way: lighter or darker. If I go blond, which I was thinking might be fun for summer, I was thinking this:

If I stay brunette, I was thinking this:



Help! Opinions wanted!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Well done, weekend, well done.

This weekend was solid. Nothing epic or outlandish, but definitely satisfying.

Friday night after work, I headed out to College Park for UMD's Art Attack festival. Tad, who has the in with the entertainment folks from his work at the student union, got us VIP passes to the main event: Ben Folds/Weezer. Both are groups that I have a handful of their songs on my ipod but I wouldn't call myself a huge fan. That all changed after this night.

Ben Folds was his usually "Billy Joel of our time" self, and having never seen Weezer in concert before, I was blown away by how hard they could rock.

Here's just a taste of the madness. The crowd of 12,000 (the biggest Art Attack crowd to date) was throwing glow necklaces in the air. You see someone throw a roll of toilet paper at around 11 and 19 seconds.


Standing within arms reach of the stage, I'm fairly certain Rivers Cuomo was pointing at me when he came over to stage left singing "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To)" ;)

Before the encore, Weezer's bass player, Scott Shriner, jumped off the stage right next to us and did a set of 20 push-ups. My camera took that moment to malfunction and then say "memory card full" so you're going to have to take my word for it. Certainly one of the highlights was when Cuomo dressed up like Lady Gaga and the band sang their MGMT cover "Kids" remixed with "Pokerface."

It was one of the best concerts I've been to in a long time. If you ever go to a concert with Tad and I, you'll find that we "feel" the music very differently. Tad likes to close his eyes and let the instrumentals and vocals wash over him. I, on the other hand, like to flail around and let the beat move me. Kinda funny.

Saturday we let ourselves sleep in way too late. In following my usual Saturday morning routine, I got up, made myself something to eat, read a little, dozed, repeat. Rarely do I let myself do that until 1 p.m. though. After we finally got up and moving, we headed up to the roof to sit by our building's pool for the first time this season -- couldn't resist when it was 90 degrees, sunny and breezy.

Making another date night out of it, we went out to dinner Saturday night at Austin Grill (we got fed, but eh, not a memorable meal), and then to the movies to see Date Night (ha!) starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell. We went into this movie expecting it to be really cheesy and hokey, and there were parts that were, but what separated it from other dumb comedy movies was that it was smart, and there wasn't any point where I felt like it was dragging or there was a lull in timing. Plus, there were lots of unusual cameos. Pretty hilarious as expected.

Another hot one today, Tad and I relaxed out on the patio at our friend and former roommate Roberto's place with our other dear friend Daozhong for a barbecue. Roberto is an amazing cook and grilled up all sorts of good eats: two different kinds of sausage, flank steak, mango, pineapple, strawberries... I, of course, made sangria. Good food, good conversation, and suddenly it was evening.

Tad and I headed back to our place where we then accidentally napped for three hours (I'm never going to get to sleep tonight), and woke up hungry not for a meal but for snacks. After a failed attempt to make homemade bread (the yeast I had bought a while back had gone bad), we ended up making guacamole, margaritas and catching up on last week's NBC Thursday night line-up. Now, here I am blogging about it all.

So like I said, a solid weekend, nothing too crazy, but equal parts of fun and rest to get me back to feeling refreshed and fully charged for Monday. Well done, weekend, well done.