Monday, September 27, 2010

Daytona is more than a race site. I assume.

This weekend, my adventures took me to Daytona for an over-night stay at the home of one my rocket scientist friends. I know that sounds impressive, but they are literally everywhere in Daytona. They're like kudzu there.

Thanks to Orlando traffic, we didn't arrive until 7 in the evening. Honestly, I should have known better than to plan to drive one of the worst sections of I-4 between 4 and 6 on a Friday evening. In the end, my compatriots and I stayed in, ate pizza, drank beer, and played games, one of which involved shaking our heads really fast and taking pictures. Like so:

Not one of my more attractive moments, I'll admit, but this picture provided many laughs. We also played Charades, which is a low-cost form of fun and one that should really be employed more often. Charades is great! Are great? Eh.

In the morning we ate Denny's, where I was introduced to a monstrosity. I only had one bite, but I'm pretty sure I lost at least a year of my life. After consuming far more calories than are reasonable, I returned home, thereby completely eschewing anything that could be considered Daytona-specific fun. Aww, well, thems the breaks!

In unrelated news, I was reviewing some of my YouTube subscriptions last night, and I remembered this gem from a friend of mine, Michael McGuire. The audio tracking is a bit off, but that's him, folks. I've heard it with mine own ears. How this failed to get him a part on Glee I will never understand.

Friday, September 24, 2010

In lieu of a creative post, I am copying and pasting an article from Washington Post

If you want to quibble, the following should probably be on my "Funny Things" page, but I found this so amusing when I read it this morning that I decided to post it here. It comes from the Washington Post, as I said, and was such a well-written criticism of Facebook that I also posted the link on Facebook. Enjoy!

Gene Weingarten: I hate Facebook sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. . .

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, Sep 26, 2010
Critics contend I am unfair to Facebook merely because I have described it as an ocean of banalities shared among persons with lives so empty they echo. I defend my thesis but admit my evidence has been unscientific -- entirely anecdotal -- based on my occasional dips into this tepid, lifeless lagoon of dishwater-dull discourse.

But that has changed. I find that it is now possible to mathematically quantify the tedium, thanks to a new Web site. Openbook, at, is a search engine for Facebook "status alerts" -- the prime way Facebookers communicate with their friends. With Openbook, it is now possible to search for a word or phrase and find out not only how often it has been used in status alerts, but also when and by whom.

The creators of this site intend it as a cautionary implement, to warn people that the social medium is not adequately protecting their privacy. But in the hands of an objective researcher such as myself, Openbook can be a valuable hermeneutic tool. Through it, one can analyze Facebook anthropologically.

I have done so and am here to make my report.

· When people find it necessary to inform their friends about how unbearably arid and stultifying their lives are -- which they do at a rate of roughly 2,000 status updates an hour -- the word they choose most often is "boring." They tend to spell it with extra o's or r's, for emphasis. If you check for "boooring" and then keep adding one o, you find at least one hit, until you get to 31 consecutive o's. When you try "borrrring" and keep adding r's, you get to 47. Just for the record, the person who, by this metric, suffers the most crippling ennui on the planet, boring with 51 r's, is Heather S. of Waterloo, Ontario.

· Over the course of 16 days, 130 people alerted their friends to the fact that they "have a pimple." The location of the blemish is usually specified, as is the size. The most frequent location is the forehead, followed closely by the earlobe and then the buttock, most often the left one. The most colorful size comparison was to a tomato, but the largest was "Jupiter." M. Mandel of New York named her pimple Steve. (She also is a fan of Justin Bieber AND the Jonas Brothers, and, under favorite books, notes: "I don't like readingg.")

· Literally thousands of people send out communiques describing their excretory imperatives. Frequently, these involve the phrase "have to go to the bathroom." It would be incorrect and unfair to conclude that all of the people using this phrase are vulgarians and/or boors. The rigorous researcher discovers, for example, John Paul Weisinger of Lufkin, Tex., wasn't discussing his own biology at all. He was merely sharing with his friends a joke he finds funny: "A pig walks into a bar and orders drink after drink after drink and never goes to the bathroom. The bartender asks, 'Don't you ever have to go to the bathroom?' and the pig replies, 'Nah, I go wee wee wee all the way home.'"

· It is possible to mathematically gauge the relative strength of people's love by observing the number of o's they use in the expression "so much." For example, Katherine Baker-Hernandez of Lakewood, Colo., loves her kitty more (57 o's) than Lorne D. Stevens of Detroit loves sour Jolly Ranchers. (10 o's.) There does not appear to be an upper limit to people's love.

· Facebook users may be bored, but, paradoxically, they also are easily amused. We know this, because they are always laughing out loud. LOLs occur with such frequency they are literally impossible to count: Dozens arrive every second. A subset of those laughers are simultaneously rolling on the floor -- but still in numbers too large to tally. It is only with a third winnowing -- those both rolling and laughing their behinds off -- that the numbers become manageable: 390 per day.

· In a five-day period, 266 people referenced the chief executive of the United States as President "Oboma." Sixty-seven others called him President "Obamma." Almost all of these people were making the point that he is a stupid incompetent.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Journey to Gainesville (FL)

No, you are not experiencing déjà vu, dear reader, I have indeed visited two different Gainesvilles in the past week and a half. I drove many hours today, leaving Tennessee (and CST) at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Athens, GA for lunch with my friend Dot at 1:30 p.m., and finally coming to a stop for the night at the home of my eldest brother at 9:00 p.m. The road was ever so long, but I was kept entertained for 10+ hours by my trusty book on tape, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.

To any fans of the Percy Jackson series (I'm talking to you, Neville) I highly recommend this book. It is basically the same thing as that first series but with two main protagonists, who trade off the narration, and Egyptian mythology in lieu of Greek. Needless to say, it is delightful. If you haven't read the Percy Jackson books yet, read them too. Here is Neville's review of that series.

Anyway, I'm headed back home tomorrow and thus, will not be spending much time in this second Gainesville, but I wanted to update you on my journey, gentle reader. Hopefully tonight's post has introduced you to a few worthy distractions from the drudge of another work week. Cheers!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mit Glitzer!

I found this puzzle in my friend Julie's living room. So we assembled it!

If we had named this puzzle, it would have been something along the lines of "Pretty Pink Princess Pony." (Alliteration!)

And if you were wondering if it has glitter, yes!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Washington, the District of Columbia

Hint: If you want to get to DC using a GPS, make sure you type in "District of Columbia" as the State. You would think "Washington", but that would be wrong.

Monday, the Boyfriend and I drove from Richmond, where we visited my sister, to the capital of our great nation to meet a friend for lunch. She is a grad student at George Washington AND works at the Japanese Embassy, which is pretty cool, no?

The plan was to meet her around DuPont Circle, where one can find many shops and eateries. Our trusty global positioning system got us there, but it failed to give me two vital pieces of guidance: how to navigate a multi-circle roundabout and how to find parking during one of the busiest times of day. There must have been a better option than the one on which we settled (paying $15 to park in a garage for 2 hours), but at least none of our luggage was stolen while we were eating lunch. Small blessings.

Lunch was at a Turkish tapas restaurant on P St., just off the Circle, called Ezme. I know, the words Turkish and tapas seem incongruous. Just think "small sharing plates." I got a dish I have been craving for two years, ever since I went to Turkey: Iskender.

This little beauty is a combination of lamb and veal covered in tomato sauce, sitting on a bed of bread cubes. The white stuff on the side is a Turkish yogurt that you mix in with the meat and tomato sauce. The bread soaks up all the deliciousness, thereby intensifying the flavors. Try it. Is good.

We were going to do some site-seeing* after lunch, but after driving approx. 24 hours over 5 days, would you really be in the mood to look at a giant phallic symbol? Well, maybe you would. We weren't. Plus all the traffic. Oy, what a headache.

*Autocorrect told me to spell this word "sightseeing." Google confirmed this, but I think it is dumb. You are seeing sites, as in "places." To say that you are seeing sights, as in "things you see," is redundant.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

W&L Football

I'm in Winchester, TN today, visiting the Boyfriend. Around 11:30 this morning we headed up the mountain to Sewanee (University of the South), where the Washington and Lee Generals were taking on the Sewanee Tigers. We hit up the bar at the W&L Alumni tailgate (of course) before kick-off at 1.

I'm sorry to say the game wasn't terribly exciting because we were beating Sewanee so soundly. The score was 3-27 five minutes into the third quarter. And it was hot. So we trusted our Generals to finish the job and we went to the local soda fountain for Bloody Martys. A Bloody Marty, for those who think I just mistyped Bloody Mary, is a non-alcoholic beverage consisting of lemonade, grenadine, and possibility some other, currently secret, ingredient.

Also I bought some greeting cards. A good day, indeed!

Journey to Gainesville (GA)

The Great Roadtrip 2010 kicked off Thursday when I drove 8 hours from the middle of Florida to Gainesville, GA, the home of Brenau University. The road was long and the drive was taxing, but I made it, aided by my trusty iPod and an 11-hour playlist I made on Wednesday night.

Upon arriving at Brenau I was given a campus tour by a dear friend who attends the University (I won't name her here in case she wants to retain her web anonymity). Gainesville, GA is a nice mid-sized town that boasts a Five Guys AND a Publix, two things I don't think I can live without (though I did, living in small-town VA for four years). We ate dinner at a restaurant called Pastability, so I invite my more punny readers to see what you can do with that one.

Friday morning, my hostess took me to Lake Lanier, a favorite hangout of hers, where we sat and watched geese:

The geese flew off after a while, but then ducks arrived looking to be fed, the panhandlers. We had nothing to give besides spearmint Tic-Tacs. They might have revolted then, taking their revenge for our lack of preparation had it not been for a bread-wielding family that arrived just in time. After that, the place turned into Bird-o-Palooza. The geese came back from the other side of the lake, and ducks flocked from who knows where, including
a huge mallard we dubbed "King Duck." We had a little trouble deciding on a fitting appellation for him; candidates included Maynard and Stefan the Terrible. Any other suggestions? Sadly, I don't have a picture. One does not photograph the king without his permission.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The start of a new bout of travel

Hello, friends! It has been a while since I posted, and for that, I apologize. It has been a busy couple of weeks, but now I'm back to announce the beginning of a new adventure!

Starting tomorrow I will be traveling up to Lexington, VA by way of Gainesville, GA, Winchester/Sewanee, TN, Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC. I hope to have some interesting and exciting adventures in each of those places, so stay tuned for Road Trip 2010, as it will now be called.

Also, in the coming days, be on the lookout for a post regarding Harry Potter Land, which I have now visited TWICE and can speak about with great authority. There may also be Dublin and Legoland posts to look forward to.

So really this whole post, thus far, is just a teaser of things to come, but by announcing that I will be writing these posts, I am prohibited from procrastinating. School is back in session, and since academia has long been the motivating force behind my productivity, it's about time I give myself some homework.

Speaking of homework, a couple of weeks ago I recommended a few books that I think everyone should read. I, of course, have already read them all, but recommending them made me want to revisit a few of my favorites. Right now I am 300 pages deep in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. The last time I read this fantastic book was the summer before I began college. In fact, I remember finishing it as my parents and I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the very first time. How fitting, then, that I should read it again as my undergraduate journey comes to a definite close. Indeed, I am still reading it as I prepare to return to W&L as an alumna. As I mentioned in that recommendation, this book made me want to be an architect until I realized that it was the literature that gave me that feeling, which is when I shifted my focus to English and never looked back. As I read it for the second time, I am imagining my future as an English professor, teaching this amazing piece of fiction to eager, young literary enthusiasts.

The first half of the book is now heavily steeped in green ink, and I have a mental checklist of discussion points growing ever longer. The joy I'm getting from this exercise calls to mind a story my mother tells of how my uncle decided to become a professor after having spent years in promotional product sales: he was asked what job he would be willing to do for free. When you find that thing that you love so much you would do it for free, you know you've found the career for you. And let me tell you, after three, long jobless months of vague uncertainty about the future, that kind of discovery is very welcome indeed. Actually, it's also one of the themes of The Fountainhead: doing what you love, regardless of what other people think you should do and even if you can't get paid for it right away. Rand says that choosing a career you love is dangerous because people will see that love and try to take it away from you. Maybe I have a little more faith in humanity than she did, but to be fair, she grew up in communist Russia, and that's bound to make anyone a little cynical. Anyway, I've got a long way to go before I actually become a professor, and I'm still not quite ready to go back to grad school, but I now know for certain that I will go back, and I will enjoy it when I do.