Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the year

Some years I'd never want to live through again. 2007 wasn't one of those. I wouldn't mind living through it all again. Some damn good things happened in my life this year. What if 2008 turns out to be a dud?

I did end up going to the Sun Bowl game on the final day of the year. The weather was unbelievably warm, and Baby Bash performed at half-time. The second half turned out to be a disappointment. I was sitting next to some South Florida fans who left at the end of the third quarter. I don't blame them. I took some pictures of the game, which I'll probably be posting soon.

As for tonight, my invitation to a wild New Year's party got lost in the mail, so I'm probably going to change into my pajamas around 11 and watch the crystal ball drop and then go to bed. Geez, I am a boring person sometimes.

As an end to this post of randomness, this is a pretty cool CD.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New poll on the sidebar.


Here's how I did on last year's:
  • Eat less junk food - Not so much
  • Exercise more - Pretty much stayed constant, not more or less than last year
  • Practice piano more often - Nope, practiced less than last year
  • Write something cool - Two magazine articles, woo hoo
  • Be more observant - Nope, still a big unobservant dork about a lot of things
  • Read at least one great novel - East of Eden
  • Do more outdoors things - Unfortunately not
  • Make a career plan - *sighs* No
  • Learn Spanish - Does Italian count?

Two out of nine, not a great track record. Nevertheless, here's my set of resolutions for 2008:

  • Stop using emoticons
  • Eat spicy food more often
  • Stop using the words "you know" as nervous conversation-filler
  • Travel to a foreign country
  • Read another "great" book
  • Read a newspaper every day
  • Decide on a career (for real this time)
  • Pray more
  • Eat healthier food
  • Finish school
  • Do something totally unexpected

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Copy from products that I received as Christmas gifts

From a registration card that came with my Chia Pet Cuddly (a stuffed animal that looks like a Chia Pet)
In the interest of continuing research and development to improve our products, we would appreciate your taking a few minutes to answer the following questions.

5. If received as a gift, why did the giver chose a Chia Pet for you? (check all that apply)
I wanted a Chia Pet Cuddly
I like Chia Pets
I like stuffed animals
I like the animal this cuddly is

7. Please indicate which attributes of this Chia Pet Cuddly appeal to you
It is soft and cuddly
It sings the Chia song
It is like a Chia Pet, only softer
It is a nice size
It is cute
I like the the carrying case

The very existence of a registration card for a Chia Pet Cuddly is just hilarious to me.

Copy on the back of my new hairbrush, brand-name So Gelous (named for its plastic-gel handle)
Get ready to create a new you that others will envy with So Gelous Hot Round Straightening & Curling Brush. Great for creating curl or straightening hair, simply by using direct heat from a blow-dryer. It features Ion Infused bristles to minimize fly-away hair and an open vented pattern that makes blow-drying wet or dry hair easy, manageable and fast. Make your hair shiny, glossy, and most of all frizz free!

Yes! Frizz is indeed my enemy.

English-language translation of some Italian-language copy on the back of a tube of Mimosa Moisturizing Bath & Shower Cream (from an Italian company called Elaria)
Little velvety spheres of gold, emerge between the thin green leaves, gently vibrating to the breath of the first spring breezes. It is the Mimosa that whispers a sweet song and colors the landscape with brushstrokes of light and happiness. With its strong, supple branches and fleeting clusters of flowers, it evokes an intriguing and elusive woman, rich in inner strength. The essence of Mimosa is one of the world's most ancient perfumes and with its warm and joyful notes, it strokes the skin like a delicate ray of sun...

"Evokes an intriguing and elusive woman, rich in inner strength." A mysterious woman with values--nice concept, but it might be a lot to ask of a shower gel.

I can't believe that people are actually paid to write this stuff.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

TIME magazine chooses Vladimir Putin as its Person of the Year. Writes managing editor Richard Stengel (ever so eloquently, I might add):

TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership. Putin is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability—stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years. Whether he becomes more like the man for whom his grandfather prepared blinis—who himself was twice TIME's Person of the Year—or like Peter the Great, the historical figure he most admires; whether he proves to be a reformer or an autocrat who takes Russia back to an era of repression—this we will know only over the next decade. At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of world power. For that reason, Vladimir Putin is TIME's 2007 Person of the Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Winter vacation/Christmas

So it's great to be out of school, finally. Isn't it? I think it's great for the first week or so, as you rediscover the joys of sleeping late and watching movies during the afternoon. Then I'm like, OK, what now? I then become excessively aware of chores that need to be done, like cleaning the bathroom and washing the car, things I've neglected in the past month or so. Also, I remind myself of some schoolwork that needs to be completed over the break, tragic as that may sound. And a blog post or two may be in order, now that I have the time.

Tonight I helped my sister bake Christmas cookies. There's one Christmas tradition worth holding on to--pecan puffs, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and mini-muffins. Wow. I once heard someone say, "The best part of Christmas is the food." Well, I'm not exactly sure it's the best part, but surely one of the best. As I'm typing this, I'm surrounded by pretty Christmas decorations, courtesy of my mom. There's a beautiful Christmas tree in the living room in front of the window, garland above the fireplace, candles, red ribbons, and white Christmas lights. It's all very nice. Somehow it's very comforting, like a reminder that everything's going to be all right. There will be a time to be crazy busy again, but for now it's good to just be still and relaxed and grateful for what I have.
Speaking of Top 10 lists, there's a whole slew of them over on Check out the Top 10 underreported stories, books (nonfiction and fiction), breakups, buzzwords ("bacn" is a cool one), and quotes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chalk finally popped up on my Netflix queue, a few months after La Brown Girl recommended it. This is the funniest movie I've seen in a while, especially after my first semester teaching. I think it's also an interesting commentary on why so many new teachers quit during their first years of teaching (50 percent quit within the first three years, according to the film). If you like The Office-style mockumentary, you will love this movie.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 10 favorite lists, 2007

In keeping with the annual tradition I started last year, here are my Top 10 favorite lists for 2007. No, not all these works were released this year, but I did view or read them all this year. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Once again, the "classics" took a backseat to current and/or more lightweight stuff. I think I managed to read some interesting books this year, though.
Americanos (photo book) by Edward James Olmos, et al. - Lovely photos
The Assault on Reason by Al Gore - Al Gore = my hero
A Mighty Heart by Marianne Pearl - Great
C.S. Lewis by A.N. Wilson - Amazingly interesting bio of the writer
East of Eden by John Steinbeck - A true classic
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - I joined every Oprah-watching, book-reading woman in America in reading this book this year.
Harry Potter, Books 5-7 - Got swept up in Potter mania this summer.
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner - Love anything by her
Love Monkey by Kyle Smith/About a Boy by Nick Hornby/High Fidelity by Nick Hornby/ (in order of how much I enjoyed them) -Aren't these all the same book? I think I've read enough about the male mind. Not encouraging.
The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston - Fascinating study of women's gender roles

Action movies are clearly not my cup of tea.
Becoming Jane
Knocked Up - Funny and true-to-life; love when they find Paul Rudd at the baseball club
The Lives of Others - Excellent
The Lookout
Marie Antoinette - Pretty to look at and surprisingly poignant
Michael Clayton
The Queen
Ratatouille - So cute
Russian Dolls
Classics: The Commitments, Fandango, Ghost World, Labyrinth - Rent these!

This is the most current of the music I listened to this year, amid the oceans of classic rock. I never thought I'd like any song by Fergie, but I have been proved wrong.
"Apologize" by Timbaland - Check out the video
Augustana (in concert) - Ah, "Boston."
"Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie
"I've Got a Feeling" by Ivy - As heard on "Felicity"
Self-titled album by Corinne Bailey Rae
Shiny Toy Guns (in concert)
"The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani
"Sweetest Girl" by Wyclef Jean - Lyrics questionable, but I like the chorus.
Two fantastic older pop albums:
Everything's Different Now by Til Tuesday
Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too by the New Radicals
Eternal classic:
Chopin: Favorite Works interpreted by Vladimir Ashkenazy - Probably the thing I listened to most this year. Good music for reading or doing homework.

Lousy year for TV. Writer's strike and who has time, anyway? Oh well, there were a few things...
The Daily Show
Europe with Samantha Brown - Ooh, Europe.
Grey's Anatomy - Entertaining, if nothing else.
Mad Men - This is cheating, since I only watched half of two episodes. But the attempt to recreate the (non-PC) attitudes of the 1960s seemed pretty daring.
The Office
Planet Earth - Whoa.
Prime Suspect on DVD - So hooked on this series; Helen Mirren is amazing.
Real Time with Bill Maher
Top Chef

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interesting article about attempting to recruit El Paso expatriates back to the city. Check out this survey if you are an ex-El Pasoan.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My lunch on Thursday inspired the new poll on the sidebar.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My first (and possibly only) Christmas card of '07

Thanks, Stu!
I miss The Tonight Show. Stupid writers' strike. Can't they just work it out already?

Actually, I think I'm about 20 percent more productive now that it's all reruns.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Snow pictures

As promised, pictures of the snow on Thanksgiving weekend:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A great moment

Yay, I think I finally finished the paper I have been working on since the beginning of the semester. I am strangely satisfied with these 17 pages. Now I have to make peace with the fact that only one person besides myself is going to read it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm a guest blogger!

My contribution to Stu's Review 2007 is up today over on feeling listless. Since the theme for this year's review is "Home," the post is about El Paso. It's the first time I've ever really written about this city in much detail. It was surprisingly emotional for me to write, since this city is so much a part of who I am. Anyway, go read it and see what you think.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's a rainy Saturday morning. Did I mention that I hate this weather? I have yet to find a good way to deal with the winter months. Hibernation would be ideal.

Last night I watched The Lives of Others. It's a great movie, though very different from what I thought it would be. More romantic, less political, I guess. I took German in high school so I could understand about 10 percent of it without reading the subtitles.