Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meet Dave Eggers

As you may know, I am a member of the Book Club Bloggers group.  A deadbeat member, admittedly... however, I DID finish March's book so this lonely post will soon have a friend.
Charlotte kindly bestowed upon me the honor of picking April's read and no surprise to those that know me, I've chosen A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

I've been trying to compose this post in my head for weeks now... Do I assume people are going to read it or do I need to sell it?  Do I apologize for the length?  Do I tell why I think it's a groundbreaking piece?

But I finally decided to go with an introduction to the author.  A memoir is definitively more interesting if you have heard of the subject before.  For those of you who haven't heard of Dave Eggers, you may have.

Allow me to explain... He's kinda like a spider....
Fame-wise, he's a bit small and maybe can go unnoticed but that man has so many projects going on it's like he has 8 arms.

Have you ever been perusing the magazine aisle and come across this one?
He founded that.

When scrolling through movies to rent, have you seen this lil' ol' flick staring at you? (Yes, that's Jim from The Office!)?
He and his wife wrote that (loosely based on their life). 

Here's a fun one...

Speaking of books, he's written just about every type!

To top it off, he's quite the philanthropist.... all the proceeds from Zeitoun (the real life story of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina) go to the victims in New Orleans.  All the proceeds from What Is the What (the true story of one of the Sudanese 'Lost Boys')  go to help other Sudanese refugees.  Both books, by the way, are being made into films.
But wait, there's more! 
He created a non-profit after-school program for inner city kids to get help with writing and other subjects. Called 826 Valencia, it has since spread to 6 cities.  You can hear more about it in his acceptance speech for winning the TED talk prize.... Yes, that's right, he was on TED Talks! You KNOW how I feel about TED Talks! :)  Dave and the kids in 826 Valencia put out that series, The Best American Nonrequired reading.

I could go on and on about other projects he's had a hand in, how cool he was in person when I met him, how I have bought over 12 copies of A Heartbreaking Work (but only have 3 in my possession due to lending out and giving away....) but I'm going to stop now so as not to overwhelm you.  I'm really excited to hear what everyone thinks of April's book!

bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hodge-Podge

I recently went sailing for the first time!
 This post is a total hodge-podge so I broke it down by sections for ya!  You're welcome.

Grad school:
As SOON as I got back to my apartment after making the big where-to-go-for-grad-school decision, I started packing up.  I kid you not.  I'm probably not moving until August but I threw away, recycled and donated entire boxes of stuff already.  It's like reverse-nesting.  When I related this to a friend, she noted that this behavior is unsurprising given that I've been basically holding my breath for the last 2 months waiting to find out where I'm going to spend a good portion of my life.  Two months?  Heck, it's been about 14 months now that haven't known where I'll be living for an extended period of time.  The last time I felt secure was when I lived in upstate NY in January 2010.  Now I know where I'll be for the next FIVE years.  Five. It's unthinkable.  I've never lived ANYWHERE for five years.  This security is starting to creep into every aspect of my life.  I have more energy, I'm smiling more, I'm singing in the stairwell at work, I'm taking LUNCH BREAKS (which = 'wasting an hour's worth of work' to me a few weeks ago).  Goodness.

Baby shoot:
Thanks for all the positive feedback on the baby photos!  I can't take full artistic credit though... when I showed up, Michelle had a really good idea of what she wanted.  She showed me pictures from other shoots that she was particularly drawn to, which I really appreciated.  It makes my job easy when I know what my client/friend wants.

Thought-of-the-day:
 A phoenix is just the manly equivalent of the butterfly metaphor.

BAD work story:
So much for those 9 double-egg yolks in a row... My boss works a lot from home and so when she IS in the lab, her time is precious and spread thin between my coworkers and I.  We're all in a constant battle over the eye-tracker as well since the machine is needed for each of our experiments.  So I was really excited to finally finish out my first round of data on her.  When I sat down to analyze it this afternoon, I found I'd saved it wrong (read: not at all...  I saved just ONE out of every 104 trials).   "Here nice boss lady, you stand right here and I'll just FLUSH your three-weeks-worth of data-time down the toilet. KThxBye!"

GOOD work story:
Today, I was a subject for an EEG experiment.  That's where they put a ton of electrodes all over your sopping-wet scalp and read your thoughts.  Kinda.  Anyways, so, in EEG studies, every so often they need to check to make sure all the brain waves are still being picked up by the machine (the waves can drop off for many reasons.... the electrode not being firmly on your head, your hair drying, etc).  The experimenter today was a french guy and when he says, "I need to check your impedance" it sounds exactly like "I need to check your impotence."  I chuckled to myself, not planning on saying anything until I realized that he has outside subjects (people not from our work, who don't know the lingo) and thus, probably shouldn't be unnecessarily frightening them with talk of their sexual dysfunction as he advances with a bucket of soapy water and an eyedropper.

Good to know:
Don't put eggshells down a garbage disposal.

Links:
Finally!  Humanity has reached its' pinnacle of civilization!  See exhibit A.
Check it out- my dad blogged about corporal punishment at his British boarding school (aka: Harry Potter land).

Your opinion, plz:
Does it drive anyone else nuts that you can't respond to individual comments on here?  I want to reply to each and every thought you guys leave but I never know if I should put that reply on my own blog post (where it may never be checked by the person I'm answering) or on the blog of the person who commented (where it's wildly out of place with whatever the topic they're writing about is).  What do you guys do?

Over and out!

P.S. Happy New Mountain Goats Out Today Day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eggs, hair and babies

...creepiest title ever.

Speaking of creepy, remember my lil' rant about getting 4 doubled-yolked eggs in a row?  Well, that was piddly-winks.  Now it's up to 9 IN A ROW (13 out of 15 total).  Between 2 cartons. 
EVIDENCE
 Is this a newbie chicken as Paige's comment may indicate or is there some weird pollutant in the air? 

Speaking of air, I mean hair, Brutharrr cut his today! 
Before...

And after!
Isn't he good lookin'?

Speaking of good lookin'.... Remember this pregger's photoshoot?  Well, just a week (plus a few days) after those photos were taken, her wee one was born!  Yesterday, I had the ridiculously good fortune to get to visit the lil' bear...
Photo by Michelle
Here are some of my favorite shots from the visit...
Lil' baby feet...

Lil' baby hands....
Moment with mama...

Moment with papa...

and, finally, NO MORE PICTURES!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

That is all...

I just got The Sims Medieval.  Goodbye social life, goodbye.....
Furthermore, I also just got 4 double-yolked eggs in a row.  That's gotta mean SOMETHING* right?!

That is all...

EDIT: But it can't really be 'lucky' for someone who only eats the whites right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Done!

Oh the agony of the decision process!  Many sleepless nights I tossed and turned judging each school on the research I would be involved in, the mentor I would be working with, the location, funding, fellow students, expectations and reputation.   Logically, it was hard because I had offers from many fantastic programs but in the end, I knew where my heart wanted to go for the next 5 (or 6) years.

On Saturday, I asked my brutharr - seeing as he is my best friend and all - if he'd do me the honor of helping me take the next step towards my future... officially accepting my graduate school of choice!

He did me one better, accidentally clicking 'accept' himself!
Ahaha! I love you, Brutharrr!!!!
So, now's the part where I say where I'm going right?  But it feels weird.  Like it's giving too much information to potential weirdos.  Not any of you, my followers.  I feel like I know most of you (and I'm sure I'd like those of you I don't know as well).  It's the random people that stumble across my blog.  Do any of you deal with this?  My mom has been very good about filtering how much information about the littles I can post but as for myself, I have to be the judge.
So, I'm interested to hear your thoughts!  Have you held back on posting stuff that pinpoints who/where you are?  Or did you just figure you'd be giving up privacy by entering the blog world and posting about your life?
Maybe I'll say where I'm going in a future post, but for now, if you want to know, email me at RachLovesYou (at) gmail.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Faja

Happy first day of spring!  And, more importantly, happy birthday Dad!
Chillin' at Chili's

Today's message at church was on hospitality.  It was perfectly timed.  The sermon could have been called, "Tom, the Legacy."  My dad has many, many wonderful qualities to him, including...
1) His sense of humor... Oh the pranks growing up
2) SUPPORT... Only he could be there for me so much that last week, when MY CAR CAUGHT FIRE- with me inside! - it turned into a great day with my dad
3) and amazing story-telling ability... Some of my best memories of being out with my friends have been of everyone else sitting around with their mouths hanging open with me prompting, "Now tell the one about ---" each time he stopped for a breath.

But I digress, as I was saying, one thing that makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest (aside from his 6'3" frame, har har) is his hospitality. 

Perhaps, oddly, this is best illustrated with his dog Phoebe.  (Sidenote: Before I got to know her, I considered her my dog as well... In fact, on that note, before I got to know her, I considered myself a dog person).  About 60% of his stories that my friends sit around gaping at these days are the tales of Phoebe's horror.  She is truly something else.

Often my brother and I wonder why he hasn't given her away yet.  But not only has he not given her away, he really loves her. Like, really loves her.  He is so sweet and kind to that dog.  And each time she does something awful, after I get really fed up, I eventually calm down and realize that the part of him which puts up with this poor pathetic creature (on top of everything, she's got some weird eye dysfunction that requires extensive care he willingly provides day after day) is the very same part that puts up with us.  With everyone else.  With me.  He gives and gives and loves and loves.  That's just how it is.  How HE is.  Even to a dog I think is less-than-deserving of his love.  And isn't that the perfect picture of how God loves us?  That's right, Dad - on your birthday, I drew a parallel between the way you love and the way God loves.  Go ahead, be flattered.
Just like the good ol' days.
Sorry for the washed-outed-ness of the photo.  It looked far better on the phone.  (photo by Brutharrr)

So, happy birthday Pops.  I love you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Revenge Soup

 This is my adaptation of an amazing, magical soup originally linked to from Chelsea's blog (one of her weekly surfs, I do believe). 

You can find other variations if you search Pumpkin Pie in a Bowl.  My version has less ingredients because I believe the simpler, the better.   Haha, just kidding.  I'm lazy.
Aside from having to bake the butternut squash (to soften it if you're not using a food processor), this takes roughly... 3.5 minutes to make.

The moniker I chose to bestow upon it is because like revenge, this is a dish best served cold.  The flavors are waaaay stronger.
Ingredients for 1.8 cups*:

*NOTE: this amount is a generous serving for one or a small appetizer for two.  I quintupled it.

***Edit: The proportions are wrong in the above picture.  It should be 5:1 as in 5 cups of butternut squash and 5 cups of carrot juice for 1 avocado***

Step -1: Bake the squash for 35 min at 350 degrees if you have a weenie ol' blender.
Step 1: Put squash, avocado, carrot juice and pumpkin pie spice in blender.
Step 2: Go nuts.
Step 3: Serve.

(Additional ingredients: pitted dates, sweet potato instead of squash, honey, coconut milk... I'm sure there are lots of others.  If you have suggestions, you should leave 'em in the comments!)
This would be SOOOO amazing for Thanksgiving.  As a vegetarian, there's less for me to gorge myself on.  I think I've found my match.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

two heads are better than one

Is there anything more flattering than being the subject of someone's art (unless of course, you're Barack Obama)?  How about being the subject of TWO people's art?
Remember Michelle?  From the pregger's photoshoot?  Well she's not only naturally photogenic and going to be a wonderful mom but she's also an amazing, amazing artist.  She gave me this charcoal portrait of me as a belated Christmas gift.
The very next day, my dear friend Steven (the very same Steven who did this superb painting) asked me to sit still for a spell.  I willingly obliged and he churned out this magnificent piece of art.
Do I have the most talented friends or what? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Check and check

I don't know about you but I like my lists to have a good mix of long term aspirations, easy-peasy goals and at least one thing I've already completed just to be able to check something off right away.

I made this list way back in October....
Feels good to finally be able to check something off.  Guess that's a sign I should have had a few more easy goals on there.
One more interview to go. 
And a birthday. :) 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Preggers Photoshoot

My lovely friend Michelle let me photograph her this weekend in all her preggers glory...

She was such a good sport, hiking up to some old mineshaft, laying on her back (even though it's painful) and coming up with ideas for photos.  Like these two:

And this one...

I much prefer capturing the spirit of the moment than posing people so when my subjects are naturally photogenic and don't need much directing, it makes my day.
These two have been SO excited for their little boy.  Like kids in a candy store.  For 8 1/2 months.  It's amazing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reunited

I recently got to go to  a reunion for my high school track and field team.  I hadn't seen some of those people in 8 years!
Despite taking highway 5 (not my first choice... in fact, I once promised myself I'd never drive it again in my whole life), it was a pretty drive.  The winter is pretty much the only time this drive IS pretty, in fact.  Silly California.
Isn't it sad that the bottom picture looks gorgeous to me because it reminds me of a desktop background? Minus the cars of course.

Freshly shorn...

This is what I wore to my reunion.  Not very exciting.  Nor are my attempts at bathroom-photo taking.  How do you other ladies do it?!  I was too much of a weenie to go outside for photos though...

FOOD PICS!!!
My breakfast...

My friend's brownie (delicious, I tried it)...

Other friend's creme brulee (even more delicious)...
Speaking of delicious, this month's mix is up!  That genius brutharrr of mine made a relationship compilation!  He started with songs about early infatuation, worked through songs about the problem aspects of a relationship, then, the break up and finally, the getting over part.  Go check it out, it's amazing.

Also on the exciting list, a new month = a new read for book club! Check it out at The Daily Snapshot. Charlotte was kind enough to post the next two month's books to give you a headstart.  That's one smart cookie, I tell ya! 

I was trying to quickly explain how to use my camera to a friend so he could take a picture of my coach and I.  He prematurely snapped this beauty....
Haha.  I'll leave you with that.