Monthly Archives: August 2013

I Have A Dream

August 28, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. His daring vision for the future has either come true or not come true, depending on who you are and where you live.

Fifty years is a long time (or a short time, depending on the quality of your life and your general outlook on it). A lot can happen – and has, over and over again. And it’s probably only going to get worse from here on.

If you’re older than 25, you probably have feelings about technology and how it’s hurting today’s interpersonal communication. You might worry about what we’re doing to the environment and the polar ice caps. If you’re older than 80, you might even draw unpleasant parallels between these times and the 1930s. From vaccinations to pesticides to mortgages to the apocalypse, there are things to worry about every day.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will get itself out of the recession we are in, and there will be annual raises and holiday bonuses and comfortable living for all – even those who work at a nonprofit. That 20-somethings who graduated with student debt will still have to work hard and set their sights to pay it back, but that paying it back will, in fact, be possible. That there won’t be so many stories reporting that parents can’t afford to buy diapers for their children. That people right and left won’t lose their houses. That people can actually afford houses in the first place.

I have a dream that we’ll all drive electric cars and there won’t be gas stations on every corner, and we won’t drive 15 miles out of the way to pay $.04 less per gallon (which doesn’t really make sense, you guys). That smog will go away, and there won’t be videos of polar bears swimming around in the Arctic Ocean because all the ice caps are melting. We’ll somehow clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and we won’t ever let anything that crazy happen again. There won’t be any more Dawn commercials of cleaning oil off of baby ducks, because that will just be a sad thing that used to happen, but don’t worry, we put a stop to that.

I have a dream that even as technology marches on and everyone gets more attached to their devices (yes, I’m guilty too), we won’t forget to sometimes stop and put down our phones and look each other in the eyes and have an actual conversation. And we will remember to tell our kids that they can’t watch any more TV right now and they have to go outside and build a fort or pretend to be pioneers or fall out of a tree or something (low branches only please). And sometimes the cable will go out and we don’t have any TV or wireless internet, so we’ll all sit together and play Scrabble or tell stories or sing songs or something. Yeah, it’s quaint, but it’s my dream.

This is my hope for the next 50 years. This is my belief, which counteracts the worry. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of peace and brotherhood.

(Thanks to MLKJ, and I know you’re a cool enough guy that you won’t mind the liberties I’ve taken with your elegant words.)

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Why the 7-Eleven clerk thinks I’m a shoplifter

When I told Drew I was going out and asked him if he wanted anything, and he told me he just wanted a regular Snapple iced tea, I thought it would be easy. But Target didn’t sell Snapple iced tea – Target didn’t sell any single Snapples. They only had 8-packs of Kiwi-Strawberry and Cranberry-Raspberry.

After Target, I went to Dinosaurs to pick up sandwiches for dinner…but all they had in the way of beverages were Mexican Cokes and a fountain soda machine. B and I walked over to the little grocery store nearby, which did have diet Snapple iced tea, so I bought one, just in case, and also a Henry Weinhard root beer because it sounded good. I put these into the same bag with the sandwiches, and B and I headed back home.

I decided at the last minute to stop at the 7-Eleven to see if they had Snapple. They had one left, so I grabbed it from the case. But all I had was a card, no cash, and so to make it seem more worthwhile, I also got a small sugar-free green slurpee.

Inexplicably, there was a long line, and I stood there, balancing a heavy bag of Vietnamese sandwiches and 2 glass-bottled beverages in one hand, a Snapple and a slurpee in the other hand, with a 25-lb baby strapped to my chest. At one point, B got his hands on the straw in the slurpee and flipped green slush onto his face and down the front of my shirt.

Right after that, the guy in front of me left the counter, and as I stepped up to it, the spreading wet spot (from the cold, condensation-covered glass bottles) on the paper bag I was holding gave out, and the diet Snapple slipped out and hit the floor. Normally, I would have just stooped down and grabbed it, or maybe it would never have happened in the first place, but the baby strapped to me makes it hard to quickly squat down, and so I stood there for a minute.

I thought I was mildly exasperated, but the clerk may have read it as guilty.

“What was that?” she asked, as the girl behind me picked up the diet Snapple for me. I thanked her.

“And what’s all this?” the clerk asked, gesturing to the bag.

“That’s stuff I’ve bought elsewhere,” I said. She was already ringing up the diet Snapple. “Oh, that’s not from here…only these things–” (gesturing) “–are from here.”

She looked at me doubtfully. I offered her the receipt from the grocery store. She didn’t take it. I hightailed it out of there.

So maybe she doesn’t still think I’m a shoplifter. But, she didn’t offer me a bag (which would have been helpful, given that my bag clearly had a giant hole in it). So there may still be some hard feelings.

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Filed under "Other people", Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome

Throwback Thursday: Engineering

For the most part, I’m useless with fixing things. In particular, I think of how helpless I am whenever my computer or my car starts to show problems. I can put oil or windshield washer fluid in the car, I know generally where things are under the hood; and with my laptop…I’m a master of Ctrl-Alt-Del and I know how to remove the battery, I guess?

But sometimes something just clicks for me. One such instance is when our Baby Einstein Nautical Octopus suddenly stopped playing music. Unlike almost every other Baby Einstein product, this one has no easy access to the battery pack. So this broken octopus just got moved around the living room, back and forth, for months, until finally, inspired by the physical presence of my parents and my desire to show what a capable, initiative-taking mom I am, I decided to Do Something About It.

I used a seam ripper (owns a seam ripper, +5 pts; knows where it is, +5 pts) to cut open the underside of the octopus, and pulled out some of the fluff. When it became apparent that I couldn’t get the music box out of the opening I’d created, I used a pair of scissors to just chop up the rest of the underside (used clunky giant scissors for delicate surgery, -3 pts). I got the box out, found the right size screwdriver to open it up (+3 pts) and discovered that the octopus needed 3 watch batteries.

For a week or so, I looked for the right size batteries everywhere I went, but never found them. Finally I decided to check Amazon, where I found a 3-pack of LR44 batteries for $1.77 with free shipping (+10 pts for luck!).

Finally, on Tuesday morning, I got around to replacing the batteries, which didn’t immediately fix the problem. But I decided to see this project through to the end, so I stitched up the octopus, held my breath, and pulled the purple fish cord…

…and it erupted into bubbles! And then, when I did it again, into nautical-themed music! And then bubbles again! And then different music!

octopus 1

Recovering from surgery

octopus 2

Reunited and it feels so good

==

The throwback aspect of this post is that this reminds me of a time back in 2003 when I lived in the dorms, and I had to Save the Day.

Some friends and I went to the local movie rental place and picked up a VHS copy of Orgazmo, a 1997 film by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park. We got it back to our dorm room, where we had already borrowed the TV and VCR from our RA (my roomie and I didn’t have one of either). It had been quite a hassle to move it down the hall, so this was kind of a special night for us.

But when we tried to play the tape, it just whirred and whined. And when we popped it out, the film inside was twisted around one of the reels. But on the outside of the tape, there was a sticker across the seam, so that if you opened up the case, They would know, and then They could fine you.

But then in a flash of brilliance, I realized that I could just take out the screws, crack open the tape like a clamshell, keeping the sticker firmly attached to each side of the opened case, and adjust the film.

Which I proceeded to do, proudly, while purporting modesty. I put the whole thing back together and we popped it in the VCR, and then we enjoyed 95 minutes of NC-17 comedy.

orgazmo collage

==

Ten years later…and I still have these Orgazmo pictures on my computer. Crazy.

Also, I’m still a freaking engineering genius.

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Typography: Round 2

Second attempt!

1. I emphasized the words that are actually important to the message.

2. I got rid of some of the white space between words.

3. I kept it to three fonts.

4. Fonts that don’t come standard with MS Word.*

goblet of fire typ color edit

*Fonts (in order of appearance):
Wonderland by jully1780
Hand of Sean by Nice and Ripe Ltd
Wednesday by bythebutterfly.com

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What’s In My Purse?

Apparently, “what’s in my purse?” is a thing. I mean, like, a YouTube/tumblr/Pinterest kind of thing. So last night I was cleaning out my purse and I thought, Hey, why not?

purse2
1. Star stickers! I just carry these around even though I never. ever. use. them. (I should figure out a way to use them.)

2. Sports Authority loyalty cards. I bought 2 baseball pitch counters there for work, accidentally signed up for an account, and then got promo emails from them practically every day for a month. I finally unsubscribed and last night, I finally finally threw out these cards.

3. Placecards (for Drew, B, and me) from Jocelyn and Kevin’s wedding!

4. Assorted feminine hygiene products. I can 100% promise you that I will eventually pull out one of these, when I’m looking for a pen, in front of the Artistic Director or something.

5. 1 stack of post-its; 1 rubber band.

6. 1 tin of Altoids smalls (cinnamon); 1 cinnamon-caramel Worthers (sugar free) (I ate it this afternoon)

7. 1 fancy ladies’ hook so I can hang my purse from the table and not have to set it on a bar floor. Might come in handy if I ever went to a bar. (Fun fact: I was given this for Christmas in 2009, in my first round of working at TW.)

8. 3 button batteries from a Baby Einstein Maritime Octopus. The octopus stopped playing music, so I ripped out the seams to get to the music box, in the hopes that if I replace the batteries it will work again. Why wouldn’t they make it easy to get to? (PS. The batteries were 3 for $1.17 on Amazon.)

9. Assorted Sharpies and other pens. (The ones I will be going for when I humiliate myself in front of senior members of my company.)

10. Headphones! I suddenly can’t live without these, from listening to my audiobook on my commute, to talking on the phone hands free, to music at the gym.

11. My planner, still opened to Memorial Day weekend. For some reason I just don’t find myself as dependent on it anymore.
11a. Birthday card from JA!

12. Giant wad of keys.

13. Annex to giant wad of keys (Drew’s grandma’s house keys)

14. Baby powder for those days when I think my hair is “clean enough” but I’m terribly wrong and my bangs show it.

Not pictured: pile of old paycheck stubs; pile of trash; 2 letters marked “return to sender,” 1/2 of a…crayon? How on earth would that get in there?

…I’m guessing this whole “What’s in my purse?” thing is more interesting when Beyoncé or Kate Middleton or someone does it.

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Typography: Round 1

I’ve been fascinated by typography for awhile now. I think because I’m not really an artist, but this is a form of art that incorporates words, so I feel like it’s more up my alley. But it’s still art, and so it’s still intimidating.

So I’ve been really wanting to try it, but I just had no idea where to start. I kept thinking this would be a good subject for a class. If I wanted to take a class, and I had the time and the money and the energy. I looked up Intro to Typography books on Amazon, but I didn’t order any. I pushed “typography thing” down and down on my to-do list, and then eventually moved it onto my “Long-Term To Do” list.

And then, this summer, surprise! A bunch of my friends’ babies starting turning 1. And I thought I should make something to commemorate the occasion. I missed a couple birthdays, and then I realized that my next friend with the birthday baby was an actual GRAPHIC DESIGNER, so she probably wouldn’t want something that I had cobbled together as a first try.

So I decided to just Make Something, and it could be a general, out-in-the-universe, Happy First Birthday to All the Babies.

This is what I made.

HHS typography edit

Afterwards, I looked at it and saw – off the top of my head – several things that I would change. But I showed it to my friends anyway. And they were (of course) positive and encouraging and full of constructive criticism. I am eager to take another swing at this thing.

When I look at this, I see a first attempt filled with rookie mistakes. (And surely lots of mistakes that I can’t even see.) (Yet.)

But mostly I see a leap that I’ve been pondering for ages, into an unknown and exciting new territory.

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Throwback Thursday: Memoir

I pulled this gem off my old LiveJournal. I’m actually surprised (but very grateful) that I still remember the password.

This is from August 5, 2005. I’m really working hard to restrain from editing. (Oh, and as far as I can tell, the title means nothing but was probably the angstiest word in the song I was listening to at that exact moment.) Enjoy!

==

COLLAPSE

I have been at UC Davis for three years, and the number of things that I have exclaimed “Yes, let’s do that!” and then never done is astounding. Here is a brief list of examples:

1. Run through the maize maze (Woodland?) in the fall.
2. Gone, with any sort of regularity, to the Farmer’s Market. (And “But it’s SATURDAY MORNING” is no longer an excuse, as they have Wednesday evening FMs for which I know I am awake.)
3. Mini-golfing…Scandia…Sacramento…wherever.
4. The Davis Public Library: If I’m missin The Babysitters Club, they’re only a couple blocks away.
5. The MU Games Area.

Until tonight.

A bunch of us went to go bowling. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, it’s fun, it’s not too athletic (heaven forbid we do something cardio), and we all claimed to be bad at it. (Which was a huge lie, be careful of Drew, he will try to hustle you, but he’s bad at hustling.)

As far as I can see, bowling is bowling (*unless it’s $1.35/game and $.85/shoes*) and I thought it was all going to be very…familiar. Bowling. Ugly shoes and socks with shorts (what else could possibly be hotter?), and people watching your back, golf clapping for you whenever you turn back around but secretly chanting “gutter ball!” to themselves.

HOWEVER, UC Davis, well-known for several things, cows and a ginormous library being not the least of them, also features a “Rockin’ Bowl” to put all other “Rockin’ Bowl”s to shame.*

*Note: Writer has never actually been to any Rockin’ Bowls, nor does she know whether the term is “Rockin’ Bowl” or “Rock & Bowl,” but frankly, neither does she particularly care, and if you are still reading this, maybe you should just marry editing if you love it so much.*

So it seems to me that “Rockin’ Bowl” is made up of 4 main components. I will go through these for anyone who is unlucky enough to have never experienced the majesty.

#1. The music. Already loud when you walk in, and louder when you descend into the bowling pit, I mean area, it is turned up by a kid who can’t be older than 18 who tight-rope-walks down someone’s gutter to crank up the volume on the speakers sitting mid-lane. The number of times this exchange occurred is more than I want to remember:

*something unimportant*
“What?”
*repeat something unimportant*
“What?”
*repeat something unimportant, again, and louder, and also in a slightly embarrassed tone*
“What?”
“Never mind, it wasn’t that funny.”
“WHAT?”
“NEVER MIND!”

Then both parties would pretend to have heard the other, and that bit of conversation would be over.

Oh the glory.

#2. The music videos. Four large projection screens plummet from the heavens, and for the next…I don’t know how long it lasts. From then on, music videos are played on these screens. Music videos for songs whose names I only vaguely recognize. Music videos that are not nearly as clever as Britney Spears’ “Lucky” or Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around.” Music videos with angsty-looking men whose voices remind me sort of Phish, except I’m not thinking of these men as fondly as I think of Phish.

If I wanted to watch music videos, I would have been sitting at home whining about not having MTV. Or I would be going to Erin’s gym to “work out” and watch TV. It would not have occurred to me to go to Rockin’ Bowl at the UCDMU Games Area.

#3. The lights. Strobe and disco, namely. As soon as the fluorescents dimmed and the colored lights began to spin and I began to think about maybe getting a headache, I was also transferred immediately back in time to high school dances. (Probably more middle school, honestly, because in high school I went to 1 dance that was not a prom or formal (neither of which seemed to feature strobe lights to the degree of your everyday school dance), and I left that 1 dance pretty early.) So, middle school dances. So why was my impulse, on the strobe lights, to make out with someone? I was definitely not doing that in middle school.

Hold up, I wasn’t doing that in high school, either.

#4 and finally. The fog. I didn’t notice it for awhile (or maybe it didn’t get going until a little bit after the lights, etc., made their appearance on the scene), but once I did, I was transported to the backstage area of the Mondavi Center, kneeling on the ground, with my head in the Coke machine, filling it with fog so that the guy who played Eddie could trip over me to get in it before all the fog drifted out and we missed his entrance.

It’s funny that I “hated” Rocky Horror so much while it was going on, but now I can totally look back fondly and think “Awwww. Backstage at Mondavi, dressed up with Katie and Tyler and Eric. How cute. And foggy.”

So while, for a minute or two, I was thinking to myself, “Man, I suck at bowling…good thing I’m good at mini-golf,” I spent some time post-our-game checking out the other people playing, and I realized that most people are not that good. Except for this one girl who got three strikes in a row, I saw on her screen. There was a little cartoon of bowling-pin Caesar in a chariot. But I digress. I don’t think that the UC Davis Memorial Union Games Area is the place to be super-concerned about your bowling skillz. (I am, frankly, more worried about my inability to write “skills” instead of “skillz.”)

So all in all, I guess I learned a good lesson tonight.

And that lesson is, remember to bring socks so I don’t have to wear socks that I find in the backseat of the car, socks that dump sand everywhere when I turn them right-side-out.

Oh, and I also learned not to stress about my bowling abilities.

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Being a girl, Drew, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment