25 September 2007

tag, i'm it

I suppose you are not really a blogger until you have been tagged and have tagged in return. I was tagged by Catlin to list 8 quirks or habits or interesting facts about myself. Here goes:

I wear blue a lot. I don't mean to buy things in blue all the time but I seem drawn to it like a mosquito to a bug zapper. I usually am happy with what I bought, though, so perhaps the bug zapper analogy is not the best.

I am always leaving cupboards, drawers, and doors open. I have no idea I am doing this until I nearly (or actually) hit my head on an open overhead cupboard. On a related note, I am a little bit clutzy in the kitchen.

I ran a marathon once and I loved it. It was one of the best times I've ever had. I rarely run anymore. In fact most days when the thought of going for a run crosses my mind, I am left trying to imagine how I could ever have found it so enjoyable.

I'm a little bit of a grammar stickler. I at least think people with a Ph.D. should know the difference between their, they're and there, and should know when to use an apostrophe in "its." Sadly, many do not. My proofreading days at USU provided many sad tales of this kind.

My feet are almost always cold.

I am bothered by people and businesses who take advantage of vulnerable populations (Quik Cash places and door-to-door salesmen in impoverished neighborhoods, this means you).

I cannot eat a sandwich if it has condiments on it. Mustard? Icky. Mayo? Blech. I prefer the bread toasted, and if there are potato chips around, I'll stick a few between the meat and the cheese for extra crunchiness.

One of my silly aspirations is to write an essay for NPR's "This I Believe" series. I've actually started writing one several times, but I've never deemed any of my efforts good enough to make it past the first draft stage.

There it is - more about me than you ever wanted to know. I tag Melis, Tara, Amber, Brit, and Lisa. And Shay, who gets short break from intense studying now and (I'm sure) will want to spend his extra time blogging about himself. And anyone else who wants to play. Have fun!

21 September 2007

life's crucial questions answered

Yesterday, when person number two million and seventeen asked me, "So is Kansas as flat as they say it is?", I knew it was time to reference this article. Awhile ago I checked out this little book that professed to include 100 interesting things about Kansas. In truth, only about half of the tidbits kept my interest long enough for me to finish a particular section. Anyhow, it was through this book that I learned that there was an actual geographical study to determine if Kansas were flatter than a pancake. Science at its finest! Who funds such a study, I wonder?

You will just have to check out the article to discover the truth of the Kansas flatness matter.

18 September 2007

navigational errors

Utah may have some urban planning issues, but they were definitely on the right track with that whole streets-in-a-grid-system thing. If only the Lawrence founding fathers had been similarly inspired. I am still learning to find my way around town, and I actually managed to get a bit lost this weekend. It was most unfortunate. But what can I say? The layout of this town must have been patterned after a picture a preschooler drew on the wall with crayon. It makes very little sense. And the naming of streets? What is that about? Apparently it is about making some of us feel stupid. In downtown Lawrence, for example, many streets are named after states. The State Streets didn't seem to be arranged in any particular order until I was told by a native Kansan (and I quote): "It's actually not that hard to find your way around Lawrence if you keep in mind the order in which the states entered the Union."

Well, sorry young sir, didn't soak up that bit of historical trivia well enough to use it to navigate the streets of Lawrence. But maybe someday I'll get it down.

For now I'm just longing for the days when things seemed orderly and logical, and finding almost any given address was essentially as easy as finding point (3 , 4) in a third grade math book.

12 September 2007

ode to in-between

This is one of my favorite times of the year, this stretch where summer blends into autumn. The air is cooler but the days are still, for the most part, magnificently sunny. Sweater weather! I am mostly excited about sweater weather because I have been running out of summer clothes since, I don’t know, June.

My drive home from work looks like a calendar picture – the corn fields and wheat fields that constitute approximately 96.7% of Kansas are a warm golden color, and there are these huge bales of hay waiting in fields next to farm houses. The leaves on the trees look like they’re just itching to turn crazy colors and strew themselves all over the ground. There are lots of trees here. And lots of leaves. It’s going to be great.

Also, since the temperature started dropping, I rarely hear the relentless and obnoxious serenade of the cicadas anymore. Maybe their screeching season ends with Labor Day? Not sure, since the cicada song is sort of a new phenomenon for me. Let’s hope.

Luckily the fireflies are still hanging out in my neighborhood and are still putting on a great show after the sun goes down.

I have a feeling autumn is going to be great. But no hurry – the in-between time is even better.

08 September 2007

last supper

Cheerio to Tom, who is leaving the country this week and will be living in Japan for the rest of the school year. His imminent departure was the reason for this weekend’s revelry in Kansas City – not that we wanted to celebrate the fact that he is going away for a very long time (wink, wink), but we did want to send him off well. Good luck, Tom!

Bucca di Beppo - a fabulously random place to eat

Jared and Matt are very excited about looking like a pair of Target employees.

Shay's just excited that he gets to sit by me. And I'm smiling because food is on the way.

03 September 2007

here's to breaking the poverty line

Good news: this weekend I received my first real paycheck from my first real job out of school. Historic, isn't it?

Does this mean Shay and I will no longer be eating cereal and toast for approximately 65% of all our meals at home? No! Because we really like cereal! But it does mean that we could probably upgrade from generic Honey Bunches of Oats to the real thing if we wanted to.

In honor of this historic paycheck, let us revisit a few of the many employment stints that have led us to this point:

Babysitter: I still marvel that people trusted me with their children when I was still a kid myself. Were they desperate? Was I just astoundingly mature and trustworthy? Or were these parents simply looking for cheap child labor? I remember making an average of like $2 an hour. They must have just been cheap.

Cleaner of Bathrooms: Spic-and-Span Bathroom Cleaning is one childhood entrepreneurial effort that never quite took off. How is this possible, when Jen and I even printed our own marketing literature with the slogan, “We Do a Crappy Job”? As far as I remember, we got paid to clean all bathrooms at Jen’s house for about two months until we realized that it was indeed a crappy job. The fact that we ever thought it would be otherwise still cracks me up.

Grunt worker: When I needed extra cash in middle school, I would put in a few hours at a nursery owned by a couple in my neighborhood. I planted plants, transplanted plants, watered plants, and sometimes just to mix it up, moved plants from one place to another. You’d think that with all this exposure, I’d have learned something about plants. Sadly, to this day I cannot manage to keep a house plant alive for more than a few months.

Cashier: Many of my after-school and summer hours during high school were spent at Graff Mercantile, a little grocery store owned by a super nice local family. The place was losing the battle against the big bad chain stores when I signed on, and business only got slower over my three-year tenure. A large chunk of my time was spent coming up with ways to entertain myself and my coworker(s) (usually only one other employee at a time in the entire store) when there was nothing else to be done. You probably have no idea how many things can be created with those twisty ties found in the bulk foods section. I do.

Sales associate: Do I strike anyone as the type of person who might enjoy walking around Old Navy wearing a headset, trying to convince people they wanted to buy clothes that they probably didn't need? Let’s just say that after about a year of employment with The Gap Corporation, we parted amicably, and all I missed was the employee discount.

Registrar’s office gopher/storeroom clerk/proofreader/staff assistant: If retail wasn’t for me, I had to find some source of income to put me through college. This is when I discovered on-campus jobs. In some cases the pay was less than stellar, but overall I’d say on-campus jobs rock.

Busser/hostess/waitress: I spent three summers working in a couple of different restaurants in Springdale, near Zion National Park. Waiting tables was hard work, but pretty good money for a summer job, and the after-hours jaunts through the Park with co-workers on fast motorcycles were a definite perk!

Poetry judge: I nearly forgot that I did this for a few months, and that that was my actual title! So there was a publishing company in Logan that put together anthologies of poems written by kids; they received stacks of submissions every day, and my job was to separate the terrible ones and the plagiarized ones from the okay ones and the really good ones. I remember one day having to leave work early because my coworkers and I could not go on in any seriousness after coming upon a poem, written by Carlos, age 10, entitled, “Mom, Light My Fire.”

Research assistant: This was a great job, mostly because I would have been working on my thesis anyway, and with a research grant I got paid to do a lot of it. It also helped me decide that research is pretty cool… possibly cool enough to convince me to go back to school at some point for a Ph.D. For now, though, I am perfectly content being gainfully employed, and getting a real paycheck!

02 September 2007

winter quarters

We had a great time cruising through parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska on Saturday, on a trek to the Winter Quarters temple. Shay and I traveled with our friends Wade and Jane, in a caravan of sorts with several other people from our ward. Despite Wade’s sometimes unfortunate music choices (see: Huey Lewis and the News) the journey was all kinds of fun. The temple session was nice as well; being in a smaller temple with a session made up mostly of people from our ward was kind of cool. All around, a great day.