Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Extravaganza 2008!

So I'm rushing to get all my Christmas-related posts done before the year turns over and I'm not allowed to speak of Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving (self-imposed rule). When I was home I thought I would take some pictures of the adorable (if I may say so myself) clay Santas I made back in high school art class. I still have some Sculpey clay left over from my lampshade project....maybe I should dust off my sculpture skills a bit.

I also have to take the opportunity to showcase my Christmas decorations, even though I completely forgot to take pictures during my actual party. After having the parents haul my box of Christmas stuff all the way from Michigan when they visited me in September, I figured I should actually use them, and that led to me having a party, so people could actually see the decorations.

The lightbox got rigged up with christmas lights in lieu of actually get a real light inside of it.

Seeing as how I don't have a mantel, the bookshelf has to do for holding my stockings. My lion-headed bowls normally are odds and ends collectors, but they made great votive candle holders.

My red and white still-life - the basket was brought back from Rwanda by a friend and the pom-poms were made out of Target bags.

Last year's impulse Christmas tree buy was the feather tree and this year was the glitter tree. Good thing I have closet space - who knows how big next year's will be.

This plant has seen 7 Christmases with me, so I thought it should also get in the holiday spirit.

Even the pendant light got a bit of Christmas sparkle.

Some Things Just Don't Translate

So I was over at boyfriend's house a little while ago and I decided to flip through a book that was sitting on his coffee table. One of his roommates had just gotten back from a trip to China and she had bought the book there, which was all about uniquely Chinese products, or something. Lo and behold, I happen upon the split pants. I had never heard about this phenomena, and so it was definitely an eye-opening read. Apparently, they are somewhat on the way out, according to my google-search, but in many places, especially rural places, these are used instead of diapers. Apparently it's much more convient to just hold your child over the side of the road while he does his business instead of having to change the diaper. Personally, I feel that the dangers associated with missing a crucial tug on the shirt and ending up with poo all down your clothes isn't quite worth the convience. But to each his own.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Underwater Wonderland

As I mentioned previously, I pretended to be a tourist on the Mall on my birthday. I had about 5 exhibits that I specifically wanted to see, and the new Sant Ocean Hall in the Natural History Museum was one. It opened either right before or right after I went to Africa, and I've been anxiously awaiting its opening for about a year now. I got to enjoy it in all its glory, Deep Ocean 3D Imax movie and all. Actually, I think the movie has been around for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to watching it. It was amazing. I think in another life I would have been a marine biologist. Of course, this is a life in which I would actually be good at the life sciences, unlike my current one. I think it's best for all involved if I stick with roads and bridges and such for the moment.

The life-size Right Whale model took 4 years to create.

I especially liked the fossils - there were many cool specimens.





But the thing I looked forward to most was the preserved giant squid. The first time I visited the museum in 2006, Jeff, my grad school buddy, told me there was a giant squid there and it got me much excited. Unfortunately, it had been removed sometime in the intervening time, and I never got to see it. So I was quite excited when I heard the new Ocean Hall would have one. It was much hyped up, but then when I got there, the glass it was under was fogged up by the body, so I really only got to see some tentacles. Not to mention the plaque that mentioned the fact that it was 36 feet long when living, but that it had shrunk quite a bit since being preserved. It was still cool though. The picture below is when it was first caught in 2005.

(Photo courtesy of Natural History Museum)

Wrapping up the Year

I know that Christmas has come and gone, but I ran across this poem on Decorno today and I really liked it, so here it is:

Christ Climbed Down, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
and German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody's anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest of
Second Comings

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Metro Elephant is Back!

I'm really not sure about the history of the random animals that dot the DC landscape, but there are several in addition to the elephant and donkey at the Washington Post. One of my personal favorites is an elephant that is covered in Metro maps, which is located near Chinatown. He mysteriously disappeared a while ago, though, much to my dismay. When I was wandering around being a tourist on my birthday, I happened to wander by his corner, and I almost started jumping up and down when I saw he was back! Apparently he just needed some freshening up, as it appeared he had gotten a fresh paint job. It made me very happy, and so of course I ran over to him and took some pictures.


Monday, December 29, 2008

It's Not Just Little Boys That Like Trains

I do too! Especially when the surroundings are as cool as this. Last year the train display at the Botanical Gardens was outside, but they moved it inside and made it even more of a wonderland this year. I took way too many pictures, so you can see the rest of the train display and the minature Mall display on my Flickr site.








The National Mall - Made Out of Plants

Every year the Botanical Gardens puts up this amazing display during the holidays. In one of the rooms, they set up a minature version of the mall, done entirely out of plant pieces. In another room they have a train display, with wildly fantastic scenery for them to zoom around in. I took great pictures of it last year, but they all disappeared along with my computer, so this year I had to replace them. I put it off and off, and finally decided to take the day off of work on my birthday and go be a tourist. The funny thing is, I enjoyed pretending I was a tourist a lot when I first moved here 2 years ago, but now I just get really annoyed at the tourists and want to make sure they know that I'm a local. I guess I've truly become a Washingtonian. Anyways, these are a smattering of the Mall pictures.
The White House

The Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial

The Smithsonian Castle

The Library of Congress Roof

The Capitol

The Capitol Roof

The Supreme Court


I forgot to mention what boyfriend did after dropping me off at BWI on Christmas Eve. Because it was still dark outside, he was incredibly sweet and thought he would try and take the picture of the Domino Sugar sign. After driving around for a while, thinking he should be able to see it, he finally realized that it was only half lit-up. The square border was perfectly fine and lit up, but the inside, which is the part that actually says Domino Sugar, was burnt out. It's just not meant to be, I guess.

Back in the Saddle

So after a nice holiday break, it's back to work for me. I do have to take a chance to document the glories that traveling in the upper Midwest in winter entail though (as well as just my general travel misfortunes).

On Christmas Eve, boyfriend and I had to get up bright and early so he could drive me up to Baltimore to catch my 6 a.m. flight. I was a little worried as we had left a little late and I had 15 minutes to check in before the cut-off time, and there was a huge line at the counter. Luckily, United was actually on the ball, and they asked if anyone had to check in for the 6 a.m. flight to Chicago and I got to go to the front of the line. So I was all set to go to the security check-point, and I walked around the corner and was a little shocked at how long the line was. I don't think I've ever had to wait more than like 15 minutes to get through security at BWI, but the line was much longer than that, so once again, I went into panic mode and thought I would miss my flight. Luckily, they were once again on the ball, and got everyone through very quickly. A little too quickly, but I didn't find that out until later. Once I was all settled in on the plane and ready to be home, they were going through the usual pre-flight announcements, how to buckle your seat belt, etc, and then they got to the announcement about shutting off all your electronics. My heart skipped a beat as I realized I didn't remember putting my computer back into my back. A quick check later, it was official. I had somehow managed to leave my laptop at the security checkpoint. Awesome. Who does that? I thought that God was telling me I'm just not meant to own a laptop, ever. After a stressful ride home, which fortunately included a smooth transfer in Chicago, I gave the TSA lost and found at BWI a call. Luckily, they had my laptop and we set up a meeting place and time for me to get it back on my way home on Sunday.

The rest of my time in the great white north was quite nice and not too eventful. It was good to see family and oddly enough, all of my relatives have been popping out babies lately. We haven't had a lot of young kids at family gatherings in a while, but I felt like half of the people there were under the age of like 5.

It seems like I never go to the movies except when I'm home in Michigan, I'm not sure why. Anyways, I went to see Marley & Me with my parents on Christmas day, and it was a pretty good movie, which happens to be about a dog that destroys everything. My parents' dog Emma, on the other hand, is a fairly well-behaved golden retriever who tends to spend her days sleeping. We get home, and I go into my room, and notice a brown spot on the carpet. Before your mind goes there, I will explain that my brother and sister-in-law had given me a cake mix in a cup thing, so it contained a bag that had all the dry ingredients for a cake. Emma decided to go through my belongings and thought that it would be scrumptious to eat flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, so ended up all over the cream-colored carpet in my room. My mom wasn't too thrilled with her dog at the moment, and it was quite ironic that she decided to eat it while we were watching that particular movie. I also saw Slumdog Millionaire, which is a really good movie.

I was a little nervous about making all the connections on the way back home, as there was a winter storm on the way. My flight out of Traverse City was at 6 a.m., which was supposed to be before the storm hit, so I thought I was probably ok. I checked in and was surprised to see that they changed my second flight though, so I had a layover of 3 hours instead of 1 at Chicago, so I wasn't too happy about that. Not too mention that interrupted my meet-up time with the TSA Lost & Found. At 6 a.m., when we should have been taking off, we still hadn't boarded and they made an announcement that they needed 5 people to give up their seats because we would be overweight otherwise. Finally, about 20 minutes later we were finally able to board, and we ended up being about an hour late. Good thing they switched my flight time. :) I called the lost and found from Chicago and explained about my flight and the lady said that I should just come to the TSA coordination center instead of her meeting me somewhere, in case I got delayed again or whatever. So she gave me directions to go up a hallway that was marked "Do Not Enter" and to knock on a door that said "Authorized Personnel Only". It sounded like a quick trip to getting apprehended and detained by the TSA to me, but I figured I would see what happened when I got there. I arrived in Baltimore on time and set off to find this securely guarded mysterious room. After seeing about 3 possible "Do Not Enter" hallways in the location she told me to go to, I decided maybe I should ask a TSA person, just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, he decided in his head I really should go to the Lost and Found office, which was closed and why I needed instead to go to the TSA coordination center. Another TSA guy said he was headed that way and he would take me there. I had to wait outside the "Do Not Enter" hallway (which wasn't any of the 3 I thought it would be), while he went and checked. I was given the go-ahead, and after signing a bazillion papers, I got my laptop back.

Moral of the story: Always, always check to make sure you have everything after the security check-point to avoid looking like a moron who leaves expensive electronics behind.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Similarities of Marriage and Death

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Coupling, and this quote was just too great to pass up.

Marriage is "like death. You accept that it's coming, but you get uncomfortable when people start talking dates."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Random tidbits from the last weekend of my first quarter-century

I managed to attend 2 parties and throw one of my own this weekend, which was quite successful, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures, so I will just have to take pictures of the decorations later and pretend that people are also in the pictures. Also, boyfriend bought a buttercream frosting-ed birthday cake, but apparently they forgot all ingredients in the frosting except for the butter, so it wasn't too tasty - good effort though.

My neighbor's dog has taken a liking to sneaking in my apartment, which I don't mind at all, because Zoey is an adorable white fluffy dog. The first time she did it though, it scared the crap out of me, though. If my door isn't locked, sometimes it will just randomly open by itself, as the hallway can be quite drafty, and so it did this one day while I was cleaning the kitchen, and I happened to catch movement in the living room out of the corner of my eye, and I about had a heart attack, until I realized it was Zoey. On Saturday, she managed to get into my apartment twice, and I heard her snuffling around outside the door on Sunday morning, so apparently I'm her new favorite neighbor.

My hair froze on the way to the Metro this morning. It's really, really cold outside, and for some reason I've stopped wearing my hat, which is a very stupid idea. I've also started to zip up my coat for pretty much the first time in my life. I guess I really am growing up. As a child, I liked to rebel against weather, and I would never zip up my coat or wear gloves. My mom always told me my hands would be all wrinkly and red when I grew up, and it's true. Now I'm a wimp, so I wear my gloves everywhere, but it's too late to save them, they are definitely wrinkly and red.

I was going to work tomorrow, on my birthday, for the first time in my life, as I've always been in school and on vacation then, or I've taken the day off to travel home. I'm not leaving for home until the 24th though, because the tickets were the cheapest then and I have barely any vacation. I have decided to screw saving up vacation though, and just enjoy myself. So I'm going to be a tourist tomorrow and just go to museums and take pictures around the Mall. Well, that, and do laundry and pack.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Someday, My Pretty...

Baltimore has something I want, and I just can't get it. It being a picture of the Domino Sugar factory sign lit up at night. I saw it all lit up the first time I went to Baltimore, which was about a year and half ago, I think, but for some reason I didn't take a picture of it. A couple of months later, boyfriend and I took a spur-of-the-moment zipcar road trip to Baltimore, which I thought would be a perfect opportunity to take a picture. Unfortunately, I neglected to think about the fact we were there in the morning, so the sign was not lit up. Then in March, I had to pick up a friend from BWI, so boyfriend and I drove up early and went to dinner in Fells Point, specifically so I could get my picture of the sign. My camera doesn't do too well at night in the rain, but boyfriend's camera took some great pictures, and I was so happy. I finally got my pictures! So, why do I say I don't have any pictures of the sign, you ask? I will tell you why. I wasn't too on top of actually getting the pictures off of the camera and onto my computer, and they went bye-bye along with boyfriend's camera the second time my apartment got robbed. So someday I will get my pictures, but they've been a long time coming.

This post is kind of random, I know, but I was reminded of the story by this blog post, which includes a picture of another one of my favorite signs in Baltimore, which is also below.



The infamous sign during the day.


Succinct and to the point


I didn't see this sign the last time I was in Baltimore, but I like it a lot as well.


Not so succinct a name, but amusing, nonetheless


Apparently Fells Point abounds with clever bar signs

Hubert the Humidifier

In other pseudo-design news, I recently purchased a humidifier. You've seen the lotion commercial with the alligator and the woman? Yeah, I'm definitely the alligator in that scenario, thanks to the wonderfully dry air in my apartment. So I thought I would remedy the situation and buy a humidifier. I spent a bit of time looking around on-line at different humidifiers and immediately got overwhelmed. Who knew you could get cool-air, warm-air, vaporizer, any variety you wanted, and spend from $30 to like $300? So I gave up for a little while, and then I happened to go into Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and so I thought I would check out their selection. They didn't have a huge amount of cheaper humidifiers, so the best one actually ended up being a frog. I had read reviews of it online, and most people liked it, despite the fact that most people who had one in their room tended to be under the 4' mark, a.k.a. children. At the checkout, the lady asked me if I wanted a gift receipt and was a little surprised when I said no. It's not that unusually for a single adult woman to buy a frog-shaped humidifier, is it? Anyways, Hubert is awesome and he makes my life much better.

A Map of my Life - From Michigan to DC

I have always loved maps. Something about the graphical design, and the fact I deal with road networks every day, I don't know. But anyway, The Ork Neighborhood posters have been catching my eye lately, and they came out with the DC version a week or two ago, and I've been debating which color to get. But today, I was cruising Apartment Therapy, and lo and behold, someone mentions there is a Great Lakes version! I'm so excited, but I don't know where I will put it yet. I think I might wait to see what other colors they come up with, although the blue would go in the kitchen. I'm so indecisive. Anyways, you should all let me know which color I should get in each version. I'm leaning towards the two below, but I could be swayed.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I live directly to the left of the W in the middle of the DC map.

(pictures courtesy of Ork Posters)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ginkgo-Lined D.C., Capital of the U.S., and Now P.U.

The title of this post was blantantly copied and pasted from the Washington Post. Why try to reinvent the wheel?

So a while ago, I posted about my love/hate relationship with ginkgo trees. Granted, it's a bit more on the hate side, this time of year. It turns out I'm not alone. I was reading the paper on Sunday, and this Washington Post article explains a bit why things seem a bit worse this year.
Not surprisingly, most DC residents share my sentiments about the fruit of the ginkgo tree, and so the District decided to inject all the female trees with an anti-fruit serum, but it didn't work, and there was a bumper crop of ginkgo fruit. Awesome. Some of the quotes in the article are priceless. I think my personal favorite is in reference to the chemical that makes the smell (also found in rancid butter):

"I'm sure there was some purpose it served" in some long-ago Asian forest, said Earl Eutsler, an arborist with the D.C. Urban Forestry Administration. "Now, it just makes people angry."

Christmas Cheer in DC

Friday, December 12, 2008

Irregardless of standard english grammer rules, I will use whatever word I want

So boyfriend felt the need to check up on my use of the word irregardless (which I debated over using) in the last post, and it turns out there is a Wikipedia entry devoted to it. So I decided to resuscitate the dying Word of the Day feature to focus on the controversy surrounding it. According to Wikipedia:

"Irregardless is a term meaning in spite of or anyway, that has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. It is generally listed in dictionaries as 'incorrect' or 'nonstandard'.

The origin of irregardless is not known for certain, but the consensus among references is that it is a blend of irrespective and regardless, both of which are commonly accepted standard English words. By blending these words, an illogical word is created. "Since the prefix ir- means 'not' (as it does with irrespective), and the suffix -less means 'without,' irregardless is a double negative."[1]"

I Have a Drinking Problem

Or at the very least, I have a problem obtaining something to drink. I've come to the conclusion that water-giving devices just don't like me. At work, we have a water cooler. Which is great, except for that fact that it never wants to actually give me water. I push the button, and it will sputter out a few drops. I push it harder and longer, and it gives me even less. After about 7 pushes, it will finally decide that it should actually output a stream of water, rather than sporadic dribbles. This wouldn't be so terrible, except it's really loud. It makes these clicking and pumping noises, just so that the entire office knows that I am deficient at operating a water cooler.

I am doing my final stint at the Census Bureau this week and next, and today I went to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle. Yesterday, this worked just fine, but today the fountain decided to toy with me. Instead of a steady stream that is at a constant height, it decided to vary itself, irregardless of the constant pressure I was applying. This resulted in a mad dash as I had to move my water bottle up and down in an attempt to read the mind of the water fountain and figure out which way it was going next. Fun times.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Popping the Days Away

This year for some reason I am obsessed with calendars. I've been checking out a bazillion different ideas, but this one in particular is pretty fantastic, the bubble wrap calendar. Seriously, how awesome is it to pop a bubble each day? Knowing me though, I would pop my way through a couple of months at a time.

(Photos courtesy of

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