Saturday, November 10, 2007

Conditions of manifestation (We're all like sunflowers...)

It's been kind of a tough week. Erik's grandmother Ann passed away rather unexpectedly last Saturday. However, it was a painless, relatively quick death and she was surrounded by all of her kids and a few grandkids. Erik was there for her last breath and got to say goodbye. As far as deaths go, hers was the way to go. She will be sorely missed by all of us. In the roughly 12 years that I've known her, she has made me feel like a member of the family. She was also so happy when we visited. I remember making her laugh so hard when I described some person's bagpipe playing on the Campanile during one of my calculus tests as sounding like a bird being torn apart. She just thought that was so funny! I will also miss her gifts at Christmas, not because they were gifts, but because they were so thoughtful. Every single one, whether bought or homemade (usually homemade though) were so personal and thought out. She loved music and eating out when she could, her geneaology work, and most of all, her family. Grandma Ann was a truly wonderful lady and it will be difficult to go on without her. However, she was 85 and led a truly blessed life. It makes me smile when I think about how happy she probably was when she saw her husband, the twin girls that she lost, and her parents (if you believe in that stuff, of course, which I do). We love you, Grandma Ann! Godspeed.

I found this really beautiful Buddhist description of life that really touched me this week. It brought me a lot of peace. Here it is...

"When you come to visit my monastery in France in January or February you do
not see the fields of sunflowers surrounding our village. When you come to visit
Plum Village in April or May you may notice many new fields but you may not
discern that they are full of sunflower plants. When you arrive in late August you
will see all of the sunflowers blooming even though we have many types of sunflowers there.
Looking closely you will see that they are not always the same even in the
same grouping of one type of sunflowers. Each sunflower is unique if you look
closely. The energy of the sun comes from 93 million miles away and arrives to warm the planet, germinate the seeds, and help to grow our sunflowers.
Some of them are taller than others, some have deeper roots, some are broader
or more lean, while other plants may have more flower blossoms and less stems
or leaves. They are each unique.
Sometimes on a corner or on a path through the field a sunflower will be
damaged by foot traffic, high winds, or machinery, or animals. Sometimes
one of them will have their roots exposed by erosion and dry out and die.
These are all the conditions of their manifestation.
The divine or dharma (our teachings) have brought these sunflowers to be manifested at this point in time & space (or into our awareness via the dharma teachings) - in our fields for us to observe and to live with as friends.
Sometimes a perfectly beautiful sunflower dies because of an intruder, accident,
or is bent, broken, or damaged in a storm. Sometimes something may happen at night or when we are not nearby and cannot ascertain what happened to them. They die and we say that the conditions of their manifestation were not correct for their continuation. We are all co-responsible for some of these conditions but for
other factors only the divine and the dharma of that individual sunflower knows
why the conditions did not support their continuation.
This was their path that the correct conditions for their continuation were not available."
-------------Thich Nhat Nanh

KU Football, WTF???

That's my new slogan for KU. They just beat OSU a few minutes ago. Erik and I stepped outside and you could literally hear people cheering all over town (I added a few celebratory whoops just for kicks, hopefully the neighbors won't beat me up). Fireworks and everything. This is their best start since 1899. To be perfectly honest, I've always been a K-State girl, but being KU alumni and living in L-town, I can't help but get a little exhilarated by this latest win. Maybe the world is coming to an end, I mean, KU Football being good? To top it off, K-State basketball being actually ranked. I think I've entered the twilight zone. I wish the potentate weren't asleep, otherwise we could go to Mass St. and party like it's 1999, or KU football in 2007. Oh well, back to my grad. school applications. After all, that's much more exciting, right?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm finally back in school!

This is my first entry in over a month. I've been too busy moping over my job promotion, or lack thereof. I had hoped to become a managing editor, but apparently that is not going to happen. Oh well, that's okay because I'm finally back in school! I am taking two graduate courses, "Indigenous Perspectives of Natural Resource Management," and an independent study, both with my undergraduate advisor and consequently favorite professor. I've had several classes with him, but this one is definitely the best so far. I don't know if it is because I have the time to absorb the information or because the material is extremely interesting, but I'm really enjoying it. So law school is on the back burner for the time being, but grad school is definitely a real possibility. I am so happy! Now, what to study?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All Hallows Ball

As I posted early Saturday morning, Erik, Noah, and I went to the All Hallows Ball at Borders Friday night so that I could pick up the 7th Harry Potter Book. It was a lot of fun, but it was very crowded. Erik didn't want to dress up, but Noah and I did. I wore a long, black abaya that looks like a robe from the movie and I dressed up Noah as Draco Malfoy. (I guess that would make me Draco's mom, Narcissa, but that wasn't my intention). I drew him a little Slytherin badge and made a silver and green scarf. I know I'm biased, but he was adorable! Why Draco, you may ask? Because Noah has blonde hair and looks a lot like Draco from the films. If he had red hair, he would have been Ron, black hair Harry, etc. I met up with Becca there and after I dropped Erik off at home, I went back at 1:30. Since my wristband color had already gone, I got to go to the front of the line. After discussing the various theories with Becca and finally getting Noah to go to sleep at 2:30 in the effin' morning, I finally got to go home and read. I finally went to bed around 4:15 and made it through 83 pages. Now I am to 320 pages and am having a really hard time avoiding spoilers from the various news outlets. If I find out the beginning accidentally, I will go on a murderous rampage. I've waited much too long to have it spoiled. Books like those in this series don't come along every day. In any case, we had a lot of fun!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's finally here!

I have, in my hands at 3:00 am July 21, 2007, the seventh Harry Potter book. Although I have been waiting a long time, I know many people have been waiting much, much longer. Before I started reading, I thought I would post something so that I can better savor the moments before I begin this final book. This is the final book of what is probably the most enjoyable series of books that I have ever read and I have to admit that I'm a little sad that I didn't discover the books sooner, and that after this, they will be finished. We went to the All Hallows Ball at Borders tonight and it had such an incredible energy. I'll post on that tomorrow. Alright, here I go...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Note: If you haven't read the book and want to be surprised at the movie, don't read any further!!!

My husband and I went on a date Saturday night for the first time since February. We went to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." We also thought that was pretty exciting because the last movie that we saw in a theatre was "Revenge of the Sith" when The Potentate was five months old and he nursed himself to sleep through the first hour of the film.

We went at 6:45 and the theatre wasn't nearly as packed as we thought it would be.
Order of the Phoenix was very well done. It was kept short, which is important. The books, especially this one, are very long and extremely detailed. So much of that is Harry's angst and thoughts, which obviously can't be expressed in film. Of course, the movie-only Potter fan will miss a lot. There is no way that all of the details can be captured in the movie so my theory is, why try? Just read the books! Although I really enjoyed the last four films, they went on so long that I was hoping someone would die and it would be over. This version didn't have that problem and so it is possible to keep your attention span the entire time. The story was altered considerably more than in the other films due to the brevity of the film. Always my favorite, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape was fabulous. There definitely wasn't enough of Professor McGonagall. I am learning to tolerate the new Dumbledore. This movie was definitely a better fit for him as he grows more distant and eccentric. I don't think Dolores Umbridge was evil enough, but perhaps that was for the best. The best new and anticipated character, Bellatrix LeStrange, played by Helena Bonham Carter didn't disappoint. She was just as creepy and demented as I had hoped she would be. Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort was very good, but give him a nose already. He is the most powerful dark wizard ever, he grew an arm back for Wormtail; he can't give himself a nose? C'mon. I think the future filmmakers are going to have a difficult time explaining the storyline with Dudley, Uncle Vernon, and Aunt Petunia since it was skimped over in such great detail. There is a very strong foreshadowing in the 5th book that Aunt Petunia is a squib or a closet witch, and J.K. Rowling herself has said that there is more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye. We'll see. The death of Sirius Black was unemotional and distant, almost exactly like the book. I was sad in the book and the movie when Cedric died. Once again, not when Sirius Black died, which leads me to believe that he will be the character that gets a reprieve in the 7th book. He was killed with a red stunning curse, not a green death curse. We'll see. Harry won't be left without any family, mark my words. Ron and Hermione rocked as always. Evanna Lynch's performance as Luna Lovegood was pure genius. The whole theatre roared with laughter when, before the infamous kiss, Harry exclaimed that the mistletoe must be filled with nargiles. It was the perfect icebreaker before a first kiss that everyone dreams about. All and all, despite the fact that the 5th book is commonly people's least favorite, the film was very entertaining and fulfilling. It is definitely worth seeing!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's 3:00 am and I'm blogging?

I have been up trying to finish my fact sheets for Youth for Technology. They are a group that I do online volunteer work for and they are amazing. However, this week has been so busy that I haven't completed them yet. Time is of the essence because Njideka, the amazing woman who runs YTF, is leaving for Nigeria and Uganda on a working trip for several weeks on Monday and needs the fact sheets in hand. Of course, they need to be edited and then made to look "pretty."
I had planned to finish both earlier this evening but my mom made a surprise visit after work and my dear friend Allison, who recently moved to Indiana for graduate school, was in town and so I met with her and some other of my hijabi friends for dinner. Now I'm finished with the one fact sheet, and I'm gonna have to finish the other one tomorrow because it is 3:00 am and I am exhausted. The Potentate and Male are fast asleep and the only thing keeping me company is a Family Guy Marathon on Cartoon Network. I like Family Guy, but how much can a person watch?
It's really getting to my head (giggity). Alright, to bed I go...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to all! Once again, I haven't posted anything forever because, for one, there simply isn't anything interesting going on, and two, I have been going to Dog Days (community fitness program) every night. In June, it was only twice a week, but now that it is July it is Monday through Thursday. I've also been doing online volunteer work for a group called Youth for Technology, and of course, tending to my young potentate. There just isn't enough time in the day, ever.

My 4th was good. We went to visit the Brunin side of the family. It wasn't at the usual place, but it was a nice change. As luck would have it, we missed the tornado warning for our area. We haven't had a single severe storm this year, not one, we go out of town for one day and all hell breaks loose. I like storms so missing the only severe storm here this year is a bummer. What can I say, a love of storms runs in the family!

Of course, it wouldn't be the 4th of July if I didn't do a little Bush bashing in honor of Independence Day. Since he is about one step away from declaring himself supreme dictator, wait, let me rephrase, since Cheney is about to declare himself dictator, I figure I might as well say what I can say, while I can say it. Of course, considering that Cheney can't even figure out which branch of the government that he belongs in, maybe we needn't worry about him taking over.

As we watched the fireworks last night, with the patriotic music playing in the background, I sat by myself and reflected on what the 4th of July really means. Independence? Freedom? Fighting unjust wars that we have no hope of winning in the name of national security and the war on terrorism? Having a Marine brother fighting a war in Iraq that I have rabidly opposed since before it even began adds an entirely new perspective. I was fine until they played the Marine Hymn. I sat by myself and wept. How can a country that used to be so proud and noble have slipped to such a level? Most Americans are awakening from the patriotic fog that has surrounded them for the past several years and realizing that every time a young American dies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we as a country die a little as well. These young men and women are our future and everyone time one of them dies, it is like the future of this country dies. These are strong, noble people who believe in fighting for their country regardless of whether the mission is right or not. Military families grow a little more jaded and perhaps don't believe in democracy as much as they once did. Everyone surrounding the family questions what the young soldiers are injured, dying, or separated from their families for, and quietly lower their head in sorrow. They begin to realize that perhaps the United States isn't as just and free as it once seemed to be and little by little, their faith in this country fades away. Everyone simply accepts their fate and settles into an apathetic existence because, really, what can you do? The truth is, absolutely nothing. Sorry for the rant. I guess I just miss my brother. Happy 4th.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Too quiet for too long

It has been a beautiful and relaxing weekend, well except for a fender bender that we got in last night. There was some event at the Lied Center that was getting out when we were driving down Iowa St. last night. We driving south and came to a stop at the Armory. We had been sitting there for quite some time when we got rear-ended, which of course pushed us into the car in front of us. It was a relatively minor impact, and the people in front of us didn't even bother to check for damage. They squealed away. We're assuming they were drunk. As it turns out, the lady that hit us was drunk and got arrested. We're all okay, but our bumper is really scratched up. The good news is that there is no damage to the front of the car. No matter, if she had insurance, she can pay for it. If not, it's staying that way. On Friday night, my mom came down to visit and we went to Wa, which is a Japanese restaurant. They are arguably the best Japanese restaurant in Kansas, and the greater Kansas City area. Their Ebi tempura rolls, wasabi fish egg rolls, and Nabeyaki udon are to die for. Best of all, the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is lovely. It's hard to beat that.

Despite that, it was a good weekend, which worries me. Things have been peaceful and quiet for far too long. When I got to thinking about it, nothing really bad has happened for a long time and I figure we are due. Whenever things go well for too long in my immediate family it seems like something horrible happens. With a young child, a brother who is a storm chaser and one who is in Iraq, something is bound to go wrong. It makes me really nervous. Oh well, maybe I'm just imagining it. It's like my therapist says, if you wait long enough, something bad will happen, and if you wait long enough, something good will happen. There's no religious or cosmic basis to it, it is just the course of life.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Junk Food Enabling

Grrrr... I am in such a mood. I just got back from Walmart, which is probably part of the problem. We needed to get groceries for the week and at this point, Walmart is the cheapest grocery store in town (except for communist Aldy's which doesn't have a very good selection). Well, at least until Walmart eliminates all of the competition, and then jacks up its prices. Every trip to Walmart is like a lesson in health and nutrition. I see more morbidly obese people riding around on motorized scooters than any other grocery store that I have ever been to. Inevitably, I see these people in the junk aisles, not the fruit and vegetable aisles, and stereotypically they are filling up the baskets on their motorized carts with things like Cocoa puffs, Doritos, Pepsi, snack foods of all varieties, and tons of processed foods. Also, let me clarify, when I say morbidly obese, I don't mean, "I'm middle aged, have three kids and/or a busy career and life, and I don't have time to properly take care of myself." I am just as guilty of letting myself go and gaining weight since I've had Noah. In this society, I think it would be more surprising if people didn't gain weight. I'm talking about obesity to the point that stomach-stapling surgery would be less risky than to stay that obese (and approximately 1 in 10 people die from complications of gastric bypass surgery). There are more and more of these people and they are becoming younger. It used to be old ladies in mumus. Now, I have seen children as young as two or three with beer bellies. Of course, their parents are seriously overweight too.

As we shopped, I observed several things. When we are in the fruit and vegetable aisle, there are probably 5 "foreign-looking" people to 1 "American-looking" person. It is almost as if Americans avoid the fruit and vegetable aisles like the plague. The cookie and pop aisles rarely had any foreign-looking people in them, yet they are congested with people who appear to be Americans. Is this a coincidence? Even if the foreign-looking people were born in America, what is it about their cultural background that causes such a difference in grocery shopping preferences?

My next observation was that junk food in all forms is significantly cheaper than healthful food. As far as I know, this is common knowledge. However, why is this usually the case? If it is organic, I understand the logistics as to why it is expensive. Yet, take for example, all-natural non-organic peanut butter. All they do is grind it into peanut butter and place it in a jar. No preservatives or chemicals, just peanuts. Shouldn't the chemicals add costs to production? Apparently not, because regular peanut butter costs $1.99 whereas the "natural" peanut butter with less work and no additives was almost $5.00 per jar. What's up with that? It doesn't make any sense. What is the motivation for buying non-processed or less processed food if you can buy a more familiar, chemically-enhanced brand for $3.00 less. If you are on a tight budget, there is really no room for comparison.

In addition to the fact that junk food is so much cheaper than healthy food, I notice that Walmart almost always has more sales on rubbish food than health food. I wonder if, in general, Walmart prices their junk food artificially low to attract consumers who make bad food choices, knowing that they will keep coming back to Walmart to get their junk food fix. After all, junk food is not as filling and you need more of it to feel full. Therefore, even though it is cheaper than healthy food, people would be more inclined to buy more of it, and in turn, keep coming back for more, thus spending more money than if the food they ate was healthy.

Despite all of the dangers of obesity, I don't think it is in the interest of businesses such as Walmart to encourage people to eat healthy. As long as people are enticed to eat junk, and healthy food remains more expensive, we are bound to remain an overweight society. I guess the most that we can hope for is that we aren't all wearing mumus and riding around Walmart on motorized carts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Darin's tornado footage and interview with CNN

My brother Darin's footage of the Greensburg tornado can be found at It has video of the Greensburg tornado forming and when they first arrived in Greensburg after the tornado went through. This is his storm-chasing website. It has received an incredible 1,055,509 hits. His videos can also be found on YouTube. Just for your interest here is the transcript of his interview with CNN on Saturday morning.


Tornado Devastates Kansas Town; Severe Weather in the Midwest; Kenya Airways Plane Crashes

Aired May 5, 2007 - 09:00 ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Well, good morning everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I am Betty Nguyen. This is Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May. It's been a stormy day for a lot of folks.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: It has, a rough day, a rough start to this morning for some folks after a rough night. Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. So glad you could be here with us to start your day.


NGUYEN: All right, thank you for that Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

NGUYEN: Want to toss now, or at least take you to Darin Brunin. I understand he's in Wichita, Kansas. Darin you were there as a storm blew through. What did you see?

VOICE OF DARIN BRUNIN, STORM CHASER: We were actually following the large tornado up Highway 183 south of Greensburg. And it appeared to be a very large tornado when we saw it.

NGUYEN: We've been looking at pictures of it. It looks like a wedge-shaped tornado. When you say "very large," the word that we're getting is somewhere from a half mile to a mile wide. Is that what you saw?

BRUNIN: We're definitely thinking a mile wide. When it hit Greensburg, we were probably three to four miles south of it, and it was just, it was huge. And you could tell it really meant business.

NGUYEN: Yeah, it did, especially looking at the damage that it caused. As you were heading into the path of this storm, a lot of people were obviously getting word that it was coming into their neighborhoods. What was the warning like? Did you hear lots of warnings on the radio as you were headed toward the storm?

BRUNIN: Well, being a storm chaser, we did have live radar with us. Chasing at night it really helps. We knew there were warnings, and we actually talked to some residents in the community, and they said that they had plenty of warning, from what we could tell, at least 20 minutes.

NGUYEN: Was this a slow-moving storm? It caused so much damage. We're just trying to understand how big, how massive and how quickly it moved through the area.

BRUNIN: Yeah, it was definitely a slow-moving storm. I mean, you have a big tornado like that that moves slower, it can tend to do a lot more damage because it's over an area for a longer amount of time.

NGUYEN: But how long was it over the town of Greensburg?

BRUNIN: I couldn't answer that. I mean, I would say, you know, a minute or two. You know, it was moving slow, but, you know, it was still moving along at a decent pace. You can get storms that move a lot slower than that.

NGUYEN: So as you watch this and you're headed to where this tornado is moving into, that being the town of Greensburg, when you got there, what did you see?

BRUNIN: Well, actually, before we got to Greensburg, probably five miles south where the tornado had crossed, right on Highway 183, we actually ran into a resident who was waving his arms at us. We actually picked him up and took him to some of his family so he could get in contact with them. But as we approached Greensburg, we arrived before most of the emergency responders. And it was really a scene of shock, you know, disbelief. You know, there were people walking on the highway just in shock, you know, not even knowing really what had happened, you know. It was injuries and dogs limping around. Before we got to Greensburg there were a herd of cows on the highway that was severely injured. So it wasn't a pleasant sight to see at all. It was very horrible.

NGUYEN: I can only imagine. We spoke with a storm chaser a little bit earlier, and he was saying that, essentially what you're saying, people were just walking down the street like something out of a horror flick. He kind of related it to like a zombie movie. People really didn't know what had happened. All they knew was that parts of their home and their town was just picked up and destroyed, leaving them injured.

So you talked about the people. Well, what about the buildings? What about the downtown area and the communities? What did you see in the wake of any kind of damage there?

BRUNIN: It seemed like the western part of town was hit a little bit harder than the eastern part. Still some houses standing, or more houses standing, I should say, in the eastern part of town, but in the western part of town, it was just, I don't even know how to describe it. It was just --

NGUYEN: Was it leveled? Did you see anything standing?

There was still structures standing, but we did run across homes that were completely leveled and some clean foundations, which would hint at a very violent tornado.

NGUYEN: Mm-hmm, yeah, especially with such a large wedge tornado that blew through there, and you saying fairly slowly, as in the case that some tornadoes will move by, and it caused so much destruction and the fact that they've just been on the ground for so long, even though a minute or so doesn't seem like a lot, when you're talk being really forceful winds that can do the damage that we're seeing right there. Darin Brunin, a storm chaser joining us live by phone from Wichita, Kansas, thanks so much for your information.

T.J., as we are looking at this video here of some new daylight video coming into CNN, you can see just the bricks on the ground, you can see parts of buildings that have just simply collapsed. Don't know exactly which building this is in particular, but we do know that 80 percent of the hospital there in town was damaged. One portion of it, in fact, collapsed, and there were patients inside at the time.

HOLMES: And the crazy number we just heard a minute ago, we've been talking, 75 percent of the town is what emergency officials are saying. But someone from the Red Cross we just talked to a short time ago said they're hearing maybe 90 percent of this town may have been touched in some way, damaged or destroyed by this tornado. So either way, 75, 80, 90, heck --

NGUYEN: It's a high number.

HOLMES: Fifty percent, whatever it is, it's unbelievable for this small town. We are keeping an eye on this story with those folks in Kansas, who went through a nightmare last night and waking up on that nightmare today.

NGUYEN: Still this morning.

HOLMES: Just devastated by that tornado. That story continues to develop at this hour and we will continue to bring you the latest. .


HOLMES: We're continuing to keep an eye on the situation in Greensburg, Kansas, where the word is that at least one person has been killed and dozens more, up to 60, at least, have been injured after a massive tornado tore through the town of Greensburg, a town of about 1400 to 1600 people. We're continuing to get some of the first daylight pictures, pictures continuing to come into us of the devastation there. Estimates from the Emergency Management and American Red Cross is that 75 to 90 percent of the town has been touched.

This is the high school, we're being told, that we were just looking at there, a high school that has been heavily damaged, at least. But some of the daylight pictures giving us a whole new perspective of what they went through last night. Again, several injured, several possibly still trapped under buildings that have collapsed, and including the hospital that is there that we were told earlier is pretty much destroyed.

We do want to hear now -- we just showed you a picture of that high school. We do have sound now from a student that we want to take a listen to that we just got into the CNN newsroom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no basement, so my mom stayed with our next-door neighbors in their basement, and we had no idea until like 3:00 in the morning last night when she finally called, so we were worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came to help clean up, but we don't even know where to start, so.


HOLMES: And that is pretty telling. That last word we heard from that student came to clean up, and look around, and it just seems hopeless in some of those situations, impossible to really clean up when there's such devastation and such damage. We are keeping an eye on this story all morning. Make sure you stay here with us for it.

More flood pictures

Monday, May 07, 2007

People never fail to amaze me...

People are crazy, there's no doubt about that. However, when people become parents, particularly mothers, usually even seemingly the dumbest person usually develops an animal instinct for protecting their children. Case in point today. Over the weekend and last night, we have had massive amounts of rainfall and the Kansas River here in L-town is raging. I am terrified of flood waters, in fact, I even have dreams that I am caught in the middle of a patch of land surrounded by the type of flood waters that were flowing over the dam today. So when Erik thought it would be fun to go and look at the river water flowing over the dam in north Lawrence today, I thought it would be neat to see, and reluctantly agreed to go along. Obviously, we had Noah with us and so we strapped him very tightly into his stroller. We walked along the levee trail and ventured down a little closer to the water. We were still at a very safe distance. I noticed a sheriff's deputy walking about the levee trail. I remarked, "Surely, no one would be stupid enough to get close to the water." It was so absurd that we put it out of our minds. In the spirit of Frank and Erica (hi Erica!) I took quite a few pictures. Noah was getting restless and trying to get out of his stroller so we decided to leave. It was just too scary to think about. As we began to walk up the hill, we saw a young mother walking with her daughter who was maybe three, and holding a baby who couldn't have been more than five months old. The mother said, "C'mon, honey, let's go stand in the water." We turned around and stared. "No, she wouldn't," I told Erik. Lo and behold, the mom, the baby, and the little girl went and stood in the water and nearly got knocked over by a surge in the water. I was so awestruck and angry, I just stood there. I couldn't even say anything. This woman was risking not only her life, but the lives of her children. Two feet out, there is a steep drop-off. If they would have slipped, the current would have dragged them to the bottom of the river.

I don't pretend to be the perfect mother and I've done my share of stupid things, but for God's sake, why in the hell would you stand in a flooded river with two young children??? If she has a death wish, go ahead, but at least leave the kids on the shore so they don't have to suffer for her stupidity. Once again, my faith in humanity has flown completely out of the window, or at least down the river.

More pictures later. They don't want to upload right now...

The rest of the rat pup photos

It has taken me way too long to post the rest of these pictures, but alas I am doing it. Between law school application stuff, rat pups, having a two-year old, a husband in school, online volunteer work, and my full-time job, it seems like I have had no time to sit down and update this blog. Oh well, I'm doing it now. Here are the photos of my rat pups that are almost fully grown at this point. They are so cute, but the girls are quite the escape artists. Only one has found a home so for now I'm the crazy rat lady. Oh well, being called a crazy rat lady is better than feeding the poor things to snakes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Big Rat News

I bought a female companion for my other female rat about three weeks ago. They had been getting along very well until this past week when the new rat became very aggressive. Our friends Becca and Daniel were over on Saturday and I was showing them Mr. Willingham and the girls. Loren bit me for no reason, really bad, which is extremely unusual for a rat. Last night, she attacked again. I picked her up to inspect her and realized that she was extremely pregnant! It virtually happened over night. Apparently she was pregnant when I bought her at the pet store (which is a good lesson on why you should not buy female feeder rats I guess). She gave birth today and she has a lot of pups. However, I don't know how many because every time I try to look she lunges at me and I don't want to press the issue. I'm a rat mom! It was funny because I told Erik last night and he was like, "Oh my God, what are we going to do?" I said, "It's the rat that's pregnant, not me." After that, he was okay. I don't know how I am going to find homes for them, but I have to admit that I am excited. There is an incredible energy of new life in the house, and I have six weeks to enjoy it!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Finally, Spring, and the new Harry Potter trailer!

I think spring has finally arrived! Tonight as we were driving in the country, I actually heard frogs, the first true sign of spring. Yesterday, I did some gardening and was pleasantly surprised to see that my Jacob's Ladder, chives, and other plants were green and happily growing. From myown physical point of view, I can tell because I finally have more energy. Even though I am known for my intense dislike of the sun, I have to admit that when the sun comes out and the temperature warms up, my energy level increases about 10-fold. I clean, organize, and finish projects that I haven't touched all winter. Yeah! Finally, finally, finally!

Oh, on a summertime note, as most everyone knows, the 5th Harry Potter movie, "The Order of the Phoenix, is coming out, as well as the 7th book. I inadvertently found a link to the trailer for the film and it looks really good! The people who have seen the rudimentary screening of the movie are giving it rave reviews, which means a lot because loyal Harry Potter fans are notoriously critical of the film versions of the books because they usually lose so much! Here is the web address to the the trailer. (Sorry I tried to hyperlink it, but to no avail.) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

LSAT Stages of Grief

I finally got my LSAT Score. It certainly took them long enough. My score was decent, but I think I will take it again so that I have a better chance at scholarships. I don't know. The next time I can take it is in June so I think I will decide closer to then. In the meantime, there was a really funny posting on one of the law school forums that I have been reading. The backstory is that for the first time ever, there may have been two different experimental sections on the LSAT. Everyone was going crazy. Kaplan said that the experimental section was definitely Section 1(and according to them, they are never wrong). However, many people, including myself, were absolutely sure that it was Section 3. We all hoped that it was Section 1 because it was very difficult, but we knew that it was Section 3 because it was so easy. As it turns out, depending on the version of the test any given person had, it could have been Logic Games or Logical Reasoning.
Here is that posting by dansmeek at Top Law School Forum.

LSAT Stages of Grief:

i think i've entered into step 5 of my 'realization that my experimental section is section 3 phase'.

i went thru the first phase (denial) rather quickly -- well partly because i've been preparing in the back of my mind that the harder sectino had to be the experimental.

then i progressed to anger 'god damnit stupids tls posters, just tell me its section one and be done' and moreso towards the lsac 'how dare they make more than one experimental, it is my right as a human being to be entitled to a single cross sectional experimental sectino for the lsats, and i have been violated!'

next was my most difficult stage: bargaining. 'Just please, let me have it be section 1... you can change it to section 3 just a few days after the test, but when I get my test results, just tell me its section 1, please? I won't tell anyone, I promise'

i then went to workout where i progressed to depression 'i cant believe i did so bad on section 1. what am i doing. maybe i should forget this lawyer business and become a dentist, or a circle K attendant.'

And finally acceptance. Maybe I didn't do so bad on section 1. Just cuz I guessed on 2 questions isnt that big of a deal. I could have easily missed a ton more on section 3 for all I know. Maybe I actually did better on section 1 than I did section 3. I am ready. I don't want to struggle anymore

now please.... GIVE ME MY SCORE!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Interview with the Vampire, I Mean Phlebotomist

I donated blood for the first time today. I have to say, it was not that bad. I'm really tired tonight, but it didn't hurt. It was part of the annual blood drive at work. The creepiest part was that the phlebotomists keep leering at my veins, prodding at them, telling me what great veins I had. Now, I'm not one to brag, but I do have plump, voluptuous veins. However, I felt like I was being circled by vampires. Nonetheless, I am really happy that I did it, and I will definitely donate blood in the future.

As for the question of how my LSAT went, I don't know. It definitely wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Of course, it wasn't easy either, but it was manageable. I was able to complete the sections with a little bit of time left in each section (not in the Logic Games section though). I have a good idea of what section was experimental. However, the January 2007 LSAT was undisclosed so I'm not allowed to say which I think it was. I hope I don't have to take it again, but I suppose that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I also have a MySpace account now which I am cross-linking with this site. I swore I would never do MySpace, but it will be the easiest way to communicate with Derek while he is in Iraq. He called me from Kuwait, which was pretty cool because no one has ever called me from Kuwait before. He is supposed to be in Iraq very soon. Oy.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tomorrow's the Big Day

I have my LSAT tomorrow morning. Once again, I am in full panic mode. I keep going back and forth. I'm fine, then I'm very nervous. Tomorrow is the big day. Noah is spending the night away from us for the very first time so that I at least have a chance to sleep well. Everyone has been very supportive. I ask Erik to make me feel better and he always starts out with "I'm going to do well on the LSAT, because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." Then he tells me why he thinks I will do well. I've studied as much as I can, I'm prepared, and I know the format inside and out. If I don't do well, I will take it again. It's not like it's the end of my life. At least I'm not going to Iraq like Derek is. He goes back to North Carolina on Sunday and will deploy to Iraq in a couple of weeks. The LSAT is nothing compared to that. He has to survive using every sense he has, I have to fill in a bubble grid with a number two pencil. There's really no comparison. We have his going away dinner tomorrow night and that's it, we won't see him for 7 months (insh'allah). Oh well, I'll focus on one thing at a time. Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wedding Anniversary Homemade Gift Ideas

Tomorrow is Erik and my 5th wedding anniversary(legal as opposed to Islamic). I have vowed to buy nothing new for an entire year. Admittedly, I can buy gifts for other people, but I would really like to make Erik a homemade gift, but I have no idea what. I could buy him Royals tickets, but that is so predictable because I have done that for about 4 different occasions. If anybody reading this has any ideas for great homemade gifts (besides food because I have plenty of ideas for that), please post them as soon as possible. I am going crazy. On the bright side, Erik hasn't mentioned our anniversary at all. I'm sort of hoping he forgot because that will give me longer to figure out the perfect gift. Ideas please!!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union Point by Point

Warning: The following State of the Union response is dripping with sarcasm and indignation. It was done in real time, so it is not necessarily grammatically correct.

Also, there are 30 instances of clapping and/or standing ovations. That works about to be about one standing ovation and/or instance of clapping every 1.7 minutes in a 50 minute speech


I really hate politicians. Watching as Katie Couric called it, “the cocktail party atmosphere” it is clear that none of them have our best interests at heart.

A standing ovation? What the hell? All he has done is stand there and look stupid.

Aaah, Bush is a champion of womens’ rights. What a crock! I like Nancy Pelosi, but please don’t patronize us. Alright, let’s get on with it. Noah’s clapping, what kind of child am I raising? Time to sell him on the black market so he doesn’t turn into a little Republican. (Just kidding)

8:15 Wow, perfectly choreographed. Cheney looks like crap. This nation has prosperity? There aren’t any jobs. Oh Lord, here starts the clapping. He’s worried about our children’s futures, but won’t acknowledge global warming. I don’t care what he says, we don’t have a growing economy. Wages are rising, where, in India? More clapping, bullshit! Three economic reforms:

1) Balance the federal budget that he unbalanced, without taxes (more clapping and standing ovations, what the f---? Spending discipline, where is this man president. Within the next five years? Hey, don’t we have a war going on? I guess I’m a little confused.

2) No more earmarks. Who cares? More clapping, just kidding. Seriously, more clapping, because he wants to reduce the amount of earmarks by half.

3) Entitlements – Social security, Medicare, etc. Glad I have a 401K stewing because Bush wants to save social security. Public schools, I guess that’s why Bush went to private school. NCLB is a success apparently. How revolutionary! None of the school teachers or educators I know think that it is a success.

Noah was crying, but Bush must have declared himself dictator because he just got another standing ovation.

Two new healthcare initiatives:

1) Tax deduction for those with health insurance. An equal playing field for all Americans. How does he propose to fund this? There must be some sort of Republican junta that pledged to clap for everything. Small association health plans, better information technology, flexible spending accounts, price apparency, and of course, medical liability reform so the physician isn’t penalized when he accidently removes your liver because he thought it was your heart.

2) Immigration – Oh here we go. Temporary worker program. Suddenly the Republicans aren’t applauding. Verifying workers at construction sites, goodbye industry. John McCain looks like someone just punched him in the eye. No amnesty, now no one is happy. Why the hell is Nancy Pelosi standing up? There’s old “Botched Joke” Kerry.

We (dddissruptions) are held hostage by hostile regimes (like the Saudi family that he is such good friends with?) Renewable energy and newquler (sic) energy.

8:30 Once again, perfectly synchronized. We are going to reduce gasoline usage in the U.S. by 20 % in the next ten years. Perhaps someone should tell the military since they are the world’s large consumer of petroleum. Doubling the capacity of the SPR. More clapping… Where does he propose to turn Alaska into a gigantic refinery.

Here’s the part, where he tells the Congress that they better approve all of his judicial nominees or he will kill them. Some booing. How annoying. Every time they mention national security they show Michael Chertoff. Why is Nancy Pelosi standing up again? Don’t stand up you pathetic wench! Once again he is attempting to link Iraq to 9/11, but at the same time, saying there is no link. Another standing ovation, for God’s sake. Stupid look and fake accent. How in God’s name is this man our president?

Alright, “Demonizing Muslims time” Muslims are pure evil that want to impose their will on everyone. Iran bashing time, let’s kick their ass. Hizballah eh? That worked out well for Israel this summer didn’t it? Once again, no delineation between Islamists and regular Muslims. Going to the grocery store should be fun tomorrow. If these people don’t agree with Bush, why are they clapping. “Arrrgh! I say, for the sake of our own security, we must convert all Muslims to Christianity I can’t believe that he is using Afghanistan and Lebanon as examples of democracy. More clapping.

Are we antagozing Iran and Syria now?

Iraq War section 8:45

“We can still shape the outcome of battle and achieve victory.” Another standing ovation. Re-enforcements will be promoted here. The Iraqis are not yet ready. If not now, when, I wonder. Another 4,000 Marines to al-Anbar province, more clapping. Probably because their brothers aren’t going to al-Anbar province. I wonder if he realizes that al-Anbar isn’t the province that Baghdad is in? Securing Baghdad is top priority. If the U.S. pulls out, the government of Iraq will collapse. Epic battle between Shias and Sunnis across the Middle East. More clapping and of course, a standing ovation. Claire McCaskill, sit your blonde butt down and Bush quit smiling. This is not a smiling matter. It is our lives, not yours, ordinary Americans someone you are painfully out of touch with. More clapping and standing ovations. In short, we are never leaving Iraq. Ever. If you don’t support Bush, you don’t support our troops. More clapping, small standing ovation, more clapping, big standing ovation. Nancy Pelosi, you are driving me towards libertarianism. Respectful yes, pushover no. The United States is using the U.N. more clapping, standing ovation, Condoleeza Rice just rolled her eyes, what’s that about? The UN we blatantly ignored when we went to war in Iraq. Now, Israel, North Korea, Belarus, Burma, and Cuba, Darfur, another standing ovation, clapping. Holy crap, we’re declaring war on a lot of countries. “To much is given, much is required?” Now we’re declaring war on HIV AIDS Africans. He won’t provide condoms but he has saved 50,000 lives. Expanded debt relief more clapping. Oh wait, not for student loans, for other countries. Now he is talking about a Houston Rockets player. Another standing ovation. Wow, Dikembe is tall. He could probably stomp some political ass. Wow, the Baby Einstein lady. The great enterprising spirit. Bush More clapping standing ovation. Wesley Autrey, a true hero. I bet he didn’t really say the thing about freedom. Nobody even acknowledged the black man in the gallery till now. SO and clapping. Army guy, Rehman silver star winner, clapping for himself, seems odd. SO and, you guessed it, more clapping. Correction, we are an honorable country, he is not an honorable leader. The final standing ovation and clapping.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Perfect Turkey Salad

We roasted a turkey last Friday. I brined it for 48-hours before I baked it and it turned out so perfect and moist. Of course, you can only eat so much plain roast turkey. Therefore, I have created the perfect gourmet turkey salad recipe for turkey leftovers. The ingredients are all approximate and I used the best possible ingredients available.

7 c leftover roast turkey, chopped in a food processor
2 c mayonnaise (best quality available)
1 tb whole grain mustard
1 tb lemon juice
1/2 c dried cranberries (apple-juice sweetened)
1/2 c roasted sliced almonds
4 tb celery (finely chopped)
4 tb green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together. We buy rosemary italian round bread from the local bakery. However, I realize that not everyone has that option. Therefore, any good bread such as a fresh baguette will do.

Anyways, in other news, for the record, I cannot wait for the LSAT to be over. I am really tired of it. It is never easy to study for the LSAT, but with a sinus infection it is even worse. I think I'll watch Family Guy instead of studying for the rest of the night. Of course, when I get my disastrous results, I'll be thinking, "Geez, I wish I had studied for the LSAT instead of watching Family Guy." I'm rambling. After two pointless posts in a row, maybe my next post will be worth reading. On the other hand, I did include a really great turkey salad recipe so maybe all is not lost. If anyone tries this, please let me know. I think it is good, but feedback would be appreciated.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hi there! It has been way too long since I have updated this blog. I have so many people I need to e-mail and call and just haven't done it (if anyone of those people are reading this, I apologize). Between a sinus infection, the holidays, studying for the LSAT, having oral surgery for my orthodontic work, and Noah having an ear infection, I have barely had time to think, let alone write. However, one of my resolutions for the new year is to update my blog at least once a week, and I will do it, even if they are short posts. Derek leaves for Iraq in about a month, and I take the LSAT in a month, and Noah has a birthday, you guessed it, in a month. I will post more tomorrow...