Thanksgiving in Nashville, year two

11.27.2008 Comments: (5)
Well, I'm here with Dan's family in Nashville for the second year in a row. The people are the same, but everyone is a year older. Dan's nephews are still adorable and incredibly well behaved, and Dan's sister-in-law still made a ridiculously delicious Thanksgiving feast. Today was actually a big day - it was the first time Dan's nephew rode a bike without training wheels!! He actually did really, really well - I remember the process being a LOT more painful and physcially scarring than Jacob's experience today. There were many many pictures taken, of course. Anyway, I was reading last year's Thanksgiving post about what I am thankful for, and realized that I was going to have to come up with something creative, as everything I mentioned last year definitely still applies. Off the top of my head, I'm very thankful for my current living situation, job stability, and the ability to travel over the holidays (as well as the ability of my family to travel for Christmas). Also, I'm thankful for travel, email, cards, letters, text messages, Facebook, phone calls, care packages, and everything else that helps me keep in touch (however poorly) with everyone I love from thousands of miles away. I'm thankful for my friends being such an important fixture in each other's lives while we go through all of these crazy life changes we've been experiencing. I'm thankful for memories, and for digital cameras to catch all the memories our minds don't catch. I'm thankful for learning, reading, used book stores, Bookmooch, and libraries. I'm thankful for everyone I miss, and everyone who misses me back. I'm thankful for medical advances - the ones that are saving my grandmother, the ones that created life for some of my friends, and the ones that are continuing to keep some of my other friends, and their babies, healthy through pregnancies now. Of course, I'm thankful for Dan who supports and loves me through crazy plans, life changes, moods that I didn't even know I have, bad times, good times, and all the other stuff too. :) I know we haven't written about the pilgrimage we took earlier this week, and I don't want to spoil the warm fuzziness of this current post, so here's a teaser. I'll write more when we get home tomorrow.


11.24.2008 Comments: (2)
Well, here I am, a product of a mismanaged sleep schedule, awake at 2 am, Nashville time. Dan and I are here visiting his family for Thanksgiving again - we both got in on Saturday after surprisingly not late or horrendous flights, and I can not sleep. I haven't been falling asleep much before 3 am at all, which is not exciting, as then I don't wake up until around 11 am. So, I get up and have breakfast while everyone else has lunch. Today, we got out of the house and went to a really nice art museum in downtown Nashville and by the time we got back, had dinner, played with Dan's nephews and settled down, I was actually tired. And fell asleep for about an hour. You know when you fall asleep with all your clothes on and the lights on and you wake up and go back to sleep feeling kind of bashful? That is not what happened here. I got an hour of sleep and have now been awake for the past two hours, being all pissed off that my body took a nap. Dan, of course, is fast asleep next to me. *shakes fist* Tomorrow Dan and I are going on a pilgrimage of sorts - I don't want to ruin the surprise for tomorrow's post - but we're getting up early, so hopefully that will reset this ridiculousness. I'm sure you're asking, "Why aren't you reading? You wanted to read an ungodly amount of books this year?" Well, the answer is that I finished my 50 books for the year, which is cool. (I have a list on 43 Things - and I was really excited to check "Done" on that goal) I'm still reading though, my current book is about nuns. It's actually super interesting, but there's only so much you can read about nuns in one night. I hit my limit about 20 minutes here I am, rambling late at night to the interwebs. *43 Things is a place where you keep lists of things you want to accomplish. Yes, it is an online website for crazy listmakers like myself. The next goal I want to work on is cooking all the recipes in a cookbook. Dan's brother and sister-in-law actually just gave us a seasonal cookbook - the recipes using fruits and veggies that are in season (working on some of the tree-hugging goals from last night's post) so I think that may be the book to work from. Just in case this problem happens again tomorrow, can you all let me know what blogs/links you've been into lately? I don't have my computer so all of my bookmarks are currently unavailable...and I may need something to entertain me while all of this Nashville suburb sleeps...

The post in which I make you feel bad.

11.23.2008 Comments: (4)
So, it's no secret that since moving to cali I've become even more of a crazy liberal hippie than I was before. I've started getting all into farmer's markets and reusable shopping bags and all that business. And compared to my life before I got here, I feel like I do a lot of things to make sure that I'm pretty sustainable. Unfortunately, some of those "How big is your carbon footprint?" online quizzes out there tell me that if everyone lived like I do, we would need 4.53 earths to sustain all of us. And, that makes me feel bad and wears away on me until I feel guilty and ashamed and take another step to do something else. So I figured if I put everything on the blog, maybe I'll feel even MORE guilt and need to start picking up the pace on all this business. But, I think we should start with the positives - what ways of life have Dan and I picked up AND stuck with since we moved? 1. Reusable shopping bags at the grocery store 2. Local, organic milk in reusable glass bottles 3. More local and organic food - everytime we need something new we try to make sure it's local (origin within 100 miles) and always organic beef, eggs and dairy 4. Buying in the bulk aisle - reuse the plastic bags, avoid packagaing and cheeeeaper 5. Plastic, Metal, and glass recycling (home and work) 6. Paper/cardboard recycling (including junk mail, and anything that gets shredded) 7. No car. (Whatever, it counts.) Lots more walking, biking and public transit (even to the airport people. I'm committed) 8. Non toxic household cleaners - we like Method a lot, and Mrs. Meyers 9. Composting! Hooray for Berkeley for having food scrap composting available. 10. Compostable paper towels and utensils 11. No plastic bottles. Ever. Sigg water bottles as replacement. 12. Unplugging certain appliances at night (power strips, etc.) 13. All laundry washed with cold water. 14. CFLs replace any burned out light bulbs (even in the fridge, which was strange at first, but it's ok now) 15. Using one side clean paper before recycling it. At work: 1. Encouraging staff to use one side clean paper for flyers, copies and in the printer 2. Making sure compost and recycle bins are available at events (still in progess) 3. Cutting down on paper use through online surveys, and evaluations 4. Buying post consumer waste paper products (as high percentage as possible) 5. Reusing everything possible 6. Not allowing any staff funding to be spent on plastic bottles at all. My staff cried about this for about 5 minutes before moving on. Honestly, right now after writing that list, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. But, I feel like I can do a lot more. I do know this is kind of a downward spiral, because there are always people that do crazy amounts more than I do for the planet and such. Not going to focus on that though. 1. Take the reusable shopping bags other places! No idea why I have such a block on bringing them to Target or whatever, but I always forget. 2. Taking shorter showers. While Dan was gone this week, I took the kitchen timer into the shower to try and time myself and...epic fail. I need to be better about this. Showers do not need to be so long! 3. More natural personal use products - lotion, shampoo, face wash, makeup, etc. 4. Kitty litter. mmmmk. So full of chemicals and badness. There are some compostable/natural ones out there that you can flush (seriously!) which are better for kitties and people. Need to look into. 5. Make at least one fully local meal a week. Which means... 5a.Get back to the weekly farmer's market - it is ridiculous that we aren't going every week when it is made so easy for us in Berkeley. We have at least 4 or 5 around that we can walk to every week. Our food should be more local, supporting the actual people who farm. Plus, this helps us eat what is actually in season! Also, buy more heirloom varieties. 6. Trying to cut down on ridiculous amounts of packaging. For example - last time we went to Costco, we bought a big thing of Ritz crackers, which was four boxes of Ritz inside another box. Ugh. 7. Buy compostable napkins and tissues 8. Continue finding out where my stuff comes from - I recently had a bad experience with eggs, thought I was getting free range eggs from happy hens anddd no. I need to educate myself more. 9. Unplugging more things when they are not in use (especially in my office) Long term goals: 1. Make own household cleaners for much cheaper 2. Learn how to can and preserve fresh local foods What are you doing to be more sustainable? Seriously, I need all the help and moral support I can get! If you're not doing anything, here are some links to start the feeling bad about that: Sustainable Dave - this guy is doing about 14 times more than me. and he's funny in his videos. Story of Stuff - fun video

In a Glass Case of Emotion

11.14.2008 Comments: (3)
It seems LB and I had similar moods today. I'm very homesick. I miss all of you more than you know.


11.13.2008 Comments: (1)
OK, not ours, but have you seen these little pups... cute! Watch them all day, no really, you can. Just hang out on our blog ALL day. 5 week old Shiba Inu puppies on puppy cam: 3 girls, 3 boys. I want. We all know KK is the kittie lover, and i am totally in love with Lily and James, but dogs... seriously, come on... man's best friend!

Holy legwarmers Batman!

11.10.2008 Comments: (3)
So, I just watched Flashdance for the very first time ever. And....I'm kind of underwhelmed. I think if I hadn't been distracted by the copious amounts of body glitter and the big hair, I would have enjoyed it more. I do think I honestly maybe would have identified more if I had seen it when I was younger, in the 80s, when I was doing some bad hair/clothes/jelly shoes things. But, I do appreciate the message and going after your dreams and so on. My staff, in an effort to help me with the cultural norms and such, has made a list on my office door of all the movies that I "have" to see to be "normal." So far, we've gotten through Back to the Future (1 &2), Batman (with Jack Nicholson) and now Flashdance. Soon to be crossed off the list: The Breakfast Club Say Anything

November, one day at a time

11.09.2008 Comments: (2)
Well, it's already the second weekend of November, and I haven't told you all thank you so much for my birthday wishes yet, which is not cool of me. So, THANK YOU! I feel very loved and appreciated. Thanks for the cards, Facebook notes, phone calls, flowers, emails, etc. You are all awesome. A lot of people have asked what we did for my birthday. So... November 1... Hooray for birthdays! We woke up actually later than planned - we had wanted to go to brunch at my favorite place, and by the time we got down there (in the pouring rain) and realized how long the wait would be, Dan realized that I would be late for my birthday present, which was a 90 minute massage! So, we ate birthday lunch at Baja Fresh (fancy, I know) and then headed to the the pouring rain. Dan had booked a deep tissue massage for me, because of the class I had taken that week, which was great but it was intense. When I left, Dan wasn't back yet, but the ladies at the spa were sure to tell me that my husband would be back soon to pick me up. A little weird. That night we set out for a night out in SF because we had tickets to a Matt Nathanson concert at the Warfield, which is this incredibly historic venue in downtown SF (the locals call it the Tenderloin district. Could there be a more unappealing name for a location?) Anyway, we went to one of our favorite local places for dinner (Burmese!) and then headed across the bay, still in the pouring rain. Luckily, we got to the Warfield in plenty of time, and the concert was GREAT. If you've never heard of him, you should check him out. He's in the Jason Mraz/John Mayer sort of vein. Anyway, he put on a great show, and is a really funny guy, so the in between song bits were good times. November 2... Another day, another concert. We saw Jason Mraz at the Greek Theater (on campus venue, where I went to see Dave Matthews) - it was a weekend full of skinny white guys playing guitars really. The concert strangely started at 3pm, which was especially weird on the same day as Daylight Savings. Anyhow, he's also great live. He was a little too happy, the world is made of sunshine and unicorns, every little thing is gonna be alright for this sarcastic heart though. BUT, I really appreciated that live, he really sounds like he does on his album, which is important to me. November 3... Good things! My staff had broken into my office over the weekend and decorated - all week I was tripping over the balloons that were all over the floor. They were all really proud of themselves, coming by to make sure that I liked it. Also, I left the office early, because I had to get home to watch Monday Night Football. (Early, because that crap starts at 5 pm here. Which is ridiculous). Anyway, I know Redskins fans know the outcome of the game, but I just wanted to reiterate that the Steelers were victorious. And I was happy about it. November 4... So, I'm not sure if I really need to state the fact that the candidate I voted for won the presidential race, or the fact that he won in quite an impressive fashion, or the fact that I am SO HAPPY ABOUT IT. Yeah, I didn't think so. Election day was interesting here - I was still at work at like, 4 pm, when they started announcing that some of the East Coast states were either going red or blue. The polls had barely closed in California before they called the whole election - it was crazy. Students basically rushed out of the buildings and had a celebration in the courtyard, complete with cheering, chanting "Yes we can" and all out screaming. Luckily, they left the unit, but only to join the cheering MOB that took over all of downtown Berkeley and the whole campus. It was pretty intense apparently. There are pictures all over CNN and Facebook. Also - VIRGINIA? OHIO? I am SO proud!!! I couldn't believe it. What a time to be a proud Northern Virginia Democrat. I didn't do any of the rejoicing and running about, which I'm now regretting. I wish I had taken the time to celebrate, because all of my exhiliration was basically completely sucked out when I clicked over on to check on the ballot measures and saw that it was likely that Prop 8 was going to pass in California. In case you've been living under a rock, Prop 8 is the measure that banned gay marriage in California. It ended up actually passing 52% to 46%. I was and still am shocked and completely appalled. I didn't realize how much I was emotionally invested in the measure until it passed...and now, I just don't even know what to say. Of course though, I am thrilled to have contributed to the historic moment of Obama getting elected. November 5... Moping still about Prop 8. November 6... Tech beat Maryland on Thursday night. Fear the turtle my ass. November 7... I actually missed the Prop 8 march in San Francisco on Friday night, because I had to teach my class. But, on the up side, class went really well, and I think a lot of them are really starting to make some progress, which is of course what's really important. November 8... Wow, a lot of good football today. Most of the games didn't end up the way I would have liked, but good games. Penn State, loser. LSU (who I was rooting for after the PSU loss), loser. Cal, loser - which is fine, because they couldn't catch a pass to save their lives. And wow, penalties much? In other news, I'm on my second to last book for the year - I'm actually reading the Diary of Anne Frank for the first time ever, and having some trouble getting into it. I find myself forgetting while I'm reading that she was a real person, in this REAL situation. Crazy. Any suggestions for the 50th book? Also, my grandparents (mom's parents) just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Friday. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of sixty years. Six decades! They are pretty awesome. I updated you all on the status of my grandmother actually, and I wanted to say thanks for the warm thoughts - she will be going into surgery to remove a tumor, but she is in very high spirits, her doctors are positive and the prognosis is good. So, we will keep hoping for things to go well! Saw my first Christmas themed commercial yesterday. Ugh. The rain has started here almost every day, which means winter is actually here. Between that and the sun going down so GD early, I'm kind of depressed about the weather and out of doors. I hope everyone is staying warm! **Update: So, I was reading through my old posts today and realized that I'm a total hypocrite. When it was March, and Daylight Savings Time went the other way, I was all "Woo Daylight Savings! Extra daylight is the best thing ever!" and now...where's the loyalty? *shakes head sadly*

Election Day!

11.04.2008 Comments: (2)
Well, I'm up late studying for election day. Seriously, I'm studying and doing research. Between elected positions, state proposition and city measures, there are THIRTY EIGHT items on the City of Berkeley ballot. I haven't studied this hard in awhile. I have a cheat sheet. Luckily, my polling place is literally in my unit (I can go in PJs! It's right downstairs! I don't even have to go outside!) so if there is any last minute cramming, I'll probably still do OK. I hope everyone is going to take the time to vote tomorrow. Even if the lines are long, even if the weather is crappy, even if you have to wake up early and go before work. Voting tomorrow is a new requirement to be my friend. No vote=no hugs and love from KK. Honestly, I don't care who you vote for (I mean, I care, but it's up to you) I care more that you just actually do it. It's not cute to complain about the state of things and then NOT VOTE. Um, also. NO on Prop 8. and 4. That is all.