Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Yvonne!

We celebrated Yvonne's 25th birthday at Meehan's Alehouse, an Irish pub in Alpharetta. Thankfully, I carpooled with Joel and Keely; otherwise, I would have gotten completely lost. Why does Georgia have so many CA-RAZY roads?!?

Anyway, as is customary, I took more than enough pictures and consequently annoyed everybody with my camera's blinding flash . . . Sorry, people, but everyone always likes the pictures after all is said and done . . . If you don't see yourself in these pictures, the chances are that Yvonne might've gotten you; check out her blog here.

So this is where we ate:


Apparently Meehan's is actually located at the intersection of Victorian Lounge, Country Pub, and Dining Room . . .


Greg barged in on the engaged couple's picture and made the image all the better for it.


Mike's silly face:


And Brian's sillier face.


I don't know if I've ever looked as good in a picture as Greg and Lara do in this one. It's pretty much the best/cutest/sweetest/nicest picture of the night . . .


Okay, maybe this one is. Jennifer kinda looks like a cool 60's chick. Man. I always wanted that look!


This is before the party really got started -- before eveyone was tired of the pictures:




Nate was a good sport about sitting by himself for a while and being in a picture alone. Hmmm, he looks like the most relaxed person at the party -- maybe because he got his food first?


Emily and Dave's cake looked so good that I had to take a picture. Maybe I'll make another trip up to Meehan's sooner than later . . .


Emily and Dave:


Emily, Dave, and Karmelle:


Dan and Jennifer being silly:


The birthday girl:


I really liked this lamp standing right in the center of the room:


Toughguy Seth:


Keely, one of my favorite redheads:


People hangin' out by my favorite lamp at Meehan's:


Karmelle, Yvonne, Clayton, and Jeremy:


Jeremy was showing off his car, but I can't remember why:


Great picture of Yvonne and Clayton:


I really started going crazy with my camera -- it's fun!


All in all, it was a very fun night. Good times, good times. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YVONNE!

Thing I'm thankful for: Other people's birthdays. People need to have birthdays more often . . .

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LAUREN!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

When Will WE Be Our Own Resumes?

When we're in heaven, that's when. I think it was President Faust who said that today in stake conference. It might've been Elder Hales. They both gave wonderful talks. But the resume line really hit home today.

When I was looking for a job, I was always so frustrated with the whole resume/cover letter business. I had just graduated from college, where I did not apply for any internships (Big mistake. Big. Huge!). So on paper, I looked . . . well, like a person who had just graduated from college. I didn't have any of that elusive "experience." Apart from professors and a couple of work supervisors, I had virtually no contacts. Why couldn't people just talk to ME? Hire ME, not my resume!

But it doesn't just end with jobs. I was talking with Lauren the other day about dating. (What else do two twentysomething girls talk about?) Anyway, we were frustrated because it seems as though girls who have an outstanding resume are the ones who get all the dates. What kind of resume do people have when in the dating game, you ask? Looks, super-outgoing personalities, looks, sweet flirting skills, and looks. What about those people who are quiet and a little shy and can talk one-on-one, but have really sucky mingling skills? Yeah, our -- I mean, their -- "resumes" don't look so hot. I know, I know -- someday someone will find my "hidden talents and wonderful personality" irresistable (!), but until then, I'll just say that it's . . . frustrating.

So now to my original point. As I sat in conference today, and Pres. Faust (or Elder Hales?) said "[In heaven] You will be your resume," I felt really good inside. It really is a nice feeling -- to know that God knows who you are and looks at YOU. (Although, he does look at your good works and stuff like that, but that's a more involved discussion.) STILL, the fact that God knows what's in our minds and hearts and judges us on those is more than I can ever thank Him for.

Other thing I'm thankful for: My brother Brooks and his wife Jacki for letting me stay with them over the weekend. They even made me a set of keys! What would I do without them?!?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

An Editor's Dream

I just discovered this little gem of a Web site today. It's pretty brilliant, actually. I wish I had thought of it. It's called Pain in the English. Check it out!

Thing I'm thankful for: language nerds like me.

Stand for Something!

I often think about Gordon B. Hinckley's emphasis on standing for something. I think it's one of the most important things in life to do. I learned it from my family early on. My parents taught me correct principles, critical thinking skills, and integrity when I was very young. By the time I was old enough to really make my own decisions without my parents being around, I knew how to make most of them.

The easiest example to give concerns the Word of Wisdom. It's part of the doctrine of the church I belong to, and it basically means that:

In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of:
  • Tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee and tea.
  • Illegal drugs.
(I wanted to write it exactly as the church has written it on their Web site -- not because I don't know it already, but because I like to cite things verbatim, when possible.)

Anyway, my point is that I learned how I wanted to act when I was young, so that when I was in high school and everybody was partying it up, it was pretty easy for me to say, "No, I don't want any drugs." Now, the purpose of this post is not to say that I think you're bad if you do use drugs, it's to say that I learned how to stand up for myself despite loads of peer pressure. People would often say, "Oh, you'll do drugs by the time high school is over." When I didn't, they said, "You'll try them in college." And I didn't. Actually, when I was a senior in high school, a couple of friends told me that they would be disappointed if I ever did use drugs.

So that tells me something very important. It tells me that people want to see other people standing for something. At work, I'm reading an article about the marketing of higher education. The authors (Brenda Foster and Domenica Genovese) cite Marty Neumeier's The Brand Gap, in which he emphasizes the importance of being different:

"An unfocused brand is one that is so broad it doesn't stand for anything. A focused brand, by contrast, knows exactly what it is, why it is different, and why people want it."

I think we can definitely apply this statement to morally or ethically standing for something in our lives. So to you I say:

STAND FOR SOMETHING!

Thing I'm thankful for: the amazing resources I find on the Web everyday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cockney Rhyming Slang

The following is a list of Cockney Rhyming slang I gathered from Pomegranate Knowledge Cards.

The thing about rhyming slang you must understand is that it "is meant to be impenetrable: it's originators had things to discuss that they wouldn't want the world at large -- or a constable -- to understand. The result is a rude and ribald, poetic and sometimes wildly funny language of which only a few tantalizing scraps have seeped into mainstream English over the past couple of centuries." That's what the box says, anyway.

This type of speech is similar to Don Cheadle's in the movie "Ocean's Eleven".

Adam and Eve: believe
Usage: "Would you Adam and Eve it!"
Note: Always used in full and still very much in use today

Artful dodger: lodger
Usage: "The artful ran off wiv me trouble," meaning "the lodger has eloped with my wife."
Note: Scarcely used today

Barnaby rudge: judge
Usage: "So 'e went up and the Barnaby handed him down twelve months."
Note: In current usage but rarely heard unless one moves in legal circles, usually as a defendant. Only Barnaby is used.

Barnet fair: hair
Usage: "Look at that barnet. It's got to be a syrup!"
Note: Never used in full and almost always used disparagingly. Still used and understood today.

Birdlime: time, as in time that's spent in jail
Usage: "Don't ask, 'e's doing bird."

Boat race: face
Usage: "Get yer boat out of my business!"
Note: Not as widely used as it was in the first half of the past century

Brahms and Liszt: pissed, as in drunk, not irritated
Usage: "Sorry mate, 'e's a bit Brahms and Liszt."
Note: Still in widespread use and always used in full

Bread and honey: money
Usage: "I'm making real good bread."

Butcher's hook: look
Usage: "Lets have a butcher's," meaning "Let me see that."
Note: Used all the time by people unaware they are speaking in rhyming slang. "Hook" is never added.

Dog and bone: telephone
Usage: "Yer trouble's on the dog and bone."
Note: In common usage today, usually in full but sometimes simply reduced to "dog." Cell phones are known as mobiles in Great Britain.

Donkey's ears: years
Usage: "I haven't seen 'er for donkey's."
Note: Many people use the whole phrase.

Gammon and eggs: legs
Usage: "Be fair, she's got a great set of gams."
Note: The first word is always shortened and the phrase is never use in full.

German bands: hands
Usage: "Get yer germans off me bristols!"
Note: Predates the two world wars, when Germany was best known to the Brits as a land of traveling minstrels

Ginger ale: jail
Usage: "Sorry mate, 'e's doin' bird down the ginger."
Note: "He's ginger," however, means "he's gay."

Half-inch: pinch, as in "to steal"
Usage: "Seen 'is new telly? Bet he half-inched it."
Note: Always used in full and still in common use

Loaf of bread: head
Usage: "Use yer loaf!"
Note: So common that most people don't realize that it's rhyming slang

North and south: mouth
Usage: "What a north and south."
Note: Hardly used today

Pen and ink: stink
Usage: "Cor blimey, what a pen and ink!"
Note: Always used in full

Plates of meat: feet
Usage: "Me plates are killing me."
Note: Very widely known and understood, although almost exclusively used for complaining.

Pork pie: lie
Usage: "Who's been telling porkies then?"
Note: In common usage and almost invariably used in the plural

Rabbit and pork: talk
Usage: "She's got more rabbit than Sainsbury's!" (Sainsbury's is a large chain of supermarkets.)
Note: In common use. "Pork" is never mentioned. "Rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a way of telling people who talk too much to shut up.

Rub-a-dub-dub: pub
Usage: "Come on, let's get down to the rub-a-dub"
Note: The last dub is dropped.

Sherman tank: Yank
Usage: "This Sherman give me a monster tip."
Note: To the average Brit, all Americans are Yanks.

Syrup of figs: wig
Usage: "Wot a terrible syrup."
Note: "Irish jig" means the same, but it is never abbreviated to "Irish."

Tea-leaf: Thief
Usage: "Don't take your eyes off 'im -- 'e's a tea-leaf."
Note: In constant use and always used in full

Tit for tat: hat
Usage: "Laugh? 'is titfer blew off and took 'is syrup wiv it."
Note: Always used as titfer, never in full. In WWII, a steel helmet was called a "tin titfer."

Tod Sloan: own
Usage: "You on yer tod?" meaning "You're on your own?"
Note: In common use. Never said in full, only "on one's tod."

Tomfoolery: jewelry
Usage: "They caught 'im wiv the tom and now he's doing eighteen months' bird."
Note: Very much in current use by working criminals.

Trouble and strife: wife
Usage: "Nah mate, I've gorrer get back to the trouble."
Note: Still current

Whistle and flute: suit
Usage: "Nice whistle you got there, squire."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Don't Make Me Think: Lessons In Web Usability

I'm currently reading Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug. (You'd be surprised at how many people see this book sitting on my desk, laugh, and say, "Don't make me think?! What's that?")

It's a really great and rather slim book on how we use the Web. A lot of the ideas are probably things you've subconsciously thought before, but with this book, Krug makes sure you consciously think about them. The section I've enjoyed most so far is one on Web site navigation. Krug says "the Web experience is missing many of the cues we've relied on all our lives to negotiate spaces," like sense of space, direction, and location. "On the Web," he writes, "your feet never touch the ground; instead, you make your way around by clicking on links."

"When we want to return to something on a Web site, instead of relying on a physical sense of where it is we have to remember where it is in the conceptual hierarchy and retrace our steps. This is one reason why bookmarks -- stored personal shortcuts -- are so important, and why the Back button accounts for somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of all Web clicks."

"This lack of physicality is both good and bad. On the plus side, the sense of weightlessness can be exhilarating, and partly explains why it's so easy to lose track of time on the Web -- the same as when we're 'lost' in a good book."

So there you have it. That's the reason we can spend hours online and not realize we've been sitting in front of the computer for so long. And who knew the Back button was one of the most used buttons on the internet?

Thing I'm thankful for: psychology.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Baptists and Mormons

My friend Yvonne sent me the following picture, and all I can say is, at least there's beginning to be a healthy dose of humor in religious disagreements.


Thing I'm thankful for: Intelligent parents who are obedient to the commandments of God.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Could Rachel and Monica Really Have Rented That Apartment?


Something I've thought a lot about since Lexia moved to New York is how completely un-real the lives of TV and movie characters are. Lexi and her two roommates pay something like $1,700 a month for a very small 2-bedroom apartment. The bathroom doesn't have a sink, and there is only one closet in the whole place. Oh, they live on the 6th floor of a building with no elevator. It's super hot in the summer, too. All of this for 1,700 dollars?!? I think it's even up to $1,850. Actually, Lexi and her roommates have a pretty good deal, especially for the East Village.

Most apartments are teeny-tiny in NYC, especially if you're young and single, like all the characters on "Friends," "Sex and the City," "Felicity," and all of those other billions of shows that take place in New York. There's a line in "Felicity" about why her apartment is so big: "Oh, it's rent-stabilized." Rent-stabilized, my eye! It DOES happen, but it's not likely for up-and-coming hotshots, and you WON'T see those young people wear hip, new clothes or sit on cool furniture.

I think "Seinfeld" probably did the best job of highlighting New York City life. Jerry had a relatively small (for TV, anyway) apartment, but HE WAS IN HIS MID-30's! And he played a comedian, a minor celebrity! None of the cast members had over-the-top clothes. We always saw them on the subway. True, they did take cabs all over the place, too, but THEY WERE IN THEIR 30's!

Rachel and Monica's apartment? Several thousand dollars, at the VERY least. Even Joey and Chandler's apartment would be super expensive. Felicity's shared apartment? I can't even guess. Oh, the reality Lexi and I faced when we checked out her apartment for the first time. Do you remember that, Lex? It was Ca-razy.

I saw that somebody wrote about this very thing on MSN. The article, "Are TV Characters' Salaries Realistic?", makes NYC lifestyles of the rich- and famous-looking all too clear. Although, I wish the writer had gone into the cost of living for each TV character. Still, you can see how ridiculous TV can be.

Thing I'm thankful for: A place to live.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"It's My Life! I Can Do What I Want!"

This afternoon I was in a meeting that got . . . relatively heated. "Heated" for academia means that 2 or 3 "free thinkers" talk and talk and talk, and everyone else sits there thinking, "Oh, here we go again," but they don't say anything. The result? High tension -- averted eyes, red faces, nervous laughter -- that kind of thing.

There are a few reasons why that happened at today's meeting, but the thing I am still thinking about two hours later is the subject of autonomy. One of the committee members mentioned something about this -- he is, of course, faculty. He seems to be of the opinion that faculty should be able to do whatever they want because they have academic freedom. What about the fact that faculty members are, in fact, employees of the university and the government? I don't think it matters to him -- it's all about academic freedom.

And this got me thinking about that "Academic Freedom" umbrella. Everyone's protected under that. Don't people understand that even though you can do whatever you want because everyone has agency, you also represent something larger than you?

>> Insert the "But it's my life!" cliche. <<

I'm so sick of that sentiment. I don't really think there's such a thing as a "my life." Each of us affects everyone else around us, and similarly, each of us is affected by everyone else. We all have agency, but mine affects yours, and yours affects mine. That's why we have to be extremely careful with it.

Thing I'm thankful for: My sweet critical thinking skills. :) Just kidding. Sort of. I'm thankful for my parents, siblings, church leaders, and a few teachers for teaching me how to think.

Most Educated Cities In the U.S.


The national college graduation rate is 25.9% What about individual U.S. Cities? MSN Encarta gives us the top 20. The information was gathered by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
  1. Seattle, WA
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Raleigh, NC
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Austin, TX
  6. Atlanta, GA
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Lexington-Fayette, KY
  10. San Diego, CA
  11. Portland, OR
  12. Oakland, CA
  13. San Jose, CA
  14. Charlotte, NC
  15. Denver, CO
  16. Honolulu, HI
  17. Colorado Springs, CO
  18. Pittsburgh, PA
  19. St. Paul, MN
  20. Cincinnati, OH
  21. Virginia Beach, VA
You go, Atlanta.

Read the full article, "Most-Educated Cities in the U.S.," which includes the percentage of each city's population with a college degree or higher. It also includes the median household income, which usually increases with the percentage of city graduates.

Thing I'm thankful for: Getting a college degree, of course!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAY!

Next Time You Visit a Dentist in London . . .

Make sure she isn't dating her dental hygienist. Reports that a British dentist allowed boyfriend to drill teeth surfaced yesterday. The MSN article reads:

The boyfriend worked on more than 600 people, drilling out cavities without local anaesthetic and installing expensive fillings that crumbled within days, often leaving patients in agony, the BBC said.

Yikes.

Thing I'm thankful for: Toothbrushes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Queen's English

The following is a list of British colloquialisms and their American equivalents. It's a fun list I gathered from Pomegranate Knowledge Cards. Try to use them in daily speech -- it might be fun!

Argy-Bargy: noun. A dispute, wrangle, fight, or argument.
British usage: "There's a bit of an argy-bargy."
U.S. translation: "What a ruckus!"

Barney: noun. A noisy quarrel, a scuffle or slight fight, an argument, a rowdy party, or a crowd of people.
British usage: "There's a right barney going on."
U.S. translation: "There's a rumble brewing."

Beetle Crushers: noun. Large boots or shoes, or large, flat, heavy feet
British usage: "Don't come around here in your great beetle crushers stamping on everything.
U.S. translation: "Don't come around here in your big clodhoppers stomping on everything."

Belt Up: verb (intransitive). To be quiet
British usage: "Oh for pity's sake, do belt up!"
U.S. translation: "Can it! Give it a rest! Put a lid on it!"

Berk: noun. A fool, an incompetent or very stupid person
British usage: "I feel like a right berk!"
U.S. translation: "I feel like a dufus!"

Bounder: noun. One whose manners and behavior are socially unacceptable; a despicable person
British usage: "What an absolute bounder!"
U.S. translation: "What a total jerk!"

Brassed Off: adjective. Uninspired, low in spirits, flat, "fed up"
British usage: "I'm feeling really brassed off."
U.S. translation: "I'm feeling really blah; it's a real drag."

Clobber: noun. Clothes or belongings, especially new or high quality clothes
British usage: "Get your clobber on."
U.S. translation: "Put on your best duds (or threads)."

Codswallop: noun. Utter nonsense; drivel
British usage: "What a load of codswallop."
U.S. translation: "What a load of guff, bunk, hooey, baloney, etc."

Diamond Geezer: noun. An excellent fellow, a sterling chap, a good man
British usage: "He's a diamond geezer."
U.S. translation: "He's a primo guy, number one in my book."

Elevenses: noun. A break for coffee or light refreshments at 11:00 a.m.
British usage: "Isn't it time for elevenses?"
U.S. translation: "Isn't it time for a coffe break (or brunch)?"

Kecks: noun. Trousers
British usage: "Keep your kecks on!"
U.S. translation: "Don't have a cow!"

Knackered: adjective. Worn out, debilitated, exhausted
British usage: "I'm totally knackered."
U.S. translation: "I'm plum tuckered out, pooped, bushed, wiped out, etc."

Last Knockings: noun. Nearly dead, on one's way out, about to die, "one foot in the grave"
British usage: "He's on his last knockings."
U.S. translation: "He's over the hill."

Like the Clappers: adverb. Very fast or very hard
British usage: "They went like the clappers."
U.S. translation: "They went lickety-split."

Lugholes: noun. Ears
British usage: "Pin back your lugholes."
U.S. translation: "Get a load of this."

Natter: noun. Chat, aimless talk
British usage: "Fancy a natter?"
U.S. translation: "Want to shoot the breeze?"

On Your Bike!: phrase. A term of derision or annoyance, used in the sense of "go away," "off with you," "take action," or "hurry up"
British usage: "On your bike, Nigel!"
U.S. translation: "Shove off! Scram! Skedaddle! etc."

Peckish: adjective. Hungry
British usage: "I say, I'm feeling a trifle peckish, how about you?"
U.S. translation: "I've got a case of the munchies."

Rozzer: noun. Policeman
British usage: "Look out! Here come the rozzers."
U.S. translation: "Look out! Here come the cops."

Sprog: noun. Child or baby
British usage: "Is she having a sprog?"
U.S. translation: "Is she pregnant?"

Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire: phrase. A phrase meaning "go upstairs to bed"
British usage: "Off with you, now. Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire."
U.S. translation: "Time to hit the hay (or hit the sack)."

Wazzock: noun. Idiot, foolish person
British usage: "You great wazzock!"
U.S. translation: "You big dipstick, putz, dork, etc."

Wonky: adjective. Unstable, wobbly, crooked, off-center, out of kilter, not very well put together
British usage: "It's all gone wonky," or "I've just spilt my drink 'cos the table's all wonky."
U.S. translation: "It's all cockeyed, catawampus, out of whack, etc."

Yob: noun. Thug, hooligan, lout, especially referring to a violent youth
British usage: "They're nothing but a gang of yobs."
U.S. translation: "They ain't nuthin' but a bunch of hoods, punks, roughnecks, etc."

Monday, January 16, 2006

A New Definition of Greatness


In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., I visited The King Center Web site. The site plays a recording when you enter it, and it's a quote from King's 1968 sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct." So I looked up this sermon and found the definition of what Martin Luther King calls the "drum major instinct." He based it on the research of Viennese physician Alfred Adler. And so this "drum major instinct," he says, is the "quest for recognition" and the "desire for attention." The desire for distinction is the basic drive of human life.

King continues his sermon with discourse on Jesus Christ, saying:

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

I thought that was a wonderful thought for the day -- or, for life.

Thing I'm thankful for: America. It is a great country, isn't it?

GAP Statues

Okay, well, they're not really statues, but mannequins. This post is a continuation of NY Statues, in which Lexia copies or poses with statues/mannequins -- fake people, anyway.

These shots were taken at an Atlanta GAP:



Thing I'm thankful for: Lexia making me laugh.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Huh?

For this year's Golden Globe presenters, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and In Style are giving gift bags worth $62,000! I took the following list from MSN's "Frosty Freebies" article.

This year's big-ticket items include a couple of ice-cold excursions: A two-week exploration of the wildlife in Antarctica, Tasmania and New Zealand ($22,000, with winter gear thrown in), and a diamond expedition to the Canadian Arctic ($15,000, which includes a bonus piece of ice: a "personally engraved, government-certified Canadian diamond mounted in a pendant").

Less frigid freebies include a two-night stay at the same swanky Napa Valley resort where Christina Aguilera recently tied the knot with Jordan Bratman ($3,000); a tooth-whitening gift certificate ($4,000); a six-month health club membership ($4,000); a diamond ring from Chopard ($2,000); a ridiculously expensive pair of diamond-button jeans ($1,250); an espresso machine ($695); and a Blackberry ($500).

Also up for grabs are some spoils that no self-respecting star would be caught dead with: multiple quarts of calorie-laden ice cream ($300), equally carb-packed truffles ($250) and a vacuum ($300), which many a celebrity-serving housekeeper should expect to receive as a bonus in the coming months.

Thing I'm thankful for: Not being obligated to present at awards shows. I really would hate it -- although the gift bag would be very nice.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pressure Washers Are Cool

My dad wrote this on our driveway with a pressure washer. Pretty neat, huh? Who knew my dad would do such a thing?


Thing I'm thankful for: The rain today. I know a lot of people didn't like it, but I really like rain -- almost anytime.

I Felt Like Cutting Off My Leg

Early this morning around 2:00 a.m., I awoke to excruciating pain. I had a muscle cramp in my right calf. It's the longest cramp I've ever had; it must've lasted for 10 minutes. I just kept holding my calf muscle, crying, and praying that the pain would stop. It didn't go away immediately, so I tried to stand up and walk it off. I ended up in this weird standing/crawling position, and I was just crying and crying my eyes out. Finally, the pain ceased, but I was so afraid it would come back. I don't know how I ever fell back asleep.

The cramp was such a bad one that when I woke up this morning, my calf was sore. Actually, it's sore right now -- nearly 11 hours later.

The whole thing got me thinking about why I get muscle cramps. In my right calf only. I've gotten them ever since my early high school years, and they only happen at night. Yes, that's right, they wake me from my dreamy sleep with searing pain.

So I found out what I could from my old physiology textbook. Muscle cramps are prolonged involuntary contractions of individual or multiple skeletal muscles. During cramping, nerve action potentials (the electric signal that leads to movement) fire at abnormally high rates, a much greater rate than occurs during maximal voluntary contraction. The specific cause of this high activity is uncertain but is probably related to electrolyte imbalances in the extracellular fluid surrounding both the muscle and nerve fibers and changes in extracellular osmolarity, especially hypoosmolarity.

C'mon, people, stick with me here. Basically, what's happening is that individual muscles or small groups of muscles flex even though you're not moving your bones. And no one really knows for certain why that happens. It is linked to electrolyte imbalance, or too little amounts of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. You can get those kinds of chemicals in various foods or sports drinks, like Gatorade.

One study has linked muscle cramps to muscle fatigue and inadequate stretching. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary tells me my nocturnal cramps may improve by taking quinine, a salt (which perhaps is an electrolyte?).

I'm not sure why cramps happen in one muscle more than others. Hmmm, when I get to heaven, that's at least one question I'll ask . . .

So. I guess I need to stretch more, just in case. And if anyone knows where I can get some quinine . . . ?

Thing I'm thankful for: My biology classes. Loved 'em.

West Georgia Wolves

The university I graduated from and now work for just changed their "athletics marketing identity," a.k.a. their mascot. It used to be the Braves, but the NCAA started discouraging the use of such ethnic identities a few years ago.

So what are we now? Obviously from this post's title, you now see that we're the wolves. This was the winner from such names, including "Patriots," "Redhawks," "Firebirds," and "Power." The three most popular were the "Patriots," "Redhawks," and "Wolves."

Because I'm now a full-time staff member of the Communications and Marketing department -- ahem -- I heard the name a couple of days before it was announced during the press conference. When I first heard the name, I thought, "Wolves? Yuck!" But actually, it has kind of grown on me. "West Georgia Wolves" sounds pretty good, and at least with this name, we'll have a proper sideline mascot. What would the university have used as a mascot for something like "Power?" Plus, out of all the proposed graphic sketches of a logo, the one for the wolves was by far the best. UWG has other plans up it's sleeve, too -- a new health/wellness center, new soccer field, a football stadium, and a move from Division II to I in the next 7-10 years. It's pretty cool, actually.

But listen to me -- when did I care so much about sports? Since I started working in a full-time position with the Communications and Marketing department. !

Thing I'm thankful for: My new Banana Republic sweaters that I got on sale. They're my first Banana Republic purchases of my life!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Strokes: "First Impressions of Earth" Promo Tour

I told you I'd give you pictures and a thorough report, so here it is.

Atlanta was only one of five U.S. cities to hear The Strokes on their "First Impressions of Earth" Tour. (And I WON TICKETS!)

Lauren and I met up with Lexi and Brooks at Brooks's apartment because he conveniently lives about five minutes from the Earthlink Live venue in Midtown. Here are the pre-concert shots:




Whoa, I look really tired in that last picture -- I was sick, people! Coughing, headache -- but how could I give up The Strokes, especially when I WON TICKETS!

Lexi and I like crowd pictures, so here's a concert crowd. Brooks, Lexi, Lauren, and I were probably four of about 75 straight-laced-looking kind of people. I like some of the new rock style, but I can't stand hair in people's eyes!


Left to right: Nick Valensi on rhythm guitar, Nikolai Fraiture on bass, and Julian Casablancas singing.


Lexi took these oblique shots -- CRAZY.



Photoshop can help you make almost any picture look really good.


Another crowd picture. Gotta love the fellow fans -- except half-naked drunk girls and really big guys who crowd out your space. But they're okay; mostly it's the half-naked drunk girls. One of 'em spilled beer all over Lexia. Yuck.


This picture was obviously pre-beer accident.



This is probably my favorite picture of the bunch. Guitarists always look so relaxed and cool with their instruments.


Despite the fact that band t-shirts are extremely overpriced, I like to buy them anyway, especially when not a lot of U.S. cities will have the chance to see the show. So here's the front:

Cool.


And the back: Double cool.


So I've been listening to The Strokes non-stop for the last two days. Maybe I'm trying to recapture that concert feeling. I love listening to good live music. Who doesn't?

The Strokes put on really good shows, too. I saw them in their first concert series when their first CD came out. They play their music really well live. They also play a good mix of new and old stuff; they actually played more old songs than new, probably. What I like most about watching them live is that Julian Casablancas really gets into his lyrics. Sometimes he seems so expressionless, but his voice is so animated when he sings; I guess it's his way of making the songs fun to sing even after 50 times. Something I thought was especially neat was that at the end of the show, Julian thanked everybody for coming and said, "God bless you. God bless America." That was nice to hear. No big "to do" about some big cause, just "God bless." Anyway, I loved it. Brooks really liked the show, too, which is saying something because he hasn't listened to The Strokes in a while. AND he has great taste in music. :)

All-around good show. If you like The Strokes even a little bit, and you somehow get the chance to see them, buy tickets.

Oh, one more thing -- If you're a girl, and you get the chance to buy tickets, try doubly hard to get them. All of The Strokes boys are pretty. :) But you probably knew that already.

>> This just in (For me, anyway): Julian Casablancas is married! Darn it. Now, when I'm walking around New York City and I happen to run into him, he won't be able to ask me on a date and I won't be able to accept him. Albert Hammond, Jr.? << href="http://sawasnow.blogspot.com/2006/01/super-news-revealed.html">I WON TICKETS!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Super News Revealed

Okay, okay. At the time I posted that teaser, I was really excited about what had just occurred. I was too excited to not blog anything, but too tired to write everything. Now that I look back at that post, I feel kind of silly. You'd think I had gotten engaged or something -- I wish.

Anyway, what happened was that I won free tickets to The Strokes concert in Atlanta tonight! I know it doesn't sound amazing unless you are a Strokes fan, but lemme tell you -- it was. See, the concert is a very small one; tickets to be sold were limited to 300. And they could only be purchased at the Atlanta venue. There were about 200 more tickets, though, and the only way to get those was to win them from radio station 99x. What are the chances, right?

So my mom drove Lexi to the venue on Thursday. Lexi stood in line for a while, only to find out that all 300 tickets had already been sold! We had to somehow win twice in order for me, Lexi, and Lauren to go to the show because 99x gave the tickets away in pairs. Here's the way it worked: Every hour, every day, for three days, a 99x deejay announced the call-in time, and the caller dials the number, hoping she is say, the 15th caller.

But no one I know listens to the radio. So Thursday night, there Lexia and I were, not listening to the radio, and Lexi says, "I'm just gonna call in now and see what happens." It was 9:24. She won.

But that's her story. Mine is the story of a totally loyal friend. I was excited that Lexi won tickets for us, but I was also a little disappointed that there wasn't another one for Lauren. So I told Lauren that if she would incessantly call 99x, I would too, and somehow we'd win her a ticket. I didn't really believe myself, though. Friday passed, and no ticket had been won. "That's it!" I thought. "I'm putting my all into this!" (I hadn't really been calling incessantly.) So from about 11:00 p.m. on Friday to 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, I sat in front of the computer, listened to online radio and called whenever the deejay told me to.

The thing about calling to win tickets is that it gets kind of addictive -- for me, anyway. With every new hour, I thought, "This is the hour. I'm gonna get it right this time." And every hour, I did get a little better at listening and dialing. You really have to time your call right, too. If you call too quickly, you might be the 2nd caller. If you call too late, all you get is a busy signal. The key was to be the 15th. So I set the redial button. At about 4:15 a.m. -- the call-in time for that hour -- I pushed redial. "99x! 5th caller." That's what I heard, and I thought I was definitely too early. How could I win now? How could I push 'Off', 'Redial', and 'On' and still make the 15th spot? No way. But I tried again, heard a few rings, and this is basically how the conversation went:

"Hello. 99x."
"Hi. Have you already got a winner?"
"No."
"Am I the 15th caller?"
"Yes."
"I AM???"
"Uh-huh."
>>Some contact information was given. Incidentally, the guy is from Douglasville. Neat. <<
"Did I really win?"
"You really won."

That's basically it. It was really fun/exciting/amazing/etc. Mostly, it's just really crazy that I won -- that Lexi and I both won! I think winning these tickets might be more fun than the actual show. I mean, the only other raffle-type thing I've won was a drawing for a Michael's framing gift certificate.

Check my blog in a couple days, and I will most likely have Strokes pictures posted.

Thing I'm thankful for: modern medicine. Thank you, Alexander Fleming.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Super News!

I'm so excited to tell all of you what happened to me about half an hour ago! But I can't tell you until tomorrow evening. So stay tuned . . .

Sunday, January 01, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Okay, okay. So this post is about a week past due. But I wanted to get these pictures up here anyway. Because I shot so many pictures (I took at least one picture each minute after midnight!), I won't write a caption for every picture. I'll just mention that Lindsey is Blake's wife, and her family and family friend visited us for the weekend.

Ben and Steven:




Mrs. and Mr. Smith and Lindsey:


I wasn't planning on taking a picture of Brooks and Jacki kissing, but Jacki planted one on Brooks just as I snapped the image. I also wasn't going to put this picture on my blog, but after seeing Lexi's face, I thought I'd share it with you!


Hm. Why does almost everyone situate their noisemakers as though they're cigars?





Lily is blowing her noisemaker out of her mouth and at me!







Again with the smoking! Notice the matching t-shirt and noisemaker colors. Clever girls!










Happy New Year, Snows and Smiths (and Ben)! It was fun!

Thing I'm thankful for: noisemakers at midnight. Oh how I wish I had filmed it.