Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Put That Sucker on the Fridge!

Today my teacher handed me back a test. I studied pretty hard for this one, and knew that I had to know my stuff because all the questions were short answer--no mutliple choice and no faking it. Guess what I got? 40 out of 39!! That's right, I even got the extra credit answer right! This was really good news to me, as I was feeling like I wasn't doing well in my GIS classes and was afraid everyone was passing me by (this was also the week I had three tests, so it felt good to do well on it). Tonight was definitely a motivator, and even though I probably won't put it on the fridge, I definitely had the desire to. So indulge me this moment of patting myself on the back...before studying for a test tomorrow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's That Time of Year

I just got back from a run/walk a little bit ago. It's of course that time of year, when the weather starts getting warmer and people get stir-crazy to be outside (notwithstanding the snow storm that descended on Salt Lake yesterday), when 5ks and marathons start gearing up. I have officially signed up for the Race for the Cure with my work, since breast cancer genetic testing is sort of our bread and butter, and when I get paid next week will also register for the Salt Lake City Marathon 5k event.

I might have bit off more than I can chew, as the events are three weeks apart and today was my first attempt at running since probably last year's 5k. But with the coming of race season also comes the realization that my winter fat is, well, fat, and hopefully these two races can help with that. Also, I like getting the t-shirts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Traveling to/Living in New York City

My co-worker just got back from a week-long vacation in New York City. Before she left she asked me about the city and what she should do. I didn't really know what to tell her, because living there is a lot different than visiting there for a week. Still, I gave her my ideas of the best touristy things to do in the city, which really weren't any different than what a tour book would tell you: Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Central Park, Times Square, subway. Yes, all these things are New York City, but they're not "the city." (except the subway, which my co-worker raved about, which made me all happy inside). And while I did all those things when I lived there, it was the small things of buying groceries, going to church, getting ice cream, parties at friends' houses, getting caught in the rain, talking with my roommates, that really made it great for me.

As she talked about it, I got a little nostalgic for it. Ah, the wonderful thing that is New York City. So much of who I am was discovered there and I have a deep sort of reverence for it. My goal now is to finish up school, get a Master's Degree, and make my way out east again. My body, soul, and mind yearn to be in a big city where cars are not necessary and public transportation is essential, where walking is convenient and welcome, and there are millions of people to pass by on the street. So yep, I'm just being patient and working hard and someday it'll happen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

San Francisco Day Four: A City After My Own Heart

For our last day in sunny San Francisco we didn't really do much. We used this day to buy our souvenirs and chocolate for mom, dad, and brother. We took our last rides on the cable cars. We walked around and just soaked up the last moments we had left.

San Francisco is lovely. And you know what I really love about it? Not only do they recycle, but they also compost!! In every restaurant or store or anywhere where things are thrown away, there are three receptacles--garbage, recyclables, and compost. Cool, huh.

Also why I love San Francisco--they're dedication to public transportation. They're so dedicated that they are the only city to still use cable cars. And not just cable cars, but street cars, too. Street cars replaced cable cars because they were less noisy and more efficient. They have old street cars from various cities around the world, with each one painted the original colors of the city they came from. It makes for a very colorful city.

One of my favorite moments from the trip was on our first night. As we were crossing the street to Ghirardelli Square, a man on the corner said to me as we passed,"Girl with the white shoes, give me some money to buy some booze." He had clever (or so he thought) rhymes for many of the passers, including, "Hey bro, gimme some dough." He would cackle to himself as he said them in his lyrical way.

I also loved the cable cars and when two would pass each other, we'd sometimes hold out our hands for high-fives or wave to the others. I loved the sunny weather. I loved out hotel and how convenient it was. I loved experiencing a new place.

Monday, March 22, 2010

San Francisco Day 3: Alcatraz and a Nap

Day three in the Fog City took us to Pier 31 to catch a ferry to Alcatraz. Alcatraz is an island in the middle of the bay that was once home to Alcatraz prison, for anyone who didn't know. It closed down in 1963, and after some tumultuous years, was named part of the National Park Services and receives tourists. The place is very cool and kinda made me wish I was a park ranger.

The ticket to Alcatraz includes an audio tour, and while I normally shun those types of things, it was actually quite handy for this. And very well narrated, with former guards and prisoners taking their turns. It was also nice to be directed around and told about various things. Since everyone had one, you'd see large groups of people all move, look and point at the same things at the same time!

The most interesting thing I learned about Alcatraz is that it has a vast ecological system of birds and flowers and plants that you would never imagine. Birds love it there because there are no predators and abundant food in the bay. They were all over the island and it was quite cool to see them all.

I could go on and on about Alcatraz, but I'm trying to keep this short. Check this out, or the awesome documentary made about it. Seriously, there was a lot I didn't know about it and the tour was super educational.

After Alcatraz we hit up Pier 39 again, got some ice cream, and then made it back to our hotel where we both took a nap. The bike ride from the day before had caught up with us.

But then we headed out, refreshed, to check out the iconic image of San Francisco: those houses with the city skyline in the background. We had a puzzle of this when I was a kid, and it was really cool to see it in person and have it be exactly the same!

Then we took various forms of transportation--walking, cable car, bus, trolley car--all over the city and ended up at Yerba Buena gardens. It has a very Bryant Park feel to it. The flowers were beginning to bloom and you could smell their scent in the air. There was an awesome fountain area dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. that was very inspiring. If I lived in San Fran I would definitely come to this park all the time and just read or relax.

This was our last night in San Francisco. We grabbed some food at a diner and settled back in our hotel to get some rest for our next day...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

San Francisco Day 2: Biking the Bridge

Day Two of San Francisco saw Em and I getting up early to make our way to Blazing Saddles, a company that rents bikes to tourists who want to "Bike the Bridge." You may remember that Emily is a biker. I am not. Still, it seemed like a cool experience and I didn't want to pass it up.

We got our bikes, helmets, water bottles (at one of the many, many Walgreens in the city), and instructions and were off. The first part--awesome. It was all flat as we rode along the shore of the bay. Then there was some confusion with the map and we ended up going up a hill we didn't need to. No worries, I walked my bike up. Emily rode up and left me in the dust.

We rode along Crissy Field and the marina, with the view of the Golden Gate Bridge before us. We got confused by the map directions one more time, but luckily found our way to where we were supposed to be. Again, Emily left me in the dust and I was stuck staring at her back getting farther and farther away.

When we got to the bridge we stopped to take these pictures:

The ride across the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty awesome, and I was glad to be able to take a break and use the restroom when we got to the other side. We then rode (all downhill!) to Sausalito, a neighborhood/community across the bay from San Francisco. Cute and charming, we were glad to be able to park our bikes and get some food. We met a nice family from Houston as we waited for the Ferry. That's right, we took the ferry back to San Francisco. Smart move.

We cleaned up and took the cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf and hit up the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was awesome and much needed after our bike ride. We then walked around Fisherman's Wharf, bought more chocolate, and then went back to our hotel early because we were a little tired and needed to get up early for our trip to Alcatraz the next morning...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

San Francisco: A City With A Lot of Hills

Last Saturday, as the gray skies turned to snow in Salt Lake, Emily and I left it all behind as we boarded a plane and landed in sunny San Francisco. It was a much needed vacation for both of us and we loved our time in the Fog City.

Day One was filled with a lot of walking. Which I completely loved. I feel like the best way to get to know a city is to walk it. We hoofed it to Chinatown (which is amazingly exactly like Chinatown in New York City, just substitute NY with SF on the "I Heart" shirts), then to the downtown area, then up a massively steep hill barred to cars, then on to Coit Tower, where Emily was so thirsty she willingly paid $2.25 at the gift shop for a can of Dr. Pepper. She maintains that it was money well spent.

This pic is a little misleading, because whenever we were walking Em was always behind me.

From there we walked down and up again until we got to Lombard Street, the "crookedest street" in America. It really was quite cool. The sun was just beginning to set and the city looked beautiful bathed in the setting sun's orange and pink hues. From there we hopped on our first cable car and checked out Ghirardelli Square. Yes, you can buy Ghirardelli chocolate at Walmart, but we still wanted to buy ours from the Ghirardelli store in San Francisco. We also got some ice cream. The guy at the counter was not helpful at all and we were not impressed with the place. But the chocolate--yummy.

Here we are at the middle of Lombard Street. You can see Coit Tower in the back. Yeah, we walked that entire distance.

Back to our hotel, which was right off the Powell-Hyde cable car line, to rest our weary feet and get some rest for our bike ride the next day...

Oscar Recap

My roommates and I had a party tonight. It was lots of fun and I'm glad we did it. And even though I was way tired after everybody left, I seem to have somehow cought my second wind. I've decided to make the best use of my time and update my forgotten-about blog (because honestly, homework can wait til tomorrow!) What I really want to post about is my trip to San Francisco with my sister this week, but because of a camera switcheroo I don't have my pictures yet, and what good is a post about a vacation without pictures?!

So instead I will blog about the Oscars, which happened two weeks ago! This was my favorite dress:

Who would've thought? Normally Cameron Diaz has atrocious taste in formal wear, but this time I nearly salivated over her dress. Stunning.

I also loved Neil Patrick Harris with his opening song/dance number (and really wish he would've hosted the whole thing instead of the surprisingly not funny duo of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). And even though there were no surprise or even hotly contested wins this year, I was very glad that Sandra Bullock won (she will forever be Lucy Eleanor Moderatz to me) and Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win for Best Director (even though I didn't care much for her movie).

And with that, I'm finally getting tired and will put this rambling post and myself to bed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beware of Wildlife

Yesterday I got this e-mail at work.

Dear tenants and visitors to the Williams Building,

Building management has recently noticed unusual wildlife activities around the Williams Building property. Specifically several mountain lions have been sighted in and around the parking deck. Building management is working with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources with regard to this activity however we want to make you aware of the following guidelines from Wildlife Resources should you encounter a mountain lion when entering or leaving the facility:

  • Do not panic. Most lions will try to avoid confrontation.
  • Raise your arms to make yourself appear as large as possible. Lions prefer smaller prey.
  • Slowly back away. Never run and never turn your back toward the cougar. Yell at the lion and wave your arms as you back away.
  • Do not make direct eye contact. Lions perceive eye contact as aggressive behavior.
  • If you are attacked, fight back. Try to prevent the lion from getting behind you.
Just thought I would share the guidelines with you, in case you ever find yourself in contact with a mountain lion.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Car Anxiety

Last Saturday I bought a car, and all last week it sat up in Brigham City (where I bought it) in front of my dad's house as a few things were worked out. Friday I went to pick it up. Momentous, yes. Terrifying, a little. You see, this cute little Honda Accord that I paid cash for and was everything I was looking for and was really an answer to my prayers, is a stick shift. I believe some people call them five speeds. Or manuals. Whatever the moniker, it is still something I have not really learned how to do.

So while I had originally had a post all ready in my head about finding my car and how exciting it was and how everything really did work out quite amazingly, that was before I struggled with driving. A lot of my excitement was replaced by sheer anxiety and nervousness about getting in my car and having to operate all the parts--clutch, gas, brake, blinker, turn signal, windshield wipers. I still have not perfected the stick-shift driving, and driving with me can be quite the herky-jerky experience.

I know it well get easier and get to a point where it'll be like second nature. I sure hope that time comes sooner rather than later, because I'm not sure my little car (which I affectionately named Afton after my grandma who is old and still kickin', just like my car) can take much more of my gross ineffectiveness. So until I get to that point, I will not post any pictures or tell my story about how I got it, because I need to get to the point where I don't have bad feelings about my car. I'm kidding just a little, but still please pray for me and my little car to make it, because at this point the bus is looking like a much better option.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two Sides

I'm not into hockey. It's probably because I'm American. But when it's the gold-medal game of the Olympics and the two teams fighting it out are USA and Canada, you bet I'm watching. Or recording, as the game started at the exact same time as church. When I got home and turned it on, I couldn't believe that it was the Canadians who were celebrating. So I rewound. I only really watched the last few minutes, when USA made that awesome goal with just twenty-four seconds left, and then the overtime. I was struck by the two men who were at the center of everything.

Ryan Miller, the MVP goalie with the awesome helmet, looked like this after he failed to stop the medal- and bragging-winning puck:

Sidney Crosby, the player who single-handedly saved and inspired a nation with his over-time goal, looked like this:

For some reason the display of both ends of the emotional gamut, so close to each other, was fascinating to me. In a second, both men had drastic changes in what they were feeling on the ice. Both had hope that the outcome would be in their favor, and just like that the hope for one was turned into disbelief and despair, while for the other it turned into celebration and craziness.

Then the medals were awarded, and again the two teams' demeanors were so different. The USA team looked like they wanted to leave as soon as possible, not even noticing the silver medals being placed around their necks. The Canadians, as expected, were exuberant and couldn't stop smiling, and immediately grabbed their gold medals after they were placed around their necks to get a closer look. During a post-game interview, Ryan Miller could barely hold it together; there was a point when I thought he was going to cry. Sydney Crosby, of course, was ecstatic during his interview.

I'm just glad that by the time the Closing Ceremony rolled around, Ryan Miller seemed to be in a much better mood.

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