4.30.2005

Rainy Day


My Mood...Sleepy



Sleep
by Salvador Dali
Rainy days make me feel so sleepy.

4.28.2005

Oh the Places I've Been

Countries I've Visited

visited 15 countries (6%)
create your own visited countries map






visited 30 states (58%)
-Some of those states I only drove through... I'm not sure if those should really count.
-I've lived in 6 of the states (OK, TX, CO, NY, KS, VA)
create your own visited states map

Coca-Cola

I saw the commercial for the new Coca-Cola flavor last night. Here is my input on the various Coke flavors:

  • Original Coca-Cola: not my most favorite soda, I dont really care for colas too much
  • Cherry Coke: Absolutely delicious. for the longest time this was the only way I'd drink any kind of dark soda
  • Vanilla Coke: Greatest soda ever! A couple years ago, while I was still working at Starbucks, a friend of mine used to put vanilla syrup in her Coke. She finally convinced me to try it (knowing how much I dislike Coke), and it really was good. So when Coke came out with Vanilla Coke, I wasnt expecting it to be as good as my friend's concoction, but to my surprise, it was.
  • The New Lime Coke: Umm... I havent tried this yet. But I did try the Pepsi with Lemon once (at the time it was really the only option I had for a drink). And the Pepsi with Lemon tasted like: Pepsi + Lemon scented dish soap. I expect Lime Coke to taste the same.

Mmm... Vanilla Coke

4.25.2005

Agnes Martin

--Dore Ashton on Agnes Martin
"to make statements with the simplest of means that yet suggest the profound experience from which they come."

I hope someone will say the same thing about me one day.

4.24.2005

Ice Cream Makes Everything Better

Ice cream is my ultimate cure for every ailment.

Like tonight, for example. My husband and I had pizza this afternoon (too late for lunch, too early for dinner). And while it was great pizza, it left me with a little bit of a stomach ache. So a few minutes ago (after watching 2 episodes of The Contender) we walked down to 7-11 so I could get an ice cream bar, and I ate it on the walk home. Nothing could make me feel better than eating a Dove ice cream bar in 43 degree weather.

But I do feel much better now. I dont know if it's the coldness or the creaminess of the ice cream, but for some reason, it always makes me feel better. Sore throat, headache, cramps, stomach ache... why bother with aspirin or motrin or pepto? Ice cream works just as good and it tastes even better!

4.22.2005

Secret Language

So the other day I commented that I'm not much of an animal person. Despite that I think i've done a pretty good job with my dog. We got her from a rescue when she was 2 years old (that was a year ago), so she was already house broken and overall you could tell she had some training. But I took it upon myself to teach her a few basic tricks.

Now I have only had minimal interaction with dogs, and really know absolutely nothing about how to train one. But I did take a semester of Psychology in college, and felt that I had a pretty good understanding of operant conditioning and some other learning methods (think Pavlov's dogs). So I decided that I would try and apply that knowledge as best I could... if it worked, great! if not, oh well.

I started out with the "sit" command. This is how I went about teaching it to her:
  1. Say the word "sit"
  2. Push her backside down so she is forced into the sitting position
  3. While she is still sitting (because I'm pushing on her backside) give her a treat and then pet her a lot

I figured that she would soon associate the word "sit" with the action of putting her butt down, and then knowing that she receives a reward makes it all worthwhile in her mind. After only a few days of doing this, she was actually sitting on her own! I was just as proud of her as I was of myself. I know it's not a big deal, plenty of people teach their pets tricks, but I was able to figure out how to do it on my own.

After that I taught her some other basics: lay down, shake, up, and even roll-over (though she only rolls over half way then stops). I tried "stay" and "come here" but I havent quite mastered the technique for those, so it's been less than successful. But on the whole I was very please with our work together. And I began showing off her tricks whenever there was someone around to observe.

Then, one day, someone else told her to sit. And she just looked at them as if they were saying "blah blah blah" (like in the Simpsons episode.) I didnt understand why she wasnt responding to the command. So I went over and told her to sit, and she immediately obeyed. At first I thought that maybe she only responded to me, but then I realized something... The whole time I was teaching her verbal commands, I was also using my hands to communicate the commands. For instance:

  1. whenever I say sit, I also hold up my pointer-finger
  2. when I say down, I move my hand in a downward motion
  3. when I say shake, I hold out my hand to her

I had no idea I was doing those things. But I quickly learned that she's really not listening to the words I'm saying... instead she's watching my hands. So I can actually get her to do these "tricks" without saying a word. Unfortunately, anyone else has to learn my hand signals if they want her to respond to them. I've tried teaching her to listen to the words, but that hasnt been as successful, some days she'll listen, mostly she'll just stare at me. But I kind of like our hand signals, it's like we have our own secret language.

4.21.2005

Terrific Day

My horoscope:
'Terrific' doesn't even begin to describe your day. Whatever you do, it'll be fantastic.

Working Out

Lately i've been getting back in the habit of going to the gym a couple times a week. I used to do this in college whenever possible, but it was hard to make it routine. At the beginning of the semester it'd be really easy to go at night (when the gym wasnt as crowded) because I didnt really have much school work, so I had the luxury of time. But as the semester wore on, I'd have more and more homework, and less and less time... as a result the gym quickly faded from my routine. I always figured that what little I was able to work out made a difference in my body, and it did to some extent. I would notice little hints of muscles here and there on occasion. But nothing significant.

So a couple months ago, I think at the end of February, my husband and I joined a local gym. And I've been going pretty regularly... about 3 times a week. I dont really push myself too hard at the beginning because I dont want to develop an "I hate going to the gym" mentality. So I figured I'd just take it easy, lighter weights but more repetitions, average cardio with little resistance. No big whoop.

This morning there was a big whoop though. I was moving a basket of laundry and as soon as I lifted it, this muscle bulged out of my bicep. Holy crap! It was the greatest thing ever. I actually have a muscle. It's not the firmest muscle yet, but it's definitely there. And then I noticed, as I was walking up and down the stairs, that my legs had some definition to them. yay, this gym thing is really paying off. Just what I needed to see to convince myself that now is probably a good time to step up my workout to the next level. I'm so excited.

When I went to the gym today, I added a little more weight and a little more resistance to my workout. So far I feel pretty good, I wonder if it will hit me later. The gym is an interesting place for people watching. I actually hate the thought of people-watching at the gym because it causes me to think that other people are people-watching me. But I realize that it happens and try to live with it. I always get a kick when I see a woman come in with her hair just so, a matching outfit, make-up, and lots of jewelry. And it happens more often that I wouldve expected. Like people primp before they go workout (wouldnt want to look bad as I'm dripping with sweat). I, on the other hand, dont really care too much about what my outfit looks like (sweats and a t-shirt work fine), I'm not going there to impress anyone.

4.20.2005

Dogs

I never used to be a big animal person. I still dont really think of myself as and "animal person" even though I have a dog now. I think it's because of some things that happened to me when I was young.

I remember (or seem to remember... it's tough to know how accurate my memories are when they go back to such a young age... but this is how I think the following event occurred) when I was probably somewhere in between 3 and 6, my family was living in Texas at the time. In our neighborhood there was another family that had a pit bull as their pet. I seem to remember that they would leave him chained outside in their backyard a lot. Well one day, another young girl in the neighborhood somehow was attacked by the dog. I'm not sure if she walked through the pit bull's yard, or if the dog somehow got away. But I have a pretty vivid picture of what she looked like afterwards, and lets just say, there was a lot of blood. (At least that's how I remember it).

Ever since then I've been pretty cautious around dogs. Even when I go to friend's houses and they have a dog, I dont really pet it or play with it much. I'm just always thinking in the back of my mind "what if this dog snaps for no reason... it could happen."

But now I have a dog. My husband always wanted a huskie, and he finally talked me into getting one (I had several conditions before I agreed). And the first couple weeks were pretty rough on me. Whenever I was alone with my dog I would try my hardest to keep a safe distance away. And I'd constantly be thinking things like "what am I going to do if she attacks me, I need to develop a plan of action so that if it happens, I'm ready." So I'd think of things like: I'd try to out run her to the nearest bedroom or bathroom so I could shut the door which would keep us separate, or what I would need to do in order to defend myself against her. And she never made any kind of indication that she would ever hurt anything, but I still preferred being prepared in case the situation ever arose.

Well fortunately enough, the situation never did come around. I'm actually convinced that my dog wouldnt attack me even if I were attacking her. I've seen kids come up and poke her, kick her (which did not make me happy), and run around with her, and she's totally fine with it. I dont even think she notices. So I'm no longer planning my defense tactics every second of the day, which makes me feel better. But I still dont care for other dogs, you just never know.

4.19.2005

Pansie Time (part II)

Turns out that I actually got Petunias, not Pansies for the garden. Shows how much I know.

4.18.2005

Sound of Silence

Warning: Reading this post may result in never being able to have a moment of silence again.

Excerpts from John Cage's Silence: Lectures and Writings


  • Pg 8: "There is no such thing as empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot. For certain engineering purposes, it is desirable to have as silent a situation as possible. Such room is called an anechoic chamber, its six walls made of special material, a room without echoes. I entered one at Harvard University several years ago and heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, and the low one my blood circulation. Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death."

  • p. 22 "What happens, for instance, to silence? Tha is, how does the mind's perception of it change? Formerly, silence was the time lapse between sounds, useful towards a variety of ends... Where none of these or other goals is present, silence becomes something else-- not silence at all, but sounds, the ambient sounds. The nature of these is unpredictable and changing."

  • P. 23 "These sounds (which are called silence only because they do not form part of a musical intention) may be depended upon to exist. The world teems with them, and is in fact, at no point free of them."

4.17.2005

Sunday

Sundays go by so fast. Faster than any other day of the week.

4.16.2005

Pansie Time (part I)

My husband and I did a little gardening today. I emphasize little. Mostly we just pulled dirt and weeds out of our little front yard garden/bush area.

Weird things we found:
  1. Peanuts
  2. Styrofoam (lots of it)
  3. Fake Leaves (ironic)

I bought some pansies at the Home Depot and I think we'll plant them tomorrow afternoon. Yay for pansies.

Population 1

Currently Listening to:

visit the official website for population 1

4.14.2005

Arsty Ideas

Okay, I'm not a very artsy person... but I think i've been coming up with some great ideas lately. And if I were artsty enough to pull them off, I totally would.

Arsty Idea #1: If I were a painter, here's an idea for something I could do with my paintings. I would hire a bunch of people and take them to an art museum. Next I would give each person one of my paintings along with a harness so they could strap it to their back. I would then instruct each person to find a blank spot on a wall and stand against it. This way my paintings could be veiwed by all the museum-goers, and I dont think I'd be doing anything wrong. It's not like I'm hanging my artwork up on their walls. It's merely normal people who happen to have a painting strapped to their back.

Arsty Idea #2: Lately I've been reading a lot about Minimalism (which I love). And one of the things I've learned is that the title of minimalist artwork is often times just as important as the work itself. For instance, the title should not make any references to the outside world. Which is why many of them are titled Untitled No. 1, or Red and Black and Blue, or Abstract No 1, etc. So i was thinking... if I really wanted to live the true Minimalist lifestyle (which I dont), does that mean I'd have to name my kids in the same fashion? Girl No. 1, Boy No. 3 or Unnamed No. 1, or I just wouldnt be able to name them at all. Do you have to name your child? What if you refuse? Will someone just randomly assign a name to your child whether you like it or not? Not that I'm planning on doing any of these things, but it was just something I thought about.

Arsty Idea #3: Paint the same image over and over and over. Pick some sort of simple image... say a black square, and then reproduce it (without any aid of taping the canvas or using a ruler), trying my hardest to get each painting to be exactly alike. Same colors, same size, same brushstrokes. Would I ever be able to produce 2 identical paintings? Then after doing this for several years I would need to have an exhibit. In which I would fill the entire gallery with what seems to be the same painting over and over again, but in reality each one would be unique. It could be a study in the striving for perfection, or innate flaws, or innate uniqueness.

So those are some of my ideas. I wanted to write them down before I forget them.

4.13.2005

Mowing and OJ

Well it's finally here... the first day of Lawn Mowing for the year.

I was actually going to mow yesterday, but I went out to run some errands first. When I came home my dog had destroyed the kitchen trash. There was spagetti sauce, dried rice, and papers everywhere. I ended up spending a good amount of time scrubbing the floors after that incident... and just never got around to mowing afterwards. Which means I have to do it today. No more putting it off. My plan is to crank up the BebePod and hopefully that will make it all a little less painful.

I went grocery shopping the other day, and as usual I bought a carton of orange juice. Unfortunately I usually get Tropicana's Calcium Plus Vitamin D (no pulp), and they seemed to be all out the day I was there. I usually go on Monday mornings when they are restocking... i find that the grocery store isnt as crowded then; but the downside is that not all the new food is put away yet, as was the case with my orange juice. So instead, I thought I'd change it up a little and I got the Minute Maid brand (calcium and vitamin D, no pulp as well). I usually drink a little OJ in the morning while I'm eating my breakfast. And I drink it straight out of the carton. Not so much to be rebellious, just because this way I dont dirty as many dishes. And since my husband and I are past the "ew you've got cooties" phase I dont think he minds sharing my germs. But dont worry, I dont offer OJ to my guests (and if you ever come over I'd advise you not to ask for any). So now here I am, eating my blueberry Lego waffles, and drinking Minute Maid orange juice... which, I'm discovering, is no where near as good as Tropicana. In fact, I really dont care for it at all.

I notice on the carton there is a guarentee:
"Our quality promise assures your satisfaction. We guarentee it."
Whenever I see those things, I always wonder how many people take advantage of it. I mean, really, how many people would call up the Minute Maid company and say "I dont like your orange juice." And what does the company do in return? "Okay, we'll refund your money." or "We'll change the way we make it so it tastes better." or "Thank you for your input, have a nice day." And then I wonder, if the company give you a refund, how many people really start to take advantage? I mean in that instance anyone could just call and say "hey I dont like your juice, give me my money back." Shouldnt they have some sort of verification that you did indeed purchase the juice, try it, and not like it enough that you cant drink it? So would I have to return my partially used OJ carton to the Minute Maid company in order to recieve a refund? Seems like an awful lot of work just to get a few bucks back. Although then you could read the guarentee as if they are saying "You will like our product, because we said so." In which case all of the above musings would be void. Because even though I thought I didnt like it, the OJ is telling me that I do. Yum

4.11.2005

Attack of the Unos

This weekend my husband and I went over to my parents house for dinner. Mostly because we hadnt seen them in a while, but also because we didnt have much food in the house. So while we were there we played some card games with my sisters.

Uno Attack: Have you heard of this game? It's like Uno only there's this contraption that throws the cards at you (instead of drawing them from a deck). It's an appropriate name for the game.

WARNING: If you plan on playing this some time, wear protective eye gear, as we had several close calls with flinging cards.

Dont think cards pose any threat? Ricky Jay (magician/card trick guy) can fling a card into a watermelon, and I think an eye ball is much softer than a watermelon. I wonder if the Uno people got the idea for this adaptation from seeing one of Ricky Jay's shows.

That being said, it is pretty funny to watch people freak out as a handful of cards are spewed at them.

4.09.2005

Ossify

Ossifying: To mold into a rigidly conventional pattern
"Very frequently no one knows that contemporary music is or could be art. He simply thinks it is irritating. Irritating one way or another, that is to say keeping us from ossifying."
-John Cage

Beautiful Day

It's so nice out today.

sunny. not too hot.

My husband and I walked into town and had lunch at a chinese place. Not the greatest food ever, but I really like their wonton soup. Then we stopped by a wine shop and got a couple bottles of dessert wine. They didnt have the particular one we were looking for, so the lady working there suggested two alternatives. We got both.

A lot of people in our neighborhood are out working on their yards today. Planting new flowers, landscaping, cleaning up a bit. We decided to put that kind of stuff off until next weekend.

I hope it rains.

For the rest of the day I'm going to try to do some more spring cleaning (I'll spend all day cleaning up inside... it's the outside work I dread). Then I have some tax stuff I need to figure out (yay, more accounting related work).

But I had a really nice lunch.

4.08.2005

Sunken Cathedral

The Sunken Cathedral (or La Cathedrale engloutie as it's known by in its original French title) by Claude Debussy is my all time favorite solo piano piece.


I actually played it my final semester at college. I remember the first time i heard it was in one of my theory classes my sophomore or junior year and I instantly fell in love with it. I decided then that I would play this piece at some point, but i didnt want to just hash my way through it and come out with an ameteurish take on the piece... I wanted it to sound the best it could. I wanted to be able to play it the way it deserved. So I decided the best thing to do was to play other stuff by Debussy first. I wanted to get a feel for his style and see what he was about.

The first Debussy piece I worked on was First Arabesque. It's a pretty popular song, and very beautiful. The hardest thing about this piece was getting the rhythm right (damn those triplets over eighth notes). For about the first week or two, I spent my practice time doing nothing but simple exercises trying to be able to conquer the seemingly impossible task of subdividing two in one hand and three in the other hand (and vice versa just to keep things interesting). But once i got it, it stuck with me, so I think it was well worth the two weeks of isolated practice (anyone who had to listen to me while doing this may disagree). But I really loves the Arabesque. I heard one person describe it as the song she imagined angels playing on their harps in heaven. It's an overly sappy description for me, but now it's all I imagine when I play it, and to be honest, it works.

After learning the Arabesque I moved on to another Debussy piece. I think my teacher was wondering why I had such a sudden fascination with Debuusy (I mean, why wasn't I that into Chopin or Bach?). This time it was Clair de Lune. Another more common piece. Most people have heard it at some point and are somewhat familiar with it. I have to admit that this piece was more difficult that I initially thought it would be. It looks so much simpler on paper. But my teacher told me that Debussy often looks and sounds much easier than it actually is. I think that's one of the things that drew me to his music. It's understated, yet at the same time complex. I have to admit Clair de Lune was not one of my better peices, though I've been working on it a lot lately, so hopefully that will change. There are parts of the song that I love playing and parts that I loathe. Overall I think the song is supposed to sound simple and effortless, but when I play it, you can see and hear how hard I'm working. Which I think defeats the inner quality of the piece.

Finally I felt I was ready for Sunken Cathedral. I was so excited when I started practicing this piece. I could work on it for hours on end. But then I started realizing how hard it was. And I got discouraged. It sounds so simple when I listen to recordings. At times it even seems as though nothing is happening, so why am I having such problems? I wanted to give up. I mean I really wanted to give up. I never want to give up on a piece. If I work at it long enough and hard enough I always come out okay in the end. But I had had just about enough of this piece. Perhaps it was because I had built it up for so long, perhaps I was just tired of having to work so hard to play something that I felt I was destined to play. So I took it easy for a while. Worked on some of my other repertoire (oh yeah... this isnt the only song I'm supposed to learn this semester... oops), and eventually got back around to it. This time I realized that I was going to have to step my game up a level if I hoped to beat it. And that's how I approached it from then on. I worked harder and set my expectations higher. Never have I ever needed to work so hard to memorize a song (usually I can memorize things even before my hands can actually play them). And in the end, I'd like to think I won.

I did perform the piece at my last recital. The day of the recital I went to my piano teacher's house for my final lesson. I kind of knew going into the lesson that this wasnt a good idea. I expected my teacher to give me a list of all the things I was doing wrong and needed to fix within the next few hours before I performed on stage. That's usually how things go. But this time was different. This time as I played, I really got into the piece. I dont just mean I clicked with it, or got excited about it. I really got in to it. I felt like I became a part of it. Not the other way around, it wasnt a part of me. As strange as that sounds (which I'm aware it does sound strange), i played the best I had ever played up to that point in my entire life. And when i was done I looked at my teacher and waited for her to start her list of corrections. but all she said was 'good, play it like that tonight.' Amazing...

Unfortunately it was not so amazing at the recital. On the whole, it was great. I was actually excited to play (as opposed to scared out of my wits like usual). I felt I was actually good enough to be heard this time. I did play one wrong chord at one point. Doesnt seem like that big of deal, but it was one of those important chords, and I couldnt believe I missed it. Everyone said they didnt notice. I dont really believe them though, i'm sure if I were in the audience, I would have noticed, but people try to be nice no matter what happens. and really, I dont mind the positive support. I just wish I had another chance to do it over again so I could get it right this time.

So now I just play at home. I'm sure my neighbors are sick of it by now. But it still is a piece that I feel I was destined to play... and so I continue on

4.04.2005

Reading

I used to read non-stop when I was younger. In fact I would get in trouble for reading at what my parents and teachers considered to be inappropriate times. I'd read first thing in the morning before going to school, I'd read on the bus on the way to school (the years I rode the bus), I'd read during class (inappropriate time), when I got home, and for a few hours before I'd go to bed (inappropriate as well-- depending on how late it was). And I'd read just about anything. I'd go through all the books we had in our house and read as much as I could. I'd make the biggest dent in the books during the summers when we moved. Since I'd be in a new environment (and since I dont enjoy hot weather much), i'd spend most of my days reading book after book after book until school started and I made friends again.

But then sometime in high school i think, I just stopped reading. I dont know why. I mean, I would read the required books for english, but that was it. And sometimes I wouldnt even read those, I'd read the cliffs notes instead. I think I started getting frustrated because I couldnt read at my own pace anymore. I mean, I'm not a fast reader. I need to absorb every word, paint the images in my mind, live with the characters. And that takes time. And in high school they gave you just enough time to scan the pages of the book and jump to conclusions about what was going on. I think I was trying to protest that. Occasionally I would really read the book if it really interested me. But I stopped reading for pleasure at some point.

In college I had no time to read. Whenever I felt like reading it usually came to this choice "you could read now, or you could practice piano... and what do you need to do more?" Well I need to practice... but I really want to read. And sure I'd read things like my Java programming book, or an autobiography of Elanore Roosevelt, or whatever my class assignment was. But I never read because I loved it.

High school has past. College has past. I'm all grown up, living in my own home, with my own business. Making my own rules (yes, I drink directly out of the OJ carton.) And I still dont read. I keep trying to, but now the problem is that I dont know what to read. I buy books about music theory and history, but I have to dissect them to get every morsel there is, and that takes so long (and usually requires me to take notes or make outlines). I try reading books my mom has read (anna karenina... so boring). I try to find books online that seem interesting, but it always feels like such a waste of time. I could be reading, or I could finish the laundry, make dinner, pay bills, take the dog for a walk, prep for lessons, practice piano, mow the lawn, go grocery shopping, make the bed, vacuum, it goes on and on and on...

Whatever happened to my love for reading? I miss it so much. I wish I had something to read right now.

4.02.2005

In Memory of

As I'm sure most people are aware, the pope passed away today. I know his health has been declining lately, but this still seems sudden to me for some reason. I just wanted to share a short story on the subject.

I spent 7th through 9th grade living in Germany (my father was in the Army at the time). The summer before my freshman year of high school I went on a missions trip to Poland with my youth group. We spent a week and a half helping out at an English camp for Polish high school students (or the equivalent of). I had a great time there, made a lot of friends with the Polish students, who I found to be very open and very down to earth. I was assigned to assist the advanced english class. I mean these kids could speak english just as well as I could, maybe even better. We spent most of the day having conversations about different topics such as Communism, school, teenage life, family, politics... really anything that happened to come up.

So for a week and a half I spent time with these Polish students. We ate all our meals together, shared bedrooms, and talked non-stop. I distinctly remember one meal. In the dining room there was a small TV, and for most of the week it was turned off. Even if it was on, no one paid attention to it. But one day I went in to have dinner and every single Polish student was in the room with their eyes glued to the TV. The pope was on. I'm not sure what he said or why he was on TV (since I dont speak any Polish... well I can count to 10, but that's it). But every single person in the room was hooked to what he was saying. After the pope was done, everyone starting talking about him. They told me (and the other Americans), about how great he was and all the wonderful things he did for their country. I saw the pope as the head of the Catholic church... a far off figure that gave orders about what the church should and should not be doing, I imagined he prayed a lot, and was definately on God's "good side." To the people in the room with me he was much more than that. He was a national hero, a figure that was respected, loved, and adored. When they spoke about him, you couldnt help but hear pride in their voice... "he comes from Poland, you know."

And now on this very sad day, I am reminded of these friends I had in Poland. I'm imaging the grief that must be widespread throughout the country. And thinking about this one man, who touched so many people's lives.