11.30.2006

More Changes

So in addition to changing my blog's layouts, I have a few other things that are going to be changing soon. The biggest change is that I got a new job!

I'm going to be working as a student aide at the National Gallery of Art's library. I applied for the job a little while ago, and didn't really hear anything right away. I actually applied for all 3 positions they advertised. But then one day I got a call for an interview and they said that they were "very anxious" to meet me as soon as possible, which I took as a good sign. My interview went really well, and I left with pretty high hopes (though I tried not to get them too high), and a short while later I got a call with the offer. I'm SO excited. And here's why:
-first of all, my schedule is fairly flexible, I can work 20 hours a week (or less depending on my class schedule) during school, and full time during breaks (and it's paid... which is far better than the intern option I was considering if this didnt work out)
-second, the library is only open Mon-Fri 9-5:30 which means no evenings and NO WEEKENDS! wahoo
-third, it's in a field that really interests me (I love art), and the library itself is in the modern wing of the museum, which I'm hoping means that I can go look at all the Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, and Rothko's I want on my breaks
-finally, I'm going to be working in the nonprint collections (Vertical Files and Microfilm), which I'm really excited about (because it's more interesting than reshelving books.)
-Oh I also get my own desk! wahoo!

Overall it's a pretty good opportunity for me, and I really plan on making the best of it. I'm a little nervous about starting because I haven't had a "real" job in a long time, and I dont think I've ever worked full time (other than at Starbucks over the summer). So it will definitely be a big change. Not to mention the fact that I'm gonna have to commute to DC in addition to College Park. But I'm willing to do it to reach my goals. Other than my car's mileage, this decision has also impacted my other jobs (as a piano teacher and part of St Matt's music program), and I've had to step down from both jobs. Believe me it was not easy to do. I especially hated informing my piano students since I have a strong connection with many of them. But I just came to the point where I realized that my life is heading in a new direction, and I either needed to jump on or get off.

So I should be pretty busy in December. I have finals coming up (AHHHH!), and I start my new job in the middle of december (actually the day before my finals... awesome). I wasnt supposed to start until after the holidays, but they really wanted me to come in earlier, so I told them I would, but that I couldnt work full time until after christmas. So I'm still going to be doing my church duties, and teaching piano during December.

These are pretty big changes for me. I'm definitely excited about everything that's coming up, but it's still hard to let go of what I've been doing. I just hope I'm making the right choices.

11.27.2006

Bang Bang

Okay, this is why You Tube is awesome. I found this clip of The Raconteurs performing Bang Bang. It's definitely worth checking out though it doesn't compare to seeing it live. But just thought I'd throw it on here in case anyone is interested. This is pretty similar to how they performed it when they opened for Dylan. The one difference I remember is that Jack White's guitar strap came undone about 3/4 of the way into the song so he just held the guitar up by the neck with one hand and strummed where ever with the other one. Appropriate for the song I thought.

11.26.2006

Change

Wahoo new layout. It was time for a change

Albums

These past few days (over Thanksgiving) have kept me busy... in a good way, so I haven't minded much. But I have definitely enjoyed taking it easy this afternoon, despite the fact that I should be working on my final assignments (not to mention studying for finals).

I know, I haven't been posting much lately, but in all honesty I'm starting to hate computers. Well, not really hate computers, I'm just tired of them. Most of my work at school requires electronic research and e-journal readings, which means I spend A LOT of time on the computer. And in all honesty, lately I just haven't wanted to spend any more time than was absolutely necessary on the computer. Between email and search engines, I can't take anymore. So that's my excuse for not posting.

But there are a few things I've wanted to mention, so I'm gonna go over some of them now.

For a while, there just wasn't much music that I was really interested in listening to. But fortunately that has changed. Here are some of the albums I've been enjoying lately:
  • John Mayer Continuum- This is a great album. It's very subtle (I like to think of it as minimal), which I really enjoy and it's more bluesy than most of his radio hits (I'm not crazy about his radio hits). There's nothing more than what absolutely needs to be included. My favorite track is Gravity, which I've listened to so many times now that it's starting to lose some of it's initial impact so I think I need to take a little break from it. But all of the songs are pretty good, it's one of those discs you can listen to from beginning to end with no problem.
  • Dirty Pretty Things Waterloo to Nowhere- The band is similar to Franz Ferdinand but for some reason I like Dirty Pretty Things better. The song "Bang Bang You're Dead" really stands out, probably because the chorus uses a 2 against 3 rhythm thing which I really like for no particular reason, and I tend to point it out whenever I hear it (try clapping the beat with your right hand, and clapping the lyrics with your left hand during the chorus).
  • The Raconteurs Boy Soldier- This is Jack White's new band (Jack White of the White Stripes). And to be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn't have been all that interested in the CD if I had heard it on it's own. But a couple weeks ago Matt and I went to a Bob Dylan concert and the Raconteurs opened for him. And they were great. I only knew one of their songs, so I really wasn't looking forward to it. But they were really entertaining and even though they played for at least an hour, I never got bored or wished a song would end. Jack White is a performer. I can see how his voice may be a little harsh to listen to for long periods of time (fortunately the other guitarist does about half the singing which gives your ears a chance to breathe), but he seems like one of those people that would perform the same way whether there was an audience or not, and whether people were into it or not. My favorite song they did live was a cover of Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang, but unfortunately that's not on the CD. So instead I recommend: Blue Veins, Hands, Intimate Secretary, Level, and Steady As She Goes (I especially recommend the acoustic version available on iTunes- they change it up by swinging the chorus, which again appeals to me for some unknown reason, and it's something I mention every time I hear it "this version is different than the version on the CD because they swing the chorus"). I also HIGHLY recommend seeing them live if you get the chance.
  • The Ramones Loud Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits- Great overall album, very high energy from start to finish. I like Blitzkrieg Bop, Beat on the Brat, Sheena is A Punk Rocker, Psycho Therapy, among others...
  • Classical Music- For some reason I get back into classical music when the weather gets cold.
To keep things from getting too long, I'm gonna break down things into additional posts.

11.24.2006

Zotero

Okay, in general I don't expect that people will be as excited about this as I am, but I found the coolest thing ever.

George Mason just released an extension (I think that's what you call them) for the new Firefox browser called Zotero. I found out about it through the listserv at school and downloaded it immediately. Basically it's a way of managing resources... kind of like an online works cited thing. Anyway, I totally love it because one of my classes consists of pretty much nothing but citing resources and this allows me to keep track of what websites I visited, what my search strategies (and results) were, when I visited, and the citation information. So if you've been struggling to keep track of sources for papers or projects, or you're looking for something a little more sophisticated than bookmarks, I'd definitely recommend checking out Zotero (did I mention it was free?)

11.16.2006

Piano Lesson Moments

1st Moment: Yesterday I was teaching a Beethoven tune to one of my piano students. Even though the lesson books I use have mostly original music (written by the publishers for pedagogical purposes) occasionally they will stick in classical themes that have been arranged to a level more appropriate for younger piano students. So to show which pieces weren't written by the publishers they will put the original composer's name under the title, along with the composer's birth and death years, country or nationality, and the word "arranged."

So last night I was working on this piece with my youngest student (who also, by the way, is my hardest working student) and when he found out that Beethoven wrote this song he got really excited (which is true of nearly all my students... they all love Beethoven). And when he saw the dates underneath he asked "oh is that Beethoven's phone number?" and then I told him "no, those are the years he was alive." And then my student said "oh I was gonna call him." And then a minute later he was like "oh wait, phones weren't invented when Beethoven was alive, so I couldn't call him anyway."

Haha... kids.

2nd Moment: This also occured yesterday. It's not a funny story, just an observation.

The girl I teach immediately after my Beethoven student has done very well in the short 2 years she's been with me. So yesterday we were working on a couple minuets (we called it Minuet week), and one of them is Bach's Minuet in G, which is probably the most commonly known minuet, though I'm sure most people would know it as a cell phone ringer (I'm sure Bach loves that). But as I was helping her through the piece, I remembered what it was like when I was learning the song.... a long time ago. I think I learned it about 2 or 3 months into my lessons, and I think it probably took my about 4 or 5 months to learn in total. This girl will probably learn it in less than 3 weeks. Now granted she has a much better foundation than I had before it was introduced to me, but still. That either shows that I am a good teacher, or that I was a poor student. But I prefer to think that she is just a natural pianist.

What A Difference Good Customer Service Makes

Here's why i love Saturns. I mean, I realize they arent high performance or high luxury, but I really dont need that in a car. What I do need is something to get me from point A to point B with as few problems as possible (along with a few basic luxuries like heat and AC, and a CD player). And with all the experiences I've had with the cars, I've been pretty satisfied with the reliability and low maintenance. In fact my very first car didnt even need to be washed because it has some sort of special coating on it, so that when it rained the dirt would run of with the rain water. I got so used to that, that I havent quite adjusted to my non-special coating saturn (which means I dont wash it as often as I probably should).

At some point in time everyone in my family has owned a Saturn, both my parents, 2 of my sisters (the 3rd one is only 12), my brother, me, and even my husband. At one point my dad lined up all our Saturns in the driveway and took a picture with all of us standing next to them. Then they sent the picture to the dealer who hung it in their lobby. We're a Saturn family.

A few weeks ago my right brake light went out. So I went to an auto parts store to get a new bulb, but after trying to replace it with no success, matt and I discovered that the socket may have been the problem (it was a little melted so we figured the connection wasnt working.) So I went back to the auto parts store to get a new socket, but they didnt have the model I needed. Which meant I had to go back to the dealer to get it.

Yesterday I stopped by the dealer in Sterling while I was down in the area. I was expecting to just go in and ask for a new socket and pay a few dollars, and then install it myself (since it just twists into place). But as it turned out there had been a recall, so they needed to install some sort of bracket thingie to prevent the electricity from melting the connection again. The funny thing is that as soon as I walked in to the service department (which i had only been to once before, and that was right after matt and I were married) the guy behind the desk knew who I was and even remembered my name... before I even said a word. I was totally impressed. Of course he only knew my maiden name (since I hadnt changed it yet), but that just proves how long ago I was there. Granted the fact that my picture is still hanging on their wall may make it easy for them to know who I am, but still, it's not like they study it... and our names arent even on the picture. Anyway, he took care of everything for me, even squeezed me in that day (despite not having an appointment) and was really pleasant about the whole thing.

This morning I went back to pick up my car, and discovered that my sister was in the waiting room (waiting on an oil change). So we chatted while waiting for my car to be pulled up. Just as I was about to leave, the same guy pointed out that my center brake lights were all burned out (apparently there are 6 bulbs in that) and he said they could replace those real quick, but it would cost like $30 or something. I figured why not. So he went and replaced my bulbs, and then when he came back he said "hey dont worry about it, this is on the house." What great service, not just because it was free, but because it was pleasant, and I felt taken care of.

So next time you're in the market for a car... I highly recommend giving the Sterling Saturn dealer a shot. I'm not sure how their sales department is since I've never worked directly with them, but their service department is better than any service department from any company I've ever worked with (ask for Adam).

11.03.2006

this is fun... go to this site and wiggle your mouse around a little.

Jackson Pollack

11.02.2006

No More Midterms

Yay, midterms are over!! Yay, October is over!! I can finally go back to normal Jessica, as opposed to psycho-studying Jessica. I've had a crazy amount of work due in the past couple weeks at school, but now things are going to a more manageable pace (at least I dont have another day in which I have a major project/assignment/test/presentation due for each class... well not until finals anyway).

I've been pretty much neglecting all other aspects of my life the past few weeks as I scrambled to get my school work done. So now that I'm over the hump, I can finally turn my attention back to other things... like doing laundry (apparently it doesnt do itself, no matter how long you let it sit on the floor), getting my dog groomed, vaccuuming, running errands, going to my yoga class (which I had to skip last week), talking to people, paying attention to my dog, posting an occasional blog... and so on.

I still have to do school work this week, but that's fine, at least it won't be an all-consuming endevour.

Now it's time to get ready for yoga.