Sunday, March 23, 2008

Oh the human-ness of it all...

There is something about public transportation, especially the bus, that makes me feel a little closer to my fellow men and women. Oh maybe that's because you're forced to sit next to strangers or stand uncomfortably close to folks you wouldn't normally stand that close to. It's different than, say, being at a crowded concert though. Mainly the lack of music. Oh wait, that was not the problem last night when there was one guy singing Guantanamera at the top of his lungs while eating falafel. But it was a little hard to hear him over the guy who was explaining, also at the top of his lungs, about the origin of the word "khaki". According to him it is "The Indian, you know from India, word for mud. Back in the day, the soldiers used to be issued bright white pants as part of their uniform, but it made them really easy targets. So the soldiers would boil their pants in mud to make them less obvious, turning them a light brown color. Then the army finally started issuing pants the color of mud and called them khaki." Fascinating, really. Oh wait, but now the falafel guy is piping in with "Che Guevara! Chairman Mao! Che Guevara! Fidel Castro! Che Guevara! Kim Jong-il! Che Guevara..." He was still saying that as he got off the bus in Central Square.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sweater Day

March 20, 2008 would have been Mr. Roger's 80th birthday. So in honor of that, my boss asked all of us to participate in Sweater Day, a national push to have people wear sweaters and remember to be good neighbors. It was a great success, and the one guy without the sweater, his t-shirt has an image of Mr. Rogers and the words "Never Forget".

Thursday, March 20, 2008


This past weekend Christa and Jerri and I went to a beautiful cabin in Vermont to collectively celebrate our 30th birthdays. None of us have reached the milestone quite yet, but it was fun and meaningful to recognize it as a memorable moment in our lives. The cabin was beautiful. It was Breidablick Cottage at Windekind Farm and couldn't have played a more perfect host for our sometimes silly, usually thoughtful, always sincere conversations, meals and antics.

Outside of the cottage, we found our way to Burlington to pamper ourselves with professional facials and massages, grab a bite to eat and pick up an ice cream birthday cake at Ben and Jerry's. It was the best ice cream cake I've ever had, and it was so fun to put 30 candles in the cake and blow them out (and make a wish) with two dear friends. We took a wonderful hike and had the pleasure of bringing along the owner's dog, Osa, an adorable yellow lab who is on the right side of the photo at the top. We also found our way to On The Rise Bakery for pizza and dancing on Saturday night.

There really aren't words to describe how restorative, relaxing, peaceful, thoughtful and generally amazing this weekend was. Certainly one to remember forever. We're hoping to make this an every-five-years tradition for the three of us, and I hope I can make it back to Windekind sooner than that.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Typewriter Orchestra and Make-Out Band

This Friday the veggie dinner club took a field trip to East Boston. We went to 80 Border Street Cultural Exchange Center to see and art opening and 2 performances. The first band was The East Boston Make-Out Club Band and the second was the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. Both were unique in there own special ways. The EBMOCB was two women, a ukulele and an egg shaker. They did some original tunes and some covers and some covers with original lyrics and the whole time has us laughing. The BTO was just as imaginative. It consisted of 5 men and a woman all wearing shirts and ties and all sitting in front of at least one typewriter. I think the highlight of the show was their version of Wipe Out, complete with a couple amazing solos. It was really something. I'm hoping to post some video, if it turned out. It's almost too hard to describe without seeing it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Personal Goals

Lately I've been thinking about some things that I'd like to change in my life. One of these things is reducing my "screentime" (see "Secular Sabbath" below). But there are some other things I'd really like to work on, or at least be more aware of. Here is the condensed list (in no particular order):
  • Don't watch TV unless I'm at the gym. I realized that there is no good reason to sit down and watch TV on the couch when I can go to the gym and ride a stationary bike or do the elliptical while watching the same program. The Harvard gym I go to has TVs on every machine, so if I bring headphones, it really is like sitting on the couch, just burning more calories. By the way, this doesn't include Netflix movies or TV on DVD. I'm not crazy, just reasonable. :)
  • Make more photographs. I saw this photographer speak last week and was inspired to dust off my "real" cameras and start shooting again. I woke up Sunday morning with a creative burst and wrote down some ideas. I'm also considering looking into renting a studio space. I'm not sure if I can really afford it, but it would be SO nice. I also just have to suck it up and pay full price for medium format processing. I was spoiled in Chicago by being able to process and print my own stuff at work, but now that's not an option, so I just have to deal with it.
  • Cut back my screentime. Again, just see "Secular Sabbath" below. This is going to happen in baby steps for me, but the idea of making time to read a book or go for a walk or bike ride with the intension of just enjoying myself (as opposed to getting to work or running an errand or reading for school) is just wonderful. I'm looking forward to it, and I think this will be much easier once the weather is nicer and it's more enticing to spend time outside away from the computer.
  • Drive less. This doesn't need an explanation. Gas is so effing expensive it's just not worth it. I will still drive to class one night a week (it's just safer getting home at night that way) and I'll probably still drive to the grocery store when I do a big shopping trip, but I'd really like to get into the habit of using the car as a last resort or out of necessity instead of going to it first with the idea that it will save time. Don't get me wrong, it does save time, and I'm happy I have it, but feel like I was using it unnecessarily at times.
So those are some goals of mine. Feel free to ask me how it's going. This is a big motivator for me. I told my roommate to ask me "How was the gym?" from time to time, and it's so nice to be able to say "It was great!" as opposed to "Yeah, yeah, I'll try and go tomorrow..."

Secular Sabbath

Mark Bittman wrote this great article in the NY Times, published yesterday. He suggests the idea of a Secular Sabbath, one day per week without technology. He takes it to what I would consider the extreme by turning off pretty much everything electronic: PDA, cell phone, laptop, and TV. I would love to work up to that stage at some point, but the reality is that I need to do schoolwork and that mostly happens on the weekends and usually involves my laptop and sometimes the internet.

But I would love to start by having 24-hours a week without the internet. There was a point last week when I was checking my email pretty constantly, for really no good reason, and sadly enough, not much (or no) email was appearing in my inbox. I realized at some point that I could be much more productive if I could just ignore the draw of refreshing my inbox to see if anyone had replied to my emails, or even more exciting, emailed me out of the blue! So at work, I decided that instead of leaving my email open and ready to receive messages at any given moment, that I would only check it every 2 hours. This worked out well. And if I can manage it, I'd prefer to check my email just once (OK maybe twice) while I'm home in the evening. I've been doing this for a few days, and it's working out.

I don't know if I could go 24-hours without the cell phone, though. That's really taking it to another level that I don't think I'm quite ready for, yet. Again, the weekend is when I catch up with far away friends while I have those precious free minutes, at this point that would be hard for me to give up.

So slowly but surely, I'm hoping to reduce my "screentime". I don't know if I'll make it all the way to what Bittman would consider a Secular Sabbath, but if you call one Sunday and I don't pick up, don't assume the worst, just imagine me enjoying a good book or taking a walk and leaving the technology behind.