Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas Eve!

I am at work and I am not very happy about it! Matt is working today too so I guess it's fine. I hope everyone is enjoying the season and enjoying each other!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Corneal Ulcer

Now, this is definitely something you don't hear everyday: "I have an ulcer on my eye". I just got back from my Dr visit and have to put antibiotic drops in my eye every hour while at night I have an ointment I need to put in my eye before bed. My right pupil is dilated, and will be for 3 days because of some special drops he put in order to prevent spasming. I have to return to him tomorrow at 2:15pm so he can see if it is responding to the antibiotics and what our next course of action should be. He praised my quick response to the condition because it really allowed him to catch it early. He was a little perturbed by the fact that my primary car physician didn't prescribe any pain relieving eye drops. He was also late because of a surgery he was performing and by the time he got to me he realized his nurses hadn't given me any pain drops either which really irritated him. He put them in right away and they felt amazing. He said I must have been in a lot of pain, which I was but I don't like making too big of a deal out of it because I don't want to overreact. When his nurse checked me in she was going to do a preliminary exam but when she had me remove my sunglasses she said she couldn't do it cause looking at my eye was making her eyes water. She said she sees eyes everyday and mine was not thanks? The light was hurting my eye so much that I wore an eye patch, sun glasses, and a hat while my mom drove me to Harbor City. I felt like a movie star running from the paparazzi (kind of) lol. Anyway, I am sure this is not completely coherent but I want to get an update out there and I really shouldn't be using the computer in the first place. I guess the only good thing coming out of this is no work or driving for 3 days...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The state of things

So I am sitting here at work as my right eye swells and waters and turns red. I have no idea how it started but it is definitely getting worse. I have a ton to do so I cannot really go home, but I did try calling Kaiser at which time I was informed there were no appointments to see any doctor today and that they would call me to set something up as soon as possible. I don't understand that at all. What exactly am I supposed to do? Should I go into the office and drain my eye juices all over the receptionist until she can find some room to squeeze me in? How do people make their health insurance work for them? I stand by my belief that Kaiser is the McDonald's of health care, it is convenient, you know what you are getting, but it is never really that satisfying.

For those that are interested here is the current state of things:

*EDIT* I have an appointment at 1:50 today with my actual Primary Care Physician!!!

Bettie Page

Has had a heart attack and is in a coma here in LA. She is 85 so it doesn't look very good...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Matt's Parade Picture

Unfortunately my camera died right before the longest-parade-in-the-history-of-the-world ended so I had to use my camera phone to capture the moment. Obviously the quality leaves quite a bit to be desired but if you squint and tilt your head you can just make out that there is a Matt in the picture. Santa was strapped to an office chair that was in turn strapped to the ladder in front of the tiller box. I am not sure how Montrose is able to fill 2 hours (scheduled to be 3) of parade time, but I am fairly certain the city requires every inhabitant to participate in some way which is the only possible explanation I can conjure. My Dad, Martha, and sister all joined me to share in this exciting event which made the time so much more enjoyable! After the parade we walked down to Station 29 where I introduced my family to the other men at the station, it was a lot of fun for me to show it all off!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Season Update

So today I finally feel the season begin to sink in. Tonight I am going up to Montrose to watch Matt tiller the fire truck through the parade route with a drunkard Santa strapped in to the ladder in front of him. I promise there will be plenty of pictures of this event coming soon! We also got our Season's Greetings cards which we designed together, so of course they are awesome! I cannot wait to send them out ASAP. Next week is our 2nd annual holiday party which means super decorating and lots of tasty foods to share with our friends. Oh and last night we booked a trip to Las Vegas where we will ring in the new year! Matt has only been to Vegas one time so it will be fun to show him around since I love the Vegas probably a little too much. Of course the family parties are really starting to add up as well: 21st - Van Winkles, 25th - My Mom, Matt's Mom, the Creekmurs, My Dad, 27th - the Safraneks. It's too bad I recently decided to wholeheartedly buckle down on my thesis, I hope it doesn't detract from the festivities too much :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Closest Book Fun

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST

Here was mine:

"Because of these individual differences, Stins and Michaels concluded that, for both S-R mappings, some subjects used hand-referenced response coding (which would yield a negative S-R compatibility effect with respect to the wheel rotation) and others used wheel-referenced response coding (which would yield a positive effect)"

Who's jealous of the way I am spending my Saturday night???

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Celebration of World Philosophy Day

Today the BBC had an interesting article about Philosophy and 4 questions to make your brain hurt which can be read in its entirety here

I love having my way of thinking challenged especially since I know most of my conclusions come from years of learned behavior imposed on us by external forces. Below are the four questions from the article. I was going to include my personal thoughts on each question but I think it would be best to leave it untainted and let you make up your own minds. Enjoy:

Suppose Bill is a healthy man without family or loved ones. Would it be OK painlessly to kill him if his organs would save five people, one of whom needs a heart, another a kidney, and so on? If not, why not?

Consider another case: you and six others are kidnapped, and the kidnapper somehow persuades you that if you shoot dead one of the other hostages, he will set the remaining five free, whereas if you do not, he will shoot all six. (Either way, he'll release you.)

If in this case you should kill one to save five, why not in the previous, organs case? If in this case too you have qualms, consider yet another: you're in the cab of a runaway tram and see five people tied to the track ahead. You have the option of sending the tram on to the track forking off to the left, on which only one person is tied. Surely you should send the tram left, killing one to save five.

But then why not kill Bill?

Consider a photo of someone you think is you eight years ago. What makes that person you? You might say he she was composed of the same cells as you now. But most of your cells are replaced every seven years. You might instead say you're an organism, a particular human being, and that organisms can survive cell replacement - this oak being the same tree as the sapling I planted last year.

But are you really an entire human being? If surgeons swapped George Bush's brain for yours, surely the Bush look-alike, recovering from the operation in the White House, would be you. Hence it is tempting to say that you are a human brain, not a human being.

But why the brain and not the spleen? Presumably because the brain supports your mental states, eg your hopes, fears, beliefs, values, and memories. But then it looks like it's actually those mental states that count, not the brain supporting them. So the view is that even if the surgeons didn't implant your brain in Bush's skull, but merely scanned it, wiped it, and then imprinted its states on to Bush's pre-wiped brain, the Bush look-alike recovering in the White House would again be you.

But the view faces a problem: what if surgeons imprinted your mental states on two pre-wiped brains: George Bush's and Gordon Brown's? Would you be in the White House or in Downing Street? There's nothing on which to base a sensible choice. Yet one person cannot be in two places at once.

In the end, then, no attempt to make sense of your continued existence over time works. You are not the person who started reading this article.

What reason do you have to believe there's a computer screen in front of you? Presumably that you see it, or seem to. But our senses occasionally mislead us. A straight stick half-submerged in water sometimes look bent; two equally long lines sometimes look different lengths.
Are things always as they seem? The Muller-Lyer illusion indicates not

But this, you might reply, doesn't show that the senses cannot provide good reasons for beliefs about the world. By analogy, even an imperfect barometer can give you good reason to believe it's about to rain.

Before relying on the barometer, after all, you might independently check it by going outside to see whether it tends to rain when the barometer indicates that it will. You establish that the barometer is right 99% of the time. After that, surely, it's readings can be good reasons to believe it will rain.

Perhaps so, but the analogy fails. For you cannot independently check your senses. You cannot jump outside of the experiences they provide to check they're generally reliable. So your senses give you no reason at all to believe that there is a computer screen in front of you."

Suppose that Fred existed shortly after the Big Bang. He had unlimited intelligence and memory, and knew all the scientific laws governing the universe and all the properties of every particle that then existed. Thus equipped, billions of years ago, he could have worked out that, eventually, planet Earth would come to exist, that you would too, and that right now you would be reading this article.

After all, even back then he could have worked out all the facts about the location and state of every particle that now exists.

And once those facts are fixed, so is the fact that you are now reading this article. No one's denying you chose to read this. But your choice had causes (certain events in your brain, for example), which in turn had causes, and so on right back to the Big Bang. So your reading this was predictable by Fred long before you existed. Once you came along, it was already far too late for you to do anything about it.

Now, of course, Fred didn't really exist, so he didn't really predict your every move. But the point is: he could have. You might object that modern physics tells us that there is a certain amount of fundamental randomness in the universe, and that this would have upset Fred's predictions. But is this reassuring? Notice that, in ordinary life, it is precisely when people act unpredictably that we sometimes question whether they have acted freely and responsibly. So freewill begins to look incompatible both with causal determination and with randomness. None of us, then, ever do anything freely and responsibly."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Congratulations Michelle and Edgar!

It was a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple! I was honored to be included in their day and I know their love will be a lifelong gift to each other.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

So True...

I really would like to know why people voted yes on Prop 8. I honestly cannot comprehend it at all. It seems to me this issue shouldn't be decided by a vote. I am so confused...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My new laptop is so pretty!

I bought it last night out of desperation. The two laptops at my house are no longer functioning properly and although I would NEVER normally purchase a notebook from Best Buy I felt I had no choice given the current state of my lack of reliable computing. Anyway, I am really happy with the HP Pavilion DV 4 special edition I ended up getting:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is how important voting is to me...

I will even support you doing so if we disagree.

After all, as Chomsky said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Friday, October 3, 2008

I can't believe this is a REAL photograph...


A True Image from False Kiva
Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (

Explanation: Is there any place in the world you could see a real sight like this? Yes. Pictured above is single exposure image spectacular near, far, and in between. Diving into the Earth far in the distance is part of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, taken with a long duration exposure. Much closer, the planet Jupiter is visible as the bright point just to band's left. Closer still are picturesque buttes and mesas of the Canyonlands National Park in Utah, USA, lit by a crescent moon. In the foreground is a cave housing a stone circle of unknown origin named False Kiva. The cave was briefly lit by flashlight during the long exposure. Astrophotographer Wally Pacholka reports that getting to the cave to take this image was no easy trek. Also, mountain lions were a concern while waiting alone in the dark for just the right exposure.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In preparation for the VP debates tonight

Some snippets from an interview between Katie Couric and Gov. Palin can be found below and describe some of Palin's personal views and convictions. It is clear that the Governor and I are fundamentally different people, although there are definitely a few (very few) areas where we agree. However, during the interview Palin does make a good point about VPs not making or interpreting laws while in office...of course the concern here is that she won't remain only VP during McCain's administration. I know that essentially it is a terrible thing to discuss some one's potential death and I do hope that McCain lives many more healthy satisfying years, after all he deserves all the happiness in the world after everything he has been through. I just can't shake the uncomfortable feeling that McCain chose one of the least qualified individuals in our nation as his running mate. I feel as though his selection shows some seriously bad judgement on the part of himself as well as his campaign managers.

Anyway, I will let Ms. Palin speak for herself:

On Abortion:

Couric: Let me get your take, if I could Gov. Palin, on a number of social issues. Because that's, they've gotten some attention, your position. If a 15-year-old is raped by her father,you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion. Why?

Palin: I am pro-life. And I'm unapologetic about my position there on pro-life. And I understand good people on both sides of the abortion debate. In fact, good people in my own family have differing views on abortion and when it should be allowed. So … I respect people's opinion on this.

Now, I would counsel to choose life. I would like to see a culture of life in this country. But I would also like to see taking it one step further. Not just saying I am pro-life, and I want fewer and fewer abortions in this country. But I want, then, those women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal, for them to be supported for adoptions to be made easier. For more support given to foster parents and adoptive families. That is my personal opinion on this.


Couric: But if you have a moral problem with abortion, it seems to me you would do everything in your power to make it illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade and …

Palin: Of course, it's the legislature, the law-making branch of our third, of our three branches of government …

Couric: But they …

Palin: …makes the laws.

Couric: …your vision or the administration's vision.

Palin: Well, let's be practical about it and let's be realistic about a vice-president's role in this debate. I can personally share my views, which I don't apologize when I share my views of being pro-life. And, you know, I'll do that all day long if you want me to. But a vice-president does not make law. And a vice-president does not interpret the law either.

Couric: So you're saying this won't be a top issue for you if you're elected?

Palin: I will do all that I can personally to encourage that culture of life, to remind women that I believe with more empowerment, they - more and more women will realize that they are strong enough … and they are able to carry a child and still continue a career, still continue education opportunities, all with the goal being fewer and fewer abortions in this world.

On Evolution:

Couric: Do you believe evolution should be taught as an accepted scientific principle or one of several theories?

Palin: Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won't ever deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth, especially coming from one of the most beautiful states in the Union and traveling around this country also in this last month. My goodness, just seeing, you know, the beautiful landscape of New Mexico recently. That was just breath taking and seeing the rolling hills in Virginia and all … the beauty that is this Earth, I see the hand of God in that. But that is not part of state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught in science class.

Couric: Should creationism be allowed to be taught anywhere in public schools?

Palin: Don't have a problem at all with kids debating all sides of theories, all sides of ideas that they ever - kids do it today whether … it's on paper, in a curriculum or not. Curriculums also are best left to the local school districts. Instead of Big Brother, federal government telling a district what they can and can't teach, I would like to see more control taken over by our school boards, by our local schools, and then state government at the most. But federal government, you know, kind of get out of some of this curriculum and let the locals decide what is best for their students.

On Homosexuality:

Palin: But you are talking about, I think, a value here, what my position is on homosexuality and can you pray it away 'cause I think that was the title that was listed in that bulletin. And, you know, I don't know what prayers are worthy of being prayed. And I don't know what prayers are gonna be answered or not answered. But as for homosexuality, I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships.
I have, one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years who happens to be gay. And I love her dearly. And she is not my "gay friend." She is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice that I have made. But I am not gonna judge people. And I love America where we are more tolerant than other countries are. And are more accepting of some of these choices that sometimes people want to believe reflects solely on an individual's values or not. Homosexuality, I am not gonna judge people.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ignorance Personified *Warning: Strong Language*

I am in awe right now. I cannot believe how rude and disrespectful people can be to perfect strangers especially when attempting to conduct an exchange of goods for money. You would think there would be a slightly higher level of 'customer service'. The funny thing about this interaction (well there are multiple things) is that my friend was attempting to get information about a laptop and at some point along the way there was a severe breakdown in communication.

For the less tech savvy readers here is a quick background on laptop resolutions: They are a measurement of the amount of pixels across the screen by the amount of pixels down the screen. So, when someone asks what the resolution of your laptop is you would give them the highest possible setting available in order to show how good your product is. In the email that follows the seller mentions that his resolution is 1024 x 768 which is really low relative to what is available these days. A standard screen resolution could go up to 1600 x 1200 which makes a large difference. It is possible to set your resolution according to your preference but not all laptops let you set it very high.

Below is the email conversation between Jesse and Kevin:

Subject: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 ( L.A. )
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 9:31 AM

Is the dell D610 still available?
Where are you located?
What is the screen resolution?


Subject: Re: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 ( L.A. )

Yes i have the dell available, the resolution is normal set, 1024x768 so let me know

Subject: Re: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 ( L.A. )
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 10:39 AM

Oh, that is a low resolution. How about $320 instead?
where could I pick it up?

Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 ( L.A. )

resolution can be set to higher or lower, so is all about to set it up, $320.00 is way to cheap, i know the market and this laptop on e-bay for over $400.00 for such like new clean conditions, so i know what i got, NO LESS THAN $370.00!!

Subject: RE: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 (L.A.)
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 10:49 AM

Its going for $260-$300 on ebay. I think $320 is fair, especially with the screen resolution being so low. Let me know if you change your mind. --Kevin

Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 10:56:26 -0700 (PDT)
: RE: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 (L.A.)


Re: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 (L.A.)
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 10:59 AM

Um, ok, so, laptops have a maximum screen resolution, and yours is 1024x768.
I prevoiusly bought 2 others on craiglist for 300 each, same specs as yours but higher resolution versions, so please don't tell me I don't know the market.
Have a good day.

Here is when is takes an odd turn, why couldn't Jesse just tell Kevin what the highest setting was rather than simply stating there was one and resorting to such confusing attacks:

Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 11:13 AM
Re: DELL LATITUDE D610,VERY CLEAN LIKE NEW CONDITIONS,Fast Centrino,2.0ghz - $380 (L.A.)




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Political Quote Fun

Sarah Palin has advocated teaching both creationism and evolution in schools. To his [Dawkings] mind "the evidence for evolution is so strong that in order not to believe in evolution you must either be ignorant, stupid or insane". Prof Dawkins is not merely point scoring. He is concerned that a failure to accept evolution alters our conception of life, which in turn has an impact on medical science - particularly embryonic stem cells.

"While partisan bloggers and the sun scare industry will use this as an opportunity to undermine Gov Palin and demonize the indoor tanning industry, the fact is that Governor Palin's decision to get UV light from a tanning bed positively impacts her health."
Indoor Tanning Industry responds to the news that Sarah Palin installed a sunbed in the Alaska Governor's mansion

Washington correspondent Daniel Greenberg's reports while observing President Richard Nixon awarding the prestigious National Science Medal to a group of scientists, the president was heard to say: "I have read the citations and I want you to know that I do not understand them, but I want you to know, too, that because I do not understand them, I realise how enormously important their contributions are to this nation."

"What a president has to know is the amount of uranium necessary to set off a Hiroshima type bomb… how long it would take, what kind of infrastructure you'd need and how much money it would take to assemble," states Mr Kaku, before adding "this is the stuff for which nations go to war"

Note to self: Do not travel during hurricane season...

So, I had big plans to travel to a newly opened resort in Jamaica and it was going to be glorious! An all inclusive resort that was opened to the public for the first time in September 2008, meaning I would have been the first person to sleep in my room! Anyway, the weather frightened us away since there was Gustav near it and Hanna and Ike were following closely behind. After a bit of scrambling I came across a really good deal on a 5 night cruise that would stop in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada (Tami and I had agreed we would stay on the ship in Ensenada).

We were set to leave on Saturday, September 5 so we decided to stretch it out by spending the night in San Diego:

It was a very nice start to the whole vacation. Becky came down and we all had smores and hung out, it was lots of good wholesome fun!

We then went to the Port to meet up with our ship, The Elation:
After a little while on the ship I realized it was the exact same one I went on with my family when I graduated from High School...kinda neat.

Overall it was a lovely trip, but it does have a good punch line...Remember what I said about not going to Jamaica because of the weather? Well apparently the weather was in the Pacific also making it impossible for the ship to make it down to Cabo San Lucas! Tami and I simply found it amusing, OF COURSE we aren't going to Cabo, why would we??? So we decided to get off at Ensenada which was an exciting one hour jaunt through a Girls Gone Wild audition. It is so depressing to see the behavior of some people. So, Tami and I each bought a souvenir and made our way back to the ship for some more tasty food and relaxation!

Here are some highlights:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Things I Want to Do

I know it has been a while, so I thought I would do a quick post with some visual aids. You know what they say...a picture is worth a thousand words.

The pics link to more relevant sites with more words...why reinvent the wheel?

Hopefully I will be back again soon!

i - Visit Matt in Shanghai:

1 - Visit India:

2 - Finish My:

3- See all of the movies I have been missing:

4 - See more bands:

5 - Move to Silver Lake:

6 - Sleep:

7 - Experience more LA Art:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Read like you mean it

Adrienne found a list of 1,001 books a person should read before they die on It was fun to see what I was missing and to assess how well I have done thus far. While reviewing my completed books I realized that I have read many "cliché classics" (for lack of a better phrase). Overall I have read 72 of these books....I have waaay too many to go! Perhaps someday I will be allowed to return to the land of leisure reading


At Katie's request I am posting the books from the list that I have read (which is 74 on recount):

33. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
93. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
143. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
166. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
181. A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham
203. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
238. The Cider House Rules – John Irving
241. Contact – Carl Sagan
246. Queer – William Burroughs
256. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
294. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
301. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
320. Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
335. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
348. The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch
358. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
367. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
375. Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
427. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
436. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
437. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
445. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
451. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
456. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
461. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
472. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
484. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
492. Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
494. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
496. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
508. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
521. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
529. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
539. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
547. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
559. The Plague – Albert Camus
564. Animal Farm – George Orwell
565. Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
574. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
587. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
592. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
608. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
619. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
649. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
663. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
667. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
671. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
676. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
717. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
723. Ulysses – James Joyce
767. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
778. The Immoralist – André Gide
780. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
790. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
794. Dracula – Bram Stoker
808. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
809. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
820. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
825. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
840. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
863. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
868. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
873. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
876. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
883. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
889. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
895. The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne
897. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
913. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
931. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
983. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
992. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
1001.Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Grief Observed

When addressing the issue of death it seems that the default coping mechanism is religion. I have a great respect for the power of religion and the peace of mind it can offer to so many. Though, the ability for religion to alleviate the grieving process is generally where my respect for it ceases. I have been fascinated with religion since I was fairly young and have had the opportunity to learn about and experience a variety of churches in different faiths. During this process I never found anything that spoke to me deeply. I would be momentarily moved during a Hindu mantra, a Christian sermon, or a Buddhist prayer, but I think I was mainly feeding off of the spirituality of the followers especially since some of my experiences would be in languages I could not understand. The depth with which those around me were experiencing their religion would touch me. I have some fundamental issues with all religions I have experienced which can loosely be summarized in one word: Hypocrisy. Anyway, this is simply meant to illustrate that I have chosen a path without religion to comfort me, although it is not from lack of effort on my part. So, how does one without the support of their faith cope with death?

I searched the ever useful internet to see what others have said in this arena. It seems to me that even the most nonreligious attempts to offer insight still refer to verses in the bible. How can this be a comfort to everyone all of the time? I guess it doesn’t need to be everyone, but simply most. I have however, found snippets here and there that are somewhat helpful. Of course, there is no real answer as everyone experiences grief differently and no one can ever fully understand exactly what you are going through. The most important tool in our box is the support of the living. We don’t need them to understand what we are going through or even try to, but simply letting us know that they are there and that they exist in this world as someone who cares about you and your wellbeing. I would think that in the end this is the ultimate comfort.

I am not entirely new to loss either, yet I continue to struggle with it. I have been to about 6 funerals now and not a single one is easier than the last. It seems a bit strange that experience with loss does not make losing any easier. Anything else we do in our lives gets easier as we do it more often. I find that when I am reminded that our time here on Earth is limited my mind wanders to those who are still living and who are so important to me that I could not imagine trying to live without them around. This group of people is actually quite large. How do you ever get used to not being able to pick up the phone knowing that the person on the other end is the only person that could solve the particular problem you are calling about or the only person that could relate to what you want to share or the only person that knows you well enough to even want to listen to your silly story? Does time truly heal all wounds? Or do we learn to embrace our wounds with time?

“A life remembered in the hearts of the living is not lost” ~A headstone at Rose Hills I saw yesterday

With that sentiment I wanted to remember our recent losses

Grandma Rose (Matt’s Paternal Grandmother)
She was an amazingly kind and open woman. I was immediately welcomed into her home when Matt took me there to meet her as his girlfriend. She had a full life and actually received her BA in Social Work in 1946 which is an impressive feat in itself! She has three daughters and one son who will all hold her close to their hearts. I feel privileged to have known such a wonderful person and honored that she was able to make it to my wedding last year. I got this email from her the day after the wedding “The wedding was so nice. I'm glad I was able to be there. Love, Grandma Rose”

Although not on the same level as the loss of a person I feel the grief experienced from the loss of a pet effects us a great deal. My friend had to make the very difficult decision to put his cat to sleep today. This kitty was extrememly young but had a terminal illness (FIP) that has no cure. The vet thinks he probably already had it when he was adopted. As any pet lover will know this is the most difficult thing to go through and my thoughts are with him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Black Dog

I can't believe how long it has been since I have updated this little blog of mine. It isn't exactly like nothing has happened I think it is more along the lines of too much happening. I don't have a well thought out coherent theme today so I will just go with the flow...

My cousin, Brandon, sent me this picture from his First Anniversary trip to the Grand Canyon. I guess what they say about the first year being the hardest is true as demonstrated here by Whitney's desire to throw Brandon into the canyon. Good thing Brandon was strong enough to catch himself on the edge. I hear she regrets doing it, but I am not so sure I will ever trust her again!

Now you have to watch this video that Brandon just sent me:

On a less amusing note, I would really like to be at the beach today. This office exhausts me, especially being alone in it most of the time. Here is the torturous view from my office (a little blurry):

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi Day

I just got off the phone with Becky who called to wish me a happy Pi day (3.14). I got her this Pi by numbers sweatshirt a couple of years ago, and although Pi is infinite it uses many, many of its numbers to create the shape. Anyway, she works with a 7th grade math class and wore it today in celebration. I was honored :) The class got to celebrate by measuring things and dividing by the diameter, along with eating pie that they brought for themselves. Becky was a little nervous about a potential food fight mainly because it was just herself and a sub. I am really excited that Becky is pursuing this path, whenever she talks to me about her time in the classroom she sounds so jubilant. I have felt that she would make a great teacher for some time now and it is neat to see someone embark on a path that is so perfect for them.

In other news, my brother-in-law is in a band called Buffalo Beard that just released their first EP. I ordered the CD from here and it just arrived on my doorstep today. I immediately opened it mainly because I am so excited for them, but also because I really have not seen a new CD in a LONG time. Any new music I get is in mp3 format. I forgot how much fun it is to paw at that tight plastic wrapping trying to get at the juicy goodness as quickly as possible but it is never fast enough! I am listening to it as I write and really it is so so good. I know I am probably biased but hey at least I get to say I knew them back when...I knew them way before YOU! Oh that reminds me of this shirt from boingboing:

I also have a meeting with my thesis chair this afternoon at approximately 2pm which I am really not looking forward to. I am still in the beginning stages of this entire process and the frustration of wanting to be done with this stage of my life is really starting to get to me. I still cannot see the light at the end of tunnel which makes it difficult to continue to trod forward in the dark. The draft that we are going over today is not even close to as long as it is supposed to be but I hope she will be able to inspire me to complete a larger chunk of it for the next go. It is sad how disappointed in myself I am in regards to this whole process. Perhaps this will be another step in my ongoing growth that will make me a stronger and more effective human later in life.

In more exciting news, today is Vickie's birthday YAY! Also, Shannon is celebrating her own birthday tonight with a little Phil Shane at Alex's down here in Long Beach which should be fun and tomorrow I get to celebrate Meishya's birthday at the Blue Dalia Cafe in LA. So many March birthdays! I am a little sad that I don't have any awesome St. Paddy's day plans this year. Since Meishya's birthday is actually on March 17th it has been quite nice to go where she tells me and essentially celebrate both events. I suppose it will be nice for her to not have to wear green at her party this year, but I will still miss her on St. Ps!

Ok I think I have done plenty of procrastinating for one day, time to prepare to get scolded by my chair for not doing well!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Two things

1 - I got a new shiny phone that rings and plays music and other cool stuff, but the key here is that it rings which my other phone has not done since August 2007. I was waiting until I was eligible for a free phone upgrade and I finally was this weeked so I got this: The first thing I did with it was take a picture of Layla, of course:

2 - I love the change in time. Now when I leave work a little late I don't feel like I have lost my entire day; look how bright it was for my drive home yesterday at 6:30 :)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Something I Look Forward To

On April 19th Matt and I are embarking on a week long getaway to enjoy each other with no distractions before he begins the academy for a not-yet-allowed-to-name city. We have decided to do something simple and relaxing while trying something that neither of us has done before. We find that doing new things together is actually difficult, especially stateside, because I have apparently been EVERYWHERE with my family at some point.

Anyway, even if no one is interested I am so excited I really wanted to share our itinerary! The first three days we will be in San Luis Opisbo. I am not sure how many of you are aware of a spectacular little place known as the Madonna Inn but it is somewhere I have always wanted to stay and now it is finally happening! We are torn between the Madonna Suite with its custom made carpet and rock bathroom:

Our other top choice is the Old World Suite which also has a Rock waterfall shower and fireplace:

I think the overall appeal to this place is fairly self explanatory but in case you are not yet convinced here is a picture of their Steak House:

Once we have spoiled ourselves in the lap of over-the-top luxury and kitsch we are heading a little further north to Big Sur. I have driven through and admired the beauty there many times, but I have never had the chance to spend the time required to truly appreciate it. We are staying at a super cool place called the Treebones Resort which has walk in camp sites and things I have never heard of before called Yurts. They are round little hut like structures that are a cross between a tent and a cabin. We will be here for two nights:

How amazing is that view?!? There is a dome on top so you can stargaze while lying in bed. The resort itself is pretty amazing as well. It is off the grid using propane fueled turbine to power everything and drinking water comes from a well. Here is the layout of the site:

We are staying in Yurt #16 which is the farthest one on the right. Although it is farther from the showers and restrooms the added privacy and full ocean view will be entirely worth it!

We will be heading back down to Long Beach on the 24th just in time to get ready to head to Coachella! Not a bad way to spend a week if you ask me!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thesis Update

How is my thesis going you ask?

Well, I have always found visual aids to be helpful when explaining things so here is the update:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Academy Awards

Perhaps we will get some exciting moments like these on Sunday: