Saturday, November 15, 2008

What day are we at now?

Hey Readers,

I figured I'd use some free time that I have to write a post since I've been getting complaints left and right about not having blogged in a while.

I began this blog with a promise to blog daily, and then I changed that promise to blogging frequently, and as those of you have noticed have pointed out to me, it has now been over two weeks since I have blogged. For one of those weeks I was away at a training course for work, so I will use that as an excuse. However, for the other days I have no excuse besides that I've been traveling on the weekends, working a lot, spending time doing things with friends, and all around avoiding my computer when I get home from work since I spend so much time on it during the day.

But as a life update... I'm very much in love with my job. I have so much fun while I am there and I go back and forth between feeling confident with how I am doing and other times feeling like I need to do more. Either way, the fact that I'm happy while I am at work makes working long hours not so bad.

As for outside of work. I am still looking for organizations to get involved with. I've been following through with the AIDS awareness groups I learned about through the Albany AIDS walk that I attended. Last night I went to a showing of a play that promotes awareness and education on Sexually Transmitted Diseases. It was called "The Adventures of Condom Man". Yes, I actually attended a show with that title. It was a story of a super hero who helps couples one at a time by promoting safe sex. To be honest, it was actually very well done, very smart, very capturing, and very FUNNY. Aside from being exhausted and the showing being a little too long, I really liked it.

I've made some great friends here too. It is a topic I'd like to explore further and tell you all more about, but time constraints won't allow it in this entry.

Sorry for being MIA! I'll be back soon, I hope. No more promises from me though. I'm sorry!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 69: Escape from prison

I watched MythBusters tonight and learned that you can use either braided up hair, toilet paper, or bedsheets, to make a rope to climb out of a window with.

Good to know!

The hair one was sort of nasty to watch, I don't think I'd want to use that. And the toilet paper took lots and lots of toilet paper tied up tightly. So your best bet is the bedsheets. Just remember to tie your knots tightly.



And although they didn't mention it in the MythBusters episode... I'm guessing that Rapunzel would work too? Interesting. Another interesting thing is my train of thought... which has gone from MythBusters to Rapunzel and now to Sarah Bareilles's song "Fairytale" which is one of my favorites on the album and my favorite verse in the song is the one about Rapunzel where she says,

"The tall blonde lets out a cry of despair, Says I would have cut it myself if I knew men could climb hair, I'll have to find another tower somewhere and keep away from the windows."

It is just such a different way to imagine what Rapunzel must have been thinking while that dude, or I guess I should say, Prince, used her braid as a ladder!

So today, I learned something about possible things I could make my own rope out of, if that situation ever should arise, and YOU ALL learned something about how thoughts in my mind jump from one thing to the other :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 68: Car insurance

So one of the things that I vowed at the beginning of this was I wanted to take the things that I do daily or the things that come up in my life that I would generally ask someone for help with and do it myself. Since I broken my promise of blogging daily, I should probably keep up with this vow.

One of the things that to be frank, has been a GIANT pain in the butt, has been getting my license, registration, insurance, in order since I've moved to New York and become a resident instead of just a student. I've basically avoided this at all costs because really, what New Englander/Rhode Island girl wants to give up our pretty plates with a wave on it for stupid NEW YORK license plates? And those licenses? Give me a break they are a piece of junk.

But yah, I've figured it has been about time that I finally take care of that so for the past few weeks I've been hitting up the DMV trying to get that taken care of. The final step in registering my car has been to switch over my insurance to NY insurance. This task completely overwhelmed me.

I tried to go and get a quote from one of those online places you always see commercials about and I was TOTALLY confused. It asked me a ton of questions that I didn't know the answer to about my car and when it comes to talking insurance policies and what the coverage actually means? That is another language to me also.

I've been trying to recruit people like my dad and friends at work to help me out with this but I figured... hey... I need to do this. And don't get me wrong, I have no problem asking for help when it is needed. What I don't want to allow myself to do is bail out too easily and jump to get someone else's help too soon.

One of the rules that I always tell myself at work is: "Don't ask for something that you can figure out yourself." I forget who told me that in the first place, but it has always served me well. Sometimes I catch myself because I want to ask someone a simple question that I could easily figure out on my own if I just took a few minutes to look it up.

That was sort of how I felt about this car insurance business. So today, I got myself my own car insurance plan. I'm not sure if its the best one and I'm not sure if I will stick with it or change it once I have more time to look into it. BUT, I did it on my own, and I'm sort of proud of myself. And you know what, it really wasn't that scary or hard? Susan at Amica? Yeah, she is so helpful.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 67: Put in the time.

It has been a little while since I've posted which is due to a crazy work schedule during the week and lots of traveling on the weekends. This past week at work was the cumulation of a lot of planning that had been going on in my part since August. We had a 3-day event that meant 12 hours or plus a day at work for the past 2 weeks. Then this past Friday, I left right from work and drove to New Hampshire for the weekend to spend time with my sister.

I feel really lucky because lately things in my life that I've been putting time into working on, have been doing really well. I've been putting time into my job and working hard and I'm getting really positive feedback and that event? it went amazing. I've been putting time into the relationships that I have here in Albany and I'm definitely seeing the benefits of that. I've been putting time into staying in touch with my friends that are living farther away and I feel so happy to still have those solid relationships (I have another trip planned to visit NYC in a couple weeks and my friends are actually planning a party at a bar for me during the trip!). I've been putting time into making sure that I see my family and am able to be with them as much as possible and I've never felt closer with my siblings. I've been putting time into eating healthy and exercising and I'm feeling the difference.

Even though it is a lesson that I've learned at other points in my life and there are definitely exceptions along the way... right now, I'm learning that when you put in the time and work for something, things will work out for you.

And my apologies because one thing where I have NOT been putting in a ton of time is this blog, and it really isn't that huge of a time commitment, so I'm sorry :(

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 66: Baby Bro


This weekend I went home and then spent a few hours up at my baby brother's college learning about where he spends his time and what he has been doing with his life.
The campus is beautiful, the food in the cafeteria was delicious, and the video games were totally fun.

I'm really happy that I got to spend some time with my bro and see where he hangs out, where he works, where he lives, where he eats, etc. It is crazy to me that my brother is in college AND that I am NOT in college. It was a little weird to be back on a college campus and be an official non-college person. It definitely made me feel old and I felt like I should be trying to make plans and become friends with some of the people that my little brother hangs out with!

However, its his time now and he seems like he is making the most of it. My little bro-man is growing up and apparently so am I.

Weird.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 65: Obama's Economic Platform

Forget the debate... I learned more about Obama's economic platform and made me want to vote for him more due to this clip.

At a rally, Obama is approached by "Joe the Plumber" (who was discussed in tonight's debate) and asked about his tax plan for small businesses and for taxing those who make over $250,000. Obama takes the time to stop and talk to this man and explain to him intelligently and calmly what his tax plan entails. I think this exact video is brilliant and I love Obama and want him to be my president because of it.

John McCain would not have this conversation with "Joe the Plumber" on the street. He just wouldn't.

Please watch all the way through.

I'm convinced.

If you aren't, tell me why. Because I am so dead confident that we need this man as our next President.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 64: Finding Nemo

So today I learned some interesting things at lunch about Clown Fish. First of all, jellyfish stings don't hurt Clown Fish! Which is why in Finding Nemo, the daddy fish can swim through the Jellies to rescue Dore! Who know the movie men at Pixar were so smart?

Another thing about clown fish I learned is that they have the ability to change sexes for reproduction purposes. Hm. Now why wasn't THAT part included in Finding Nemo? Can you imagine if Nemo was finally reunited with his dad come to find out-- his dad is now his mom???

Think about it people. Think about it.

Day 63 Part 2: Spelunking

Some caving pictures for your enjoyment...

This is the whole group before we went into the cave:


The group after we scaled over the water:

Notice that I am straddling a rock and there is water below me. The rock is slippery and if I fall I'm in 15 feet of water:


My girl the Chemist:



The crew in the cave:

A cave shot:


The Chemist being carried over the water by Ed the tour guy:


Me climbing:

Me going down basically a mud waterslide. My face is priceless:

Up to my neck in water:

Me and the Chemist:

Post-spelunking:




Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 63: Spelunking.


So this weekend in general I learned a very important lesson and it has to do with this blog. This blog isn't going to be what I initially planned it to be. As many of you noticed and have commented to me, I haven't blogged in a long time. One of the reasons is that my life has really picked up here in Albany and I've been making more plans than I even have time to handle. Now, in some ways that is good and in some ways that is bad (another post for another day). But what it boils down to is that I have less time to blog and I initially vowed for this to be a daily thing.

I kept wanting to post about things that happened in my days or things that I learned and I've actually been writing them all down but I just haven't had the time to catch up. Even when I've had the time and the desire to write about something that happened THAT DAY I avoided it because I felt like I needed to catch up because of that promise I made.


Well screw that promise. The point of this blog is not to keep that promise of posting every day but to learn new things and experience life. The fact that I am busier and doing more shouldn't be something I feel guilty about it should be something that I stress and worry about when/what to post. I should be EXCITED that I'm too busy to post. Yeah, that ain't so fun for you all, but whatever, I'd doing cool and fun stuff and meeting cool and fun new people. So phooey for you.


Anyways, I think that giving myself permission to not blog EVERY day will actually allow myself to blog more in these busier days. I hope that you all see it that way too?


TODAY for example, I went caving! Caving was an incredible adventure that began terrifyingly by shimmying through a tiny hole/shoot into the ground. I was not expecting that when we walked up. I was expecting something along the lines of the Polar Bear Caves in NH but no way... this was crawling and scooting and belly crawling through tiny crevices and cracks, sliding down rock shoots, scaling across rock walls over a 15 foot pool of water, and getting up to my neck in water to get through a small crevice and get out of the rock cave. It was at points extremely uncomfortable and way outside of my comfort zone and at other points, calming and serene, and at other points it was exciting, thrilling, and totally made me feel like an adventurer/explorer searching out unseen parts of the world.


I also learned the difference between the words "spelunking" and "caving". The trip was advertised as a "caving" trip but I have been calling it "spelunking" all week, because come on, spelunking is a badass word! Today I learned by our guides that spelunking is what you call what people do who just go into caves with no experience no guide no flashlight and just do a crummy job or get hurt or something like that. "Caving" is what our guides say that they do... where they really explore and go with equipment and learn about the caves and learn about the rock formations and are really SERIOUS about the sport.


As for me? I'd like to say that I started the day a spelunker and ended the day a caver :)


An autumn foliage pic I took today is at the top and some caving pictures are below... I'll post pics of actually being in the cave once I get them from the cave leader.





** This last one is the whole that we crawled into!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Day 62: Wednesday

On Wednesday 10/1/08 I learned something new at work. I constantly am feeling like I am the stupidest person in the room but I am picking up little things all the time.

I never realized until today that there was a strict difference between an engine and a motor. I know it doesn't sound very complicated but while writing a press release I interchanged these a few times and they were all pointed out to me and the different was explained.

A motor is electric and runs off of electricity. An engine runs off of gasoline.

Good to know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 61: I suck.

So on Tuesday, 9/30, I learned something about myself that was actually really disappointed.

Now get this, back on Day 21 I wrote that I learned to triple-check and make sure I remember everything I need when I go to the gym in the morning... and most importantly... shoes!

Well, I am disappointed and embarassed to have to admit that today I learned that I DIDN'T actually learn to triple check my gym bag to make sure I have work shoes because today I forgot my shoes again :(


And really, today my biggest disappointment was that I didn't learn what I thought I learned because if thats true... what am I doing this project for?

As you have all been able to tell if you've been reading regularly, its gotten harder for me to stay on track and we're only about 2 months in. 10 more to go? And I'm not even learning what I claim to be learning? I disappointed myself.

So today, I learned that I didn't learn what I said I did on Day 21 :(

Day 60: Stove repair.

Today when I got home from work and wanted to saute some onions and peppers, I found a disturbing site. An empty apartment and a dismantled stove.

My roommates had decided to clean the stove and took apart the wire coiled thingy and the silver catch plate thing below it. There was just an empty hole where I was supposed to cook my onions and peppers. Don't get me wrong, I was happy that my roommates decided to take the initiative and clean... but I didn't know how to put that back together! What is a girl to do?

I called my Dad and had him explain to me that it really is pretty simple to put those parts of the stove back together. I was a little scared that I might blow myself up poking metal parts around in the stove but I actually did it and was really excited for myself :)

Day 59: AIDS in New York

On Sunday, September 28th, I volunteered at the Albany AIDS Walk. I learned about this event only a week before and as soon as I did, I knew that I had to get involved. I called the organizers and asked if they needed volunteers and signed myself up to work the day.

I got there early in the morning and we were very lucky to have a dry and somewhat sunny day after forecasts had predicted heavy rains. Setting up for the walk was really easy since there were a large amount of volunteers (mostly fraternity and sorority members from local SUNY Albany and St. Rose colleges). I met a lot of great people and as is the case sometimes with these types of events, we actually spent more of our time sitting around than actually doing any work.

The day was overall really great though. Once the walk started and people arrived the atmosphere was truly incredible. I've participated in a few of these different walks before and I've never been at one with a more diverse group of people or with more energy. There was intoxicating live music and everybody was literally dancing in the street.

One of the most exciting parts of the event for me where the amount of young children that were there with their parents and families. AIDS is so often a taboo topic and not openly due to the fact that it is spread through sexual contact and drug use. I am part of the group of people that feel that AIDS is best combat through early education and open dialogue from the beginning of what exactly HIV/AIDS is, how it is spread, and how to protect ones self. I was really touched and given hope by the amount of children that were present at the AIDS walk.

I even saw a group of kids that all had on red T-shirts that had been made saying, "Chris's 10th Birthday Party Team" on the front and "AIDS Walk 2008" on the back. I thought that was such a great idea for a kid's birthday event and the kids all looked like they were having a great time running around, dancing to the music, and grabbing some of the free give aways from the different sponsor booths set up.

There was a presentation by the Damien House, an HIV/AIDS support group in Albany right before the event started that brought tears to my eyes. I felt like a pretty big dork standing alone in a crowd of people crying but I was really moved by the man that spoke. The past few years I've spent a lot of time doing volunteer/support/fundraising/awareness work for AIDS primarily in Africa. Although I found it impossible to discuss AIDS in Africa without also bringing up what it is doing in our own communities, I wasn't primarily focused on the crisis at hand within our own country.

However, after learning about all of the great organizations in the capital NY region, I am excited to start volunteering again for local awareness groups. One statistic that I learned today that I had never heard before:

In New York State, every HOUR a new person is infected with HIV.

HIV/AIDS isn't gone people. The problem is still live and still devastating. Look for groups in your own community and volunteer/donate. Please!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 58: Muslim Bazaar

So today I attended a Bazaar at a mosque with the woman that I sat with at the Ramadan dinner. The night of the dinner she invited me to attend this Bazaar with her and I have never been to something like this before and I've been enjoying learning about Muslim culture so I decided to attend.

Just to clarify before we get into this deeper. I have no intentions of becoming Muslim. As those of you who have been reading this know, what I am really interested in doing is LEARNING. Lets go back in time a little bit... when I was in 8th grade, I participated in a friend's Catholic church's Christmas play. I dressed up like an angel, learned dance movements to the Hail Mary, processed down the aisle in front of the entire Christmas services, and participated as one of the angels in a church whose religion I don't even follow's Christmas play.

In college, my freshman year, I joined a Jewish sorority. GRANTED, I didn't KNOW it was Jewish at the time I joined... but it really made no difference to me whatsoever once I found out. I consider myself lucky to bave had the privilege to be exposed to Jewish culture and tradition through the friendships I have made through my Jewish sorority and through the years of planning parties around Jewish holidays and daily sayings or practices that I've had explained to me.

Now I really am just continuing on my lifelong practice of exploring other religions and learning more about other ways of life. I find it interesting that nobody ever asked me if I was considering becoming Jewish even though I spent so much time around Jewish people while at Syracuse. I attended Hillel sometimes, I ate the Jewish meals, I've had motza and eaten at Pickels plenty of times. I planned the damn Hookah for Sukkot event for petes sake! But now that I'm just starting to spend time with some Muslim friends and learning about Muslim culture, numerous people have asked if I plan on becoming Muslim.

So anyways, the Bazaar was really fun! There were different tunics, scarves, and more traditional Indian dress for sale, BEAUTIFUL and exquisite jewelry, henna tattoos, purses, food, etc. The event was only for women and although there weren't many white people there (or people not dressed in traditional Indian clothing) I didn't feel out of place and I was welcomed by everyone.

I have never really seen people dressed in traditional Indian clothing in person... I've seen people wearing the long robes and head scarves but not the dress clothing, and seriously, everything was BEAUTIFUL. I wish I could have taken pictures but I didn't want to feel like a tourist at this event. But the colors and the beading and the patterns and the accessories... everybody looked so amazing and some of those women were drop dead gorgeous, I just wanted to stare. And OMG, the little kids all dressed up? Priceless.

I really enjoyed myself and loved getting to know this friend more. She is really sweet and really makes me laugh. One of the most interesting conversations and also the saddest conversations that we had was with one of her friends. I made a comment about how I am very friendly to everyone I meet and will talk to anybody... my friend commented that she had heard that is the way people are in the South all the time. I asked if she had ever been to the south and she laughed, as did her other friend and they commented that there was no way that they could ever go down and live in the south and they woudln't even dare visit there for fear of being discriminated against. They told horror stories of friends they'd had who had visited the south/gone to school there but dropped out. The joked about the KKK coming after them and what would happen if they walked down the street in their traditional dress.

I stood their awkwardly, wanting to stop them from saying these things, but not really sure what could I say. That this isn't true? I've never been to the south and I especially don't know what its like to be a Muslim in the south or a Muslim here. I felt terrible. The last time I felt like that was in the winter when I had a conversation with an African friend about being discriminated against. It makes me feel guilty, resentful, unappreciative, angry, torn apart, to have these conversations with people.

Someone once told me that the advantage that white people have is that they DON'T have to think about certain things. They DON'T have to think about if they were pulled over because they were driving 5 miles over the speed limit or because of the color of their skin. They DON'T have to think about whether they got their job because of their merits or because of the color of their skin. They DON'T have to think about whether or not they can travel to the south because of the color of their skin (unless they are worried about a sunburn).

And that right there. Is something to think about.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 57: Pirates exist!

So maybe I am out of the loop or maybe I let the drama and fantasy of Captain Jack Sparrow screw with my mind... but did anybody else realize that actual pirates still existed? I didn't!

So as I read this article on MSNBC.com about the U.S. keeping a close eye on pirate ships off the coast of Somalia that had stolen a ton of weapons off of a Soviet ship and are feared to have links to Al-Qaida... what did I think?

Did I think? Oh no, we could be in danger?
Did I think? How are we sure that these people could have links to al-Qaida?
Did I think? Are we taking all of the proper measures to be sure that these people don't get far?

Did I think ANY of these things? Not really.

My real thoughts were... HOLY CRAP... pirates EXIST???

Read the full article here.

And don't worry... more lessons with actual stories involved will emerge again at some point.

Day 56: Legal Euthanasia

Don't know how factual this one is, but today I learned that apparently euthanasia (assisted suicide) is legal is three places:


1. Oregon
2. Brussels
3. Netherlands


according to a random creepy dude on Craigs List that is...



P.S. For those of you interested, I was on the Brussels Craig's List "strictly platonic" page looking for postings from people that could potentially become new friends for a girl I work with who is doing a rotation in Brussels and struggling to make friends.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 55: Boost the deadline a few days.

Today I learned that if you need something done by a certain date... and you have to send it to an outside person to print it for you.... and you have no control over that person printing it... and even if you give them PLENTY of time to get it done by the date you need it... you should DEFINITELY tell them you need it by a couple days before you actually do need it.


Just in case.

Cause when it comes down to it, you are the one that will look like the idiot if you have nothing to show for the work you've done when it comes time to present it.

Day 54: Ramadan

Tonight after work, there was a dinner put on by the diversity awareness group at work to honor Ramadan, a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. When I heard about the dinner I was really excited because I've always heard about Ramadan but never really experienced it and I love learning about other cultures. Plus, I've been dieing to try Indian food! A couple weeks back, at another work event, I met a young Muslim couple that I got along with really well. They both celebrate Ramadan and told me that I should definitely go to the dinner and sit with them. After that, I was totally in.

So first, a little background on Ramadan that I learned today. I looked this information up before the dinner, and then during the introduction to the event, most of it was reinforced. The month of Ramadan can when it takes place during the year because it is based on the Lunar calendar.

It lasts for 30 days and although there are numerous factors associated with it, the most notable is that during the month, Muslims fast and abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset.

Fasting is supposed to teach people patience, sacrifice, and humility. It is not supposed to be a torture mechanism but it is supposed to induce a feeling of peace and calm, cleanse the body, teach self-control and feel sympathy for those less fortunate. Also during Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance into the future, ask for help in refraining from everyday evils and try to purify hemselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

Ramadan ends with Eid ul-Fitr, a day of celebration and feasts. I’m actually sort of ashamed that I never learned this earlier because for the past 4 years I have had a day off of school for Eid ul-Fitr. Yet I never took the take to actually find out why we had that day off besides that it was the day of some funny holiday whose name I couldn’t pronounce. Eid isn't until next week but today, Ramadan was celebrated at work.

The more I learned, the more I liked this holiday because it is practical and it isn’t outrageous. You may think that it is extreme when you hear “fast for a month” but it really isn’t so. Elderly, those critically ill or even anyone not feeling well that day, pregnant women, women on their period, and women nursing are all exempt from fasting. Those traveling are exempt (time differences), children are exempt (ends at puberty) but they often try. For those that cannot fast, they are asked to donate food to someone less wealthy then them and if possible, make up the day that they missed later on in the year. There is also a focus on sharing and helping others and a social aspect of inviting others to join them for meals.

yesterday I decided that today, the day of the work Ramadan dinner, I would fast for the day in order to get more meaning out of it. Throughout the day I jotted down my thoughts and the times that I had these thoughts. This really is kind of funny for me to read now too because I legit just had a word file open all day where I would write something down when it popped into my head related to fasting. Not going to lie, it was REALLY intense.

6:15 a.m. Time to get up! I know the sun rises in about a ½ hour so I’ve got to make sure to get some water into my system.

6:48 a.m. – SUNRISE IN ALBANY, NY --

6:54 a.m. Dang it! I got distracted by blow-drying & straightening my hair that I didn’t realize how much time had gone by and I didn’t drink as much water as I would have liked. Ugh. Here goes nothing…

7:34 a.m. As I’m driving to work I have urges to stop everywhere I want to get something to eat. Weird, since I never usually have eaten at this time… it just goes to show you how much of it is mental. Because I don’t think I’ve ever had a desire to get breakfast at McDonalds. In the words of my brother, “I’d rather lick a toilet”

8:22 a.m.
Stomach growling begins. I REALLY want a glass of water.

9:49 a.m. I am trying to ignore that I really want water and coffee.

10:32 a.m. Actual hunger is starting to set in.

11:18 a.m. Hunger is fading. Right now I’m really more bored. Usually I get up throughout the morning to get coffee, go to the bathroom, refill water bottle, etc.

1:02 p.m. Umm… I just went and sat with my friends while they were eating. I’m not really hungry right now but I’m exhausted and my head is cloudy. I don’t know if I would feel this way if I had eaten/drank and maybe I’m just tired? Who knows, but I just want to take a nap right now.

1:08 p.m. I lied. I’m hungry again.

1:43 p.m. Ooooh! Look at that! I went 35 minutes without thinking about the fact that I was fasting.

2:30 p.m. I’m so thirsty and hungry. I want to go to sleep. I want to nap until it is time to eat dinner. I remember my friends used to tell me that when they would fast for Yom Kippor they would try to sleep through the whole day if possible. Yeah. I’m totally feeling like that would be good right now.

2:40 p.m. I wonder how thirsty I’d have to be to be at that stage where you drink your own pee?

2:44 p.m. I send an IM my friend saying I don’t know if I can make it through the day

2:45 p.m. How much of this is mental and how much of it is my lack of food/water literally making me want to close my eyes and nap immediately.

4:19 p.m. Good news? I just had a meeting and forgot about this for a little bit. Bad news? When I stood to get up I felt a little lightheaded.

4:46 p.m. Is this over yet…

5:33 p.m. I’m feeling good. I think this may be the best meal of my life coming up.

---------

The dinner was AMAZING. I had incredible rice, shwarma, rice/vegetable stuffed grape leaves, kebab, hummus, nan, and baklava for dessert. AMAZING. I sat with the wife of the couple I befriended and some of her friends, older women, who all practice fasting throughout the entire month of Ramadan.

I was so proud of myself and happy that I made it through the day of fasting because it really meant a lot to these women and they were so surprised and respectful of the fact that I fasted. That I told them I wanted it to mean something and that I really respected the reasons why they all fast. Also, food was served at 6:30 p.m. but sunset wasn't until 6:50. The women kept telling me that I should eat because I didn't NEED to be fasting but I told them I wanted to wait those last 20 minutes with them. It was hard but it was easier to do it with a group. I can see how Ramandan brings people together, really.

Today was a great day. I learned so much, ate delicious food, made new friends, experienced a new culture, etc. Today's lesson might have been the hardest I've learned so far. Literally, no food and water was so hard.

P.S. Sorry for the long post!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 53: The Wizard of Oz

Today I went to a screening of The Wizard of Oz that was playing at the Palace Theatre in Albany. It was my first time at the Palace and it is a beautiful old venue and I absolutely loved it. They have a series where they periodically screen old films for $5. Tonight they were showing The Wizard of Oz and I decided to check it out.

The theatre was filled with parents with little children (some were dressed up like characters-- so cute!) as well as a large amount of gay men. The atmosphere in the theatre was totally fun... everybody was laughing a lot and just having a good time. At the very start of the movie, the sound was messed up and you could only heard the background music and sound effects but none of the voices. A couple of men filled in for the crowd and literally were reciting EVERY line, with perfect pitch and imitations of the characters voices. Basically it was like Wizard of Oz karaoke. It was HYSTERICAL. The entire theatre was laughing.

Anyways, I heard about this event from a blog I've been reading called All Over Albany and they recommended people check out the movie but also check out some of the political theories and interpretations behind it and the supposed allegories of the characters. They directed me to a few links and I printed them out and read them while I was waiting for the movie to start so they'd be fresh in my mind.

Basically, people say that the movie and the character reflects some of the political situations of the 1890-1900s. Dorothy represents the naive, simple, every day person just trying to get by and get back to normal when a tornado (i.e. a political revolution) carries her to a world with wonderful resources, but serious political problems. In the original book, the slippers were silver, so there is said to be symbolism behind the silver slippers being taken down the "golden" yellow brick road to an "emerald" city... all of which being a symbol for the issues that were going on behind coinage an representation for currency. Where the "emerald" city represents a world where green paper money doesn't really have value in itself and is something that is just built up which no real value behind it. And even though the author of The Wizard of Oz said he came up with "Oz" from a filing cabinet labeling "A-N" and "O-Z" people speculate if Oz really is due to the fact that oz. is the abbreviation for ounces, the measurement used for gold and silver.

The Tinman is said to represent the industrial workers, badly mistreated, and left alone rusted and helpless until the Scarecrow, aka the representation of a farmer comes along to help him. This mimics a much discussed Labor-Farmer movement of the 1890s. Also, the Tinman's dependency on the oil can is taken as a symbol for Rockefellar's rising oil conglomerate (ummm... which if this was meant to be a symbol for larger scale oil dependency, that DEF. still has relevance today-- did anybody see the price of oil shoot up today? ugh.).

Anyways, the movie was totally fun and some of my favorite lines that I wrote down were:

"A heart is not judged by how much it loves but by how much it is loved by others." -Wizard of Oz

"What puts the 'ape' in apricot?" and "A rhinocerous? Imposerous!" - Lion (Both these were during "If I were the King of the Forest" and I just thought they were funny... maybe it was because the same men that were sitting behind me acting out the movie for the theatre when the sound was out continued that throughout the whole thing... and they got such a kick out of these lines that I did as well).

"Some people with no brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?" - (Um, at this point the men behind me shout, 'yah-- and they get elected for two terms!'... which I thought was comical)

"There is no place like home." - Dorothy



If only it were that easy, huh?

Seriously though... seeing this tonight just reminded me what a fun, funny, magical, and educational movie this is. Go watch The Wizard of Oz today.


P.S. Anybody from the fam remember when we were playing some game like "Taboo" and someone was trying to get Chris B. to guess the word "Brain" so they said to him, "If I only had a.....?" and his response was "Chair?"

Day 52: Sound

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it fall—does it make a sound?

On Sunday, 9/21, I learned the answer to this question.

The book I am currently reading is called “This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel J. Levitin. It is about the human obsession with music and it asks and answers the questions, “What is music?” “Where does it come from?” “Why do some sequences of sounds move us so while others—such as dogs barking or cars screeching- make many of us uncomfortable?" "Why do we listen to music?" "Why are we willing to spend a lot of money on music listening?" "And for those that aren’t willing, why aren’t they affected?" "Why do some people prefer certain types of music?" And more.

I don’t want to come off as a plug for this book because I have really only just begun to read it. However in the introduction chapter, I learned something new already that I found really fascinating. I’m not going to try and paraphrase but I’ll just leave you to read the next two paragraphs as I copied them straight from the book.
“A bowl of pudding only has taste when I put it in my mouth—when it is in contact with my tongue. It doesn’t have taste or flavor sitting in my fridge, only the potential. Similarly, the walls in my kitchen are not “white” when I leave the room. They still have paint on them, of course, but color only occurs when they interact with my eyes.”

“Sound waves impinge on the eardrums and pinnae (the fleshy parts of your ear) setting off a chain of mechanical and neurochemical events, the end product of which is an internal mental image we call pitch. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? (the question was first posed by the Irish philosopher George Berkeley.) Simply, no—sound is a mental image created by the brain in response to vibrating molecules. Similarly, there can be no pitch without a human or animal present. A suitable measuring device can register the frequency made by the tree falling, but truly it is not pitch unless and until it is hear.”

Pretty neat, huh? And although I won’t plug the book itself since I just started it… I will plug its Web site. It is one of the best author’s sites I’ve seen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 51: Cuse 08 is making moves.

So Saturday, 9/20, I headed to Syracuse for my first Homecoming.

"Do you think about me now and then?
Cause I'm coming home again,
Do you think we could start again?"

- Kanye West, "Homecoming"


It was so incredible to see my friends and the 24 hours in Cuse was filled with all of the things that I love about Syracuse and none of the things I don't. First of all, Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL day in Syracuse and anybody who has ever lived in that city gets a greater appreciation for sunny, warm days because they happen so infrequently. Therefore, when it is a nice day, everybody emerges and makes the most of it. So the weather alone, made the mood on campus incredible and the fact that it was homecoming, football, people tailgating, wearing orange, drinking beers and listening to music... I think you could just feel the energy and be happy just off of that.


I got the chance to catch up with so many friends and see so many amazing people and what I learned is that the Syracuse University class of 2008 is legit going places with their lives. I don't think that I talked to ANYBODY who wasn't up to something cool or wasn't making moves in their lives. My friends are working in jobs in every field from the fashion industry to the entertainment industry to the steel industry. They are in incredible grad school programs across the country. They are taking chances and moving new places. I am seriously so proud of all of my friends and am so grateful that so many of us got to travel back to Cuse for Homecoming.

The whole time I was there I was just so happy and having so much fun. And I was scared that it would be depressing... but it really wasn't. The whole time I was there was just pure happiness.

I love SU.

A few select pics of the weekend...


P.S. I had to put up the pics of the clothes because when I say that I learned my friends were making moves... it wasn't a lie. One of my roommates from senior year now has her own clothing designs featured in the windows of a store on campus!! How beautiful are these clothes? I want them all. But especially the orange and off-white one in the bottom picture.

Day 50: Online Dating

On Friday, 9/19, I learned through a lunch conversation with a few co-workers ranging from ages 24-26ish that A LOT of people use Match.com.

I was really surprised by this but then thought more about it... and we're in an age that SO MUCH is done digitally that it really shouldn't be shocking that dating is now taking place online.

Only a few years ago, people would have laughed and scoffed at the idea of people making friends in COLLEGE online. College is sort of know as a place where everyone comes in freshman year desperate for friends and might possibly be the one time in your life that is the most ideal set up for people to make friends. However, nowadays, even freshman in college are making friends online via facebook. It really is sort of sad.

But dating online is becoming the norm for people and not a last resort for those desperate hearts. Everybody that I was speaking with at lunch that were so open and normal talking about Match.com were young, attractive, fun people. One of the guys I had met the week before and had thought he was totally adorable and wanted to spend more time with him. It was so weird to me to hear that he was meeting people online. I thought to myself, "Why does he need to do that? Is there something wrong with him?" but when I thought about that I realized that online dating isn't something that people do nowadays because they NEED to but just because they WANT to and its becoming more of the norm.

Anybody agree or disagree?

With this observation, people may think, "So are you signing up now?" and my answer is no. I am in a position where I am constantly meeting new people every day and using more traditional approaches to meet people. But it isn't something that I would totally rule out of the future. If I came to a point in time where my opportunities to meet new people were stagnant and I wasn't really getting out much... who knows?

Obviously, I always love comments... but I'd like to really propose people throw out their opinions on this one.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 49: Inflation

So I'm backtracking again... my weekends away really cause me to have some problems with posting. Maintaining this blog is a LOT harder than I thought it would be.

Anyways, Thursday I learned that inflation is a real live thing and I can now officially join the ranks of old people that say, "Back when I was young, you used be able to buy ____ for only ____ and now you have to pay ____!"

I got word from some friends that prices of pitchers at my favorite Syracuse bar were raised from $3/pitcher to $3.50 and pizza was raised from $1.00/slice to $1.50! I sent text messages to all my friends informing them of the highway robbery that I felt this was and I wanted to warn everybody since we'd all be headed to Syracuse that weekend for Homecoming.

Now, just so people don't think I'm a brat. I do realize that even with the price increases, this is ridiculously cheap. First of all, I don't even PAY for pizza at this place because 3 years of flirting has led me to be best friends with Benny, the young guy whose family owns the place and always works the late night shift. It even got to the point that the other employees knew me so that if I ever showed up and Benny wasn't there, they recognized me as his friend and continued the free pizza fest for me. Second, later this night I went out for a drink in Albany and one single beer cost $5 so yes, I realize that $3.50 for a pitcher is ridiculously cheap!

However, I now will definitely always be using the phrase, "Back when I was in college you could get a pitcher and a slice of pizza for $4!"



(This type of behavior is why we need cheap pitchers.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 48: We're all going through it.

Today, I realized that no matter where you live, no matter who you are, you're going to go through some rough times. After being in NYC this weekend, a place that I love, and clearly have a lot of friends in, I've been sort of feeling like, "Did I make the right decision in coming to Albany and starting over from scratch socially and having a REALLY grown up job?"

I sort of wish that I was living in NYC and living in a tiny, crappy apartment with some friends. Working long hours at a job with lots of other young kids right after college. Wandering the streets and taking the subway and trying to make every penny count. Doing things like I did last summer when we planned a free food happy hour tour of the city and going to "quarter pitchers" night at Town Tavern getting the most for our money. I wish I could spend my weekends lounging around at different friends apartments. Having literally a world of options at my fingertips and all of my best friends from school, home, and abroad all right in the same city. Did I make the right choice to come here?

I've grown up SO much in the past few months its sort of crazy. In some ways, I needed that to happen, in some ways, I feel like why am I rushing? I'm young.

So I realized that I'm not the only one having these problems and these thoughts. I'm not the only one struggling to fit in. I'm not the only one who isn't really sure what they are doing with their lives and if the path they are on is the right one.

Now, I never really assumed that I was the ONLY one, but today after having conversations over the past few days with friends and today after a 45 minute phone call around the world... it just really made me realize that we're all susceptible to these thoughts. And you need to be there for your friends and we all need to realize that we can help each other out by just being there for each other.

Day 47: Ultimate Frisbee!

Today after work, a friend of mine asked me to go join a game of pick up ultimate frisbee. I'd never played ultimate frisbee before and I didn't know the rules but I thought that it would a fun thing to do because I like sports outside where you get sweaty and muddy, it was a nice day and who knows how many of those are left, I had gym clothes with me, I need to meet people, exercise is good, etc.

I also had some reasons to NOT go. That list was:

- The pants I had with me were the ones I'd worn at the that morning and that day, I wore these REALLY tight stretch capri pants that I shouldn't be wearing until I lose like 30 more lbs. I wear them to the gym because they are comfy to work out in and other people wear way more ridiculous stuff than I do. However, I didn't want the people from work to think that I didn't know I shouldn't be wearing these pants.
- Also, since I went to the gym in the morning my long t-shirt was all sweaty. I had a shorter one in the car, but I didn't know if I should wear the short shirt with tight pants or the long sweaty shirt with the tight pants.
- I don't know how to play ultimate frisbee
- I really wanted to watch TV at home.. I'd slated myself some time from my roommate to watch the main TV and see stuff I'd DVRed
- I had plans that night to get drinks from a friend and I didn't want to have to shower again.

Finally, I figured, screw it, I'm going to go. And I wore the tight pants with the short-nonsweaty shirt.

So when we got there, not going to lie, I was a little intimidated but my friend swore to me that nobody would care that I sucked. The rules I learned, were pretty simple. I will try to compair to sports that are more well known... for example. Like football, you have to have one of your teammates catch something (the frisbee, duh) while in a designated "end zone" area. Also like football, you start with the ultimate frisbee version of a punt and throw the football all the way down to the opposing team. You pass the frisbee back and forth to your teammates trying to get the frisbee into the end zone.

A key rule is that when you catch the frisbee and have it in your hands, you cannot run. Like basketball, when you stop dribbling, you can pivot and keep one foot in place but you can't run. When people are passing, you can try to play defense and catch/block the frisbee. If the frisbee hits the ground (by someone dropping it or by it being swatted down by the defensive team) then possession switches and the other team has the frisbee. If you throw it out of bounds, possession switches also (like basketball).

So, I hope that this description of the rules wasn't too boring, but I totally had a fun time and I recommend it to everybody to get out there and play some sports and don't be intimidated if its one you aren't a pro at. Well, you can be intimidated-- but don't let that stop you!

P.S. I'm still playing catch up and writing this post the day after I played... and I actually received an e-mail from someone who I played with yesterday as to where I could sign up to get more e-mails and keep playing with them!

Day 46: Bananas out of style

So today at lunch, I was discussing with a group of friends (yeah, thats right-- today for the first time I ate lunch with a group of friends! okay, well it was one friend and the rest of HER friends but whatevs) the fruit the banana. We were talking about bananas going bad and how you can freeze it and use in banana bread. One girl recommended freezing bananas whole (not rotten) and then using them in smoothies instead of ice cubes-- interesting!



Anyways, the banana conversation quickly turned from talking about food to talking about something way more technical and advance (which is what happens when you work with engineers/scientists).



Someone at the table had heard on a Scientific American podcast about the future of bananas, and people, the truth is horrifying. The podcast featured an interview with some dude who wrote some book about bananas. Fascinating, I know. But it gets better.

What I learned is that there is only one strain of bananas that are actually eaten by regular people... that is the Cavendish banana. And these Cavendish bananas are genetically the same and they are the only type of banana that is hearty and tough enough to handle the travel time from wherever it was grown to your supermarket. So for anybody that has ever pealed and eaten a banana, that was a Cavendish banana you ate.


The exception being if you are over 50 years old and you've been a banana fan for your whole life. Cause there used to be another kind of banana that went extinct 50 years ago, and that was called the Gros Michel. There was a disease called the Panama Disease that wiped out ALL the Gros Michel bananas! So the banana anybody ate today? Not the same kind of banana Grammy ate as a little kid.

And guess what? PANAMA DISEASE IS BACK. The dude says in the podcast, "It has spread all the way through the Pacific to Australia and it is coming to our hemisphere. It has not hit yet, but I have said often and it is absolutely true that it is coming. No banana scientists, no plant pathologist denies that. "

Did you all read that. NO BANANA SCIENTISTS DENY IT. I'm sorry but if you don't trust a banana scientist, then who do you trust?

So fill your freezers people, bananas are on their way out. You can all thank me later for what I and now what you learned after Monday, 9/15.

And P.S. Fun fact? Bananas are actually berries!

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 45: Plan ahead for the subway

PLAN AHEAD FOR THE SUBWAY!!!!

Basically I was all over NYC this weekend from Harlem to Brooklyn to the East Village. For those of you who don't know NYC, let me clue you in-- thats a lot of traveling and a lot of subway. However, I really actually enjoy the Subway, as odd as that sounds. Last summer I really enjoyed my 1/2 hour subway commute where I would sit and read the paper, get ready for my day, and be shuttled to where I work. I appreciate public transportation a lot more after now having a 1/2 hour driving commute to work.

I can't read while I drive. I can't eat breakfast. I can't close my eyes and rest if I am so inclined.

Even though it wasn't a commute, I do enjoy being on the Subway. All the people, all the noises, all the sights. The hot subway platform and then the burst of cool air conditioned air when you get on the subway car and then when you get out and emerge into the bustling city. I dunno. I just like it.

HOWEVER, I do not like when the train so much on the weekends when lines are closed. And I can never seem to figure out how people know when lines are closed. On Sunday I had to travel from the Village to Columbia. First of all, I didn't double check with my friend that I was traveling to, which stop to get to. I just looked at the map, saw "Columbia" and was all, "Bingo, lets go!".

Well, I waited forever for a certain line, tried to get on a different line that I thought when the same way, realized it didn't and that I was going the wrong way, had to retrace my subway steps, waited forever for a certain line, let a few trains go by that I could have gotten on because I didn't realize that one line was running another line's schedule, I didn't know which trains were running local and which were express. Basically, I was a MESS. And it took me 2 hours to finally get to the place I thought I was supposed to be.

However, when I got off the train, I realized that I was on the wrong side of the damn park and that I was still like 6 avenues from where I needed to be at 8:00 p.m. alone in Harlem with a suitcase. At this point, I hopped in a cab.

So yeah, I am pretty freaking good with the Subway, I know the lines, I know what things mean, I am fairly confident with my Subway ability. However, on Sunday, the 14th, I learned that you can't be too cocky with the Subway because it will turn around slap you in the face. Plan ahead. Make sure you know where you are going, what lines aren't running, and when you need to switch trains.

Winging it? Doesn't always work.

Day 44: Brooklyn is a great place to live

During my weekend in NYC, I visited some friends that live in Brooklyn. Last summer when I lived in NYC, I traveled to Brooklyn once for a party... it was a rather horrifying experience. We messed up taking the subway, we got lost in a bad neighborhood, and then when we got to the apartment where the party was located-- the apartment sucked and the party wasn't even fun. I'd also visited Brooklyn once a few summers previously when I visited one of my friends at her place of work. It wasn't that pretty of a neighborhood and didn't seem to have much going on.

Needless to say, I didn't really have a good impression of Brooklyn and during the time that I thought I might move to NYC post-graduation, I never even considered the possibility of living in Brooklyn. However, this weekend on my trip, when I headed to my friends apartment I learned that Brooklyn can be a pretty badass place to live! My friends apartment was very big and clean. They had a GORGEOUS 7th floor balcony with an incredible view of NYC and of the Statue of Liberty. It was quieter and more neighborhoodlike than Manhattan, lots of little stores and places to go, and an AMAZING pizza shop right around the corner from my friends where we got pizza with truffle oil. Um, delicious.

Another one of my best friends lived really close by, and we also visited another neat apartment that was really big with roof access-- which is always fun.

Basically what I learned on Saturday 9/13 is that Brooklyn, is a pretty darn neat place to live!

Pics of the view to come!

Day 43: Aggressive Driving in NYC

So on this day (Friday, 9/12... I'm still playing catch up), I drove into NYC to visit some friends. Yes, I drove into the city and it really wasn't that bad... what was extremely helpful in the trip was the GPS that I recently got for my birthday (BTW- I learned recently that GPS was invented where I work. Yes, that is correct! I didn't include as my "what I learned" because this was the same day as the soda-in-a-meeting lesson and that one was an extremely important lesson). There is no way that I could have driven into NYC alone with printed out directions. I would have gotten miserably lost or crashed into something. Either one. It wouldn't have been good.

So whatever, I drove into NYC and I had planned to park on the street up by my friend's dorm at Columbia. She had been scoping out the parking situation for me for days and learned that there was one street perpendicular to where she lived that had free parking on the street (with actual spots-- not parallel parking!) where I could leave my car for the entire weekend.

When I arrived in NYC there was an ideal spot that someone pulled out of that literally could not be any closer to my friend's apartment. It was right by the corner of an intersection and as I pulled up, I could have darted right into the open spot but decided to be a safe driver instead and waited with my blinker on for a car coming on the left hand side of the road to pass. You can see where I am going with this. The douche bag, jerk-face with no blinker just drove right in even though I was CLEARLY waiting for that spot. I was PISSED.

And obviously, there were no other open spots in this area of parking. So obviously, all the work my friend put in to find this ideal area was wasted. GRRRRR.

I'm still heated when I think of it, but I guess what I learned was that when driving in NYC... go all-out, no holds barred, petal to the metal, AGGRESSIVE driving. Next time, that parking spot will be mine.

P.S. Is "no holds barred" the correct phrase? It doesn't really sound right to me and I couldn't tell you what it originates from so I feel like it is possibly false. After the "all intensive purposes" incident I'm paranoid.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 42: Finance

Hey All, I am WAY backtracking right now because I was away for the weekend and have been super exhausted and busy. However, I want you all to know that even when I don't post right away I'm still thinking of this and planning in my head what to write about each day. Today, I found a great plan from a blog on how to manager your finances and how to manage a budget. That has been something I have been trying to work on and trying to organize in my life. So I learned some tricks today and now the task is to apply them to my life. Some of what I learned:

- Grab a piece of paper and a pencil, and sit down. List all sources of income on a monthly basis. Next, identify all of your major expenditures, such as rent, car loan, insurance, utilities, food, clothing, etc. Even include savings here!
- Subtract your expenses from your income and it is time to analyze.
- Focus on savings versus spending and rethink priorities.
- Put off buying unnecessary items today, and dedicate that money toward a future dream purchase.
- See if you can top how much you have saved each month.
- Make wise cuts.
- Predetermine your withdrawals. Before going to the bank or cash machine, know exactly how much money you are going to withdraw. Make this money last a designated period of time.
- DOCUMENT EVERY TRANSACTION.
- Monitor your budget on a weekly basis.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 40 and 41: Movie making!

Hey Gang, now, I don't want to get into the habit of posting two days together but I just had to for this situation. Back in July, my job gave me a little hand held Flip video recorder to use for work purposes but they also told us it was a gift and we were free to do whatever we wanted with it outside of work.

I took it on vacation with me because that took place right after I got the camera, I wanted to play with it, and I wanted to show off the new perk of my job :) I've had these videos stored on my camera since the vacation and have done nothing with them. To be honest, I haven't even really used the camera that much either, so I hadn't paid attention to how to do any editing, or if any editing was possible with the camera.

Last week I began using it for work and was planning all of my films to be shot in one single take because I didnt think I had editing capabilities. Upon seeing some of the things my peers had put together with the camera, I realized that editing was possible, so I spoke with them, and they told me the basics of how to edit with the Flip camera.

When I got home from work, I loaded everything onto my computer, practiced some different editing and movie making techniques. So yesterday, I learned how to make a movie, with music in the background, cutting up different shots, etc. It took a long time to load together and I left my computer running as I went to sleep.

This morning when I woke up, the movie was completed, and I decided to try and load it onto YouTube to share with you all! I had never done that before, so at 5:30 a.m. this morning as I was getting ready to leave to go to the gym, I got distracted by that and learned how to load videos onto YouTube! However, I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, and again, it took forever to load so I just left it running and went to work. Just a few minutes ago, I decided to check and do a quick YouTube search and see if my video was up there and sure enough it was!!

So check out what I've created from my learnings from the past two days. And if you want to get the link or watch it outside of here, just search YouTube for "Waukewan" at any time. (Oh yeah, and I still have a lot to learn as far as editing goes... these weren't in the order that I wanted them in, I accidentally have a video in there twice, the song starts to repeat itself at the end, etc. but it is still pretty cute and fun).



P.S. $5 says my mom cried.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 39: Soda in meetings

One of the really incredible aspects of my program is the exposure that I am given to top leadership in my company and the opportunities to take part in executive level projects. On Friday I was invited to join in a lunchtime meeting today to brainstorm ideas for the redesign of our external Web site. I was really excited about this because I have a lot of ideas and really like to be able to give my input on ways that I think our company can appeal to the younger generations and be more up to date and energetic.

I'm sort of obsessed with social media and viral marketing. My Google Reader is filled with blogs on the latest trends in the field and the reason that I started my own blog in the first place wasn't to stay more in touch with people, but because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the blogosphere and the world of blogging. My friends all know me as the one who is constantly sending out blogs that would interest them, intriguing articles I've found online, and YouTube videos that range from ridiculously smart and innovative to ridiculously silly. So needless to say, I was pumped for this meeting.

I realized this morning that it was taking place in one of the fancier conference rooms and that lunch would be served during the meeting. I didn't realize until I walked in and met those that we were meeting with that it was our company's top digital marketing executive we were meeting with, as well as a member of her team (and an alum of the communications program I am in!), and two representatives from an outside digital marketing/media firm that are the master creative and executive minds behind my company's video series that I'm obsessed with (example below).

So, when it came time to eat, I didn't get any of the food offered because I am still trying to eat healthy and what they were offering wasn't so. Free things are MY favorite things ever so I opted for just a Diet Coke instead. I guess I must have drank the 20 oz. bottle of soda a little too fast because shortly after the start of the meeting I realized that I had some major carbonation-provoked burping issues. NOT OKAY.

I literally spent the entire meeting TERRIFIED that if I opened my mouth a burp would accidentally come out. I had to keep swallowing them, I felt so bloated, and I am positive I must have had the most ridiculous looks on my face as I struggled to not explode. It was terrible.

So, what I learned today is do not, I repeat, ABSOLUTELY do not, EVER, drink a bottle of soda before or during an important meeting.

I can honestly say, I will never do that ever again. I learned this lesson the hard way, but not the REALLY hard way, because luckily, I kept all those burps down and was able to contribute to the meeting (although whether or not my contributions were seen as valuable, I don't know).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day 38: Intents and purposes.

Today, I learned something that I legit had no clue about. I learned that a phrase I use often is actually not what I thought and completely incorrect.

My mom told me today that a phrase she'd read in my blog was wrong and she wanted to make sure I know. In a past entry, I'm not even sure which one, I used the phrase "for all intensive purposes." And what my mom told me, which I had no clue about, is that that phrase is completely wrong and doesn't make sense and what is actually correct is "for all intents and purposes."

Um, oops.

As embarassing as this is and as hard as it is to hear that you've been wrong (and in this case, it is as if I've been wrong over and over and over since I've been saying "for all intensive purposes" for a while) it is always a good thing to learn something new.

Duh :)

Day 37: Wedding registry

So on Saturday I learned about registering for gifts for a wedding. No, not having to do with my sisters wedding, but for a friend of my roommates.

We went to Target to pick out a gift for his friend and it was really interesting to see how it works. I think that Target is a great place to have a gift registry and it was so easy to use. We went to the store and were able to easily search at a kiosk for the couple's list and print it out free of charge. The print out had the exact store AISLES written down of where you could find each item. It listed if it had been purchased, if it was available in stock, and the price. It was SO useful.

You also could have just gone to the Web site and ordered something directly from the store. Very easy.

It was cool to see how this works and since my sister has gotten engaged these sort of wedding things jump out at me. So sis, maybe what I learned can help you out!

Day 36: Gym people

Alright, so I'm playing catch up right now and writing a post for what I learned on Friday, September 5, 2008. That Friday, as with every weekend night that I spend in Albany, is a test for me to be able to see if I have made enough connections to make plans and have something to do. I've been spending a lot of time with my new friend The Chemist that I work with. Friday, she had invited me over to her apartment for drinks and to then go out with her, her roommate, and some of their friends from high school.

We went to a bar in Schenectady that I'd actually been to a few times for lunch with co-workers and had also been taken on a date there a few weeks back. It was interesting to see this bar in a different light... or I should rather say in the absence of light, as it was the first time I'd been there at night. There was a live band and the outdoor portion of the bar was a great atmosphere with lots of people. We all had a really good time and what I learned on this day is where all of the people who work at the gym I belong to and all of the really intense, hardcore, gym people go out.

Now, with my quest to make friends and all you may have thought that this was a good thing... to start to recognize some people that I know around town and run into friendly faces. But yeah, that is absolutely not the case. "Gym people" freak me out. By "gym people" I mean those people that have solid muscular bodies, survive off of energy bars and power drinks, only associate with other gym people, and either work at the gym, spend all of their time at the gym, or both. They are buff, they are dedicated, they could all beat me up, and they scare the hell out of me.

These "gym people" I feel judge me. I feel they are superior human beings. I feel like as I fidder fodder around at the gym not really knowing what I'm doing and fighting to lose a few pounds, these "gym people" are probably laughing at me and my incorrect form and technique and way of working out. I've always said that I will not try to debate things that I do not know anything about with someone that does know a lot. I know that I probably am not doing things perfectly at the gym but I do the best I can. I can't run the farthest or the fastest, I can't lift the most, I definitely do not have the best body. And yet I have to work out in front of all of these "gym people" who do know what they're doing.

So apparently all these gym people go out to this one bar and apparently the intimidation that I feel by them translates outside of the walls of the gym.

I'm fairly certain that I will never be one of these gym people and I am fairy positive that I don't want to be. Hopefully, one day I'll get to the stage where I don't feel quite as judged or intimidated by "gym people."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 35: Dragonboats



So, in honor of this weekend's annual Dragonboat Race in the Blackstone River and in honor of the Providence Journal officially becoming my favorite news publication simply for reprinting this photo of last year's race... featuring someone... I know quite well, I have decided to learn about the history of dragon boating.

Dragon boat racing is one of the oldest forms of competition and sport in mankind. It originated in China in pre-Christian times and reemerged as an international sport in 1976. The crew of a dragon boat team usually consists of around 22 people: 20 manual laborers who paddle the boat, 1 drummer, and 1 steerer. Although this is only a general guideline... dragon boats can range from 10 paddlers to 50 paddlers.

The drummer is the "heartbeat" of the dragon boat and keeps the paddlers in unison because let me tell you, from what I've read on Wikipedia and other sites, it is absolutely CRITICAL that you are in sync with the rest of the team, especially the person sitting right next to you. The paddles or oars used in dragon boat racing are not attached to the boat in any way, shape, or form, so this makes it very difficult to stay in unison and you also can't leverage the mass of the boat at all and takes a lot of strength to row. And it is different from canoeing because in canoeing, you row with your back facing where you are going and with dragon boating, you FACE where you are going.

A race concludes by having a "flag puller" grab a posted flag before any other team. This originated because back in the day there was no such thing as "photo finishes" and instant replay, which was even adopted by the nation's pasttime, baseball, last week! If you want to see a badass "flag puller" in action, check the image up above.

Even though dragon boating dates back 2500 years and is the equivalent to China what the Olympics are to Greece, it is still very popular in today's times. It is organized by the International Dragon Boat Federation and is among one of the fastest growing team water sports in the world. There are 10s of thousands of partipants in over 60 countries. Wikipedia says, "The sport is recognized for the camaraderie, strength and endurance fostered amongst participants, and it has also become a very popular corporate and charitable sport." Boo-yeah!
SO basically, dragon boating is the shit. And on a completely serious note, I've heard that it is a really great workout and a lot of fun. If anybody is looking for a team to join or a new organization to get involved in, look out for dragon boating coming to your area. A lot of people, myself included, crack jokes about dragon boating, but it seriously is a pretty cool thing and I'm very proud to know someone who takes part in this sport.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 33: Meat balls!

This weekend I went home to visit my mom and I cooked for her, after which she remarked to me that I was "such a good cook". And you know what? I do love to cook... except I wouldn't call myself a good cook, as much as I'd like to. I basically use the same ingredients and flavors over and over in different combinations. So today, I started to learn how to cook with different ingredients, different flavors, and different methods of cooking.

I prepared by looking through a Weight Watchers recipe book... not for exact recipes to follow, but for inspiration and a little advice. I then went to the grocery store and bought a lot of fresh vegetables and various ingredients for some of the meals I wanted to try. Like my high heels practice, today I STARTED a learning process and hopefully I'll keep up different recipes that I particularly enjoy and tell you about them.

Tonight for dinner, I sauteed onions and green peppers until they were caramelized. Then, I added garlic and some kielbasa, cut up into bite size pieces, to the frying pan and cooked until the garlic was perfect and the kielbasa was brown on both sides. A little salt and pepper and it was done!

I know it sounds totally simple but it was absolutely DELICIOUS. The sweet, caramelized onions and peppers combined with the salty kielbasa was perfect.

I was so proud of myself I didn't want to quit learning new combinations and experimenting in the kitchen. I also decided to make some meatballs. I've seen my mom cook meatballs for years so I had an idea of what to do but I didn't use any recipe or guidelines and just added things that I thought would be good. I used:

- ground turkey
- cooked, minced garlic and onions
- italian seasoning
- bread crumbs
- parmesean cheese
- salt and pepper
- basil
- 1 egg

I know thats pretty standard, but I was proud of myself and they came out delicious! Something that is also exciting for me is that I am cooking for one and cooking in a way to count points and still be healthy with Weight Watchers. The peppers and onions meal I ate was only 6 points... 5 for the kielbasa and I added 1 for the oil I used to coat the pan. The meatballs I counted to be 5 points for 2 meatballs. Obviously, my cooking made a large amount of meatballs. I packed them up 2 per ziploc bag and froze most of them so in the future, I'll have delicious meatballs, in individual serving sizes, ready to defrost. Yum Yum!

Look forward to more recipes as I learn to cook with different ingredients, different flavors, and different methods, while still being healthy.

AUGUST RECAP

So, I should have done this yesterday, but I wanted to recap for you all everything I learned in the month of August.

Due to what I’ve learned from August 1 - August 31, you can now find me standing up straight, walking around in heels, in beautiful makeup and wearing hot necklaces that I got for a bargain. I will not allow the pleasure of free things cease to thrill me nor will I stop loving my friends. Because of what I learned, I’ll be hanging out in the sun with some old friends and new friends, discussing politics, playing Mario Kart, singing along to La Vie Boheme or John Mayer, and having snacks of apples to boost my metabolism and Cumberland wine. As the time gets nearer for me to be the Maid of Honor, I’ll be God-slapping my sister to seal promises about our secrets, like the kind Julia Child had-- or we could just talk in code. If I ever travel to China, I’ll know some fun facts about their superstitions, I’ll triple check to make sure I have everything I need and that I read up on things that don’t translate into their culture. I’ll be complimenting everyone I meet, doing favors for others such as helping them tie their ties, reading palms, and giving massages. As summer vacation comes to an end, I know that I'll be succeeding at work and that 22 will be a GREAT year.

Much love and please stay with me as we head into month 2 of this project.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 32: Labor Day

So today is Labor Day. Labor Day has always represented a lot of things to me:

- The end of summer
- The start of school
- A day off from school and an extra day of partying in college
- A day off from work
- Good sales
- "Family Fun Day" at Abbott Run

Although exciting and important to me, I didn't think that any of these things were the original intention of Labor Day. So today, Labor Day 2008, I decided to look up the actual meaning and origin of Labor Day. Much to my surprise, there isn't really THAT much more behind Labor Day besides the day off from work.

Labor Day began in 1882 on September 5th and was celebrated in New York City in accordance with the Central Labor Union. The day was created to honor the working men and women of the United States and give them a day of rest off from work. Through the growth of different Labor Unions at this time, the holiday spread and in 1885 there was nationwide celebration by labor unions. Labor Day REALLY IS a day meant for workers to spend time with their families and to just relax and have fun.

I think this is totally awesome. I sort of feel bad that I just spent an hour on my work computer getting some things done! On that note, I hope that everybody had a relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day and have a great 4 day work week!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 31: Secret Codes

So, one of my good friends and one of the most talented and successful people my age that I know, has recently moved to London and began a career as an investment banker. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the going away party or chat with him before he left since I was already in Albany working away. Much to my delight, I recently was informed that my friend is keeping a blog about his experiences.

I try and inspire everyone I know to create a blog because I am in lust with them. However, with this friend, he got the brilliant idea on his own! He hasn't blogged too much yet, but today there was a new entry and it provided me with my new knowledge for today!

The stuff my friend is working on is potential deals and mergers and crazy important stuff in the banking world. He also notes in his blog entry that they do a lot of work on the go and read up on current projects via their blackberries. Confidential information + Blackberry + out in public = something that I find very awesome and cool.

THEY USE CODE NAMES!

I have a really exciting job and learn about a lot of proprietary projects and new developments that we aren't allowed to talk about publically. However, I think that my job would be 10x more exciting if we used code names. I also think that I would LOVE to be the person who comes out with the code names.

So anyways, thanks to my friend for giving me and hopefully you a little insight into the secret world of investment banking and the secret measures they go through to keep things private.

If you want to check out his blog, please do! This kid is brilliant.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 30: The new trend.

Today, my mom taught me the new trend in making promises. The general promise sealer in the United States is a pinky promise. People also use the "Do you swear on our friendship?" or swearing on some sort of thing of important to seal a promise as well. When I studied abroad in Italy, I had a friend from Japan who taught me that you press one of your palms to the palm of the person you are making a promise with above your head to seal the deal.

I learned a new promise sealer via my mom today called the "God slap." The "God slap" is similar to any sort of traditional high five, except that if you call it a "God slap" before you do it, it means that you must obey and adhere to whatever terms you have just determined.

The "God slap" I believe was made up by my mom today, on the stop, off the fly, to suit the purpose of what we was going on at the time. But I think it could be the new trend in sealing promises.

I recommend that the next time you and a friend are discussing something important and it is proposed to have a "pinkie promise" or to "swear on" something, instead you seal it with a "God slap."

Thank you and goodnight.

Day 29: Make new friends.

"Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the others gold."

So today, I learned that if you put yourself out there and you network the right way you can really meet great people. Thus far, as I've been in Albany I've been going to random networking events, talking to anybody I can, and doing my best to make friends and people I connect with. I've met a lot of great people but I've had a hard time continuing the relationships. Last night (I'm playing catch up right now), I originally had plans with a girl that I met at work but those fell through around 10:00 p.m.

I was already dressed and ready to go out so I was a little frustrated (at the situation, not at the girl I work with) and decided to text some people that I'd met at a young professionals networking event that I'd attended a few weeks earlier. I'd e-mailed with these friends and we'd all had the "Yeah, we should totally get together and go out!" talks... but one of the things I've learned through my experiences so far is that A LOT of people will say that but not actually mean it... and when you try and follow through they just look at you like your crazy. I was willing to take that risk by texting them, and to my surprise and delight I got a PHONE CALL (which I thought was so much more sincere than just a response text) from one of the girls saying that she was so happy I got in touch with her and that she was about to meet a bunch of her friends and she'd love it if I joined.

So I did! And I ended up having one of the best nights in Albany that I've had so far, aside from when friends have visited, of course :) My networking and reaching out REALLY paid off and everyone that I spent the night with was so nice and friendly and welcoming. We had great conversations and for one of the rare times, I met people that I really fell like are good people and people that I would be friends with outside from this whole "new city, no friends, befriend anybody" situation I've been in.

Yeah, it was only one night but we all talked about hanging out more in the future and I'm really excited about this group of people I've met. I hope I'm not jumping the gun, but I've learned that if you work at it and put yourself out there, it may take time, but you will find a group of friends that you relate to and have fun with.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 28: P.I.E. model

Today I attended a lunch and learn session at work about the "PIE" Formula for Leadership Success. "PIE" stands for Performance, Image, and Exposure. This formula brings together these three elements to demonstrate what is needed for advancement and success within an organization. Performance represents the actual work that you do and how well you do it. Image means what you look like, act, present yourself, etc. basically the message you send without words and the way people view you. Exposure represents the ability that others have to basically see your performance and your image.
Performance tips are to do every task that you are assigned as if it is urgent. Don't be sloppy. But get it done ASAP. If offered, accept the hard jobs. You will learn the most from those tasks. When you present new ideas or new ways of doing things be sure to always relate them directly to current business needs. Ask questions, but not just any questions. Ask the RIGHT questions. Think like a CEO before you get there. READ. Always be learning (woohoo go me). Develop your own style
The image that you convey to others can be an intentional image or non-intentional. Either way, it is important. Be sure that you look put together and prepared for things. Do not slouch. Be ready for any question or anything that comes up. Have executive presence. Demonstrate knowledge of the business and function you are working on. Maintain composure under pressure and don't show your emotions. Know what others are saying about you. Compare the way you act/look to top leaders in the business. Brand yourself and your stlye. Be true to that brand.
Exposure is active openness. It doesn't mean just having your door open but actively seeking and maintaining relationships. Performance multiplied by exposure equals career impact. We all laughed when the speaker said, "If you aren't performing-- don't get yourself exposed." but it is true. Exposure often means getting out of your comfort zone. When on business trips you may be tired and just want to sit in your hotel room, watch TV, and order in room service. But don't do that! Meet people, have conversations, sit with someone new at lunch, get a drink after work, etc. Make time for this and plan ahead. Do some homework... know what is going on in the world and in sports and music and entertainment so you can have some small talk conversations. Work to maintain and follow up on these connections you make.

The way that this system breaks down their importance is as follows:
This just shows you generally if you sit at your desk non-stop and do work, work, work than you aren't going to advance much within the corporation because you need both of those other aspects to be able to move up. We discussed taking advantage of opportunities to talk in elevators, run into upper management and be able to say hello and have a short conversation, and look presentable at the same time. We discussed that you really need to be on your game when you present to upper level management in presentations, etc.
The speakers at the presentation emphasized that these ACTUAL percentages don't really mean much... they are not exact numbers or anything like that. Where I work, making this sort of disclaimer is necessary, because we have a lot of technical people and they take these things very literally. One girl raised her hand and asked if the percentages were meant to represent how much time we put into each of these things while we are at work.
I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing because I was imaging someone spending 60% of their day riding up in down in the elevator hoping that someone important comes in and 30% of their day fixing hair and makeup... and then 10% actually doing work. Could you imagine?? The thought of that cracked me up.
Anyways, this is what I learned today... stay tuned for more thrilling learnings in the life of moi!