Sunday, September 27, 2009

National Cathedral Excursion

The National Cathedral was one of the things on my excursion list. When I checked a while back I found out that they were having tower climbs this weekend. We headed down to D.C. yesterday and hoped for the best despite the rainy weather.

The climb up to the bell tower was 333 steps. It really was a piece of cake. The enclosed spiral stairs weren't as tight as they are in the duomo. The stairs were clean and concrete (instead of dirty slick marble). There were also some open metal spiral stairs. At the top of the climb we saw the bells that are pulled by hand. Then we came back down one level and saw/heard a mini concert of the hand pulled bells. We learned that this is the first time they have opened up the bell tower in about 15 years!

After our descent we spent some time checking out the inside of the church. Everything was so clean, new, and concrete. We didn't look around the outside much because of the rain. Overall I liked the visit, but newness of it all was a little disturbing.
This is one of the hand pulled bells--ready to be rung.

Outside of the bell tower from one of the window ledges.
Garden from above.
The space stained glass window.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just How Long is It?

Neither photo shows the true length, but I think you get my point. Yesterday it was really long, and today not so much.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


It seems that right on cue the tips of the trees are turning colors and the weather is changing. We just got back from the dairy. I got pumpkin ice cream. Perfect for Fall. It is super super scrumptious--like pumpkin mousse or pumpkin brownies. Mmmmmm, pumpkin mouse.

The Drawing of the Three

This weekend I finished The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three. I didn't like it as much as the first book (I'm not a fan of time travel type stuff), but I liked it enough to check out the third book in the series. That will make a good read on the plane to Texas next week. Well, that is if I don't start and finish it by then!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter B

A while back my interest in cursive handwriting was rekindled. I practiced writing the letter b over and over again. I haven't practiced much since then. I made the effort to improve my handwriting when I was in college. I really tried to make sure my notes and orders (in patient charts) were legible. I have had to deal with more than one coworker with the handwriting of a 7 year old. Some people seem to think that education negates the need for legible writing. (I even had one classmate tell me that she was going to be a doctor, so she didn't need to need to know how to spell!)

Yesterday I read an article about the decline of handwriting skills. I'm a little sad that handwriting is no longer considered important enough to teach. Yes, everyone emails and texts--but they don't even do that with proper spelling or grammar. We haven't reached the time where pen and paper are obsolete. (I don't think we ever will.) Legible handwriting is still an important form of communication. It isn't just about learning cursive. The worst handwriting I have ever seen was print. I don't think children are learning to write legibly--in cursive or print. While Ross does his homework I'll go back to practicing Copperplate script. Funny (or not so) that what was once a skill that everyone was taught is now considered an art form.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Space Between

I spent two hours and twenty minutes in the bathroom straightening my hair today. The space between before and after really cracked me up. I took a photo just to show how much changes between the blow out and the flat iron.
Don't I just look thrilled?
Super long hair!
One of these days I'll take a photo of what my hair looks like if I just let it dry naturally. I was trying to find one recently and realized I don't have one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I harvested a decent sized eggplant from my little garden. I think I'll cook it up tonight. I also harvested half a dozen jalapenos and there are still more on the plant. Yesterday I checked on my plants and found that I have two eggplants and a set of twins growing! I have two eggplants coming from the same flower! My little garden has brought me so much joy. I'll probably have two next Spring.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DVR, Hallelujah!

When we turned on the DVR just now it was recording the season premiere of The Biggest Loser. I had no idea the new season was starting this week! The trusty DVR knows. The trusty DVR records. Hallelujah.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Gunslinger

Not too long ago I picked up the graphic novel The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born. I liked it and was disappointed to find out that the library didn't have any other books in the series.

The last time we were at the library I decided to pick up the actual book--The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I have just finished the first volume of Stephen King's seven volume epic novel. Wow. The book was written by a 19 year old King. Only one thing in the book got onto my (so easy to get on) nerves. The story reminds me of The White Mountains, one of my favorite childhood novels.

I'm so impressed that I think I'll keep reading. The first four volumes are 2,000 pages in paperback. The first was only 300 pages. I'll have something to read for a long time to come.

Someone once told me I have a great American novel inside of me. I thought it was a really odd thing to say. I've often wondered if it is true. I don't consider writing one of those things that I'm really good at, but I think I'm better than average. I've started that novel more than once, but like everything else in my life, I never follow through. I never finish anything I start (pondering that has gotten me extremely depressed lately).

Like Simon Grim I'd like to find out that I'm really good at something. I'm afraid I'm as useless as Henry Fool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yoga Practice

I'm trying to be more regular about my yoga practice. I went to yoga today--third week in a row, but I need to do yoga more than once a week.
It didn't smell like taco bell in the studio today. Well, it might have, but I put some (good) smelly stuff under my nose so I wouldn't be distracted by any funk. Today we did more work against the wall. The best thing we did was wheel with our toes up against the wall. Then we put one foot up against the wall, and then the other. I got my right leg straight up, but my left foot was stuck up on the wall. The teacher helped me by lifting up my left leg and then she said to flip over. Oh! I thought the point was to get up into handstand. I tried it again and was able to do it on my own. The teacher said I should be able to flip over without the wall soon. I'll have to try that in the living room!
The other thing we did against the wall was forearm stand. Well, I didn't do it, but I attempted it. I tried and tried to kick up from dolphin pose, but just didn't get there. I was totally jealous of the guy that could do it without the wall and the girl that came down into scorpion pose.
I didn't do camel pose because that's the one pose that is really uncomfortable since I pierced my neck. I also pulled up out of a half backbend against the wall. I just feel like I'm choking. I'm going to try and do at least 30 minutes of yoga a day. Hopefully that will get me back into shape and help me progress toward more challenging poses. Yoga is one of the only things that I feel like I'm good at, and if I practice I know I can get even better.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nothing Has Changed

We just finished watching Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip. I've always loved Richard Pryor. I grew up on his movies, but I don't think I'd ever seen his stand up stuff (not exactly child appropriate). I was mesmerized by Pryor's candor and somehow found his jerking movements graceful. The performance was filmed in 1983. Pryor talked about how racism needs to end and how nobody, not even blacks, should use the word nigger. Funny, but it seems nothing has changed. I don't think we've progressed much in the last 25 years.

Whites still tiptoe around blacks afraid to offend, lest they be labelled racist. Oversensitive blacks find racism in everything whites say. This summer I had some totally frank and open discussions involving race with the interns from Ross's company. There were no eggshells to tiptoe on. I felt so free, so liberated. It was such a foreign feeling that I was uncomfortable. I found the whole situation hard to embrace, but I wish that's how it always was. People, friends, having fun and laughing together. No holding back, no trepidation, no offense meant or taken.

At age four or five when I asked my mom to explain the civil rights movement I was totally appalled at the idea of discriminating against someone because they are different. I asked my mom when it happened and when I realized it happened in her lifetime, I was in complete disbelief. I thought it must have happened hundreds of years ago. How could people advanced enough to go into space be dumb enough to discriminate against people whom I just saw as fellow humans?

I'm going to try and go back to that five year old mentality, even if some say that in itself is racist. At five my life wasn't ruled by fear. I was happy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wally World

I discovered a new website called I have trouble with it loading half of the time, but when the pictures do load they are pretty horrific. They are so bad that I had a nightmare about them. We all hate going to Wal Mart, but there is usually a cake wreck or wal creature that makes me chuckle. Well, now you can get a dose of wally world without ever leaving your house.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Book of Tea

I just read The Book of Tea. It was amusing and very educational. It not only chronicles the history of tea, but how tea has changed the world. It has three sections: Tea Gardens, Time For Tea, and The Taste of Tea, each authored by a different person. I now have a much better understanding of life of tea. My interest in buying a tea set was reawakened, as was my enthusiasm for drinking tea. Maybe one day there will be a Brown Cat Bakery, with an adjoining Brown Cat Tea shop.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MP3 Ringtones for My T Mobile Samsung

I went to the T Mobile website to browse through ringtones. I tried two different computers and two different browsers and could not listen to any of the ringtones. Ross suggested I make my own ringtones and send them to my phone via blue tooth.

I spent a lot of time yesterday clipping mp3s into short ringtones only to discover that my phone does not allow mp3s to be used as ring tones (converting the files to wav and aac didn't work either). I became very grumpy and frustrated. After hours of google searches, reading, and trying different things I successfully turned one of my mp3s into a ring tone.

1. First I had to cut the mp3 into a ~30 second clip. I used the free WavePad Sound Editor and that worked just fine.

2. I converted the mp3 clip to a 3gp using the ImTOO 3GP converter (again, free).
To do this I selected Blackberry 3GP video from the drop down profile menu.
--I clicked the icon next to profile settings and changed the advanced audio settings to:
audiocodec: mpeg4acc
bitrate: 128
sample rate: 22050
channels: 1 (mono)
volume: 100%
disable audio: false

3. I saved all these files to a shared folder so that I could use the blue tooth on Ross's laptop to send the file to my phone. The file must be less than 300kb to be used as a ringtone (so I double checked to make sure before sending it).

Now I can make my own (completely free) ringtones in just a couple of minutes. Who knew I could get so technical? I guess that's what happens when I get frustrated and stubborn.