Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


So why am I writing this instead of doing my paper for my Organizational Development and Change class? Because I'm procrastinating, which is what I've pretty much been doing this whole weekend.

My weekends follow a pretty similar format. Spanish class on Friday and Saturday. Britcoms on Saturday night and then sometimes I take my little sister out on Sunday. I've been volunteering with the Big Brother/Big Sister program since March.

Yes, my life is wildly interesting and no, you can't have it.

I did, however, book my ticket to Brussels in December with a return flight home from Zurich.

More on what I plan to do later, but I do really want to see this in Brussels:

This is the famous Mannekin Pis statue (apparently Dutch for little man urinating). It's the symbol of Brussels and people from all over the world send him outfits to wear.

Apparently, he wears new clothes everyday.

Here he is in his Judo outfit.

Too cute!

Since I'm procrastinating, this is going to be a pretty random blog.

One weekend, my little sister and I went to the Body Worlds exhibit here in San Diego.

It was pretty cool in that these are real dead bodies that all the fat and fluids have been sucked out of. They then inject them with plasticine. It was at the Natural History Museum and I worried a little bit about taking a 12-year old there but then I remembered that she told me her favorite movie is, "Saw" which scared the bejeebies out of me, but I guess I'm just a big baby.

Here's one of the bodies from this exhibition.

It's kind of weird because they pose them in all sorts of strange positions, like yoga and skateboarding so you can see all the muscles and tendons.

I know some of the security managers there and they told me that people have fainted at seeing the bodies, but so far no one has vomited. Nice to know.

What else do I do on the weekends? Last night, we went to the Navy Chief Petty Officer's Khaki Ball. Khakis are what they call the Chief's Uniform.

Making the rank of Chief is a huge deal in the Navy. It's like basically going from blue to white collar and there's a whole huge hazing process that's involved. I thought it was pretty silly when hubs was going through it, but it's a long Navy tradition and who am I to stand in the way of seafaring history?

Basically, it's like the worst frat house hazing but it goes on for longer but as far as I know, they don't make you cross dress. However, once you finish, you're a "genuine" Chief and become part of the worldwide Chief community. And they don't take it easier on the women either. I have to take my hat off to the strong women who go through this process. As my husband often tells me, "You would never make it through Chief season". He says it in a joking way, but I know he's serious. Sigh.

You can choose not to go through the whole hazing thing, but if you do, you're ostracized not only where you're stationed, but one of the "genuine" Chiefs will call your next duty station and tell them, so you're persona non-grata there as well.

What else do I do? Well, last week when I was in LA, I went to see The Queen Mary ship at Long Beach.

It was in service between the US and Great Britain from 1936 until 1967 and is now rumored to be haunted.

It's a hotel and tourist attraction now, along with a defunct Russian submarine parked (moored?) next door.
It's kind of gross to get there though because you have to go through all the ports of Long Beach. Not the most fun.

Anyway, I think I've procrastinated long enough. Back to the paper. I don't know why I can't get get motivated to write this paper but for some reason it's not happening for me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Erik Estrada sighting!

I just returned from a work conference in Anaheim (right outside Disneyland). Our university has a booth at this conference every year--it's called the American Society for Industrial Security Conference (we offer a Master's in Organizational Security Management).

It was pretty fun, but the highlight was seeing (dunh dunh dunh--although the title was kind of a spoiler) Erik Estrada! Ponch from CHiPs! More recently (and forgettably) in Armed and Famous with Jack Osbourne and LaToya Jackson.
He was there in a booth where a professional golf teacher could analyze your swing and tell you where you need help.
I guess they booked him since it was a security conference and he was a cop and all in the early 80's.

Condoleeza Rice and Ben Stein were also key-note speakers but I was much more excited to have seen Poncherelli.

When I was a kid, I had a CHiPs Big Wheel and it was the bomb. I was like hell on wheels on that thing!

My Book List

So, there's this "How well read are you?" list going around on Facebook. I thought I'd adapt it to the blog and keep a running summer reading list. I plan to mark them in red as I go. Currently I'm working on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" or "Cien Anos de Soledad" and a new book I picked up yesterday that seems pretty good so far, "East of the Sun" by Julia Gregson.

I haven't read this list before doing this, so let's see...

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hmmm, interesting list. Don't know that I would have included, "The DaVinci Code" and "Bridget Jones's Diary" on a Great Books List (not that I didn't enjoy them, but they're hardly thought-provoking literature).

Also, "Hamlet" is a choice, but an earlier choice had been the complete works of Shakespeare. Apparently, whoever made this list didn't proofread or is blissfully unaware that "Hamlet" is one of the complete works of Shakespeare.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Europe Bound!

So after some slight confusion (completely on my part) on when our Christmas holidays actually start, I'm ready to book my tickets to Europe for December. Yes, I know that's not the best (or the cheapest) time to go, but the university I work for has wisely decided to give it's employees a paid vacation between Christmas and New Year's. Did I mention I love, love, love this benefit?

Last year, I went down to Guadalajara

and Guanajuato, Mexico

Photos you take yourself are so flattering....

Callejon del Beso (Alleyway of the Kiss)= Mexico's answer to Romeo and Juliet

Pepila! Mexican resistance fighter against

the Spanish.

But this year I decided to venture further from home and visit some friends in Europe.
My plan is to fly into Brussels and stay for a few days. Then take a train down to Basel, Switzerland for Christmas--hopefully see a few more cities in Switzerland and then head down to Bologna, Italy for a few days. I'll fly home out of Bologna on January 2. Exhausting but doable.
There's so much I want to see, but first I have to buy some winter clothes. Which, believe it or not, they sell in Southern California. Every "winter" I see these heavy coats in the stores.
I guess it's all relative. My mom retired down to Boquete, Panama which is cold for Panamanian standards. It's up in the north near the Costa Rican border and it's kind of in a valley.
So, it'll be a nice, comfortable temperature down there and people have mittens and scarves on. Too funny!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pics of the New Dog

So, I thought I'd add some actual pics of the new dog. She got a clean bill of health at the vets last Friday and she is good to go. The only weird (and annoying) thing is that she won't go to the bathroom in the backyard--only when I walk her. Which means I have to come walk her 3 times a day--this involves often stopping by on my lunch break to take a walk.

I'm also on a one-woman mission to change her name from Maude to Bijou. I doubt that's going to happen, but maybe it can be her middle name. Or else maybe pirata.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ship Ahoy!

So, I'm officially a pirate in training having completed half my weekend basic sailing course. How exciting! Well, maybe not a pirate but a first mate at least.

From 9 a.m. until 4:30 this afternoon down at Fiddler's Cove Marina, under the tutelage of Captain Steve, I tacked, jibed, trimmed my sails and I think spliced the mainbrace a time or two.

And these weren't baby sailboats with training wheels, ala the SunFish. These were 16.5 foot Capri sailboats, like the one pictured below.

Tomorrow, we're going to learn to tie knots! How exciting. ( and how sad that I'm not saying that sarcastically).

The hubs, Leo, didn't want to go because he had a muscle car show to attend. He doesn't much like being on the water anyway. Our honeymoon cruise was the longest he has ever really been on a ship (did I mention it was a week-long Caribbean cruise). Being a Navy combat medic, he's "boots on the ground"--not much for ships.

Anyway, I got very sunburned but only in really weird areas. Like my kneecaps and my elbows. I guess these were the spots most exposed to the sun.

I did almost become the first casualty of Captain Steve's crew when I nearly fell in trying to disembark, but luckily Capt. Steve grabbed my arm before I met my maker at the bottom of Davy Jones's Locker.

Speaking of which, in honor of pirates I thought I'd share some pirate lingo with everyone. (I got this on the back of a St. George's Brewing Company brochure at the annual Blackbeard Festival in Hampton, Virginia.

  • Ahoy: Used to hail a ship or person

  • Arr!/Argh/Arrgh!/Yarr!/Harr!/Etc: General Pirate Talk--can be used with anything

  • Avast!: Used as a command to stop or desist

  • Aye: Yes, as in Aye, Aye Captain!

  • Belay: Used as an order as in to stop. Belay there!

  • Blimey!: used to express frustration

  • Dead Men Tell No Tales: Leave no survivors

  • Gangway!: Used to clear a passage in a crowd

  • Grog: Rum dilated with water

  • Hang the Jib: To look ill-tempered or annoyed

  • Hempen Halter: The hangman's noose

  • Hornswaggle: To cheat

  • Me: My. A term of familiar address, as in Me hearties.

  • Shiver me Timbers!: An expression of surprise

  • Smartly: Quickly

  • Yo-Ho-Ho: Completely meanginlgess, but fun to say

And yes, these have been hanging on my refrigerator for over 4 years.

Every year, the city of Hampton, Va. hosts the Blackbeard Festival. After years of terrorizing the citizens around the Chesapeake Bay, Blackbeard was killed in 1718 and his severed head was hung as a warning to all pirates at the mouth of the Hampton River. If you're in the area in early June, I highly recommend attending.

If you're a history buff and historical re-enactor, you can be part of Blackbeard's crew like these people:

But, if getting drunk on grog and terrorizing little kids is more your thing, you can be what they call a "polyester pirate" which according to the website, means you don't really have to bother too much with historical accuracy (maybe a quick trip to Spencer's Gifts?) and you just basically run around with an eye patch yelling, "Arrggh!!" at everyone.

Below is the link if anyone's interested! Happy pirating!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Phrasal Verbs

So, I've spent the better part of my Labor Day holiday morning watching Spanish talk shows (in particular one called, "Quien Tiene La Razon?" which basically means, "Who's Right?" where they bring on a feuding family and after a bunch of trash talking, a panel of judges decides who's right).

I've been studying Spanish seriously for a couple of years now, but I have to admit, I can't really get into Spanish TV shows (except for their version of Family Feud, called "Que Dice La Gente?" or loosely translated "What do the people say?"). That show is hilarious because it's filmed in Miami and most of the contestants can speak English, so when they don't know the Spanish word for something, they'll shout it out in English.

Gotta love that Spanglish. I spent a weekend recently with my Cuban inlaws and it was Spanglish city. I'm not really sure why people do that. I guess I should ask. But it's pretty funny to hear, "Mira, that man over there is so gordo" or something like that.

I've been taking private lessons for a couple of years (group lessons were so not my thing) and the biggest problem I have (besides direct and indirect objects which I loathe more than I thought possible) is how informal English is. Or conversely, how formal Spanish is compared to English.

Spanish is a Romance language which branched off from Latin and English is a Germanic language which later absorbed many Latin words and Norman/French words. This means that we usually have 3 or 4 cognates for a word. (ie. rise, mount, ascend, get up).

When I'm trying to say something in Spanish, I have to think of the most formal way possible to say it in English or, when I don't know a word in Spanish I think of the most formal English word and give it a shot.

For example:
--instead of asking for a raise from your boss, you ask for an aumento (which is like the English augment or increase)
--you don't punish a child, you castigate it (again, we have this word in English but I've yet to ever hear anyone say it)
--instead of anger, it's ira, colera or rabia in Spanish (again, basically words we have in English but I can't imagine anyone using them except Frasier Crane at a Harvard cocktail party)
--instead of getting up in the morning, in a Spanish speaking country, you levantarse (kind of like levitate, I guess)

One of the biggest stumbling bocks for me (and as I know from my time spent teaching ESL, for everyone else) is with phrasal verbs.

Those are basically a verb + preposition combo that native English speakers don't even realize we use.

For example: shut up means to be quiet or close your mouth; throw away means to discard, run into means meet accidentally and get up means to rise from a place.

These have the advantage (or disadvantage depending on your proclivity) of making English much more informal sounding than Spanish and I'm sure, other Romance languages.

They strike fear into the hearts of non-native English speakers because there's nothing to be done with them except memorize them and they are pervasive throughout the English language. Just try listening to casual, everyday speech and you'll be amazed how many you hear.

Of course, it's completely possible (and often accomplished) to learn English without ever learning phrasal verbs. The drawback to this is that you tend to sound like a robot or automaton. Kind of on par with people who refer to themselves in the third person.

Phrasal verbs. Possibly the bane of the English language. But I love em.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Search Ends

We adopted a dog today! Well, kind of...we did adopt her but then we were told we couldn't take her home today. We had been told she was spayed but when they went to get her after we did all the paperwork, they realized they had made a mistake.

To make a long story short, they had mixed up our dog and another dog (our dog was supposed to have been spayed this morning, but they grabbed the wrong dog by mistake, so they spayed the wrong dog by mistake). I guess that's what happens when you put 2 black and white chihuahua mixes without collars in the same room.

The reason our dog was going to get spayed before she had even found an owner is that they think she may be pregnant. They'll find out definitely tomorrow when they do the surgery. Which means, if she is they will somehow terminate the puppies. I didn't ask how pregnant they thought she might be.

While this is a horrible situation, before anyone starts screaming about the animal shelter killing dogs, it's really the fault of the people who dropped her off (she was an owner surrender).

I believe there is a special circle of Hell waiting for people who dont' fix their animals. My father's a veterinarian and I grew up working in Humane Societies and it would floor people to realize truly how many unwanted animals there are. This is a problem that can be fixed so easily and don't tell me you don't have money to do it. There are plenty of programs that offer free and low-cost neuters.

The total price for adopting our dog, including vaccinations, micro-chipping and spay? $69. That's right and yet, people keep going out to rotten pet stores to buy dogs. Amazing.

This is the closest pic I could find on the web that looks like our dog.

And her new name? Maude. Yes, Maude.

The hubs didn't want a new dog after we put Poppy to sleep 2 months ago, so I had to give him something and he wanted to be able to say, "And then there's Maude" when the dog came into the room.

So, for anyone who didn't grow up during the 70's (including me) here's a link to what I'm talking about.