There have been no new blog posts since the 25th due to the fact that my computer was completely overtaken by viruses and spyware. However, one of the awesome IT guys here at work fixed for me and it should be back up and running. I plan on getting everything set up again tonight, so bear with me - there should be a new post by tomorrow.
This article is about the rescue of 516 ailing cats...from a cat sanctuary. You would think a cat sanctuary would be a good cause, right? Well, unfortunately not all good intentions pan out and this 'sanctuary' was obviously not equipped to deal with massive numbers of abandoned animals, some needing extensive medical treatment.
Please be careful when donating money or exposing animals to these kinds of establishments. Do as much research as possible. If you want to make a contribution to help animals and you can't find legitimate information on a particular sanctuary or rescue group, donate instead to the ASCP or better yet, your local Humane Society - they need it. The Humane Society of Huron Valley is a pet cause of mine (no pun intended) and they could definitely use the help. And the ASCP will use your donation to help stop mass abuses such as the one in the article.
Other good animal rescue groups in the Ann Arbor area (I haven't found the ones in Groton yet, although I am working on it) are the Mosaic Feline Refuge, a no-kill shelter operated by Rita and Peter Heydon and the Ann Arbor Cat Clinic, which offers both an adoption program (Ralph and Sunny - picture above - came from this program) and does work with ferals. You can reach Mosaic by calling 734-663-1618 and visit the AACC on the web at www.annarborcatclinic.com. Contact them from specific donation or adoption information. You can find the Humane Society of Huron Valley at www.hshv.org.
I am sorry if this seems preachy, but I really hate hearing about animals in trouble and I also wanted to warn you that not all 'rescue groups' are what they seem. Thanks for reading!
Mangetout, the organic place across the street, has been open for a couple months now and I haven't made it over. I am thinking about trying it either today or tomorrow. I'll give you the update...here's the link: http://mangetoutorganic.com/Home_Page.html
Also, I wanted to mention this earlier but it didn't fit with my basketball post: Stop & Shop has started selling Haloumi cheese! For those of you that are not familar, this would be the Greek goat's milk cheese that I have probably grilled for you at some point during a summer barbecue. The fancy cheese shop downtown carries it, but I am THRILLED to be able to buy it at the grocery store. Try it out if you haven't already - just slice it, brush some olive oil on it, and throw it on a grill or in a frying pan until it starts to turn golden-brown. YUM.
So...the posting is slow going this week as I am experiencing some technical difficulties with my computer and keep getting booted off the internet. Bear with me!
That said, I can't post pics from the St. Patty's Day parade until this problem is solved, because the uploading process is where the booting off happens.
For now...let's talk some hoops.
I spent an agonizing three hours filling out my bracket yesterday at work only to end up changing half my picks last night, then logging back on this morning to change them again. By 10:00 AM I had three different brackets - all with different national champions - circulating in two different pools.
My yearly bracket process also involved multiple phone call/text messages with my father. Up until this year we were able to conduct this process in person. One of us would grab the giant bracket from the Free Press and fill it out. The other one would come through and scratch off/revise about half of it. Subsequent arguments, gloating, and the occasional cash exchange would ensue.
This year, because of my move to Connecticut, dad and I had to have our usual pre-tournament discussions via phone and text. You should try expressing your doubt about Notre Dame's second-round abilities in a text message sometime. Or having a discussion about UNC vs. Tennessee while driving. NOT convenient or safe!
Dad and I usually ended up with a fairly similar Final Four and the same national champion - it's the beginning rounds where we like to expend our argumentative energy. Let us not forget 2007's memorable Vandy fight - I wanted to take them (I think) three rounds, Dad wanted them scratched after one...I emerged the victor in that instance.
(However, in all fairness, if I am going to use Vandy as an example, I should also point out that I stupidly had MSU upsetting UNC last year, which, as dad kindly pointed out yesterday, more or less knocked my bracket out of first-place contention in any pool.)
This year we kept the arguing to a minimum - it was more discussion. How far to take Wisconsin, can MSU beat Pitt, is Kansas going to get upset early on...pretty tame.
Anyway, I don't know what dad ultimately ended up with for his Final Four, but I have three different scenarios going on three different brackets. NOT because I want to better my odds (only one has money riding on it) but because I am that insecure in my picks this year.
Some things I HOPE will happen (probably reflected on at least one of the three brackets):
Wisconsin will make it to the third round and duke it out with Georgetown for a crack at the Final Four
Michigan State, led by the scrappy and wonderful Drew Neitzel, will beat Pitt in the second round and have a spectacular showdown with Memphis
Georgia will ride the momentum they have going at the moment and beat Xavier to get out of the first round
Uconn will hang until they meet UCLA in the third round
As you can probably surmise, I think the Sweet Sixteen has the potential for the most exciting games of the whole tournament. In my eyes, this is where scrappy meets superb and you get a real showdown. Not that the Elite Eight and Final Four aren't spectacular - but Sweet Sixteen is where I think we'll max out on entertainment.
As soon as I get my graphics capabilities back, I'll post or link to my brackets. Let me know how you guys are doing!
First of all: THERE WILL BE A NEW POST TOMORROW! There is a good reason for my lack of posting; I picked up some freelance copywriting work from a design firm in Norwich and that took up my evening writing time/creative energy. But I have finished my assignments for the time being, so it's back to blogging.
I have also been too swamped at work to even scan the headlines to find news items to blog about - my fallback when I am feeling a lack of creativity. This is doubly disappointing because I love current events. (I did hear a good NPR interview the other day with a guy who trains dogs on movie sets, but unfortunately didn't retain enough info to blog about it.)
Also, for those of you who don't know, my house was toilet papered this weekend. The last time I TPd someone's house I was just out of twelfth grade and I thought I was too old for it then. It may have been humorous had the perpetrators not known that Noe was already in a terrible mood. He did not find it at ALL humorous, as the perpetrators have since realized. Lesson learned: Don't poke Noe when he is in the zone!
On the good side: I attended New London's first annual Saint Patrick's Day parade on Monday and will be writing a blog about it as soon as I get some pics from Doyle. Also, I signed up for golf lessons, which should provide some excellent blog fodder. AND I am almost finished reading The Six Wives of Henry VIII and am planning to highly recommend it.
So tune in tomorrow, where you can also see my NCAA tournament bracket! I was a third-place winner last year, pushed out of the top two spots soley by my hope that Michigan State could get out of the second round. Unfortunately, I have not been paying as much attention as I usually do to college basketball leading up to the tournament, so I have no idea how my bracket is going to fare this year. Stay tuned and find out!
I recently stumbled across a link to a blog post by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and contestant on last season's Dancing with the Stars. You can read this post, titled "Blogger and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market"here.
Mr. Cuban recently banned newspaper bloggers from his locker room. He feels that newspaper blogs discredit the names and reputations of their newspapers because Mr. Cuban feels that one should "never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business."
It's an interesting concept and one that I hadn't given a lot of thought: do bloggers have any place in the real news industry? I'm sort of leaning toward Mr. Cuban's view.
First of all, I want to apologize for the rather sporadic and lame blogs of late. I have been busy and, when not busy, fairly burned out. As most of you know, I had a houseguest weekend before last (my awesome cousin Katie - check out her blog and her FABULOUS artwork - of which I now have a custom piece of - here). Then I proceeded to be so slammed at work that the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the computer when I got home. As for the lack of weekend updates, well, that was a combination of too many drinks at Hanafin's and good-old fashioned laziness.
Speaking of which, my eight readers, you really need to read me the riot act if you don't start seeing some running posts on this blog. I am scheduled to run the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon (half-marathon) on May 3rd and so far my training has consisted of a few Hip Hop Hustle classes, twice-weekly kickboxing, one tennis lesson and some sporadic three-mile runs. I am going to go out a limb here and say I am probably NOT in good enough shape to run the Mini at this moment in time.
Now, I have managed to pull off some pretty spectacular (insert saracasm) athletic feats in my time, such as joining the soccer team senior year of high school without ever having touched a soccer ball in my life and playing 11 minutes in goal in my first indoor game. I ran the Detroit half-marathon last year on very little training and I ran Nashville and Indy on back-to-back weekends.
However, the older I get the harder it is to do anything with a complete lack of preparation (this observation is not strictly limited to athletic endeavors - procrastination has started to work against me in general.) On those rare occasions thatI have gotten on the treadmill lately, it's been rough going.
So starting tomorrow, I am going to log at least 15 miles a week. This can be broken down into three five-mile runs, five three-mile runs, or a number of other combinations. The only potential problem is if I don't run at all during the week and find myself having to run all fifteen on Saturday. If I do this for the rest of March I should at least be back in the habit of running and can appropriately increase and taper off through April and (fingers crossed) be somewhat prepared for Indy in May.
I will update you on my progress. And I promise not to lie in my blog.
Now for the good news: I found a place that has reasonably-priced small group tennis lessons! Yeah, it’s only once a week and the instructor has nothing on Ryan and Gary, but that’s not the point. The point is that all the lamenting I’ve done about not getting to play and all my threats to sell my racquet on Ebay have been in vain – I don’t have to give up tennis. I am hoping that I can be good enough by summer to play with Noe and not A) throw my racquet or B) cry (both of which have happened before). Things went pretty well this past weekend, so my hopes are high.
All right - enough fitness blogging. Other people (like Lisa!) do it much better. But I will keep you posted on my progress and cross your fingers that I can stick to my fifteen mile-weeks. I need all the help I can get!
Although with nine million hits this guy certainly doesn't need my endorsement and my eight readers (who, I want you to know, I am referring to with affection and not with disdain), I feel like I would be doing my readers a disservice not to direct them to Stuff White People Like, one of the funniest blogs I have read in a long time.
Stuff White People Like explores the phenomenon of things that white people really dig that other ethnicities, well, don't. These things include Oscar parties (Kelli and I certainly did like those), studying abroad, and bottled water.
You don't really think about these being 'white' traits until you read the blog and then realize to your amazement it's true. So check it out already - it's funny, I promise. And, my white readers, prepare to recognize a little bit of yourselves.
(And the 'white people love cheese' title is not a reference to anything in the blog- that I know of - but rather to a comment made by my coworker Ryan, who informed us on New Year's Eve that that particular stereotype is "totally true." The rest of us were not even aware that this was a stereotype.)
Since my last blog was about something I vehemently dislike (board games) I thought perhaps I would devote an entire blog entry to things I actually do like. Counting down from five, here you go:
5) Matt & Nat bags: Forget Coach. I have never really had an afinity for name-brand purses...but the day I discovered Matt & Nat, my stubborn ideal that a purse should never cost more than $30 went flying out the window.
I discovered Matt & Nat while house-sitting for Judy Bruzza in Kalamazoo. I went out with my fabulous Aunt Susan (who rates an enthusiastic number ONE on my list of favorite relatives)for lunch at Food Dance Cafe (I could write a very lengthy blog extolling the virtues of Food Dance, but considering that I have no audience in Kalamazoo I will spare you another restaurant review)and then to do a little shopping downtown at Susan's friend's store, Earthly Delights (on the off chance that I DO have readers in Kalamazoo, please visit Earthly Delights - it is simply amazing).
I immediately fell in love with the Jorja bag, which Aunt Susan bought me as a moving-to-Connecticut present. But there was another bag that haunted me, my second choice...so imagine my delight when it showed up on my doorstep, cushioned in bubble wrap and packed in a Magnavox box. Thanks, Aunt Suze!
(PS - One more quick shout out to K-zoo - as long as I am talking about stuff I like, I have to say that Water Street Coffee Joint still makes the best coffee/late/iced coffee I have ever had.)
4) Kickboxing: There is nothing better than whaling on a bag after a long day at work. NEMAA (New England Martial Arts Academy) Karate and Kickboxing is the best thing I have discovered in Connecticut. I had never taken bag classes before - just the Tai Bo-type stuff. But now every Tuesday, Thursday, and the occasional Saturday I get to put on my Everlast boxing gloves (pink ones!) and beat the crap out of a bag for 45 minutes. And as an added bonus, every class finishes with a kick-ass ab workout. If I hadn't signed up for that half-marathon, I might forgo running altogether in favor of kickboxing.
(And I recently tried out Hip Hop Hustle - as if I needed to be reminded of how white I truly am - and will be blogging about it in the very near future!)
3) This picture from Becky and Steve's wedding:
2) Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King: Quite possibly my favorite book of all time. I read it for the first time about six years ago, a few months after seeing the subpar movie of the same name. (Mind you, I thought the movie was OK until I read the book and realized there were four more stories that were not even touched upon in the movie. But Anthony Hopkins was a very good Ted and Hope Davis was perfect as the mom. But I am off topic, as usual.)
Hearts in Atlantis is a collection of four intertwined stories all concering the 1960's and the Vietnam war and their lasting effects on America...with a heavy dose of supernatural weirdness thrown in for good measure.
Now, Stephen King is not usually my author of choice. But Hearts in Atlantis proves to me that Stephen King IS a talented writer, even if he doesn't write the things I would normally choose to read. Ironically enough, instead of inspiring me to read other Stephen King books, my love of Hearts in Atlantis has had the opposite effect. I never want to read another Stephen King book because I don't see how I can not be disapointed after loving this one so much.
I will not bore you with a review; just let it be known that the second story (the title story) is my favorite. In fact, every time I read it I think I want to learn how to play Hearts (and my feelings about cards are similar to my feelings about board games.) Just give it a try, OK?
1) My House. Even if I never learn to love anything else about this state, I am truly, madly, passionately in love with my house. I don't even care that being a homeowner leaves me with about zero disposable income and I haven't bought new clothes since 2005. (At least I have Noe to pay for dinner and movies - not to mention the more substantial of the two mortgages...) Although I miss the yard at Noe's old house, there is no love lost for the whale-and-dolphin wallpaper in the old bathroom. The two houses don't even compare. And once I finish painting and furnishing my office, I will love my house even more. (I'm sure that project will be good for a blog or four.)
So there you go. A one hundred percent positive blog. Don't get used to this - it ain't hapenning often - but enjoy it for the time being.
Hey guys, thanks for being patient with me. There will be a new post tonight. I've been a little swamped lately and haven't really been in the mood to get online at night, but I promise I'll get back on track. Tune in later tonight or tomorrow morning - I'll try to make it extra-good.
It never ceases to amaze me that of all the things I dislike - and there are many - the one that throws people in to great degrees of distress is board games.
What is the big deal about not particularly liking board games? Come on - does anyone really love Monopoly? It takes like six hours to play, focuses heavily on real estate, and I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that anyone really pays cash for a railroad.
Keep in mind also that Monopoly was invented during the depression by a guy wishing he had money to go out and do FUN stuff.
Contrary to popular belief amongst my game-playing friends, my hatred was not fueled by growing up in a family of board game nazis. We just didn't play a lot of games.
First of all, Mickey, our garbage disposal of a dog, always managed to eat the pieces. This was especially detrimental considering half our games were inherited from my grandmother's basement and had lost a good amount of pieces between 1959 and 1977 anyway. Second of all, games were boring. I vastly preferred books. Still do.
The only fond memories of game playing I have are playing Trivial Pursuit with the Peruskis. Rose and I played as a team against her dad, Uncle Mark, and brother Gregory. We always lost because Mr. Peruski was one of those people who retained a freakish amount of trivial knowledge. I love playing Trivial Pursuit with Rose's family. It loses its appeal to me when played with other people. (I also play Cranium with the Persuksis and Craig the pharmacist, but only when copious amounts of tequila are involved.)
But I digress.
What spawned this post is that things came to a head in our house yesterday when Noe apparently decided that there was a void in his life due to my lack of game play. When I came home from the gym this evening (five miles, go me!) he met me at the door with a newly-purchased edition of Scrabble.
Why Scrabble? Because I was an English major, I read all the time, and I like crossword puzzles. Noe reasoned that if I were going to learn to love any game, by default it would be Scrabble.
I was in a fairly accomodating mood, coming off a good day at work and a not-too-miserable five-mile run. I agreed to give Scrabble a shot.
(That's right - I had never played. I can see your jaws hitting the floor. I swear, I really don't think it's THAT weird.)
So after a cursory glance at the instructions, we were off. And of course I drew vowel after crappy vowel, never managed to have words long enough to hit the triple scores, and earned an average of about four points per word. Noe beat me 330 to 178.
But...it wasn't half bad. I have agreed to play again. I might have even enjoyed it a little bit.
Don't jump the gun here and start inviting me to game nights or anything, though. This is a word game. It involves elements I like. I am willing to keep playing Scrabble, but don't expect me to convert to a full-fledged game lover.
(Although I will play Christmas Story Monopoly when the holidays roll around, but that's mostly because I want to be the leg lamp.)
It's been longer than I usually go without posting, but my cousin Katie was here this weekend so I was busy being a good hostess. Thank you for your patience (all eight of you who regularly read this blog, that is).
The good news about Katie visiting - other than the fact that she is my cousin and she is awesome - is that she's an art student, so it gave us a good excuse to head in to New York City and hit a major museum. One of the (few) perks about Noe being relocated out here is that we can actually take advantage of that corporate membership to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and - in this case - the Museum of Modern Art.
We took a 10:55 train into Grand Central and hit the MoMA around 1:30-2:00 (stopping along the way at Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral). We split up and agreed to meet in a couple hours so that we could see what we each were interested in and so Katie could hang out at certain pieces and sketch.
Noe and I headed up to the fourth and fifth floors, which house paintings and sculpture. We took our time to make our way through the airy and open galleries. The MoMA is a great space with plenty of room to spread out. Even for a Saturday afternoon, it didn't seem crowded - at least not until we hit the fifth floor gallery where the Van Goghs are kept. It was a little congested around Starry Night.
You can walk right up to most of the art at the MoMA and really examine it at close range, which is great because so many of the modern works play with texture and different mediums. It's pretty cool to stand (almost) nose-to-canvas with a Jackson Pollock and find the objects embedded in the paint.
There was an awesome exhibit on the sixtrh floor, Design and the Elastic Mind. Noe referred to this exhibit as "science art" which is not innaccurate. If you are in the NYC area, try and check it out.
Here are some highlights of the trip - sorry if the photos are of somewhat poor quality; no flash photography in the MoMA. A camera isn't really going to do them justice anyway.
These were, of course, just some of many. We stuck to floors four, five, and six, but definitely plan to head back soon to check out the prints and photographs - and the sculpture garden when it gets warm. I may struggle with my feelings for Connecticut, but I do love being so close to New York.