Friday, December 30, 2011

Oedipus Complex & Breaking the Cycle

Trolling through my usual blogs, Jezebel, Love Maegan, and Penelope Trunk, I was expecting some light reading since it was the holidays. However, Penelope Trunk is rarely a "light read." This week there was a picture of a giant bruise on her bare hip under the words, "I am at a hotel. I think I'm dying. I have a bruise from where the Farmer slammed me into our bed post."

Cue record scratching noise. I read the rest of the post, which was a highly descriptive account of her abusive spousal relationship. It bothered me so much that I read all of the comments, like I was expecting for some big reveal to the story I ingested. Nothing. 

I like reading Penelope Trunk's blog, as her opinions are well researched, but slightly controversial. I found her blog when I was devouring content about Tim Ferris' book, "4 Hour Body," another well researched book about minimum effort/maximum benefit. One afternoon I read most of her blog, discovering that she has Asperger's, a horrible childhood, and some very deep rooted issues. Her writing is refreshing though, as she points out her limitations and how it affects everyday tasks like going to the DMV without incident, for example.

I couldn't understand how she could be in a relationship where the safety of her children was at stake (in my mind, it's not ok for kids to see grown ups take something out on other people). The last line of the entry, "That’s why I can’t leave. I want someone to miss me." boggles me. Is it the Asperger's? 

Are we destined to follow our parents' footsteps? I sure as hell hope you have more free will than that. But I constantly see old college acquaintances in shotgun weddings, live the single-parent life, or work at the local Applebee's for a career. 

Growing up, my parents fought. Mom got out when it got bad, to which I'm forever grateful. Later, I realized that most people are attracted to people who are like their parents. Would this mean that I'd be in an abusive relationship? Would I find someone full of charm who would later turn out to be hateful? I looked hard for these things in all of my dates. I didn't marry someone until we had dated for six years, just to be sure, because I wouldn't want that to happen to my future kids. 

Do we have free will, can we make a deliberate decision not to repeat a negative cycle? I hope that I have the clarity to see the beginnings of a bad situation, because I've spent most days thinking about how bad situations begin. Before dating my husband, my mind was in another place, and had no self awareness, therefore it was hard to improve anything about myself. Worse, I didn't realize I had no self awareness. Maybe this is where Penelope is - she has an inkling about why things are the way they are, but feels no control in the situation. No one gives you feedback these days (unless you consider internet comments).

Maybe we all can change, but it takes the right set of variables. I hope Penelope and her kids can find these.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Let's Talk About Razors

Ever since I decided to take a razor onto my own legs (that fateful day at 11 years old), I've been looking for a better and easier way to remove hair. In fact, I wrote a poem about it when I was in high school, which I can't find at the moment. But back to being 11... I decided to take matters into my own hands after Mom refused to let me try razors. It was intense, and I spontaneously started wearing (neon green) knee socks to cover the finished product (my first attempt resulted mainly in shin carnage). After almost 20 years of practice, I can safely say that I've discovered a few arteries in my ankles, and rushing is a bad thing, despite tools or products to prevent "accidents".

A recent study at Gillette Venus found that 30% of women use men's razors for their own shaving needs. Why? Could it be the toddler-spoon handles they use for the women's version? Women's refill cartridges are over $2 a piece whereas men's are less? Aversion to moisturizing strips, which the women's variety carries extra? Apathy?

Conversely, do dudes use women's razors? What would be the real benefit?

To me, it comes down to the bottom line - price. Three blades is three blades, any way you slice it. I have used shaving cream, conditioner, and good ole' water to get the job done without a problem. Issues with nicks, which is what the ladies' version is supposedly preventing, can be avoided if not trying to finish in 3 seconds.

I've provided a survey on the right, should you care to weigh in on such hairy matters...

Welcome back to Turbo Walking! And name changing

Since I've been married, I decided to change my last name. According to one study, over 50% of Americans in 2011 still think that women should change to their husband's last name. Obviously they didn't ask me, celebrities, or anyone with academic publications.  Having grown up as a Gen Y person, I don't necessarily believe that one needs to adopt their husband's name, I just thought it was beneficial to change on a couple of levels.

For example, I got the chance to move up in the alphabet. If you were ever in public schools, you know that order mainly depends on last names, and rarely on height (which, if the case, I would always be first in line). Second, I have no ties to my maiden name. The W family, who have caused me more stress than joy, are not representative of my personal philosophies.

But I'm beginning to see a lot of career women not take their husband's names, for a variety of reasons. Publications, reports, and general identity of being a good worker go down the drain with the maiden name, should one choose to change it (especially once your reputation is established). People like Lady Gaga, Cher, and Madonna totally avoid this scenario by not having a last name. Even if Julia Roberts were to marry her child's father, I doubt she'd take his name.

So with the new name came a new email. With a new email, I decided to change websites. Because the Google email address cannot be decoupled from the blog, it was becoming a pain to log out-log in-log out to type something up for you guys, check the stats, or whatnot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grateful for Not Working

Ok, so who wouldn't want more money? I don't have a Shetland pony or even have a Porshe, maybe because I don't work 100 hour work weeks for that kind of lifestyle.

My work is relatively boring, and a recent podcast from Adam Carolla indicated that being in the middle of the popularity scale (i.e. not too good but not bad enough for everyone to have an opinion) was a good thing. Even though my job title is "engineer," I basically go to meetings most of the day. Meetings fall somewhere between watching paint dry and executing the boss's orders, like in Independence Day, so the ratio of intense mental engagement to eye glaze is always changing. While the result of my attendance might not be anything great, "it ain't bad." Never am I unwelcome or worse... invisible to the people in my field.

Anyway, I'm glad that my writing doesn't bring home the bacon, as I've seen some real winners lately. Sure, I love writing and taking pictures... of stuff that matters to me. Stuff that matters to other people has been increasingly less important, and I feel like the quality of my work would reduce exponentially to the number of "assignments" required per week. Maybe the folks who are really good can consistently produce. That would explain why Bob Ross could keep up "happy little clouds" for 403 episodes of The Joy of Painting. It's what separates us mere mortals from the Rowlings, Speilburgs, and Madonnas, who worked very hard to earn the title, "Great."

Realizing you're just average instead of great is a tough pill to swallow, but actually, being great isn't all that great anyway. I'm glad I don't have to make people care about what is important to me. My time and energy can be spent on those things instead of what's important for money. Great work most likely doesn't include cats in sunspots, for example.

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Makeup

In some of the downtime of my honeymoon (which consisted of equal parts sightseeing, sleeping and eating), I read this article about wearing no makeup for a month, which was written in 2009, but holds water two years later. As a white collar worker who has read several studies on how good looks in the office affect salary and promotions, I was intrigued on why this lady decided to go an opposite path. 

Inherently, I am lazy when it comes to cleaning the house and my looks. I haven't made the bed in over a year, and eyeliner consistently dries out whenever I purchase it. More than once, I have said to the mirror, "Why can my hair look good ALL days with minimal product, dammit!" Yeah, I might be spoiled in this department. 

But there are a few tricks I consistently rely on, including whatever it takes to make my schnoz and undereye circles as invisible as possible (i.e. concealer, powder, anything veil (including the mineral variety), etc.). Additionally, I fought the zombie look with bronzer, blush, and at the end, highlighter. After a recent semester where classes were in a different town than the job and home, I needed all the help I could get. And when did mascara and lip gloss ever hurt? Looking back, I transformed into a female female impersonator in business casual. The stress of my daily activities definitely took a toll on my skin, but fortunately I had a plan in place for that.

How cool to give it all up and be "naturally beautiful"?

My biggest concern was not being taken seriously at work. I've never been one to put my face on before my husband sees me in the morning, and I was already a fan of not wearing makeup on the weekends. But work... I was riding some weird line where I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing in all aspects, not trying too hard, and not being too lazy (which goes back to the first paragraph). If I looked put together, then my life looked put together, and I could be trusted to make a good decision.

In high school, I never wore more than chapstick (which was more personal expression than house rules). When I was hazing for a high school sorority (who does those by the way?), they made me wipe a tissue across my face to check for makeup. When nothing came up, they smeared red lipstick across my face. Of course I wore it as a badge of honor. As in, I don't need makeup. Period. This might have been the only time in high school I had confidence.

So for the remainder of the honeymoon, and the first week back at work, I remained makeup free. Instead of the half a dozen layers of makeup for different areas of the face, I obsessed with eyebrows and skincare (which still took up less time than the makeup). A part of me felt sad that I'd purchased $100 worth of the best eye shadow and brushes because I wasn't using it.

I cheated and wore makeup on the 13th day of two promised "without" weeks - it was glorious. Although weirdly, only women at work noticed. My nose was redder, for one thing. While I didn't tell anyone what I was doing, I got compliments on my outfit when I wore makeup, "Is that new?", "No."

So now (without classes and a wedding to plan), I've decided to make my makeup more unnoticeable. More natural Lady Gaga, less regular Lady Gaga, and mostly because of laziness. I don't need to be someone entirely different - although long lashes and shiny lips never hurts.

From the initial research I've done, there exists no hard data on either the salary issue or the dating issue. Also, we never get an idea of how much makeup a person is wearing. How can one track the amount/benefit ratio? I am still working on this, but my hypothesis is that wearing makeup elicits a female's reaction in most cases, and a male's reaction in a subset of cases. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Skinny Jeans... Friend or Foe?

Skinny jeans are not going away, as we know from the advent of jeggings and knee high boots (which skinnies fit into perfectly).

But who really benefits from skinny jeans besides companies that make jeans? I was traveling abroad recently, and saw that most of the skinny wearers were people (not just women) in their teens and twenties. The older crowd was more diverse, rocking anything from flare jeans to tights with skirts to straight jeans (mostly women in their fifties and sixties).

So is wearing the style of skinny jeans based on age or some other variable? I can't decide.

When I first tried on a pair in the department store, I felt like my calves were choking (as I was a previous bootcut fan). I did a trial run via Target, because $29 doesn't seem like too much of an investment for a particular style of jeans.

Now all of my jeans are skinny style, although they may not be the most flattering for my curvy shape. (When asked), my husband said they "looked young," motivating me to revamp my wardrobe entirely. The issue is that I can't tell if I like the idea of skinny, or if the jeans really flatter my assets. I've read that skinnies are made for straight bodies, to emulate rock stars and such. Conversely, I've read that bootcut are "better balanced" for work and curvy statures. Have I made a mistake?

Who knows? I trust my husband more than sales or magazine ads. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happiness versus...? What Makes People Happy?

Happiness has come up three times in the last month for me.
Jason showed me this book he's reading about game development (unfortunately I don't remember the name). The concept of "flow" is included, where happiness is defined as a Zen-like state of doing a hard activity while simultaneously being meaningful. The author suggests that the opposite of happiness is boredom, i.e. activities that are too easy or useless.

The second definition came from my thorough recent readings of Penelope Trunk's blog archives. She suggests the opposite of happiness is interestingness, or perhaps instability. If you remember the quote, "May you live in interesting times," you'll know the reference is usually to a war or other stressful time in history. Killing Bin Laden, for example, is interesting. I doubt those people are happy about the job/circumstances/family security in the aftermath. Perhaps relief... not happiness.

The last definition was an article from Psychology Today titled, "Which Is More Important, Happiness or Truth?" The tacit assumption in this definition is that ignorance is bliss, citing the red and blue pills in the Matrix. Does the steak taste better if you don't know it's fake? The result of a study referenced in this article is that happiness and truth are kind of chicken and egg. One leads to another, and while unhappy people are less likely to seek the truth, understanding reality enables happiness.

Ok, so which is it?

In the show Mad Men, Peggy says to Don Draper, "You have everything, and you have so much of it." While Don is still struggling for an answer in Season 4 (I'm still catching up with DVDs), I have happiness defined for myself:
A wonderful husband who knows me and has so many wonderful qualities, I'm grateful that I met him. (Bragging just a bit, but after reading this article from Capitol Hill Style, I can't help but feeling like we were meant for each other).
Two hilarious cats.
Zoe and Kaylee, who "don't like each other."
Two technical degrees.
A job that gives me the flexibility of taking off if I need it.
A caring family (who constantly contacts me either with a card, email, or phone call every week).
Friends who give me energy.
Creative outlets like writing, gardening, and photography.
Enough money to take away problems involving basic needs.

Most of those things involved hard work and truth. There was also luck, which isn't given credit in the above definitions.

Interestingness is a hard sell, especially because "being considered weird" increases loneliness, which in turn increases sadness. However, growing up without money (and having to find interesting solutions to money problems) has made me and my sister closer, increasing happiness for me.

I don't know...

Just for the record, hot-long showers, filet mignon, and repeating Arrested Development quotes late at night has made me happy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does an Income Dollar Amount Equal Effort?

On April 15, I read Penelope Trunk's article about how much money you need to be really happy. While this concept isn't exactly news, it made me think about how much money would really be worth the effort. I made this graph as a way to visualize where I've been on the scale.

When I lived in Alexandria, I diluted my Suave shampoo so I could have a sports car. The car itself had a high payment per month (over $500/month). The insurance, even though I'm female with no accidents, was $2200 a year! The taxes, on top of all of that, was over $350/six months just to park my car on the street to get a dent. It was an expensive choice. If I had to do it all over again, maybe I would have chosen differently. I was apathetic at the time whether I wanted better clothes or a car with a turbo.*

There was a night where I made my own pizza out of the ingredients in the fridge. When I took it out, it burned my hand and I dropped it. Since I was so hungry, I was very upset that I dropped the pizza, even if it was hurting my hand - that was all of the healthy food I had until the next paycheck, which was the next day.

Hopefully I will never go back to that lifestyle, as I had see-through toilet paper, and could not afford to go to the cool places surrounding the Alexandria area. I was definitely at a point where I took a cooler to where my friends lived because groceries were cheaper in their area. What a horrible experience! The irony was that I was about 15-20 lbs heavier at the time, because I was so enamored with free food (e.g. bagels, ice cream, etc.). On a side note, salads are rarely free :)

 If we were just looking at money as dollars, and not as some metric for how much effort is required for that amount, then I could use more. There are nice $1M condos to buy, we could retire sooner, we could get going on our hobbies without worrying about income. That would be totally cool with me. Unfortunately, I get the sense that more money = crazy lifestyle with no time to yourself.

Right now I don't have a lot of time, so squeezing out that last bit for a few extra thousand dollars is ludicrous. The money isn't worth it (especially after taxes).

What makes me kind of happy is that there are other articles saying that being a good saver is better than making extra dough. According to me (of course), I'm an excellent saver. I could probably stretch $30K way farther than the average bear because I can prioritize and discard what's unimportant. 

Undiluted ketchup is important.

After my sports car, I bought something more reasonable. It was everything I could want in a car, especially if I were to spend more than 45 minutes a day in it (my total commute can range from 1.5 hours to 4 hours a day). I eat better, and spend money to make salads and healthy food at home. Affordability is no longer an issue, but it's still expensive to eat right and make good money decisions. 

I hope if I get to the point of making $700K per year, that my decisions will be whether I get a driver for my car or not... whether I go to the French Riviera or not... whether I decide on the dryer that automatically folds clothes or does taxes. 

*These things still seem almost equal to me. You spend a lot of time in your car, but you get a lot of respect from your clothes (as a woman). Which is more important? Is there something else that's more important?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Things Made for Women, For Women's Enjoyment

Today I was reading my Allure magazine that somehow arrives free at my house, when it struck me that there are some things that are "pretty," or made for women's enjoyment, and some things that are "sexy," or made for men's enjoyment. Of course, this is making a lot of assumptions and overgeneralizations, but developers (of anything) must figure out their audience before they go forward with advertisements. There is plenty of research on what works on the opposite gender, so no need to cover it here. Similarly, there is a lot of information out on items created for men's enjoyment (for men), like cigars, whiskey, and spray-on hair.

So in no particular order, Things Made for Women, For Women's Enjoyment:
Anything you wear that is fluorescent: makeup, jewelry, nail polish, clothes, hair color. Looking different is great! You can establish your rank among the women-folk by standing out. Be aware that these things are for your own enjoyment - not for anyone else.
Photo courtesy of
Katy Perry. Photo courtesy of
Barbie shoe earrings? Photo courtesy of

Rompers or jumpsuits. Easy to wear, not aesthetic. 
Love is relative. Photo credit:

Big big earrings!! While I'm personally a big fan of weird themed earrings, it's definitely not giving off the "smart" vibe if they are extra large.
Jessica can pull this off because she's cute. Photo courtesy of
Conversely, tiny dogs. Ironically, the guy ends up walking it eventually.
Yo quiero mama! Photo credit:
Couches in women's rooms. Guys don't know about these, which is funny since everyone could benefit from a lounging area (bathroom or not). They are no longer a requirement in newly built facilities, but they were at one point (I had to design a distribution center for my Facilities class).

Kawaii, a sect of cute things from Japan. The word literally translates to adorable, precious, lovable, or innocent, according to Wikipedia. This category includes things like Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and any inanimate object with a smiley face paired with abnormally large pupils. See below.

Anything Oprah. This lady has an empire and a religion. Annoyingly, she will talk about her feelings about money rather than the subject straight out. I hope this gets better over time because she's a pretty good role model.

The Lifetime Channel.
Shampoos that smell.
Leg warmers.
Different designs in silverware.
Designer handbags.
Bath bubbles.
Stuffed animals.
Pictures of "non events."
Showers (i.e. parties).

You get the idea. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What Is Important at a Wedding?

This is wedding season, and there's so much advertising directed at people to spend money on their party. I usually hate other people's weddings (sorry for being an apathetic guest), and try to duck out of the reception as soon as it's considered not rude to leave.

Yes, that cake is on the floor.
Opera Catering Service in Kuwait, by Chef Omar Addihaoui

I've come to realize most of my resentment comes from the show of too much. A wedding can be a time and money sink, depending on the couple.  At the end of the day, the little bubbles favors in the shapes of cakes, the cake with a live trapezist, awkward toasts, the rituals, the rentals, and the showers... it's just too much. There's nothing inherently interesting or beautiful about any of that. However, times have changed, and the only thing keeping up are the companies trying to sell you M&Ms with your engagement pictures printed on them.
No M&Ms?! Photo credit:
My wedding is almost a month away, and I've managed to keep my budget of $5000 fairly well, although there were some radical changes in the last six months. Keep in mind that this wedding is family only, and I invited 24 people - Less than 20 have committed, including us.

I won't list all of my expenses, but the top five that made up the bulk of the budget:
Food: $700 I'm getting Tommy Bahamas to cater with heavy appetizers since the event is 6 pm - midnight. I could have probably gone cheaper, but I know the food will taste better than the meat-like balls I've tried at some other places.
Photo credit:
Hotel: $800 Since the event is small and out of town for almost everyone, I'm covering one night of the stay for everyone. I figured this would be a better than favors, spa packages, etc.
Dress: $295 I got something online, and it fits perfectly. Plus it's more beautiful than anything I've seen in the stores around here. The only catch was that I didn't do my internet store research - the website is no longer available, so I assume neither is the company.

Everything else was relatively inexpensive to obtain. The venue, which is a cabana right on the beach front, was $40 for the day. A 9" round, butter cream frosting marble cake was $70. I expect beer and wine and decorations to be about $200 each. Accessories and salon trips will be less than $100.

How in the world did I do this?? I figured out the top three things that are worth buying for a wedding.  I wanted a dress, a cake, and the family. Everything else could be reused from somewhere, DIY, or ignored completely. We decided that since this is a night event, lighting would be more important than flowers for example. I ignored these other things:

  • Cake topper - Seriously? $30 for a bling monogram? Great scam.
  • Tuxedos - We are going to be at the beach - self explanatory.
  • Photographer - although I might get a bridal portrait after I come back from the honeymoon. This is one of the most expensive items you can get for your wedding. I will also say that some of the photographers are quite the rip off because they take below average pictures. Good for them for successfully marketing their crappy skills.
  • Redoing my invitations after the initial venue bumped me. 
  • The "wedding" part. I am technically already married, as we signed the papers at the courthouse back in February. It doesn't change anything except referring to Jason as "my husband," and now we're wearing rings. I might change my name after coming back from Europe... No rush.
  • A bridal party for the wedding. I have my sister helping me out, so she's technically my matron of honor.
  • Bridal shower party. 
  • A registry. People are very confused by this, but we don't need anything. 

After a heck of a lot of research, I've seen a lot of different wedding types. Having a good time is independent of how much money is spent during that time. Jason warned me not to be so cheap that I would end up wanting a second wedding to make up for lack of the first. The result is usually these types of weddings, hence the dress and the cake requirement (because sometimes the dress isn't enough as you can clearly see).
No one touches Wonder Woman's man. Photo credit:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Five Smartest Decisions I Made in the Last Decade

High school really sucked. I had a 40-hour part time job making hot dogs for minimum wage, no wheels, and perpetual motivation problems when it came to anything except writing. Of course, for those who knew me at the time, they will deny this and comment that I was making straight A's and could manage rides with all of my friends. Well, this was true too... but state of mind is a funny thing.

Today I feel very much in control of my life, and I attribute it to five smart decisions I made since then.

1. After a lot of relationship research (i.e. dating), I settled down with someone I can easily talk with and who cares about me. He's a nice person and sends me flowers randomly. We give each other energy.  We make decisions together. I will not say how many people I have dated, but it might be more than 20 and included all types (even a unicyclist).  Those folks were very nice, but they weren't for me. I pride myself in finding a person I could spend several lifetimes with (if that were feasible). He encourages me to be entirely authentic and pursue something I'm passionate about. He also keeps me honest and on the "high road" when it would be easy to slip into bad habits. Because of the accountability with someone I love and respect, I have been very productive, healthy, and overall happier, which makes this the most important decision I've made. 

2. Finishing a technical degree. This was my mom's suggestion, which was a good one. I'm going to go ahead and take the credit, since I am the one who finished dynamics with a B (plus another 133 credits of undergrad and 30 credits of graduate classes). I could have easily slipped into a language arts degree, which would have been fine except I didn't really know what kind of career I wanted. I knew that no money = hard life, so getting out of the current situation was a shiny carrot (I had graduated from hot dogs to enforcing the towel rule at the gym for minimum wage when at the undergrad level).

3. Living on campus. Dorms gave me free reign to enjoy the "college experience" of staying up late, talking with all kinds of people, and finding strategies for being creative on a budget. I also didn't have to clean bathrooms or kitchens - whew! This was probably the inception of me really walking in "turbo mode," since that was my main mode of transportation. I was totally inspired by the freedom of schedule, co-ed room parties, and doing that thing where you look cool while hanging out wasting time reading on a grassy patch.
Photo credit:

The biggest impact from this decision was learning that my lifestyle could be whatever I wanted it to be. I really appreciated things like the seasons, weather, good shoes, and Armin Van Buuren's music.

4. Doing a job that was totally in left field for me - teaching. As a technical trainer on Capitol Hill, I learned the importance of dressing well, as well as how to communicate without too many "ums." I can't say that I was particularly good at this job, which thickened my skin to criticism. This job also allowed me to travel to 17 states that I would not have visited otherwise, including Guam, and meeting a lot of cool people. Besides the whole "being on your feet for hours" and "lots of airport time," it was a sweet gig. I got burned out after being on the road three weeks out of the month, but all in all, it gave me confidence that I can manage doing something I wasn't trained for.
Not part of the training. Lessons in Guam.

5. Paying off all of my debt. Before I received money from Dad's estate, I had credit card and car debt on top of student loans, which totaled around $40K. It wasn't the best situation, especially since I decided I NEEDED a sports car after I started getting a steady paycheck. Also, at one point, I could only afford the credit card minimum. So I made the decision at 24 to get rid of my debt. At 26, I had zeroed out my credit card debt by paying triple the minimum (sometimes more). My car and student loan still were costing me $14K each, so I made the decision to work on my car loan. When my Dad passed, he left me some money, to which I paid off the remaining debt (although I definitely got some new shoes and a couple of steak dinners too). If I had kept going though, I would have finished my car debt and started working on my student loans. The point is that I prioritized what was owed and am now working on savings (plus other things I want like LASIK, braces, etc).  I also scrimped on things like cosmetics, furniture, and wardrobe pieces. There were a lot of hand-me-downs in the beginning, and that was OK for me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lazy Liz

There's an internet meme going around called, "Bachelor Frog." See below for reference:
Photo courtesy:

This is me, and I would like to refer to myself as Lazy Liz whenever I take a shortcut.  Here would be my input, for example:
Forcing flip flops over socks to get mail.
Making peanut butter-icing sandwiches. (not that great by the way).
No clean socks? Buy more.
Caffeine = sleep.
Sniff test jeans.
I'm sure our carpet was off-white.
Making the bed takes away from something important, like hair styling.
I ate your leftovers.
What's the difference between shampoo and body wash?
Latte's are coffee all dollied up at the milk station. Seriously!

Anyway, we all take shortcuts and don't do the things we think are ideal. Ahh :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Success: Noted

Sometime around the year 2000, I wrote in my journal that all problems could be solved if all the notes we wrote on scraps of paper could be collected on one big wall. We could see everything together and make sense of all combined variables. I believe we unconsciously do this, and try to recreate the attempt in our daily lives. All of the notes I write look something like:
"Trapiche Malbec, Argentina 2008"
"HW 5 due by April 29"
"Call Mom"
"Eggs, spinach, salsa... (grocery list)"
"Full Metal Panic (an anime I've been wanting to check out)"

So it looks more like a to-do list, but if you were to add all of my to-do lists together, you could see my habits. For example, I like anime, wine, eating eggs, and sticking to deadlines, as those things are typically subjects I write down. Over the years, I've been able to troubleshoot my diet, my skin, and basically all other personal problems by looking at the topics written down. There is a definite correlation between my immunity (or lack of) and the amount of bread and carby food I eat. When I eat a relatively higher diet in protein, I notice little wins like my skin clearing up, less water retention, and fast growing nails, which are all related to health. I write down all of these things, so to later see what works and what doesn't.

Physical health is also related to my mental health - was I stressed with school or barely scraping by? How were my relationships like at that time? See what I did there? I just connected health and money and relationships in an organic way. While correlations between these things sometimes aren't readily apparent, it's helpful to see all of the data as a set instead of just a select metric (e.g. weight on a scale every day).

Other observations through note writing:
Problem solving and coping with something are directly proportional to the amount of good sleep I get.
Lifting weights leans me out way better than running several miles a day.
Certain people give me energy, and certain people drain energy.
Knowing myself is invaluable for decisions about money or lifestyle.
People change.
I change.
Change is cool.

A note about change... I've been keeping journals since I was in fourth grade, although the frequency of my writing has varied throughout the years. Some journals include copious self discovery while others are merely records observations. If nothing else, I can see the change in myself and in others, and it's pretty neat (I finally found some good hair products, and a great hair stylist for example).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hair Off

Recently on Facebook I had a contest on who had better hair in GI Joe: The Baroness or Scarlett. Baroness won by a landslide, but I got to thinking about who would win the "Absolute Hair Title." Of course, this is a very interesting question, as the more I think about it, the more people would win hair category titles.

So let's begin.

Best Beautiful Movie Wig - Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing or Natalie Portman in Closer.
Scarlett takes the lead with having both curly hair and red hair. No one has this kind of hair in real life, especially if you have to get into a car while fighting the elements, much less fighting bad guys. The color goes perfectly with her fair skin though, and props if this really is her hair.
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Kate's expression below is, "Don't you vampires find my hair pretty?" I'm sure the dialog is different, as I haven't seen this movie in years. However, I always think this is what my hair should look like when it's rainy and chilly, because that's Transylvania's weather forecast for you. 

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Natalie is so beautiful that she can wear whatever she wants, including this very pink wig in the movie Closer. I have never watched this movie, so can't vouch for the content, but I think pink hair is only appropriate in a limited setting, such as a grocery store or a night club. The point is that you are either expressing or hiding your true self with such a wig.

Music Video Hair - Lady Gaga in Poker Face
This has to be the most iconic hair piece of the decade: the hair bow:
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Runner ups:
Diana Ross - beautiful and her hair was her power. I'm so glad she kept it natural throughout the years. Go curls!
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Cyndi Lauper - wee! Those 80s were fun!!! I can only describe this as crazy McDonald's colored hair.
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Best video game hair: Bayonetta
This lady's hair can look cool and also stomp out evil! You know what else? She's got guns on her heels. Damn.
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Crazy hair days. Photo credit:

Runners up: Lara Croft from Tomb Raider and Flemeth from Dragon Age 2.
Lara's hair stereotypically reminds me of Anna Kournikova's tennis braid, which is as feminine as it is functional.
Crazy adventure braid. Photo credit:
Flemeth is a witch and a shape-shifter, who decided in Dragon Age 2 to keep it in a very satyr-esque style while in her human form. I think I saw one of those headband things in Forever 21 on sale...
Hairspray fan. Photo credit:
Comic book hair: Medusa
This competition wasn't one really - Medusa can kick butt with her hair, and she can also shape shift her hair into whatever it needs to be. Finally, I think her hair can probably clean itself. I don't know much about Medusa, other than she's married to Black Bolt. I would expect her to have some stocks in Pantene to afford pink knee high boots.

Would you like to date my hair? Photocredit:

Honorable mention: Wolverine. So he's got a regeneration super ability. This also includes hair, which is unfortunate should he want to go clean shaven.

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Non-hair category: Bald and beautiful
Winner: Patrick Stewart
Runner ups: Demi Moore, Sinead O'Conner, and George Foreman

My personal hairspiration: Kelly Brook
She is always smiling, and looks like is having a great hair day everyday.
Kelly Brook - Naturally Beautiful Photo credit:

I didn't include cartoons, or the bigger category of "TV" because there are too many hair icons to mention. The hairstyles seemed to follow trends more than making some kind of classic statement that was timeless. Personally I'm thankful that people have the choice to wear whatever they'd like - everything is in style, including fake and none.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Allure of Games

After a somewhat in-depth conversation about games, what games I've really enjoyed or keep coming back to - all have an element of interestingness. In other words, there is the possibility that something entirely ridiculous could happen. Here are a few examples:
Fable 2 - You have a variety of expressions you could use for any given situation. I've received the title "Chicken Kicker" from the Town Crier after showing enough birds who is boss.

Oblivion - I managed to go through two dungeons without pants on in the game. I don't know how this happened, but it turns out that there were some pants on the floor in the beginning I failed to claim.
I also ticked off a horse so badly that my only choice was a fight to the death. Thankfully I had located some pants, so my death was a tad less embarrassing.

Any game where you can name your character. One of the more recent names was for DragonQuest 9 - I didn't have enough room to write "Mulletude," who was going to be a badass healer with eyes too close together. Instead I had to settle for "Muletude," which actually changed his role a bit. He ended up carrying a lot of the party's equipment, deeming him more "murse" (man purse) than healer. Great!

Multiplayer games also have this element of surprise, and I frequently learn from watching other "real" people (versus AI characters) hack the system.

If you were to extrapolate this concept in real life, you could say that the activity of people watching in big cities and universities is similar. The possibility of novelty is very addictive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Growing up, I had a severe aversion to being taken advantage of - I'm not sure where this came from except that I was extremely nice and there were people who were not nice. These days I'm wiser, and am glad to spot a scam so I don't get in a shituation. The most blatant scams would be emails from South Africa asking to wire money, publishing clearing houses, and vans with Free Candy on the side.

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There is a subtler level of scams though, and these are most interesting, because they are disguised as legit transactions. Of course, I define a scam as someone paying significantly more for something thats not worth the money. Here we go:
Latex balloons. I was going to send balloons instead of Get Well flowers because I wasn't sure about the recipient's allergies. Also, conceivably balloons would be cheaper than flowers - since that's how it is in the store. Both convey the same message, and I wouldn't have to commit to something like $60 worth of mums. Online, I found a pack of six balloons (3 mylar and 3 latex) for $60. What's more is that the site listed how long the balloons would last. I consider latex balloons filled with helium that lasts less than 10 hours (that costs $10/each) to be a real scam. Needless to say, flowers were sent, as it takes work to plant and grow flowers.

Designer sandals. Designer anything has a markup, but sandals take the cake because of lack of materials and coverage. There's also no guarantee that they'll feel good, and shoes especially need to be comfortable.

Pizza. Just how much does it take to pair dough with cheap tomato sauce? Don't get me wrong, it tastes delicious, no matter how fake the ingredients are. For some reason, college pizza places can sell their pizza for $5 a pie, so besides the extra helping of grease that requires two rounds with the toothbrush, what is the difference?

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Anything "wedding". Even things like white prom dresses are more expensive than other colors. Jerks.

The local wine tasting event. If you like wine tasting, then the annual event at Bull Run in Chantilly has something like 100 vendors. They sell things like wine-glass lanyards, in case you can't be bothered to hold your own glass. The local wine event however, has less than 10 vendors, which means you have to walk the length of a parking lot (in the sun) to get to the next vendor. There are no frivolities like free cracker samples, much less necklaces that house your alcoholic beverage. In summary, I think the event was cheap, but there was not enough samples to justify the price.

Finally, plain popped popcorn. There was a time frame when we received a giant tub of popcorn for the holidays. Out of the three types, the caramel and the cheese were gone in a matter of days. The regular popcorn? Well it just doesn't make sense to eat cold popcorn when you can whip up a fresh batch in less than five minutes. And the fresh popcorn smell permeates so much better! The verdict? Don't waste your calories.
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So what's the worst scam? I know if the recession really takes hold then I'll go into balloons myself...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Things I Regret Buying

I've been surprisingly mentally engaged with YouTube videos that talk about products people regret buying. It seems like you could draw the line over several areas:
1. The product is actually crap.
2. The product doesn't work for you. A lot of cosmetics, perfumes, and lotions fall into this category because of allergies and whatnot.
3. You fell for a scam. Or... the advertising did not actually match the product.
4. Your expectations were totally off.

So after some thought, I came up with some things I regret buying:
Loreal's Infallible Lipstick in Beyonce Red -

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail Stars Collection Lipcolour, Beyonce's Red
Photo credit: Amazon

Wow! Red lipsticks are tough, but the color of this one is really obnoxious. I'm sure people can wear it, but I'm not in that subset. The product itself is amazing - it's long lasting without drying and all that jazz. I think if I had chosen another color, it would be great.

New York and Company's tan sandals (tandals?) -

Flip flops are supposed to be as nice to your feet as slippers. These can only be described as hateful with their non-flexible sole and sharp foot bands. Trashworthy.

Stuck on You -

An actor's gotta eat: Matt Damon is a Siamese twin.

Yes, this movie has Matt Damon, and is quite funny. I bought this movie at a sale where you must pick one crappy movie to cancel out the three cool movies you actually want. As you can see, I have not even removed the plastic, even though I bought this two years ago. With the advent of Netflix's instant queue, the vestiges of my horrible taste in movies are no longer public display. That is, to say, until I can get this movie into a donation bag.

Spore - I paid full price for this game (mistake #1) under the impression that it would be cooler than it was (mistake #2).  This game is all about creating a new alien race, starting from the amoeba stage and working up to an enlightened society. The game play wasn't really fun, and all of my characters looked like a demented chicken derivative.

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EA, the game's developer, figured that if you were willing to pay $50 for a game, then you'd be willing to pay extra for the "non chicken bits." According to Google, this game is 2.5 stars, but I'd consider that generous.

Of course there are other things, like the expensive restaurant meal that was mildly warm, or the insane Costco quantity of oatmeal I had to throw out (how does oatmeal expire?), but really I haven't had too many of those purchases. If anyone wants Stuck on You, it will be promptly dropped in the mail with your address.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I love coming to campus because there are several things unique to a university that you don't get anywhere else. For example, the density of people with fake tans in comparison with the general population on the east coast. Other things like off key singing, great hair, and focus on stairs and colors are probably only matched by rich sections in big cities and malls.

My experience in college was totally unlike this - even though we're talking about a five year separation. I totally had no money for the quasi fashion show here. My outfits were totally void of makeup (Gah!), hair products, high heels, and purses. I don't even think I carried a wallet, but I lived on campus all five years (yeah, I was working every other semester).

I can't tell if the newness feel is based on anything in particular like cell phone use (it's the new smoking), the amount of stores available to students or my own perspective. Maybe it's also the difference in school history and location. I would have to go back to my original school to make a proper comparison.

In other news, I just saw about four sets of twins. If you're a twin and no longer a teenager, would you still dress in the same outfit on the same day?


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Self Destruction in Teeny Bits

I'm definitely having one of those days where it feels like I have no coordination and bad luck.  I'm sure everyone has these days, but for me, the frequency is somewhere like twice a year. And the day can sometimes linger into a week.  For example, in the last day, I've:

Dropped my phone
Dropped my laptop (not far thankfully)
Sent a letter referring to a check that was never written enclosed
Implied to a man that he should try makeup
Died 30 times in a 2 minute Call of Duty match
Bought razor cartridges when I meant to buy disposable razors (online)
Ripped my tights
Got crushed egg shell in the bowl of omelette mixture
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Picked the slowest line at the grocery store
Parked extremely crookedly (i.e. abnormally close to the next car)
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These things aren't the end of the world by any means, but it feels like they add up - especially when eye-hand coordination is out of reach. It can definitely hit your ego hard, especially if you can normally get through the day without any of these things.

The funniest one of these days (if it wasn't me of course) was when I was at my sink in a college dorm. I opened my cup of piping hot tea, which squirted in my eye. I grabbed my head and howled in pain, and tripped over my phone cord, which wrapped itself around my ankle. Meanwhile I hit my head on the loft and fell to the ground in a comedy of error. How in the heck did I do that to myself?

The things I hate most are the incidents that have really negative consequences because of my own actions. Like putting the incredibly long phone cord within walking reach in the scenario above, or filling the cup beyond its capacity, so that it would squirt out rather than benevolently stay in the cup.

Other things that are hateful, but aren't that bad in the big scheme of things:
Falling (I did this a couple of weeks ago on a run)
Food in teeth
Being pulled over
Telling an awkward joke at work
Ruining your favorite Xbox game disc - why did I turn my Xbox on its side??!
Running a tissue or lipstick through the dryer
Buying bad fruit or vegetables (especially organic)
General extreme clumsiness

Maybe I should figure out why these things happen. Even if I could make these things not happen, I still think that my life is better that they do happen. In my world, crap happens, and it will either be in small or large increments. Things could be worse. Much much worse.
Tomorrow will be another day. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sy Fy

We watched Dark City last night, which is a relatively old movie - certainly before high definition and GPS. If you don't know the story, basically everyone wakes up at midnight with new memories. While parts of the movie were disjointed (how did the main character know where the automat was?) and unbelievable (Jennifer Connelly makes the worst club singer), there were some really cool concepts to this movie.

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The whole reason we were watching it was because I keep referencing it to my husband - "You know like how they erase your previous memories, sort of like in Dark City," and he had yet see it.

The cool concepts of this movie were about how your can't really remember certain things, like how many times you blinked today for example. The quote from the movie was, "How do you get to Shell Beach?" and no one remembers, or "When was the last time you remember doing anything during the day?" It's quite spooky if you think about it, especially if that happens in real life to you.

I started mapping out all the movies I've seen that involve either mind experiments, implanted memories, time travel, or other futuristic science fiction.  Here's my list so far:

Mind Experiments:
Dark City

Implanted Memories:
Blade Runner

Time Travel:
12 Monkeys
The Butterfly Effect
Groundhog Day
Back to the Future

Shutter Island
Beautiful Mind
Vanilla Sky
Event Horizon
The Cell
Fight Club
The Shining - although there is the ghost element

Being John Malcovich

Of course, this list is by no means complete. What I like about the science fiction piece of movies is that we get to isolate and explore an interesting concept about people. With Dark City, we find out that people are more than a compilation of memories, even though the main character still clings to Shell Beach - or the memory of Shell Beach enough to recreate it with his mind.

What isn't said with this movie is that memories that we visit are really of places we went to, or what someone said or did. It's rarely what we did or said. In other words, if I woke up with a knife in hand and a body in the next room, I wouldn't go out for a killing spree. I might want to go to Virginia Beach, or Greenville, as these places have a "feeling" for me over a specific setting.

Anyway, I thought I'd make that point... The producer probably had to cut out that nuance because of budget constraints and the actors getting fed up with the director.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Updating - Not

I'll probably get more time next week to update. Right now I've got a take home test and a project update that's due next week.
Some cool things coming up though:
Gardening - get ready for seeds!
Cakes, pies, and other desserts that should be ranked (and eaten).
Hair. I don't know exactly what should be in here, but I'm kind of obsessed with all things hair related.
Getting far in your career (or not).

Also, I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crap is a "Sometimes" Food

Who doesn't like the occassional fast food run, or depend on the gas station snack while on the road? I am a sucker for novelty food, and was delighted to find this at the local Best Buy in TWO flavors:

According to the top right of the package, these snacks have vitamins and neurotransmitters, just what a gamer needs to power through another few hours of high performance virtual fantasy.
Seriously? Who eats this stuff? (have they ever tried a real peanut butter sandwich)?

I'll admit that I enjoyed the Schmacker from Sheetz - a sausage wrapped in a pancake dripping in syrup. I also really liked these chips made by Herr:
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And these flavors of Doritos:
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All of them are quite tasty during the first three bites, and then I'm done.

Over the past 6 years (yes, it's taken me that long), I've gone from eating ice cream every night to junk food (e.g. crackers, butter, apple pie drowned in half in half) once or twice a week. After reading the labels, I don't want to eat something that contains hydrolized or sugar derivative ingredients. It's so hard to avoid these ingredients too! Pepperidge Farms sourdough bread contains high fructose corn syrup!

The point is that I have to read the nutrition information because they sneak strange ingredients into innocent products like bread and barbecue sauce. If left up to taste, I would choose the food that tastes the best, which isn't the most healthy. I wish the bad stuff would just show up in these novelty foods.

Coincidentally, the cats enjoy eating the food that gives them severe skin allergies. Good thing I don't let them eat that silly food.