Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Silly, Silly French

In a Washington Post article in the Sunday Outlook about the proposed employment bill and related rioting in France, a young French person is quoted as saying something like, "This (law) means that we would have to go to work and do whatever our bosses told us to do if we don't want to get fired." (Not exact quote, but pretty close.)

Gasp. How shocking.

I'm sorry but that didn't win any sympathy from me, and I doubt it won sympathy from the majority of working people. Going to work and doing what we're told to do is what most of us do every day. Maybe I've had a string of bad jobs, but I was always under the impression that in order to keep my job, I had to do my job.

Maybe French bosses ask for atrocious things. I'm not sure. But really, I doubt that French bosses are that much worse than any other boss. I think it's just time that these young people are welcomed to the real world. Considering most of them will be "students" until late into their twenties, I really don't think they have it that bad.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good Reads, Anyone?

I go through fazes with reading. I'll consume everything I can find for a while, and then I'll quit reading much more than the occassional newspaper or magazine for a while. I think the lull happens when I end up with a book that I can't really get into. After I do finally finish it (I have trouble not finishing a book, even if I don't really like it), I'm tired and don't feel like reading anything else. Anyhow, I've just gotten into a reading spell, and I need some book suggestions.

On Sunday night, I finished "The Worst Hard Time," which is a really well-written nonfiction account of the Dust Bowl. I recommend it to anyone interested in US History. And Tuesday night, I picked up "My Sister's Keeper" from the library. I started it yesterday morning on the Metro, and I am now down to less than 50 pages left. I really want to finish it right now, but I'm going to wait until lunch. I have a few other books on hold at the library, but I'm still pretty far back on the list. And I have some magazines to read - we get The Economist, Smithsonian, Budget Travel, and a lot of tech and sports magazines that Jeff reads but I don't. But I need some suggestions for books. What have you read lately and enjoyed? Let me know, so I can add it to my list.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Food for Thought

Hope everyone had a happy St. Patrick's Day. I was tempted to pinch all the people on the Metro not wearing green, but thought I might get thrown off and I was already running late to work.

Have I already mentioned our menu making venture on here? I don't think I have. Anyhow, Jeff and I have been making out dinner menus for a week to two weeks in advance. While this requires a bit of effort, it's more than worth it in the long run. Having a menu means that we know what we're going to eat when we come home and thus don't spend a good 15 minutes opening and closing the cabinets and refrigerator deciding what to eat. We also save money at the grocery by just buying what we need. And we have more variety in our menu. Chicken, being the easiest thing to thaw on short notice and the most versatile in cooking, had been the staple of most of our meals. But now we're incorporating all kinds of main dishes and we're looking up recipes and trying lots of new things. I highly recommend this method.

Here's what this week's menu looks like
Saturday - Shrimp with Mango & Basil, Rice
Sunday - Stuffed Peppers
Monday - Roast Chicken, Spicy Baked Macaroni, Salad
Tuesday - Honey Ginger Salmon, Whipped Potatoes, Brocolli
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday - Chicken & Rice, Green Beans
Friday - Pasta with Shrimp & Tomatoes in Wine Sauce

I also have to say how much I love stores that sell bulk spices (not sell me bulk amounts, but have bulk amounts that I can buy from). Tonight's dinner calls for turmeric, which is a spice I don't use much and thus don't have around. At the regular supermarket, I could buy a container of turmeric for nearly $5. Not only is that a lot of money, it's highly unlikely I would make even a dent in it before the turmeric expired. At My Organic Market, however, I was able to buy just the amount I needed - for all of 10 cents. That's seriously awesome.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Happy Quarter Century to Me, Indeed

Tomorrow at 7:03pm, I will have completed a quarter century of life. Twenty-five years in the books. Really not that much more significant than any other number of years, but for some reason, our culture puts an emphasis on multiples of five. We never really commemorate our 37th birthday or our 8 year anniversary, but for multiples of five, and especially for 25 and 50, we seem to take an extra moment to reflect on the significance of the occasion.

For my generation there's something a bit scary about 25. We've taken the mid-life crisis and turned it into a mid-mid-life (or quarter-life) crisis. (I can only hope that I live to be 100!) There's a part of us that says that we must have messed up somehow if we haven't yet, at age 25, made a fortune, started our own company, written a bestseller, won an Oscar, ended a humanitarian crisis, or done something else of monumental proportion. Even as the baby-boomer generation proves that achievement is not just for the young (and is in fact often better suited for the older), we still feel the need for early and recognizable success. As part of a generation that will live longer (and better) than other generations before us, it seems strange that we feel such pressure at such a young age. But after reflecting on it, I think part of the reason is that we're a generation that has always been taught that we can be anything we want to be. And we've been witness to people just like ourselves being all these things we might want to be. We grew up after the civil rights movement and after the women's lib movement. We've faced more open than closed doors. The options are phenomenal. And because of that we've bought into the idea that we can indeed do anything. Which in many ways is true. What isn't true, however, is that we can do everything. And for many in my generation, being able to do anything means being able to do everything. The truth is that with every door we open, with every path we go down, we close another door and leave another path behind us. Yes, sometimes, it's possible to go back, but that's rare and often unrealistic, because other doors and other paths are always waiting to be chosen. And as we choose and go, we move further and further away from other possibilities.

As Jeff and I were watching the figure skating at the Olympics, I looked at him and said, "I'm sad." When he asked why, I said that I was sad because I will never be in the Olympics. Silly, and truthfully, I wasn't actually that sad, but I did have a realization of sorts. It's not as though I'd trained hard at any Olympic sport or barely missed making the team, but growing up, I, along with probably millions of others, had a desire to be in the Olympics, standing on that platform while my flag was raised and anthem played. At 5 and 10, it was as real of a possibility as anything else. At 15 and 20, it was less likely, but still perhaps possible should I have found a hidden talent and dedicated myself to it. But at 25, the truth is obvious: I will never be in the Olympics. I will also never be an astronaut, a dancer, a musician, a doctor, or so many other things. Maybe if I'd taken lessons when I was younger or chosen a different major, I could have been any one of those. Maybe this. Maybe that. But I made different choices, and as such, I will never be any of those. And I think it's that realization that makes the ages around 25 difficult. It's not so much the idea that I am not those things that is disturbing, but the idea that I can't be. For a generation that has grown up with the notion that they can be anything they want to be, the realization of life's limitations is cause for reflection - and for some, crisis.

But instead of thinking about all the things I have not done and will not do, I'm going to reflect on the things that I have done in this quarter-century of life.
1. I have married a wonderful, smart, funny, attractive, and loving man. I have had the best wedding ever.
2. I have become financially self-sufficient. I have a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood. I have enough money to enjoy the things I enjoy.
3. I have lived in Greece. I have taught English, seen the Greek isles, roadtripped through mainland Greece, eaten hundreds of gyros, learned a few words of Greek, made two amazing friends (and some other good acquaintences), and had the best post-college experience anyone could ask for.
4. I have seen the Pyramids, visited the Valley of Kings and Queens, and snorkeled in the Red Sea.
5. I have graduated from college with two degrees and honors.
6. I have lived in Germany. I have learned to speak a second language near fluently. I have skiied in the Alps.
7. I have traveled to over 20 countries. I have backpacked on my own through Europe for nearly two months. I have visited Italy with my mom. I have seen the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and France with my mom and aunt. I have gone to Egypt with Greg and Mark. (I'm still waiting for Matt and my Dad to join me on an international adventure.)
8. I have visited most of the 50 states. I have roadtripped through the West with my whole family. I have snorkeled in Hawaii with Jeff. I have visited friends throughout the country.
9. I have built a circle of friends who I love, enjoy, and can count on.
10. I have given a valedictory address at my high school graduation.
11. I have camped in Ireland with hundreds of other young people and lived with a host family in Dublin.

Combine all of that with other things too numerous to mention and with the fact that I can walk, talk, dress myself, read, write, drive a car, use an escalator properly, feed myself, cook for myself, and clean myself, and I think we can all agree that I'm doing pretty well.

So, there, 25. You don't scare me...at least not that much.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Today's Headlines

Isn't it scary that there are people like this? How do you get to be that way? How miserable must your life be? It's so disgusting. I can't even put into words the type of loathing I feel for such people.

Kirby Puckettis gone. I always liked him. He was one of the stars I grew up with. I admired his loyalty and his passion. Those are hard traits to find in today's professional athletes.

If you ever need a lesson in "Life's not fair" or "Making the best of a bad situation," I think you can think of Christopher and Dana Reeve and learn those lessons pretty quickly. I feel awful for their 13 year old son.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Amazing Race 9 Analysis

I've been anticipating the start of Amazing Race 9 ever since I realized how terrible Amazing Race: Family Edition was. And while I was excited to watch it last night, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. In two hours worth of premiere, nothing much happened. I understand that part of the goal of the premiere is to allow viewers to "get to know" the teams, but I wanted to see more action. All they really did was find a hotel, take a helicoptor flight (or build a bike), light a candle, and go to the pit stop. I'm hoping the action picks up next week and things get a little more physical and a little more challenging.

But here are my thoughts on this season's teams.

Lake & Michelle - He's way too intense and she's way too subservient. I think CBS is setting them up to be the "bad guys" in the vein of Colin & Christie or Jonathan & Victoria, but I didn't find him quite that evil. But we'll see.

Danielle & Dani - Ugh. Really they didn't do anything that obnoxious, but I just can't stand people who try to get by on boobs. The boobs hanging out all over the place, the all pink outfits, and the way they thought they could just find a man to put the bike together for them made me dislike them. CBS is trying to sell them as the "hot female" team, but the other females this season are much better looking in my opinion.

BJ & Tyler - Could they have played to the camera anymore? I don't care if that's how they are everyday or if they're just doing it for the show, but their over the top antics drove me insane. I can't stand people who go out of their way to be "unique."

Ray & Yolanda - I liked them. They were funny in a natural way ("Ray, like the sun" and her comment about the cab driver probably being intimidated by a big black guy right behind him asking if they were close yet), they seemed to have a balanced relationship, and they kept their cool in an uncomfortable situation (How obnoxious were the guys at the bike place?). And damn Yolanda has some muscular legs.

John & Scott - No shock that they were the first to go. Pretty incompetent and afraid of everything in the world. Also weird relationship that left a lot of questions. Usually I'm sad to see the first team go, but I won't miss them.

David & Lori - Another favorite. I thought they were funny and you could tell that they genuinely liked each other a lot. Definitely a bit dorky, but probably more representative of a lot of America than a lot of teams. They did well and seemed to understand how to play the game. I think they could go far, but they might have trouble with any really physical tasks.

Eric & Jeremy - Complete tools. They so desperately want to be cool, but they're so not. I thought they were the dorkiest team by far. I don't think they're attractive either, even though they certainly think they are. And I really can't stand them bragging about dropping out of college and being bums. Ugh. I hope they get eliminated soon, but I think they'll do fine as long as nothing is mentally challenging.

Fran & Barry - I was ready to like them, but they pretty much made it impossible. Seriously, how did they miss the cluebox so many times? What were they looking for? And what were they doing at the bike shop? They didn't have the first clue about what to do, and then they seemed upset when Lake didn't build the whole bike for them after promising to help. Plus they whined incessantly.

Lisa & Joni - I was amused by some of their comments, but there was way too much shrieking going on. I didn't dislike them as much as Jeff who was begging for their elimination, but I'm pretty indifferent. I don't think they'll last very long.

Joseph & Monica - I liked him more than her. I had to laugh when he asked her if she was really crying at the airport. The Barbie moniker seemed kind of accurate for her. And while she was all giddy and excited when things were going their way, she either lost it or became bitchy when things went even slightly wrong. I don't think their relationship is all that strong, and I can see them kind of falling apart and hurting themselves with bickering.

Wanda & Desiree - I liked them for the most part, although the mom might drive me crazy if she doesn't calm down. The daughter is really pretty--definitely the most attractive person on this season. They seemed to have their stuff together and performed well. The language skills helped them. Think their weakness will be the fatigue.

So the three teams I liked best were Ray & Yolanda, David & Lori, and Wanda & Desiree. All performed fairly well yesterday, but it's such a topsy-turvy game that you never know what's going to happen. I'm ready for some action next week.