Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pray for Me

On Sunday, I leave to go on my first ever press check. The book I've been working on the past few months is going to be printed, and I'm traveling with the designer to the press to make sure everything is just right. Usually only the designer gets to go, so I'm very excited to be included. Plus the designer is the person I like best at my job, so it will be a fun trip. The problem? I'm going to Winnipeg, Canada. The forecasted weather for the day we arrive is a high of -19 and a low of -29 (yes that's a negative sign in front, yes that's in Farenheit, and no that's not even factoring in the wind chill). I can't even begin to fathom how cold that is. Your nose hairs freeze at +10. Your tears freeze at -10. You probably die at -19. I was about to cry walking to the Metro today, and it was probably in the 20s. I'm not sure how I'll survive it being 40 degrees colder. I think I'm going to pack every piece of clothes I own and wear them all at the same time. Then maybe, just maybe, I'll survive.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Read My Travel Article

I invite you to visit the Frederick News-Post online to read a travel article I wrote about winter travel destinations, which was published today. Unfortunately, online you can't view how nice it looks in the actual paper. It's the front page story on the Travel & Outdoors section, pretty much taking up the entire page. A large picture of Niagara Falls takes up the entire top fold. Below the fold are the first few paragraphs of the article (through the middle of the second paragraph on Niagara Falls) plus two smaller pictures and a sidebar I provided. The story then continues on page five with another picture and the rest of the article. The spread is really nice. I was impressed with the job the FNP did. I'm going to try to scan it, and I'll post it if I can. Otherwise you'll just have to believe me.

Today actually turned out to be a pretty good day for this story to go to press as its cold and grey...the exact type of day that makes you want to get away. For a while I was a little worried about whether the story was going to work since it could hardly have been called winter the past month. But I should have known that it would work out when they told me they planned to publish it on January 21---January 21 happens to be my brother Gregory's birthday, and it has a long history of being cold on this date. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the article.

(And Happy Birthday, Gregory!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My New Toy

For Christmas, Jeff and I got a digital SLR camera, a Nikon D80. To go with it, my mom gave us a Tamron 18-200 lens. The camera has automatic settings and can be used like any old digital camera, but being an SLR, it also can be used completely manually. I've been learning about F stops, ISO, and shutter speed and playing around with the camera to see what I can do with it. This Monday, since I was off for MLK Jr. Day, I went to the nearby Brookside Gardens with camera in tow. Surprisingly for this time of year (although unsurprising considering the odd weather we've had), a fair amount of plants were in bloom. So for your viewing pleasure here are a few of my pictures, all taken with manual control.

I like playing with the focus, and I like how in this picture the flowers up front are in focus and the back flowers are blurry.

In this pictures, I'm standing on a bridge, taking a picture of the reflection in the water below. I'm the person reflected on the left; there was a little girl standing to my right.

I think these flowers are so beautiful. Very delicate, but perfect. The color is so great too. And I love that you can see the specks of pollen on the petals. (I think if you click on the pics, you get a bigger image.)

In this picture, I really like the branches in the background. It seems very artsy to me. (By the way, these are cherry blossoms! You usually don't see these until April!)

And as the final picture, since Blogger is being slow about uploading these, is a nice picture showing the park and its reflection.

I'll try to post pictures regularly, but it can be a slow process, so we'll see.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

That's Not How I Define Pro-Life

In their first one hundred hours campaign, the House passed legislation to allow federal money to be used for embryonic stem cell research. President Bush has already once vetoed such a bill and has promised to do it again. Unfortunately, the bill doesn't have the 2/3 support needed to overturn a veto. This is a tragedy for the American people---who by-and-large support stem cell research, for people all over the world who rely on American research to advance science and medicine, and particularly for those suffering from diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc.

Embryonic stem cells have proven to be the most versatile and promising source of help for those suffering from debilitating and deadly diseases. These stem cells have the potential to grow into any type of cell, thereby possibly replacing the defective cells that cause many diseases. Miracles won't happen immediately--it could take years or decades for researchers to figure out exactly how to use these embryonic stem cells to fight the many different types of disease. Unfortunately, however, it is nearly impossible for anyone in the United States to even begin such research. Nearly all scientific research in the United States is supported by federal funds in one way or another--thus there are very, very few instances in which embryonic stem cell research is allowed. While this bill doesn't expressly forbid embryonic stem cell research, it implicitly does.

The President's reason for opposing the bill is that he is pro-life and does not believe in destroying "human life" for research purpose. One thing he forgets to mention, however, is that these embryos are already destined to be destroyed. The embryos in question are those created by couples for use in infertility treatment but are no longer wanted. The choice here is not between making a baby and using the stem cells for research. The choice is between the dumpster and research. And President Bush and those who support his position are choosing the dumpster. Unacceptable.

Which leads me to my question of what it means to be pro-life. How exactly can it be pro-life to oppose helping people who are independently living, breathing creatures; who feel pain; who have parents, siblings, spouses, children; who are already a part of this world? How can it be pro-life to oppose research that can improve the human condition? That is not pro-life. That is pig-headed.

Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to benefit all of us. While we don't want to think that we might have a parent with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, a sibling with diabetes, a spouse with kidney failure, or a child with cancer, odds are good that we will face some such struggle in our lifetime. And should that happen, I want to know that every single thing possible is being done to make sure that I or the person I love has every opportunity to beat that disease.

Make your voice heard: Contact your elected officials and let them know that you support the use of federal money (it is your money after all) for embryonic stem cell research. You can do it online using the links below.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Random Notes

A Hot January Day
Yesterday, January 6, it was over 70 degrees here in the Washington Metro area. I'm not even sure it was ever that warm in January when I lived in Texas. Very odd. Not wanting to let it pass without taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, Jeff and I decided to head to Great Falls park. We'd been to the part of the park in Maryland when Gregory and Mark were here this summer, so we decided to check out the part in Virginia. We arrived a bit after eleven, and the parking lot was already pretty crowded. There were about 10 cars or so waiting to get in in front of us (only one pay station). Jeff contemplated turning around and parking outside the park boundaries and walking in but we waited the couple of minutes required and went in. We clearly weren't the only ones with the brilliant idea of doing something outside. The picnic tables were full and the trails were busy. There were kayakers out on the river and climbers on the rock faces. We hiked around for a few hours, and then left a bit after 2pm. As we drove out, I was impressed to see how far the line to get in stretched and stretched and stretched. There were over 200 cars in line! It was insane. I'm glad we came when we did.

For the Easily Amused
Jeff finally got himself a Wii late last week, so on Friday, he was playing one of the game's he got to go with it: Zelda. He had the option of naming the main character and the main character's horse. He named the main character after himself and then started fooling around with horse's names. I told him to name the horse after me, and he did, which led to lots of amusing moments for me. Like when the little girl stole me and said "I washed Theresa. She's pretty now."

I am not much of a shopper. I hate digging through racks and trying on clothes. I'm easily overwhelmed by the choice and by never actually knowing what's going to fit. Every store's clothes fit differently. Then the clothes within the same store fit differently with each year. It's impossible just to go in and pick something up. And then after all the hassle, the stores still want to charge me some ridiculous price. So I generally just don't go shopping and make do with what I have and complain every now and then. But today, I decided to take a chance and go out, hoping to get some new pants using some holiday money I'd received. Usually this would result in me coming home with nothing but frustration. But today I hit the jackpot. I got three new pairs of pants. They normally cost $80, $80, and $58 respectively, but I got them for $20, $20, and $10. What a steal. $218 worth of pants for $50. And now I don't have to go back to the mall for a long, long time. Hooray!