Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google Maps

So usually when I'm looking for directions, I visit three websites: Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps, and Mapquest. I visit three different websites because I've found that each site will get different websites to get from Point A to Point B, and often the time estimates will be different. Lately, I've noticed a little camera icon on Google Maps. When you click on the icon, you get a street-level picture as if you were actually driving down the road. But what is actually very strange is if you type in an exact address for a house, you can actually see that house. It was kind of disconnecting to see my parents' vehicles parked outside of their house, and to see pictures of their neighbors getting into their car.

So check it out and be freaked out on your own.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm one in 16,000

I've long complained about my name being erroneously mis-matched to a possible terrorist on TSA's watch list. While I've never been denied boarding, I'm often not allowed to print my boarding pass at home, and I have to wait in the line at the airport in order to get it. When this happens, I usually have to add an extra hour to my travel time. Looks like the TSA is finally taking steps to prevent this from happening: Government to Take Over Airline Passenger Vetting. Sucks for privacy advocates: yay for me!

Again--not a terrorist.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Smug Prius Owner

So its been a few months now since we bought our Prius, and what has been the most enjoyable--well, besides getting 50 miles to the gallon--is watching people freak out when the car starts moving. Why do people freak out? Because the car makes no noise when its running on electric. Twice now, both at grocery stores, as I've been pulling out of a parking space, the person in the car next to me has gaped as the car started moving, seemingly on its own. I watch them stare at the car, and I can see them wondering if the car has started moving on its own, and if they are going to witness a terrible collision as my out-of-control car careens into another vehicle. Very slowly, comprehension begins to dawn on their face. Today, a young guy stared at the car for a while, and I watched a goofy smile spread on his face as he realized that the future is here! The future is now! Behold, the hybrid vehicle.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Drama at the theatre

Three months ago, Matt gave me 5 gifts to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Last night, we finally used the last of the gifts, which were tickets to see Les Miserables at Wolf Trap. Wolf Trap is actually distinct for two reasons: 1) its actually a giant outdoor covered theatre, and 2) its also a National Park. You can buy tickets for the lawn, or in the covered section. Matt had gotten us seats in the covered section.

Les Mis has sentimental signifcance for us. It was one of our first dates, back in 1996, and I remember holding hands as we looked in wonder at the revolving stage, and being thrilled with the giant red flag that the students wave at the end of Act 1.

Last night, a group of four elderly people (two couples) came in and sat down next to us. I was kind of annoyed, but only because, really, nobody likes it when people sit next to them. About 20 minutes into the show, as Fontine is giving in to becoming a prostitute, I feel the man next to me start to rub my knee. As I turn toward him, I realize he's actually trying to get up, and he hurriedly rushes past us, up the aisle, to alert the usher that his wife is having a medical emergency.

I glance at his wife, and see that she is slumped over in her seat, with her eyes closed and her mouth slightly agape. Her friend is holding her hand, and rubbing her arm. The usher comes over and asks us, quite politely, to move. We comply, and we watch as EMS techs rush down the aisle, pull the woman out of her seat, and try to revive her. All the while, Fontine is dying on stage, pleading with Jean Valjean to help her child, Cossette.

After about 20 minutes, they brought her around, and she was alert as the stretcher carried her past us. The performers on the stage were none the wiser, but the audience around us still looked slightly stunned as the real life drama around us finished.

I can't imagine what the poor man went through. What was supposed to be a nice night out for them probably turned into a moment of terror. I really thought the woman was going to die. Luckily, it appeared that she was okay when they left.

I don't know what caused that woman to lose consciousness. But I do know that Matt and I squeezed each other's hands a little bit tighter that night.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time for another new horizon

I thought that I would be gone by now. Its been almost 5 years that I've been at my organization, and there has been a lot of stress, and a lot of frustration. Its hard being a worker bee in a hive where you never see the queen. So why did I accept a promotion? Well, its really more than about the money.

After two years in my current department, I felt that it was time for a change. There were a whole bunch of middle management positions opening up after a round of retirements (some forced), and a few straight-up firings. I was unhappy with the way things were being changed without my or my colleagues opinions. So, of course, I started looking elsewhere. But guess what? The economy kinda sucks right now.

And it took forever for this promotion to happen--almost three months. But it finally did, and yesterday was my last day in my current position as a regular librarian. It was sad to leave my colleagues, as I had never felt such a strong sense of camraderie as I did there. I'm moving on to a position where I'm the boss, and as such, probably won't have as many opportunities to bond with my immediate co-workers (who wants to hang out with the boss?). And the commute is going to be tough--cross-town, ten miles each way in DC traffic. And did I mention its in the 'hood?

I can't say that this location was even on my list of places I wanted to go. But I really hope to be an agent of change. This is a community that needs a library. Not just a place to find books to read, but a safe place for kids, a place for adults to learn how to type up their resumes.

So we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Civic duty

Well, Honda Civic, we had some good times. You were such a good little car, despite the fact that the brakes were a little warped so you shimmied when we were trying to brake on the highway. Those road trips were great...remember when the wild mule in South Dakota slobbered all over the driver's side window? Your highway mpg are still awesome.

But let's face it, you were getting a little expensive. Remember 3 weeks ago, when the muffler fell off and we had to wait an hour and half for a tow truck? And then the repair ended up costing $400? Yeah.

I can't help thinking of you now, sitting on that car lot, as we drove away in our new-to-us Toyota Prius. Are you thinking that we're going to come back? I'm sorry. I hope your new owners take better care of you then we did, and you get those rust spots taken care of, and maybe someone will be willing to pay to see if they can fix those brakes, and get that timing belt replaced. I'll think of you every time we see another green Civic.
Matt and his Civic

Monday, July 28, 2008

Map Schmap

A few months ago, I got an email from a company called Schmapthat said that they liked one of my pictures from my trip to Philadelphia last year, and they wanted to include it in their online guide. Today I got confirmation that they are including one of my photos in their Betsy Ross House informaiton. Check it out: Betsy Ross House

I had never heard of Schmap before this, but it seems like a fun trip planning website. They are also considering another one of my photos from St. Louis (now that's an old picture, from 2002). They got my photos from my Flickr page, which I don't put too much personal stuff on. Actually, if you think about, its a really cheap way for Schmap to get free web traffic. They contact me about my photo, and I pass the information on to you. Ingenious, really.

If you'd like to walk down memory lane, you can read about our visit to Philadelphia on my Yahoo! Trip Planner and click on A Visit with King Tut. If you're not one of the 79 people that have given me a thumbs up, then why not?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm not a crafty person, but I'm very fortunate to have friends who are crafty. One of my friends, who lives in California, is taking her craftiness to the next level and has started selling her work online. Check out her online store at

Boxing Day... Yippie!!! :o)
Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:28 AM
"Kelly Basinger"
Hello, hello, hello!
Most of you have heard that my little on-line shop is open. It's been almost a month since I opened my proverbial doors and I now have 50 original, handmade items listed for sale. I welcome you to check out my shop here:
In celebration of being open a month, if you make a purchase before July 28th, I will refund 100% of your shipping costs! Make your purchase using PayPal (you can use a credit card without opening an account) and when I finalize the details of your shopping, I will refund your costs through PayPal. YEA!
And! If you miss me and the glow of humor that usually surrounds me, I also invite you to visit my blog. Some entries are funny, some are semi-thought provoking, and some are just plain me being the complete goofball you know and love! What else can I say?
Please feel free to e-mail me your comments, suggestions for product lines, special orders for the holidays, bad grammar or misspellings that you find, ideas for me to market my store, stories about your kids, complaints about your job, memories of the past... yadda yadda yadda... I'll take any communication you wish to send!!!
Love from Boxing Day,
Kelly Trivia
I keep getting the question, "Why is my little company called Boxing Day?" Several reasons! My birthday falls on the Boxing Day holiday, I save boxes from the trash and use them in my art, and I also make paper boxes!
(Here's a link for more info on the holiday!
Other Info: If you do not wish to receive a monthly update from me regarding Boxing Day or wish to receive it at a different e-mail address, please let me know.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Red Line

Washington DC is a city of individuals. People come here from all over the world to work or go to school, and when they introduce themselves, you don't see who they are or where they came from, you just see them. While you may meet their significant other, more than likely you'll never meet their siblings, parents, or childhood friends.

That's why its always so interesting when the tourist families come to town. Sure, they're kind of annoying (why would you ride the subway during rush hour? The museums aren't even open yet!), but its also kind of refreshing to see a husband and wife and their pack of kids stand out amongst the sea of business suit-wearing, iPod listening Washingtonians. The kids are always so aware of what's going around them (unlike some of the Washingtonians), and, more importantly, its really fun to see who the kids look like--Mom or Dad.

Riding the subway home today at 9 pm, I came across a family of, I think, 7--mom, dad, 4 boys and 1 girl. My first thought was that all of the kids looked exactly like their dad. My second thought was, how does a family of 7 afford a vacation to Washington DC? But now that I think about it, I've actually seen several large families touring around DC.

Sometimes I do kind of wonder what the tourists think of us: the daily commuters who are either going off to some high-paid job in the private sector or the more casually dressed government workers. One time, I overheard some person tell their companion, "Everyone here is in such a hurry." Well, considering it was rush hour, and people were trying to get to work after dealing with a lousy commute, and we all were in the subway station, this was not a surprise. I bet you're in a hurry when you're going to work, too, buddy! But you're just not on display for all the tourists to gawk at.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

So last week was a really busy week for me. I was out in Anaheim for a couple of days for a library conference. I returned to DC on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I was on a plane to Denver. I like Denver a lot, and Matt and I would like to spend a few good days there, but this time, we were en route to Rocky Mountain National Park as part of our annual 4th of July trip to a national park.

Now you may remember that I blogged about previous years' adventures at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California and Zion National Park in Utah. We continued our trend of Western Parks this year, mostly because one of our group members moved to Denver recently and didn't have a lot of time off. But also because Rocky Mountain is in fact a kick-ass park. And by that, I mean the altitude at 12,000 feet totally kicked our asses.

I love Rocky Mountain because it really does feel look like a Coors Light ad, not that I'm a big fan of Coors Light or anything. The water was so pristine, and there was still some snow on one of the trails on the 4th of July. In fact, I fell in said snow twice--not intentionally. Luckily the weather is so dry up there that my shorts dried within 10 minutes each time, so its not like I was walking around with a wet bottom or anything (at least for a long period of time). The wildlife watching up there was phenoemenal. We saw a she-moose, a beaver hiking at 10,000 feet (nowhere near a body of water), and some really cool big-horn sheep. We also met some very friendly ducks.

This trip was great because not only did we get to go camping with some friends, but we also met up with other friends who live in the Denver/Boulder areas. I like Colorado a lot, and I wouldn't mind relocating there myself (hint, hint, Matt).

rocky mountain national park
rocky mountain national park,beaver
rocky mountain national park

You can read more about our adventures on my Yahoo Trip Planner

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A major milestone

Today we hit a major milestone. Its been many years, and a long hard journey, but today, our Honda Civic hit the 100,000 mile mark.100,000
That's a pretty big deal considering that Matt has been the sole owner of the car, which he got as a graduation present in May 1999. Despite not really driving much in DC, this car has been all over the country. From Texas to DC, back to Texas, on to California, up and down the west coast including Seattle, and finally cross country back to DC. We've taken numerous road trips, and had a couple of minor accidents (including one that involved us patching up the bumper with duct tape).

The turnover happened as we were pulling into the arrivals area at Dulles Airport. We were dropping off one friend and picking up another friend that we haven't seen in 8 months. It was such a mundane thing to do, but life is made up of little mundane moments like that, isn't it?

But sometimes, life is not mundane. Like sitting at a fancy restaurant on the eve of your 5th anniversary and realizing that you feel just as giddy as you did on your wedding day (and no, it wasn't the wine). That is in fact another milestone that Matt and I are celebrating today, along with a friend's 30th birthday.

Yup, life is full of milestones.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kindred spirits

At my sister's suggestion, I've been re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books. As a child, I adamently refused to read these books. I don't know really remember the reason why, but for some reason the story just didn't really appeal to me. If you've never read them, the first book is about a plucky orphan girl who accidently gets sent to a town called Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Cananda to live with an old spinster woman and her bachelor brother. She is prone to accidents, which lead to many humorous episodes.

Despite my so-called lack of interest in this book, I always managed to sneak a peek at the Anne of Green Gables movie whenever PBS showed it. One year, living in the Bay Area, the public television made the incredibly smart move to show it during a pledge drive, and I pledged enough for them to send me the complete series in paperback.

I think reading the Anne books as an adult really made me appreciate the series more. Life in that time period was different, harder, and very interesting. However, I've come across the perplexing question as to when these books actually took place. The first book was published in 1908, so I assumed that the book took place around this time. In the first book, Anne ages about five years. However, as I'm reading the series, Anne's sons become soldiers in World War I.

However, what is even more perplexing is that some books in the series were actually written after the rest of the series was completed. Anne of Windy Poplars (Book 3) and Anne of Ingleside (Book 5) were actually written 15 and 18 years later, respectively, after the last book, Rilla of Ingleside. I wish I had known that before I started reading the series to see how L.M. Montgomery had originally intended the series to be read. However, it is widely acknowledged that Montgomery "phoned in" most of the sequels, but Windy Poplar and Ingleside were a return to the original magic of Green Gables.

I'm also looking forward to reading for the first time either the Wonderful World of Oz or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. These are both book that I tried reading as a child, but I could just not understand what was going on

Monday, April 28, 2008


I think I might be a little obsessive/compulsive. For example, I know that have 14 stairs in my house. I asked Matt if he knew how many stairs are in the staircase once, and he just kind of looked at me as if I was crazy.

These last couple of weeks, I was (obsessively/compulsively) looking for a good fare to go to Denver for 4th of July. I checked every day whenever I thought there was a good chance the fare might drop. Finally, I got a good fare, and I saved us about $40. I felt triumphant.

But now, I feel kind of empty. I find myself searching for fares for the exact same flight just to make sure that I got the best fare (I far). I don't know what websites to go to to waste time now, since all the websurfing I had been doing was related to this search. I just click, click, click around airline sites for no reason. Its really very pathetic.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kulture Klash

So, in an effort to become more "cultured", Matt and I have been to 2 different cultural events at the Kennedy Center this month. But here's the thing...we are very cheap. Of course, those of you who know me are probably thinking, "Laura, you drop $100 at Target on a monthly basis." Which is true. I can't deny that. I love Target. But I also want to be more cultured, so I've been on the lookout for good deals.

Before this month, the last time we went to the Kennedy Center was sometime in college, probably over a decade ago. Matt surprised me on Valentine's Day with an Italian dinner served in his dormroom and then with tickets to a jazz concert at the Kennedy Center. Or so he tells me. I remember the pasta. I don't remember the concert.

A couple of weeks ago, I was flipping through one of the free newspapers and come across this special discount for $20 tickets to the National Symphony Orchestra. Great! We got our tickets, enjoyed the concert, and ran into a friend on a date during intermission. We crashed their date (at his invitation), and told them that the last symphony we had attended was the NSO performing classical music from Bugs Bunny cartoons (which was awesome, by the way). We also mentioned that we had been wanting to go to the opera, since we had never been.

Well, less than a week later, I find half price opera tickets! Apparently, Wagner's the Flying Dutchman is in town. So off we go, back to the Kennedy Center tonight, where we go to sit through a 2 hour opera with no intermission.

It was...interesting. The music was good, the singing was good, the story was interesting, but man, the dialogue was terrible. I'm sure part of that was the fact that we were reading English supertitles and they were singing in German, but after a while you just kind of want it to be over with. I was slightly relieved when the main female character finally threw herself off a cliff.

I guess I will never be a fancy Laura, wearing opera gloves and a monocle. I still prefer my concerts in the outdoors in the summertime. And I think I like my operas with an intermission.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

¿Como se dice? ¿Como se llama?

I submit for your viewing and listening pleasure, the Amigos de Obama website, which features such instant classics as " ¡Viva Obama!" and "¿Como se dice? ¿Como se llama? (¡Obama! ¡Obama!)".

Friday, February 22, 2008

3 minutes and 21 seconds

What is it about being on hold? I'm trying to call the membership hotline at my sportsclub to speak with a "fitness advisor" to get Matt set up at my gym. They gave me a wait time of 3 minutes and 21 seconds. It has so far been almost 10 minutes. Why do they even bother giving a time estimate like that if there's really no way that they can make it? What makes things even worse is that they keep replaying the same jazz saxaphone song over and over again after they interrupt it to tell me that my call is very important and to continue to stay on hold. Its like a never-ending Michael Bolton/Kenny Loggins/whoever it was that used to play the saxaphone in all those smooth jazz songs of the 80s and 90s.

Update: Its been two hours. I give up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For a certain brown-eyed girl

I met Annette my first week at American University. She was a girl from the town of Alamosa, CO who had lived all around the world. Her worldliness attracted me, but her sense of humor and willingness to do good made me want to be friend. We were roommates sophomore year, living on an all-girls floor in one of the residence halls that was populated mostly by the women's rugby team. But she went abroad junior year, and moved off campus when she returned. Matt and I went to a party at the house once, and there were so many people there, and they were charging an entrance fee for beer, which I didn't want to pay because I didn't drink, and Annette really didn't drink either. We kind of drifted apart, and now I'm not even sure if I saw her at our graduation. I moved back to Texas for a year, and then on to California. I don't think we really even emailed during that time, but there were a lot of people that I didn't really keep in contact with.

Despite not really keeping in touch after college, Matt and I were eager to reconnect with Annette and her husband Figaro when we moved back to Washington. We had only met him a few times before, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. We spent Thanksgiving with them at their teeny tiny little apartment, and two Easters together. I remember laughing at her mashed potatoes because there was so much butter in them that they slid right out of the bowl without leaving any bits behind.

We were sad when they moved to Denver to pursue their studies in 2005. But whatever, Denver is a cool place, and we'll make an effort to go visit, right? They visited DC at least twice a year to see family and friends, and we were lucky enough to see them on most of those visits.

Three weeks ago, they stopped by DC and we had dinner with them at one of our neighborhood restaurants. We talked about the normal things that friends, family, general gossip. We hugged them goodbye and said we'd probably see them this summer.

Last week, I found out that Annette had a brain aneurysm, and later died. Her family and friends were in shock. I felt like my heart was breaking. We flew out to Denver just to be together with them. When we came back last night, I looked through my photo albums, trying to find pictures of her. Shockingly, despite knowing Annette for 12 years, I don't have that many. I guess you always regret the pictures that you don't take, but you can at least cherish the ones that you have.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And this is really gross too

The other day, I opened one of seldom used closets and discovered an interesting smell. I couldn't quite figure out where it was coming from, and to be honest, I didn't particularly want to investigate further. I did feel the carpet though to make sure nothing was wet in there. Nope.

Today, I finally decided to do something about the leaky faucet in our bathtub. For the last couple of weeks, the water has been running steadily and I just haven't had time to do anything about it...that is, call the maintenance guys to come take care of it. I remembered that the pipe access to that tub is in the closet where I had discovered the funky smell, and thought to myself "Aha! I may be on to something!" So I called maintenance and left a message, mentioning the funky smell along with the leaky faucet.

After I got off the phone, I decided to move the stuff out of closet so the maintenance guys wouldn't have to deal with that. I picked up a Camelbak backpack that we taking hiking and camping with us...and out tumbled some mysterious food-like substance. I don't really know what it was. There was some brown stuff in bags that perhaps had started to ferment, and there was something that appeared to be a brown dinner role. The last time we went camping was back in August, and I don't remember taking any dinner rolls along with us.

I'm glad I took the time to clean out the closet before the guy gets here, because he probably would have been terribly disgusted. I know I was.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sometimes working in the library is a little weird

Last Friday, I helped an obviously inebriated but still friendly older man find a book. He was very grateful, and sat for several hours reading in one seat. After he left, I went to go pick up his book and noticed he had left behind some trash: three packets of pepper and a wrapped orange condom (I say wrapped because some of my colleagues have found used condoms in random places around the building, including under the piano cover). I decided to leave the junk on the table just in case he came back to pick it up. I never saw him come back, but someone else must have noticed the stuff because when I came back, the pepper was still there but the condom was gone.

The guy came back today, obviously not drunk, but still very friendly. I wonder if he thought I had taken his condom.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Protecting your photos online

An interesting article in today's Washington Post discusses how corporations are taking photos from Flickr for their advertising...and not getting permission from the photographer to use them.

Hey, Isn't That . . .

People Are Doing Double-Takes, And Taking Action, As Web Snapshots Are Nabbed for Commercial Uses

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy Belated New Year!

I'm a little late, but so far 2008 has been kind of busy for me. We had our mostly annual "Ribarama" party on New Year's Day, featuring college football bowl games and ribs. Usually, we get our ribs shipped in from "premium" bbq locations, such as Rendezvous (check out that URL), the Salt Lick, and last year for Sausage Fest (held on Super Bowl Sunday), we got our sausage from New Braunfels Smokehouse. This year, we decided to stay local, and ordered our ribs from Urban BBQ in Rockville MD. We did this because most places only ship ribs overnight, and with New Year's Day being on Tuesday, there was no way we'd be able to receive the ribs in a timely manner.

Matt and I knew we were taking a chance by getting local barbecue, and we had never tasted Urban's stuff before. So before Christmas, we went out for some barbecue tasting and made the arduous trek out to Rockville (the traffic is really terrible out there due to major road construction). We got lost, because its in the middle of a very tiny shopping center. I kept hoping to catch a whiff of the meat cooking on the pit, but alas, there didn't seem to be a pit on the premises. We tried three different kinds of meat: the ribs were tender and falling off the bone, the sausage was good, but covered in some weird sauce, and the brisket was kind of dry and not really very flavorful. We decided that the ribs and sausage would make the cut for Ribarama.

Despite the fact that I picked up the meats on New Year's Eve, the food was still delicous the next day (I heated it up in the oven). Matt picked up 2 growlers full of beer, we had tons of food and people kind of staggered in whenever they had gotten over their hangovers.

So now that the holidays are over, its back to healthy eating. Cutting back on cheese, bread, sausage. All that good stuff. My guess is that this may be the last blog I post about food for a while.