Saturday, August 22, 2009

So long New York

The internship is over and I am back in D.C. On the bus to the rental car agency, we passed a bar with a sign in the window:


That is what I will miss about New York. The creolization that is continually occurring. Whoever wrote that sign knew what they were trying to express and the only way to do it was to combine a little Spanish and English.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Hot and Tasty . . . Salad?

There's this bakery near my summer job called "Hot & Tasty. " They also offer salads made-to-order, which I've had a few times this summer. This week I noticed the banner on their window that says, "Enjoy a Hot and Tasty Salad."

Yes, I always enjoy my salads piping hot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Remembrance of Addictions Past

I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night (well, this morning after midnight). I have not spent much time lately reading the Harry Potter books or blogs, but there was a two year period where that was pretty much how I spent my leisure. Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the series is that I so wanted it to be real. And I never wanted it to end.

So while I enjoyed the movie thoroughly while watching it, I am now left feeling nostalgic, which I hate. I have never been able to articulate my ambivalence to nostalgia in general, but I cannot leave it alone. Then I feel blue afterwords.

Compounding the problem is that I have never quite forgiven the series for not being real. Also, the movies have always been ersatz Harry Potter for me—a little something to tide me over until the next book. But now there will be no more books (allegedly) so I will have to make due with the ersatz.

About the movie itself: once again it hewed close to the book and had little explanation of what occurred in past movie; the movie does not stand on its own. If someone goes to the movie only having watched each of previous films once, they'll probably be lost. (To borrow a phrase from another blog, "It helps to have written a thesis project on J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard." So obviously I had no problem.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Life Is Old There

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growin' like a breeze.
Country Roads, take me home,
To the place I belong:
West Virginia, mountain momma,
Take me home, country roads.
—John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert

I just got back from camping in West Virginia, which ticks another state off of the states I've visited. We camped near Seneca Rocks, which I am almost willing to call a mountain. I'd go back to West Virginia.

I have ten (or nine*) more states to visit:
New Hampshire

*I've been to Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, but no where else in Minnesota.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Change the Curriculums

English has no trouble coƶpting or adapting words from other languages. If that word is a noun, we usually just drop an "s" or "es" on the end for plurals—regardless of how pluralization is done in the original language. But for some reason, this rule just does not follow with many Latin words. Vertebra becomes vertebrae; medium becomes media; curriculum becomes curricula; cactus becomes cacti. And yet bonus becomes bonuses and album becomes albums. Some are interchangeable; syllabus can be either syllabuses or syllabi. The more pedantic the speaker, the more likely they will use the later.

It is capricious which words are usually pluralized according to English rules and which are pluralized using Latin words.

Anglicized words should use standard English pluralization. Why the exception for Latin? Some of these words are probably too late to Anglicize, but I am going to continue to refer to syllabuses and cactuses. But if you hear me refer to "the mainstream mediums," I am (probably) being ironic.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Driving from DC to NYC with a Busted Window and Other Tales of Moving

I moved to Queens, New York this past Monday. Queens is a great town and I am excited to do an internship here this summer.

So about the moving experience . . . on Sunday afternoon Laura and I went to the U-Haul lot to pick up a cargo van. Sounds like a simple car rental? Apparently it is not. I am not exaggerating when I say that we waited in line for two hours before we even got to speak to an employee. Once I got to the front of the line, it took another fifteen to twenty minutes to get the van to me. Also, they required two credit cards and two phone numbers. I suppose the second credit card would be somewhat helpful if I stole their van, but I have no idea how the second phone number (Laura's) helped them since they did not check to make sure that either number was legitimate. The two of us then returned to my apartment to finish packing my things.

The next morning I loaded up the U-Haul van with all the things I was putting in the storage facility. If you have never tried moving a full-sized bed or a six foot long bookcase by yourself, it is not as easy at it looks. Nonetheless, I managed to do it and thought I was making good time.

I made it to a different U-Haul location where I had a reservation for a storage facility. I was relieved to see that there was only one person in line. My relief was premature as the "helpful" staff took an hour to get my unit set up. Furthermore, they did not show me how to work the card key; at this facility, they give you a key (similar to a hotel key) to enter and exit the building. Before customers can enter the building, they must first go to the front desk and "check-in" by swiping the card through a card reader. The employee not only did not tell me this, he acted like I was an idiot when I returned to the counter and told him my card was not working. (Also, since I had just been there five minutes before, how hard would it have been for him to check me in then?)

I managed to move my stuff into my unit and then drove to the other U-haul facility to turn in my van. They took about thirty minutes to sign the van back in, but in comparison to the service U-Haul had been providing, this encounter was positively stellar. Since I was running late, I jogged over to Union Station to pick up my car rental for my trip to Queens. In comparison, the transaction with National Car Rental took about five minutes.

Back at my apartment I crammed Ethel and her cage, most of my clothes, and my bike into a Chevy HHR. I was back and forth between my apartment and the car for about three hours. I left the door to my apartment open, but sometime while I was cleaning someone broke into the front driver-side window and stole my change. Altogether, the person made off with about $25 to $30 and nothing bigger than a quarter.

I called National Car Rental. They said I needed to file a police report. After three hours of work, I was finally able to get the Washington D.C. police department to take my report; none of the officers I encountered was eager to file the report. At 6 pm, I was finally on the road, but without a window.

It is annoying to drive for long periods of time with the window down. Without thinking, I kept trying to roll up the window that was not there. Cars make a lot of noise when they pass you going 90 mph. It's also hard to read the Mapquest directions in the dark while going 70 mph.

I rolled up to my new apartment at 10:30 pm and spent a little over a half hour unloading. I then quickly went to Laguardia to return the rental and find out how much money I would have to pay for the broken window. The agent there told me their claims department would call me to "work it out." I still have not heard from them.

Anyway, I think I have learned a couple valuable lessons:

1) Never deal with U-Haul again.
2) Most of my shit is not worth stealing, but money, even in the form of small change, is too much to resist for a drug-addict.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eat Your Veggies, Ethel

Here are pictures of my new tortoise, Ethel. Ethel is a combination Christmas and Valentines gift from Laura. She is a red-footed tortoise and with good health and nutrition, she could live about 50 years and get to be about a foot long. Right now she is about six inches long.

So far she has been rather shy and mostly just hides in the darkness away from her heat lamp. I'm also having trouble getting her to eat. Thus far, she has barely touched her tortoise food, which is primarily veggies, or any vegetables from my refrigerator I have offered her. When I put food close to her face, she looks away in a regal way as if to say, "We are not amused. Take this tripe away from us. We will not further acknowledge it."

She only has been interested in fruit. In these pictures you can see her eating some apple. She has also eaten some banana and several blueberries. I would not mind feeding her only fruits, but she is supposed to eat only about 20% fruit. The vast majority of her diet should be vegetables and she should occasionally get protein. I am not sure what to do. She has gone all day without eating so I may have to leave her with only veggies for even longer.

Here's hoping for a long and healthy life, Ethel.