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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stuff That Happened Today

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I got an email from the student loan company telling me that my account has been moved to Sallie Mae.  The email said, “As the number of Direct Loans continues to grow, Federal Student Aid has expanded their federal loan servicers to provide additional servicing capacity for the Title IV loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education.  This will ensure an efficient and effective multi-servicer, borrower-centric approach to servicing.”  To check this out, I logged on to my borrower account and saw this:

ImageGood Lord, do I wish it was true.

Apparently, my loan account was “adopted” by Sallie Mae, even though I didn’t take any loans out through them.  Maybe it’s a huge error, and now according to the loan company I don’t owe anything!  What a blessing that would be…

In other news,

I saw this picture today in a BuzzFeed article:

click for full article

Along with the word “Petrichor,” which means the scent of rain on dry earth.

Isn’t that a lovely visual?  It was a peaceful thing.

I guess all-in-all today was really peaceful.  Even though I know the loan thing isn’t for real, it still gave me a sense of peace just to see it.

Hopefully, this is a sign of peaceful stuff to come.

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Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel

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The year I found: 1989
What I was doing: Breaking my arm. I was 3, and Luke and I were in the backyard with my dad while he was working outside.  I was “helping” by sweeping the stairs that led to our basement, and tripped over the broom.  I fell down the flight of brick stairs and snapped both my ulna and radius in half.  My arm reportedly looked like a rainbow.  Daddy rushed me to the hospital and I had a cast put on.  The cast was on for several weeks, and it was pink.  I have seen a lot of pictures of it, but have no memories.

Evolution of Mom Dancing

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This made my day today. Get it, Michelle!

Reach Up For the Sunrise

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I have had a very enlightening 22.5 hours.

Usually, during the week and really on any given night, you can set your watch by me. I fall asleep at the stroke of 10 o’clock. I’m just a very sleepy individual. Maybe I require more sleep than most, or maybe I just like sleep that much. Either way, I get a lot of it.

But not this weekend.

Justin & Friends are in Charlotte for a Magic tournament, and I’ve had the place to myself since 5:00 Friday. Last night, Bonnie and I passed out on the couch together and when I woke up around 3 a.m. and realized this, I had to work real hard to haul myself into the bed. I woke up at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning. And I haven’t been to sleep since.

This is really weird. I remember the last time this happened; I was still in college and home visiting. I stayed up the entire night and got to watch the sun come up. I even remember making a Facebook status about it.

But now that I’m a little older, the sunset means a lot more to me than being able to stay up all night.

As I was Netflixing my way through the night, time got away from me. I had planned to take Bonnie for her nightly walk around 11, maybe even midnight if I was awake. When I checked my phone for the time, it was almost 2 a.m. I took Bonnie down and came back up and returned to Netflix. I figured at some point my usual sleepiness would kick in and I would pass out on the couch like I did Friday night and like I am wont to do on any other night. This just never happened.

The later it got, the more I began to realize that I could watch the sun come up if I stayed up just a little bit longer. This is such a rarity for me, and I really wanted to do it. Perhaps sleepiness lost in favor of determination. I’m not sure at this point. I sat on my couch and kept my stare at the big window in the living room, just waiting for the background of the night to lighten. I figured it would start around 5 or 5:30, but it didn’t really start until 6. Once it began, I took a picture every couple of minutes to document the changes.

sunrise

follow from upper right, clockwise

This sunrise began to become something really theological for me.

Everyday, when I get up and get Justin’s lunch ready and walk Bonnie, the sun is already up. The birds are already singing. There is already light streaming through and painting stripes on the bookcases and carpet.

But today, I got to see it happen!

Seeing the day start made the day more meaningful for me. It wasn’t just a given. I didn’t wake up to greet the sun, it greeted me! It was a really awesome feeling. When I pray, I always start by thanking God for giving us another day. But to see it happen? To see the new day actually dawn…that is something really special.

I get to see a new day end all the time. Seeing the sun sink and watching the watercolor clouds is great, but watching a midnight blue sky become light blue, then yellow, then white, all in slow procession, all meaningful, all giving…I just don’t have words.

I felt God speak to me this morning through this. I don’t know what He’s telling me. I just know that it made my heart happy this morning.


“(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” by Duran Duran

Now the time has come
The music’s between us
Though the night seems young
It’s at an end
Only change will bring
You out of the darkness
In this moment everything is born again

Reach up for the sunrise
Put your hands into the big sky
You can touch the sunrise
Feel the new day enter your life

Reach up for the sunrise
Put your hands into the big sky
You can touch the sunrise
Feel the new day enter your life

Now the fireball burns
We go round together
As the planet turns into the light
Something more than dreams to
Watch out for each other
‘Cause we know what it means to be alive

Reach up for the sunrise
Put your hands into the big sky
You can touch the sunrise
Feel the new day enter your life

Feel the new day enter your life
Feel the new day

Our Vdate

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Since I had been catching up on Dead Beat the last couple of days, I hadn’t had a chance to write about what Justin and I did for Valentine’s.

We were out with Dave and Phil a few weeks ago at a little hole in the wall called Toast.  Toast offers toasted sandwiches, along with side items like soup and chips.  We ordered lunch and in usual fashion had to wait for quite a while to get our food to go, since Toast is quite the happening joint here in the Dirty D.

While we were waiting outside, I noticed that The Cupcake Bar, an adorable little cupcake cafe that had been in the construction stages before opening to the public all last summer, was finally open.  Then I noticed that next to it was a pizzeria I hadn’t ever noticed before, called Pizzeria Toro.

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The idea struck like lightning.

This was going to be our Vday date, and I knew almost a month in advance.  I told Justin this standing there, but I don’t think it took it all too seriously.  Then I kept badgering him about for the next couple of weeks and he got the hint. 😉

Vday was on a Thursday this year and we didn’t want to get caught up in the crowd nor were either one of us up for it on a workday, so we opted for the weekend for lunch since there wouldn’t be a huge crowd.

We headed out Saturday for lunch, both dressed in our fancy black coats.  It was also snowing, which made both of our hearts flutter a little bit.

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We went to Toro first and chose from a somewhat snooty menu (the pizzas were categorized as Red or White, like wine, and also had some super odd flavors – no one knew what any of the fancy words were that topped any of the pizzas.  Classic Durham.).  We ate the sweet fennel sausage and provolone pizza.  It was tasty, but the pizza was on the small side and there was a dainty amount of cheese on it for the two people on the planet who would gladly endorse the pan pizzas at Dominos.  But it was good!

Then, we headed next door and had a small taste of heaven.

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That day, The Cupcake Bar had chocolate peanut butter cupcakes (the little one above).  Both Justin and I opted for one of those, and it couldn’t have been a better decision.  YUM.  I highly recommend it.  Again, they were a tad pricey – the little ones are $1.50, and the standard sized ones are $3.00.  But it was our Vday date, so we didn’t mind.  We don’t ever go out like that much anyway, so we savored the moment.

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And took silly pictures. 🙂

As we sat in either place and ate, we were granted a huge window to people watch out of, and it was so nice.  Plus the snow made it so New Yorky to me.  I have never been there, so in my mind this was NY to me.  I also got my new favorite picture of Justin:

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Isn’t he handsome?

After we were done with cupcakes, we walked through the snow to the car and headed home, where we got into comfy clothes again and hung out until Dave and Phil came over for shenanigans.

It was a fantastic date.  One of the best we’ve been on in a long time.

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Book Review: Dead Beat

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Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher

Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  The series follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago.  In this book, Harry goes up against a new kind of foe – zombies.  He is approached by Mavra, a Black Court vampire, to retrieve something called The Word of Kemmler.  If he doesn’t get the Word for her, Mavra will send incriminating pictures of Murphy to SI that could very likely get her fired.  To protect his friend, Dresden goes on a hunt for The Word.  Along the way, he meets some new bad guys, and some old ones, who are also looking the The Word.  He has to defeat them so that Chicago doesn’t end up like the first ten minutes of The Wizard of Oz.  Also, there is a zombie T-Rex.  Named Sue.


Warning: Spoilers follow here.

The book starts off with Mavra sending Harry photos of Murphy from when their group tried to take down Mavra’s gang in the last book.  In the photos, Murphy is using the sawed off shotgun as a weapon.  Dresden meets up with Mavra to discuss the photos.  Mavra threatens to expose Murphy is Dresden doesn’t bring her something called The Word of Kemmler.  After their talk, Dresden asks Bob about The Word, and Bob confesses that he used to work for Kemmler himself, an evil wizard.  His Word is teaching others who wanted to be like him how to wreak major havoc.  Back in the day, the Council wiped out Kemmler and most of his disciples but a few managed to survive.  The oldest disciple is a man named Grevane, a necromancer.  Grevane introduces himself to Dresden and Butters by attacking them with zombies at the morgue.  They escape, narrowly, and now Butters must learn to accept supernatural phenomena.  Meanwhile, Grevane was seeking Butters for some reason, and Dresden needs to figure out why.  Dresden remembers a corpse in the morgue by the name of Eduardo Mendoza.  Also known as Bony Tony, one of Marcone’s men.  Tony was killed by a car on the interstate, and upon further investigation, a balloon is found in his throat containing a piece of paper with numbers written on it.  Most of the book is spent trying to figure out what the numbers mean.  Dresden learns of a book called Die Lied der Erlking that could help him in finding The Word since it seems like all the bad guys are after Erlking, and heads over to Bock Ordered Books to find it.  After an associate named Sheila (who turns out to be Lasciel, the Fallen from the coin Harry buried in his lab) helps locate the book for him, he purchases it and leaves the store.  Directly outside the store, Dresden meets Cowl and Kumori, two hooded figures that are also trying to get The Word.  He fights them but is saved by The Alphas in the end.  After a tip from his old pal Mortimer, Dresden heads over to the Field Museum where it’s discovered that a gruesome murder has just taken place.  A professor is killed and his two assistants are missing.  The two assistants turn up later as Corpsetaker and his ghoul, Li.  Dresden now is fighting three different sets of enemies, all of whom are trying to snatch the book he just purchased, as well as find The Word.  After a meeting with Mab, we learn that the Erlking is an ancient fairy lord who calls up dead spirits and controls them in what is called The Wild Hunt.  If a disciple of Kemmler is able to call up the Erlking, and then steal his undead power, the disciple can combine it with their own undead power and turn themselves into a god just on power alone.  Erlking gives the disciple the means of calling up the Erlking to take his power, and The Word tells the disciple what to do once they have the power in order to reach god status.  All the enemies involved – Cowl and Kumori, Grevane (and his sidekick Liver Spots), and Corpsetaker are all necromancers – people who can control the dead.  It would be easy for them to accomplish their goal of godhood.  Feeling more than overwhelmed, Dresden calls the Council.  Luccio, the head Warden, Morgan, and three other Wardens come to Chicago to help Harry out and in the process make Harry a Warden.  Harry and Butters follow the numbers from Bony Tony’s throat, which are lattitude and longitude, on a GPS system to find The Word.  They find it and are immediately jumped by Grevane, Liver Spots, and their band of zombies.  After snatching The Word from Dresden’s hands, Grevane leaves Liver Spots with Harry.  Liver Spots reveals himself to be Snake Boy, from book 5 – the shape-shifting snake creature that Harry badly cripples at the end.  Now it’s payback time.  Snake Boy toys with Harry and hurts him pretty badly until Mouse shows up to take Snake Boy down.  Once he’s dead, Harry and Butters head into town with their own version of necromancy – riding the bones of Sue the T-Rex.  There is of course an epic battle and Morgan tries to kill Harry because of a misunderstanding.  Luccio squares off with Corpsetaker, only to have their souls switched at the last second.  Luccio’s soul is now inhibiting the body that Corpsetaker’s used to.  Harry and Ramirez, one of the new Wardens, take out Grevane and his nasties on Sue, then jump down to take on Cowl.  Cowl takes Ramirez down with a sucker punch, and Kumori hold a knife to Dresden’s throat daring him to try and stop Cowl.  Cowl brings out the stolen Bob and places him on the ground.  This gives Harry the advantage to talk to Bob.  He gives Bob permission to leave the skull, and Bob possesses Sue and takes out Cowl and Kumori that way.  Crisis averted.  Luccio has new, younger body to deal with, Morgan seems to come to some terms with Harry about becoming a Warden, and Butters helps Harry slowly gain control of his hand again.  All is well.


I have three suggestions for why the book is titled Dead Beat: at the beginning, Harry feels like Thomas is a deadbeat after living with him for a year and becoming annoying.  In order to keep the zombies under their will, necromancers have to have a steady beating sound that the zombies can hear so that they think it’s a heartbeat; you have to beat a rhythm for the dead.  And at the end, Harry is just dead beat.  It all works.

It took me forever to get through this book.  I read the first six books in a month, and it’s taken me a month to read just this one!  Awful.  But once I got over the middle hump, it was all good.  I hate that Murphy is with Kincaid.  He’s a jerk.  I absolutely love Mouse.  I’m going to have a gray dog one day and name it Mouse.  And of course, Butters.  He’s so awesome.  And really funny.  I love the ending where they ride Sue into town to do their thing.  And the friendship between Dresden and Ramirez is really cool.  As for Lasciel, I really want her intentions to be good, but because of what she is I have a lot of doubts.  She keeps offering to help Harry and tried to show him she means him no harm, but just like Harry said, she is a master manipulator.  I hope she doesn’t cause a whole heap of turmoil for Harry later on.  Two books from now is White Knight, so that certainly sounds like Michael returns.  Maybe the next book deals with her and she is the one proven guilty?  I don’t know.  We shall see!


For Next Time

Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

The White Council of Wizards has drafted Harry Dresden as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in Chicago. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in the Windy City, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob.
-bn.com

A Lesson in Humanity

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I went grocery shopping today.  I went to Walmart because I needed a few things other than just food and Walmart is the cheapest place to buy things.  I hate Walmart.

In usual fashion, once I was done shopping and had to check out, all of 4 lanes were open and the lines to check out were backed into the middle aisle at the front of the store.  It was already a waiting game, so I just picked one.  As Justin will tell you (because he tells me so often), I have a decent amount of patience.  Especially with people.  Having to stand in line for a while to check out doesn’t usually bother me.  It’s just a part of life; you wait to check out and pay and then go home and put stuff away.  And it never fails – every time I go to Walmart and have to wait in line, the person in front of me always has a problem.  Something won’t scan the right price, the technology that is supposed to be making checking out faster fails…it’s always something.  And it’s always in front of me.

But today, the wait was worth it.

The poor man in front of me was buying many large items.  One item was a 24-pack of bottled water, and another was a huge bag of wild bird food.  He took his time unloading the large items onto the conveyor belt only to be told that the associate could scan them from the buggy.  So then he took the same care to load the items back into the buggy.  She scanned them and then passed the smaller items over the scanner and into plastic bags.  She rang up the total and he tried to swipe his debit card.  And tried again.  And continued trying for the next almost 10 minutes.  The associate attempted to take the card on her side of the register and swipe it there.  No dice.  Then she tried with a plastic bag over the strip, as I’d seen other retailers do before.  Still didn’t work.  She tried keying the card in manually, but a receipt finally printed saying the card couldn’t be taken.  Finally the man pulled a different card out of his wallet.  After walking him through the process for using a card at the register for what had to be the 20th time, the register accepted the new card.  The man apologized to me for holding up the line, and I told him it was all right.  He left and went on his way.

The entire time this poor man was struggling with the first card, the sales associate was more than nice.  More than patient.  She was kind.  It really took me aback because kindness isn’t usually something exhibited at a checkout line, much less in retail.  But this girl handled the situation in utmost poise.  She diligently tried to help this man, without a huge huffing breath, without rolling her eyes, and without calling in for help so someone else could “deal” with him.  And she did the whole transaction with a smile.  It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen: a person being kind to another person for no reason.  The situation was irritating, even for onlookers in the line, and really even for me.  She would have been entitled to get irritated, or to walk around to the man in a huff and dramatically point out to him where it said to enter his PIN.  But she didn’t do any of that.  She simply tried her best to help him.

Once I got up to check out, I thanked her for being so kind.  She just sort of shrugged me off and said, “I just always think – that could be my dad.”

Karma, Golden Rule, whatever you want to call it, kindness is a very important thing to pass on.  We certainly need more of it.

What a lesson.

I’m actually glad I went to Walmart today.  I really needed to witness something like that.

Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest

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Do you have a Pinterest account?  Of course you do!  Who doesn’t?  I was one of the first of my friends to have one and didn’t really understand how to use it until everyone else joined.  As far as I can tell, I’ve had a Pinterest account since late 2011.  Once I had it, it sat dormant for several months before other people I knew joined and I could repin what they pinned.  After that happened, I finally felt like Pinterest was an enjoyable thing.

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Click to check out my boards!

For as long as I’ve used Pinterest, I can safely say that I’ve learned a few things.  There are some pins that are recycled so much that it’s overkill.  Then there are some people who I don’t think have really grasped what the big P is about yet.  Whatever the case, there are some things about Pinterest that annoy me from time to time.

Here are some of the repeat offenders:

  1. Apparently, my definition of “cheap” and everyone else’s isn’t exactly the same.  Maybe this is just because I don’t own a home yet and don’t really have a realistic idea of what renovation/upcycling/crafting for a big space costs.  But even then, there are tutorials for things like sewing or smaller crafts that I can/could do, and those are always more expensive than I’d like as well.  I really love how a wall of shelving looks until I find out it cost the creator nearly $300 to complete, and they had the audacity to call it cheap!  Again, maybe that is cheap to a homeowner.  It just doesn’t sound cheap to a renter like me.
  2. We must save every toilet paper roll we can, lest our decorations look empty.  Surely you’ve seen this pin.  It was HUGE around Christmas.  This pin suggested taking a toilet paper roll and sticking it into a vase or other container as a filler in the middle of small ornaments or other decorating pieces.  If I had a nickel for every time I saw this pin, I wouldn’t have to work.
  3. Blue Dawn dish soap fixes everything.  If there is a pin that’s giving a cleaning tip, blue Dawn dish soap is somewhere in the list of ingredients.  Maybe it’s always been like that and I just didn’t know.  Maybe the blue soap was originally marketed as a clean-all agent and we are just now remembering it.  Who knows – all I know is that if you’re gonna clean, you better use the blue soap!
  4. Some people have really pointless boards.  This goes along with the idea that Pinterest is simply virtual hoarding.  Do you have a friend (or three) who has a board of favorite movies?  What about “Books Worth Reading?”  I don’t understand what the point of these boards is.  Okay…now we know that one of your favorite movies is Mean Girls.  So?  What purpose did pinning the image of the DVD cover serve?  Same with books, or dream cars, or anything else that doesn’t really serve much of a purpose other than to tell other people that’s your favorite blank.
  5. People don’t use their own captions.  Just the other day, a girl I know who has no children to speak of repinned something with the caption “my son will love this!”  This annoys me to no end.  Why are people so lazy that they can’t even put in their own caption?  If it’s just a recipe and the caption is the name of the dish, then okay.  But when another pinner leaves a personal comment and the repinner doesn’t correct/delete it, it drives me crazy.

So there, that’s 5 things I’ve learned about Pinterest.

What have you learned?

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  1. I can come and go as I please, as I am not tied down to a job at the moment.
  2. My apartment is always a little messy.  But the bed is always made.
  3. I’m a terrible runner, but at least I try.
  4. For the most part, I live a very well-off, peaceful, and loving life.
  5. I imagine most people would look at me and think I just sit around all day, and some days they’d be right.
  6. I would like to dress more stylishly…even if it’s just for going to the store.

Desktop Motivation

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Desktop Movtivation

Here’s hoping this will get me in the mood to go run whenever I see it on my desktop!