Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My "Talent"

Everyone has their own unique talent- something that they are really good at. What's my talent? I think that my parent's explanation of mine and my sisters' talents illustrates it best. I heard my mom explain to some people at a party once about her 3 girls. She started off with my youngest sister, Sarah who is the dancer of the family- a cheerleader in high school and graduated with a degree in dance education. Next, Cynthia is the singer and actress of the family- she has majored in vocal performance and is currently acting in musicals in L.A. Finally, Cheryl whose talent is going to school and traveling. Yup, TRAVELING is my talent. And I have to say that I LOVE it. Europe is definitely the place outside the U.S. that I have been the most- 8 times. I LOVED living in Boston for 5 years in that I was NEVER bored and continually traveled around Boston and the New England area. My friend Dan and I have been travel buddies for a long time- we have thought about opening up a travel agency together where I plan the itineraries and Dan makes the logistics work (plane tickets, hotels, trains, etc). This is kind of my other dream- I think that it would be amazing to be like Rick Steves- that man knows Europe and has lead me to so many wonderful places. His guidebook, Mona Winks, which provides the highlights and details surrounding the most important works of art in the museums of Europe has been such an enhancement to my trip. My fellow travelers and I have bonded so much with this travel guru that we refer to him as "Rick" and say "Let's see what Rick has to say about it" and if Rick recommends it, we generally go.

Following his model, I have to admit that I really LOVE to put together itineraries for my family and friends who visited Boston. I made sure that they got to see all of the major sites that they wanted- with a few recommendations from me- and jam packed their days full of sightseeing. And the best was being able to show them the city that I love so much. That being said, my friend here in Cali, Inger, asked me if I had any recommendations for her since she is going to Boston in a few weeks. Needless to say, I pulled out all of my materials and I know that I overwhelmed her with suggestions. We met up for lunch today and discussed many of the different options and it brought back a longing for me to be able to show her around Boston too. But, that won't be happening, BUT I will very happily be back in Boston at the end of July-beginning of August for some national sociology conferences. How perfect that they are back in the city that I love so that I can try to finish up a few loose ends that I wasn't able to do.

I am nowhere near as familiar with San Francisco and the surrounding Bay area as I was with Boston, but I am working on it. Thus, I don't quite have my tour list of highlights made up yet for when people come to visit so please come and visit us so that I can start to better think about it!

Over 1,000 Articles Coded

Today was a DELIGHTFUL day for me in that I FINALLY finished coding my sample of over 1,000 newspaper articles for my dissertation. This is my primary source of data for my dissertation and it has taken countless hours over the past 6 months (this being my main focus) to get this done. What is coding some of you may ask? Well, I have a computer program that helps me to be able to organize the massive amounts of data so that I can easily identify trends across the articles as well as retrieve specific quotes. The program is only an organizer- it doesn't perform the analysis for me. So, I still have my work cut out for me, but at least it should be much easier now. I also have a better sense of the contents of the data since I have been through it all. Hmmm- I'm not sure which will be harder. Doing the 1,000 articles or writing up the findings . . . I sadly suspect the latter but at least now I have material to work with. The next question that people ask me is when am I going to be "done" with this. It totally depends on how fast I can analyze and write. My goal/current expectation is to be done with a draft by January (I left a fairly generous amount of time to keep my sanity). I am so happy that one of my fellow PhD candidates from Brandeis is acting moving out to the area in July! She is working on her dissertation too has the same goal of graduating by next year so we are forming our own study group to encourage each other along. After my last post about my work, I am happy to announce that things are looking much better.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I have had a long love of Wendy's chocolate frostys (not the vanilla ones- they aren't that good at all). For lunch at high school, sometimes we would go and get kids meals from the nearby Wendy's to eat back at school. I always thought that the best part is dipping the fries in the frosty. My Brandeis buddy Seth and I would frequent the Wendy's near the Brandeis campus where I would again get fries and a large frosty. But, I started going to Wendy's on a weekly basis during my last year in Boston (2006-2007) while I was tutoring/mentored youth in a program called Books and Basketball. I have to admit that Tuesday nights became my favorite nights of the week because I would get to see my sweet girl Esther Jackson. Esther was one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met.
Isn't she so beautiful! I was lucky enough to tutor Esther for 2 years and stay with her from her move from Cambridge to Dorchester. This is Esther with her Christmas gift of a deluxe makeup kit (I totally know what every 11 year old girl wants)

I felt so honored that I was lucky enough to be able to take her to the Cambridge Side Galleria the night of her birthday so that we could spend an evening together. I bought her some cute clothes that she picked out and some jewelry. We ate some Chinese food (her choice) and then went to CPK for some dessert (I was going to have the waiters sing but she made me promise not to).
This is probably my favorite photo of the two of us- just looking at it brings tears to my eyes because I really miss her. I had tried to keep in contact with her after I moved from Boston- talking with her once or twice- but then her phone number was changed and I lost contact with her. I hope that she is continuing to do well in school and is still the same, sweet girl who loves to laugh and dance
I know that this is a tangent from my original post but I can't eat a frosty now without thinking about her. After Books and Basketball, every week (except when they strangely closed the Wendy's for no reason) we would stop there with Astrid, another girl that I gave a ride to tutoring. We would get frostys and sometimes fries with them- and they always were looking for this "cute" worker Manny yet they were too embarrassed to ever talk to him
So so cute. What great memories are had of us talking and laughing at the table (we usually sat at this same one) as we ate our frostys.

Fast forward to this past month when I have been wanting a chocolaty frosty since I heard that Arby's had bought Wendy's. I had not seen any Wendy's near where we live so I got on Google maps (with its amazing business search tool) and found some of the nearest locations (about 15-20 minutes away). This past Friday, we were headed out to dinner and I asked if we could get a Frosty for dessert on the way home, since we were headed in that direction, and William was sweet enough :-) to say that it we could just go there for dinner. Unfortunately, since I had only thought of this while we were in the car, I only had a vague idea of where it was located. Again, another blessed Google product- Goog 411- saved the day. This is an AMAZING service that you can access for FREE on your phone and so it will give you the address/contact info of the nearest business in a specified area. And with this tools help, we found the Wendy's!! I enjoyed every bite of my LARGE chocolate frosty (since I don't get them very often, you just have to go for the largest size- and its ice cream even :-) and then dipped some fries in the frosty. I was such a happy woman- its amazing the power of ice cream with me. And it brought back such amazing memories of my times with Esther and Astrid- I am definitely going to try to get back in touch with her again because she was such a dear friend. I love the power of food not only to bring people together but can bring back memories of that as well.

"You won't like me when I'm . . . hungry"

Our summer movie mania continued this week with our seeing The Incredible Hulk at our favorite Saturday morning $6 showing. I had seen one or two episodes of the original tv show ages ago and I had forgotten the main plot and everything. So, fortunately, our favorite site for online tv, hulu, has episodes of the series online. I am glad that I watched the first and second episodes because it gave me a feeling for the story background, which they do not spend a lot of time in this movie. The movie was a classic action flick- with several very humorous lines (like the title). I thought they did a great job of portraying the relationship between hulk and his girlfriend/colleague. All in all, I think that you should see the show, especially if you are a Marvel comic fan, but should probably wait until it goes to the dollar theaters or on dvd. And unlike Iron Man, they give the key teaser at the end of the film so you don't have to stay until the end of the credits.

And speaking of the hulk, did anyone see the American Gladiators episode where Titan became the green hulk? They built it up like it was going to be this huge deal but he only competed in one event like that. I guess that its just another way that people are "going green"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comforts of Home

I love going home to Utah mainly to see my family- they are so much fun. They always have me laughing and later filling William in on the stuff he missed. Besides the family, there are some other benefits to going to Utah. I made sure that I went to CAFE RIO once during my stay. That place seriously is SO GOOD. It is rare that I crave things other than sweets but I definitely CRAVE Cafe Rio. And this time was just as delicious so much so that I ate the entire salad! Normally, I have some left over but not this time- I had to enjoy every single bite. Needless to say that I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day but I definitely got my fill of their salad. I also went to ICEBERG and got my favorite grasshopper (mint and oreo) shake. These are REAL shakes (not frappes or milk with a little sugar). They are super thick, huge, and tasty. Since I wasn't able to go to the Scooper Bowl this year :-( , I made sure that I was able to at least have my giant shake. The other thing that I loved is that my parents have cable and so I stayed up until 2 am every night I was there to watch 2 episodes of my favorite all time show- MURDER SHE WROTE. Truly classic tv- I would stay up that late every night to watch them. Oh wait- I generally get fairly close to that anyways and we don't have cable. At least now it is a special treat for me when I go home :-) Also, my dad takes me to the grocery store and lets me buy some special things to eat while I am at home- anything that I want. And my puppy Spankie is always so happy to see me- she even stayed with me in our study one day while I did work. (However, that was only the first day- the other days she was off on her own since she is an independent woman). Finally, there is something about sleeping in the bed you grew up in. I have slept in that bed ever since I graduated from the crib. Like they say, "there's no place like home" so good thing I will be going back there two more times this summer . . .

Brooke and Scott's Wedding

My dear friend Brooke and I have been friends since kindergarten when we were the youngest students in the play "Kenny's Window." Our love of performing continued as we clogged together from her mother and sister. In high school, we sat next to each other in Ms. Harrison's English class where Brooke would make music by banging her fist between the desk and the wall (it was actually pretty good). Then, we were together at BYU where we were ta's (well, technically she was a peer adviser) for Dr. Booth and then had New Testament with Bro. Millet. She and Mary-Kathryn even came out to visit me in Boston and I hope that the tour I gave them was even hotter than the weather! Brooke's mom lives just around the corner from my parents and so over holidays I have been able to get together with her. I tell you all of this to show that Brooke and I have had an amazingly fun history over the past 20+ years and that I am truly so thrilled to have her as a friend.

And I am just delighted that she found such a wonderful man to marry. Scott is SO nice- he just has the sweetest personality and has a great sense of humor (a must for Brooke). Naturally, there was no way that I was missing their wedding so I made a special trip out to Utah for it. And it was so beautiful

Here are Brooke and Scott coming out of the Salt Lake Temple as man and wife! She just looks so radiant
My favorite part was her niece's carrying her train- they were so excited to help out
The immediate families- it was so neat to see Brooke's family since I knew them all growing up, and now they have their own kids! They are super cute- And all of the wedding celebrations, I have gotten to know Scott's family better and know that it is due to amazing parents that he is so amazing today.
Me with the beautiful bride (sorry that I have some kind of weird face)
And then me with Mary-Kathryn, her maid of honor. Mary-Kathryn was my partner in helping to make sure that their car was tastefully decorated. In just a few short months, it will be Mary's turn to be the bride!
The reception was held in Brooke's mother's garden which was just STUNNING. They put in a fountain and pool just for the wedding
And it truly was a magical evening with these lights everywhere. The whole reception was just perfect for them!

I personally have a love of cakes (I have decorated a fair amount) and I like the chocolate drip effect
And then, the couple's dance. It was literally dancing with the stars- so beautiful. They had taken lessons once a week for a few months and they did amazing. Much much better than William and I. We had practiced waltzing except for one fatal flaw- not in my wedding dress. It is really hard to waltz in your wedding dress if you haven't practiced since it is so big. After the first few failed steps, William and I had to revert to basic dancing. I gave this tip to Brooke and I am happy to say that they didn't miss a beat!
So, now for my role in their wedding. Since I lived around the corner, Brooke and Scott asked if I could park their car at my house so that there would be less chance of his buddies decorating it. I agreed and drove it over to my place. Well, the only problem with that is that his buddies couldn't find it but Brooke's family did since they know where I live. The car though was only decorated on the outside with gummy bears, oreos, and even a aluminum foil flag. This was the first time I've ever seen the flag on a wedding car.
Anyways, the funny part of the story is that I had to DRIVE the car back to their house for them to make their getaway. I literally could not stop laughing the whole ride over because here I am- just one woman- in a car that obviously screams "Just Married" yet I don't have anyone in the car with me! And not only could they see me coming, but they could also hear me because they had placed empty soda cans on the back. I took a photo from the inside of the car because I just found it such a hilarious experience. William and I actually only had to walk from our wedding dinner to the hotel across the street and fortunately, no one decorated my sister's car so we missed out on that. But don't worry- I probably received even more embarrassment by driving by myself in a car like that.
It was such a beautiful, fun day celebrating the beginning of the joint life of an amazing couple. It was so wonderful to see family and long time friends at this event.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chalk Art Festival

I was in Utah last week and was fortunate enough to have a free afternoon to spend with some of my dearest Boston buddies who are currently living in Utah- Alan, Lyanna, Krissy, and Caranine. I have known Caranine since I moved to Boston since she was at Boston College as well and then I was roommates for summer 2006 with Lyanna and Krissy in the Spice House. During that summer, I watched the romance unfold between Lyanna and Alan and was their biggest champions. Happily, they got married last year and dear Krissy served a mission in Germany. It was just like old times to be able to catch up in a new area.
And the Beautiful Boston Babes

We met up at the Gateway downtown and had lunch at Skybox Grill and I had some SUPER good cheese fries and fry sauce. I love that in Utah they give you fry sauce with your meals. We then went and saw some INCREDIBLE chalk art. I amazed that they are able to make such wonderful portraits on the sidewalk. It was really hot- about 90 degrees- but at least it wasn't raining.

This was my FAVORITE and the one that I voted for as the winner.
And this was a great representation of one of my favorite all time paintings- Starry Starry Night by Van Gogh.
This one was added with beautiful sparkles and jewels
I loved the realism of this little girls face
Some of them worked from existing drawings- such as this one- I also really liked the color scheme
Even more beautiful than these works of art was the amazing company! I hope that we can do it again next month, this time with William there.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Celtic Pride

Living in Boston means loving their local sports teams since EVERYONE is passionate about them. The Red Sox, the Patriots, and the Celtics. I sadly never made it to a Patriots game, but I did make it to several Celtics games during my stay.

One was back in March of 2006. I had received 2 free tickets from my adviser Peter and it was right after William and I had been on our first date. I was so nervous to ask him but I did and he sadly had something going on that night. But, he said that he would take me out to dinner another night since he wasn't available that night. That totally made my day because I knew that he might be interested in me since he set up another time to go with me. Instead, I took my friend Linda and we had a fabulous time.
We had a great view of the court
Needless to say, it was an INTENSE game coming down to the wire, but the Celtics pulled it off- winning by 1 point.
Then, in the fall of 2006, I went to another Celtics game, this time versus the Jazz. So many of my friends from my ward including my roomie Amy and good friend Lisa.
The theme was that we were supposed to root for the Jazz with the group but Dave and I were the rebels and rooted for the Celtics.
Sadly, our cheers were not enough as the Celtics lost to the Jazz :-(
Needless to say, I am SUPER excited that the Celtics are currently in the finals. I am even more excited that I can watch them on our own TV. The Celtics were rockin throughout the game leading by 24 points with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. I thought the game was in the bag and obviously the Celtics felt the same way because they totally TANKED. The last few minutes I was totally edge that they might lose since the Lakers came within 2 points. But, the Celtics pulled it off and they are now up by 2 games!! Woot woot!

Everybody Loves Kung Fu Panda

And we especially LOVED Kung Fu Panda. We saw it Saturday morning at our favorite $6 showing and it was pretty packed with a wide range of ages- from little kids to some of the elderly and then us. The movie was HILARIOUS- with funny visual humor as well as clever jokes. And the Kung Fu moves were "AWESOME" :-) My favorite scene was the fight scene with the chopsticks. We were sad though that Jackie Chan didn't have more lines. I also loved the overall message of the show. Definitely one I will recommend since "everyone loves kung fu fighting"

Free Krispy Kreme Day

I found out on Friday by reading a newspaper article that Krispy Kreme was giving out FREE donuts all day. However, they failed to mention/advertise it in their website or store front. The only way we knew for sure was when the cashier mentioned to us. And if the free donut wasn't enough, William decided that we needed to get a full dozen. So we have been finishing off the dozen all weekend long. It has actually been a LONG time since I have had a Krispy Kreme. Dunkin Donuts reigns supreme in Massachusetts- Krispy Kreme tried to open up a few shops but they all closed. I love the original glazed fresh from the oven, I also like the old fashioned glazed and chocolate, but my FAVORITE are the glazed vanilla kreme filled ones. Yummy. I think I've had my fill for awhile now. Who knew that to beyond just getting a free one we'd end up with a dozen more. Its definitely a great sales tactic.

San Francisco Zoo

Wednesday was FREE day at the San Francisco Zoo and so many of my friends and their babies decided to take a trip there. I am so glad that we left early and got there 15 minutes after the zoo opened because we had zero traffic and were able to park for FREE on the street. When we left, there were massive crowds and people waiting for 10 minutes while we loaded up the cars for our spots.

One of the most RANDOM things I've seen was on the street outside the zoo- a giant red chef dog on a lamppost.
The zoo had these "shhh- quiet" signs up all over the zoo. I have never been to an outdoor zoo where they have these signs.

This were some of my favorite animals- the giraffes! The thing I like about this zoo is that they have a lot of room for the animals in very nice, natural habitats.
My other favorite animals were the BEARS. You can't see this very well but these two bears are wrestling. They did this for about 20 minutes while we watched. It was so fun to see them playing in the water.
A striped animal (wasn't sure if it was a zebra or not)
The sleeping koala. I'm amazed at how he is just wedged perfectly in between the branches
Rhinos- but sadly, they were so far away that we couldn't see them very well

More the exciting than the rhinos were the two peacocks in the brush right by us. It really is so amazing to see them with their full tail feathers.
In 4th grade, I was obsessed with penguins. I wrote reports about them and was in heaven when we went to Sea World to see them. It was so fun to see them here are the zoo.

So this was the majority of animals that we saw; thus, I was SO happy that I didn't pay the $11 entrance fee because it wouldn't have been worth it. But what was worth it was the refillable beverage- it came in a cute giraffe souvenir cup that you could refill anywhere around the park.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saturday at AT&T Park

You know its going to be great day when you see a car outside your apartment complex with a Free sign on it. The dumpster diving is much more upscale in this area!
We were very "green" on Saturday in that we walked to the Mountain View Caltrain stop and then we took the train up into the city. This is the first time that I have taken the train since we moved here and we completely lucked out to get seats or else it would have been a long hour standing. The train was very convenient (unlike many other times) because it took us one block from AT&T stadium. It's sad though because our train tickets cost more than our seats :-(
And we decided for history sake to enter through the main gate- even though we had to battle these kinds of crowds.
Unfortunately, due to the crowds, the Padres managed to score 4 runs in the first 10 minutes. Bummer- we missed the most exciting part of the whole game. Both teams played HORRIBLY- the Giants were worse though. They only had 5 hits the whole game and only managed to score one run. I know that I bagged on the Sox playing last week when I saw them- true, they didn't play their best, but it was at least ENTERTAINING. This was definitely the most boring baseball game I have ever been to. Maybe it is due to our being in the nosebleeds- here's our view of the field being zoomed in on.
At least the park itself is really neat. It is situated on the water and so there are just spectacular views all around. Here's the Bay Bridge

And then you can see the water right behind the main score board
But what was the most entertaining part (what we spent 4 innings looking at) was the kiddie items. They had a mini field and batting practice- I thought these kids were more entertaining than the game
I love the one in left field who is serious about this game with his uniform on and ready to catch it- everyone else is just standing around.

This is about the size of mitt that I need to play ball
I was completely shocked by what I saw next- they have a BUILD-A-BEAR in the stadium. Yes, you can get your Giants mascot- "Lou Seal" (we laughed and laughed over that name- did anyone really think about it)- and can dress him and other characters up in different Giants apparel.
I thought that the giant coke slides were the coolest (inside the bottle)- but we didn't want to wait in line to go down them
And so picturesque with the coke bottle and the Bay Bridge in the background. It was super windy over here though (and it was still windy in our nosebleed seats)
It was "LDS Day" at the park so we were able to sit near a large group of people from our ward, which made it more entertaining to watch their kids playing around than the game. They had the most interesting assortment of food at this stadium- they have sushi, clam chowder in a bread bowl (which I got and the chowder was delicious), Caribbean food, Ghiradelli hot fudge sundaes, garlic fries, and Giants Dogs. William got a "Giants" dog and it was so pathetic- it was even smaller than what you get at 7-Eleven. We think they call it "giant" because it costs 4 times as much as a normal hot dog. They also had a station where you could get a custom designed bat made right before your eyes. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves that day just because the park was so interesting. I'll definitely stick to my Red Sox even more.