31 August 2007

Poll Analysis

First, a little background on last Friday's poll. I began thinking about this the other day when I entered a bathroom at work. In the stall next to me was a woman (I can identify her by her loud breathing) who was obviously reading a newspaper. I was only mildly shocked as I knew this was a pretty regular thing for this woman.

When I regaled C with the story that evening, he was not shocked. This shocked me. Reading material in a work bathroom? Just wrong. But not to C. He said it was not unusual to enter a men's public restroom and find a newspaper on the floor. You know, common courtesy. I still wasn't sure.

And of course the poll was split evenly down the gender lines, just like in our household. Every single female thought it wrong and every single male thought it okay. Wow. I really do learn something new every day.

29 August 2007

People Confuse Me

This past June, four girls were killed on a local freeway the night of a high school graduation. Recently, results of the 20-year-old driver’s toxicology were released: a blood alcohol content greater than 0.0 and a positive test for marijuana. Also, found in the car was a half-full gallon of vodka. Only one of the five girls in the car survived this accident.

Also recently released: Families of those killed during the Virginia Tech shootings are to receive $180,000. If were you were injured when Cho was raging on campus, you will receive at least $40,000. And if you were simply in one of the rooms where Cho visited, you can take your choice between $10,000 and free tuition for the rest of your VT career.

Let me be the first to say that both of these events are, of course, terrible tragedies. The families of all those who died are suffering, and will continue to suffer, much. Any time a death occurs there will be sadness. I do not mean to diminish the pain that these people are feeling.

However, let me give a few more pieces of information. The parents (I think, maybe grandparents) of one of the passengers killed in the car accident are suing the parents of the driver. Wrongful death, they say. To the suing grandparents I say: “I’m so sorry that your granddaughter died. But don’t you think it’s likely that your daughter was also drinking? Don’t you think that getting into a car where the driver was impaired is also irresponsible? Do you honestly believe that if your daughter had been the one driving that night, absolutely nothing would have happened to any of them? Can you not just say that this was a horrible accident and move on with your grieving process? What in the world could money do to help you heal from this?” I have to believe that if one girl was drinking and smoking marijuana, then all were (remember the half-full gallon of vodka in the car). They all acted foolishly and made incorrect decisions. But where is the responsibility for each of the girls? Why is the burden not shared by all girls in that car?

And regarding the VT tragedy. Some of the kin of those killed are asking for more than the offered $180,000. I don’t understand this one bit. People die everyday. EVERYDAY. And almost all of those who die leave family members who get nothing. And yet they have the same sadness, loneliness, faith doubts, and everything that comes along with death as those who are grieving for victims of Cho. But they get nothing. They ask for nothing.

I guess I just don’t understand people and money.

24 August 2007

Poll Analysis and New Poll

Last week's poll made my job as a statistician quite easy. Everyone who is an oldest child thought that Dottie dropped the ball on purpose, while the sole youngest child responder (thanks sis!) thought it was debatable. This is exactly what I (and Daniel) thought would happen. Oldest children stick together. We watch out for our younger siblings...at least after we've made them box each other.

Now for the new poll: First tell me your gender and then tell me whether you think it's okay to bring reading material into a WORK bathroom. Thanks.

22 August 2007

Update on Moving

I don't know if it's the D.C. heat and humidity or what, but we've been rethinking our decision to stay put after C finishes his indentured servitude to the county. Here's what I have done so far in our research of other places to live: gathered information on teachers' salaries, costs of health care, state and local taxes, and housing costs for a few places across the country. Put all of this information in a pretty little spreadsheet that calculates a "net monthly income." So given that here in Maryland teachers earn a lot but pay a lot for housing, how does that compare to a place with a smaller salary but much lower housing costs? Well the magical spreadsheet says that of the 19 places for which I have data, our local county comes in with the sixth highest net monthly income...not bad. Tops is Cheyenne (their teachers' salaries are pretty high and housing costs are low), with Cincinnati, Pittsburgh PA, Harrisburg PA, and Indianapolis following. So given that C likes his current setup and given that in two years he would be making more than a lot of teachers EVER make in other school districts, we made the decision to stay.

BUT then we started thinking. What was the amount I put in for housing costs in Maryland? I figure we can spend about $250,000 on housing here. But what kind of house does that get you? This. It is only a condo that is not much bigger than our current apartment. And a condo is about all you're going to get in our current county at our price. We can find houses, but they're small, old, and much farther out, like this, which isn't even located in our county. For what we think we can afford in, say, Indianapolis we could buy this.

The realization was that for the houses we really want (like the one in Indy), if we were to get the same house in Maryland, it would cost us about $450,000 to $500,000. And if I put those numbers into the spreadsheet, our net monthly income would be negative. So while we can afford to continue to live here, and even buy here, our standard of living is so much less here. And for some reason, this didn't occur to us until recently. But it definitely has us thinking.

The current top ten as far as our net monthly income go are:
  • Cheyenne, WY (although I'm not really sure I could do this)
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Where we are currently
  • Nashville, TN (how the heck did this get in here?!)
  • Rochester, MN
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Frederick County, MD

I'm saddened by the lack of western locales, but unless you're California, you pay your teachers crap. And equally sad, we can't come close to affording California (although certainly we would consider it as we both think it's beautiful there).

If you have any other thoughts on where living is cheap and teachers' salaries are high, please let us know!

20 August 2007


If All Summer Weekends in DC Were Like This...

...I wouldn't have to move. But alas, they are not. Most D.C. weekends include temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s, with humidity to match. However, this weekend was quite lovely. Highs were in the mid- to low-80s. We couldn't stay inside.

13 August 2007

Another Poll

First, bring to mind the movie, "A League of Their Own." Go to the part near the end of the movie where the sisters are in the final game of the World Series. It's the last play and the younger, less famous (and I might add, less talented) sister, Kit, is on base while the older sister, the belle-of-the-league Dottie, is the catcher. A ball is hit, and Kit is on her way to home base: a safe arrival would seal the win for her team. Not surprisingly, the ball and Kit seem to be destined to meet at home plate. As the movie tempo slows, Kit is sliding into home plate, Dottie is catching then ball, and then Dottie is dropping the ball...literally. Kit is carried off on shoulders to wild cheers while Dottie gets to her feet.

So here is the poll. First, tell me your birth order (are you the oldest, youngest, etc.). Then tell me whether you believe Dottie intentionally dropped the ball or not. This poll is certainly not cryptic; I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. I'm just curious as to how others feel.

10 August 2007

Who ARE These People?

You may wonder about the other blogs that I read (see side bar). Here’s a brief introduction to these people who keep me busy:

Made by e: This is simply another blog that I created where I can post pictures of projects that I have been working on. Currently, I am working on TONS of things (Christmas is only five months away people!), but none of which is finished. After spending so much time on Etsy lately, I've decided my photo skills need work.

The Foodees: The blog kept by my sister and me where we (along with a lot of help from a lot of friends) post YUMMY recipes. You should check it out.

Em and boys: My lovely sister. Wife to one, mother to two boys, and soon-to-be-mother to a little girl, Grassy. And yes, she's got a new blog name in the works, but until Grassy arrives, the name will be a mystery, simply because Grassy's name is a mystery. If she lived closer, my life would consist of NON-STOP sewing parties, running fun races, and eating good food. Plus, I'd get to spend more time with my nephews (and niece!).

A and R: R is a loooong-time (10 years this summer) friend. (Am I old enough to have friends for that long?) If she was a boy, I would have married her before A got a chance. She’s that cool. Luckily for A, I like him too. R recently gave birth to little I. He couldn't be cuter. (A godmother can't be biased, can she?!)

Chicago Vauses: A roommate from my fifth year in college. She and her husband live in Chicago while husband goes to graduate school. She has two adorable little boys.

The Eb Blog: Todd was a friend of mine from my freshman year (12 years ago!) while in the dorms at the U. He went on a mission, came back, and went to BYU (but I forgave him). While there, he married his lovely wife Deanna. You'll see Deanna post a lot of excellent recipes on the Foodees. (P.S. The statement about forgiving Todd for going to BYU is a complete joke. I really couldn't care less about the animosity I, as a Ute, am supposed to feel for any Cougar.)

Cousin Natalie: Natalie is my cousin, duh. She blogs about her two sons and her husband while living in Utah. If only my other cousins would follow her example. I might actually know what's going on with them.

Megan: This is a friend of my sister. I knew her a little bit because she was once roommates with Emily, but now I know her a lot bit because of the blogosphere.

Melissamerica: This is a friend of R’s, whom I know a little bit. But she’s an excellent writer, and it’s fun to read her stuff...when she actually writes.

Ambular: Another friend of R’s. Like Melissamerica, I enjoy keeping her with her.

Camie: She's not only a roommate from olden days, but also a good friend. And now that she doesn't live so close, I'm sure I'll see her more. (Why is that?!)

Gretchen: Interestingly enough, I've never actually lived with G. Maybe that's why we're such great friends? Shrug. I've never been on a gay vacation without her. Please read her blog; she needs a new job, and I really think this blogging could be it.

Linda: One of my (many) in-laws. Unfortunately for you, her blog is private. Fortunately for me, I've been invited to read it.

NC Kuhns: Daniel and Katie are friends that C and I know from our singles ward days. You may have seen Daniel in a Discovery Channel special on mortuary school. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. (And how about this one?)

Ruth: She's a friend of Camie's. But now she's my friend thanks to the blogosphere, again. (How did people make friends before the internet?)

Dooce: The actual reason for this post. Daniel (of the NCKuhns) asked why I have her here because apparently he sees no value in her blog. I, however, think she's intelligent and funny. My mom saw an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about her once and I've been following her ever since.

FMH: A blog I found some time ago. Although certainly Mormon and a housewife with a full-time job, I don't think I really consider myself a feminist (although I still wonder why I changed my last name--does this a feminist make?), I enjoy reading this. I like forcing C talk to me about the daily topics.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

08 August 2007

Another New Favorite Website

I'm what I have termed "recreative," meaning I see what others have created, and then I copy their ideas. (Then I usually give them away as presents and take all the credit.) I used to think that my stuff was pretty good. That was until I found Etsy. Holy smokes, these people blow me away! They are all so talented and make such beautiful stuff. And for the most part, it's really affordable. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • This bracelet. I saw some cufflinks made out of old typewriter keys at Eastern Market and loved them then. I still love them. Ooooh, I just found these earrings! When I get them, what letters should I choose?! (Remember, my initials are an oft-used Canadian interjection, so probably not the best idea.)
  • This purse. Actually, I'm not sure how I feel about this exactly. I mean, all the good stuff has been taken out!
  • These pacifier clips. Again, presents, people, presents.
  • Bottle-cap anything is my new craft. Good thing I got some birthday money to spend on this endeavor. (This one is funny to me.)
  • And then there's the stuff that makes you say, "HUH?" Like this. Really? $99? Wow.

There's just too much fun stuff. I could spend hours just looking at all the talents these people have. That's a good thing because I have hours.

06 August 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

So it happened: I turned 30 on Friday. I'm less okay with it that I thought I would be. But like it or not, 30 is my new age. I think it's the idea of "being in my thirties" with which I'm not fully comfortable. I guess I have ten years to get used to it though. We spent the weekend in West Virginia, after a birthday morning surprise of having the house decorated to celebrate the event. (Bruno was initially afraid to walk through the shiny curtain! See the picture on the far left.) We ate our breakfast of cold baked oatmeal, dropped off the dog at the baby sitter's house, and then began our trip. We had a great time, saw some fun things, did some fun things, and had a nice relaxing time. The fact that I'm extremely tired, well I'm blame that on the age thing.

When we returned on Sunday, I got to pick up my gift sent by my sister. Unfortunately, it wasn't a surprise because while I was talking to my nephew Miles a week ago, he spilled the beans about my new red silicone whisk. Funny boy! It certainly had Emily and me laughing! I was surprised by the silicone scraper however. Thanks em!

02 August 2007

I Won!

I never won anything until I got married. (And then, of course, I won the jackpot by marrying C!) But then one day this changed. We were shopping in a local outdoor products store on a day when the store was having some sort of random drawings. We both put in our names and continued shopping. As we neared the cash registers, the store announced that they were going to do the drawing. Something inside me stirred. I just knew I was going to win. I don’t know how I knew, I just did. And sure enough, over the loud speaker, I heard what-was-supposed-to-be my name. Given that both of my last names have been somewhat unpronounceable (more on the last name issue another day), my name wasn’t pronounced exactly right, but it didn’t matter; I knew I was the winner. Even though the prize ended up being pretty dang cool, it wouldn’t have mattered. I WON. The feeling was awesome.

Some time later, C and I were attending a work picnic of mine. They were doing a raffle, and we bought a few tickets. They went to announce the winners of the drawing for Oriole’s tickets, and again, there’s that funny feeling. And again, there’s my name being called. I won AGAIN.

Recently, my newspaper had a drawing where you simply emailed them your contact information, and then they drew winners for tickets to an early showing of a just-being-released movie. And lucky me won again! But unlucky me had a dog that needed to get his vaccinations on the same night. Sigh. The joys of dog-parenthood.

Then again, dog-parenthood can have bonuses. Recall a post in which I asked for you to vote for our little puggie to win a cuteness contest. We found out this morning that thanks to all of your votes (and a BUNCH made by C while at camp), Bruno won! Hopefully one of you lucky voters will win the other prize just for voting for the winner.

And then, of course, there are my addictions to the Washington Post’s online chats. The Travel chat (Mondays at 2 p.m.) gives away random prizes to random chatters, as does the Food chat (Wednesdays at 1 p.m.) and the Lean Plate Club Chat (Tuesdays at 1 p.m.). Although I have never won a Travel Chat prize, I have won four prizes from the Food chat and one from the Lean Plate Club chat. My winnings? Everyday Pasta, Havana Salsa, Cooking from the Heart of Spain, Happy in the Kitchen, and Sugar Solution.

Finally, I know that I have no kids, but I found this website to get ideas for gifts for nieces and nephews. They have some super cute things. They also had a contest to win a baby carrier. And of course, if I'm writing about this, you can correctly guess that I won that too.

I could really get used to this winning thing.