Monday, January 25, 2010

You Never Know What You're Gonna Get

We bought two fish over the weekend.  I was really touched when Ryan suggested we get some even though I know he thinks they are utterly pointless pets.  Anyway, we went to Hope's Closet to drop off some stuff [we cleaned out the closet! finally!] and I found a perfect fishbowl for $3.  Then we went across the street to Walmart to pick out the new inhabitants. 

We named them Forrest and Jenny, and they lived happily together for about 12 hours before Jenny decided it was time to go.  She went belly up and I was afraid that Forrest would go, too, but he's still well and kicking.  If only they had produced intelligent offspring with a chili-bowl haircut and a cute scratchy voice.  Then I'd feel better about it.

I gave Jenny a burial worthy of a $2.14 fish.  I went home on my lunch break and dumped out almost all of the water, including her, into the grass at the base of our patio fence.  Forrest looked on.  I filled his bowl back up with water that we started distilling yesterday, making sure to let it make plenty of bubbles so he'd have lots of air.  I'm kind of sad I ever wanted fish.  What a ridiculous pet )c:

While Ryan was finishing up my Mac (which now works, in case you didn't know) (!!!happy!!!), I made a collage to hang over our couch.  Some people will probably think it's artsy, because it certainly looks that way.  But I guess only the artist can know if it's good or not.  I've never done a collage before, so I don't really consider it a work of art, just a way to display all of the things we can't throw away but would hide in a box for years and years.  I don't know if there are rules for what makes a good collage.  We joked that one day we probably will throw it away.  For now, I like it. 

So I've been reading this book that Wes got me for Christmas.  It's interesting so far.  I'm kind of afraid it's going to get scary, but it's not there yet so naturally I read a little more and a little more.  It brought up one thing that I had never heard of or thought about before.  People define art in different ways, but in the book, the main famous artist-guy says that what makes a painting good is if it resonates with familiarity, but also stirs up mystery.  It makes sense - if you were just going to paint something exactly the way it looks [if you could... I guess that's a challenge in itself for all of us] then you might as well take a picture.  But when you paint something, you have the freedom to make some things vague or add in your own perspective, etc.  It explains why people [including myself] always try to read between the lines when it comes to art.  They want to learn something they didn't know. 

But then there are other reasons for art completely... such as just being enjoyable to look at (c:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Living Large

And I thought our apartment was small...

The Smallest Apartment on the Market

Can't Always Be Up

Wow, I'm really thankful.  This week has flown by pretty fast.  That's always nice, especially if your week was bummy like mine.  Ryan and I have both been in a depressed funk for the entire week.  I have a few theories as to why, but I think it's the collection of less-than-ideal situations that has both of us on edge.  He started class this week, meaning much less work and fewer evenings at home.  Less work means less money, so he's stressed about money.  I'm really not.  There are others but you don't want to read all about my complaints.

It's just a fact of life, you can't always be up.  We can learn a lot from black and white.  They are as different as anything can get, except you wouldn't know one without knowledge of the other.  Or apples.  What's a really good apple taste like?  I'd have no idea if I didn't bite into grainy, bitter one every once in a while [red delicious, i'm looking at you].  So really, we can't judge anything if we don't have something to compare it to.

I guess that is the problem with dating.  Many people date and start to get the idea that they've found the one they want.  Anyone I've ever dated I thought I would end up with.  I didn't know you could really know without a doubt until I really knew.  Once I had gained that knowledge, I realized how little I knew before.  Of course, then it was too late.  Now when I get the opportunity to talk to dating girls, I wish desperately that they would listen.  If you have to ask, then you don't know.  And if you know, then you know.  Everyone wants to think they are the exception to the rule.  But it's a rule I'll stick by for a reason.  Don't make it so complicated! 

Tonight Jac and Christine, and hopefully Rachel are going to come over for a bit and play Mario Cart and Wave Race.  Hubbs has class til 9 so they are kind enough to keep me company!  I'll probably be on campus a lot more this semester because I won't like being home alone, but something tells me that the hand full of hours to myself each week should be used for something.  It's terrible for Ryan, but somehow I just don't feel motivated to do the things he hates to do when he's not there... :P  But really I am lost as to what to do with myself.  I feel like I have no purpose.  And no offense to my friends, but most of the time I don't feel like being with anyone if I can't be with him.  How pathetic does that sound?  I gotta work on that...

Well I do have one small thing that helps me through my day to day.  I got new shampoo and conditioner, decided to spend a little more on some quality stuff, and my hair has felt really nice all week.  It's Redken All-Soft.  The description said it was for brittle, dry hair, which was the case with me.  I guess it's the cold weather that made my hair really dry.  Plus, I don't always condition it because it weighs it down and gets oily-looking by the end of the day.  This product is just what I was looking for.  My hair is really soft and shiny, but not weighed down.  Also much easier to manage.

I try not to sound like a commercial... sorry.  I really like it though.  Ulta was having a sale on them... and yeah they cost more than the Equate knockoffs I get at walmart for $0.99 a bottle.  A 33 ounce bottle will run you about $14.  I figure I've done my time though.  As an RA, you get a lot of free shampoo at the end of each semester.  No one wants to pack it, so they leave it to the RA (c:  I don't think I've had to buy shampoo or conditioner for at least a year.  And that bottle will last me like 6 months!  Ohh yeah it also smells distinctly like butter and honey...mmmm sopapillas!

Tomorrow I get to have lunch with Whitney.  I'm really honored that I get to see her so soon, makes me feel like VIP (c:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This word is now taboo.  We have rearranged 3 times upstairs and 2 downstairs in 7 months.  It does sound like a lot... anyway, I found this website today that I would have loved to know about before we did any rearranging. 

A Simple Measure

So that's for you, the next time you rearrange.  I won't be needing it any time soon.

I am looking for websites with elements that would be good for ABC's new website.  I have been working on designs myself, but as much as I try to follow my boss' instructions, I can't seem to hit it with him.  It actually seems like it's getting worse.  Anyway, here is my latest version.  I would really love to go with a more Texas home-town theme, but he's all about the clean and shiny.  So we have vast differences in taste, which makes it really hard for me to catch his vision.  It's a good thing I don't do graphic design for a living...mostly.  We're trying to give the designers we have hired some idea of what we're looking for though, and I still think a crappy rendition of we want is better than telling them that we like all of this random stuff from other sites.

So here is the latest.

I am reluctant to throw  a bunch of promotions and rotating flash images in the center there, although I have thought about it a lot and I just don't know what else to do.  I think it has to be done really carefully... I don't want it to be another one of those crummy cluttered sites and thankfully my boss agrees, but he still thinks we should have them on there.  There's got to be a stylish way to do it.  I'll be working on that.

For now, I am heading to Luby's for a Chamber Ambassador's meeting.  I haven't been to Luby's in over a decade for good reason.  Makes me feel a little sick thinking about my last experience.

Sorry for glumness.  Today hasn't been the greatest and there's not a lot of chance it will resolve itself soon.  Anyway, hope it does and hope you have a good day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things That Grow Together

I didn't get all that I wanted to done last night, but I didn't feel like it was more important than making banana nut bread.  Maybe I'm lightening up on the urge I have to get everything perfect before we have company.  It's not as fun if it drives Ryan crazy...

It's easier to see why some married people grow more and more alike.  Now why some start to look alike, I'll never know :)

Or maybe I will.  This is interesting...


Why do old couples look alike?


Old Couple
Image courtesy Morgue File
An old couple's experiences can be reflected in their faces, as evidenced by this unhappy pair.

Among the raft of books, articles, jokes, rom­antic comedies, self-help guides and other writings discussing marriage, some familiar ideas often crop up. Few appear more often than the idea that many old couples look alike. You've probably seen it before -- two elderly people walking hand in hand down the street or sitting at a cafĂ©, resembling each other so strongly that they could be siblings. Do these couples actually look alike, and if so, what's caused them to develop this way?

A study published in the March 2006 issue of "Personality and Individual Differences" may have the answer. Twenty-two people, divided equally between male and female, participated in the study. They were asked to judge the looks, personalities and ages of 160 married couples. The participants viewed photographs of men and women separately and were not told who was married to whom. The subjects consistently judged people who were married as being similar in appearance and personality. The researchers also found that couples who had been together longer appeared more similar.

This in itself may not seem surprising, but the study also offered some answers on why couples may look alike. To start, consider that life experiences can end up being reflected physically. Someone who is happy and smiles more will develop the facial muscles and wrinkles related to smiling. The years of experience of an old couple's marriage, happy or otherwise, would then be reflected in their faces.

Genetic influences are also a factor. A past study showed that genetically similar people have better marriages [Source: Live Science]. Such families have fewer incidents of child abuse and a lower rate of miscarriages. People also appear to be more selfless when involved with genetically similar partners. 

­In another study, a researcher at the University of Western Ontario determined that when considering friends or romantic partners, a si­milar genetic profile made up about a third of the selection criteria. We may think subconsciously that people who are genetically similar work better together. Consequently, we look for physical or emotional cues that tell us that this potential friend, husband or wife is genetically similar to us. Of course, couples shouldn't be too genetically similar -- in most cultures, relationships between close relatives are taboo, and geneticists agree that diversity is important to a healthy gene pool.

Besides feeling that they work better together, why and how do people choose partners who are genetically similar? Asking for a DNA sample on the first date would be impolite. The answer may be equal parts personality -- derived in part­ from genetics and consistently ranked by people as important in a partner -- and the marriage models we have around us. In other words, many women say they want a guy like dad. 

Ryan is predominately Irish with some Cherokee and German thrown in.  I am predominately German and Cherokee with some English/Irish thrown in.  Maybe we came together by our ancestor's common bond of beer?  

Hubbs started the daunting task of taking my iMac apart last night.  For some reason, I've always felt like opening that thing up was a big no no.  Like it's Pandora's Box.  Well, he might think it's Pandora's Box at this point.  He went through phases of extreme frustration and extreme relief as he tackled its dissassemblage ever so gently.  I think he senses the deep attachment I have to it and is really not glad that I am so confident in him.  What he may not realize is yes, I have given him a very great responsibility.  That machine is the closest thing to a child to me.  But, if he brings it out of its coma, oh the benefits and praises he will reap for many years to come!  If not... well, I am daily preparing myself for that, just in case...

[just kidding honey, I'll still be proud of you and thankful that you tried like a good doctor. It will have led a long and portable life. And we'll have a huge paperweight.]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good to Know

So, tonight we are preparing for Ryan's parents and Wes to stay with us this weekend.  Vicki and Donny will be here tomorrow [yay!] and I guess Wes is coming Friday.  I am making a list of things I don't want to forget to do tonight.  One of them, you might be curious to find out, is to make a homemade silver tarnish remover.  Although I can't reveal what we are cleaning, I thought I'd post simple instructions I found for cleaning silver on See below.

Among the long list of things I want to get done tonight, I hope we can get a good jump start [if not finish] installing the parts on my iMac.  I'm a little anxious because we're afraid it's a more daunting task than we realized.  According to Ryan, we have to take every piece apart and put it back together, and since there are some fragile pieces, we risk it not going back together at all.  I don't know how much I'm willing to pay to get it working again.  It's not a spring chicken anymore, but as far as I'm concerned, it still does a lot more than my HP laptop.  Plus, it's an antique when it comes to Apple machines! 

Oh, so, I've got some sad news.  One of the best coffee shops in Longview went out of business this past week.  Mugshots Coffee House is gone.  It was a place even Ryan liked, and he's a coffee-snob!  They were less expensive than Starbucks, so I don't think it was the price.  And it was the favorite off-campus coffee shop for students, although I doubt Mugshots saw too many LeTU student dollars since most of them would get their coffee fixes at Common Grounds since it was already paid for.  Why they went out of business is not obvious to me.  I do want to know why, though.  They had really good fruit smoothies!  And I still have my punch card partially filled out.  Bummer!

Well, today is going to fly by, I can just feel it.  I have a lot of design projects on my work list for today, and when I get home, I've got a lot to do there.  But I like it!  And I am going to go to bed early tonight!!!  Even with *counts* 18 things on my list.  The week is downhill from here!

Cleaning Tarnished Silver

Start cleaning silver by washing it with mild soap and water.

Start with plain soap and water. The first thing to do is to wash your silverware or silver jewelry with soap and water to remove any dust or oils from the surface. You'll be removing the tarnish by way of a mild chemical reaction, and want to wash away anything that might block the tarnish from reacting.

Prepare a pan for cleaning silver by lining it with aluminum foil.

Prepare your equipment. The next step is to line a pan with aluminum foil and add enough water to completely cover the piece of silver you want to clean. I used a relatively small pan because I was cleaning jewelry, but this method works just as well for bigger pieces like platters or kettles, as long as you have a large pot that will hold enough water to entirely submerge the piece.

You'll need boiling water and baking soda inside your foil-lined pan to clean silver.

Stir baking soda into the water in the pan. A couple of tablespoons will suffice for small items in a small pan, but you may need as much as a cup or two for large items in a gallon or more of water. As the baking soda dissolves, turn on the burner underneath the pan and let the water come to a boil.

Cleaning silver can be as easy as letting it sit in a foil-lined pan filled with baking soda and boiling water.

Add tarnished silver. As soon as the water starts to boil, you can remove the pan from the heat and submerge the silver in the hot water. Make sure the silver is in direct contact with the aluminum foil. The whole process can take several minutes, but it shouldn't be long before you start to see tiny yellow or black flakes in the water, or notice that the aluminum foil is turning black. What's happening is that the hot solution of baking soda and water is separating the sulfur from the silver and transferring it to the aluminum. This easy homemade tarnish remover takes advantage of the fact that sulfur is more chemically attracted to aluminum than silver.

Don't forget to rinse and dry your clean silver pieces.

Use tongs to move the silver pieces around in the pan. You can even take it out of the solution briefly to get a better look at your progress. Just be gentle and avoid scratching the silver. Once the silver is clean, you should rinse it in clean water to remove any traces of baking soda, then dry it with a soft clean cloth. You may find that you can take off even more tarnish by rubbing at any remaining dark spots with the cloth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Google Looks Good On You

Today I have nothing on my mind except getting off in an hour and 45 minutes to hit the road and get to San Antonio.  According to Google Maps, it will take us 6 hours and 7 minutes to get there.  I am getting off at four, then running home to throw the last minute stuff together (dryer wasn't done drying this morning), and Ryan will arrive around 4:20.  Then we'll hit the road, I'm estimating at the quickest 4:30.  So we should be arriving just in time to miss the party... *sigh* oh well.  At least I will be there for all of the "late night chit chat," which, if you ever watched SNL when it was good, you know refers to the way girls always want to stay up late and talk but everyone crashes.  I am going to fuel myself up on coffee at the first decent coffee vendor I can and then call when we're closer and try to decifer if I should take another coffee dose or not. 
Google is amazing.  Next week at work, I'm planning to dive into all of the wonders of Google.  I use Google Alerts and Google Docs and Google Calendar, and of course Gmail and G-Chat daily.  But I am learning about ways Google actually tracks the success of your advertising.  I don't know much about it yet but I am wondering how I can further put it to work for ABC.  And it's free so I can experiment all I want. 
Ryan bought me an awesome scarf... just gotta say.  I love it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Transfer of Funs

My job just got a little less enjoyable this week.  At the beginning of every month, I plug in numbers from the previous month's promotions to find out how successful they were.  The system we have been using lets me measure success on different levels.  It allows me to pretty well see which of our 25 stores are participating in the promotions like they should, how much of the promoted items they sold, make sure they are using the promotions in the right way (i.e. not giving a retail customer the commercial customer's discount, etc.), and last but not least: determine whether or not we made money as a direct result of the promotion.  I'm a market research nerd; I loooove this stuff.  Writing these reports is the best part of the month for me because I get to see what I'm working on actually make a difference in the company's bottom line.  I also enjoy getting to learn which products do well as promotions and which ones don't.  Aside from the weird high I get off of it, I think it's very valuable information to the company. 
In light of that, I'm a little confused why we are changing the system we have.  The reason I was given was to "simplify" things for the countermen.  Instead of them overriding the price to the promotion price (simply choosing price field 10 instead of the normal retail price field), my boss wants to just set the 3 price fields that we use for our retail and commercial customers to the promotion price across the board.  This means that every time a "promoted" product is sold, it gets sold at the promotion price, whether or not the customer asked for or even knew the promotion existed.  In my book, that's pulling the rug out from under ourselves.  We spend almost $400 a month printing materials for our commercial promotion.  I spend a couple of days each month designing it and distributing it.  Why would we do all of that if we have no proof that it is worth it? 
What frustrates me most about marketing is that people entirely miss the forest for the trees.  If you can't measure what you're doing, then it's completely useless!!!!  For example, we are promoting de-icer this month.  With this new system in place, the "determining factor" of our success will be the answer to the question, "Did we show an increase in sales of this product this month?" Well it's going to look like our promotion did a hell of a job because I guarantee you we're going to sell a lot of de-icer this month - it's friggen cold outside!!  There are way too many other external variables such as seasons, competitors, economy, etc. to be able to say the promotion alone is what caused an increase in sales.  So how can we trust this "determining factor" to measure the success of any promoted product?
I am bummed because my favorite time of the month at work is disappearing.  I guess I will have to find fun elsewhere, like calculating savings on yellow page advertising.  *sigh*

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In the Right Direction

I officially have a paint corner!  We cleared out the awkward space in the corner above the stairwell and it's going to be perfect for me to keep my easel set up all the time.  It has it's own window, and it's really out of the way so I won't have to move it or worry about tripping over it.  It can just be there ready for me all the time for whenever I have an hour or two to spare. 
Tonight we're having the Brewer's over.  I think we're going to experiment with some lasagna.  We have a lot of ham, and we figure, hey, ham is good on pizza.  Pizza is kind of like lasagna.  So, we're putting ham in the lasagna instead of beef.  It seemed like it should have something else (and Ryan didn't want to do pineapple, though I think that would be really good!), so we are throwing in pepperoni.  Ham/Pepperoni lasagna.  I'll let ya know how it goes.  Hey, if we get our camera today like we're supposed to, then I'll even take a picture of it for you! 
The spooky movie we watched over a week ago is still haunting me.  Apparently it's on Ryan's mind, too.  I hung a hook at the bottom of the stairwell for coats and umbrellas, and it has my big black coat hanging on it.  Ryan went to go downstairs this morning and got freaked out by it because he's not used to it being there!  It really is creepy out of the corner of your eye.  Hm... might have to demote it to an umbrellas only rack. 
We finally got a tomato off of our little plant this past weekend!  He has been on there a long time, but stopped getting any bigger so we plucked him off.  He's still really green... just waiting for him to turn red.  Meanwhile, another little baby one is on its way.  Speaking of plant babies, my big aloe vera is poppin out baby aloe veras left and right suddenly.  I gotta buy more pots!  I am thinking they might make a good gift... anyone want a baby aloe vera?  They're really very cute. 
We started watching a show called Weeds on Netflix.  Well, we have only watched two episdoes.  We watched one the other night, but it sucked so we moved on.  We decided to give it another chance, and it still sucks.  For some reason it ran for 5 seasons.  Anyone a fan of Weeds? Yeah you might want to keep that to yourself. 
So Whitney and Jerod are getting married this weekend!  I am really super excited about it but there is no one around that really knows her like I do, so it's kind of hard to share the excitement.  I can't wait to travel down there and be with the party.  I am even more excited about my theory that I'll get to see her more after she gets married because things will finally settle down for them.  She'll be living here [10 minutes down the road from us] year round and working in Longview like me.  I think stuff will change and get better even more than I can anticipate now. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hello, My Name Is: Bomb Diggiddy

If someone were to ask you what you considered yourself a relative expert in, what would it be?  We all have little stashes of knowledge that our peers probably don't have.  Maybe you never thought anyone would find it useful.  Anyway, if you've been holding out on me and you're just really amazing at making tiramisu [a skill I would love to learn!] then fill me in!!!
As for you all, if you ever have something valuable or sentimental that you want to preserve or display in a frame, then I'd be glad to help you know what you need.  I worked in high-end custom picture framing for several years and my Grandad [who owned the shop I worked in] invested time and money teaching me and taking me to workshops to learn the latest framing conservation techniques.  It's something I really loved doing and I like to think I'm realistic and practical about what needs to be done.  It can get expensive, but I can help you know what you do and don't need, as well as help you find a shop that offers the treatment your project needs.
So what's your expertise?

Much Too Expensive

The past couple of days have had me thinking about a basic concept I learned in one of my business classes however long ago: opportunity cost.  If I choose to do X, then what opportunities do I lose?  Weighing opportunity cost has always been close to my heart, so I really enjoyed learning about its application to business.  But this weekend and today I have come to think of it on a new level. 
You always hear that being married is about sacrifice.  I had a moment this weekend where I was sitting on the couch with Ryan. The episode of Dead Like Me that we were watching went to credits, and I looked up at him to kiss him but instead I was overwhelmed with how valuable he is.  I get caught up in cleaning our apartment, rearranging furniture, making grocery lists, etc., but it was different to be immersed in the weight of the value he has to me.  Something warned me that I will surely have to give up things I want to make him happy.  In that moment I was willing.
Several times this weekend I skimmed over what I knew he wanted so I could get what I want.  I've got to stop and ask myself, is it worth it?  There must be sacrifices on both sides... so who's turn is it to give?  There comes a point where newlyweds stop going out of their way to make sacrifices for each other and struggle to find the answer to, "ok, how are we going to make this liveable?"  We're working on that... I think we always will be, and I'm proud of us.  He is worth whatever opportunities he costs.
Student loans, however....hahaha... well to my friends who are students and have the attached student loans, you may have it more together than I did.  Maybe you already know how to login and see all the arms and legs you owe, or maybe you don't.  If you don't know how, then take a few minutes and figure it out.  Email your username and password to yourself or something, then get in there and see the breakdown of what you owe. We have been working to pay off our accrued interest first because [and maybe I'm telling you something you already know, but I didn't know it until after graduation] accrued interest is building up even though you don't have to pay it yet.
Anyone who knows, correct me if I'm wrong.  I didn't do well in accounting and numbers are not my thing, but here's how I see it...
The principal of your loan is like a big ugly ogre and the capitalized interest is like a growing tick on his head.  The accrued interest is like garbage pile that peasants keep throwing their trash in and it grows and grows.  Eventually, the ogre will come eat the trash, and then you have to worry about a stronger, uglier oger with a bigger, bulgier tick.  So [and Rachel will like this one] try to keep the trash/accrued interest to a minimum.  Take it out [pay it off] first and keep it low.  Money is actually the ogre's kryptonite and when you throw money at the ogre, it gets weaker.
One thing I don't get is if we need to worry about capitalized interest next or just prioritize the principal?  Because if capitalized interest needs to be paid off first, then the tick actually gives the ogre super powers so you need to attack it first to weaken the ogre.  I know ticks are parasitic, so it's not a perfect metaphor, ok?
There should really be a course in post-graduate finances with a focus on student loans.