Sunday, April 04, 2010

**Warning** I (Kate) wrote this post, so the formatting is way off and it is not written in Mark's witty tongue.

Here are pictures of our new apartment. The first 5 are before we moved anything in.

This first picture is the view of the kitchen from the front door.

Just behind the kitchen is the dining room/family room that opens up to the back porch.

This is our bedroom. It overlooks the back porch. We have a second bedroom that we'll be sharing with a friend of mine.

This is what our family room looked like after we unloaded the moving truck:

This is how we left our apartment when we returned to Columbus at the end of the weekend. We made a lot of progress and got the entire kitchen organized, but there is still a lot left to do!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Apartment Photodump

We're moving! We got the apartment all niced up so the landlord could show it, so I thought I would go around and take pictures of how the place looks. Ironically, I did not get around to doing this until weeks before we're moving.

You begin by walking in the front door to the living room. Turn right into the dining room (spin around) and continue through the door to the left into the hall. First on the left is the kitchen. Next is the bathroom. Last is the bedroom. Look in Kate's closet. Go upstairs to the place we never use. Lastly, go downstairs to the scary basement. Do not be afraid.

Begin dump!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Music

I have a fever, and the only prescription* is more christmas music.

This should come as a shock to most anybody who knows me. I usually channel Ebenezer Scrooge until mid-December, but something has come over me this season. I just can't shake my need for christmas music lately.

It all started when I was getting a cavity filled. Yeah. Bear with me. I should first explain that I get my dental care from the student dental clinic. If you have more time than you have money (i.e. if you are a heavily indebted graduate student), you can get excellent dental care for a song**. The only catch is that you must throw away 3 hours (minimum) of your life while the student works super-slow and stops occasionally to be checked by their supervisor. During these 3 hours, there is nothing to do but grunt in response to the student's small talk, stare deeply into the fluorescent lights and listen to an endless loop of Muzak. I hate that stuff, and so I was delighted at the prospect of hearing something a little less painful - christmas music.

Here's the problem: there was no christmas music, just the same old easy listening. I had let myself get so excited about hearing christmas music that now I had the itch and no way to scratch it!

So for the last week or so, I have been scrambling around to satisfy my urge. I found that I'm not simply looking for any christmas music (there's a lot of junk out there). It turns out I'm lookin' for The Classics...Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and others.

Now, if only there were a place to hear a narrow sub-genre of music 24 hours a day at no cost to me...

Enter Pandora Radio. It is a website that provides a free stream of music tailored to your exact tastes. You sign in (free), type in a few songs or artists that exemplify the type of music you want to hear, and it reads your mind. It searches an enormous library of music, and starts playing song after song of music with "similar musical qualities." As you listen, you can fine-tune your new radio station by giving songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. It learns more, and provides "better" music. So, now I have free streaming christmas music. Jealous?

You can listen to my radio too, if you want. Just click here. Go nuts! Get your fill! Remember that the holiday season*** is the only 2-month-long chance to binge on food, merchandise, tacky sweaters, and happy happy christmas music. Soon enough the mess of ugly decorations and wasteful wrapping paper will give way to a cold, dim, and depressing winter.

*"I gotta fever, and the only prescription ... is more cowbell!"

**or for a $20 bill if you can't carry a tune. All kidding aside, I haven't paid more than $30 for a single visit yet.

***I call it the "holiday season" on purpose, in an attempt to separate everything I resent about the commercialization of the holidays from the more sacred Christmas.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Euclid Update

As the summer ends, and temperatures fall out of the tropical range, Euclid becomes a heat-seeker. He has re-negotiated his ban from the bed, and now spends the early morning hours under the covers, mooching heat off of me. And thanks to the sunlight streaming into our windows as the sun sets, I know exactly where my dog is from 5:30 to 6:30pm every day. Today, I decided it was photoshoot time for the little sun-bather.

Monday, July 20, 2009


A coworker of mine just broke open a bag of popcorn…at 3pm…at work. While I personally find popcorn to be a late-night movie snack, I am not personally offended by the fact that she brought this tasty snack to work. Someone else in the office is though.

The popcorn saga is much longer than just today. A number of people enjoy popcorn at work, it appears. And one person – the writer of the note below – feels that this amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. This note was posted in the staff kitchen months ago, and I have only now gotten around to sharing it.

I could only get a quick and blurry camera-phone picture of it before someone else walked in. I wish you could read it verbatim.

First of all, it is typed (to preserve the identity of the ranter), and printed on yellow paper. In the first paragraph the ranter informs us that she has a terrible reaction to the fumes resulting from the popcorn, and that she has to bring her asthma inhaler to overcome the torture of breathing. She then elaborates that it is not only the smell of popcorn, but the offense of BURNING the popcorn in the microwave that is inexcusable. I mean, how could you not set the microwave to a reasonable time?!

Becoming legible, the note reads “This doesn’t mean you can set a high powered microwave for 4 minutes and disappear. Four or more minutes will probably burn the popcorn, and may even start a FIRE!!”

“I promise that I won’t cook fish, cabbage, or strong onions, if I don’t have to continue to breathe burning popcorn fumes, and my lungs and brain will thank you.” This is the most amusing paragraph I have ever read. I still laugh out loud when I read it.

"Have a nice day :)

For the person who keeps throwing these in the trash, you are obviously very uncaring and selfish :("

Response (written in sharpie): "I apologize for the burnt popcorn, it was an accident. But these notes are uncalled for. Mistakes and accidents happen. Please be more tolerant."

What about the office setting makes otherwise sane people go crazy? Granted, there are supporting arguments for both the popcorn-lover and the suffering asthmatic. But is a piece of yellow paper in the staff lounge table the proper forum for discussing this issue? The underlying tones in each message betray so much frustration and animosity ... yet these two people are co-workers.

I swear this stuff hurts the collective office. There is now a note on the water dispenser telling me how to dispense my water so as to not contaminate it with my germs. There are rules about how to leave my food in the fridge, and when to label it, and how it might be thrown out if I'm delinquent in my duties.

I can't express exactly how I feel, but it certainly isn't freedom. I feel watched, monitored, as if someone is waiting for me to screw up so they can unleash their wrath on me via a strongly worded letter (typed on yellow paper). That's not an environment I like to work in.

*deep breath in*
*let it out*
Thank you for letting me rant. I feel better.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pics from Phone

Its a wonder about phone plans. I used to be very conscientious about what text messages I sent and received, because I had a plan that allowed a limited number per month. I recently switched to next step up - an unlimited plan - but was skeptical that I would change my texting habits. How adorable.

The feature I am most surprised to find myself using is picture messaging. I don't really send pictures to others. Instead I send all sorts of photos to my email address. The messages are automatically filtered into a special folder, and wait patiently for me to extract whatever information I thought was important enough to remember at a later date, but not important enough for me to find a pen and paper (ugh, sooo 20th century).

I decided to look back on the past few messages / photos I sent myself, and found such a strange window into my life that I had to share. Enjoy!

When Katie and I were looking for an apartment, I used to wander around neighborhoods taking pictures with my phone. This was really useful, because I could take a picture of the phone number, take a picture of the house, and be on my merry way. The downside was that I looked like a vagabond "casing" the neighborhood, looking for the next place to rob.

Many of my posts actually start from photo or text messages I send when I'm struck with an idea. Remember that strange message I posted about my "Plan of Action" for blogging again? That was a text message I sent myself on March 6, at 2:09am.

This is a photo of the bus route I took every day during the winter. The bus system here has an awesome web page that lets you track the location of your bus using GPS. Why wait outside like a sucker, when you can just sprint to the bus stop at the last second? Yes, that was me running down the stairs like there was a fire; I lost track of time. Its a little like playing chicken...trying to wait until the very last moment to leave, all the while increasing your risk of missing the bus. And with buses on my route only coming every hour, the consequences are severe. I have been humbled by a long, cold walk home on at least one occasion. Other times, I went back to my computer to kill time until the next bus.

One text message simply says "May 19." Anyone know what this means?

I saved the best for last: pictures of stinky winky. It seems he is at his most adorable when there isn't a camera in sight. Luckily my phone is never too far away.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Driving Music

My cousin recently wrote me about a flashback she had while she was listening to a Sublime song. She said it reminded her of how I would play "Rivers of Babylon" every time I drove her home from school, almost without fail. I was dumbfounded, but it brought up a similar memory of mine of a tape my sister would play when she drove me to school.

While my brother was the epitome of intelligence, I remember my sister representing all that was cool. She had an easy smile, could make friends with anyone in a half hour, and she didn't care about what anybody thought of her (so I thought). My high school identity was more "Rachel's brother" than it was Mark.

But she had some of the most confusing taste in music. In addition to hearing songs from the Beatles, the Doors, and Blind Melon I remember riding to school at a break-neck pace in her blue Topaz listening to Bjork.

Listening to Bjork is the most disconcerting musical experience a high school freshman can have. It rejects normal harmonies and rhythms, and leans heavily on electronica. There is nothing normal in it to cling to. I grew up on music like Michael W. Smith and Weird Al Yankovic, and thought I had really evolved when I bought Alanis Morissette's album. I was wrong.

Bjork was pure chaos. Noise. Until about the 10th time I listened to it. Then it started to infect me like a virus, and before long I was singing "There's more to life than this" to myself.

It affected me, and I'm confident that my sister had no idea how much of an impression that music made on me. That's exactly how I felt when my cousin told me about how distinctly she remembered hearing Sublime while I drove her home.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Trial - A Junior High Tragedy

In a class today, my professor was telling an anecdote about a time he was almost "laughed off stage" for using a cubic term in his regression model of (boring and irrelevant details removed). He specifically cited that it had damaged him because he was young, and hadn't developed a tough skin yet. He was still carrying around the scars of that single event.

My professor specifically cited being young as the reason he wasn't able to cope with what was probably an intense and embarrassing event. Was it traumatic? I mean it wasn't Darfur. But since he was young - unaccustomed to the rough edges of adult life - his inability to cope with the event made it traumatic to him.

His confession made him seem more human and endearing - he is otherwise quite intimidating. It reminded me of a "confessional" blog post that I had promised I'd write about an embarrassing situation of my own. So here it is...

One of the coolest things in Junior High was getting out of class. It broke up the monotony, and set you apart from the rest of the herd. YOU were special, and YOU were going to leave class right now, because YOU had more important things to do than read "The Outsiders."

I was picked to act a part in a mock-trial for History class, and eagerly jumped at the chance to be out of class for nearly half a day. I excitedly read over my role in the trial. I was a witness to the murder of some lady down by the town dam...ok, I wasn't a witness, but I was certain I saw the killer running through the park right after I heard a scream. That was all there was.

There weren't any lines, so I kind of brushed up on what he might say and tried to get some clues from my teacher. She wasn't clear, but said the attorney (an 8th grader) and I were going to get into a shouting match at some point, and I was going to run out of the courtroom. What? I thought I was just some witness. Before I could clarify my role, it was time to act. I was certainly not in my element, so the teacher offered to help me if I looked over at her.

I get "called in" to the courtroom (ie the classroom), I am read my rights, and I sit down in front of a bunch of my schoolmates. Wow...I did not think this through.

As an aside, I might mention a couple of points that I think everyone understands at heart: Jr. high is not a kind and gentle place. Further, the single goal of Jr. Highers is to impress their peers. On the other hand, the single greatest fear of Jr. Highers is public embarrassment - it could mean excommunication.

Despite my fear, I resolve to finish what I started. I tell my piece to the prosecutor, we chat for a while. No further questions. Then the defense attorney comes up. This is where it gets a little hazy, but yet very vivid. He asks a couple of questions. I look over to the teacher. She nods yes, I assent. She nods no, I dissent.

"Well now" says the defense attorney "your testimony doesn't match what (other witness) said."

Huh? This isn't what we agreed on. Oh, crap. Things start to heat up a little bit. The questions start getting more pointed, and the attorney is starting to kind of yell. I look over to the teacher, hoping to get some help out of this worsening situation. I get nothing but nods.

I am being berated by this guy...and - it turns out - I am being accused of being the killer! From what I can put together, the evidence is pretty good too. At this point, I desperately want to break character and explain to everyone in the class that this is not what I agreed to. I was just supposed to be a witness. In fact, I didn't even know this poor lady who died by the dam. In fact, what was she doing hanging out by a dam in the middle of the morning? Hey Brett (attorney), how 'bout you calm down. Nobody actually yells in a courtroom.

But I didn't break character, and the situation became real. I was cornered and scared. I can't remember how it ended, but eventually I played my role by fleeing (thankfully) the courtroom.

In reality, it probably all happened so fast nobody really noticed. But my psyche was shot. I was supposed to perform another "show" for the next class period, but I just couldn't find it within myself. I told the teacher I was out. She would have to find someone else.

Why did this shake me so much? Why do I still think of it every once in a while? Clearly, I was not meant for the stage. But I think that my professor had a decent answer too. I was young. I didn't have a thick skin. It was my very innocence that made me so vulnerable to harm.

I like writing the occasional confessional blog post. I get to exorcise my demons by blogging about them, and hoping that others share my experience. I think it also gives a glimpse of my humanity, and if you're anything like me you eat that stuff up.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Equity is Overrated - Our New Apartment!

I alluded to a surprise post, and here it is. Katie and I got an apartment for next year! Disappointed? We weren’t. We have been looking for quite a while, trying to find a place for next year. I wanted something that minimized my car needs (I’m trying to live out the conservationist thing), Katie wanted something adorable, and Euclid wanted a place that allowed dogs. We were partial to Clintonville, but we were having trouble finding something in our budget that wasn’t tiny or in disrepair.

I wish I could have taken you to some of the places we visited. Most were … eh … acceptable. But a select few were pretty terrible. There was one in particular that was surreal. The foundation was completely fouled up, and it was like High Seas in the apartment. The floor slanted, warped, and waved in every direction imaginable. It was enough to give you vertigo. I sounds like I’m exaggerating, but believe me - this apartment was a once in a lifetime experience.

We also saw an adorable, but tiny cottage in Clintonville. We were smitten by it, but so were the other 3 couples who were walking through it at that time. The realtor had decided to show it to potential renters as a group. It was like being at an auction! I kept wanting to yell out an offer on rent. Do I hear $760 a month?

Katie found our place on Craigslist through an independent landlord. We walked through and loved the character, the space, and the landlord. Most importantly, the location is IDEAL! Right on the Number 2 bus line. Blocks from the grocery store. A short walk from the church we attend. It is the apartment’s best feature.

Well, enough gushing. Here is a link to our photo album (click on or below the photo). I have supplied the quirky captions.

New Apartment!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Plan of Action

The blogger button is looming over me. I know, I know! I haven't posted in a while, and certainly haven't thrown anything substantial into the cloud in quite some time.

I was touched by a muse lately though, and thought of a number of daily, meaningless topics that I could discuss. I texted them to my email (that will be another topic I'll discuss) so I could remember them. They are listed below:

Post it pref
anti consum to purchase obsession
vocab wedge
mobile phone lust
the trial (jr high tragedy)
word origin
old report card

If you can understand anything I have just listed, more power to you...but likely this list is indecipherable. That's ok. Maybe it will pique your curiosty, and definitely it will serve as a contract to force me to write about each topic. After all, I have billions of potential viewers (ok, more like maybe 10 family members) to keep me honest.

Isn't this exciting?!

P.S. I should also give a Euclid update, and a super-secret surprise update*

*does not involve eloping, babies, or anything that earth-shattering...I'm just playing up the anticipation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is How You Do Snow

To fully appreciate this post, please re-read my previous post about a past winter storm in Virginia. Let's see what Ohio has to offer:

From the National Weather Service,





Tuesday afternoon, I got off work an hour early. This is before the storm:

This one shows a couple of accidents (right lane, four cars). Whoops! It was arguably icy, but people just HATE letting a pesky thing like weather slow them down!

The storm put down snow, then ice, then snow at a startling rate. Here is the view in the morning.

Needless to say, it was a snowday! Rather than do homework, I set out to clear the driveway.

About 15 ft after the start. Break time!

Foreground: my ice encrusted car. The cool thing is that - due to a thin layer of snow below the ice - removing the ice from my car was like cracking creme brulee'*

Background: progress, sweet progress!

-----(end of original post)
*I mean, I think that's what its like...I'm no elitist, eating creme brulee'. I shovel my driveway! With a shovel!

-----(beginning of update: 5 days later)

Despite the shoveling, a thin layer of ice persisted on our driveway until today's heat wave - 40 degrees F never felt more like summer! The funny thing is that our driveway was one of the only driveways cleared this week. This is a stark contrast to the scene after the first storm of the year (a couple weeks ago). While our driveway looked like the tundra, our neighbors' driveways were cleared and salted the next day. This storm must have caught our neighbors on their heels or something.

It is strange to me how much satisfaction I drew from the fact that "my" driveway was clear when no others were. Is this a sign of how I might act when I'm a real adult, and not just a renter (or in this year's case, kind of a squatter)? I could be that crotchety or man who sits in his rocking chair, staring out the window, and muttering about how the neighbors just don't take care of their properties anymore.