Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Three things I swore I'd never own (but now do)

As far as fashion goes, there are always things I claim are a) dumb, b) a waste of money and c) will be out of style within the next 6 months. As a result, I earnestly vow never to purchase these items. Unfortunately, sometimes I fail. After trying on some trendy, yet tantalizing items, it is clear that they a) may not be dumb, b) may in fact be a good use of money, and c) could potentially be a long-lived style change.
1. High-waisted skirt: I happen to be obsessed with all things high-waisted, but skirts and shorts primarily are my favorite. I tend to shy away from high-waisted jeans because they often come with a trouser style leg, which makes one look increasingly like a 70s-esque go-go dancer. Add a pair of platforms, some disco ball earrings, and you're set. However, nearly every skirt I currently own is high waisted. I love the way you can choose how much you want the top to play into the outfit as a whole. You can use a simple, plain colored high waisted skirt with an elaborate top tucked it to emphasize the top, or you can make the skirt the focus with a simple, plain colored tank or t shirt. Either way, high-waisted skirts are universally flattering. They can add volume to the bottom if the skirt is full, or can be extremely slimming with a pencil style. They generally lengthen someone, giving the illusion of longer legs. Either route you choose to take, the high-waisted skirt emphasizes the smallest part of you - your waist, which makes anyone look trimmer and infinitely more polished.
2. 40's style maillot: I was absolutely convinced that there was no reason to bring back the bathing suits of the 40s', more covering and generally more conservative in pattern. I was absolutely wrong. After ordering a navy and white striped maillot from Anthropologie on a whim (I am a sucker for navy and white stripes), I was sure I would either love it or hate it. I did in fact, love it. Attempting to look more mature is something I am usually trying to do, and I realized a few weeks ago that the string bikinis I so frequently bought at age 14 would no longer fly. If one is actually trying to swim in the ocean, a bathing suit that will stay in place is, I would venture to say, crucial. Not only is this suit flattering, but it dispels a common fashion myth that all stripes make one look bigger, particularly in the form of a bathing suit. Stripes can be worn by virtually anyone, but in the form of a small stripe (as opposed to the Blue's Clues look). J.Crew makes great basic bathing suits that resist color fading and come in a plethora of styles for all body types, but I was looking for something a little more fun, and found it in this Rachel Pally suit.
3. The romper: I was absolutely thrown by the concept of attaching one's shirt to one's shorts. This was something I actively wore when I was around 6 or 7. In fact I remember the romper I loved most - It was white with a yellow and pink fish pattern. Right...well here in 2009, the romper made a comeback I wasn't quite comfortable with. Confused at how one actually would wear a romper (day, night?), I generally avoided them like the plague. It wasn't until I came across the loose-fitting black romper by Sine that my mind was forever changed. This particular romper, made out of a lightweight black or navy silky twill, has amazing brass buttons and large side pockets. At first glance, it appears to be a dress. Maybe that's why I liked it - it fit basically as a dress, the bottom "half" sitting lower on the body and allowing a free flowing line from top to bottom. I am also a sucker for pockets, and these pockets are ultra amazing. The waistband itself acts as a belt, accentuating small waists and giving the romper a little more shape than the fabric initially implies. After trying it on, I was sold - Since I am naturally about 6 years old, the romper is very much appropriate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Three Lists

The 6 best places to obtain coffee (3 universally found, 3 location-specific)
1. Dunkin' Donuts
2. Panera Bread
3. Wawa
4. Fox Park (Charlottesville)
5. Para Coffee (Charlottesville)
6. Atwater's (Baltimore)

Why the new Harry Potter movie is excellent
1. Alan Rickman as Severus Snape - He recites his lines with. perfect. delivery.
2. Ron Weasley's girlfriend Lavender Brown - Perfectly cast, puppy eyes and all
3. The motif of things blowing up, catching fire, twisting, breaking, blasting to pieces, etc.
4. Harry Potter consuming the Felix Felicis potion - whatever intern on the set of HBP told him to act drunk during that segment should be commended and promoted, as it was fully entertaining
5. The consistent undertone of witty banter throughout the film - Harry finally is overcoming his angst and going for a lighter stance on life

Things I do that are bad/potentially deadly but I do them anyways
1. Use a lot of Equal (Aspartame is a silent killer)
2. Eat Tuna fairly often (Mercury?!?!)
3. Sit in the sun, very frequently, sometimes sans sunscreen
4. Sleep < 8 hours (Actually in reality, << than 8 hours)
5. Bite my nails (Basically, I will get Swine flu)
6. Chew ice chips (Apparently this signifies an iron deficiency)
7. Run outside with headphones on (Surefire way to get nailed by an auto)
8. Drink coffee innumerable number times per day (Always including Equal, so this is horrible squared)
9. Fly in airplanes (Its a pressurized cabin moving hundreds of miles per hour at an about 30,000 ft, tell me what sounds safe about that)
10. Mix liquor and beer throughout the evening (They said these should not be consumed simultaneously, but that is un-fun)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ace of cakes and the state of drivers in the U.S.

For anyone not a frequent Food Network watcher, I highly recommend it. Like other networks, there are some unfortunate shows, but really the only one of which I am not a fan is Paula Deen. Paula Deen actively makes foods more fattening, which is hard to watch. Last show I'm pretty sure she took a hamburger and deep fried it. I do believe that is the antithesis of healthy cooking, or for that matter even cooking that doesn't cause an instant heart attack. She also makes compound butter - which she describes as butter with "goodies" in it. Goodies being cheese. So she is combining butter and cheese. Again, my arteries are screaming. Anyhow, aside from Paula Deen, the best show on the Food Network (in my opinion) is Ace of Cakes. Being a Baltimorean, I really appreciate any attribution to our city that doesn't focus on homicide, STDs, or drug trafficking/use. This show goes 3/3. Duff Goldman, the bakery's chef, graduated pastry school and decided to start making cakes for friends and family. His cakes went above and beyond- lights, spinning objects, general debauchery - and as a result he decided to open up his own bakery here in Baltimore on Remington Avenue in March 2000. Duff's cakes are absolutely amazing - he bakes for any event you can imagine, and his staff are "eleven friends who make cakes, listen to music, and eat a lot of sushi." This is a place I could work. The show basically chronicles the most exciting projects of the group, with new shows airing Sundays at 10pm and additional episodes Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10pm. You can see a whole gallery of cakes here - so many of them look like artwork more than cake, but most everything is edible on all of the bakery's creations. After stumbling on the bakery when I got lost driving home from work one day, I basically freaked out and took 10-15 pictures. Unfortunately you can't go inside without an appointment, so I could only look longingly at the doors. The best part was that I basically only found the bakery due to the heinous traffic on the JFX, which forced me to exit and take an alternative route home. I have had constant amusement driving to and from work, mostly in the form of people that don't know how to drive in a city or otherwise. Driving 35 miles an hour on a highway is generally unacceptable in most places. Completely stopping on the on or off ramp, also unadvisable. Travelling with small dogs on your lap, I would think, would obscure your vision and general motor coordination, and it is also common courtesy to close your trunk when driving. Two major issues the American public needs to tackle are the blinking road work sign and the parking garage. The blinking road work sign, placed to the right of the road in the shoulder, is typically there to warn drivers of road work, lane closings, or future driving impedences. Most recently, this sign was used to warn Baltimore drivers of the closing of the Mt. Royal exit on 83 South due to Artscape. The sign was placed about 2 miles ahead of the exit on Monday (Artscape began the Friday after). Each subsequent day, Tuesday-Thursday. Traffic backed up from the sign itself to the Northern Parkway exit at which many get on the highway, about 3-4 miles in total. Honestly, there is no need to slow down to the point that traffic stops. Its as if everyone is like instantly reacts with "FLASHING LIGHTS, OH MY GOD, BRAKE!" The panic instilled in everyone is completely unnecessary, and could be completely avoided if everyone would just drive at an appropriate speed past the sign. Once I make it past that and get into the parking garage, it gets even better. The 7 story parking deck at work is primarily packed with patients (I work in a hospital), doctors, and students. It is blatantly obvious once entering the garage (as easily judged by the 8-9 car line waiting to get in each day), that you are not going to find a parking spot on one of the lower levels. Thought process says to drive quickly to the upper level, and park. The only problem that many people seem to have with this is the additional 60 feet they would have to walk to get to the elevator. So, they inch along at about 5 miles per hour through the first five levels of the garage, clinging to the hope that they may find a closer spot. Needless to say, not the smartest of choices.

Friday, July 17, 2009

To read...

A current obsession of mine in the literary world is The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, a novel by Reif Larsen. Written through the honest voice of a 12-year-old, Larsen's book evokes a childhood nostalgia for adventure and the desire to understand. Tecumseh Sparrow (T.S.) Spivet is just one of a long line of Tecumseh Spivets, though his curiousities lie in a far different realm from his predecessors. At the Coppertop Ranch, just 4.73 miles north of Divide, Montana, T.S. lives with his mother, "Dr. Clair", father, and older sister Gracie. From the novel's outset, it is clear that T.S. is far different from his father, a traditional rancher who when he speaks uses only one of several cowboy-esque phrases. Dr. Clair, an entomologist of sorts, has spent her entire time at the Coppertop and its surroundings searching for the Tiger Monk Beetle, or so T.S. believes. Like his mother, T.S. fancies himself a scientist, more specificially, a cartographer. Mapping everything from land, McDonald's locations, facial expressions, migratory patterns, and the timing at which his father sips whiskey, T.S. observes and records everything around him. Part of T.S.'s desire to map the world stems from the death of his younger brother Layton. Unlike T.S., Layton was a hero to his father, a born rancher who had a knack for the manlier aspects of life - guns, country western films, and helping out around the property. Layton's accidental death, for which T.S. feels immense guilt, separated his family members in an inexplicable way. A boy well beyond his years academically, it is clear T.S. wants more out of his relationship with both of his parents despite his already deep knowledge of their inner workings. One evening while T.S. and Gracie are out on the porch shucking corn, the Smithsonian calls with regards to an award T.S. has won. Apparently, T.S.'s mentor, Dr. Terry Yorn, secretly submitted a portfolio of T.S.'s drawings and maps for the prestigious Baird award. Confused as to how this could have come about, T.S. turns down the award, informing the caller that he couldn't get to Washington DC to accept it. After a day or so, T.S. realizes that he should go and accept his award, despite the fact that the Smithsonian thinks he is in his twenties (or older), and a PhD-carrying colleague of Dr. Yorn. So, after carefully packing (and repacking) his suitcase, T.S. stows away on a freight train out of Butte, prepared to journey across the country, mapping and drawing the whole way. The adventures he has along the way, through "wormholes" of the "middle west," the depot of Chicago, and finally making it to the Smithsonian, are comparable to a modern day Huck Finn. The adult concept of cartography mixed with the very child like persona of T.S. leads to a truly remarkable adventure through the human spirit. The desire to know, understand, and connect is intricately woven throughout this entire novel, leaving one with a sense of hope and reminding them of the importance of celebrating little victories. I highly recommend Mr. Larsen's book, hoping only that he write more stories that celebrate the family and the revelations that come with understanding the past.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A note on science

Working in a lab has given me a) a headache and b) a lot of insight into the types of people that populate the field of science. Having spent time in both a clinic and a lab, I have come to the conclusion that the phrase "happy medium" does not apply to the scientific community. Before you get your knickers in a twist (I saw Harry Potter a mere 36 hours ago), let me explain. It appears to me that there are "social" science people and "antisocial" science people, and that the two rarely cross paths. The social science people obviously enjoy working with patients, one another, and tend to speak to each other fairly often. This is evident in the clinic, where the colleagues share a large round table with one another and take turns bringing breakfast for everyone each day at the ungodly hour of 7am. In my realm, the Cancer Research Building (CRBII if you like formalities), there is minimal conversation. Cooperation is encouraged from the research aspect of life, but it wasn't until yesterday that someone here acknowledged that they were dependent on another for their work. Who knows, I'd like to think I help the atmosphere by saying hello to everyone and asking them basic human interest questions like "How was your weekend?" Dare to dream. Contrary to how this may sound, I have found the people I work with have to be some of the most interesting I've met. I have gained some major appreciation for research, which I think I initially struggled with due to its lack of tangibility. In the lab, it could be a year before you finish something that makes even the smallest dent in the surface of improving pancreatic cancer treatments and detection. The people I work with are so dedicated to what they do, its easy to take a lesson in self-discipline. Most of then are there until 7 at night after arriving at 8 in the morning, still working and finishing projects. This aside really is rooted in the fact that I am a nerd at heart, which brings me to one of the most original things I've seen in a while. For someone who runs PCR gels all day, this has to be one of the coolest and toughest applications. At you can buy personal DNA art, which is basically an electrophoresis gel of your DNA band pattern (Read: abstract looking art that is based on the genetic material in your cells). Basically, you customize your artwork, and they send you a kit in which you place a Q-tip of material from your cheek. I fully intend to purchase one of these someday, unless of course I can't figure out how to do it myself...