30 January 2010

Word of the Day: Serendipity

serendipity |ˌserənˈdipitē| n. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

I'm studying away this weekend, working on the two essays (each 5-6,000 words) that are due on Friday. While it would be nice to be out enjoying the crisp but sunny English weather today, I'm enjoying my time in the Grad Center. I've got a good group of pals to motivate me and to take breaks with, and tonight we all plan to let loose for a bit by watching a film, eating, and drinking wine down in the common room.

I hope you all get a chance to let loose and enjoy yourself this weekend.

Hopefully I can get a post or two in this week, when I'm not (a) reading, (b) writing, (c) in class, (d) freaking out, or (e) eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables.


24 January 2010

Mystery Solved

Today, while working on my essays at the Grad Centre, my friend Kit noticed something strange. Downstairs, in the computer room that Jacob was working in, Jacob's things were scattered everywhere, the doorknob was broken off the door, and Jacob was nowhere to be found. We wondered aloud where Jacob was. I assumed he had worked until very late and had decided that he was in dire need of sleep and just left, knowing he'd return to collect his belongings soon.

When I went downstairs to print an article later on, I saw what Kit had described. The place was left in a bizarre state. I (jokingly) suggested that perhaps Jacob had been kidnapped. I also noticed that his credit card was lying out...

Kit was uncomfortable leaving his card out for anyone to take, so he ran down to grab it. When he returned, he said, "Mystery solved."

"What?" I asked. "Where the heck was he?"

He explained that when I was downstairs I had jostled the mouse or something, so the computer screen was lit up when he went down. On the screen was an e-mail conversation between Jacob and his girlfriend. His girlfriend, in not so few words, had said that she was disappointed that she was unable to have sex with him at the moment, since he was working on his essays in the Grad Centre. His reply was short and to the point: "Great. No worries. I'll be there in ten minutes."

Ah. The disappearance of Jacob, the untouched belongings, & (perhaps) the broken door handle are no longer a challenge. Mystery solved.

[I have changed the subject's name to Jacob so as not to embarrass him if he or any other Bristol philosophy postgrads read this post.]

Update: We learned the next day from Jacob that he did indeed break off the door handle on his hurried way out the door.


19 January 2010

My New Obsession: Flash Mobs

Welcome to my new love: flash mobs. I've generally heard of the idea before but last week while procrastinating my essays I stumbled upon the website for Improv Everywhere (the original flash mob group) and have been obsessing over it and other related sites/videos/stories ever since. The basic premise is this: Do random (but coordinated) things on the street (or subway, supermarket, etc). The About Me section on the site sums it up better than I can: "Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents." Improv Everywhere is just one group that does this, based in New York. The creator of the site has a blog called Urban Prankster, which tracks other flash mobs, pranks, participatory art, etc.

Here are some of the videos I've found that show Improv Everywhere's array of amazingness:

No Pants Subway Ride (an annual event!)

I Love Lunch!: The Spontaneous Musical

Frozen Grand Central

These "pranks" are great because they make people think twice. They're art in everyday life. Can you imagine being a bystander in one of these events??

Yesterday, some friends & I decided we're going to plan a mission. Wherever you are, if you want to join up with a group in your city or start your own go here, join the site, and find the group for your location. In the UK, you can also check out this site, & in Bristol specifically go here.

Great, now I have "I Love Lunch" stuck in my head... ;.)


14 January 2010

Ten Reasons I'm Happy to be in Bristol

On Monday, I hopped on a flight to London. The flight was pretty good. It was long, of course (about ten hours), but I made friends with the guy next to me and we chatted for hours. We also pressed play on our movie at the same time (well, not quite at the same time--we had to do a hilarious series of pressing play and pausing and rewinding and fast forwarding) and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs together. On Tuesday (eight hour time difference, plus ten hour flight), Jonty picked me up at the airport and we headed to Bristol together. Since then, I've been unpacking, studying, running errands, cooking, eating, & watching Lost with Jonty. I'm missing my family and friends at home, but here are ten reasons I'm happy to be back:

1. Snow. It snowed on Tuesday night, & everything looks really pretty. Thankfully too, it will all be melting soon.
2. Routine. I'm getting back into my daily/weekly routines, & there's something so very wonderful about that.
3. Work. I was freaking out about the fact that I got very little studying done over break. Now that I'm back (& in my routine), I'm getting more done!
4. Friends. I didn't realize how much I missed my friends here (philosophy buddies & housemates) until I saw them again. They really are great people to be around. And my philosophy pals assured me that I'm not the only one who was unproductive over break, which ceased my freaking out stage.
5. Walking. Transportation by way of my own legs is the best. I hate driving to get everywhere, plus walking up & down Bristol's hills is a great workout!
6. Cooking. I get to choose my own meals & make my own food again! While I like that at home I can sometimes not think about what's for dinner & cop out of cooking if I've had a long day, I really prefer to plan & cook my own food. That way, I can control my amount of fruits & veggies, eat healthy when I want & splurge when I want, etc.
7. Philosophy. Back to school means more seminars, conferences, & reading groups to exercise my brain.
8. English foods. English cheddar, English breakfast, Cornish pasties, etc.
9. Lost. Jonty & I had to take a month-long break of our five-season Lost marathon. We watched two episodes last night and will finish Season Four (two episodes left) tonight or tomorrow.
10. Jonty. Greatest guy ever. Enough said.

It's good to be back.


09 January 2010

Resolution Update

Good ol' 2010 has only been around for a week, & I'm already having trouble with my resolution to Just Do It. I've been working on school work for a good part of the morning, & I've made very little progress. Basically, all I've done is decide what I need to make decisions about... and then put that aside to make the decisions tomorrow. I'm still afraid of giving myself full reign. So yes, I will put it aside and work on my other topic. But tomorrow, I will not yet again put it aside. I vow to Just Do It. Because I can.

"Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue consistently."
--Maya Angelou


08 January 2010

My Favorite Video of All Time

This is my favorite video of all time, from the set of Veronica Mars (Season 3). Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) and co-star Chris Lowell interview each other during a break. I've probably seen it over 100 times, but it never gets old. My friend Rachel, my sister, and I quote it all the time. It's pretty much my sense of humor in a nutshell (and only begins to explain why I'm obsessed with Kristen Bell).

I'm off to do a Tahoe Creamery ice cream demo at Whole Foods in Roseville. I'll be handing out samples of the new flavor: PUMPKIN! I can't wait to taste it myself! Have a great furlough Friday!


I love Jesus, but I drink a little.

I was recently reminded of this hilarious video of a caller on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and I thought that it should be shared. If you haven't seen this, or even if you have, you're in for a treat. I hope it brightens your day!


03 January 2010

Happy New Year, a little late already

The past few weeks, the end of last year, the end of last decade was busy. I flew back home to Sacramento, saw my sister's new place in Portland, visited my dad in Montana, came back home for Christmas eve, visited my grandma in New Mexico, and drove to Concord for a biannual reunion with my three best gals from high school. Now I'm home for the duration, happy to be done traveling for about a week (until I fly back to England), around my lovely family and many friends, and back to a place with WiFi! So it's a little belated to post resolutions for the new year, but any time is a good time for a resolution.

2009 has seen a lot of changes in my life. New (great) guy, new school, new program, new city, new friends, new lack of employment, new plans (more like prospects) for my life.

And I know 2010 will bring more changes. Once I'm done with my MA (mid-September), I have to move on to the next stage of my life. This will probably bring yet another new location, (hopefully) a new job, perhaps new friends yet again.

I find it difficult to create resolutions because, while I'm aware that changes I might hope to make are bigger than just "lose weight" or "be more family-oriented," it's difficult to remember and follow a resolution if there isn't something tangible to go on. That being said, here is my resolution for 2010. It may be a bit vague, but it comes with a plan.

And my resolution is... drumroll please...

to get my life together.

I mean this in an almost literal sense.

Being without a schedule--without classes to attend or work shifts to show up for--has made my life and my brain a little unorganized, a bit less productive, and I'll be honest... slightly less fulfilling.

So my plan is the following:

1. Wake up at a decent time.
2. Work out a few times in the week, to keep my body & mind going strong.
3. Delay satisfaction. Meaning: Do productive things, for the most part, and use pure entertainment only at the end of the day or the end of the week to relax.
4. Get my Etsy shop together.
5. Find a way to deal with the anxiety, lack of concentration, and decision-making troubles that sometimes lurk in the background and get in the way. Learn not to double-think everything, not to procrastinate making decisions, not to be in two places at once, not to worry about simple things.

Happy 2010! I think this new decade will be a good one.