Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Car Review: Dodge Charger

Since aforementioned accident, I have been tooling around town in 2 different cars. The first belonged to the couple I house-sat for. When they returned, I got a rental, courtesy of the other girl (in the accident)'s insurance company. Since my beloved Fraulein Blitzen Weiss will be ready to come home today or tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the experience of driving said rental, a Dodge Charger. (Pic above is from the interwebs, not me.) Here are some of its features, scored by yours truly:

-20: Squatty design: This is a wide, long car, but it's short. Overall it looks like it was stepped on by a giant. The windows seem short. The roof seems like it is creeping down over the windshield. I had to lean forward to see traffic lights often.
-20: Things in weird places: The controls for windshield wipers, turn signal, and brights are all on one stick, which is placed far too low. I made many a turn still swiping the air in attempts to find my blinker. In addition, the knobs for stereo volume and A/C are the same size, and one is right above the other. I tried to jam out, only to be blasted with air, more than once!
-10: Thin, hard, plastic steering wheel was not comfy.
-10: It sometimes had a hard time going when stopped at an incline.
-5: I occasionally heard the tires squealing when making turns that weren't even sharp or fast.
+5: Like Blitzen, the key, lock, and unlock buttons are all together in one piece; no separate "clicker"
+20: Also like Blitzen, it's equipped with Sirius!
+10: You have to stomp on the gas, but it'll really move if you want it to.
+5: Big (3.5 L) engine makes a nice growl when you do so!
+50: Made me appreciate my own little car even more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie Review: The Informant!

Hmm...in honor of Sam J. Miller's 25-word movie reviews, I'll try to distill this one to the same length:

Hokey music got old fast. Almost quirky, not endearing. Reminded me of an ex-boyfriend's crazy dad. What was I supposed to learn from this? Mediocre.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mad Props for Mad Pops!!!

Well, since aforementioned car accident (see "Gallery Night, in Retrospect" posting), I have seen my Chiropractor, Dr. Kathi Maher, twice this week.

On Monday, I was sitting in her waiting room, realizing just how stiff my neck had gotten. I could hardly look up to the ceiling. Turning my head to either side required a conscious effort. She brought me in and examined me.

"Do you have any problems with your hips?" She asked. I told her that, yes, sometimes they were stiff and hurt for no reason. She put a finger on each bone. "Here's the top of this one, here's the other. They're way off." I looked down to see her fingers, which were anything but in line with each other. She had me lay face-down on the table, and wedged foam blocks under each of my hips. After a few minutes, she instructed me to walk around the office. WOW! I could already tell a difference!

After that, her massage therapist worked on my neck for a bit. She also used something called a S.C.E.N.A.R., which I was skeptical of, but it really seemed to relax my neck and shoulders.

Another walk-around break followed, and then it was time for the big adjustment. Dr. Kathi had me lay (lie?) face-up on the table. She held my head in her hands, gently turning it from side to side. "Breathe in, " she instructed. "And out..." I expected a big twist, but no, not yet. "Wiggle your toes." BBBBRRRAATTT! She popped my neck like a bendy straw! It was so loud and long that I gasped aloud! We laughed. Wow! When she did the other side, it wasn't nearly as dramatic.

I walked out of her office feeling like a new woman! I just want to recommend her to anyone reading this. She treats a host of problems, not just neck and back. Her clinic is Health by Hands, located in Arlington.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Indulging in the Luxuries of Others

Today was the last of a ten-day dog-, cat-, and house-sitting stint I did. The homeowners, friends of my aunt and uncle, were away on a 40th anniversary trip to Greece. House-sitting, while a great gig, is a pretty backwards way to get to know someone.

The owners requested I stay at the house, which was fine by me. They were very gracious, and encouraged me to use their internet, watch their TV, borrow their books, eat their food, and drive their car (This worked out perfectly as mine is in the shop!). This couple has a really sweet house. Staying there familiarized me with all the things they probably take for granted/view as essentials to their way of life. Some I relished, some almost made me roll my eyes.

For instance, I enjoyed...
  • cable TV
  • having a washer, dryer, and dishwasher
  • covered parking
  • full bookshelves in every room and hallway
  • an abundance of snacks and drinks
  • having more than 3 or 4 of each dish/utensil!
But I wondered if these weren't frivolous...
  • the daily arrival of at least 2 newspapers and a stack of glossy magazines and catalogs
  • 2 varieties of ice in the freezer: one made by the icemaker, the other bought from Sonic
  • remote-controlled window shades
  • sleep-number bed (I didn't care about learning to use it; I just slept on the softer side)
  • marble shower with built-in bench seat and steam jets
  • heated towel rack
  • wall-mounted hair dryer
  • maid service
  • an additional huge freezer full of food

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to be judgmental, or haughty, or resentful. This has just got me thinking. It seems I am constantly having to relearn that we are all very different when it comes to priorites, lifestyles, incomes, values, etc.

I then examined my own life. What are my luxuries? I find it hard to not buy books, new or used. I must have Kleenex in the house (I know that my mom would call that luxurious). I demand the right to maintain a regular exercise schedule- I can get fidgety and grumpy without it. I also like to have at least 2 different perfumes- 'cause who wants to smell the same every single day? Oh, and I pretty much expect something sweet to follow dinner!

What is a "luxury" that you cannot do without?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So, what are you reading these days?

Share your recent reads with me, and your opinion of them. Here are mine:

A couple days ago I finished Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. This is one my aunts recommended to my mom and I. It is a beautiful, haunting read whose pace quickens the further into the book you go. The plot involves two story lines: one of a present-day American woman living in Paris, the other involving a ten-year old Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied France. You realize their connection early on in the book, but these two threads are more tightly wound than you think! I highly recommend it.
Since I seem to have been in the only English class in the country that did NOT read The Hobbit, I am finally getting around to it. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of fantasy books: elves, goblins, etc. Give me an art, sociology, or even historical fiction any day. However, I told Jesse I'd give it fifty pages. I am at page seventy already and am enchanted! The writing is descriptive and lovely, the story exciting. It reminds me of the Grimm's Fairy Tales that my dad used to read to my brothers and I (the ones with the scary illustrations that we would peek at anyway)!
Finally, I am in the first one-third of John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life. From the back cover:
God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives.
This book is a great perspective-corrector for me. It renews my focus whenever I get caught up in things like worrying about my weight, or making fun of people who wear Crocs! It is full of scripture, wisdom, and relatable anecdotes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gallery Night, In Retrospect

Jesse, lookin' swank next to his epic Cortes the Killer.

Yours truly, in a fun new dress, next to my photo Red Flag.

Well friends, Fort Worth Fall Gallery Night has come and gone. WHOOSH! All that preparation and list-making and errand running, for a brief night of getting dressed up, schmoozing, and having fun. I really enjoyed it. My sincerest thanks to Jesse for giving me the opportunity to show my art "for reals." It was great to meet his friends, and their friends, and their friends... Thanks to my family and friends who made it out despite the icky weather!

I am pleased to say that my lemon cakeballs were a hit, disappearing quickly from the plate. The margarita machine was a crowd-pleaser, as well as Jesse's queso.

Around 10:45, I left briefly to check on the pups I am dog-sitting this week. I was waiting at a red light, minding my own business, when WHAM! I was rear-ended by a Chevy Avalanche. Keeping in mind that I drive a VW GTI, I bet you can guess who won that battle! Jesse was on the scene in no time, holding my hand and telling me I'd be ok. He was an angel. (Thank you sweetness!) My neck felt like a rubber band that had been stretched to capacity! I opted to go for X-rays, but not in the ambulance. HUGE thanks to Ricardo and Stacey for helping Jesse and I. They were truly a blessing, as is the fact that I am ok!

Aww, what a good-looking couple! ;)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A sweet song...

...I can't hear this and NOT feel blessed and hopeful. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Movie Review: The Band's Visit

Last night, I watched the 2007 Israeli movie The Band's Visit. It focuses on an Egyptian police band being stranded for the night in a desolate Israeli village. The band and their new hosts face a partial language barrier (all the characters speak some English), but are able to bridge some gaps with music.

I am still undecided on how I feel about this movie. To be sure, it has some sweet moments, and some funny ones. However, about halfway through, I decided that it is framed, lit, and colored within an inch of its life. I think that this took away from the opportunity to augment the precious little that we learn about the characters.

But, perhaps these issues reflect a great treatment of what that situation would really be like: you are in a strange place, cannot leave 'til morning, and forced to rely on the kindness of strangers. You share little with your new hosts, but notice plenty about your surroundings.

Considering all this, and that the film runs a scant 87 minutes, I would say of The Band's Visit: I wish they'd stayed longer.