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Friday, August 29, 2008

HealthQuest 2008: August - Hikefest

Sov and I plan to hike the Mt. Olympus Trailhead the first weekend of October. That'll put us roughly 4,500 ft above the Salt Lake Valley, on top of this lovely peak:

The Olympus trail is only about 3.5 miles long, so it will be a very very vertical climb. I don't do so well with vertical. I was never particularly skilled at breathing well while exercising, and I don't have very good cardiovascular strength. These are things I need to work on before taking on this challenge. So since I only have about a month left to prepare my body for this obscene amount of verticalness, I committed last Sunday to giving up sugary foods and alcohol until the hike is complete, in the hopes that doing so will make my training go more smoothly.

Even though I sometimes come across as a bit of a lush, giving up alcohol is no big deal. I'm only sad that I won't be able to use alcohol to soothe the pain of being in Wyoming this weekend for the Fort Bridger Indian Rendezvous (oh god how I loathe Wyoming). Maybe I can find some peyote instead.

Giving up sugar, on the other hand, is a horrific ordeal for me. I have a very sweet tooth, and I've never been good at even moderating my sugar intake, let alone abstaining from sugar altogether. I had just barely purchased a box of delicious organic Oreo-like sandwich cremes before I made my commitment to cut out the sweets, and now I have to sit in the corner and rock myself while I watch Ian eat them for me. It brings a tear to my eye.

But I've managed to be a very good girl, and I haven't touched the sweets or the gin all week. Much to my surprise, I think this abstinence is curbing my snacking cravings, particularly at night. And that's great, because I have a really easy time monitoring what I eat at work, but I just snack mindlessly at home. Now that I'm being more conscious about what I can't eat, I'm less likely to snack.

As for the fitness training, Sov and I have a weekly hiking plan. Two weeks ago we did a short .75 mile trail with a couple of my friends up to a little "lake" (probably known as a puddle to the rest of the country), followed by a sunset climb to Ensign Peak. Then last week we did a 3 mile trail to Dog Lake (aka "Pond") starting at the Butler Fork Trailhead. This is a very beautiful trail, but the meadow sections are very overgrown at this time of year, and Sov and I were both wearing short pants, which was a little irritating.

In addition to the weekend hikes, I've been dragging Ian to the field house with me to use the bikes and the stair climbers. I've also signed up for a weekly yoga class at the field house which will start next week. That will hopefully help my breathing and flexibility.

So HealthQuest2008 continues. Maybe this new concrete goal of conquering Mt. Olympus will inspire some actual results in my body over the month of September. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Novel Theorem #1

On a book cover, the ratio of the font size of the Author's name to the font size of the Title is inversely proportional to the Probability of the book becoming a classic.
A/T = 1/P

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Public Breastfeeding: Yea or Nay?

So the Main Salt Lake City Public Library has a new breastfeeding lounge sponsored by the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition. It's located in one of the storefronts that line the main entry hall of the library, complete with glass walls and open doors. (See lower left side of photograph.)

Having walked past several times, I've noticed the lounge looks an awful lot like one of those mostly-deserted Lovesac stores in the mall, complete with lots of couches and pillows, and one or two patrons who aren't actually looking to buy anything, but would just like a soft place to sit for awhile. And of course, there are babies suckling at the teet.

So anyway, I have a bit of a problem with the breastfeeding lounge being right in the middle of the library in full view of library patrons who sit at the tables on the other side of the entry hall or who walk by on their way to the checkout desk.

I mean, breastfeeding is fine and dandy, and yes, it's natural. Some people even consider it a beautiful act. I'm not one of those people, but hey, whatever brings a tear to your eye. I even support there being breastfeeding lounges available in public venues for women with infants. I just don't support the lounges being public themselves. Wouldn't a private room near the restrooms be more appropriate?

Public breastfeeding proponents say that breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful act that should not be relegated to the dungeons and closets and dirty restrooms. Women should be able to engage in this beautiful act out in the open. No more shame!

But here's how I see it: Sex is also a beautiful and natural act. But it is a beautiful and natural act that ought to be done in private. And though not beautiful acts, the things done in restrooms are also natural acts, but there's a reason public restrooms are themselves private. In general, I think any bodily function ought to be done in private. And to me, that includes breastfeeding.

But maybe I'm just being prudish. Or maybe I'm just a childless woman who doesn't understand because I've never been there.

What are your feelings on the matter? Where do you think an appropriate venue for breastfeeding is? What kind of limitations, if any, do you think breastfeeding venues ought to have?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Love as a Function of Pretty

The scene: Living room. Sra is on the Lovesac. Ian is on the Couch. Sra has just come home from Twin Peaks night at friend's house (who knew David Lynch was involved in that? I'm so glad I'm getting acquainted with this series). Ian is talking about god-knows-what on the couch. Sra is mesmerized.

Ian: Blah blah blah, god-knows-what, blah-bitty-blah blah --

Sra: -- You look really handsome with your hair like that.

Ian (makes "Oh stop!" motion with hand): You only love me when I'm pretty.

Sra (comes over to straddle Ian and touch his pretty hair): No, that's not true. I just love you MORE when you're pretty.

Ian (nods knowingly): I thought so.

Sra: Yeah, well... you only love me when you want to have sex with me and touch my boobies.

Ian: That's not true.

Sra: Well then, you love me MORE when you want to have sex with me and touch my boobies.

Ian: Nope, not true either.

Sra: I think we'd better finish this discussion in the bedroom.*

Ian: Damn straight!**


* I didn't actually say this part.
** Ian didn't actually say this part.
*** We totally had hot sex, though.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Tasty Phonology

Have you ever noticed that taste-a-licious and taste: delicious sound exactly the same?

You probably haven't noticed that because you probably don't make a habit of saying either one.

But I like to describe delicious tasting things as "taste-a-licious", and so naturally I noticed that this sounds exactly like "taste: delicious".

Food for thought for you.

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I suspect there's some kind of abuse going on in the building next to my office.

Our offices are built inside an old historic mansion in a residential area, and so the neighboring building is an apartment complex.

For the past three days, I've heard much screaming and yelling coming from the apartment complex, even with my window closed. One voice is that of a little girl, probably around 7-9, and the other voice is that of a man, probably her father or caretaker.

Three days ago, I stepped out onto the back deck of our offices to water my potted lime tree, and I heard the man declare loudly and deliberately, "You're a fucking whore, and I'm sick of it!" I tried to see which apartment the voice was coming from, but there's a large tree between our buildings that obscured my view. At first I assumed it was a lover's dispute, but when I went back inside and sat at my desk, I heard the screams of the young girl followed by more yelling from the man.

It's hard to know what a child's screams mean. Children scream bloody murder at play all the time. But these screams have become a morning ritual, and with the addition of occasional loud yelling from the man, I'm led to believe these might be screams of abuse and not screams of play.

I'm not really sure what, if anything, there is to do about it at this time. I'm kind of hoping that some neighbor in the complex will find the noise loud enough to call in a disturbance complaint to the police. If I could identify which unit the sounds are coming from, I might do it myself. But at this point, I don't really know what's going on enough to formally complain.

One thing's for sure: Whether this is physical or emotional abuse or not, yelling is never an acceptable way to express anger, frustration, or disagreement. It only escalates matters.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Say Goodbye

LeRoi Moore, saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band, died two days ago from sudden complications following an ATV accident. He was 46 years old, and had been with the band since its inception in 1991.

As a former saxophonist myself, and as a former super fan of the DMB, there was a time in my life in which LeRoi Moore was very much a hero to me, and so his passing is tragic news.

In the comments section of my The Album as an Artform post, Tennesee Mike had this to say about Dave Matthews Band's album Crash:
I agree that this album is one of the greats. The 13 minutes of #41-->Say Goodbye are some of the best minutes ever set to music.
And I agree completely with this assessment. My favorite part of this song combination is the few minutes of transition from #41 to Say Goodbye which is championed by LeRoi Moore's brilliant solo on the flute. In addition, LeRoi's sax solo in the middle of #41 is one of my favorite saxophone solos ever, even in comparison to solos from such jazz greats as Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, and Joshua Redman.

DMB songs Too Much and Bartender will never be the same without LeRoi's blaring baritone sax and cheery penny whistle.

You will be missed, LeRoi. Rest in peace.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Seeking Balance in the Gray

I tend to judge people riding bicycles. And by that I mean I tend to judge people who look like they can't afford the bicycles they are riding, and I tend to judge people who look like they can't afford any bicycle at all. And by "judge", I mean I mentally accuse them of having stolen their bicycles.

Like any stereotype, I'm probably right at least some of the time.

So today, I was walking out of the library carrying my coffee and books, and I saw a beater bicycle with lots of garbage filling the rear wheel rack. It was the type of garbage you see in shopping carts stuffed in bushes and back alleys. In other words, the type of garbage that makes up bum possessions. And so I immediately thought that the bicycle must have been stolen, because someone who's fishing aluminum cans out of garbage bins probably can't afford even a beater bicycle.

So I thought maybe it would be cosmic justice if that bum got his bike stolen from him. But then I thought that if someone stole that bike from him, they'd be robbing the bum of his sole possession (presumably), which is perhaps a graver offense than taking from someone who has plenty. When the bum pinched the bike from somebody else, he probably took it from someone who had plenty of other things, and who had the means of buying a replacement bike (and a better locking system so as to prevent future pinchings).

And that's when I started thinking about whether things that are bad are always bad, or if there are circumstances that make bad things justifiable.

Assuming that I'm right that this bike belonged to a bum who had pinched it from someone else, is it ok that he stole the bicycle? He is needy, after all. Does that need justify the normally wrongful action?

You can ask this question about many other things as well; the death penalty, for instance. It's wrong to kill others, most sane people agree. But is it ok to kill someone because they themselves have killed others? Or is that a hypocritical approach? Are there times when murder is justified?

What about the issue of Life? There are people who say it is wrong to abort a fetus, that a fetus has human rights at the moment of conception. But the same people who subscribe to this position often feel no inhibitions about the issue of war. Is it wrong to kill an innocent fetus, but fine to kill innocent civilians caught up in the throes of war? Is one version of life worth more than another -- the unborn fetus versus the already born human?

I recognize that in life there is a large gray area. In fact, maybe the whole thing is a gray area. And so maybe circumstances need to be taken into account when judging the morality of a situation. (Yes, even atheists can believe in morality. Contrary to popular belief, morality is not dependent upon a belief in god.) But a huge part of me wants to just say that wrong is wrong, regardless of circumstance.

For instance, I am just as against the death penalty as I am against the act of murder. And I think it's just as wrong to steal out of need as to steal out of greed.

But then again, I think that war and the killing associated with war is wrong, but I believe in the right to choose whether to bring a child into the world, or more importantly, whether to prevent bringing an unwanted child into the world.

And my feeling that the bum with the bicycle would be cosmically served if he got his bike stolen from him was a very eye-for-an-eye thing, as is the death penalty.

Nothing is black and white, it seems, and these are all difficult questions.

I think life is a box of difficult questions. And too few of those questions have the creamy filling of an answer.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Angel's Landing

Time to share some photos from my hike with my brothers in Zion National Park in southern Utah. We did Angel's Landing -- a moderate to strenuous hike to the top of a huge cliff:

That's a view of the Angel's Landing cliff from about halfway up the elevation. By this point, we've come about 2 miles, and only have .5 miles to go. But see the edge of the cliff that's facing us in the photo? Yeah, we have to climb .5 miles up that edge. It's almost like rock climbing in some parts, but the park rangers have very thoughtfully strung some bits of chain on the parts that otherwise don't offer much to hold on to. And there's only one or two parts where the cliff drops off sheerly on both sides. (I'm not afraid of heights, but people who are might have difficulty with this portion of the hike.)

From on top, you have a spectacular vantage point from which to view a much shorter but still impressively tall cliff below:

As well as many surrounding cliffs of equal height:

This shot is actually looking back on the trail from near the top. If you look to the lower left of the photo you can see some of the chain along the trail.

It's amazing to see how huge these cliffs are, and then to be above some of the really huge cliffs, and to have climbed up on top of one! It's breathtaking. Or maybe it was just the hiking itself that took my breath away. This was my third time on this hike, and it was by far the most difficult. The trail is estimated at 4 hours round trip. At some of my best condition, I've done it in about 2.5 hours. This time, we were on the trail for 6 hours! We had to rest quite a bit:

There's Alden and Zac in one of the rare bits of shade on the trail. We were resting about halfway down the seemingly endless switchbacks, seen here from above:

Actually, there's a good half mile or so of the trail that is relatively flat and shaded. At certain times of the year, there is some runoff that runs along this shady part as a little creek, and then flows off as a brilliant waterfall near the beginning of the trail. Unfortunately the creek was dry while we were there, but the trees and shade were lovely.

On our way down, some hikers on their way up (suckers) told us there was a rattlesnake up ahead. Yikes! I'm not afraid of snakes the way I am of spiders, but I still don't very much like them, and especially not the poisonous ones with scary sound effects devices and diamond-shaped patterns on their scaley little backs. So I was following behind Alden, when his passing along the trail sparked some movement along the side of the trail, and suddenly I saw the rattler:

There he is on the right side of the trail near the plants. He's actually only a baby and was much smaller than he looks in this photo, but I wasn't terribly close to him (thank goodness), and had to use my zoom. He had poked his little head up and was staring at me in that mesmerizing way that snakes do, so I held really still until he decided I wasn't a threat, put his head back down, and slithered on his merry little way. I breathed a sigh of relief and went on my merry little way too.

So now that I've shown you a scary little snake, I'll show you a fluffy little cloud to make you feel better:

There were about three or four German-speakers on the trail with us, and one German-speaking man said to his German-speaking Frau "Komische Wolke!" and pointed up to this funny little cloud. And I agreed, so I snapped a photo. That's not camera blur, that's cloud blur. It looked funnier in real life.

Finally, here's a view from near the bottom of the trail looking up at an enormous side cliff. The beautiful drips of color are probably several hundred feet long.

If you get a chance to visit Zion National Park, and I hope you do, because it's one of my favorite national parks in Utah (and yes, we have many of them), then give Angel's Landing a try. If you dare.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Album as an Artform

In this age of the iPod, the relevance of the album format is called into question. CDs are becoming a thing of the past, while MP3s are quickly taking over the market. I myself have grown fond of shuffle mode on the iPod, because it seems to keep songs and artists fresh. On shuffle mode, I don't burn out listening to a single artist for an entire album, and I am able to pay closer attention to more obscure songs that often get lost in the context of an album line-up. Does this mean the album is a dying artform?

Well, I think my love of shuffle mode speaks to the fact that most albums are not completely listenable from first to last track anyway. How many times have you bought an album only to discover that you only really love one or two tracks while the rest of it is crap? Granted that doesn't happen as often in the electronic age, as customers are better able to sample an entire album before deciding to purchase. I think the record industry might want to consider this fact when they wonder why album sales continue to plummet, instead of pointing their fingers at file-sharing. (Arguably, file-sharing increases the amount of money consumers spend on the music industry by increasing exposure to greater musical variety. Mainstream radio just can't measure up to free cultural exchange. Anything that's worth buying will still be bought, and anything that isn't worth buying won't be listened to anyway.)

But even though iPods and shuffle modes seem to be the growing direction of music these days, I still think there will always be a place for albums that are well composed from start to finish. The composition of a song is an artform, inarguably, but so too is the composition of a really great album, and that's not so easy a task to accomplish.

In recognition of the album as an artform, I've developed a list of albums in my collection which I think are great albums from start to finish. One thing most of these albums have in common is an eclectic assortment of musical flavors within the album, thus making the style of the album difficult to define (perhaps, then, these albums aren't so far removed from shuffle mode after all). When you think about it, it makes sense that musical variety would bear on what makes an album great. I mean, we all like Green Day's Dookie, but you know how each song on that album kind of blends into the next so that you can't really distinguish one song from another? The songs are great individually on shuffle mode, but they don't really shine as an album. The following albums, on the other hand, are examples of albums that I see as unitary artworks. I can listen to each of these albums from first to last, and often round and round without getting anxious to skip a track.

Fashion Nugget
If you're like me, you heard the Cake singles on the radio in the 90's, enjoyed them for what they were, but didn't give the band much thought besides that. It wasn't until sometime in the 2000's that I gave Fashion Nugget a chance. And boy am I glad I did, because it's incredible melodically, lyrically, and phrasally. Cake lyrics come across as flippant, but when you really pay attention, you find a brilliance in their flippancy ("To me, coming from you, friend is a four letter word. End is the only part of the word that I heard." and "You think she's an open book, but you don't know which page to turn to, do you?"). If I were a bass player, this is the band I'd want to play in, because the bass lines are actually interesting and melodic in their own right. And I can totally mouth trumpet to the entire album, so that sells it for me.

Frou Frou
Oh how I love the vocal stylings of Imogen Heap! I wish I could extract her incredibly versatile vocal chords and swallow them into my throat for my own nefarious devices. But since I can't do that (yet), I'll settle for listening to this gem of an album, which features Imogen's vocals paired with Guy Sigsworth's brilliant production and writing. Frou Frou didn't become really popular until after they broke up in 2004 to pursue solo efforts, but you're probably at least familiar with the song "Let Go" from the Gardenstate soundtrack. If you liked that track, definitely pick up this album, and while you're at it, pick up Imogen's solo album Speak For Yourself.

Duke Ellington
Money Jungle
Normally, when I think about Duke Ellington, I think about some of the most recognizable standard jazz tunes out there. I think musical genius, but not necessarily the type of musical genius that likes to play around with different tones, rhythms, and patterns in an experimental fashion. But this album does just that, and it is one of my favorite jazz albums of all time. In fact, it may even beat out Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, the album that inspired me to name my cat Miles. Kind of Blue is a very colorful album. You know, it's kind of blue in color. But the Duke's Money Jungle is full of a symphony of synesthetic colors. And, oh my goodness, who knew a person could actually get excited about jazz bass? The bass on this album is incredible. If you aren't into jazz yet, but are interested in trying it out, start with this.

Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon
I was resistant toward giving Pink Floyd a chance for a very long time. All I knew of Pink Floyd for most of my life was "We Don't Need No Education", and though that song is a crowd-pleaser, it's not really what I would consider interesting or innovative music. And besides, Pink Floyd are just old British fuddy-duddies now, right? What could their music offer me, a young American hipster? But an old boyfriend who listened almost exclusively to classic rock introduced me to The Dark Side of the Moon, and I was blown away by its melodic and rhythmic inventiveness. I was impressed with the way the album feels more like a symphony than a collection of individual songs. Simply put, my mind was changed, and I am finally open to giving a fair chance to music that I normally wouldn't consider.

Coheed and Cambria
Good Apollo, I am Burning Star IV: Vol. 1, From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
This is the third album in a series of concept albums following lead singer Claudio Sanchez's comic book universe. It's interesting to see how the band's style has evolved from one album to the next, going from emo/punk to more experimental progressive rock. I believe they really found their sound with this album. Maybe the reason I was so disappointed in Volume 2 is that Volume 1 is just too good.

The Cranberries
No Need to Argue
This is the first CD I ever owned, and it's the first album that helped me understand what music is all about. It's a wonderful example of beauty in simplicity. Dolores O'Riordan is by no means a brilliant lyricist, in fact sometimes her lyrics are downright silly ("Whe-heh-hen, when will the icicle melt? The icicle, the icicle! And whe-heh-hen, when will the picture show end? The picture show, the picture show!") But she is brilliant at melody and harmony over simple but aesthetic chord progressions. This is quintessential mid-90's alt rock.

Dave Matthews Band
DMB used to be my very favorite band. But I didn't like the direction they were going in when they released Stand Up, and in fact I was so disappointed in that album that I started to get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I listened to other DMB albums. And so I swore off going to their concerts -- something that had been a yearly ritual for me for several years -- and I let my stack of DMB CDs collect dust on my shelf. But I think Crash will always find a special place in my heart. It was the first DMB album I owned -- bought on a whim as part of my introductory membership package to Columbia House (remember that old scam?). I kept Crash on repeat rotation for weeks while I read an adventure novel in high school, and to this day vivid images of the plot of that book return to me when I spin this disc. So maybe this album is genius to me because of its associative nostalgia. Or maybe it's just that good.

Tally Hall
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Tally Hall sounds like five band geek music majors who decided they should get together and play as many different music styles as possible and create an album. And they've done so with great success. If you remember back when I wrote about the Amazing Opening Weekend of Concert Season, you'll recall that these guys put on one of the best live shows I've ever seen, complete with an honest-to-god true encore. The album is just as spectacular. I think these guys could be the next big thing, so get in on it, will ya?

Now it's your turn. What are some of your most favorite albums?

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Monday, August 11, 2008


I'm currently stressed about the following things:

  • My law school essay (although I have most of a first draft written -- thanks to everyone who left advice in my previous comment solicitation; it has all been very helpful!)
  • My apartment is super messy and I have absolutely no motivation to clean it whatsoever.
  • I blew off hiking with my dear friend this weekend because I didn't bother to find a trail and get to bed early enough the night before (I'm sorry Sov, please forgive me).
  • My mom thinks I hate her because I don't ever call her, even though I don't ever call anyone else either (telephonophobia, remember?).
  • I promised a friend I'd send her a CD with all my LSAT prep stuff on it cause she's thinking about doing law school too. This was months ago and I still haven't done it yet.
  • I keep bringing my car to work because I know the one day I ride my bike my boss is going to have the express mail that I've been expecting to have to take to the post office for the past week or so, and I'm tired of pawning my express mails off on the other secretary, cause I know I'd be resentful if it were me. But I really miss biking to work.
  • I'm trying not to be annoyed that my office manager says "How's it going, Sra?" 3-5 times per day, even though my answer always was, always is, and always will be "Fine," because I know that no one ever really expects you to answer that question honestly, which makes me wonder why we even bother with this silly social charade at all.
  • I've been working on an actual blog post (unlike this one) for several days and I'm feeling serious writer's block holding me back from finishing it.
  • I've been neglecting my friendships.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Consciously considering subconscious and unconscious

So I just had this brilliant post written in which I was making fun of an author who I believed was misunderstanding the difference between subconscious and unconscious.

He writes of "The Unconscious Marriage", which I thought was funny, because to me that phrase means "a marriage out cold". So I was brilliantly making fun of this guy (whose name is Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., so really there's still plenty of reason to make fun of him), and then before hitting the publish button, I thought it would be prudent to do a little fact checking.

I had always thought subconscious was a mental state of unawareness and unconscious was a physical state of unawareness, just as the person who started this discussion says, thus:

I have always been taught that subconscious was used when talking about the parts of your psyche that you are not aware of - "the subconscious mind" and that unconscious was a physical condition - "knocked unconscious"

Lately I have been hearing people interchange the two; most of the time it is someone using "unconscious" in place of "subconscious".

Am I confused here? Are they interchangeable?

But then this guy with a psychology degree pipes in with this:

I have a degree in Psychology and wondered about this during my studies. Here's your answer (I hope).

Unconscious is the term usually used in Psychology to refer to the thoughts we have that are 'out of reach' of our consciousness. A traumatic childhood event that we repress is an example, but it doesn't have to be so serious as this. It could be something very distant like a memory that we can't 'pull out' at our choosing. It's there, but we can't remember it no matter how hard we try. Certain psychoanalytical methods can bring back these memories (such as hypnosis) and can also be triggered by an event (a scent, a familiar place etc).

The important point to remember here, is that we cannot, by choice, remember anything in our unconscious without some special event or technique. This is the unconscious.

The sub-conscious is almost the same, but the very major difference is, we *can* choose to remember. Sub-conscious is used far too often (erroneously) to mean unconscious. It's simply not the case, and you'll find that in Psychology the topic of the unconscious of *far* more prevalent (and important for study) than that of the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious is for example the part of your mind that lets you remember your phone number.

Before reading this, you were not conscious (thinking right now) of your phone number, but should I ask you for it, you're able to bring it to the conscious level by pulling it from your sub-conscious. The person who told you your phone number for the first time has perhaps faded from memory. It may still be in there somewhere, but it's something you can't remember (maybe), and if so, this is in your unconscious mind. So there you have it.

And my searches in seem to corroborate this position.

Sumbitch. My reality once again gets thrown up against the wall. And my post had been so brilliant, too.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trivial Pursuit

I'm having a really hard time getting started on my personal statements for my law school applications.

Funny that I should be tongue-tied in writing about myself. It's what I do on my blog everyday, after all. But Bunsnip is a really laid back environment. I'm able to be as honest as I want to be here. I can show the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of myself. And, you know, all the other parts that don't fall into any of those categories. Like, say, my teeth. They are neither good, bad, nor ugly. So anyway, there are no restrictions here. The least little thing can be written about.

But what to show the admissions committees? They don't care about my brilliantly straight although slightly yellowed teeth.


No they don't care about that.

And really, I don't have anything spectacular to show for myself like the people in all the example essays I've read. I haven't interned for a senator, worked to save the baby seals, or opened a side business while making a 4.0 doing 20 semester hours at Yale. I haven't overcome a great obstacle in my life -- no economic burdens, no cerebral palsy, no racial minority heritage.

But truth be told when I read those types of essays I throw up a little in my mouth anyway. I'm not that person, and I don't want to be that person. I like who I am, even though who I am is rather par for the course.

So how do I take my grandiose mediocrity and make it look fabulous to the admissions committees? I want to catch their attention, give them some idea of what kind of person I am and why I would be suited to the study of law, and leave them feeling like I belong at their school.

Most of all I don't want to bore them.

I'm worried as hell about that.

These people are going to be reading 40-50 essays per day, written by essentially the same type of person with the same numbers and the same basic goals. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about being seen as a carbon copy of dozens of other applicants. I guess that is to say, I just want to be validated as a worthwhile candidate in my own right. I want who I am to be good enough for this pursuit.

This sounds like a big whine-fest, I know. It's just consuming my thoughts a lot right now, and I don't know where to begin.

So I'm going to pose a question for anyone who's still with me. Many of you don't know me outside of the words I've written here. So what stands out to you about me? What have you gleaned about my character from my writing? I feel like I need to get outside of myself in order to begin this task, so any outside perspective would be very welcome. If you know me outside of the blog world, feel free to jump in too.

I can use all the help I can get right now.

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HealthQuest 2008 - July: The month I got hooked on crack coffee

"I've got to not do this everyday," I say to myself as I pull out from the Burger King drive thru the second morning in a row.

Ok, so, I admit it. I've become addicted to Burger King coffee. (Thanks a lot, Claire!) I think they must grind it with a special grinder that has blades made out of crack. That's the only reasonable explanation I can muster. All fine and good, coffee isn't bad for you (unless of course it has crack in it, then you might want to moderate your intake). But in the morning they also have a breakfast menu. Breakfast! Normally I have no temptation whatsoever to eat BK food. I think their hamburgers are gross. And besides, I've told myself that if I'm going to ingest that many calories, I might as well make it a mighty fine hamburger, along the lines of Crown Burger, Hires, B&D, or Rudfuckers, er... I mean Fudruckers. (Fudruckers actually asks you HOW you want your burger cooked! Now that's quality!)

But I remember the first time my friends ever got me to cut class in high school. I was so nervous about the whole thing, because you know, I'm a goody-two-shoes-plays-by-the-rules type of girl. But they promised me breakfast. And so I cut my morning class and we went to Burger King where I had the best fast food breakfast of my life: French Toast sticks with dipping syrup and hashbrowns! Mmmm. And they also have these little tiny cinnamon buns with dipping sugar, and I do so love cinnamon and buns and dipping sugar!

So my BK coffee addiction has gotten me reacquainted with BK breakfast, and that's what I've gotten the last two mornings in a row. I best not make or three, or by the time the cleaning lady comes by the office tomorrow evening, she'll see that the contents of my trash can contain three boxes of Cini-Minis and three cups of BK Joe. And that would be humiliating.

Of course, I could always do what other addicts do and try to hide my habit. I could surreptitiously leave my Cini-Mini boxes and BK Joe cups in other garbage cans around the office. Or I could even sneak them out to the garbage bin behind the building. Or I could bury them in the garden. No one would ever have to know, and I could have them EVERY DAY!!! BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!


But then where would that put me in HealthQuest 2008?


I guess I need to go to BKJDA (BK Joe Drinkers Anonymous) and get back on the HealthQuest 2008 wagon. I've made such great progress, I might as well keep going at it. Well, alright, 3 or 4 pounds doesn't really seem like great progress, but I'd like to think that I've actually lost more than that in fat, and then gained some back in muscle. That's what I'm telling myself.

So here's the agenda for August-September:

  • Hike Mt. Olympus trailhead
  • Hike several less severe trailheads in preparation for Mt. Olympus
  • Bike the entire length of the Jordan River Parkway
  • Try not to eat quite so much chocolate
  • Increase anaerobic weight training
  • Moderate my intake of crack coffee
That ought to do it!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cloudy Skies, Fried Brains, and Buttermilk Beer

Overcast days like today remind me of my time spent in Germany. I was really only rained on about 2 or 3 times during the total 2 months I spent abroad, and I saw plenty of sunshine as well, but overcast skies were a much more frequent occurrence in Germany than they are here in Utah.

In Utah, it's usually either sunny, hazy, and hotter than Hades, or cloudy, snowy, and colder than ... well ... the opposite of Hades. We have precious little of that glorious in-between type of weather. So today is a welcome respite.

I'm pretty sure that if I decided to crack my head open and spill my brains on the pavement today, they would not in fact fry like an egg. Most other days at this time of year, I think I could be the poster girl for the This Is Your Brain on Drugs commercial. No actual eggs would need to be harmed in the making thereof.

Anyway, it's funny the things that stick out to you about a place when you spent significant time there, and it's funny the things that trigger the memories. I connect cloudy skies and the smell of threatened rain to Germany. And so overcast days like today often bring back memories of flower planters in the windows, cobble stone streets and sidewalks, Doener Kababs, and abrasive toilet paper. And, naturally, good beer.

My favorite beer of all time is a German beer I found while I was in Kiel called Flensburger Weizen. It's a wheat beer that has overtones of banana and clove. One evening in my German dormitory, I desperately wanted a Flensburger Weizen, but had foolishly neglected to stock my supply before the grocery stores closed (they close quite early in Germany -- like 5:PM). So I stole the last bottle from my friend Saudi Steve.

Now if you click over on the Flensburger link, you'll see that these bottles have a convenient pop stopper which could be re-closed as if nothing had ever happened. So I drank Saudi Steve's beer, and then filled the bottle with buttermilk, closed the stopper, and replaced it in the fridge. When Saudi Steve went to drink his beer the following evening, he poured the "beer" into a glass, took one look at the white viscous fluid, and exclaimed to the room, "Hey, you guys, I think there's something seriously wrong with this beer!" I snickered in the corner, vehemently denied any foul play, and then finally fessed up before Saudi Steve managed to take a swig. Although I had robbed him of his beer, he appreciated the prank.

Ah, memories!

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Curing Telephonophobia Over the Phone

I saw this on and couldn't help but laugh.

Help for your fear of the telephone is available. All you have to do is call.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I myself suffer from what I like to call Telephonophobia, which I've written about before. I think it's something I'm never going to entirely get over. Thank god for the texting/emailing/blogging age!

What are you afraid of, and how do you deal?

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