Friday, August 27, 2010

Young Americans skeptical about government

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I heard this on the radio this evening during an interview with Ralph Reed, a conservative American political activist and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.  The following quote is the result of a recent study...


"More 18 to 29 year-olds believe there is life on Mars than believe they will receive a social security check in their lifetime."
                                   - Ralph Reed
                      Founder, Faith and Freedom Coalition

The young adults of my generation tend to be known for spending money extravagantly, sometimes carelessly, and often oblivious to its value. We expect many things to be free and fail to consider that everything costs somebody something.  As long as it's not coming out of our wallets, we make no connection between cost and value.  That being said, I think it's a notable event for this young generation to realize and verbalize an opinion that the government is spending too much.  We are the ones that are going to pay for today's federal expenses -- "universal" health care, bailouts, "economic stimulus packages"....most of us assume we will have no social security to speak of, and many of us are considering retirement options even while in college.  It's going to be every man for himself.  I don't know about life on Mars....but I'd be willing to bet a pretty penny that the FICA taxes I pay today won't be coming my way again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

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I have waaayyyy to much to do and I should NOT be watching videos like this.  But I couldn't help myself!  This is so adorable...

Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp

Marcel is voiced (untreated & unenhanced) by a genius named Jenny Slate

Written by Jenny Slate + Dean Fleischer-Camp

www.deanfleischercamp.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No Time to Blog!

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In the past seven days I have:

  • Driven to Boise for Chason's graduation from Northwest Lineman College
  • Spent way too much time (approx. 49 hours) studying Accounting...it's a full-time job
  • Had a complete car makeover in preparation for the trip to Nashville, and because my daddy loves me so much, he doesn't want me to ever break down. (New timing belt, serpentine belt, transmission fluid & oil change, new freon...the works!)
  • Stocked up on all the no-sales-tax dorm snacks and school supplies my car can hold
  • Hung out with family in town from San Francisco....saw a cousin I haven't seen in 10 years :)
  • Successfully navigated six restaurants and party events without getting sick from gluten!
  • Got dropped from all my Fall semester classes after a financial aid crisis, but enlisted the help of some great Belmont administrators who are making it possible for me to go back to Belmont this fall
  • Not been to the gym nearly enough to relieve all this stress
  • Downloaded a few audiobooks for FREE! for the drive to Nashville (www.booksshouldbefree.com)
  • Received the 19 textbooks I ordered online for this semester
  • Swapped crazy European travel stories with some family friends that just got back from a 3-month Euro tour in an RV
  • Completed mid-terms for my two online Accounting classes
  • Celebrated Raam's 10th birthday with a big family ice cream party
  • Started packing my car...ETD is 4am tomorrow!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Imagination

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Most people’s imaginations don’t have limits. As we grow older, we stop daydreaming and our minds stop wandering. When your mind wanders, it comes home with interesting things found along the way. Remember the value of imagining; the knowledge that when you look around, everything you see was once imagined at some time by somebody.
                           -- Neil Gaiman, author


These jellyfish seem rather imaginative

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps - Proverbs 16:9

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And how true this has been for me!
So often it seems that God says to me, I like where you're going with that idea, but on the way, let's stop to....help someone out, bring someone along, rest in a certain place, or wait for the right time.  

Life is a journey, and as much as I try to anticipate, plan, and dream, I'm just along for the ride.  People do all sorts of things to try to relieve stress -- yoga, massages, vacations, medication, you name it.  I certainly enjoy a relaxing yoga session on occasion, but nothing takes stress away more than remembering this proverb.

Sure, this is my journey....but I'm just reading the map.    

Rogue Valley Sunset

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When your every day is permeated by such beauty, it is easy to forget the extravagance of the place we call home.  Yesterday evening, as the sun started to set and a golden sheen swept across the valley, I had a sudden urge to lay out in tall grasses and enjoy the last of the day's warmth.  I grabbed my camera and headed for the low hills of the East Medford, just five minutes from home.  I was greatly rewarded for my efforts and enjoyed a full hour of casual photo-taking along some one-lane country roads.  I even met a friendly little black and white cow, whom, for some reason, I named Dolly.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Tribute to Uncle Luie

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While I was growing up, my parents welcomed a few single college students from our church to live with us at different times.  As a college student myself now, I can see the benefits of living with a family, and as a kid back then, it was wonderful to have someone fun and cool in the house.  

I was just four or five when Luis moved in.  He was from Spain, loved car racing and traveling, had a big Spanish flag on his wall, and a futon with a nice warm black and white blanket covering.  My brothers and I adored him.  Every morning he would get up at six am and make a fruit smoothie before heading out the door.  He'd pick us up and let us sit on the counter while he peeled bananas, threw in strawberries, and blended that sucker up.  And we always got a little cup of smoothie leftovers.  

It was sad for us when Uncle Luie moved out, but we'll always have a special place in our hearts for him.

All these great memories came flooding back this weekend as I looked through the wedding photos of Luis and his new wife, Natalie.  They got married just a few days ago, and I couldn't be happier for them!  We haven't seen Uncle Luie since we moved to Oregon ten years ago, but we hope to catch up with Luis and Natalie soon!

Congratulations Luis & Natalie!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Onion Church

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One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the playroom among stacks of old National Geographic magazines.  A friend of my mom's had had a subscription for over 20 years and had kept every issue.  When boxes full of them showed up in our extra room, it was like I had struck gold. 

I remember reading articles about shirtless, tribal African women, fact sheets about how Indian elephants differ from African elephants, and an exposé on the great number of people who are buried in the Great Wall of China because they died on the job and were left there to become part of the wall, among other things.  But do you know what has for years been my most vivid memory of these adventures in National Geographic?  It was a feature-length article on Russia, complete with several photographs and a map with a big red star on Moscow.  

The first photograph was in black and white.  It had a flap that, when flipped out, showed a landscape view of a group of children.  I had only to read the caption to discover that these sandy-haired, fair-skinned kids were orphans .  On the following page was a beautiful, full-color photo of a matryoshka, a Russian nesting doll.  It was painted to look like a babushka, a typical Russian grandmother in a flowery-print dress with a mismatching flowery-print scarf pulled over her hair and tied under her chin.  My favorite picture was a glimmering sunrise shot of a beautifully colored Orthodox church.  The one in the photograph was decked out in gold, greens, blues, red, and yellow.  The recognizable rooftop ornaments reminded me of onions, and so I dubbed all churches of that style "onion churches."  

st petersburg church on the saviour blood

I can't wait to visit my first onion church!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

On prepping floors for linoleum

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As part of an emergency remodel project, we're putting linoleum flooring into our bathrooms this weekend -- until we have time to lay down the beautiful travertine tiles that we purchased some time ago.  
Breaking from his baseboard prep work, Dad walks into the kitchen with a bag of goodies from Lowe's.

Dad: Okay, we're ready to lay down the skimcoat!

Jared: But wait...are you going to just put it over that one spot (in front of the shower) where there's a bunch of old glue?  It's gonna create a little bumpity-bump, ya know?

Dad: Yeah....but it'll take me forever to scrape all that off!

Shirah: Isn't that the spot right in front of the shower? I never even knew there were tiles there because that fuzzy shower mat is always laying there.

Dad: Oh yeah...the fuzzy mat.  Fuzzy mat covers a multitude of sins. 


I laughed so hard!

Beautiful Dachas

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While hoping to get a visual of daily life in and around St. Pete, I came across a blog by a Foreign Service family currently posted there.  I loved these pictures of dachas (Russian summer homes in the surrounding rural areas outside major cities).
Dacha 8 Dacha 22 Dacha 12 Dacha with roses
Dacha white with brown Dacha blue door
Dacha 15
Pictures from this blog post by Place2Place 

French Words that have no direct English Translation

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Dépaysement: The sensation of being in another country.
La douleur exquise: The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have. Even a Sex in the City episode was named after it!
Chômer: To be unemployed, but because it’s a verb, it makes the state active.
Profiter: To make the most of or take advantage of.
Flâneur: As defined in the book Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, it’s “the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothing, including his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.”
Esprit d’escalier: The literal translation is staircase wit, but it means to think of a comeback when it’s too late.
Retrouvailles: The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
Sortable: An adjective for someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed.
Voila/voici: It’s so necessary that we use it all the time. “Voila” literally means “there it is” and “voici means “here it is.”
Empêchement: An unexpected last-minute change of plans. A great excuse without having to be specific

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Intelligent Fact of the Day: The Bottom Line

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Have you ever been in the middle of trying to ease into asking someone a favor, when they interrupt to say, "Just tell me, what's the bottom line?"


Of course you knew that they were really trying to say, Let's not beat around the bush, what do you want?  But did you know where the term, the bottom line, comes from?  Probably not.  Or maybe you do.  I just learned of its origin today, while reading Financial & Managerial Accounting (which, I will assure you, is not my idea of leisure reading - I'm taking two online courses).  The term, the bottom line, actually refers to Net Income, which is the bottom line of the Income Statement.  This figure, along with Gross Profit, are two of the most important figures to determining the health of a company.  Asking for the bottom line is like asking someone, "What's the situation when it's all said and done?"


...And now you can tell your friends 
that this blog has been an enjoyable, 
educational experience :)

The Tooth Fund

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My parents have been so gracious about helping me transition into all the financial responsibilities that come with leaving the nest and starting my own adult life.  They still cover my cell phone (thanks to my sneaking onto the "Family Plan" before leaving to college) as well as auto and health insurance, and they take care of pretty much all my expenses while I'm home during the summer.  But last year was a big step in this transitional process of breaking away financially: I started to take on my own dental expenses. 


And I've come to the conclusion that this very well could be the best thing that ever happens to my teeth.  I have adopted an entirely new approach to tooth care; I think about my teeth all the time.  And I've become a steady three-times-daily brusher.  I floss every night, and I'm religious about using the tongue scraper and those little metal dental picks that you can use to check for any remaining plaque on your teeth.  I've noticed that I pay attention more to how much sugar I eat, and I've started to feel anxious about brushing my teeth after eating a treat.  


I hope I'm not making this sound like an obsession -- don't worry, it's not.  I'm just more aware of those little white fixtures in my mouth because I've realized their power to drain my pocketbook!  I've been blessed with a great set of chompers -- they grew in straight without braces, not too big or too small, they seem to be pretty stain-resistant, and most of my molars even have four roots (something my dentist says is pretty rare).  I've had exactly one cavity in my life up till now, and now that I'm having to budget for dental work and draw from my Tooth Fund to get a few small ones filled, I've found myself becoming more gung-ho about preventative measures.  


It makes me wonder what other small facets of life will become more significant as I take on more and more of those obscure living costs to which kids are oblivious.  

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My idea of a perfect day....

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....is when you're cleaning up from dinner and the leftovers fit perfectly into the tupperware.
Especially when it was a good dinner.

Tonight mom made chicken cacciatore with black beans and corn on the cob.  It had to be one of the best meals  I've had all summer.  But you know what just put it over the top?  When I was putting the leftovers away, there was a medium sized Glad-to-go container that fit the chicken perfectly.  And there was even a small container for the 1/3 cup of little black beans that were scattered at the bottom of the sauce pan.  But you'll never believe what I found when I opened the cabinet....a long, narrow, medium-height container which had to be custom made for the three cobs of corn that remained.  AND the matching lid was laying right beside it.  A true miracle.

I closed the fridge and walked out of the kitchen with my head held high.  I had achieved an amazing feat of finesse in the kitchen.

Perfect.  Just perfect.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

One Step Closer

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An email I received this morning brings me one step closer to my life-long dream of working for the U.S. Department of State.

Earlier this summer I applied for an internship in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs for Spring 2011.  I was feeling good about my application until I realized that the Statement of Interest I had spent so much time developing exceeded the word limit by more than 200%.  I had to cut it down from 3 pages to about 3/4 of a page.  I was extraordinarily disappointed; I felt that the full version of my interest statement perfectly expressed my goals, skills, and personality.  After hastily deleting over two-thirds of the document in an attempt to submit my painstakingly prepared application before the deadline, my confidence in my chances of being selected for the program was depleted considerably.

Fast forward two months: It's August and I'm thinking about the school year ahead.  Just two days ago, I was mulling over my options for Russia next spring and feeling stressed by my situation.  It's somewhat of a Catch-22.  I simply don't have the funds to pay the travel and tuition expenses for a semester of studying abroad; I have been unsuccessful at obtaining an internship that might cover those costs; I have relentlessly applied for scholarships but have not been awarded a single cent; and yet I must study abroad during Spring 2011 in order to complete my thesis so that I can return to Belmont and complete certain classes that are only offered in a certain sequence and during certain semesters.  If one little piece of this complex puzzle goes array, I will fail to graduate on time.  It would be an understatement to say that this has been a slightly stressful process.

I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot do this alone.  I told God that if he wants me to go to Russia, then he will have to provide me a means of getting there because as of right now all I have are dead ends.

This morning I sat down to check my email after a dentist appointment that went surprisingly well. (Apparently I have good tooth genes, who knew!?)  I had one new message.  The subject line read: Spring 2011 Russia Internship.  I've applied to hundreds of companies, agencies, and organizations, so emails like this are common and rarely fruitful.  I opened it without a second thought.  It wasn't until my eyes landed on "possible spring 2011 internship with the State Department Mission Russia" that I became riveted to the screen. My jaw dropped and I thought, IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?

Apparently it is. I have a phone interview tomorrow and I am thoroughly excited, to say the least.
Nervous? Perhaps a little. But I know that as soon as I have a chance to talk with the interviewer, the passion that I have for discovering new languages and cultures, for facilitating youth exchange programs, for fighting poverty through small business, for learning about foreign policy and foreign governments....my passion for these issues will come through in my voice and they'll know they picked the right person.

So here I am, one step closer to living the dream of a little 14-year-old girl that decided she would work as a Foreign Service Officer one day. Some dreams do come true, I hope.
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