Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

win-win situations

Two recent discoveries making life a little better:

Vanessa, and a few days later my mom, sent me a link to, and I think that it's just wonderful. Okay, so I like words. Maybe not everybody would find a vocabulary quiz so enjoyable. But the ingenious part about is that, every time you answer correctly, new, surprisingly unobtrusive, ads show up at the bottom of the screen. These ads generate enough cents to pay for ten grains of rice to people who need it, through the United Nations World Food Program. Ten grains may not seem like a lot, but if you're like me and therefore easily addicted to games like this one, ten plus ten plus ten... can add up pretty fast. It's a great temporary distraction, or serious procrastination tool, depending on how you use it. And it's refreshing, amid all the junk, to see that people have found a new way to use the internet for good.

On campus the other day, thirsty and just generally tired, I bought a Powerade, thinking that it might alleviate both of those symptoms. I rarely purchase energy drinks and I was unacquainted with the flavor that I chose that day. I am none the better for having become acquainted with it. It was really gross. I kept drinking it only because I convinced myself that it was good for me, but I never quite finished it. The next day, I reached for something different. It's called vitamin water. Half expecting to dislike this one, too, I was very pleasantly surprised. It is not loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, which, since its cost is inferior to that of sugar (unfortunately, its taste is inferior, too) is used in most sweet beverages. Nor are you left with that artificial-sweetener aftertaste. The people who make this stuff show us that just a little of the good stuff, meaning pure sugar, goes a long way. That means it tastes yummy without having tons of calories. And it's full of vitamins that you need and, if you're like me, you're probably not getting enough of. I'm sold, anyway. The first variety I tried, and perhaps still my favorite, was the dragonfruit-flavored "power-c", with vitamin c (duh) and taurine. I was a little taken aback by the second sentence of that wikipedia article on taurine, but it didn't kill me. And it didn't taste like bile, or at least not what I imagine bile would taste like. Blech, I'm going to stop imagining that now. The raspberry-apple flavored "defense" is pretty good, too, but I really like fruit-punch flavored "revive" and açaí-blueberry-pomegranate "xxx" (which stands for triple antioxidants), and "formula 50" tastes exactly like that grape-flavored gum you sometimes get at Japanese restaurants. Oh, and the descriptions on the bottles are clever and entertaining. Maybe I could get a job doing something quirky like that. Anyway, here's to something that really is good and good for you! Now, if only it weren't so expensive...

Monday, November 26, 2007

what i have been doing for the past couple of weeks

adobe creative suite 3 design standard for mac: $219
five-pound bag of equal exchange organic hot chocolate mix: $35
ikea light fixtures and lightbulbs: $70
sofa and loveseat slipcovers: $60
sweatshirt and sweatpants: $15

being distracted from other worries that i tend to hyperbolate by whiling away the hours learning new skills and developing a creative product that i can proudly claim: priceless

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

art in chicago

A couple of weekends ago, I escaped to Chicago to visit my bestest friend in the whole wide world. After a quick plane flight (just a plain ol' flight, nothing extraordinary) and a taxi ride through the ghetto and the barrio, I arrived at the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall just in time to catch the second half of a performance by the Brentano String Quartet. Check out the recordings on their webpage. It's too bad they don't have video, though, because they were very ...animated. Seriously, I thought that the first violinist was going to launch off his chair and leap around the rafters for a while before coming back down to the stage. Really, though, they were quite good. Unfortunately, I missed the first half, which was when they played really weird contemporary stuff. This is unfortunate because I probably would have liked it a lot. Because I'm weird like that. For the same reasons I am more drawn to this than to this. Not that I don't appreciate the latter; I am just less likely to hang it on my wall. Speaking of experimenting with art, check out these, produced by people with way too much time on their hands. Not that I consider them innovative geniuses, but the concept is sort of fun nonetheless. My absolute favorite is the last one on page 10. Anyway, now that we are on the topic, it seems a good time to say that I got to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. There I saw cool stuff like this and this and this. Possibly the most famous painting is the collection is Seurat's A Sunday on the Grande Jatte. I do like a good pointilist work. And check out the Christmas cards they had in the store! Oh, how I love love love art museums.