Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So close to the New Year....

I'll have my resolutions done for a post tomorrow. Tonight is for a party.

Also, tonight is for a little retrospective on the things that really changed my life this past year. I will narrow it down to three.

First, and possibly the most obvious, is my acceptance and enrollment at Rutgers. Throughout high school I was a bit of a slacker, only applying myself to the things I really cared about. College has been good to me and for me. Now, instead of lazing around and letting the consequences roll off my back, I actually do what I'm supposed to. That means balancing a full course-load of school work, a 20 hour per week job, and an editorial position on the newspaper. And I love it. I am not sad to have left high school behind.

After that, I would have to place my time spent with the Free Spirits. I include our flurry of facebook activity as we received our letters of acceptance in this, as well as our refusal to let go. (Oh yeah, and the actual conference.) Journalism, especially print journalism, is not a thriving profession right now. But I sincerely believe that the 102 young adults that gathered for a week in March will change the world.

And, most definately not least, is the passing of my high school journalism teacher, my mentor, and my friend, Jane Hopper. I met her my freshman year of high school, when I was just 14, and all I knew about journalism was that my favorite character on the West Wing was CJ, and all I knew about writing was that I was good at it. I never expected to end up where I am, and it is all thanks to her.

I have tried several times this year to express in writing how much she meant to me and how much I miss her. Ironically, this is the one thing I cannot do to my satisfaction. Nothing works. But I know she knows.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guess what I did today

Sledding: Verb The act of throwing oneself, and possibly others, down an snowy or icy incline, on a specific toy intended for such activity. May result in wet clothes, bruises, and general soreness.

At Em's request I led an expedition to the local sledding hill, accompanied by a few other neighborhood kids. It was massive amounts of awesome, especially because we pulled out the old mini-luge that I won in a mini-luge competition when I was 12. It is still the best sled ever invented. At the end of our quest (when my jeans were finally to soaked for me to just tough it out any longer) we linked two sleds together for the final run.

2 sleds + 6 youths, ages 11 to six days shy of 19 + well-iced sled hill =

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rose, Rising presents... presents

You will, eventually, get the post on Christmas music like a promised.

Last weekend I finally tracked down where and when I can watch the West Wing, Bravo at 8:00 and 9:00 am. So I have been celebrating my new-found "free time" and watching it each morning. It is in season three, at the moment, and today they aired one titled "Bartlet for America." Season 3's Christmas episode.

Besides the festive decor, there is very little separating this episode out from the others as a holiday show, unlike the two previous Christmas episodes. No, it is much more somber, as the characters deal with the outcome of the President hiding his MS from the people.

Anyway, in this episode, President Bartlet gives a present to Leo, a framed napkin with "Bartlet for President" written on it in pen. It is the same napkin that Leo gave him when he proposed the then-governor's run for president.

In the next episode (which also ran today) Charlie gave the President a replica of a map of the Holy Land in the 1700s. Throughout the show, the rest of the cast advises the President to not hang it in the White House, as it does not recognize Israel. He thinks that they are being stupid, as Israel did not exist then. Naturally, as he can use now use it to irritate the other characters, he loves the map even more.

So, what is the best present that you have received? I can't decide on one for me, I'll let you know when I narrow it down to three or so.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Food

Holiday Food

Yes, I said Holiday, and not Christmas. No, this has nothing to do with being a secular liberal and everything to do with celebrating more than one holiday in between mid-November and January 1st. I was thinking about writing about Christmas music, but that's a post far too long to write before the Daily Show comes on. I also need to do more research on it.

So, a menu of goodness that reminds me of of the holidays:

My family isn't really big on appetizers. Possibly because my mom always buys Girl Scout nuts to put out, and always forgets. Always.

My mom usually makes fish pho (said fuh, and is supposed to have a particular accent mark, but I don't know what it is) for dinner on Christmas Eve. But there is a new family favorite. Squash soup. It made its debut this Thanksgiving, and was delicious.

There are all the classics like Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham. Screw that, I'm going to talk about lasagna. Specifically, chicken alfredo lasagna. My second-favorite holiday dish, it is my annual request for my birthday dinner. (Dec. 27, for those who might not know.) Mmmm, so good.

This year at the family "What I'm thankful for" session, I was thankful for the mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Seriously, they are the most delicious stuff ever. Easily makes the list as my most favorite holiday food ever.

Dessert: Christmas cookies. You will get a review of them soon, I promise.

Snack: Candy canes! Most years Dad has brought home a box of these sweets that we spend five minutes adding to the tree, and the rest of the season taking off.

Drink: Eggnog! Okay, it tastes like weird vanilla and has the same consistency as melted ice cream. But that's what makes it so good!

In prep for next week's blog, what is your favorite Christmas song?


In my Dec. 7 post entitled Tree Time pt. 2, I incorrectly identified an ornament as the Starship Enterprise. It is in fact the Starship Voyager. I regret the error.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I am now officially the Observer's NEWS EDITOR!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tree Time pt 2!

I love Christmas trees, to an extent that will not be made wholly apparent by the random pictures I took before heading back to college today. Even now, as I look back at what I decided to photograph, I wonder why I skipped some of the family favorites, such as our blue hippo. Or covered bridge. OR MY SPACESHIPS! Clearly, this will need to become a three part series, with an update on more family memories when I'm home to take pictures of them.

Here is one side of our tree. Why did I only do one side? I'm not sure. Also, there is an angel on top of it now, but that didn't go up before I had to give Mom her camera back. Oh, and there is a train set underneath, one large enough for all twenty seven cars and five engines we own. We take Christmas very seriously.

The golden pear! Over a decade ago, we had a tree calamity, where the tree fell, and many of the ornaments broke. My grandparents on my father's side gave us a few of theirs after, to help replenish our collection. This highly-reflective pear is one of them, and one of Dad's favorites.
The yellow ribbon in the upper left is one of our oldest traditions--a reminder that not everyone is as lucky as we are to have our family safe and near for Christmas.
The sequined green and yellow ornaments are part of a set of six and are the oldest ones we have. They are from Mom's side of the family, and pre-date her by at least two generations.
On the far left is a portion of a walrus on a motorcycle.

Though the star of this photo is obviously my ballerina, given to me during my dancing days (and lovingly repaired every time her damn arm breaks off) I want to talk about the lower left. I'm fairly certain that it came from a visit to the Capitol building. Every time we go ANYWHERE, we try to find a Christmas ornament, so we can tell everyone stories about that trip.

To help prove my point, we have this guy here, who I found at Medieval Times. He, and two others like him, are the newest of the whole tree, as I bought them on Friday. Behind him is a rather good example of the not-so-elegant fare that also graces our tree: a wreath I made in Girl Scouts.

I don't even know where to start with this one. Okay, most obvious first. Dead center is a fish catching Santa. I feel like there should be some more description of it, but that is all it is. Slightly hidden above that is the Capitol dome. To the right is one of three kings. To the left is one of at least six panda ornaments. The upper right has a baby bootie, probably from Em's first Christmas, but it might be Dennis's.

This one is featured mainly for the reappearance of the panda, here held by a mother brown bear. (Anyone want to guess why?) To the left is an apple. We have twenty or so apples as fillers, and I ALWAYS get stuck putting them up. There is also a zebra butt, on the far left.

This picture serves little purpose, except to showcase our slightly demonic-looking angel musicians. Oh, and STARSHIP ENTERPRISE!

And here is Santa on a Jeep. He's another one of mine, given to me by my Aunt Claire, who reads this blog and thinks I curse too much. The boys each got one as well; Joe has Santa on a plane and Dennis's is a helicopter. Just to the right of it is a bauble from the Grand Canyon. But what's that, hiding in the shadows on the left? Let's turn the flash on and find out!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tree Time

On something that is most commonly called a "whim," I went home today. Dennis and I set up the tree in about 30 minutes, including the time it took to saw off the bottom so it would drink properly, and sweeping up afterwards.

Now, Dennis and I are Christmas nuts. Seriously. So when Mom said if we put up the lights and garland tonight, we can do the real decorating tomorrow, we jumped on it. It took about two hours, most of that dedicated to the longest question ever asked. I'll post it here eventually. But now... pictures!

Here is Dennis with boxes and boxes of Christmas. This photo is actually pretty misleading, the white bag of lights in the foreground is on top of a very large carton, and the green and red tub in the back is on top of another tub. And there is another box behind them.

Dennis and I took our sweet time choosing garland. Yes, we have four different colored garlands (plus a fake fir one) and yes, we pretty much always pick the same ones.

Gold and colored lights rule the day!

Dad was proud. And look, on the right! ANOTHER CHRISTMAS BOX.

More photos tomorrow, as the decorations really go up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

20 in. hole x 30 min. = ?

A pretty decent column, if I do say so myself.
The morality of Prop 8 was discussed in another column, so I didn't touch that part.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saved the paper tingle

Perhaps the other journalists know the tingle I referenced in the title of this post. It is the one where the problem article crops up at the very last second, and someone needs to do something about it. In my time on the Roxbury Review, it was often up to me to fix it. Guess what happened last night.

As the Oberver is coming out tomorrow, two days after the break, it is reasonable to have a slightly thinner issue. However, do to an oversight somewhere along the way, we ended up with a column that was unprintable, and a huge hole on the one of the Op Ed pages. So, I wrote a companion column to the other one that was running on the page. In less than two hours.

I'm proud of it, though it is not the best piece I have ever written, and I was writing to space, I am proud of it.

I'll link when it is posted.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

[sic]: Joe, on dictionaries

Joe: Hey, you have your computer out. Can you look find an alliterative dictionary online?
Me: Strange look
Joe: I guess that would be a regular dictionary.

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm back home to my basement, for the smallest family Thanksgiving on record. Only eight people!

"So," you might ask, "what are you thankful for, Carol?"

I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my hilarious and thoughtful brothers and my sister who calls my hat "doofy." I'm thankful for Mom, who is breaking with tradition to teach me how to cook this year. (That's why I'm hiding in the basement.) I'm thankful for Dad, for watching four hours of the West Wing with me last night (yeah, everyone else did to) and because I'm his favorite.

I'm thankful for my many aunts and uncles, some of whom read this blog! And my grandparents, who aren't the "aren't you so cute" kind; they talk to and treat me like an adult.

I'm thankful that I'm in college, have a job, and have a home to come back to.

I'm thankful for my laundry list of friends, who I know I can always rely on. I'm thankful for Emma, Wenjing, and Greg for being the best friends I could possibly have. I love you.

And, before this goes on too long, I'm thankful for the Free Spirits, for being inspiring, being awesome, and always being there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I FINISHED my novel.

Final word count: 50537
I won NaNoWriMo.
Now I'm not touching the fucking thing until January. Then I'll edit it, and then you can read it.
I'm relieved, and exhausted. I seriously wrote the last 5000 words today, because I knew I would get shit done if I didn't finish before going home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I lol'd

I wanted to write a post about Christmas music, but I'm not allowed to. Four more days before I'm allowed to listen, and it's killing me.

But! Thanks to this cool NJIT kid I met last weekend (Joe) I have a new Pandora station that won't irritate Greg half as much. Jonathan Coulton.

Here is an excellent example of his work. The rest of the "Spiffworld" YouTube channel is more music videos of his songs. (Someone else played WOW and made the videos.)

It turns out that I have actually heard his work before; he wrote Still Alive. And I love Portal.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Press A To Jump: Fable II

I play videogames fairly often. So, I figure, why not try a review? If you don't care for gaming talk, just skip this post

Fable II

Plot: The game begins with you as a child (you choose the gender) in the town of Old Bowerstone. You and your older sister Rose are dirt poor, unable to even scrounge up five gold to by a music box a peddler is selling. So you take various jobs around town to get the gold, while the game gives you basic instructions about gameplay. Boring, except for the few choices you are forced to take, which effect the game later on. And you find a dog.
You get the gold, you get the music box, and you get to make a wish! Rose does this for you, wishing you could live in a castle, like Castle Fairfax. And what do you know, that night some of Lord Lucien's guards come and take you to the castle! But you don't bring your dog.
With a name like Lord Lucien, he just has to be evil, right? Hell yeah! He kills your sister, and shoots you as well. You get thrown from the tall tower, where you are rescued by the blind gypsy seer, Theresa. And your dog.
Fast-forward ten years. Theresa tells you of Lucien's evil plan to destroy Albion. It's up to you to stop him! But you need to enlist the help of three other heroes to do so. And with the exception of the second one, they suck. Sorry about that.
Overall, the plot is interesting, and your decisions at various points make you in charge of the storyline.

Combat: Oversimplified, to the point that button mashing works. X is melee, Y is ranged, and B is magic. (Sorry! Will! Not magic!) That being said, it's fun. Wading into a scrum of bandits, cleaver swinging is very rewarding. My character was a mix of melee and will, and it was awesome.
Other: You can interact with everyone, almost everything, and you really get to make your character however you want. You can be super good and pure, have everyone love you, and get rich easily. Or you could kill everyone, steal their stuff, and capture others and sell them into slavery. Or you can be some of both.
There are tons of non-essential quests to go on and treasures to uncover. You could just play plot-related quests and finish the game in a day or so, but I've stretched my first game to last over a week. (Granted, I had maybe 4 sessions during said week, but I want to buy all the real estate in the game, just to say I did.)

Bright, lovely maps and areas. The non-essential characters are cookie-cutter though. And if you eat anything but celery, your character gets fat and ugly.

The music is not memorable. The voice-acting is good, but the non-essential characters talk WAY TOO MUCH.

Re-Play: I'll play it again, make all different choices, and be evil. It's fun. Besides playing once as good and once as evil, I don't see much point in playing multiple times. By doing all the quests, you stretch the game out, but I don't see myself going back to play it again and again.

Overall: A fun game, worth checking out, especially if you liked the first Fable. With the over-simplified combat and the interesting story line, would be a good game to get a non-gamer friend to try.

Next up: Mirror's Edge, sometime next week.

Don't pick the sacrifice card. It's not worth it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

'Tis the season... Thanksgiving Traditions

Conviniently, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all fall on Thursdays this year. In honor of this odd coincidence, every Thursday through January 1 I will celebrate with posts on various aspects of the holidays.

This week, Thanksgiving Traditions at my house.

1. Christmas Music
By Mom-decree, Thanksgiving is officially the first day we are allowed to play Christmas music on the stereo.

2. Thanksgiving Friday?
When we were younger, Mom sometimes used to work on the Thursday,so we would have our feast on Friday instead. The awesome part about that was that Emma's mom sometimes worked the same day as well, so I would get to hang out with her.

3. Breaking Bread
Mom always attends mass on Thanksgiving morning, where she receives a small loaf of bread. After grace, but before the meal, we pass it around. Each person has to break off a piece and say one thing they are thankful for.

4. Banned!
I get kicked out of the kitchen for picking at the food, not helping, and generally getting in the way. To be perfectly honest, I do have a knack for messing up, including setting the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes on fire, and cutting my thumb open with the carving knife. (while doing dishes)

Dennis is the kid who helps Mom. Some how, he manages to not be in the way, despite clearly being the largest one in the house.

5. Give me your tired...
Our Thanksgivings are never complete without one or two or five non-relations there. Mom will not hear of any of our friends not getting a huge proper dinner. So far this year, I'm bringing two along.

So, my friends, do your families have interesting Thanksgiving traditions? Let me know, and I'll include them in my next holiday blog post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[sic]: Anthro Class

We were discussing cultural change, and how it comes about, particularly innovation.

Prof. Mazur: And sometimes change can be introduced by inventions, like the Mike Tyson grill.

Class:(Silence, then laughter)

Prof. Mazur: No, who was that? George Foreman! The Foreman grill. The Mike Tyson grill would grill ears.

Later during class

Prof. Mazur: We're having the final on the last day of class. What do you guys think?

Student 1: Can it be more multiple choice?

Student 2: Yeah, and less of the fill in the blanks?

Prof. Mazur: You want more choices?

Class: Yeah

Prof. Mazur: How about we just throw darts for your grades then?

Student 1: How about we use an atlatl?

Prof. Mazur: (laughs) Yes, you will be graded on the atlatl proficiency exam.

Students in the class regularly claim that the only thing we will remember is the importance of the atlatl.

Imitiation is the sincerest form of flattery. Laura Nelson of USC, your "Verbatim" section inspired this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attention everyone: I am a bad Catholic

I voted for Obama, and I'm not repenting! Granted, I have not received communion since the election, but I know Mom is going to make me come to church over winter break. I don't plan on repenting before then though. Goodness! I didn't know being a good Catholic was so hard. Man, I wish there were guidelines for how to be a good Catholic, or even a good Christian in general. Oh, wait! There are!

I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me. (Check)

Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (Okay, I have been known to say goddamit on occasion, but I've been working on it.)

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Check. I don't frequent church, but I pray on my own.)

Honor your father and mother. (Check)

You shall not kill. (Check. But let's go back to this one in a bit, okay?)

You shall not commit adultery. (Check.)

You shall not steal. (Check. Heck, I don't even download songs illegally.)

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Okay, I'm a little iffy on this one. I only lie for entertainment, not to deceive. Think of it as telling parables, not lies.)

You shall not covet your neighbors wife. (Check. )

You shall not covet your neighbors goods. (I try, but the newspaper just got a totally sweet new computer setup.)

Now, to go back to commandment V up there, apparently being pro-choice counts as a strike. But American voters were pretty much screwed on that one, across the board. Can you find me a candidate that was anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and anti-war?

How about one that fulfills all those requirements, and is pro-social security and welfare? Someone famous once said "Love one another, as I have loved you." and "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor." and who could forget "when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

Who was that? Oh, yeah, Jesus. (John 15:12, Luke 18:22, Luke 14:7-14, for those reading along at home.)

My point is, take any of the candidates, Dem, GOP, Green, Libertarian, ect. and you can find bible verses supporting them, or condemning them. (Look in Leviticus if you're having trouble, there are some doozies in there.) In the end, it is not for the Church (any church) to decide that a dedication to public welfare (which would save lives) is worse than and anti-abortion platform (which would do the same.)

Art imitates life imitates art

Okay, I wasn't the first one to pick up on the similarities. But I did pick up on them, as did the New York Times.

Pretty cool huh?

The Telegraph stretches the analogy a bit here too

I miss the West Wing terribly. Perhaps it was the ritual of it; Joe, Dad, and I (and sometimes Mom) would pile on the couch and watch the latest installment in the Bartlett world. During the commercials I would have to ask Dad to explain the plots and politics, at least at first. By the fifth season though, I was all caught up. And I loved it.

I firmly believe that my current interest in politics stems from watching the West Wing.

On a side note: Anyone know where to find episodes online? I want to watch it again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I can't belive I forgot to post this earlier...

^That is a link to the Rutgers Observer. Unfortunately, you can't see a lot of my hours of hard work, as I do layout. But I also write stories, see "Heroes of the Saffron Revolution" in the News section.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things I care about [Vol II]

1. I am really, really glad that I do not own an Xbox 360, because if I did, I would do nothing but play Fable 2 all day. Ask Greg.

Seriously, the game is very addicting and very fun. I recommend it to everyone who has some semblance of patience and a lot of free time.

2. My plant is very moody. Half the time he can go for days without needing me to water him, but today he got droopy and depressed twice in about five hours.

3. My NaNoWriMo novel is puttering along quite nicely. I finally have worked out all the bugs in the plot, so it should be easier to bang it out each day. Of course, now that I know where I'm going, I'm going to want to get there faster.

4. Directly related to number 3, above. I have started listening to Pandora Radio set to Chopin while I write. It gives me a huge boost of concentration. In fact, earlier today I found myself typing in time with the music.

5. Newark is kind of slow on the autumn front. The leaves have waited until now to fall, for some reason. I have taken to wearing fuzzy hats and scarves all the time, in celebration of the kind retreat of humidity. It's very pleasant. Unfortunately, we have seen no snow, and a lot of rain. Which isn't nearly as fun.

Friday, November 7, 2008

There really is no excuse for this

I had the absolute strangest dream ever.

My boyfriend and I moved to Minnesota to live in Paula's basement and attend a top secret journalism school.

Paula's basement as also a tropical oasis and had a beautiful waterfall. Let me give you an artist's rendering of how awesome it was.

Yes, there was a plasma television in the waterfall that Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert used to get in touch with us. They both apparently went to this same school, and so wished us luck. Colbert also said, "If at first you don't succeed, your friends will send us videos and we'll make fun of you."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On a completely different note, I am 10,000 words into my novel.

I've been reading a lot of Calvin and Hobbes lately. My favorite strips are always the ones that make me wish I had been a more mischievous child, and thankful I still have the imagination I did then.

Long car rides never bothered me, I could sit for hours, staring at my stuffed animals and the cup holder, imagining the drama of Forrest Bear and Sarah the leopard. Or I would, and sometimes still do, stretch out across the backseat, pretending I was a stow away on a pirate ship.

I don't actively remember ever being bored as a child, or much at all afterward. (Actually, scratch that. I have always been impatient with the games Monopoly, Risk, and any derivative thereof.) I do zone out, but after, it seems more amusing than a waste of my time.

This had a point didn't it?

Oh yeah. Go ahead and space out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

People are dancing in the streets

And chanting and singing and going nuts.

Cars can't go by without honking, the crowd won't let them.

My camera sucks, so I'll post the pictures later, if I can find any decent enough.

Seriously, R-N is going batshit. It is glorious.

We have a president!

Perfect words

The scene:
A college news room. The walls are painted a violent yellow/orange. Two female students sit, CAROL is laying out pages on a laptop, the single working computer in the room, irritated at not being as proficient in Quark as in InDesign. SARAH, her editor, is trying to write a headline for a story on a cancer survivor who invented a line of beauty products for women who are undergoing chemotherapy. The clock struck midnight some time ago.

SARAH: Beauty in Cancer? Ergh, that's not right.
CAROL: Don't say cancer in the main head, save it for the subhead.
SARAH: You're right.

A few minutes go by

CAROL: All my ideas are really lame. Lotion of Hope?
SARAH: Laughs, really really hard
CAROL: I warned you.

Carol finishes her layout work, and is finally happy with it.

CAROL: Okay, I'm turning in. Good luck.
SARAH: Thanks. I'm almost done.

CAROL leaves, then runs back in a minute later.

CAROL: Beautiful Solutions: Products sooth harsh realities of cancer

10 Things I care about [VOL I]

Virginia's 13 electoral votes
Florida's 27
Ohio's 20
Pennsylvania's 21
Colorado's 9

I hope I'm able to pull off the class schedule I want. America and the World, Intro to Politics, English Comp, Photo, and Cultural History of the NYPD. Interesting, eh?

It is quarter to nine, AM

And CNN has been on for an hour and a half. Barack Obama is voting. And he has been for about five minutes. Maybe he was still deciding? Now, I used an absentee ballot, and it took about thirty seconds to fill out. Then again, I knew who I was voting for.

Oh, wait, he's loitering because he's talking to his daughter. Nevermind, good for him. And now Joe the Biden is voting, with his mom and his wife.

Though I am well aware that I won't learn anything interesting from the news stations until at least 10 P.M. However, I am watching as much coverage as I can. I'm kind of obsessed with this and will be completely lost once the race is over.

As for the title of this blog, my middle name is Rose. Take it from there.