Archive for October, 2009

Sometimes, generally around the holidays, my office likes to spice things up. Our Quality of Work Life Committee likes to organize little events to break up the work day. At Halloween, that translates into the Pumpkin Carving/Decorating Contest.

Our office is made up of seven different projects (departments) and (usually) each project submits a pumpkin. The judges are from other offices in the building, and are not announced until just minutes prior to the showing. That way there can be no bribes, you see. (Did I mention we’re competitive?)

Now, these pumpkins, they can get quite elaborate. Allow me to demonstrate from last year’s entries:


The office was under construction last year


A commentary on the stock market


I didn't even know what Twitter was at this point


Eh...something about the election


Dia de los Muertos - points for the most elaborate

And out of all of these creative works, who won? Well, I’m glad you asked. We did. With this beauty:


Not only a broken piggy bank...


...but, yes, that's also lipstick on our pig

Our inspiration this year: Balloon Boy. What else?

We’re still working on it (seriously, I feel like I’ve been getting paid to spray paint), but I’ll be sure to post a photo when we’re done. I know you can’t wait.

Any last minute details you think we should add?

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I’ve mentioned before, mostly in conjunction with football, that I generally cannot stand sports commentators.

They love to state the obvious. They make glaring mistakes (such as last night’s “the Phillies are up 5-0 on the Angels” – I’m sorry, when did that happen?). They’re decidedly un-funny…particularly when they laugh too hard at their own jokes.

But every now and then, you learn a little tidbit about one of your players that makes it all worth it. And last night we learned that Jimmy Rollins – star Phillies shortstop, former NL MVP and Gold Glove winner – was once in an MC Hammer video.

“MC Hammer is from Oakland, and when I was about 13, he had an open casting call. My brother and I were picked to be in one of his videos. We were in a graveyard scene. But there was no dancing involved. You don’t want to dance next to Hammer. Then my sophomore year in high school I was in a Mavis Staples video called ‘The Voice.’ I played a little thug on the street corner selling drugs. Then I shot somebody and jumped a fence. It was fun. I wouldn’t say I’m retired, just that my acting career is temporarily suspended,” Rollins said to SI.

With MC Hammer (around 3:35):

And Mavis Staples (around 1:05):

To be honest, I think Rollins should have danced. Maybe not next to MC Hammer, but he’s got some pretty sweet moves on the field. I’m sure he could put them to music.

I wonder if he still has Hammer pants?

Thank you, commentators, for giving me something worthwhile this time.

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I have always, always been an avid reader.

As a kid, I tore through series after series – Boxcar Children, The Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins (and eventually, Sweet Valley High, of course) – never wanting to put the books down. In fact, I used to stay up past my bedtime to read, by hiding under my covers and using a flashlight.

Cool kid. Right here.

I still love reading. There aren’t quite as many series out there for my age group (no, I haven’t read Twilight), but I’ve been open to recommendations from friends, as well as turning to the lists of classics that I should have read by now, but never got around to.

However, there are still some times that I want something that’s as quick and easy (and shallow) as a Sweet Valley read, but on a somewhat more adult level. (Kind of counterintuitive, I know.)

And that’s where my trashy romance novels come in.

I discovered them a few years ago – thanks to my mother. She’d been reading a series by Elizabeth Lowell; I was bored; I picked one up and started skimming. And then I was hooked.

Yes, the books are predictable. There’s always (at least in mine) a leading male who is either current or former military (think Marine, Navy SEAL, Black Ops agent, generic bodyguard, etc), and a leading lady who is smart, strong, independent and (according to Nora Roberts), never stick-thin.

They meet. There’s a mutual attraction (and a lot of sexual tension). There’s a misunderstanding that gets them into trouble. Then they make up and realize they’re in love.

And this is all over the course of a couple weeks or so. You know, the usual.

The thing is, as much as I know that these books are probably rotting my brain from the inside out (and giving me unrealistic expectations about whirlwind romances), I just can’t put them down. Which is probably why I spent all of last Saturday curled up in a chair, listening to the rain, and reading about Troubleshooters Inc. and their mission to protect a female politician while trying not to lose one of their own.

hot pursuit

I could try to fight it – replace the trash on my bedside table with a more intellectual read. But why?

My dreams are significantly more fun when I fall asleep after reading a romance novel.

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I don’t like leaving things to the last minute. I really don’t. But somehow, particularly around Halloween, it ends up happening.

When I was a kid, of course, our costumes were planned out weeks in advance. (Perhaps even a month or so. Whatever. I was neurotic.) In any case, the entire outfit, down to the last accessory, was carefully laid out and ready to go.

Halloween - 2nd Grade Class

Costumes were so much fun as a kid. Can you find me?

Over the past few Halloweens, I’ve become significantly more disorganized relaxed about the whole thing. This means that I generally reuse costumes (yay saving money!) and don’t buy any additional accessories…until the day before. But that’s not good for my OCD.

This year, I need one, teeny tiny little accessory, and I just don’t know where to go. If I’d planned in advance, I could have ordered it online. Perhaps even borrowed it from someone. (Though, I don’t know who would possibly have one just lying around the house.) But I didn’t, so I can’t.

So here’s my question for you: where can I go in DC (or, the metro accessible area), to find costume props?

I realize it might be difficult to give advice when you don’t know exactly what it is I’m looking for. But if I told you the prop, you’d know the whole costume. And that ruins the surprise.

Don’t you like surprises?

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Yesterday was the Marine Corps Marathon and 10k. I ran (the 10k, of course – no marathons until 2010), but there was a very different feeling at the end of this race – both in finishing the 10k and in watching the marathoners. What struck me most wasn’t my time or how I did. This race was about so much more than that.

MCM Sunday 10.25.09 010

  • It was about the numerous Marines who were lined up at every water stop (and elsewhere on the course), handing you a cup and cheering you on.
  • It was about the vast number of runners and supporters who were there in memory of loved ones.
  • It was about the final stretch up the hill to the Iwo Jima memorial that forced you to push harder than you thought you could. A hill that was hard enough on runners, and absolutely brutal on the wheelchair racers.
  • It was about one of the wheelchair racers who had to pause in the middle of the hill – go back, go forward – but had a chorus of hoo-rahs! in his face, encouraging him. And about another who looked far too young to be in that position. Seeing him wasn’t the first time during the race that I got tears in my eyes.

MCM Sunday 10.25.09 012

  • And it was about the Marine who was running near me, nearly the entire race, with one prosthetic leg. He was, honestly, an inspiration to keep running, even when my own legs felt like jelly. But I knew that if I did stop and walk, he’d run by and encourage me to keep going – tell me that I could keep going – because I saw him do it to so many other racers. He would jog with them a little bit, then move on to the next person who needed a little mid-race motivation.

I went into this race thinking that it would be like any other, but I was wrong. The atmosphere and the spirit of it were just different, and made me appreciate being able to be a part of it.

And now I really can’t wait for next year.

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Despite the fact that I’ve had an excellent week (sports and otherwise), I still hit a few patches of cranky, where cracking a smile just seemed like it was too much work and so not worth it.

Luckily, I have friends who know just what will make me smile. Even when I think I don’t want to.

Exhibit A:

And if that weren’t enough…

Exhibit B:Vodpod videos no longer available.

Absolutely phenomenal.

Happy Friday!

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I had planned to participate in TMI Thursday this week. There’s just something fun about trying to gross people out. But last night, this happened:


That’s right. The Phillies beat the Dodgers in five games to advance to the World Series! (Funny – it almost feels like last fall again.) And my favorite Phillie, Mr. Jayson Werth (who, if you remember, I may have stalked when he came to play the Nats), had two home runs!

My mom texted me just as the game ended (right before midnight), and asked if I’d be wearing my Phillies t-shirt to work today. I wish, Mama, I wish.

Frankly, I don’t know how I’m supposed to work today – it’s hard to concentrate when you’re on cloud nine.

The World Series starts next Wednesday, and if you’re looking for someone to root for, may I suggest these National League Champs? ESPN can give you 15 reasons, but I think my favorite is number eight:

Reason No. 8 — This One’s For Harry
Beloved. Adored. Revered. Respected. Remembered. Every single day.

There’s a reason why the Phillies keep Harry Kalas’ sportcoat and a pair of his loafers in their dugout each game and wear a patch with his initials on their unis. The legendary play-by-play man, who died earlier this season, was, as our Jayson Stark so eloquently wrote at the time, “the soundtrack of Philadelphia Phillies baseball.”

If the Phillies beat the Yankees, Manuel ought to spray champagne on Harry’s jacket. For old time’s sake.

God, I love October. Go Phils!

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