Thursday, July 29, 2010

i heart sjona

because she found me this:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hazing 2010: the dreaded Bar Exam

For most professional degrees, "they" decide that years of undergrad, torturing you with entrance exams named only letters, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MKAT, and exam after exam over several grueling years in grad school are not enough. There must be hazing. You must suffer as all those who came before you suffered. In fact, maybe worse if "they" (the hazy, smoke filled room with fuzzy faces kinda "they") want less people cluttering up their profession.

For my doctor was their Boards, followed by residency--certainly they have it the worst with their years of hazing (sleep deprivation, crippling fear of killing someone).

For my kind, the ones about whom jokes that involve death (often by drowning) are told, it is the Bar Exam. This multiday hazing ritual started back in the late 1700s. In 1980, a bunch of the states got together and created the multi-state bar exam. This allows them to transfer folks around the country more easily. Washington doesn't play well with others, but Alaska does. Great for the long term nomadic prospects :)  Anyways, the Bar is at least two days long everywhere. Adam is now on day 2 of 2.5. It is a test (part essay part multi-choice) that essentially requires you to know basically everything about everything in the common-law by knowing the "black letter rules", aka the rules thou shalt not break regarding any subject. Like all other tests in law school, it is curved so only part of it is based on how good you still have to wish everyone else would fall flat. We study for this little monster 8-12 hrs a day for 6 weeks leading up to the test. If you take a bar prep class, the give you the books to study from:
Don't worry, when i take the Bar, i will post pictures of all the things you can do with these books that isn't studying.

Side effects of Bar taking include: General hatred of all things good and Specific hatred of everyone not taking said Bar. Other effects include: lack of sleep, spontaneous crying, caffiene overload (which may lead to the spontaneous crying and lack of sleep), inability to speak about anything other than the Bar, loss of all friends and loved ones, and general apathy towards the universe.

Then, you get to wait 90 days to hear whether or not you either passed or failed said beast of exam.

Anyways, good luck Adam---go kill it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

parenting and adults...or the lack thereof

Today, after running some errands that had been going by the wayside for months, i went to the zoo with Tia, Laila and Zia. Only thing was, i was running on the time said is the time you show up and they were running on everything-is-taking longer than planned time. Which meant i got to people watch at the zoo entrance for a bit. I was busily watching this cute little kid when yelling started beside me.

The parents were hissing back and forth at each other. Their two girls--probably 9 and 11 looked mortified. Back and forth they went about who's fault why they werent' paying attention a car was, who was a bigger nag and who couldn't "take it anymore". The younger daughter hissed at them to shush, held her father's hands in her own to try to distract him. You could feel their hearts falling. Finally, the four of them wandered back towards the car yelling as they went.

I have never seen my parents argue. Don't get me wrong, i have no doubt they probably did. They are very different people and i cannot imagine they agree on everything. Still, there was a united front put forward. That united front helps me believe in the strength of its place as secure and stable...a team. That's what i want for my family and for myself as well.

Anyone out there have suggestions about how to do this??

Monday, July 19, 2010

today's proof of the existance of God

This bad boy rolled up outside the hospital and proceeded to give me a free Blizzard for lunch.

Thank you, Dairy Queen and Children's Miracle Network.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

things i would rather be doing

yup, it's gonna be a list.
  1. Hanging out with adam, nadia, anna, mona, quddus, johanna, pedro, mace, emma or dave.
  2. Reading my book "The Fate of Africa" by Martin Meredith surrounded by copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and Godiva chocolate.
  3. Hiking Torres del Paine
  4. Lying on a SE Asian Beach or South Pacific beach. Either Bora Bora or Ko Phangnan would be acceptable. In a hammock would be better.
  5. Riding ferries with my Bob and Lissa
  6. Swinging (like from a tree)
  7. Lying in the sun down south and then jumping in the lake (because i won't get hypothermia there).
  8. Eating sushi with adam.
  9. Laughing really hard.
  10. Receiving a shopping spree to IKEA with free shipping to Alaska, or better yet to a potter so i can get new dishes...since groomzilla says that i am only allowed to own a certain number of mugs. Little does he know, the spawn on their own in the cabinet.

Friday, July 9, 2010

holy cow it's hot, batman!!

Ok, so that's all relative right---the east coast is doing its triple digit steam bath routine and we over here on the left coast are talking about how 90 is miserable. I do recognize the double standard.

There is a key difference though folks that i think needs to be mentioned. Up here in the upper left (not as upper left as AK, but you get the point) most of us don't have AirCon at home. The second floor of my building seems to have it, but not the third or the fourth---i'm on the fourth. My building manager says if i get too hot i should go camping on the second floor. So when i came home last night, i anticpated that it might be a little toasty up in there. I have lots of's a beautiful apt with great views...all of which get late afternoon direct sun. Great in the winter, spring and fall....BUT in the summer i can't seem to get a good breeze going. Hence....the ever so exciting 91.2 degrees inside the house.

Then, because the grid went onto overload, the power went out. It went out at precisely the moment my roommate's super nice family (visiting from sweltering Texas) stepped into the elevator and the doors shut. Seems the little man who lives in the call button inside there does actually work!! He let them out a few minutes later. Normally, i'm all for the epic adventure of lights out---but, aside from stuck-ed guests--i had a growing concern about the impact on the fridge. A 90 degree house doesn't bode well for non-melting of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Luckily, the ice cream gods were with me and when i got home from class a couple hours later, the power was back on. Nevertheless, it was still well into the 80s. I think this morning it was 79 when i left for work--which felt strangely cool.

Hello, Sun. I missed you. I heart you. Can you stay? I promise to get used to sleeping with the fan on if you will just stay.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

there's no fireworks in alaska

When i was little, all fourth of July's involved a pig-pickin and a greased up watermelon you had to fish out of the pool. We inevitably watched the pops in the park firework display on TV or nearby somewhere. It was always a blast. As i discovered this past weekend, in Alaska there are no big fireworks displays--simply because it doesn't get dark enough out.

Instead, we spent the 4th exploring Whittier and the Kenai Peninsula. Click on an image for a big version--especially in the last section.
1. Portage Glacier: It was a glacier day....we saw lots of them and they were very lovely.

2. Whittier Tunnel: This tunnel through Maynard Mountain is the second longest highway tunnel and the longest rail/road combined tunnel in  North America. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited Adam, the tunnel snob, was about this one. Most of the tunnels i have ever been through have support concrete that forms a spherical or arch shape throughout. This one doesn't. This one is just the rock of the mountain reaching over your head for 2.6 miles. It is one lane, so the traffic flows in each direction for 15 minutes, unless there is a train going through. Whittier is a really tiny little town, nestled at the base of the mountains on the edge of the sound. It is surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of waterfalls this time of year as the snow continues to melt off the mountain tops.

3. Seward and the Amazing Race: Then we headed off down the Kenai, to what is affectionately known as Alaska's playground. It was beautiful, remote, and looked to definitely be bear and moose country...but alas, they were still eluding me. Seward is where everyone who isn't camping seems to go for the 4th. They have the Mt. Marathon race--which is this nutso race where everyone runs straight up a mountain (3000ft or 900 m) and then runs back down. It takes just over 40 minutes for the fastest ones. This pic is the mountain from our watching spot. Here's the action sequence:

4. Navid Erfani's car: I found Ducky's car.

Friday, July 2, 2010

farewell my jeep-jeep.

Like many things that are loved more than they deserve for all the pain and suffering and financial loss they cause, i loved my jeep. It was my first car. I felt like i could run over things in it. It had chrome rims. It decided to eat the driver's side window this week and i decided it was time for it to go. well, that's not exactly true, Adam kind of put his foot down and said that i needed to get rid of it because of all the repair work. Plus, the extended warranty had just expired and it looked like all manner of bad things were aboout to happen.

Seeing as how this new ride is the hoopty-ride for the next 5+ years, we consulted about what to get. While i was leaning towards something destructive like a Hummer or Escalade, the voice of reason from Anchorage reminded me that part of the trade in point was to get better gas mileage and more reliability. Hummers, i thought are very can reliably run over ANYTHING. Clearly, however, the point finally sunk in. We would be looking at crossovers. Really, they shouldn't be named crossovers. They are confused little cars that can't decide if they are a large car, station wagon or SUV. It's a mutt of a car.

I had learned my lesson last time when i got totally taken for a loop at the dealer. I started doing my homework....called dealers, wheeled and dealed prices and finally found what i thought would be the best deal. I went in armed with what i wanted for my trade in (the demonic, but oh so very clean, jeep with it's Westin garage dent still in the back). At first, my chosen dealer seemed nice enough. We went through the whole pricing game, where they pretend they can't do the deal they told me they would, then they tell me the "reality" about my jeep, then they realize they put in too much on the form for my trade-in (ironically the amount i wanted) but are now going to honor it. Blah blah. Then we get around to they don't actually have it in stock nor can they get it...but if i want to wait a few days "any day now" they will have the 2011 version coming in. The price is basically the same and they will give me the same kind of deal. Ok, sounds good....they then tease me with one on a truck in the street, only to be dissapointed to learn it is going to a different dealer. Alright, still sounds fair.

The problem is i am a cynical woman. Rarely do i trust anyone--especially dealers--having learned the hard way from purchasing the jeep. That was pure misery--a misery i did not want to repeat again. My anxiety was super high. I was awake all night thinking about how no one could tell me the actual invoice price of the damn car. I highly doubted it would be the mere 100-200 dollars more the guy who i didn't trust told me it would be. I decided to call the place where i knew the car was--the "other" dealer. Incidentally, the "other" dealer just got bought out and was eagerly trying to move stock off the lot. I called him up....said i knew he had the car (he didn't even know he had it yet---it hadn't gotten into the system). In fact, the invoices for them still weren't in the system when i bought it. You can't find it on the national website...and generally i don't think they are available.
I told him the deal the other folks were going to do (plus a little on the trade in price for good measure). Instead of just matching it, he took even more off the invoice price. I got a brand spanking new 2011 GLS Tucson for less than the invoice cost of the 2010 version.  Ours is silver (Adam reallllllly wanted silver). It's taking some getting used to. I'm closer to the ground. The brakes work better. There's bluetooth. There is a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty on everything, including roadside service. Good-bye AAA. It gets double the gas mileage of the jeep. There's no sunroof or chrome rims, but BOTH heated seats work. This morning i liked it better. I think it's going to be like that every day.

In a lot of ways, it feels symbolic to me. The next few months are really the beginning of a new stage in our lives. It seems fitting that i should let go of something that was so purely for my own personal pleasure and not for any kind of realistic benefit. Fresh, clean slate and start.   Off in a few hours to Anchorage for the long weekend. Adam wants me to pack up the car and bring it so he can drive it. I forsee a test driving expedition at the dealer up there.

Happy US independance weekend to all...