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Livejournal layout and profile update: complete!

According to the last update, I was 24 and was just moving to Illinois when I last thought to update my info. I guess things have changed a bit.

My tastes mostly haven't though.

I mean

WE JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm going to do BEDA [blog every day april] over at monographstacks.blogspot.com. I'll try to remember to repost here, but just incase you either see a million posts or none, that's why.


Pretty & yummy.

This is what it looked like outside yesterday [taken on my patio]:


The green is such a refreshing change of pace. A little rain does wonders!

And today, I tried my hand at more food making. I'm trying to cook & bake more. Today was success at its best.

blueberry banana muffins from scratch.


Glory, Glory!!!

Today was perhaps the best day in recent history to be an Illinoisian. The State acted SO SMARTLY for once!


While Erik's away...

The kitties will play. My Friday night consisted of Domino's, MTV, and lots of reading LJ entries. Love it!




A year of reading madly

To take a page from Mandy's book, a little into the reading life of someone who reads far too much.

My goal for this year was originally to read 50 books. I figured at about a book a week, I'd be in such good shape. When September rolled around, though, and I was already at 50, I thought I'd shoot for 100 and see what happened. As of this morning, I've read 102 books. I've got 103 started but since I plan on being a consumerist and partier today, I don't want to push myself through it. My reading spanned everything this year, minus, perhaps, the classical/canonical literature which will make a reappearance this coming year (more time gives me more energy to do it, of course). I read non-fiction and fiction, adult and young adult. I'm pleased I did it because I discovered so much about what it is I like to read for pleasure and what it is I wouldn't mind reading for work-related purposes.

More specifically, I learned I love young adult literature. I've been reading it voraciously and I have been reviewing it in the same manner on Goodreads . I also discovered a love for business/current event type reading. Like Mandy did, I am offering a snapshot in my favorite reads of the year. For more details, you can check out the Goodreads link above or you can ask. In no particular order...

Best reads of 2008
The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere Debra Marquart
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
The Future of Work by Tom Malone

On the opposite spectrum...
I actually didn't read too many that require making a long list. Most things I don't like, I either don't bother finishing or I do finish and just let it go. The ones that stick out, though, are:

Worst of 2008
The Millenial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais.

Two old white academics talk about the young folks ruining America in dynamically stupid, boring, trite thesis style. Anyone who watches the news knows these things already, and if they don't, then they should write a book like this, right? Wrong.

Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont

This much buzzed about book brings you cocaine addicted high schoolers who go to prep school, have horses, and have no story worth reading. I love a good prep school novel, but de Gramont tries to pull a Sittenfeld-style Prep but goes no where. There is not a single redeeming quality, and the title hinges on one terribly written paragraph in the book that's meant to be a gripping moment but is actually a whole lot of nothing. Like the whole book. I'm supposed to be rereading it to write a review for an online review publication, but I just haven't had the stomach to suffer through it again.

Twenty West by Mac Nelson.

Another old white academic tells us why US highway 20 is so awesome (and in doing so, spends half the book rambling on about Boston literary figures and himself). Lame, uninteresting, and utterly wrong to put so much emphasis on a road/trip that's really not as important as he thinks (...and he thinks he's oh-so-witty).

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Borrows

The characters aren't interesting and they are all the same since this is a series of poorly-written letters. The storyline is utterly unbelievable and ridiculous. The book tries to be hot-to-trot with its topics, its style, and, well, an author who died before it was published. Don't bother.

Since I did 100 this year, I plan on trying to do another 100 next year. I would love to do 20 books a month, for a total of 120 next year, but I'm being realistic with 100. I've already made myself a huge delivery request for books Austin Public Library, for which I am eager!

PCL & Prufrock's.

Today's post is brought to you by the hot white mocha and plain bagel/cream cheese accompanying me in my favorite place and spot on UT's campus - the main library.

Stereotypical as it may sound, the library here is my favorite place. Like every school, UT has its own lingo and methods of referring to things. The library's name is the Perry Castanada Library; quite a mouthful, really. So, like almost all other buildings, it goes by a three letter acronym. Within the glorious PCL is one of the most debated coffee places at the school, Prufrock's. Prufrock's is well known for terrible coffee, but because it is in the library, not a Starbucks, and closest to the School of Information, it does well. I've yet to be disappointed.

But to the "real" point. I love this library because no matter what I want, aside from the latest young adult or fiction book, I can find it. We have an extensive YA/Children's area, as well as an expansive new books section. Though I hate the two week limit on the new guys, the amount of books I've been able to pick up and read that are hardly off the press is great. For all other books, I get until mid-January to hold on to. Can you even guess how much I've got sitting around my apartment waiting to be read? Lots, folks. Lots.

I've got my own little corner on the 6th floor (top) in the back where there is a plug and carrel for me to enjoy my coffee and bagel and read to my heart's content on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. It makes me calm for the impending doom that'll inevitably arise from class.

I'll miss this place when I leave if for no other reason than it feels like a "home" on campus.

In related news, I finished Twilight last night. I will read the next books, which have been kindly, uh, acquired via a friend digitally. I'm not a huge fan, but it's a quick read, and I can certainly see why and how people do like it so much. I'm just unimpressed with character development of Bella.

Right now, I'm about 60 pages from the end of this book. And I'm about 150 from the end of this one , which I am going to finish before class today. Talk about a contrast in the Lockhart book from the Meyer book. Then it's on to this one , a two-week check out courtesy of PCL library.

Day 1, 35 left to go.

It's national blogging month, and the goal is to write a blog entry a day. I'm going to give it a go. Likely, I'll get lazy or uninspired in a couple days and throw the baby overboard, but it's worth trying, right?
That said, my updates for today include the following plus and minus list:

+ Seeing the mountain goats tonight.
- Being out way late again on a Saturday night and spending money
- Paying bills and rent
- STILL not having received reimbursement from Ames's big screw up
+ Having moved past the HR part of a job I applied to
+ Finding two jobs in Colorado to apply to that are in my field of interest and in which I may be moderately qualified
- Homework
+ Only having 35 days until I graduate
- Not having a way to get to the project I need to complete in order to graduate, thanks to the bus strike

And to leave you with a smile this lovely Saturday:

Ahhh...an argument for competition.

I've been telling Erik for months now that there needs to be competition in this city for public transportation. Capital Metro, while good, has a ton of holes in its system. It's focused primarily downtown, and its timings are atrocious: it seems no matter what, you always miss your connection by literally the opening of a door. You take the 21 south and need the 4 east, but the moment the 21 gets to the corner, the 4 is already gone. Now you're stuck waiting for 20 more minutes or more, depending on the service routes and levels. Poor planning, if you ask me. So what would make sense in my mind is inviting and incentivizing competition for the BEST public transportation system. Let someone develop a smart system that makes people happy, right? It will force cap metro to only become better. The small size of the city is certainly limiting in that opportunity but not out of the question by any means.

That said, I'm in a hurt locker now.

I don't have a car in this city, and I depend primarily upon capital metro for my transportation. I haven't had too many complaints since most of the places I need to get are downtown. I'm okay with waiting if a miss a connection; I don't mind going out of my way; and I'm generally pleased with how little I really need to walk from place to place. Plus, as a student, it's free for me thanks to the outrageous fees I pay to the university.

Well, today capital metro decided they're striking.

They're unhappy with pay and with benefits agreements. Fine, I understand. But they just raised their fees for riding this month; again, the fee increase makes sense since using the transportation here is dirt cheap. But, now we're without any public transportation -- UNLESS you take the UT shuttles (which doesn't employ the startran drivers who are striking) or you utilize one of the 10 main lines. They aren't putting time tables up, and they're not releasing much information. In other words, it's a test your luck situation, and do not expect to even get on a bus.

The route I need to get to my capstone -- the project I need to do in order to graduate -- is one that will not be running. It's not walkable from the university nor from anywhere near downtown. If I walk from where the closest UT shuttle drops off, I walk through one of Austin's few ghetto areas. And I walk 3 or 4 miles. Now, I'm whining about this, and it sucks a lot for me, but there are people who literally need this line in particular to get to work, to get groceries, and to go to school. These are the people who are truly impacted by the fact the cost of riding the bus went up and who now not only have no transportation, but no means of getting their basic needs met. Then there's the entire sector of people in this city who are committed to the eco-causes who have sold their cars and only rely on public transportation. Since Austin continues to pride itself on its eco-scene, losing the bus system is an even larger detriment -- now we're going to have to pollute the air some more with our cars (and the eco-folks will not be able to work and share their money with the economy, presumably). Obviously, a tinge of sarcasm in the last statement, but point being, there's going to be an impact on the greater economy.

So, back to my main point: why is it we don't encourage competition again? Is it so that when something like this happens, we're all slaves to the original cause and must give in to demands (and I'm not taking one side or the other since I'm not well enough versed in the issues)? Or is it because we're afraid that when something like this does happen, the shitty system disappears? I don't get it. Why can't we encourage making things work again?

**That said, I'm really pissed I can't go work on my graduation project, since graduation is a mere 35 days away. I'm thinking I should begin taking the ut shuttle as far as it goes near there, then hopping a cab, saving the receipts, and sending them to cap metro for reimbursement.