Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

Remember how last post I said that Boston had just gotten its first snow of the season? Well, apparently, the weather gods decided they'd make up for the lateness of the snowfall by dumping 2 feet of the stuff on us in one weekend. There are still piles of snow as high as my waist along my street. At least everyone here will have a White Christmas, though.

Our anniversary weekend was a great time. Friday night saw me and Yuval head to the Stone Zoo for Zoo Lights with Adrienne and Deanna. I like Cincinnati's Festival of Lights better, just because it's longer and covers more of the zoo, but Zoo Lights had its charms. Such as the creepy wonderland of Christmas toys in cases moving to music. They had marionettes. Marionettes! Why would anyone display a dozen of the most horrifying toys ever created, dancing to crackly Christmas music? I closed my eyes and moved on, not looking back.

The actual night of anniversary celebration, the 13th, was wonderful. We had a posh room at the Mariott (for free!), ate a scrumptious dinner at The Fireplace (for free!), saw Slumdog Millionaire at the Coolidge (for free!), and ate ice cream afterwards (not for free). Then we went back to our room and vegged out with the free movies on TV. And the next morning we had (for free!) a full hot breakfast made to order from the hotel restaurant. All in all, it was a great way to spend a weekend.

I'm heading home this afternoon, back to Cincinnati to see my family. For some reason, I'm way more excited and full of anxious jitters than I was at Thanksgiving. Maybe because this time I'm getting presents? Who knows. But I can't wait to give my family their presents. Honestly, I truly enjoy giving presents more than receiving them because I love seeing the looks on people's faces and knowing that I got them something they actually enjoy. I picked up the "good at picking presents" gene from my mom, so I've never gone amiss with a gift exchange. That's not to say that I don't also very much enjoy receiving presents, though. Who doesn't, man?

And so I'm off to make sure I've packed everything I need and check it twice. I hope all of you have a (safe) wonderful holiday, wherever you're spending it.

Merry Christmas!

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang

Slumdog Millionaire
Love Actually
Liar Liar

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Song

Boston had its first snow of the season on Sunday! Yuval and I woke up to big, fat flakes falling from the sky. Needless to say, he was overjoyed and promptly started acting like a kid on Christmas morning: grinning nonstop and laughing for no reason. Have I mentioned how much I love this guy?

We went to Harvard last Thursday night to hear Shai Agassi, CEO and founder of Better Place, speak about how he and his company are working to end our addiction to oil. How? Electric cars. But for real, not in the pipe-dream sense. Israel's his first testing ground, and they're rolling out the electrical network there sometime next year. Denmark is following, and then Hawaii and San Fransisco. And Australia. Basically, you buy a car, but you don't buy the battery. Better Place supplies the batteries. Sort of like when you buy a phone, Verizon supplies the network it runs on. Your car charges in its parking place by literally plugging into the electric network. And if you need a full battery right away, you can swap it out for a new one at a changing station (like Valvoline oil changes). Oh, and all Better Place electricity will come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar. There are some definite flaws and problems with it--will we become just as dependent on electricity as we are on oil? will electricity prices see price gouging just like gas? will the network function in bigger places like the US?--but all in all I think it's a brilliant solution.

I wasn't so fond of Mr. Agassi himself. He was clearly convinced he is one of the most brilliant men of our time, and he never actually directly answered any of the audience's questions. It was like watching PR acrobatics worthy of the White House. Also, this is a man who made a fortune as the next-in-line CEO of SAP, the largest business software company in the world. He is an entreprenuer first and foremost, and it became evident to Yuval and me that his interest in this "electric car business" is, above all, about money. I read an article about him in Wired a couple months back, and I learned a lot more about his mission and the company in that article than I did hearing him speak.

Dylan and I got to have some play time on Friday night, which was an absolute riot. He's almost 1 1/2, and knows lots of words and can understand most everything that's said to him. He also loves dancing, especially to "Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious." Kid loves his Mary Poppins music, even though he's never seen the movie. He's also very fond of taking things apart and putting them back together--I see a future in engineering.

Saturday was the Immunology Division's holiday party, which was held at the Belmont Hill Club (the country club Dr. Geha belongs to). There was delicious Lebanese food, karaoke, and dancing. Yuval and I had a good time. The highlight was definitely getting to see my 63-year old Lebanese boss sing "Oops...I Did It Again" while adding in some dance moves. It was a performance for the ages.

Yesterday was a strange day for me. I guess I was sick? But I didn't really feel very sick. My legs felt really weak all day long, my brain felt like it was detached from my body, headaches came and went, it hurt to turn my neck, and I never got hungry. At all. I ate some yogurt right before I left because I was going swimming, but I had to force it down. However, my swim lasted only 15 minutes before I had to stop--I felt like my head was going to explode it hurt so bad. I promptly headed over to Yuval's, where he greeted my frozen and hurting body with pizza naan and spaghetti with sausage meat sauce. He even ran to the market next door to buy me a Coke. Full of yummy food, we watched some of Season 2 of Arrested Development on Hulu, then went to bed early. Just what I needed.

I feel better today, although I still feel a little sensitive about my head and neck. I'm hoping to get my hair trimmed this week, as I realized I haven't been to a stylist since I chopped off 8 inches for charity back in April. E-gads!

Congrats to Nathaniel, Luca, and David Tyler for finishing NaNoWriMo! Quite the feat. So when should I look for these novels at my local bookstore? ;o)

Mothstorm by Philip Reeve

Arrested Development: Season One

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'll Be There

I gained 3 pounds over my Thanksgiving holiday. What did you gain (or lose, if you hurled after eating way too much food)? Aside from that, my time home was wonderful, relaxing, and made me wish Christmas was sooner so I could go home again.

I hate that my updates are sparser than they used to be, but that's because I don't have the calm, carefree leisure time at Children's Hospital that I did at Boston University. I'm constantly working, man! It sucks! Not really, but I do wish I could have a chance to check my Gmail once in a while during the day.

So! Since our last adventure recap, I've seen two of my friends (both from kickball, one of them my 6'3" captain) perform in Needham Community Theater's production of Titanic: The Musical. The audience didn't really start laughing at anything until after the boat hit the iceberg--before that, none of the jokes hit home because we were all just waiting for that one "Oh, shit!" scene at the end of Act I. It made me want to go home immediately and watch good 'ole Kate and Leo. The next day, Saturday, Yuval and I journeyed to the Newton Juried Crafts Fair, which we discovered was less of a crafts fair and more of a really expensive way to fund the apathy of rich, bored, somewhat artistic Newtonians. We left after about 15 minutes.

In exciting news, I won a raffle! The Hospital had their own craft fair a couple weeks ago, and there was a raffle where all the proceeds went to the Employee Emergency Assistance Fund. A good cause, so I bought 4 $3 tickets for $10 (because I'm a sucker for a deal). And I won one of the prizes I put in two tickets for! "A Night In Coolidge Corner" includes 1 night's stay for 2 at the Courtyard Mariott (including parking and breakfast), tickets to the Coolidge Corner Theater, and dinner at The Fireplace restaurant. Go me! Yuval and I are using this to celebrate our 1 year anniversary in mid-December, which is why I bid on it in the first place. :o)

November 24th was my last Chinese class until the next semester. We had a test that I was freaked out for, but it turned out to be less of a "test" and more an "assessment of our abilities." I really want to continue and take the Level 2 class, but I don't have the money right now. I'm hoping my parents will chip in half as a Christmas present to me. If not, Yuval's offering to make me a loan. At least it'll be more secure than the loans that are sinking this economy these days!

And speaking of the economy (officially in recession, did you hear?), here's my Christmas Wish List:

1) Microsoft Zune 30GB
2) 3 new bras
3) MST3K: The Movie
4) The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass
5) Avatar the Last Airbender: Season 3
6) Fables: War and Pieces (Volume 11) by Bill Willingham
7) Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara by James Gurney
8) Suzhou River directed by Ye Lou
9) Shark Week: 20th Anniversary Collection

Let's hope my family decides to get me some things off this list. Dad rolls his eyes at my Wish Lists because they're always "full of books and DVD's and stuff" (said in a very condescending tone). He thinks that's boring and dumb. But these are the kinds of things I have to talk myself into buying because they're not essentials! Well, except for the bras. But I never buy myself new good ones because I get sticker shock from looking at them! So I feel perfectly justified in putting them on my list.

Thanksgiving week was a two day week for me. Hurray! I headed home on the morning of the 26th, and came back in the afternoon on the 30th. I almost had to come back on flight Monday morning leaving Cincinnati at 7am: my flight to JFK aiport in NYC was cancelled, which meant I wouldn't be making my connecting flight to Boston. I got put on standby for a 1:15pm direct to Boston, though, and luckily got a seat (in the exit row, no less!).

So I ended up getting back to Boston about 3 hours earlier than my original itinerary had planned. Which meant that Yuval and I had time to meet his parents and his sister, Tamar, for dinner at Daikanyama (our fave sushi place of all time) in Lexington. Delicious, free sushi--there's nothing better after a day of traveling. I then proceeded to re-arrange the furniture in my apartment (with Yuval's help) to open up some more space and make it less dorm-like. Now I just have to figure out where to put the new computer desk that I'm going to get...

The temperatures are having some mood swings, but the trend is generally turning colder. No snow yet, though we may get some flurries this weekend. The Immunology Division holiday party (which I planned!) is this Saturday night, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Catered Lebanese food, karaoke, dance contests, and free wine will be present, and my 63-year old Lebanese boss is starting off the karaoke with his rendition of "Oops...I Did It Again." Which, by itself, makes going to the party worth it.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Don't Mess With The Zohan
House (Season 4)