Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving weekend

It was a great Thanksgiving weekend--starting with some traditional Thanksgiving noshes:

I also made a gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie and vegan coffee cake!

But the exciting part was a visit from our friend Tom and his boys on Saturday--just in time to be enlisted in the Garnet Army for the big South Carolina victory over Clemson:

Very pleased I got Tom hooked on Green Smoothies:

And Tom, being the devoted Dallas fan he is, was a great reason to actually wear my Dallas Dat Nguyen shirt on Sunday gameday.  And he appreciated my debut effort of the Dallas City Satchel--he was very good-natured about the stitching mess on the strap, especially when I compared the project to a typical Dallas game this year--great and efficient start only to see things maddeningly fall apart and not go as planned when it was almost done.

For posterity's sake, the kids (because they grow so fast):

Can't wait to meet up again!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Still feeling Peyton Manning

After my mid-season slump, things definitely turned around after that for me, football-wise.  Now a couple weeks later, I'm still feeling pretty Peyton Manning though he and I have hit a few bumps.  Last night he threw an interception--but the Broncos still won (though not by the spread, argh!).  For me, Michigan State lost another heartbreaker by 3 points this weekend.  They have lost their last 5 games by a TOTAL of 13 points.

Anyhoo, on the positive side, I have regained my top spot in my football pool (though a win by SF by 5 tonight would be super):

Side note: I took on the handle of MissTaylorSwift this year when I didn't get an immediate invite to the football pool and said I was going to crash it like Taylor Swift did at that Kennedy wedding.

Also, I'm currently leading in my first season of my fantasy league as well.  Really psyched how Doug Martin exploded this year.

So to your health, Peyton Manning.  We're in this together, it seems.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Junior Honors Regional Orchestra

The girl made Regional Honors Orchestra again, though we missed her performance.  It was the last home game of the USC Gamecocks and since we live right by the stadium, we got snarled in the post-game traffic.  Fortunately, I had dropped her off earlier in the morning for rehearsal. The girl did get a shout out from the director of the String Project orchestra, which we were psyched about:

Glad she got to see the performance.

On to the next one: kids that make the Regional orchestra have the opportunity to try out for the Honors State Orchestra--fingers crossed!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Am I supposed to be somewhere?

It's a little disconcerting when I get a text like this from Southwest Airlines:

Considering I'm not flying anywhere today. Or at least I think I'm not.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

SC State Youth Philharmonic Strings Orchestra

The girl had her first performance with the Strings Orchestra in the SC State Youth Philharmonic.

It was lovely.  We're looking forward to when she plays with a full orchestra--either the Rep or Youth Orch.  When I was younger and played violin, we played with a full orchestra, which included woodwinds, percussion, and occasional brass like a French horn.  Here and in SoCal, it seems they feature strings-only orchestras.  Maybe due the large number of kids playing? Or is this how it's all being done now?

Anyhoo, proud of my lovely girl and glad for a little downtime after a busy weekend.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Academic Team Meet

Today, I got up at 5:15am to follow the girl's academic teams' bus and watch the meet today.  It took me a bit to catch on to their format: A "toss-up" question is asked and any one on either team can buzz in and earn 10 points with a correct answer.  Then that team gets first crack to answer 3 "bonus" questions that the team can confer briefly and produce an answer together.  If their answer is wrong, the other team gets a chance to give a correct answer.  Each correct bonus answer is also worth 10 points.  A total of 20 toss-up questions are asked, so a minimum of 20 questions up to 80 questions are asked.

It was excruciating to watch.  It was all I could do not to yell, "C'mon Man!"  It was so frustrating to watch questions the kids should know go unanswered or incorrectly.  Les Miserables!  Adrenalin!  de Tocqueville!  war of 1812!  Mark Twain!  The teachers/coaches said they keep busy with scorekeeping to not get distracted with wrong answers.  I wish I had had more Words with Friends games going on.

To the girl's credit she did answer some questions that surprised me so I was pleased to hear her buzz in and say Libya, Phillip II, Soviet Union, New England Patriots, and Genji.  And despite that her team didn't make it to the semi-finals (there are 3 teams from her school), the girl ranked 4th overall of all competitors (about 40) in correct answers. 

A bonus for me driving 80 miles out for this meet:

Gas for less than $3 ($2.919)!

I'd say this was pretty much a good day, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We have a way of shutting that whole thing down

First off, I know that between family and friends, we may have voted for different presidents, but can we at least agree that it's a good thing that the candidates that adopted the weird pro-rape/anti-choice platforms did NOT get elected last night?  My faith in humanity has been restored since Todd Akin ("If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down"), Richard Mourdock ("I came to realize life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen"), Roger Rivard (who quoted his dad's belief that "some girls rape easy") were not elected to office.

I'm also happy to see that Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington are on board with not trying to deny gay citizens the right to marry.  On a side note, when is Emmett C. Burns, Jr. back up for re-election?  If you didn't hear, Burns, a Maryland Democratic delegate tried to silence Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo's support of legalizing same-sex marriage in that state.  Against free speech and civil rights?  OUT of here, please.  At least it drew a response from Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe which was definitely entertaining and on point.

There were a number of women elected to the Senate last night as well which is kind of big deal, considering that about 20 years ago there were only 2 and now there are 20.  Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, is not only their first female senator but she will be the first openly gay senator of the US.  Groundbreaking times 2!  Actually, isn't it kind of sad that being elected a senator as a female is still considered groundbreaking? Or being openly gay is?

Last night, we went to vote in our district, and waited and waited to use one of the 3 voting machines.

We were told by the folks running the polls that we were pretty smart to bring our folding chairs for the waiting:

Finally, two and a half hours later, we emerged as voters!

Until next year--

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday got sunnier

Yesterday, temperatures were slated to go down into the low 30s and my mom still didn't have power/heat. All local hotels were booked by folks who had the foresight to think that the electricity would be out more than 5 days. We were in a tight spot, but in the last hours, someone kindly volunteered to take my mom in. And just about an hour before she was to go, the power came back on. It was such a sweet relief, all around.

I heard about the New York City marathoners who still came to New York despite the cancelled race and volunteered in Staten Island. Reminded and moved me that people can really open their hearts and lend help in trying times. Like the reported 3000+ linepeople/tree professionals that traveled from out-of-state to help out in New Jersey and New York to get power back up and the person who would let my mom stay with her--I am so grateful that there truly are so many good people out there.

I was able to relax and enjoy the big Nebraska-Michigan State game:

Even though the Spartans lost another close one.

Fortunately, this Halloween pic of my nephew, Madhu, in Illinois cheered me up:

His name actually means "honeybee"--so perfect!

Then today, I got the bills paid, did a little baking, and made my donation to the Red Cross (including the girl's collected donation of $4).

And to top it off, I'm crushing in my fantasy league game (thank you, Doug Martin!) and with Atlanta beating Dallas 19-13, I'm in the top spot in my football pool going into tomorrow night's game.

Definitely a sweet Sunday.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recovering from Sandy

It's definitely been a fretful few days communicating with my friends and family in New York and New Jersey--some by phone, some by less-energy-using text, and some by wait-and-hear e-mail.  It was definitely a great relief to me that my sister and her husband were in that lucky swatch of New Yorkers with uninterrupted power considering they had a toddler and newborn with them.  Some of my friends in downtown Manhattan were without electricity and water.  Some camped with friends further uptown, some pieced together a life that included showers at the gym.  Fortunately for them, the power came back on last night and one, watching tv for the first time since Sandy hit, was heartbroken at the images of destruction brought on by the storm but so grateful for all the work of first responders, utility workers, and volunteers.

Along with those folks, I've been especially grateful for the thousand-plus linemen who have traveled from out-of-state to help NJ PSE&G work 24/7 to get their power back up.  As of last night 1 million customers had power back, with 600,000+ left to go.  Unfortunately, my mom is still in that 600,000+ group and we've been fretting a bit with the temperatures dropping this weekend and all local motels/hotels booked up.  Major props to my mom who has kept calm and carried on.  Also to my friends in NJ still without power--they've been lucky to have such a tight community to bond with.  It's amazing that a community becomes tighter and stronger when disaster strikes.

And here I sit in unaffected South Carolina, mixed feelings of gratitude and worry, hoping that recovery from Sandy will happen soon for everyone.  Fingers crossed.