Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things to See, Places to Go...

Here is a random list of all the places I want to see as soon as possible. Unfortunately most of these places I want to visit in the summer, so it might take me a while to get to all of them.

- Maine (some fishing village, an island)
- Oregon (along the coast)
- Washington (also along the coast)
- Redwoods in California
- Wyoming
- Montana
- Arches National Park
- Moab
- Visit every lighthouse on both the east and west coast
- Nantucket

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's what I thought of in literally the last 3 minutes. Foremost on the list is Maine, and hopefully I'll get to go to Montana soon too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Biking to work has given me a new appreciation for quite a few things and given even more insight into several others.

For starters, I will never again take for granted the ability to get perfectly ready for work and arrive at work in that same perfect state. In my case, I get mostly ready, hop on my bike, arrive to work a little (or a lot, if it's sunny) sweaty, and finish up my routine, mostly fixing up my hair and de-sweatifying myself, in the bathroom. I also get to put on work pants over my bike shorts and trade running shoes for work shoes. If I drove a car to work none of this would apply.

On a more serious note, biking has really opened up my eyes to the pollution all around me. Los Angeles is, as far as I know, as car-centric as it gets (everyone here drives everywhere...even if it's just two blocks down the street), and this really bothers me. I always imagined California as being this great, green, environmentally-conscious state full of hippies, bikers, and hybrid-driving commoners. Um, no. I see relatively few fellow bikers (to be fair, I bike to work at 6.30 in the morning and bike home at 5pm, so I could just be missing them) who are actually biking to go somewhere, not just for recreation (trust me, there are plenty of those types on the Strand). I've only seen hippies in Venice, but there are a lot of them there, so I guess they make up for the lack elsewhere. (I also haven't ever been out of the Los Angeles area, so I can't say anything about the rest of the state. I heard I need to head to San Francisco.) And while I do see way more hybrids (read: Prius) than I have anywhere else, it's still maybe only 5-10 of the cars I see on my way home, which number in the 100s.

That's another problem. Cars are everywhere. You know what cars do? Pollute. I guess the pollution part doesn't bother me that much as a driver (I will be completely honest with you and tell you that I adore long distance driving, even if I claim to be trying to be environmentally conscious), but as a biker it's wrecking havoc on my body. Seriously, I can tell that my lungs are struggling with the air here. The air quality is not that good to begin with (especially coming from the wide open Midwest where you actually have room to breathe), but couple that with riding behind cars, trucks, semis, and airplanes (I live literally right next to LAX) and it's simply awful. It's probably even worse than all the secondhand smoke I inhaled in Russia. Lungs, I apologize for putting you through this.

Thankfully, one thing that I did expect hasn't come to fruition. I thought there would be a lot more trash than there actually is. Granted, there are shattered glass pieces strewn about the bike path (these patches are pretty scary because I don't have a tire patch kit or bandaids) and some other random trash along the roads, but for the most part everything is pretty clean. Good job, LA. But yeah, I'd appreciate there not being so much glass. I can't even figure out where it comes's not like people are going to be chilling in the bike path having a beer on the highway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

new post at gearfire

I haven't posted there in a while, but here's a new post from me over at about a revelation I had when I got home from Russia :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

so many pictures

I am in the process of downloading all my photos from an online storage site (so I could get the photos from my dad -- they were on his computer, since I didn't bring mine), and there are a lot more than I realized (2130 to be exact, plus some more that are on a memory card still in my possession - probably about 2500-3000 pictures total). So it's taking me a bit longer than originally thought to pick out some pics to post. I'm actually going to do pictures right this time around, as in edit, tag, delete the bad ones (something I NEVER do), etc, so it's going to take a bit. I also need to pick out a few of the best to show around to friends here and at work. I promise stories and pictures from the trip are going to go up soon, though! I want to make a big series of posts about the entire trip, ranging from observations to what we ate and did and all that jazz. I am excited to do it, and I hope you're interested in reading about it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of july

This year I celebrated the 4th much differently than last year. Last summer, I celebrated it much differently than I had the previous 5 summers. I guess that's change for you.

For the most part I enjoyed myself, although I was in a very strange mood (I think I'm just tired) and probably not all that happy.

It started poorly because I woke up at 3am wide awake (I went to bed at 9, which is actually my normal bedtime here in California because of getting up soo early) and couldn't fall back asleep. Eventually I did around 5 and woke up for real about 8.30. Then I bummed around on the internet for several hours, catching up on a lot of things and generally just enjoying being alone. I went to the grocery store and successfully biked home with a bag of groceries on my back (oh, the small accomplishments in life :) ).

In the afternoon Karen and I went over to Meryl and John's place. I really enjoy their company, although I am the odd one out in my age range. All the people there are either young grandparents or aunts & uncles in their 50s and 60s, young parents in their really late 20s/early 30s, or little kids under 4. So I don't really fit in anywhere with people my age, but I definitely enjoy talking with the grown ups. They know a lot and have interesting stories to tell.

I left for Andrew's party around 5.30pm. The Strand wasn't too bad until I hit El Porto. Then there were a lot of people, but it just kind of felt like any other Saturday afternoon down there. Then I actually hit Manhattan Beach and it was crazy. So many people everywhere! And no one looking to make sure bikes weren't coming. Bikes totally own the bike path, not the pedestrians! Silly peds. It only got worse. I got off the Strand like 20 blocks north of the Hermosa Pier because I just couldn't take it. Crowds of drunk people clogged the path and the beaches were packed. (Unlike in the Midwest, our weather here yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and perfect: sunny and mid-70s and a slight breeze.) I hate large crowds of people when I don't want them around (some exceptions: concerts and amusement parks), and I really hate crowds of drunk people. Like, just despise. So I was not in a particularly good mood with not being able to ride my bike more than 6 inches at a time, and switching to the street is scary when you know half the people driving are probably drunk too, and would think it's a fun game to see if they can hit you on your bike. Luckily, nothing happened. I even saw my friend Mallory which was just crazy. What are the odds of that??!

I made it to Andrew's at about 7, much later than I anticipated (I was hitting 15-18 mph on the bike before Manhattan Beach). The party was pretty fun. I met a lot of people I didn't know before and that always makes me happy. We watched fireworks on the beach. It's hard to beat watching fireworks go off over the ocean, especially when you can see about 7 shows up and down the coast.

Afterward I biked home, although many people wanted me to stay at the party, but I was not really in the mood to party and I was tired. The ride home went without incident (although there were still a ton of people around, even at 10.30pm) but I didn't get the calmness that I was longing for with a bike ride by the ocean under the stars. It should have been really nice but I think I was still too strung out from all the drunk people and being on high alert for any attackers or anything like that. I may take a nice long ride up north to Pacific Palisades and hang out at Will Rogers State Beach this afternoon. I just kind of want to be by myself for a while! I usually feel this way after trips with groups. I am so used to being able to get away on my own that when I can't for several days I start going a little crazy :) DePauw is wonderful for this. Feel like being alone? Go take a walk to the park and you've got it. Love it.

Russia stories coming soon, I promise. I'm going to experiment with taking this netbook baby on my ride and writing on the beach. My dad has all my pictures right now so I've got to wait until he uploads them to put them with my posts, which I would rather do than just have text. You might notice there are no pictures from the 4th here -- I generally don't take my camera with me to parties and also both of my cameras seriously suck in darkness, so I didn't feel like lugging either of them around last night.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the netbook

All right, so by popular demand (aka Ed's comment :) ) here is some information about the netbook I bought.

First of all, I should tell you a little bit more about my general plan. Mostly, I want to build a really nice desktop system that will be used as my base, and as such I also want a super portable machine to take around with me. The super portable machine is where the netbook comes into play.

Luckily (insert sarcasm here) my Dell Latitude D620, which was one of the computers available on DePauw's laptop program back when I was a freshman (the other option was a MacBook, and I'm just not a Mac person) -- the laptop is "required", by the way -- was dying anyway. The Saturday I left for Russia, at about 10am, an hour before I left for the airport, the screen went black. Just went black, no warning, no nothing. I didn't have the time to deal with it then, so when I got back I tried to figure out what was wrong with it. Unfortunately for me I am not really an IT girl. Luckily my friend Andrew came over and connecting to my roommate's external desktop monitor magically worked. Hooray, it is a monitor problem.

Anyway, long story short, that gave me an awesome excuse to either buy the monitor I want for my desktop or to buy a netbook. I choose the netbook route because the monitor I am hoping to get is not going to fit in my backpack to take through security on the flight back to Indiana. Ha. But I will discuss that when I get back to school and build my machine :)

I did a bunch of research on the netbooks trying to find the best one. Pretty much the only two stores around here for computers are Best Buy and Fry's, so those were my options. I don't feel like ordering a computer and either having to have it shipped to Meryl's house or wait outside for the FedEx truck again, so it was definitely a matter of "what can I physically go get right now?".

Best Buy didn't have as many netbooks as I wanted them to have. But I did find one that I liked (it was my 2nd choice while researching, but my first choice came with Vista and I just couldn't do that to myself). Then BB didn't have any more in stock. Went to Fry's, they didn't have it at all (they only had 3 netbooks!). Second BB had it, finally. Hooray.

I bought an Asus Eee PC Netbook. So far I am pretty fond of it. I actually really wanted a tablet, but the "netvertible" I want is not available in the US yet (the Asus T91). If it becomes available at BB within the next 12 days, I will very likely return this one and buy that one.

Pros: Lightweight (it's like 2.4 lbs), has a built in webcam (whoaaa), the keyboard is great especially compared with the other books I tried out, the screen is bright and clear, it looks pretty, and it's just so small and cute.

Cons: Fingerprints show up REALLY EASILY which gets annoying fast, the touchpad is kind of weird and is taking me a while to get used to it, the screen is kind of small (10" is tiny after coming from a full size laptop), and I'm not so sure about the battery yet. Also the fan is kind of loud, although not as loud as my old laptop.

I'll keep you updated. I've actually never owned an Asus before (had two Toshiba laptops and this Dell one), and hopefully it'll be a better experience than the companies I've had in the past.

Here are a couple pictures:

long enough without a post

I got back to California after a very long day of travel from Moscow on July 1. Since then I've been trying to catch up on sleep, hanging out with friends, buying a new computer (my school-required piece-of-crap Dell's monitor kicked the bucket, so I bought a netbook I've been wanting), and running around getting things done. I am planning on writing up a series of posts about Russia during the next few days, so stay tuned for those :) First I need to go get groceries, though...

And also, happy 4th of July to all US people :)