Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering Memorial Day



I took this picture on Memorial Day, 2012, after listening to the Memorial Day concert and seeing President Obama placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Something I'm not sure people know is that every visitor to Arlington Cemetery that day (and maybe others) was given two roses as they stood in line to get on the shuttle, by volunteers. As they gave us the roses, they asked that we keep one rose and give the other one to a soldier.

D. R. Smith - May 28, 2012

So, when you think about it, what this picture demonstrates -- in addition to the cost of war and freedom -- is that each of these soldiers was specifically remembered that day, probably by someone they had never met. 

I think that is pretty cool.

What happened to the weekend?

I had all these plans this weekend of being sociable and having fun with my friends. I was supposed to go to two separate cook-outs to enjoy the beautiful weather while eating hamburgers and hot dogs, drinking beer, and joking, chatting, and just generally hanging out with friends.

So, did I do all that? No.

Did I do any of that? No.

My brother's birthday was last Thursday (May 22), and the anniversary of his death is next Monday (June 2). I haven't been thinking about him all the time, I just ... I'm just having a hard time getting my butt up and doing stuff, not to mention just plain getting out of the house. An old friend of ours has a son who is in critical care right now, and maybe that is bringing it all back a bit. Or just that it's Memorial Day weekend, and I'm memorializing. I don't know. It's just hitting me hard this year.

Or maybe I'm a little depressed or something. (Ya think???)

I've been thinking how I'm going to apologize to my two friends who had cook-outs, not only for not going, but for not letting them know I wouldn't be there. I'm sure I missed seeing a lot of people I know and love, but...

I think I just needed some "me" time.

I've spent most of the time playing Candy Crush or reading Facebook or watching bad movies on TV -- really important activities -- but I am scheduled to go the baseball game tomorrow with my sister, so I will get out of the house!  I cooked yesterday (burgers), and will do laundry at some point tonight probably. I did change the sheets on the bed. I can do the groceries tomorrow before the game. And luckily, I have Tuesday off as well, so I can catch up on things then if I have to. Of course, the grand plan of cleaning and organizing has basically gone out the window. I kinda did one bit of each part of the plan and then got distracted and went back to nothingness. Maybe I'll do it all on Tuesday.

Or next weekend.

...
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh yeah... I'm good at procrastination...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

My sister and niece are doing the "100 Days of Happiness", and I've been updating my "Jar of Happiness" file fairly regularly, but I thought I'd post here today instead.



It's raining outside. Pouring. I mean, cats and dogs - which always confused me when I was a kid. I mean, why would people say it's raining cats and dogs? It sounded really cruel of God to make the little animals fall from the sky like that!

Anywhoo - raining a lot. I'm a bit of a pluviophile, so I rather enjoy this weather, but it really is coming down in buckets! It's finally gotten warm here in DC -- i.e., supposedly, Spring has sprung -- but the temperature is supposed to drop about 40 degrees by this evening and possibly turn this precipitation into snow. But currently it's just raining. A lot.

Rain, rain, rain...
http://nowiknow.com/making-it-rain/


Did I mention that it's raining?

It's gray and dark, and people are bundled against the rain, blindly following their broken umbrellas down the sidewalk, paying no heed to the people walking toward them. My favorites are the ones with the giant golf umbrellas: I mean, really? You can house a family of four in one of them, so you really think it's appropriate to hoist one up to cover your teeny self while smacking lesser mortals into the street or poking them in the eye?


Sometimes you see some really modern person (usually Japanese tourist) with a new-fangled umbrella, but mostly, you get the umbrellas from CVS or Target, usually black, with one broken rib, with occasional breaks of color or a pattern sneaking in. None of them are nearly as cool as this one:


You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant (aka Amazon.com)


That's not my umbrella. I just wish it were!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I had a physical therapy appointment this morning, so I got to walk down K Street a few blocks to catch a bus to walk a few more blocks to get to work, during rush hour in the rain. So I got to enjoy this unremitting deluge along with quite a few other members of the proletariat. Trudge, trudge, trudge. I got some coffee and breakfast on the way, so I was weighed down with my laptop in my backpack, my Washington Nationals purse hanging off my shoulder, umbrella (broken, of course) in one hand and my coffee and breakfast in the other, as I lugged myself just one more block to the office.

I looked up and saw a Mom telling her little girl, dressed in a brightly coloured raincoat and wellies, to "Come onnnn!"

But the little girl had a mission in life: There was a puddle. It required stomping.

STOMP!

And then there was another.

STOMPITTY SPLASH!

Giggling, the little girl looked up in absolute delight and saw me smiling broadly, and she giggled some more. I caught her Mom's eye and smiled, saying, "Thank you! You just made my day!" Her mom sighed and gave a tired smile.

I'm sure that Mom was having a hard enough time with her daughter trying to wrangle every puddle in the sidewalk, but I hope the fact that they made my day just a little bit brighter helps her day get better too!

And I hope I never get too old to find puddle-stomping fun! 



(Plus, I want kid's rain gear fashions!)





Saturday, April 5, 2014

Age 25

One of my friends did one of those meme thingies about an age. I decided to change it somewhat from the original. Instead of just listing facts, i thought it would be more fun to write an anecdote of my life at age 25. So... here it is!

I made a momentous decision when I was 25.

It all began when I started getting gray hair at the age of 13. It was pretty cool actually -- my hair looked brownish, but it was strands of different colours, black, brown, red, blonde, silver. I had the "wings" hairstyle, so it looked like I had a streak of silver through my brownish hair. (I didn't realize it at the time, but that's probably why I *never* got carded when I was underage!)

Fast-forward to age 25. I was adamantly not dying my hair because I kinda liked the the streak of gray. But one Halloween I decided to go as Lucille Ball, so I did one of those "shampoo out" hair dyes: Titian Red. I spent all Sunday washing the colour out, and it got most of the red out, but it still covered all of the gray. I went to work on Monday and people came up and said things like, "New glasses? Contacts? Did you lose weight? You look great!"

And then this woman, a nosy parker type, said, "Wow, you look ten to fifteen years younger!"
"I look ten to fifteen years old?" I asked, being 25 and all.
"No, you look 20, 25!"
"I *am* 25!"
(Oops!)


So, she thought I looked about 35-40 years old. And I was 25. 

So yeah, I decided at that point that I needed to look into colouring my hair on a more permanent basis!

Funny thing was that once I did dye my hair (red, because I should have been a redhead), I got carded ALLLLL the time! So now that it's a few years later (just a few!), I'm thinking of letting it all go gray again. Or white. Whatever it is now. And then I'll get a really cool streak of bright red or blue or something! Yeah, that's it!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah, a review

NOTE: possible spoilers. I'll try not to have them, but I can't guarantee that this will be spoiler-free!

I saw the movie "Noah" yesterday and have been thinking about it a lot today. I'm not really a fan, mostly because I didn't think it was very well-written. It's like they took a hodge-podge of flood myths and tried to make it "popular" by adding in some battles and supernatural stuff. The acting was fine and the special effects were spectacular, but.. meh.

The main reason I went to see it was all of the hype about it. Everyone had an opinion on it, and most of them hadn't even seen it yet! A lot of the uber-Christians were complaining that it took liberties with the Bible story and it was anti-religious, etc. So I did some research on where they got some of the story elements and tried to figure out what they had done. I looked at the Jewish, Christian and Muslim versions of the story, Plato, and the Gilgamesh story

(In no particular order)

1. Noah was vegetarian: There is some background for that. Genesis 9:3 indicates that God told Noah he could start eating meat after the flood.
>>Genesis 9:3 (NIV) Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.<<

Soooo before the flood, they had been allowed to eat only herbs and plants. Now they were allowed to use meat for food, but only after the animal had been killed.

So to all of the people complaining about Noah being a hippy vegetarian... go read your Bible!

2. Rock monsters: "Niphilim" are mentioned in the Bible, and there is a LOT of speculation as to what they really are. They're fallen angels, they are the offspring of angels and women, etc. The movie's version is just as "out there" as some of the other speculation, so uh, OK. But they really seemed jarring, like some animated Transformer-like thing that was just weird.

3. Calling the guy in charge "Creator" vs. "God" - Why is this a controversy? Isn't God the "Creator"? Also, in the Quran, God is called "The Devine Creator". Seriously, what is the noise about?

4. Sons & wives: In the Bible God specifically tells Noah that his family, includes Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, will be spared. Also, Ham is the youngest (vs. middle), the father of Canaan. He is the one who Noah curses at the end because Ham sees him naked and tells his brothers, instead of covering him up.

In the Quran, Noah's wife and oldest son are not spared because they are "not righteous".

The movie didn't follow the Bible script exactly on this, but it does have some of the elements, along with elements from other myths. I'm wondering if they changed it to make it more dramatic. (I thought the changes weren't all that great actually. Makes Noah seem like a bit of a dick!)

5. Bad guys: "Everyone thought only of his own welfare and recognized only the laws that were in his own favor. Mutual respect and cooperation had given way to violence and sin." This, from the Jewish version, pretty much describes the bad guy, even though he was really good at quoting scripture.

So overall, other than the thing with the wives, the story contains elements that are found in at least one of the versions of the story. The thing with the wives though, is completely different and I think it was changed just to add drama. Not successfully, mind you, but I think they wanted Noah to have some conflict that he had to overcome. Heck, the guy was 600 years old! Give him a break!

I really think the worst thing I can say about this movie is that it's just not that good a movie. Disappointing, but... I wasn't all that excited about it before the hype and controversy because I just didn't think it was a good story. And I was right!

So, save your money. I don't think you shouldn't see it because it's sacrilege (or not), but because it's just not a very good movie! If it didn't have all of the hype, it probably would have gone quietly away.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Adventures in Jeopardy (Part 8)



The viewing party

Before I left for LA, my friends and I had already determined that there WOULD be a viewing party for my episode of Jeopardy. We had decided to have it at Nanny O’Brien’s because they had a back room with a huge TV that we could all enjoy. And then I found out that my episode was on a Wednesday, which is the day of the week that Nanny’s has their Wing Night, which is a HUGE success. I talked it over with Brian and asked Beth about it, and we decided to move the party to The Board Room in Dupont Circle, where we could have it upstairs with the sound on. Beth was so excited about it, she said she was going to have a viewing party there even if we weren’t there! Haha!

So, I reserved space with Beth, assuming probably about 10-15 people would be coming to my party. And then I posted the invitation on Facebook… and immediately about 20 people responded that they were going! So I told Beth it looked like it would be closer to 20-25 people for the Happy Hour. Because I know a lot of people outside of DC, I decided to post two invitations: one to the physical party at the Board Room and one just to let people know when it was on so they could watch wherever they were in the country. The outpouring of congratulations and fun was just amazing to me. The only problem was that I had no way to show it to my friends who do NOT live in the States! Oh well.

Anyway – it was finally May 1, and I made it to the Board Room and some of my friends were already there. Beth had set up a sign on the stairs to indicate that it was my party (Yay!), but the few people that were already there were still downstairs, except Eddie who had already staked a claim at the bar. I was in a bit of a whirlwind, because people just kept coming! I’d get through saying Hi to one group of friends and then another bunch of people would come in. I had friends from college, friends from Bob’s, friends from Cleveland Park, and even friends from Facebook! I counted 65 people at one point, and still more showed up! And the all introduced themselves and had great conversations, and many drinks. It was very crowded in that upstairs bar, but it was a blast! Eventually, I ordered a bunch of pizzas from Flippin’ Pizza, so we all could sit, eat and get settled before the show started.

There was actually another small party in the area as well, who were planning to watch basketball. We told them that we were going to be watching Jeopardy with the sound on, but then they could turn it all back to the basketball if they wanted. They were excited to join in – in fact, one girl said, “Oh we like to play along!” I responded, “Funny, so do I!” heeheehee

Watching the show was hilarious. Everyone was cheering and booing, and laughing and saying “Shhhh!” whenever I said anything on the show so they could hear me. I think every TV in the bar was tuned to Jeopardy for that half hour, and it was really a great, raucous party.
Me, on Jeopardy (Omar Biancaniello)
Omar took a picture of me, with me on TV -- VERY surreal!

Hanging with the Williamssss!

And as Double Jeopardy wound down, everyone was getting anxious and they were yelling “WITHERS! It’s BILL WITHERS!” at the screen, but… I still didn’t get it, and ended up not making it to Final Jeopardy… AGAIN. I looked around and everyone’s face was just this gaping expression of disbelief, so I stood up, spread my hands and shrugged, “Did I forget to tell you that I LOST???”

Much laughter and silliness ensued, and continued into the night...

Thus endeth my Adventures in Jeopardy. Except that I get called "Jeopardy Girl" on quite a few occasions, and I am a big pusher of doing the online Jeopardy tests. Because, that's the only way to get on the show these days!

...

Thanks to ALL of my friends and family for all of the support they gave me throughout this adventure. I really could NOT have done it without you! 

I cannot even express how amazing that night felt to me. I kept telling people that I felt like the Grinch in that my heart just kept getting bigger and bigger as more people showed up. And my heart was pretty big to begin with! I loved that although a lot of my friends hadn’t met each other before, they all got along and talked and laughed with each other.  This whole experience was really a once-in-a-lifetime, amazing and awesome whirlwind ride. I can’t believe it sometimes that I’ve actually been on Jeopardy, and that all of those people actually came to a party for ME. I always joke around that I’m the center of the universe (note the t-shirt), but that really is a joke to me. So it was very weird to ACTUALLY be the center of attention – and boy, was that a LOT of attention! But it was also fabulous. Absolutely FABULOUS!

(And I looked mahhhvalous, dahling!)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Adventures in Jeopardy (Part 7) -- SPOILERS!



The show

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot of the actual show! 

I do remember loving the fact that I was playing against John and Larry, because they were the two guys I liked best out of the contestants and they were funny and excited too. I started getting a little antsy, but then I remembered my mantra – just do your best and have fun – and I calmed right down.

I remember meeting Alex – he asked me about why I had spoken Chinese first, and we actually had a fairly long conversation. He asked if Cantonese was easier than Mandarin and I explained that Mandarin had four tones and Cantonese had nine, so I couldn’t say! And then he asked why I had spoken Chinese before I spoke English and I said that I was born in HK because my parents were medical missionaries there. And, of course, he asked if I still spoke Chinese and I said, “Siu siu!” (“A little bit,” in Cantonese), and raised my fingers together to indicate a little bit. We all laughed and then he went on the next person.

During the second commercial break, Alex came back to take the pictures with us. Earlier in the taping, one of the categories had been “The Sexiest Pot Pourri Ever” – in which Alex read all the questions in a Barry White voice. It was hilarious, and I think Alex realized that he had heard my laugh during that taping, because for my picture, he came up looked directly at me and said, “Heeeyyyy, Deborah” a la Barry White. I cracked up and responded, “Heeeyyyy Alex” in the same tone, and they took our picture. I think it’s hilarious that people have said Alex looks a little creepy in the picture… because he kind of was! But in a good way…

Me and Alex gettin' a little crazy...
I also remember that the categories seemed really hard. There was one category – basically, “people who have died by their own inventions” – where I seriously thought to myself, “should I just drop the clicker? No, they might choose a different category” and then I got the $200 answer because I knew a “famous landmark in Paris” (Eiffel Tower, duh)! I knew a lot of the answers, but John, The Bionic Thumb. and Larry, the Mailman, were just too fast for me. But, I got some answers that I was very proud of, specifically Joe Lewis and The Magnificent Ambersons. (John asked me later where that one had come from, and I just shrugged…) But, I kept going under. I honestly had no idea what my score was until the end of the first round when the handler came out and said, “Hey Deborah, we’d like to see some POSITIVE numbers, OK?” heehee They even checked my clicker to make sure it was working correctly.

And then Double Jeopardy … we got down to the last few questions and I suddenly realize that I was nearly $2000 in debt! OH NO!  But, the last question on the board was worth $2000 and it would put me back in the game if I rang in first and got it right. It was a music question. And the answer came up and I knew it! It was Bill…. Bill…. Bill….. URGH!!!!! WHAT WAS HIS LAST NAME????



So, yeah,  I lost on Jeopardy! I ended up with a negative balance, and I wasn’t able to stay on for Final Jeopardy. They put me in a chair on the side of the set for the rest of the show, so I got to see what the Final Jeopardy question was. And I wouldn’t have gotten it anyway! But, I was still grinning like an idiot because WOW, what an amazing time I had had!

They broke for lunch at this point, so everyone was leaving the studio. They took us back to the green room while the general audience filed out, and then I was able to meet up with Cathy in the studio lobby. We got some great pictures on the fake podia they had set up, and I think Cathy got a picture with the Alex stand-up thingie. 



Then we followed the crowds out for lunch at Subway. I was still revved up, so it was kind of nice to have everyone else out of the studio as well as us. We just didn’t go back!

We went to get wine instead! Heeheehee! I think that was when we went to Trader Joe’s, but it could have been when we got the boxes of wine from Target – it all runs together somehow! We talked about going to a movie or something, but I think we just ended up going back to the hotel. I really don’t remember everythign exactly because my brain was exhausted!

I know that we went back and got in our jammies and drank wine and read or napped. At one point, I went outside for a cigarette and that was really the first time that it hit me that I had lost, and I got a little sad. I went back up to the room and admitted it to Cathy, and she reminded me that I didn’t lose, I just didn’t win the whole dang thing. Just getting on the show was a big win! I’m glad Cathy was there to talk to, because it really was a let-down… but I really did have a great time!

The next day

Cathy had told me earlier that one of the other contestants, who came in second, came off the stage crying his eyes out. Apparently, winning Jeopardy! had been his life-long dream, so second place just wasn’t good enough. We met his wife at breakfast the next day and I just felt so sorry for her. She kept trying to help him, but nothing would work. For her sake, I’m glad that she came down for breakfast, if only to get out of the room! And I’m glad she sat with us – I hope we helped!

After breakfast, Cathy noticed that John’s family were hanging out in the lobby, just like we had all done the day before. (Cathy knew all of the contestant guests because she is just as shy and retiring as I am – i.e., NOT!) Apparently, John was still playing! We didn’t have any major plans for the day, so they invited us to join them. I called the studio contact and asked if we could get seats as guests to watch the filming. They said yes, so Cathy and I headed over to the studio to watch the taping of the second week of shows! It was a MUCH less stressful event for both of us! 



We left at lunchtime again, and futzed around until we went back to the hotel to crash out again. It was really a whirlwind trip, with a lot of stress and nervous activity followed by exaustion… and wine. We flew back the following morning and I think I drove back to my apartment in DC instead of spending the night with Cathy and David. 

And then came the hard part…

My episode was scheduled to air May 1, 2013. I got back home on January 10, 2013. How the HECK was I supposed to keep the results quiet for that long???

I had already decided that I wouldn’t be telling anyone the results of the show. And yes, I was allowed to tell people, so long as it wasn’t published anywhere… like on Facebook! I wasn't sure that some of my friends would be able to keep it quiet, so I decided to just not tell anyone.


Stay tuned for one more installment: The Viewing Party