Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movie Review: Sleepwalk with Me

Sleepwalk with Me DVD CoverI'm not sure that I've ever discussed my love of podcasts on this blog. I love podcasts, especially good ones. And "This American Life" is definitely one of those really amazing and wonderful podcasts. I listen to it nearly weekly, and I bought the app that allows me to listen to past shows as well. I could listen to this podcast forever. Anyways, one of the contributors to "This American Life" is Mike Birbiglia. His story from the Moth about sleepwalking made me absolutely lose my mind in laughter. If you haven't heard it, please, for the love of god, listen to it here. You will die laughing. I literally had to stop working when I listened to it, I was laughing so hard. And then I had to listen to it again. So, this movie is about Mike Birbiglia and his sleep disorder. This movie is literally his stories brought to life. In the movie, Mike is "Matt", a struggling stand up comedian based in Brooklyn. He shows a slice of his (true) life that started with him living with his girlfriend, Abby (played by the lovely Lauren Ambrose), and starting to get some serious sleepwalking problems. The movie follows his struggles with sleepwalking, his relationships with his family and his girlfriend, and how he got to where he is now. This movie is both hysterical and heartwarming, showing a glimpse of a real American family, and the life of a struggling comedian. I loved this film and I am so looking forward to all the other things that he might do. If you have not seen this movie, it's streaming on Netflix, and I'm sure its available on DVD as well. It's not too short, it's not too long. It's a lovely and brilliant take on his stories, and if there were more movies out there like this one, I would watch them in a heartbeat. And I fully agree with Judd Apatow's observation, "I could have watched it for ten hours".

Friday, January 18, 2013

Haiku Its a beautiful day Friday

Moo teeth getting cleaned
At the vet, just more expenses!
Will we catch up soon?


A BBQ in
January you say? Why
YES, California.


Just chill out, see the
sunshine? Get out there. Can't be
worried with sunshine!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Take a Hike

The path

Crazy tree

The BAY!

Another crazy tree.

A wagon axle (?!?)

The BAY!

The BAY!

The BAY!

That's us. We're dorks. But it's OK :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Gun Control Debate

Since the conversation in the nation surrounds gun control, I thought I would chime in with my 2 cents. Although I am bleeding heart liberal commie loving pinko, I do not want to take away the guns. I have heard some insane rhetoric from both sides of the aisle and I think what we need now is some logic. Cue the scientists, right?

1) These incidents of mass murder will continue to happen. There is no way to stop them (short of a retroactive ban on all guns, which will not happen). Therefore, I think we need some serious public education (think, earthquake or fire drill) on how to deal with a situation involving a shooter. As far as I can tell, the best thing we can do is delay the shooter from getting to his targets, and hope the first responders can get there first. Some ways to delay a shooter are through locked or barricaded doors. Public education should include a primer on things like "stop and drop", to not engage the shooter in any manner, and to find shelter by locking or barricading doors. Since these incidents have occurred at schools, I think we should really think about having the ability to "lock down" schools - why were some of the teachers at Sandy Hook unable to lock their classroom doors? A plan of action should be in place at all public schools (and businesses too) so that people know what the heck to do when the situation arises.

2) The old adage "The only person that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" is not necessarily true. If the "good guy" is someone who practices with their guns daily, and essentially trains like a police officer or military person would, then yes, perhaps. However, the vast majority of gun-owners are people just like you and me who occasionally go out shooting or hunting, but don't really practice their craft all that much. Shooting is an intense sport, and it required level-headedness, as well as physical and mental skill. Shooting someone else in the heat of a moment when your life is threatened is nearly impossible without proper training. I think we should leave the idea of responding to a threat up to the professionals.

3) While there are telling statistics out there (like, adding guns to your household increases the chance of you being involved in a violent crime THREE-fold!), there are not enough statistics to prove how dangerous guns are. While some statistics are collected, a large number are suppressed by the US Government. We desperately need these statistics to be released to the public to be analyzed in order to look at the last several years of gun violence. The fact that these stats are unavailable concerns me greatly.

4) We need to have a conversation about what to do with kids that are "different". Adam Lanza, by all accounts that I read, was a difficult child and teachers were unable to deal with him. His mother then removed him from school and home-schooled him. I think that isolation and withdrawl from society is an enormous problem and it's something that we as a country need to address. What do we do with kids who learn differently, or who act out in class. Clearly, we are not taking the right path in this and I think this needs to be addressed.

5) It's become more and more clear to me that we need a single payer, universal health care system in the US. We also need mental health care to improve, and we need everyone to have access to mental health care. We need to stop supressing this idea that health care is only physical, and not mental.

6) I do believe that some measures can stall a person from committing a violent crime. If a person does not have access to a magazine that holds 30 bullets, maybe their gun will jam when they go to reload. However, I think the best case scenario is prevention. Let's prevent this from happening again by becoming involved in our communities, by chatting with the quiet kid in the corner, by reconnecting with our society as a whole. We need to look out for one another, and our iPhone-loving society has really taken the personal interconnections out of our lives. Make a phone call, visit a friend, connect with that lady you pass in the hall each day. Make an effort to be nice to people. Kill them with kindness and appreciation, even when you don't feel like it. Let's not make people feel like outsiders. Let's make everyone feel included and loved.

And thus concluded my hippy-dippy liberal pinko commie public service announcement.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Grateful and Stuff

Taylor and little Miss K opening presents

 Alex's and my stockings (they got me a stocking with my name on it!)

 Pop-pop opening some presents!

Yes, I am wearing a tiara, why do you ask?

 This is, I am pretty sure, Denver City Hall. A-MA-ZING, right?


 It's cold in CO, right? It says 9. 

 She's the skating queen!

 My husband on skates!

Thats us in front of the crazy ass Denver City Hall.

Joe and Alex in front of my favorite place in Denver, The Tattered Cover. 

Heading home, made it to AZ.

Oh, CA we were so glad to see you!

 Opening presents at my folks' house.

 I love this show and I am so excited to own these. Yes I am a dork!

 Me and my Ma.

 This is the view from my Grandparents house in Ventura. So many memories there. It's hard to see it go. 

 Their backyard, which I have always loved. 

Well, that's a brief summary of our trip to CO for the holidays. We were so lucky to see family, friends, to reconnect with everyone. It was awesome that we got to see BOTH families, and friends from all over the world (literally!). This was, by far, one of the best holidays I can remember and I will cherish these memories. I feel so grateful to have the life that I have.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jan 1 (a little late)

Here we go again, folks. I've given myself a few days reprieve as we were on the road. I've actually been looking forward to this review and update post for the last few days. I'm ready to get this year started with a new focus and a good attitude. And I think I might have figured out a few insights into myself and the way I operate with goals, which will be reflected in the way that I word my goals for the month of January. I've also found that I have a pretty one-track mind. While I may want to set numerous goals for the month, I can only, realistically, focus on one well. We've just arrived home with a wonderful new set of furniture and a few days left on Christmas Vacation 2012. That means this is a fantastic time to get started with some goals for this month and this year!

As a reminder, here are the big goals:

Financial: Buy a house someday. Save money for retirement. Save two months salary in our savings account for emergency use.
Spiritual: Live in and for each moment. Appreciate. Breathe. Let go of the negative and embrace the positive in each aspect of life. Embrace patience.
Career: Become a professor at a university. Stay on top of experiments and what they mean. Step outside the box more, and embrace change and technology.
Health: Eat well, mostly plants. Drink water. Take my vitamins. Minimize the consumption of processed and fast foods.
Physical: Wake up at 6am. Be strong in my body by regularly exercising 30 minutes each day. Focus on getting my hands better, meaning rest them at intervals, and give them a break when needed. Focus on releasing the muscles in my neck and shoulders. Learn self work. Ice and heat hands daily.
Organizational: Keep lists of everything, including the small and inane and the big and far-fetched.
Holidays: Enjoy them! Be reasonable with gift purchases, food and drink.
Relationships: Focus on the people in my life and enjoy them. Make it a priority to talk on the phone more often.
New Things: Try something new every week.

Here were my goals for December and how I think I did:

  • Use cash to purchase all Christmas gifts. CHECK
  • Put away $100 in retirement savings (current account). CHECK
  • Look into retirement account options at Stanford. CHECK - I signed up for the 401K offered to us.
  • Look into a budget and finances tracking program for the computer. CHECK - I signed up at to track our family's finances. It sends me email reminders, and provides a great overview of our finances. I'm really loving it!
  • I would like to continue bringing my lunch to work most days (this goal worked really well last month! Yay, me!). CHECK - we even brought snacks and meals on the road with us while we travelled.
  • Also, work on payments on the credit card. CHECK - we are slowly chipping away at our credit card debt.
  • Focus on the positive. This will be a continued goal of mine.
  • Practice patience. This will be a continued goal of mine.
  • Embrace self talk. This will be a continued goal of mine.
  • Focus on my lab notebook. CHECK
  • Revise the list of TOCs I get. I did not do this.
  • I will focus on reading those TOCs the day they come. I did not do this.
  • Drinking more water. CHECK
  • Taking my vitamins. CHECK
  • Cutting out or minimizing processed foods. CHECK - we ate out only a handful of times on the road, and all the times we were at our family's house, we ate in. I actually find eating in to be much more satisfying (as in, it tastes better, and is more what I actually want!)
  • Purchase another water bottle that I can take with me wherever I go. CHECK - got one for Christmas from my husband!
  • I will try to plan out some menus for dinners during the weeks we are here. This way, knowing what we are going to eat might make things a bit easier. I did not do this.
  • going to bed at by 11pm every night. I will give myself an 80% on this one. Meaning, 80% of the time, I accomplished this. I think this will be an ongoing goal of mine.
  • Don't sit so much. I plan on using timers to help remind me to get up and move around, even if it's just walking around the room for a minute. I did not do this.
  • I will focus on 30 minutes of exercise every day, even if that just means a walk around the block after dinner. I did not do this.
  • I would like to focus on core strength this month, so I plan on doing some core strength exercises for one minute every day. I give myself a 30% on this goal.
  • Use Moleskine notebook to record "to do lists" and goals for the month. I did get the notebook, and I used it for about a week. It was quite helpful and helps relieve my need to remember to do things. I did not use it while on vacation, but I think I will resume using it once I get back to work. 
Honestly, this is one of the best holidays I can remember. We got to see so many family and friends. Granted, it did require a bit of an effort on our part (and quite a bit of driving), but it was worth it. I saw my girlfriends from college and their families, my parents, Randi and her family, my in-laws, some of my husbands very best friends, and I got to spend time with my husband to boot. We had a fantastic holiday and I think this is a "to do" list I will return to over and over again in the years to come. 
  • I will focus on the beauty of the holiday instead of the "to do" list. CHECK
  • I would like to write a gift list and get those things bought (preferably online) by Dec 10th. CHECK
  • I also need to make a Xmas card list and have those sent out by Dec. 15. CHECK (just to toot my horn, I actually got this done early! Woot!)
  • This weekend, I will put up the decorations CHECK
  • I would like to take some time to enjoy the lights and the music associated with this time of year. CHECK (I was actually a bit sick of the music by the end of the holiday, which is the was it's supposed to be, right?)
  • I will practice patience and try to take the negative out of the holiday. CHECK!
  • This month, I will focus on listening. CHECK
  • I will put down my phone or my computer. I give myself a 50% on this one.
  • I will also make a priority to call my family twice a week, and to call my in-laws once a week. I give myself a 25% on this one.
New things:
I will try something new every week and I will keep track of the new things I try.
  • Week 1: Read Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • Week 2: With my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, I started wearing braces on my wrists every day. 
  • Week 3: I looked at my Mom's Christmas ornaments closer than I ever have. I talked to her about them and tried to appreciate their history and the meaning to her. 
  • Week 4: We had Christmas on Christmas Eve, and I learned how my husband's family celebrates Christmas. We gave a stranger a ride to Denver.
And now, my new goals for Jan 2013!

I am actually proud of myself because I initially wanted to put a goal of "Pay cash for everything I buy this month". I know this goal is unachievable, but I wanted to put it anyway. I actually wrote it an then erased it, settling for "lesser" goals in my mind (because these are already "set" goals - as in, I have been doing these for the last couple months, or they are "automatic withdrawls"). However, its important to maintain the status quo, so to speak. It's also important to set do-able goals, instead of unachievable ones.
  • I will begin contributions to my new Stanford 401K.
  • I will continue contributions to my Roth IRA.
  • I will put $100 into savings.  
  • I will bring my lunch to work every day. 
These goals are much more amorphous - at what point have I achieved the goal of "focusing on the positive"? I have to admit that sometimes I feel exasperated, negative, worried things won't work out or that I won't have time to complete tasks. I worry about things out of my control, and I am often unable to appreciate situations as they are. I think my goals for this need to be much more concrete and finite. My nifty little notebook that I purchased (as well as this blog) can serve as a gratitude journal. I enjoy keeping track of my life as it happens, but sometimes my eyes can only focus so closely or so far. I have been feeling extremely lucky and blessed lately and I don't want to lose that feeling. Therefore, my goal for this month is just one sentence per day on what I am grateful for today. I will play a bit of catch-up for the last couple days I've missed:

Jan 1: I am grateful I could ring in the new year with my parents and my husband. I love watching football with my Dad.
Jan 2: I am grateful we inherited some furniture from my Grandparents' house. Their furniture in my house will always remind me of them, and it will make me feel closer to them. I am also grateful that my husband could drive the rental truck 350 miles by himself, and that I had the chance to see my best friend (even if the time was brief).
Jan 3: I am grateful for a few days off to catch up on things at home. I am also grateful for the CD my husband got me for Christmas (Mumford & Sons, Babel). I am listening to it currently and it makes everything better.

  • Start a "To do list" for work - include long term experiments, short term goals, and everything in between
  • Blog twice this month about science: interesting topics I've been thinking about are about microwaves, mammalian reproduction and "blink" or autoimmune disease. 
  • Attend one seminar on any topic you like

The theme for this month is "self care". I had a massage for Christmas, courtesy of my in-laws (yes, I am spoiled). The masseuse (who is also a good friend of my Mother-in-law's) really opened my eyes to the cause of my carpal tunnel syndrome. It originates in my back and shoulders (seriously, she touched a muscle in the middle of my back and I felt it in my thumb!). I focus so much on everything and everyone around me that I don't have any time for myself at the end of the day. But I'm the most important person and thing I can and should take care of! Therefore, I am planning some small, but meaningful goals to focus on this.
  • Purchase a book on trigger points, and find those that pertain to me
  • Ice and heat hands daily, while watching TV or when winding down for the day
My physical goals have generally not been met lately, and I think it's because I'm not very specific about my goals. Therefore, I am planning on making my goals more specific, and recordable, which should make things easier.
  • Come up with a simple, at home, routine of stretching and strength exercises.
  • Perform this routine every day this month, preferably in the morning
  • Put an emphasis on walking, biking or running daily. 
  • Check out an aerobics class on campus.
This is another amorphous goal - how do I know when I am organized enough? Therefore, I am working on a couple smaller tasks that might help get things in order for me in general.
  • Clean out new furniture
  • Make a donation to Goodwill
  • Organize second bedroom

I am going to re-use the goals I set for myself last month
  • Call Mom and Dad twice a week
  • Call In laws once a week
  • Call a friend once a week
New Things
A few ideas of things I can work on:
  • Get a library card to the local library
  • Go to the movies
  • Take a walk or a run when I get into work
And there you have it folks, those are my goals for this month. Wish me luck!