Friday, December 28, 2007

Of All The Years That Have Been, This Was One Of Them

Happy New Year Everybody!

I'd like to pause from my quiet and comfort on this cozy winter day off of work to reflect on the year just past and give thanks that it is over. 2007 was a tumultuous year. I think it was a year of disaster and scandal and inane distraction. It was also the year that aired the last new episode of The Gilmore Girls.

With the democrats in control of congress, Lindsay Lohan was finally sent to rehab, a troop surge stabilized certain areas of Iraq, and nobody, not even General Petraeus knows definitively how to proceed. OJ Simpson resurfaced in another embarrassing, illegal and immoral incident and astronaut Lisa Nowak gave the space program something to be proud of while giving young girls everywhere something to aspire toward in a strange soap-opera story that rivals any fiction out there.

The label, "made in China," no longer consoles us with visions of dollars well spent and a booming third world economy dancing in our heads and dog food is now unsafe for even dogs to consume. Utah had a mining tragedy and Minnesota had a bridge collapse; February was cold and August was hot.

There was some sort of dispute over an American Idol contestant named Sanjaya that I didn't follow, but the noise about it was so strong I thought it needed to be mentioned here. Jim and Pam finally hooked up and somehow The Office is still funny. This summer's blockbuster hits were all riding on the successes of years past as Pirates of the Caribbean, Bourne, Shrek and Spiderman gave us their threequels.

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, Tony Blair stepped down as England's Prime Minister after a decade of service, and Alberto Gonzales trumped all by hanging onto his job for longer than the story was entertaining. There is babel about possible steroid use in baseball, lewd behavior in men's restrooms has finally reached the highest echelons of society, and Harry Potter survived all seven of his creator's books.

Osama bin Laden is still apparently alive and well, the Iran nuclear issue is "now closed," it is predicted that as many as 2 million home owners may lose their homes in the next few years, and leggings are back "in." Britney Spears attempted a comeback performance but we were all too consumed this year by Anna Nicole Smith's untimely death to make proper fun of the pop star.

Author Kurt Vonnegut died, as did Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Russian political leader Boris Yeltsin. Virginia Tech was victim to the worst shooting rampage in U.S. history, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, and adventurer Steven Fossett went missing in September. I didn't even know the world still had honest-to-goodness adventurers anymore. I thought they were all playing video games or engaging in adventure-like lifestyles on Second Life.

The dollar lost value in 2007, campaigning for the 2008 presidential election has long since been underway, Gardisil now protects against HPV, and the iphone and white sunglasses are in style. Last year I gave thanks to the notice that Americans were finally paying to their own responsibility in the world and this year, as Americans have taken more of that responsibility on themselves as individuals, LED lights have become more popular.

Despite the blatant idiocy displayed by the Miss Teen USA contestant from South Carolina, more Americans seem to be paying attention to the rest of the world. After a long stint of isolationism by the general public, the faraway countries that used to effect us so little have now at least taken solid form in our periphery. I think we will be forced this year to revamp our ideas about the rest of the world and hope that they start to do the same about us because it doesn't seem like we can afford for them (the rest of the world) to continue harboring this unfortunate and not inaccurate idea of us (Americans). Here. I'll start the revamping with this tidbit. Both Paris and Berlin ended 2007 by banning all smoking in city cafes. I'm not sure it isn't a joke though.

In more personal news, I am now living in and around Chicago, have taken up jogging, drink no more or less than I did last year, and am devoting this next year to learning as much as I can. My husband is moving to Greenland where he can witness global warming first hand while continuing to help the military machine function as we need it to. My puppy is now two years old, I am reading and practicing the piano, and am completely disengaged from pop culture - I still have not seen a single episode of Lost. I have learned how much can change in a mere year and have high hopes for 2008.

The Thirteenth Tale

I recently read the book The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This book is a gothic-style story for the book lover. On the one hand it feels a bit cliche because of the nature of the story, and on the other hand, it is charming for its allusions to classic gothic novels.

The heroine of this book, Margaret Lea is a biographer who has been chosen to write the biography of one of the most enjoyed authors of the time - Vida Winter. Everyone has a story - yet nobody knows Ms. Winter's. In a ridiculously large mansion on the outskirts of civilization with only the mysterious novelist, a butler, a housekeeper, a hidden inhabitant and the ghosts of Ms. Winter's tales to keep her company, Margaret sets out to hear and discover Ms. Winter's tragic story.

It was a quick and fun read, which I found to be perfect for this time of year.

In other news: The Stained Glass, in Evanston, right by the el, is a great place to get a delicious meal and a fabulous glass of wine (I recommend the escargot); Oscar Peterson, the famous jazz pianist has died at the age of 82; A man sends Christmas cards to his friends months after his death; and Lindsay Lohan's father is offering spiritual advice to the Spears family in their time of embarrassment. Heh.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Bowl of Hot Chili

Apparently we might not have to worry so much about polar bears with our current global warming situation. I feel that by saying this, I might be grossly simplifying the article I just read, but I was having trouble concentrating because Bill O'Reilly is currently calling Helen Thomas a pinhead on TV.

North Korea sent an invitation in August to the New York Philharmonic and the orchestra has accepted. They are to play a concert there in February. Who could imagine a cultural exchange of this sort between our country and theirs?!

There are five hundred billion billion ways to arrange the pieces on a board in a game of checkers according to Popular Science Magazine.

And according to Harry Porterfield of ABC News, a certain someone in my family is someone you should know!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Globe Trotting

Are you tired of the same old? Are you in your twenties or thirties and feel as if you have only done what is expected of you? Have you ever dreamed of getting away to live a different life just for a while?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you might want to keep the following in mind:

In sunny, picturesque Colorado Springs lies a house - a home, in fact. One with three bedrooms, a spacious kitchen, a two car garage, a fenced in back yard, and new floors. It also comes with adorable neighbors, a charming pink door, and a spot of sunshine that falls across the livingroom and kitchen just so. This house is available for rent (furnished or unfurnished) this January for a little over a year.

If you can see yourself taking that time to see another part of the country, to explore the pleasures of hiking, skiing and climbing and to invigorate yourself with fresh air and over three hundred days of sunshine, let me know! I'd love to give you the opportunity!

The Holidays

No people, no food; just a pretty table.

In other news: A satirical musical based on Jerry Springer's talk show exists and has since January of 2005, though I'm only learning about it today; Condoleeza Rice is in Ethiopia to discuss some of the largest conflicts in Africa right now and none of the region's leaders are going to be there; and teaching four year olds to play Christmas music on the piano takes away from the joy of the season just a little bit!