Saturday, May 29, 2010

Newts and blind-worms may do no harm, but oil does quite a lot.

Headlines from the Associated Press:

Gulf Oil Spill Eclipses Exxon Valdez

At 19 million gallons, the disaster is officially the worst of its kind in U.S. history

Today marks day 40 for the BP Gulf Oil Spill. Eleven people died in the explosion (which seems generally overlooked) and it seems weekly, if not daily, the "official" number of gallons spilling doubles. Obviously, if you watch the news you are familiar with these outrageous numbers and the ridiculous amount of finger pointing going on.

According to the New York Times, "Despite an apparent lack of progress, officials said they would continue with the process for another 48 hours, into Sunday, before giving up and considering other options, including another containment dome to try to capture the oil."

The oil well ruptured April 22. Today is May 29th. Scared yet? I am. Will this top kill work? Will they plug it? Will the oil snake around Florida? If they have to drill relief wells those may not be ready for at least another 8 weeks. 8 weeks. That's late July! Houston, we have a problem.

But not only am I scared and mad, I'm curious too. Curious seems like a weird word for this feeling. It's not the kind of curious you get on Christmas, more like the kind of curious felt when you're waiting to see if the policeman will return with a ticket, or if the professor found it obvious that you procrastinated and threw a pile of crap together for your senior thesis. Maybe that's called dread? Whatever it's called, I'm curious to see what New Orleans will be like, or if we'll even notice a difference. I'm curious to see if the panhandle is affected, curious to know if we'll have a beach to return to down here in the dub-P. By the time we return, at the end of July, will Flagpole be a pile of dead fish and tar balls? What's going to happen to the people who not only make their living from fishing, but have based their entire way of life on fishing?

I guess we'll have to wait and see. And I don't find that to be a very satisfactory answer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Help... Rhonda! Help, help me Rhonda!
I use to have teacher in middle school who would sing this line randomly and incessantly. Now, though I remember that phrase so vividly, I can't remember which teacher it was, or if I made that up entirely (help me out Ohoians/WCers. I'm thinking Mr. O'Neil?).

Actually, I don't care if your name is Rhonda or not, I just need help. As the end of school looms ever nearer (yay!), I am trying to take care of little, yet oh so important, details for our trip before I'm distracted by the bigger, immediate distractions that will pop up only days pre-trip. These "little" things include phone car charger, computer charger, podcasts, book titles and other car distracters. The biggest, and possibly most important of these little things to me, and also the bane of my existence, is the iPod radio connector. You know, the thing that charges your iPod in the car as well as allowing you to play it through the radio. I had a fabulous one given to me for Christmas that, unfortunately, had its last hurrah about a month ago and broke. This iPod tuner was a monster brand that plugged into the cigarette/power plug with one end and connected with a cord to the iPod. Then you tuned your radio to a station and chose this frequency through the connector. Confused?
Regardless, this said tuner thing was Monster brand and was fab-you-luss. But, alas, it met its demise and now I cannot find a proper replacement.

Apparently Monster either 1. no longer exists, or 2. does not exist through the facets I have searched for it. I have since gone through 3 other brands and types none of which has worked. All three made the music play very fuzzily through the radio, and that, my friends, will not do. Which is why I need help. Does anyone have a one of these tuners and/or a suitable alternative? Or, do I dare hope, does someone know about said Monster brand and where to find it? And, hope against hope, is it possible to find a good one that is not $1,000,000?

A $1,000,000 price tag is not so appealing.

9887753 Front Large

Failed Attempt #1 closely resembled my beloved Monster cable: $49.99

6211761 Front Detail
Failed Attempt #2 from Best Buy: $19.99

SA-12188C-IPBK 3-in-1 FM Transmitter/ iPod Charger
Failed attempt #3 from Overstock: $15.89

I would hate to travel cross country with a rather large cd book or repeatedly wiping scratched cds. So, please, help me Rhonda.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Freelance Whales and New Wheels

If you're not already a fan of free music Tuesday on iTunes, well, it's time to get on board. While I will not pretend to be a music connoisseur, I will accurately call myself an avid music listener. I listen to all types of music and I'm open to a new sound; I also definitely know what I like and gobble up more of the same. But back to free music Tuesday; this week's discovery download is Hannah by the Freelance Whales.

First, how fabulous is that band name? Secondly, I kinda dig this song. I first downloaded it a few months ago from NPR's SXSW downloadable album and was quite excited to see the Freelance Whales offered as a Tuesday Tune. The video quality is sort of horrible, but you can hear the song and it was more exciting than any others I found. Or check it on iTunes (I tried to link it, but alas, no success. Sorry).

I also have no idea why this is cut off the page. Please excuse me as I continue to iron out technical difficulties.

And on an entirely unrelated note, I've been thinking about how fabulous one of these would look joining us on a little cross country drive....

Wouldn't this look nice parked all cozy next to our tent? I think it would contrast nicely with my dark hair too.

can't remember where I found this (I'm trying to be better at photocredding)

Who doesn't love them some vintage woody?

A picture is worth a thousand words with this beauty.

And finally, I love this one so much I made it my computer background at school. It reminds me of summer evenings and all things being perfect in the world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So I was Thinking....

This seems to be the way most conversations at my house are beginning these days. Either Kt or I walk in the house after school, or from running errands and greet with each other with, "so I was thinking about our trip and....". Our musings have ranged from new places to stop, things to see, easier routes of travel, or "genius" ideas for saving money. My best of these plans so far has been to visit colleges and universities along the way hoping to get free meal tickets (I still maintain it's a fabulous idea).

UC Berkeley's Campanille and Reflecting Pool by Memorial Glade and Doe Library, AND my future alma mater.
Credit: Bonnie Azab Powell

Though we anticipate many changes and are prepared to be flexible, we have semi-finalized our map! As you can see through Kt's handy-work, the pink flags = camping, green flags= hotelling/friending, and yellow flags = stopping. Orange is used for our beginning point and final destination (creepy). It feels good to have a tangible form of all our planning in plain view as we discuss the upcoming the weeks.

Please ignore the radiant glow that is emitted from the glory of our map.

My school's graduation was last night and as I sat watching my students proudly display their tasseled mortarboards, I was filled with pride for their accomplishments and reminded of the overwhelming feelings of freedom and fear that encompassed me when I walked across that stage. Though I'm quite removed from that scary and exhilarating place of transitioning between childhood and semi-adulthood, I felt myself identifying with those excited and apprehensive seniors. We are both about to experience the world around us affecting it, as it continues to shape, mold and affect us. That's one mind blowing, living-the-imagined-life thought. I only wish Pomp and Circumstance would play as we drove into each city. Maybe I can arrange that...
It's a big country out there. I can't wait to see it.

My high school's graduation was far less exciting and grandiose than this, but this just seems to exude so much excitement I had to use it. Not sure who these people are...I'll give photo cred to:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pink Flags, Tents and Bears, Oh My!

Last night I came home to find this on our living room wall:

Kt found these maps that she had collected for her classroom and started marking out our trip in pink sticky flags. So exciting to see a large, paper version of our plans. Obviously, we've only gotten to San Francisco thus far. The return trip is still in the works.

This weekend my goal is to get hiking boots and a coat/jacket; Gander Mountain here we come! Too bad we don't have one of these nearby. Any suggestions for relatively inexpensive yet high quality gear?

Confession time: I don't have massive amounts of camping/wilderness experience. I've definitely had my fair share of roughing it and camping and rafting etc, but never at the Grand Canyon in the middle of the summer with myself as one of the "responsible adults". So many things keep running through my mind that we need to get or read about or research. I'm really looking forward to just sort of experiencig thing as they happen, but then I get the "second guesses"and the "unprepareds"and my mind begins its flurry of activity again.

I started googling weather conditions, hiking trails, tips etc. (google=wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, right Dana?) and found this pretty helpful website. I'm sure there are many more out there. So for those of you experienced wilderness adventurers, what kind of advice can you give us? If you have any suggestions for gear, places to visit, tips, checklists, books, websites, leave a comment for me.

Please pray this doesn't happen to us! The Worst!

Also, (FYI) if I ever figure out to set it up, you should see some ads on this blog. For every click/visit the ad gets I think I get like, $0.003, so help a girl out and click away (maybe I'll make $0.63 to go towards gas!).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's in a Name?

Juliet famously asks this question after meeting her star crossed lover, and asks us if a rose would smell so sweet if it was called, say, “frog”. Though Shakespeare seems to think a name means little (or at least lets his heroine believe so), I disagree. A name means a lot. A name is how we're known, how we're identified by friends and family and how we present ourselves to our society. I'm a firm believer in names. Do I think names predetermine our futures? Maybe not, but I think names are important and deserve thought and time. That being said, my poor children will probably lay around nameless for God knows how long, while I “try on” possible names for them. Hope they like “baby” in the meantime.

Though perhaps not as important as living things, a blog deserves a good name too. And THIS blog deserves a really good name. For years, I have dreamed of going on a road trip. And by road trip, I mean Road Trip. In high school I wrote short stories about road tripping cross country and learning about not only oneself, but the world in which we live (embarrassingly enough, I'm not joking, that's really what they were about. Most of my stories also involved red jeeps....guess I haven't changed much). In college, I planned road trips, mini-road tripped to Ohio, Virginia and Philly, and often thought of simply using 4 wheels to escape whatever ailed me. Needless to say, road trips have long appealed to me, so when Kt mentioned going to California this summer, and I shuttered at the thought of another stagnate summer in Florida, a neon sign lit in my mind and the words it so beautifully flashed were: Road. Trip. Kt was game and our plans began to form.

It was not until this weekend when things finally calmed down enough for both of us to be able to sit down and start planning definitively. We breakfasted Saturday and, while sipping coffee and sneaking bites of blueberry pancakes, we began to actually write down our plans. Later that afternoon, between booking our hotel in New Orleans and yelling out names of random cities that called to us, “Loving, New Mexico! We have to stop there!” Kt began loading her new iPod with music. Now, if you've spent more than twenty minutes with me, you're probably aware of my Counting Crows/Adam Duritz obsession, (I. LOVE. THEM.) so when August and Everything After began playing, I felt some sort of divine intervention. As we planned, and sang along with Adam, so many feelings ran around in my head...road trip....3,0000,0000,008 things to see....California...the Painted Desert...Mt. Rushmore?...I can go anywhere. I am about to live the life I imagined. (So cheesy I just gagged, but so true it had to be said).

The Counting Crows' song, Omaha, is a song about starting over, life going on, and beginning again even when we think we can't. It's a sort of redemption song about what really matters, as opposed to all the crap that usually chokes us up, messies up our lives, and distracts us, or makes us feel worthless. Like when we think we'll never achieve those things we dreamed of, when life begins to get monotonous, or when we want to get our money back at the door, Omaha reminds us there is another; there's more. It's also an ironic song, because while seeming to deep-down offer hope, at times, it definitely seems more hopeless. But, man, I love my irony. And in that vein, the irony was not lost on me when Kt and I loudly sang, “Omaha, somewhere in middle America...” It was also no coincidence when Kt later sent me a link to with the comment: “Start threading the needle”, as that's exactly what we're about to do as we sew our paths, stitch by stitch, across the middle, outside and inside of America. As that phrase keeps repeating itself, I realized...that's the name. So tonight, as I book our home away from home campsite in the Grand Canyon, I realize, I'm threading that needle, I'm putting one more connection, making one more stitch through this crazy life, and that's what names are all about. Connection.

So, what's in a name? Quite a lot.