Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just Tell Me When It's Over

I promised you, my faithful readers, that I would keep you updated on my Grad School application status.

So, I took the GRE again in January and got the results back recently. My scores are as follows for the first test/second test:

Verbal: 630/650 out of 800
Quantitative (Math): 590/500 out of 800
Analytical Writing: 5.0/5.5 out of 6

I'm pleased at the 20 point jump on the Verbal section. I ran out of time on the Math section, which really sucks. I think I'm most pleased with the 5.5 in the Writing section. This brought me from the 84th to 94th percentile. This is huge given my area of study and the importance placed on this section. Schools will get the scores for both tests, so they will also see my 590 on the first Math section. All told, I'm happy with my scores and super happy that I don't ever have to take the GRE again.

As far as applications go, I have submitted all of them, which feels really great. I ended up only applying to 7 schools instead of 8. University of Washington wasn't going to be a good fit so I dropped it. Now I reside in the awful purgatory between application submission and hearing back from the schools starting in late March.

I have very strong opinions about my first choice school, second, etc. I'm not going to share the names of the schools until I hear back from them.

Please cross your fingers, toes, eyes and really anything else you can cross, and think happy thoughts for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

All Creatures, Great And Small

"Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money."
- Cree Saying

I have a T-Shirt with this saying on it that I got in Costa Rica in 2002. I went on an 11 day Eco trip with my High School's Environmental Club the day after I graduated. It was spectacular. But that's not the subject of this post...this is:

I don't get political here very often. When I do it is because I feel very strongly about something. However, an issue recently came up that I feel compelled to discuss.

This year, Japan's whaling fleet went back to port early with only a fifth of their 900 minke whale quota. These whales are on a threatened species list, but Japan gets around the laws by claiming that the meat is not ONLY for eating, but that they are conducting scientific research. They claim their research involves tracking stats like size, stomach contents, age, etc.

I learned about the whaling battle several years ago through a TV show called "Whale Wars". I was immediately disgusted with the Japanese fleet and inspired by Sea Shepherd, the anti-whaling organization featured on the show. Their goal is to prevent the whaling fleet from killing whales by harassing the Japanese ships. They use things like stink bombs and prop foulers on the fleet. On the show, the Japanese fleet can be seen harpooning whales, bringing them up on deck, and immediately beginning to process the meat (along with some very violent behavior toward Sea Shepherd). The process of removing the whale meat is incredibly fast, begging the question of when they have time to do their "scientific research".

Anyway, you can learn more about the whaling battle in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica on many websites. You can learn about why Japan eats whale meat and how they circumvent International Conservation Laws. The important news extends past this year's early retreat by Japan. Apparently, Japan has a stockpile of whale meat meaning there is less demand (which points out that this is based on money, not research). Also, the Japanese are becoming more aware of the whaling battle and are increasingly disinterested in eating whale meat. These two factors in combination mean it is possible that Japan may not return to whaling next year.

On the day I heard of Japan's retreat (now called VSO Day by Sea Shepherd for "Victory in the Southern Ocean") I Tweeted this:

"Japan has STOPPED WHALING!!! It's wonderful to see the good guys
come out on top! Thank you Sea Shepherd. The whales thank you."

A little while later, I received this reply from someone I suspect is Japanese based on syntax:

"Why do U support the violence? In your country, U don't mind hurting
human? Paul Watson [Sea Shepherd founder and captain] is dishonest,
not a hero. SS fuel the fire."

I was initially hesitant to repeat the comment, not wanting to reward negative behavior. But I wanted to comment on it. First, I don't think that the U.S. promotes killing people. We are certainly not perfect and have high gun violence rates and state sanctioned capital punishment, but we don't condone random murder. Second, I'm not supporting the violence. Hello?! That's the point. Finally, whatever your opinion about Capt. Watson's tactics, they are not "fueling the fire". Without Sea Shepherd there would be no opposition to the whalers. Therefore they are not so much "fueling the fire" as "leading the charge".

I'm honestly happy that the citizens of Japan are beginning to see the whaling industry as wrong and worrying about how it affects Japan's image. I also know that America isn't in the clear. We may not kill and eat threatened species, but our meat processing industries are far from humane. This weighs heavily on me. I feel like I need to put my money where my mouth is. So this post is also going to serve as an announcement. Starting today, 2.20.2011, I am no longer going to eat meat or meat products. This is a personal decision and I don't judge those who choose to eat meat.

You readers have been so uplifting and supportive. I wanted to share this with you so I can document my Vegetarian Journey here and be honest about its impact on my life. I'm also going to need a running name for this journey. Any ideas? Something like "The Veggie Diaries" or "The Devil Eats Cucumbers". Many thanks, dear readers, for your willingness to sit through this never-ending post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Because I Said So

It can be really fun to Google "why" and see what pops up in the suggestion box.  For example:

I can get on board with "why is the sky blue?" and "why do cats purr?"- those seem valid.  

I don't know what to say about "why is my poop green?" or "why is Demi Lovato in rehab?"

Why can't you own a Canadian?  Same reason you can't own an American or a Australian - because IT'S ILLEGAL TO OWN PEOPLE!  

I like to picture the person that Googled "why did I get married?"  I suppose if you are at that point in your relationship, Google advice is as good as any.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Think It's Fine...

... to be 26 and find this book helpful.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Do Mullets, The Olsen Twins And Pigeons Have In Common? They Were All Subjects Of One Day's Thoughts.

I will not get attached. I will not think of it as my first choice school. I will not set myself up for disappointment. I won't. I won't. Oh, who am I kidding...

I'm most homesick for the South when I see a grown man wearing a baseball cap inside who fails to hold a door open, say please, thank you or yes ma'am. Where did manners go?

I feel bad for Richard Engel's mother. He's the go-to correspondent to send to war torn, up in arms, disaster ravaged countries.

Why am I getting spam emails advertising 'pajama jeans'? I never open the emails so I can't figure out if the selling point is that they are jeans as comfy as pajamas or pajamas that make you look like you are wearing jeans. Neither is high on my priority list.

Some days I don't so much style my hair as stare at it in the mirror and ask it "what are you in the mood to do today?". It usually chooses the days when I run into all 119 members of my high school graduating class to go for the "flock of seagulls meets Billy Ray Cyrus's mullet circa 1990" look.

Dog, if you stick your cold nose against my bare leg one more time we're going to have a problem.

Did Sarah Palin just say we are allies with North Korea?! Oh Sarah, Kim Jong Faux Pas.

Who makes up the password security questions I get asked when I forget my account info online? Like "Which celebrity do people say you most resemble?". Seems awfully subjective and could change. I think this may only work for the Olsen twins.

Some days really call for a show or two on conjoined twins or a face transplant. Or maybe a woman who became a man and a man who became a woman supporting the daughter that used to be their son (true story).

Is it wrong that whenever I hear Gabrielle Giffords husband's name on TV (always referred to as "Astronaut Mark Kelly") I think of Liz Lemon's imaginary husband, Astronaut Mike Dexter, on 30 Rock?

Why don't you ever see baby pigeons? I see other baby birds. Pigeons just show up in shifty eyed flocks. Where are the baby pigeons? Think about it.

Can we all agree that only Nazis are Nazis?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Foggy Bottom

No, these pictures were obviously not taken in Foggy Bottom.  I just like saying Foggy Bottom.  Foggy Bottom, Foggy Bottom, FOGGY BOTTOM!  Okay I'm done.  
The fog in these pictures is a frequent visitor in the Napa Valley.  Fog will settle in over the valley, leaving the mountains on either side in the sunshine.  It looks like an ocean or lake.  Or maybe like someone dropped dry ice into the valley.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Oddly Negative Candy Hearts

I don't know about you, but for me nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" like a 'Goodbye' candy conversation heart.  

I find the 'Don't Tell' one particularly disturbing.  What happened to the 'Luv U" hearts of my childhood?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Day In The Mind (One Day's Random Thoughts)

Does anyone pick up hitchhikers anymore? I see one every now and then, but I can't imagine anyone picking them up after 1980.

Why is it always the gray cars who don't put their headlights on in the thick fog and rain? Do they have a camouflage fantasy?

Is it bad luck to tell people what my first choice grad school is? Did I just mess everything up by telling my hair stylist?

I really want a Ctrl Z button for my life. I just want to immediately undo my last action that easily (see above problem).

If I go to school in Oregon or Washington will I have to wear a lot of plaid? I'm not sure I want to live in a bad Twilight spinoff.

Why is it that the one day a month I decide to go to Costco is the day that everyone in the Bay Area decides to go to the same Costco and bring all five of their children. Also, there shouldn't be food samples in Costco. That place is hard enough to navigate without huge throngs of browsy people eating their weight in mini sausages.

Every time I see a cop when I am driving I immediately feel like I'm doing something wrong. I can be going the speed limit, not texting, and hands at ten and two, but my blood pressure goes up and I feel like I'm going to get pulled over for sure. What does this say about America? Or is it just me?

What happened to Toxic Shock Syndrome? I know one seventh grade health class of girls that were sure TSS would eventually claim their lives. It wasn't a matter of if, just when. Now it is hardly mentioned. Just a little fine print message on the tampon box insert. I feel lied to. Is this a result of having a male church deacon who later transitioned into a woman as my health teacher? I will leave you with that thought.