Sunday, October 30, 2005

Now that you mention it, gee, thanks.

GPG and I have an annual habit of forgetting Daylight Savings Time in the fall. This not only means that we lose out on getting an extra hour of sleep; it also means that we're usually an hour early to things on the Sunday morning after the clocks change and we're short on sleep and cranky. This year was no exception.

But I know exactly why we always forget: we have no notice. That sounds like a lame excuse, but really: I listened to the radio on Friday and Saturday, I checked the news on the Internet (both Reuters and CNN), and I even read part of the newspaper on Saturday morning, which is a little unusual for me. NOTHING said ANYTHING about Daylight Savings Time. The first instance I heard anyone mention anything about it was this morning, after it was way too late--after GPG had already left, an hour early, to go to an Evolution driving school (for autocross), and I was already on my way back to Austin. Why all this mention of DST now, when it's too late? Where was all the radio chatter about DST on Friday and Saturday?!?!?

Now, for me, it's not such a bad thing, because that means that I am at school a little earlier to get a little more work done (or to do a little more procrastinating). But, still . . . I would rather have had that extra hour of sleep.

Friday, October 28, 2005

L.A. pictures, take 4: The Knit Cafe + Random Disney Concert Hall Shot

As promised, here is the fourth round of pictures from my L.A. trip: two shots of the lovely yarn the Knit Cafe has and a random shot of the Disney Concert Hall near downtown L.A.

I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted to at the Knit Cafe because I ended up spending most of the day at the Huntington. And then it took the Corner Bakery in Pasadena an EON to get my late lunch to me. So I was only there for about an hour and a half. The people there were so nice and friendly that I wish I could have been there all weekend long.

But, I did manage to get some pictures of a lot of their stock. Isn't it beautiful?

Wall 1:

Wall 2:

If I am in L.A. over the summer (which at this point it looks like I will be, yay!), I will definitely be here a lot!

And here is a random shot of the Disney Concert Hall. I actually kind of like it, but apparently there's still some debate over whether it's an architectural work of art or whether it's an eyesore. I had a break between two of my interviews downtown one day, so I clomped over in my suit and heels to take a picture of it:

There are still a few more pictures of my visit to the Getty on Sunday. I'll try to post those at some point while I'm in Houston over the weekend.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

L.A. trip pictures, take 3: The Huntington Bansai and Orchids, Plus Miscellaneous Red Flowers

At last, Take 3 of the L.A. trip pictures. This week has been a little bit busy with school and journal work, so Take 3 was a little late in coming. I didn't even exercise tonight and worked on the note I have to write for my journal instead. (At least, that's the official reason. I was also feeling pretty lazy and I somehow pulled something my right thigh, near my knee. So I decided to rest that pulled whatever a little, since I will run with GPG in Houston tomorrow.)

So, here are some of the cooler pictures I took/things I got to see at the Huntington:

First, the Huntington has a really neat Japanese garden portion with a special section dedicated to bansai trees. I never knew there were so many different kinds. I took pictures of some of the ones I liked the most:

It's just like a little itty bitty tree, isn't it?

Here is another one. The tour guide told us that the dark part of the tree (in the case below, the strip running up the side) is the only part of the tree that is alive and still growing. Verrrry interesting.

I also thought this one was pretty neat because of the way it twists. I wonder how long it took for the person in charge of this tree to shape it this way.

The Huntington also had a special exhibit on orchids that opened that weekend I was there. As a result, they had lots of beautiful orchids in various places all around the grounds. Aren't they beautiful? This one had a lot of blossoms:

I also took a picture of this one because the blossoms were so big and colorful:

The exhibit itself was actually not of live orchids. It was more about the iconography of orchids and the plant as both a scientific and a popular object of fascination. So there were all kinds of beautiful botanical drawings of different species of orchids, presumably taken out of various original texts in the Huntington library's collection. There was also a collection of orchids rendered in gold by an artist who used dental tools to shape all the different petals and textures of the different species. These golden orchids were amazing--they looked really real! Somehow the artist managed to capture all the little folds and ripples and textures of the different plant parts. It was really neat.

Unfortunately, you couldn't take pictures in that part of the Huntington, just like you couldn't take pictures of any of the indoor collections. You'll just have to go see it for yourself if you're in the area. It's definitely worth a trip!

And, last but not least, I include these red blossoms. Again, I have no idea what plant this is, but I just liked how the flowers looked. Pretty, no?

This weekend I'm headed down to Houston again for a little bit of Halloween. Hope everyone has a fun, scary, but safe time this weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2005

L.A. trip pictures, take 2: The Huntington

Before I forget, I'd like to revisit the previous post and tell you all about Crash. I really recommend renting this movie. It is not necessarily a pleasant movie to watch, but it is a really good movie to watch. I realize that sounds contradictory, but if you watch it, I think you'll understand what I mean.

Crash features a very large ensemble cast of characters, and the movie basically lets us follow them along through their daily lives to watch their interactions with each other, which are very racially charged because the cast is so diverse (in addition to "white" people, we have Chinese-, Hispanic-, Iranian-, and African-Americans). Really, the script and the director do a frighteningly and distressingly good job of showing some of the ugliness inherent in our perceptions and stereotypes of certain kinds of races and certain kinds of people. At the same time, though, the movie manages to balance that ugliness with a nuanced look at the characters as real human beings, with human faults and motivations. This means that you can't help empathizing with them, even as you recoil from how harshly and unfeelingly they seem to treat each other because of their racial assumptions and prejudices. Like I said above, not really a pleasant movie to watch, since both the humanity and the ugliness will resonate personally with you, but nevertheless a very well-done, and very good, movie.

And now, on to the second installment of L.A. pictures, before I fall asleep on my feet!

On the Saturday while I was in L.A., I went to Pasadena to visit the original Trader Joe's. I stocked up on a bunch of goodies (and nearly broke my back trying to schlep them all back to Austin). Then, after dropping a bunch of cash at TJ, I decided to check out the Huntington, which is basically botanical-gardens-cum-art-museum-cum-archive-slash-manuscript-library. Fortunately for me, the weather was beautiful that day and I spent a fair amount of time walking through the botanical gardens in a tour. The tour was super--I don't think I would have appreciated all the plants as much if I hadn't done it--but it also did take up a fair amount of time, right around noon, which didn't leave me too much time or inclination to take in the rest of the grounds and collections properly. I will have to go back and look at everything some more next summer.

So, because I spent most of the time outside in the gardens, and because they don't allow photography in the art and manuscript collections, all the pictures below are of plants. Unfortunately, I can't identify any of them for you because I am certainly no botanist, but I offer the pictures as just a glimpse of how cool the Huntington is. It's just a shame that I couldn't also show you pictures of the Gutenberg Bible and the first-edition prints of Shakespeare plays and Leviathan and Paradise Lost that they have in the manuscript collection. Stunning, I tell you. Go check it out yourself!

Here is a beautiful cactus with blossoms that I saw on the way. I wanted to get nice and close to capture both the blossoms and the prickles.

And here is a shot of part of the cactus section of the gardens. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of succulents in the world.

I have no idea what the plant below is, but I thought it was neat because the garden staff broke open one of the huge pine-cone-like things to show you the red flesh and the seeds on the inside.

Here are some pretty blossoms. Again, no idea what plant.

Some more cool plants.

And some pretty blossoms. Notice how beautiful the weather is? It was super.

And here is the highly qualified tour guide who showed us around. She was a 15-year veteran docent and a feisty grandmotherly lady who probably had a ton of interesting stories to tell. I'm sorry that the tour was over as quickly as it was, because she was a very cool woman.

That's it. I accidentally deleted one of the pictures, so I'll try to post it when I'm back in Houston over the weekend again. Before then, two more installments: more Huntington plants, and the Knit Cafe!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

L.A. trip pictures, take 1: The Biltmore Hotel

Well, this past weekend I finished up my last callback (on Friday afternoon) and spent half the weekend in Houston with GPG, which means? I got to get my L.A. pictures out of his digital camera and get them ready to put on the blog. Since there are so many I want to post, I'm putting them up in installments.

But first, the weekend: was great! The weather is FINALLY starting to cool down a little in Texas (tonight it was positively chilly, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a weenie) and Saturday was a beautiful day in Houston. Amongst other things, GPG and I had dinner with the Chairwoman, watched the movie Crash, and visited an exotic animal pet store.

We had already visited this pet store a few times before in recent years because this store is the only one in Houston that sells hedgehogs, of which GPG and I are huge fans. Since it had been a while since we last saw hedgehogs, we decided to go again this weekend.

Hedgehogs are SOOOOO cute. You must see one in person to realize what I'm talking about. The nice thing about this store is that they will let visitors hold some of the animals, so we got to hold one of the young female hedgehogs they had. It was super cute, and very friendly--in fact, it apparently liked GPG so much that it curled up in his hand and fell asleep! Just rolled up into a ball like it was nothing, being held in the air by some giant human, and closed its eyes and slept. Words cannot describe the cuteness.

But, arguably even cuter? The coatimundi! I am not sure what kind of animal the coatimundi is--I suspect it may be in the rodent family--but it was also super cute, and much bigger, friskier, and more interactive than the sleepy hedgehog (who, admittedly, is a nocturnal animal). The coatimundi (kwah-tuh-moon-dee) babies we saw were probably the size of a small chihuahua, but generally stouter, with long, racoon-striped tails, long snouts, inquisitive noses, and climbing skills like a monkey. The few we saw were completely tame and friendly and seemed to like cuddling with adults, but in their cage they also ran around and played with each other as if they were Energizer bunnies and would never tire out. Apparently coatimundi will bond to their owners, so you can get them as babies and interact with them so that they will be as devoted and friendly as dogs, if not more so. They seem like almost the perfect pet: cute, friendly, interactive, cuddlesome, small, and trainable to a certain extent. Again, words cannot describe the cuteness. GPG and I will definitely go back to see those guys again.

Anyway, on to the pictures! Here is the first installment: two pictures from my room at the Biltmore Hotel, where I got put up.

The first is a picture of the room itself:

Not bad, huh? You can't see it, but to the left of the picture there was a big dresser with a very large TV in there. Not really conveniently placed for watching TV in bed, but it's not like I watch a bunch of TV, anyway, so I have no complaints. The bed was very comfy, and I really liked that you could close the drapes and really block out virtually all daylight.

What I liked even more? See below:

That, my friends, is Aveda products. I've learned that you can find out how luxurious a hotel really is by looking at the complimentary bath products they provide, and the Biltmore provides Aveda. And yes, I will admit unabashedly that the Aveda freebies really impressed me a lot more than the room! Rosemary mint shampoo and conditioner, which I love, body wash, moisturizer, and two different kinds of bar soaps. I brought a whole bag of these free little bottles home, because the hotel cleaning staff kept replenishing my stock every day.

That's the first round of pictures. Not much exciting, but more will come. Next up? The Huntington in Pasadena!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

L.A., here I am

Well, here I am in sunny L.A., enjoying the weekend and a temporary break from being "on" for callback interviews. I say "temporary" because I'm due for a brunch with some attorneys at 11 this morning and the on, it must turn on once more. I have to admit that the "on" status has been pretty wearing on me, especially during those interviews with people that turn out to be less-than-interesting for a variety of persons: the interviewer is kind of bland; you end up hearing the same song-and-dance as you've heard before (most often from another firm, not even from another attorney at the same firm!); the interviewer tells you to ask questions about the firm and you have to figure out what you haven't already asked (in the process confusing those questions you've already asked other people at the firm and those questions you asked at other firms); etc.

Still, I'm happy to report that I have a pretty good success rate so far, with 3 out of 4 firms making offers. I'm happy about it, but have no idea how I'm going to decide where to go. Right now I like two firms in particular the most, but I still have 3 more interviews coming up next week. It'll be difficult to make a decision.

Of course, that's a rich man's problem, so I won't complain about it. Instead, I'll tell you about the weekend I've had so far. Yesterday I rented a car and drove to Pasadena to visit the original Trader Joe's. I probably should have used a basket to carry my selections so that I could impress upon myself the weight of what I wanted to buy. But instead I used a cart, and now that I've carried the bags with my purchases a few times, I'm rather dreading the trip back to Austin with all this stuff!

After Trader Joe's, I went to the Huntington Library and Garden, which was very neat. There are a ton of interesting things to see on the grounds, and I had to zip through a lot because the day was wearing on and I was getting hungry after several hours of wandering through the gardens and the collections. The botanical gardens are really interesting, with lots of different plant species, and I was lucky enough to arrive in time for a tour with a docent, who explained a lot of things that I probably wouldn't have appreciated if I had gone through myself. After the tour, which lasted almost 2 hours, I took drive-by look at the museum and library collections, which were as impressive as the gardens. The library has first-edition prints of some of Shakespeare's plays, Leviathan, Paradise Lost, Dr. Faustus, etc. As in, the first time these works of literature were printed and bound in books, ever. As in, these volumes are hundreds of years old. It was pretty darn cool! I'll have to go back and devote some more time to looking at the collections themselves, since I really zipped through there after the garden walking tour.

After finally leaving the Huntington, I grabbed some late lunch and headed over to the Knit Cafe, which was great. I didn't buy any yarn (I showed great restraint, especially after my encounter with Trader Joe's!), but I did buy a pattern book (no. 8) for Rowan's new Cashsoft Aran. It's not like I should ever get around to buying yarn for these projects, considering that I should work through my stash first and that I don't have the money to spare on Rowan yarn right now, but I figured I could buy the book to commemorate my Knit Cafe visit and to drool over the beautiful patterns. When I get access to GPG's computer and his digital picture software, I will show you the things I especially covet.

Unfortunately, since I spent so much time at the Huntington, I was only at Knit Cafe for about an hour and 45 minutes, which flew by like nothing, before they closed. It was great sitting there knitting with such fun people. If I'm out here during the summer, I will definitely be there on the weekends!

After KC closed, I headed down to Santa Monica to have a Fatburger (can't leave L.A. without having a Fatburger!) and wandered around the 3d Street Promenade a bit. But I came back to the hotel pretty early because I was completely pooped.

Today I'll head off to brunch with the attorneys and, hopefully, the Getty. Pictures will come next weekend, I promise!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

L.A., here I come

I didn't mention it earlier, but my callback interviews have begun. My first interview was in Houston last Friday, and I hope it was an auspicious start to my callback whirlwind because it went very well. Tomorrow starts the real work; I will fly to L.A. in the evening and have back-to-back interviews from Thursday morning until Tuesday afternoon the following week (minus, of course, the weekend). I really hope I manage to swing at least one good offer out of the trip so that I don't have to worry about my summer next year anymore.

Although I am missing a fair amount of class (two meetings for each course, except for my Federal Income Tax class, of which I am missing three meetings), I am still looking forward to the trip. I'm especially looking forward to the weekend; I've reserved a rental car over the weekend (out of my own pocket--that's a story for another time) and have big plans for seeing the city. I hope to visit Santa Monica so I can walk up and down the beach; Pasadena so I can visit the original Trader Joe's and stock up on goodies; the Getty Museum so I can see what the big fuss is all about with this museum; and the Knit Cafe, where I hope to run into Mind of Winter Julia and perhaps add to the yarn stash.

(On the other hand, I hope to exercise sufficient restraint so as not to run myself into the poorhouse, especially when surrounded by temptation at the Knit Cafe.)

And, GPG has kindly lent me his digital camera, so I'll be able to document the trip and show you pictures when I get back. To Houston. For another callback (the last one of the whirlwind).

Next post from L.A.!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The socks, they are still gone.

I'm in Houston for the weekend, and by this point I had hoped to have pictures of finished Retro Rib socks to share with you. Unfortunately, those socks (and the bag and the wallet) are definitely gone, and as a result I have no pictures to share with you, despite having access to GPG's lovely digital camera.

And, as luck would have it, I don't have any knitting worth showing, anyway. Somewhere between Houston and Austin I lost one of the DPNs I was using to knit a new pair of socks, this time in Shepherd Sport. (After losing the Retro Ribs, I decided I needed some quicker gratification: plain stockinette socks with sport-weight yarn.) I lost it because the substitute bag I'm using to tote around my things has an open top, and the needle must have fallen out somewhere. I hope that it's in my apartment in Austin and that I never left home with it in the first place, because I can't find it in my car. And I already have to buy replacement DPNs for the ones I lost with the Retro Ribs. I don't want to have to buy another set of DPNs just because I lost one of my size 4 set!

I'm in Houston because I had my first callback interview with a Houston firm on Friday. The callback went fine, and now I have an offer safely in my pocket, which I'm pleased about. I won't deny that I'm pretty happy about going into the rest of my callbacks with a fallback position already in place.

I also won't deny that I like being able to visit GPG and the Chairwoman on someone else's nickel. Nice that firms will reimburse your travel expenses, you know?

Friday, October 07, 2005

The socks, they are gone.

Sorry for not writing much lately. First, I was sick for a few days and feeling pretty gross. Then . . . I lost a satchel I carry around that holds my knitting and personal things, including my wallet. I was so upset about losing my things that I couldn't bring myself to write about the loss for a while. I've only now moved on and had the time to write about what happened.

I know it sounds pretty silly, being so devastated over losing something, but I was really terribly unhappy after I realized that I had lost this bag. I think that knitters will be able to empathize the most, because you know what? I had my Retro Rib socks in that bag and all I had left to finish on the second sock was the toe. I had planned to finish the second sock up that very same day and the pair of socks would have been finished, done, ready to give away! And now no one will ever see them or know them or use them or love them, after probably a month of work. It still upsets me.

I had been in the law library to pick up some print-outs at the copy center, and I stopped for just a few minute to use one of the general computers they have at the library. After that, I headed down to class, but stopped in the bathroom first. It was there in the bathroom that I realized I didn't have my bag, so I hurried back to the library to pick it up before class started. And it was gone. I checked all around the areas where I had been, and checked with both lost and founds in the library, but couldn't find it. Arg! I held out hope that I would be able to find it after class, but no such luck. That afternoon I called up my bank and credit companies and canceled all my plastic. The next morning I even walked through most of the library, looking for the bag, and I checked with all the L&Fs in the library and the school. It looks like it's gone for good.

Losing the wallet and the bag have definitely been annoying. The bag was the perfect size to hold my lunch and knitting. I had had the wallet for nine years, since I was a junior in high school. I will never find a bag or wallet as suited to me as those, and of course I had to shell out for a new driver's license, student ID, etc. And I've had to pay close attention to my cash reserve this week while I've been waiting for my new credit cards and debit card to arrive in the mail.

But the most devastating thing was losing the knitting. I'm so sad about it. I've started working on new projects (or revisited old ones), but I miss those socks. I was so close to finishing them! But they're gone now.

Oh, well. You live and learn. I guess I have to lose my wallet once in my life, right? Happens to everyone.

(But did I have to lose it with the knitting?!?!?)