Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dentists and Parties Just Don't Mix

To finish off September, I'm going to leave with a Hyperbole and a Half post about a dentist, a lot of drugs, and a birthday party.

Let me say this now - it does not end well for Allie's mom.

This Could Save My Life Someday

Technology! What is it up to now? What is it up to next?

Now: UCSF (the hospital my brother is taking his residency at, so it must be good!) collaborated with a number of scientists, engineers, and doctors to create a prototype for the first implantable, artificial kidney - ever! Woah! That's pretty neat.

Next: Making it small enough to fit inside a human and run safely and effectively over time and inside the body (a current model has treated very sick patients, but is external to the body).

Wow! The future is now! And also in the future!

Isn't that incredible? It's tilt-shift photography applied to a Van Gogh painting, and you can see more here! The artist Serena Malyon took pictures of Van Gogh paintings and used Photoshop to create the effect. I bet that took a lot of work!

Tilt-shift photography uses a type of lens that specifically focuses its subject matter in a way that makes them look tiny in our eyes. I have no idea how or why, but that's what happens. I've posted tilt-shift videos in the past. It's pretty awesome!

Stephen Colbert Cares about the Environment and So Can You!

Someecards has a funny Stephen Colbert card up that supports America's Great Outdoors. If you'd like to help out - read the card and follow the links, send it to your friends and family! Or click here to go directly to the petition to save The Great Outdoors.

It's a pretty easy way to help out, so why not?

Goldendoodles are Golden in my Book!

How cute is Reilly the Goldendoodle? Super cute, that's how cute! I was to squeeze his little ears and feel how soft they are! Thanks as always to The Daily Puppy!

Bubbles I Could Fit Inside

Seriously, these bubbles are crazy large and therefore crazy awesome. They look like giant sea creatures that somehow escaped into the sky and then exploded in front of you. I feel like being next to those bubbles must be like swimming with less threatening sharks or beluga-sized whales.


McDonald's - I'm Hating It!

Another reason to hate McDonald's, even though they're making a killing during the recession, they're threatening to drop health care plans for 30,000 part-time employees!

So not only are they causing health problems with their food, but now they're not even covering their own employees for the illness they cause? Oh, and, surprise, surprise, they're blaming health care reform.

That Happy Meal is looking a lot sadder today.

[Thanks, Gawker]

Voice in the Vent: Sound Advice

The Voice in the Vent was giving out fashion tips at 8am this morning. Overheard was the following piece of sage (or should I say lime) advice:

"Don't wear something gray! Gray matches the day. Put on something bright and colorful. That way you'll stand out!"

Free fashion tips like these? That rhyme? Yes, please! I put on a bright red sweater after hearing VITV's advice and it has done me well on this dreary day.

Thanks, VITV! And keep it coming!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Roof, Two Roofs, Green Roofs, Blue Roofs!

Part of NYC mayor (or, as Gawker so humorously puts it, mayor-for-life) Mike Bloomberg's PlaNYC project is to retrofit old housing and sidewalks with blue and green roofs.

What are blue and green roofs, exactly? You can read about them in this Scientific American article.

The basic idea is that we've got all of these roofs that aren't doing anything right now, so why not make them work for us? Over time, they can save a lot of water and curb greenhouse emissions. Pretty awesome, huh?

Let's not get our hopes up until it gets through Albany, though. The NY state government has a way of killing things slowly, like the MTA, which is having to raise costs and cut services at the same time. Ugh.

NYC Rent: Not as Bad as We Think... Or Is It?

This article about rent in NYC compared to other cities is interesting.

It's claim: rent in NYC is lower than that of other cities, San Jose, CA, San Francisco, L.A., and two others. So we're the fifth most expensive city to rent in! See, nothing to complain about!

Except for the fact that they consider New York City both as a whole (the boroughs) and in conjunction with Long Island and parts of New Jersey. NYC is a very diverse city, so the range of rents is going to be wide. They also don't take size into account. Are the apartments in San Fran and LA bigger or smaller than those in New York? Probably so.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that, as a New Yorker, I still feel I've got the right to complain about rents in Manhattan. It's just that now LA'ers and San Fran'ers do, too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Helping Out Some Kidneys!

So here's my contribution to this whole doing good business - My friends and I will be walking in the 2010 New York Kidney Walk on October 17th!

The walk supports the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). The NKF is a foundation that promotes research, support, and advocacy for those with kidney disease and kidney transplants. They support organ donation programs, educate people about CKD and how to prevent it (for those in which the disease is preventable), advocate for patients and donors, and try to push kidney-friendly policies through Congress (i.e. getting Medicare to cover renal transplant patients for life which, while not yet achieved, got farther through Congress this year than in many years past).

You can help, too! By sponsoring me, you can make a donation to the NKF and help make my walk really mean something. I wouldn't be here without people like those who work at NKF (and, of course, people like my wonderful donor, Katherine), so let's show them how much they mean to us.

You can sponsor me by clicking "Sponsor" on my Kidney Walk page.

Thank you!

Helping Out Some Earth!

The good deeds keep rolling in! And this one even makes economic sense, too!

The First Minister of Scotland (whatever that title means) has just announced that Scotland will produce 100% of its energy needs with renewable resources by 2025 [Thanks, Scientific American]. Snap! That's just 15 years from now!

Admittedly, Scotland is very small with a very small population, so it's definitely easier for them to achieve this goal than, say, the US. But no state in the US says that it's going to go 100% green by 2025 - not even Rhode Island! Clearly, Scotland is leading the way. They even plan on exporting a large portion of their energy to England. How cool is that?

Scotland, you make me proud of my heritage.

Helping Out Some Orphans

In other philanthropic news, Suzanne Hook, a businesswoman sold everything she owned to run an orphanage in Vietnam. After being abandoned as a baby because of the Vietnam War, she was adopted by a British family and became a very successful businesswoman. Now she's living her dream and helping out children just like her. Way to go, Suzanne!

Here's hoping all of these good philanthropic vibes keep spreading and more people start funding the causes they care about. I know I sure will!

Helping Out Some Wombats

Thanks to Neatorama for the link to this adorable and delightful article on a man who left his entire estate to the Wombat Awareness Organization. Don't get me wrong, wombats are adorable and I'm sure are vital to the Australian ecosystem, but rarely do you find someone so dedicated to a specific animal that he's willing to donate $8 million to their preservation.

If I had to choose an animal to donate all my money to, it'd definitely be dogs, but otters would be a close second, with other members of the canidae family third.

If you could only pick one animal, which animal would you donate to?

Old White Men Sometimes Know Stuff

Like Walter Breuning of Montana. At 114, he's the oldest man in the world and a really nice guy! He is super adorable throughout the whole film, but his last few answers made me especially happy. They remind me of my late grandmother Mimi. Smile.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hashbrowns: Meant for Petting

I've never wanted to squeeze a Hashbrown more in my life. And I've squeeze many a hashbrown - the ones they sell at Sonics with a footlong hot dog and a banana cream pie shake? Come on! It does not get much better than that - or least it didn't when I was in high school and didn't care how many calories that thing had or that the hot dog was probably made of rat butt.

Moving on, this puppy is adorable. And I really want a hot dog. Deal with it.

As always, thanks Daily Puppy!

Shout Out! Maddie Davies: Reporter Extraordinnaire-ily Entertaining

My friend Maddie Davies just wrote her first two articles for E! Entertainment!! (The first (!) is because Entertainment should always have an (!) at the end of it. The extra (!) is for Excitement!)

Both pieces are super hilarious and (for the lazy among us) super short! So check them out now before they become less topical!

The Social Network: Why Justin Timberlake Has Not Confirmed Your Friend Request


The Social Network: Jesse Eisenberg to Facebook Founder: Let's Go on a Man Date

Read them! Enjoy!

The Scariest Thing I Saw Today

Woah. I cannot imagine why in heck somebody would choose to do this as their job. At first I thought, "Well, if they paid me a million dollars and gave me safety gear and a parachute, maybe..." but then I realized even that couldn't coax me up one of those towers.

Taller than the Empire State Building? Taller than Sears Tower? Jeezie peaches! I got scared just stepping out onto the observation deck on the Empire State Building and I wasn't even close to the edge!

What might be more interesting, though - How do they get down!?

Ugh, my feet are getting frightened-tingly just thinking about it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Majestic Plastic Bag

Just in case you missed this one (thanks Neatorama). Will video Sunday ever stop!?

Elmo and NPH

I was never the hugest fan of Elmo (I always thought that Grover was more adorbs), but this just about made my day. What a fun bunch of videos for a Sunday afternoon, huh? You can watch more Sesame Street videos on their new Tumblr.

I Don't Understand Job

The totes adorbs Garnfunkel and Oates have a new song! It's a little racy (definitely racier than the Muppets song I just posted), but I think it's pretty funny - I'm glad they have the subtitles because I couldn't get all the references the first time. So many pop and literary puns for such a banal subject! And there's a "Bones" reference!! Enjoy!

Everything's Better with Muppets

Too true.

Fund the Arts!

Here's a cute little video about why the UK should continue to fund the arts. It's pretty adorbs and makes a good point.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering September 11th

It's not hard to remember September 11, 2001 at first. People throw it around so casually nowadays that it's impossible to forget. Whether it's being used to try (and fail) to get a mayor elected as President or to oppress and disgrace an entire people who are innocent of any connections to that day besides sorrow and grief. Whether someone's making money off of other people's tragedy in Alaska or someone is voting down a bill to help those who are still sick from that day, we remember September 11th.

The problem is that it doesn't mean so much anymore. It's a phrase overused, an idea spread too thin, a moment too widely misconstrued and abused and politicized.

Nine years later, we've forgotten what really happened and how we really felt.

On September 10th, Republicans (especially the Southern ones) hated New York and most people had no clue was Al Qaeda was. Not too many people in the U.S. had a strong opinion about Islam one way or the other, except that it was a big religion abroad that not many people followed here. Those who did weren't all that different from those who didn't - unless you were talking about Israel, of course.

Since then, a lot has changed and a lot hasn't. Republicans still hate New York and everyone in it, but now they claim to love Ground Zero. Most people still don't know a whole lot about Al Qaeda or Islam, but everyone has a strong opinion about it one way or another. Everyone feels very different and everyone feels very much the same.

Living a few blocks away from where it all happened, it's easy to get bombarded by the protests and the tourists and the fakeness. Passing by the big empty hole and the posters about what's coming (but are they really getting anything done?) and the big charred cross on the way to the Whole Foods can really make it all just seem to so far away and forgotten. For weeks after I moved to this apartment, I didn't even know I lived right next to the former World Trade Center.

Today wasn't all that different. It's a beautiful day, sunny with barely a cloud in the sky. Not hot. Not cold. After a brunch with friends, the BF and I took a long walk home. We walked through the Festival of San Janero in Little Italy. We bought vegan ice cream (made of cashews!). We tried to avoid the crowds along Canal.

Only when we got to Duane and Reade (namesake of the ubiquitous pharmacy) did we noticed the heightened security, the bomb squad dogs, the bullhorns, the protestors, the signs, the loudspeakers, and the fact that it was nearly impossible to get through. And I wanted to do was go home and take a nap. The BF was focused on getting us to the CVS so I could pick up my pills and he could pick up toilet paper. I noticed that the vast majority of protestors and speakers were the friendly kind, talking about unity and denouncing racism and saying the names of those that perished. Someone was giddily (seriously, he was so happy to be doing this) handing out free Korans, but I don't know if he meant for us to read them or burn them.

So it's hard to remember what it was all about to begin with, what happened and who it happened to. There are a few people, people I feel terrible for, who will truly never forget what happened and how it happened, because they were the people who were there, who lost someone, who got sick, who can't stop remembering.

For me, I was a freshman back in Dallas in the middle of an advanced geometry class. Our new principal came over the PA and hastily told us to go to the auditorium after class instead of advisory (our fancy-school version of homeroom). We all laughed because she sounded so flustered. We all thought it was because she was new and not used to the PA system. The hallways were crowded and some people sounded really distressed. A friend of mine, a junior, told me the Pentagon had been hit by a plane. She said it was a terrorist attack. I wanted her to be wrong. By the time we got in the auditorium, everyone was upset and everyone had heard something different. What is the World Trade Center? What about the White House? Is it over?

Our new principal told us that one of the two World Trade Center buildings had been hit by a plane. They weren't sure if it was an accident, but since the Pentagon had been hit by something, too, they didn't think it was. She told us that they had contacted our classmates who had taken a semester abroad in New York (again, this was a fancy high school) and they were all ok. She told us that if anyone needed to contact a relative in New York they should talk to their advisor. They told us that we were still going to have school, but that if anyone needed to go home they could.

This was when I remembered that my cousin and her husband (or was he still her boyfriend at the time?) lived in New York. I hoped they were ok. They were, but I didn't realize then how close they lived to the World Trade Center. Turns out it was just a five minute walk away. At the time, they had a very clear view.

Next was biology or chemistry (I'm thinking I had chemistry since I was a freshman, but for some reason I remember being in the biology room). That was when I saw the poor girl whose birthday it was crying in the lounge in the science hall. We're all crowded around the the TV. It's here when I first see the second plane hit the second tower. Looking back, it probably was replaying footage, but I thought it was live. It was horrifying. I was journaling at the time. I had just gotten into journaling in a notebook instead on the computer (it ended up being on the computer that stuck), and I was very glad in a weird way that I had it with me so I could document my feelings. I don't know where that journal is now... I'm sure my fourteen-year-old angst made me sound like I was over analyzing everything too much anyway.

The next chunk isn't as clear. I don't really remember lunch or anything. I do remember we had a world history test that afternoon and my teacher refused to postpone it. He said something about our fear not being a good enough reason not to learn (though I'm sure he didn't use a double negative like that). That night, I was glued to the TV. I wanted to absorb everything. I was very much caught up in it. My parents were the opposite. I think they were more scared than I was. I was more "this is my JFK moment." I don't know if that's how I'd think about it now.

That was my September 11, 2001. That's what I remember. There were days and weeks after of mourning and arguing about what was next, but on that day I was just confused, fascinated (in the horrified way), and utterly sad. I knew it was big, but I had no idea what it meant. And I definitely didn't think it would lead to what it is seen as now. Well, I was fourteen. I was naive. I was innocent, even then.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Weekend!

It's been a challenging week at work, so I was all too happy when I stumbled upon this awesome re-singification of these old toons by artist Destorm. What a way to wind down the day.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Squirrelpocalypse Now: Coming of the Squirrelmaggedon

So this, the Indian GIANT Squirrel (seriously, that's its name) exists. Just saying. You think I'm joking when I tell you they're coming to get us, but this thing could totally eat your baby. Or at least choke it to death like a boa constrictor using only its prehensile tail. Yeah, chew on that.

Otters Gone Wild!

I guess it makes sense that otters squeak... but has anyone else ever heard it like this before? Weird!

Also, this is a shout out of sorts to Shira, my friend who will be moving to freakin' BOTSWANA soon. You can check out her new blog "Botswana Comedy Scene" to keep up with her travels and trevails and triumphs. Have fun, Shira! We'll miss you back in NYC!

Allie's Done it Again, or: All I Do Is Plug Hyperbole and a Half

The new post at Hyperbole and a Half is so painfully awkward that I think it reached the sixth level of Social Entrapment. The fifth is getting rangled into watching a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and empathetically cringing at everything. The sixth is getting rangled into reading a hilarious blog post that makes you just as painfully empathetic.

Why was I born with the ability to feel non-animated cartoon feelings!?

Seriously, our brains can make faces out of anything, and all this has led us to do is us feeling awkward for inanimate drawings and crying to ourselves when we realize that we're killing our smiley-faced pancakes when we eat them. It's cannibalistic. But they're PANCAKES. Or sometimes waffles or expertly crafted sundaes.

I never question the validity of evolution, but I do question whether it's constantly playing jokes on us.

Sorry for Taking So Long!

I've posted enough each month to make sure each month has however many posts for however many days were in the month for over a year now, but I failed you guys in August. Why? Our vacation from work fell on a Thursday, which meant I didn't have a chance to do my usual Friday catch-up posts. The first half of my vacation I had limited access to the computer and then I was flying on the 31st so I totally blanked out about doing catch up posts!

Anyway, I'm here to make up for all that now. No worries, Readers, I am making post amends, and that totes adorbs puppy was but the first step. Get ready for my onslaught of posts!*

*You may want to wear protective covering while checking my blog over the next few days. Things may get messy.

Happy Labor Day is Over Day!

To celebrate my triumphant return from my Labor Day Week vacation, here's a cute Australian Shepherd named Basil, courtesy of The Daily Puppy.