Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind

There are two types of people in the world, the dish do-ers, and the dish avoiders.

I am sure that you have experienced them first hand. You know, those people who mysteriously disappear after the last bites have been taken and everyone else stands and heads to the kitchen to face the daunting task of cleaning up.

I am not sure where they go, limbo, to take a nap, to do “something”… the bathroom… but, somehow they always manage to miraculously leave/disappear and then return just as the last dish is being dried.

It seems that there is nothing you can do about these people except for love them, although, as a dish do-er myself, it is a little annoying. I have found a way to mask this annoyance by calling it an “endearing quality.” It helps me love others better.

However, what these dish avoiders don’t realize is what they are missing. Good conversations, funny mishaps, secrets told, the small things that makes life, well, life.

This principle is not limited to dish do-ers and dish avoiders. In fact, I believe that in everything, the two of a kind rule applies. Vanilla or chocolate? Coke or Pepsi? Lyrics or music?

Even traveling takes sides.

Just the word makes one person smile and other cringe. For some, it brings back overwhelming memories of a rich experience that can never be duplicated, and for the others, it brings back the horror of being crammed into a coach middle seat for 12 hours.

That’s actually a perfect example. Here, the travel lover would see this as an experience, something to laugh about later; the travel loather would call this hell.

For me, travel is good. Traveling is better. But being a traveler is the best. That’s what I like to call myself, a traveler. I am not someone who travels through time, sadly, but through space yes. I am at the beginning of my journey, but to be honest, I have done my fair share of traveling. And I, along with all travel lovers, am faced with task of introducing the loathers to our love affair, or in most cases, dragging them along.

I think that we all pretend to like to travel. It’s very trendy these days. We all get in the car, or on the plane, ready for an adventure. But quickly, the test of lover or loather comes, and who passes and who fails becomes very obvious very quickly.

How many times have we, either the lover or the loather, found ourselves reading the inflight magazine on a plane about a place that barely exists? A lover knows to avoid this common trap and use it as a stepping stone, whereas the loather actually goes there and ends up hating his or her life because, in actuality, and to no surprise to the lover, the job of the travel writer is to make a place look way more desirable than it actually is.

Perfect example.

My mom sent me a magazine article about this wonderful and quaint, a must see in fact, gourmet grocery store and bakery in Crozet, Virginia. I thought to myself, “Perfect! I need to go here!” So I planned it out, decided to make a day of it. I invited a friend and we set off on my road trip to what turned out to be… nowhere.

We arrived at a log cabin… cute, but not old and not too much charm. Went inside to find that yes, they did have a fine and ample selection of sandwiches, as well as an assortment of cheese and pantry items, but that was about it.

I would hardly call this a find! This was more a waste of time, and the longer that I stood there pondering why such an astute travel magazine would take this many hours off my life on purpose, the travel lover in me began to emerge.

My friend, who would call herself a lover as well, but really, to be honest, has not made the -ther to -ver ending jump yet, was just plain disappointed. To her, we had driven three hours, spent precious college money on gas, and now were eating overpriced, but still delicious sandwiches in an run down log cabin.

But to me, to me this was possibility. Crozet, Virignia, where the hell is that? I had just followed the GPS. But now it was time to get into the nitty gritty. Time to pull out the old paper map… my fave.

And you know what? The map did the trick. We had a wonderful afternoon. That trusty ole AAA map took us to apple orchards, on stunning back roads, and to the location of one of the best things that I have ever eaten (Fried Green Tomato Salad at Miller’s Bar, Charlottesville, VA). A travel lover can turn a place that barely exists into an oasis of adventure, or they can at least find that oasis from the middle of nowhere.

The map brings up a good point.

Now, I can read a map. Any respectable lover should be able to. Maps are nostalgic and surprisingly don’t need batteries, so their usage life tends to be pretty long. At least until a drive-through cup of slusho gets spilled on it, someone gets car sick, or you spend too many years not heeding Rabbit’s advice of rolling maps instead of folding them.

Twice in the last year, I have been on a road trip and the GPS, for some reason or another, has gone out of commission. The battery died, it couldn’t connect to the satellite, somehow my car had been transformed into Faraday’s Cage. I have no idea, but the GPS was a no go. And, for that very reason, we had to pull out the map.

I’ve found that loathers are scared of those things…maps I mean. In fact, I didn’t know this, but many haven’t ever used one before.

What! What? My childhood was filled with my father handing me a map in the backseat, attempting to point out where we were while driving at the same time, and then asking me where we should be going and on what road. Normally, a father wouldn’t put the fate of his family in the hands of his 10-year-old, but in these cases, it was okay.

Because only two things could happen. We would make the destination, or we wouldn’t. And both to the travel lover are okay. Because that is all part of the journey.

Traveling is a skill that must be learned. You can’t just read about travel, you must experience it! It takes years, and places, and yes, some money, and experiences and thousands of awkward moments to become a traveler. But the result, the result cannot be duplicated.

If you do it right, traveling touches your soul in ways you can’t even describe. It makes you do things that you would never do, and it lets you be someone who’s cool and adventurous and who tries new things, tastes new foods. It can be indescribable.

But maybe that’s why people don’t like to travel. Because the trips are so great, but they always eventually come to an end. And that is hard, to leave something, an emotion or experience or place that you fell in love with, behind. It’s almost like leaving a piece of your soul in another place. But someone once told me this, and it helps. “Every song has an end, but is that any reason not to enjoy the music?"

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's been a few days....

It's been a few days since I last wrote! Wow, gotta stay on this for all my loyal followers.

Not much to say so i'll just share some cool things.....

Did you know that the Lifehouse song, "Hanging by a Momemt" was originally meant to be a Christian song? I mean it is, but it was just released secularly.

If you are ever in Nice, France, you should eat at Le Maison de la Marie. It's amazingly delicious and so cute.

I am at Starbucks and the people sitting next to me are SO LOUD! I can hear them through my headphones and I am listening to Switchfoot. Really! People! C'mon! (I think that they are elementary school teaches, so maybe they only have two levels, off and LOUD)

Cool quote that I put on my Facebook last week that people liked: "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

This may not the be the nicest thing, but People of Walmart (.com) is a must stop on the interweb.

Song of today is Don't Wait by Dashboard Confessional.

Also this one

Tomorrows update will be so much better!

Made chicken for some peeps last night. So good and so easy! Here's the link!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, eat lunch, drive home.

Now let’s take a closer look.

Every morning you wake up. You get dressed in a freshly pressed cotton shirt. You make your way down to the kitchen where you quickly slap together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You pop your sunglasses on your face, hop in the car, and make your way to work.

Let’s take an even closer look.

The cotton gin, the sewing machine, peanut butter, sunglasses, the assembly line… all things that you probably used this morning. But what do all of these things have in common?

My friend once told me that you can never go wrong writing about America. What teacher would not give you a good grade for writing about the greatest country in the world? Wouldn’t you think a country that invented all of these things, things that are becoming essential in our everyday life, would be on top of the world right now? Not down in the dumps in debt.

It’s a conundrum to me, really. How can the country who created the light bulb, the airplane, the computer and the internet for heaven’s sake, be in debt? We should be richer than Dubai!

So what’s the problem? I say it’s simple.

Vending machines, yet another American invention.

With the creation of the vending machine, as well as many other inventions after, we at the same time created a monster of a trend.

The vending machine, while ingenious in its own right, also perfectly displays the ideology of Americans while simultaneously setting them on a crash course for the future. The combination of American problem solving mixed with the poison of instant gratification was born, and this time it was neatly packaged in preservative-laced, trans fat filled, partially hydrogenated health bars. Yum!

While it may not be fair to argue that the vending machine is the root of all our problems, it does provide an excellent example.

People love what they love, and when they want something, they want it now. The difference is Americans, in their nature, have found a way to satisfy that need. But greed has made us stupid. Yes, we can get what we want anytime, almost instantly, thank you iTunes, you are single handedly taking down the music industry, but at least my CD’s from eBay are cheaper, but what is the real cost?

I think the real cost is all the waste it creates. The U.S. had become a throwaway society. We are inefficient. Millions of dollars are lost or tied up in red tape. Our society is sick, our economy is sick, and our country is sick (from all the trans fat) but somehow, we have managed to keep our heads above water. But how long can that last?

If it were possible, and our nation could sit down and get its act together, start making decisions based on what is best for people, and not what works best to instantly gratify them, things may really start to turn around.

Because that is all that instant gratification is: a quick fix. A temporary patch. Great ideas take time. You can’t just create a masterpiece overnight.

Take an author. That book he just published did not just get down on paper the first go round. There was a first draft. And it was horrible, but it was that first draft that created an idea for the second draft. And then came the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. And eventually, after work, and time, and love even, the words on the paper can become meaningful and epic. There is no immediacy (instantity) in that.

Dubai has vending machines that vend gold bars. We, the U.S. can’t even think about gold bars much less if we need to get rid of our dog because we can no longer afford to pay for dog food.

My mantra, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Sure, I want a new car, a lot of people do, but just because I can get it, doesn’t mean that I should get it. Same goes for the house. Living within our means is something that our country has forgotten after marching downs the gratification trail for so many years.

Look where that has gotten us. Something has got to change. But will we as a people ever take that initiative? Is it possible, or is it too late?

So do I think that one can blame all of America’s failures on the vending machine? No, but you have to have someone (or something) to blame it on, right?


What New With You


So instead of doing the tons of work that I have to do today, I instead messed around with the layout of my blog. Not really sure that I love what I have done with the place, but maybe in the next few weeks it will start to look better. I like the old background, but it was really busy and dark, and dark, with the exception of my clothes, is definitely not me.

So for the apple pie. That was not the worlds greatest recipe. The best part of that pie was the crust, and that was store bought. The pie itself came out too runny, so the crust wasn't crisp, and there was way, way too much lemon. It wasn't bad, just not a recipe to keep, or to rave about.

Just got my webcam fixed on my computer today so I think that it would be cool if I did a video blog, i'll keep thinking about that one. Hopefully nothing else will get screwed up this machine.

This week I started ordering cd's off ebay again. I used to do this all the time in high school. They are dirt cheap, like 3 bucks, shipping included, you get a hard copy, and you can also put it on your computer. Love it. Just got one for 99 cents and $1.99 shipping. Not a bad deal for 13 tracks. Cheaper than itunes if you ask me.

By the way, if you don't, I basically hate itunes. It's great for listening/discovering/organizing new music, and yes I use it daily (call me a hypocrite). But it kills good songs. It stops you from buying the whole album and working towards liking other songs on that record, and it kills the hard copy industry... no me gusta.

Right now I am listening to Something Cooperate. Love it.

Oh, saw this today, its really cool.

This man paints himself into scenery, so well you almost can even tell that he is there! His name is Lui Bolin and his amazing.


Here's the link.There's a bunch more pictures of his stuff. So cool!

One last thing. Word.


   VUR-dnt  , adjective;
Green with vegetation; covered with green growth.
Lacking experience or sophistication; naive

Go be cool.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some Cool Things

Some cool things....

First, my friend's band just released their album on itunes! Check them out, they are great. They are called Sea Fever and their album is called Go Find Your Love. You can also check out their myspace page.

Next, is another band I found called Castle Lights. They have a five song EP out right now and I can't wait for more. My favorite song of theirs is called Maze of Love. So great, you should definitely check it out as well.

Yesterday, I went to Bubblecakes in Roanoke. It's another one of those trendy cupcake places that sells overpriced cupcakes that aren't very good. At least that is what I was expecting. Instead, I found something completely different. The place is so cute, but most important, the cupcakes they sell are to die for! They are amazingly delicious. I had the Tiffany cupcake which is vanilla cake with almond icing and a Brownie Souffle, which is basically a cupcake brownie....yum. Need I say more. So if you are ever in Roanoke, check it out.

Now, I am going to make an apple pie. Still have yet to find an amazing recipe for that. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

The one I am trying today uses these ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups (5.25 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

You'll find out how this went next time!

A cool gift idea. I am obsessed with this. I hope that my dad and my brother don't read my blog because I want to get this for them. I saw this and thought it was so cool and its great because you can just buy a ton of them and give them to every guy that you know. It's called, "The Beer Stick."
Beer Stick

Lastly, but not least(y), a cool picture.

A picture of Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers. 


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Taking the Time

Check this out!

“I don’t have time to read.” You can hear that anywhere. Right now I am hearing it as I sit in my law class. Funny, because at the same time, I am reading on article on college students claiming they just don’t have time to pick up a book.

“Why read when I can go on my computer?” That’s the one that I get from my 15 year old sister.

It seems these days, whether it be for fun or for an assignment that reading for pleasure is a dying out.

Who actually reads anymore? If it’s not students and it’s not kids, and it’s basically no one in our generation except our mothers and our fathers, and maybe our grandparents, if they are still with us or even if they still can, and then not counting those few weird kids, then who is it?

Who is still reading?

Kindles are trendy, another computer or gadget or whatever. But even those have Wi-Fi.

What’s that other thing?

A nook?

What about a book? You know, real paper and a slightly enticing cover.

Reading is a dying art. Sure, we are still a literate nation. But we are also a nation on the verge of losing its passion for a form of expression that we call literature.

Some excuses.

No one has time to read anymore. I don’t have time. The stories end too quickly. The books are too long. Reading is boring. The list could go on and on.

So why read?

Maybe all we need is a reminder. Reading can be beautiful. Reading can be nostalgic. Reading can make you patient, it can make you think. Reading makes you smarter, reading makes you wiser, reading gives you a colossal vocabulary…if you let it.

It may take something from you to get the book started, but it always gives you back at least double what you put in. It’s amazing, actually and funny too. You read, and then suddenly you find yourself speaking more articulately, with bigger words, and better flow to your speech than you ever knew that you possessed. Even your writing gets better.

Reading can change you.

So why don’t people read anymore? The answer is I don’t know. But I do have my opinions.
I think that people have fallen out of love with the written word and have fallen into something else. Our minds are on speed…all the time. The LSD of this generation now comes in LCD form. That acronym is close enough for me.

How often do we find ourselves watching TV, on our laptops, music playing, all the while multitasking on Facebook chat and text messaging on our smartphones? We seem to always have time for that.
This cannot be a healthy habit and in the race between books and new technologies, it’s the new stuff that’s winning.

When the U.S. promoted competition, I don’t think that this is what they had in mind, or to this extent. But in any case, technology is killing anything that existed before 1988.

The whole world is wrapped up in health these days but we seem to be missing what is directly in front of us. We are addicted to technology. We are slaves to our laptops and our phones and anything else with a screen. We are so caught up in the instant gratification of our time that actually making time for something that doesn’t have a clock built in becomes difficult.

Now can you see how the beauty of the book can get lost in this mess of invisible signals floating through the air?

I am an old soul. I go home and knit. I watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I like to walk to the grocery store when I can.

But my favorite time, my absolute favorite time of day, is coming home, turning off my computer, and the TV and putting my phone on the table… can’t let that get too far, right?

And going over to my receiver, flipping the switch, hearing the slight buzz as it warms up. Pushing down the button on the turntable and then watching the arm go up and over, and finally resting on some carefully chosen black vinyl, crackling. And finally sitting down on my couch, and getting to read.

I’ve waited all day for this…I hope it’s a good one….a book that is. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Usual Goings On

Life in Blacksburg has been slow as of late, but that should be no surprise. The weather is not too bad, but it is still cold. I am having a hard time jumping back into the school zone, but hopefully when tests start to kick in next  week I will be on top of things.

For those of you who are interested, my computer broke again. This is the third time in two weeks. It's the webcam this time. I tried to skype my cousin in Spain this morning and only half of my face was showing. Wish a had a screen capture, but you will just have to take my word for it.

So here's something cool.

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective

Phillip Lopate