Monthly Archives: August 2012

I’m a bike commuter now!

Helmet? Check.  Flashing red light?  Check.  Highly visible gold backpack? Check.

Since the nearest Metro stop is a 15-minute walk from my apartment as opposed to two blocks over, I’ve taken to my bike to get to work, meaning that my workday begins and ends with 2.2 miles of rolling hills as I ride straight down Locust.

So far, so good.  The road isn’t too busy, the hills aren’t too steep, and the weather hasn’t been too bad (yet!).   I’ve also enjoyed having time in the morning (and the afternoon, for that matter) to clear my head and get some exercise.  It certainly makes me feel a little bit better about the inordinate amount of time I spend sitting in an office chair once I get to work!

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A Rave Review

So I just have to rave a little bit.

A few weeks ago my coworker, Shari, told me about Birchbox, a supercool website that will send you a small box full of generously proportioned high end beauty samples each month (or generously proportioned samples of “grooming products” and “lifestyle accessories” if you sign up for the men’s box).  What’s that?  Getting a package in the mail every month (which to me is exciting in and of itself)  AND lots of little beauty samples of things that are too fancy to be sold at Walgreens or Target (currently my only suppliers of beauty supplies)?  Sounds too good to be true!  Oh, and the products are personalized based on a profile you create with the site so you don’t end up with a lot of useless things that you can’t use.  Oh, and the shipping is free.   Oh, and you can review the products you get in your box online in exchange for points that you can then redeem for full-size versions of your favorite products.

I know.

I haven’t even received my first box and I’m already thrilled.

The story behind the site is also pretty interesting.  It was founded by two women who met at Harvard Business School after having been through college internships in the beauty industry, where they saw how many free samples were haphazardly given out by beauty companies.  Their sample-box-a-month brainchild is a win-win for company and consumer.  In exchange for providing Birchbox with free samples, the companies get data about customer purchasing behavior and demographics.  In exchange for $10 a month, the customer gets a regular supply of quality beauty samples without having to wade through the vastly intimidating selection of products available at Sephora or department stores.

The only downside is that there’s a waiting list.

So what are you waiting for?  Check it out for yourself here.

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The Ten Albums I’m Listening to Most Right Now

Between several airplane flights, not taking calls at work for a few days due to having lost my voice, and moving this past weekend, I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately.  Since this is a place for sharing, I thought I would share some of the albums I’ve been returning to over and over.

I know, I know.  I don’t have nearly enough hipster cred to pull this kind of post off.  You will probably have HEARD of these bands before.   Which is why this post is based on what I am currently listening to a lot as opposed to being something like the “Top Ten BEST Albums of All Time.  Period.”  So, I open myself to judgment and would love to be able to open your eyes to at least one awesome new song along the way.  I would also love to hear some suggestions back, because I am well aware that I am hardly musically omniscient.

The ten albums are in alphabetical rather than numerical order.  You’ll see the band name first, and then the album title and a song or two I would particularly recommend, along with a link to listen to it.  Convenient, right?

Arcade Fire

The Suburbs

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

the bird and the bee

ray guns are not just the future

love letter to japan

The Decemberists

The Hazards of Love

(Picking one album is just hard since I love them all, but I would say that the Hazards of Love benefits the most from a listen all the way through since it’s one continuous story.)

The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone)

(Like I said, it’s a continuous story so start from the beginning.  However, if you’re too impatient for the largely silent prelude, start here.)

Florence + the Machine

Ceremonials

What the Water Gave Me

The Glitch Mob

Drink the Sea

Animus Vox

Janelle Monáe

The ArchAndroid

Cold War” or “Wondaland

Kishi Bashi

151a

Manchester

 

Of Montreal

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

The Past is a Grotesque Animal” or “Gronlandic Edit

Regina Spektor

Far

Blue Lips” or “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” or “Laughing With

(You really can’t go wrong.)

Yeasayer

Odd Blood

I Remember” or “Rome

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Summer Vacation Just Got a Lot Shorter

This past week I took my first grown-up vacation.

Actually, my first grown up vacation could arguably be the time I planned and paid for a trip to New York all by myself the summer after my sophomore year using money I earned ate my internship. So let me rephrase: This past week I took my first vacation from my grown-up job (and in the process shaved a few precious days off my allotted free time for the year).

I have to say, when I left on Wednesday, it was a little odd to realize that office life would continue without me and that not everyone gets vacation at the same time anymore. However, my thoughts soon turned from the desk I left behind to the destination ahead: San Francisco.

Joe and Robert and I arrived at Daryl’s apartment in the Mission on Thursday evening. Daryl is Joe’s friend from Wash U who moved out to San Francisco after graduating last year to work on WordPress Open Source projects. He now lives in a super awesome recently renovated vintage apartment full of high-tech gadgets and works on the top floor of the tallest building in the neighborhood (or at home in his pajamas). Pretty sweet deal.

Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t feeling especially well when we arrived, so the rest of us settled him on a couch in Daryl’s room and ordered Mission Chinese (click the link and check out their menu: it’s worth your time even if you don’t live in the Bay Area. There are ninjas). I got the oxymoronic “vegan thrice-cooked bacon,” which turned out to be an incredibly spicy noodle dish, and we all split some smashed cucumbers (I was envisioning a cucumber version of mashed potatoes, but they were actually more along the lines of half-finished pickles). Daryl also mixed up some amazing gin cocktails involving lemon, lavender simple syrup, ginger beer, and lots of mint.

The next morning we packed up and headed out to the car to begin our drive down to the Santa Cruz area for my cousin Elicia’s wedding…only to find that we had gotten a $62 parking ticket the night before. Welcome to San Francisco!

Parking ticket notwithstanding, we drove down and made it to our hotel in Ben Lomond just in time to get dressed and head over to the park for the pre-wedding mini family reunion.

Both the ceremony and the reception were lovely, as the pictures below attest, although I have to say that when I first saw Elicia in a wedding dress I couldn’t believe they weren’t just playing dress up!

The morning after the wedding, Joe and Robert and I got up early to go on a zipline tour through the redwoods at Mt. Hermon. Elicia and her boyfriend fiancé husband(!) are guides on the canopy tour, so she hooked us up with a pretty sweet deal. It was amazing sliding from treetop to treetop over a hundred feet off the ground and watching your shadow flicker over the (non-redwood) tree-tops below. The highlight of the experience, however, was koala-hugging (both arms, both legs) a tree 80 feet up in the air.

Once our two hours of adventure time were over, we met up with assorted family members at a field nearby for a brunch comprised of wedding leftovers. It was a good chance to eat and get final hugs in before we hit the road back up to San Francisco.

Back in the city, Robert and Joe let me drag them along to a Cindy Sherman exhibit

at the SF MoMA, which was very exciting for me. Cindy Sherman is an iconic photographer who I have studied and discussed many times over the years, so it was a wonderful art nerd moment being able to finally see her work in real life. I was not disappointed in either the content or display of the exhibition.

Next it was Robert’s turn to choose, so we went to Gordo’s for a burrito before dropping him off at the BART station so he could catch a train back to the airport. Joe and I had a few days left still, so at that point we set off in search of our dinner. Thanks to Joe’s expert perusal of my Urbanspoon app, we found The Beast and the Hare, which I could best describe as a “Portland restaurant,” meaning that it was small and trendy with a seasonal menu and focus on local ingredients. The best part of the meal was dessert, when our (honey Jack Daniel’s flavored) ice cream took a while to come out (which we hadn’t even noticed since we were talking). To apologize, they gave us a whole other dessert (beignets with orange caramel sauce) for free. Another very sweet deal!

The next day Joe and I took a day trip up to Muir Woods for even more time in the redwoods (although this time we were sadly confined to the ground). At one point, a German woman with a small child walked boy and Joe and I both just froze and eavesdropped for a few minutes. It was adorable. They were looking at a tree cross section with the years of significant events (beginning with the tree’s birth in 909 A.D.) marked. The woman was pointing out and explaining these dates, but the little boy just wanted to know, “Wenn war ich geboren? [When was I born?]”

On the way back, we encountered a lovely chorus of car horns honking their way through the tunnel leading up toward the Golden Gate Bridge, much like FBC bikers yell their way through tunnels back in St. Louis.

The next day was our last in the Bay Area and we spent most of just wandering around and relaxing, and caught some great street art on the way (including a full-on bunny sculpture).

We started by lying out on Ocean Beach for a while (in our jackets) and I enjoyed a delicious plantain burrito from Cuco’s while watching the waves. Then we took a jaunt over to Fisherman’s Wharf for our obligatory dose of tourism. Just a few hours there was enough commercial tourism to have provided a large enough dose for an even longer trip! We did, however, get to see both the sea lions and bush man, who sits on the sidewalk hiding behind branches he holds in front of him and jumps out to scare passersby (and demand money in return for this service).

Our view of Lombard Street.

Big hill!

We got caught behind a segway gang.

Joe made a friend.

This about sums up the whole tourism experience.

The trip capped off with a lovely dinner with Daryl at Beretta followed by incredible cocktails at a nearby bar where Daryl’s friend bartends. We also had a little photo shoot on Daryl’s roof.

 

All in all, the long weekend passed far too quickly. Being back in St. Louis and the office grind isn’t so bad though, because Joe and I have finally moved into our new apartment (hence the lateness of this post). More about that coming soon!

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Technology Prevails

So this is my first post produced entirely using my cell phone. Nothing you see here was created or processed through my laptop like usual. In fact, I am writing now from the passenger seat of our rental car as Joe and Robert and I make the drive from San Francisco to San Jose for Elicia and Sam’s wedding (which is happening this evening!).

We spent last night staying with a friend in San Francisco who works for the WordPress OpenSource project, and e gave me a lesson in the wonderful world of iPhone apps.

More details later, since I am, after all, typing on a little baby keyboard and that becomes tiresome quickly. For now, I’ll just put up a few snapshots of the trip so far.

Just because I can.

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We got a parking ticket. Silly street cleaning!

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Daryl’s apartment is awesome, and full of interesting little details like this cute little round window. Better, however, are the twin cherubs guarding over his bedroom windows.

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Joe picturesquely enjoying his chicken soup.

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Spiderwebs in the sky.

So there you go. Instant reporting, live from Highway 17!

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In Which I Have Talented Friends

Dave made some wooden handlebars for his bike and then a video documenting the process.  Some of the camerawork credit goes to Joe.  I came along for the ride and took a few pictures.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Dave’s wood work, you can do so on his website.

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Accepted!

Joe’s and my apartment application has FINALLY been officially accepted, and we will be moving into the Metropolitan Artist Lofts on August 18th!

It’s been a long and fraught process involving many (many, many) calls back and forth between us and the Met and various third-party institutions, but we finally made it.

Here’s to having our own space at last!

This also means I can finally fully unleash the planning instincts that I have so far been doing my best to suppress.  So, excuse me, I have some to-scale drawings of the floor plan to make so we can decide where all the furniture will go before actually moving in.  Oh yeah, and maybe some packing to do too.

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