On The Horizon Of Peace

As the Juba Peace Talks continue between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government and an uneasy cease fire is implemented, now is the time for the US and other countries to step up in show of support for these peace talks. One huge proponent for this has been John Edwards who not only visited Uganda but wrote this moving Op/Ed piece for the Washington Post.

At a moment of tremendous global hardship -- from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the killing fields of Darfur -- it is rare to find hope. So when there is the possibility for peace, we must seize it. That's why one of the world's great tragedies, the conflict in Northern Uganda, deserves our attention.

It is perhaps the worst humanitarian catastrophe to have gone practically unnoticed by most of the world. The two decades of violence in Northern Uganda have had devastating consequences -- nearly 2 million people have been run out of their homes and forced to live in overcrowded, squalid camps; tens of thousands have died; 30,000 children have been abducted by an organization called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to fight as child soldiers or used as sex slaves. Hundreds of villages have been abandoned and destroyed.

Please read the rest here!

Also, if you're interested in knowing who your fave celeb supports in the office, check out this link. I found it mildly interesting, most of them were not surprising, but it's cool to see what celebs actually bother to care about politics and choose to get involved.


mai wen and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Okay, so yesterday was the day from hell for me. First, I was a victim of a Paypal Phising Scheme and unwittingly (Really unwittingly) gave out my personal banking information. Argh, I know better than that, but I was tricked and luckily I was suspicious immediately and did some quick research and found out that it was indeed a fraud. I Never knew that you shouldn't open links to secure places such as Paypal from the email but instead should open a separate browser and type in the url directly. Now I know. So yesterday was a mess of getting my poor husband (who shared the account with me that I had given information out on) to meet me at our bank to open a new checking account, blah blah blah and all the mess that comes with that stupid mistake of mine. Let me tell you, it's a headache!

To add to my terrible, horrible day was the fact that I had to get my shots for Africa yesterday, and I Hate shots! So I went, already knowing that my insurance won't cover it because it doesn't cover any travel health issues, to be shocked to find out how much shots cost! I got six shots (yikes, my arms seriously still hurt, A Lot) and it cost $575!!! Yeah, hubby and I were not happy about that, especially since I have to go back for boosters. This trip to Africa is already costing me a bundle since I have to pay for everything myself, but the shots are killing me, and I even didn't get some of the ones that were suggested but not mandatory because of cost. The sad thing about the non-profit industry now-a-days is that fundraising is at an all time low right now and while most non-profits that dealt with sending volunteers overseas in the past used to cover either all or part of the expenses for their volunteers through fundraising, now it's just not possible because non-profits can barely raise enough money to stay running and to keep their programs going. So the volunteers must make up for the lack of fundraising and pay for the costs themselves, and it's killing me. I don't think I've ever been so stressed about money in my life, but what are you going to do? This is a once in a lifetime experience that will hopefully propel me into my goal career, working with refugees of war. Of course it had to come right before a longtime planned trip to Europe (which the tickets are already bought!) and right before a big planned move to where ever I go to school!

So not only did I give access to my main bank account away yesterday but I spent a buttload of money to be poked with needles and to have sore arms. Yesterday stunk and my poor hubby not only had to deal with the money issues that I've created in our life but also with a depressed, stressed out wife. Poor boy, and he even drew me a bath which saved my life.

Oh and of course today this woman I work with who barely touches me slapped me twice on my arm (in a friendly manner) where I got three of my shots and it killed me, but I didn't want to say anything because it's still on the down low that I'm going to Africa. So now my sore arm has become a throbbing sore arm.

Did I mention it's raining? Rain sucks.

I miss college where I had girlfriends to talk to right down the street and could just go over with a tub of ice cream and curl up on their couch for an hour for a good cry if I needed it. Thank god I have a great girlfriend at work that I went out to lunch with for a much needed girlfriend time, it's something I need just as much if not more as my hubby time. There's nothing in the world like your girlfriends!

I know this was a really whiny post, sorry, it happens.

P.S. Last night I determined that perhaps it's not the best idea to read Russian novels while in a depressive state of mind. I'm very deep into Crime and Punishment and am loving it but yesterday it was a bit much for me. Note to self, must go to cheerful reads when depressed. I guess that's why I have the habit of reading mutliple books at once, my mood changes daily and so does my mood for what I want to read. Isn't it wonderful being a hormonal woman? Men, please don't answer. I may have to smack you if you do.


Game Thursday is Back!

One-liner Stories

Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work.
Very cool idea, check out these six word stories from some sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games.

Since Flood is on hiatus, I'll steal her Game Thursday idea. Now, what is your six word story? Leave it in my comments. I'll start...

Stupid girl. Stupid boy. Hello Baby!

When Deers Attack!

Too funny, the deer who loved a boy!


When Elevators Attack!

Okay, seriously, not kidding, I have a fear of my elevator at work. It has closed on me numerous times (though once I blame my co-worker... you know who you are!) and has left scratches and marks, it's unpredictable and doesn't always stop when a limb is in the way. I get in and out as quickly as I can.

Now my fear is permanent after a certain elevator attacking co-worker sent me this article (I swear, he's trying to control me with fear)...

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A dormitory elevator that pinned and killed an Ohio State University freshman was overloaded, said authorities who have not determined whether the extra weight caused a malfunction.


The elevator didn't stop its descent until it wedged Polakowski against the floor of the third-floor lobby, Amweg said.

Polakowski died immediately, Smith said. After firefighters determined they couldn't save him, they helped the others inside the elevator climb down a ladder to the second floor.


The Department of Commerce released documents showing that the elevator where the accident happened had passed every safety test conducted by Otis Elevator Co. going back to 2003, including the most recent one, conducted July 24.

Now that fills me with comfort. I guess I have some extra motivation to take the stairs now.


The Curse of Big Ben

According to ESPN, it's been confirmed that Ben suffered a concussion on that three man hit on him. Well, duh, obviously he did, he was out for five minutes and had already suffered a concussion from his motorcycle accident earlier this year, and once you've suffered a concussion, subsequent concussions are much more likely. Obviously the Steelers were trying to keep the "concussion" word out of it as they were not confirming it for a while. Does this make anyone think of Troy Aikman or Steve Young and how they were both forced to end their careers early because of recurring concussions? Yeah, I'd say the c-word is striking fear in all Steelers' fans' hearts. Thank god we're playing Oakland next week, let's just hope this time
Pittsburgh doesn't rush Ben back and let Batch play so that Ben can be at full health for the Denver game the following week. I think Batch can handle the pitiful Raiders with one hand tied behind his back. I do feel sorry for Ben though, the kid has been through a truckload of shit of recent.

Let's just hope he keeps an eye out for those pesky anvils and safes that will come falling from the sky!

Incoming from above! Somebody needs to tell Ben that his goatee is Not a substitute for a helmet.

Okay, don't tell me that the helmet of the Atlanta dude on the left (Falcons defensive end Chauncey Davis) is not smacking right into Ben's precious helmeted head! And dude on the right is not far from Ben's head either! And where was the flag you ask? Supposedly stuck up the ref's arse... yeah, if there aren't fines later this week for the hits Steeler Nation will revolt, I guarantee you. The ref's house just might be set on fire or something. Remember, this is the same Steeler Nation who left threatening messages on the poor old lady who hit Ben on his motorcycle as well as harassed Maddox's kids in school after his horrible Jacksonville performance last year. Oh yeah, we're ruthless.


Gulu Walk

(Above) The Wonderful Volunteers who helped organize the Gulu Walk for Cincinnati, OH. Okay, so my dog, Vladdy, didn't actually help organize, but he walked all 4.8 miles with us so everyone insisted that he be in the picture!

With the numbers still rolling in, it'’s already clear that on Saturday, October 21, GuluWalk Day, over 30,000 people, in 82 cities and 15 different countries took to the streets to urge the world to support peace in northern Uganda. From Beijing to Birmingham to Boston, people across the world walked together to urge international support for the peace talks in Juba. In the coming days, we'll feature news stories and photos from many of the walks.

- Uganda-CAN

The Gulu Walk in Cincinnati was a great success! We had between 130-150 people (the official count isn't in yet) and the event was wonderful. People were warm and friendly and had fun! Oh, and nothing beats chanting "Gulu Walk, walk for peace!" in the middle of downtown Cincinnati and getting stares. We got a lot of supportive car honks and I hope that we got people interested in the issue. I really am not sure how many walks are done in Cincinnati like the Gulu Walk, but for some reason I feel like not many. We made a stop at the Freedom Center, which, ashamedly, I have not visited yet, and it was a great opportunity to check it out. It was also very symbolic to stop there since we're trying to raise money and awareness for the freedom of the children of Uganda. I'm really proud of all the volunteers who made this event possible and for the first Gulu Walk in Cincinnati I think it was a huge success!

Adding to the significance of this walk for me is the fact that I was accepted to attend the Summit in Uganda January 2-January 17! I found out last week a day before the Gulu Walk and I'm so excited I can't even speak. I mean, fuck, I'M GOING TO AFRICA!! The Summit is called Global Kimeeza II: The Role of Youth in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda (Kimeeza - pronounced: chee-meh-zah is the Luganda word for "big table") and is organized by the Global Youth Partnership for Africa.

This fall, peace talks brought about a cessation of hostilities in the 20-year civil war in Northern Uganda; now is a critical time to examine the political situation and engage in the practice of reconstruction and reconciliation. The goal of the Kimeeza is to provide a platform for Americans and Ugandans to explore the important role that youth play in post-conflict reconstruction by sharing ideas, approaches, and strategies.

I've been deeply interested in Uganda and the war that has stolen the lives of so many children for some time now and will very likely follow this passion and interest into my career following Graduate School. I cannot believe that I'll actually be In Gulu and meet the families and people that have been through the war, and possibly some child soldiers that have survived the war. It will be an amazing experience that I'm sure will change me for the better and forever. Anyways, when the time comes I'll definitely be keeping you updated on my packing and preparation for the trip and of course the trip itself! Thursday I do my first official preparation (other than send a fatty check to reserve my spot for the trip) by going to receive about a million shots to make sure I don't die immediately stepping off the plan in Uganda! Ugh, I absolutely Hate shots. The last time I had to get a shot I asked if I could hold the teddy bear that they have in the room for children and they said No! Okay, so I was twenty-years-old at the time, but come on, I can't hold a freaking teddy bear for comfort? It was a horrible experience and I am scarred because of it. So Thursday will not be fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. After I get my shots I can then apply for the Visa for Uganda, which is always so much fun going through that whole process!

More pics from the Wonderful and Successful Gulu Walk!

At the beginning of the walk... I'm the one with the dog!

Walking in downtown Cincinnati!

Some fellow walkers spreading the love! Everyone was so wonderful, except for one guy who criticized how much we were asking for merchandise! Um, hello, it's a charity, all the money is going to the cause! I mean, much of the merchandise was paid for out of our own pockets!

The walkers at the Freedom Center.

Vladdy and I resting at the Freedom Center before the second half of the walk. He was quite the good walker, though I do think he gotnervouse when cars would honk at us in support, he wasn't quite sure what that noise was. He sure was exhausted for the rest of the weekend though!

Thank you again to all those who supported me for the walk! You will definitely be kept updated on my future endeavors with this cause and hopefully we can make a difference.

Man, I am a non-profit guppie after all. I always knew I had it in me. :)


Laziness Mixed With Admiration

I'm not sure if it's laziness (I don't feel like blogging a new post today) or just that my hubby writes some damn good game analyses, but he's my guest blogger again this Friday. He's gone nuts and done two games this week. Enjoy!

Week 7 - Double Dipper Games of Week

I'’m going Baskin Robbins style today with two scoops of pure deliciousness! It was just too hard to settle on one game of the week, so I'’m breaking down two games in week 7 for the AFC North. Both match-ups square off at 1pm on Sunday, so get your Tivo ready and prepare for some great football!

In the first game we have the Carolina Panthers coming to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. In Week 6 the Panthers also played an AFC North foe, and if you recall I correctly predicted them to pull off the victory at Baltimore. Cincinnati is coming off two losses in a row after winning their first three games of the season and they are in serious need of a jolt on offense. Defenses have been putting pressure on Carson Palmer all year long and he needs a secure pocket for him to be at his best. It doesn'’t help that Levi Jones (LT) is injured and will not be playing on Sunday. Not to mention, Carolina will line up the best pass rusher in the game in Julius Peppers. Expect Cincinnati to double team Peppers on every single pass play. Every single pass play! Marvin will not to let Peppers get to his prize QB. What this will cause is one-on-one match-ups across the offensive line for the Bengals and Mike Rucker (DE) will give problems to this patchwork unit. What we'’ll see on passing plays from the Bengals is a 3 WR set with Rudi Johnson staying in to help protect Palmer. The Bengals will be susceptible to blitzes from Carolina and while the Panther don'’t typically need to blitz I expect that they will bring pressure in 3rd and long situations. Cincinnati can have success with the hurry-up offense and some 3-step drops, but they will have to execute the plays to perfection and the receivers can'’t be dropping balls. The key to the Cincinnati O vs. Panthers D is that the Panthers will be able to diagnose if the Bengals are going to pass or run by looking at how they block Peppers. If Peppers has a one-on-one match-up it means that Cincy is going to be running the ball and Carolina knows this. During the game watch how Cincy blocks Julius Peppers. The Bengals have to get the passing game going first in order to open up some running lanes and expect the Panthers to stuff the Bengals running game in the first half. With all the injuries on the O-line for the Bengals it will take a superior effort by the backups to keep the pressure off Carson Palmer.

Once again we have THE premiere WR in the game in Steve Smith facing a porous Bengals Defense. Steve Smith will have an absolutely huge day! But it won'’t be with long passes down the field. The LB core for the Bengals is full of reserves and Smith will be in motion pre-snap and will run crossing routes all afternoon. If the Bengals do make the proper adjustments they'’ll have to bring up a safety for support on Mr. Smith which will leave one-on-one match-ups for Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Carter. Carter is a burner and I expect him to be thrown to deep at least once in the first half. The impact that Steve Smith has on how a defense plays the Panthers offense cannot be understated and it'’s proven by the Panthers record this year when Smith is in the game at (4-0). With the LB and Safties paying special attention to Mr. Smith, DeShawn Foster will have 120+ yards and at least 1 TD. This includes multiple runs over 20+ yards. I can'’t tell you one player on the Panthers O-line, but it doesn'’t matter because they get the job done. Cincinnati doesn'’t have much of a pass rush to begin with and for them to have chance at stopping the Panthers offense they will have to get pressure on Delhomme. I'’ve got Delhomme in fantasy and he'’s a must start today! The only thing that can derail the Panthers offense is turnovers, and it will take a lot of them for Cincy to stay close.

Going into the analysis for this game I was torn at who would win because of the home field advantage for Cincinnati. After putting some time and thought into it, it is apparent that the Panthers are the better team right now and will dominate this game on Sunday. Bengals fans will be crushed on Monday with a record of (3-3) and I expect Paul Brown stadium to start emptying out half way through the 4th Quarter. Wouldn'’t be surprised is Chad Johnson cries and Housh leaves the game with another injury.

Panthers 35
Bengals 17


For the 2nd scoop I'’ll have a helping of the Pittsburg Steelers at the Atlanta Falcons. In this game the NFL is featuring two of its top rushing teams and this should be a smash mouth football game with a few big plays.

The Steelers Offense finally got on track last week against the Chiefs and did they ever show what they can do against a veteran unit in K.C. Don'’t expect Pittsburgh to have this kind of offensive output every week, but now defenses have to respect the passing game and can'’t just stack the box for the run. However, this is what Atlanta is going to do. They are going to make Roethlisberger prove that last week was not a fluke. With a cover corner like DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta can match him up one-on-one to any of the Steelers Wide-outs and the match-up will favor the Falcons. I'’m not sure if John Abraham will suit up (questionable), but with a groin injury he will be gimpy and ineffective. While the Steelers are known for their dominant running game they are actually about 50/50 - run/pass in the first half of football games or until they get a 10 point lead. None the less, Lawyer Milloy (SS) will be in the box until the Steelers can prove their ability to pass the football with consistency. I'’m looking for the slot receiver (Washington/Holmes) or tight end (Miller) to have a big game. Bringing a safety in the box creates a lot of holes deep down the middle of the field over top of the linebackers. Atlanta safties will have trouble covering Miller (TE) and the LBs for Atlanta won'’t be able to stay with the Steelers WR’s. One match-up that could play favorable for Atlanta is LB Demorrio Williams covering TE Heath Miller. Williams has 4.5 speed and has the ability to turn his hips and run, but Miller is 6'5"” and that'’s why the Steelers will target Miller over the top of the Linebackers. The speed of the Atlanta linebackers also plays well to neutralizing the speed of Willie Parker, but the problem is that Pittsburgh'’s front five is playing at a very high level and Willie will be 5-6 yards downfield before the LB’s get to him. Once the run is established, the play-action will be leathal. Expect to see a heavy dose of N. Davenport in the 2nd and 4th quarter to really beat up the Falcons D.

When Atlanta has the ball we are looking at strength on strength, a Run oriented offense vs. a Run stopping defense. Michael Vick will have to prove that he can pass the ball to the Wide Receivers for the Falcons to be successful. The Steelers secondary matches up very well to the passing game of the Falcons because Vick is consistently late on delivering the ball to his receivers. With the Zone coverage that the Steelers employ the opposing QB has to anticipate holes in the Defense and this is one of Vick weakest points as an NFL QB. You will see a lot of tipped passes from the Steelers secondary and I expect a couple of interceptions if Vick is forced to throw the ball over 20 times (Clark/Taylor with the picks). Troy Polamalu is one of the best DB’s at anticipating where the QB is going with the ball and he'’s having a monster year despite being injured for a 3 game stretch. When he'’s on the field he demands so much attention from the opposing QB and the Falcons will have to come up with something to try and slow down Troy (if it'’s possible). I also expect to see Troy shadowing Vick when it'’s a running situation for the Falcons. Polamalu will have 10 tackles. The threat that Warrick Dunn poses will be a challenge for the Steelers defense. If Dunn can break a couple of big runs in the first half it could cause the Steelers to modify their defensive game plan. As always against the Falcons it is important to keep Vick in the pocket and limit him on rushing. The Steelers have the edge in this match-up because they are disciplined in their lane assignments and have so much speed on defense, Vick won'’t be able to pop any 20+ yard runs.

This will be a telling game for both teams. Which team is a contender and which is a pretender? Who is the elite QB, Big Ben or Michael Vick? All-around, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the more complete team, but a hot start by Atlanta could get the crowd in the game and give the Falcons an edge.

Steelers 27
Falcons 16


Sponsor Me Goddammit!

Sponsor Me!

Alright, alright. I won't be that mean about it, but if you are able to spare any money I would really appreciate your sponsorship for the Gulu Walk that I helped organize for Cincinnati, OH this Saturday.

On Saturday, October 21, I am walking for the children of northern Uganda. In the midst of this 20-year conflict in Uganda, over 1-million people have been displaced, on top of thousands of night commuters. These displaced children have been forced into abhorrent conditions in camps where hundreds of people are dying every week because of a lack of clean water, food and medical care. I am walking to tell their story and to fundraise in support of children'’s programs that focus on education, rehabilitation and youth outreach, for this generation being left behind. Donate to me today and help me reach my fundraising goal. Better yet, join me and be one of the 10,000 reasons for hope in northern Uganda. For more information please visit GuluWalk's website.

This subject matter is very important to me as you may have noticed if you've been reading my blog for a while and I've already applied to go to Uganda in January to talk to the youth of Uganda about the war and rebuilding after the war (I should find out this week if I got accepted to attend this summit - cross your fingers for me!) Anything you can donate to sponsor me for this Gulu Walk, even if it's just $5, would be amazing. Thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause that is very close to my heart.

Sponsor Me!


Most Googled Books

I found this article on the most googled books and they definitely aren't what I'd expect! The most googled books for the week of September 17th through 23rd (drum roll please...) include (among others):

Diversity and Evolutionary Biology of Tropical Flowers threw me off a little, but okay. The rest weren't shocking, although interesting... and then you get to Build Your Own All-Terrain Robot. Okay, are there seriously that many people who need to know how to build their own all-terrain robot?! WTF? Really people, that one kind of scared me. I mean I don't really know what an all-terrain robot is or what the hell it would be used for. Am I in the minority here?


Banner Headaches and Football High

Argh, once again my ineptness in all things coding is showing. I finally found some banner code with an image I like that fits really well and I stick it in and I can't figure out how to get those two blue strips to disappear from the banner heading! I've tried everything and it's just not working. Any suggestions?

Update: I figured out how to reduce (and take away) the blue stripes. I didn't like it all gone because then my banner looked dark, so I kept it and reduced it A Lot! It was one simple number that I couldn't figure out to change, how frustrating! I like how I pretend that I know what I'm doing here. Tell me how much better it looks! No, really, you'd better, OR ELSE... (cue sinister, threatening music now).

Oh, and did I mention... THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS ARE BACK!!!!! Oh yes, they Whooped up on the Number 4 Defense in the league right now with a 45-7 win. Yeah, I'd say we're back. Everything that hadn't been clicking suddenly clicked, it was magical... and I'm seriously not exaggerating. I'm so high I actually got up early this morning to work out, that's a pretty good football high! Just ask my husband how hard it is to get me out of bed in the morning. In addition to our spectacular win, Cincinnati lost to Tampa Bay falling to 3-2 and Baltimore lost to Carolina falling to 4-2. Needless to say, we're still in the hunt so watch out Cincinnati and Baltimore. You're on notice.

And just for funsies and to show what a warrior Polamalu is and if there were any question left as too whether or not he's fully recovered from his shoulder injury...

Hellll yeah he's back! And what's with all the news reports emphasizing that now we know his hair is not a weave? Did anybody honestly ever think it was a weave? I mean, not to point out the obvious, but he's not a girl. When's the last time you've heard of a man getting a weave? Seriously. Oh, and transvestites don't count.


The Prestige: A Review

The Prestige by Christopher Priest is a haunting literary fantasy novel. Priest perfectly blends excellent writing and literary prose with the chilling and suspenseful elements of a dark mystery and fantasy. The story is of two magicians in the 1800s who, after a clash during a false seance, have pitted against each other, determined to destroy the other's career. As the feud deepens their efforts become darker and the secrets more intense. The book is built on the concept of deception and lies, as the magician's life often is. These two magicians, however, take it to an extreme, molding their lives around their lies to an extent that they are not only consumed by their lies but lost in them as well.

I was completely taken in by this book and could not put it down. I tried to finish it last night but couldn't keep my eyes open so I put it down and as soon as I woke up this morning I had to finish it before I even left my bed! Well, not that I really wanted to leave my bed anyways, it's chilly here! The Prestige is suspenseful in the most satisfying way as it's subtle and Priest takes his time building up the suspense and the mystery. He avoids being cliche so well throughout the book that even though the ending ended up being cliche it doesn't feel cliche because it was built up so well and like I said, Priest had avoided being cliche in this story so well that you could accept the ending and even enjoy it in it's most morbid sense. The ending is anti-climatic but it's one that makes you think about it afterwards, putting the pieces of the mystery together that Priest allows to remain untold by the end of the book so that the reader can have the pleasure of finishing it for themselves in their minds.

The plot was unique and masterfully constructed, the writing was excellent and the voices were not only realistic and convincing but unique and interesting. I'm eager to see the movie to see how they transformed this novel into the big screen. I can see many complications in doing so due to the manner in which the novel was constructed. It was told by the two magicians from their points of views, first completely by one then by the other so only one side is known throughout the first half of the novel. This approach left many mysteries lingering for much of the novel that had we had both points of views throughout, perhaps alternating by chapter, the mystery and suspense would have been lessened.

Perfect novel to read for this Halloween season and as in most cases the books are better than the movie, I suggest getting it immediately so you can finish it before the movie comes out on October 20th!

Sorry if this review is a little sloppy, I'm on call and just got called to the hospital so must run!!

Update: I had no idea the book has a historical basis.

...the historical background can be found in Jim Steinmeyer's The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer". A long, destructive rivalry between two magicians, the idea that a magician would go so far as to cultivate a false identity even in his private life, and maintain it for years, and some of the specific 'illusions' themselves, like the deadly "bullet catch," are all factually grounded and can be found detailed in Mr. Steinmeyer's entertaining book. In something of an acknowledgment of this history (and to plant some of the plot points I just listed), Chung Ling Soo himself, or at least his character, makes an appearance towards the beginning of The Prestige.
Thanks to book/daddy for this great info! Really interesting stuff, I tell ya.


Football Friday

Hello folks, I'm proud to have my first guest blogger. Every week (well, mostly every week, he slacks a little when too depressed about the Steelers to function properly) my hubby does an AFC North match-up of the week for our Fantasy Football league. They're so good that I have asked his permission to post them on my blog. Now y'all will know why I love this man, the boy knows his football!!

It’s a Football Friday… My favorite day of the work week. After a couple of weeks off, I’m back to breaking down this weeks AFC North match-up of the week.

This week we have the Carolina Panthers at the Baltimore Ravens!

This game will be a defensive struggle. Much like what Baltimore has faced the last two weeks with games vs. the Chargers and Broncos, which they split going 1-1. To me, the Ravens look like the Bears of last year. Remember when the Bears won 7 or 8 games in a row in the middle of the season to make it into the playoffs? We’ll the Ravens look very similar with absolutely no offensive weapons on the outside. Any big play potential they have is going to be up the middle with Todd Heap or a possible run by Jamal Lewis. McNair no longer has the ability to throw the ball downfield, but wait a minute… did he ever? He’s always been a dink and dunk QB and his skills really lie in game management. He’s not going to win any games for you single handedly. With this offensive model and lack of deep threats, the defense can cheat and play the short to intermediate routes, hence three McNair interceptions vs. the Broncos last week. With consistent pressure on McNair it will be hard for the Ravens to put points on the board.

The Ravens strength is on Defense and they are a threat to force turnovers and create defensive touchdowns. They also gamble, and gamble too much so they are susceptible to get beat by big play. This is very dangerous when facing the Carolina Panthers and their Uber-star WR Steve Smith. Ever since he’s been back in the lineup the Panthers have been winning. The Ravens defense MUST stop the running game of the Panther in order to have a chance on Sunday.

For the Panthers the recipe is simple. GET STEVE SMITH THE DAMN BALL! If Steve Smith gets 8-10 touches consider it a Panthers win. That guy in unbelievable! Hands down THE best WR in the game today. Jake Delhomme is a very average QB, but with 89 on the field he instantly becomes a much better because of Steve Smith’s versatility and big play ability. The Panthers will be dedicated to running the ball and expect DeShaun Foster to have just shy of 100 yards and a TD. Not having DeAngelo Williams for Week 6 is a big loss. He gives that change of pace that almost every backfield needs today in the NFL. If Foster doesn’t get on track in the first half it will make it much more difficult for the Panthers to get the ball to Steve Smith.

The Panthers Defense is one of the top playmaking defenses in the NFC. What makes their D so special is that they don’t have to blitz in order to get pressure on the QB. Julius Peppers is a one man wrecking crew with the athletic ability to create problems against the best of Offensive Linemen. The Panthers secondary is ballhawking and expect for them to be very aggressive on the Ravens WR’s being physical on the line of scrimmage. Thomas Davis is another playmaker and expect him to be coving Todd Heap all over the field. The one place where Baltimore can hurt the Panthers is by running right at them with J. Lewis. The Baltimore Offensive line must come through for this to get going.

The key to the game will be turnovers. If Carolina wins the turnover battle they will win. If Baltimore wins the turnover battle they have a chance. Prediction…

Carolina 20
Baltimore 13


Busy Bee!

Yes, I've been quiet this week. I've been spending every spare moment getting my graduate school applications together, requesting references (which I Hate to do, don't you?) and figuring out how annoying it is when my top pick (University of Texas) has the latest application deadline. This is particularly annoying because UT also will not look at the applications until after their deadline date, which is at least a month after the other schools. When a school accepts you, they typically give you 30 days to send in a deposit in order to hold your spot, and this is intensified if you receive some sort of fellowship or assistantship because they are so competitive. So, for some schools, I may not even have sent in my application for UT by the time I'm already getting accepted. This presents an annoying challenge and difficult choices. Do I choose to go to a school that isn't my top pick just because I got accepted with an assistantship? What if I hold out for Texas and either I don't get accepted or I don't get any financial help? If it were any other school other than my number one pick, I'd be okay with it, but it had to be Texas. ARGH! Truly annoying.

As I progress with applying to schools it's slowly becoming more of a reality. My brother has just moved from NYC to Charlotte, NC (where most of my family lives) and his struggles adjusting and moving are bringing into light many that hubby and I will soon face. This has had the combined effect of scaring me shitless and exciting me. After January, my life will not be the same! That's just craziness but I'm ready for a change. Currently, I'm not happy with my life and I refuse to let fear keep me from chasing my dreams and the life that I want. A friend mentioned to me today that she couldn't see me in the South because I'm such a Yankee. She's totally right, I am a Yankee, through and through, but who knows how I'll be in the South? I've never lived in the South (only in Minnesota and Ohio), my reaction to living in the South may surprise many people, including myself, because I have No Idea how I'll react to it!! I'm excited to see myself and my hubby in a new place and to see how we adapt. But of course the worries of money, friends, family, etc. come into play when discussing moving and it's impossible to not be worried or scared shitless every once in a while when thinking of moving. I'm a self-proclaimed control freak and a lot in my life is completely out of my hands right now... when and if I'll be accepted into schools, where we end up living is only partly in my hands (depends on what schools will take me!), etc. This is difficult for me to deal with, but I know it's important for my growth and my future. I do realize that whenever I start a family my life will completely be out of my hands then because kids are Cra-zzeee! So I'd better learn how to deal with the stress of the unpredictable and unknown now!

Anyways, that's my excuse for being so quiet here recently and I'm sticking to it!

Oh, and this sounds deliciously disgusting. Thanks to Dave's Football Blog for this yummy-ish news.


Happy Birthday Zoe!

I know this is a totally lame crazy pet woman thing to do, but I wanted to wish my first dog that I've ever adopted as my child a Happy Five-Year-Old Birthday! It's sad actually, I hate celebrating my pets' birthdays because they have such short lives as it is that it devastates me to think that they're getting older. Poor Zoe may already be halfway through her life if we're lucky! We worry about her health because she's got the Dachshund legs, but a much thicker, larger body (she weighs just under 20 pounds) so she could easily have back problems, diabetes or some other health issue from this mismatche proportions as she gets older. To add to it, she is completely inactive, she rarely plays (she's more of a cuddler) and it's a pain to get her to walk for long periods at a time. Forget taking her on a run like we do with our other dogs. She'd rather lay on her back and be dragged through the grass. So the poor girl who loves food more than life itself (though Not more than sleeping) is on a strict diet for the rest of her life. To make matters worse, she's already getting gray on her chinny chin chin! She's only Five for gosh sakes! Though, when she was three and we took her to obedience training and she refused to do Anything, even for hamburger or hotdogs, everyone in the class told me, "Oh, but she's doing really well for such an old dog." SHE WAS 3-YEARS-OLD AT THE TIME! But that's my Zoe, and that's why we love her. The rare times she does run it's way too cute, her legs splay out all funny, she looks all frumpy bounding up from the ground. Though, when motivated (for example, by a friend's dog whom Zoe for some reason hated, probably because she wouldn't be submissive to my extremely dominant 18 pound dog. This dog was 60 pounds, by the way) Zoe can Fly! and I mean Fly! In the incident with the dog Zoe hated, whom we guessed was part greyhound by the way, Zoe chased this dog around our cabin and was going so fast that not only did she keep up with this greyhound mix while my other dogs couldn't (Sheltie and Mini Eskie) by she was literally flying through the air! I never saw her feet touch the ground! They were going so fast that I had to press myself up against the cabin because I was afraid the greyhound would break my knees, she was like a bullet racing by me, and then there would be Zoe right on her heels. Oh, what hatred will motivate my little Zoe to do.

Anyways, Happy Birthday my dear girl. I love your snuggly nose and how you'll dig it right into my, or any random person's, crotch. I love how you obsessively lick my, or any random person's, toes at any opportunity you can. When you snarl and growl at dogs you've just met during a walk, I'm so proud of my bold and dominant girl. And mostly, I am so warmed and touched by how you graciously lift your little head from your expensive pet bed to acknowledge my presence when I come home from a long, hard day of work. You don't make a fool out of yourself like the other dogs, jumping and barking excitedly. No, you act with complete grace and honor that any head of the household would act with. I love you Zo-Zo. Now can I have my allowance please?

Some more images of typical Zoe:

Yes, ironically though she hates all other activity, she does Love to swim. Rather my other two super active dogs are big babies and freak out when I throw them in the water. I mean, come on, they're dogs, they invented the doggy paddle! Chill out, jeez!

And here is my girl in one of her many many pet beds doing her most favorite thing in the world. Sleeping. Apparantly she's too sexy for the pet bed, too sexy, y-eah.

Good Therapy

Go for it, you know you wanna.


A Couple of WTFs Paired With a Sweet Ass


Thanks are in order to Book Ninja for both of these WTFs. First, would you pay to be in a book? And if so, seriously, WTF? Or more important, is Jason Johnson that desperate for money to sell a character in his next book? I mean, I can see this going very badly with the winner being pissed for being represented negatively or whatnot. I mean, the winner of such a contest isn't exactly sane, right? Maybe I'm overreacting, but WTF dude?

So, now that's out of my system, anyone want to join me in the World Cup of Writers next year? Um, yeah, enough said. WTF?

Sweet Ass

A new website called Refugee Law Project has been launched. This local NGO in Uganda does great work and has many reports on the situation in northern Uganda on it's website. Reminder, the Northern Uganda Lobby Day in Washington D.C. is next week on Oct 9-10! Also, the Gulu Walk is coming up on Oct 21, register on GuluWalk.com for a city near you.

Also, check out this excerpt from Charles Frazier's soon-to-be released novel Thirteen Moons. I'm getting nervous due to this review of Thirteen Moons which states that I'll like it but won't love it like I did Cold Mountain. I adored Cold Mountain and have been waiting for Frazier's next book for a long time. I hate to be disappointed after such a long wait. I guess that's the bad thing about waiting so long to put out your next novel after such a huge success, it gets built up just a teeny bit.


Super Best Friends... Uncensored!

This is a little old, but it's, once again, one of those things I kept meaning to post but never got around to it. Remember back after the Muhammad cartoon riots Comedy Central wouldn't let South Park put out an episode with the image of Muhammad in it? Well here is the uncensored episode, I mean it's so offensive, good job Comedy Central for standing up for freedom of speech and letting the threat of violence control our rights.

Monday Miscellaneous

Yikes! I have an Amazon wishlist for family and friends to purchase presents for me from for holidays (I detest any presents that aren't books, except for maybe from my husband because he actually knows what I'd want outside of books). It has a double purchase, one, it ensures I actually get something I Want and Like for holidays versus the sweaters that I'd never wear except when visiting the person who bought it for me and also every holiday season (around December) the Rape Crisis Center I volunteer for gets a part of the sales from Amazon.com if the buyer clicks a certain link to get to Amazon.com that I (and others associated with the Rape Crisis Center) email out to all family and friends. Anyways, today my wishlist just got over 80 books (82 to be exact)... holy cow, I don't know how I'll ever get all of those books, especially when I just keep adding to it. I also rank the books so people know which ones I Really want, I'm thinking I mine-as-well just delete the books ranked "low" and "lowest" because I don't know if I'll ever make it to those on the list! And keep in mind, I have roughly 50 books at home that I've already purchased that I have yet to read. Yikes. Who finds the time in the day to read that much? I'd love to, but time seems to slip away from me until I'm wiped out and just want to go to bed. Usually I force myself to read at least a couple of pages before I go to bed, no matter how tired I am, but some nights it's hard. I'm nervous about going back to school for my pleasure reading, other than the summers where I was a reading fiend, during the school year pleasure reading was an after thought since I had so much academic reading to do. Ah well, someday perhaps all the books will be bought from my Amazon.com wishlist, only to be replaced with others I'm sure!

A really interesting post on Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant about genre bashing. It is more widely known for literary folks to be snobs when it comes to genres, but Ed has experienced it the other way around during his attendance of the Bouchercon conference this past weekend. It's interesting to me because even though I mostly read literary fiction, it's not that I'm opposed towards any genre, just the cookie cutter, formula novels which could really be in any genre. I've read many different genres in my life and enjoyed all of them. I grew up borrowing my brother's many fantasy books and loving them, though not as much as he did. I've definitely read some thriller/mystery novels that I've really enjoyed such as some James Patterson and Dean Koontz's Intensity and I enjoyed those reads immensely, often ripping through the pages with my heart pounding and I intend to get more into that particular genre because of the absolute warmth and generosity in friendship I've received from the Killer Year writers. I've become addicted to many of their blogs and find them intelligent, compassionate, interesting and often funny! I've even gotten to read some snippets from their soon-to-be released novels and have enjoyed their writing. However, I must admit, I definitely read literary fiction by far the most and the majority of the time. Is this because literary fiction is "better"? Not at all, but that's what I write, so to me every literary fiction I read is education to me and I'm just more naturally interested in reading literary fiction as I'm sure mystery writers are more inclined to read mystery novels. It's a way for me to learn and become more well versed in the genre that I write in. The more literary fiction I read the better writer of it I become as well as I can appreciate the finer intricacies of the writing than I might be able to in other genres because since I write it and understand it better, and so that is where my reading leads me. I'm not really sure where this snobbery that people talk about between the genres comes from. Literary novels can have different sorts of formulas as well and be unoriginal, as can romance and mystery, but romance and mystery get a worse rape for that formula writing. For example, an author who called himself "Nasdijj" copied Sherman Alexie's style of writing, structure and content to the extent that he was caught and called out by Alexie himself. So repetition does happen in literary fiction as well, only it's more often called plagiarism versus formula writing. So I'm not sure where this haughty taughty attitude comes from. Writing and originality are valuable in all forms and after all, isn't that what most Good literary, mystery, fantasy, romance, etc. strive for? Sure, there will always be the writers in All genres who try to copy others, find an easy formula to churn out a book to make money (though why go into Writing of all things to make easy money, you've got me), but let's give people credit, I truly believe that most writers in all genres truly love the craft and care about being original and writing good books. I respect the authors who truly try to be original and write a book that they feel is original and their own authentic work. Is one writing better than the other? Not necessarily, good writing will vary by author in any genre, there are excellent writers in the mystery genre and horrible writers in the literary genre. The whole idea of snobbery gets on my nerves and seems immature, a bullying of sorts in order to make oneself feel superior. I mean, really, can't we just all get along?

Oh, and just for fun because I Love Project Runway and couldn't Stand Vincent and think he should have been off the show the very first show when he dared put a basket on his model's head, I enjoyed laughing my ass off at this clip immensely!

Yeah, But Why The Steelers?

So I've gotten this question from many irritated Bengals' fans from Cincinnati as my Steelers adoration becomes known to them. When I tell them that I went to college with Big Ben they quickly roll their eyes, dismissing me because I'm not a long-time Steelers' fan from Pittsburgh. "So, if Ben ever leaves the Steelers will you stop being a Steelers' fan then?" is Always without fail the next question. And if anybody really knows me, I'm loyal to a fault so of course my answer is no, but there's more to my Steelers' fandom then that, so I thought I'd try to elaborate for those of you wondering why I'm so die hard.

I grew up a Vikings' fan because simply I grew up in and around the Twin Cities, the Vikings' home. When I moved to Ohio, however, it was difficult for me to keep up with Vikings, have little access to the internet (and not really knowing how to use it enough at that time to keep up on the team) and having no cable therefore no ESPN, I started to lose track of the Vikings and had a lull where I didn't watch any football when I had been used to watching it nearly every Sunday. I'd Never liked the Bengals and if anything would faintly cheer for the Browns here and there just because I found the Bengals irritating, thugish and just classless (not that the Vikings have shown to be much better than that, but like I said, I'm loyal to a fault). So off to college I went where a subpar football team exploded because of Big Ben! People don't realize what Big Ben did for our school. We were a little unknown MAC school that suddenly got put on the radar. The spirit and energy at Miami those years probably have only been matched at Miami when Wally Szczerbiak was there, but it was wonderful and exciting. I know many people who either went to Ohio State University or are OSU fans just because everybody here in Ohio is, and they can't understand what it's like to be from a smaller school that isn't known for anything really in the greater world outside of Ohio and have someone take it to a national level of awareness. It's like so many players go to the NFL from OSU that after a while, it's like, so what? I've heard Many OSU fans say they stop following former OSU players after they make it into the NFL, now that just doesn't happen at a school like Miami. Ben was it for us and will be for a while from our school. He was our star, he put us on the map and he gave us so much those years he was at Miami and I'm thrilled I got to be there for it. I also met Ben once, when I was working in our Recreation Center the summer before his final year at Miami. He'd come in to work out before football camp started and I have to say he was Extremely nice and super personable and friendly - though the guys I was working with swore he was hitting on me, I've heard enough accounts from people around the campus that he's a super decent, good guy that I think he was just being friendly and chatty with me.

So, all that being said, let's bring my husband into the picture. He grew up in Kentucky and so had no NFL team to root for, and like me, half-heartedly rooted for the Browns because he too hated the Bengals for the same reasons and so just followed the Browns to follow a team. When Ben was going into the draft, hubs got super into it, following every report, watching the Combine, and watching the draft to see where Ben would go. As soon as Ben was drafted to the Steelers, I immediately bought my hubby his jersey (before the season and the injury to Maddox even happened) and my hubby, not having any other team loyalty, fell hard for the Steelers, and I came soon after. What I always say is the Ben led us to the Steelers but the Steelers won us over and not because they were winning or anything like that, but because of their classiness, they good character players they choose, the respected franchise that has been around for generations and the deep history the team has as well as hubs and I both love Defense and the Steelers have plenty of that to keep us thrilled! Also, the Steelers are something that my hubby and I have rallied for together, something we got into at the same time and with each other. Steelers' games are huge bonding experiences for us, I know, that sounds weird, but I once watched a Steelers' game without him because he had to go to a Bengals' game (puke) with a client and it was miserable watching the game without him and what he ended up doing was going into the lobby of the Bengals stadium (he had Club Seat tickets so it was a nice lobby) and changing the TV to the Steelers' game and calling me on the phone and we watched the game like that, both of us on the phone watching it from separate locations! He should have just stayed home. The Steelers' is something that my husband and I share in together and something we will share with our future children. While my hubby roots for the Vikings just because I'm a fan and he has no real favorites from the NFC, he's not super into them like I am (for better or worse) and he has no real reason to be into them. So for a guy from a state without a NFL football team, Ben has given him a team to root for and be loyal to. So I reiterate, if Ben left the Steelers' would we stop rooting for the team? Hell no, the team has won us over for many reasons and I'm not even sure Ben's my favorite player on the team. I'm a huge fan of Polamalu after all. The team is something that my hubby and I share in and something we can both get into fully because of the shared loyalty towards Ben at first and now to the team whom we feel is a team we can root for without being embarrassed by boat scandals and arrests. I do have to admit, when it comes to the Vikings, it is hard to root for people like Fred Smoot after hearing the nasty things he was accused of in the boat scandal, it makes my skin crawl thinking of the double dildo, ewwww. So it's nice to have a team that is mostly full of clean, respectable guys with a franchise that everybody in the NFL has a deep respect for. Did you know that even after the Super Bowl win the Steelers' franchise did not raise their ticket prices a penny? This is absolutely unheard of in Any sport but that represents what the franchise is all about perfectly and that is why The Steelers.

By the way, if you want to learn all that you need to know about the Steelers, please check out Mondesi's House, one of the Best Steelers blogs around which I'm addicted to. It's funny, witty and sharp and highly endorsed by me.


The Namesake: A Review

So I finally finished The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I had adored her collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies which won the Pulitzer Prize and so when The Namesake was chosen as my book club book I was thrilled. Lucky for me last month was busy for all of my friends as it was for me, so the book club was delayed. Last night I read the final page and closed the book. Does anyone else find it extremely satisfying closing a book? It feels like you've just accomplished something.

The book started in a scene, but did not remain in scene for the majority of the book, which is my main complaint of the book. It seemed to want to summarize the life of one of the main characters, Gogol, in detail and rather then illustrating it through a few select scenes, Lahiri seemed to rush through them all in summary after summary. The psychic distance in this book was distracting, I felt like I was reading someone's family history rather than a novel. Then there was the whole issue of "the Namesake" which titles the book. As the whole plot behind this unraveled I was unimpressed and unmoved. It didn't feel as significant as I feel the author was trying to make it. I wasn't really sure why it was so significant, I understood what she was trying to do, but it just didn't work for me and came off flat. Perhaps it wasn't developed enough. There were a couple of key characters, like Gogol's sister, that I felt were inconsistent and under developed and overall I was at a loss of the underlying meaning of the novel. Usually by the end you can get a sense of the theme of the book, the reason why it was written, what it's all supposed to mean, etc. I think I know what the author was attempting to make the underlying meaning, something about Gogol accepting his heritage symbolized by him accepting his name, but I don't feel that this was developed enough and so it doesn't really work in the end.

Despite these misgivings about the book, I did love reading about the culture and I really loved some of the characters (like Ashima!) There was some gorgeous descriptions of the Indian culture that really made me feel like I understood it intimately. I loved the little idiosyncrasies that Lahiri included about the mind-set and the beliefs of the Indian culture and how well she illustrates the fact that the parents, whom immigrated from India, always felt like America was a foreign place and never got over that. She also illustrated that awkward place for the children where they don't quite feel like they can fit into both worlds, the American and the Indian, especially growing up. To fit in to the American world with his friends, Gogol pretty much avoids any discussion or reference to his Indian life, his visits to Calcutta, their traditions. However, this makes him too American for his parents. It's a struggle I understand very well, growing up with a Chinese mother, and I felt that Lahiri demonstrated this perfectly.

Overall I give the novel 3 stars (out of 5) because while its construction was something of a mess and the psychic distance was too distant for me to feel connected to the book or "in" the book as I like to say (you know, when you feel like you're actually there in the book with the characters), the culture is rich and the characters are likeable. My suggestion, and you'll Rarely hear this suggestion from me, is go see the movie instead of reading the book, which after running through some film festivals, I believe comes out March, 2007. I think that the distance that is in the novel will be erased in a movie and that the plot will probably be shortened and tightened, hopefully making the theme more significant and meaningful and overall I think the culture will be beautifully portrayed in the movie.

Next I'm working on the novels Crime and Punishment (I know, still reading it, I literally have not read for pleasure for almost a month!) and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, which I've heard is excellent and dark. I wanted to read it before I watched the movie, which I'm very eager to watch, and also the novel will stretch me a bit as I don't often read Fantasy novels, though I have enjoyed Fantasy novels immensely in the past, it just isn't my usual genre that I read from. Other than working on my applications for Graduate School, I think I'll have plenty of time to read! I'm so excited, reading is one of the best therapies for me. No wonder I was going crazy last month...

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