My Best-Of 2010

Reading over 2009’s Best-Of post, I realized that a lot of things I liked last year I still like. So I might add some different categories.

Movie: The Social Network
I didn’t see too many movies this year. I enjoyed this one because it was the Pirates of Silicon Valley for my generation. And the story is still ongoing!

TV Show: Heroes
I am only putting this here because I watched it from the beginning, and its fourth season, which ended in February, ended up being its last. And I totally called it, at the end of the season finale I said that it was such a great way to end all the storylines and call back to the beginning of season 1, I would have been happy if that was the series finale – and it was!
Runner Up: Lost – just because we all dedicated so much time and thought to this show over the years. I was as disappointed as anyone with the way they didn’t really answer any questions, though. In the end, none of that mattered, because it wasn’t about the story, it was about the people.

Book: Super Sad True Love Story
I read this book months ago and I am still totally obsessed with it. The scary part is how believable it really is. They replayed an interview with Gary Shteyngart from last summer on the radio the other day and I started thinking about it all over again. Wouldn’t it be cool if they made a SSTLS movie? Who could direct it? I’d love to see something dark and gritty, like Tim Burton, but I would most like to see a colorful and manic interpretation by Baz Luhrmann.
Runner Up: Freakonomics – not because it was life-changing (even though it was certainly interesting), but because I read it over the course of my first “real” business trip – the first of many this year.

Theater: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
This musical was so awesome, GG and I saw it twice this year – once off Broadway, once on. And I had the cast CD playing in my car non-stop for several months. This show is smart, educational, funny, and has great music.
Runner Up: Ruddigore at Longwood Gardens, performed by the Savoy Company. Probably my second-favorite G&S show after Pirates.

Album: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Original Cast Recording
That was a no-brainer. It was also pretty much the only new music I obtained this year. If you want to know what else I’m listening to, just check out last year’s Best-Of list, because it’s still pretty much the same.

Restaurant: Tinto
Our spur-of-the-moment dinner choice turned out to be one of the greatest dining experiences ever (and our most expensive meal to date, whoops!). However, more than anything, I think it confirmed that being members of the No Kids Fun Club is the right choice for us – we could go out for a fancy meal without having to worry about who is home watching a child, or how we’ll pay for a college education.
Runner Up: No 9 Restaurant – I am not a fan of New Jersey, but this place is a definite incentive to cross the river when we are in New Hope.

Vacation: New York City
GG and I just went overnight, but we crammed in a lot of activities, and I became much more confident when it comes to navigating the city and the subway system. The success of this trip (and the ease of getting there, now that we know the secret of the bus!) has encouraged us to visit NYC and take advantage of our proximity more often.
Runner Up: Girlfriends Getaway in Reading, PA – a fun overnight away with three good friends, plus my first professional spa massage!

The Organic Dilemma

A couple weeks go, the LivingSocial deal of the day was a discounted delivery from Suburban Organics. I didn’t purchase the deal, but did look into the company. I’ve been looking to join a CSA for a while, but could never find a good one – all the ones around me were too expensive for what you get, or had inconvenient pick-up times and locations. So this place looked awesome! They will deliver to your home (or office, or wherever you like) on your delivery day, and there are lots of affordable options for delivery sizes, and you can customize your orders if there’s something you don’t like or are allergic to, etc.

They list some of the local farms they get the produce from. Then I wondered, what do they do in the wintertime? According to the web site, they ship in a lot of produce from the southwest and Mexico. So here is the dilemma: is it better to do what’s good for you, and eat organic produce year-round; or to do what’s best for the earth, and eat local produce year-round, even if it means you might be getting some local but not organic stuff?

Oh, Christmas

Our Christmas was nice, but busy. GG and I went out to Houlihan’s for dinner on Thursday night, just for fun. We ended up with a really cool waiter, and based on his recommendation, GG ordered a special Michelob seasonal winter beer. He liked it so much, he went out the next day to get a case to give as gifts.

As usual, GG and I went to his grandmother’s house for dinner on Christmas Eve. They usually have a lot of seafood, not because they do the Feast of the 7 Fishes, but just because they like it. However, this year we just had some really good lasagna, and salads and stuff. Then we all sat around the TV and switched between “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

GG really wanted to go to his parents’ house early on Christmas morning to have breakfast with them, but I refused to get up so early on a holiday, so he just went by himself. Because of everyone’s schedules, he ended up coming home a couple hours later to see my brother before he had to leave. Then we hung out at home for a while before going to see the rest of my family, where we filled up on appetizers and then sat down for a big dinner! Then we went to GG’s parents’ house for another dinner!

Oh, and of course there were presents at every stop. I wasn’t really into presents this year, and actually did most of my shopping at Oxfam America Unwrapped, just providing one little thing for each person so they’d have something to open, since the Oxfam cards were kind of anti-climactic. I was worried that people would be disappointed, but actually they went over pretty well.

As for presents I received, you know I hate getting gifts. However, probably the thing I am most excited about is a container of Skillet Bacon Jam. I am excited to try it, but sort of nervous because I can’t get past the image of it just being a cup of dirty bacon fat (and I know it’s not!). Once I crack it open, I’m not sure what to try it on first. Burgers maybe? Or brussels sprouts?

Linky Thursday – 12/23

The United States of Autocomplete: Interesting results for how Google’s autocomplete tries to assist when you enter the name of each state. I guess Maine really is “vacationland.”

Franklin Put Himself Through College Dancing in a G-String: Not the caption I would have chosen, but hey, another of my submissions made it onto OitO! (The sad thing is, two of the three people involved in that conversation are long gone.)

I Hate Math! (Not After This, You Won’t): I’m sorry I missed this story on NPR, but I did stumble across Vi Hart’s Infinity Elephants video recently, and the rest of her web site is just as infotaining. Just imagine, if it had been taught this way I might have actually enjoyed math class!

Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile: What a neat idea! I love how this turned out. Very modern! Here’s how she did it.

The Week of Parties

I’ve been pretty busy this past week, mostly with holiday parties.

On Tuesday afternoon we had our site holiday party at work. There are about 8,000 people at our site, I think? Even though the party ran from 2-4 PM, they must have all showed up at 2:00 because the party was set up down a stretch of hallway about a quarter mile long, and it was just wall-to-wall people. However, the food was really good! Usually they just give us a free lunch of gray turkey and dry cookies (last year they mixed it up a little with pie filling in a cup for dessert). This was more like a catered meal, with long tables of antipasto, little sandwiches, lamb chops, chicken and tortellini, and an entire room of mini desserts! And even though it was incredibly crowded, it was fun running into people from other departments and other buildings who we don’t get to see all the time. They also had a choir from the local high school set up on an upstairs walkway, and they were recording them and broadcasting them on TVs along the whole area as well. (You could barely hear them, though.)

I had to go to work on Wednesday, which is not my usual schedule, and then I had my last band concert of the year on Wednesday night. That concert was followed by the band holiday party, which I don’t generally attend, so I actually got the night off from partying. I went home to fold laundry and work on some stuff, and ended up chatting online with a bunch of coworkers (you can turn your work computer on any time of the day or night, and there will be someone else online to chat with – I guess it makes working all hours more bearable).

Thursday night was the holiday party for my department at work. They had decided that rather than using the budget for each sub-group to go out for lunch or something, they would pool all the money and have a nice party in our conference center, The Barn. It started at 4:30, and after kind of a slow start with people awkwardly milling around, I ended up having a lot of fun. We were in the dining room, which is a really pretty, rustic room with wood beams and stone walls (the conference center really is a converted barn), and there were Christmas lights everywhere and it was very pretty. The best part was that one of my coworkers from the UK was in town, unbeknownst to me, so a couple other people and I ended up hanging out late with him – he is so funny! Very British sense of humo(u)r :o)

On Saturday night, GG and I drove out to L&S’s for their annual holiday party. I think it was a slightly smaller crowd than they’ve had in the past, but it was probably more fun. She asked everyone to bring an appetizer or dessert, and there was so much food! I made spinach dip in a bread bowl with extra dipping breads. They had a couple holiday games planned, including a really good trivia contest (GG and I game in second place with 6 out of 10 answers correct – it was hard, and covered topics like Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, military history of things that happened on Christmas, etc.). We ended up leaving around 10 PM because we still had a two-hour drive to get home.

GG and I went out for dinner on Sunday to a nice restaurant where I’d gotten a LivingSocial deal that was about to expire. We’d foolishly made a reservation – we were the only people there for most of our meal! Which was actually cool, because we got very one-on-one attention. There was a special menu for the LivingSocial deal, which included appetizers, entrees, and desserts for two, plus a bottle of wine. They were out of the wine we were supposed to get, so we had a different one, which I think was probably better. And yes, I drank wine! GG had way more than me, though, because he didn’t want to leave any in the bottle! So he pretty much passed out when we got home, haha.

This week is pretty slow at work, because a lot of people are gone for the holidays already. However, we had to squeeze in one more little party – there was pizza brought in for our group meeting over lunch today. I ended up staying at work late (as I have been a lot, recently). I probably actually should have left some work for tomorrow, because I have the feeling that the rest of this week is going to be pretty slow and boring…

Linky Thursday – 12/16

Short one today. They can’t all be winners.

11th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos Infomercial: This year’s commercial didn’t quite get the notoriety of last year’s, but it’s still just as horrible. You’d think after last year’s SNL parody they’d rethink their video format, but no. Once again, the announcers are unenthusiastic and seem unfamiliar with what they’re talking about. Also, I want to know what kind of “seminars” they’re giving – face painting clinics, perhaps?

Holiday Music from Target: You might recognize some of these from Target’s holiday commercials. I love “Toy Jackpot.” Actually, all the music is pretty good!

Positive Week

I don’t know how else to put it, this was just a really good, positive week. I moved to my new desk at work on Tuesday morning. I’m now in the same building as the rest of my group, but in a different area. So I had to meet all my new neighbors. The girl who sat next to me was there first and we talked a bit – then she told me that it was her last day with the company! And everyone else sitting in that section is either leaving the company or will be 100% home-based after this month. So much for getting to know my new neighbors, I guess! (They’re all nice, though. I wish they were sticking around!) Also, I wore these cute shoes and kept getting compliments on them, starting with “Cute shoes!” from a lady in the elevator on my way in. I had my whole desk unpacked and set up within about an hour, and when the moving guy came back to pick up my crates he said after 28 years, he could tell who would be a fast unpacker.

Oh, and on Tuesday night, my new purse came in the mail! I will now bore you with the story of this bag. Several weeks ago, GG and I were walking through Macy’s and he got distracted in the cologne department, so I just went and browsed the handbags. I saw this Fossil bag but even on sale it was more than I’d spend on a purse, but it was a perfect bag for traveling and stuff (I like a cross-body bag with a top zip and lots of pockets, and it was a nice pewter color that goes with anything). I searched for the bag online to see if I could find it for less somewhere, but I couldn’t find that size in that color. So I forgot about it. Then a couple weeks ago someone on one of the message boards I read posted a Macy’s discount code, so I went on their site just to see if the bag was available, and guess what – it was! Plus it was on sale, and I had the code, and I remembered I had a Macy’s gift card from last Christmas! So I ended up paying a fraction of the cost out of pocket, and the bag is here and it’s beautiful. So Merry Christmas to me :o) (I would include a link to this purse, but it seriously does not exist. If you want to try your hand at Googling, it’s the Fossil Sutter top-zip large bag in pewter.)

On Wednesday I worked from home (a pleasant surprise – I thought I wasn’t going to be able to, due to some stuff going on at work). GG and I had lunch at a new place that just opened down the block from our house. It’s a little market (with a surprising selection of good cheeses, Nutella, even nice produce!) and deli/sandwich shop. I got a really good veggie sandwich, and GG had a panini. And we got a huge deli pickle! I was pleasantly surprised – this place will be a great addition to the neighborhood, I hope the business does well. That evening I played a holiday concert at a school for mentally handicapped people. It’s always sort of awkward to play there, but they’re an appreciative crowd. You can tell they’re having a good time and enjoying the music. Also, the school provides cider, punch, and cookies for us after the show.

Thursday I was back in the office and saw some coworkers I hadn’t seen on Tuesday, who were happy to hear I’d moved to their floor! It’s funny, because actually everyone has to walk past my new desk to get to where they sit, but that desk has been empty for so long that they don’t even notice that I’m there, or don’t realize it’s me sitting there. I mean, I guess they know now… haha. At lunch I got to meet a coworker from New York who I had never seen before. He’s in another department, but we’ve worked together a lot since I’ve been in my new job. He was in town this week for meetings, so I got to see him before he left. He is really funny, and was super nice in person. Early on, we had a discussion about how to pronounce my name. Since he is half Swedish and I am one quarter Swedish, I said I’d defer to his correct pronunciation. So the first thing he said when he saw me was, “You look like a good Swede!” Haha, that made my day!

That afternoon, I got some news that made my week! My boss had announced a couple weeks ago that she would be moving to a new position in our department. So there’s been lots of speculation and wondering about who would be taking her position. There was one person that we were kind of thinking and hoping it would be, but we never had any confirmation. So at our group meeting Thursday afternoon, our boss announced that the position had been filled, and… it was the person we wanted! He is from our old company and hadn’t gotten a job with the new company yet, so was due to be laid off soon. So we are very happy that he is staying, and even happier that he will be our new boss, because he’s fantastic! I had a huge grin on my face the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday was my Friday, because I had a bunch of vacation days to use up and took today off work. My friend L has Fridays off, so she came out to go shopping with me. I hadn’t really started Christmas shopping, and she’s a super shopper, so I knew she’d motivate me to get stuff. We started out at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets – they had a lot of good sales, but it was way too cold to be at an outdoor mall! We actually did walk the whole thing in about two hours, though, and both of us bought some gifts. Then we went to the KoP Mall, where we picked up a few more things and got lunch. I did get one thing for myself – a pair of fleece pajama pants at Old Navy (on sale for $8). I’ve wanted fleece pants for hanging around at home for a long time. When I got home, I put those pants on and took an amazing nap.

We don’t have any big plans for this weekend. I’d heard we were supposed to get snow..? But looking at the weather forecast, it doesn’t look like that’s happening – thank goodness!

Linky Thursday – 12/9

Being a Hand Model: Ellen Sirot recently became infamous on the internet as the “creepy hand model.” This is the interview that made her famous! Why does she have to caress her hands the whole time? I don’t know! Here’s another video where she waves her hands around creepily and explains how she got into the hand modeling business.

Earth-Friendly Ideas from Good Design: I love these stickers that remind you where electricity comes from – okay, the hamsters are a little goofy, but the CO2 one would be great to put on a light switch when you need to remind people to turn things off. I also love the idea of a file format that can’t be printed – I’m tempted to use this at work!

The Star Wars Alphabet: These are adorable… “J is for Jabba” is probably the cutest. Almost worth having kids for. I would totally make these into a poster, or make a border along the top of a wall…

6 Adorable Cat Behaviors with Shockingly Evil Explanations: I actually knew some of these already, and some have been kind of sensationalized. But the one about poop was interesting to me – we have someone who doesn’t bury theirs, and I thought they were just being lazy, but maybe they’re actually fighting for litter box dominance.

Subversive Undershirts: Apparently this is a thing now. First there was the Confidence Shirt (I love “How do you all have jobs?”). Now there’s a line of underwear with the 4th Amendment printed in metallic ink to show up in an x-ray machine.

Moving, Review, Party, Another Party, Renovation

I found out last week that I am finally going to be moving desks at work, to sit in the same building as the rest of my department again. (I’ve been in a different building for the past six months, since I was supposed to be laid off at the end of this year.) However, it’s not really with the rest of my group, and it’ll be in kind of a noisy, busy spot, but at least it’ll be in the same building on the same floor… I just keep telling myself that. I see lots of headphone wearing in my future… Anyway, I spent much of last week packing up my desk, and I’ll be moved as of tomorrow morning.

Also on Friday, I got my annual review. This company does things a little differently, and we get lots of feedback from people we’ve worked with over the past year. Everyone said such nice things about me! I was seriously almost crying because of how nice it was. I don’t have a final rating yet (I got my review early just because my boss was in town last week), but hopefully all those good feelings are reflected in the number.

Friday night was GG’s work holiday party, and I was really not looking forward to going. It ended up being pretty fun. It was at a nice hotel near our house, and they had a huge area – there was a bar outside the main room, then in the main ballroom there were huge buffets of food, another bar, tables, a big dance floor, a stage, and a screen where they displayed photos that I guess people had submitted from the previous year. GG had been warned that these people party hard, and I guess they did (it was certainly a crazier party than anything I’ve ever experienced at work), but it didn’t quite live up to the hype. However, the food was excellent! And his coworkers are fun and really nice, too. I’d met some of them when I stopped by the office on his birthday, but it was good to see them all again in a more relaxed setting. And one of his friends (who he worked with at a previous job, so we know him well) won an award, which they handed out before the party really got started!

On Saturday I slept in a little, then went to a band concert in the afternoon. GG and I got Chinese food for an early dinner, then went out to a friend’s birthday party that night. It was kind of a weird situation, because I’m actually friends with her mother in-law (through band), and GG and I spent most of the night talking to them (GG and her husband were talking music and guitarists most of the time – with a brief break for some discussion about his latest hobby, golf). We got home in time to catch most of Robert De Niro hosting SNL, but still fell asleep before it was over.

Sunday was my day to catch up on all the errands and chores I couldn’t do Saturday. I went to Target and actually stuck to my list! GG and I went to the mall for dinner, mostly so we could see Phase I of the Plaza food court remodel, which I think opened a week or two ago. It’s all one level now! (There used to be a sunken area in the middle.) Everything is white and very industrial looking. But Phase II is coming after the holidays (according to this article) when they “will add the finishing aesthetic touches.” So hopefully it improves, because right now it does not look very inviting. (Not that its previous, circa-1980 appearance was all that great either.)

Linky Thursday – 12/2

It’s back! I’ve taken to sending interesting links to GG and then he often will post them on Facebook, but I’m tired of him getting the credit for the cool stuff I find, so I’m going to start doing Linky Thursday here again.

Tannenboing: I don’t decorate for Christmas at all, but if I did have a tree, this one would be awesome. No muss, no fuss, you can hang all your ornaments, and it stores flat for next year. It’s a little expensive, though.

Saul Bass Style ‘Lost’ & ‘Tron’ Title Sequences: I came across these videos while looking for examples of Saul Bass’ work. They are pretty cool! I know the poster says he prefers the Lost one (total “Vertigo” reference in there, btw), but I really like how the Tron one uses the light cycle trails to outline the boxes.

Bitchin’ Kitchen: When I first saw commercials for this show on the Cooking Channel I was like, “Oh come on, she’s trying too hard.” Then I happened to catch it the other night when they were running four episodes in a row and I was like, “Oh come on, she’s trying too hard.” However, by the fourth episode, I actually laughed out loud. And most of the food actually does look pretty good, and can realistically be made by a home cook. Ok, the costumes and decor are a bit much, as are the male characters who show up, and a lot of the scripted stuff she says, and the accent. I’m willing to give her a pass a little bit on the accent, especially after reading about her background in this good article. I wish she’d just talk like a normal Canadian, because I can totally hear it in there, and stop trying to do the Jersey Shore thing.