Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #11

With our apartment keys turned in and our belongings on the road to Maine, we are kicking back in Ontario with my in-laws, just waiting for the next phase of our move. We're going to church, a church BBQ, and I hope a nap can get squeezed in there somewhere so I can get properly revived for stage 2 - moving in!

How are you Sabbathing today, Lobsters?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snapshot Saturday #11: sweet mischief

I love this shot for so many reasons: the lighting, the warmth, the tenderness with which my sister is holding my child, and Sofia's little expression.

When have you visually witnessed the love between two people that has warmed your heart?


My sister is getting married today!  She reads this blog (though maybe not today), so I thought here might be a good place to give her some advice about marriage and wish her well. The only problem is that marriage advice is so cliche. It's all been said. Oh well, let's go over the top seven:

1. Go on dates. Specifically, I recommend going clubbing. Or to the driving range. Or to my house to babysit. Nothing keeps the spark alive like babysitting together and not getting paid for it.
2. Never go to bed angry. I personally don't see how anyone can go to bed angry. Then you just end up laying in bed thinking and seething, and bed is neither for thinking nor seething. It's for sleeping. And other things. Meow.
3. Pick your battles. Not worthy battle: How to squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube. Worthy battle: Getting him to admit that cats are inferior to dogs. 
4. Never stop getting to know each other. We humans change all the time. It's crazy. So keep getting to know each other. Make time for conversation every day. Suggested topics: Favorite types of cheese. Actors you think could portray each other in a Lifetime movie reenactment of your relationship. Monkeys.
5. I hope you dance. This advice is good for both marriage and life.
6. Make Jesus the Center of your relationship. And I mean the Savior, Christ, Counselor, Redeemer. Not the waiter from Three Amigos, as awesome as he is.
7. Believe in whales. This is special advice just for you, Sissy.

I love you, Jenna! I'm so glad you found someone who makes you happy and with whom you can share your life. You are an amazing woman of God, a beautiful servant, a super auntie, a top notch speller, and the best sister I've ever had. Ever. Andrew is a lucky man, and you are going to blow him away with your hottness today.

Happy Wedding Day!

Friday, July 29, 2011

E is for Effort

Don't you miss the days in elementary school when "E" was a good grade on an assignment? E for effort. In other words, the final product may or may not have been satisfactory, much less impressive, but you were encouraged for giving it your best shot. 

Apparently, this is a great approach with children. One of my favorite books is NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. In their first chapter, "The Inverse Power of Praise" they talk about the detriment of simply telling kids they are smart. Apparently, when you encourage them in specific ways for trying hard, you are building their effort muscles which will serve them better as they face challenges that their natural smartness may not be able to conquer. Kids who get this kind of support can go farther than kids who just get straight up praise. 

Problem is, I'm not a kid anymore. Sure there are kindly people who will have nice things to say when I have clearly put effort into something. But the truth is, if the final product doesn't cut it, the final product doesn't cut it. You don't get special awards or commendations anymore, just because you tried. 

After watching a documentary piece about this amazing artist who got her start taking pictures of her children, I set out with an obscene amount of supplies to do a photo-shoot of my daughter in the park across the street from our apartment. Perhaps is a bit blasphemous to say anything bad about any photo of your own child, but I'm sorry people. This shoot was a fail. 

Doesn't her last expression just capture it? "Mom - what are you thinking?" They're not awful, but I can look at the shots now and see they are just riddled with lighting and background potential. But I was not on my game. Not to say that this was an exception to a phenomenal ability I have otherwise. My photography is like my cooking, its a means to getting to an end I enjoy, but nothing to rave too much about beyond that. But I did not get the enjoyable results I was after this day.

I wish I could give myself an E for Effort. But healthy humility is recognizing that I both have strengths and weaknesses. This shoot wasn't worthy of a Snapshot Saturday. But I guess I got enough "E"s growing up, that I know I can keep trying. After all, E is also for Excellence.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Anything Once: Urban Camping Or “The night I became a gamer”

Lobsters, what are your deal breakers when it comes to finding a potential mate? Girls that are taller than you? Back hair? Having a last name for a first name? Here are another blogger's thoughts on that topic.

For me, it was “gamers,” as in guys who play video games. I was never allowed to play any growing up and cultivated a very strong disrespect for anyone who indulged in this pastime. It seemed a sign of laziness, violence, ADHD, etc. This cartoon might capture my sentiments:

cartoon borrowed from here 
As my husband and I returned from our perfect honeymoon, after our perfect wedding, I settled into my perfect marriage. I anticipated some challenges in having to live with a boy for the first time – strange smells, junk food, rowdier music. What I got instead was a video game console being set up and used for hours every day. Somehow, I had accidentally married a gamer.

It was a great shock to my system. For months, I tried to understand the draw of these games he was into, and I just couldn’t get into it. All the while, I heard a great deal of talk about the Nintendo Wii console coming out. After months of anticipation, the day came near. I learned that he was SO excited, but he didn't expect he would be able to get his hands on one for months after it came out. I figured the longer the delay, the better.

The night before the release, we made an evening run to Target, cause it's my favorite store so I go there whenever I can find an excuse. While I was walking the isles towards the item I needed, I saw the look in his eyes as we passed by the Wii display. Intrigue, excitement, longing, sadness. I couldn’t keep him from it. I just couldn’t. I turned to him and with resoluteness announced my plan:

“We’re paying for this item, we’re walking out of this store, and you’re getting in that line [that had already been forming for a couple of hours]. I am going to go home to get some chairs, blankets, food, and entertainment, and I’m coming back. You’re going to wait in that line, and I’m gonna be right there with you.”

The shock and disbelief and joy I got in reaction was worth a much greater sacrifice. I knew there was no going back, and I also knew I would do this one hundred times over. I think there has never been a greater act I have done for our marriage before or since that night.

And I did it. I camped outside of a Bay Area target, right by the freeway, all through the night until those doors opened at 8am. We hung out with the other game-boys, shared some of our snacks [most of them did not have wives bringing them food and hot chocolate]. I curled up for a snooze or two in the car, I drove the car in circles around the parking lot trying desperately to get warm [it was frickin’ freezing that night!].

And after an act of dedication like that, how could I not feel like I had been initiated into this new culture? Of course plenty of those guys were insanely nerdy, but they were also really nice and some were even pretty cool and down to earth. And if I was going to freeze my toes off for that game console, I was going to find a way to like it. Even if my devotion preceded my positive opinion, I had indeed been converted. I would even call myself a "gamer-advocate" today . . . but more on that in another post.

Anyone else camp out for anything you [or a loved one] cared a lot about? Anyone shocked that I did? When have you shown a tremendous act of devotion to a thing or person? So tremendous that it is even a bit embarrassing and it takes you about 6 years to confess that act publicly? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brown Image

San Diego is a great town to visit. Downtown is close to the waterfront, is close to the airport, is close to Balboa Park, which includes San Diego Zoo. They have a wild animal safari park, Sea World, Legoland, and beaches galore. Is it because it has so many beautiful destination points that an incredible place like Chicano Park just doesn't often make the list of "things to see"? Somehow I fear there is more to it than just that. I doubt all that many people in San Diego have even heard of Chicano Park. And sadly, it took us nearly the whole year we were here before we made it there ourselves. But we did! And it was amazing! 

Chicano Park is a neighborhood park placed under a series of freeway overpasses. The history of this park is phenomenal. Where the people in power showed complete disrespect, the people of this community showed incredible strength. When a neighborhood was decimated, freeways trampled over homes, and a community was geographically divided, the people of this barrio came together, rose up, and built a beautiful park and cultural center. Walking through this park sincerely out-did most museum experiences I've ever had.  

The mural series is beautiful and thought provoking. But I was greatly saddened by the contrast between how obviously significant, symbolic, and meaningful the art was and how little I knew about Chicano history. I recognized the name of an artist or activist here and there, and it is kind of impossible to live in California and not know SOMETHING about Cesar Chavez, founder of the National Farm Workers Association. But my knowledge kind of ends there. 

Place is significant. The land we live on, work, own is more intimately connected to who we are than I think we recognize on a day to day basis. Among other things, it was beautiful how this park could celebrate that. 

Chicano park lit a fire under me. I wanted to know more about the park itself. I want to know more about Chicano Art, I want to know more about Chicano history. Just the story of the park alone brought tears to my eyes. There is so much sorrow but so much resilience to learn about from these stories. I want to be impassioned for the causes these great heroes have fought for. I want to be able to tell my daughter these stories. I want to raise her to be a Chicana who might herself grow up to be a woman of such strength and an artist of such significance.

Lobsters, dig me out of my ignorance. Do any of you have some great tips for books or resources for learning about Chicano history? Both for myself, but also, maybe some great children's books for Sofia? I would love some leads so I can learn more!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sharing what you share

One of my dearest long distance friends is Catherine. We met when I was a freshman at Westmont and instantly clicked. The more we got to know about each other though, the more we found affinities we shared in common. One key intersections of our persons is our mutual love for creating art.

Cate is a wonderful artist, as is her husband. They both work in several mediums, but Catherine and I especially share a love of photography. I was honored to be a subject in her senior art project, to be the photographer for her wedding, and to have her shoot my senior portrait:

one shot out of an incredible series
We have always enjoyed doing and talking about art together. So it is only fitting that as we have had to live apart for too many years, one of the special ways Catherine stays in touch with me is through art. She and her husband were sending out this great little zine of his drawings for a while, I love following their blogs and facebook photos of their kids - always totally uniquely shot. And each year at Christmas, instead of a card or bought gift, she always sends out these amazing handmade creations the family develops together. Here are the magnets they sent me a few years ago that I use every day and love to death:

Consider one of your long distance friends, Lobsters. What is the heart of your friendship? Is it a thing or experience that is really geographically bound?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Movie Review Monday #10: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

My daughter was born 51 hours and 20 minutes before the final Harry Potter film opened. I had previously been to every Harry Potter midnight showing, so as miraculous and wonderful as it was to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, I'm not ashamed to say there was a wee bit of disappointment at her timing. You may think that's silly, especially given that this post indicates that I have, by now, seen the film. But it's just not the same. A midnight showing of an epic film is a community experience. The audience is significantly more invested in the film. Thanks to the late hour, emotions run high, and people unabashedly cheer, applaud, openly weep. Plus you always get the crazies who dress up. One year there was even a group dressed up as Harry, Hermione, and several Weasleys (for who else can gingers play?) and obviously role playing, which fascinated me. I felt like a sociologist studying geekdom.

But this is not a review of midnight showings. It's a review of the final installment of Harry Potter. I'll try not to spoil anything. So here we go:

1. Daniel Radcliffe previously had two faces that he'd make while "acting": One, a grimace that indicated pain, fear, sorrow, deep thought, and probably, on the occasion, constipation. 
Hey, look! It's also RPatt's best acting moment. Ever. 
The other, a kind of neutral smile that indicated happiness, pride, contentment, twitterpatedness, and general satisfaction.
In this film, it seems like he suddenly learned how to act. For example, in one scene, he is alone in Dumbledore's office making a huge decision. The camera trains on his face, and with very little facial expression, good ole Dan shows the audience that something has changed internally. The decision is made and we know what he plans to do. Brill. And that's just one example. 
2. There were two moments in the book that I looked forward to seeing in the film. Both moments were done justice. Feel free to speculate on what those were.
3. I'm not going to sugar coat this: some characters die in this film. When we learn who has died, I love that they don't dwell on it. It's not a long, drawn out sob fest. I did allow some tears to pop out of my face at that moment though, so somehow the filmmakers did the moment justice without milking it.
4. I freaking love Maggie Smith. All the time. From Hook to Sister Acts to Harry Potters, she is literally one classy dame. This film was no exception. I want to hug her.
5. I have read the book twice and was still on the edge of my seat. And I don't mean that as a cliche. I was perched on the edge of my theater seat, biting on my hands. I'm really tired though.
6. I could have used more Hagrid.
7. Neville is a hero. He has the most British smile I've seen in a while, but he's still adorable and winning and I couldn't help but feel a weird sense of pride whenever he displayed valiance.
8. I have things to say about the characters at the very end of the film, but that would give things away. Let's just say that different hairstyles don't necessarily add age to people. 
9. The visual effects were, as always, mind blowing. Kind of made me start to believe in dragons. 
10. All the Harry Potter films have a theme of good versus evil, but none more than this one. And, spoiler alert: Good prevails. And it's beautiful.

I could go on and on ad infinitum, but I'm sleepy and I don't want to start really thinking about the fact that it's all over because it really is true that new mothers are weepy. No more Harry Potters. Sad, yet awesome that they ended on a high note. I even enjoyed it in a weekday matinee setting.

Lobsters, in order to properly rate this film, I have to use a freak, mutated lobster. Three claws up. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #10

Today I hope to go to church and have a quiet afternoon with my husband and daughter. Thank God for religiously imposed excuses not to pack!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snapshot Saturday #10: a little fuzzy

Again, some classy cell phone photography. I do like that it's sunrise that is a bit out of focus, as I'm sure my mind was at this time of day.

At what time of day are you most prone to inspiration?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Out of town, in town

As someone with lots of long distance friends, I really love it when people make the effort to come visit me. To emphasize my appreciation, I do my best to show them a good time and make them feel like visiting me is a vacation and a treat. This often means that I end up seeing some of my city's greatest treasures only when I have visitors. Consequently, I end up feeling like I'm on vacation too, even though I never leave town. [This convenience makes a good case for living in vacation destinations - also makes for a great staycation opportunity!]

We had just one such adventure recently when one of my college roommates, and dear friends, Erin came to stay with us. Per my teaser with the most recent Snaptshot Saturday, I took advantage of the opportunity to explore Point Loma for the first time. I've felt a special obligation to see what San Diego thinks a lighthouse should look like, seeing as how we're moving to Maine, which seems to be the lighthouse capital of the country. I figured it would make a good point of reference. 

I felt like such a good mother, providing my child with such a beautiful experience.

But to be honest, I think the highlight of the visit for her, was playing with her toes while we wheeled her around in her stroller.

And despite the amazing view of downtown, the bay, the ocean, the historic lighthouse, etc. etc. etc., the sight I got most excited about was the artichoke plant in the garden by the lighthouse.

Had to capture the white picket fence for Emily - she loves them.

Green and purple are my favorite colors,
how beautiful together in one of my favorite foods! 

They've done up the lighthouse in the way it would have been arranged when the keeper and his family would have lived there [1800's]. Cute and quaint. But note in this shot below, something seems a bit out of place on the bed.

I don't think the lighthouse keeper in the 19th century kept
his laptop by his bed, but what do I know, I wasn't there. 

It was a thoroughly lovely day and a lovely way for Erin, Sofia and I to get some fresh air and exercise!

Sofia and I have such a good time together!

Sofia loves Aunt Erin!!

. . . So lovely, in fact, that I couldn't help but take advantage of the fact that the pass we paid to get in [a mere $5] was good for a whole week. So a few days later, when Manny got back in town, I took him and our friends Lexie and Jamie back to the Point for another lovely day! We revisited everything I'd already seen. And of course, I had to get a few more shots of my artichoke plant.

Thank you Massive Zoom,
for helping me capture the bee pollinating the plant!
But I pushed everyone to move nice and quick so I could get a chance to see other parts of the park as well. In addition to the great peninsula views, lighthouse, and artichoke plant, the park also has access to these beautiful tide pools.

Something isn't quite right when I feel like
the person in this warning illustration
looks like they're having lots of fun.

This time, we had dueling cameras capturing the sites.

I was smart enough to remember the ErgoBaby Carrier for this trip.
Much better flexibility in where we could explore.
But I'm sure poor Sofia missed her toes. 
Hard to appreciate in this shot,
but Lexie's outfit to go hiking in was so adorable.
Breezy white top, cute denim shorts, and a great red belt around her waist.
She never fails to look great, no matter the occasion!
Lobsters, if you're planning on visiting or living in San Diego anytime soon, I agree with all the hype and highly recommend this park as a great worthwhile visit, even twice in one week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What should I read next?

What are your greatest fears? Public speaking? Showing up in public naked on accident? Death? 

You know what I'm really afraid of? Being stuck somewhere without paper and pen to write with and a book to read. Seriously. My husband always makes fun of me for how I pack. Even if we're just going somewhere overnight, I have to pack multiple books - so I have a book I'm actually in the mood to read. Sometimes you want a beautiful thought provoker, sometimes you want some silly brainless fun, but then there's always the random wild card. 

Maybe you can understand that having to put all my books away into boxes in preparation for our move, I'm feelin' pretty anxious. Granted I've got enough pages on my current book to last me probably until and through the move - just the thought that I could finish and not have enough books available makes me start to grind my teeth.

I used to be a compulsive book buyer. I currently have multiple boxes of books in three different cities. That's after several sessions of trying to go through them and take as many as possible to used book stores. 

[sidebar: One of my favorite literary passages is in Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Travelerwhere the author walks you through a book store, not categorized by genres, but organized instead according to your experiences with books - probably inspired High Fidelity's autobiographical organization of albums. I can't do it justice, you should check it out for yourself.] 

Recognizing that I had a problem, I made a rule for myself a while ago that I had to read three books before I was allowed to buy another one, and that helped me curb the habit. I hardly ever buy books anymore, but that means that when I do, they really better be worth it. 

If you can remotely identify with me on any of this, you can perhaps share my excitement when I read Joanna Goddard's tip on this website that helps you figure out what to read next. It's like getting lost in a rabbit trail of movie trailers, checking out potential books to dive into. This is doing wonders to calm some of my weird anxieties. 

But here's the thing, I can't just trust a website, I need some testimonials to help me out. So while I'm dreaming about the day when I'll let myself buy my next book, you can help me make a good choice by giving me some input. 

Some recent books I've read and enjoyed lead to some potential suggestions:

1) Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. One of my favorite authors, Ondaatje's background as a poet clearly comes through in his prose. He's from Sri Lanka, where I studied abroad, and a good portion of the book takes place in the Bay Area, my most recent home. He pays beautiful homage to place while spinning riveting character development throughout an unconventional plot structure. 

Out of the recommended list, Saturday by Ian McEwan interests me. I enjoyed Atonement [thanks for lending that to me Emily!]. Is this one worth checking out?

Bossypants2) Bossypants by Tina Fey. For my thoughts on that, see our conversational review post if you missed it. 

mmm . . . weird list of rec's. Possible website fail. Looking for hysterically funny here people. Not sure how Jane Eyre makes that list - good - but not quite what I'm going for with this one. Maybe Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner? 

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life3) The Philosophical Baby by Alison Gopnik. It's full of research from all sorts of fields from Psychology to Computer Science, and it's woven together by great philosophical questions, and it's about babies. This woman foresaw my pregnant-waddle-entry into that Pegasus bookstore the day I found that book and wrote it just for me. I wasn't 100% satisfied, but I was quite stimulated and entertained. 

This one only yields a singular recommendation: Richard Wiseman's 59 Seconds. In reading about it I feel both intrigued and skeptical. Any input?

Hmmm . . . looks like I really need some back up. Have any Lobsters out there read these books? Got any thoughts? Should I check them out or stay away? Anyone else have fun with this "What to read next" website, or found it useful? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comfort Friends

I was on the chapel worship team in college. I loved it because I learned to be a better singer and I had some incredible times with Jesus as a result of the combination of singing His praise and fully depending on Him to ease my nerves. The other people on the team were awesome, and I made some great friends there.
Hey, here's one of those friends - Clausen!
All that said, I was never fully comfortable in that group. I was intimidated by the fact that I was the least musically gifted person on the team. (This is absolutely not me fishing for compliments, nor did anyone on the team ever make me feel lesser - it's just a fact, and I was totally fine with it.) I was also intimidated by the fact that many of the people on the team were just ridiculously cool and many had similar quirky senses of humor that I didn't always fully get. Basically, chapel worship team tended to give me the unnecessary insecurity of a junior higher. 

My junior year of college, I was also a Resident Assistant. This meant that I constantly hung out in our dorm's lounge - manning the snack bar, playing ping pong, watching TV, or just hanging out. I freaking loved our dorm. My fellow Resident Assistants were all incredible, and I adored the residents too. It was your basic ball o' squishy feelings in Armington Halls. 
We still love each other after college. Here are some of us
Armington RAs at Andrea's amazing wedding in 2007.
One night, I went to a worship team party. We had a good time singing, laughing, hanging out. When I left, though, I noticed that I was kind of exhausted from not fully being myself. I was always either trying a little too hard at those things or just being quiet, which is equally tiring for me. I decided that I'd just drop into the Armington Lounge and maybe catch a game of ping pong or say hi to whoever was on duty there. When I walked in, there was a group of about five people gathered around a  giant tub of that cheap but delicious generic rainbow sherbet that you can find at drugstores. They all looked up when I entered, and they all said "Emily!" like I was Norm from Cheers. One of the guys held up a spoon, and I joined the group, relaxed and comfortable with these friends. 

I can't explain how thoroughly that little moment warmed my awkward little heart. 

Ever find yourself unable to get comfortable with perfectly wonderful people?  Or have you ever been surprised to feel at home with a group of friends?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lobster Recap: Two Months of Lobsterness

Dear Reader,

Thanks for stopping by Long Distance Lobsters today! Emily and I have been having a blast writing for this blog together over the past two months. We hope you’ve been enjoying reading it. Maybe you’re a new Lobster, maybe you’re a faithful daily reader, but either way, we thought it would be fun to revisit some posts you might have missed or may enjoy reading again.

If you’re totally new to us, and wondering what on earth we’re all about, you should read our introduction posts. We are pretty broad in our content, but some consistent themes include movies, marriage, photography, cooking, and trying new things.

If you are male, please be sure to check out “boys allowed.

If you are pregnant, parenting, or just into mommy blogs, you might enjoy perusing our pregnancy and baby related posts.

If you are into being cool, you will want to make sure you’ve read our most popular posts:

We also have some of our own favorites. Emily says she loves all of her posts equally, like they were her children. I told her that I only have one child, so right now, I have no problem with playing favorites, so my personal favorite goes on top:
What are some of your favorites that we’ve overlooked?

Thanks for reading, Lobsters, we hope you’ll keep it up and tell your friends! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Review Monday #9: Midnight in Paris

I have previously only seen two Woody Allen films: Hollywood Ending (which my mom and I watched during a trip to New York purely to escape the heat so I don't remember anything about it except that it was air conditioned) and Melinda and Melinda (which I saw in Spain and all I remember was that it had Spanish subtitles and I liked it). So I didn't have a deep knowledge of his style or anything, nor did I go in expecting to either love or loathe the film. I feel like people who have seen a lot of Woody Allen films automatically know whether they'll enjoy new ones or not. 

Anyway, we went to Midnight in Paris last week. Observations:
1. Paris is beautiful. Yes, this is an obvious statement to most of you, but for some reason I never grasped it. Even though my husband can talk for weeks about a few days that he spent there, I still didn't comprehend the draw of it. The cinematography in this film gave me a glimmer of understanding though. 
2. I am an uncultured dolt when it comes to 1920s painters, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. I think I would have enjoyed the film a little more if I'd taken a class on the Artists of the Roaring 20s. With my current base of knowledge, I understood some of the Ernest Hemingway humor, I knew who the Fitzgeralds were, I recognized Dali, and I vaguely recalled Cole Porter. That left a slew of characters that were flatter to me than Allen probably intended. 
3. Rachel McAdams is capable of being not adorable. Who knew?
4. Owen Wilson completely held my attention. I don't think he's the best actor of ever, but he does entertain. Other Owen faves: Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, and, of course, Zoolander. (I'd probably also enjoy him in Marley and Me, but I refuse to watch that. I was inconsolable for a solid two hours after Turner and Hooch, so now I avoid sad dog movies at all costs.)
5. For me, the film's message was to focus on the present when creating art, which was encouraging. Like Owen Wilson's character, I sometimes look at past authors and think there's no way I could recreate such incredible works. But here's the thing about art (and in my case, art is literature): It shouldn't be recreated - it should be created. Which means there is always an opportunity for new greatness. There can always be a new golden age of artistry. Not to say we shouldn't be inspired by past artists - just that we shouldn't feel belittled by them.

I have left out several tidbits of information about this film on purpose. There's a delightful mystery about it which I hope you experience yourself. I recommend watching it at home with the encyclopedia open in front of you so you can learn as you go. Not necessary, but I know I would have enjoyed that.

Two claws up, Lobsters!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #9

If you are a Loyal Lobster, you may have detected a pattern that Emily and I trade off Sundays, posting about how we plan to Sabbath rest. Technically, this would be an Emily-Sabbath. But she just had a baby, so instead of asking her to even think about queueing up a post, I am just going to wish her as much rest as is humanly possible with a newborn today!

Want to help her rest even more? Provide her with a meal through this MealBaby registry! You would get major Lobster points if you did. Thanks y'all!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Snapshot Saturday #9: Staircase

Next week, I'll say more about where these shots were taken. Stay tuned! 

In the mean time, I'll just say I enjoy these shots for the geometry and the light. I also love the little touch of humanity sprinkled in oh so subtly. 

Other than just being a Snapshot Saturday, today is also my parent's wedding anniversary. Over three decades of unyielding commitment for each other. You two deserve to be celebrated! So, it is a very small gesture, but I dedicate this Snapshot Saturday to you! I love you Mom and Dad! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Post: Why pop is superior to soda

In case there is some way you could have missed the news, our own Emily just had her very first baby, Eiley Grace Fazakerley. Yay! You are personally invited to join in on the celebrationTo give her a little maternity leave from blogging, and to give you readers a little break from all things baby, please enjoy this wonderfully masculine guest post from our long distance friend, Michael Strongman, who I will forgive for dogging on us Southerners for calling all soft drinks "Coke," because I enjoyed this post so much. 

Why pop is superior to soda: 
Confessions of a Californian living in Michigan.

Last fall I was able to host my brother for a visit for the first time since I moved to East Lansing, MI five years ago.  I had tickets to the football game that Saturday (Wisconsin at MSU). Enjoying the Michigan fall and attending my Dutch reformed church (so Dutch, the pastor's name is DeYoung) were also on the agenda.  However, the first stop after he arrived was to get some grub at Jimmy John's, a sandwich chain built on the premise that a good sandwich starts with good bread.  It's a typical American chain, which would be perfectly at home on State Street-Santa Barbara as much as Grand River Ave-East Lansing.  But after Kevin ordered his sandwich, the cashier asked if he wanted a pop.  “Pops?” queried Kevin, and I had translate that he was being asked if he wanted a soda.  “Yes, please.”  After we got our sandwiches, we had a conversation about how Michiganders (among other northerners like Minnesotans and Wisconsinites) calling fizzy drinks pop (not pops!), and the people of the deep south centered around Atlanta call them Coke (even Sprite is Coke), and everywhere else it's soda (like our home in Northern California).  And then Kevin asked the question that prompted this entire blog post, “Do you call it pop?”

I moved to Michigan five years ago in order to attend grad school in nuclear physics.  I was three months removed from graduating from Westmont and part of my coping mechanism from my first extended period out of the Golden State was to be fiercely Californian in outlook. I defended the Governator to critics (however laughable that view may be now; forgive me), extolled the virtues of Californian products and the vastly superior weather, and still rooted for my beloved 49ers. I didn't watch basketball and am sorry to say I never went to a Westmont b-ball game.  And I called soda soda.

One crazy thing about Michigan is if you ask anyone where they are from, they quickly pull out an open palm face up and point to it, “I'm from there!”  

If they are from Detroit, they'll be putting the finger on the soft pad between the thumb and wrist. Saginaw, they point to the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Traverse City, and they'll point between the tips of the pinky and ring finger. And of course, if they are from the Lansing area, they point point right in the middle of the palm, the center of the state and location of the capital. That's where I managed to end up, going to the “little brother” of the flagship University of Michigan (Wolverines are the lowest scUM of the earth), and attending a Reformed church where the motto is, “If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much.” (Not really, that would be a sad church indeed.) However, these Dutch, academic, wolverine-hating, Spartan loving, cheese and meat eating brothers and sisters in Christ, welcomed me into their families  and quickly indoctrinated me in the ways of Spartan football and basketball and ice hockey.  It helps that the basketball team has been to two Final Fours back to back, though.

Now five years later, I am a die-hard Michigan State Spartans fan in both football and basketball.  I even had accidental sightings of the coach (In Izzo We Trust) in the local supermarket and have gotton giddy in excitement.  I've had paczkis (pronounced poonch-keys) for Fat Tuesday, which are gynmormous Polish jelly-filled or cream-filled packets of dough and sugar, better than a jelly-filled donut (And should only be consumed one-day a year – they are that fattening). Hummus is consumed on a weekly basis, brats are the goto BBQ fare, and Bell's Oberon is the beer of choice on hot summer evenings as the lighting bugs flash in their little behinds everywhere.  And most intriguingly, I call pop pop. Why?  It saves time; one syllable verses two. It actually sounds like what it's describing, unlike soda, with it's flat consonants, and let's not forget that Coke can only be Coke. Sprite isn't Coke, neither is Dr. Pepper, Sunkist, Fanta, or any other fizzy drink that southerners call coke.

Pop will always be my little reminder that I lived (for a little while) among the Dutch of West Michigan. I still hold onto things that define me as a Californian, like the secrets to tri-tip BBQ, love of the mountains (Michiganders have to ski literally on hills of garbage. GARBAGE!), and the knowledge that a true coast experience requires the sun setting over the water and smell of the sea.  I am a Californian, and a Michigander,  and sometime soon I going to be Floridian?  Crazy!

Okay, lobsters, what regional peculiarities have you picked up on your journey through life?  Any
delicacies you crave that you can't get at home?  Any loyalties of fandom that you can't claim you grew up with?  Any traditions that you wonder how you lived without them growing up?