Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Super Sized

Sitting at dinner last night, I found myself pondering the disgusting phenomenon of American obesity. It is estimated that as many as one in five Americans is obese, a condition defined as being more than 30 percent above the ideal weight based on height. Even more alarming is the fact that obesity rates for children have doubled over the past 20 years. And as I look at the world around me, and the people in it, I become more and more revolted. However, I think I have found one of the main reasons for this super-sized problem.

Completely starved for dinner after a long day at work, a friend and I headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Wasabi Bistro, a modern Japanese restaurant in Belltown. I have been obsessed with this sushi heaven ever since the first time I went there. It’s reasonably priced and the food is to die for, not to mention that virtually nothing requires cooking, so you get your meal in no time.

Since I was completely famished, I couldn’t decide what to order. Even though I was tempted to get about five sushi rolls, I settled for one, the Mango Tango, which is AMAZING – filled with shrimp tempura, cilantro, red bell pepper and mango. I also ordered an appetizer of tempura eggplant with sweet and spicy sauce to tide myself over. By the time it arrived, I had already eaten a ton of edamame, the restaurant’s specialty. It’s amazing how a few of those little bean pods can fill you up just as much as the mounds of bread most restaurants provide.

After splitting the eggplant appetizer, I was still excited for my sushi roll, but the feeling of wanting to gnaw off my own arm had passed. In fact, but the time I had finished, I actually had to force myself to pop the last bite of Mango Tango into my mouth. Interesting, considering I hadn’t even really consumed that much in terms of volume. Some beans, a couple pieces of eggplant, and six pieces of rice and vegetables. Yet I was stuffed! How had this mean managed to fill me up more than a Big Mac, large fries and a Coke?

I’ve never been to Japan, but for some reason I have been under the impression that most Japanese people are pretty thin. Perhaps this is a stereotype. However, when I did some research, I found that the prevalence of obesity has been found to be less than 5% in Japan and China. A drastic difference compared to the more than 20% in America. So obesity levels do vary depending on ethnic origin. I believe it, after the delicious and filling meal I had at Wasabi Bistro.

Which brings me to the topic of portion control in America. Research says a number of factors have been linked to obesity, including age, gender and socio-economic status. Sure. I’ll buy that. Somewhat. But from my recent experiences, I am convinced that establishing some portion control in restaurants for greedy Americans could significantly reduce the American obesity problem.

This past weekend I had dinner at Daniel’s Broiler, a Seattle steakhouse restaurant. My friend and I decided to split a meal, mainly because of the pricy menu. But after being served our food, we were both unable to even finish our respective halves. What does that say about the portions this restaurant serves? And the problem is that most people have the mindset of “getting what they paid for.” Therefore they will continue to stuff their faces until everything put before them is gone. I myself am guilty of this sin. Another example: I often go to lunch at a Thai restaurant near my work. Every time I order the Pad Thai, and every time I go home with a giant doggy bag. The leftovers from this lunch are usually enough to feed me for an additional two meals!

Americans are used to getting massive amounts of food, whether it be at fancy restaurants or fast food places. The portions are usually far larger than the recommended portion sizes for most foods, but the costs remain relatively low. So it makes sense for restaurants to offer larger portions that make their customers feel like they are getting a bang for their buck. And as Americans eat out more and more frequently, they become accustomed to those oversized portions, and think they are normal. If we don’t get enough food, we feel that we’ve paid too much and will not return, so the restaurants are happy to indulge our greedy bellies.

Ironically, many people will pay for a gym membership that they rarely use, but when paying money for food, they insist on devouring every morsel so they won’t waste a single penny. In 1995 in the USA, the total economic cost attributed to obesity was estimated at $99 billion. Frankly, it makes me want to puke.

I know there is nothing that I can do to change the world, but I can try to be aware of my own choices regarding my diet. I try to keep in mind the advice that my mother told me long ago: “Eat until you’re not hungry anymore, not until you are full.” I wish all Americans could try to have a similar mindset. Because it breaks my heart as I see the incidence of childhood obesity rise on a daily basis, simply because many parents are too busy, lazy or greedy to feed their children nutritious meals.

Obesity is a SERIOUS medical condition, which needs urgent attention throughout the world, and especially in America. The International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) was established in 1996 to tackle the emerging global epidemic of obesity. Learn more about it here.

And keep in mind, you don’t always HAVE to clean your plate in order to get dessert, no matter what your mother taught you.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Here Come the Brides

Wow. I’ve never been in a wedding before, and next June I am going to be in two!! People are getting engaged all around me. I was expecting to feel far more jealousy that I actually do, but I am genuinely happy for all of these lucky people. One of my best friends from college, Cailin, and also my sister, Nichole, will both be getting married next summer, and I will play important roles in both of the weddings.

Cailin and her finance, Clint, came into town this weekend for Cailin’s 24th birthday. It was so great to finally meet Clint, although surprisingly anticlimactic – I felt like I already knew him so well that meeting him in person for the first time wasn’t at all awkward or weird, just very natural. That’s obviously a good thing. He and Cailin seem to click so well together, and compliment each other’s personalities in a way that is rare, I believe. And since their engagement happened rather quickly, it was pretty relieving to finally see the happy couple in action, and remove all doubts about their meant-to-be-ness.

The three bridesmaids got together with the bride on Friday night with pj’s, music, bridal magazines, and a bottle of vodka. Fabulous. We got as far as selecting the color, length and cost of the bridesmaid dresses before the cocktails took precedence over the evening. There was a lot of laughing, hugging and dancing before we finally passed out (some of us in sweats and stilettos) on Lacey’s couches. It was so great to just be with the girls, no pressure from the outside world for a while. Essentially, this was our last chance to have a girl’s night with Cailin before she will be married, and I think it meant a lot to her that we were all there.

On Saturday morning, after a fabulous hung-over brunch in an Alki café, we headed to the Eastside for dress shopping. Playing out the traditional bride’s “maids” roles, we zipped, buttoned, snapped, tied, clipped and sometimes yanked Cailin into countless wedding dresses. After about two hours and two dozen dresses later, she had found “the one.” I couldn’t believe how painless the process had been! Cailin glowed in her white princess gown, and we all immediately knew without a doubt that it was the dress. Thirty minutes later, the bridesmaid dresses were selected as well, without any fighting, bickering, or disappointment. Rare, for three girls with drastically different body types!

Saturday evening was Cailin's birthday dinner at Daniel’s Broiler on the Seattle waterfront. We all got dressed up and spent three hours having great appetizers, cocktails and some of the most AMAZING food I have ever tasted!! My New York steak and mashed potatoes were to die for; they just melted in my mouth. PS, I eat crappy food way too much. Cailin was able to spend time with a lot of people who were very important to her, and I think she really had a good time. And we got to spend some quality time chatting with the happy couple before heading out on the town. Many hours of drinking, dancing, hugging and about ten million photographs later, we all stumbled home. It had been a fabulous day.

Sunday evening we headed out to Clint’s parents house to spend some final moments with Cailin and Clint before they headed back to sunny Florida. It was nice to have one final (sober) goodbye. I miss them already.

I can’t help but feel a little bit sad that this will probably be the last time we will interact with Cailin like this before she’s married. But I was so happy to spend so much time with her, and can’t stop thinking about her fairy-tale wedding. It’s definitely going to be an event to remember.

I also spoke to my sister Nichole for the first time since her engagement on Friday, and she seems ecstatic as well. I’ve spent a lot of time with her fiancé, Aaron, and I couldn’t pick a more perfect person for her to spend her life with if I tried. They are a match made in heaven, it’s completely adorable. I can’t wait to get together with her and see her ring, which I hope won’t BLIND me with it’s TWO CARATS of diamonds!!

Overall, I had a fantastic weekend. I’m so happy for the people I love. I’m a little overwhelmed by the fact that I will play a part in two different weddings in less than a month next summer, but I’m sure everything will turn out fine. Luckily, Nichole and Aaron are getting married in Oregon, so I will only have to pay for one plane ticket. But more than anything, I am excited and grateful that I have women who love me enough to allow me to take part in the most special times of their lives.

Congratulations Cailin and Clint!

Congratulations Nichole and Aaron!

Friday, May 26, 2006

A New Definition for "Single"

As I ponder the loneliness that is my life, I have come to examine the concept of friendship. More importantly, the idea of “best friends.” According to the dictionary “best friend” is defined as “the one friend who is closest to you.”

I had a best friend in the third grade. It was the first week of a new school year, and we met in the bathroom. After shyly introducing each other and discovering we had the same teacher, the bond was quickly formed. We held hands as we walked back to class. By the time fifth grade rolled around, I had acquired another best friend. The three of us even went so far as to buy one of those best friend necklaces made for three people – a heart on a chain broken into three even pieces, symbolizing our friendship.

Sadly, due to district configuration, I was sent to a different middle school than my bosom buddies. We kept in touch for a while, but over the years, the friendships faded. And by seventh grade, everyone at my new school already had their “best friends” picked out. There wasn’t much prospect for the creation of an undying friendship since I was the “new girl.” However, I did make some amazing friends over the next few years, girls that I had never felt so close with as we experienced our first loves, first periods, the divorce of parents and the death of pets. I found myself strongly connected to one girl in particular. However, she had had her technical “best friendship” locked in since kindergarten, and there was no room for me.

By the time high school rolled around, my tight circle of friends had widened considerably. And during those four years my individual friendships grew and faded, depending upon class schedules, team activities, and general common interests. However, it was always vividly clear to me that when push came to shove, “best friends” always sided with each other. I seemed to be well-liked and included in all activities, but I could never shake the feeling that I was expendable, since I was not technically connected to another girl in the group by those two magic words.

You would think these to be the naïve feelings of childhood. But when I began college, the first friends I made were already talking about their “best friends,” whether they were from back home, or newly formed college friendships. Once again, I was the outsider, the third wheel clinging onto friendships that were not really my own. The thought finally occurred to me: I had really missed the boat. I had missed my chance at having a lifelong “best friend,” the person who would be there for me always, no matter how many fights we had. The person who would always be on my side, always choose ME first for kickball, always understand why I cried without even asking.

As an adult, I still feel pangs of loneliness as I watch the “best friendships” of others continue to grow. Even as grownups, women are sure to make it known who their “best friend” is. And it may seem selfish and dumb, but sometime I want to be the most important, the most special. These feelings are probably magnified because of my single status. Isn’t your boyfriend/husband supposed to become your best friend, and make all those feelings go away? That’s what I’m hoping for at this point, because it seems that time has run out to find a best friend – everyone was already taken, years ago.

I know they’re just words, just a phrase, but why do they seem to have so much hold over me? Why do they still create so many feelings of regret, even though I am a grown woman? Perhaps I’ve convinced myself that having a best friend there to cushion me would subdue the pangs of sadness and lonliness I feel. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses. The fact remains, I need to figure out how to stand on my own two feet. And learn that jealousy is not a positive emotion, and I cannot allow it to take over my life, no matter how alone I feel.

"Always a bridesmaid, never the maid of honor."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Um, American Idol?

OK, I admit that I’m not a diehard fan, and have only watched the show a handful of times this season, but … Taylor Hicks? Are you kidding me? In the famous words of Paula Abdul, “I think America got it wrong this time.”

We’re seriously supposed to idolize this old grey-haired guy? They may as well have just picked that Chicken Little kid people liked to call “Squishy” as our new role model. I think they should rename this show American Dork.

How could America vote off the amazingly talented and drop dead gorgeous Chris Daughtry, and then vote a guy named Taylor Hicks from Alabama as the American Idol? In my opinion, the voting system is messed up. Some people have presented the theory that the only reason Daughtry was eliminated is because voters already had him pegged to win. Therefore, they did not pick up the phone to vote for him. Alternately, fans of the underdog, Hicks, dialed in. From now on, I think voters should have to call in and vote for the contestant they want OFF the show. It would make the process a whole lot fairer.

So in the end, 21-year-old L.A. native Katharine McPhee was left as the runner-up. To be honest, when I found out that Hicks and McPhee were the final contestants, I didn’t even bother to watch the finale. Not only was McPhee incredibly talented, but she totally fit the mold to become America’s next pop icon – along the same lines as previous winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. But once the votes were tallied, such was not the case.

The crowning of Taylor Hicks as our American Idol has only more firmly justified my belief that the only reason to watch this show is the first few weeks of auditions. The crazy antics of thousands of untalented wannabes from across the country is completely hysterical, as they attempt crazy and idiotic stunts that may result in a 30-second television spot. Even still, we usually end up with a few moderately talented finalists.

But Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee? Laughable. Sheesh. We might as well have let William Hung win.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's a Beautiful Day!

Well, it’s not really so beautiful today, considering the drizzle outside, consistent with a typical May afternoon in Washington state. However, as of right now I couldn’t care less what the weather is going to be like for the rest of the summer. It could rain every single day for all I care, because I have just gotten FABULOUS news… In less than a month, I will be getting a new desk – WITH A WINDOW!

But let me back up a second and introduce you to my world…

I spend eight hours a day, five days a week at a tiny desk in a tiny cubicle in a huge room packed with countless similar cubicles in a giant building filled with floors of identical cubicles. It’s like spending the majority of your life in a honeycomb. Mine measures roughly six feet by eight feet (in a generous estimate). And I actually have what’s called a “large” cubicle by some.

According to the dictionary definition, “a cubicle desk is a partially enclosed workspace, separated from neighboring workspaces by partitions, generally five to six feet high. It is partially or entirely open on one side to allow access. Horizontal work surfaces are usually suspended from the partitions, as is shelving, overhead storage, and other amenities.” Amenities?? What is this, a freaking hotel? Let me tell you a little bit about my cubicle, or the dark cave I like to call hell.

I do not have a wall that provides privacy from my nearest neighbor, and therefore I spend many hours each day listening to her argue on the phone with her husband. I swear, if they fight one more time about whether they’re going to have broccoli for dinner or not, I am going to clock her in the head with my Swingline stapler.

The noise in this area of the building is horrible. I happen to be right outside a conference room that seems to be the designated party area for people who apparently have nothing job-related to do each Friday morning. What they are always celebrating about, I will never know, but it’s not pleasant when I have to scream through the phone to my customers that I will call them back whenever my obnoxious co-workers decide to shut the hell up. They better watch out for a Swingline in the back of the head as well.

Not only that, but my cubicle has been chosen as the storage space for my entire department. Stacks of old newspapers combined with poor air circulation create a constantly returning film of dust. So when I say I’m allergic to my desk, I mean it. My co-workers don’t even bother to say “bless you” anymore.

And here’s the worst part of all. In the winter months I arrive at work in the morning in the dark, only to see stars again when I leave. This is bad enough, but my department is also located dead center in the middle of my floor. This means that no matter which direction I look, I see only the harsh glare of florescent lights, the gray of dirty carpet, dusty newspapers, and the occasional dying houseplant on top of a file cabinet. If I stand on top of my desk and stretch my neck out real far, I can see a hint of daylight down a hallway, but it’s questionable. Could be a fish tank.

When I get ready to leave for my lunch break, I have to email a co-worker on the other side of the building to see if I need to bring my umbrella. The only thing close to real sunlight I have seen in months came from a tanning bed. I feel like I live in a cave. This nocturnal way of life can’t be healthy. I sit like a zombie each day in front of my computer, watching the hours creep by, only knowing if it is day or night by the small “am” or “pm” indicator on my screen.

For a while, I thought I was destined to die in this cubicle… or go completely insane, whichever came first. And then yesterday… A ray of glorious sunshine!!!

My department is moving to the West side of the building! And since I have seniority, I have been given one of the best seats in the house!! I will receive TWO cubicles joined together, both of which have a magnificent view. Each day I will be able to look out at the Space Needle and bask in the colors of the setting sun. My boring afternoons will no longer be filled with web sites and images of nature, but a real-life picture window to the great outdoors. Needless to say, I’m a little excited!

Feel free to buy me a plant in celebration of my move.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Top O' the Mornin' to Ya

I’ve realized that I write about television shows far too much on this blog, so I thought it was time to shift gears a bit.

I seem to be quite obsessed with Irish pubs lately, so this past Friday a friend and I decided to meet up with some friends at Fado in Pioneer Square. This is generally an area of town I tend to avoid after dark, but I will make the occasional exception when it involves a cool Irish pub. Anyway, after downing a few drinks and catching up with old friends from college, we decided a nice brisk walk to Kells would be a great choice of activity. We were itching to dance, and Kells generally has a live band.

Kells is one of my favorite bars in town – I’ve never not had a good time there. It’s one of Seattle’s favorite hideaways, located in Post Alley above Pike Place Market. The traditional Irish pub has a warm, cozy atmosphere, and not only that, but they have Hoegaarden on tap, my absolute favorite beer!!

After arriving on Friday night at about 12:30 a.m., we promptly claimed some space at the back bar, which happens to be right near the stage. Already more than slightly buzzed at this point, our excitement rose when the band came out. As they warmed up, I knew the show would be entertaining. And it WAS! This was music like I have never heard before! Imagine traditional Irish music mixed with modern punk and what do you get? A rockin’ good time!! We alternated between dancing, jumping up and down, attempting to Riverdance, and drinking for the next hour and a half. Sweet.

I found out that the band is called Amadan, an Irish-Gaelic colloquialism for fool or idiot – what an awesome name! According to their web site, it’s also a Pacific Northwestern colloquialism for the Irish punkrock institution that attacks the senses from all six sides and routinely orchestrates chaos out of the throngs of expectant fans. The band says they exist for each other and for these people – a crew as integral to the phenomenon as the rogues’ gallery of musicianship itself.

Amadan starts off each set with fists in the air and a resounding “ARGH!” from the crowd. Then the six band members ROCK OUT! It was the high-energy, foot-stomping music typical of Irish pubs, but with a nice modern twist. I can’t really explain why I found this type of music so entertaining, because it’s not really the style that I listen to every day. But how can you go wrong with guitar, bass, didgeridoo, drums, fiddle, accordion, spoons, penny whistle, snare drum and banjo? Not to mention vocals that included sheep and monkey sounds! (Seriously.)

It was such a great time that when I found out Amadan was playing again at Kells on Saturday night, I just had to make another appearance. The second time around was just as good as the first, if not better. I think Saturday night was the epitome of “Eat, drink and be merry.” We ate, drank, danced until our heads and feet were throbbing. And I have to say the most entertaining part of the night was when a random chick we were dancing with threw herself blindly backwards, only to be caught, inches from smashing her head into the ground, by one of my friends. Since no one seemed to notice, I think this sort of behavior is common at Amadan shows. Cool.

The band is from Oregon, so I may have to take a trip down there sometime in the near future to see them again.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Desperate for More...

I can tell you one thing – I am going to be DESPERATLY waiting the return of Desperate Housewives this fall! Last night’s season finale certainly had a lot of unexpected twists!! Although completely entertained for two hours, my main complaint? This show is getting a little unrealistic.

Sunday’s finale weaved in flashbacks to when everyone moved to Wisteria Lane, enabling viewers to finally see the character of Mary Alice. She typically provides voice-over narration, since she committed suicide before the story began.

Let’s begin with Bree Van de Kamp, the widowed uptight perfectionist. Her flawless demeanor has been unshakable over the past year, even considering the death of her husband, murder of her fiancé, and having to raise two rebellious teenagers: a soulless son and self-absorbed daughter. But by the time last night’s show rolled around, Bree had finally had it and checked herself into a psychiatric hospital. Let’s intertwine the story of the Applewhites. Betty Applewhite and her two sons moved to Wisteria Lane just this season, and have caused quite the neighborhood scandal. Throughout the year we have been taught to fear Caleb Applewhite as the murderer of Melanie Foster, only to find out that his brother, conveniently Bree’s daughter’s boyfriend, is the killer. When Bree hears the news, she busts out of that psych ward to save her daughter. This scenario ends with Matthew Applewhite being shot by the police (Death #1).

Moving on to my often-favorite couple, Lynette and Tom Scavo. These two have had their disagreements over the past year, most often involving their battling careers and four unruly young brats. But I always had hope for these two – their marriage seemed strong enough to withstand anything, and let’s face it, Tom Scavo is the hottest guy on Wisteria Lane, without a doubt! So when Lynette tailed Tom to Atlantic City and found him with another woman, it was quite a shocker. However, last night’s finale revealed that Tom was only in contact with the “other woman” because she had been raising his illegitimate child for the past 11 years. Now this was a fair explanation, and I was stoked to find out that Tom wasn’t cheating. HOWEVER, once they brought in psycho one-night-stand girl, I began to get irritated. She convinced Lynette and Tom to pay her $30,000 in back child support, then promptly spent the money on a house five blocks away! Now how realistic is that, when she could have spent the money on her daughter’s college, etc. Give me a freaking break.

And then there’s Gabrielle and Carlos Solis. Glamorous and scandalous ex-model Gaby has been working hard at her marriage since moving on from her affair with the underage gardener. She even went as far as to agree to children with Carlos, which was not her top choice of activities in life. Shopping is more her style, not spit-up. Enter their maid, who’s name I have never been quite sure of, so we’ll call her Shao Mae, which is as close as I can get. In danger of being deported, Shao Mae has agreed to carry Carlos and Gaby’s child as a surrogate mother, since Gabby cannot do it herself after miscarrying their first child. I thought all this baby talk has been great for the marriage, but apparently not, since at the end of the episode Gaby found Carlos and Shao Mae in a quite compromising “baby making” position. Considering the circumstances, I admire Gaby for having the presence of mind to only kick out Carlos and keep Shao Mae around. I mean, she is carrying Gaby’s baby, after all. Let’s face it though, BOTH Gaby and Carlos need a serious lesson in the definition of monogamy. I don’t see how they’re going to get through this one.

Finally, we have Susan Mayer, our 40-something divorcee living in a trailer with her 14-year old daughter since their neighbor Edie Britt burned down their house. (But to be fair, only after finding out that Susan had been having an affair with her ex-husband, soon to be Edie’s new husband, Karl). But since day one, Susan has been in love with Mike Delfino, and I can’t say that I blame her. He’s smokin’ hot. And throughout the episode, it seemed that things were finally going to work out between Mike and Susan. She had planned a romantic dinner during which he was likely to propose. However, something odd’s going on here… After chipping a tooth, Mike went to see Bree’s dentist friend. We’ll call him Dr. Trey McDougall from his previous roll on Sex & the City, since I can’t remember his name. Dr. Trey saw something funny enough on Mike’s prison dental films to run him over with his car! (Death #2 – still potential). So Mike never did end up proposing and poor Susan was left high and dry.

Oh and let’s not forget our favorite little psycho, Zach Young, who is actually Mike Delfino’s son, although he was raised by Paul and Mary Alice Young. Paul Young is currently in jail facing murder charges, and instructs young Zach to go to his grandfather for money. Instead, Zach kills his grandfather in order to inherit his estate, (Death #3) and then cuts off communication with Paul. Interesting.

Questions still remaining:

· What happened to Bree’s son Andrew? He never appeared in the season finale, will he be back next season?
· Are the Applewhites gone for good? I think so, not much more plot there to work with, now that they’re moving and her murderer son is dead.
· Are they actually going to introduce this psycho bitch Tom slept with a decade ago as a character? I really hope not.
· Where will the Solis’ story line go from here? In my opinion, their marriage is far to messed up at this point to be salvageable. However, they do have a baby on the way…
· What happened to Edie Britt? Last time we left this vengeful bitch, she was laid up in a hospital bed… will she be back?
· Most importantly, is Mike Delfino really dead?!?

As situations get more and more desperate, how will things end in suburbia? My opinion? This season finale left doors open for the development of dozens more story lines, and I think Desperate Housewives will be around for years to come.

Check it out here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

ANTM = Danielle!

Well, apparently Danielle has what it takes. The 20-year-old 5’11” babysitter from Little Rock, Arkansas was named America’s Next Top Model last night over runner-up Joanie, the blue-eyed blonde who many had pegged to win. Personally, I would have been happy for either girl, because they were both GORGEOUS and had fantastic personalities. However, I do think Joanie deserved to win, considering Danielle’s significant speech impediment.

But hands down, the most exciting event of the evening was when the judges, including show creator Tyra Banks, sent third-runner-up Jade home. Although it was expected, Jade’s elimination still had all six of the Top Model fans who gathered in a friend’s apartment on our feet, cheering and clapping.

How Jade got into the final three, I will never understand. For one, she’s way too old to just be starting out in the modeling business, at an ancient 26. For another, she looks like a drag queen. And most importantly, her attitude SUCKS. This girl did not listen to a single thing she was told throughout the entire competition! She’s one of those people who are full of excuses – it’s never her fault. She was perpetually babbling about this or that in her nasty, raspy voice, even going so far as to rudely interrupt the judges. And I’ll tell you one thing right now: Whoever would interrupt noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker is seriously disturbed. **SWOON**

But without a doubt, Jade marches to the sound of her own drummer, which she proved as she left the house last night doing some weird kind of dance, snapping her fingers, and reciting spoken word poetry. I hope she got hit by a bus once she made it outside.

And then there were two. Both gorgeous, but drastically different. You can’t really compare a sophisticated, blonde, blue-eyed Pennsylvania girl with a ghetto/fabulous Southern gal. There’s just too great a contrast. Throughout the competition, both girls were asked to demonstrate both inner and outer beauty as they learned to master complicated catwalks, intense physical fitness, fashion photo shoots and perfect publicity skills, all under 24-hour-a-day surveillance of the America’s Top Model cameras that chronicle every move.

As the weeks passed, both girls did every single thing that was asked of them by the judges. They both had amazingly sweet personalities and came from bad backgrounds. Both improved as each new photo was taken. So who do you choose to win? In my opinion, Danielle and Joanie were neck in neck throughout the entire competition. Except for Danielle’s Southern drawl, which Tyra asked her to work on again and again. She didn’t. For me, that should have tipped the scales in Joanie’s favor. I mean, imagine Danielle talking about her “life as a cover girl” next season – can you really take her seriously unless she gets some voice lessons first?!

I must admit though, this crash course to fame did transform Danielle, an everyday young woman, into a potentially fierce supermodel. We’ll just have to see if Danielle had enough exposure to high-profile fashion-industry gurus to make it in the real world. It’s up for debate, seeing as the winners of cycles 1-5 are rarely seen in the fashion world thus far. My opinion? Without a doubt, both Joanie and Danielle will be successful models in the near future.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fabulous prizes, as Tyra reminds us EVERY week! The grand price for the sixth cycle of America’s Next Top Model includes a contract with Ford Models, a $100,000 contract with cosmetics giant CoverGirl, and a fashion spread in Elle magazine, shot by noted photographer Gilles Bensimon. Damn, too bad it’s not Nigel Barker.

Do you wanna be on top?

Check it out for yourself here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I think I trespassed at Greenlake last night.

Lacey, Hannah and I thought since the weather was gorgeous and in the mid-70s, a walk around Greenlake after work would be really refreshing. However, once there, I realized we were grossly out of place. As three women in our mid-20s with no purpose at the lake other than to wander around gossiping with one another, we really felt the stares of rejection. Lacey eventually succumbed to the peer pressure – she began to think about getting a small dog.

Here’s a short list of people who actually fit in at Greenlake:

· People with cute or semi-cute dogs (preferably the smaller, the better)
· People with cute or mildly-cute children in strollers
· High school kids wandering around causing trouble
· People on the exercise rampage (usually wearing spandex)
· Guys playing basketball, volleyball, baseball, etc.
· Skinny girls sitting on the sidelines watching the guys play sports
· Crazy people on rollerblades, skateboards or bikes
· Fishermen
· Couples holding hands
· Old people holding hands (or just holding each other up?)

Even though we felt slightly awkward, we decided that public places are for everyone and enjoyed our walk. It was somewhat distracting having to dodge power-walkers, runners, rollerbladers and bikers screaming, “On your left!” but we managed. For a while… until we saw Starbucks looming in the distance. We had to stop. We figured it would only take a minute. Even though the line was about 8 people deep, it’s Starbucks. They always have about 10 employees working at a time, so it should have been no big deal. Yeah right. Waiting in line for 20 minutes, we desperately tried to politely ignore the disgusting comments that the nasty old man in front of us kept interjecting into our private conversation. The only saving grace at the end of the line was when the incompetent barista accidentally made an extra strawberry smoothie, and gave it to us for free.

Finally back on track for our walk, we got approximately 50 yards before another distraction. “Hey, are you registered to vote?” This not being a typical annoying cat call-type statement, we were intrigued by the question. Dodging a stroller, we wandered over to a table manned by two guys about our own age. We quickly learned that they were from Florida, traveling the country working with some sort of political forum. Their goal for the day? To lure Greenlake patrons into signing a petition which, with enough signatures, would get a Green Energy bill on the ballot. Eh, what the heck, we signed it. Not only that, but Lacey and Hannah volunteered the information that Alki Beach would also be a great place to collect signatures. Seeing their chance, the guys quickly asked for a phone number, “So they could find their way to Alki,” they insisted. (Lacey and Hannah live across the street from the beach).

Now, anyone who knows Lacey is aware that she has had some problems with a certain stalker. She wasn’t about to give her phone number to another psycho, so politely declined. Hannah, however, was nice enough to volunteer some general directions. Noticing that the sun was going down, we waved goodbye and continued on our way. Hannah and Lacey prided themselves on not giving up their digits to strangers, thus avoiding another potential stalker situation. Until Hannah stopped cold in realization. We had written down our addresses on the ballot forms. Not only that, but Hannah had basically held out the directions to her house on a silver platter. Oops. Maybe we weren’t so smart after all. So if anyone reads the headline, “Girls kidnapped from Alki Beach” in the next few days, you know what happened.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's Over

I KNEW they would kill off Denny!

Last night I watched the final two hours of the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, and I still have to maintain my claim – This show is the best thing on television! It’s got everything; sex, drama, comedy, romance… the perfect escape for those dull Sunday nights with another work week looming before us. However, I’ve just learned that next season Grey’s will air on a new day and time – Thursdays at 9 p.m. Interesting.

So now we are left with a summer to ponder Meredith’s dilemma. Will she choose Dr. McDreamy (played by the oh-so-steamy Patrick Dempsey), or Dr. McVet (Chris O’Donnell)? I can’t help but cheer for the latter, because let’s face it, Derek is still married to Addison, and does seem to care about her. Of course not enough to resist doing Meredith up against the wall of an exam room while his wife is still in the building, but that’s neither here nor there. Oh and by the way, is anyone else still wondering if Meredith ever found her panties?

Talk about a tear-jerker though! I tried hard not to cry when Meredith and Derek had to put their dog to sleep, but I couldn’t handle it. I personally happened to see the death of the dog as a metaphor for the ending of their relationship, but apparently I was wrong. I can’t help but feel bad for Addison Shepherd, because she’s trying so hard to make her marriage work, but then again, she did sleep with Derek’s best friend – Not a forgivable offense, in my opinion.

But the question of the day remains… What is going to happen to Izzie Stevens? I predicted that they were going to kill off her love interest, Denny, but it was still awfully sad when they did! However, I still think they could have developed that particular story line a bit more. I find it kind of far-fetched that she could have fallen so deeply for a patient in such a sort period of time. But it has been suggested that I’m jaded, so I could be wrong. But my prediction for next season? I think Alex Karev will waltz in and save the day. I always thought a spark remained between him and Izzie, and they were just so HOT together!

Gosh, the episode was frustrating though. What the hell is Christina’s problem?! I don’t know if I can take another season of her bullshit. She occasionally attempts to be a human being, but I think she really might be dead inside. I mean, how much do you really care about your boyfriend if you can’t help him stop throwing up the tube inside his throat? And she basically told the Chief that she would do anything not to lose her edge, basically admitting that medicine will always come before her relationship. Why does she even bother to string Burke along then?

Ah, and George and Callie. I was a George fan for a while, but his whining about Meredith finally became too annoying. And I am NOT a fan of this Callie chick. She’s just big, loud and obnoxious to me, and I find it very hard to sympathize with her. We’ll have to see how that story-line progresses.

OK, stop reading here if you don’t want anything spoiled for next season.

Not sure if any of this is true, but according to, Sara Ramirez (aka dirty-hand-lady Callie) is only committed through the end of season two. Thus far, there has been no movement to retain her. That doesn’t mean she’s not coming back, it just means she’s not currently contracted. Chris O’Donnell, meanwhile, was booked for eight episodes – with two still remaining for next season. Again, this doesn’t mean he won’t stick around longer. Meanwhile, Kate Walsh (Addison) is on board through early 2007. And rumor has it than an attractive older female is coming on board as a heart surgeon.

All I know is, I can’t WAIT for next season! I think I may have to buy the DVDs of Season One to get me through the summer.

Want to know more about Grey's Anatomy? Check out the web site.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Underground

For Mother’s Day, my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins came up to Seattle to spend the afternoon. For our exciting holiday activity, we had decided to sign up for Bill Speidel’s Undergound Tour in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. The Undergound Tour is a leisurely, guided walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets, and let me tell you, it was pretty darn entertaining. I had no idea that there is virtually an entire neighborhood resting beneath the streets of Pioneer Square!!

The tour began with a fairly lame (and not very informative) standup comedy routine/introduction inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon. Once outside, the large group of tourists was broken up into several small groups and we were off for the underground. We roamed the subterranean passages that were once the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle before a disastrous fire destroyed the entire area in 1889. The tour covered about three blocks in all.

Have you ever wandered around Pioneer Square and noticed those squares of purple tiles in the sidewalk? Well, I always thought they had something to do with Seattle’s art scene, but no! They are actually SKYLIGHTS, which provided light for shoppers in the underground, which actually stayed open for business years after Seattle’s streets were raised up an entire story. So when you wander around Pioneer Square, you are actually looking into the second floor windows of the shops… weird!! The underground eventually closed down and was condemned after several earthquakes rocked the city, but the skylights remain. It was so creepy to be underneath them, looking up at where I had walked naively above dozens of times before.

I have always found history fascinating, so wandering around dingy, dim, musty old corridors was actually quite entertaining! And since at present Seattle is the current #1 love of my life, learning a bit of history about her couldn’t hurt me. Plus, I got to spend the afternoon with my family, which is always fun on many levels. My mom and grandma both had a fantastic time on the tour, and considering the date, they were really the only two people who counted.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I know that no one is perfect. I have never claimed to be. I procrastinate writing thank you notes. I forget to return phone calls. I take too long returning emails. But I still feel as though I try very hard to be the best friend, sister, girlfriend, niece, daughter and granddaughter that I can be. It gets frustrating when some of the people you care about the most don’t seem to feel the same way in return.

I have found that what people say and what they actually do can often be polar opposites. After the events of the past few days, I have taken to heart the advice my best friend Cailin has given me over and over again. Actions speak louder than words. It doesn’t matter how many promises someone makes, when it comes down to it, their actions backing up those promises are what really matters. A person can talk until they’re blue in the face about how much they love and care about you, but the time and energy they take to show you are the most important.

My dad hasn’t told me he loves me in more years than I can count. But when our family had a crisis, my dad drove two and a half hours to take me to dinner, just to ask, “Are you okay? Because if you’re not okay, I will fix it.” I know my dad loves me. He shows me every time he remembers what kind of beer I like and keeps it in the fridge for when I come home. Every time he fills my car up with gas because he knows I hate to do it myself. Every time he sits down to do a puzzle with me at Christmas.

I have a few very close girlfriends, who are all very important to me. I work very hard to maintain those friendships. Friendships are like any relationship. They take time and energy, and they’re not always fun and games. Sometimes they are work. When I had to leave work sobbing this past Friday, my friend Lacey called me about five times to see if there was anything she could do to help. She has sat and listened to me rant about the same things over and over again for months, because she understands that I need to talk and cry to process the issues. She has never brushed me off, never made me feel as though my feelings were not valid. She listened, let me cry on her shoulder, and continued to tell me that everything would be ok.

Another friend who was not only aware of how hysterical I was that afternoon, but witnessed it for herself, never called to check on me. We had specific plans to hang out on Saturday night. She did not return my phone message that morning. Nothing. She did not return my phone message that evening. Nothing. She never called to cancel. Nothing. The last time I spoke to her I was sobbing. Still, nothing. I don’t care what is going on in my life, when I have a friend in need, I am there, no questions asked. Even if I don’t agree with the reason why they are unhappy.

My mother heard how upset I was, so she left work, got in her car, and ran to my side. I have always believed in the sort of unconditional love that comes from family members. Now I realize that love is not an expectation, but something that is earned. Betrayal can come in many forms, but I think it is the most painful when it comes from someone you had learned was to be trusted unconditionally.

I have experienced too many broken promises. What I have learned is to value the people who have proved themselves, and to try harder to prove myself to the people that matter to me. To not abandon people in their time of need, no matter what the circumstances. To keep my word, to make the phone call, send the email, make the effort. Talk is cheap, but someone’s actions can truly make or break another person’s day. My goal is to always keep this in mind. I will strive to treat others the way I want to be treated. And I will surround myself only with people who truly enrich my life and make me happy. I am going to take action. I will be happy. I promise.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Great Fall

Why do we always fall for the wrong men? I get so sick of fitting in with those stupid stereotypical girls, but I seem to find myself in the same position again and again. Last night I spent the evening with some girlfriends who were either recently out of bad relationships, or currently going through bad breakups. What is wrong with us? We face the world of dating with the best of intentions, only to get our hearts broken again and again. Why do we bother?

I’m trying hard not to become jaded, but it’s so difficult not to succumb to feelings of, “All the good ones are already taken.” However, after a discussion with the girls, we do admit that these “good guys” are not as appealing as the “bad boys” we continue to chase. At one point Hannah hypothesized, “Maybe we should just go for ugly nerds?” Yes, the theory seems ingenious, but let’s be realistic… we’ve all tried dating the nice guy who is slightly below our normal standards, and what do we do? We get bored. We cheat. We’re annoyed by his constant attention. Why can’t we appreciate a guy who actually wants to fulfill our every need? Is it the thrill of the hunt? The challenge that each new asshole provides us?

The fact of the matter is, we really do want a nice guy. And the men we begin dating seem to be exactly what our hearts desire. And for a few weeks or even months, everything is perfection. Then, things simmer down. Are these guys playing games? Are they pretending to be a certain person to get us into bed before pulling their pants back on and revealing their true colors? Who knows. The point is that it keeps happening. Again, and again, and again. I’ve got to break this cycle.

Watching 20/20 last night, I learned an interesting fact. There is actually such a thing as “Broken Heart Syndrome.” According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, researchers have discovered that sudden emotional stress can result in severe but reversible heart muscle weakness that mimics a classic heart attack. Patients with this condition, called stress cardiomyopathy, have suffered from a days-long surge in adrenalin (epinephrine) and other stress hormones that temporarily “stun” the heart. So at least now I can validate the pain that I am feeling, however irrational others may think it is.

But why do we put ourselves through this torture again and again? I know I will get out alive, but how many times can your heart be broken before you can’t put it back together again? I know eventually I will heal, but at this point I can’t imagine dating again. I’ve seen so many failed relationships, the pain hardly seems worth it. If the odds are so much against us, why gamble? I think I would much rather remain slightly lonely and continue to spend my time and energy on the relationships that are truly valid, and truly important to me. My friendships. As corny as it is, I may have to agree with Charlotte. “Maybe we can be each other’s soul mates?”

Or then again, maybe we have to be willing to take the risks. Maybe the hope that the perfect man is out there will be enough to sustain us. I don’t want to give up on love. I want to believe that someone is out there who will love me as much as I love him. But regardless of being single yet again, I am still loved. By so many people, for so many reasons. Maybe I can be put back together again. Because unlike Humpty Dumpty, I’ve got a great safety net.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Can A Girl Get A Drink In Peace?

After months of schedule juggling, I was finally able to meet up with my cousin Alyson last night for dinner and drinks. No small feat, since we have been trying to get together ever since she got married and moved to Seattle this past August. Needless to say, I was excited to see my older cousin who I had idolized since the age of 5.

Since we live on opposite sides of Queen Anne and both like Thai food, the most logical thing to do was meet up at one of the neighborhood's countless Thai restaurants. We had quite a few to pick from, but settled on the Thai Kitchen. Lured in by their sparkling display of wine and martini glasses, we were shocked and disappointed to find that the restaurant does not serve alcohol!! (We think the waitress mumbled something about an expired liquor license, but couldn’t quite understand her.) Still feeling a little bummed about the lack of cocktails, we managed to get through our meal with great conversation and full water glasses. (If you know me at all, you know how important this is to my dining experience.)

Catching up with my cousin was great. She filled me in about being married, I gave her the scoop on the single life. We were having so much fun chatting that we decided to wander up the street for a drink. Too lazy to bring our doggy bags back to the car, we decided it would be only semi tacky to carry them with us. We walked half a block and into the first place that looked remotely like a bar that we came to, which happened to be Orrapin Thai Cuisine, how ironic. We thought it was a bit rude to bring our leftover food into another Thai restaurant, so we tried, giggling, to tuck the offending noodles underneath our chairs. One Vodka Diet and one Vodka Tonic later and we were feeling much better.

But just as a took a refreshing sip of my drink… BAM!!! The live band started up. It immediately became so loud that Aly and I were forced to shout at each other to be heard. Our conversation went from fun childhood reminiscing and drunken stories to “What? WHAT??” in a matter of about five seconds. Finally Aly’s frantic motioning and screaming in my ear translated… “Do you want to leave??!” Yes. Trying to actually get out the door was another story. The bartender couldn’t hear our pleas to close out our tabs, so we tried a method of sign language; Aly waving her credit card and me making a frantic cutting motion across my throat. The bartender immediately began to make us two more drinks. “No, NO!” we shouted in vain. He finally got the picture. Maybe it was bad karma because of those leftovers.

Not about to give up yet, we headed up the street, bound for the Hilltop Ale House. However, we were disappointed to find that the bar only serves beer and wine. Now, after an evening of stuffing my face with noodles and rice, I was not about to dump more carbohydrates into my body. Beer was not an option. Moving along, we were slightly encouraged to see the Paragon, with no live band in view. Finally, peace, quiet, and liquor. I picked up the drink menu. Oops. Not a drink menu. A listing of weekly live performances!! And on Wednesday nights… taking Britney Spears requests!! I immediately turned to the waitress. “Do you guys have live music tonight?” I asked. “Oh yes!” she responded enthusiastically, like her comment would make my freaking night or something. “It starts in about 10 minutes.” We were out of there.

Standing dejectedly on the sidewalk, Aly and I briefly considered walking the 6 blocks up to Sapphire, but since we weren’t sure about the live music situation there either, we decided to give up and go home. I mean seriously, how hard is it to go out and get a drink in peace in Upper Queen Anne? Much too difficult, in my opinion. Now don’t get me wrong, I like live music as much as the next person. But does it have to be so mind numbingly loud that the bar patrons are forced to scream at one another? Queen Anne is in serious need of a live music revamp. Or at least a couple more bars.

Bottoms up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Advice from Miranda...

"If I make my bed a place I want to be, others will want to be there, too." -- Miranda Hobbs, Sex & the City.

OK, that's not exactly why I decided to redo my bedroom, but I have to say I was so sick of the purple decor I have had since the age of 12 I wanted to pull my own hair out every time I looked at it. So this past weekend I broke down and spent some money on new bedding. After painting my ugly teal sponge-painted bedside tables a more pleasing shade of cream last night, it was time to make up the bed. WOW! You would not believe the difference! No more floral purple for me! The bold red with cream stripes was exactly what I needed! I put together my new silver lamp and the package was complete... Oh, anyone need a purple lamp? It's going in the trash tonight, otherwise!

The sun streaming through my window gave a glorious glow to the entire room this morning, and I swear it actually made it easier to get up and face the day! And the new million-something thread-count sheets that I stole from my parents' house were AMAZING to stretch out in while I pushed the snooze alarm about six times. Oh wait, is my P'jammer clock radio no longer compatible with my new sophisticated bedroom? I don't know if I'm ready to part with it quite yet!

I didn't really change my bedroom because I wanted to get laid or anything, but I have to admit I am a little frustrated and bored by my life, so perhaps this small change will help. However, the man that I am in love with and perpetually dream of having back in my bed hasn't been there in months, so the chances of him seeing my new lovenest is slim to none, although a girl can dream, so to speak.

Sadly, I think another quote from Miranda is more fitting for my life... Watch your answering machines for this message, girls...

"I know you're probably busy having mind-blowing sex, but I feel you need to know that your good friend, Miranda Hobbs (insert my name here), has just taken a piece of cake out of the garbage can and eaten it. You'll probably need this information when you check me into the Betty Crocker Clinic."

Sweet dreams...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


OK yes, I admit that I am officially the laziest blogger ever, but I’m not going to get into that here. I feel like writing today, so I am. Enjoy if you’re bored at work or something.

Anyway, yesterday I spend the day with one of my best friends from high school and her husband. Jamie and I have been very close friends since we were 13, and she was one of my very best friends in the world senior year of high school. Our senior trip to Waikiki was awesome and we managed to visit each other several times my first quarter of college. However, Jamie joined the Air Force shortly after, and moved to Arizona. I missed her so much, but we kept in touch through email, although sporadically, because I tend to procrastinate when it comes to returning emails. Especially when they are from people I don’t see often. Do you ever notice that it just takes SO much effort to fill someone in on your life when they are not involved on a daily basis? It’s always a NOVEL of an email, or a three hour-long phone conversation. Not that the friendship isn’t worth the time, but let’s just admit that effort must be made, more so than those quick emails I exchange all day long with the friends I see every freaking day. OK, end of tangent.

SO, I spent the day with Jamie and Clint, all the while in the back of my head doing cartwheels because I was still getting paid! (You gotta love paid vaca!) First we headed off to Pike Place Market, because Clint, being from Iowa, had never seen any of the typical Seattle landmarks. We first paid a visit to Starbucks, where I was appalled to see Jamie order an iced black coffee, ick! Made me appreciate my grande nonfat almond mocha with whipped cream! After wandering through the market, we decided to stop at the restaurant where part of Sleepless in Seattle was filmed… I believe it’s called the Athenian Inn. Although my stomach was sloshing with chocolate coffee (the only thing I’d had to eat yet that day) We had to order some frosty mug beers, which this restaurant is supposedly famous for. Well let me tell you, if you ever want a great beer and are in the market’s general area, go to the Athenian Inn. GREAT huge icy mugs of beer, it was a great way to start the afternoon, along with some chicken strips and fries.

After that we headed to another landmark, Gasworks Park, which Jamie was determined to see after watching the movie “10 Things I Hate About You.” (Part of the movie is filmed at the park.) We took a few photos with the city background (I know, how cliché) and hiked to the top of the hill to check out our horoscopes. At this point we still had a few hours before the Mariner’s game, so decided to head for Pyramid Brewery for some beers and maybe dinner. Being a big drinker, this was the highlight of Clint’s day, and I just couldn’t wait to sit down and chat with my best friend and her husband. This was actually my first time meeting him, because I missed their wedding due to college finals. And the fact that they have been stationed in England for the past few years hasn’t helped our communication at all! Anyway, Apricot Ales for me and Jamie, and a sampler platter for Clint started off the drinking. We sat and chatted and I was amazed at how personable Clint was. It was so much fun to see my friend, someone I care about so much, so happy with someone who obviously loves her so much. Of course this resulted in some surfacing feelings of self-pity at the fact that I am so perpetually single, but I tried to keep that to myself. (Sort of!) We never did get around to dinner because our bellies were so full of beer, so we paid up and headed off to the game.

Of course at Gasworks sitting in the mid-afternoon sun, it hadn’t occurred to us that T-shirts and flip flops were not appropriate for an outdoor sporting even in Washington State! We tried to warm up by buying ridiculously expensive beers, but Clint was forced to buy an XXL sweatshirt that Jamie and I both huddled in together. Well, our $10 seats were logically not that great, and we were starting to get the beer munchies, so around the bottom of the 5th we decided to head back across the street for some food. Jamie and I devoured a plate of nachos while Clint attempted to eat a plate of the spiciest buffalo wings he had ever eaten! I swear he was going to cry, poor guy!

To finish off the night, we went back to my apartment and showed Clint videos of Jamie and I in middle school and high school. It was so much fun to laugh with her again! They had to get going to get back to Olympia, where they had left their beautiful daughter, Taylor. I fell asleep only to wake up at about 1:30 with a horrible pain in my stomach. Let’s just say those nachos didn’t taste quite as good coming back up! Ick.

Anyway, I had a fabulous day with two fabulous people, who I can’t wait to go visit in England in October. I am so thrilled that my friend found happiness, and that I got to share in it for one day. I know I am going to work harder at doing the little things to better maintain this friendship from now on. You just can’t ever erase the bond you have with the people you grew up with. It’s very comforting that friendships can stand the test of time.