28 July 2010

Photo of the Week: Monsoon

Well, it's monsoon season (which implies thunderstorms that build up and then break loose around the afternoon nearly everyday in July -- often causing flashfloods!), which means the weather consists of three options: hot, steamy or soaked. My favorite time of the year. So here are the highlights from my recent adventures with the monsoons. Hope your summer is treating you as well as mine is treating me!

Though it just looks like I took a bad picture, I was sort of trying to convey the fact that we had lost power. Just tryin' to have a sleepover and then boom! No power.

On my way home, the sky was almost split right in half. One half with clouds of DOOM and the other half with nice cheery blue and white. Average.

Oh, and this is a Colorado River Toad. Which doesn't necessarily come from the CO river, but here he is. They show up after a good storm. They are also poisonous to any pet that tries to eat them! Some sort of mucus. Nice, right?

What's up with you? Keepin' a little cool? I've got some great posts coming your way soon!

25 July 2010

Makin' Bacon

I don't know about you, but I'm terrible at managing money. I'm bringing home the bacon, but that's about as far as I'm getting with it. I need to figure out how to track my spending in order to be more responsible with my money.

To change that, I'm trying the "envelope method", which my grandparents used successfully their whole life together. According to your paycheck, you budget an amount for the things you will need -- for example, gas money. Then you take that money and put it in an envelope to carry with you, one envelope per category. The rest goes into savings. When the envelope is empty, that's your limit! It's a hard and fast way to curb wasteful spending.

For me, the thing I'm most excited about is making an envelope specifically for giving back to my chapter of Intervarsity and to my home church. I know that God will use my money to bless other people and that I'll be even more blessed than I already am! (Hope you don't think I sound hoity-toity, I really earnestly want to give back.) I've been inspired by recently finishing Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. He has some great insights on money and how to handle it in regards to your faith.

What about you? Are you a money master or are you failing at reconciling your checkbook like I am? (I don't even know how to reconcile a checkbook. Oops.)

20 July 2010

Home Again, Pt. 4

When I last wrote about my saga of international flight misadventures, I had finished a vaguely confusing day in my Paris hotel room and fallen asleep.

Being the over-planner that I am, I set about 7 alarms on my iPod (since my phone doesn't work internationally), but they ended up being a waste, since I woke up every hour on the hour starting at four. I got out of bed at seven and took my time getting ready, since I didn't need to be to my gate until 9:30.

After buying a pen and my final pain au chocolat, I returned to my room and had to take the elevator three times to get to the lobby (it was only partly my fault...) where I returned my key and headed back into the station.

From this point on my trip went almost completely as planned -- sans one small adventure during the security checkpoint! After setting all my belongings into the bins and waiting my turn, the metal detector beeped as I walked through it. The security attendant waved me to the side and patted me down -- I wasn't wearing any metal, save a necklace! After deciding that she didn't notice anything, she was handed a metal detecting wand, and when she waved that over my limbs, it beeped like crazy on my knees! After asking if I had prosthetics, she shrugged and waved me on. Safe, right?

I arrived safely in Charlotte after a very pleasant flight seated between a French girl headed to AZ and an anthropologist who incidentally came to France on the same flight as me. As a side note, during this flight I watched the films When In Rome, Couples Retreat, What Happens In Vegas and the biopic Temple Grandin, which was fantastic. More about that in another post.

I arrived home to a warm welcome from my parents and my handsome boyfriend and we headed home, with a well-needed stop for Mexican food on the way.

All's well that ends well, eh?

Here's to hoping you have some wild stories for me to hear about! Any trips planned for the rest of your summer?

15 July 2010

Well Written

When trawling through the posts at one my regular reading spots (you can find my list to your right and also with descriptions in this post) I came upon a post by Jenny over at Geek in Heels sharing a fun and intruiging writer's toy.

The "I Write Like" site will analyze a sample of your writing and tell you which great writer your writing most resembles. Obviously, I couldn't resist, and like Jenny, wanted to test several samples before taking one name as the writer I was most like.

My results?

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I decided to list both of these results, because they both came up repeatedly. However, I am ashamed to say I have never even read a page of David Foster Wallace. Any reading suggestions of his? I have read the DaVinci Code, but not Angels and Demons, so I suppose we'll have to wait and see on that one.

Interestingly, I also got the results of Nobokov, Arthur Conan Doyle and James Joyce - each once. These were all using samples from different posts on this blog.

Ready to test your writing? Tell me what you get or link back here so I can see it!

14 July 2010

Home Again, Pt. 3

Waiting outside the train station to catch a shuttle, I heaved my carry-on (I put all my heavy non-liquids in it. I didn't want to pay for my checked bag being too heavy!) on top of my suitcase and rolled into the shade. It was hot in Paris, almost 90 F, and humid.
When one finally arrived, I rolled over and asked the driver if he went to the Ibis Hotel. He pointed back at the station, sending me to the door that exited the other side.

I thanked him, confused, and rolled myself and my belongings back through the glass doors towards the other side of the station and realized that in fact, I didn't need a shuttle, because the hotel was just outside! I went in after a huge sigh of relief (I was hoping to avoid a Liam-Neeson-necessary adventure...) and booked a room for the night.

I took the elevator up to my room on the fourth floor, slid my stuff inside the teeny door, tossed my carry-on on the double bed and -- no shame here -- I cried. After a stressful day of missing the flight that I was so ready to be on, having to fend for myself in a different language and foreign and confusing airport, I was tired and sad. I settled myself, ate a less than mediocre lunch in the hotel restaurant and then rested in the room.

I headed down to try dinner, hopeful that the restaurant would be better this time around. However, I did hedge my bet by choosing to skip the salad and go straight for some hamburger -- steak haché -- and fries and a dessert. That dessert was the best thing that happened to me all day; three scoops of ice cream - two strawberry and one mango.

I eavesdropped on a conversation happening behind me and it turns out I wasn't the only person to miss the flight -- evidently the flight seemed to have left nearly half empty! I went back to my room and watched a strange film in what I assume was dutch, and then passed out.


The journey is almost over!

Hope you all don't mind that I've broken this into so many parts, but I don't want to bog you down with seventeen pages of me whining.

Do you wanna share some travel stories to make me feel a little better about missing my plane!?

09 July 2010

Photo of the Week!

After reading (if you read them!) those posts about my adventure getting home, I figured some photos to remind you of France would be a nice refresher.

I don't mind remembering either!

(All the photos here are taken by yours truly!)

This photo is at the Charmeil Golf Course near Grenoble. It was stunning!

At city hall, this was right out front but there was a beautiful park and garden next to it.

Some ducks in the City Park/Garden. And an imposter! Pigeons...

Are you wishing for some green grass too?


Home Again, Pt. 2

After hearing from the rather brusque flight agent that I couldn't board my flight back to the states, I was dazed.

What do you mean I can't get on the plane? It's still here?

But I am a good kid, so I did what he told me and headed towards the information desk. There, I tried to get in line, and was yelled at by another agent for coming to close to the desk before it was my turn (these people were grumpy and had no time for me, evidently!).

Eventually I got up to the counter and told them what flight I was on. The woman took my passport and the slip of paper that I had written the flight information on and tic-tacked away at her keyboard. I talked quietly with a very tall and beautiful woman next to me, whose flight left ten minutes before mine for Rome. (They held her plane for her...)

The woman, looked up and said "I will put you on the same flight tomorrow." I nodded, and smiled politely: You couldn't get me there today? Really? But I wasn't gonna push my luck -- I saw the airport Police on my way in -- they carry machine guns!

I stood awkwardly for a while, since she hadn't given me anything, and then she finally looked up and gave me back my passport.

I headed to the nearest payphone, gave the operator my credit card numbers and soon enough my Dad picked up. It was the middle of the night at home, so he was a little groggy, but I let them know what happened, and that I would find a hotel soon. After we hung up, I took off my scarf and put it into my carry on because I was about to die of heatstroke, and headed to the Charles De Gaulle Information desk.

After a few moments of confusing mistranslation, I had the name of a hotel written down and I headed to the shuttle area to catch a bus for my hotel. So I stood, and waited, in the heat. And waited...

To be continued...

07 July 2010

Home Again, Pt.1

Or, How I almost didn't make it home from France.

Okay, so that's a little melodramatic, but I was in fact stuck in France for an extra day.

After having a really wonderful last day visiting with Christelle, my host's grandmother and then a great final dinner cooked by Yann, I made it to the train station early to get to my flight on time.

I understood that I needed to be at the airport an hour early, so I choose a train that would get me to the Charles De Gaulle airport about one hour and ten minutes early.

The train was entertaining, I sat behind some cute kids. Unfortunately, the train was also about 20 minutes late.

I finally made it to my check in area in CDG, and when I asked the girl which line I should go into, she asked which flight I was on. Mind you, my flight was scheduled to leave at 11:10 and it was about 10:30 (though I wasn't aware of the time).

Me: Charlotte.
Her: Oh. You are too late.
Me: What?
[She turns and waves a man over towards me, telling him I was there for the Charlotte flight]
Him: Do you know what time it is?
Me: No... but -
Him: Come with me.
[We walk a few feet back where he motions to a departure screen, the time is at the top.]
Him: It is 10:38, and the boarding is closed at one hour before departure. Do you understand? You have missed the flight, you can talk to information.

Me: ... Thank you?

To be continued...