Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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This is supposed to be me. How close did I get?
(Make your own here.)

P.S. Despite all appearances to the contrary, I have actually gotten quite a bit done today.

Get Your READ On!

The National Endowment for the Arts believes that the average American has read only 6 of the books on the list below.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE
4) Reprint this list in your blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read only 6 and force books upon them

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I found this list on another blog, and thought it was fun. There are a couple duplicates (see 14 & 98) and I wonder how some of these titles ended up on the list--great books, but not titles I (and certainly not the National Endowment for the Arts) would consider "classics" (see 68, 74, 88). I've read 47 of them. I've started several more, but didn't finish them for various reasons (18, 37, 39, 60, 70, 88). How many have you read?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A series of posts on a blog that I read regularly has been making me think of the time I spent in Europe. I can't believe it's been six years since I was there. It was truly a remarkable experience, maybe the best of my life (so far). Today's post is about the city of Budapest, which was probably my favorite city that I visited. Some of the best stories I have of that trip happened in Budapest. I want to share one of them with you. A few weeks ago I was asked, "What is the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?" And this is the answer. Sorry, but it's kind of rambly.

My friend Marnie and I went to Budapest on a whim. We found out on Thursday evening that our Friday class had been canceled, so we decided to take the first train to Budapest Friday morning. We had an amazing time, stayed in a nice youth hostel, ate fabulous food (really cheap!), bought some souvenirs, and walked all over the city to almost all the sights. I think we crossed all but one of the seven bridges in the city across the Danube.

So by Saturday afternoon we were exhausted, and we were on our way back to the train station to catch the last train back to Vienna. We had to get back that evening because we had to go to the opera for another class and if we weren't there our professor would be worried. So we decided to take the subway from where we were, somewhere near the city center, directly to the station. But at the first subway station we stopped in, the automatic ticket vendor was broken, and the ticket window was closed. In Europe, the ticket system works differently than in America: it's more of an honor system, there are no ticket punchers or anything, so you don't have to have a ticket to get on the train, but the system has special police who ride the subways all day and discreetly ask to see your ticket and if you're caught without one, it's a very expensive ride. (I lived in Europe for six months and wasn't kontrolliert [asked for tickets] once, even the last month when I'd lost my pass and rode without one.) Marnie and I discussed whether to just risk it, or to walk to the next subway station and try to buy a ticket there, and we decided to walk. We were in a strange country, and didn't speak a word of the language, and wouldn't know what to do if we got kontrolliert and didn't have them. I think we had it in our heads that we would be arrested, or made to pay a huge fine right on the spot and neither of us had that kind of cash--hey, we were tired, and Hungary is still a developing country with (at that time) kind of corrupt cops and we heard all kinds of crazy stories from the Hungarian girl living in our dorm. When we got to the second station, though, it was the same situation. By now we were starting to realize that this was pretty much the norm in Hungary (and a lot of former Soviet countries), that things were broken and there wasn't money to fix them. In fact, the night before we'd tried to get subway tickets at the central station and three out of the four automatic ticket vendors were broken--at the central station where most everyone passes through.

So we walked down to the third stop--same story. By this time we were getting a bit desperate, because we wouldn't make it to the train station on time if we walked, we didn't have money for a taxi, and we couldn't get a subway ticket. There was a little old lady at the station who had been watching us as we tried to get tickets and as we stood there discussing what to do next, she approached us. She knew we were Americans, but she didn't speak a word of English. She just took out her wallet and handed each of us a little purple ticket for the subway. We tried to give her money for them, but she refused to take it and just smiled kindly at us. Then the train pulled up and we all got on.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ten Things That Make Me Smile!

1. my nephew

2. Cake Wrecks

3. my home-grown tomatoes

4. a good book
5. new body wash

6. knitting and yarn

7. fireworks


9. swimming

10. taking pictures

Sometimes I need a reminder.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Challenge You!

Check this out! It's the Presidential Fitness Test for grown-ups! I remember doing this in school and I always hated it, mostly because I usually came in somewhere near the bottom of the class (and as someone who was used to being near the top of the class, this was very aggrivating for me!). But now I want to try again. I want some way to gauge where I'm at and if I'm improving. I am more motivated when I see results, but since I'm really just aiming for overall cardiovascular health, I have no way to measure that. There are little things I've noticed, like I can go for longer on the stair climber, or I can chase my nephew around for longer without getting completely winded (in fact, last time we played, he wore out before me--ha!). But I want something a little more concrete.

So, who wants to do this with me? We can be timers/recorders for each other and for Karrie some of us, there's the added element of competition. I know I would still come in dead last, but if we did the test every six months or so, it would give us all a record of our improvement. So let's do it!