Christmas Wish List

Being such a good American and loving to shop, its no difficult task to find an innumerable list of things which I would delight in owning. This is made especially thrilling if its after staring at mysterious packages, wrapped under the christmas tree for days or weeks, anxiously anticipating what awesome effects await quietly amidst the yuletide glee…

So hence goes my wishing:

Pretty Necklace

Cute Cat

Hello Kitty Hoodie from Hot Topic $40

Homedics Sound Spa, to wean myself off tv & get a reliable alarm. $20

Something fun, and a good start for some online searches:

Kitten Ears and Mittens $25

Pastasaurus Serving Spoon! $8

Hello Kitty Scarf! $18

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=32894273

Uno

Uno Cards! $3

Badass Hello Kitty Necklace $12

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=35680495

Art Nouveau Book 01

Looks like a fantastic Art Nouveau book...Pricey though, used copies from $25 @ amazon

Art Nouveau 02

Another Art Nouveau book, $10 @ Amazon

Rocko's Modern Life Tee

Rocko's Modern Life T Shirt from Hot Topic! $22

That’s all I can think of for now, if I stumble across more ideas, I’ll be sure to update this post!

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Filed under Christmas, Ryan

Update on Miscellany

It always surprises me when I’ve gotten behind in some form of writing — blog, journal, etc — and see just how long I neglected it, and think about all that has changed. I can make the usual excuse of being busy, which is true, but there is indeed time I could easily have expressed some of my thoughts rather than say becoming engrossed in Bejeweled 2, or watching all day SVU marathons, or taking my long 3 hour afternoon naps, etc. At any rate, here’s the gist of the past 6 months or so:

Probably the most important change involves the passing of my singledom (for the time being at least). I met a very nice boy in January, through a mutual friend Lauren. She invited me out dancing with a group of her friends one night, and while I was somewhat skeptical about hanging out with a group of people I’d never met before, I figured I can’t complain about not having many friends & sitting home alone all the time if I never seize opportunities for new acquaintances.

Long story short, I clicked immediately with an adorable guy named Ryan (what a surprise, as per my odd penchant for Ryans…) & have basically been with him ever since. We didn’t make it official until February, and will be celebrating 5 months in less than a week. Its such a nice change to actually be with someone who genuinely cares about me & is not afraid to show it.

In other news, I sadly dropped my History major to focus solely on my Education degree. Keeping history would have pushed back my graduation another semester, and didn’t seem worth the sacrifice and putting up with the stress and frustration of trying to balance both work and school for an additional 4-6 months. The most disappointing thing is dropping the history courses that I love so much, and having to spend ALL my time on the education classes that I find to be an utter waste of my time, but have to take for certification–jumping through the hoops my mom calls it.

I also started a new job, which I like for the most part, but tend to get frustrated by the schedule. While I hated working at Wilkes & McHugh, there was a certain degree of freedom I had there, that I knew I couldn’t match in another job. Unfortunately things couldn’t hold out there until I graduated, and so I took up employment as a receptionist at an animal hospital. I can’t afford to be too picky and am trying my best there, but sometimes it is somewhat overwhelming & the vibe there tends to be more of a “focus on the negative and neglect the positive”, which can definitely be aggravating at times. My biggest complaint overall involves the schedule. It seems to be posted very belatedly, with maybe a day or two’s notice at times, which makes life stressful for the planning type I am. Also, I’m currently working more than I can really handle between school, friends/family & being able to see Ryan. Ultimately my primary focus is school. I’ve put that aside somewhat this summer to put more of an effort/hours in at work, but that will have to change come August. Hopefully it will work out.

I suppose that’s enough of an update for now. I’ll try to be better about writing though, particularly when I am done with these 2 godforsaken classes and have some free time (gasp) for a few weeks.

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Response to Ramblings re: Recession

This is a short paper I just wrote for a macroecon class (extra credit of course) hence the odd style & separation of paragraphs. I am quite proud of it, to say the least, as I feel I am finally grasping some of the more intricate and subtleties of economics and how it can all play out in real life.

Here’s to hoping that sticks enough to earn an A on my final on the morrow!

On a more, how shall I say, lamenting note: I fear I am being sucked into the realm of the “Economist Elitists” (from whence my article of inspiration came) I used to decry, Senior year of high school, as hoards of my friends (really 3 or4, but allow me my hyperbole in telling this epic tale) began getting their exhorbitantly pricey subscriptions, and weekly brandished not only their fresh copies– full of haughty British spellings and slang, implicitly pissing on America’s seemingly low class z’s in favor of their slick “esses”– but also their sciolism, which seemed to say look at me, I am smarter than you, and I can prove it (points to reading material in hand). Oh fond memories…

But nay! I now realize what wit it possesses! What a vast array of knowledge and insight and news and current events that I too can now comment on! I’ll make every effort to interject my ideas in the office small talk on the newest form of Globalisation and associated rationalisations and how I can both analyse and criticise them (seductively stroking those esses in my mind everytime I say them, no more z’s for me– too low class, too low class…) I can pontificate at length on any subject, provided of course it was addressed in the weekly publication. Oh the joy and wonders between the pages, I can nearly feel soaking in my palms as I sit reading and chuckling to myself, and feeling that small bubble of arrogance that keeps me warm at night grow ever so slightly…

 But onto the point of this post, and away from my sardonic musings:

 “The Perils of Incrementalism”

Bold, unorthodox remedies are needed to jolt the world economy back to life

 

I. Summary

 

            This article discussed the recession, which is dramatically affecting not only our US economy, but also those of the other G8 countries as well as developing nations, because of the syndetical nature of globalized world economies. After the seizure of credit markets about a year ago, the US, EU, Britain, and Japan are in a recession, which is one of the worst most of these nations have seen in decades. Consumers are cutting spending, as well as firms. As banks withdraw credit, and consumer demand contracts, economies are experiencing a deflationary spiral, more profound than what many would have predicted months ago. Consequently, policymakers have been scurrying to offset any further damages to the world economy, using primarily traditional means thusfar. These include, cutting interest rates, and injecting money into both banks and markets. Surprisingly though, these means do not seem to be as effective as one might expect, and are weakened in this credit crunch.

            The authors suggest that the nations need to first augment the traditional ways of addressing recessions, through strengthening banks, increasing fiscal stimulus and further cutting interest rates. They next emphasize the need for more unconventional means to save the world economy. These include risky moves such as, printing extra money to finance budget deficits, which is an extreme move, putting inflation at high risk, but is still better than dreaded deflation. Countries need to continue to pump money into banks to avoid failure, as was recently done with Citigroup, but they should also attempt to remove dangerous assets from the balance sheets, which largely contributed to its collapse.  The authors commend the US Federal Reserve’s strategy of printing more money to buy credit assets, which could potentially prevent many large-scale corporate closures following the number of bankruptcies filed this past year.

            At the end of the day, it is clear the authors feel too cautious action taken in incremental steps will not only fail to halt the recession, but could possibly exacerbate the issues, and advocate innovative, unorthodox economic policy to lurch the world economy back into line. However, in my opinion, this unorthodox policy seems to be nothing more original than bigger and more drastic government spending in the form of bailouts.

 

II. Related Macroeconomic Topics

 

            This article obviously deals with a number of different topics covered in this course, as it lists a number of recommendations to rescue world economies. The primary topic it addresses is the role of government in economic crisis, and how it uses both monetary and fiscal policy in attempt to offset deflation and a decrease in demand. It also discusses more “radical” measures the government could potentially take, which deviate from more conventional stabilization measures. Keynesian theory that government should actively stimulate aggregate demand to offset consumer pessimism, is also called into question, when one considers the potential outcome of some of these measures.

 

III. Analysis

 

            The beginning of the article discusses the decrease in aggregate demand, which has resulted from consumer insecurity in their jobs, and assets. Policy makers have responded in some traditional ways such as lowering interest rates, in an attempt to stimulate investment spending and increase demand for goods. They have also increased the quantity of reserves in the banking system to strengthen the ability of the banks to make loans, and extend some of the credit they so rapidly snatched away from people in panic. The suggestion that the Federal Reserve print more money to inject in the economy, with the likely result of inflation is also a more conventional, albeit undesirable method for stabilization of aggregate demand.

             These measures have not proven to be very effective, as the root of the problem is people have been spending far beyond their means, riding on the coattails of archaic notions of the “American Dream” now spiraled out of control, and landing consumers in the midst of a credit crunch. The aid of Federally subsidized entities such as Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae have only irresponsibly provided the auspices for financially capricious individuals and institutions to live in a bubble of credit that inevitably had to burst. This differs from other recessions in that we were dealing with money that simply does not exist. Keynesian policy for “stabilization” has only fostered plans for ineffective bailouts, which seem only to attempt to restore the economies to how they were before, at the expense of taxpayers. I fail to understand the desire to return to the status quo, as it was nothing more than government backed, debt-based consumerism. Rather than advocate more of the same, policymakers should be investigating ways to utilize capital to generate a real return in the future, and allow the free market to bring itself into balance. Hastily decrying capitalism, and begging the government for intervention only gives it more controls over the economy, which it has already clearly abused, and advocates a sort of “fair weather” liberalism that moves us into uncomfortably socialist territory. It seems to be an opportunity for all—from small households holding large amounts of unnecessary credit card debt, to the government backed corporations who lent so wantonly to turn a profit— to finally learn that the piper indeed must be paid eventually, and living in a culture so entrenched in credit is truly a foolish mistake.

 

IV. Source

 

(2008, Nov 29). The Perils of Incrementalism. The Economist, 389 (8608), 12-13.  

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Pondering “The Planets”

Yestereve, I had the fortunate experience to accompany my dear friend Chris and his father, Mike, to the Florida Orchestra at Ruth Eckerd Hall. It was, in short, an absolutely enchanting experience.

The night began earlier than expected, around 3, as I attempted to find suitable attire for an event who’s dress code was still rather unclear to me, and also promised to be chilly as the night wore on. After trying at least ten different options, I settled on a classic black & white dress, with more than a hint of a nineteen fifties influence, and a pair of patent black pumps. I headed North to Clearwater and arrived at the Smutko residence a mere ten minutes late — a wonder for me.

Chris and Mike both looked sharp in sport coats and slacks & prepared for the evening with a bottle of Pinot Grigio brie & crackers. We sat on the porch & drank wine eagerly anticipating the evening’s entertainment. Around 6 we climbed into the car & headed over to the theatre, which unbeknownst to me was a mere ten minutes from Chris’ house. Having arrived so early, we were guaranteed decent tickets, as student tickets are contingent on available seats.  We were fortunate, and got three seats together in the eleventh row. At ten dollars a pop, it bewilders me how young people can resist such a wonderful evening of culture, and yet the vast majority of people loitering outside the theatre were eligible not only for AARP, but also Social Security benefits. The under representation of my generation was indeed saddening, but not altogether unexpected.

After lively discussion that tends to surround the Smuto clan, we entered the theatre and they continued to get liquored up, Mike getting another glass of wine & Chris the requisite scotch. I satisfied myself with a bottle of water, not wanting the potential embarrassment of being ID’d at the orchestra & the likelihood that would ruin my mood enough to spoil the evening. We headed to the outside seating area & whiled away the hour until the show began & before we knew it they ushers announced the beginning of seating & we made our way to aisle 11.

The seats were splendid, and just being so near a group of talented people excited me. Soon enough, the conductor made his was onto the stage & Debussy – “Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun” began delighting my cerebellum. After, came some of Debussy’s Nocturnes. They reminded me curiously of a Hitchcock score & my mind wandered with thoughts of Kim Novak, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly & the like.

Intermission came all too quickly & once again Chris & Mike chose to imbibe, and cajoled me into drinking a glass of champagne– I couldn’t refuse, that would have been impolite…besides who doesn’t love a good glass of champagne at the orchestra of all places?!

Finally, we were at the main event: Gustav Holst, The Planets (!!!!!!) I’d heard it once, a long while ago, but anticipating this evening, I made it my crossword puzzle backing for the week, and so was familiar with what to expect. However, nothing short of actually coming to the orchestra would have prepared me for the live performance. It was absolutely spectacular. I was entranced by the music that enveloped me and the light headiness the champagne left me with allowed for the bit of departure from self necessary to truly appreciate something so beautiful. The opening of Venus, The Bringer of Peace, was enough to ply into my sometimes hardened heart, and make melancholy deliciously beautiful. Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity, absolutely stole the show for me, and I never wanted it to end. It promoted a feeling of Bliss, that one never wants to end, but its transient nature is part of what makes it so lovely and rare. It actually nearly brought tears to my eyes, which is a rarity in itself.

The piece ended and we were all in a state of awe. The drive home was filled with lots of eager talk about the music and the beautiful expression of the hundred year old piece.

We ended the evening with several hours of spirited discourse, with conversation meandering its way through the maze of matters that often follow moments of inspiration. Such meaningful discussion was the perfect note on which to end the eventful eve.

Upon arrival home just past midnight, I slept,  while visions of the stars swam through the spaces of my mind.

—Listen to my favorite:

Jupiter — The Bringer of Jollity

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Filed under Music, Nights

Conglomeration of Post-Run Thoughts

On a good run, I often find myself more caught up in my thoughts & music, than the masochistic physical activity I’m forcing upon my innately lazy self. This represents a great leap forward in my self-discipline & mental growth, as I’ve never been the athletic type– despite my ever so beloved father’s urgings that I should “play sports” since I have a body “well suited to them”, being so tall and “solid”, as he tenderly put it– yet, I refuse to be fat and strangely like the look of a curvy, yet fit woman’s figure. Unfortunately my metabolism did not grace me with the ability to eat more than 1200 calories per day, without it being immediately visible somewhere on my frame. Go figure. So, the only solution to keeping my unruly hips & ass tame is learning to love the feeling of sweat dripping down my body, the sensation of not being able to breathe, and the ensuing aches, pains, blisters, sprained ankles, sore muscles, & so on & so forth, that goes with the territory of being a runner.

So anyway, in the midst of my nightly run I was thinking about the music that truly makes a run great– considering I’m not really into hearing myself gasp for air for long periods of time, music is absolutely essential for more than oh say, 60 seconds on the road. I deemed it my duty to spread the gospel of a certain artist, that I’ll likely be sneered at and thought of as lacking in my elitism, but I will put my reputation on the line and proclaim from the proverbial mountaintops of this blog, announcing to the 4 people or so that actually comprise my readership, RHIANNA IS THE SHIIIT!

Every Rihanna song on my iPod is fantastic, nay, AMAZING and never fails not only to boost my stamina & mood of the run, but often, I catch myself *gasp* SMILING and getting a little dance in my step, as I move through the streets (I’m certain I look rather foolish with the part dance/mostly run motion I have going to any outside observer, when listening to one of my favorite Barbadian’s catchy hits, but fortunately I don’t much care).

“Disturbia” is hands down, THE best of her songs, with its sexy beat & peculiar lyrics (and probably the image of her in that video rolling in my head). Tonight, it came up on my shuffle rather early in the run, maybe 5 mins in or so, but was exactly what I needed to lose my sense of time & space enough to improve my distance overall, pretty considerably. The end result was also bolstered by her songs: “Shut Up & Drive” (teehee at the lyrics), “SOS” (Mad props to R for referencing an Elton John song in this one)  and “Please Don’t Stop the Music” (which I actually cut short, so as not to OD on my Rihanna high). “Pon de Replay” was a favorite of mine a few years ago, when I used to run quite a bit as well, and I can only sing her all the praises I have, for making 2 more albums of greatness, solely for my running pleasure, I’m sure.

Video for Disturbia:: {WATCH}

Its only fitting this post is dedicated to her, & I’ll conclude with a few images to highlight her sexiness, which also serves as a sort of motivation, because um, have you SEEN her body? Its fab, but not in a lofty, “Wow I’d never look like that unless I suddenly became allergic to food” kind of way, but more of a “Damn guurl, I think I’ll skip that extra cookie & run just one more mile so just maybe I can kinda sorta resemble that. Yeah?” Yeah.

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Filed under Music, Musing, Running

Spring…erm FALL Cleaning

Despite moving into my humble abode a mere 4 months ago, it has certainly acquired that…”lived in” feel already. And by this I mean, its time for some good old fashioned “Fall Cleaning”. Since school began, and I’ve had a veritable dearth of visitors, I admit thorough cleaning has fallen by the wayside, and with my busy schedule, its all I can do to straighten up from time to time & keep it liveable. Additionally, I need to go through much of my stuff, clothes in particular. I’m certainly one to remain organized & not have things around that are in disuse, however with my hurried move, I never had a chance to purge my goods of old stuff. There’s nothing more frustrating that coming across something that no longer fits, or is damaged in some way, when I was counting on wearing it or using it for something.

Anyways, the real reason for this post is my eagerness to begin my hunt for some cleaning products that don’t test on animals. Its surprising how many of the major name brands we all likely use without a second thought, are actually perpetuating a rather archaic and tortuous practice to so many innocent creatures — including dogs, cats, bunnies & the like! (It was after seeing some rather heartbreaking images of cats being subjected to what is so harmlessly called “animal testing”, I decided I could no longer support any company that deemed this acceptable)

I still have many cleaning products I bought a few months ago, but am phasing in new ones as I run out of old stuff. For example, I recently bought Seventh Generation fabric softener, which costs the same as any other brand & yet it is both more environmentally friendly & doesn’t test on animals — a win win, if you ask me. I’m going to Target today to hunt for a few new things, and will report back with my findings. If anyone has any suggestions for effective products, that are also “kitty friendly” as I’ll put it, please let me know!

Seventh Generation Fabric Softener

Seventh Generation Fabric Softener

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Filed under Activism, Cats, Vegetarian

Friday Night Notions

Once again, I’m sitting home alone on a Friday night & figured I might as well blog about some of the random things that have been on my mind recently.

Lately, I’ve vacillated between two rather opposing feelings.

Half the time, I feel this sort of expectation deep in my gut. Its this feeling of excitement hinting at something good about to happen, that I can’t quite put my finger on. Its like that fluttery feeling you’d get on Christmas Eve, as a little kid; like the anticipation when getting ready for a first date, with a boy you really like; like the feeling as you crest the hill on a roller coaster & know you’re just about to feel the rush of the fall. And yet, I have no real cause for these feelings. I hope its a sort of intuition, feeling the inevitability of something good happening, especially after having such a long, rather placid and stagnant period in my life. Of course, it might just be an odd sort of defense mechanism my brain is creating to avoid a total descent into skepticism by keeping me on my toes with an unfounded sense of optimism. Alternately, it could be a completely simple explanation of an excess of endorphins being released into my system as I’ve been running very regularly & consistently improving. Whatever the true root of this peculiar feeling, I suppose there’s no real way to know except with time, as my feelings of yearning & expectation for something new & profound will either be satisfied with some elusive thing — or not.

The other feeling is not such a pleasant one, but unfortunately something I’m all too familiar with & I’m sure more and more of us are as we grow older, and learn many lessons in life.

I’ve been very deeply disappointed with many people recently. People time and again fail to live up to my expectations. Now I realize there is always the possibility that I hold too high of expectations for others, however, in the fervent avoidance of disappointment I regularly practice, I think I have lowered the bar and generally put up with more than I used to & offer much more understanding toward those I consider friends, than quite frankly, I should. However, many people whom I once looked upon as good, true friends have not only let me down, but shown a sheer lack of respect and consideration toward me. I don’t understand how some can treat others so poorly, especially people they’ve taken the time to get to know and let into their lives.

One realization I’ve made about myself recently is that I am a very all or nothing person. When I run, I go daily and put forth all my effort. When I make an ethical decision not to eat meat anymore, I can change immediately and without hesitation. When I finally let someone into my life, I commit myself fully to that relationship and don’t look back. However, when something changes in my perspective, or I realize an error in my judgment, I find little difficulty in shutting out whatever turned into poison, or what I recognized always really was, with a gained understanding. When someone has perpetually wronged me, the respect and understanding I had for them will quickly dissipate and I find little difficulty in asserting necessary self-preservation and cutting people like that out of my life. As such, many of the people who I feel have been no true friends of mine, have been excised from my life.

Unfortunately, this means my circle of friends narrows in the process and I often find myself rather lonely, beginning to embody the “cat lady” I always jokingly proclaimed myself as. However, I must remember the old adage my mom always told me growing up, “Its better to have no friends, than bad friends”, which I’ve found to be true time & again. At the end of the day, my self-respect means much more to me than some shoddy company for an evening, every now and then. I like to think that it will pay off in the long run, allowing me to have someone in my life who respects me for my integrity, and a close circle of friends who genuinely care about me as a person, and not what they can get from me, or my body.

Maybe my feeling of anticipation will collide with my integrity and I’ll get both things I want, and finally be rewarded by Karma for the positive things I feel I have coming to me, for not being a shitty person, and trying to live an ethical life. Hopefully, I’ll meet some great, new friends, or become closer to the few who are still around.

I know Life always has a number of surprises up its sleeve, and I am eager to see what they might prove to be, and I can only hope these butterflies in my stomach are a sign of good things to come, and a nice change from the status quo.

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