Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dog Whisperer

Cesar Milan had a book signing at the Pasadena Borders this past week. I convinced my friend Aaron to come along with me, and she took these lovely pictures. Cesar is distracted in the one where he's signing my books because the puppy he brought along was peeing on the store carpet. Even the "Dog Whisperer" has housebreaking issues. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Playing with Animoto

The Erickson family Oregon Trip (August 2007). Made with Animoto.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mystery Passenger

Ya know when you kinda recognize someone, but can't quite place where you've seen them before? Jon and I both felt that way when we saw this guy on our flight from Dallas back to Burbank after Thanksgiving. He definitely had the actor "look." Finally, at the luggage carousel on the end of the flight, I remembered. He's the slimy fraternity boyfriend on the television show "Greek". We only saw two episodes of it on the main cable channels (via our antenna) before they switched it to the ABC-Family channel. [It was "okay" from what I remember.]

I'm guessing he's rarely blogged about, so Jake McDorman, here ya go. Yes, we were the couple on your plane trip who kept sneaking glances at you and then whispering with puzzled expressions.

[The picture on the left is the one Jon took on his cameraphone, and the one on the right is his imdb profile pic.]

Monday, November 19, 2007


Last Sunday, my friend Stacey and I attended the American Music Awards! Did you see us? Unlike my seatfiller stints at the SAG Awards and TV Land Awards, this time we were in the red carpet bleachers and then regular "attendees" at the show. Much less work for a whole lot of fun!
It was incredible seeing so many big-name performers at one show... and they were all pretty amazing to hear. (If you watched the show on TV or online, the sound quality doesn't equal how full and LOUD everything was in person.)

I had a few favorite moments at the show: On the red carpet, Josh Groban was smiling and waving to us, and then he mouthed a cheesy line, "You raise me up." Ha! Another favorite moment was watching Sugarland do a bluegrass version of "Irreplaceable"... and then have Beyonce join them onstage to sing! You can watch that here.

Jonas Brothers. Heard of them? Apparently every girl under the age of 15 years old has. The boys themselves range in age from 14 to 17 years old, so they all looked REALLY young. They also struck me as VERY full of themselves pleased to have such obsessed adoring fans. With all the hype they were getting from squealing female fans, I was really interested to see their performance... Which leads me to a clip of another favorite part of the night: Joe Jonas falling at the beginning of their song. Jimmy Kimmel (the host) even cracked a joke about it when the performance was over.

As I did for the SAG Awards, I created a list of everyone I saw during the experience. My other favorite performances were the singing and orchestration of Rihanna & Ne-Yo and the dancing of Chris Brown & T-Pain.

Yay for L.A. entertainment opportunities!

Friday, November 09, 2007


This post is for the Faith+Film blog-a-thon, hosted by RC of StrangeCulture. Hopefully, I’m able to combine the two into a blog post for your reading pleasure!

Christmas is nearing. How do I know? The stores all tell me so.

I’m sure everyone’s heard of the “commercialization of Christmas” and how it detracts from the real reason Christians celebrate, but it’s easy to get sucked into the pattern of buying “stuff” around this time of year. Jon and I had a discussion wondering why we spent designated amounts of money on gifts for people who turned around and spent the same designated amount on gifts for us. Why not donate the money in their name instead? I understand that idea, but it’s hard to not want to shower gifts on people you care about (especially for me, who loves giving – but can’t really afford it!).

I recently received an email about a free screening of What Would Jesus Buy? produced by Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame). I doubt I’ll be able to make it to the free showing, but the idea of the film is interesting to me. It’s a “documentary” (in a loose sense) that focuses on materialism and over-consumption in American culture, specifically around Christmas time. This is viewed [per Wikipedia] “through the prism of activist/performance artist Bill Talen, who goes by the alias of "Reverend Billy," and his troupe of activists, whose street theater performances take the form of a church choir called "The Church of Stop Shopping," that sings anti-shopping and anti-corporate songs. The film follows Billy and his choir as they take a cross-country trip in the month prior to Christmas 2005, and spread their message against what they perceive as the evils of patronizing the retail outlets of several different large corporate chains.”
You can view the trailer here:

This “buy buy buy” message sadly rang true for those televangelists caught in another unfortunate scandal that reflects poorly on Christians. This recent news article names those who are being investigated for money fraud and misspending funds to support their lavish lifestyles.

On the other end of the money “spectrum” is one of my favorite Christmas movies, Muppet Christmas Carol. Instead of overspending, Ebenezer Scrooge is a money-hoarder. He views himself as thrifty and frugal, but the world sees differently. As we know from the story, after a few time-warping ghost visitations, Scrooge gleefully gives presents to strangers, embraces relationships, and buys a feast for a needy family.

[In the Muppet version, that part holds my favorite exchange (from how I remember it):
Scrooge, from the window, “I’ll give you a shilling to fetch me that turkey in the window of the corner shop!”

Bean Bunny, on the street, “You mean the one as big as me? Be serious!”]

So. Where is the middle ground of these two extremes? Obviously, generosity is different when you don’t expect a return. And I know we’re instructed to be “joyful givers”, but we’re also supposed to be responsible with how the money is used. So where we’re giving it matters. It’d be easy to hand a buck to the homeless panhandler on the corner and feel like we made a difference in that person’s life. Well, we did - maybe for a minute - but they’re going to continue standing on that corner everyday thereafter still. (I know – I see them there day in and out!) It would be more beneficial to give the buck(s) to organizations that really help those folks – meeting their real needs and helping them back on their feet. So though we feel like Scrooge if we refuse to give them our money at the corner, we should feel rich and privileged that we can afford to support places that are truly making a difference.

Just my two cents. Thanks to RC for the Faith+Film blog-a-thon!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Date Night

On Monday evening (pre-illness for me), Jon and I were very excited to go on a date! In recent weeks, we haven't had time with the just two of us where we actually spent money to go out. :) Because it was a planned occasion, I was happy anticipating it during the work day. I came home giddy, "Our date! Let's go!"

We walked down to Old Town Pasadena for dinner, frozen yogurt, and store-browsing. I meant to take pictures of our evening, but I was too into it to remember. So I just have this one of us leaving our apartment...

Friday, November 02, 2007


As some of you know, I’ve been sick for much of this week. The kind of sick where you head inexplicably fills up with mucus and your voice becomes froggy. The kind of sick where nights consist of sleep in 2-hour increments, pounding sinuses and frequent water drinking. The kind of sick where I feel guilty for waking up my husband with my nose blowing and restlessness, and I can't kiss him. I even went home early from work yesterday because I felt so miserable.

Last night I took Nyquil before bed. This morning is a whole different Grete. One who’s slept a full night – no interruptions – and actually has energy again. While the mucus hasn’t exited (hence a still-toady voice), it also now isn’t as much of a bother. Why didn’t I buy some Nyquil earlier in the week?!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Clean(er) Skies

As I showed in a previous post, the wildfires around L.A. were doing gross things to the air recently. (So much so that school kids in the county weren't allowed outdoors for lunch or recess during the past week.) Yesterday a VERY light rain fell briefly. Today, the sky is blue again!

Guido and Lumpkin

Jon and I joined some Fuller friends to carve pumpkins yesterday. Jon noted that this is our third time as a married couple to carve pumpkins together - crazy! From the below picture, can you guess who carved each pumpkin? The little one is named "Guido" - he's feisty and angry at the other pumpkin, "Lumpkin", who's rather dense and in his way. :)

[You can view our other recent pictures here.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SoCal Fires

It's hard to hear about the devastation the wildfires in our area are causing - the displaced evacuees and the loss of their homes. While we are fortunately living away from the fire areas (I told my mom that the wildfires would have to burn a huge chunk of L.A. before reaching where we are), the effects of the fires surrounding our county are obvious. Primarily we notice the poor air quality that leaves a coat of ash on our vehicles. There's also a difference in the color of the sun - bright orange through the smoke - that was pretty eerie yesterday evening as it was setting. On my camera-phone yesterday (hence the low quality of the pics), I took some shots from the second-story parking area at my workplace.

[The top pic was taken on 10/23/07 at 12:30pm and the bottom pic was taken the same day, at 5:00pm. See how the Santa Ana winds push the smoke in our direction?]

[Again, the top pic was taken on 10/23/07 at 12:30pm, and the bottom was taken the same day at 5:00pm.]

Monday, October 22, 2007

Delaware "House Hunters"

This afternoon Jon and I were watching our DVD full of recorded HGTV and Food Network shows (thanks, Mom & Dad!). Near the end of a rather unexciting episode of "House Hunters", I asked Jon which of the (somewhat tackily-decorated) houses he would choose. His reply: "I think I'd move out of Delaware."

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I witnessed a theft in action today. I had just finished paying for my groceries at Ralph's down the street. I was walking towards the door when I saw a woman stepping quickly through the door detectors - setting them off - and running out to the parking lot.

What first tipped me off to the shoplifter (since it's not usually my first assumption when I hear door alarms go off), is that she didn't stop when it started beeping. Instead, she started sprinting. I then noticed under each of her arms large, clear bottles of liquor. That's when I stopped walking, felt my mouth hang open a little in disbelief and stared at the unfolding scene. She scooted into the passenger door of an old Escort with a driver who looked panicky and hadn't even parked. She saw me staring right at her, and I tried to convey to her through my "convicting" stare that I knew what she was doing.

As they sped off, I pointed them out to a store employee in an orange parking vest who was walking towards the entrance. Distraught by what I told her, she grabbed the manager and pointed at the car as it sped away down the street.

It was too late to do anything about the incident, obviously, but it was odd to witness it take place...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Garage Sale-in'

[Okay, so this post is mainly because I promised to post every day for one week, and it's 10 minutes before midnight on Day 6... In honor of Saturday, it's about yard sales.]

If you ever need baby clothes, go garage-sale-ing. I went to look at the sales with a friend (I was just HELPING her look for baby clothes, mind you), and we found little designer clothes (hey, it’s L.A.) for pocket change. I guess babies grow out of stuff so quickly, the condition of the clothes are usually great (some even had the tags on them still!). I’m just sayin’.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mmm... sugar.

Jon thought it was funny that one night I fixed myself what I called my “amazingly awesome dessert” - so he took a picture of me eating it. [Dessert details: It wasn't an extraordinary concept - just some homemade cookies with cookies and cream ice cream - can't go wrong with cream and cookies!]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"The Office"

Okay, who’s been watching it? That show is SO funny! I was searching Amazon to get a general idea of how much the past seasons were selling for, and then I clicked over to eBay to place some low-end bids on them. I told Jon that I fully expected NOT to win, since my bids were not much higher than the current ones. As predicted, 10 minutes later, I received an email that I'd been outbid on the combined Seasons 1 & 2. The next day, I'd already forgotten about the eBay bidding, and lo-and-behold I receive an email asking for my payment for Season 3. Oops!

[Anyone who lives in our area is welcome to join us on Thursday evenings at 9pm to watch it. We’ve enjoyed having some friends and neighbors over to our place the past few weeks!]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Unexpected Ending

As I'd mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been going through the volunteer training program at the Humane Society in Pasadena. In general, the sessions are somewhat informative, and it's apparent the shelter values their volunteers. There was this one 20-minute video, however, that was... interesting.

It was called "Charlie, the Dog Nobody Wanted", and it was obviously made in the 70s or 80s and transferred from film to DVD. The narration was cheesily scripted, and the horrible acting was a little bit of a yawn to sit through. The dog, Charlie, was born, given away as a puppy, kicked out to the curb when the family couldn't afford him anymore, and living on the streets. He started hanging out in a schoolyard because the kids would feed him sandwiches and pet him. [And the kids mysteriously knew his name was "Charlie", which I'm amazed no one in the video-making crew noticed.]

One day he followed a kid home from school, but the child's mother promptly called animal control to pick the dog off her property. In the shelter cage, Charlie watched each day as families selected pets to take home with them. He also saw other dogs being taken through a different door (without families) and never coming back. He was convinced a kind family would adopt him, too. Then [and this is where the movie took a turn that caught me off-guard], the day came when Charlie was taken - back to the euthanasia room. The closing shot is of the vet with the euthanasia needle saying, "Sorry, guy, but nobody wanted you."

Now, I'm well aware of the pet overpopulation and the lack of shelter space to house all the animals that are dropped there. But, I really didn't expect the cheesy movie to kill the dog at the end. I almost laughed out of surprise... For others in the volunteer crowd, however, there were sniffles and tears. I quickly stifled my guffaw after I glanced around me. Then I couldn't decide what struck me as more odd - the cheesy old video actually offing the dog, or the people watching the poorly-acted movie actually so wrapped up in it that they reacted in tears. Hmm...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


[Post Preface: I’m not really volunteering at the L.A. Zoo anymore. It was too hard to devote an entire day of my weekend to the grunt work part of zookeeping… for free. Without the best part of getting to interact with and train the animals.]

One of the exciting opportunities I’ve had for my animal-missing side is in the world of humane society volunteering. I’m actually doing it at two different shelters.

The first is a county shelter with very little funding (as reflected in the facilities) that needed dog-walkers on Sunday morning (and that’s the ONLY time those dogs all get walked during the week). I joined about 10 other volunteers in doing this before my church on Sunday mornings. The majority of the dogs there are pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows, German shepherds, and bulldogs - all the breeds labeled as "aggressive". But I haven't met a dog there who isn't thrilled to happily slobber on and walk around with me!

The other shelter is on the opposite end of the spectrum – private, wealthy, posh, and with hundreds of volunteers. The advantage to this shelter in Pasadena is that they have opportunities for me to volunteer with their dog training programs. Those of you who’ve heard all my primate stories know that I’ve been REALLY missing this type of interaction with animals – it’s challenging and mentally stimulating for me. I haven't finished the shelter's extensive volunteer "training" process yet (by "training" I mean hours of having them give speeches to us about the value of the shelter), but I'm looking forward to getting started there.

So, yay!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Anyone go to this website? It's basically an Internet radio that calls itself a "music discovery service designed to help you enjoy music you already know, and to help you discover new music you'll love." You pick the artists you like, and it streams their songs and those of similar artists you may/may not already know. It’s SO nice to have at work - especially on quiet days. One of our residents introduced us to it, and I hadn’t had an opportunity to play with it until recently. The only music I was confused about was when I’d accidentally spelled Jon Mclaughlin’s name wrong (with an “h” in the first name)… I ended up with a bunch of jazz music that I couldn’t tie to any of the artists in my queue. I was like “where is this coming from?” until I noticed the picture of the incorrect Mclaughlin and knew he was 30 years too old.

Jon McLaughlin
(Check out the video at the above link.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Grete didn't fall off the face of the Earth!

I have to apologize to anyone who reads (or “read”, depending on whether you still check!) this blog. Life caught up with me over this past two months! And, considering the uncertainty and loneliness we were experiencing exactly a year ago at this time, I think it’s reassuring to see how preoccupied we are now. :)

So, what have I been up to? Nothing super blog-worthy (which I seem to count by if I have pictures of it or not), but I’ve been busy none-the-less. Beginning today, and for the next week, in order to make up for the lack of posts in the past two months, I will post something each day. (This might be stretching my ideas thin, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a huge “update” post.)

Here's a pic to remember what we look like...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"No Solicitors"

Maybe not everyone knows what that means. Maybe instead the sign on the door of my workplace should read, "We will NOT buy or even act interested in anything you are trying to sell us. Please go away."

As the person who's at the front desk, I have to deal with all the human spam that walks past the no soliciting sign. Today I had a particularly poignant example of this...

Three young guys with their button-down shirts and their khaki pants strut into my front office. They proceed to give me their sales schpeel, even after I point out that the sign on the door says that we do not like solicitors coming into our workplace. The ringleader grins, folds his arms, and leans across my counter, continuing with a lame sales pitch. I tell them, "no, we really aren't interested." They continue. I tell them very emphatically, "we are really not interested. thank you." They finally get that I'm not biting and leave. Here's what I wish I would've thought (and had the nerve) to say:

"Look, bucko. One: There is a "no soliciting" sign on our door, and you are clearly soliciting. Two: DO NOT try to flirt with me to sell your stupid stuff because it's condescending and I'm married. Three: Clearly you have no idea what kind of business this is. We do behavioral interventions with autistic children, and we receive all our clientèle through referrals from school districts and regional centers. We don't need your advertising. and Four: I don't even like baseball! Go away!"

Ah... Vacation

Last week was refreshing. We spent Tuesday to Sunday on the Oregon coast - in a beach house with 14 family members! It was nice not to have a schedule and to be with people who really "know" us - people with whom we can have a "bad day", but who know that's not really us all the time.
We've realized that this past year, while exciting and new, has been stressful with relationships. Because we're trying to get to know so many people, the ends of our evenings sometimes feel like "do you think they liked us?" and "do you think what I said sounded stupid?" rather than being assured that "of course they like us, they've known us forever!" Ya know?

Anyway, it was a great week of seeing wildlife, playing games, watching sunsets, eating GOOD food, and getting big hugs from loved ones. Here is a quick pictorial review (for the rest, go here):

Monday, August 13, 2007

New TV Show Idea

As we sat waiting for our $3.50 screening of The Bourne Ultimatum to begin on Sunday evening, Jon turned to me and said, "They should do a makeover show called, 'Pimp My Pimp.'"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

When I got home yesterday evening...

My Friday was pretty ho-hum yesterday. Jon and I had argued before I left for work in the morning, and then again at lunch. When I came home at 5, though, things were different. We apologized, I cried a little from relief, and then I noticed these on the table. "Those are the first apology flowers you've ever given me!" I was pleased. :)

Then I noticed a large box that had been delivered. Worried that I'd ordered something that I couldn't remember, I began opening the box. Inside was a milkshake maker... Very cool, but did I really order this? I pulled out the packing list - "Happy Belated Birthday, Miss Grete!" it read, "Love, Sarah." What a great gift from my awesome cousin! Of course I made a pre-dinner milkshake right away.

After our dinner of waffles and omeletes (yum!), Jon and I walked down to the Paseo Colorado where their outdoor summer swing dancing had begun. Our friends Dave & Krissy and David & Maria waved us over to the dance area. We'd missed the lesson, but joined in with the basic swing step... over and over. (We decided we'd need to learn more before doing it again soon.) After strolling down the street and garnering free gelato from guys offering them outside their store, we ended up at the Pasadena City Hall. We chatted, walked some more, and then parted ways.

To top it off, I slept really well last night on our amazing new mattress.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summary in Pictures

Ever feel like you have nothing to blog about? Not a lot has happened that merits individual posts, but here are a few pictures about what I've done recently...

We miss having a dishwasher. This particular time we had dirtied every bowl and utensil we own... And then finally found a block of time to clean them all!

As Jon noted on his blog, I began reading a couple pages of the 7th Harry Potter, realized I'd forgotten who characters were, and pulled out the 6th book to review the end.

One week later, after finishing the final Harry Potter (yay!), I read all the websites where J.K. Rowling answered readers' questions - I had a few of my own, which were luckily posted there.

While I was reading, Jon had turned on our A/C unit, and the oscillating fan was pointed directly at me. So I did what anyone would do - turn off the air build a mountain of pillows to block the cold flow of air.

Oh yeah, we also went out to eat (a rare treat!) recently at Souplantation. Jon obviously loves his greens!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I just had to post this as a follow-up to my previous post. I'm am finished reading Harry Potter! Feel free to discuss it with me. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter... Shhh!!!

Just in case you finish the final Harry Potter book before me (which won't be until after I receive my British copy in a couple weeks - yes, I'm a "Harry-Potter-snob") - PLEASE don't tell me ANYTHING about the book at all! I will let you know when I'm done, upon which I might mourn a little that the series has ended, but then perk up by watching the movies. :)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jon's Biiiirthday

Of course I can't top everything my amazing husband did for my birthday... But we had a fun, quiet night with just the two of us hanging out after work.

Monday, July 16, 2007


On the Fourth of July, we flew to Maine! Jon noted that it's probably one of the furthest places we could've gone and still been in the U.S. :) It was for good reason, though... Jon's cousin Leslie got married!
The United flights were remarkably on time - and even EARLY - which was a nice change from all our usual American Airlines delays. We were unable to see the tops of any fireworks, unfortunately, as it was too overcast when our flight got into Maine.

We had a great time exploring Freeport (home to L.L.Bean headquarters and LOTS of outlet stores!). Though, bummer for me, I wasn't in a "trying on" mood in the great discounted clothing stores.

Of course we had an official "lobster bake" for the rehearsal dinner - and I actually was able to eviscerate the dead creature without feeling nauseous this time (as opposed to my Boston experience when Mom had to do it for me)!

The wedding was small, beautiful, and comfortable - lots of family and friends who invited us into conversation, even though we had a hard time keeping all their names and relations straight.

Sunday proved exhausting as we made our way back across the country. Our flight left at 6:15am - Maine time - which meant we got up to leave for the airport at 1am - California time. By the time we got home a half-day later, I was delirious (I'm not a good plane-sleeper) and tripping over things in our apartment. Jon, somehow, was fine. Hmpf.

It was refreshing to "get away" for a change - enjoy the pictures here.