Tuesday, December 23, 2008

RIP Earl

About this time two years ago, Jon and I brought two $2.99-each, "fancy" goldfish into our home, Jazzy and Earl. Jazzy didn't last long, nor did Dart, nor did Franklin (the two goldfish friends we bought for Earl after each one subsequently died). We weren't sure if Earl was killing off his "friends" or if he had some deadly disease afflicting his tank-mates... After Franklin, we decided Earl needed to live alone for awhile. He didn't seem to mind, as this meant all the food went to him. He would always get especially excited when you talked to him - his body would wriggle expectantly to the top of the water.

Well, Earl started having some health issues. We tried about four different "tank" situations - first just a round bowl, then a fancy filtered set-up tank, then a large hurricane glass, then just a shallow glass bowl. He would get sick, we'd remove him from the tank and thoroughly clean it, and continue to medicate him in a shallow plastic tupperware. He'd recover, and we'd put him into a pre-medicated tank. He'd inevitably get sick again, and we'd repeat the process. His final "tank" was the shallow glass bowl, as it seemed to most closely mimic his environment in the plasticware in which he best recuperated.

Today Jon informed me of the news we had anticipated for the past several months - Earl was dead.

I have to say, after all of this, goldfish are MUCH more high maintanence than hermit crabs. We spent money on fish aquarium set-ups, food and antibiotics, and spent cumulative hours cleaning and fretting over our $2.99 fish. My hermit crabs only require water, food, and the occasional wettened sand and cleaning. But sometimes I forget they're even there - and they're fine. Happily surviving without issues. I think we will be a fish-less family for awhile now.

Rest in peace, Earl - well-fed in your warm, spacious pond in the sky. Maybe with other goldfish friends... unless you had been killing them because you prefer to be a loner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seen the new Bond movie?

We did last Friday. It was entertaining, though not as good as Casino Royale. I think the difference came from the director change between movies and seemingly-less witty banter. Quantum of Solace is mostly just action sequences with a plot that relies heavily on how much you remember about Casino.

I saw a red-carpet picture today of the "Bond girl" Olga Kurylenko from Quantum, and I didn't believe it was the same person... Judge for yourself:

They made her a different ethnicity!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Secretary of State video reactions


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems pleased to be passing off the presidency soon. (It has been a rough several years for her, so I'm not surprised...)


I really respect former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and I appreciate that Powell reiterates that both McCain and Obama said essentially the same thing in their speeches last night: "This is now over. Let's come together. We are all Americans again. Let's pursue a new agenda.... Let's get on with the challenges we are facing and solve those challenges."

I'm excited to be an American during this historic period.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Earthquake

Well, I suppose it was inevitable that we would feel an earthquake at some point in our L.A. tenure... Today was it! I made a map to show where we were in relation to where it started... (You might need to drag to the right to view it all.)

View Larger Map

It felt like it lasted 10 seconds, but that could also have been because I work on the 2nd floor of an office building. (We might've been swaying longer than the actual quake.) Jon said it only felt like 2 seconds where he was (on the first floor of a clinic).

I always thought being in an earthquake would feel more like vibrations, but it seemed more like my office was being picked up and swayed and twisted around. I don't have anything on the walls, so I stayed planted in my chair until it was over. When it stopped, everyone at my office came out into the hallway and was like, "woah - that was crazy".

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pictoral updates

Poor, widdle stagnant blog. You've been verwy, verwy neglected recently. No new postie-wosties! Hopefully adding some travelling updates with pictures and links will suffice for now... :)

Jon and I took a weekend trip to Las Vegas.
We had a Spring Cleaning day with our Cornerstone neighbors.

I went to Oklahoma for my brother's OU graduation!

Per my previous post about a multitude of Fall pregnancy announcements, I've recently been attending baby showers.
Our "big" vacation was going on a cruise with a few other couples from college. It was SO relaxing to just hang out and be fed every three hours. :)
Upon our return, we had a beach bonfire with our church small group.
And last Saturday, for my birthday, we went to Disneyland!

We will move to Azusa, and Jon starts his new job!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pasadena, Home of the Stars

Today, while waiting in our car at a stop sign, Jon pointed out a guy walking across the intersection with his dog. It was Rob Schneider. Yep, he lives here, too.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Holidays, Every Day

In honor of "National Leave Work Early Day", I left a whole 4 minutes early from work. I wanted to go earlier when I first heard the Day announced on the radio at lunch, but my husband encouraged me to be a "good employee." Pffft! So I stayed.

In confirming the radio's announcement, I also found that today (June 2nd) celebrates National Bubba Day and Yell 'Fudge' at Cobras in North America Day (<--if you live north of the Panama Canal). Didn't you know cobras gag at the thought of fudge? Duh.

I know I'm looking forward to July 27th when it is Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day ("because your houseplants will become healthier from knowing their environment"). And I'm certain my mom has been eagerly anticipating August 13th: Middle Children's Day. (I think Jan Brady made up this one.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movin' Down the Road

Because I "heard" that Jennipher S. gives updates (via our blogs) to our NorthWood home team, and Stephanie H. has expressed sadness for my lack of blog posts, I wanted to give you all a quick notice of changes for the Sampson duo...

Jon has decided to take one class per quarter at seminary from now until May 2009 because... he scored a new full-time job as a residential director at a local university campus (20 minutes east of Pasadena)! We will move into one of their apartment communities at the beginning of July, which is... SOON. We are both excited (and maybe a little nervous?) to have college students as neighbors, but the perks are fantastic. (Free housing in a 2-bedroom apartment! Free utilities! A meal plan! Benefits! Jon working with a demographic he enjoys! Stuff like that!) I'm sure we'll get some interesting stories from the experience that will appear on our blogs. :)

For now, please enjoy the below completely unrelated picture of one of my hermit crabs burrowing deep down in the sand only to run into the side of the aquarium.
(Sorry for the blurry pic - it's tricky through glass!)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Conversations Past Our Bedtime

While watching a commercial...

Grete: They make foam in a cup!
Jon: I do that, too.
Grete: Can I do it with you?
Jon: No. It's a personal hobby.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Las Vegas evening in heels

From MGM Grand to Monte Carlo: about 0.292 miles
From Monte Carlo to Bellagio: about 0.648 miles
From Bellagio to Excalibur: about 0.967 miles
From Mandalay Bay to our hotel (off the Strip): about 1.216 miles

Total (not including the walking around inside hotels): 3.123 miles in heels for one evening in Las Vegas


Facebook in Real Life

What would Facebook be like played out in real life?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sneaky health

Have you heard of those books that give ways to sneak nutritious foods into meals kids will eat? Yeah. I do that for myself.

Pictured was my attempt to hide broccoli in my spaghetti sauce. (Ok, it's not really "hidden", per say, but it allowed me to eat broccoli without having to taste it!)First I pulverized it in the handy chopper...

Then I mixed it into my meat sauce. [Yes, I need to work on better "plating" of my food if I plan to post it for all to see.] :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Can't resist...

There are a couple things I can rarely pass up:
1) things that are free
2) cookies.

When the two are combined, it's dangerous.
This situation happened for me at work today. There were dozens of remaining cookies from yesterday evening's catered work event, and they all ended up on the counter of the break area. With most food items, this normally would be okay because I only go back there to get water. But cookies were involved today. Lots of them. For free. So every trip for water turned into a cookie break.

Eight cookies later (and by "eight", I mean, eight big-fat-thick-catered cookies), I feel a little sick. I didn't eat lunch because the bazillon-calorie cookies kept me satiated throughout the day.

My name is Grete, and I have a cookie-eating problem.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yet another reason not to like apes in advertising...

As if my rant about not liking the Aflac commercial that uses the orangutan seemed excessive before, here is new research highlighting why the overuse of apes in advertising has an adverse effect...

Because many people in the researchers' survey see apes widely used in the entertainment and advertising industry, many assume "wild chimps must be plentiful and thriving." This is a blow to conservation efforts for the highly endangered species. Here is an excerpt from their statistics:

The number of wild chimps in Africa is thought to have shrunk from perhaps 2 million across the continent in 1900 to an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 and falling today. Only four nations now have significant chimp populations.

[The World Conservation Union] blames the losses on expanding human activity, spread of deadly diseases such as Ebola and political instability in some nations, leaving chimps with no protection and vulnerable to slaughter.

Chimpanzees are endangered, folks! (Though, my Clever Blog Readers, I'm sure YOU already knew this.) :)

Pictured is Ramona, a sweet chimp I used to work with in Fort Worth. (I didn't take the picture, though.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Great Lyrics

It won't always be easy to love,
when you give and you never get back.
But, no one's intended to die,
with their heart still intact.

-from "Proud Father" by Jon McLaughlin

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Night in Hollywood

Last night my friend Krissy and I got a taste of the L.A. music scene… And it left me wanting more of it!

Tony Lucca: Ever heard of him? He’s a very talented singer-songwriter who is great to watch perform live. He doesn’t always play with them, but his band last night (bass player, electric guitar player, and drummer) was all in sync with everything he did – grooving, swaying, bouncing, rocking. They were VERY entertaining! As we were watching him, I was curious what his face would actually look like – unobscured by his thick-rimmed glasses, full beard, and newsboy cap. When I was reading his bio online later, I realized I had seen him before – on the Mickey Mouse Club! He was one of the older mouseketeers – then clean-shaven with gelled hair. [Jon said that’s probably why he’s trying to look so different now.] :) He’ll be playing at the Hotel Café venue for the next three Saturday nights, if anyone’s interested!

The guy who went after him was visibly less talented as a performer. His voice and guitar skills weren’t bad, and Krissy even commented that we might think he was good, sight-unseen. But his sight WAS seen, and it was awkward if you made eye contact with him. It was like he rehearsed his playing expressions in the mirror… He thinks: Now I’ll do my sexy face and strum. Krissy pointed out when he was making weird eyes at me (small venue), but I pointed out when he was making the same weird eyes at one of the guys in our group, too! [Steven said it made him uncomfortable. Ha!]

After leaving Hotel Café, we were quickly circling the corner (in the rain) to walk past several busy clubs**. We hurried by someone I recognized as an actor, but couldn’t place or name him. Later the name “Josh” sounded right, so I browsed around the imdb site until I remembered. His character’s name was “Josh” when he was Rachel’s boyfriend on “Friends”. His real name is Tate Donovan.
Of course, he was obscure enough that I was the only one who recognized him… Because I’m weird like that.

So, our hook up for the concert and the parking (we didn’t have to pay because we parked in his office lot, which is a life-saver in Hollywood) was one of Krissy’s friends from her church… who happens to work for Diane Warren. While her name may not ring remembrance to many of you, her songs will. Do a quick skim of all the songs she’s written on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Warren.
She’s worth about $600 million dollars for all the successful songs she’s written. And she only gets richer with all their airplay, movie showings, and remixes. Needless to say, her office (i.e. the eighth floor of a tall building overlooking Los Angeles) was amazing – every wall had a gold or silver album, a nomination certificate, or a photo with her and a celebrity. She had four baby grand pianos throughout the offices and lounges, and in her demo room is a Grammy she won… Krissy and I giddily touched it!

**I’m sorry, but, wearing a tiny cocktail dress and standing in a long line in cold rain just to get into an overrated expensive club isn’t my idea of fun. But L.A. is full of those scenes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Videos That Make Me Laugh...

(Thanks to Ethan for leading me to that one.)

(Thanks to Matt/Colleen for this one.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's just WRONG! Hrumpf!

As I've been home from work (sick - blech), I've watched one commercial a number of times... that I do NOT approve of. It's an AFLAC commercial, where a factory worker is asking her boss if they have AFLAC insurance, but he just says they have "uhh" and points to an orangutan wreaking havoc on their workplace.

Here are the problems I have with the commercial:

1) It uses an ape in a commercial. What most viewers don't think about (or realize) is that apes used in the entertainment industry aren't full grown adults. They're young, which means they've been pulled from their moms at young ages. (Hence why when I worked at the zoo, many people thought the chimps were gorillas because they'd only seen entertainment chimps with pale faces - chimps have pale faces when they're juveniles. When they get older, they're too strong and often aggressive, so they're discarded to sanctuaries or labs.)

2) The orangutan is shown acting in an anthropomorphic manner, which encourages people to believe they would make great pets and not realize that (a) that's illegal or (b) they grow up to be six times stronger than adult humans and are unmanageable to treat as "little humans".

3) This is the most annoying of all... they over-dubbed the orang using CHIMP noises! Orangutans don't make all those vocalizations - they use long calls and grunts because in the wild they live great distances apart in trees. Chimps are the louder bunch with all the screams and "ooh ooh aah aah" noises.

Anyway, I just had to get that out there. Sorry for my rant!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cue John Williams

Jon forwarded me a link to the new Indiana Jones trailer (to be released on May 22nd this year), and I just had to share my excitement with you all! (You, especially, Erin.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Messages from my candy

My Dove wrapper told me this today:

"Chocolate. Always your Valentine."

So true. So true.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

On to healthier things...

Exhibit A: I had a grand time eating two scoops of Baskin Robbins ice cream during our third anniversary celebration evening!

Exhibit B: I decided I need motivation to get rid of the California-added, loss-of-zookeeper-exercise tummy flub. (Yes - that is where I gain weight! I'm sneaky like that.) So... what better way to be healthier than to reward yourself with stickers? :)

The chart's end point is June - when I can no longer hide the "muffin top" while wearing a swimsuit during the summer. My daily goals are attainable, yet are things I'm not currently doing on a daily/weekly basis. Hopefully, I'll eat and exercise more than what I am rewarded for!

And let me tell ya, the stickers are already working. I wanted my veggie sticker for today, so I ran to the kitchen to eat another serving - some celery sticks with peanut butter. Mmm...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A warning before your Superbowl munching

No double-dipping! Inspired by the "Seinfield" episode, a new study shows that dipping food, biting a part off, then double-dipping the half-bitten part back into the bowl DOES in fact spread bacteria. Before you decide to double-dip, look around the room and decide if you'd be okay kissing everyone there. :P

Thanks Jon for sending me this interesting article!

Monday, January 28, 2008

SAG Awards 2008

The SAG Awards have come and gone once again! Like last year, we thoroughly enjoyed our time as seatfillers, and I apparently even had a brief moment on camera when "The Office" won (since I was sitting at their table)! You can read more about it where I'm guest blogging this week. I again compiled a list of everyone I sat with, spoke to, and saw from a distance during the show.

The tributes to Heath Ledger were touching during the ceremony... After the montage of SAG actors/actresses who died this year, you could tell Heath's picture was tacked on quickly to the end, since his death was so recent. The show went to commercial right after that, which, for those of us in the ceremony meant that the lights came up and people were free to mill about. However, at this break, the mood was somber and quiet - few people stood. In a heartfelt speech, Daniel Day-Lewis also dedicated his acting award of the night to Heath.

Did anyone catch the show? I don't know how interesting it is to watch if you're not there, but we had a great time. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something in the water...

What was going on last Fall? There are SO MANY pregnant women in my midst! Megan, Sun, Leslie, Boualoy, Kim, Andrea, Maria, Ingrid, Audrey, Leah, Tara... they're all due later this year. I know our lives go through phases when it seems like we're attending lots of weddings or frequently going to baby showers, but I didn't realize it would happen in such a tour de force!

Anyone else want to share any "expecting" news? :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Guest Blogger

My friend RC has kindly asked me to guest post on his blog while he attends a wedding. So for random Sampson-updates (mostly entertainment-related), you should check out his site this week. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Heath Ledger: Dead at 28"

It floors me when people my own age die.

That's what happened when I opened up my browser and the newslines announced Heath Ledger's death. I couldn't believe it! Minutes later, my husband emailed me a link to a simliar newstory, which confirmed the tragedy. I then did as many others might have yesterday - scoured the internet for more information, saddened as different articles reflected on Heath's promising career and young child. I am still wondering if his death was accidental... or not.

I remember feeling this way before. Stunned. Disappointed. A little like I lost a piece of my childhood. It was four years ago when I found out Jonathan Brandis had killed himself. I grew up watching him in movies and on tv - he was my first "celebrity crush", and I even had a poster of him in my bedroom when I was in middle school. For days after I read the small newstory online, I couldn't stop thinking about how depressed and lonely he must've felt to feel like the only solution was death. I couldn't believe someone who had only lived a couple decades didn't want to see what many more decades would bring... how things could change in less than a year. The same feelings emanated after reading earlier this month about Brad Renfro's death at 25 years old - he was another actor I had first seen as a child.

My friend RC wrote a post about the "death of celebrities". In it, I appreciated his last line:

Heath, I don't know what to say about your death, other than I hope that those you left behind will find what you did not.

* * *

And then, just as abruptly as the news broke of his unexpected death, the rest of the world moves on. And while I know that's good and right and how life works, it makes me reexamine my own life... What impact am I having on the world around me? Am I in a holding pattern until my next "life phase" instead of doing what matters because I'm alive today? What a gift we have in life! To grow and learn, to love and feel real emotions, and to experience the scope of Creation. I pray we can all live to our fullest potential - every day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

HA! My fear is not unfounded...

It could be because I saw Stephen King's IT when I was in fifth grade (due to a bad-influencing friend - unbeknownst to my mother), but clowns freak me out. A lot. Now a study shows kids don't like them anyway! :)

[I would put a picture with this post, but the obvious one would be a clown, and I just don't want it there!]

Friday, January 11, 2008

How did your candidate handle baby Dahlia?

I thought this article and the accompanying "photo essay" were interesting to read and see. Thought you might as well!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Movie reviews (in brief)

Over the past two weeks, I've actually seen some movies (thanks to gift cards, airplane rides, and a little cousin's Christmas gift). Here are my quick reviews and ratings in the order I saw them...

Quirky, entertaining, and fresh. It's not one of those, "Wow! That movie was AMAZING!" feelings so much as "Hey! I really enjoyed that - I wouldn't mind seeing it again soon." The music fit the witty dialogue perfectly. Grete's star rating (out of 5): 4 stars

High School Musical 2
Ugh. CHEESY, fake, unoriginal ("Saved by the Bell" summer job episodes, anyone?), waaaay overrated (if you consider tween reviews "ratings"), and did I mention cheesy? It was a little painful to watch them say something hoaky and then immediately know a song would be sung about said hoaky-statement. The only good part was that the airline chose to play something other than clips of sports and news shows for the flight. Grete's star rating: 1 star

High School Musical (yes, I saw the original one after the sequel)
This one benefited from the fact that I saw the worse one first. And those darn songs are so basic and repetitive that they get stuck in your head after one viewing! The writing was slightly more entertaining than "2", but otherwise it was also cheesy, unoriginal (I saw many Grease plot throwbacks), and made for ages 15 and under (hence, my little cousin wanted it for Christmas). Grete's star rating: 1 1/2 stars

I purposely avoided hearing summary reviews for this because I really wanted to take in any surprises in my own viewing of the movie. I thought going in: romantic drama. Yes, it was romantic. Yes, it was dramatic. But, goodness, it was DEPRESSINGLY tragic for most of the latter half. All the beautiful cinematography, costuming, and face close-ups only suck you into the cheerlessness more until you leave feeling like, "*sigh* That was NOT what I was expecting to see." Jon told me afterwards I should've guessed from the title word that it would mean something bad would need redemption. Grete's star rating for movie quality: 4 stars. Grete's star rating for upliftingness (if that's a word): 1/2 star.

Anyone have any recommendations for me to see?