Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fierce Creatures

We have learned that not everyone here loves animals. Some people have religious reasons. That I appreciate, though I do not understand. Others are simply unreasonably, pants shittingly terrified. Here are a few examples from the last couple of hours:
The condo that we live in is being sold. This is not a big deal in general. There is a clause in our lease that states that we will continue to live hear at the same rental price for the duration of our lease, regardless of who the owner is. A while back we had a number of people come and see the place. Today, an appraiser from the bank came to look around. She rang the door bell, and I picked up Benson, anticipating that afraid or not, she might not want a strange dog jumping on her. So I open the door, Benson in my arms, and she comes in, looking a little nervous. Then she saw PJ laying on the floor, and attempted to climb the nearest wall to get away. To be clear, PJ was doing what she always is doing if she is not begging for food... lying around on the floor. In order for her to come in the house, I had to put the cats in the two separate bathrooms, and assure the appraiser that the cats could not open the doors. Then she needed to see that bathrooms, and she had to go back outside, while I moved the two cats to the guest room, which she had already surveyed.
Later this evening, after dinner, Erin took Benson to the second floor walking area for a little walk and bathroom time. From our apartment on the fourth floor, I could hear a child scream at the sight of Benson. As anyone who has met our pets knows, they are not exactly frightening creatures.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Zoo

Yesterday we took a trip to the zoo. Erin and I had been once before, when we visited last year, but we thought it would be fun to go with Zach and his entourage. It is a holiday weekend here, so the place was pretty crowded, but we had a good time. Below are a couple of highlights and observations:
This is Zach at the Pygmy Hippo exhibit. They are incredible, adorable creatures, but Zach was intrigued by the turtles. To be fair, the turtles were cool as well, and more active than the Pygmy Hippos.
Cheetahs have pin heads. Really... I don't care how fast they run, they look dumb.
Malaysian Sun Bears are the smallest species of bear on earth. They also (a) have the coolest name, and (b) are ridiculously adorable. This one is sleeping in a tree, and nearly falling out.
This scene struck me as funny. There is a line of people trying to use a vending machine that is clearly identified as being out of order.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Frustration and Podcasts

I have a confession to make: I am having kind of a hard time adjusting to life here. For lots of reasons. I am bored. I want a job, and I feel frustrated that I am not getting more responses than I have received. I could complain, and wish for better, but there is an expression about wishing in one hand, and well... I know which hand will fill up faster. So despite the frustration I keep looking, and keep being nice to people, and keep taking advice, even if it makes me uncomfortable, like calling or emailing their friends who may or may not know someone who may or may not be willing to talk to me. Actual jobs are never even mentioned. And then there are the agencies, tons of them that post the same jobs, and I apply to them all, and do not hear anything from any of them. Yes, its frustrating, and sometimes I let it define me. I don't hear anything, so I must be a loser. Other times, I know that I am a pretty decent guy, who really wants to work and can do a really great job. And maybe people just can't see that from my CV.
And we miss home. The New York Marathon is this weekend, and right now I am torturing myself, thinking about how great it would be to be able to see my big brother and my good friend Matt run this race in the city at the center of the universe. And the following weekend is the Richmond Marathon, and that is like a high school reunion for me... better, actually, because I like the people that I ran with.
So that is the bad. I get a little bored, I get a little crazy without the structure of having a defined goal (i.e. a job to do with tasks to accomplish). Which is nonsense, of course. I have goals. I am supposed to be training for a marathon here, which I may or may not be running. I cook dinners, and take care of pets, but I wonder if I can be completely content doing only those things day after day. I know one thing that will help. I run a Bloomberg like ticker of airline ticket prices when I start missing home. That is probably not helping, and I need to stop. I find myself saying things like, "Erin, ANA is down to $1200 with fees included, I'm moving it from my hold list to my buy list, this thing is hot... HOT!" Its like living with that Mad Money dipshit.
So what do I do to feel good about being me today? I hang out with my friends, and we drink coffee, and laugh and joke. I go to the gym, and I read, and I do my favorite thing in the world right now: listen to podcasts. This time in my headphones makes me so happy. I learn things. I can be on a crowded train, and completely unaware of what is going on around me because I am so engrossed in what I am hearing.
Sidebar: I am surprised that more people here do not miss their train stops. Allow me to explain... People here work insanely long hours, and are therefore ridiculously tired when they get on the train in the morning. It looks like Mardi Gras, the morning after on the train at 6am, minus the vomit (usually). People slumped over, eyes closed, seemingly unconscious. I am surprised that these people do not have to be rousted when the train reaches the end of the line, but somehow, people get where they are going.
Okay, back to me. My favorite podcasts include the usual line up of This American Life and the Moth, along with Freakonomics Radio and Planet Money. Who knew that I guy with no interest in finance, and who is in fact quite bad with money, would find so much joy in listening to stories about economics, the financial industry, etc.
And even better, these Podcasts point me to other media, like books and television that I might enjoy. I was listening to another favorite podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, and he interviewed Patton Oswalt, who raved about Battlestar Gallactica in a way that made it appealing even to me (decidedly not a sci fi guy). We are currently making our way through the first season. On another occasion, Ira Glass highly recommended the book The Big Short, about the housing market disaster... I loved it.
And the best part of all is that this incredibly smart, hugely entertaining stuff is available FOR FREE. And the ones that are not free, like archive episodes of TAL, are available for next to nothing.
Any one have any other favorite podcasts to suggest to me or the halves of dozens of other readers of my blog.