Friday, December 31, 2010

A Quick Summation of Twenty-Ten

Half-way through writing this entire blog and checking items off my lists of things to do in my lifetime, I started to realize how much new stuff happened this year compared to the rest of my teenage-hood. I don't know if it's because I'm in college now or what, but the experiences I've had in the past 12 months are looking like a great start to the rest of my life. A while ago I was feeling so proud of myself that I decided to start a list of all the new things I tried this year, and what better time to post it than on the last day of the year?

New Experiences for Shannon in 2010

Twilight Concert Series in SLC
Failed Legit Job Interview
Indian Food
Regular Babysitting Gig
Meeting People From the Internet
Legit Double Date
Owning an iPhone
Major Declaration
Road Trip Sans-Parents
Barista Job
Painted a Plate (Color Me Mine)
Studying the Bible
Roller Derby
Riding the Catapult
Trip to the Junkyard
Fishing With Friends
Dancing in Foam
High School Hockey Game
Oxygen Bar
Cartilage Piercing
Starting a BLOG!!

On top of all those things, the very core of my being has changed in monumental ways: I now hardly ever eat breakfast, and I drink coffee frequently. With lots of french vanilla creamer, yes, but it's a big improvement. I can stand the taste of oatmeal, and I have a new fascination with mushrooms and supreme pizza.

I enjoy studying the Bible and falling in love with Jesus, and I think I know what I want to do as a career. I like hard rock more than ever, and I quickly became enamored with big, fancy rings. This summer I was the tannest I've ever been - something I miss a lot right now, with the reappearance of my chalky paleness. Skinny jeans are becoming a fave, especially paired with high top converse. One Tree Hill is an addiction I acquired this year - I'm almost to season five! I've made tons of new friends and have started to find a world to belong in during my college years. All that and more has contributed to the Shannon that's typing these words right now. I feel like a puzzle with the pieces slowly coming together. Hopefully 2011 and all the years after that are as happy as this one was, full of even more new experiences and relationships to build. Bring it on world: I'm ready!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Last Few Weeks (in Lazy List Form)

Things I Love Right Now
    Despicable Me (Single-Disc Edition)
  • The DRUMS on Guitar/Band Hero
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Busy-ness at work, meaning large handfuls of cash to count!
  • Cheesy holiday teen romance novels
  • 7 new CD's I got for Christmas, plus a mix
  • Despicable Me
  • Seeing old friends over the holidays
  • The idea of whitening my teeth, which will happen soon
  • The large amount that is going to appear on my next paycheck
  • The Sing Off on NBC, and acapella groups in general
  • Finally getting to tell people I picked a major

Things I Hate Right Now
  • All the good holiday food that I can't stay away from
  • My car in this weather
  • This weather
  • The Internet not working for 24 hours at a time, on and off for a week
  • My coat somehow spewing out feathers all over my back, ALL THE TIME
  • Writer's block
  • Stupid dreams! Argh! And the person who occupies them! You need to not exist anymore! 
  • Indecision about my next job status

Over this last month of vacation I've felt really grateful to have so many leisure opportunities. Not since Christmas of 2009 did I have more than 3 straight weeks of time where I didn't have to go to school. Taking classes during the summer kept me from being bored, but it also meant that fall semester was waiting for me right at the end. Right now I'm relishing in my last week of freedom before the spring semester starts, although work is a bitch. Not really. It's just that waking up early and doing the same thing everyday gets old pretty fast. Good thing it's an easy job and I actually like it most of the time. 

I'm also thankful that I've gotten to spend a lot of time with family and friends. Seeing my buddies who go to different colleges is always something I look forward to, and I could only wish they were all here for longer. With some, it feels like the party is only getting started, but I know they'll be leaving before it's over. Here's to ... a good Christmas, great companions, and hopefully blogging more in the future. I need to get back on that train! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010: The Year in Music (According to MY Library)

One of my favorite magazines that my family subscribes to is Entertainment Weekly. At the end of each year, they produce an issue overflowing with their "top lists" for all forms of media for the last 12 months. Movies, books, music, ... having many subcategories within each. Most of the time I don't agree with their top picks, so I thought this year I'd make my own. And that's exactly what these are - strictly my personal experiences, and certainly not an attempt at summing up the entire industry's year of productions. My genre bias becomes evident as you read on.

Top 20 Singles
Whether they were released in 2009 or 2010, these are the songs that I will always remember being the anthems of this past year. Most made their discoveries known to me through pop radio stations, some are rock songs (of course, that IS my taste), and some are just inbetween. Note that in no way does the order of a song's appearance on this or any following list signify ranking.

1. Tik Tok - Ke$sha
2. Animal - Neon Trees
3. Cooler than Me - Mike Posner featuring Big Sean
4. Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars
5. I Will Not Bow - Breaking Benjamin
6. Jar of Hearts - Christina Perri
7. Pornstar Dancing - My Darkest Days featuring Chad Kroeger
8. Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars
9. Nightmare - Avenged Sevenfold
10. OMG - Usher featuring Will.I.Am
11. Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
12. Like a G6 - Far East Movement
13. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
14. The Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
15. Secrets - One Republic
16. Dynamite - Taio Cruz
17. Kick in the Teeth - Papa Roach
18. Your Betrayal - Bullet For My Valentine
19. Empire State of Mind - Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys
20. Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

Top 10 Albums I Discovered
I don't know about other people, but I am always finding out about old music that just happens to tickle my fancy at a much later time than when it was actually popular. I guess you could say I'm behind the times, but I don't care. Here I record a few of the albums I'm thankful for listening to in 2010.

1. Fearless - Taylor Swift (2008)
2. We Are Not Alone - Breaking Benjamin (2004)
3. Lateralus - Tool (2001)
4. Riot! - Paramore (2007)
5. Elephant - The White Stripes (2003)
6. The Sound of Madness - Shinedown (2008)
7. Greatest Hits - Guns N' Roses (2004)
8. Meteora - Linkin Park (2003)
9. Innocence & Instinct - RED (early 2009)
10. Dirt - Alice in Chains (1992)

Top 15 Singles I Discovered
Same description as above, but these are single songs. This list almost means more than the last, simply because there weren't a lot more than 10 albums I downloaded/bought that were older than a year or two, so the ones I had pretty much filled up those spots. The selection for this one is a lot wider, though. Here goes:

1. Basket Case - Green Day (1994)
2. Fire It Up - Modest Mouse (2006)
3. Big Balls - AC/DC (1976)
4. Work - Jimmy Eat World (2004)
5. Son's Gonna Rise - Citizen Cope (2005)
6. Champagne Supernova - Oasis (1995)
7. My Own Worst Enemy - Lit (1999)
8. Holy Diver - Dio (1983)
9. Pepper - The Butthole Surfers (1996)
10. Till I Collapse - Eminem (2002)
11. Loser - Beck (1993)
12. Lollipop - Framing Hanley (2007)
13. Nookie - Limp Bizkit (1999)
14. More Than a Feeling - Boston (1976)
15. Plush - Stone Temple Pilots (1992)

Top 5 2010 Albums 
Pretty self-explanatory. Of the 2010 and late 2009 releases, these were the albums I listened to the most this year. I wish I had had time to listen to more, but I simply did not. And with this final list, I conclude my post.

1. Dear Agony - Breaking Benjamin
2. This is War - 30 Seconds to Mars
3. Speak Now - Taylor Swift
4. Asylum - Disturbed
5. Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ... with nuts!

Thanks to this lovely app I have on my iPhone, "Epicurious," I can browse thousands of recipes for any kind of food without having to flip through multiple cookbooks. I love it because most recipes are rated and reviewed, and by looking at the percentage of people who say they would make it again, along with the number of people who actually voted, you can easily determine which recipes are winners. With 91% of 79 people saying they would make this oatmeal chocolate chip cookie again, I figured the chance that the cookies would come out unsatisfying was small. Some reviews tell of their slight revisions of the recipe, but when I followed the exact instructions and used the exact ingredient amounts, they came out pretty much perfect. So here's me sharing this yummy recipe for ya'll!

"Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oatmeal and Pecans"

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 2 heavy large baking sheets. Beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until fluffy and well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, the vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over butter mixture and stir to blend. Mix in oats, the chocolate chips, and pecans.

Working in batches, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 14 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store cookies airtight at room temperature.)

Bon Appetit, December 1996

Ok so I guess I kinda lied about changing the recipe. I normally don't have unsalted butter on hand, so I used the regular salted kind that we had, and left out the extra salt the recipe calls for. When using this technique I've never found my cookies to be too salty, so it must be working. Also, my brown sugar was not "dark brown" sugar, just regular ... brown ... sugar. And it worked fine. 

The cookies came out looking gorgeous, as you can see, and it really makes me appreciate the ice cream scooper I've started to use for baking. It truly does make nicely rounded cookies more efficiently and with less mess on your fingers. You know what I'm talking about - the thing where you squeeze the handle and it plops out the dough for you? Sometimes I'm wary of all the kitchen gadgetry on the shelves these days, but this nifty tool actually has some use.

I feel like I've been praising so many things in this one post! If you take anything away from it, I hope you either check out the Epicurious app, bake these awesome cookies, or even invest in a cookie dough scooper (find a good one at pampered chef). Otherwise I will at least have another well-made recipe documented for my own sake. Ha!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Confessions of a Childcare-giver

I'm not so pro at eating pizza in bed with my laptop yet, but I just couldn't resist the surprise leftovers I came home to on an empty stomach after babysitting just now. I could've eaten anything at the family's house, but I didn't realize how hungry I was till I opened the pizza box in my kitchen and my heart filled with glee. Even further, after just eating half a slice, it was apparant that one of the reasons I had been so tired was because I hadn't eaten in 8 hours.

Babysitting is always an adventure. Once or twice a month I am called on by a sweet couple I met to watch their two and four-year old boys for a few hours. Progressively each time I had fallen more and more in love with them, especially the innocent toddler whose infectious laugh makes me melt inside. But tonight we've crossed a certain threshold where all of the sudden these sweet boys are TOO comfortable around me that they won't physically leave me alone. One or both were attached to my body at all times, often with a hand in the face or legs somewhere up around my shoulders. No longer is the infectious laugh cute when it results from repeatedly smacking me with a pillow while the other attempts to conquer my person like King Kong and the Empire State Building.

Were their parents secretly keeping them locked up all day so all their energy could be released all on me, or is there really that much sugar in two tubes of gogurt? Two and four-year olds may be able to repeat the words please and thank you, demonstrating that they can pretend to have manners when you remind them, but neither age group knows the meaning of the word "no." As in, no you may not jump on my stomach just because I lied down on the floor for 5 seconds, and no you may not keep climbing onto the railing and almost killing yourselves falling down, and no you may not keep eating all the food in your fridge even though I know you can't still be hungry.

Me, after putting M & G to bed

Everytime I see this family, the two year old has learned new words, and the ones that showed up most tonight were very centered around some common themes. No way could I have not understood that "nack" with a point to the cupboard obviously meant "feed me now." No way did I underestimate the importance little M laid on how much he wanted to climb on my shoulders, when the sequence of vocabulary went from "move" to "back" to "stand up."

No clearer have any commands been from this almost three year old who's graduating from his crib soon. I do not look forward to the day when I get to put him to sleep only to hear him crawl right out and go back to playing with his toys. This is not just annoying, but very worrisome, as he is nicknamed El Destructo for his superhuman ability to get into anything and cause a ruckus. Just today he scared me half to death whenever he attempted to climb on his toy box to turn off the light and fall in. I know I may have some extra padding around my gluteus maximus area, but if I were him, I wouldn't be so thrilled about landing on so many hard, plastic items. I do have to hand it to the kid, though, for being such a daredevil and not even crying the many times he's fallen off the couch or taken a buzz lightyear to the butt.

If all this is making me sound like a horrible caretaker, you'll be even more delighted to know I let them watch Cops on TV. It was the only thing that made them sit still for 5 minutes, and I was NOT going to give that up. Besides, they're too young to know what any of it means, so I don't think any harm was done. But really, I'm actually doing a pretty dang good job of watching them, since no phone calls to the parents have been made, let alone tears shed by either of the boys from an injury. That in and of itself is an accomplishment to be noted.

Despite the boys being super hyper and good at not listening to me tonight, I still presently enjoy the few occasions I get to see them. Babysitting not only puts a pleasing amount of cash in my wallet, but it's fun because their smiles delight me so. Plus, being around kids is almost an instant boost of self confidence, since you don't have to worry one bit about them thinking your hair is greasy or you don't sing as well as Carrie Underwood. As long as you're giving them attention, you will be loved, and that love is a nice thing to feel.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Partays

Oh how I love my fellow Intervarsitites! Intervarsitians ... Intervarsinese ... Intervarsitish ...

Two Christmas parties thus far involving these folk have put a smile on my face already during the month of December of o-ten. Actually, more than a smile. Last night tears were streaming down my face not once, twice, but three times, from laughing so hard at our funny selves! Our crazy shenanigans from the shin-digs have included plenty of ugly sweaters, funny portraits, Guitar Hero collaborations, candy cane cookies, and more. If this weren't my blog (being entirely open for the world to see), I'd put pictures up that documented the occasions. Perhaps in the print version of this so-called "yearbook" of mine, I'll put some photos in where they should be.

Last night, at the advisement of one of our wiser and more experienced friends, we watched White Christmas, a movie I had never heard of. It's one of those old flicks with dancing and singing ... haha, a musical I guess. Bing Crosby stars with 3 other leading actors who all did a fantastic job in this film that has it all - a love story, humor (yes, I laughed!), Christmas spirit, that cute old-fashioned feel, sentimental warm fuzzies, and plenty of adorable outfits worn by the women that left me wanting to live their lives. Those empire waists and flowing skirts ... sigh. Such glamour! Such poise! Such elegance! Not to mention the dancing was phenomenal - extremely entertaining, and seemingly a blast to perform.

Of course this 1954 movie was where the song "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" originated. When Bing Crosby sings any song, the sound is so fantastically rich, it's like listening to the dark chocolate of voices. I couldn't help but feel like I was indulging, by simply allowing the sound into my ears. Indulge as well, as you listen to this clip from the movie and consider watching the whole thing yourself:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Scantron Failure

And the Nobel Piece Prize for Scantron Failure in 2010 goes to ... the List Girl! 

This chick here is a bonafide retard when it comes to filling out scantron forms. For some reason it takes an unusually large amount of effort to get the right bubbles filled in with the right numbers, and matching up with the answers I actually want to choose. I have missed questions on tests that I knew the right answers to because I simply filled in the wrong bubble. This is a big deal in college! Every little multiple choice counts! Additionally, at other times I can fill in the right bubble but it will be on the wrong line, and I'll have to go all the way back to the root of the problem and erase like 20 answers. It always worries me that I don't erase the wrong ones all the way because the machines are so picky about that and I don't want to be marked down because there was still some smudging left, due to a crappy eraser. I made at least 5 mistakes like these today on one scantron sheet alone. Go me...

And there was even one time this semester in class where we completed a practice quiz with about 25 questions and I intelligently started my answers at #2 instead of #1. The beauty of this (yes, sarcasm) was that I had no way of realizing I messed up until I got the sheet back graded with an entire line of red marks on the side, indicating almost every one of my answers was wrong. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to ask my professor if I could fill out a new one. This wasn't 5th grade, this was college. He must think my ACT score was a 12 or something. (However, if this was the case, I could just blame it on my inability to fill in the right bubbles - who knows, maybe I'm still a genius and that is my only error.)

On a somewhat related note, does anybody else get excited when they have four answers in a row that are of the sequence A C D C ? Because it just tickles me. :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up With Nothing of Any Real Importance, But Still Interesting Stuff

Hello, blog, long time no see. You've missed me, have you? Well that's nice to hear. I'm kind of having a writing crisis this season, as you may have noticed, since I haven't posted very much in the past few weeks. I feel bad but I just can't do it ... hopefully this funk goes away and I can get back to my regular schedule and get back to loving blogging again.

But here I am, trying. I have no subject for this post yet. I thought I might talk about how much of a creeper I am, since within minutes of posting a facebook status about it, I got 3 or 4 likes. Meaning it was a successful discussion topic ... ? I'm rather pleased that my statuses have been doing so well recently, capturing many likes and comments on each one. I feel like facebook isn't such a waste if people actually pay attention to my activity and conversation is generated.

You know what would be really sweet? If I could publish the spectacularly awesome white paper on this blog that I've been putting so much time into with my group in Technical Writing. We finally finished today after hours and hours of work and stress. It was a 6 week long project that spanned many documents, assignments, and a presentation. I'm so proud of our professional piece of work completed today, it could legitimately be a real white paper produced in a successful business. Of course now that we've spent so much time being nit-picky on every bit of language in the 15 pages, I can't help noticing all the flaws I already have in this one post. BUT I don't care. :) I get to be myself on this blog and I write the way I think, which is in no way perfect.

Back to the creeper thing though - 

Funny story, but I happen to have recently developed a crush on this amazingly designed specimen in my accounting class. He's kind of gorgeous. Quiet and mysterious. (And by kind of gorgeous I mean he's really attractive.) I've never talked to him, and I don't know anything about him except that he asks smart questions, falls asleep adorably sometimes in class because of his work (?), and does not wear a wedding ring. In proper detective fashion, I carefully listened the last time our professor was handing out graded tests, and I caught his last name (it came right before mine!). Upon filing that piece of information away in a safe place in my brain, I was able to look up the one e-mail our professor ever sent the whole class, and scanned the list of recipients till I found his last name. Luckily our school e-mails consist simply of our first and last name, so with that one step I gained the most important part - his whole name!

I owe much thanks to Mark Zuckerburg for ever creating facebook because within seconds I had found him on the internet and was gazing upon his very nicely done profile pic. It's not one of those you can place in a category on a mockery list of all the stereotypical douche pics guys always use (the party pic with beer in one hand and arms around friends in a dark location, or the phone snapshot in the bathroom mirror, etc.). I didn't friend him or anything, that would definitely be really weird. I don't know why I was compelled to look him up at all, but at least now I know his name. I'm really hoping he's in my next accounting class. So yeah. That's my story of creeperness for this week. My services are available in exchange for suitable compensation.

In other news:

- Harry Potter 7 is a good movie.
- I'm even more in love with the new Taylor Swift album.
- I've been producing a lot of awesome mix cd's for friends that I wanted to just upload the playlists for, but they're all specialized to each person and purpose, so that might be ineffective for other people to see.
- Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties are fun, even if they end early. I shall post about that later when the pics are up.
- I had my first Mormon Muffin a few weeks ago. It was HEAVENLY.
- I'm also REALLY enjoying the Hunger Games series!! Man, those books have the best cliff-hangers I've ever seen. You simply MUST obtain the next book as soon as you're done with one. Good thing they're all out now because I would have a hard time waiting a few months/years for more to be published.
- If I had my way this Christmas, I would get the normal amount of presents, plus about 5 pairs of converse on top of that. I can't look at their website without finding too many pairs that I want, but they're all so expensive!
- On the Christmas note, we have a real tree this year, finally. I was expecting it to smell of pine but it actually isn't that fragrant at all. I want to buy a pine-scented candle to light next to the tree so when people come over, they're really impressed with how good the "tree" smells.
- Also pertaining to Christmas, my highly organized and geeky CD Wish List, complete with priority ranking:

I love Excel. I also love music. I also think I might love accounting. I'm thinking I should work for some sort of music production company's finance division. (Wow, that was one noun-compact phrase if there ever was one.)

How to BS
Speaking of technical writing, again (the reference, if you didn't catch it, was in that last statement in parentheses), I have to say that I have actually benefited a lot from this class. I think everybody should take it, because people these days suck at writing intelligently. Our book is great - Technical Communication by Mike Markel   - especially the chapter on "Writing Effective Sentences." It's all about being concise and clear, and eliminating unnecessary words. Very useful for professional documents, but also if you apply the concepts in reverse, it's a great instruction guide for how to BS.

The high school I come from gave us lots of practice in that (unintentionally of course), but these techniques are even more helpful. I can't claim it's a good thing for college students to follow this advice in making papers longer because I expect professors catch onto these things and aren't appreciative of our deceitful efforts. But I bet such tactics work wonders for high school kids. So if anybody who's reading this post is in high school, I recommend you pick up a copy of that textbook. If you're smart, you can find out which principles to use from chapter 10 that it actually advises against that will work wonders for adding length and fancy-speak. The book also has legitimate chapters that tell you how to write a good argument, which you'll end up learning anyway in regular english classes.

That's all I have to say for now. I hope to be back soon but I can't make any guarantees. At least know that my absense is not due to laziness, but other more complicated reasons that I can't explain.

I bid thee farewell.