Monday, January 31, 2011

+ + +

Sometimes I get so riled up about environmental, animal welfare, and other important social and political issues that I think I should go back to school and get another degree so that I could do something more substantial to help.  Thinking about the problems we face and the size of them can be so overwhelming.  But then, I read about projects like this and feel so inspired.  There are people who have actually found ways to combine their artistic talent with their passion to help solve environmental (and other) problems.  That is so cool!  Putting on concerts in partnership with a nonprofit that is meaningful to you to raise money and raise awareness could be really rewarding.  I wonder who else might be interested in doing something like that?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vegan Trial

I have decided to try veganism again on the advice of my doctor, of all people!  I was eating a huge amount of cheese, milk, and yogurt every day, so this has been a challenging couple of days.  I've started eating lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains.  But, I confess that I'm feeling hungry and I can see that if I'm going to do this successfully, I'm going to have to do a lot of grocery shopping, get organized, and cook a bunch of meals ahead of time.  That is not how I usually operate, which is why I was eating so much dairy and refined flour and sugar.  What can I say?  Those foods are quick and easy!  Over the last month, since I gave up refined flour and sugar, I have forced myself to start eating bushels upon bushels of fresh fruits and vegetables, and have started cooking whole grain pasta with veggies and beans in the evenings.  So, I'm partly there.  (I was already a vegetarian, of course.)  But, I've never been a patient cook.  Everything in my nature up until now says I will fail at this.  Still, I have to be optimistic.  My doctor has some compelling reasons for me to try it out and success in the long term is definitely worth a little pain and inconvenience now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting To Know You

1. What is your favorite day of the week right now?
2. What is good about Tuesdays?
3. Do you watch television?  If so, what's the best night for TV these days?  (If you don't watch TV currently, what was a good night for TV at some time in your life?)
4. What day do you usually do the laundry?
5. What day(s) are you looking forward to this week?

(me: 1. Sunday; 2. My rehearsal on Tuesday night does not require too much brainpower, so it's a relatively painless day over all; 3. I don't have a TV now, but when I was in college, I used to like watching Thursday night Must See TV; 4. Saturday or Sunday; 5. Saturday and Sunday!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things I'm Thinking About

I just got some new music for voice and violin in the mail and discovered that I will probably be able to play/sing this new piece like I've been doing with the Vaughan Williams set *Along the Field*.  The new set is *Four Songs for Voice and Violin* by Gustav Holst.  Of course I can only play/sing two of the Vaughan Williams and will probably only be able to play/sing two of the Holst...  It is interesting because the way I'm practicing is pretty much just to try to improve my violin playing by practicing solo violin literature, etudes, and scales, as I have no idea how to practice singing and violin together.  Still, the coordination it takes to do the two things together is beyond me right now.  I mean, I am doing okay, but there are things like trying to change bow and also end a phrase with good diction and take a good breath that are surprisingly hard to do simultaneously!  Still, it's actually a really, really fun sort of challenge that I am mostly enjoying.  I do get really frustrated and stamp my feet and curse sometimes, but overall, it's all good.

I also have two new books to read.  One is *The Savvy Musician* by David Cutler, which so far looks like it's going to totally change the way I think about myself as a musician and how to make a living.  (Yay!)  The other is *The Grand Design* by Stephen Hawking, which already has completely expanded the way I think about everything. (Whoa!)  I love it.

Oh... and I understand it's very, very cold in the northeast and midwest right now.  Stay warm, y'all!  Drink lots of hot cocoa!  Get to the nearest fireplace!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


So... since January 1, 2011, I have not been eating any refined sugar or flour.  This was in an effort to try to adopt a healthier diet and also as a measure that I hoped would help me lose a few pounds.  I thought I would try this first before going on a strict exercise regime, since my free time is severely limited and I have been trying to practice violin for an hour every day.  Three weeks later, it seems that I have not lost any weight at all, but I am definitely eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and a lot less crap and I'm sure it's a good thing.  But... if I am going to get even healthier, I'm going to need to start exercising again.  I actually belong to a gym, but I haven't been there since I stopped doing weekly physical training sessions and didn't want to have to confront the pushy sales staff (whose offices are located right next to the women's locker room).  My gym actually has multiple locations, so I could go to another slightly less convenient location or I could even exercise in my own living room.  I walk at least two miles a day and often more, often up steep hills, but other than that I am not getting any exercise.  Seems like I could go back to some of the routines I remember from my weight training sessions, since I have free weights at home.  The thing I have to live with, though, is that I might just be doing this for the sake of my health and that's it.  I might not have the energy and stamina it takes to actually lose any weight.  And... maybe that's ok.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Internet Is Fun

Protactinium - A short-lived, naturally occuring, radioactive element, extremely rare and expensive. (Gr. protos: first)
Mithril - A durable silvery metal that is very light and easy to work, mined by Dwarves in Middle Earth. (mith, 'grey', and ril, 'glitter')
Elementium - A rare element that came from the Elemental Plane in World of Warcraft.
Lanthanum - A very reactive, soft, rare-earth metal. Used for high intensity lighting. (Greek lanthanein: to lie hidden)

Your turn?  Click here.  :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Food For Thought

‎"The Greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do." 
           - Walter Bagehot

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting To Know You

1. Is there snow on the ground where you live right now?
2. What is one thing you love about snow?
3. Have you ever eaten snow ice cream?
4. Have you ever made a snow fort? a snow man? What else have you made of snow?
5. Do you think you would miss snow if you lived in a place where it doesn't snow?
6. What else do you have to say about snow?

(me: 1. nope; 2. it's pretty to look at and brightens up everything; 3. yes - it was yummy; 4. yes, yes, snow angel; 5. yes; 6. shoveling it gives you big muscles...)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Food For Thought

“What you do in life is insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” 
     - Gandhi

Friday, January 07, 2011


A few months ago I started reading a book called Switch.  I have been surprised by how enjoyable it is to read and have been reading it slowly and savoring its refreshing ideas about how to reframe life.  Although it speaks about making changes in the workplace, its ideas are applicable to all facets of life.  One concept that I have been thinking about a lot is something they call making a destination postcard, meaning that you take the time to imagine very clearly and precisely where you'd like to end up after you have made the changes you'd like to make (which is one way of figuring out what changes you need to make to get there).  It's one thing to think about how frustrated I am by some things I don't like about my life now, but it is surprisingly challenging to think clearly about what exactly I would like my life to look like so that things would be better.  More soon...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Getting To Know You

1. What is one thing you are procrastinating right now?
2. What is one thing you need help with right now?
3. What is one thing you could do to help someone else right now?
4. What is one thing you wish you had more time to do right now?
5. What is one thing you have to do, but don't really want to do today?

(Me: 1. Getting ready to go to my office; 2. Doing my taxes; 3. Probably lots of things. I could make someone a cup of tea, for example, or I could brush my kitty cat; 4. I wish I had more time to compose before going to work; 5. I have to get to the office earlier than normal today... (guess I'd better wrap this up!))

Yes Yes Yes!

This is a follow up on my very, very unscientific research study where you (maybe) and I both put "YES" on our walls...  Do you think your life satisfaction has gone up since you put "YES" on your wall?  Strangely, I think mine has.  Ha!  I'm not sure if I care if it's related or not!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Today I watched a video of myself singing and playing violin.  I was mostly fine with it, but it was hard to ignore the fact that I have put on more than a few pounds this year.  The problem is, I want to be thinner and I am happy with making an effort to eat better, but in all honesty my free time is so limited and there are so many things I want to do, I don't realistically see daily trips to the gym in my future.

I wonder how much weight I could lose just from eating better?  I walk a mile and a half to and from work every day and sometimes take a walk at lunch, but other than that, I am not getting any exercise.  I have started practicing violin regularly, which probably burns a few calories, but I'm not doing any hard core exercise at all.  And, I have been eating a lot of sweets and pastries lately...  I wonder what would happen if I were to just cut out refined sugar and flour?  I guess we'll see...  That's going to be my New Year's Resolution.  Wish me luck!

Happy New Year!

One of the strangest things about being back in California (I just got back from seeing my family in Syracuse for the holidays) is noticing how much colder it is here.  That probably sounds strange.  I spent five days in a place where the temperature varied from about 15 to about 39 degrees Fahrenheit and now I'm in a place where the temperature is currently 48 and that is probably the coldest it will get.  I think a large part of it has to do with the fact that people in cold climates tend to keep their houses quite warm in the winter time (especially when they have guests), whereas my apartment in San Francisco only has a little electric heater and it's drafty, so it is always chilly inside when it's cold out.  I guess the other factor is expectation.  I was expecting it to be really cold in Syracuse, so I brought my warmest clothes and I wore them.  When I returned, I expected it to be much warmer here.  It certainly isn't as cold outside, but inside my apartment is considerably colder than inside my mother's house in Syracuse.  Time to go snuggle with my kitty cat under the blankets!!  Happy New Year!