Sunday, April 29, 2007

Festival of Books

Tom took a break from finals-studying this weekend so that we could wander around the LA Times Festival of Books on campus. Last year right before we went on our honeymoon we spent some time on UCLA campus before our plane left and it was when they were cleaning up from the Festival of Books so this event was a little sentimental to us. It was VERY hot on Saturday, but it was fun to walk around and look at all of the booths and all of the crazy people. Anyway, finals will be over in a couple weeks, but until then life will probably be pretty boring. Here are a few pictures from this weekend:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

This evening Tom and I were wandering around Westwood and we noticed a group of policemen arresting a homeless man for drugs in front of a Starbucks. There were several people standing around watching the old man be handcuffed. It was an incredibly sad thing to watch. After living in Westwood for several months, I have become pretty familiar with the homeless people who live in the neighborhood. There are A LOT of them. Some of them come and go, but most of them are always around and always talking to themselves. There is one guy who usually sits on a bench on Broxton and he wears about fifteen sweaters at once. Even in the summer. There is another guy who sits on a crate on a corner that I pass on my way to work everyday. He sounds like he is preaching, but his speech is so slurred that I can't understand what he's saying. Before living here, I had very little interaction with the homeless. In Pittsburg I knew plenty of really poor people, but I don't think any of them were homeless. In Salt Lake I lived in the suburbs and even though I tried to go downtown pretty frequently, Salt Lake is so nice and clean that the homeless people didn't really seem that homeless. Now, I see homeless people everywhere. And it is just unbelievably sad.

I don't really know how to segue out of that subject so I'm not really going to try. Tom called me yesterday with some exciting news: he had fit into his pre-mission shorts. This has been a goal of his over the last few months, and they finally fit :) He still wants to lose about five pounds, but I think he looks absolutely fantastic the way that he is. I couldn't be more proud of him. Speaking of Tom, he finished class a couple days ago and now he is just getting ready for finals. His last final is on May 14th and then we are going to go on a nice little vacation to San Diego. I think we both really need one.

I continue to be glad that we don't drive our car very often.
I keep seeing this articles on about how gas prices are supposed to be going down, yet they continue to rise. Speaking of, I hate the new layout of the website. Tom and I both read their articles frequently, but the new font they are using for their headlines is driving me crazy. We actually both read several articles from the website and then enjoy discussing them when we get home. I think the new font is ruining my life. I am so glad tomorrow is Friday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

heroes returns

We have a pretty fun few days since I posted last. Last Thursday the Hillmans (my mom's sister Julie and her family) were here visiting from Utah, so we got the opportunity to spend some time with them. Then over the weekend we did a whole lot of nothing (for the first time in a while) which was especially enjoyable.

The Hillmans were in town to spend some time at Disneyland and Universal Studios, and we were lucky enough that they took some of their vacation time to visit with us. I wasn't sure where we should take them, but considering that I know my cousins love to shop we took them to the Beverly Center. I told them ahead of time that celebrities occasionally shop at this mall, but I warned them that we probably wouldn't see any. Little did I know that we would be shopping in the middle of H&M when my aunt Julie would spot Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens from the movie High School Musical. I have never seen this movie and I would have never recognized these two, but my cousins are apparently in love with Zac so they got to have their pictures taken with them and they were really excited.
Here's a picture of Kate and Olivia trying on sunglasses at H&M

I had a very interesting experience at work today. Around 10am we started hearing people yelling through megaphones very loudly and unintelligibly over and over. We could see the protesters walking up and down the street, but we couldn't figure out what they were protesting. When I left for lunch, I figured it out. When I walked downstairs the lobby of the building was filled with police officers and there was a line of police officers in front of the building. It seemed excessive considering that there were only five or six protesters and they were protesting something having to do with UCLA killing primates. I couldn't quite figure it out, but it was unlike anything that I have ever seen so I had to take a picture. You can see the line of cops on the left side and the protesters on the right.

Ok, I have an issue that Tom and I have been talking about today and I am wondering what everyone else thinks. There is a video on YouTube (just click on that link and it will take you to the video) of the Dick Cheney protest at BYU and then of the protest being broken up. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I was a member of BYU Democrats and still receive emails from them and I was a little shocked when I found out that BYU was going to allow this protest at all (even though I'm not very happy about the Cheney situation myself). Now that I see this video, I kind of wish that the protest hadn't happened. What do you think? Do you think it was handled appropriately?

I did actually do one thing this weekend. I organized some of our photos and posted them on Flickr. This is not all of our pictures, but this is a big project and it will be a little while before I get them all posted. You can view the pictures by clicking here. I also put a link to the picture under "links" on the right side of the blog. I think this is particularly useful to our families because that means that you have access to all of our pictures and you can now download them to your own computer. I'm going to explain how to do this, so let me know if this doesn't make any sense:
1. When you initially click on the link, it will show all of the "sets" of pictures. Each set has several photos. Click on the set you want to look at.
2. After you click on the set, you can see all of the pictures in each set. Click on the picture that you want to download.
3. Right above the picture there are several options. Click on "all sizes." It has a little magnifying glass next to it.
4. This should open a larger version of the picture. Above the picture it will say "Available sizes" and then list things like "small" or "medium" or "large." Click the size that you want.
5. Click the download button which is right above the picture. Now you can keep the photos on your computer or order prints of them if you want.

Ok, I know that everyone probably wants every single picture that we take (ha ha) so now you can have them. I will try to keep this updated in the future. Also, I would just like to mention that Heroes resumes tonight. Tom and I love this show and have been anxiously awaiting new episodes . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Moot Court

It turns out I got 3rd out of twenty people in my category in the moot court competition. I think I got robbed, but I'll concede to the possibility that maybe the girl who scored higher actually did better than me. However, my time doing debate in high school tells me that this is not necessarily true at all. Goodness is in the eye of the beholder and when you have different beholders, well, you can't really say much at all. This competition was just a mini competition, which was supposed to give us a flavor for next year, when they have two different big tournaments which make up the "real" competition.
Conclusion: I'm doing moot court next year and I intend to beat the pants off this girl. (note, her gender is immaterial, but since that is the only thing I know about her, it'll have to do) (also note, the guy in the picture is not me, but does give you some sense of what the competition is like) (one last note, I intend to add more stuff to the blog in the future so the burden isn't all on Erica to keep everyone up to date on our extremely fascinating lives)

Monday, April 16, 2007

coming to terms with the exclamation point

I hate exclamation points. I think that my hatred stems from my attitude in high school that I was going to try to be as non-peppy as possible, but at this point I correspond via email so often that I have had to re-think my position on punctuation. In fact, I was a very big poetry-writing, editor-of-the-literary-magazine dork in high school and I was well known for refusing to use any punctuation in my poetry. But recently. . . I have noticed that, in an attempt to spruce up my emails, I have started to use the occasional :) and ! and I have decided that maybe the exclamation point isn't so bad. Maybe there's nothing wrong with being a little peppy sometimes!

We had a pretty busy weekend. Tom had a moot court competition on Saturday morning (which went pretty well). I got up, cleaned the apartment, did the laundry, gave blood, went to the bank, went to the library, and then picked Tom up from moot court. I was very tired afterwards. I actually get FOUR HOURS of paid time off every time I give blood which makes it a much more bearable experience. Afterwards we went to Bakersfield and had a very enjoyable time with Tom's parents. It was nice to get away from LA for a few hours.

I saw something interesting on Friday while I as walking to work. I noticed that at the first intersection that I cross, the street-light was out. Not until I had awkwardly crossed the street did I realize that one of the streetlights was actually ON the sidewalk. I guess someone hit the pole or something . . . but no one had bothered to clean any of it up. It was all pretty strange:

Here are a couple more pictures from this weekend:

Our car gets REALLY dirty since it is rarely driven, so while we were in Bakersfield on Saturday Tom decided to take advantage of the "natural car wash" and wash it in the rain.

Also, we took a picture with Tom's parents . . . Tom thinks his arm looks weird in the picture, but I think he looks cute

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center."

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. I first read Slaughterhouse Five when I was a sophomore in high school and I have been in love ever since.

it's a small world after all

Last night Tom surprised me after work. He told me he was going to stay late at school, but as I walked out of my building he was right there waiting for me. We took the bus out to Santa Monica to do a little wandering around (this is one of my favorite things to do) and on the bus I had a chance encounter. I would say that this is probably the second strangest event of this nature that I have ever had.

The first one happened in the Dallas airport. Forgive me if this is a little confusing. During my senior year of high school I went to Texas for my spring break. Most of my other friends went to New York to compete in the national Model UN conference. Another friend (who had graduated a couple years earlier) was a staff member for the Model UN conference and was going to college in San Antonio. Little did I know that coming back from the conference (New York to San Antonio) she had a layover in Dallas. So I was just sitting there waiting for my flight . . . and right there this girl I know from high school (my high school in Salt Lake) walked right by me. We ended up sitting and chatting while we waited for our flights, but it was pretty strange and very random.

Well, yesterday as we got on the bus to go to Santa Monica, this girl got on who looked very familiar but I couldn't really tell because she was wearing big sunglasses sunglasses. After we had been sitting there for a few minutes, I realized that it was a girl that I went to high school with. What are the chances that Tom and I would randomly take the bus one day and randomly run into a girl who I didn't even know was living in LA. It is a small world after all.

Anyway, we enjoyed our evening in Santa Monica. We walked over to the beach and did some much-needed clothes shopping. Tom has lost enough weight in the last few weeks that his old jeans were too big. And we attempted to take a few pictures of ourselves with Tom's phone-camera:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter weekend

Thank goodness for the weekend. We celebrated last night by going to the Beverly Center for a little dinner and shopping. The mall has Tom's favorite place to eat (Chipotle) as well as my favorite clothing store (H&M), so it's actually not too difficult to get him to go to the mall with me. I have discovered that I don't enjoy going shopping quite as much as I used to. Before Tom and I got married, I was a very frugal person . . . except when it came to shopping. I went shopping at least once a week, usually more like two or three times a week. Now, it is really painful for me to spend money on clothes. Since we moved to LA I have only bought a few things that I needed for work and I actually had to get rid of some of my clothes so that all of our stuff could fit into our closet :( Oh well, it's worth it, and it's still fun to go to the mall and look around. I think I know get my shopping fulfillment from grocery shopping. Here's a couple pictures from last night:

Actually, that last picture reminds me of another picture we took at the H&M in San Francisco in December 2005 in which Tom was also bored and trying on hats:

I have some exciting news (for us at least): we paid off our car. Over the past year I've been putting any money I can find toward paying the car off, and getting our tax return last week finally made it possible. I thought it was interesting that when I clicked the link that said “End of Term” on the website it said, “So what comes next? Negotiating a trade-in with your dealer may be a great way to come up with a down payment for your next vehicle.” I don't think so. I'm just happy not to have a car payment.

My family should think this is interesting . . . This week I was listening to the NPR: Day to Day podcast and the subject of the podcast was illegal immigration. They were talking about how heavily the Texas economy relies on illegal immigrants and they had various Texas business people talking about different scenarios to allow immigrants to work with work permits, etc. All of a sudden I heard, “Hi, my name is Bo Pilgrim. . .” Ha ha. Bo Pilgrim owns Pilgrim's Pride which is a chicken company based in my hometown of Pittsburg, Texas. Anyway, I thought that was pretty random.

I guess we don't really have any big Easter plans. We were going to go to Bakersfield, but Tom has a big assignment due Monday so it looks like we're staying home. We should probably start to try to establish our own holiday traditions, but it's difficult when it's just the two of us, Tom has homework, and we're broke. But, here are some pictures (taken by Tom's brother Brent) of our nieces and nephews on Tom's side dressed up for Easter:

Monday, April 02, 2007


Last night Tom and I watched the Discovery Channel's Planet Earth. It was amazing. We watched the episode that was about deserts. I would definitely recommend that you all watch it if you get the opportunity.

Over the last couple months I have become obsessed with podcasts. I basically listen to them (or audio books or music) for the entire time that I am work almost every day. Recently, I have become a little frustrated with my job because we have been short-staffed and I'm under some stress to compensate for the missing employees, so I have been more reliant on the podcasts to help me get through the day. Here are my current favorites:

NPR Talk of the Nation
NPR Wait, Wait don't tell me
This American Life (Thank you Betsey, it's wonderful)
KCRW's Left, Right, and Center
ABC World News
Brain Food
French Vibes
Grammar Girl
NPR Business Story of the Day
Time Business Podcast
NPR Economy
NPR Environment
as well as a few others that I listen to occasionally . . .

The good news is that the podcasts save the day. Does anyone have any other podcasts that they they enjoy? I like podcasts that are at least 30 minutes long so I don't have to switch back and forth. I'm sure things will get better at work as my boss hires new employees, but until then . . . it's really not that bad, I just like to complain.

I got some really cute pictures of my niece Hailey today, here is one of them: