Friday, December 28, 2007

Feast 173

Name 2 things you would like to accomplish in 2008.
1 - I would like to get back down to the weight I was at right before my sister's wedding and stay there for at least 3 consecutive months. 2 - I want to finish reading the rules for Burning Empires and run at least one session.

With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?
I have to pick just one? Let's see... I like food like Garfield the cat; I am challenged at work like Dilbert; I can sometimes be sing-song-happy like the Smurfs; I can somtimes be loney and sad like Charlie Brown; I can be uncoordinated and naive like Scooby; I can be loud and obnoxious like Fred Flinstone. I guess that's enough.

What time of day (or night) were you born?
You know... I'm not exactly sure, but I think it was right around noon -- probably lunch time because I was ready for some real food already!

Main Course
Tell us something special about your hometown.
Out of sheer defiance, I always thought of Woodbridge, Virginia as my hometown, but I have to concede that I've lived here in Kansas now for a majority of my life which really makes this home. So what is there special about Shawnee/Lenexa/Roeland Park/Overland Park Kansas? The cost of living is such that I can make a really good wage that doesn't all get spent on goods and housing which leaves enough left over to save and travel quite a bit. But the best part is that my friends and family are here.

If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?
Well, my first thought was someone famous or important like Bill Gates or the President. But then I realized that if I did receive a letter from someone like that it would be some generic promotional thing or a secretary-written-stamped-signed kind of note. So I thought about it a little more and remembered I had a friend move to Seattle awhile back and I haven't heard a peep out of him -- Thomas if you are reading this, write me a letter!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Feast Number One

Well, the Feast went on holiday today, so I thought I would start with the first.

What time do you usually wake up each day? If you could choose your wake-up time, when would it be?
I have to wake up so much earlier than I want to. During the week, it ranges from 6:00am to 7:30am depending on how bad I feel and how late I was up the night before. I'm lucky that I'm not expected at the office at a specific time every day.

When was the last time you bought groceries? What store did you go to? Name 3 things you purchased.
Hmm.... I don't go that often but I did just a couple weeks ago. I usually shop at Hy-Vee for real groceries, and last time I got kale, squash, zuccini and apples.

How many books have you read so far this year? Which was your favorite and why?
Wasn't the last Harry Potter book this year? I did "read" that by listening to the audio book. I'm also in the middle of the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I wouldn't really call either one a "favorite", but they are enjoyable.

Main Course
What is something you consider to be very elegant? In particular, what about that item/place/person conjures up the feeling of elegance?
I don't really think about elegance very much; it's not something that usually interests me. So then I had to look it up in Wikipedia and I decided that Justin embodies this ideal more than anyone I know.

Who taught you how to drive?
My Dad taught me most of it, including the best part of how to use a stick-shift. But I also went to a Driver's Education class where I learned all the official rules. In the end, I still can't parallel park.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Feast 172

Almost didn't get this one posted today -- it was crazy at work.

Make up a word and give us its definition.
Esoterifeast - A particularly difficult question on Friday's Feast.

What is currently your favorite song?
Hmm.... Songs come and go with me. Right now nothing really recent comes to mind. The last one I can remember wanting to listen to over and over was A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos.

What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?
Didn't we have this question a few weeks back? Seems like something similar.... well, as far as I'm concerned all I want for Christmas is a happy family gathering.

Main Course
Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
Spaghetti sauce reminds me of Mom. Well, actually just about any homemade pasta sauce will. No one can cook like she does, and it always puts a smile on my face.

Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?
Oh boy, I could probably come up with a really long list that includes just about every reality show out there. But in general, I don't watch those shows so it doesn't both me too much that silly/annoying/ignorant people are getting that kind of marketing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday's Feast 171

What was the last game you purchased?
A Munchkin expansion as a gift for a friend.

Name something in which you don’t believe.
Hmm.... this is harder than I thought. I'm one of those "glass is half-full" kind of people and it's hard for me to phrase my beliefs in a negative way like that. Just trying to think of an answer for this question has led me to a lot of depressing ideas, so I'm just going to skip it.

If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?
Probably Bill Gates. This was another tough one for me because I prefer to have bosses with some technology intelligence who stand up for their employees.

Main Course
What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
To quote Shakespeare, "To thine own self be true." I still believe that putting the needs of others before my own is important, but there is that point at which you shouldn't do things for others if it goes against your own personal beliefs. I learned this the hard way by going through a period where I gave away so much to other people that I didn't have a self left to stand up for and then there came the really big crash.

Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.
We have one -- it's a well-designed theatre. I really enjoy watching movies and often do it to relax and escape the rest of the world.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


And now for an as-usual-belated-after-trip report on our visit to Virginia for Thanksgiving. It was enjoyable and mostly relaxing, but too short to get the full effect. I didn't take many pictures, but I can share a few images.

Here is my grandfather doing his expert duty of carving the turkey.

Everyone at the table say, "Happy Thanksgiving Pam and Michael!"

After the big meal, several of us went for a walk so we could "make room" for the dessert. I tried to take some snap-shots along the way, but my uncle's leaf-throwing skills were no match for me.

As we headed back to house at the end of the walk, we noticed the large pile of bags that we had worked so hard to rake earlier in the day. Someone had the nerve to say, "Let's see who can guess how many there are?"

Since no one knew the final count for sure at first, we had to spend several minutes re-arranging and counting.

By the way, I think the answer was 52, but my memory isn't what it once was so don't quote me on that.

The next day we made a trip to Great Falls national park to try and do some fun hiking. The cold ended up defeating our spirits, but there were a few nice pictures nonetheless.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday's Feast 170

What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
Roller-coasters with over-head rails. But really, any ride that throws you around at high speeds is pretty fun.

How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
Uhh... hmm.... well.... I, uh, probably get pretty quiet.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?
Depends on my mood, but usually on the order of 8 to 10. Also, the enjoyment level will vary according to whom I am talking with, as some are more interactive than others.

Main Course
Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?
Nope. I've never bothered with one. Even when I get the flu, it's never been bad enough to knock me out for more than a couple days. And I don't have the time/money to worry about shots every year.

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?
Well, let me count of the shows I am actively watching right now: Numb3rs, Heroes, House, Boston Legal, and for now Bionic Woman (but this will be replaced with Sarah Connor Chronicles in January). That adds up to 5 hours a week, which is a lot for me, because for several years it was zero.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My sister's wedding - part 2

'Nough said

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feast One Hundred & Sixty Nine

What was your first “real” job?
What do they mean by "real"? My first hourly paying job was TCBY in high school. My first "career" job was answering phones on the internal Sprint help desk.

Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
Hiking or camping; basically doing something outside in nature where I often feel.... uh, how do I explain? It's like being "at home" while at the same time being "away from it all". The outdoors definitely bring out my creative side.

Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…
Wow... I didn't think this one would be so hard. I guess I've gotten so "old" in the last few years that I don't really get embarrassed anymore. I laugh at myself all the time. But probably the closest would be playing certain games with my family -- like the time I had to give a 60 second speech explaining to the devil why I don't belong in Hell -- a little embarrassing, but probably hilarious.

Main Course
What values did your parents instill in you?
All of the really good ones -- spirituality, honesty, compassion, and the importance of family.

Name 3 fads from your teenage years.
Michael Jackson; Rubik's cube; Madonna look-a-likes

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Feast 168

Which snack do you like to get when you go to the movies?
Popcorn, of course! I take after my mom on this one -- a movie isn't really a movie if you don't have a steamy, buttery, tub of popcorn in your lap.

What year did you start using the internet?
Well, that sort of depends on how one defines the "internet". Most people think of the World Wide Web, which I was using back in its early days around 1992. However, even before that I was reading and posting to USENET, communicating through e-mail, and playing on-line games with telnet. Needless to say, I've been "on the Net" for a long time.

What is your first name in Pig Latin? (Here's how to speak it if you don't already know!)
Angelaway (Really boring since my name has a vowel at the beginning.)

Main Course
Name something you are picky about.
There are probably a lot of things, but the one that comes up most often is having the bed made. Justin may be one of the cleanest, neatest people I know, but he sure can mess up a bed and doesn't seem to mind it staying that way. I, on the other hand, don't really like climbing into a bed that doesn't have straight sheet -- preferrably tucked into the sides and everything.

Fill in the blanks: I ____ ____ yesterday and I ____ ____ today.
I couldn't think yesterday and I can't think today.
(Yes, it's lame, but the only thing the eventually fit.)

This post is a day late because I lost connection yesterday and didn't have time to address it until today.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday's Feast

How much money do you plan to spend this upcoming holiday season?
A *LOT* less than usual. Most family members all agreed that it has been a tough year financially this year, so we are just giving "thoughtful" gifts or just visiting. It feels a little strange because I really enjoy shopping and buying things for other people, but at the same time it's kind of a relief, because we are "feeling the pinch" this fall. It'll be interesting to see how everyone feels after the holidays and what we decide to do for next year.

What was the last television show you watched, and was it good?
I think the most recent one I watched was the latest episode of Boston Legal. Like most of the shows I've been watching, it just isn't as good this year. I'm considering not watching anything anymore. Well, that is, until Sarah Conner Chronicles starts in January.

If you had to paint the walls of your living room tomorrow, what color would you choose?
I would paint over the same color we have now, Sherwin-Williams "retreat", a warm forest green color that has really grown on me.

Main Course
Name something clever or practical you have thought of that should be invented, but hasn't yet.
I guess I'm not the creative one, because nothing comes to mind that *I* actually thought of. Rather, I immediately think first of my sister's blucumber -- a cucumber that is blue to add the one missing color to your salad. Then I think of Justin's meatball-maker -- a panini-like grill with divots that will auto-shape ground beef into little balls and cook it evenly all around.

List 3 things you would like to receive as gifts this upcoming holiday season.
Well, since I mentioned above that I am not expecting anything, the best gift would be a cheery attitude and lots of time to play games. However, if someone won the lottery or a group of you got together to get me my dream gift this year, it would be a FlipStart, an ultra-mobile micro-PC.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday's Feast

Name a great website you would recommend to others.
This should be easy -- but the first thing that popped into my head was the question, "What kind of website?". I guess I can just start with the ones I spend the most time at, which lately is Google. Not only do I use their search engine for just about anything and everything, but I have now set up my home page to use many of their portal tools, which are the following:

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how often do you dream at night?
10. I always dream. Sometimes they are more intense and memorable than others, but there is always something. That is part of the reason why it is so hard for me to wake up in the mornings -- I am usually in the middle of a good dream and just don't want to come back to reality.

Did you have a pet as a child? If so, what kind and what was its name?
The first pet I can remember "having" was the stray cat, Pumpkin, who really belonged to my sister since she is the one who took him in and made him part of the family. Both him, and our later cat Pepper, were "family" cats and were not just mine. Now that I am married, we've had two cats, Arkady and Frege.

Main Course
If you had the chance to star in a commercial, what would you choose to advertise?
If it could be any kind of commercial, it would be about education and the power of mathematics. If it had to be something more commercial, then I'd choose to hype the TV show Numb3rs.

What is your favorite kind of hard candy?
Tough question -- as I don't really like hard candy that much anyway. If I had to choose one from all the hard candies out there, it would be peppermint.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My sister's wedding

Okay, so I am finally posting some follow-up to my sister's wedding. By the way, it was beautiful and a lot of fun; and I'm really glad it's over. I love it though when extended family has an "excuse" to get together and have some fun, which we did. The only thing I really regret is that I kept forgetting my camera. As the Maid of Honor, I was so focused on making sure my sister had a great time that I forgot a few things for myself. Which means that I have no personal photos to share. Luckily, many family members have shared with me, so now I can finally post a few.

A nice picture my uncle took of my sister modeling her dress for the rest of the family a few days before the big event. My sister-in-law is in the background wearing her bride's maid's dress.

The biggest draw-back for the entire event was the fact that my father's knee got an infection three days before the wedding. He had replacement knees put in this February and the left leg caught an infection in April. Apparently, the antibiotics and clean-out procedure weren't enough because it swelled up again in September and put my father in a lot of pain. The doctors immediately wanted to take the replacement knee in that leg out, so that the body could try to remove the infection without a foreign object in place -- However, with the wedding just days away no one in the family wanted to go through that so soon. So we convinced the doctor's to pump up my father full of antibiotics and pain-killers to get him through the big weekend. The only down-side was that he was in a wheelchair the entire time. Yet he managed to entertain himself and my grandfather.

The cane jousting was going on while us girls were tip-toeing through soft grass in high-heels to have our pictures taken.

We even managed to teach the photographer that our family doesn't say "cheese" or even "spaghetti" -- for our pictures, it's "LASAGNA!"

During the actual ceremony, instead of doing a typic unity candle lighting, my sister and her fiancee chose to do a sand pooring thing. They had two vases with different colored sands that was then "united".

This next picture is one of my favorites -- the couple at the end when they are announced as "Mr. and Mrs.".

The reception was fun and the food was actually very good. Here is a picture of their mad-hatter style cake.

And yes, there was dancing; although it was mostly different line dances that I didn't quite know and as you can see, mostly just us women who were doing the dancing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another Friday Feast

As mentioned yesterday, I am continuing with Friday's Feast for the mind.

If you were a dog, what breed would you be, and why?
I would be Snoopy -- he's the only decent dog there is. Otherwise, I'd of course be a cat.

What does the color purple make you think of?
My friend DaNay -- She likes purple almost as much as I like pink.

Approximately how long does it take you to get ready each morning?
Between 30 and 45 minutes depending on whether I shampoo my hair and how droggy I feel.

Main Course
How many cousins do you have, and are you close to them?
Total cousins - 6 that I can count off the top of my head. There may be others on my father's side that I'm not really sure of, so obviously I'm not very close to them unfortunately. The others I know about as well as most of my extended family, but I wouldn't say we're close. Again, probably unfortunate.

Take your initials (first, middle, last) and come up with something else those letters could stand for. (Example: SFO = Sweet Funny Otter)
In the fifth grade I was teased for putting my first and last initials on my homework which was "Alcoholics Anonymous", adding my middle initial didn't help much because then it was "Also Known As". Adding my married name, the best I can come up with is "Absurd Kind And Reliable"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weekly Feasts

I found a new website with something cool for me to post about: Friday's Feast -- a buffet for your brain. Once a week this site is updated with 5 interesting questions that you can just ponder, or like me, share the answers with your friends. Since I found this site on a Thursday, I will go ahead and start with the questions from last week. Beginning tomorrow, I'll answer the new questions every Friday. Yay!

When was the last time you were surprised?
My husband has been all sorts of wonderful lately, including surprising offers to give me back-rubs when I really need it.

Fill in the blanks: My eyes are ________, but I wish they were __________.
My eyes are looking old and tired, but I wish they were sparkling with energy.

If you were a Beanie Baby, what would you look like and what would your name be?
A little pink kitten -- Purrfectly Pink

Main Course
Name two things you consistently do that you consider to be healthy habits.
I play soccer once a week and drink lots of water.

What brand of toothpaste are you using these days? Do you like it? Why or why not?
I've been using Crest with Baking Soda and Peroxide for many years now and I love it. It leaves my teeth feeling clean without that metallic taste in my mouth.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Burning Man 2007

So finally, the much belated report on our trip to Burning Man. I will have to supplement my story with some pictures from elsewhere since I'm not a good photographer and I got tired of carrying around my camera.

Anyway, we start with a drive into the desert. Here is my first picture of lots and lot of sand.

It seems like there is no one else around but us. Yet eventually, we get to a line of cars and work our way towards the "city". We crawl forward -- speeding limit is 5 mph in Black Rock City -- and eventually get let through the gates and start winding our way around to the spot where we are going to be camping. Check out this satellite image: Black Rock City. The roads roads going circularly around have names corresponding to the alphabet and the cross-streets heading towards the center of the circle are named after the times on a clock. The "bottom" of the circle, 6 o'clock street, is the entrance and is actually towards the southwest in the above picture. The camp we stayed at was close to the intersection of 3 o'clock and F street.

Here is an image of an intersection as we are driving our way toward our camp spot.

As soon as we get there we learn that during the time it took Justin to drive to the airport to pick me up, our tent already was a casualty of the first dust storm. We had a shade-tarp set up over all the tents to keep them cool and the wind that afternoon knocked one of the poles into our tent, creating a foot-long tear. We tried to patch it up with duct tape.

That minor problem solved, we start to unpack and "settle in" so that we can enjoy our first night on the playa. (By the way, "playa" is the name for the particular kind of desert terrain where this is at.) Here is my first photo of our entire group. (See I told you -- I'm a lousy photographer)

We get ready to go out just about the time it gets dark. And here is where the camera really shows it's weakness. I remember looking out into the darkness and seeing all these really cool tents, art cars, and people lighted up with neon and other neato glowy things. However, looking through the images I brought back, all I can see is a bunch of black with some colored dots.

That being said, there were a few really cool things that managed to stand out. One was a particular project that some of the guys in our camp had built this year. Are you familiar with the LED clocks that are made of just this single, thin stick that waves back and forth and you can see the time displayed in the air? (Something like this: LED toy.) Well, these guys decided to make a huge one of those with multiple "arms" that spin around in 360 degrees to make full 3-D images! They called it CycloVision sent out the following at one point: "Using advanced brushless motor control and LED technologies, dozens of microprocessors and programmable logic chips, CycloVision brings to life, for the first time ever, a whirlwind of images and animation formed in true 3D space." Even with that description, I know you probably are having a hard time imagining what it would look like -- I did too, until I actually got to see the thing up close. Here's a picture of it up close with the flash on.

You can see the big motors at the bottom and then there is a column up the middle with rows of LED-filled arms. Here is a photo of CycloVision without the flash.

Of course, one of the cool things about being in the middle of the desert at night is that it can get really dark, and thus whenever there is a light on, it looks like much brighter. So, in effect, when this things gets "going", you don't see all the equipment -- you just see the "image". And here is our first image:

What followed were some really cool sequences of fireworks and comets and spheres bouncing around. But all the rest of my pictures are blurred beyond recognition. Okay, so rather than try to go into detail about every little thing I saw, I'll just post a couple more key pictures. One of our favorite exhibits was called 'Crude Oil' that had this 100ft (?) tall oil rig that was faced by several 30-40ft tall statues.

Saturday night they burned the actual oil rig, but since we left early Saturday afternoon, we didn't get to see it. If you google on you-tube, you can find several decent videos of that burning, along with the actual Man, which we didn't get to see either. Despite all that, it was still enough fun that we want to go back. And part of the fun is dressing up in costumes. I didn't get a picture of myself, but here is Justin's costume.

This year the weather really surprised a lot of people by having sand storms every afternoon and actually raining one day -- a very light sprinkle for about 10 minutes. Although that didn't provide any real moisture, it did create an awesome complete double rainbow. A friend took this picture of is after it already faded quite a bit. I'll close with a link to a professional's picture of the full arc of color: rainbow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chaos Reigns

Okay, it's been forever since an update. I was busy before Burning Man trying to pack and get ready for that trip, and as soon as I returned I am now busy with all the last-minute preparations for my sister's wedding. Oh, and not to mention that my aunt and uncle came out to Kansas City early for the wedding in order to help us put in a bathroom downstairs. So we have construction going on, and then our air conditioner broke down on Saturday. Got that fixed (thank goodness), but while coming back from the reception hall yesterday with my mother and aunt, my mom's car decided to spring a coolant leak and nearly overheated on us. Such fun! I am trying to keep track of all the interesting stories and such so that I can post when the flurry finally dies down. Hang in there with me!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I saw Sunshine last night and am still unsure of how much I liked it. It has a very similar feel to 2001, but with more interesting characters and more recent technology. Yet the visual style was at times very compelling and at times very annoying. Although I respect a director that doesn't show everything right away -- i.e. keeps the monster/bad-guy off-camera for awhile -- there is a point at which I am ready to finally SEE everything, even in gory detail. With this movie, I was disappointed because there never was the big "reveal" in the end. Yet, I'm such a Science Fiction fan, I'll probably watch it again and may even end up buying the movie because I enjoyed the story. Thus, we come to a final rating of 7.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Keeping up with the Potters

Well, I've obviously been keeping myself busy again and haven't updated this site in awhile. Many of you may know that I was skeptical of the Harry Potter books when they first came out. But a couple of years ago my sister got me hooked by loaning me the audio versions. I listened all the way through the sixth at that time, and recently decided I needed to hear them again so the story would be fresh in my mind for the apparent end of the series just released a few weeks ago. After I got through the fourth book for the second time, I went to see the most recent movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I'm going to rate this movie a 7. I need to review my ratings of all the earlier ones, because I believe this is the best movie to date, but it's still not nearly as good as the books. Now I have to finish listing to 5 and 6 so I can finally start hearing the new story and find out how it "ends". Don't tell me anything yet!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Busy as usual, but it will fade

Work at the office is still pretty crazy, but I am hopeful that the overtime will drop-off this week. With that, and working on my sister's invitations, I haven't been reading any poems lately. However, just last week Justin decided he wanted to watch the Lord of the Rings movies again. I believe I've rated them all a 10, because they are all so awesome, yet after about the 10th viewing I can now see the sections where the story drags a bit. Anyway, one of my favorite parts is in the third movie, Return of the King, where the Steward of Gondor asks Pippin the hobbit to sing him a song. I know it's pretty sad, but the music and the way it is sung is so artful, I figure it passes for a poem this week:

Home is behind.
The world ahead.
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow to the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow, cloud and shade.
All shall fade.
All shall fade.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keep on dreaming

Okay, it's been awhile since I've posted a poem. You can imagine the usual set of excuses. In the end, it doesn't really matter since no one has been asking for one and it's really for my benefit anyway. Regardless, here is a link to a simple yet sweet poem by Langston Hughes: Dreams.

Uplifting, inspiring, but not too long. Just what I need on a Friday. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More than meets the eye?

I went and saw Transformers last night. Originally, I didn't think much of this movie mostly because of the fact that Michael Bay directed it, but I heard from several people that it was pretty good and the rumor mill was that it exceeded expectations. So after watching it, I have to say I think my gut reaction was correct -- I'm only going to rate it a 5. Yes, there were some enjoyable scenes and it had aspects that I appreciated, but overall it still had the Michael Bay feel, and in the end I thought they were just trying to show off the special effects. Those effects were really good by the way but they didn't really enhance the experience for me. I mean, I really enjoy big action movies, but I want to be able to see the action, not keep squinting my eyes at a bunch of stuff blurring across the screen trying to figure out what in the heck is going on.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Movies movies movies

So since it rained while we were in North Carolina, and since we wanted to relax and are such big movie fans anyway, we watched several while we were there. Then, when we came home we watched several more. Here is an update of what I've seen recently.

It started with Super Size Me, which I've seen several times now and still rate an 8. It just does a very good job of describing the state of fast food in this country and how harmful it can be.

Then we watched another documentary, An Inconvenient Truth which I'm only going to rate a 7. This one is a little more boring and has a section about the 2000 election that drags on too long. I think the movie is worth watching and the information is presented very well.

Next we went to something a little different, Peaceful Warrior, based on a book by the same name. Although some of the concepts were interesting, I was not impressed with the acting and I question a few of the precepts. Therefore, this one rates a 5.

When I first got back, I set up a John McClane marathon starting with Die Hard, the action classic from 1988. I rate this movie an 8 because it is one of my favorite Bruce Willis roles and one of the key movies that started my love for the action genre. The marathon continued with Die Hard 2, which is still very enjoyable but just not quite as good as the first, so it rates an 7. Then we come to the disappointment of the series, Die Hard With a Vengance. I still don't like how they turned John's character into a total loser. I rate this one a 5. Finally, I went to see the new one, Live Free or Die Hard which brought back some of the first's feel, but then had to go over the top in a couple of scenes. Thus, I am rating this one a 7, as I think it falls about where the second one does in comparison to the rest.

Another movie we bought and watch recently is the foreign film, Pan's Labyrinth. I had heard great reviews and it seemed like something I would like, but when I finally got to see the entire thing it left me really depressed. I had no idea it would be so dark. I still rate it an 8, because the acting and effects are spectacular.

Just recently, we decided to do a mini "1995 Academy Awards" marathon and watched both Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption in the same night. They both still rate a 9 and 10 respectively in my book. It's sad that there hasn't been many years like that where so many of the nominees for Best Picture are ones that I actually enjoy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ahh.... I'm relaxed

Our trip to North Carolina got off to a rocky start. Justin decided to surprise me and rent a convertible car, and at first I was skeptical. Especially when the attendant pulls around in this sporty, very small, bright red thing (Mitsubishi Spyder).

Justin got very excited and convinced me it would be alright. So the attendant shows Justin how to put the top down and right as we decide to drive away, Justin can't get the top to go back up. The attendant came back out and he couldn't get it back up. We go out for lunch and wait for the manager to come in and he can't get the top back up either. Personally, I'm thinking, Whew, now we can just get the cheaper regular car, but no -- they search the city to find another convertible for us. The only problem is, they show up with this ugly silver boat (Chrysler Sebring).

Justin has basically set his mind on the Spyder and since there are no others in the entire Kansas City area, we take the Sebring and drive all the way to St. Louis where we switch cars to another red Mitsubishi. Here it is with the top down as we are driving away from our first geocache stop.

As is typical for us, we bypassed most of our original plans to disc golf and geocache on the way out there and decided to get to North Carolina more quickly. As soon as we get into the mountains, the rain starts. It rained on us everyday we were there (and even several days when we got back home), but usually the mornings were clear. Here we are at a newly developed disc golf course only about 30 minutes from my aunt and uncle's house -- I call this shot "Through the Needle".

A few holes later, we came to another great shot on a very steep hill in the woods. It's hard to tell from this picture, but we are standing about 200 yards away and at least 100 yards *up* from the basket.

Here is a picture at the bottom of the hill -- isn't it cool?!

We are so very lucky to have relatives who live in the mountains. Not only did we get to stay rent-free, but we had live-in guides who could show us around as well as easy access to awesome views like this -- off the deck of the Raven's Ridge house.

Probably the most enjoyable and memorable part of the trip was our hike on Grandfather Mountain. In my head I kept picturing some nice wooded trails and wondered why my aunt and uncle were referring to it as the "ladder" trail -- there were no mention of ladders on the signs.

Yes, okay -- it does say the trail is very difficult. But actually we were planning on only going to Macrae Peak, which is the second stop listed. Just under a mile one-way -- how hard can that be?

It started off as I expected -- kind of rocky, like the Great Falls Billy Goat trail, but very wooded and much better views like this one.

Then we rounded a corner and I had my first surprise -- I have to use a rope? I know it's hard to tell in the picture, but that is a pretty steep incline and I'm sure it would be nearly impossible without the rope. Turns out, that the rope was a piece of cake and I continued on my merry way.

That is, until I came to surprise number two. Here is Justin being the brave, excited one to go up first. And no, the camera is not tilted in any way -- that is an actual overhanging rock at a crazy angle and a steep ladder underneath it. Now I know where the local name "Ladder Trail" comes from!

I made it -- by squeezing on to those rungs for dear life. I thought I was doing okay until I came to this scene -- the lady coming down was complaining that the ladders were not made for shorter people.

This section was the toughest for me. The steepness was always about the same, and I managed to handle the rungs fairly well. I came to one section where I nearly turned back -- I had to hug a rock and climb around on my stomach to get by -- but in the end it was worth it.

And we made it to the peak!

Look at this view!

Coming back down was another ordeal entirely. I had the benefit of knowing the ladders a little better the second time through, but I still was going pretty slow and tensing up all my muscles a lot. The next day my legs and even arms were pretty sore, but I would still do it again. In fact, we're trying to figure out if we can plan a trip to go every year. We'd like to make it to a farther peak next time.

Other than that, the vacation was nice and relaxing -- just what I needed to get my mind off of work and other stressful things.

Friday, June 22, 2007

On our way!

We leave for our vacation today! I am so excited just to get away -- not only from work, but from the house and from WoW. This is the first vacation in a long while that I'm not even worried about our itinerary -- I just want to drive and disc golf and geocache and hike and not think about anything stressful for awhile. We will have Internet access through a laptop with a Sprint wireless connection, so I am hoping that I can post some updates and do a little email. However, I am not taking my poem book with me, so there will be no "thoughtful" post for next week.

Not exactly a poem

I've finished my first poem book already, American's Favorite Poems, and am now starting on the second book, Poems to Read. I haven't read anything yet worth posting about, so instead I'm going to comment on an old saying that came up at dinner with Justin's father the other night:

I felt sorry for myself 
because I had no shoes
until I met a man 
who had no feet.
We were discussing ways of viewing the world from a more positive perspective and this phrase seemed to hit the concept spot-on. I am really going to try and stop letting work get me so frustrated, since I know there are lots of people out there who don't even have a job.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Martial Sillines

Based on recommdations from a couple friends, I watched Kung Fu Hussle the other night. It took me awhile to warm up to it, but I think it was pretty enjoyable in the end. I'm only rating it a 7, however, because some of the "fu" went just a little over the top for me. I relate it as being very similar to Fong Sai Yuk with Jet Li, howevever, that didn't seem quite as outrageous for some reason. I probably should watch that one again soon so I have a better comparison.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I had a comic-filled weekend that actually started late last week with the Fantastic Four. I'm rating this a 7 because it was enjoyable, but just didn't give me a "wow" feeling. Obviously, I thought it was good enough to go see Rise of the Silver Surfer this weekend, which I am also rating a 7. It really carries in the same vein as the first, which means that it was a well-written story but didn't have enough action to keep me on the edge of my seat.

After these very decent movies, I decided to ignore the critics and saw Ghost Rider. A rating of 3 seems almost too high. It seemed to me that the special effects team spent so much time on the graphics, that the production may have been rushed for everything else and they just threw a bunch of scenes together.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A gift

This week's poem is by Walt Whitman. Surprisingly, I've never really been that interested in much of his work. Most of the time I feel like he is rambling on and on without any catchy rhythm or imagery that connects with me. This one, however, jumped right out and to the point. To A Certain Cantatrice mirrors my own feelings that every person is valuable.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Another sappy one

This week's poem is another emotional one for me, entitle Love Song: I and Thou by Alan Dugan. Although I cannot directly relate to being a carpenter, I think the theme is that as hard as we try to accomplish everything in life on our own, it helps to have a partner. I am so happy I have mine.

Catching up

Those of you paying close attention will notice I missed posting a poem last week. I continually have this problem of finding a poem to post and then forgetting to actually follow through with the thought. Oh well. I have improved on my updates for this site, which was the ultimate goal, so I will try to keep up going forward.

Other miscellaneous things going on in my life:

  • Justin is the most awesome, wonderful, amazing, spectacular husband in the world. He bought me flowers and helped me in WoW get an epic mount and two very difficult pieces of epic tailoring gear.
  • The gooey-spray-grass-stuff we had put on the lot with the barn has come in very nicely. In fact, it looks better than the lawn in front of our house.
  • The crazy, over-allocated stressful time at work should be over with and I can hopefully return to a "normal life" now.
  • We are going to be visiting my Aunt and Uncle in North Carolina later this month -- finally a real vacation this year! Look for more updates on that later.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pirates - Ho Hum

On Memorial Day, I went and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with several friends, and I have to say it didn't really impress me. I'm rating it a 6 because there are a few things I still like about the overall trilogy, but really it doesn't live up to the first movie. I mean after awhile even Jack Sparrow gets old. So then yesterday, I made up for the theatre disappointment by watching Garden State at home. I had forgotten some of the little details which made my rating a 9, but I was enjoyably reminded why it does deserve such high praise.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Movie Catch-Up

I haven't been keeping up with my movie ratings lately. Let me try to rectify that. Just last night we watched Casino Royale which I was really enjoying up until the last act. If the movie had ended after Bond won the poker tournament, it would have gotten a lot higher rating that the 6 it ended up with. Plus, I still think Pierce Brosnan is the best Bond ever. Last week we watched a couple of action movies -- one surprisingly good and the other unbelievably bad. I was not expecting much from Crank but the excellent editing and funny story bits left me rating it an 8. Unfortunately, we followed this up with the Protector, which my rating of 2 should say it all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The simple things

This week's poem is about the simple things in life that are sometimes overlooked. Most of you know that I have a serious affinity for food, so I can really relate to the following poem by Mark Strand entitled "Pot Roast". As the author describes, it is often that as I enjoy a particular meal I am reminded of other times eating with family or struggling on my own in college or a dozen other key points in my life.

I couldn't find a good site with just the poem posted, so here is a copy from Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf):

Pot Roast

    I gaze upon the roast,
    that is sliced and laid out
    on my plate
    and over it
    I spoon the juices
    of carrot and onion.
    And for once I do not regret
    The passage of time.

    I sit by a window
    that looks
    on the soot-stained brick of buildings
    and do not care that I see
    no living thing—not a bird,
    not a branch in bloom,
    not a soul moving
    in the rooms
    behind the dark panes.
    These days when there is little
    to love or to praise
    one could do worse
    than yield
    to the power of food.
    So I bend

    to inhale
    the steam that rises
    from my plate, and I think
    of the first time
    I tasted a roast
    like this.
    It was years ago
    in Seabright,
    Nova Scotia;
    my mother leaned
    over my dish and filled it
    and when I finished
    filled it again.
    I remember the gravy,
    its odor of garlic and celery,
    and sopping it up
    with pieces of bread.

    And now
    I taste it again.
    The meat of memory.
    The meat of no change.
    I raise my fork in praise,
    and I eat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Living Room Fort

A poem to revive childhood memories this week: Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson. I still recall many joyful afternoons and evenings in the basement of our Virgina home making the sofa into a spaceship or the cushions into safe rocks surrounded by lava. I hope I never completely lose that creative innocence inside me. Hopefully, rolling dice to fight against dragons every other week is helpful. :)

Friday, May 11, 2007

No Poem this week

I know so many of you are disappointed.... well, actually I doubt that the few who actually read this site could really care about the poem posts. But I've just been too busy lately; too stressed; too tired; too sick of work; too ready for a long vacation; too full of so many reasons to skip reading at night and just flop into bed. I know that may sound like a cop-out, but seriously, I've been struggling more at work in the last couple months than I have since Sprint. And most of you know how bad that can be. Anyway, I'm trying to just hang in there until after a big work deployment this weekend and then things are supposed to settle back down to a somewhat normal routine. So we'll see.... wish me luck.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Fun weekend

Okay, so I was in Oklahoma City this weekend visiting with my brother. We got to use my brother's Wii some more and Justin decided that it really does give a good work-out. He kept complaining of getting all sweaty after playing some tennis or boxing. Despite the lure of the video game, we did get out and played nearly two full rounds of disc golf and completed five or six geocaches. A few of the caches we skipped because of rain, but overall the weather was pretty nice to us. Even with a Tornado watch most of the drive home, we only met with a few sprinkles. It was a nice get-away for the weekend, but of course much too short.

Spidey's back!

So yes, I went to a midnight showing of Spider-Man 3 Thursday night/Friday morning before I left to visit my brother this weekend. I did enjoy the movie, but not quite as much as I hoped. I think part of that was the fact that I was really tired when I saw it, so I'm going to watch it again at some point. For now, my rating is sitting at an 8, but that's not final.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Just made it

Almost forgot to post again this week. I picked this poem on Monday, and am just now writing about the sweet words of Margaret Atword in Variation On The Word Sleep. To me this reads like a beautiful love song, evoking strong emotions. I'll post more when I get back home -- visiting with my brother this weekend.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Beautiful Imagery

This week's poem is The Improvement by John Ashbery. This one doesn't actually impact me in a conceptual way, but it's more that I really like the cadence and the visualization brought forth. I mean, how can you not like transparent leopards like iced tea?

Friday, April 20, 2007

My precious

This week's poem is by Mary Oliver, entitled The Summer Day. I really like the detailed imagery in this short narrative, and of course, the last two lines just brings the point to home.

'Nough said.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Here we go

Yes, the week is truly almost over and there has been no poem post so far. This is for two reasons. One, I've had a lousy week at work and been really busy/tired, and two, because what few poems I have had a chance to read have not inspired me. I'm determined not to let this situation make me feel discouraged. I started the poem-a-week project not only to keep me up to date on this blog, but also to help nourish my creativity. So in that vein, I decided that this week I would write my own poem.

Now, I haven't written anything creative like this is a very long time. And it was mostly done in flash very late in the evening, so the quality isn't that great. Blah, blah, blah... enough excuses -- Here we go:

Pebbles scatter as toes scramble
   trying to find purchase
Fingers reaching
   hanging on by one hand
Frigid air rushing by
   does not stop to help
Empty blue overhead
   whispers no words of encouragement
Faceless stone under hand
   will not bend for support
Yet hanging still
   and hanging
Not letting go despite
   the fleeing pebbles
   the busy wind
   the hollow sky
   the unyielding cliff
For the ounce within 
   that will push us over the top

-akar 4/11/07

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Our big yard just got bigger

We're buying the empty lot next to our house.

The story is that we've been back and forth on this decision for awhile now. We've been really nervous ever since we started this "building a house" project that we'd end up with lousy, noisy, messy neighbors and thus regret the whole thing. It's been almost a year and a half in the new house, and we felt really lucky that the builder has been busy with so many other things that he hasn't had time or interest in actively selling the remaining two empty lots. We investigated buying the lot next to us back in the beginning, but with the prospect of such a large investment in front of us we did not think it was feasible. And as you might guess, by the time the house was finished we had spent more than originally planned and so it really didn't seem feasible then anymore; especially when the builder raised the price on the remaining lots.

So last week we noticed that there were new "For Sale" signs on the street in front of the empty land, and thankfully we got a call from the builder's secretary. He lowered the price back down some and wanted to give us first opportunity to buy. We looked at the numbers again, and felt that it is within our means. Not only is this an investment in our future -- a piece of land that will hopefully become more valuable over time -- but it is also an investment in our current peace of mind -- we now know we don't have to deal with a bad neighbor for a long time.

As part of the deal, we get the big white barn that is currently sitting on the lot, which Justin is thinking of turning into a workshop. Personally, I have no problem with just leaving it there to be an obstacle in our new, back-yard disc golf course. :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just keep right on

This week's poem is a nice refreshing change of pace for most poetry. A True Account Of Talking To The Sun At Fire Island by Frank O'Hara reads like a short narrative -- just a guy telling a story. It starts slow, and you think it might not go anywhere interesting and then before you know it, you've been refreshed and the story is over. Just like a poem should do. So please read, enjoy, and embrace things.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The results are in

After a month of cutting back on lunches and other foods in general, according to my spreadsheet trend-line, I've lost 3.2 pounds. That is actually the kind of progress I was hoping to make. Nothing overly dramatic, otherwise it would be much too easy for me to put it all right back on. So now the goal is to slowly work my way back to "normal" life -- that is, eating out for lunch with coworkers -- while still reducing my intake enough to reach my goal by September. My current plan is to go out one more day each week and take it one week at a time. Keep your fingers crossed with me!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Updated Review

Well, I got to see 300 again with Justin recently. I am finalizing my score at 8. Upon second viewing (and discussion with Justin), I realized that there isn't anything really new and exciting about this movie other than the visual style. The story has a lot of expected outcomes to it. This doesn't bother me too much because it is based on history, and the truth is, this is the kind of movie that I really enjoy -- big action, decent fight scenes, interspersed with just a touch of drama and maybe romance. There were the obligatory sex and Hollywood scenes, but I don't they detract from the better half of the movie. Although I realize this will probably not get into my top 10 favorite movies of all time, it is still one that I will buy to own and watch several times.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Short and Sweet

This week's poem comes from Marianne Moore (1887-1972), entitled "I may, I might, I must". I could not an official link to it anywhere, so here are the 4 powerful lines in their entirety:

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

It may not seem like much, but for me this week, it will do nicely.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not too late to be a hero

Those of you paying attention might notice I'm running out of time this week to post a poem. The really sad thing is that I had picked out a poem to write about on Monday night, but since then I kept forgetting to actually *write* the post. Ah, the follies of a busy, stressful, life.

Anyway, this week we have some uplifting verses from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life. My first reading was a quick skim and I thought, "Oh, old and boooorrrring". Luckily, the book I've been reading includes comments from fans and what one person said made me go back and view this one more seriously. So if you're thought the same thing when you linked over to look at it, then take a deep breath ...pause..., and read this one ALOUD. The words carry more impact when carried by the voice.

So I'm going to be up and doing.... ciao!

Monday, March 19, 2007


I got a chance to play on a Nitendo Wii this weekend, since my brother brought his up with him while visiting this weekend. I have to admit, despite the poor graphics quality, the revolutionary remote does make games a lot more interactive and fun to play. Also, it was enjoyable to try and create our own little avatars, called Mii. It's exciting to think about the future of console games that combine this interactivity and advanced graphics. Despite all the laughing, I don't really want to get own of my own because I have enough games and other things that take up more time than I have.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Worth watching

Finally, something worth going to the theatre for -- 300. Yes, I was pretty excited when I first saw the previews, but tried not to get my hopes too high. This time I was not disappointed. I'm going to rate it an 8 or a 9 -- luckily for me I'll get to see it a second time with Justin so I can finalize my score. I don't want to give too much away, but if you liked Sin City, or Gladiator, you will probably like this one too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Back to School

This week's poem is more famous, yet for some reason I never knew there was more to it than the two lines about the tired and poor. It's The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus and emblazoned on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty. I mean, how could I have missed, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" That is such an American thing to say... even if we do seem to not want the tired and poor anymore. And with Google, I got to learn even more about this sonnet that I must have skipped in school.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's a four-letter word

I've decided it's time to get serious about one of my New Year's Resolutions. I mentioned earlier that I was making acceptable progress, but since then I have been stuck. The up-side is that I'm not gaining. However, I'm not losing like I want to either.

That means it's time to make some *real* sacrifices. For the month of March, I am going to cut way back on going out for lunch and eat homemade meals. This will be difficult because a big part of my personal stress-management is being able to laugh and talk with coworkers at lunch while away from the office. So I'm going to try and just go home so that I will still be away from the office, but I won't have as much social interaction. Of course, I won't have the temptation to eat lots of bad food either.

So three and a half more weeks to go. We'll see how far that gets me before I decide if I can give up the sacrifice, or get even more brutal with myself.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I need a vacation

And to second that thought, this week's poem is John Keats : Sonnet VII, where we are taken away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the great outdoors and are reminded that the human spirit is renewed and reconnected best when out in nature.

Update: Lern 2 spellll... doh

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Post-a-week Project

I have decided what I will start "journaling" about, to mimic my sister's photo-a-day efforts. As I mentioned I already knew that doing something every day would almost certainly ensure failure, so I planned to post once a week. At first I thought I would just do a full movie review per week, but I'll be watching movies anyway so that doesn't really stretch myself. Then I thought about something more along the "creative" side of myself, like doing a sketch, drawing, or painting a week. This was putting the pendulum back on the "too hard" side again. I haven't been drawing much lately, and although I think this might be a worthy goal for next year, I'm just not there yet. Finally, I figured out something that not only allows me to post on the blog once a week, but also gives me a good excuse to keep up with my reading of Americans' Favorite Poems, which I received as a gift two years ago.

So the plan is to pick my favorite poem of the week and add some of my thoughts, reactions, what-not. And I'll go ahead and kick-off the project with one of my favorite poems of all time, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

This is a long one, and there are so many different sections that really resonate with me. Even though most of the obvious theme about social life I can't directly relate to since I'm not a "party" person, there is an under-current of self-doubt and fear that I still struggle with from time to time. As you may guess, this poem was first discovered by me in high school, in the middle of adolescent angst, where questions of "Do I dare?" seemed to haunt me all the time. And now looking back as I am older, I am satisfied that I did bite the matter off with a smile, and it was worth it after all. So let us go then, you and I, and listen to the mermaids sing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What'cha watching?

By the way, you may have noticed that I haven't posted a movie review in awhile. This is because I haven't watched anything memorable lately, as well as the fact that I've been ensnared in TV-land. In addition to keeping up-to-date on Heroes, Justin and I have caught up on House, Boston Legal, and are almost there with Numb3rs. I am really enjoying the last, not only because it shows one of my early loves in a good light (mathematics), but it also has a nice balance of drama, comedy, suspense, education, and character development. I am very glad that it hasn't gone too "soap opera" yet -- the characters get their short moments, but they don't dominate the episode plot-lines. And how can you look down on an entertainment medium that teaches about the uses of graphs, equations, data collection and more!

Inspired by the younger generation

Okay, so my sister isn't exactly an entire generation younger than I am, but she definitely has that youthful attitude that often inspires me. Lately, she's started her own blog that I'm thinking about completely ripping-off: Sandra's photo journal. I mean, how cool is it to have an excuse to use your camera all the time? I don't know.... I don't want to be the copy-cat. So I am trying to think of something else that I could post on a semi-regular basis. My hope is to have it planned out by the time I'm due for my second post-of-the-month here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Night sleeper

We watched The Night Listener last night. I'm rating it a 4, because it was just plain boring. The story felt like it belonged in an hour episode of the Twilight Zone and not a full-length movie. Plus, there were several story elements that just felt "shallow" -- like they'd plant a friend here and there, but you'd never learn much about their personalities or anything. Not one of Robin Williams' best, to be sure.


Well, so far so good on the resolutions. I've lost the Holiday weight and am starting on the "real" 10 pounds before September. One half down and nine and a half to go!

Also, this makes my second post for the month of January, so doing okay there.

As for other things, I'm still playing soccer on Monday nights -- being the goal keeper usually about half the game. My sister, my mother and I found the time to go back to bowling on Tuesday nights. I was off to a decent start, but this week I bowled lousy. Hopefully, I'll find my groove again and keep it this time. Finally, I've been spending time helping Sandra look for a wedding dress. It is such fun to look at all the elegant, playful and just pretty dresses out there. I think she's narrowing down her search and should have "the" dress selected soon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Top Movies of 2006

Using a combined score from both my and Justin's rating, here are the highest ranked movies we saw in 2006. The titles should link to IMDB, and the rating should link to our comments. Some of these were released in late 2005, but they didn't get on last year's list. For more movie ratings, visit our home page,

RankTitleAngie RatingJustin Rating
1V for Vendetta88
2Inside Man78
2Little Miss Sunshine78
4District B1377
4Kiss Kiss Bang Bang77
9Devil Wears Prada, The58
9Illusionist, The67
9Mission Impossible 367


Okay, so it's a week past New Year's and time to get going on my resolutions. I made only two this year. First, to lose that last ten pounds that I've been struggling with for awhile before my sister's wedding in September. It seems feasible to lose ten pounds in nine months. I've even got somewhat of a start -- I've lost a pound and a half of Holiday weight. I'm not counting the first three pounds, since they were put on only since the middle of December.

Anyway, the second resolution is to post to this blog at least twice a month. Again, that doesn't seem like too much of a stretch. And this post isn't going to count either. If I can find some free time, I'm thinking about giving the template (i.e. layout and colors) an overhaul too.