Watch: Guns, Germs and Steel

Posted in Current Events, Entertainment by mcarmen5 on 12/20/2010

My friend and I were lazily flipping through her Netflix “watch-instant” selection when I caught sight of something familiar: the cover image of my one of my favorite books!  I was so excited that it was the first thing I watched when I got home (my friend was not in the mood for “anything serious” at the moment).  The documentary is an adaptation from Jared Diamond‘s phenomenal book, Guns, Germs and Steel.  It has been one of my absolute favorites and most recommended books since I first read it at 17.   This was often the book I’d (very) enthusiastically gush about whenever patrons at the local bookstore I used to work for asked, “What do you recommend?”  I must have sold dozens!

If you’ve ever wondered, like me, why certain civilizations managed to conquer so much of the globe and how the society we know today was shaped, this is a great launch-pad.  I’d highly recommend this for your personal edification or perhaps as a gift for that history buff on your list!

You can watch this even if you don’t have Netflix or can’t wait to see when it’ll air on PBS.  Catch it on Google-Vid here.



Posted in Living, Musings by mcarmen5 on 10/08/2010

On the conveyor belt and about to head into the fire pit!  Just found these silly pics of my two furry loves and thought they would be fun to share.  This is what discipline (and determination!) looks like: the ability to hold out for the big reward even if it’s literally so deliciously close!

Let’s hope I’ll have plenty of focused discipline and determination tomorrow morning :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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California Dreamin’

Posted in Living, Musings by mcarmen5 on 10/07/2010

Why is it that as the days get shorter and colder I find myself fantasizing about driving down the CA-HWY 1 with the windows rolled down and honeyed sun rays streaming in?  All I could think about were white bikinis, straw hats, soft sand and surf, turquoise waters and pretty, summery colors like coral and bleached-out pastels.  Ugh, this can’t be good for me — it’s not even WINTER yet!  It’s gonna be a long seven months ahead.

Puppy Love

Posted in Musings by mcarmen5 on 04/06/2010


Taking a brief hiatus… be back soon!

And yes, that is my beloved pup :)

Come Away With Me

Posted in Musings by mcarmen5 on 03/06/2010

One of my favorite poems for many years was the lovely Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe.  I was 17 and a hopeless romantic.  I lived and breathed idealism and wore rose-tinted glasses like a true Pollyanna.  And true to form, I swooned over this poem — so much that I kept the print-out of it and stuck it on my inspiration board for years.  To me, this vision of love was perfect: I imagined a golden, idyllic pastoral fantasy come true, and peaceful, happy years lived out with my true love.

This is not to say that I’ve completely grown out of my Pollyanna ways or stopped having pastoral daydreams (I still do, which is why I still daydream about owning a small farm in Napa Valley one day).  But over the years, wisdom and experience have helped me cultivate a more mature appreciation for Sir Walter Raleigh’s witty reply to this Shepherd’s woo.   I have to admit, I initially disliked Raleigh’s version, I thought it was cynical and mean.  But really, the nymph’s just keepin’ it real.  :-)

I hope you enjoy these two classics, side-by-side, as they were meant to be.

{Passionate Shepherd to His Love}

COME live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.


{The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd}

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall,

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten–
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind may move
To live with thee and be thy love.

I Choo-Choo-Choose You

Posted in Musings by mcarmen5 on 02/05/2010

The Simpsons, "I Love Lisa"

Dear Readers,

Letter-writing “experts” often warn against opening missives with “Sorry” or “I’m sorry,” because it apparently sets a negative tone throughout the rest of the letter — no matter how heartfelt the apology or how deep the contrition.

I have a knack for not listening to good advice…Oops.   So with that said, sorry for not having updated in over a month!  My schedule has grown increasingly hectic with more hours at work and towards studying for this demon also known as the LSAT. I know, that’s not good enough. I should know better.

The good news: I have plenty of half-written drafts and I can’t wait to complete and share them.   The first is a Valentine for you.  While I give love and hugs rather generously all other 364 days of the year, I still enjoy getting festive for a holiday — even if it is a Hallmark one. Who doesn’t want to celebrate love?!

Here are some cards that I hurriedly whipped up this evening.  They’re super simple and minimalist (which is very ‘me’), but they are really the result of two-parts packed schedule and one part impending deadline (these toddler-inspired glitter pieces of ‘art’ need to be mailed soon).  You might be able to tell that I got a bit antsy with my time and patience by the almost illegible, giant-sized ‘XOXO’ outlier.  My 5-year old cousin can make better Valentines that put mine to shame…. but hey, it’s the thoughtful note inside that counts!  :)


PS, Ralph Wiggum is one of the funniest, most underrated characters on The Simpsons, one of my favorite TV shows ever.  How could you not love him?  He’s silly in such an endearing way.  It breaks my heart every time I watch this clip, but I applaud Lisa for what she does, because that’s definitely what I’ve done and would have done.  I tend to have a soft spot for underdogs, even if there are awkward consequences that follow!

So, by way of Ralph, “I choo-choo-choose you!

pink glitter and glue save the day

glittery "love dust" and everything nice

If I get some free time this weekend, I might be able to make ones that use a little more effort. I’d like to make one with a gemstone as a star on navy card-stock that says, “Honey, you are my shining star.”  Lyrics from oldies are so useful!

Monday Briefing/Read: The Economist — “Progress and Its Perils”

Posted in Current Events by mcarmen5 on 12/21/2009

My Economist arrived in the mail today and I was immediately drawn to this issue’s special report, “Progress and Its Perils.”

I highly recommend picking up their holiday special issue, which I usually like for their number of interesting articles and reports.  A couple years back, it was a feature on “Happiness” that was refreshing in its modern take and economic angle.

Not only is this issue’s cover pretty neat (check out Adam and Eve’s chic green iPod!), but I think it brings a bit of somber introspection to this decade’s challenges at the closing of 2009.

Another great article from this issue is Lexington’s “Bah, Humbug.” Given some of the recent progress in health care reform, readers will find something worth thinking and talking about (just be sure not to bring it up to that politico uncle of yours at Christmas dinner).   It focuses on the case of Christian Science lobbyists who want to make health insurers pay for “faith healing,” or prayers, as Christian Science followers believe illness and cancer can be overcome with prayer.

Economist, 12/19/09

Going to America” is another interesting look at the shifting demographics in the U.S. While nothing entirely new if you’ve been following news and bits on population trends, it offers insight into the reasons why steady immigration may be helping the U.S. sustain growth and to avoid the problems of advanced aging countries like Italy and Japan. The other side of the coin, of course, is never far from such a claim, as the article takes into account the growing tensions in the racial fabric of America.

Filth: the Joy of Dirt

Finally, some light and fun pieces worth skimming: a piece on Politeness and its apparent decline in modern society, a feature on “Filth: The Joy of Dirt,” that looks into our contemporary obsession with soap and cleanliness, and for wine-lovers or history buffs, a piece called “Hedonism and Claret,” on how the 18th & 19th century English bourgeois shaped the wine industry.

Overall, this issue is definitely worth its newsstand price tag, or at least a browse when you’re in line!  That’s the Monday Brief for this week, enjoy!

‘Tis the Season!

Posted in Entertainment, Living, Musings by mcarmen5 on 12/19/2009

Happy Saturday, everyone!  Let’s keep the weekend light.  I’ve been spending some of my spare time making those holiday cards, finishing up decorations on the tree and basically decorating super last minute….so much that I had a nightmare about it this morning!

In keeping things light, here’s some holiday humor.  Hope you have as good a laugh as I did! :)

SO clever and so hilarious!  I totally wish I had the kind of easy sense of humor that would think up something like this.  Of course, this was a shared prank, and no one was the Grinch.  The neighbor on the left came up the idea and schemed with his neighbor to the right.  The guys say the idea was in keeping with the economic times we now live in.  This would definitely make me laugh a little or smile every time I see it :)

This is another one that really cracks me up (in a good way, of course!)  I’m not sure if that was the intention of the decorators, but it’s so over the top and kick-ass that I find humor in it.  Maybe it’s humor in the absurd?  Who knows, but you gotta give this couple props!  They even timed it to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter.”

And this is hilarious, but mostly just sad (linked video):

4-Year Old Drinks and Steals Xmas Presents

I was convinced (more like dragged against my will) to go see ‘that movie with the blue people,’ Avatar, last night, but it turned out to be an unexpected ride for me.  I’ll hopefully have the review up tomorrow.  And, oh, are you wondering how they managed a 3:31 m. trailer without giving away most of the movie?  Because the movie’s only 2.5 hours long!

Enjoy the weekend!

Call Me Old Fashioned

Posted in Living, Musings, Style by mcarmen5 on 12/16/2009

There’s something about the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox or the simple pleasure of reading a handwritten note that I find incredibly satisfying.  As much as I rely on email and my Blackberry, nothing beats receiving a real letter, the old-fashioned way.

This holiday, I’m determined to pass on that feeling.  I usually say that I’m too busy (procrastinating) or not crafty enough to make the “perfect” card, but my friend’s Christmas card this year encouraged me to get in the spirit.

So I turned to the queen of creative (and my secret hero!), Martha Stewart, for some inspiration (her latest holiday issue is amazing!).  How cool are these cards?

martha stewart

Powdery blues, pale greens and silvery-whites with subtle sparkle never fail to evoke the whimsy of a winter wonderland. They make elegant and understated cards.  I like that they aren’t necessarily holiday-specific, so they can be given widely without offense.

martha stewart

For the ambitious, there are these cute pop-up cards.  As cool as they are, I think I’m going to stick with basic cut and paste this year!

Even better are these beautiful embossed cards — metallic print on nice, thick card stock.  I love the combination of visual and tactile appeal.

martha stewart

It’s definitely not a prerequisite to personally hand-make your card for it to be memorable or special.  I think a simple, personal letter makes a great surprise for the receiver since most mail now are bills and ads.

For example, my friend Eileen sent me a bright orange card for Halloween this year.  Just seeing that little pop of orange amid piles of mail cheered me up so much.

So, drop someone a line — it’s actually kind of fun!

As for myself, I’m deciding on a felt gingerbread man or clothes-pinned red stocking.  I’m also thinking maybe a “Baby, it’s cold outside” greeting with sparkly snow for a playful winter theme.  I’ll feature them this week, so stay tuned!

(For directions on making the cute mitten card above, click here.)

Monday Briefing

Posted in Musings by mcarmen5 on 12/14/2009

{Sophia Loren}

“Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got, and 50% what people think you’ve got.”Sophia Loren

Whether it’s sex appeal, a great sense or humor, leadership ability or what have you, confidence is always key.  Go get ’em, tiger!

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