This Grammar Nazi TOOK IT TO THE STREETS! Wednesday, May 30 2007 

As most of you know, I have zero tolerance for incorrect grammar. For the first time, I did something about it.

My biggest pet peeve regarding grammar is not when someone misuses “your” and “you’re,” or “there,” “their” and “they’re.” It’s when any kind of professional writing, from advertisements to stories in newspapers and online columns, is fraught with grammatical errors. Aren’t there editors that notice these mistakes?!

At first, Reebok’s “Run Easy” campaign hadn’t been bothering me. In fact, I kind of liked it — if you take the red line inbound between Harvard and Central and face west, you see an ad perfectly timed with the speed of the subway car. However, when walking back from work, I came upon an ad egregiously reading, “RUN EASY BOSTON.”

Run easy Boston? Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?

Without punctuation, we have nothing.

I’ve just started reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which is long overdue — everyone’s been telling me to read it for quite some time. I generally shy away from what the general populace is reading, but it was on the 3 for 2 rack at Borders, so I picked it up.

And you know what was inside? Several commas and period stickers to acknowledge and ameliorate, albeit crudely, public grammatical errors.

Right then and there, I knew where I was putting my first comma sticker.

The sign is on Summer Street, the southern side, right by Fidelity. If you’re walking towards South Station and Fidelity is coming up on your left, this is the first sign you see after crossing the channel and Dorchester Ave.

I furtively pulled out my stickers, took a bit longer than socially acceptable to pull the sticker off the sheet, and I stuck it right on there.

Check it out:

And a close-up:
I am so, so proud of this.

I can only hope that this helps teach a few curious people on the waterfront about comma usage.

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Travel Survey Tuesday, May 29 2007 

There was a survey on Bootsnall that I rescued from the archives a few pages back. I’m surprised it wasn’t further up — I thought that a lot more people would be responding to it! The survey has you pick out the best places from where you’ve been. Here’s mine:

Best City: Paris (cliche, but it’s always been my city from the first moment I visited)

Best Nightlife: Montreal

Best place for live music: Rome (at the Spanish Steps)

Best Beach (for people watching): Venice Beach in Los Angeles

Best Beach (for chilling): Weird choice, since the “beach” is slabs of rocks, but Faro in Capri

Biggest Surprise (good): Switzerland

Biggest Surprise (bad): Venice

Friendliest People: Ireland, anywhere

Least Friendliest People: France, anywhere touristed

Most Livable City: For me, Paris (minus the high cost of living). Runner-ups are Boston, Rome, San Francisco, Nice, London and Washington, DC.

Best place to party: Prague

Best City for Walking: Boston

Best Beer: CZECH REPUBLIC by a landslide!

Worst Beer: Italy

Best Skyline: New York City

Best Food: Italy, especially Florence or anywhere in Tuscany. (Best desserts: Hungary, hands down.)

Worst Food: Czech Republic (I need my veggies)

City with the best backdrop: San Francisco

Best Looking People: Northern Italy (I like em tall, dark and skinny)

Dullest City: Milan (at least from my experiences there)

I’d like to hear what the rest of you think. Do you agree or disagree with these choices?

Quote of the Day Sunday, May 27 2007 

I got you so wet, it’s like a rainforest
Like Jurassic Park, except I’m your sexosaurus, babe
–The most brilliant lyricist of our time, R. Kelly

Welcome to KatesAdventures.com Friday, May 25 2007 

After waiting far too long, I’ve finally gotten a dot-com for my blog.

Welcome to KatesAdventures.com!

Many updates to be coming in the future….

The only thing I will say about American Idol tonight is…. Thursday, May 24 2007 

….seeing Taylor Hicks made me realize just how bad the camera guys had it last year. Those dance moves!! You never know where he’ll flail next! They were clearly out of practice….

Why do I watch Dancing with the Stars? Monday, May 21 2007 

When it comes to Dancing with the Stars, it seems that the bad outweighs the good — but I can’t stop watching it! What is wrong with me?! Here is what I can’t stand about the show:

–The hosts. Tom Bergeron is cringe-worthily embarrassing, and Samantha Harris must be just about the worst host on prime time TV. At least Tom cracks a half-decent joke once in a while. Samantha speaks unnaturally from her diaphragm and doesn’t even make sense most of the time. She also doesn’t listen to a single word her interviewees say. Why is she still on the show?!

–The obvious fact that everyone points out: these “stars” are not stars at all. You’d think that going into their fourth season, they’d be able to snag someone who was actually famous. (Though Jerry Springer was actually pretty good, and Heather Mills pleased us celebrity gossip fans.)

–The filler on the shows, particularly the results show, is the worst on any TV show. I watched the results show ONCE this year — the episode when they brought in a psychic and a clairvoyant to analyze the contestants’ auras. Yeah. For an hourlong episode.

–The music selection is terrible and often doesn’t even make sense. If you look at past seasons, when the music was particularly bad, a talented contestant left before his or her time, due to horrible music selection. Some examples: Vivica A. Fox’s paso doble to Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” and Willa Ford’s rhumba to The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” If you watch closely, the weird song selections often relate to the contestant who gets kicked off — also known as the producers’ least favorite.

(I was in the ballroom dance club for a year at Fairfield, and in that time, I learned the basics of most of the dances that they do on the show, and I learned how to pick up the best dance suited to any song on the radio. I would love to see a mambo to Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got,” a tango to Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” a cha-cha to Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of my Life” or “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” or Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” and a rhumba to just about any of the hits by Bach Bacharach. I’m listening to “I Wanna Sex You Up” right now (don’t judge!) and that would almost work as a samba. I only wish they did the hustle on this show!)

–Also, relating to the last post, it’s obvious who the producer’s favorites are. They get normal music selections. Last season, when the music was at its weirdest, Mario Lopez got to dance a rhumba to a great traditional Latin song and a tango to a gorgeous Italian-sounding song with violins, when Joey Lawrence was stuck tango-ing to the Addams Family theme song. And when Joey Fat One was in the bottom two two weeks ago, the hosts kept reminding us about how SHOCKING that was about once every two and a half minutes on the next week’s show. Obviously, he sailed through to the next round.

–The Red State vote is alive and well in this show: country singer (and prominent Republican activist) Sara Evans was the worst dancer besides Jerry Springer, yet never once landed in the bottom three. She was actually endorsed by a prominent Republican politician — I can’t remember whom — who told his contingent to vote for her on the show, as she embodied positive values. Of course, just a few weeks later, she and her husband were involved in a nasty, headline-grabbing, he said-she said divorce battle, each accusing the other of cheating. And they have three young children. Nice values.

–It’s painful how much it gay-ifies the straight guys. I was rooting for Joey Lawrence last season, but it was too uncomfortable to watch him cuddling his wife and baby, then having absolutely NO chemistry whatsoever with his partner during a sexy rhumba. The navy blue satin sailor suit didn’t help, either.

–Also, I don’t like Edyta Slawinska. In every dance she does, she shows off like crazy, extending one of her insanely long legs at least once in each dance. It makes the guys look bad by comparison. (To be fair, Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough are wonderful at bringing out the best in their partners and making it difficult to tell which one is the professional!)

That all being said, I enjoy the dancing. And except for navy blue sait sailor suits, I enjoy the costumes. I’m rooting for Laila this season, with Apolo for second place. And for me to root for a girl on ANY reality show, that’s a very big thing. I love Laila. (Could easily make a joke here, but I will not, because she is a classy woman with very large arms!)

Winning Money — and Travel Updates Monday, May 21 2007 

Sometimes I think that all I want to do all day is just laze around and barely move, but that always ends up being the worst thing. I had a pretty bad week emotionally, but actually pretty good, workwise, in productivity, and all I wanted to do was just go home and RELAX.

So I slept late — much longer than I usually do, from 11:30 PM to 10:41 AM! — and then just lazed around and read travel books like crazy. I tried to absorb information about Bangkok, about Australian bus routes, about Iceland.

Also!!!! Big news!!!! I won a $500 travel credit from STA travel! On Facebook, they’re giving out $500.00 to two people each week for several weeks, for giving the best travel tips. Now, most of the tips that I saw were pretty dumb and specific to location (“Go to this hotel in New York, it rocks!”), so I pulled out one of my best tips:

“Invest in a zippered pillowcase and put your money belt and valuables in it at night. Not only does that protect them from would-be robbers, it also offers you the chance to have the same pillowcase every night and avoid questionable hostel linens. Plus, they often come in soft fabrics like satin.”

And I won! I got a message on facebook from one of the admins. My tip isn’t posted yet (see “STA Travel: Cheap, Flexible and Easy”) but I think it will be posted next Friday. The claiming must be done by tomorrow, and I’ve already emailed in my claim.

I have to use the travel credit within a year, which means I can’t apply it to my RTW trip. If split between multiple people, they must be under 26. So now I’ve got to think of somewhere to go!

On the boards at Bootsnall, I mentioned that I was considering Las Vegas — while it doesn’t seem like a typical me place, epitomizing all that I hate about the way most people travel (ie spending a lot of money to stay at the hotel all day), especially since I don’t like to gamble and I’m not really drinking much these days, but it could be fun. I’d love to experience the shows, the glitz, and especially the restaurants, though. I book my clients at work for Vegas vacations so much that I feel like I know the restaurants backwards and forwards!

Then someone on the boards suggested, that since I love being a foodie and seeing shows, that I do a long weekend in London.

That would be GREAT, actually. I want the $500.00 to cover mainly the airfare, since I’ll likely be staying in hostels (depending on where I go), and London fares are, at their lowest, just above $500.00 from Boston. I could soak up the culture and eat lots of yummy ethnic food.

However, I’ve been to London before. I’d rather go somewhere new — preferably a new country.

Other ideas:

–I’ve never been to Amsterdam!! This could be that chance!! Flights there are a bit more expensive than elsewhere in Europe, though.

–I looked into San Fermin in Spain (the running of the bulls), but it’s booked solid, as expected.

–I looked at Iceland, but I may be able to fly there cheaper on IcelandAir, and it’s pretty expensive and not as much of a backpacker hub.

–I could fly into Frankfurt (cheap) and visit my German roommate Julia in Mannheim!!!

–I could do a long weekend somewhere in Central America — maybe Guatemala?

–I could hike the Inca Trail in Peru (the hike itself is 4 days) and arrange my guide in advance. That’s best done over the winter.

–Find a cheap flight to a random spot and just chill there for a few days.

–I mentioned to Alexa that maybe we could go to HAWAII!! Again, very expensive, and the flight would definitely cost way over $500, unless we found an amazing deal through STA.

I have to mention that I owe this all to Alexa. She was the one who mentioned that I join the STA group. I wasn’t that enthusiastic at first, thinking that I wouldn’t win, but we see how THAT worked out!! I’ve never been to Hawaii. It would be awesome.

Also, I’ve hit a saving milestone for my RTW: I’ve officially saved over $5,000.00. I’m really happy and proud about that.

However, I am freaking out about money!!! I’ve spent a lot of time today researching Perth, and although I want to go there so much, it seems like it’s so expensive that it wouldn’t be worth it.

So I’ll just be another Oz backpacker, Sydney to Cairns with the rest of them, spending my time on the beaches and drinking my nights away.

Oh God, I sound like a spoiled brat. I’m not going to delete that sentence, because I need to remind myself not to be like that.

I did read more about New Zealand today as well, and I’ve found a few more places to visit: Milford Sound and Franz Josef Glacier. I just have to be careful about not overspending on outdoor activities.

I found a bus system called Naked Bus, which is essentially the RyanAir of the bus world, some rides costing as little as NZ$1.00 (US$0.73). They keep the costs down by cutting out all unnecessary frills. I just hope the seats are more comfortable than those on RyanAir — when flying from London to Bologna, Sars and I slept on top of each other, taking turns being the bottom, resting on the tray.

I also read about some trips from Gap Adventures, a tour company that interested me a while back. Nowadays, I am not interested in tours, but I might consider one overlanding Africa tour. I wouldn’t be comfortable about arranging to overland through Africa on my own, even with a group of fellow travelers that I would meet on the road, so this might be a good idea. I particularly would love to visit Namibia. This tour goes from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, and it’s expensive, but lasts 21 days, and if I keep my other costs down, it might be worth it. Visiting the Okovango Delta in Botswana would be lovely.

I am up later than I usually am these days — it’s 12:16 — and I can’t wait to go to bed and sleep in again tomorrow. I absolutely ADORE having these two days off in a row. You never know how good it is until you miss it.

To the Fairfield Class of 2007 Sunday, May 20 2007 

Dear Fairfield Class of 2007:

First of all, big congratulations. I know you’ve been hearing a lot of crap along the lines of “You have done so much! You are so lucky! You have ACHIEVED!!” I really don’t want to add to that, but it’s true.

There are always going to be a few Fairfielders who hold a bitterness in their heart for being rejected from BC or Holy Cross, and they’ve never let go of it over the course of four years. It’s dragging them down, whether it’s instilled by their parents, comparisons to siblings, or deep-rooted inadequacy.

FORGET all that.

Do you know how incredibly lucky you are to have been born in America, the country where ANYONE can be successful if he or she works hard, and to graduate from Fairfield, a university that must be among the top 100 in the nation?

What if you had been born in rural China or Chad, an area where education is not supported?

You’re so lucky. Never forget that. When you’re going into job interviews, fretting over the wording of your internships or the difference between cum laude and magna cum laude, remember that.

Times can be bad, and times can be great, but overall, Fairfield is a great school that takes its academics and especially the Jesuit ideals seriously.

Also, if you survived senior week, you know exactly the same thing that I found out: that every minute of your drinking life, you were preparing your liver for THIS WEEK. You’ve pushed yourself to new levels. And if you’re still living, you know that you will very likely never do that to such an extreme again.

Now, it’s time for the jobs.

Since I graduated a year ago, I’ve learned some things about entering the workforce. I wish I had known them at the time, so please take a chance to read them.

–Don’t do a temp-to-perm job unless you’re passionate about the company and the position in particular. If not, you just end up working for less with no benefits and no vacation time.

–There is no shame in living at home right away. Most people do it, for a few months, at least, and the ones that don’t do it often have their parents partially paying for their apartments and living expenses. While that can be nice, do you really want to be living on your own, but not by your own financial means?

–Be mature, and be honest with yourself. Don’t get an apartment before you’re sure that you can afford it. Remember that you need first, last and security.

–You don’t have to get a job right away! Just because your business- and nursing-major friends have jobs lined up, it doesn’t mean you have to grab the first job that you’re offered. You probably got a TON of graduation money. Live on that for a while. Travel, if you can. This is your last chance to have a lot of free time.

–The best way to find job offerings is 1) through the websites of companies that interest you 2) through Craigslist. Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com require companies to pay to post jobs, so most of the jobs have high turnover or are difficult to fill for quality reasons.

–Your colleagues will become your very good friends, if you’re lucky. (My priority was to find a large company with lots of people my age. I did, and it’s great!) Enjoy your friendships, but also know when to draw the line between business and pleasure.

–Keep dreaming. Be unconventional. I’m planning my RTW — just because you’re working right now, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck until retirement!

–That being said, don’t believe what people say about the real world. It can be a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it. 🙂

I’m so proud of you all. Congratulations.

**EDIT**

One thing I forgot to mention is that it HURTS like crazy right now. I know. I spent my graduation lunch with my family in tears, just thinking about how much I would miss my friends and how I’d hardly ever see them again. I couldn’t stop crying.

It hurts. But it gets better.

Also, if you got tagged in this note and then untagged, I apologize; I tagged all of my friends in the class of 2007, then realized that facebook has a tag limit. So I downsized a bit. Apologies. But know that all of you are in my thoughts right now.

Pops 2007 Sunday, May 6 2007 

I returned to Fairfield earlier this week to catch this year’s glee club pops concert. I had missed the gala — at that point, I didn’t really feel like going — but it was pretty easy for me to switch my hours around, so I did it! The theme this year was Glee Club Goes Hollywood, with songs from movies, which had plenty of great offerings.

And again, like when I returned for the Christmas concert, and even when I came for that overnight last September and stayed with James and Mike, I had that feeling — I’m so glad that I’m out of college, tinged with a tiny bit of I’m beyond this. I don’t mean that in a snobby way, even though it sounds snobby. It just seemed like everyone was in their bubble, everyone was hardcore, and from the view of an outsider, I’m just….done.

It took me a while to get into it. It reminded me of every other pops concert I’ve been in and all the details that I had forgotten about — that for most of the concert, you’re sitting, trying to pay attention to the divas, the humble girls, and the first-time performers who choose a song that is safe, but, inevitably, boring. (I know, I know, I have fit into this category nearly every time, even when choosing songs that would seem more entertaining, like Space Oddity, but really weren’t.)

But then you get to the GREAT performances, the ones that are funny, or just great performances, but always genuinely entertaining, and THAT is what makes this concert so great! I was delighted to see Dwight singing this year (he’s in a weird position because he’s technically a Columbia student now in the 3/2 engineering program with Fairfield), and he came out singing “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin!! It was hilarious. He was in a turban and a robe, he got so goofy with the lyrics, and halfway through it, two girls came out as Arabian dancers (and not even in a slutty way!)! He was great, and that definitely made it one of my favorite performances.

And then there was the Men’s Ensemble, who are always great, and they did a great a capella version of Afternoon Delight, dressed up as the Anchorman guys in weird suits, with Colin in the middle in a cowboy hat as Champ. (James, for the record, I think your gray suit looked AWESOME and PERFECT for that!)

I loved Kait Curran and Michael Verrusio’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and then the whole glee club surged into the Circle of Life, complete with a guy coming out draped in animal skins, singing, “Haaaaaaaaaaaat swaynaaaaaaaaaaa…..” A bunch of the sophomore girls, including some of my friends from last year, did a great version of the Cell Block Tango from Chicago that you could see they spent a lot of time choreographing. Most performances that girls plan to choreograph end up not working out or being halfhearted, but theirs was fantastic.

If there was any caveat I had in general, it was the same caveat I’ve always had — WAY TOO MUCH BROADWAY. There’s very little Broadway that I can handle, and it seems that at every concert, half of the songs are from Broadway (especially amongst the theatre kids). It somehow fits into every theme. This concert had songs from Chicago, the Lion King, RENT, Footloose, Beauty and the Beast….and The Little Mermaid is an upcoming Broadway musical, I guess that counts.

But we’ve had that every year. The British Invasion concert, the 80s concert, the New York/Broadway concert was ENTIRELY THAT, and even the 40s/50s/60s/70s concert before that — they all had plenty of Broadway offerings, and I’ve always tried to stomach it the best I can.

But there were a bunch more performances that I loved. Joe Duffy did a great version of Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid, and his backup singers were great. (He dressed up in red and Jamaican clothes, to evoke Sebastian, and that reminded me that I always thought Sebastian was French when I was little.) Wendy Scola did a great version of Colors of the Wind, and I have never heard her sing on her own before, but she did such a great job! Tim King and his concave stomach (damn!) performed Johnny B. Goode with Tony da Costa, and those guys always do such a great job, as they did this year. And Alex and A.J. did Mrs. Robinson, which is enough of a joke in itself as Luke has always called them Simon and Garfunkel, but their voices sound JUST LIKE THEM, and they sounded great. It also helps that A.J. is the splitting image of Art Garfunkel. Then Erika Ludwig came out and reenacted a little scene from Walk the Line with Alex, and they sang, and again, they sounded really great.

It was great seeing people, but I didn’t see as many fellow alums as I would have liked. But I saw plenty of my friends (Tom, the new pitch-giver, told me I was sorely needed), and got to talk with Galen and Carole Ann, and just see everyone, including a newly engaged Dave and Marcy (and that enormous diamond on her finger!). And afterward, I went out with Amy and Jay and Matt and some more of their crew. It was so good to see Amy! I’ve missed her a lot.

When I came earlier in the day, James made his signature rotini with chicken, tomatoes and fresh basil, and it was delicious. It was great hanging out with my favorite guys as well. As usual, I fell asleep at a ridiculously early hour (I’m on an actual sleep schedule for the first time ever!), and woke up to drive James to his car, which he was too drunk to drive back from the beach the night before and was driven back to the townhouses by someone random and sober. LOL.

All in all, I think that’s the overall experience.

Wait, one more thing!

Galen told me that the glee club is going to Prague, Vienna and Budapest next year. I first chided James for not telling me anything, then just started gushing about how much I love Prague and Budapest. I’ve never been to Vienna. That will be such an awesome trip for them. Galen floated the idea of me joining them again, but I know that would never happen. After the Italy trip, I really wished that I had done it my own (INSANELY CHEAPER) way, staying in hostels that don’t require you to take a cab to get to the city center, and wouldn’t have to go through all those tours.

Even if I did it my own, cheap way, I wouldn’t want to go on this trip, either. I’m done, and it’s fine. It was good while I was in college.

I’m not sure if I’ll be going to any more concerts. I guess there’s a possibility, especially if they do a Boston trip, which they tend to do every other year. But I’ve now been out for a year, and I live in Boston. I don’t want to end up like Stewie (who was at the pops concert, by the way).

So, overall….yeah. This is it.

I’ve got to get going, because this is my one day off, and next week is hell week at work. They’re offering a huge incentive for overtime, so I am working Monday 11-3, Tuesday-Friday 8:30-7, and Saturday 9-5:30. Yikes. Gotta rest up extra hard.

More Fantastic R. Kelly Lyrics Saturday, May 5 2007 

She be calling me DADDY
I be calling her MOMMY
She be calling you KELLY
But your name is TOMMY

I’ve never really understood the point of calling a sexual partner “Daddy” or “Mommy.” It sounds a little too creepy to me. However, it seems to be a common occurance in the life of R. Kelly.

It’s strange. Is it a compulsion? When you’re in the heat of the moment, is it normal to moan, “Daddy!!”?! I don’t think so. I personally think that Mommy is even worse. Particularly if the guy is playing with your boobs as he says it. I guess that Mama isn’t quite as bad, and even Daddy isn’t so bad (according to films that I’ve seen and nothing more), but Mommy? That has to be the worst.

Also, this selection of lyrics solves the problem of what to call R. Kelly. I mean, if you met him, wouldn’t most people be like, “Hey, R. Kelly, what’s up?” Not R? Not something else entirely? Well, I guess it’s Kelly. Weird. And it took me a couple listens before I “got” that.

Still, “I’m a Flirt” is one of the greatest songs of our time.