Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Only but an hour ago my friend and I were enjoying the garlic knots of Mama's Brick Oven Pizza when a strange sight we beheld on the unassuming streets of Fair Oaks, South Pasadena...
In the dark outside the pizzeria, it seemed that the regular pace of flashing headlights and break lights had ceased; instead, something large, looming and a little bit frilly was eeking past our restaurants front doors.
"Are those floats?" our friend Peggy said. Her soon-to-be-husband, Josh, had just been explaining that he would be walking tomorrow, New Year's Day, with the FTD float. "I think it is," said Wendy, rather nonplussed (I think this was her way of staving off hunger... we'd been waiting in a very busy Mama's for our pizza for a while). For a few seconds no one said anything - it simply was not possible! There were no crowds to greet them... no cheering onlookers to block our view... and no sunlight to confirm our bewilderment.
"Should we go outside?" asked Peggy, she stood immediately and than sat back down looking waiting for a fellow diner to give her a cue, "YES!" I cried and we all hoped out of our seats with more energy than we knew our weakening, pizza-lacking frames had left in them.
We bounded out the doors and stopped short, realizing the curb was only two feet from Mama's entry way. This is so surreal! I thought to myself, we simply couldn't have fought the throngs on Colorado for better seats! How serendipitous!
"I'm twittering this!" I told Wendy, "Dang it, you beat me. Should I get my camera?" We all nodded grasping for our own camera phones to commemorate in pixel mediocrity the moment.
For moment, we looked through time portal at coming year; we saw a glimpse of what the street-sleeping celebrants on Colorado would wake to the very first morning of 2009. It sneaked through South Pasadena while the rest of sister cities threw tortillas and shaving cream at the cars daring to travel the floats' future route. But only 3 hours before the crowds would erupt in chaos to bring in the New Year, we saw future!
I did my best with my little LG phone, but here is a sneak peak at some of the floats in the Tournament of Roses:
Tournament of Roses sneaks down Fair Oaks from Danica Northend on Vimeo.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We spent the evening with a Google map of the places in Wichita that had these! I highly recommend making a local family trip of this.
(Here is a "How To" on the Christmas light show set up)
Christmas Light Show through the radio! from Danica Northend on Vimeo.
About the Tacky Light Tour:
Tacky lights date all the way back to 1882 and can be attributed to Edward H. Johnson, the forefather of tacky lights and an associate of Thomas Edison. On December 22 of that year Johnson placed a Christmas tree that was hand-wired with 80 walnut-sized lights in the living room of his Fifth Avenue home in New York City (pictured right). He was vice-president of Edison Electric Light Company (now known as Con Edison electric utility) and commissioned employees to patriotically wire the tree with red, white and blue lights.
His idea blazed across the United States like a flame held to the bark of a dry evergreen wrapped with strung popcorn. This ultimately led to the invention of weatherproof Christmas lights in the 1960s. Competitively tacky families across the country soon moved their indoor Christmas lights outdoors, and originally outlined their homes. The notion of outdoor Christmas lights and displays sparked a frenzy of lights that blink, twinkle, chase, resemble icycles and shape into various figures.
More recent advances in technology and environmental awareness has pushed companies to produce more efficient products including LED Christmas lights. Boasting longer lifetimes and virtually indestructable construction, LED Christmas lights are the new craze. Even though LEDs are a bit more expensive, a 90% savings in energy has made LED Christmas lights the future of the Tacky Light Tour.
All in all people have always strived for creativity whether that be artistically tasteful or not. Over the past 45 years we've seen the adaptation of flickering lights, lifesized lawn props, animated scenery and even low-powered radio stations. It can only be assumed that with every technological advancement, those advancements will be used by many to warm the hearts and minds of Christmas lovers throughout the world.
Some more extravagant Christmas lights!
Friday, December 19, 2008
I always want to go to Innovations and Matt never wants to.
This time, I insisted (birthday card!) and it was so worth it!
We got to see ASIMO! And I got to be super freaked out by the super-human like qualities of this innovative and long-awaited walking, talking, stair-treading robot.
(PS did you know that "robot" wasn't even coined until 1920?)
Below are bits of video from the fifteen minute demonstration of ASIMO at Disney's Innoventions.
It ends with my reaction immediately following the demonstration- which is mostly just wonder and bewilderment. There was just something terribly daunting about the little 4'3", 120 lb humanoid robot... it was just so... graceful! Such human qualities in the fluidity of its movements. I couldn't help but imagine it silently creeping up my stairs in the middle of the night to inform me that I left the front door unlocked and all of its friends were coming in.
ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility. It took the developers of ASIMO over 20 yrs to get robotic walking right. It's something we, as upright beings, really take for granted. I remember when I was in 3rd grade I watched a video on how humans develop; and while a shot played of a toddler being walked down a beach with a parent holding each hand, the narrator said,
"Mankind is on the brink of collapse with each well-balanced step we take,"and then proceeded to explain the delicate process of the human ability to walk.
The clips in the ASIMO Disney show exemplified the incredible difficulty of mechanically mimicking this. Original biped robots tended to weigh a lot and for a long time could only walk in straight line. Even that did not bode well as any slight disruption or misstep would send the heavy legs & torso careening over. As robotics progressed, walking features improved, but they still seemed to serve little purpose for the help or advancement of humankind.
But ASIMO is capable of moving in curves, walking forward and backwards, side-stepping, and even running; it is specifically designed as a helper with fully functioning five-digit hands and motion sensor cameras capable of maintaining "eye contact" when addressed and commanded.
(I can't help but chuckle at the expression on my face... it's of genuine shocked and rather wide-eyed)
Check out the video below:
ASIMO @ Disneyland from Danica Northend on Vimeo.
This other video, however, gives me hope that we are still superior.
I suppose we won't need John Connor for a long while yet!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Matt got me the coolest Indiana Jones/Mummy/Steam Punk boots ever. Okay, they're not as crazy sounding as I just made them out to be, but I still think they say "Danica's out for an adventure/some minor heroine-ing!"
I used to envy Meghan's a bit, but now I have my own pretty rad version! The only thing is.... apparently they're made of emu. Is that cool? Or weird? They look cool, that's for sure!
So I promised a vlog for Saturday and it took me a while to get all the pieces together - but here they are:
Item #1 - "Pre-Christmas Party Vlog"
So, I'm a little shy because it is my first Vlog and I dunno why I decided to do it rather early in the morning. As a result, I am blinking quite a bit because I suddenly realized how puffy my eyes were...
Item #2 - "Danica's Party"
This was the video recorded my Wendy at the party. Awesome. We have sealed our friendship with physical interaction. I will say that Skype-ing is pretty dang close tho.
Item #3 - "Matt & Danica's Reception Entrance"
So... this is how deep the nerd-dom runs. Yes, it's in our blood. Apparently, the night before the wedding my mom and two uncles stayed up pretty late making this incredible presentation for Matt and I to enter the reception hall to. Needless to say, Matt married into the right family.
Pre-Christmas Party Vlog from Danica Northend on Vimeo.
Danica's Party from Wendy Bee on Vimeo.
(If this doesn't work, you'll have to click here... sorry!)
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Raise you're hand if you've lived at sea level your whole life.
Just in case you fall into this category:
Definitions of snow on the Web:
- precipitation falling from clouds in the form of ice crystals
- a layer of snowflakes (white crystals of frozen water) covering the ground
- English writer of novels about moral dilemmas in academe (1905-1980)
- fall as snow; "It was snowing all night"
- coke: street names for cocaine
- bamboozle: conceal one's true motives from especially by elaborately feigning good intentions so as to gain an end; "He bamboozled his professors into thinking that he knew the subject well"
And here is the article I'm referring to:
Brrr! Arctic Blast Headed for SoCal
December 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES -- A rare 50 year Arctic blast is on it's way to Southern California according to weather forecasters.
Experts predict the cold weather pattern, which could extend from Alaska to San Diego, will arrive this weekend and send temperatures plummeting.
Freeze warnings are already in effect for the desert areas of Southern California, including the Antelope Valley.
OWSweather.com Meteorologist Kevin Martin predicts a 50 year event.
While Martin is usually conservative on these events, the pattern highly favors it.
"We are in a pre-1950 type pattern, "said Martin. "We know we are due for a winter storm sometime this year.
The type we may be dealing with will be ranked up there with the known years before 1950, which set record low daytime temperatures into the forecast region.
With this, may come low elevation snow."
Forecaster Cameron Venable is seeing very cold temperatures in the Los Angeles areas as well.
Torrance is not usually known for winter weather, thus making this an interesting event for Venable to track.
"Temperatures in Siberia, Russia will be -81 degrees this week, "said Martin. "With those type of temperatures the arctic air mass has to spill somewhere.
Our answer of the exact track will become more clear this week.
All residents in the mountain communities should prepare this week for very cold, winter weather, with snow."
Indications are a second, colder storm could hit near the 18th-22nd time-frame.
The details on that will have to be sorted out.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
but someone was just plain SLOPPY when putting this list together. Not only does it not follow any kind of hot-o-meter criteria (Seven of Nine is #48?! Yea right. And Scully does not outrank Jordan Two=Delta (Scarlett Johannson) OR Aeon Flux (Charize Theron?! Come on people)...)
Man. That. I. It's just. Ugh.
Not only was tribute not paid to the hottness of these characters - any kind of homage to these sci-fi stories/films/TV shows was utterly ignored.
PS!!! I don't care if "50" is a nice round number, cartoons don't count! And I'm even a fan of Cowboy Bee Bop! Oi....
Now, to satisfy the feminist in me before moving on, I will say that the value of these women as people or even actresses was (obviously) not a contributing factor to the aforementioned list or mine. And I certainly hope not to perpetuate any societal value on womankind by producing a list of characters concerning their aesthetic appeal.
The following is my own top 10 list of women in sci-fi & science fiction broadcast and film in more organized, respectful, and thoughtful arrangement than the list from UGO:
At least three of the four female Cylons made it in. WHAT THE HECK! Flippin' Rekha Sharma is gorgeous!
Actress: Shiri Appleby
Why: Come on! She's adorable! I totally wanted to BE here when this show was out. Maybe because she was living out a science fiction fantasy life in the city next to Area 51 with a super cute quiet-type alien boy, maybe because she was a waitress at the Crash Down cafe and I was clairvoyantly aware of my future attendance at APU (next to Glendora where most of Roswell was filmed). Either way, she's really pretty. And she didn't make stupid UGO's list.
Actress: Eliza Dushku
Why: Sorry, Eliza. You are obviously hot and I know nothing about you. So I am not going to write very much except for how very excited that I am for Dollhouse, the new Joss Whedon sci-fi show. I hope it doesn't suck. I hope they do not exploit your hotness too much. But it's sci-fi... not "science fiction" so... they will. But you'll get to carry and gun and kick people, just like in the old Buffy days. Except with a gun.
Actress: Anne Francis
Why: Anne Francis has to be one of the original Sci-fi hotties. But if Harlan Ellison had his way I'd be forced to have TWO lists, one for Sci-fi babes and the other for Science Fiction babes. Anne Francis would fall into the latter by virtue of her role as the only female in one of the most incredible movies made. Her beauty certainly warrents the attention she gets from a stranded group of intergalactic soldiers - but she also manages to convey a very attractive spunk in this particular role. If you Google images of her now, I think you'd have to agree that 50 years later she's still as elegant and beguiling.
Actress: Sean Young
Why: This was not the only science fiction film Sean Young starred in, she also played Chani in Dune... but she has to wear this nose-piece breathing apparatus like the other desert people which is far less attractive than futuristic-noir, skin-job, cyborg Rachel, whom she plays in Blade Runner. It might be her edgy-ness in this film that really secures her place in my top 10 - I'd put money on her hotness stemming from the gross kissing scene with Harrison Ford. Apparently they hated each other, but the chemistry came across brilliantly in their performances. Aside from the smoking, up-dos, and incredible costumes she gets to wear in this film, Sean Young was just a hottie. Period. Care to contest? I think not.
Actress: Sherry Jackson
Why: Man, I was totally distracted by this particular hottie throughout the entirety of the episode. William Shatner even gets tied to an android-maker without clothes on and I still couldn't stop thinking about how pretty this lady was! Perhaps because she's the token red-head of my list. While there were some intentional elements in the show to bring out her obviously nice figure, I think she is sort of accidentally exeplifies sci-fi hottie-ness. Her character was kind of adorable, kind of stupid, and very pretty - did I mention she's also a robot? Just what ever ner dreams of.
Actress: Natalie Portman
Why: So now I am beginning to get a little embarrassed of the sci-fi chicks I am posting... perhaps because Queen Amidala is my exclusive reason for ever watching Episode I a second or third time. And Natalie Portman is another beautiful girl! And not because she gets her shirt ripped off and we get to see those hard abs she probably spent weeks developing for 15 seconds of screen time and fan favors on every Pepsi can for 6 years. Whatever. She's still a great actress and she wore those costumes like a pro. And managed to look elegant and unburdened for the duration of the movie! She's also, like 5' 1" and I'm kinda biased to that. Natalie Portman is also one of those very blessed people to be photogenic from any freakin' angle.
Actress: Milla Jovovich
Why: Okay... I'm not a fan of the skin-tight, skin-colored, leotard she wears through this whole film, but I suppose it definitely goes toward some kind of generally recognized hot-factor... but that's not why she's my number 3! Frankly, anyone who can pull off orange hair as well as Milla Jovovich deserves mad recognition. Not only that, but she mumbles in a totally fictional language so well that you are immediately endeared to her! Impressive. And you know you were feeling awful about your humanity when she accidentally discovered war. Not that that has to do with hottness - but if she can tugged at your heartstrings, she probably got you sufficiently riled up enough to have a crush on her, too.
Actress: Jennifer Connelly
Why: Okay... I'm detecting a trend in tastes... like noir very much?
This is another fantastic movie with a fantastic cast and a fantastic performance by Jennifer Connelly. Did you want to be her in Labyrinth? Yes. (Boys, did you not want to be David Bowie in Labyrinth? Oh... no? What if you go to kiss Jennifer Conelly?) I actually think that Jennifer Conelly is the most beautiful woman on the planet - I really do. She did not make the number one sci-fi hotty on my list for two reason: 1) her character in this movie is definitely hot... but doesn't really get to interact or be effected by much of the science going on around her, she's really a backdrop for her pseudo-husband, John Murdoch; 2) eyebrows. This is the aesthete coming out in me... I think Jennifer Connelly is beautiful, including her eyebrows! But the first shot of her is this incredibly overblown, tight close-up and frankly, the DP managed to draw attention to them in a most unflatteringly fashion.
I feel bad for saying that... forgive me Jennifer Conelly!
Actress: Morena Baccarin
Why: This is definitely where it starts getting tough. These top four are pretty pretty ladies and Morena Baccarin is by the most underrated of them all (kind like the TV show of her sci-fi debut). When I think "pretty lady," she's who comes to mind. I don't think she has quite the same posture as the other top 4, but that's what I like about her. She strikes me as someone who wears make-up because it's fun, not because she has to. I saw a picture of her in a cowboy hat and that seemed to ring truest. She's an absolute knock-out, and she knows it, but maybe she just doesn't care all that much. She's sweet. And down-to-earth in the way she carries herself. Spunk. I seem to like spunk, and Marena Baccarin seems both sweet and spunky!
Actress: Jada Pinkett Smith
Why: Oh man! If this isn't another one of the most beautiful women ever! I just think Jada Pinket Smith is stunning! They could have done a lot more with her character in the Matrix. But, then again, they could have done a lot more with the Matrix. Either way, both her egos in that movie are pretty bad-ass. I'm not sure there's any way to make Jada Pinkett Smitth look bad. Well.. actually, one time she had this hair-do in the 80s... but who cares.
In any event, the characters she tends to play have so much poise and grace and I think this is because the actress behind them does naturally, anyway. Will Smith is a lucky man.
(PS, in an earlier version of this post, I confused her and Zoe Saldana (playing Uhura in the new Star Trek) who is also another gorgeous woman... if I had realized my mistake, I think I would've had to make room for her as well.)
Actress: Terry Farrell
Why: Perhaps I like Terry Farrell because she never quite oozes sexuality like the other sci-fi babes so often do. In fact, not really any of my choices do. But Terry Farrell always looks like she's about to outwit you, not matter how skimpy her costume for some stupid off-world Star Trek photo shoot requires. And in all her candids, she's always got her tongue out - like a little kid ready surprise someone. On top of all that, she is another one who has no bad angles! And beautiful bright blue eyes and sharp features - the Trill spots just put her over the edge, too, right? She did not get a proper rank in the UGO top-5o. Not by a long shot.
Seven of Nine is not in this list because... let's face it. She got a lotta name dropping earlier in this blog and is definitely the culmination/epitome of Star Trek hottness anyway:
Something similar, only this guy just did "Fifteen Fabulous Fictional Females" and includes some comic characters, TV characters, and, of course, some sci-fi hotties.
If you glean anything from this blog entry, take with you the film titles. These are awesome awesome awesome films that you won't regret watching.
Monday, December 8, 2008
For the record: we will all be performing these dances at the party.
As a bribe: Matt and I will DEFINITELY perform these dances at the party.
Come come come!
Friday, December 5, 2008
My prayers and my heart have been particularly focused on prayers for the oppressed. I thought I had begun such meditations with general prayers for the generally suffering; but I realize that my idea of the oppressed was limited by specific images that did not include myself, my neighbors, my friends, my family.
We are all sufferers and we are all in need of the provision and liberation only Christ can offer!
“From the beginning to the end, the people of the Bible are people of hope. All of them saw the star of promise in the long night of this world, and glimpsed the first streaks of daybreak colours heralding God’s new day.”-Moltmonn
Friday: For the preaching of the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the spread of His knowledge throughout the whole world; for the persecuted and oppressed; for the sick and dying.
(Read more about the history and use of this piece in the film "The Thin Red Line.")
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The blog world is atwitter - or perhaps aFacebook (get it? it's an interweb social networking joke!) as the apparently anxiously awaited premiere of Twilight. I haven't seen this many people excited about a movie since...well...Sex and the City earlier this year.
Now I know nothing about the books or the movie (knowing nothing seems to be a theme of mine this week), but just for fun I decided to print out a list of quotes and sprinkle them throughout my conversations today.
Here's what I've been able to work in so far:
"Your skin is pale white...and ice cold." - To a co-worker as we rode the elevator this morning
“There was no image violent enough to encapsulate the force of what happened to me in that moment” - To someone who asked how my evening was.
“Hating her, hating how she made me feel – it helped a little.” - To my assistant when she asked how my meeting with our COO went.
“You are a magnet for trouble. If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you.” - Included in a draft of a written warning that I sent to a manager for review
“So, is the new one afraid of us yet?” - Asked of a manager about an employee we hired a few months ago.
"If I could dream at all it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it." - To Phil - one of our Managing Directors - as I walked into a meeting.
“I'll be back so soon you won't have time to miss me. Look after my heart - I've left it with you.” - To Phil as I left to get a cup of coffee before the meeting began.
“Here’s the thing… I've already gone crazy once. I know what my limits are.” - In response to a question about why we chose to take action A instead of action B to resolve an issue.
"I think she's having hysterics. Maybe you should slap her.” - To a Manager who asked for advice on dealing with a difficult employee
“If you ever repeat what I'm saying right now I'll cheerfully beat you to death” - To the same manager as we discussed some confidential information
“You are the most dangerous creature I've ever met” - To my boss as she explained a recent department reorganization
“I'm really glad Edward didn't kill you. Everything's so much more fun when you're around.” - To an employee that just returned from disability leave.
Anyway, what I've found most interesting about this exercise thus far is that people aren't looking at me any more quizzically than usual.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Contact: Danica NorthendHere's another nifty visual.
CREATIVE WAY TO USHER IN THE HOLIDAY DO-GOOD SPIRIT
A Green Non-Profit Organization Says, Take Home a Tenanbaum AND Plant a Forest!
This year Eden Reforestation Projects (ERP), a 501(c)3, challenges Holiday patrons to match the cost of their Christmas tree with a donation to replant forests in Africa in a pioneer program they call “Trees for Trees.”
“The average cost of one chopped-down white pine or douglas fir Christmas tree could be $40, $60, even $100 depending on the size,” says an ERP representative, “If someone were to dedicate that same amount of money to planting trees, they could plant four-hundred, six-hundred, or even one thousand trees! Whole forests can be plants at a marginal cost.”
Eden Reforestation Projects has been active since 2004 and has maintained a cost per seedling at 10¢. Every $10 given to ERP plants 100 (one-hundred) trees. ERP nurseries are established with these funds in areas of Africa suffering from desertification and climate change due to deforestation.
Rachel Oliver of CNN recently reported on the relationship between poverty and climate change saying, “it's the world's poorest who are often put forward as the ones who are likely to feel the affects of climate change the most and are likely to be able to deal with them the least.”
ERP president Steve Fitch's recent research and experience strengthen the overlooked correlation between environmental damage and poverty, “Locals shared with me about how their crops were diminishing... I was taken to the Udo escarpment and I saw where a deluge had gouged the earth and had killed local villagers. This, I learned, was common and directly related to deforestation.”
This Holiday season, ERP is asking fellow activists and the eco-sensitive to consider the green impact the cost of their Christmas Tree could have on the deforested and desertified countries of Africa. “Trees for Trees” provides an opportunity for Christmas Tree shoppers to lighten their carbon footprint and participate in a new Holiday tradition that, as ERP says, “Heals lands AND lives.”
Donations can be made and more information found on their website, www.edenprojects.org, including a series of short educational film clips.
For more information or to schedule an interview with an ERP representative, please contact Danica Northend at 626-395-7641 or mail Danica at Danica@chronicleproject.org.
Monday, December 1, 2008
From "Things to do and not do when you're emotional."
I just HAD to make a Post-it to remind myself later. It's going on the cover of my senior thesis notebook. Below is the typed blog translation:
- Have cookies
- Take a hot shower
- Go to sleep
Not to do:
- Online shop
- "Emotional dial/email/text/IM" someone (like an irrational crush or ex-boyfriend)
- Run away
- Delete all your friends
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Wendy you are so cool.