Monday, April 28, 2008

Date!

I have my first date with Kelly now that she's living nearby! Yaayyy!!! We meet at Cornerstone Coffeehouse this Thursday at 6:30. Sweet.

Then Friday is dinner & Hershey Symphony with Mom A.

Too bad in the 4 more work days between now and then, I have more to do than I know what to do with. Yuck. I think I'm in a better frame of mind than I was last week tho, so hopefully tomorrow I will continue to chip away at it and get a significant amount done.

Oh and also, I've almost finished the knot ugly shrug from Stitch n' Bitch: The Happy Hooker, a very wonderful crochet book. Mine is light blue. I've already sewn it together, and it fits! I just need to finish the borders. Next I am making the cowboy hat pattern from the same book, for which I will use the two HUGE skeins of white I have sitting around, altho I can only find the one skein at the moment, so I need to look for the other one. Check.

But anyway, I wanted to talk about donations. Here are the things that I would like to give my money to, in no order:
NPR via WITF
WXPN
Trinity Lutheran Church
Camp Nawakwa in general
Camp Nawakwa Imagine campaign
Juniata College in general
Juniata College Concert Choir Hockley Endowment
American Cancer Society

Things I have given money to in the last year:
NPR via WAMU
Trinity Lutheran Church
Camp Nawakwa in general
Juniata College in general
American Cancer Society

It's been probably about a year since I donated to WAMU, so hopefully next time WITF has its campaign in the fall I'll donate. WXPN I haven't been listening to as much, but it's basically the only radio station I listen to when WITF is playing classical music and I'm not in the mood for that. Plus I'd really like some stickers for my car. Is that a bad reason to donate? I seriously get 99% of my news from NPR, listen to podcasts, and basically do everything Kai Ryssdal, Scott Jagow, or Robert Siegel tell me to do. And I probably haven't bought a CD in the last year or more that wasn't endorsed in some way by WXPN. I feel like WXPN is an important way to support the arts, and NPR is the only news I can stand to listen to - television news broadcasts make me lose hope for humanity, and I'm too lazy to read a newspaper every day, so radio is what I've got. I just want to make a smallish yearly donation here so that I can listen every day and wear a sticker in my car window with pride, and no guilt that I'm not contributing to this important, independent, non-commercial, public source of news, arts, and general knowledge.

The American Cancer Society I feel like I'm at the level I want to be at. I help with various fund raisers throughout the year in a minor capacity, and raise maybe $80 each time, and usually contribute a bit of that myself. This is a huge charity that I feel is a very important cause because SO many people have cancer and/or have close friends or family with cancer, and it's rightly the focus of TONS of medical research and zillions of non-profit organizations. However, I don't feel like cancer research is under-funded at all, and so I rather suspect that we're moving towards a cure for cancer about as quickly as medical research can move at the moment, so I'm happy with the level to which I'm currently involved in this area. I think there are a whole lot of people, including a few I know (Sis & Mom A, Aunt Patty & sons), who do an amazing job raising a lot of money for cancer research, and I feel like my role giving some support to those people is the right role for me, and the right amount of giving for me. If I'm able to increase my giving this year, I want it to be to Juniata and Nawakwa.

So here's my reasoning on increased giving to Juniata and Nawakwa, both of which are great places at which you can find a lot of upper-middle-class people and a handful of students/campers from more adverse backgrounds. Why do these mostly already well-off kids need money from me? Well, first of all, Juniata is actually a lot less rich than most small liberal arts colleges, despite its solid growth rate and success. It ranks low when you look at alumni giving versus tuition for where it gets its funding, and I think if that can change, then it will build up a more diverse student body. And no matter who the student body is, by helping Juniata give them the kind of education and amazing life experience I got there, I'm helping to create the cancer research doctors, intelligent politicians, and humanitarians of the future. So part of my belief in Juniata is my belief that a dollar donated to my alma mater might even do more over time than a dollar donated to another charity. Who knows! The possibilities seem endless.

My theory for Nawakwa is pretty similar, altho more close to home: obviously this camp in the woods has had a HUGE impact on my life; just witness who I'm married to, recent and near-future weddings I'm attending, and a healthy chunk of my closest friends. I think that experience is very important in growing strong kids, families, relationships, and helping people to realize what a great place Central Pennsylvania is. When I donate money to Nawakwa, I'm not just benefiting myself and my future kids, but also helping to grow the type of caring people who I want to live with here in PA for the rest of my life, and who will continue to make the world a better place long after I'm gone. So when I think about donating to organizations like Juniata and Nawakwa, I think of it as more of an investment fund that I'm hopeful will live up to the huge potential I know they have.

Of course I give time to these organizations as well, and that probably feels even better than giving money. Time is mainly what I give to Trinity Lutheran Church; I think I agreed to be on the arts committee in the fall, and hopefully in the fall I'll be able to start helping with the Youth Group a bit, so I think with a little in the offering plate here and there and buying tickets to fund raiser events for various groups I'm pretty comfortable with my giving level there, too. I plan to be involved at Trinity for the rest of my life, and I plan to raise my kids there, so I feel like I have a pretty huge investment already.

With all of that on my plate, I think that's about as much charitable giving as I can handle. I have thought a lot about it, and I think it's more effective for me to give as much as possible (time and money) to a limited number of organizations than to try to give a few dollars to every fund that knocks at my door. It's not that I think my chosen organizations are better than the millions of others out there; it's just that I think in order to be the most effective, I do need to pick a few and stick to them. When it comes to areas I'd like to increase, I think I want to focus on Juniata (increase monetary giving), Nawakwa (increase monetary giving & volunteerism), and Trinity (increase volunteerism), for their potential social capital and ongoing, long-term future benefit I see in them, both for Central Pennsylvania and beyond.

Paul is about to register for his first HACC class on his way to getting his Bachelor's degree, and that will be the other vastly important area of investment for us. We would REALLY love to buy a house soon, but whether that will be next year or in a few depends on how Paul ends up taking his classes - more spread out or more quickly - and how our financial situation looks once he's settled into a course of action. It also depends on the housing market...if the economy starts speeding up again, we might be tempted into grabbing a house before all the interest rates go back up. We'll see. I see all these decisions as an investment in Central Pennsylvania, since we plan to live here for the rest of our lives. With any luck, we'll influence our community in positive ways.

Notice I have no desire to donate to any political campaigns. While I might eventually like to run for local office, I'm way to disillusioned with the current system to feel like my money is going to any sort of good use by donating to a politician. First things need to change with votes and letter-writing. And the influence of public media like NPR, I hope. And the continued flow of well-educated liberal-arts college students into the system, also helping to change the system.

So anyway, basically I'm feeling pretty hopeful in general. What do you think? Am I too hopeful? Too idealistic? Or fairly reasonable? What organizations do you give your time and money to, and why?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Moved In

Woke up at 7:30 this morning, Paul and I were dressed and out the door to TJ Homestyle for breakfast by 8:30. I had two delicious blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce that powered me thru grocery shopping for cookie & pasta salad ingredients, then home to make the pasta salad and cookies, both of which turned out great. The cookies were the ball mason jar filled with all the dry ingredients made by the life skills kids at my mom's school, and it was perfect - made one tightly-packed cookie sheet. While I cooked, Paul went to the hardware store for brackets and made a mount for my bicycle on the back porch wall! It's so great. At 11:20, I grabbed the still-warm cookies, pasta salad in the fridge, and Paul and I headed to Harrisburg to help Kelly & Reed move in!

There were a bunch of people to help, including Kelly's dad and brother Jim, Reed's college roommate and his wife, Reed's mom and a brother, so with all of us it took probably less than an hour to unload the huge truck. Then we all sat around chatting, drinking beer, and eating pizza, pasta salad (which everyone likes, yay!), and cookies. Kelly's mom, sister-in-law, and niece got there to help organizing stuff, and Paul and I headed out to come home and get ready for our Juniata dinner theater evening at the Navy Club. That starts at 5:30 and it's 4:00 now, so I'd better hop in the shower! Should be a relaxing evening. I plan on drinking lots of wine. Oh, and I think I might be leading the alma mater, but we'll see.

PS: I saw Pastor Hardy on a bicycle as we drove thru Camp Hill this afternoon. Too cute!

Friday, April 25, 2008

weekend!!

It's Friday, yaaaaaaaaayyy!!

- Work
- Come home and make pasta salad for lunch with all the MacConnell movers tomorrow
(I recently learned that the secret to great, fresh pasta salad is to add the dressing right before serving, so I will make the dressing separately and not add it until tomorrow when we eat)
- Crochet! I'm finally making the cute Knot Ugly Shrug from Stitch n' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. Next I want to make the cowboy hat, for which I will use the two huge skeins of white cotton I got to make a flower girl basket but didn't. If I decide I don't want a white cowboy hat, I can always dye it.
- This is a bit out of order, but we're also going over to the Killian's for dinner, since Han will be home for her library interview tomorrow - good luck, Han!!

Other than that, I'm happy to say that I rode my bike to work yesterday. Hopefully soon I will have bike pedals to go with my shoes...but until then it's still fun to ride in just my sneakers! After work I rode to Peppino's for a sub, which I took with me to Cornerstone Coffee House for a skinny iced chai (my fav drink evar), then to choir practice at Trinity, where Paul picked me up at 9:30 so that I wouldn't have to ride home in the dark. I was going to ride again today, but I feel all weird (maybe from the prednisone?) and funky, and still pooped from yesterday, plus I need to stop at Rite Aid so I'm just going to drive. I'll get plenty of exercise tomorrow helping Kelly and Reed move! Yay for having a girlfriend nearby again!! And with Han graduating in a couple of weeks, I'll have her nearby too, I can hardly wait. Now if only I could get my house cleaned up, unpacked, and organized so that I could finally have my housewarming party...maybe I should work on that Sunday instead of more gardening.

In other other news, I'm also feeling happy this week because over the last couple of weeks I feel like things have clicked with the two other project controllers here in Camp Hill. We've been getting along really well, chatting a lot, taking trips to Starbucks a few times a week, and I feel much more comfy and happy at work from a social standpoint than I had been. I still miss Sarah and Jeneane a whole lot, of course, which is why Paul and I are going to head South a day early on Saturday, May 24 to visit them on our way down to OBX for the next wedding. One month from yesterday, it will be so wonderful and fun I can hardly wait!!!!!

OK OK OK, I guess I'd better get dressed and head to work. Srsly. Byes...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

To do: ----------------------------------------- Update in the evening:

Get dressed ------------------------------------- check
Take Prednisone for poison ivy ----------------------- check, it's working like a charm
Vote (Obama '08!) ---------------------------------check!
Stop at Starbucks? (Michelle may have already done this) --- check, Michelle got me my fav iced fat-free chai
Work (accruals, accruals, accruals!) -------------------- check, got them all finished before 3:00, earlier than usual!
Come home --------------------------------------check, altho I dawdled at work and didn't get home until 7:00
Laundry ----------------------------------------- check, gotta go switch loads soon
Dishes ------------------------------------------ check, Paul got them started before I got home and finished them while I was folding laundry
(Clean dining room floor?) --------------------------- not tonight...
(Vacuum family room?) ------------------------------not tonight...
Dinner (Cream dried beef?) ---------------------------check, and baked potatoes, it's delicious! and so easy!!
Crochet ------------------------------------------this is what I plan to do instead off cleaning & vacuuming...
Sleep --------------------------------------------again, instead of cleaning...altho the 'roids might keep me up for a while...!

In other news, I finished "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer last night. It was very good. Also very unique and, Han is absolutely right, very post-modern. You'll see what I mean if you read it. I highly recommend. He also wrote "Everything is Illuminated," which is also a good movie, but I barely remember the book because it's been a few years since I read it.

Peace out...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Laps

I did 50 laps this evening at the YMCA!

April 1st I did 30 laps, then on the 3rd I saw the bulletin board at the pool with all the lap/mile equivalents, so I did 42 laps that day in order to have 72 total that week, or 1 mile! (We're calling one length of the pool a lap in this case.) Today I added myself to the little spreadsheet on the bulletin board, the "lap club." It just has a column for each day of the month, so that you can keep track of your laps for that month. Above that, there's a typed spreadsheet with everyone's names and their totals for each month so far in 2008. Next month, my name will be on there for April! Then I'll know, throughout the year, how many laps I've done each month, and can compare with the 20-odd others on the sheet. It's great motivation! So I have 122 laps so far in April! Yay.

Don't think I've lost weight yet, but I feel better, and I think I'm re-distributing a bit, if you know what I mean. Yay again!

It needs to get a *little* lighter and warmer in the mornings before I start riding my bike to work again, and also I want to get clipless pedals and shoes, and a bag that will fasten more securely to my pannier rack. And maybe a bike rack that will fit on the Matrix so I can take my bike to the Outer Banks in May.....

I love Spring!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Juniata Choir trip to Camp Hill a success!

I haven't uploaded the very few pictures I took yet, but the Juniata Choir's concert at Trinity was reasonably well attended, the choir sounded AMAZING, everyone loved the concert, we had some yummy snacks afterwards, and everyone found their homestays and got back on time the next morning. A very successful evening, IMHO. And hopefully they'll be coming back again in future years!!

In the mean time, enjoy this video I found on youtube from our Brazil tour in March 2005 (we're singing in Portuguese, not Spanish. This is Brazil, remember):



I'm famous! Haha. My hair looks awful, but please remember that we were in the tropics: it was incredibly humid, very warm, and no one had air conditioning, so there wasn't much hope for my hair. At least I can smile and play the claves at the same time, right?
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