Word Work by Elena

Word Work by Elena

Next step is whittling.


bens picks for the oscars.

Best Picture – 1. Argo 2. Silver linings playbook
Best Director – 1. benh zeitlin 2. michael haneke
Best Actor – 1. daniel day-lewis 2. hugh jackman
Best Actress – 1. jennifer lawrence 2. quvenzhane wallis
Best Supporting Actor – 1. robert de niro 2. tommy lee jones
Best Supporting Actress – 1.anne hathaway 2. sally field
Best Animated Feature Film – 1. brave 2. wreck it ralph
Best Foreign Film – 1. amour 2. no
Best Original Screenplay – 1.amour 2. moonrise kingdom
Best Adapted Screenplay – 1. argo 2. silver linings playbook
Best Costume Design – 1.lincoln 2. les miserables
Best Original Song – 1. skyfall 2. suddenly
Best Original Score – 1. lincoln 2. skyfall
Best Documentary – 1. searching for sugarman 2. 5 broken cameras
Best Documentary Short -1. open heart 2. redemption
Best Makeup & Hairstyling – 1.the hobbit 2. les mis
Best Production Design – 1. les mis 2. the hobbit
Best Film Editing – 1. argo 2. life of pi
Best Cinematography – 1. lincoln 2. life of pi
Best Sound Editing – 1. skyfall 2. argo
Best Sound Mixing – 1. les mis 2. skyfall
Best Visual Effects – 1. the hobbit 2. life of pi
Best Short Film (Animated) – 1. adam and dog 2. paperman
Best Short Film (Live Action) – 1. curfew 2. henry

Academy Award Picks

Catherine sent me an email this afternoon asking if we wanted to do an Academy Awards ballot. We did this last year when we had a girls’ weekend with our friend Barb over the Oscars weekend. Even though I’ve seen, I don’t know, three of the movies nominated for anything, I’ve read plenty about movies and I’m generally interested in movies, so it’s fun to do even if I’ve never (and probably never will) see Life of Pi or whatever.

Here is the ballot.

And here are my choices. We’re allowed to pick first and second choices, 1/2 point if second choice wins. I mostly don’t have anything special to say about my picks because I haven’t seen most of the movies.

Best Picture – 1. Argo; 2. Lincoln
Best Director – 1. Steven Spielberg; 2. David O. Russell
Best Actor – 1. Daniel Day-Lewis; 2. Hugh Jackman
Best Actress – 1. Jessica Chastain; 2. Naomi Watts (Ben thinks Jennifer Lawrence will win and I agree her performance was fantastic but I think it’s too non-traditional Best Actress – i.e. too subtle – to win)
Best Supporting Actor – 1. Robert De Niro; 2. Alan Arkin (I wish that Alan Arkin were my crotchety old grandfather)
Best Supporting Actress – 1. Anne Hathaway; 2. Sally Field (tempted to just put Anne Hathaway for 1 and 2 to see if I could get 1 1/2 points for this anticipated W)
Best Animated Feature Film – 1. Brave (one of the few movies I have seen, seven times, in the past week, so thanks so much, Nate, for lending his copy of this movie to Elena); 2. Wreck-It Ralph
Best Foreign Film – usually I have some inside scoop on this one from hearing a review on NPR or similar, but I got nothin’ this year. So, 1. Amour; 2. A Royal Affair
Best Original Screenplay – usually my favorite movies win the screenplay awards, and I used to like Quentin but I’m kind of tired of everyone’s livers getting splattered across the walls but it seems like other people still enjoy that, so 1. Django Unchained; 2. Moonrise Kingdom (which I’ve actually seen – and it’s lovely)
Best Adapted Screenplay – 1. Silver Linings Playbook; 2. Argo (two movies I’ve seen, both wonderful, and I’d be happy if either one wins and unhappy if one of the others wins)
Best Costume Design – 1. Les Miserables; 2. Anna Karenina
Best Original Song – this is another one I usually get right! 1. Skyfall; 2. Suddenly
Best Original Score – 1. Skyfall; 2. Life of Pi
Best Documentary – who knows. 1. How to Survive a Plague; 2. Searching for Sugar Man
Best Documentary Short – 1. Open Heart; 2. Redemption
Best Makeup & Hairstyling – 1. Les Miserables; 2. Hitchcock (thus guaranteeing that Hobbit will win in this three-nominee category)
Best Production Design – 1. Life of Pi; 2. Lincoln
Best Film Editing – 1. Argo; 2. Zero Dark Thirty
Best Cinematography – 1. Life of Pi; 2. Lincoln
Best Sound Editing – 1. Life of Pi; 2. Skyfall
Best Sound Mixing – 1. Les Miserables; 2. Life of Pi
Best Visual Effects – 1. Avengers; 2. Hobbit
Best Short Film (Animated) – 1. Longest Daycare; 2. Fresh Guacamole
Best Short Film (Live Action) – 1. Buzkashi Boys; 2. Death of a Shadow

I’ll post later about how successful I am.

Late Shift

Even though I have a Professional Job, I still have “shift work” in that a few days a month I work 12-8:30 instead of 9-5:30.  Everyone in my position does this (or most people, I should say) and we have 3-4 people working this shift.  We do this because we are an International Law Firm and we have to provide service to our west coast offices or they would be cross.  I guess there is some talk of opening a west coast office at some point, but in the meantime we do these shifts.

Although a lot of people complain about it, I truly don’t mind it.  When you have a toddler and you get home from work fairly late in the evening, it’s pretty much dinner/bath/bed every night.  Having the opportunity to spend a couple mornings with my child is nice.  Plus if I ever need to go to the doctor I don’t have to take any time from work, I can just work it around my late shifts.  Granted, this all only works because Ben typically does pickup of Elena anyway and it’s pretty rare that he gets stuck late at work.  

However, due to bad planning, I’ve scheduled three late shifts in a row this week.  There are some benefits to knocking it all out at once but generally I don’t like to do it this way.  It makes it difficult to do, you know, anything else at all this week.  Plus I can’t take spin class at lunch.  On the other hand, they cover parking when I’m on late shift so I will save some money this week (which I’m sure I will then spend on 5:15 chips and guacamole).


I’m starting a new position at work today. It’s something of a lateral move, not associated with any additional money, but I do get a slightly different title, a new office (which is not really that impressive as I’ve had four different offices in the time I’ve been there) and, most importantly, I’ll be doing something different. I’ve been doing my current work for a year and it’s time to mix it up a bit. I’ll still do some of that work but it won’t be my primary focus. I’m excited about these changes for a variety of reasons.

I also just wrote out a check to pay off my big credit card. Due to some bad planning in the early 2000’s I’ve been carrying around a bunch of credit card debt for over 10 years. I tried a couple things to pay it off but it wasn’t working (this is my fault too, because I like to do things like shop and go on vacation).

I wish I had some sort of secret I could share on what ultimately happened, but what ultimately happened was that Uncle Don passed away and left me basically exactly enough money to pay off the debt (and, like, buy myself one shirt). So rather than irresponsibly spending this money on a fancy vacation and *mostly* paying off the card (which has been my M.O. in the past), it’s now all gone (or will be as soon as this check I wrote clears). Now I’ll have some extra money every month that was going to minimum payments and I can, I don’t know, save it or something (although it’s more likely I’ll just use it to buy candy – NO I am kidding – although I do have to be careful not to do that).

I’m working 12-8:30 today and I’m stopping at the mall this morning to run some errands. Based on the changes I’ve described above, a trip to the mall is a dangerous idea. I will attempt to be strong.

Things I did yesterday

Yesterday Elizabeth and I went to the Pittsburgh Glass Center and took a glass class on how to make a paperweight. We were both interested in taking a class there and not especially particular on which one (only that it needed to have space for us and fit in to our schedules – we scheduled this one in December and yesterday was the next available day). It turned out the paperweight was probably the perfect introductory class. It’s easy to make a paperweight look nice and artistic with minimal idea of what you’re doing. (At least in theory – it’s somewhat difficult to actually SEE what your final project will look like because the glass is at something like 1500 degrees when you’re working with it. But I feel confident that it’s pretty hard to mess up a paperweight.)

In watching the initial demonstration I became deathly afraid of dropping burning hot glass on to my foot, on to someone else’s arm, etc., but the instructors were very helpful with the more terrifying elements of creating your own artistic glassware. An added bonus was that there was no blowing of glass, so I had no fear of sucking hot glass into my lungs, my face catching on fire, etc.

I have no pictures because they are all on Elizabeth’s phone. I also have no paperweight yet because it had only cooled down to like 800 degrees by the time we left, so we have to pick it up another day. I will have to do a follow up post on this adventure. EDIT: Elizabeth has read my blog and sent me some pictures! Here they are.

I shouldn't be trusted to carry around a BURNING HOT POKER OF GLASS.

I shouldn’t be trusted to carry around a BURNING HOT POKER OF GLASS.

I'm heating the glass in a FIERY PIT OF FIRE

I’m heating the glass in a FIERY PIT OF FIRE

Designing the inside of the paperweight using tweezers.  Looks like I know what I'm doing, right?

Designing the inside of the paperweight using tweezers. Looks like I know what I’m doing, right?

Here I'm shaping the paperweight - you'll notice that the instructor is doing most of the work

Here I’m shaping the paperweight – you’ll notice that the instructor is doing most of the work

Here I am making the initial divide where the glass is ultimately divided from the rod.  This is accomplished by techniques such as science.

Here I am making the initial divide where the glass is ultimately divided from the rod. This is accomplished by techniques such as science.

Before we went to the glass class we went to Station Street Hot Dogs because Elizabeth knows about everything that is awesome. Station Street has fancy hot dogs and gourmet tacos. None of the fancy hot dogs were appealing to me because they all had one ingredient I did not like (sauerkraut, kim chi), so I just got a plain, but I also got a duck comfit taco and that was just delightful.

Just delightful

Just delightful

Before THAT, I went to Trader Joe’s and got groceries, and I went to a bike shop that I think was called Performance Bicycles and got a bike rack for my car. Ben and I always joke that sales people should love us because once we have decided to make a major purchase, we just walk into a store and buy what we want. That’s how it was with this bike rack. I’ve been thinking about getting a bike rack for a YEAR and this sales guy only had to spend 5 minutes with me and I bought it. I still need to get a hitch, and it needs to get warmer, and once those things happen I plan to park a little further out from town and bike in to town.

Before that I was supposed to run with my group but it snowed again so we didn’t.

it has been a while

I know it has been a while since I wrote a post. A lot of things have been going through my mind that I just cant get straight in my head. It all started when Sandy and I went to see Silver Linings Playbook. It was a great movie. I cannot say enough good things about it. But when it came time for me to write how good it was. I could not thing of what to say. I could not think of ways to describe how the story had just the right mix of comedy and drama. How good the actors were. I could not think of anything.  Then just when I was about to come up with something. Sandy had a slow day at work and told me about the 5 favorite movie list. Thinking about my top 5 totally made me forget about the movie I was going to talk about.  It turned my brain to thinking what my top 5 would be. At first I asked for a narrower base. Like top 5 comedies or top 5 john cusack movies. But it was stated it was just top 5 movies in general. I was able to belt out 5 movies for Sandy. They are Usual Subjects, Mallrats, Bugsy Malone, Midnight Madness, and War games. After I stated my list I was OK with it. But I was not happy with it. How could I limit all the movies that I have seen to just 5. Plus put them in an order. I realized I really cannot do that and be happy with my list. So I was thinking that the American Film Institiute has a list of the 100 best movies of all time. I should make a list that rivals that one. I actually believe that my list will be better than that list. So in the comming days I will be starting to list some of the movies or list all of the movies at once. Stay tuned to find out if you like good movies.