31 July 2010

Cup of sugar?

I am always thinking of stuff that I "need." Then, of course, I realize that usually these are things I will use occasionally and then have to store for the 340 days per year that I'm not using it. The other day, I heard a story on NPR about a sort of social network that hooks you up with neighbors who are willing to lend some of their things. It sounded like such a neat idea!

You can listen to the story:

What do you think? What would you be willing to lend to your neighbors? Anything you'd look to borrow?

29 July 2010

"Up in Here!"

My senior year of high school I joined the Spanish Club. I took Spanish all four years of high school, but I never got around to joining the club until the final year when it dawned on me that I really should beef up my extra-curricular activities since I dropped band/color guard that year.

Basically every club designed a new t-shirt every year. My Spanish teacher, Mrs. Taylor, requested in every class that students submit their designs for the t-shirt so that the Spanish Club could vote. There were not very many submissions, and soon Mrs. Taylor began very strongly encouraging us to submit our designs.

The day of the deadline my friend, Shane, and I decided to come up with the most absurd t-shirt designs ever and submit them to Mrs. Taylor. Of course, we did this during AP Biology, also known as the class wherein we held piggy back ride races and played "the color game" and didn't ever learn anything.
(From left to right, front row: Shane, Tayo, Roberto, Natalie. Back Row: Jennifer, Me (Sherry), Ms. Baron,B'Ann, Shauna)

Now, it's important to note that I attended a rather ethnically diverse school. About 40% of the student body were white, 30% were Hispanic, and 30% were black. (This diversity is not clearly displayed in the photo because you are looking at an honors course. That's why there are two Indians, who actually fit into the "other" category and made up less than 1% of the student body.) In high school, I frequently referred to my school as "ghetto." Because seriously.

When you walked down the hall, people shouted out their year of graduation, almost chanting it. "Oh-One! Oh-One! Oh-One!" Words and phrases like "girl, shoot!," "crunk" and "don't hate" were used abundantly - not by me.

First of all, I was white, and I knew that those things were not for me to say. But also because I thought they sounded stupid, and I imagine that even if I hadn't been white, I would not have been saying, "Girl, shoot! Why you gotta be hatin'? This backpack be crunk!"

Which is precisely why I created a Spanish Club t-shirt design that said, "Don't hate! Conjugate!" I found it rather hilarious. (If you know me at all you know that I am more likely to laugh endlessly at my own jokes than anybody else's.) Shane and I also created shirts that said, "Shane Alexander is Awesome!" and "El Club-o Del Spanish-O." At the conclusion of AP Bio, Shane and I rushed upstairs to D-Hall and proudly submitted our t-shirt designs. We didn't have time to wait for Mrs. Taylor's reaction, but we knew she would be amused.

When it came time to vote on the t-shirt designs, Mrs. Taylor (and whoever the other Spanish Club sponsor was) weeded through the various entries to get rid of any inappropriate and completely ridiculous ones. Only, somehow, my "Don't hate! Conjugate!" design remained. And it won.

I had totally forgotten about this until I was looking through my Senior Book and I read about it. I only wish I still had the t-shirt or at least a photo of it.

And just for kicks and giggles, here is a photo of Shane and me sumo wrestling during the senior party at the end of the year. I teased Shane mercilessly, and he occasionally teased me back. I think this photo is really indicative of what our friendship was like.

28 July 2010


On Pioneer Day we spent a lot of time with Eric's aunts and uncles. On Saturday morning we walked over to Eric's aunt and uncle's new apartment that was just along the parade route. While we watched the parade there was quite a bit of mingling with the relatives and friends who had come to watch. I was sitting between two of Eric's aunts and near Eric's grandma when one of Eric's aunts said basically the funniest thing I had heard in a long time.

The aunts were talking about settling into new homes and making a home your own. One aunt was relating that when trying to sell a house a few years ago things just weren't going as well as she'd hoped. The real estate agent suggested she take down her Spanish vases from her fireplace mantel. Sharon told the real estate agent as seriously as you can imagine, "My mother is in one of those vases."

The other aunt, Grandma and I laughed so hard I thought we might cry. Then Grandma (allegedly in one of those vases) said, "I wouldn't fit in just one vase." To which Sharon replied, "My mother is in all those vases!"

If only I were so quick-witted.

26 July 2010

Sunday Preparations

Yesterday in Primary we were learning the song "Saturday." The song is about how Saturday is special because it is a day we can use to help us be ready for Sunday. When we use Saturday properly, we can keep the Sabbath a holy day.

I always liked this song as a kid because it has a fun melody, and there are lots of actions you can do with it. As we sung it today, though, I realized that it is pretty dated. The lyrics:
Saturday is a special day.
It's the day we get ready for Sunday.
We clean the house, and we shop at the store.
So we don't have to work until Monday.

We brush our clothes and we shine our shoes,
And we call it our get-the-work-done day.
Then we trim our nails and we shampoo our hair,
So we can be ready for Sunday.
I'm down with the shopping and the cleaning. In fact, we did both of those things on Saturday. I think trimming our nails is a worthwhile endeavor, though I don't know if it necessarily must be done on Saturday. We should also take time to shampoo our hair, but in my mind at least, shampooing our hair is done more than once a week. And now let's talk about brushing our clothes. Certainly I wear clean clothes to church, but because I live in the twenty-first century that just means I wash them and iron them if necessary. No brushing involved. Clean shoes are also nice, but does anybody shine their shoes these days? I don't think I own a pair that require shining, and although Eric may, they certainly don't need shining EVERY Saturday.

I want to change these lyrics. Suggestions?

25 July 2010

Favicon Favo(u)r

I have been neglectful in thanking somebody for a very kind favo(u)r. My friend, Ange, made me a favicon. You probably don't know what a favicon is - I didn't until Ange started giving them away. It's the little icon to the left of your address bar. Most professional websites have them. Most blogs just have the default icon for whichever blog service they use. Now I have a custom-made one, and it is awesome. You can get in on the custom-made favicon action by regularly reading and commenting on Ange's blog. She gives one away each Friday. I don't know how long this will last, so you may want to get in on the action soon.

24 July 2010


Long before my grandpa died he started giving his stuff away. There were not a great deal of things that I wanted that belonged to him, but there were a few things. I took my grandmother's complete set of Shakespseare. Eric took the Winston Churchill series about World War II. We took a set of Japanese tile painting thingies. And we took these two needlework pictures.

Both of the pictures are done with really beautiful needlework. My pictures (of course) do not do them justice. I have a more detailed one below, and hopefully that can give you a better view of how cool these pictures are.

My grandpa served (in the army) in post-war Japan. Then he married my grandma. Then he served in the Korean war. While he was in Korea my grandma came to visit him, and they went to Japan together. These pictures are one of the things they brought back. They hung in my grandparents' formal living room, but they weren't the centerpiece of the room by any means. In fact, I had never bothered to notice how really stunning they were and what the medium was for them until I was about 15.

I've had them hung in our various apartments for a while, and I've been wanting to re-frame them all this time. I finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago while Eric was canoeing 540 miles down the Yellowstone River. (I never mentioned that, but yeah, long trip.)

I bought some stain to re-stain the wood frames. I wanted to go with something a little more red since I have red curtains in my living room. I also wanted to do something with the matting that wasn't so garish. When I took the pictures into a store to get new matting, the employee was really helpful. She asked about the color of my walls and the color of the frames. Then we went through a handful of different colored mats searching for the one that was the best. I was really pleased with how helpful she was and with what a good eye she had. I quite appreciated her good eye, in particular, because I do not really have an artistic eye. Going in, I didn't expect that a bronze colored mat would look the best, but it really was the best option when looking at both pictures.

Here are the before and after shots. Again, neither shot is great, but you at least have an idea of how they turned out. And below is a shot of my no-longer-bare wall.

23 July 2010


When dates are written in number form, they confuse me. They didn't always, but they do now. In the genealogy world, we always write dates in this format: 4 Jan 1872. Sometimes the date is spelled out, like in formal reports. There is no ambiguity with this format because the month is spelled out in letters.

Americans, did you know we are pretty much the ONLY COUNTRY in the world who put the month first when writing our dates in a numerical form? For instance, if we wanted to talk about the above listed date, in America it would be 1/4/1872. Every where else would be 4/1/1872. At first this may seem confusing because you are so used to seeing the month first, but frankly it makes sense. In the European (and everywhere else) format, the smallest division (the day) is placed first, followed by the next smallest (the month), and then the largest (the year). It makes more sense that way. When America finally switches to the metric system (Hello logical way of measuring things!) we need to switch our date formatting as well. (I know that neither of these things will actually happen, but a girl can hope.)

Now, this may seem like a small thing since I live in America now and should be used to the totally backwards way that we list our dates, but because I deal with quite a bit of work from European agents, I am frequently having to reorient myself and figure out which system I'm using and which system the agent was using. This going back and forth makes me perpetually confused. When I have the option (like when I'm writing a check) I write the date in genealogical format. When I am forced to put in numbers, I always have to think about the way my birth date is written so that I can remember whether the month goes first or second.

My life is hard.

21 July 2010


Eric was at work the other day, and one of his clients (who is mentally challenged) told him about some Hannah Montana movie she had seen and how great it was. She told Eric that he and I should go see it together. Eric replied, "Nah, Sherry doesn't really like Hannah Montana."

Then his client said, "Oh, then you should see Eclipse! It's so good!" To which Eric said, "Sherry doesn't really like those movies either."* Then Eric's staff said, "Wow. You have a good wife."

When Eric relayed the story to me, I agreed with the staff and then proceeded to tell Eric all the ways in which I am The Perfect Wife.

He very graciously agreed and then added his two cents that he is The Perfect Husband because he likes BBC mini-series as much as I do, maybe more.

We really are perfect for each other.

*(I read the first two books, was not impressed and didn't bother with the later two. I haven't seen any of the movies, and I'd like to keep it that way.)

19 July 2010


These are my friends, Shaun and Lanette. I met them a little over a year ago when Lanette and I were visiting teaching companions in our ward. They are some super awesome people. Seriously.

They want to adopt a baby. I want to help them, which is why I'm writing this post. You can read more about them and their backgrounds at Shaun and Lanette's Adoption Page.

Adoption holds a special place in my heart. My little sister is adopted. I've seen how adoption changes people's lives. I am often saddened that adoption is not pursued as vigorously as it once was, particularly considering what a good experience adoption can be for BOTH sides these days. It isn't like 30 years ago when the birth mother had her baby and never heard anything about him or her ever again. Shaun and Lanette are looking for an open adoption, and they want to have a relationship with the birth parents of their child.

I know that you may not know anybody immediately who is looking to put a baby up for adoption. But if you know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody, send them Shaun and Lanette's way. They really will be awesome parents one day.

17 July 2010

Just Food by James E. McWilliams

I finally finished a book that I mentioned back in May. It's called Just Food by James E. McWilliams, and it was very interesting, but kind of boring at the same time. While the cover makes it seem like it's anti-local-foods, it's really not. He makes some good arguments about some of the fallacies of the locavores' arguments, but he is by no means pro-big-agrictulture. He takes a realistic look at the sustainability of our food and what changes need to be made to make food production more efficient and better for the environment.

My favorite paragraph:
I recently visited North Africa. Everywhere I looked I saw people who spend the vast majority of their lives in the fields, farming, hauling hay and water, following sheep, tending donkeys, and working to keep food on the table in an environment racked by aridity and sky-rocketing food prices. And there I was, earnestly reading a book about the history of terroir, a beautifully packaged volume arguing that foodies in the United States have a moral duty to nurture terroir - the taste of place - as an integral aspect of our cuisine. And why not? I would have thought if I had been reading my book back in Austin. But I was in Africa (and not even sub-Saharan Africa, where the problems are worse), and it suddenly seemed very wrong for a me - a person from a country where 2 percent of the citizens farm and 66 percent are overweight - to be getting worked up over such a precious matter while cavorting across a continent where 70 percent of the population farms and people starve in the streets.
McWilliams is a practical man. He examines several arguments made by locavores and breaks them down; not all of them are completely wrong. Many are based off of poorly designed studies or completely irrational goals. He is a huge proponent of genetically modified crops, and he makes a great case for them. In that arena, my opinion changed quite a bit. I don't know if I can agree with all of his arguments (his idea that each person should consume less than 12 pounds of meat per year seemed a little overboard, even though much of that chapter made good points about how inefficient raising livestock is), but he makes several clear points, and they are backed up well.

It's a...

This is what I look like at 21 weeks. I know I'm not very big. That is fine with me. I would be happy avoiding buying maternity clothes for as long as possible. But don't you worry, my baby is normal sized according to yesterday's ultrasound, which also said that he is a boy baby. You can have a look at his adorable (read: alien) profile:

So there you have it. I have several more ultrasound pictures, but they are not that exciting to people who are not me or Eric.

13 July 2010


I listened to en episode of RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio recently. (It's a local hour-long show that airs weekdays at 12 on KUER 90.1.) The title of the show was "Distracted," and it was about how our whole society is constantly distracted because we choose to be. I found it to be a really interesting show, but the thing that really struck me were the comments by a University of Utah researcher who came out with a study on multitasking recently. The conclusion of the study was that most people are really lousy at it, even if they think they are not. There is a very small percentage (like 2%) of people who are exceptional at it, though.

The thing is, when people hear these results they probably think, "I'm in the two percent." Only, the thing is, they almost definitely aren't.

In the show they talked quite a bit about talking on cell phones while driving, and it's really no surprise that it is really dangerous. It doesn't matter if you are using a headset or speaker phone. The fact of the matter is that talking on your phone while driving is a serious distraction. For various reasons it is not as distracting as having a conversation with somebody in your car, nor is it as distracting as listening to the radio or an audiobook.

And so I've given up talking on the phone while driving. If you call me, it is highly unlikely that I will answer. Whatever it is can wait, just like you would have done before I had a cell phone. It may sound like my giving up talking while driving is more inconvenient to other people than it is to me, but I assure you it is not.

I cannot tell you how often I use my "down-time" in the car to make phone calls. I call my mom a lot from the phone because it's a time when I'm "not doing anything else." Only, hello, yes, I AM doing something else. Something very important and very dangerous. I've known for quite some time that I really shouldn't talk on the phone while driving, but it's just recently hit home for me how seriously dangerous it is.

What are your phone-while-driving policies?

11 July 2010

On saving money

I am reading and loving A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith right now. It was originally published in 1943, but I had never even heard of it until a couple of years ago. It truly is delightful. I loved the part when the main character's Austrian-immigrant grandmother is telling her daughter (the main character's mother) about how to save and set aside money:
You must do it thus: You go to the green grocer's and ask how much are carrots the bunch. The man will say three cents.Then look about until you see another bunch, not so fresh, not so large. You will say: May I have this damaged bunch for two cents? Speak strongly and it shall be yours for two cents. That is a saved penny that you put in the star bank. It is winter, say. You bought a bushel of coal for twenty-five cents. It is cold. You would start a fire in the stove. But wait! Wait one hour more. Suffer the cold for an hour. Put a shawl around you. Say, I am cold because I am saving to buy land. That hour will save you three cents' worth of coal. That is three cents for the bank. When you are alone at night, do not light the lamp. Sit in the darkness and dream awhile. Reckon out how much oil you saved and put its value in pennies in the bank. The money will grow. Someday there will be fifty dollars and somewhere on this long island is a piece of land that you may buy for that money.
A few years ago I saw a man on television talking about how to save money. He talked a lot about a "cappuccino fund" or something of the sort. His point was not that you should never be allowed a cappuccino, but that if you are having one every single day, you are losing a lot of money. He also made the point that not everybody's cappuccino fund involves cappuccinos. It has made me often wonder what my "cappuccino fund" includes. Obviously, it isn't cappuccinos, but there are certainly things in my life that I could live without. This particular passage made me think about some of my current non-necessities, because these folks lived in tenement housing in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. They were poor. They were barely getting by, but they managed to save money by making sacrifices.

It's made me wonder about my line of frugality. I'm not quite sure where I draw the line between, "This is a practical and worthwhile sacrifice so that I can have what I want in the future," and "This is just a ridiculous way to make me rather unhappy for the present time." I do know that saving money involves sacrifices, and generally for us those sacrifices are rather small and very worth it.

10 July 2010

To Know

I'll probably find out if I'm having a boy baby or a girl baby on Friday. That is, my 20-week ultrasound is scheduled for Friday morning, and we'll just see if the baby cooperates.

It's a fairly common question that I get: Are you going to find out?

Truthfully, I can never envision a time when I wouldn't find out. I just like to know what's going on. I like to be prepared for all contingencies. Even though I am not a particular worry-wart, I just like to be aware of what is going on and what the standard procedures are when something doesn't go well.

I learned recently about the standard procedures when a baby is breech, because my friend's baby was breech. Incidentally, the baby flipped herself around a few weeks before her due date, but I was very full of questions about what the medical personnel would do and when these things would take place. I wasn't particularly worried for my friend; babies are breech quite often, and the doctors know how to handle it. Plus, she wasn't especially worried either. I just wanted to know exactly how it was that doctors handled breech babies.

I get a lot of satisfaction from being informed - about a lot of things, not just pregnancy and babies. I ask a lot of questions. I loved to find out about people's careers. Perhaps sometimes people think I'm nosy, but I just like to know what it is that people do all day, why it matters and how that person feels about it. I like to know how different companies function. I like to know about various physical ailments and how those ailments affect the people who have them. I like to know why people like certain books or shows or movies.

So part of my liking to know things is that I want to feel at least a little bit prepared. Obviously I can't plan for every outcome, but even if I know ahead of time what might happen if something doesn't go completely right, it helps to alleviate any worries I have. The other part of my liking to know things is that I like to know different people and what makes them tick.

My needing to know the gender of this baby satisfies both of my reasons for liking to know things; I will be prepared with the proper attire for the gender of this little human, and I will already have a better idea of what will make this little person tick.

05 July 2010

Facebook Suggestion Fail

One of the cool things about social technology is that the operators of social networking sites can create algorithms to determine things you may like or people you may know. In the case of Netflix, it is truly awesome.

Facebook hasn't quite mastered it yet, though:
In case this is too small for you to read, it suggests that because I like Southwest Airlines I might also like "Being Conservative." Why, yes, yes I do enjoy "being conservative." If by "being conservative" you mean "being a conservative pinko commie."

Then, not 30 minutes later I got this suggestion:
Well, which is it, Facebook? I can't very well like being conservative and Barack Obama at the same time!

Facebook also suggested that I might like the TV show "Family Guy" because I like The Giver. I really don't see the correlation there. Facebook's algorithms need some work. (Clearly they are basing this on sheer quantities rather than any sort of observable patterns.)

03 July 2010

Wishful thinking, indeed

In March I wrote a post about all the things I hoped I would have time to do when I was no longer spending two hours per day commuting. My list included:
  • Cook most days.
  • Be in charge of grocery shopping again. (Eric has done a great job in the interim.)
  • Read even more. (This one might be wishful thinking since I already do a fair amount of reading with my carpool buddy.)
  • Practice Spanish.
  • Keep my apartment astoundingly clean.
  • Exercise.
  • Blog more regularly. (I hate it when a week goes by without a post. My unofficial goal is three per week.)
  • More time with Eric to actually do stuff other than stare at screens together.
Perhaps some of you are wanting an update:
  • I do not cook most days. Sigh. I do cook more than I was before. Part of the problem is that I still find myself starving when I get home. The last week has been better, though.
  • My reading has practically dropped off the face of the earth. I'm not really sure how that happened. I need to pick it up again. I have been listening to more audio books, which might have something to do with my not actually reading as much lately.
  • I haven't practiced a lick of Spanish besides the shuttle ride from our hotel to our cruise ship in which we were seated next to some Brazilians. Eric spoke to them in Portuguese, and I spoke to them in Spanish. Everyone could understand everyone, and I'm ready to go to Brazil now.
  • My apartment is not astoundingly clean, but I have been making a concerted effort to keep it fairly tidy. This is a big deal for me because I am not a naturally tidy person.
  • Eric and I joined a gym. I have yet to go to the gym. This needs to be remedied. The gym has a very low monthly fee, which I think is part of the reason I don't feel a lot of guilt for not going. Eric and I have been going on a lot of walks, though, and that's nice.
  • I maybe am blogging slightly more than before.
  • Eric and I have definitely had more time together. We spend it going on walks and staring at screens together. We clearly need to get some other hobbies. At least we have time together, though, and that has been really nice.

01 July 2010

Summer of Love

This summer is the summer of weddings for me. One of my old roommates is getting married in Sacramento at the end of this month. (Road trip!) One of my best friends from back home is getting married in September. Plus, two of Eric's cousins are getting married this summer. Come to think of it, I don't know exactly when one of them is getting married, but I am assuming it is this summer.

All these weddings and showers and such have led me to a couple of questions:
  • What are the most useful/best gifts we got five years ago?
  • What have I learned in the last five years?
  • What is the single best piece of advice I could give somebody who is getting married?
And of course, I can't run around asking such questions without at least attempting to answer them.

All of our kitchen stuff has been really useful, but I think the best gift we got was our rice cooker. Hands down, it has received more use than any other thing that we got. Well, maybe not anything. However, if we had not received a rice cooker, I don't think I would have necessarily purchased one. I thought they were handy, certainly; that is why we registered for one. But I didn't realize just how much we would use that thing, and how much we would love it. With that said, I don't know that I'll get rice cookers for everybody who is getting married this year. I love mine, but will they love theirs? Will they have room in their kitchen for one? Will they find it as gosh darn amazing as I have found mine?

I could write a whole bunch of posts about what I've learned in the last five years. More than anything else, I've learned about communication. I've gotten a lot better about expressing myself in sensitive ways, especially when I am agitated. I have learned that sometimes I need to be very direct when telling Eric what I want or need from him. He isn't a mind reader, and I shouldn't expect him to be. Sometimes that means I have to say, "This is the point in the conversation where you tell me that I'm awesome." I've gotten better at expressing my own feelings and at telling Eric how much I like him and otherwise complimenting him and expressing my appreciation. So, yeah, communication. I think it was just something I've had to learn by doing.

My best piece of advice for anyone on just about any topic is "Figure out what works for you." I'm happy to share with you what works for me, but that's just it - it works for me. You and I are different. What works for one may not work for the other. I think it's great to seek out advice, but ultimately you have to figure out how your lifestyle aligns with your goals and your preferences. If you have a problem you can't solve, feel free to seek out advice, but don't feel like you have to solve your problems exactly the way other people solve theirs. Case in point: A piece of advice you hear often is "don't go to bed angry." I can see where people are coming from on this one; you shouldn't let your anger fester and go unresolved, but the later I stay up, the more likely I am to say something hurtful. It is better for us to say, "We can talk about this tomorrow. I love you. I'm going to sleep now." I just do better at life when I'm not tired; and I do better with my problems when I've had time to think them over and figure out exactly why I am feeling a certain way over them. This works for me. It may not work for you, and that's fine.

What useful gifts did you receive? What have you learned? What piece of advice do you like to share?