Archive | August, 2011

top 5 favorite online conveniences

31 Aug

Sorry I’ve been so MIA! I lost my memory card reader that lets me transfer photos from my camera to my laptop, so I haven’t been able to upload any…also, I started school last week, which leaves me with very little time to write any of the things I’ve been wanting to for this and other blogs – let alone anything else. (As if I actually had time to over the summer either.) But I wanted to write about some of my favorite services and programs I use on the Internet and my computer that make life a little bit easier. These are pretty limited because I’m cheap and don’t like to pay for things, and I also don’t have an iPhone – I’m sure I’ll do another one of these once I hopefully get one when my contract is up in October – but I’ve definitely come across a few things I really adore over the last year or so of browsing the Internet way too much and I wanted to share the love.

1. is seriously the best thing ever. Basically it’s this website whose entire point is to help you feel as rested as possible, no matter what time you have to go to sleep or wake up. FOR FREE. It operates off the idea that if you wake up mid-sleep cycle, you’re going to feel tired and sluggish, no matter how many hours of sleep you got. So it tells you how to try to make sure that you plan your sleep based on complete cycles (a good night’s sleep consists of 5-6, so ideally you should shoot for that). You have two options with you can either enter what time you have to wake up and it will tell you a few times you should try to be asleep by, or you can find out a few good times to wake up if you’re going to bed right then. You can even use it for naps; just plan on one or two full sleep cycles. Guys, why would you NOT this use this? Granted, things happen and it doesn’t guarantee a good night’s sleep every night, but it can’t hurt, right? Just do it. The world needs more well-rested people.

2. iTunes U

Please tell me you’ve heard of iTunes U. On the iTunes store, you can download and subscribe to videos, lessons and lectures on every subject you can imagine. FOR FREE. A lot of them are from schools like Stanford and Yale, and they’re the perfect thing to throw on as you’re getting dressed in the morning or cleaning your room if you feel like padding your mind out with a little more knowledge. You have to do some weeding through, downloading and deleting to find the ones that are really good and work for you, but they have so many pages of options that you’re bound to find something fabulous. It’s a great way to learn more about a subject you’ve been dying to take in school that your schedule is too full for until you find time for it, or even to keep yourself sharp after graduation. I downloaded a bunch in French, writing, psychology, philosophy, art, and architecture, and I can’t wait to listen to them.

3. Dropbox

I know you’ve heard of Dropbox. Dropbox makes file sharing about as easy as it gets. Once you’ve made an account, you can create a folder and drag your documents or whatever into it, and then you can access them from any computer that has Internet. But I think the best part of Dropbox is the shared folders. I have five different shared folders, private to me and one other account, where either of us can drag a file of any kind into the folder, and the other person just has to wait for it to load and then they can take the file out and save it to their computer. Done and done. It’s perfect for sharing vacation photos after the fact without the whole “E-mail me your pictures when we get home!” debacle occurring. No uploading each picture individually. (But when you’re sharing with someone else, make sure you copy and paste the files into the shared folder instead of dragging them in, otherwise when they delete them on their end you won’t have them anymore.) Best of all, every time you invite someone to join Dropbox, you get 250 MB of bonus space!

4. Google Docs

I actually just started using this Gmail service when I started interning at my church and coordinating the volunteer list and schedule for the children’s ministry – I had to find an easy to way to both have my own document I could easily access and update as the months went on, but also be able to quickly share it with my partner Kirstie. Also frees up space on your computer and, like Dropbox, makes any document easily accessible from any computer with Internet access. Total win. (Also, Gmail in general is nothing short of fantastic.)

5. FLV2MP3

I have my brother to thank for introducing me to this masterpiece of a website. Have you ever heard a song on YouTube that you literally couldn’t find anywhere else and wished there was a way to download the audio of the video? Well, there is. FOR FREE. FLV2MP3 lets you enter a link to whatever media you’re trying to get (I’m sure it works for a multitude of things, but I’ve only used it with YouTube), and then it converts it to an MP3 JUST FOR YOU. You’re all over it.

My next order of business is to actually start using the Mint account I made at the beginning of summer. Everyone I know keeps raving about it, so it must be pretty awesome…actually pinning down a functional and stable budget would be a helpful first step. What are the electronic conveniences that help keep you guys sane on a daily basis? I want to hear about them!


quote of the day

2 Aug

We have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

[click here to follow my daily quotes]

san francisco photo diary

1 Aug

When we were in Big Sur, my aunt’s brother Jim, who lives in Berkeley, offered up his house as a place to stay anytime I needed one after he found out how much I love San Francisco. I assured him that I would be taking him up on that offer. It ended up being sooner than even I thought, since my mom decided to capitalize on it and ask if we could crash there during our annual summer weekend in the city. It turned out Jim wasn’t even going to be there that weekend, so it worked out perfectly for everyone – we saved two hundred bucks by canceling our hostel reservations, and he had someone around to feed his cat, Polly. Polly is TWENTY years old and still the cutest cat I’ve ever seen in my life. She was a natural in front of the camera. 

Jim also has the most awesome house and a seriously legit fruit and vegetable garden. I could do nothing for the first ten minutes after we got there but walk around taking pictures and seething with jealousy.

After we unpacked our stuff, we went to the San Francisco Art Institute to see their Diego Rivera mural. The school was unexpectedly one of the coolest places I have ever been. It had a ton of student galleries, random little gardens, old staircases, sunken offices with tall skinny windows, and an awesome rooftop with cool architecture and the best view in the house.

Every time my mom and I come to the city, we have lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf first thing (we always go to the same place, the Crab Station), walk around the shops that line the Embarcadero (I always buy at least one if not three pairs of cheap sunglasses), and go to Ghirardelli for a hot fudge sundae. We’ve done all the touristy things the city has to offer a million times and usually try to find things we haven’t done before, but I’m big on traditions.

On the way to Union Square, we saw these women in their sixties who looked like they were sisters dressed in matching leopard-print cowgirl hats and coats walking arm in arm for blocks.

The last dying breath of my shoes.

When we got back to Jim’s house that night we saw something we hadn’t noticed before – the most bizarre house I have ever seen. It was unbelievably creepy in the dark, but I wanted to wait until daylight to take pictures of it so I could capture every strange aquatic detail. I am dying to know who lives here and if it’s just as weird on the inside. Our descriptions of it ranged from SpongeBob to Atlantis to The Little Mermaid.

The next day, we hiked the Land’s End trail to the ruins of the Sutro baths, which used to be a huge fancy bathhouse that burned down in 1966. It’s right on the water and I imagine it was pretty incredible back in the day.

There was a cool little cave off to the side of the ruins.

And then I took a bunch of pictures of my lovely mother in the foggy morning light.

And then she took a bunch of pictures of me trying to control my hair to no avail on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We walked to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero and went cheese tasting at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, where our waiter looked at us like we were crazy for only ordering one glass of wine. It was really good wine. And the cheese was out of this world.

Then we went to Chinatown and went in about 4,000 varieties of the exact same store before stopping for dinner at this hole-in-the-wall place called A-1 Restaurant, where my life was changed by some pork buns.

We ran into Jack Kerouac Alley before realizing it was right next to the bookstore we had discovered a few years earlier that my mom had been planning to stop by again – City Lights Books in North Beach. Upon picking up a book entitled The Beat Generation in San Francisco or something to that effect, I realized that this innocent little bookstore my mom had stumbled upon and decided she liked was a major hangout of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and the whole gang back in the day, as was the bar next door, Vesuvio, and a coffee shop nearby my mom had also been planning on visiting – Caffe Trieste. I spent the next twenty minutes wondering around in a trance, touching doors Jack Kerouac had touched and weeping with excitement. (Just kidding. Kind of.) Afterwards, we stopped by the Beat Museum, where I had a great chat with the guy working there, and then had chocolate-hazelnut gelato at Steps of Rome, where all the waiters are buff Italian guys who barely speak English.

Original signs hand-painted by poet, founder, and friend of Kerouac's Lawrence Ferlinghetti

On Sunday, Kyle drove down from his parents’ house in Watsonville to join us on a Bansky hunt of epic proportions. If you need proof as to why San Francisco is better than LA, San Francisco has at least four Banksys left instead of one (there were supposed to be six, but we couldn’t find two of them), and the first one we found was protected by glass.

We stopped at Caffe Trieste for some coffee (Mom), cafe au lait (me), and double espresso (Kyle).

When in doubt, pinky out, right?

What? A Banksy? Where?

Oh! A Banksy!

We were super bummed about this for a minute (okay, I was), but then we realized (okay, Kyle realized) that vandalism on top of vandalism was super meta, and then we felt a lot better as well as super smart. (PS, the sign the Native American is holding says “No Trespassing.”)

As I dragged my mom and Kyle back and forth all over the city, we stopped by Mission Dolores so I could cross it off my list. I love missions.

Another tradition of ours is going to the Haight-Ashbury district and then to nearby Alamo Square, commonly known as “the place where you can see the Full House houses.” Kyle had never seen them before, so it was extra-exciting. My mom proceeded to take a bunch of pictures of us that range from embarrassing to just ridiculous.

At this point we were all starving, having eaten hardly anything all day, so we headed back over to North Beach and gorged ourselves on the San Francisco pizza at Viva, then walked around for a bit before Kyle and I had coffee at The Revolution Cafe in the Mission District.

Best San Francisco trip yet. I’m trying to make plans to go back in September, I can never stay away for long.