Monday, November 29, 2010

Awesome 'Pow' Riding, Man!

I hope everyone out there in blogland had a lovely Turkey Day, I know I did! And if you decided to brave the stores on Black Friday, I do hope you didn't get too trampled!

Four day weekends are always nice, especially since I can squeeze in two days of boarding and still feel like I had time to relax. Steven and I spent all day Saturday boarding at Sierra and were joined by our friends Liz and Monika at Northstar on Sunday!

I think I'm getting pretty good, by the end of the day Sunday I was feeling pretty good going semi-fast down some blue runs. Once I get back in shape and my endurance is kicking at full speed, I'll be bombing down blacks like its no one's business! I know many of you probably don't believe I'm so active now, so here's a sweet pic my friend Liz took of me riding at Northstar.

And yes, I'm wearing a helmet. :]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble, Please!

Alongside a tradition of overeating, inflatable balloons and field goals lies a far less glamorous custom of family gathering at the dinner table and reciting what they're thankful for. In fact, the Uelmen family takes that tradition one step further and writes what they're thankful for in a journal that has been kept since my sister was in the second grade.

In keeping with this ritual, I wanted to take a moment and list some of the things that I am thankful for this year. Many people get caught up in the stress of the holiday, and I think it's important to take a moment to just be grateful for the good things in your life.

So here goes, in no particular order:

I'm thankful for my job. In this world of economic uncertainty, I am truly grateful to have a job that I enjoy going to and not to mention pays the bills and keeps me living rather comfortably. Thanks, Parallax!

I'm thankful for my amazing boyfriend. Most days I really can't believe how fortunate I am to be with someone so supportive and fun. I'd be a lot worse off if he weren't around, that's for sure!

I'm thankful to have such an incredible family. Although we'll be spending this Thanksgiving miles apart, I'll be celebrating with them in spirit. I can't think of better people to call my kin, and can never thank my parents enough for how well the raised me and how much their unconditional love and support means to me.

And on a less sappy note, I'm thankful that the Doctor Who Christmas Special is only one month away! I've been jonesing for some new Who and with Michael Gambon in this episode, it's going to be spectacular!

To all of my wonderful friends, I am thankful for you as well! I just don't have a snazzy picture of everyone to share here. You all bring laughter, nerdiness, support, and general shennanigans to my life, and I'm grateful to spend time with each of you.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: My Two Cents

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a Potter-maniac I am. For mic checks in drama I used to recite the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I own all seven books in both the American and original British versions and my best friend Tara and I dressed up for the movie premieres and midnight book releases.

But not that you needed to know all of that.

I will say, that for past HP films it has taken me a couple times to fully love the movies. See, the first time I would harp on the pieces left out and the scenes added for no reason, but the second time I could get past all of that and enjoy it for what it is - a film adaptation.

This wasn't the case for Deathly Hallows Part 1, however. While things will always be left out of films, they just did such an incredible job capturing the desperation, hopelessness and darkness of this final book in the Potter saga.

Now if you haven't seen the film yet, beware! Spoilers will probably abound, and you shouldn't read on. I'll put this picture to distract you from continuing, and for those who have seen the film and want to read on, it will get you in the mood.

So, the movie begins with the standard rusty WB logo and Hedwig's theme, and I have just begun nibbling on my fingernails and bouncing a bit in my seat. Steven looks at me and rolls his eyes.

We open with Scrimgeour addressing reporters and announcing that everything is under control. Then we flash to Hermione modifying her parents' memories so that they don't remember they have a daughter to protect them from the Death Eaters. This scene is perfect to open with - can you imagine how it would feel to make your parents think you never existed? And to plan for the contingency that if you don't survive, at least they won't be any wiser and will continue to live happy lives?

Now we're into the mood of the movie. You feel the desperation that members of the wizarding community feel. You understand the dangers that the people standing up to Voldemort face, and the level of fear coursing through the wizarding community.

The majority of the movie is spent with Harry, Ron and Hermione camping and bickering, which apparently is a big sore spot for a lot of people. While some think that this is boring and should have been cut, I think that it highlights an important point: these are barely overage wizards who haven't even finished school. They've only had small hints from Dumbledore to help aid them on the near-impossible task of defeating the most powerful dark wizard the wizarding world has ever seen! Of course they're not going to have a clear direction or vision of what they need to accomplish. In fact, I venture to guess that I would be more upset if they didn't struggle to find and destroy the Horcruxes. If that were the case, Voldemort would have been this "all-powerful" dark wizard who was defeated by three 17-year old kids who barely had to lift a finger to destroy him?


One gripe I did have with the film, and I'm sure many are going to disagree with me on this, is the animated scene of the "Tale of the Three Brothers." Don't get me wrong, the animation was visually stunning and incredibly amazing, but it just felt out of place to me. I understand what they were trying to accomplish in that this story was a children's tale, so let's make the retelling an animation; but they've never done anything like this before, so the whole thing just kind of stood out and didn't "flow" for me.

The last gripe I had was them not showing Harry start to come into his own. And they rushed over the fact of what the Hallows are and what they can do. First, Harry was never hopeful or excited, thinking that if he collected all of the Hallows, he would stand a better chance of fighting Voldemort and his Horcruxes. But then, when he sees Voldemort wanting to go after the Elder Wand, he makes a conscious decision to let him take the wand. That's just such an incredible turning point in the book - Harry finally beginning to understand Voldemort in a way that will help destroy him.

And the movie just leads you to believe that while they are mourning Dobby, Voldemort gets the Elder Wand, and everyone is screwed.

But overall, as I mentioned before, I thought the movie was phenomenal. The acting, as usual was incredible, even as you dig deeper into the emotional ties of the trio.

So I'm totally ready to see this movie again - who's with me?!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Top Three Reasons Why I Loved this Weekend

This weekend was absolutely fantastic, filled with good friends and good times. Here are the three major highlights:

One: Saturday evening I finally saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it really was all that and a bag of chips. Seriously, so very, very, very good! If you haven't seen it, what the heck is wrong with you?! Check for a review by yours truly soon!

Two: Snowboarding!! There's nothing quite like the first day on the slopes to remind you of how out of shape you've gotten from last season. But it was great to get back on my board and do a few runs. PLUS it was snowing, no one was at the resort, and we didn't have to stop to put chains on! What a great day.

A view from the Gondola.

Three: Green Bay CRUSHED Minnesota 31-3. Beating Minnesota is always grand, but with the game being played in Minnesota and Brett Favre still as starting QB it is just all the more sweeter. I mean, it was so embarrassing for them that Brad Childress was relieved this morning as head coach. And they're now just one game ahead of the Lions in the division! Mwuahahahaha.

Image copyright of

So yes, very good weekend. Now I've just got a 2.5 day work week before the Thanksgiving holiday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Graduate School!

Two posts in one day?! Wow! What's the occasion?

Well ladies and gentlemen... I GOT INTO GRADUATE SCHOOL!!! :D

Yep, I will be starting my master's program in the spring at California State University, Sacramento. If all goes to plan, I'll receive my M.S. in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Control Systems (more specifically, robotics).

I'm super excited... this weekend keeps getting better and better!

Goooo Hornets!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

This weekend, marks opening weekend at our favorite resort - Northstar at Tahoe. There's a big winter storm moving though predicting a 20:1 snow to rain ratio. (Meaning for every inch of rain that falls, 20 inches of snow will fall.) Needless to say, I am super stoked!

If you know me well enough, you are probably familiar with my tragic snowboarding accident last year, which ended my season in early March. Well now, dear Blogland, I am ready to hop back on my board (with a helmet on my head) and start tearing up the mountain!

Me posing on one of my first successful snowboarding days.

Then, Saturday night, is the moment I've been waiting for for much too long (and it was just released at midnight last night)... Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1!! We're seeing it in IMAX and it will be glorious. Seriously, it looks so good, and so as not to ruin the suspense for myself, I am actually not checking Facebook again until after I see it.

I mean, how awesome is this poster?

It's going to be an awesome weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fun with Friendlies!

While I may have appeared to have dropped "off the grid" for the last week, again, I assure you it was for good reason. One, I know you all have better things to do than read these random posts, and two I was entertaining my BFF Taylor and her husband Josh for four days.

So let us now embark on a brief tour of our awesome adventures, which can also serve as a preview if you, too, decide to come visit. And if I like you, I hope you do! (You know who you are.)

Day 1, Friday, was a day spent around Sacramento. Since our guests arrived on a late (and delayed) flight we slept in for a bit (which was nice) and then went out on the town. We headed to Old Sacramento first, Steven's and my old stomping ground, walked around and took some pictures. Then we headed over to the Capitol Building, followed by lunch at the holy grail of California dining...

Yes ladies and gentleman, the most delicious burger joint around. I love taking people here because its cheap and delicious. Mmmmm, mmmmm. We then returned to our new place and hung out for a bit, watched some Dr. Horrible and played some Rockband and Street Fighter. The evening was filled with dinner and more friendlies who stopped by our place to finish off the last of Steven't pumpkin ale.

Day 2, Saturday was aiming to be San Francisco day, but due to a late start we decided to hold off and head to Apple Hill instead. It was a gorgeous day, filled with plenty of apples. The most interested apple concoction was "Apple Beer". This wasn't beer made with apples, it was actually your choice of Bud Light, Coors Light or Sierra Nevada mixed with Apple Cider. Josh described it with the word of the trip, "interesting."

We finished the day at the Jack Russel Brewing Company, which is always a good time. They have a great outdoor grassy area with live music, food and vendors - and not to mention great beer. Saturday was their tribute to Guy Fawkes, so there were fun renaissance performers sword fighting with sticks. One of the vendors, a "fancy" almond seller, and one of the best salesmen around got us to buy a package of toffee almonds, garlic almonds, and wasabi peas. Wasabi peas are Steven's absolute favorite, and for the rest of the day he kept trying to get me to try one. Here's a picture of me trying to smile pretty while Steven mounts his assault:

After that picture, a bit of wasabi pea got on my lip, and my lips were on fire for like an hour. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but my lips were burning. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is enough to never get me to try wasabi peas.

Day 3, Sunday, was spent in Tahoe. We found out that they would be getting a pretty good dumping of snow, and thought it would be cool to head up and see it and the lake. Steven got to drive his new Jeep in the snow, and it was rockin' to not have to put chains on.

It did end up snowing pretty good over the summit, and we found a great place to pull over and play in the snow. There were snowball fights and attempts at snowmen and a good time was had by all.

Taylor and I by Lake Tahoe.

Steven and I posing: Lake Tahoe and some pretty fall colors.

Snowball fight!

Day 4, Monday, was spent in lovely San Francisco. We hit all of the touristy spots: Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, rode the cable cars, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many choruses of the Full House theme were sung, particularly when we were walking the Golden Gate.

Josh, Taylor & I at Fisherman's Wharf.

Steven and I posing for the classic Golden Gate shot.

Then on Tuesday they left and I was sad. But I am super excited that they got to visit, and I hope they loved visiting as much as we loved having them! :]

So when are you coming to visit?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where in the World is Jessica?

Well hello there dear Blogand, its been awhile since I posted! And why is that you ask? Well, I have been a busy little bee. First off, we've finally moved to a new apartment (hooray)! We're now in Midtown Sacramento with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom place paying just a bit more than we were paying in Old Sacramento. Have no fear, pictures will come soon, once we've got everything settled.

And I also applied to graduate school at Sacramento State. Wish me luck!

Also, a big portion of time over the past week was spent on my super sweet Halloween costume. For those of you that don't recognize it, I'm Leeloo Dallas from The Fifth Element. If you haven't seen this movie, you really haven't lived. It's amazing. Go rent it!

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of pictures of my sweet costume since, well, Steven was working a Mountain Lions game and I'm not too big into taking Myspace angles shots of myself. (And I'm not a big picture-taker in general.) But here's one I stole from a friend on Facebook:

She knows it's a Multi Pass!

I was uber-ambitious this year and made the suspenders myself using insulation foam as a mold and silicone rubber for the material. I don't have pictures of the process since we were moving and I wasn't sure where my camera was. But I can tell you that I followed instructions here.

And let me tell you, she made it sound very easy, and it was definitely anything but. If anyone decides to do this in the future, know that you're going to put about a week of your life into this. I can totally see why people charge upwards of $200 for these things!

But, if someone out there decides that making their own Leeloo suspenders is the way to go, please learn from my mistakes. Tutorials never seem to tell you what they did wrong, and I feel like its a very important thing to share, so I will:
  1. Use very little red dye when making your orange. The red I got from Smooth-On was extremely aggressive. Maybe experience mold-makers know this, but I royally effed up and barely had enough yellow to make my orange.
  2. Be sure your mold pieces are glued together securely. Apparently I had some gaps and some of my silicone leaked out the sides, making some of the connections uneven.
  3. Make sure you save a little mixture to glue the suspenders together. I'm not really sure how to do this since you only have a limited time to work with the silicone before it begins to cure. But I did find out too late that it's the only thing that will glue them together and had to use clear packing tape. But if you're in a bind, it actually ended up working out since you can't really see it anyhow.
And that's pretty much what I've been doing. We're all moved into our new place, I went to a rockin' Halloween party, and now I'm preparing to have my BFF Taylor and her husband visit on Thursday! Yaaaaaaaaay team!

Until next time, you stay classy interwebs.