Explosions in the Sky

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:26 am EST

I loved fireworks when I was a kid. The sight, the smell, the sound… especially the sound. The bigger the boom, the happier I was. My dad and I would call the extra loud ones “gutbusters,” and I looked forward to them every 4th of July.

But these days, I’ve become quite apathetic toward fireworks. It could be that I’ve just grown out of it, but I think it’s also because they seem less special than once were. Back in the day, it was hard to see decent fireworks. Now they are everywhere: anyone and everyone can put on a good show. And that’s great, but it does make them more commonplace.

My dad’s sentiments are pretty much in line with mine; my mom, on the other hand, still LOVES fireworks. It seems that as the quality increases, so does her enjoyment. If she could, I believe she would drag my father to every fireworks display in the tri-state area. So when my parents decided to come spend July 1st with me here in Philly, I couldn’t very well refuse to take them to see the pyrotechnics at Penn’s Landing that night.

I had the digital camera with me, so I amused myself by taking little movies and pictures of the fireworks. It actually made things a lot more fun, because given the nature of the subject, each photo turned out to be a surprise. I didn’t expect any of them to actually come out, but some of them did, and beautifully.

So… before the subject matter is completely irrelevant, I thought I’d post a few of my favorites. See the others after the jump. (more…)


All Grown Up

Filed under: — Kate @ 12:49 pm EST

One of the people in this photo…

…graduated from high school this week.

Can you guess which one? The answer after the jump. (more…)


Fizzy Memories

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:12 am EST

I was inspired to take this picture the other day after I filled my glass just beyond its brim with ginger ale. I wanted to see if I could capture the surface tension that was keeping it in the glass.

Anyway, that got me to thinking… as far back as I can remember, I’ve always associated ginger ale with my grandmother. As a child, I don’t think I ever went to my grandparents’ house without having ginger ale at some point during the visit.

Grandma would always pour it over ice, and give it to me in the special Foghorn Leghorn glass. I suppose sometimes my brother got that glass, but I don’t remember fighting over it with him, so who knows. (At home, we used to fight endlessly over who got to drink out of the “fruit cup,” which was a cup just like all the others, except that it was the only one with a fruit pattern instead of flowers.)

These days, Grandma still keeps herself stocked with ginger ale (or rather, my mom does), and I can still go over to her apartment and drink it from the Foghorn Leghorn glass if I want to—and sometimes I still do.


Tree Hugger

Filed under: — Kate @ 9:12 am EST

Tomorrow is Earth Day (in the US). Go hug a tree.

Further Reading:
-Ecological Footprint Quiz
-Google Earth
-Earth on Wikipedia
-International Earth Day


I Was So Much Older Then…

Filed under: — Kate @ 1:37 am EST

I just spent the past few hours immersed in the old emails from my college days. I had the same computer for the duration, and staying true to my packrat nature, I kept nearly every email from all four years. I guess that makes me an e-packrat.

This little trip down memory lane started because I was looking for something in particular. But after it was found, I kept reading; laughing at the funny things I’d forgotten, and ruing the bad ones. In many ways, those emails are like the journal I never kept.

And while I’m so glad I have them, I can’t help but feel a sadness as I browse through the literary snapshots of my first years as a so-called adult; as I remember a lot of the wonderful people with whom I’ve lost touch, and the others from whom I’ve simply grown apart. I found my 19-year-old self pouring out my soul to people who I now haven’t heard from in years. How do we let these things happen?

I suppose that’s life; people change; time marches on. [Insert additional clich├ęs here.] But it’s a little depressing to realize how much of it is my fault. I’m terrible at answering email or picking up the phone. I have the best intentions, the worst follow-through, and an amazing capacity for storing the guilt that results.

I am a little heartened by the way people seem to be reconnecting through the internet these days. Blogs and websites like MySpace (as much as I despise it) are bringing people back together—at least in cyberspace, anyway. So maybe there is hope after all. We shall see.


Cherry Poppin’

Filed under: — Kate @ 6:27 am EST

You are looking at what is quite possibly my first computer experience ever. Yes, that is a Commodore 64 (and my cousin). Whether or not this was the actual first time, it’s definitely the first computer I ever touched.

UPDATE: Hi Phillyist readers! (Btw, I’m the girl.)


They Belong to the Stars

Filed under: — Kate @ 2:02 pm EST

As many of you probably saw in the news, this past Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. It’s staggering to me that it’s been so long.

I remember the anniversary of the Challenger every year. I’m not really sure why, but I never need to be reminded by the media. Still, this time I was surprised to hear them say “twenty years.” How could so much time have passed?

The memory is still vivid, even though I was quite young. It hit me particularly hard, because already at the tender age of six, I had decided that I wanted to be an astronaut. I knew all about NASA and the shuttle program, and I fully understood the impact of the disaster.

Although I clung to my childhood dream for a long time, reality sadly and inevitably prevailed in the end. But I never lost the wonder or the fascination with what lies beyond our tiny little corner of the universe.

I was traveling and in meetings all day on Friday and Saturday, but I did catch little bits of news here and there—from the radio, newspapers, television. I was a bit saddened to hear people talking only about Christa McAuliffe, as if she was the sole person to perish in the tragedy. The other members of the crew are treated like a footnote.

While it’s true that she didn’t follow one of the traditional paths into the space program, it does not make her death any more tragic than those of her six crewmates. Perhaps I’m wrong, since I didn’t really get any complete news coverage.

But just in case I’m right, let me remind you that the Challenger had a crew of seven: Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. Take a minute to remember them. All of them.


If I Had a Hammer

Filed under: — Kate @ 6:07 am EST

I’ve had this post sitting around as a draft for like two months now. Partly because I was saving it for a slow day, and mostly because I started it and then never got around to finishing.

It’s about a little ordeal I had a couple of years ago, so it’s not really time sensitive or anything.

As some of you may remember, my pal Holz actually blogged about it back then. After I had emailed him about my experience, he asked my permission to publish it on his Stomach Pains, and I agreed.

The source of the email was left anonymous, presumably to protect the stupid (i.e. me). Well, now that some time has passed, I wanted to give the story a rewrite and claim it as my own.

So it’s really, really weird that just when I was getting ready to publish it, Holz pulled his old post from the depths of his archives to be included in his “Past Lives” section.

It must be our 7/11 twin telepathy working in mysterious ways.

UPDATE: This post has been blogicized. [Philadelphia Will Do]

Anyway, here’s my story…



Karma Police

Filed under: — Kate @ 8:11 pm EST

I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them. –Alfred Hitchcock

Larakin recently wrote about a harrowing experience he had just before Christmas. He witnessed an accident, barely avoiding it himself, and stayed to help out and answer questions. And in spite of his good deeds, he got treated like ass by the cop. That reminded me of a story of my own.

I had an accident 4 or 5 years ago on one of Philly’s busiest highways, the always delightful Schuylkill Expressway (I think just before the Zoo exit, for those that know it).

It was during rush hour, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Sixers were in the playoffs that night.

It was really just a fender bender, but still very scary for me because of all the traffic. Not to mention that it was my first (and only) accident, and I was all alone. I was only a couple miles from my destination, but it might as well have been hundreds.

Ironically, the traffic may have actually been a good thing, as it caused me to only be moving at 25 mph when it happened. On the other hand, had there not been so much traffic, I probably would have reached my destination before I fell asleep…. I guess I’ll never know.

Anyway, the point of this story is that the cop was a complete and total jerkoff.

As I was fumbling for the vehicle registration, he used the opportunity to berate me for not knowing precisely where it was.

I said “I’m sorry, this is my father’s car, and I’ve been away at college so I haven’t driven it recently.”

His response? “You should never drive a car without knowing where the registration is.”

Which, okay, I guess he was right, but give me a break!! After all, I knew it was in the glove compartment somewhere! He kept harping on it until I finally gave him the registration.

Then, in an even nastier tone, he asked “Why did you tell me this was your father’s car?”

Bewildered, I looked at him, and stammered “Because… it… is.”

He then shoved the registration into my face and yelled “But it says your name right here!”

I looked at it and realized he was referring, not to my name, but to my mother’s, which also happened to be on the registration. She’s Kathleen and I’m Katharine. Yes, they are similar. No, they are not the same. (Something the post office could never figure out either, I might add). Get some goddamn reading glasses, people.

So I explained this to him and he just sort of muttered “Oh, okay.” Then he went back to lecturing me about the registration.

It would have been different if he just pointed to the registration and said “I thought you said this wasn’t your car, but isn’t this your name?” But he yelled at me and treated me like I was a liar.

I was visibly scared, and obviously emotional, and that cop just used me to get himself off on some power trip. He was a total asshole. I really should have complained about it.

On the other hand, the police were pretty good to me that time I got trapped in my bathroom…. But I’ll leave that story for another time.


Monday Leg Blogging: I Almost Forgot it was Monday

Filed under: — Kate @ 6:08 pm EST

This Week’s Leg Bloggers:


Kamin Loves U2… and I Have Proof

Filed under: — Kate @ 9:02 am EST

Remember how Kamin hates U2? Remember how not getting into Penn State doesn’t bother him at all? Well, he’s lying, and I have proof.

Below is an excerpt from what he wrote in my yearbook at the end of our senior year of high school… (click to enlarge).


City of the Dead

Filed under: — Kate @ 8:42 am EST

Call me morbid, but I’ve always had a fascination with graveyards. The older the better. There’s just something that draws me in, as if time itself slows while I’m there.

When I was a child, I would spend hours wandering among the 200 year old headstones in the churchyard at the top of my street. I would look at the names and the dates, and think about who was buried there, wonder if they ever had a notion that a little red haired girl might be walking over their final resting place and reading their names more than two centuries after they died.

On Sunday, Edo and I found ourselves wandering through a much larger graveyard. A necropolis. A city of the dead. Philadelphia is home to Laurel Hill, the nation’s second rural “garden” cemetery, and the first to be named a National Historic Landmark. It’s nestled next to Fairmount Park, looking west over the Schuylkill River. And if you didn’t notice the sign on Kelly Drive, you might never know it was there at all.

When it was first built in 1836, Laurel Hill quickly became one of the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia. People came to stroll, to picnic, to bask in the sun. In fact, the early garden cemeteries were the predecessors to the city parks that we have today. Apparently, when New York’s Central Park opened, people commented how much it was like a garden cemetery without the tombstones.*

Now Laurel Hill is left almost completely to the dead. Few people visit. It is overlooked, crumbling, and endangered. We’d driven past it countless times before, when it was closed or we didn’t have the time. But something made us stop at Laurel Hill Cemetery that day. It was breathtakingly gloomy and spectacular, especially in the waning hours of daylight, hidden above a riverbank, the monuments to death reaching up to the sky.

It was a wonderful escape for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. And it’s one of this city’s forgotten treasures.

More pictures after the jump.

*According to this great book I have called Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody.




Filed under: — Kate @ 12:59 pm EST

TV Cream’s Top 100 Toys

How many of these did you play with as a kid? I lost count, but I think it was 19 or 20 for me.

Just this past weekend, my brother showed me the old View-master he’d recently dug out from the void in our parents’ house. I probably haven’t even thought about that thing in almost 20 years.

Among other things, the slides included dinosaurs, Muppets, Winnie the Pooh, My Little Pony, Dumbo, and Thundercats. My brother also had some with Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles.

Boy did that bring back memories. I feel so old.


Sorry About the Sweat

Filed under: — Kate @ 1:55 am EST

Since Stan commented that I look different to him now, possibly due to my lack of bangs, I decided to go through some old pictures to see if I could find a good one from my fringed days.

Now, I wasn’t going to use this particular photo, because it’s not very flattering. But I happened to look at the back of it, and well, then I just had to use it. (more…)


Old School

Filed under: — Kate @ 3:51 am EST

So I was going through some old pictures when I was home last weekend, and look what I found… (more…)


Silly Little Survey IV: The Voyage Through Your Memories

Filed under: — Kate @ 10:22 am EST

More survey fun, this time about your childhood. Answer truthfully or lie your ass off, whichever you prefer.

1) What is your earliest memory?

2) Did you have a childhood pet?

3) At what age did you learn to ride a bike? Who taught you?

4) Without giving away the actual location (unless you want to), describe the area where you grew up. (Urban, suburban, or rural? Friendly neighbors ? Lots of kids in your neighborhood? Did you have a back yard?)

5) Video games or playing outside?

6) When did you learn how to swim?

7) What was your first word?

8) Who was your first celebrity crush?

9) Bert or Ernie?*

10) Where does the time go?

*Bonus Trivia: What other famous character pairing shares the names of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie? And don’t look it up—that’s no fun.


A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:30 pm EST

Two suns

What is your earliest memory of Star Wars?

Myself, I was probably about 4 or 5 years old, at the house of family friends, watching the first movie with their son. I vividly remember that early scene on Tatooine with the shot of the two suns. I was so confused by that, and my father had to explain to me that it was another planet, not Earth. That was the first time I began to grasp the concept of other planetary systems besides our own.

So reach back into the archives of your brain, and tell me your earliest recollections of the phenomenon that is Star Wars. Anything associated with the franchise counts.