@amirite In the non-fiction vein, Cod by Mark Kurlansky is really, really well read. And depending on how you feel about Dan Savage, The Commitment was really fun to listen to as well.
Librivox has books in the public domain read by volunteers for free- The Pickwick Papers by Dickens made sooo much more sense to me when I listened to it. Also they have lots of Wodehouse.
@Chareth Cutestory Also: pencil skirt + T shirt, blouse + jeans are good options if you want to step it up from T shirt and jeans but not be toooo fancy. Gap has a wrap dress on sale right now, too. Sooo there's that.
@RebeccaKW @km1312 I will say that Austin is basically crap for hiking, though. Very few parks, the ones that have enough land to actually ramble around in are about two hours away and full of rattlesnakes (saw lots of signs, no actual snakes). Hill Country is pretty, though.
Another city in my life tour of trendy cities and where I'm living now is Seattle, which has pretty good public transit, tolerable housing prices (and decent housing supply, at least in rentals), and excellent hiking all over the place. You can also get away with not owning a car (at least until 2014 when they cut all the public transit funding).
I grew up in Denver and it is my favorite. They've done a lot of work on the public transit front since I lived there, and it's actually supposed to be pretty okay. Lots of suburban office parks, though, which means the probability of a sucky commute is kind of high. Colorado drivers are reasonably tolerable, though, so that's a plus.
I have hypothesized about Salt Lake City- it's appropriately near pretty scenery and it seems like new and exciting things are happening there. I've visited Minneapolis and really liked it- the people are friendly and the city has a lot of cool stuff going on. Rougher winters, though.
@Gulf of Finland Also: just because you start doesn't mean you have to finish. If it turns out that you hate it and it's awful you can cut your losses and find a job/ apply to another program/ whatever, and sure, you'll have to pay those loans, but it will probably still be okay. Especially if you can stick to federal loans- on IBR you make 25 years of payments and then you're done, and that's that.
I am always most terrified right after I have fully committed to whatever big life decision I have made, and then I freak out. But I am stubborn, and I do it anyways, and then it turns out that actually doing the thing I was afraid of was actually not so bad. Watching my grad school loans get bigger and bigger was totally sucky- but any scholarship I could land felt like the biggest win ever, and now watching them go down is soooo much better than watching them get bigger.
@Jinxie Seconding the drinking vinegar vote. It can be purchased pre-made if you are lazy like me- we found a brand called PokPok near us- there may be others.
@Nellie, the Dickensian Factory Urchin Cucumber with chile! Soooo good
@Frankie's Girl This San Antonio site has a twitter feed from one of their journalists that was updating: http://www.kens5.com/news/Special-session-ends-with-no-vote-on-abortion-bill-213084301.html
@Jolly Farton You might like Whisky- the movie I'm thinking of is a 2004 spanish language movie about a man who owns a sock factory. I thought it was funny and very sweet- it bored the socks off my classmates (watched it in a Latin America cinema class), but it definitely fits the bill of sweet, quiet lives.
@oh! valencia 28 was basically the average age of people in my master's program. If you have a previous degree in another subject, a professional master's program in architecture is a 3 year full time degree (depending on the program you can pull off part-ish time and something like a 5 year timeline, I think).
Then there's the three years of internship (paid or it doesn't count) and the 7 four hour+ long exams, and then you get to call yourself an architect.
BTW, if you have a highschool diploma, any architecture office work experience you get (and some construction industry experience might actually count) before you finish your degree can count toward the three years. You might actually already be working towards being an architect! See the NCARB website for details- internship is known as IDP.
@Emby No state income tax!!! And unlike Seattle, Pullman gets sunshine sometimes (so I hear). Living on the west side of the mountains, the impression I get of eastern washington is that it is culturally somewhat more western (sort of Denver-ish). The other only marginally relevant thing I know about the area is that the WSU Meat Lab sells excellent meat...
But seriously, no state income tax. $$s