Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Deep, thoughtful year-end post

Um, I really need to come up with something to say for my last post of the year. Something profound, that sums up the spirit of 2008 for me in my journey of life.

Oh well. Can't think of anything. Instead, here's the latest:

We're leaving for my family's "Christmas" tomorrow morning, so I'm trying to pack, which right now translates to blogging and thinking about looking up some Margaret Cho stand-up on YouTube, as well as the the Inaugural Shoe Drive that I read about on the West Seattle blog (great idea!), and wondering if I'll be able to go back to 100% on my special no gluten/dairy/sugar/potatoes diet including supplements, tinctures and "daily fun" naturopathic routine (heck I've spent so much on this thing so far, I can't stop now!), all while wondering if I can permanently switch to the exercise ball as my desk chair even though my back gets fatigued (since after all that is the point, right, to work out my core?) which leads me to wonder if I should suspend my gym membership since I never made it last quarter since my scheduled got so crazy, but maybe this quarter will be different -- I sure hope so -- even though I've been "resting" my wonky hip, but it doesn't seem to have gotten any better.

But who cares about all of that...let's think about 2009. Next year I'd like to: host more dinners and parties at our house, do another one-mile open water swim with a better time than last year (shouldn't be hard to do if I can FLOAT), more picnics in the summer time, start writing a story, maybe take a drawing class if there's time (not likely), stick with the naturpaths plan for at least another 6 months, and (this is my favorite one)...eliminate 250 pounds of stuff from the house by the end of January (I just pulled that number out of the air, as it sounds challenging yet doable.) Doesn't that sound like a great idea?! I'll report back.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Looks like we're staying home for Christmas, and rescheduling family Christmas for New Year's Eve. I don't know when we'll celebrate New Year's Eve. Maybe sometime in January. (Actually, that's not a bad idea. January gets so gloomy...)

Anyway, today will be a banner day anyway because:

- neighborhood taco truck gives out free tacos (hopefully we'll have time to partake)
- Trader Joe's French Truffles for $2.99
- frivolous baking
- possibly finding Santa somewhere for August photo
- Christmas Eve church service: I was really sad about not being able to go to midnight mass at St. James. I thought it would be years before August could handle 3 hours of sitting after 10 pm, but turns out they and other nearby churches have children's services earlier in the evening. Who knew! (Actually, most regular church-goers are certainly in the know, but us heathens must use the internet to discover such things.) I loves me some beautiful church music on Christmas Eve!
- making Risgryngrot rice pudding for after the service
- cleaning the house (maybe not the most fun part of the day, but necessary for full relaxation tomorrow.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Undeserved

I hesitate to blog about this since one should not look a gift horse in the mouth. But it's been on my mind so I'll proceed.

I got a 3.9 in stats. I am stunned I got a 3.9 in stats. I'm almost ecstatic, except for the looming feeling that I don't deserve a 3.9 in stats. I went into the final with less than a 3.9 and knew I'd be thrilled if I could keep my pre-final grade, also realizing that it was more likely my grade would go down.

Day of the final came. As the TA passed out the test, she said "...don't hate me..." We laughed and said, "Why in the world would we hate you?" Then I started to read the test. It was tough. There were questions that I only spent cursory study time on, and a few I didn't understand at all. The problem: TA prepped us for test and prof wrote the test.

I did the best I could on the test. I tend to make dumb errors when doing math, but I went really slow, double-checked my work, etc. Once done, I convinced myself that I'd be okay with a lower grade than I'd hoped for going into the test.

So what happened? Did everyone bomb the final and they had to curve the grades dramatically*? That's the only thing that could've happened, other than me getting really lucky on my questionable answers. Or maybe it's just a flat out error on my grade. Even so, it makes me think about grade inflation that's happened in the last 10-15 years or however long. When I was in college the first time, I was thrilled to get A-range grades (it didn't happen very often...in my first 2 years the only A grades I received were in The Art of Listening to Music and Asian-American History), and very happy with B-range grades. I wasn't a great student -- my priorities were on having fun -- but teachers just plain graded differently back then. They were not so generous with the 4.0s. Now that I've been back in school I've been surprised at how many people expect, even demand a 4.0.

Last quarter, when I was teaching, my advisor told me that a good average grade for a 100-level class was a 90%, so I curved my grades just a little to fit this mean. But I was surprised: 90% average for 100-level. I don't think this is how my professors graded way back when.

Anyway, I'm glad I got the grade I did...but if I were to grade my own performance and understanding of stats, I'd give myself a 3.4-3.5. And if this were 1990, I would've given myself a 2.8.

* Y'know, this could've been it. I sat with a group of guys who seemed to do really well in the course. During the test, one of them put his pencil down and then put his head on the desk. I found that reassuring.

Am I overthinking this? Of course I am. Moving on, promise.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Only 32 more days


...to celebrate the Bush presidency! Celebrate right now with a little game of "Sock and Awe"...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Assorted colors

I don't have anything really pressing to write, just a few small things jangling in my head. Plus, I'm relishing the fact that there's time to just have a few small things jangling in my head.

I started out the holiday shopping season determined to buy gifts from only independent stores. Well, scratch that. I just couldn't resist the ease of Amazon, plus since they're a local employer, it's all good. Now about Target, they're not so much a local employer, but hey, maybe any shopping right now is good for the economy.

Speaking of Target, I went there last night to pick up some colored lights, and walked in circles until I realized they have no lights. I think there was one box of icicle lights, and lights incorporated in fake garlands and wreaths and things, but no actual strings of lights. Went over to Walgreens, and they were having a 75% off lights sale. Bingo.

I need to get our Christmas letter thingy rolling, but that requires a photo, which requires August NOT having a disgusting looking nose. We may need to use a less fresh photo this year. I'm hoping that her cold clears up enough to run up to the Christmas at the Junction on Sundays thing and get her picture with Santa at Cafe Verite.

Meanwhile, big snow storm is predicted for tonight (or at least that's what they were saying this morning), so I rented enough movies to last us for a while if we're snowed in (Seattle-style), including Wall*E. Can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sixteen months

I need a break from my paper writing. What a perfect time to note August's development.

August likes to run and climb. She's also hep to dancing when the mood strikes.

August can say maybe 40-50 words (or more that we just don't recognize): ball, dog, milk, please, no, yes, eyes, nose, hair, car, Elmo, baby, duck, nap.

August does not usually say Mama and Dada, though she can. These were not her first words. We think 'dog' probably was her first word.

August is 23.5 lbs and about 31 inches as of a few weeks ago.

August likes to feed her animals, give them bottles, etc.

August might be able to identify herself as "Auguh" (or so it seemed when I asked "Who's that baby?" last night when we were looking in the mirror).

August's favorite toys are her ride-on-top firetruck, Sully the monster, stacking rings, toy bottle, books, my cell phone, monkeys and her favorite teddybear.

August has a high tolerance for discomfort/pain, i.e. she's always crashing into things and doesn't seem to notice.

August likes to touch Sammy and T-ko's noses.

August sleeps 7 pm - 7 am as she has since she was 3.5 months old.

August is afraid of Tickle Me Cookie Monster, but not Cookie Monster on tv.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day off

Yesterday was Ray's birthday, and he was very deliberate about what he wanted to do for the day: stay in sweats, read paper, drink coffee, watch random tv, draw, waffles (not necessarily in that order). This was possible since August was at Nana's for the weekend.

Anyway, it made me hanker for a day off, since my birthday was at the beginning of the quarter and I was frantically (literally) pulling together lectures and Powerpoint slides. I might have an opportunity for a day off this week or next, on Friday or next Thursday. It'll have to be contained to 9 am to 4 pm, but there's a lot I could do in that time frame. Here's my plan:

Swim OR naturopath appt (depending on day)
Watch movie, drink coffee
Organize 2 areas of the house
Watch another movies and eat strategic off-limits items (wheat, sugar, dairy)

I know it doesn't sound like much, but it sounds like heaven to me!

Friday, November 28, 2008

An alternate Thanksgiving story

A few years ago, Ray and I attended a birthday party. At this party we met a guy, Mark, and his wife. Our introduction went something like this:

Me: "Hi, nice to meet you."

Mark: "You too. I understand you're getting married, is that right?"

Me: "Yeah, we're getting married in a few months."

Mark: "Congratulations. Are you Christians?"

Me: "No, I wouldn't really say that."

Mark: "Oh that's too bad, since only through Christ can you have a successful marriage..."

I'm not kidding. He actually said this. Ray and I have been talking/laughing about this for years.

Flash forward to yesterday...Thanksgiving. This same Mark person came to our family dinner. As soon as we saw him we both thought, "Oh, THAT guy."

When out of earshot, I asked about him, "We met Mark a few years ago...I've forgotten his wife's name."

The response: "Oh, they're not married anymore..."

Ha!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's rant

Argh. I've had enough of "problem-based learning." It's become my new pet peeve, right up there with tail-gating (the driving too close variety, not the pre-game party), peas, and grumpy workers at the fabric store.

In the past couple months, I've attended several school-based conferences, most of them on teaching. For the umpteenth time today, I went into a class looking forward to understanding the concept further and getting some tools I can put to use. And, for the umpteenth time, we were treated to break-out brainstorming groups where we were suppose to generate our own answers. I had to ask (by then only 20 minutes left of class) if the instructor was ever going to cover the primary elements of the concept. She did...by referring for 3 minutes to a handout. So I know no more now about the topic than I did before walking into class. I would've learned more by surfing the web than I would in an hour long class that should've covered the subject matter handily.

Don't get me wrong, I think student participation is important. But for pete's sake, please teach your own class, don't have the student's make up a bunch of stuff and believe that suffices for actual instruction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Term paper day

Since today is a holiday and there's no school, I decided to designate the day for writing. I've got a term paper due at the end of the quarter on auditory processing disorder, and I've had (and will have) very little time to work on it. So why not try and get a draft written right now.

It's a good plan, but already I've been procrastinating. I've already checked both emails twice, Facebook, Twitter, and looked up an album on Amazon. I've made my breakfast smoothie, shared some popcorn with Sammy, and now I'm making tea. P-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.

So maybe if I "liveblog" my day, I'll be motivated to get more done. Nothing begets writing like a little writing. Right?
_______________________

9:35 am Finish making tea, back to paper. So far 2 sentences written: "In their 2006 study, Sanches and Carvallo examined contralateral suppression of transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) in 51 children, some of whom had been diagnosed with APD. Their research question: Could noise suppression be absent or minimized in the auditory processing systems of children with APD?"

10:05 You know, I like listening to semi-cheesy massage music while I write. No words, simple themes, easy to ignore. (Half-page written.)

10:40 Crap. I need to upload the next lecture for my class. We'll be talking about dipthongs. That's right...DIPTHONGS. It's really fun to say.

11:22 Just hammered a nail into the wall in August's room so we can hang her "art" projects from daycare. And I'm getting close to being done with Sanches & Carvallo.

11:58 Done with Sanches & Carvallo. Break time! Heading to store to pick up a few things, and then to the car wash. Been meaning to wash and vacuum my car for a couple months. Just so long as I get through two more articles in my paper this afternoon.

1:20 pm Oh crap. How did an hour and 20 go by? I haven't even eaten lunch, and I've got only 2.5 hours to write before I go get August. At least my car's all sqeaky clean.

1:31 Now that I've picked the peas out of my microwave chicken tikka masala, I'm ready to get back to work.

2:38 Well, after writing several paragraphs, a short nap seemed in order. Now I'm back to it and determined to get through at least the Elliott et al article. At least.

3:36 Woohoo! Done with Elliott et al and 20 minutes to spare. You can see how I've lowered my expectations of the day. Last night: "I'm going to write a draft of my paper." This morning: "I'm going to write a draft of the three primary research studies." This afternoon: "I've successfully finished 2 of 3 research studies." Oh well. Maybe I'll pick this up again tonight.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tiny post

Me, last night, to Ray:

"When I was a kid, I hated using toothpaste. The foaminess made me gag, so I'd brush my teeth without it. But my mom kept telling me I needed the fluoride. So eventually I started using toothpaste, but just a little bit, and without wetting the brush first. That's how I brush to this day...

...And now you know everything about me."

_____________________

Me, this morning, to appliance saleswoman:

"Is it true that it's annoying to stir pots on a smoothtop range? Don't they slip around?"

"Oh I wouldn't say that. I've never had that experience and I make gravy all the time."

"(Of course you do.)"

_____________________

Me, yesterday, to my brother:

"Ray couldn't come with us since he's putting together a lecture for next week."

"Oh, I bet Ray's a good lecturer."

"He really is! When I first met him he was putting together a lecture with a slide featuring Wonder Woman in her invisible jet."

"Really? What was he talking about?"

"I don't know."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Only had time to do some speed carving this year about 30 minutes before the first trick-or-treaters. After a slow start, we ended up with 86 this year. Not bad...up 10 from last year.

We're terrible parents. We forgot to take a picture of August in her costume. We might just dress her up tomorrow and take some.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Typical" day

Yesterday Ray posted his typical weekday schedule. It was interesting to me, since I didn't really realize that we'd initiated this kind of clock-work thing when it comes to August's needs. So anyway, here's my part:

6 am -- wake up, stretch

6:08 -- organize and pack stuff/computer for day

6:20 -- try to shower without waking August

6:45 -- August up, change and dress her

7:00 -- August wakes up Ray, requests breakfast

7:05 -- Dress, hair, etc. while Ray feeds Aug, packs her lunch

7:20 -- Blend up smoothie for road; try to remember am-round of vitamins and naturapathic concoctions

7:30 -- Try and figure out lunch to pack; 1/2 the time I give up and plan to go to Chipotle

7:35 -- Brush teeth, find socks, find Aug shoes and socks...get both of us ready to go

7:50 -- head out the door to daycare

8:05 -- get to daycare, get August settled

8:18 -- head toward school

8:45 -- get to Wallingford, watch bus pull away from stop w/o me, walk to campus

9:05 -- arrive on campus

9:10 -- unpack; check emails

9:25 -- study/write/read/etc until class...schedule is different every day

11:45 -- run out to Chipotle/eat lunch while studying/writing/reading/class prep

1:30 pm -- teach class for 2 hours M W F

3:30 -- go to class or study/write/read/check email

4:30 -- pack up (except for days when I'm still in class 'til 5)

5:10 -- back at car if I've managed to catch the bus

5:30 -- try to relax while 99 is jammed up

5:45 -- get home, play with August

6 pm -- Ray feeds Aug, while I squeeze in some short email or class prep work

6:20 -- play with Aug, read books

6:30 -- Aug jammies

6:40 -- bed time ritual: brush teeth, read books, rock

7:00 -- Aug in crib with 47 "friends"

7:03 -- squeeze in a few minutes of class prep

7:15 -- try to remember round 2 of vitamins and naturopathic concoctions

7:20 -- eat dinner w/ Ray

8:00 -- back to studying: computer/articles/homework/class prep

10:00 --Try to tear myself away from schoolwork

10:30 -- Successfully shut down computer and put away articles.

10:35 -- get ready for bed

10:45 -- crochet my crochet-thingy, talk to Ray, try to decompress

10:47 -- Ray wants to read me something horrific about the economy, current administration, decimated village in Russia, etc.

10:55 -- light out

10:58 -- asleep

Monday, October 27, 2008

C'mon now

Headline from this morning's front page...

Obama, McCain ease up on attacks


DEMOCRATIC CROWDS MASSIVE; GOP SENATOR PREDICTS UPSET

Campaign says Palin returned a third of new clothes - wrong size, style


Seriously. I can't wait for the next 8 days to be over.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Politicita

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn

Today was all about fall harvest...and had nothing to do with vast quantities of plums.

This morning, I baked two loaves of pumpkin bread: one gluten- and refined sugar free, which was quite tasty even though I ran out of maple syrup, and the other one regular wheat flour for potluck. Nothing smells like fall more than the smell of pumpkin bread wafting through the house.

After lunch, we packed up the car and headed to Carnation for pumpkin picking and farm animal viewing. I rarely go out to this part of the county (to be honest, I think I've been to Carnation once about 20+ years ago). It was a gorgeous drive -- the sun was shining, the leaves were turning and the cattle were lowing*. It was such a beautiful, peaceful drive that it seriously got me thinking about giving up my ironclad native Seattleite identity.

We got to the farm, which was packed of course, and had much to do. We sampled roasted corn and an organic hamburger, introduced August to chickens, ponies, and two smelly sleeping pigs (they scared her), rode behind a tractor to the pumpkin patch, and picked out a pumpkin to take home. Ray picked up some produce while we were there, and August ogled the corn maze in the barn loft, though we didn't attempt it.

Next: a Sukkah party. My lab-mate and her family hosted a potluck to celebrate the Jewish harvest holiday. I thought I was familiar with Jewish holidays, but this one -- called Sukkot -- was news to me. Basically, each family builds a sukkah in their backyard, like a little temporary gazebo where they can eat, sleep if it's good weather, and visit with friends. The sukkah is adorned with branches, paper chains, fruit and vegetables hanging for decoration. My friend decided to forgo the fruit and veggies to keep the bees away. Anyway, everyone brought food and spent some time sitting in the sukkah, while a million kids ran around and hit each other with sticks. August was quite envious.

All in all, a great day, though I'm spent and can't crack the journal articles I'd set aside for this evening.

* Whatever that means.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Inner Bitch or How To Start a Relaxing Hobby

I paid a call to the yarn store yesterday.

Me (to clerk): Hi, I need some help. (The doctor told me I need to relax. Since I need some activity to make me do that, it was between crocheting and knitting. And since I've already tried knitting (for all of 24 minutes), and my knitting needles are lost in the garage, I guess I should try something new.)

Clerk: Yes, how can I help?

Me: Well, I want to learn to crochet. (Show me a book, the hook, and the yarn and I'll pay. I haven't plugged my meter since I've only allocated 5 minutes to this store, and I hope you move more quickly than those fabric store people.)

Clerk: Okay, so we have a number of great books on how to start up crochet...patterns...diagrams...here's one that--

Me: Great! That one is fine. (Just hand me the thinnest and simplest one with the biggest pictures and let's move on.) What about yarn?

Clerk: Well it depends on what you want to make....worsted-weight...finer yarn...enough for a hat...yada yada.

Me: Which one is best for beginners? Thicker yarn? (Look lady, the meter maid is probably ticketing my car by now, and frankly I could be satisfied by just tying knots in my shoelaces for relaxation, so I'm really not thinking about making hats at this point.)

Clerk: Well, this one is $6.50 and this one is $7.50...there are some really pretty ones over here that are finer...and some people like this one to start, but other people...

Me: Okay, so I need an average size hook, right. Where are the hooks? (Alright, I can figure the rest of this out for myself. Tick tock tick tock.)

Clerk: Oh yes hooks! Let me show you what we have over here....see this one is a 4.5 for finer yarn...and this one's a G...and there are different colors...there only $2 so you could try one of each...

Me: Great! (Bingo! I'll take these random two hooks and be gone. And by the time I get to looking at all this stuff it'll be 11 pm and I won't be able to figure it out anyway.)

Clerk (at cash register): Now we have classes so you can learn with others...mailing list...

Me: I'm good for now. Thanks so much for your help. (No ticket. No ticket. No ticket.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday pm edition

In the Arts and Entertainment category:

1. I am oddly disappointed that Hugh Hefner and Holly (girlfriend #1) broke up.

2. I am also disappointed that Chef Robert Irvine embellished his vitae and got sacked by the Food Network (months ago apparently, but news to us). He is no longer heading up Dinner: Impossible, one of Ray's favorite shows.

3. After watching the Al Pacino vehicle 88 Minutes, I feel a little bit sorry for good ol' Al, who seemingly is hired onto a project before they have any idea what they're doing, and frankly don't care. And why should they...once Al Pacino has signed on, a storyline and decent direction are beside the point.

4. I need a hobby. I need a hobby that is relaxing, creative, and can be done while doing something else. It needs to be quiet, mobile, and inexpensive. If it produces a nifty product, so much the better. It must be mindless, but in a nice, creative kind of way. Candidates: knitting, crocheting, hand-sewing. Suggestions welcome.

And on the economic front:

1. There's a small part of me that's not so secretly glad about this sharp economic downturn (crisis, recession, whatever you want to call it). We, gluttonous (and glutenous) America, have finally gotten our comeuppance. And it's going to hurt. And it's about time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blog topics for...someday...probably never.

1. After a month of very limited, naturopath-advised eating, I now have 4 satiation levels, rather than just two (hungry/full).

2. Frozen fruit/almond milk/coconut make the world go round (at least in the last 30 days).

3. Why does the bus never come when I want to catch it. At least I'm getting good exercise walking to my car (parked in Wallingford).

4. After reading some crazy-dense journal articles, staying focused on regular reading is much easier.

5. Putting together spreadsheets for my class grading and assignments is fun. I like me some formulas! (And apparently I need to get out more.)

6. I am already excited about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.

7. August is either going to be a Jawa or Boo for Halloween.

8. Ray and I decided today that if the huge nation-states of the world are eventually a thing of a past, and city/state-states are our future, then Seattle, Portland and Vancouver BC (and everything in between) should come together as one country.

9. If my mom is of the over-cooked-vegetables generation, then our generation is everything-al-dente.

10. If McCain/Palin win in November [shudder], the top 5 places I want to move to are 1) Czech Republic 2) UK 3) Canada 4) India 5) Lago di Como.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The plum harvest

Our 140-year-old neighbor offered to help us harvest the plum trees on the property line we share. Actually what he said was...

"Gfdfdm mufm plums fgmum hmmpf long pole fhm smunm gerfmn..."

So in my mind that meant that he'd get a long pole and shake the plums out.

"Okay! Come on over...that'd be great."

He mumbled something else -- he's a man of few words -- and headed to his garage. Back he came with a very long old ladder and pushed it across the fence toward me. Puzzled, I grabbed the other end and propped it against our house.

Meanwhile, the neighbor walked around to our yard (after realizing he wasn't able to scale our fence -- I'm serious). He moved the ladder closer to the tree and said....

"Mffhg hdmfn roof line fhdmn gumffn."

"Uh...why don't you let me do that. I can go up."

"No no. Mfhdg nmm fghumn."

And so it went. He went all the way up the ladder, and I stayed on the ground holding a bucket. He shook the tree and swung his rake around to get at the highest branches, and I stood there getting pummeled with plums and tried not to imagine him falling off the ladder. How could you!, the other neighbors would say. Don't you know that a 140-year-old man should not be teetering on a ladder shaking a plum tree?!

An hour and a half later, I finally convinced him that we didn't need to pick ALL the plums on the tree, and he came down the ladder and went home. The funny thing is, our neighbor doesn't eat plums. I don't know why, though he explained it to me twice ("Hmfer gufmm nffmm..."). I guess he was just helping us out of the kindness of his heart.

Or maybe his wife doesn't let him use his ladder as much as he'd like.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Senile and obsessed

Thankfully, this post is not about me. It's about Sammy the dog. Sammy is 15.5 years old, and she has really been slowing down in the last year. In fact, we think she's had a couple of seizures, which are really scary and I've thought each time "This is it" with a grapefruit-sized lump in my throat.

But then, a short time later (like even as short as a half hour), Sammy "recovers" and goes about her usual business. And it's serious business let me tell you.

No matter how slow Sam is now, she has not relented on her one true obsession: food. In fact, it's more pronounced than it's ever been. I don't know if August The Food-Dropper has something to do with it, or if Sammy's senses have dulled and food is her only joy outlet. But whatever it is, she certainly shows no age when it comes to searching for food.

I think she still enjoys going for walks and rides in the car, but I suspect it's because there's an opportunity that something might appear in her dish while she's gone. As soon as she gets in the door, she RUNS to the kitchen like she was a kid again. She nearly continually trolls the kitchen floor for dropped food bits. If it's remotely near meal time (within 3 hours) she begins pacing and panting like she hasn't eaten all day.

All of this sounds like the poor girl is miserably hungry all the time, but I think her senility has played into the extra treats she gets from August. She now expects that food should literally fall from the sky for most of the day.

We try to keep her happy. We give her more treats than we should...after all, why deprive the old girl of her favorite things in her final years. But honestly, the begging is downright annoying.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is this what it's gonna be like?

In the last few weeks, I've hardly posted anything to my blog...anything written by me anyway. To be honest, I've hardly visited my regular blog haunts, Twitter, or considered topics to post to my blog. School hasn't even started yet, and already my daily fixes are getting the squeeze.

My mind lately has been occupied by school preparations and lab meetings, putting together lectures, and getting all the necessary appointments and To Dos out of the way. As of last night, I have a few hefty articles to read and discuss next week, right after the 2-day teaching conference. And once the week after that rolls around...well I hope it's not too crazy.

It's strange how having a kid really reboots your whole life. When I was working, life was moderately busy, but I usually knocked off by 6:00 and had time to myself most evenings. Then came school, and my evenings and weekends were taken up by studying. But now, that'll be different. I'm really aiming to get most of my work done during the work week if I can manage it, as I'll only have part of the evening to study and want to preserve weekends for family and friends as much as I can. But given how my schedule looks, I think there's gonna be plenty of late nights and frustrating weekends hunched over my computer or grading assignments.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I am really excited about this new phase and believe it's the right fit for me. I'm just fleshing out the little anxieties that come up before anything new. Will everything work? Will everything work without negatively impacting August? I guess that's my real question.

I've always admired those parents who juggle kids and career, deal with the guilt, look for opportunities to grow professionally, and still make it to soccer and swimming and just hanging out in the yard. And I admire people who don't do that particularly juggling act, because staying at home with kids is a tough gig...one that's certainly tougher than whatever circus routine awaits us in the coming months, I think.

So...is this what it's gonna be like? No, it'll be something more.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pitch Perfect Poultry

Maybe everyone has seen this one already...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

3 peaches

We went to the farmers' market this morning, and I saw these beautiful peaches. I asked for a pound, and was too emotionally committed to say 'no thanks' when I learned 3 peaches cost $6. I followed through, and was even more chafed to discover that other stands were selling peaches at half this price. These had better be some pretty damn good peaches.

Since I'd made the investment, and the fruit was so ripe they bruised when I looked at 'em funny, I opted to make peach cobbler using this stupidly simple recipe. Sampling the peaches while slicing them reassured me that maybe they were worth $6. Delicious.

And even better...the resulting cobbler:



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

In the deep end

My schedule is coming together for fall quarter, and only a few more things need to fall into place before the first day of school: 1 class, 1 lab meeting, 1 journal meeting and -- duh duh duh -- my TA assignment.

Yes, I am being dramatic, but only because I now know a) which class* I'm TAing, and b) that I'll be teaching my own section. Of a class I've never taken. And only have cursory knowledge of the subject matter.

Thankfully, I don't think the subject matter is difficult at all, but still, I'm a little nervous. I was hoping my first TA position would mean office hours and grading papers. Guess not.

Anyway, I probably would feel comfortable teaching a class only if I'm super well-versed in the subject matter, like...

1. grantwriting
2. capital campaign strategy, circa 1998
3. kleenex technique in psychotherapy
4. singing in the car
5. underwater bubble-blowing

That's all I can think of right now. If I know nothing else about getting a doctorate, it's that I better get used to being thrown into the deep end.

* Voice and Articulation Improvement -- "Voice production and the sound system of standard American speech. Speech standards, regional and social dialects, voice quality and basic language-oriented characteristics. Practice for improving speech style."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I found this list via Chocolate and Zucchini, though it's from an apparently well-known (but new to me) blog called Very Good Taste. Anyway...

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. [noted instead]
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile - no thanks
6. Black pudding - no thanks
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns - I assume they mean hum bow
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese - no thanks
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - no thanks!
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu - no thanks
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel - no thanks
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin - no thanks
51. Prickly pear - does it count if in drink form?
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV - uh, Olde E?
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads - no thanks
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian - no thanks
66. Frogs’ legs - no thanks
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - no thanks
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - no thanks...I've smelled them during prep, and that's enough
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill - really? no thanks
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate - may have had
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I heart questionnaires!

Thanks Miss D Regala!

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:30 am...and I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Iron Man (in Vegas), I think.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Buffy was way up there. Currently (for me) it's Gilmore Girls, as we're finishing up Season 6. Really currently it's Project Runway.

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Egg and toast. Or Cheerios with raisins and milk.

6. What is your middle name? My former last name.

7. What food do you dislike? Peas. Smelly fish. Fresh chicharones for breakfast.

8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Radiohead "Rainbows"

9. What kind of car do you drive? Volvo 850

10. Favorite sandwich? Right now, it's grilled cheese with carmelized onion and apple

11. What characteristic do you despise? Arrogance (I stole that from D. Regala and Rodney)

12. Favorite item of clothing? Orange Piemonte sweatshirt

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? secluded island in the Carribbean

14. Are you an organized person? Selectively organized.

15. Where would you retire to? 6 months in Seattle, 6 months in small beach village in Mexico.

16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? I don't remember any recent birthdays at the moment.

17. What are you going to do when you finish this? Reading my school orientation materials.

20. When is your birthday? Sept 25

21. Morning person or a night person? Both and neither

22. What is your shoe size? 9.5

23. Pets? Yup. And I want another dog though it's not realistic.

24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I have leftover Vietnamese food for dinner! (Is that exciting? Oh well.)

25. What did you want to be when you were little? Fireman. Opera singer. Landscape architect.

26. How are you today? A little frazzled with figuring out my schedule and too hot.

27. What is your favorite flower? Hydrangea. Daffodils.

28. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? August 30, when Ray and I will see as many movies as possible. And September 24, the first day of school.

29. What are you listening to right now? Sammy snoring, and a helicopter in the distance.

30. What was the last thing you ate? A healthy-tasting cookie.

31. Do you wish on stars? Uh...really? No.

32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Orange, or a dark purple-ish blue.

33. How is the weather right now? It's hot! It's possibly almost 90.

34. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Susan H, just moments ago, about meeting up this afternoon except August is sleeping.

35. Favorite soft drink? Root beer.

36. Favorite restaurant? All of the Chow Foods eateries.

37. Hair color? brownish

38. What was your favorite toy as a child? stuffed animals

39. Summer or Winter? Summer

41. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

42. Coffee or tea? Coffee

44. When was the last time you cried? I don't remember, but something on the Gilmore Girls we've been watching made me tear up. What was it? I don't remember.

45. What is under your bed? Carpet

46. What did you do last night? Ate a late dinner and watch Gilmore Girls.

47. What are you afraid of? Failure.

48. Salty or sweet? Sweet.

49. How many keys on your key ring? Four maybe.

51. Favorite day of the week? Saturday

52. Do you make friends easily? Most of the time.

55. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends? I like reading questionnaires almost as much as filling them out myself.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The chest

I'd like to believe that I'm a proponent of Things Can't Buy Happiness, and Experiences Can Buy Happiness. But I'd be wrong.

Case in point: I'd been looking for weeks for a piece of furniture that would alleviate this pile problem we've had by the front door. It's mostly baby bags and gear, all of which just sits on the floor with no real home and looks horrible. It was driving me crazy. I looked around the house for some furniture to reappropriate, and checked the garage for something that'd do the job. Nothing.

IKEA put out its new catalog a week or two ago, and I found a few items that would solve our problem -- a bench, some shelves, a bench/shelf combo. But buying something from IKEA seemed quite uninteresting, and would require more cash than I was willing to shell out.

I checked Craig's List a few times, and found a couple promising items, but no must-haves. Then last week I tried two furniture stores and the antique mall in the Junction. I found three possibilities at the antique mall, and after checking out the furniture stores, I went back to pick up this slightly interesting cast-iron bench thingy. On the way I noticed another tiny antique store, one that didn't seem worth going into as they have a lot of shabby-chic style things (which isn't exactly my style).

But lo...what have we here?

Amidst the white-painted vanity benches and smelly lotions, there it was, sticking out like a Christmas wreath in April: a chest. And it was perfect. Asian. Detailed. Lacquered. Interesting. Less than $100 (slightly). Lined with some kind of metal. Quite interesting. And the pile? It would be completely hidden. Jackpot! Here's my money, Lady!

The seller didn't have any info on it other than it was a Tea Chest. I had to know more so I took a picture and stopped by a few Asian antique dealers. From what they could tell, it's probably Chinese, made in the 1930s or 40s. And worth at least the amount I spent on it. Whew.

So, anyway, yes -- experiences can make you happy, as this experience did for me. But I must admit that I get little warm fuzzies every time I look at that chest, and almost better yet, I don't have to look at that annoying diaper bag clutter any longer.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cake!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Buh-buh-buh Birthday!

At 9:45 am on this day a year ago, August burst forth (i.e. was tugged athletically) into this world. She weighs 3 times as much, and is about 50% longer. And she's a lot more fun. August, we wish you a year full of books, teddybears, remote controls & cell phones, running around on the porch, and that evil Cookie Monster remaining in his box.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Latest best sandwiches

I love a good sandwich, and I've had two great ones in the last week.

Time: last Saturday
Scene: Eats Market Cafe, Westwood Village
Sandwich: can't recall the exact name, but basically it was a BLT with a fried egg and chevre
Comments: (I've already twittered about this so excuse the double plug...) Seriously people, this is one durn good sandwich. I'm not a fried egg person per se, but it just seemed to fit with the bacon and tomato, and the chevre added a nice little flavor with out over-powering or cheesifying the whole thing. It was delicious, and I told the Eats people as much.

Time: today, 1 pm
Scene: Cafe at the SAM Sculpture Park
Sandwich: super special Grilled Cheese...carmelized onions, apple, gruyere on grilly potato bread.
Comments: Wow. This was a lunchtime phenomenon, so good I made it for our dinner. Here's my DIY adaptation (serves 2)...

4 slices dill rye
several slices Colby-Jack and some mystery cheese in the fridge
1 slice bacon, minced
1/3 onion, sliced
1 Red Delicious apple, thinly sliced
butter

Get the bacon going in a saute pan, and then throw the onion slices in. Cook up until onion's nice and translucent. Remove from pan. Butter outsides of bread, put in still hot pan, and layer apple, cheese, and onion. Grill on both sides. If you're doing the tomato soup thing on the side (I recommend Pacific Organic), then reserve the cooked-up bacon pieces and toss them in with the soup while it heats. Delish!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vote for one. Only one.

This is a toughie. Which would you choose? (Found on ParentMap...)

Would you rather:
- Be 15 pounds thinner
- Be 15 IQ points smarter
- Have $25k more annual income
- Have 1 extra hour in every day
- Have a closer, more romantic relationship with your partner, OR
- Have a chauffer
__________________________

Wow. I just remembered that I could add a poll thingymajig to my side-bar. I'll add a question now to test it out. Go vote.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sammy for President

Filler

I love answering questions. Thanks Sheila.

1. I've come to realize that my legs...are probably my best physical attribute.

2. I've come to realize that my job...(in two months) is going to be the most rigorous and low paying 5 years of my life. But I think I'll really like it most of the time.

3. I've come to realize that when I'm driving....I love to turn the stereo up really loud.

4. I've come to realize that I need...to have regular swim and creativity fixes in order to stay sane.

5. I’ve come to realize that I have lost...my interest in going on most carnival rides, excepting those at Disneyland.

6. I've come to realize that I hate it when....I can't remember what things mean, like for example, when people refer to Rube Goldberg or Machiavelli.

7. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk...I'm going to be depressed and sick for at least a day afterward and it's no longer worth it.

8. I've come to realize that money...is more fun to spend on services than stuff.

9. I've come to realize that certain people...are just not friendly, and I shouldn't take it personally.

10. I've come to realize that I'll always be...resisting the habit of getting out of my swimsuit while toweling off, which could be dicey if done in a large public venue.

11. I've come to realize that I have a crush on...the Gilmore Girls, which is I guess better described as an addiction than a crush.

12. I've come to realize that my mom...is always going to be stoic and practical.

13. I've come to realize that my cell phone is...more phone than I really need, what with the little keyboard and all.

14. I've come to realize that when I woke up this morning...I was late to the open-water workout.

15. I've come to realize that last night before I went to sleep...I love clean sheets and a freshly made bed!

16. I've come to realize that right now I am thinking about...how I don't know how to make decent hashbrowns from raw shredded potatoes.

17. I've come to realize that my dad...is only going to get older.

18. I've come to realize that when I get on my blog...I'm going to feel pressure to post something interesting.

19. I've come to realize that today...we almost adopted a new dog, though I found his home, so instead I want to go out to lunch and hit the baby swings at Lincoln Park.

20. I've come to realize that tonight...is wiiiiide open! I'm thinking cocktails on the deck.

21. I've come to realize that tomorrow...I'm seeing a friend I haven't seen for 6 months.

22. I've come to realize that I really want to...adopt another dog, though it's really not the right time with Sammy being so old and me starting school up again.

23. I have also come to realize that...August is not napping at all, but playing in her crib and squealing in delight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coming up on a year

In a few short weeks, August will turn one. This, my friends, is very hard to believe. This time last year, yours truly was stuck on the couch, watching the Tour de France and wondering when they'd make the baby come out. (They meaning doctors, not professional cyclists.)

Anyway, I'm working on a photo/blog book for August's first birthday, so I want to sum up the year for posterity; something nice that she'll scoff at when she's 12 and appreciated when she's 22.

The first surprise about August was her hair. I knew she'd have a lot of dark hair when she arrived (since that's the story with her dad), but had anyone ever seen black hair with brown highlights? Now she has brown hair with black highlights, and either way you must admit it's a cool color. Someone who came to visit August in the hospital remarked, "People pay tons of money at a salon for hair like that." Too true.

August is a happy baby -- an easy baby some have said. We often look at each other and wonder how we got so lucky. She was laid-back newborn and a content infant. Since early on, she has almost always been ready to laugh. She has never cried without good reason. She has lots of energy and likes to squirm and wiggle when getting her diaper changed or buckling into the car. TV has yet to appeal, but she loves books, and we've even caught her "reading" them to herself. Sometimes when she doesn't feel like sleeping, she has long conversations with her teddybear and monkey, her two best companions in her crib.

Since so far I've been terrible about keeping up a baby book, I really need to record August's firsts somewhere.

First smile -- 4-6 weeks
First laugh -- 2-3 months
Slept through the night -- 3.5 months
(funny how I recall exactly when that happened)
Rolled over -- 4 months
Sat up -- 5-6 months
Crawled -- 7 months
Stood up -- 7-8 months
Played peek-a-boo -- 8-9 months
Ate baby food -- 5 months
First steps -- 10.5 months
(though she still find crawling more efficient)
First word -- any day now
(though sometimes we're sure she's said Mama or Dada with intention, and several times we've swore she's said Teh-deh-deh for teddybear)

A few weeks ago, when we were over at the Kleitschs' for a "photo shoot" and dinner, Karsten and Britta were singing the Winnie the Pooh song with a cd. I remembered the song, so I sang along. August decided to "sing" along with us and clap her hands. It was one of those tiny moments when I realized that August was not going to be a baby much longer. She's really starting to join in with things like a little person. And I can't wait to see what kind of little person she becomes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tough weekend

I think I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

On Saturday morning, I slowly swam from Denny Blaine to Madison Park along with the other Fat Salmon. My time was horrible, and though I was duking it out at the end with another Salmon, I'm pretty sure he was swimming side-stroke most of the way. I guess this is what happens when you swim sick, and unfortunately the swim seemed to have made me sicker. Overall, I'm glad I did it and hope I can do another open water swim later this summer to remedy my slow time.

On Sunday, Jana and I got together for our long-ago planned birthday day. We were gonna get all crafty and work on projects at her place. Unfortunately, Lupe the dog had other plans. While the old guy had rallied several times in the past, yesterday was a really bad day -- the day. Karsten and Britta were sweet in bringing him their old toys during his last hours. They even asked the neighbors to "bring Lupe something old to you." Many tears, many rubs and kind words...Lupe knew how much he was loved. He was a truly great dog.

Good-bye buddy. You will always be remembered with a smile and chuckle.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jeckyll and Hyde


Bad dress rehearsal

I'm hoping that little theatre adage might sometimes be true for swimming. I finally got back in the pool this morning after more than a week hiatus (vacation + cold). Man, was I slow. Really slow. And it didn't help that I'm still congested, though not as bad as earlier this week.

Because today was so bad, I'm hoping tomorrow's performance is stellar. To be honest, I'd settle for mediocre at this point. And I will be taking cold medicine...the day-time version this time.

On another note: You know that whole droopy drawers style that some guys have held on to far too long? It is especially unattractive when they droop their swim trunks. While I don't care to see your boxers, buddy, I really don't want to see what they cover.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

At loose ends


Stupidness #1
Our house is beautiful greenish-gray with white trim, but I'm concerned -- they finished in 2.5 days. I wasn't around all day today, but I don't think they did a second coat. I went back to the itemized quote and it doesn't mention a second coat anywhere. Hmmm. I'm feeling a like a big stupido for assuming they'd do a second coat. Maybe they used quick-drying paint and did actually do another coat? I will find out tomorrow when the contractor comes by for the walk-through and touch-ups. Thankfully the job they did looks great...lots of nice details and precision work.

Stupidness #2
I am finally feeling like I'm getting over my latest cold. It was mainly in my chest today, so I was hacking and wheezing all day, but less nose-blowy. I'm annoyed because a) why isn't my immune system doing its job this year and b) am I going to be able to do the Fat Salmon swim as planned on Saturday? Swimming when you have a cold is both difficult and disgusting, for me anyway. Maybe some super swimmers out their have figured out the whole breathing/water thing while congested.

One thing I do know: I will not be taking sleepy cold medicine before this race. But I might just take an hour to finish.

Stupidness #3
I was discussing the foggy/unfocused/ditzy post-pregnancy brain thing with another mom today. I am continually relieved to hear that others experience this same annoying phenomenon.

S: "I'd really like to know -- is it age-related hormones, birthing-related hormones, sleep deprivation, focusing on parenting small children?"

Me: "It's probably some of each."

S: "Well, I'd like it to be just one of those things so I could do something about it. Like drugs."

Me: "Until then, we have coffee..."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

11 months old


August's first photo shoot. Thanks Jana!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Paint colors

Opinions?


Gray-gray



Purple-gray



Blue-gray

or

Green-gray (WINNER)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Waiting for the painter

The painter is supposed to be by sometime today to put up 4 samples on the side of our house. We're going for a darkish green-gray, blue-grey, purpleish-gray or gray-gray. I'd always envisioned a dark gray house with white-white trim and bright red door. But I'm compelled by this interesting dark greenish gray that I found at the paint store. It's kind of like the dark green water you see while riding the ferry on an overcast day. (How's that for a Seattle reference.)

Anyway, while I've seen the dark gray around on other houses and I love how it looks, I might want something a little different.

Ray has wisely steered clear of this decision-making process thus far.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The neighbors' alarm

We have these neighbors. They live behind us and a few doors down. They have this unusually high-pitched alarm that apparently malfunctions occasionally, going off at the most annoying times possible. Like 4:30 am. Or right now, 11 pm, when many people are trying to unwind and don't want to hear the human equivalent of a dog whistle, magnified to 120 Db.

Ah. Finally. It's shut off after only 7 minutes. This morning, at 4:30, it went on for at least 15 minutes. When it finally stopped I wasn't sure it was really done because my ears were still ringing. I ended up just getting up and going to the gym early and being tired all day. But that's better than having to hear the same ear-splitting alarm go off 2 more times between 6 and 7 am, as Ray reported.

I wonder about the alarm's purpose. We have a vague theory about these neighbors, that they're political refugees and/or former high ranking officials from a now inhospitable country. They used to have whopping karaoke parties complete with great amplification, good-smelling BBQ, and beret and combat boot-wearing security guards around their front yard. They haven't had such raging parties in a while. Maybe because they are under attack of some kind, which would explain the alarm.

Whoever or whatever you are out there bugging these people, please stop, at the very least between 10 pm and 7 am.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WWJD? And you?

Ray flew back from a business trip to LA this afternoon. I planned to pick him up after picking up August from daycare. We were about 15 minutes early to the airport, so I drove to the cell phone wait lot. It was full, and a queue was forming for spots.

August was red from the sun beating through the window, so I really wanted to pull over in the shade and open up the door (my AC is a bit underpowered I guess). I drove down one road and some guy in a booth told me to do a U-ey. I drove around the airport circle, hoping Ray's flight landed early. No luck.

Just as Ray called to say he was 10 minutes from curb-side, I pulled off the loop. I noticed a nice big grassy field across the street so I drove toward its entrance. Whaddaya know...a cemetery. I drove slowly down one of the "lanes" and parked underneath a beautiful old tree. No reason why August and I couldn't pay a call to some dearly departed, right? Or wrong?

We stopped and read a few tombstones: Vern and Gladys. Richard, Anna, Eugenia. Virginia. Virginia was the most recently departed. I thought about Virginia, who she might have been, what she made of her life, and who might still come to visit her, if anyone. While standing there, I let August down on the grass, where she sat and then practiced her stand. It was perfect under that tree...shady, grassy, and just breezy enough. I hope Virginia knew it was a nice spot for eternal rest, even if it was by the airport.

So, was I wrong to kill some time here, creating my own alternate "cell phone wait lot" in the cemetery? Would the families of the deceased take offense to my appropriation of their loved ones' final resting place? Or would Virginia appreciate that someone took note and thought about her after she's gone...even though I'm a stranger and hadn't intended on the visit. If I were Virginia, I wouldn't mind. If someone were to visit my grandparents' grave to kill some time, well...why not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Number 13

Today I am going to sign-up for 6 Mary Meyer open water workouts on Saturday mornings, AND the Fat Salmon 1.2 mile swim on July 19th. I'm looking for other swimming suckers to join me...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The fun and the not-so-fun

I have 3 months, almost to the day, until I start school full-time. With this in mind, I'm currently listening to Radiohead and feeling listly. (Listly an antonym of listless, where motivation is funneled into making lists.) There's a lot I'd like to get in order, while enjoying the free time that will soon be but a memory, like...

1. Get rid of everything useless in the house and garage so we can...

2. Organize the house to Japanese/Scandinavian standards.

3. Take August to at least 3 local beaches.

4. Go on more than 1 weekend road trip.

5. Paint the house (this will happen next month).

6. Rip out stupid overgrowth.

7. Have bed cut under rhodie in front yard.

8. Figure out desk situation in office.

9. Take Ray to eat pizza at Madame K's.

10. Have picnic at Golden Gardens.

11. Do the zoo.

12. Do a morning at the Market (Le Panier, paper, coffee, etc.)

13. Do either Mary Meyer's morning open-water workouts, or a race, or both.

14. Keep working out 4 mornings a week.

15. Try new ice cream place in 'hood.

16. Buy Endnote.

17. Get rid of more books.

18. Play in Aug's new wading pool as much as possible.

19. Host a BBQ.

20. Have picnics at the park at least twice a month.

21. Read at least 2 classics (Russians encouraged).

22. Go to an outdoor concert or play.

23. Get tickets to symphony.

24. Host movie club.

25. Replace that one piece of gutter.

26. Plan and follow-through on 3 date-nights.

27.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

TWEET from Mars

I follow the Mars Phoenix on Twitter:

"Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today's minutiae

5:30 am -- Get up, get ready for gym, inadvertently wake August, go back to bed and try to convince her to sleep with us. Moderately successful.

7:11 am -- August wakes us up. Feed her, make peanut butter toast for myself.

8:00 am -- Aug smells weird. Give her a bath.

8:30 am -- Aug takes nap, while I look at some video of a dude-Britney Spears impersonator. Impressive, but must get in the shower.

9:15 am -- Realize I am going to be really late to daycare.

9:50 am -- Pack Aug in the car. Listen to new Coldplay.

10:10 am -- Leave Aug with Debbie. Call Jana to say Happy Birthday.

10:25 am -- Driving. Consider blog topic: favorite reference materials. Zagat's guide, Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy, Atlas atlas, Dictionary.com, IMDb...

10:45 am -- Find parking, plug meter. Check email and drink coffee while waiting for Sue at Solstice. Sue brings more hand-me-downs from the twins. Yeehaw.

11:00 am -- Get to lab. Resurrect project and boot MatLab. Consult with Ray about Saturday pm plans for La Carta de Oaxaca with Andy and Dana.

11:45 am -- Meet Lana at Cafe Allegro. Ah-ha, BLT!

12:45 pm -- Plug meter. Back to the lab.

1:05 pm -- Consider new blog topic: TV boyfriends. Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, Gordon Ramsay, Clinton Kelly. Consider what to call Ray's thing for Ted Allen. Not TV boyfriend but maybe Man-crush? Bro-mance?

3:00 pm -- Finish up individual region of interest analyses. Run out to meter. Decide I'm done in the lab as U-bookstore is calling.

3:45 pm -- Buy stats workbook, Husky t-shirt for August, panic button and Kitchen Confidential. Read first few pages in parking lot.

4:00 pm -- Driving. Call Ray to see if he wants a ride. Pull over for 10 minutes and finish Kitchen Confidential preface.

4:15 pm -- Consider new blog topic: little known facts about me, e.g. bookmark and magazine collections.

4:24 pm -- Pick up Ray. Ask him if I can blog about his thing for Ted Allen.

4:50 pm -- Pick up August. She hasn't napped all day.

4:55 pm -- August falls asleep in car before we get to the end of Debbie's block.

5:10 pm -- Get home, put Aug in crib.

5:15 pm -- Consider new blog topic: blogging my day. Boring, but...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Goodwill Hunting

This afternoon I decided to go to Goodwill and check out the reputed piles of toys. What they say is true: toys were chaotically stacked on 4 aisles of shelves, cascading down onto the floor, especially when some kids playing tag ran buy.

In any case, it was a cornucopia of cheap-a$$ toys, all the good stuff in fair working order, though slightly shmutsy and without accompanying small pieces. But hey, who's complaining when most everything is $1.99 and just needs a spritz of bleach and a good wipe-down.

This experience reminded me of the last time I was at Powell's Books: I walked from aisle to aisle in a daze, picking up one book and putting down the last, prioritizing constantly to make sure I had my top 6 picks by the time I made it to check-out. Today, I picked up several toys almost immediately, kept perusing, and then put something back on the shelf when I found the next gem. I decided I only wanted to take 4 things home (this is all I could pile on top of the Bob stroller), though it took me a while to realize that no, I don't need to pick up that barn that August will use 2 years from now, or the LeapFrog thingy that she'll want 3 years from now. I'm pretty sure Goodwill will continue to carry toys into the distant future.

I had a really nice warm feeling as I drove home -- and it wasn't just heat from the SUN that finally made an appearance after a long hiatus -- because...

1. I love to reuse stuff.
2. I love cheap-a$$ stuff.
3. I love stuff with no packaging. New toys are packaged in the most ridiculously wasteful ways.

Anyway, I have visions of taking August to Goodwill to pick out a treat when she's old enough...learn about reusing, being thrifty, and a multi-cultural experience to boot.

Mommy brain drain

Yesterday, in the lab, talking to 2 other moms:

Me: Just wondering...did you guys really notice a difference in your brain after giving birth? Like not just the first few months, but after that?

C: Oh my god. Totally.

J: As soon as that placenta's out, there go the brain cells.

C: I've had a terrible time focusing, being able to concentrate.

J: And those brain cells never come back.

Me: Oh thank god I'm not the only one. I swear my IQ has dropped 10-20 pts!

C: Exactly.

J: Oh yeah, and it doesn't get any better.

Yea, there's hope! Both of these women have given birth during their doctorates and are finishing their dissertations.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ten months old

Friday, June 6, 2008

Best and Worst of Vegas: vacation recap

So, we got to Mandalay Bay and discovered that they'd apparently overbooked our room and gave us a penthouse suite. No joke. We had a swank living room, huge marbled bathroom and tub with superjets, four flat screen TVs including one in the bathroom, remote control curtains, glowing light under the bathroom sink bar, flowers on the bed with turn-down service. The view was incredible: we were higher up than the peak of the pyramid at Luxor. We will never stay anywhere this nice again. (I hope I'm wrong.)

Also, Mandalay Bay as a certain smell, which I'm surprised we didn't notice last time. It's subtle, but if you think about it, the air in the common areas (minus the casino) smells like the tropics. It's fresh, with hints of vanilla and something floral, like pikake. We did a smell test in other hotels and didn't notice anything like this. They must've spent a fortune on this feature.

As everyone knows, Vegas can be really tacky. Incredible tacky. Criminally tacky. The trick to avoid tackiness is to stay somewhere that is a resort first, casino second. Mandalay's casino isn't nearly as busy as others, but its 11-acre "beach" complex is obviously the reason people stay there. We'd walk around and experience the tackiness on the Strip, but it was nice to go back and retreat to somewhere...nice. And there is nothing like 3 hours at the "beach" every day.

And it was a good thing that everything was so nice, because I got food poisoning on Wed, our anniversary. I have never had food poisoning before, and hope to never again, especially being sick and then having to fly. I don't want to repeat that flight or the hours leading up to it. Still recouping, though much better thankfully.

UPDATE -- Intestinal Flu

Ray started his round of the nastiness late Friday night. Food poisoning? Nope...Sheila correctly diagnosed intestinal flu which recently flattened her household. Now we're just hoping August doesn't follow our lead. Bought Pedialyte just in case.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Off to Vegas

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An ABC update

A few minutes ago I got our first exterior paint quote

Because our house looks all rugged and peely

Couldn't imagine going another year with it like this

Damn shame it'll cost 5 grand

Except thankfully that includes a lot of repairs and such

Forces us to make a decision about selling our house

Good thing the market is so great right now (yeah right)

However, there is a house down the street that we might like...

In other news, we leave for Vegas in a few days

Just can't wait for the pool and pina coladas

Kid stays here at home with Nana

Leaving on Monday, won't return until Thursday night

Maybe we'll just stay there, set up house by the "lazy river"

Nana will bring August and we'll live every day in swimwear

Of course we'll get a bit pruney, after all that time in the

Pool, but honestly that's fine with me

Quite a fantasy I've got going here

Really, I'm looking forward to vacation

Seems like it's been a long time since the last one

There was a long weekend in Victoria

Unplanned stay at the hospital (oh wait, that doesn't count)

Visit to Kalaloch on the coast

Went to Italy almost 3 years ago

X marks the spot, poolside in Vegas 3 years to the day

Ya know, it's a great way to spend an anniversary

Zowie, are you still reading this mumbo-jumbo?

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Younger Than John McCain"

Did you hear about this song/vid on NPR this morning? Funny.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sword vs. tambourine -- who wins?

Jane and I saw the most fascinating spectacle at Greenlake today: two men loudly and heatedly arguing about religion from 25 yards or more away from each other. One resorted to belting out Jesus songs while banging his tambourine. The other kept yelling while doing something that looked like tai chi, and then -- ready for this? -- waving around a sword. We decided not to gawk and keep walking.

Crazy-person argument, performance art, reason to call emergency personnel? Some of each?

Jane, maybe we should've kept gawking. I'm dying to know what happened.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

At the park

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quitiversary

I had this post all thought out a while ago...the one about how May 13, 2008 was my 3rd Quitiversary, or the day I left my old career. Problem is that right now I can't think of any of the surely profound things I had planned to say.

Oh, except this: I am so glad I quit. I will never regret leaving a career that sucked my soul dry for more than 12 years. It's true what they say...things do work out in the end, even when it seems like there's no possible way to manage life without a certain income from a certainly horrible fit of a job.

And also: there will never be such great coworkers as the ones I spent nearly every day with for most of 5 years. Thank god good friends always last longer than jobs or careers.

I've crossed over

Remember when you were a kid, or more precisely a pre-teen? Adults seemed to say the stupidest things and find the most annoying ways to draw you into conversation. For years I was proud of the fact that I could start up a conversation with a kid without invoking the subliminal (or not) eye roll that comes with talking to an out-of-touch adult. Those days are over.

Take Sunday. My thirteen-year-old nephew has reached the not-talking point of his adolescence. He's a nice kid...really into music and polite when he needs to be. But he really has to bear some silly conversation from his elders.

Me: "We heard you drumming when we pulled up. Were you playing on your own, or while listening to something?"

Him: "Listening to something..."

Me: "Like what?"

Him: "I don't know...different stuff."

Me: "For example..."

Him: "Just music and stuff."

Okay fine. Shortly after that...

Me: "So seriously, you sounded really good earlier and I'm wondering what you were listening to..."

Him: "I don't know...just some music."

Me: "Yes, I understand, but what kind? Who?"

Him: "Uh, like, alternative, some rock..."

Me: "Ah, I see. Who exactly? I really want to know."

Him: "I dunno."

Etcetera.

What would've been so hard about actually telling me the name of a band or artist? Did my line of questioning really reveal my apparent out-of-touch status? Have I crossed over into that category of adult? Sigh. At least (I hope anyway) I haven't ventured into the following phase of adulthood when you pointedly embarrass a kid without even knowing it.

My mom, while discussing my brother as a new parent: "That could be you in ten years, [nephew]!"

Him: (sighs, looks down at plate)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Free day

I have 6 hours until I need to pick up August. I have already decided not to go to school today, and am giving myself a "free" day to get some stuff done and generally recoup. I'm torn between working through a To Do list, versus being a hedonist for several hours.

To Do list
read journal articles I've been meaning to get to for 2 months
pick up desk and office area
work on stats
walk Sammy
pick up paint for bedroom painting project

HeDo(nist) list
schedule massage with Michael
shop for flirty new black flats
bake something evil
take a nap
hang out at La Panier in the Market and watch tourists and drink cappuccino and read the paper
waste time on the internet (okay, a pathetic way to be a hedonist)
go to a matinee and eat evil movie popcorn

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thankful

You know, sometimes I go back and read what I've written and think, "I am damn lucky."

I think that last post may have been my response to hearing some really bad news about some friends of a friend. I want to work harder at appreciating what I have in the moment and snuffing out stupid anxieties that are wastes of time.

Sunday 10

1 - There is such a thing as too much chocolate. I had to eat a head of lettuce for dinner just to counteract the cocoa levels in my system.

2 - Mother's Day is like a birthday without having to get older.

3 - The camcorder we have on long-term loan apparently needs some kind of fancy converter thingymabob in order to download. It will probably cost about the same to buy our own camcorder.

4 - Ray is likely heading to India for a week or two for work sometime in the next few months. I wanna go.

5 - Got a Zagat 2008 restaurant guide, and used up all the flags on places I'd like to go. I hope we make it to at least 3 of them. (Sigh.)

6 - I had repeat flash thought today: if I could do anything career-wise, I'd go get a PhD. Oh wait! Really?! Hurray!

7 - August has some really lovely and brilliant cousins. Lunch today was followed by an impromptu violin and piano recital and a lengthy memorized speech by Benjamin Franklin, aka 10 yo Daniel.

8 - I must get on a schedule for more regular exercise well before my days ramp up. Going to get to the gym/pool by 6 am Mon - Thurs this week, and once on the weekend. Note to self: blogging about it might help make it stick.

9 - Came upon Perpetual Kid...a great little online store for tons of cool stuff, like this and this.

10 - Our household has successfully transitioned from diet soda to sparkling water. I'm pleased to report that we haven't had Diet Coke in the fridge for at least a month.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

9 months today



Photos by Jana

Monday, May 5, 2008

Campaign logos

It's been said (I heard last night) that Barack Obama's campaign logo is so strong it could launch planes. I just went to his website to see if it's true. It is. Somehow it communicates strength, hope and renewal, all in a little souped up O. It's genius.

Seriously, go look at it, then proceed to Hillary's site (clunk clunk), and for a real laugh check out McCain's. I literally laughed out loud, and then swore I could hear the soundtrack of a 1950s western or WWII movie. I think his logo came from a sheriff's pin you used to get out of a Cracker Jack's box.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I'm not a designer


few weeks ago we went to a fundraising dinner thing. We were chatting with one of Ray's colleagues and his partner and we learned the partner is the creative director at a local company. I can't remember the conversation much, but eventually the partner asked, "Are you a designer?"

"No," I answered. "I just have a lot of opinions."

Since then, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what made him think I was a designer. Was I saying designery things? Was I having a particularly good hair day? Maybe it was the dress I was wearing...a black and white number with a geometric design. Or maybe it was my red patent-leather peep-toe sling-backs.

Anyway, the point is that I took his question as a compliment, a very nice compliment. I appreciate all sorts of things that are well-designed, and I like talking about what makes them that way. This evening, the movie club watched Helvetica, a documentary about the origins and evolution of the very popular typeface. It was really interesting, and I found I wanted to know more. Like how exactly did the creators come up with the look of each letter. And how it compares to other similar fonts. And other stuff like that.

I don't think I have the chops to be a designer, but after seeing the documentary tonight, I'm realizing it's likely my interest level that passes off as a good eye. That and my good taste in shoes.