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.


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,, 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