Monday, April 30, 2007

Triple Threat

This weekend was noteable because I got together with 3 different friends, or sets of friends, and I knew all three of them from the old hometown. I completely wore myself out or would have blogged earlier. Now to post pictures without any traceable pictures of me or the friends. One day I may let up on that, but not today.

Friends 1 at LA Festival of Books
Spent most of the day tromping around UCLA checking out books and authors.

With thousands of other people

Went to a fascinating panel on Controlling the Spin, and how it's moving into Controlling with Spin in these modern times. John Powers (mod), Frank Luntz (creator of the phrase "Death Tax" - genius wordsmithing, terrible for policy), Michael Isikoff, DG (Doug Goodman? of Mother Jones), an Joe Conason. They had a lot of really good stuff to say, then they opened the mics for questions and the 9/11 conspiracy wingnuts came out en force to waste our time. What I'd like to know is why the democrats aren't better at countering the republican spin machine.

Friends 2 at A's 40th Birthday

Somewhat out of the blue, I emailed this set of friends last week asking if they'd like to get together. They responded with an invite for A's 40th birthday party. They've been in LA a couple more years than I. I think we'd both forgotten about the other being here because while we like each other, we tend mostly to see each other at parties. Noteably, their parties, but still. The timing couldn't have been better, and I saw a few other familiar faces.

I think the best gift was the naughty talking toy parrot - "Braak! Polly wants a f*ing cracker". The sound quality was a bit muddy and some quick thinker managed to convince birthday boy's young daughter that what Polly wants is a "firecracker". I'm not sure if they found a substitute for when Polly wants a blow job. At any rate.

They had a lovely home. They said it was kind of accidental, it just came with this playhouse:

Then I got back in my car and realized I'd driven exactly 40 miles from home to get to the 40th party.

Friends 3 Hiking in town
Apparently I have been exercising my word of the day, and searching for local hiking spots with true velleity in order to have missed this little park with a mere 17 MILES of hiking trails. I met up with my local friend and his wife (my boss) and their daughter for a down and up hike of about 90 minutes. Yeah, we kept up with the family of small children ahead of us on the trail. go us...

In addition to the stream, we saw a bird of prey (large falcon or hawk type thing), a 2.5' rattlesnake (someone else had previously gotten it off the path and pointed it out), a couple lizards, and other people out enjoying the late afternoon's less hot weather.

The stream has a nice waterfall. My friends think the water is from lawn runoff, hence the extra algae and dry season volume and its terminus at a water treatment plant. At least it seems to support the wildlife and gives some nice atmosphere to the hike.

And I do think that cave shadow looks like a kangaroo.

So I got food, folks, fitness, and fun with my weekend. Good times.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Meritorious Moments

Today's random topic is Merit Badges. A friend sent me this link to Scientifically Minded Folk who like Beer and Badges. I could lay reasonable claim to a couple dozen badges; I'm pretty good with fire and liquid nitrogen makes good ice cream. Another friend mentioned that he probably qualifies for #67 - I build Robots level IV and I'd have to back him up on that. Meanwhile my science minded drinking buddies in Boston had a Drag Queen Theater outing tonight. Good times, good times.

It was a pretty good time here too!
  1. The new equipment I managed to lock up by making it error every 5 seconds for 40 hours so it ran out of memory on its puny 486 compatible brain was recovered by my equipment engineer and works fine.
  2. I did my exercise. I got in the cardio and pussups portions of the BodyRev Boot Camp workout with 2 weights.
  3. A friend came over for Thai Food and beer. We played with my talking bottle opener (sound clip opens). Then we chatted about all the things we agree on, which was fun because those are all the things it's no use posting to the internet as it just riles up the people whose minds I might want to change.

Tomorrow promises to be fun too. I'm heading to the LA Fes.tival of B.ooks. My friend at UCLA managed to grab a couple tickets to panels I want to see (Critiquing Writing and Managing Spin) then I'm hitting up a friend's 40th birthday party. They've requested gag gifts only, but I think the adult diapers suggestion is out as he was almost an astronaut and the topic of diapers could be a little raw. I'm thinking mustache wax for super styling opportunities.

I'd really like to blog more about what I'm reading, yet feel I should be brief-ish. Just slogged through Laura Kinsale's "ShadowHeart" set in pre-Italy in the 1500s. It had good points but it was rather dense and I never really figured out when/how the hero and heroine fell for each other. They just magically did, or something. It had some non-vanilla interactions which was refreshing, if unsettling, and I kept turning pages, but I didn't really dig it. I did a 180 then and picked up Susan Mallery's contemporary "Irresistible". It is a very fast read. It's fun with likeable protagonists that seem to be reasonable, sensible people that work through problems rationally. But things just run a little too smoothly for me to think of it as anything but fairy tale. I'm only 2/3 of the way through so it could get good or go south, but so far it's enjoyable. Now if I can only put it down early enough to get a good nights sleep for tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

If I'm alive and well

I went running today. I've been putting it off all week. I've been doing reasonably well with my BodyRev workouts but am not maintaining sufficient motivation to make me proud of my efforts. I'm hereby committing to 30 minutes a day for the next week, motivated or no. But my resistance to doing what is good for me got me thinking.

I had a friend ask me what motivates me to exercise, and if there were some defining event that pushed me to it. It wasn't so much a defining event as a realization that if I stayed active I have a genetically excellent chance at a good quality of life into my 90s, but if I don't remain active I will probably need assisted living care for 30 years. Staying active is clearly the superior option. I like the idea of being active. I even think of myself as an active person: I like to hike, I walk fast, I take the stairs, my friend and I took several mile walks through Boston after work in the summers.

But at some point, I realized that I was no longer active when I went to physical therapy for my sore knees (which prevented hiking) and realized that it was only due to lack of muscle tone and I could hardly be bothered to do 20 leg lifts 3X a week. That's some serious sloth, despite walking up 12-16 flights of stairs every day and blowing glass several hours a week. I figured that even if I wasn't motivated for myself, there were people in the PT room with actual health problems and I owed it to them not to let my perfectly health body deteriorate through lack of attention.

I decided early in the summer of 2003 that I would have to seriously focus on exercise because I had reached the lowest level of fitness I could really tolerate. By July of 2003, I still hadn't figured out how to do this. I have had reasonable luck with aerobics classes and organized school sport regimens but little luck going it on my own. That might have been the year I signed up for an ultimate frisbee learners league and got rained out all but 2 days. My favorite author does online countdowns before book releases and that summer offered up a raffle prize of a fitness camp. I thought about it and decided to go whether or not I won the raffle. I did not win the raffle, but I made a winning decision.

I thought about all my goal setting learnings and printed off the camp schedule and chose the activities I wanted to do and wrote down what fitness level I would have to achieve in a year and other things, like recertifying in SCUBA. I also decided that despite hating running more than just about anything, I would learn to run 1.5 miles. It seemed an impossible goal. Yet still, I found myself in August without a clue how to go on. It was not until I found that about 50 other readers had the same intention and had formed a yahoo group and were getting online fitness advice from the former Navy SE.AL running the camp that I finally made some headway. I took a little mocking for my "online fitness group" but it really helped.

I learned things about how to conduct a workout that I'd never learned before. I learned that doing a run/walk/run/walk combo is an acceptable way to build running endurance. I got the recommended videotapes his buddy made to build core, arm, and leg strength. I also realized I'd have to give up all my extra-curricular activities but the glassblowing in order to make my health a top priority. No classes at Harv.ard Ex.tention, no chorus. But I needed a gym membership and I needed to go as if I were getting a grade. My brother got me a heart monitor, and I learned that I like treadmills because I can generate loads of data.

Much to my surprise, I surpassed all my goals. Within 6 months I was running 5Ks and not hating it. I worked up to 3 sets of 10 pushups on my toes. I was doing 30 4-count flutter kicks. I went to SEAL camp and met all the online workout ladies and enjoyed myself. I started running around Fresh Pond with another friend. And even with some occasional yoga, I got my muscles all clenched up.

The clenched muscles lead to plantar fasciitis. While I still have the ab workout from the tapes memorized and can do 20 4-count flutter kicks, I have not gone running more than a couple times since the fall of 2005. I've finally got some shoes and shoe inserts that allow me to walk without pain and I'm giving the running a try again. Even with my recent BodyRev workouts with cardio, it's not the same as continuous running. Running hurts and I don't like it. But I do like what it does for me - makes me trimmer, healthier generally, takes multiple seconds off my swimming lap times, and allows me to be truly active. So I'm going to do it again, but I'm going to stretch more this time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Up, Down, and Sideways

I got a note from my friend in Italy that her plans to increase the world's population are proceeding apace. Best of luck! Apparently her husband is trying to get her to blog, but I think she should hold out for a paid gig. She's a fine wordsmith, so I'll let you know if she either blogs or gets paid for publishing. If she tells me...

After all the media coverage last week of death and destruction: VT, Ira.q, Blue A.ngels, we got a homegrown tragedy. A coworker of mine was killed saturday driving in to work. He was a nice guy. My last encounter with him was when he showed me the proper way to use a tool I was unfamiliar with. He was a good instructor, thorough and calm. It was interesting for me to see as he was mostly in a support role. I kind of wonder if he wasn't quite awake when he started in as his youngest child was just born in February. Their happy family picture with the new arrival is still on the wall in our cubical farm. If you ever have any degree of control in a car crash, don't hit a pole. If you must hit a pole, hit it from the far corner so it hits your crumple zone first. Cars are least safe in a crash when they hit a pole head on. I made parts for airbags for the last decade and this is one unsettling piece of info I learned. Wear your seatbelts, all. And rest in peace, Randy.

In planning a trip back to Boston for a friend's wedding, it started to look like it might also be possible to head to my college friends' annual 4th of July party in the Catskills. But I started thinking about the fact that the hosts actually live in LA, yet I haven't seen them yet. Partly, I don't know what to do with other people's kids if I invite myself over. But despite that, I randomly sent a note today asking to get together and managed to wrangle an invite to a birthday party this weekend. Which is an excellent venue. Now I just need a gag gift. I'm thinking maybe a bottle of "Bitch" wine, if I can figure out where to get it. I wonder if it is made with merlot.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lazy Earth Day

I managed to get out and about with a local friend and her youngins yesterday. We took in a local Earth Day gathering. It was a mishmash of tents offering advice, pamphlets, demos, etc... for sustainable living things like solar panels and public garden space. Some booths had things for kids to do, like paint with veggies. My friends kids really like veggies, so we had to watch closely that they didn't eat the painted ones. There wasn't as much food at this shindig as we thought, so we got an enormous bag of kettlecorn and called it lunch. There was a stage at either end. One for showing off animals, and one for performances. It was all pretty low key. I liked the lizard lady the best. She was excellent at both dealing with her exotic animals and dealing with the public of all ages.

I need to get the car washed today, and put stuff on my new closet shelves, go for a run, and make some pancakes. I should be able to fit this stuff into the next 7 hours. I slept in a bit after re-reading Jennifer Crusie's "Charlie All Night" over the last couple days. It's a charming little tale that I enjoy. One character also makes the point that we can't just ignore bad laws - we have to follow the laws we have and work to overturn any that really are no good. Otherwise we're not all held to the same standards. I like this notion. In theory anyway.

So, three good things:
  1. Spent a mellow day in the park with friend and her kids and petted a king snake.
  2. Comfort read was good
  3. Pancakes. I love pancake brunch on Sundays.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

There's no combination of words

So this has been a pretty bad week for a lot of people, according to the media coverage of various tragedies, and I feel remiss in not adding my two cents. Personally I had some good stuff this week - parents visit, patio progress, Ben and Jerry's Free Cone day - and also I wanted to consider my words before going off on the rant that would never end. Beware the political content. This posting is mostly about violence and the media. I worry that it will outlast the attention span of most of my readers but can't bring myself to post it over several days just to make it shorter, so I added titles. For issues relating to the birth control ban, see Shasta's blog - she's got it nailed.

Media Coverage
The thing that has me the most perplexed this week is the media coverage of the Vir.gin.ia sho.otings on Patriot's Day. The media exploded with coverage of this horrible tragedy - asking questions of how could it happen here? The day after this tragedy, 5 car in Ira.q killed 160 innocent people who were going about their lives, buying food for their family, or waiting to hear if they got a job. And this horrible tragedy got a couple of headlines. Admittedly, it got one or two more headlines than the other near-daily events of this sort because of the magnitude, but over all, the media considered it just another day in Ira.q. Not one report that I heard or read made any connection between the two.

I'm not saying that violence in Ira.q justifies violence here. I'm saying that it's justified in neither place and the horror felt by all the people at VT, their friends, and their families is what the Ira.qis are facing every day yet the media treats it as ordinary and I find that more than a little strange. Granted, frequency has that effect on a human brain. The more you see of something, the less novel it is. And frankly, I couldn't handle full reporting of all this suffering even if we had the resources to cover every in Iraq with the fervor of the VT sho.otings.

And then what really frosts me is that this jackass who, at some point had a judge rule him mentally unstable and a danger to himself and possibly others took time out of his busy killing schedule to mail a videotaped rant to NBC and NBC gave him airtime. That video should never have seen the light of day in the public media. The police should see it. Maybe counselors and psychology students should see it. But to give this nutcase an internationally broadcasted, posthumous forum is not going to help anything in our society that promotes celebrity above all else to the point where there is no such thing as bad attention.

Whenever something like this, or the way over-hyped recent death of a former starlet saturates the "News", I wonder what other stories AREN'T making the headlines. I didn't even see a headline for the Boston Marathon which was held during the worst weather in years, until I searched the science section of the online news and found an article about the astronaut on the ISS running it. Did anything unsavory have a press release this week that was totally overlooked because someone was just waiting for a cover opportunity like this? Call me a cynic, but this is what I think about.

Violence Generally
If you're considering killing yourself or others for any reason at all, think again, and don't. I'm telling you now, it's a bad idea and it will always, always be the wrong thing to do. Step back, take a deep breath, drink some water so you're not cranky from dehydration, take another breath, and think of some other way to express yourself. Your right to punch someone stops where my nose starts. I'm pretty sure my blog readers are pretty clear on this already though.

Violence against other people is almost never justified. I say almost because self defense is allowed. Pre-emptive self defense, however, is not. This kind of sums up my feelings about how I feel about our foreign policy, bom.bers, and people who decide to kill others they don't like for any reason at all. I've already blown my chance at brevity, but what I'm against is violence that causes permanent change in someone else's life, without their consent. If you step into a boxing ring or military uniform, you're outside my scope having given implied consent. I'm referring to violence in normally staid venues of a classroom, mall, office, or post office. Yet I feel that I also have to write a caveat about defining "violence" as well. Because in talking to my brother, we have different definitions of violence.

My brother and his friends have played a lot of touch football over the course of the last two decades. I asked how many games turned in to tackle football or had at least one wrestling match and after considering for a moment he replied, "all of them." In other words, a day that men knock each other to the ground is not considered any different or more violent than any other day for my brother and his friends. Whereas any day I am slammed into the ground by another person is generally not a good one. It also makes me wonder: for all the soldiers who are returning from Ira.q with PTSD, how many are having the time of their lives and will miss this when it is over? The weaponry is very cool and there's not much chance in peacetime to really go nuts with the fifty ought.

Mental Health after Tragedy
To end this on a sort of positive note, I've got a family story and I heard a couple of great interviews on NPR this week. One was with a man who, eight years ago, lost four friends in the Col.umb.ine shootings. His message was, "what ever way you're dealing with this tragedy is probably right, as long as you ARE dealing with it." The people who are still not dealing with it startle at loud noises even now; the people who have confronted their feelings are pretty much getting on with their lives.

The other interview was with someone who was in one of the VT classrooms but didn't get shot. His dad made record time in getting to the campus and this young man said, "I don't want to go home; I'd like to stay here. I'd like to deal with this as it occurs. I want to answer questions that the mur.dered students' parents might have because it might help them. I'm still kind of numb, but I've met a good counselor who I will see as I need to." I think this kid will ultimately be OK. Not ever again unaffected, but he'll do alright.

Just like my mom is doing alright. When she was in college, one of her friends shot his girlfriend then killed himself right in front of her on the quad. Thankfully, therapy and counseling has gotten a lot better since those days. And time helps too. She still has flashbacks, according to my dad, and her friend's name is on the tip of her tongue after events like this, but she does ok. I didn't even know about this until I was in my late teens or twenties. She had a challenge a couple of years ago, almost four decades after the event, when a man at her gym was offering workout advice and she was uncomfortable enough to mention it to me. She was edgy because he reminded her so strongly of her former friend. But my mom is good people and realized what was behind her fears and that this man was not the same and meant no harm. She talked herself out of her discomfort and wound up getting some good advice and free personal training for several months.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In the closet

Parents are here. We're putting shelves in the closet and plants on the patio. We're all still alive. It's all good. I want to post something about the school shootings in the news but it'll have to wait. I need sleep.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What's my age again?

Some good stuff this week:
  1. Someone else did my taxes. I really approve of this method of getting them done and feel like a grownup having someone do this pesky thing for me. I got enough of a refund that I can afford to go to 2 weddings in Boston this summer. Yay!
  2. Remembered the iPod on my run today, which helped the momentum even if the earphones kept falling out. My eyeballs are still pounding along with my heart, but I made it 25 minutes of a run/walk/run/walk combo. Felt half like a youngin due to the excellent tunes, half like a geezer due to being winded. Got in several 2 minute stretches of running. Need to re-learn pacing; would probably help if I put batteries in the heart monitor. Goal is to be running well enough to make it around Fresh Pond in Cambridge with my former running partner in August, even if we won't get a run in because she's not only getting married but baking the cake too.
  3. Another Bourne movie fan has been sending me her fan fiction creations. Fun stuff.

Time for a Newcastle Brown and an egg and tuna sandwich and lots of throwing stuff out.

Parsnip Pie and Parents

Ok, maybe it was the execution of the idea, but my parsnip pie was not good. I started out with the intention of making a pumpkin pie. Apparently I forgot how to read as I had 2 cans of evaporated milk one of which had a picture of pumpkin pie on the front, not 1 can of milk and 1 can of pumpkin mush. But I did have some nearly dead parsnips in the fridge. Being root veggies they dehydrated rather than decayed, so I boiled them up and they were tasty again. (I like eating parsnips more than cooking them even though they are easy.) I mixed in a potato for bulk and followed the directions for half a pumpkin pie. Maybe I didn't bake it long enough to get the carmelization all the way through, but it didn't come out like I'd hoped it would. It was a little light and rubbery. Oh well. No recipe posting for me.

I have been getting music from TV commercials. Tonights i.T.unes downloads are

They are fantastic additions to my Mellow Mix. I have now listened to the pair of them about a dozen times in a row. They both have a really lush sound that is enveloping and wonderful.

I've also been getting inquiries about the glass again. I need to figure out a schedule for blowing soon! And figure out how many more ornaments I need to make for my pre-orders. After my parents visit.

My condo is going to be a sad shock to their system after their luxury digs in SF for the School Board convention. Even with my freshly spackled bathroom walls. They wound up on the 16th floor of the Hy.att Embarcadero which is a floor with key access only with a fantastic view of the bay. I'm living with a dorm sized fridge until I renovate the kitchen. On this special floor, the hotel puts out a buffet all day. My parents love food. Although I think they're going to regret having only one bed after their extra garlicky dinner The Stinking Rose.

Friday, April 13, 2007


So I have to wonder at all the guys on match who have chosen as their primary picture one that very clearly used to have an ex-girlfriend in it, but now only has a part of her hairdo. I will admit my picture originally had 2 of us, but I got more positive "ohh you look Fabulous, dahling" comments on that than I've had in a long while, and I was able to leave a full picture of myself so I cut out the not-my-date astronaut and used it. So I feel a little hypocritical saying this but I still have a full picture of just myself going on.

So seriously guys, if you're hugging your girlfriend in the photo and can't cleanly excise her from the shot without taking out half your jawline, TAKE ANOTHER PICTURE. This is your clue.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

15 minutes, but no fame yet

In 2004 I was running 5Ks, doing pushups, and generally feeling pretty fit. But apparently one yoga class a month wasn't enough to unclench all my muscles and I got plantar fasciitis which boils down to this: it hurts to stand or walk, let alone run. I had all sorts of plans to swim instead but I got lazy and then I got a new job and a new home. So now that I'm in my new space and have shoes or inserts that make my feet not hurt, I've been trying to get back into exercising. I've been more successful at falling asleep on the couch after work.

I haven't been totally unsuccessful either; I've been doing 2-4 workouts a week for the last several months. While February took foreh-eh-eh-ever, March was pretty much gone before I realized it started and I kind of fell of the exercise wagon in March. So far in April, I've managed to get a little back on track, and I've even gone running once. It was as hard as starting for the first time, but not as discouraging. Now at least I know that doing a run/walk/run/walk combo is actually an accepted workout pattern and it works much better than run/give up when I can't breathe.

I thought about running again today but the siren call of the couch nap was too strong to overcome. But now that I've reawakened for the night, I was able to get back on my little track, and did my 15 minute leg workout. I've been using a product called the BodyRev and doing the associated workouts. Normally my workouts are 45-60 minutes, but the "Essentials" comes with 4 - 15 minute workouts for Legs/Cardio/Arms/Abs. This month I've been successful so far in doing 15 minutes a day 6 days a week for all but one day so far. I admit that my motivation is partly because someone else in my book club was having the same motivational challenge and we promised to keep on top of each other for a week and it worked. So thanks, little (non-evil) doppelgänger!

Good things:
  1. Got to talk to a friend in Boston. We don't chat much because she goes to be early and the 3 hour time difference doesn't facilitate us connecting, but it worked today. It was fun to hear about how she's managing things these days. I think I tried to fit a little too much into the conversation from my side, but she's used to to that. Or rather she used to be used to that when we went to lunch every day.
  2. Did my 15 minutes of legs and I can feel it in my arms. I started using the BodyRev because I was frustrated with the arm workouts. And the 10 pound, center weighted, rotating weight has given me better definition in my arms, even while being chubby, than a year and a half of pushups and (weight assisted) pullups did.
  3. Work has been fun this week. We're making progress on tracking down root cause on an intermittent problem, and I got to run all sorts of quick, fun experiments. And even better, did not get a null result! And defects make for better pictures. Got one that looked like a Rohrschach butterfly only colorful. It did not totally fit in the microscope's field of view or I would post a nice picture here.
  4. I just figured out, when looking up Rohrschach, that the G.oog.le search bar in my F.iref.ox header is pre-loaded with common words. I've been going to which has a great thesaurus, but this means I don't even have to finish spelling the word before I get satisfaction. I didn't figure this out earlier because I don't like to miss the occasional pictures on the main G.oog.le front page like they put up for Cosmonaut Day today and little details like that make me happy.
  5. Shasta is posting again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In Vino Risus

In wine, Laughter. Frogurt format

Good: Much good wine and laughter tonight. I can recommend a wine class taught by B. Allan Geddes.
Bad: All wine from grapes grown in Malibu
Good: Don't have to spend extra to find this out
Bad: Also don't much care for most French wines. Apparently they want them to smell like barnyards.
Good: Sometimes the bad smelling wines still taste good, especially after eating meat, and our instructor has been bringing some tasty foods.
Bad: Sometimes they don't
Good: Bad wines are more fun to critique! Tonight's favorites:
  • wet floorboards in the camp shower
  • smells of medicinal port that kicks like a mule
  • this is a chardonnay? But it's good! Tastes like movie popcorn (me) or Tastes like brie in a bottle! (John)

Bad: Last wine class. Was starting to bond with classmates
Good: Might have a bonus Spanish wine class or further get together
Bad: Don't know when it is
Good: I have nothing scheduled that would interfere
Bad: I have nothing scheduled that would interfere

Actually, I do have stuff on the calendar. But it's all substantial stuff, not regular things to occupy my time. My parents are coming to visit after a stop in San Fran for a conference next weekend. Maybe they'll be happy decorating my patio. I need to talk to the glass studio manager about setting up some regular blowing times and that'll help with the "unscheduled" feeling. Also I've got two trips to Boston for friends' weddings, and one trip to Florida (Hi Aunt MaryAnn!) coming up in May, June, and August, and a friend is visiting from the north country in June.

And I'm looking forward to a kitchen remodel this summer. My architect says she'll have plans for my kitchen after her classes finish for the quarter. She's got a Hahvahd Masters degree and 5 yrs professional experience and I like her work, so I don't worry about her being a student. Plus, she chose my excellent green that matches the blog. At lunch today, I checked out a colleagues half assembled IKEA cabinets of the same design I want and they look good. And only require semi-conscious labor. Now to get that dratted sofa...

17 wines tonight. Actually dumped out a couple - did I mention that Malibu wines are NOT good? But we had that fantastic chardonnay, a light champagne to top the evening off, and good times, good times.

Edited to add: my Grandma S turned 86 today. Normally it would be really bad for me to not send a card on time as she is very punctual about these things, but her mind is a little loose these days so I'm hoping I can squeak in with a belated greeting. Probably not going to cut it, but I did get to see her in September. Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter, Easter Bunny

I have so many things to post I don't know where to begin. So I'll sum up.
  1. Fantastic Easter Saturday. Met up with some ladies from my book club for a little book swap on the beach. It was a bit chilly, overcast, and windy and the natives were bundled, but I was good. We talked books, swapped books, had some picnic food, and talked a LOT. We and the weather warmed up for the walk to the Santa Monica pier where we paid our $2 to go to the kiddie aquarium and poked at the sea cucumbers and starfish. Some of us then went on to a nice dinner with someone who needed cheering up and we had a grand time.
    But I planned the day up to the dinner part and that took all my planning efforts. I'm new to planning so it's hard. It looked like we all enjoyed ourselves so I am much relieved.
  2. Got word that my Boston friends all gathered for a nice HAM and a game of Guitar Hero. Hello, fans of HAM!
  3. I have one more full weekend before my parents get here so I didn't do anything today but read, do laundry, and talk on the phone to my brother.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Darts of Pleasure

Things making me smile today:
  1. Listening to the Fratellis, staring at Franz Ferdinand titles.
  2. In the words of a friend:
    It sounds like things are working out well for you except for missing your friends back East. At least you are warm and they are freezing their butts off.
    Amen, sister. I'm packing up my picnic basket for a day at the beach tomorrow.
  3. After giving up on reading a truly horrendous romance by an author I usually like I was pleasantly surprised to find another regency/historical (I'm in the mood for those) and so far it's charming. The heroine has a rather modern sense of medical care but I'm not going to quibble. Here's hoping the book stays good.
  4. I went running yesterday for about the 2nd time since the fall of 2005. I didn't die, my feet don't hurt. My knees are ok.
  5. Dried Bing cherries from Trader Joes. And their store brand "Irish Breakfast" tea. It's the only decent substitute for the Twinings and it's about 1/5 the price. Although I do wonder if the caffeine content is different and helping cause these afternoon energy crashes... must investigate.
  6. Aerobed will likely honor my warranty even though I can't find the receipt for the life of me. The will accept a credit card receipt. Whew! Target couldn't re-create one. I had a weak seam that got leaky on me. My previous one lasted for 3.5 years of regular use so I wasn't expecting trouble.
  7. My brother got a new car and got a huge ding in the windshield at 62 miles. Now I'm not the only one with a huge hunk out of the windshield of a new car. Ok. So that last one's a little mean.
  8. I got some tasty chocolate easter bunny from a colleague today. It was too big for even her to eat and she's the biggest chocoholic I know. Another friend got a chocolate egg in the mail and it made her smile.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Not so cranky otters

I'm going to try my first Yo.uTub.e connector today. You'll see why.
  1. These otters aren't cranky

  1. Work paid for lunch today. There were 4 of us that didn't want the pre-selected coffee and rum dessert, and they brought us some very tasty spumoni instead. Then we got shirts with the corporate logo.
  2. Yesterday I got to eat dinner with other people. My new friend warned me that she'd be bringing the kids, but that's ok. She makes sure they're well behaved and, really, I like eating out with other people, even if they're leetl. My tape measure was the hit toy for the evening, until they got to play with the decorative fountain.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Haze Away

Good stuff today
  1. Beautiful weather. I took the opportunity to make my errands to the other building in the afternoons this week. It gets me out of my post lunch funk and I can soak up some glorious sun.
  2. My nearest cube mate has started bringing me a tangerine every afternoon in the hopes of encouraging my healthful diet. Thanks Raj!
  3. I made a deal with another book club person to get in a 15 min BodyRev workout today. We've both been slacking. Independently, we both chose the legs segment and totally thrashed ourselves. But we did it. I managed to cram it in before wine tasting, but I started sweating so badly I had to take a quick shower which meant I had to run half the way there which has cardio benefits.
  4. Ben and Jerry's was uncharacteristically open after tuesday's class. I got a little strawberry sugar cone to offset the cardio benefits. Free cone day is coming up on April 17, which is the official start of spring in Boston, I'm pretty sure.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

She Shall Thunder in the Sky

Not only is the title a play on an Elizabeth Peters title, it's also a 6 word story. I will add even more words because that's what I do.

Went to a local airshow Saturday and in the Thunderbirds grand finale, both Right Wing and Opposing Solo were flown by female pilots. Right Wing is the first woman to fly for the Thunderbirds. Just think, the rules about women in combat would have changed early enough for me to actually achieve my first career goal of being a Thunderbird pilot! But it's just as well that I'm not. I'm not so focused on any one thing that I would have been a front runner pilot. Also, I get motion sick since the mono in college, I have bad eyes, I'm not very competitive or athletic, I hate bureaucracy, and I never finished my application to the Air F.orce A.cademy.

But I greatly admire people who do make it to the team. The performance and precision really is a thing of beauty. Although if I may stereotype for a moment, maybe if they let gays strut their stuff they could get some new choreography.

I think I just wanted to be able to do the opposing flyby manouever where the two solos come at each other very low and head on, both rotate 90deg right at the last minute, and sneak by with plane bottoms facing each other. Here's the half of that I caught on film.

I was invited to go by a new local friend. We had a lovely, if long, day. The two of us set out early then her pilot husband brought the kids to join us for the afternoon. The weather was nice - not too hot, not too foggy. The grass was dry for sitting upon. We got to talk about books before the others showed up. There was all manner of fattening food available, but we just had hot dogs and whatever we'd brought with from Trader Joes.

The aerobatic planes were good - the afternoon one was far superior. My friend and her husband know the pilot, who is in his 70s and still pulling hard g's. Her husband was able to say what was difficult about the tricks. In all performance hobbies there are things that are hard and things that look cool and they don't always overlap. So I kept asking if a cool looking trick was actually hard or something fairly easy that is used to rest up between hard tricks. Turns out Bill was mostly doing very hard stuff in his biplane. (A biplane!)

There was also a tribute type flight that had a WWII mustang leading the next generations of fighters which was moving. And right overhead!

My favorite thing of the day, though was the F22. Those planes are really cool and have a tight enough turning radius they could flip a U-ie on a Boston street. But what did I like so much about them? The noise, the power, the smoke, the display. Exactly the same draw as at tractor pulls!