Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Leftover Lunch

I had trouble figuring out what to eat for lunch today because I cooked at home yesterday. The trouble with cooking for one is that I either eat too much or have heapo mucho leftovers. I went the leftover route this time. All the things I really wanted for lunch (mostly a pizza) were of a size to generate yet more leftovers and I'm still living with the dorm fridge to try to curb the desire to save leftovers as a science experiment rather than eat them. And since the pizza would be tomato based like my food, a hearty whole grain sandwich would have too much bread, pasta would be too carb-o-rific, and I had chicken veggie stir fry yesterday, I wound up with a 99cent Wendy's chicken sandwich with half the bun and a side salad. whoo hoo.

Anyhow, onto the leftovers. I made a produce run to the grocery and tried also to buy a pound of hamburger. Usually I buy a third of a pound of smoked ham for my weekly meat allotment but I had a can of "manw.ich" my mom bought for me that I figured I'd use instead of throw out. I'm not entirely sure why my mom thought I needed a can of man.wich. I've been successfully (oversuccessfully?) feeding myself for 17 years and only once before been tempted by a can. It wasn't a success then, mostly because it tastes like sugar and feeds four. Were I feeding four, I wouldn't be serving this. Anyhow, It was staring at me from my pantry space so I thought I'd try it.

The smallest sized ground meat package I could find was 1.33 pounds. The butcher at this store did not have standard fare, mostly just pre-seasoned, pre-stuffed goods, and they didn't have anyone staffing the counter during dinner rush anyway so I couldn't special order. I looked harder. I could buy 80% lean for $2.49/# but only in three pound packs. I don't need 3 pounds of meat in a month. I could buy 98% lean in the 1.33# pack but it was $6.49 a pound. I'd rather buy the fat and drain it. Finally I found a 1.33# pack of ground turkey for a reasonable cost. I've spent less time finding a perfect pair of pants than I spent finding that meat.

I browned up the meat. Technically, it was more "whiten up" the meat, but I did manage to get some color on it too. A little Adobo and chipotle and it was pretty tasty, but there was a ton of it. I decided to take some out and save it for some other use like sprinkling on a pizza or something. Then I did what I do with most pre-fab entrees - I added a bunch of veggies to dilute the meat and make it tastier. I had some leftover canned corn-mushroom-olive salad that had only been ok-ish from the night before but was just right for this canned extravaganza.

I put in some fresh mushroom slices and a small diced zucchini and part of a can of red-eye beans for good measure. (And because my friend had made a good corn-bean-avocado salad which inspired my less good corn-mushroom-olive salad.) It made aproximately four tons. Ok, about a gallon, I think. I served myself a small bowl of it with a small bag of Doritoes and a touch of shredded cheese. It was tasty but waaayyyy too sugary and the special hickory flavor was a little much. The veggies helped cut it and gave it some crunch. Were I to make this again, I'd nix the man.wich and use a better tomato sauce and just spice it like chili. In the meantime I don't want to eat it for lunch and I can get at least 3 dinners out of it should I be so inclined.


Other leftovers. My non-blogs from the weekend.

I reverted back into hermit mode for sunday/monday. I didn't turn on the computer. I did make an effort to get outside and get sun by reading in the chaise by the community pool for a couple hours each day, so I did meet more neighbors which was nice, but that was the extent of my energy expenditure. Mostly I napped on the couch intermittently while I read. Just when I was feeling least like answering the phone, without actually being asleep on the couch and unable to hear it, my brother called to tell me he was having such a low energy day that he didn't call the parents or grandmas either and forced himself to go to Target just to get out of the house. We talked about how we would have called people but the conversation would have gone something like, "Hello. What's up? Can I go now?" Then we hung up. It made me feel better though.

So while I read two books this weekend, I wonder if they contributed to the low energy state or were only possible because of it. It's hard to say. One was good but not great (If You Deceive by Kresley Cole who has a link in my sidebar), and one that started good but slowed into meandering before getting downright creepy in a way that harshed my mellow. There had been some buzz about the second book so I stuck with it, but to recover, I hit up the library for the "Freddy the Golden Hamster" books by Reiche that a mom friend recommended as an entertaining kick. Freddy learns to type on a computer. I wonder if he gets a blog?

Energy was ok yesterday, but kind of low today and I nodded off through a meeting. Did manage to do 30 min. of exercise (Bodyrev Legs and Abs with 3 weights if you're asking) but also slept on the couch. Must be that there's not enough energy in leftovers to keep me awake.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Steely Goodness

Good kick off to the long weekend.
  1. Stayed up too late friday night reviewing some Greek for the food festival I met a friend at today. Really, all I needed was 'efxaristo' and 'parakalo' (thank you and please/you're welcome) so I went a little overboard but it was nice to know I could refresh it somewhat easily. The food wasn't as good as at the Arlington, MA festival, but it was still quite tasty. There were several variants on the philo/nuts/honey dessert theme, vendor booths, kids activities, church tours, and more food. The setup was huge. And the souvlaki, dolmathes, pilaf, feta, salad, etc... plate hit the spot. Thank goodness I didn't have to give up the Greek food fests in the move.

  2. Invited myself over to a friends house for BBQ and picked up more new glassblowing tools. How cool is it that I know someone who can hook me up with stainless steel punty rods? And swaps books and feeds me tri-tip, artichokes, and avocados to boot? Then we got on a roll discussing how everyone else is wrong and we are right, so that was fun :) It is fun to hear stories about retail clients gone wrong. I'm glad I don't deal with retail clients. Now I just have to come up with something supercool in glass for barter.

  3. Zoom Zoom! Made it home in 50 minutes. There was traffic but it was light enough I never got stuck behind anyone. Had to slow down precisely once after getting on the freeway and that was where the 405 connects to the 101 and bends a little sharply. Heard some great mixed tunes by Casio on 103.1 on the way home. The midnight to three shift is neon noise (might not be work safe) and I'm still up because I'm listening to it on the computer. The only station I get on the radio is NPR and I live in the land of no quality EM waves, so I was pleased to find the listen-on-the-web option working well.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Such Great Heights

I posted too early today. There's more good stuff! At lunch, I found another reason to love our general manager. Not only is he smart, fair, and reasonable while still having a head for business, he let the band Pos.tal Ser.vice shoot a video in our fab!!!

Granted, this is not new for many people. The video came out a few years ago. But I just found out about it today and since I also like this album, I'm all kinds of excited. The long corridor with the silver metal on the walls and the ramp down is the entrance to our fab. The guy getting gowned up to go in is sitting exactly where I get gowned up to go in to the cleanroom. I've lost two pens in the grated floor. The tool that has the heads that flip over is a plating tool that I'm the backup sustainer for.

There was some artistic license: The wall studded with air nozzles is not ours. We don't wear those clear full face shields; we wear safety glasses and a mesh filter over the nose/mouth (think white burkha). We don't handle or pass wafers by hand; we use a vacuum wand. The pick-n-place and packaging machines (start of 3rd minute) are not from the building I work in.

But if you want to know where I work? This is it. And it's artistic!

Three new good things
  1. General Manager is super cool!
  2. Pos.tal Ser.vice video! Shot where I work!
  3. Exclamation points!


My new tool at work is broken again. I call it "working the kinks out" but it gets frustrating to have it go down every time I try to do a test run. This time it was more my fault than not, but while the fault I caused has been fixed, there is a new fault that won't clear up. So I'm in wait mode. Which means I should be writing documentation but I decided to do a quick post before getting back to that.

Despite having perfect health on paper, I'm still having a problem with energy. I don't get restful sleep, as a rule, and it really messes with ones system to be exhausted all the time. I've been having good days and bad, but the bad have been ganging up on me since at least March. I've tried to boostrap my way out, but I also need to get treated. Acupuncture is the only thing I've found that works, so I'm doing that, although to date the results in CA have been less than great. I was doing so well with this in Boston, it's one of the biggest things I worried about with the move.

Anyhow, I've found a new acupuncturist. She doesn't do the massage thing, but she does speak English so it's working out. I saw her monday and she gave me these instant ginseng tea packs to try. I'm not sure if it's the acupuncture or the plaster and dirt flavored tea, but I've had energy all week. I haven't fallen asleep on the couch once - nor have I had the urge. I have energy after work to run errands and call friends, I have energy to burn.

This week is so different from the last few, or rather the last many, weeks that it's like I'm a new me. And more like the me I know and love. It makes me realize that I've been running closer to disaster than I thought I would ever let myself get again. It scares me not just a little to think about it too much. I've been having a lot of frustration with myself lately when I think about how much I don't do. But this explains AND excuses most of it. It's like the hood came off, the weight was lifted, the sun started shining, and now I want to do things again.

So 3 quick good things:
  1. Appear to have found winning combination for health and energy that will work for now.
  2. It's group lunch day.
  3. I have a ton of data from the now-it's-broken / now-it's-not tool that I can play with. And the energy to play with it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Squeaky Clean

After taking a sexual preference test on okcupid (OK cupid, not "occupied" as I originally parsed it) in which I did not score on the clean side, I'm wondering why my fabulousness isn't being appreciated by the men of match in my area. Guys! I read romance novels! Think about what this means in terms of my continuing education...

But in the meantime, my teeth are squeaky clean. I've been running my tongue over them all afternoon. I finally found a dentist who came with a recommendation which didn't include a wince and a caveat. And she's a woman - Go Team! I stopped in after getting my first Hep-B vaccine to make an appointment. Their 1 o'clock wound up canceling so they just took me right then. It worked out for everyone. I like this doc. She was thorough but not concerned with selling me extras.

They took a million X-rays. I've had the full head shot before, but this was full mouth with the little bits they stick in your mouth. 18 times. It did give a good view of my teeth all the way to the roots though. And with the aid of genetic blessings (dad's teeth, not mom's) and Tom's of Maine Wintermint twice a day, I have no cavities! I was actually expecting a couple because I've got trouble areas that a previous dentist wanted to charge money to fix, so I'm thrilled.

Of course I had to eat Taco Bell right after. It felt a little like a crime against nature, but $2 for 2 tacos to go with my cherries and apple slices was fast and tasty. And my sauce pack said, "At night, the sporks pick on me".

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Few of my Favorite Things

Alternate title is "oohhh, Shiny!".

glassblowing pipes on bench rails and new table

My glassblowing pipes came today! I'm still trying to figure out why UPS only charges $20 to ship 33 pounds of steel and packing in a 5' box, but $14 to ship 33 ounces in a nice, not unwieldy box. (According to my spell checker, "wieldy" is not a word.) At any rate, I can now travel to various other studios and do my thing. New pipes are good. Straight! shiny! In a matte sort of way...

Also making an appearance in the photo: cabinet of glass work, BodyRev, bench and table that will eventually go on patio once I get the remaining crap out of there. Crap: The moving box was unpacked, it's just my storage for "sell on e.Bay" stuff; the bamboo shades have a problem with the mechanism such that they don't hang straight, fixing it's low on the to do list; the trash can is for cleaning up the patio. Really. Any day now. But I'll probably put it off to make a carrying case for the pipes and go test them out.

Although it occurs to me that I should clean up the patio and make it nice before FW2 gets here. We might actually want to use the patio since it will be nice and warm then.

I also got some really tasty cherries. Finally, the cost of produce has gone down. I'm also trying to figure out why produce, like strawberries, are so expensive when they are grown about 15 miles away. My mom pays less for them in MN. It makes no sense. But cherries. On sale for $3/lb. I think I at a half pound tonight. Along with a fresh artichoke. Yum!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Strawberry Shortcake

Bunch of good things:
  1. Colleague has rearranged the days he and his daughter are touring her college campus so I can take reasonable vacation days for July 4th holiday and friend's wedding. Yay!!

  2. I went to the Strawberry Festival. Actually ate strawberries there, in the form of a build my own shortcake. I was checking it out to see how it would be to get a booth there. (Not yet. Need to start smaller. But I am pricing my ornaments right.) Bought a table for my patio. I need a better picture, but it's a little steel table that has been heated to get various color effects, and highlighted with cuts and copper. I dig it.

  3. Artsy steel side table with bird tracks
    steel table in profile and bad lightingTable leg spiral detail with copper

  4. Re-read a Suz Brockmann book. It was so engrossing that I resented the time I spent in the shower to de-stink myself before heading out because it took me away from a book whose ending I already knew. A little weird, but hey, at least I enjoyed the book.

Also have a little crank to get out. I went to see Shrek 3 in the theater this weekend. It's my first theater show since Casino Royale (whoot!). I wanted it to have good opening sales because the first couple of flicks were excellent. This Shrek? Not so much. Not as witty. Not as fun. Not as engaging. It was a boring morality tale with stale M/F stereotypes all through it. Why wouldn't Fiona have been Queen? Why does Donkey keep dumping the dronkey babies on mama and going on quests? The whole story was a mishmash wrapped around a bunch of rabble rousing speeches that roused the rabble and made me want to barf a little.

If you want the audience to find a character believable, they can't be a turd. Prince Carming, Artie - both turds. I didn't see much of a difference between the two. So little difference that I kept expecting them to announce that PC was A's daddy. A better ending would have PC and A doing dinner theater to rave reviews. There were a couple of cute scenes that will make it tolerable: Pinocchio talking around the truth without lying; Puss in Boots generally; Shrek's baby nightmare. But there was lots of down time and dreck with too few funny scenes. I thought about leaving but I'd had hopes and already finished my book.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bye Bye Boston +365

It doesn't seem like it, but it was a year ago today that the movers came to pack up my life in Boston and ship it to CA. I was able to go back to my apartment the following day while the Super was repainting it and I think it was good because there was *nothing* of me left there. It was just an empty white box with 1920s trim, hardwood floors, and a fantastic view that had nothing whatsoever to do with me anymore. I'd been a little v'klempt about leaving the place but that got me over it in a hurry.

While I'm rehashing my week of limbo - not still there, not yet here - I'd like to thank the lady downstairs, whom I wish I'd met months earlier, for helping me carry the last of the "chowdah" to the car, taking my extra stuff, and forwarding my mail (that which slipped through the U.S.P.S cracks) for a few weeks. I'd like to thank my friends for letting me crash at their various houses on my way out of town. And for rescuing my safety glasses's sideshields from the gowning room; I still use them. I still have fond memories of my last breakfast at the Miracle. Don't remember what I ate, but it was a fine send-off.

And everything has been great except for missing my friends. (Well, that and the bureaucratic nonsense and $$$ in dealing with the car.) I still think it's funny that we had to cancel the Memorial Day going away picnic for J&S because I had been planning it and actually moved first. It's nice to have a job where I'm appreciated and don't have to sustain the laserscribe anymore (although I am backup...). I've made a lot of new friends out here, and my old (and new) friends read the blog and we chat every so often, so it's all good. For the lonlier times, I somehow acquired a pile of 6 DOZEN books while at the motel. Some were loaners, some were not. Thanks to the person who suggested packing a few favorites in the keep-with-me luggage!

It was kind of fun living in the motel for a few months. I had a fridge so I could keep fresh fruits and veggies, and it was cheaper than living here and someone cleaned my room every day and there were donuts for breakfast and I walked to work and spent weekends on the beach or driving through spectacular scenery. Thanks to my friend who convinced me not to linger half there and half here, or I might still be in limbo. It was, amazingly, harder to leave the motel than it was to leave my apartment of 4 (really 7) years.

Well that's what was. What will be?

I'm finding people to have dinner with. I have hopes of making a go of getting the glassblowing hobby to pay for itself this year. Next summer I'd like to be able to have a booth at a couple of art fairs. (There are 2 this weekend I want to check out, including "Strawberry Days".) My architect friend should have a design for the kitchen remodel worked out soon. I will settle on a couch one of these days, so to speak, and get that in and set up the living room to be more functional. One of these days, someone will love my match profile and call me up. I want to finish a couple big projects at work before september. I'm going to catch a couple of weddings. I'm going to keep working out. I think I'll probably try to find a chorus, but if it's too much, I'll just sing along to the iPod for a while longer.

Thanks again to everyone who made this move easier for me. It really was a good decision and I'm happy I'm here. I hope you're all doing well too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

That's my family! I think this is where I say, "bless their hearts."

My brother saw my dad for dinner last night. "That's not so odd," you say. It was a nice three hour visit. What *is* odd about it: my dad lives in Minnesota and my brother lives in Texas. Bro just got a new car and offered the 'rents his used Toyota. So dad flew in, had dinner, picked up my brother's old car, got ansty, and took off. It kind of made sense because he wanted to be north of the Dallas/FW area before rush hour, so if he drove at night, he'd get a jump the next morning. But it still almost made me snarf my cereal when my brother said that dad came to Texas for just a couple of hours.

My brother also managed to split his forehead open taking SCUBA lessons. Suave and coordinated, that's us! Apparently he was doing the remove and replace the BC(D) maneuver where you somersault back into the vest. It looks cool and I think it's the easiest way to get back in without wrestling. (That and I like doing somersaults in water.) Well, my brother somersaulted his forehead into the bottom of his tank. CLANG He gets in smoothly on the second try. Usually, he is the smooth operator of the family. Just every so often 'blood will out'.

He wasn't worried until he got out of the pool and someone rushed over with a ginormous pile of paper towels. He hadn't even realized he was bleeding. He's fine; it was just a flesh wound. And since he sells medical equipment to hospitals, he's already had a couple offers to get stitched or stapled up, gratis, but apparently a bandaid did the trick. And to top it off, he's learning to dive so he can take his sort of ex-girlfriend diving before she deploys. Odd. They're currently "friends" which is cool. I've gone on a scuba vacation with a friend who was not a date and that worked out, so I can see that it will be fine. But didn't she try to break up with him 3 months ago? Yeah, she's just preemptively dissociating, but still. Odd.

My mom is still working at the library. This would be a dream job - close to home, good hours, good benefits, work stays at work, it's a library - except that her boss is pure poison and my mother has this odd need to prove to [I don't know who] that she can tough this out. But it's been seven, eight years now! There are other jobs with benefits! She has the highest seniority because most people quit after three months and everyone else with sense has transfered or retired. I don't know why someone with plenty of skills and an outgoing personality who works hard and gets stuff done is so set on staying in a lousy job. We can't really talk about it any more. For a while, I didn't have much of a leg to stand on, but I did go out, figure out how to get a better job, and got one.

Not that I am trouble free. I'm headed to the acupunturist tomorrow to see if I can get my sleep back under control. I had another couch nap today. My East Coast time shift only worked until Sunday. Saturday, I sprang out of bed, cleaned the bathroom, exercised, hung out with a couple friends. Sunday, I slept allllll damn day. Don't know why. Saturday's efforts didn't require 24 hours of recovery. Now I'm messed up again. Speaking of which, it's bedtime. And I can't type much longer without coming up with an embarrassing example of why I'm just like the rest of my family.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yours is a Tonic, and Mine is the Internet.

Like many of my stories, this one starts with "I read a study". This one was about rats and novelty seeking behavior. They had rats in one of 3 cages. In one cage, the rats got a lever that did nothing; they poked at it a few times then stopped when it proved fruitless. In another cage, the lever always dispensed happy making drugs; the usual percentage got addicted, but the rest eventually lost interest and stopped pushing the lever. In the last cage, the lever sometimes did nothing, but sometimes dispensed the drug; the rats went back to that lever again and again and again and never really gave up on it. The conclusion is that intermittent, unpredictable reward is very pleasing to a rat brain.

Even more, such intermittent, unpredictable reward is very pleasing to a human brain. That study was looking into the brain mechanisms for why gambling is so very pleasing. I've always been freaked out about losing money so I don't gamble (except with mutual funds) and I feel good about that choice. Then I read an article today that freaked me out a little. It basically equated surfing the internet with the same novelty seeking behavior of the slot machine. Naturally, I was surfing the web when I read this and got such a thrill at finding a great nugget like this. Then after posting the rest of this blog, I went and read kvarko's blog and found this fun link which implies that a couple of weeks off line will leave you in the linguistic dust. But the article contains just the sort of wonderfulness I count on the internet to bring me, so I had to come back and paste it for sharing.


(In the best of all possible worlds, I would have pasted in 3 of these cherries and centered it but they're copyrighted (aka I couldn't figure out how to snag them and it was late) and for some reason using centering and the list functions causes all subsequent text in the post to be closely spaced and I don't know how to fix that yet.)

I imagine this need to seek novelty has some positive benefits: "who will buy my wonderful widgets today?" gets someone to work. "Do you think the flowers will be in bloom?" might get someone out of bed, as might, "maybe today I will save the world." That kind of thing. But I hate the thought of being yanked around by the part of my brain that shares features with rats without at least trying to think it over rationally so I can at least pretend to having free will. Yet I find myself pushing that internet lever again and again and again. Maybe this time I will find...

Which does make me wonder about what people hope to find in my blog. What I think? What bit of random novelty I've run across today? How my art is doing? What I'm up to? I can't think that any of those things have enough " content" (heroine content?) to make y'all come back, yet you do. (Or as the guest on the Da.ily just said, "I'm just talking bollocks to amuse you.") And I really do appreciate it. I like having a little broadcast venue that isn't disappearing into void.

The random novelty and what I think is covered for today. I need to get some pics of my dragonfly vase to post, because it really is cool, if I do say so myself. What I'm up to is that I was feeling less flabby today after my 30 4-count flutter kick session this weekend, and that was motivating. So after reading the fitness magazine from the gym for an hour and a half... I did get out and go running for half an hour. While that doesn't seem quite like the right ratio, my run segments were mostly 2 or more minutes today, with one that went a song and a half. I could feel the improvement over the struggle to go 60, maybe 90 seconds a pop. Then when I thought I was wiped out, the Fratellis' song from the iPod commercial came on and I not only had to jog more, but had to toss in some skipping. It was required. That song makes me move! Thank goodness I bought it off the internet.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Women are from Mars

Happy Mothers Day! It occurred to me recently that all those 50 or so birth announcements in the last couple years mean I now know quite a few moms. I'm watching an interesting show on TLC right now on Women in America. They've chosen a fascinating cross section: women who are the first of something (Speaker of the House, Native American to graduate from Yale Med), women who work (famous singer/ songwriter, pastry chef, teacher), women who work in non-girlie jobs (Minister, fisherman, drill sargeant), and women who work at home, a woman getting married. Some of the women are moms, some are not. With a broad cross section, using known and unknown people, it's really well done.

But on to my point. In that horrible book about women being from Venus, there was one interesting observation: when women complain, they're looking for sympathy, not solutions. They think men don't listen because they offer advice, instead of just letting them talk it out. (All the more proof that I'm really a guy.) I've actually found this observation to be very true, but not split along gender lines so much as situation and personality. Sometimes I just want to bitch. Sometimes I want to bitch and fix the problem. I try, but am not always successful, in making sure I offer people sympathy before solutions, but it's still a conscious effort and sometimes I forget. Also, I like to fix things.

Here are some things I've fixed or found workable treatments for:
  1. This'll be a little TMI. Skip to #2 if you're easily squicked out. I had been having some odd trouble with urinary urgency and leakage. I would go to the bathroom about every 45 minutes and go about a tablespoon when the signals to my head would insist I had such a full bladder I couldn't wait even another second. Then I would go and feel like I still had more, but couldn't get it out. Sometimes there was cramping. It sucked. I went to two doctors, including a specialist who found nothing wrong. I stopped going places like Harvard Square that had limited public access restrooms, although I didn't realize it until afterward.

    My solution? One day, I was infuriated when I went back to my desk and felt leakage as I sat down, after futilely trying to feel like I was done. Yet this was my inspiration. The next time I went to the bathroom, I squeezed out every little drop I could, and still felt like there was more. Then I wiped, stood up, sat back down and was able to squeeze out that little bit more. I've been doing it ever since, and every single symptom I listed above and more have gone away. The only caveat is that sometimes I have to do a little dance with the standing, and the dance changes every time I fly.

  2. I keep cans of soup with pop tops at work for emergency lunch rations. To keep the lid from snapping at the final disconnect and splattering my work shirt with tomato stains, I put a little piece of scotch tape over the lip of the can. Go me.

  3. I was having trouble keeping up with my exercise, and now I have friends on board helping keep me motivated, and hopefully I'm doing the same for them.
But there are some things I can't fix.
  1. My good friend's mom had a debilitating stroke. I can't fix it. My friend can't fix it. Her mom can't fix it. I could share a dinner and bring her boxes to pack up her mom's things.

  2. A colleague of mine just found out his wife has advanced breast cancer, that despite annual mammograms, it has gone undiagnosed for years. They've been together since they were twelve, I think. Her prognosis for survival is around 60%.

  3. Another friend of mine has a young boy. She's concerned about a tic that he's developed. Doctors have mentioned that it could be something minor, or it could be a brain tumor. About two weeks ago, this same little boy told me he loved me.
While this blog is about focusing on the positive, there are just some times that badness crashes the party and I was starting to feel disconnected from reality by not mentioning it. I hope things go as well as they can for everyone who is currently suffering. On a lighter note, my own mom did a walking 5K this morning then got smashed at lunch because she didn't drink enough water to counteract the cocktails her friend made. So she's doing just fine. My Grandma S is cooperating with her PT so she can go back to her assisted living place. And my Grandma P couldn't be happier coming up to her 5th wedding anniversary.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Hobby

My main hobby, aside from reading, is blowing glass. (links in the sidebar) Previously, I blew glass at MIT and exchanged teaching time for studio time. And I continued to take classes, and I made production pumpkins for the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. For all the frustrations of using a communal student shop in a basement that shares space with blacksmiths, it was a sweet deal. I bought my own color supplies, but I could use all the shop tools if I could wrangle the time.

When I moved out to SoCal, it didn't matter that I'd been blowing glass since 1992, teaching since 1994, and really starting to figure out my artistic direction since 2003. I had no tools. I had no pipes. I had some color that needed restocking and a respirator from my sandblasting class. And pictures of me actually at the bench as my only proof. I needed to rent a space that was friendly and would let me use their supplies, but if I wanted to be serious about my glass I needed my own tools. I finally made the decision that I would stick with the glassblowing and try to get it to pay enough that I could keep doing it and bought these:

Glassblowing toolset

This was one of those cases where I had fretted about the expense forever, then once I spent the money I wondered why I hadn't bought my own tools years ago. It was so freeing to "have tools, will travel." It was partly money issues, partly decisiveness, and partly necessity. This lot here cost about a grand. I could easily have spent 3-4X that if I changed brands and went with Carlo Dona instead of Moore and it was tempting. The shop tools had been quality ones, if a little abused. (Ornaments sell for $18, studio rental is about $55/hr. You do the math.) But for now, this does what I need and I'm happy as heck about it.

With my new tools in hand, I found a nice little shop in El Segundo to use. The manager so far has let me use his student pipes, but I took the plunge this week and ordered six of my own. I also ordered some punties (solid rods) but I'm trying to get them on the cheap so I'm working through my friend's husband's stainless steel importing shop. I figure a rod of 316 is a rod of 316. I guess we'll figure out if I'm right or wrong shortly. But if it works out I should save about 50% or more which would make me happy.

I had a request to show some of what I make. I'm not done with my website. But I do have pictures of ornaments and pumpkins, my primary source of funding my hobby.

Here are my best ornaments from the previous few seasons (I learned, after a while, to save a good piece for myself every once in a while) in a design inspired by decorator TV.
glass ornaments hanging over mantle

I made several dozen ornaments last season, which ALL sold (except the two in the above pic). Gracious thanks goes to the online book club ladies for their support!
Ornaments laid out by size and color

Sometimes, though, the mojo deserts me and I get some wonky shapes:
Ornaments gone wrong

I like to put swirls in the glass to add interest:
Purple ornament closeup backlitBlue ornament closeup with flash

I can also make pumpkins:
Green and Orange stemmed clear pumpkins

It was several months after moving that I finally found out where to blow glass in SoCal. I had talked to an LA area artist at a street fair when I came out for my interview to confirm that there was hope in continuting. Finally getting back into the glassblowing studio was a turning point for me. After I moved out here I was living in a motel and didn't know anyone. I spent weekends going for long walks on the beach while reflecting on how I had no plans for the rest of my life; it was very disconcerting. I haven't felt that disconcerting sense of having no future since I found a studio and some other area artists, which was a nice affirmation of my choice to invest in and commit to my hobby.

This week was a week of shelling out more money, but I also got more orders (tickles pink, here), and I'm regaining my enthusiasm for finishing the website (more of that decisiveness). I'm hoping to keep some regular studio times going this summer and work my skills back into doing more figurative sculptures as I've got some ideas...

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Well that was a nice adventure with the book club login today...not. God forbid I don't post so often that if my cookies expire or get deleted that I won't be able to post as me any more. What's that all about? Sheesh! I do like that I don't have to sign in for every leetle post, but a bit of instruction would have gone a long way. Rant off.

On the plus side:
  1. A book club friend is in town with her husband and we had dinner tonight. She has officially stopped treatments for cancer and her hair has grown back in. It's different than before, but definitely all there! Her husband treated us to a wine tasting and dinner. I'm glad I decided we should go somewhere I could walk to. They were nice and let me talk at them all night. Between the wine and about 6 months of dinner conversation dammed up in my head, I couldn't get myself to shut up for even a moment. Thank goodness they like me, because they got a LOT of me. I'm hoping they can/want to escape from their family long enough to see her/them again and maybe introduce another board friend. I promise to let someone else talk at least part of the time.
  2. I got more orders for glass! Enough orders that I can justify signing up for several blow times at the studio, and really need to get more color and equipment. I ordered about $900 in glassblowing pipes from Spiral Arts today. I also looked up the optic molds I need to get for pumpkin making. This means I was a little useless for a while today, but I'll get to things soon.
  3. The CEO announced that we're getting a bonus. Not a dot-com boom sized bonus, but still more than zero. I'm thinking I should put it to a Roth IRA as I decimated mine to buy the condo.

Still need to organize the patio, decide on a sofa already (See, the glass pipes will generate income, the sofa not so much), and try to organize my weekends for the summer. I think I'm losing control of the schedule already.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wake Up

Today was interesting. I actually got on East Coast time enough that I woke up full of vim and vigor at 6:30. The alarm usually goes off at 7 with vim and vigor nowhere in evidence. So:
  1. I Did 30 minutes of exercise before work for the first time in years. go me.
  2. Got a "thank you" gift for money saving project at work that is monetarily more valuable than my 5 year anniversary gift from the last company. But now I have to choose whether I want a saws-all, a vacuum cleaner, or an i.Pod docking station with alarm clock. I would have been inclined to get the extra super indoor-outdoor weather meter and forecaster but I live in SoCal now. It's 75-85 and sunny about 90% of the time.
  3. I got a burst of inspiration to mail out ornaments to people. I had some sitting around from my last production run that I wasn't sure what to do with until I remembered I had one friend who wanted a bunch of 2nds and I sure had that. While I was mailing out ornaments I got a call to reactivate the paperweight project, so I also boxed up the samples I made. Now I need to reorder some supplies.

Of course now I'm extra super tired and need to sleep. Don't forget to send a card to your mom for mother's day this weekend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

We didn't start the fire!

I answered a survey recently about whether I like to go exploring or sit on the beach. I answered exploring as usually I get all antsy if I sit still too long and get bored being on the beach. I think my answer to that question may change.

All beach vacations should be like this one I just had. I met up with some friends to hang on the beach. I met up with my Aunt to hang on the beach and go exploring. Very relaxing. Had some good food. I did a fair amount of walking a couple days, bodyreved one day, and tried to kill myself by running on the beach on the hottest day.

It was in the morning, but wow, it's hard work to run on the beach! It was nicely motivational when a hot guy gave me the thumbs up though. I got hot enough to take off my top and expose my pasty white belly to the world, something I haven't done in a loonnnnggg while. Since the rest of the beach goers didn't die of shock, I left it off when I went into the water and managed to pink up nicely.

I'm pretty pleased with my sun exposure management plan. Between covering up, heading for shade, and wearing sunscreen, I didn't get any more burned than a light pink even though I spent a long time outside and got plenty of sun. Sun umbrellas are the key, I think, to staying out on the beach without needing to escape. That and people to make me laugh and bring me drinks.

It turns out that eastern Gulf water is nicer than Atlantic or Pacific water, or even western Gulf water, in my experience. It was lovely to wade and float and swim in. I worried a bit that there didn't seem to be any fish. Although I like it that way for swimming, it seems unhealthy. I hear tell a manatee came by after a school of fish. Naturally, that was moments before I returned to the water and I had to take the word of other people. So the water isn't dead, just very clear, shallow, and did I mention warm and beautiful?

My aunt pointed out that most of the water in Florida is very shallow. It's also very green. It's odd to think of the Gulf as having negligible tides. It's connected to the Atlantic ocean by a not inconsiderable width of water, why aren't there huge tides? I'm not sure I understand. But it was worth leaving southern California for a beach vacation elsewhere, even though it sounds a little pointless. The water here is chilly, after all.

As to the post title, when I flew out this morning, we could smell the brush fire smoke from either the Florida or Georgia fires. Then I landed back in LA and while driving north on the 405 looked to my right and saw huge plumes of smoke coming from the hills to the east. Apparently both the southeast and southwest are on fire. I didn't do it. [update: Griffith Park is aflame.]

I'm going to go finish unpacking and try to wrap my mind around going back to work. Or maybe I'll just sit around ignoring reality for another few hours.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Happy to get away

And I'm off like a prom dress. Back later on Tuesday. May or may not get to post in the interim. Have a good weekend, all. Here's hoping the Florida gulf water is warmer than Ca or Boston ocean water.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Breathe (2AM)

Ok, so I'm recycling a title. So sue me. But I finally exercised the gym membership today and hit up the Yoga class. Yoga is all about the breathing. I did pretty well with it, having an unknown instructor with new choreography. I did a LOT of down dog and plank and was able to do everything except the "crocodile" (think low hold pushup) and the full duration of side planks (although I did some). I wish she was better about subtleties, but being able to see myself (shudder) in the full length mirror, my form was good, which pleased me, even if the belly is still frightful.

Why can't I be magically thinner? I eat food that is good for me. All those dieting tips about "don't do this; eat A instead of B"? I DO that already. I try to make my bulk eating occur with low cal veggies. And I did all my exercise this week. I did miss 15 minutes monday but did 45 yesterday and an hour today. I hit my 30 minute/day goal. Maybe I expect instant gratification. I certainly prefer it. But it kills me to see people who eat similarly or worse and exersize about the same or less that have many fewer troubles with the bulge. Gah!

Anyhow, I'm procrastinating packing. I have until 10pm thursday to get my stuff together before the red-eye. I'm headed to Florida tomorrow and I suppose I'll just take what I'm wearing in this weather. People in CA are not so stoked to go to FL judging by the reactions I'm getting which are mostly confused looks. But my aunt lives there and I'm meeting some friends and it just happens to be the place they picked and I'm pretty easy about these things. Plus, the water could be swimmably warm if there are no shark warnings.

My rant of the day is political though. GWB vetoed the budget from congress because of the NON-BINDING resolution about when to pull out of Ira.q. I admit that I would prefer a list of milestones to a list of dates for this sort of thing, if we don't plan an indefinite occupying force like we keep in Germany. But all that aside, the Pres could have taken the money and run, completely ignoring the NON-BINDING codicil. But no, he wants it wrapped in pretty paper of his choosing, refusing the imperfect offering in pure king of the mountain, bullying "thank you sir, may I have another" style. This is driving me crazy!!

Any time GWB doesn't like someone, he accuses them of "playing politics" and the "News" outlets repeat the comment over and over, even on NPR. I wish someone would stand up and say, "I don't play politics, I'm a trained professional and I get paid for this." My special favorite was when he accused democrats of "staging political theater". At the time of this comment, he was on stage with several veterans in uniform and children of vets at a press conference for a pre-screened audience. To say "it takes one to know one" just seems childish so I'll call it irony.

Vacation. Tomorrow. In with the love; out with the Jive. Breathe in. Breathe out. Just breathe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Happy things happened today.
  1. Noteably, I went for a run instead of falling asleep on the couch (although that hasn't been ruled out). During my run - my 4th in 4 weeks after about 18 months off - I do run/walk/run/walk segments for my set workout time. Today, I was able to run segments that were about twice as long and a third less painful as the previous 3 times. I'm still not in danger of winning the Ironman, as this means my run segments are now 90-180 seconds long, but since this makes me feel good and is a huge advance, I'm going to celebrate the goodness of it. Even more, I was able to power up a (very) gentle slope that has thwarted me thus far. Now to keep up with the stretching.

  2. Work went better than not. It was kind of calm until 4:30, and I probably could have been a little more productive, but my qual parts are moving on (finally), we made progress on the $ saving team, both meetings I had today were productive, and I was able to devote time to data analysis.

  3. Car wash! In Boston I washed my car about twice a year. Maybe 3 times. Once mid winter to get the salt off and same in the spring. Sometimes I'd have to repeat the spring wash if it got a lot of pollen on it. But in SoCal, there's a lot of dust and a lot of sun. Any sticky spot on the car can get burned into the paint and it gets filthy fast. In order for the car to maintain reasonable cleanliness and paint integrity, I need to wash it every week or two. I've got a monthly plan with a nearby carwash where for the price of 2 washes, I can go however often I want. They wash the outside, vacuum out the interior, throw out my trash, and then wipe down the whole car including the inside of the windows. For a car wash convert, I couldn't be happier about the whole thing. Unless it also came with a free frogurt.

Of course none of these things are single events that will ever be "accomplished". The fitness must be maintained, work will continue, and the car will get dirty again. But they got done today. And I am content until tomorrow when I will fight the good fight again.