Friday, June 29, 2007

Goodnight Boston

Both by bags and I made it safely to Boston with relatively little fuss. I allowed just enough time. The freeway traffic was moving at a steady clip all the way to LAX, I parked with no fuss (I pre-register with Johnny Park or LAX Park Place for decent fares) and caught the free shuttle to the gate. I waited in line for my ticket for 15 minutes, waited another 5 for my bag tag, waited 15 more minutes to drop my bag off for x-ray screening, and then waited through the "security" line for another 15 minutes. I got to the gate 30 minutes before departure and they started seating shortly thereafter. I was worried that my seating zone would have me sitting with my bag on my lap after all the overhead bins filled, but it was fine.

Despite being in a middle seat, I was pretty comfortable. Way more comfortable than the 6'4" guy next to me in the window seat. How come the only time I meet tall guys I have to smoosh into their personal space on a plane? Where are these men normally? I saw and spoke to at least 3 on this flight alone. (No phone numbers, though. I did try. I was personable but not too pushy. Apparently just not pushy enough.) With a little help from Lunesta (great product), I was able to be coherent enough to have a snack, sleep for 3 hours, let tall boy out to stretch, do 2 easy sudokus, and snooze a bit more before getting off the plane.

Thanks to the new "Silver line", I was able to take the bus to the train to my friends' house near Davis Sq. Previously it was the bus to the train to the train to the train, which was a lot of shuffling from blue to green to red and waiting for all the trains besides. I was able to drop in on the T-accessible friends for breakfast (morning people have their good points too :) We had some lovely fruit and bread products. Then I passed out on their couch, as planned, for a couple hours before meeting work friends for lunch. They were worried there might be too much noise going on but I was out like a light and never heard a peep until the kitchen timer told me to wake up.

It was very odd to be back. A lot of things felt like home: Riding the red line, student types on the subway (they dress differently here than in CA), the layout of the articles in the newspapers I was reading over people's shoulders, the scary bronze statues in Davis Sq (will post later), the stores I'm used to, the accents I'm used to, and the drive into work. Yet a lot of things weren't quite right: some of the stores have changed, there has been a lot of turnover at the old job and some expansion, so the cube farm has been moved around, there was lots of road construction on my major thru street, and I don't *exactly* remember where I'm going. This last is kind of like singing a song you know so well that you no longer consciously remember the words, then stumbling and not knowing how to start up again.

It was great to see some old colleagues, if briefly. But it was also nice to realize that I don't want to work there anymore, and was happy to have left. Some of the turnover has been good - there are a lot of new people which can bring good ideas. My former boss gave notice and there was a going away happy hour last night; I hope she does well at the new gig. We ate at my old favorite the Thailand Cafe and I got my pork Pad-See-Yu, spicy, with chicken satay and extra peanut sauce. So tasty! I didn't have to check the menu. And they kind of remembered me. I'm looking forward to being able to spend some more time with some of the folks at the wedding tomorrow.

Finally, I got a ride (thank you!!!) out to where I'm staying in Waltham. This gave us a chance to talk in person with no audience and it was so normal yet precious and tried not to cry. I don't miss the work, I kind of miss the area, but I really, really miss my friends. So Esperanto Guy and I did some retail therapy. I got an alternate skirt and a purse for the wedding ensemble, and tried on a hideous blue shirt that wound up looking great on me. I might wear it the rest of the rest of my vacation. (sorry to anyone who hauled the heavy ass luggage...)

And I also got sucked in by a bookstore, of course. I was checking to see if they had any Suz Brockmann books (they carried all kinds of fiction, including romance, chicklit, mystery, various overhyped best sellers and the more 'cult' type best-sellers that are actually good reads). They didn't have any so I asked to see the book manager because she's local and it seemed wrong. The manager claimed she knew of Suz, and mentioned the publicity wrappings on her van so she wasn't just shining me on, and said the buzz was good and they'd sold her previous hardcover. I mentioned that Suz has two more books coming out and that there will be a christmas novella benefitting a Mass charity so she told me she'd look into making sure they ordered some. I hope I did good.

To show I wasn't just there to harrass her into selling Suz, I asked her to recommend a couple books for me and I bought them. She was very nice. Then at the register, they had a series of childrens' board books called Goodnight X, as a takeoff of Goodnight Moon, where the X stands for: Boston, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Vermont, etc... They're actually quite good. I need to pick up some more for children's gifts now that everyone in the world seems bent on reproducing. (One of the four of us at lunch was pregnant, and it wasn't me.)

I didn't think I'd rattle on this long, but EG is playing Legend of Zelda with his Wii, and I get long winded when exhausted. But he's starting to get annoyed with this level and I need to put on that funky blue shirt and go to dinner before I shut down completely from 9 fractured hours of sleep in 3 days. I set up a haircut for tomorrow AM, then there will be brunch at Joseph's Two, and all sorts to good things I want to be awake for.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Ok. Doing better now. All that angst and I had 6 things to mail, 4 bills to pay online, and a metric ton of scrap paper, with slightly less volume to be filed. Even better, my insurance guy sent me a pack of 2 cent stamps, so I don't have to waste time later today at the post office. For mental health reasons I decided to pay off the horrendous "cancellation" fee from Sprint, those bastards who don't have viable cell coverage in my valley and told me there wouldn't be a fee to cancel because of it. It was half the price of my new couch. And the couch fabric had an issue so I need to pick new fabric. They sent swatches but they all suck. I'll have to add that to my "later" file.

I think I've got all the non-clothes and toiletries stuff ready to go. Finished 2 loads of laundry. Updated the iPod. Now, do I sleep for an hour before work, or pack a little? I might wind up taking the afternoon off.

Make Myself Not Care

I've actually acquired fairly decent planning skills in the last few years. I appear to have abandoned most of them this month. The outcome worked for last week, but I'm a little afraid that I'll show up naked in Boston. I didn't do any packing last night. I very often stay up until all hours the night before I leave to do packing, and I thought I'd kind of gotten over that, but no. Only this time I know what I'm screwing up and have made myself a little sick with anxiety. Also, I'm sending my last minute scheduling emails and all of a sudden, my internet connection crapped out, so I had to re-boot the modem. Doesn't really help.

  • Bought flight
  • Have place to stay in Boston and transport
  • Know how I'm getting from the Airport to breakfast
  • Have ride to wedding
  • Have placeholder gift for happy couple (ornament until I can get some studio time)
  • Have ride to wedding
  • Have parking set up
  • Have contacted people about schedule
Not Done:
  • Haven't figured out rest of wedding outfit beyond shirt
  • Don't know what I'm wearing for rest of week
  • packing of jewelry, toiletries, gifts
  • wrapping of gifts
  • Haven't finalized a schedule with friends
  • paying bills that I've been putting off (next on list)
I need to remind myself that they sell incidentals and clothes in Boston which used to be home, and thus the source of my clothing and incidentals. I asked the friend I'm staying with if we might have brunch and go shopping before the wedding in case I don't have anything to wear. He said that if he had to choose only two activities for the rest of his life they would be brunch and shopping, so he was on board with this plan. The schedule seems to be falling together nicely for all my lack of attention to it. But I still don't think I'm going to be getting any sleep tonight. Or tomorrow night. And I wish I didn't care so much about that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not like the Other

Some of these things are not like the other:
  • BodyRev legs vs. Running
    I have been running for my cardio, so I slacked off on the BodyRev legs in the last couple weeks. I figured that I do it often enough that I'm immune to sore muscles. Not so. Running does not keep me in shape for the legs segment. My muscles got worked. I call it validation that I do what I say, but FW2 called it showing off. Either way, it worked.

  • Cued Speech vs. Sign or Aural/Oralism
    I really haven't had much chance to practice or proselytize about Cued Speech in CA. I get my fix by reading up on it online. I seem to have an endless patience for it despite the fact that it's basically the same message over and over: Cued Speech is a closed system for visually communicating a spoken language to the deaf, with or without sound. Cueing to clarify the phonemes expressed by lip shape and teeth has a similar learning curve to touch typing. It is still considered new, being only 41 years old. And for the most part amazingly successful in bringing literacy and first and foreign language skills to the kids who are regularly exposed to it. It allows hearing parents to "speak" their own language with their deaf kids. I'm going to have to check out Daily Cues more often, and figure out how to teach a community ed class. Its biggest drawback is that more people don't know about it as an option. That is partly because for some reason signers who abhor oralism won't try it because it involves "spoken" language and oralists reject it for being manual. Yet it's both and neither. And pure genius.

  • Making travel plans vs. Blogging.
    I had planned to email my friends in Boston today to try to finalize a schedule for the weekend that is approaching way too rapidly. But I read a short story instead while my neurons kept pestering me to blog. Ok, and I also watched a lot of Dirty Jobs. When I *need* to do something, but not *right this second* pfft! I'll come up with all sorts of other things to do. Even if that thing I need to do is fun. It's brain damage, I tell you, dain bramage.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I think FW2 has been here just long enough to have a nice vacation and actually be looking forward to going back home. We had a nice sing-a-long of the John Den.ver classic, but she didn't sing it like she wanted me to kiss her. Trip has been good. This long weekend felt like vacation for me too. Decided only to take last friday off and work today so that we could both get some alone time. We're used to operating in our own space.

Today was a little rough. My dad called my cell and work AND the neighbor's phone because I hadn't returned their calls this weekend and he panicked because...? I don't know why. We usually speak monday night and there wasn't anything urgent we needed to discuss. I told them they need to email me before they panic and institute the emergency neighbor line. At least she was amused this one time. Then someone messed up my experiment at work. It was a box of wafers (read: supplies) on the hold shelf that I'd contaminated for a test and someone used them for other purposes while I was waiting for my tool to be fixed so I could finish my test. Gah! So some unknown tool had some contamination over the weekend and I have to start from square one. I spent the whole day pissed off. And not particularly troubled by that. Some days are just like that. I haven't figured out how to predict these days though.

Then I talked to my brother. Some jackass cut him off in traffic which caused the unsecured box spring in the back of his pickup to fly out and take off my brother's passenger side mirror and damage several other things on his 2 month old car, as well as leave a box spring on the freeway. After my brother chased him down the freeway for several miles, pickup boy finally pulled over but was obstructionist so my brother called the cops who were very firm about telling pickup boy that he was at fault. Here's a hint: if you're losing crap out of your vehicle on the freeway, you loose all right to be in a hurry or in a snit.

All this makes me thankful for the things that went well:
  1. I was working on a non-thwarted experiment and was running late and someone helped me gather the measurement data, and was cheerful about it.
  2. The techs working in my area were pretty ok with my hissy fit. One said he thought it was better to just let it out. I'll take him at his word.
  3. Beer. I remembered to put more Newcastle in the fridge. FW2 and I had some cold beer with dinner. We've had a nice little vacation. Book club ladies have been feeding us or stopping over in a nice display of friendship and hospitality. We've seen famous stuff, local stuff, met up with online friends, and taken advantage of the pool. But the beer is good. As is the Canadian Rye. Good times, Good times. (And not in that sarcastic way I usually use that phrase.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm not a Tourist, Either.

FW2 is here and we braved the LA traffic to head into Hollywood and see famous things. She got innumerable pictures of signs: Sunset Boulevard, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and the big Hollywood sign. I found directions on line which gave us a great view. Then I ran into an "Estate Sale" sign that led us up uP UP into the twisty, windy, narrow roads if the Hollywood(land) hills, which was quite entertaining for me, at least. I bought a half dozen rolls of strapping tape and some other stuff and FW2 was pretty patient with me. After that, we headed back down to Hollywood Blvd. in search of lunch.

The food quest could have gone faster but ultimately worked out really well. After driving out and back looking for food, cruising through the tempting Thai Town, and bypassing Armenia Town, we found a great little place called "Little Devil", or something like that, about 4 blocks east of the Kodak theater. We parked next to Harrison Ford's sidewalk star. The food was excellent so we didn't mind the price. The service was friendly and there were many patrons in the eye-candy category. (Naturally the least candy like guys were (a)sitting near us and (b) discussing IEEE.) When we went to leave, I asked a "where do I find tourist thing X?" and the waitress's jaw dropped and she said, "I didn't peg you for tourists at ALL! And I can usually spot them a mile away." It made my day :)

After that we took our tourist stroll, ran into a huge block of people, the set up of the red carpet premiere for "Ratatouille", got some snaps then headed back home. We almost beat the rush hour traffic. After a short time out of the sun, we headed up to a book club friend's house for dinner and margaritas. Good times, good times. We're heading for SeaBee days tomorrow and meeting up with more book club ladies. I don't think FW2 is going to get a lot of rest on this vacation! Although she is asleep now. Be vewy, vewy quiet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Not Until the Next Time, etc...

I'm trying, somewhat badly, to get ready for FW2's visit. She'll be here tomorrow. I'm excited to show off my corner of LA to her, but you'd never know it from looking at me. I decided the new bathroom rug needed to be washed. Yeah, *that's* the most important thing. I kinda need to pay some bills (of course, that's why god made Netbank autopay). I still have to email out instructions for our get together on Saturday, figure out a good viewing angle for the Hollywood sign and how to get there, reboot the computer (pesky and slow), figure out how to pick up the new sofa, and arrange to see all my friends in Boston the following weekend. I don't know why I put off things until the last possible minute. I always swear I won't, at least not until the next time.

I did manage to get some Ginger Ale, which goes with the Crown Royal, some tasty beverage (Newcastle Brown and Sam's Summer) and I did do the good vacuum job. There are clean sheets. I got the queen aerobed replaced on warranty, although I haven't tested it. I got the faulty cable box replaced, but with an even more faulty one. I bought a little dresser for craft supplies that FW2 can use to stash her stuff (although it arrived broken and will be replaced next wednesday) should she be the unpacking sort. I put away anything that just seemed embarrassing to leave out. All is not lost. But I am not yet an award winning hostess.

Work might be sketchy tomorrow because my tool is broken and holding up the line while we wait for a part to come in from europe. I'm almost certain that we've fixed the right things so that we don't re-break this part within 24 hours. I got to call and pester the vendor about finding, say, an in country stash of these things. It felt like helping. Hopefully the part will come in and no one will call me on my vacation days.

Still, there were good things:
  1. A tech in the fab was wearing a "The Smiths" concert T that looked new so I asked about it. I am a fan. Turns out Morrisey had a gig the other night and still sells them. This led to much singing of tunes, including Sweet and Tender Hooligan, so naturally ||:Etcetera:|| was stuck in my head all day. But it went away on its own.
  2. The weather out here is getting hot in the afternoon, yet only 85F, so it's super fantastic.
  3. I got a call from a book club friend tonight and we had a fun chat about lots of stuff - book club get togethers, greek honey, and the holy land.
  4. My order from Amazon came in. I can re-up my geek card now that I have the DVD set of Firefly and the illustrated companion. I also got two romances, both regencies, from authors I like. I've been in the mood for regencies.
  • Loretta Chase's "Not Quite a Lady". A good read, 4/5 (maybe 3/5). I think it's the last of the Carsington brothers series. Likeable characters who had some good fun and grew up a bit. The H/H were in their late 20s, which was a nice change of pace, and believable within the context of the story. Things were a little slick, however, and about 40 pages in I realized that there wasn't a lot going on but that I liked the characters well enough to stick around and find out how they got their HEA. I rather liked the earlier ones a lot better, but this was still good. She sets herself a hard standard to live up to.

  • Julie Anne Long's "The Secret to Seduction". I'm on page 60 yet I've put it down about 5 times, the heroine is a brainless, cliched nitwit as near as I can tell. Suddenly in chapter five, this book gets related to the previous two books, but it's abrupt and should have happened earlier. I trust this author enough to hope the too young, too pious, cardboard cut-out heroine will get interesting and at least a little likeable. I hope I won't have to read any poetry. If you're new to her work, don't start with this one.
It was probably too much to put in a woe-is-me, I live in wonderland and have friends visiting from out of country, and can afford a new sofa from my savings morph into my 3 happiness tokens and 2 book reviews but I haven't posted in a few days and the brain has been chaotic, so I'm posting some chaos.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Merry Maids

I just finished vacuuming every surface available so that I only have to do a quick runthrough and hit the highlights before farmwifetwo gets here on thursday. As much as I get satisfaction from eradicating dirt and dust, I don't get enough satisfaction to induce me to keep at it day after day after day. For the most part, I would rather do anything else. I'm seriously going to have to consider budgeting in some professional help.

I think once I figure out the layout and design of my place, do the kitchen remodel, and get the main space set up, I'll clear out a lot of the clutter that gets in the way. If I don't have to dust under and around 40,000 things, it's a lot less effort to keep the place clean. I'm having one of those days where I want to throw out half of what I own. There are some friends who would rejoice at hearing that. So far, I've picked 3 pairs of shoes. But what I'd like to do is design in good places to put the stuff I want to keep.

One thing that will help is getting the living room arranged. I want to build a desk for the corner so I have a space for MY NEW SOFA! I finally bit the bullet and decided on a sofa. After I broke in my new glassblowing pipes, I wandered around El Segundo for a while. I found a custom furniture place that could give me exactly what I want for $350 less than the almost right IKEA Hamra sofa, and totally on budget. Yes, it's going to be orange. And on feet high enough I can vacuum under it. They even offered to finish it in time for farmwifetwo to see it - and maybe help me haul it inside.

Well, now that I've burnt sunlight by vacuuming and blogging, I'm going to head outside and take advantage of the weather. Hope everyone everyone in blogland is having a good weekend.

UPDATE: Went running. This makes twice in a week which is a milestone for my running reinvigoration efforts. I went in shorts even, because, for you Suz fans, I had of a bit of an Alyssa overheating moment during the last outing when I overdressed. Speaking of Suz, she has 2 new books, 2 reissues, and 1 paperback release in the next few months. And I thought I had all of her titles, but one of the reissues doesn't seem to be on my shelf, so the timing is good.

Friday, June 15, 2007


This day was a pretty normal Friday. I got up, went to work, did some work, got acupuncture, managed to stay awake through a meeting, found out my experiment didn't get as far as I'd hoped, then met with some colleagues for happy hour. Or happy three hours, as the case may be - because I have to sit around and drink water for a while before going home.

The good things from an average kind of day:
  1. While my experiment didn't get as far as I'd hoped, it did get going and went very smoothly for the most part. It was lack of appropriate sized tooling for my test vehicle that means I have to wait for Monday to finish up, but by then it should go reasonably well.
  2. The acupuncture was a nice time out. Very soothing. And after this appointment I can extend the time between visits.
  3. A coworker stayed a longer at the bar with me while I drank my enormous water. We discussed where all of our relatives live. I'm not sure either of us paid a lot of attention, but we had fun drawing maps on the napkin.
Even though drinking makes me sleepy:

Sleepy Otter from CuteOverload

I managed to avoid the couch nap somehow. I even did a decent ab workout, probably because my couch distraction involved watching a movie with people working out. I started watching Hitch, which I like well enough, but own on DVD, so I went surfing. Somehow I got sucked into Ice Princess, a movie targeted to teen girls who dream of making it big more than making it. It was actually an enjoyable flick because it avoided the thing that has come to make me hate "feel good " movies: the dominance of the underdog.

Most of these shows have the favorite being cocky AND mean, the spawn of horrible pushy parents, who must be "put in their place" no matter how hard they've worked to get to the top. Despite, or because of, the fact that in real life the pretty, the wealthy, and the very fit often have a path less encumbered by external obstacles, American movie and TV studios can't turn out enough movies where the underdog rises up from obscurity and incompetence to take down the prom queen, football star, or super mathlete. Or to my point, the person who has worked their whole life to get to the top only to be knocked down by some jerky newcomer with a lucky streak.

It reminds me of watching a nature documentary. If the feature is gazelles, you want that nasty cheetah to be thwarted in its search for dinner. But if you watch the cheetah show, you want that gazelle to go down. I've decided that I want the character who has the heart, the talent, the dedication, AND who has paid their dues to win. That, to me, is a satisfying climax. I'm rooting for the cheetah, even during the gazelle show. If the favorite loses because they fell on their face, it had better not be from sabotage or dumb luck. I don't care if they are cocky - I think if you're in the top ten of your game, you can show some pride in that without being evil.

For the most part, IP did this. The newcomer had natural talent and worked hard for an intermediate time and has a shot in the future because she placed, but didn't win, over the top skater. Cool Runnings did somewhat well with this too, although they did make the german/swiss teams movie-evil. I've never been a good enough competitive athlete to know if the top teams really behave that way, but I never saw anyone get stabbed with a mechanical pencil at ARML.

But there is at least one case where I do want the underdog to get equal attention to their pretty blonde sisters. Missing women. From USA Today on wednesday:
    Stepha Henry is still missing. But since yesterday, Google News has indexed just three stories that mention the 22-year-old black New Yorker who disappeared two weeks ago in Miami. Missing Woman, happens to be black

    During the same period, the site found 525 stories that mentioned Kel.sey Smith, the white girl who was kidnapped and killed in Kansas, and 6,581 news stories that mentioned the celebrity who is famous for being famous. (Even Nata.lee Hollo,way, the Alabama girl who went missing in Aruba two years ago, earned more mentions than Henry.)

Aside from the fact that I don't want people to go missing (duh), I think there is too MUCH publicity over these things normally, but only when the victim is blonde. I'd say "white" but really, the blondes get the most press. Since I don't think I can vote for "no press" on the subject, I'd like to give a little push of hope and bandwidth in the direction of Stepha Henry.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Goldfish Brain

I woke up this morning (cue Sopranos soundtrack), just like most every morning: clock radio with NPR turns on to cue my brain to pay attention, the full spectrum light glows with morning bright, and once I am good and primed to recognize the hateful concept of "morning", the beepy alarm goes off and I hit the snooze every 4 minutes for a little more than half an hour. During that half hour, I grow increasingly annoyed at the quality and content of the so-called news.

The thing that irritated me out of bed this morning was something that has bothered me for a while. In reporting Wall Street financial numbers, there's no yesterday and no tomorrow. The format is almost always, "The DJIA is up 3 points to 1341 in early trading". It is a rare day when they say "The DJIA is up 3 points to 1141 in early trading, not yet recovering from last weeks 200 point plunge." Nor do they say "The DJIA is up 3 points to 1341, continuing its overall upward trend for the month." Somewhat like Ellen Degeneres's fish in Finding Nemo, every time you turn around it's like "Hey, look what I found! I don't know the Dow from downtown, but 1341 seems like a propitious number. And it's UP!" Even for the brief run through the headline news, would it take so long to add 14 syllables of context?

The reason I don't like this reporting is that it fosters a market timing, day trading mentality. The problem with that mentality is that even people in the business who should know better reward rash, short term corporate behavior over long term business growth, stability, and a return on longer term investments. The majority of CEOs are required first to pander to the stock market, not to make a company strong, safe, and pleasant to work with and for. Even though long term growth is in everyone's best interest, the news tells me the story that grandstanding moves like laying off 10% of a workforce will increase stock value long enough for someone watching from afar to make money, no matter the expense to the fundamentals, employees, and product potential. This mentality says, if it's not in the now, it's not worth doing.

Every so often, someone will buck the trend and come out with something that really advances technology and possibly quality of life. The last company I worked for took about six years to turn my division profitable once they decided to really fund it. Had the company's founder not championed the technology, the W.ii controller might not exist today, and your airbag's timing might not be as advanced. The division almost certainly wouldn't have survived without the protection of the parent company and the founder. In the last few years, though, it has become of one of the superstars for getting the company name positive press. It has returned on the investment which was made in spite of Wall Street thinking it was nothing more than a drain on resources.

But what usually makes the news and excites stock trading is big companies laying people off, not investing in potential. I only wish I could better articulate an example that doesn't include the popular "layoff" and provide some specific companies to show what I mean. Because every CEO tells you how the major restructuring will help cure cancer and taste like grape popsicles. Yet I wonder how many people really belive them while watching the news anchors echo the pre-fabbed talking points with a mild smile and no critical analysis whatsoever. This lack of critical analysis and context seems to be endemic to our news these days and is getting worse. And it irritates me every day.

Another thing that continually annoys me is "scientists" assuming that animals, fish, and various other life forms are stupid, emotionless, and incapable. These poseurs do not deserve the honor of being associated with a community based almost solely on careful observation and logical deductive reasoning. The "goldfish brain" reference comes from some "scientists" who, about a decade ago, posited that goldfish brains are so small that they have no short or long memory to speak of. The Mythbusters were able to debunk this in a week. Anyone who has cared for a pet or even observed nature out the back window knows that animals sense and feel, then learn and do new things based on how previous sensations made them feel. Just like us. That's not to say pets they learn what you want them to. But that is not necessarily the failure of the animal.

The only good thing to come from this study, IMHO, is a great pop culture reference that Ani Defranco translated well to song. Upon reflection, I find the first two verses can be substituted for the entirety of this blog entry, and future rant on franchising as well.
    in a coffee shop in a city
    which is every coffee shop
    in every city
    on a day which is every day
    i pick up a magazine
    which is every magazine
    and read a story then forgot it right away

    they say goldfish have no memory
    i guess their lives are much like mine
    the little plastic castle
    is a surprise every time

    it's hard to say if they are happy
    but they don't seem much to mind

Which does make me wonder how you can tell what a goldfish is feeling. Just because I can't correctly interpret fast tail twitching doesn't mean they don't get cranky.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Haiku Burger Good Time

A lot of good things today to add happiness in my life:
  1. A friend back in Boston not only finished her first triathalon this weekend, she crushed the competition and finished first in her age class. And her sister on the Left coast did too. Wonder Twin powers, Activate! (Sorry if that's getting old for you, but with the whole anonymous-in-blogland thing and two Newcastles, it's what I've got.) Clever and exuberant way to make sure to fit into that wedding dress...

  2. One of my online friends decided that it was worth the risk to take the leap from ether to reality and stopped by for dinner on her way from SF to SD. I think her husband was still nervous until I showed him my new artsy steel table and my glassblowing pipes and tools. I tried to reassure him that I grew up in Minnesota and am just neighborly. It may have worked.

    I've had such good luck meeting people from Suz's board (my online book club) that I forgot how, "It's OK honey, we met on the internet!" sounds to someone who doesn't know us yet. Granted, I usually make sure I talk to someone who has met them in person before or get some other bona fides. In this case, my new friend lives in Alaska so that's harder to do. (And also makes me thrilled that she chose to stop for me.) But she sent me a cool CD to help with the running motivation that showed we have at least some interests in common and she has a good sense of humor. After a slightly delayed start we met up with my most-local book club friend and her husband as well.

    We had a good dinner at the local steak house, although we hadn't noticed they only serve prime rib, friend's DH's birthday dinner selection, on weekends. Apparently Tuesday isn't a weekend. After a round of beer and martinis, who knew? But we had a good time, dishing board stuff, getting to know each other, sharing a "widowmaker" burger, and letting the guys talk guy things unless we could embarrass them with romance novel talk. It's still funny to me that I have so many female friends after a young life identifying more with the guys. But it's a good funny.

    And the picking up I've been putting off is mostly all done as of last night, I got the mix-tape (yes, on CD) done, and I conscripted help to move the tool bench across the patio. Good details I don't want to lose in the abundance of happiness riches today.

  3. I'm thinking "tropical modern" is really close. Maybe "modern tropical"? "engineereed tropical"? "Bold couch-napping"? I'm trying to find an alternate to "spartan yard-sale" for another friend, but if the hand-me-downs fit...

  4. Fangrrl gush! New York Times Best Selling Author and Close Personal Friend wrote this for me. Love it!
    Laughing young woman
    Smiles as she kicks your ass
    Big brain, bigger heart

Work was busy. Have process issues to fix, but busy is good. Progress is being made. And ogre sized M&Ms, while they get stuck in the M&M dispenser, come in the colors of my home. So maybe my style should be "ogre modern". But really. Excellent day all around.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Two words: Brand Me

Words that Work is due back at the library tomorrow and I've got to the last chapter (for me - I read out of order) on the process of crafting a message. Instead of cleaning up my condo for a brief inspection by visitors before the drinking and dining commences tomorrow, I'm thinking about what words define my style personally, and which define my design style and whether or not they are the same words. I'll share some of my attempts at the end but I'm hoping for ideas and input from the webiverse.

There was a great article in the May07 Domino magazine which a friend passed on to me called "phone date with (style) destiny". It's about a service by that comes up with a descriptive 2 word "style statement" for you. The gurus C&D call it pattern matching. Says author C. Kling, "In a nutshell, it's instant personal branding." Being a fan of pattern matching and frequently awed by the overwhelming response of people to good branding, I was ready to phone them with my $500 before I was halfway through the article.

I want my own style statement because it is not only descriptive, but proscriptive. It allows you (read: me) to refine not only what you already have and do, but what you want to achieve. And to do so in some way that is harmonious to the self. The two word phrase is even more refined upon: an 80/20 ratio of dominance. The second word primarily mitigating negative connotations from the first and extending the reach a little. Examples given are
  • Creative Wonder (too much wonder = wacky)
  • Creative Natural (not too much granola)
  • Classic Genuine (hired musicians instead of a DJ for party)

Now that's all well and good but they don't resonate with me because they don't describe me or my friends. For instance, the friend who lent me the magazine would be "Elegant Punk" or "Modish Retro", if she'll forgive me for saying so. I also like "Cherry Bombs" for fans of co-authors Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer. And Suzealots for intensely focused Suz Brockmann fans, although those are more straight branding than style mantras.

There are more reasons this concept resonates with me. One, one of my favorite designers on HGTV, Karen McAloon, always starts her design ReMix by "shopping" through the homeowner's stuff, and choosing a 2 word design description: Hawaiian retreat, modern eclectic, country contemporary. (I made those up, though.) The biggest reason is that knowing what TO do/get allows me also what NOT TO do/get. I had a friend come do something similar to this for me at the Boston pad. She picked out my dominant colors and themes. From that point on, I was able to simplify by taking out the non-dominant colors and themes and tying together the rest. I was tempted, but not seduced, by red throw pillows for my orange/green/purple color scheme. I was able to say no and feel good about it.

My problem now is that I need that kind of advice again. I'm sitting in a chaotic mess (of mostly paper) and in order to move on the right path I'd like some more insight. But when I tell people I'd like an "Island colonial" design, they say "huh?" Same with "tropical traditional". What this means to me is:
  • bold colors (burnt orange, the lime green of the blog, warm ivory and bright white)
  • in big geometric areas and prints
  • with traditional/antique medium-dark wood furniture
  • bamboo accents
  • and some matte metal or black accents (I'm leaning toward "antiqued matte metal")
  • dotted with eclectic, artistic pieces I've gathered over the years.
But now that I think about it, I'm not really an "island tropical" kind of spirit (yet). Southern California might want to lean that way, and I love the lush, soothing, breezy, yet vibrant feeling, but I don't feel it on the inside. And I want my space to be like a haiku - uncluttered but full of substance. I'm a great judge of haiku, but not a great author of it due to wordiness issues, so it makes living one a challenge. Even so, maybe I need my personal style haiku instead:
Very many books.
Favorite things on display.
Welcome to my home.

As a call to my blog readers, I'd like you to comment or email with your personal style statement or haiku. (I spend too much time in my own head; let me in yours. If I have time later, and you have the desire, I'll dive in the thesaurus for you too.) Then if you have some notion of how to describe me, please toss me a word or two I could use in a personal statement. In the meantime, I'm going to do a blitzkrieg pickup and burn a CD. I hope.

I Sweat the Small Stuff

Do you ever have one of those runs of luck where all the little details of your normal routine go wrong? It's enough to make you want to scream that the world isn't fair. It's the small stuff that you're not supposed to "sweat", but really, for the big stuff people will cut you some slack. When you're running late because of a day like this, they just think you're a flake, and that makes a body sweat the small stuff.

Woke up ok, almost on track to leave earlyish when...
  • I realized that my shirt was gaping over my boobs. This shirt fits great if I put a couple safety pins around the chest area so it lays right. I have a couple like that and I forgot this was one of them. I had to put the safety pins in without letting them poke through to the front. Yes, I should have done this last night, but I didn't think of it. Possibly it was denial. And choosing a new shirt would have thrown me off stride.
  • I had to pop a zit that was sitting on a nerve ending on the side of my nose and then it bled like crazy.
  • My necklace got tangled trying to get it off the hangar. I don't feel put together without a ring and a necklace, so I try not to go without.
  • I was out of peanut butter and had to force my way through protective packaging on a new jar to get the protein on my morning toast.
  • I realized on the way to the car that my pants are too short. They looked like they fit when I did a test fitting, standing in bare feet on cushiony carpet. But in shoes on concrete, they're apparently floods. sigh But no time to change them. Or my too short socks.
  • I got peanut butter on my fingers on *both hands* between unlocking the car door and getting in the car, so I had to wipe off the fingers and everything I touched.
  • Two different things on my key chain got jammed between the key and the steering column, preventing smooth insertion of the key into the ignition.
  • The slowest bicyclist in the world was crossing my driveway pullout during the first break in traffic so I had to wait another light cycle to get out.
  • At the right-turn-on-red intersection, there were four cars making U-turns which prevent our lane from moving. Typical volume is about 1 per week.

After that, things smoothed out. I got on the freeway and it was relatively clear until the standard clog point. (I still haven't figured out the dynamics of why it clogs there, but if someone wants to go faster than you, get out of their way especially if you can't be bothered to pay attention to your uphill speed, yes, even if you're already speeding.) The traffic at the freeway exit was normal. I easily found a parking spot. My computer booted up with no trouble (although Lotus notes is balking at closing messages for some reason). But by then it was to late. Instead of being here on time or early, I was 7 minutes late.

And that's the kind of thing that actually makes me sweat. I think that if I get my energy level sorted back out I'll be able to wake up a little easier and leave a little earlier. But until then, days like this where I hit the snooze until the last possible moment, drop the last pill from the bottle on the floor, fumble the keys, tangle the necklace, get peanut butter on the seatbelt strap, and run into unexpected traffic are going to plague me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

And yet, no.

Just got a note from tomorrow's date. Apparently disney poisoned him today so the date is off. Drat! I was looking forward to it. On one hand, if it's true, food poisoning is terrible. I got it the week before I moved and was sure the movers would be finding my dead body. I felt bad for 5 days and sketchy for a couple more. On the other hand, it seems an extreme way to break a date, should it not be true. Either way, it might be for the best as my foot still hurts.

It started when I bought some fun, yet adult, new taupe shoes. They were the last pair so they were cheap, but they fit great and match my stuff. They even sparkle a bit in the sun. They are the "I heart comfort" brand. And I thought they were comfortable all day until I took them off when I got home and found that the outside left of my left heel was bruised all to heck. It hurts a LOT. Not so bad that I couldn't run to the helicopter taking me out of the line of fire, but bad enough that I didn't run this week, squealed a couple times, and limped for 3 days. The acupuncturist gave it a little help yesterday and it wasn't so bad today. It would probably been ok for Disney tomorrow, so I'll try to run instead.

At least I got some work done around the place because I knew I couldn't do it tomorrow. I cleared off half the patio and swept in preparation for power washing. (Why did the former owner have 3 full gallons of the ugly kitchen paint? And why did they leave them for me?) I got the car washed. I cut up some veggies to make an omelet with in the morning. I cleaned a month's worth of crap out of my purse and restocked the band-aids. Which is how I ran across the annoying phone that doesn't ring and found the text message saying the date was a no go.

I also got some hooks to hang my pots around the stove, which cleared up a lot more space than I expected, and took down the oddly placed pot rack over the hood. When I opened the cabinets behind the bad rack, I found an enamel pot and two pencils. The pot might be good for plants on the patio, and the mechanical pencil had lead. A lot of ammonia and soap and a little shelf paper later and my pot lids no longer live in a pile on the back left burner.

Still, I'm not sure if I should be sympathetic for a suffering human or tweaked over the lack of roller coasters in my near future. He seems like a fun person, so he'll get the benefit of the doubt this time.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Back in the Saddle?

In looking through my tags, I noticed that "lust" only has one post. Maybe that's why my dating life is a little sparse? Either that, or that's not really what I talk about here. Or a combination of both. At least the "dating" tag has a couple more posts indicating that I haven't totally given the notion a pass.

But a minor miracle has occurred. I went bold in emailing a guy who mentioned liking roller coasters and suggested we go to Magic Mountain, rather than meeting for "the audition" (his words) over a drink. And it worked! But he works for Disney so we're going to go there tomorrow instead because we can get in for free. He was worried about sounding like a spendthrift, but I figure if it doesn't work out, we didn't drop a ton of money on entrance fees.

He sounds really fun from his profile, so I have hopes. I'll send someone his contact info, just in case I don't show up monday. I figure the chances I'll wind up in pieces beneath the landscaping are pretty low. About the same as eloping to Vegas. I really am just trying to meet some guys and see if one sticks. I want to get excited about this, but not too excited.

But now, I need to go unleash the power washer on the patio after I get the car washed.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Or, putting my money where my mouth is.

Today was the first time I got to the local farmer's market since it moved mid-winter because I wind up working late on thursdays a lot. It's still expensive; I spent $27 for a week's worth of produce and 2 tamales. Still, I've found the way to get the best deal is to go at the end of the day and, when the vendor isn't swamped, ask them for a dollar amount of an item they sell by the pound. They almost always overfill the bag by 20% or more - though I would never complain if they didn't (see * items). I probably got about $30 worth of stuff for my $27 including a dollar's worth of arugula. Arugula has not been in plentiful supply since I moved away from Farmer Steve which is a darn shame.

Just for grins, here's what I remember buying:
  • a dozen really skinny japanese cukes $2
  • 3 pints of sweet strawberries $5
  • artichoke, new variety, large $3
  • baby bok choi $2
  • 4 limes $0.50
  • 7 deep red plums $1*
  • 6 tangerines $1*
  • arugula $1*
  • snap peas $1*
  • 3 hass avocados $2
  • 2 tamales $5.50
  • some things I already can't remember for $3

The good stuff:
  1. Tamale Dinner
    I ate half each of my veggie tamale and pork tamale with some leftover hominy, and skinny new cukes.
    Tamales with sauce, hominy and cukes
    Factoid One: I did NOT like tamales before I moved here. A couple years ago I went to dinner at a friends' house. They'd been in this area for a while before Boston and were making tamales. I went anyway. Turned out those tamales were quite tasty which gave me the courage to try these. (Thanks GA and F!) I prefer the sweet corn tamale to the veggie combo tamale shown here, but I came at beggar hour, not chooser hour. well inhaling a half pint of strawberries, one plum, and 1/3 of the XL artichoke, shown cooking here
    boiling artichoke with lemon
    I usually cook my chokes whole which takes 45 minutes. Being a varietal I've not tried before, I'm not sure if 30 minutes overcooked this one because of the chopping, or if it just had an inherently mealy texture but it was a little mushy. Factoid two: I called my mom after leaving the market to tell her about my moneysaving scheme. She and my dad were just sitting down to eat artichokes for dinner. (Yes, at 8:40pm. My apple fell close to the tree.)

  2. Eggs

    A colleague has a small family size farm in Ojai and keeps chickens. They produce surplus eggs in the summer months which he sells. For $1.50 I got the following selection of eggs in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. I dig it.
    varicolored eggs

  3. Fun with Industrial Food Products
    While you might argue that this goes under my "oil" post, not my food post, it's food I eat and I'm sticking it here. I'm continually entertained by EasyMac. Sometimes, I just want some mac-n-cheese and it's usually when I don't have fresh food handy. This stuff tastes just as good as the add your own milk and butter kind but doesn't require me to stock fresh milk or make more than I should eat in one sitting. And when it boils in the microwave, the rising air bubbles line up the noodles like little soldiers. Which, as my mom would say, is cooler than hooties.
    Easy mac standing noodles

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I'm Not an Addict

One of the words I keep seeing in the media is "addiction", specifically referencing "oil addiction". Bullshit. I live in a country that has an oil dependency, but I wouldn't call it an addiction. There's a lot of blame and shame inherent in that word. Just from the driving-needs-gas perspective personally, I try to live as close to work as possible so I don't have to drive far. (I could bike, I suppose, but I don't.) I also live in a walkable neighborhood. But for the most part, if you live in any American city that was built after 1940 or expanded readily since then (aka, most of them), you simply cannot reasonably function without driving because of the infrastructure.

A large part of the infrastructure problem is suburbs. Suburbs have zoning that segregates residence from commerce making it necessary, generally, to drive from home to store regardless of the load size in an errand. A gallon of milk requires the same drive, and same wait through the register line, as a full load of groceries. In the suburban neighborhood where I grew up, it was a nice three mile round trip walk along a couple busy streets to reach the nearest convenience store. At my current and boston area dwellings, the walk is about three minutes. So in that regard, I try not to be part of the problem. But there is some collective brainwashing that makes modern parents think that cities are no place to raise a child, despite people successfully doing so for millenia. So they move to the 'burbs and must drive everywhere, for every thing.

But more than that, back when the auto industry was starting, they (certain companies) liked to buy up railways and rip out the tracks to remove competition. As a result, there are very few workable public transportation systems in America for either long or short haul distances. Even more than that, due to farm subsidies and price cuts for foreign goods that have less safety regulation, it's cheaper to ship stuff in. And most of this stuff is delivered by truck for both short and long haul trips. Nothing against truckers, but it's nuts to ship 6 trucks worth of goods from place A to place B. Trains are more efficient. But we continually reduce train traffic in favor of trucks. I don't know why, but I suspect special interest lobbies and tax cuts and subsidies favoring trucking.

There's currently a brouhaha over the Long Beach, CA port in that they want to expand, but the amount of truck traffic and pollution that would be added to haul containers from the port to the distribution center would be over the top, even for LA county, with the worst air quality in the country. They're kinda sorta dicking around with the idea of putting in a short haul rail line to handle the traffic. This seems like a no-brainer to me: doesn't clog the roads, speed doesn't rely on commuters getting out of the way (it can take 30 minutes to go 3 miles here), the route is fixed, they can build a green train or upgrade to one later. The only downside is initial outlay of money. With the time and resources saved, a rail line would almost certainly pay for itself many times over, improve efficiency, reduce labor, etc... but I'm not going to hold my breath, even though I should not breathe that air.

But more than just transport, we make stuff out of oil: plastics, colorants, building materials, packaging, fabric. This stuff comes, or can come, from oil. In fact, I'm pretty sure my new fluorescent green underwear come from oil. With the exception of the tiny cotton patch, they even look like pure plastic. It was the novelty of the heat-welded seam sealing of the elastic into the leg openings that sold me. That and they match the first non-racer back bra I've owned that doesn't fall off my shoulders. And let me tell you, I'm not giving up that bra for love nor money. I bought five of them. And if we had to rape the land to make it? I'm not going to apologize. I'd buy them again. And I'm not an addict; I just don't have other viable alternatives.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Imagine your Hassle-Free Lifestyle

The title contains 3 of the 21 "words that work" for the 21st century from a book written by Frank L.untz, wordsmith extraordinaire to the p.arty. I saw him speak at the LA Festival of Books in a panel of 5 on media spin, and he was the only one of his persuasion. (He was also the only one who spoke over the moderator.) But I like language and I've been fascinated by the success, and, well, catchiness of the catch phrases the RP has been employing this past decade.

And so I went to the source. I can recommend the book as approachable. He tries too hard to appeal to a audience, but I can get behind that as a member of the target audience. He's a little better with 30 second spots than a couple hundred pages. But I like how he explains why "imagine" sucks the audience in and invites them to participate, whereas "think" sounds like work; how "efficiency" plays as getting more for your money, but "conservation" is giving something up and getting less than you want.

I really wish someone would take the demo.crats (or the greens, or the liber.tarians) in hand and give them some home truths about how to speak in the media today. The moderate /lib.eral/ prog.ressive Americans need a candidate/rep to speak out in a way that allows them to control the soundbytes, make themselves look good, reasonable, fair, and sharp unlike what happened with the Ker.ry camp.aign fiasco. Had L.untz had been asked, he would have had Ker.ry tell the smear campaigners to go to hell - it would have made him look tough, gotten the message across, and redirected the media's attention to whether or not a presidential candidate should swear. A win all around.

One of these days the dems will ask Aaron Sorkin to be their speechwriter, but until then, I will have to live with using power words in my blog. Or maybe in my so far useless match pro.file. I've got a week and a half before the book has to go back to the library. (I'm not handing FL my money, not to worry.)

I'm not so sure I can imagine a hassle-free (h-f=1 word) lifestyle, but I think it would start with having a personal assistant. And a regular date. And exercising for fun, not because I'll expand like I've inhaled helium if I don't. And more affordable artichokes and cherries. And...good health and good sleep. Speaking of which, it's bedtime for this otter.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Vim and Vigor

So I get these extreme engergy swings during the day. Usually I'm hyper awake from about 3 to 6 pm, then I crash, hence the couch naps after work. And if I'm in a meeting between 2:30 and 2:45, there's almost nothing that will keep me awake in my post lunch coma. Middle morning is sort of a middle ground of energy and I get some of that back, along with some hyper energy after 10pm. But I've been near vibrating with energy for the last 20 minutes or so and all the things I not only could and should be doing are flashing through my head at warp speed, but I actually want to do them.

I have some samples that need prep and evaluation that I'm going to run off and try to finish up right after this post. But in no particular order, this is what my brain wants me to do *right this minute*.

  • Sample prep
  • pick out paint samples
  • buy toilet paper
  • sort through all toilettries and toss ones I know I'll never use
  • take pictures of sandblasted glass pieces
  • finish my glass pipe holder and shop for a carry strap
  • evaluate S7 data in JuMP (just got revision upgrade)
  • read manual for S7
  • write up meeting minutes
  • look up classes at 24hr fitness

This is why I get so disappointed in myself when I get home and do none of these things. Because I'm convinced right at this moment that I have both the energy and motivation to do all these things.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Living the Good Life

While I"m still having some low energy issues, I did get out and about today and got some stuff done. I'm still ignoring the growing pile of incoming paper. I've got about a week and a half to clean out the living room and spiff up the patio before people start coming by who might have an opinion.

So I felt good about getting stuff done:
  1. I spoke to most of my family today: mom & dad, brother, both grandmas. Grandma S is out of the therapy unit and back in her assisted living condo although she's had some low energy days. Grandma P self reports being "great" and went to church, had lunch out, and took a bit of a road trip today, and they had a truly tasty sounding dinner.

    I spent about an hour chatting with my brother while I walked over to get an apple fritter. He had some fascinating insights on how to motivate each of his friends differently. One needs to be cajoled into doing stuff AND prevented from backing out at the last minute. Another decides early on whether or not to do something and sticks with that decision to the point where he doesn't enjoy going to things he's been coerced into attending. Another always reschedules unless my brother works the time out with the friend's wife first. It made me realize that I haven't done such an analysis on any of my friends, nor had it occurred to me that it might be a useful thing to do. Who is likely to show up when invited? Who is likely to say they'll come then not without a good reason? (Luckily, few.) Who will do something if I ask, but won't ask me first? Maybe I'll think on that after I clean up my paper piles.

  2. Anyhoo - also got the car washed and picked up some supplies for projects. I need to make a container for carting around my glassblowing pipes and decided to copy an idea I saw someone else use of a PVC pipe segment with end caps so I got a giant 10' piece of 4" pipe that stuck out my window on the way home. I also bought stuff to make a hanging basket of impatiens because my mom says they'll do well in full shade, unlike my still runty marigolds. I even hung it up and everything. I got the laundry done yesterday and hung up the fancy shirts so I don't have to iron, although I do miss the stiff starch/sizing feel of them being new.

  3. I also made a tasty dinner - spinach salad (I've been getting a good deal on the pre-bagged spinach) and homemade pizza (tomato sauce, mushrooms, olives, broccoli, zucchini, turkey burger crumbles and mozzarella) on a homemade thin crust using sconome's parchment trick. And for dessert, mango, grAple, cherry salad with lemon juice and balsamic. And the rest of the apple fritter.

  4. I justify eating this feast by actually exercising beforehand. In addition to 40 minutes of weighted cardio yesterday, I did a 25 minute run this evening with 2+ minute run segments in my run/walk combo. Music really, really helps motivate me to keep moving. That and being accountable to other people. The brother and I had a chat about how there is exercise that makes us feel good to do, but we still hate doing it and put it off as much as possible despite knowing we will feel better later. It's one of the few things we have in common.

  5. I did enjoy finishing Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses. It was saucier than I expected.

Well, now that you know how exiting my life isn't... I'll try to have something better for next weekend. Better to fit that "Living the Dream" lifestyle change.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Since moving away from the engineer heavy zone of Cambridge, Massachusetts, or as I often refer to it, Boston, I've had to make more of an effort to socialize with engineers. (No laughing about engineers socializing by the non-engineers out there!) At any rate, I joined the local SWE chapter and have attended several events.

And like any group that has a new mark to practice their con on, they've joined forces and directed them at me. I've agreed to run for section secretary. I've mentioned about 40 times that I don't want to lead or organize anything. I want to show up, do my task, and go home. We'll see how it works out but so far everyone seems ecstatic that I might be joining the mothership in the command room. Of course, once I show up, I offer my opinion which might make people less than ecstatic, because we all know I have a tough time keeping my trap shut.

We had the section's five year anniversary dinner last night and had a lot of local female students come to get awards for various science related achievements. A LOT of students. That was pretty great to see so many girls doing science fair projects and whatnot. The city of Ventura sponsored us by allowing us to use their city hall atrium space for the event. Being a very high ceilinged area filled with light and carved stone added a nice air of gravity to the dinner. And allowed us to play with balloons in the "construct the tallest centerpiece" event.

All in all, it went well for our first big event, and there were many things we learned to improve for next time. And I have a lot of opinions about that, so I can only guess how much control I'll want to seize in the future despite my intent not to do any such thing. Like trying to rename the national group to "Society of Women in Engineering" or "Society of Female Engineers". Because on the whole, "female" is an adjective and "woman" is a noun. And this trend to say "the first woman X" is driving me nuts which just makes it ironic that I went out and paid good money to join a group which actively promotes this annoying trend in common usage.

Friday, June 1, 2007


I'm going to be gushing fan-grrl today with 3 happy book related items of some of my favorite authors.
  1. Author Suz Brockmann has an excerpt from her next book Force of Nature (FON) up on Romance B(u)y the Book (or click blog link in sidebar). And a new picture with good hair. And a blurb about gay pride in Boston. She asked for comments about what makes us proud. Here's what I've got at hand:
    1. I left the safety net of my last job and moved across the country to shake my life up a little.
    2. On the gay pride thing, I was eavesdropping on some guys at the cheap chinese lunch place on Tuesday and they were having an interesting discussion on people who do bad things until the guy holding court on his opinion said something like "these people are so out of touch they turn gay" and I called him on it. I turned and looked quizical and said, "of all the bad things these people do, the one you call out is having a gay relationship?" And man did he backpedal like crazy! I was mostly disappointed that he took the easy way out instead of pointing out real problems. Turned out to be 3 nice guys, two of whom fix Mazdas, so I might even see them around town again.

  2. Author Jenny Crusie has started yet another blog. I'm excited about her blogs because she's witty and insightful and doesn't publish very fast. So go to her Dogs and Goddesses blog that she's doing with three other ladies and try not to snort your tasty beverage through your nose reading about the dog training classes.

  3. Author Eloisa James has a new book Desperate Duchesses which I got with a Bor.der's coupon and am enjoying. She has many POV characters because it's not all just about one couple, and that threw at least one reviewer, but I'm reading it like it's an ensemble cast and it's working for me.

Well, lunch is over and I have to leave early for a SWE banquet so I should get cracking.