Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Great Debate Locations

It turns out that the two touristy buildings I took my friend, and former Kodak engineer, to see on Sunday wound up being the CA locations for the presidential debates this week. The Kodak Theater was closed for unspecified reasons, which given the red carpet stuff that happens there regularly, I didn't question. I just heard this morning on NPR that it was because they were preparing for the Democratic invasion. We wound up taking in a flick at the other theater upstairs, a repeat for me of Charlie Wilson's War, and wandering around the mall looking at the Hello KittyKuromi aka Goth Hello Kitty and rainbows.

Speaking of which, there were rainbow sightings aplenty this weekend. The combination of heavy rain
Rain running off roof in front of slab of Ber.lin w.all
and sunshine alternating every 20 minutes or so for 70+ hours had some nice payoffs, like this
Rainbow and American flag in Santa Barbara
This one was in Santa Barbara during the film festival. I don't know what to think about the rainbow whose arc appeared to end on a sign. [Fun rainbow fact: I could only see the right half of this rainbow unless I cocked my head to the side due to the polarizing angle of my sunglass's lenses. The left half was reflected 90 degrees off from the right half apparently. I didn't even know I was missing it until I saw the whole arc in my friend's camera. I should probably go repeat a physics class somewhere.]

For those watching the GOP debate at the Rea.gan Library as I was crafting this entry, you might have seen this platform. I wasn't allowed to use a flash, though, so maybe not.
heavily backlit platform for GOP debate

That's ok, it looked better from below, the space where we had our company's annual party.
Notice the column on the right topped with wheels. Those wheels are connected to Air Force 1 #2700 which ferried 7 presidents about in wood-paneled style. The display is cool, but makes me nervy here in earthquake country.

I felt I got my 12 bucks worth, though, when I saw L.arry getting his face powdered and girding his loins in front of a retired presidential limo for a television spot.
celebrity pulling up pants

Is it wrong that I first recognized him as a celebrity by the color of his shirt? This was his pose for the commercial spots. Familiar?
Larry Live in electric blue shirt
Behind him a view that normally looks like the surface of the moon, but is bright green due to two weeks of rain. I thought LA had beach weather all the time! If I wanted chilly and damp, I'd go to Ireland. Even Larry looks chilly rather than tough. I want my money back.


Cranky Otter here, having a cranky day. Instead of watching me fester in my annoyance of being in a three hour meeting, a now beloved colleague has lent me her iPhone. An experience I am sharing with you, dear reader. The technology, not the meeting for which I only need to provide 5-15 minutes of input. So far, so good. Maybe instead of getting a new desktop I should go with an iPhone? Nah, I need afull keyboard for enabling my verbosity.

Stay tuned! Upcoming entries include my first celebrity sighting, pictures, and poop.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Thumb Up; One Thumb Down

I have a friend from college visiting this weekend so I finished painting the first wall and got all the furniture back in place and the TV plugged back in. The detritus and clutter is still out on the porch. Turns out the chaise section of the couch makes a decent guest bed if you're not too big. This friend is notable as being the only friend I ever hung out with regularly who could win at "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon". So when I heard there was a film festival up in Santa Barbara, I thought she'd like it.

It has been raining on and off in varying intensities which I hoped would keep the crowds down some, and that may have been the case, since we got into both movies we'd chosen to see. We headed up after brunch and made good time. We found parking, found where to buy ticket passes, saw a rainbow, and then had some time to kill and went shopping while it wasn't raining. Santa Barbara has a charming street for shopping and we got some stuff, including some decorative sticks for me. Thinking it would be bad to take the sticks into a theater, we stashed stuff at the car, grabbed a bite to eat and stood in line for Garbage Warrior.

Garbage Warrior is a film about an architect who is trying to build houses to be self-sustaining "earthships" using a combination of new and recycled materials. Some of his creations look like piles of trash, some look like jewels. The state shut him down and took away his license, and I could see their point. They were unable to determine if his houses were safe. However, his point was also good - we need to be able to test new ideas without being stifled by the old ways, in order to prove new ways of doing things and work out the kinks when they go wrong. Except for the fact that the cameraman needed help with focus and liked to follow him around so 2/3 of the screen for 1/3 of the movie was of his upper back, it was interesting and watchable. (my rating 4/5)

Imitation on the other hand, failed the Sharky Test: I would rather have lost those two hours of my life, never to see them again, than seen that movie. Unlike the people on one side of us, we decided not to risk climbing over seats to escape. Maybe we should have lived on the edge a bit more. It got a 1/5, from a lot of people based on the comments, only because I couldn't give it a 0. Or a -5. It started out confusing and pointless and never improved. Had I not read the blurb in the brochure, I would not have guessed what the "plot" was. The characters were Too Stupid to Live (TSTL), every last one. The boy was cute (only redeeming feature, and his acting was ok), and the lady was a manipulative user that stole his car, twice, stranding him in unsavory places. The best part was when the boy found some information on a note card and ate it instead of telling the lady and the guy sitting next to us almost wet himself laughing. Then later that guy pretended to eat his rating card.

Well, we're off to Hollywood today to do something or other. Having a good time, wish you were here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Looking Down on Creation

While I haven't finished the living room paint applicating process as yet, I decided that I had free time tonight. The bills are paid, the paint is acquired, the laundry is done, and my diva tool is working after a minor brain pan remodel yesterday. I did a brief surf before leaving work and read my buddy's review of the movie Juno. I know several people who have mentioned that they liked it. It's up for best picture and best actress so clearly other people thought it had some merit. But my buddy liked the music (and everyone is pregnant why not film characters?) so I had to go. He was right. The music is awesome. I hope it wins for best picture, best actress and best musical score. I even got to use my free movie pass, so it was good all around.

If anyone ever wondered what kind of music I like, it's the stuff in Juno and other random and quirky alt rock and folk. I liked that the music wasn't just in the background and I could hear the words. I liked that the star of the flick wasn't a guy. I liked the semi-idealized version of teenage pregnancy where her family and friends are decent, sarcastic folk who support her choices. (I love Allison Janney from her West Wing days, and here too.) Having just spent a week agonizing over the ultimately gratuitous collage of my design ideas, I was a little in awe of whomever decorated the girls rooms and lockers. (Movie bedrooms are always more cool than mine.) Even though I passed it up earlier, I think I have to pick up that Carpenter's tribute album. (It would look good in my room.)

Driving back was fun because there were no impediments to my going the speed I wanted to, aside from some residual wet on the road. (I heard a sound last night that I couldn't place and it turned out to be rain on the flue, hence the wet.) Plus I've recently found out I can double my coasting time on the way home by popping into neutral at the "Civic Arts Plaza 1/2 mile" sign, hitting the turn, making sure the road is clear, gunning it up the hill, then coasting the bactrian route. With the lack of traffic, I got to do the full coast while listening to one of my mix tapes (because the radio just wasn't cutting it after the magic of the Juno soundtrack).

I've been writing down all sorts of things to blog about, but this is what you get. I miss going to concerts with friends and music like this. I'm sure there are some out here. I should look harder for them. And actually go.

In case you couldn't tell from the context, the 3 happy things today are:
  • my diva tool - it lives, it lives!
  • I figured out what kind of musical concerts I should be looking for
  • I enhanced my pop culture relevance and saw a charming movie which I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • The local scenery and topography was particularly breathtaking today.
Why do I find it easier to spell thoroughly than laundry (laundary looks right to me) or restaraunt, restraunt, restaurant?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cameo is the new Beige

Yay! I have new paint. After buying a fridge, I had an interesting half hour trying to buy paint at sears. I'd hoped for a trial size, but no such luck. I was lucky to get paint with color in it. I got a discount, for being patient, on a gallon of something I thought would work and a quart of something risky. I have my accent colors nailed (the green of the blog, and a deep sunset orange) but the "warm white" has been giving me fits. It was a dirty yellow when I moved in. I picked a color that matched on my chips and it wound up being the exact same color of yellow just a tint more toward white. Then I was stuck. Recently, I decided to go beige instead of white and started breathing easier. After looking around, I decided the best color is that of the badly designed kitchen cabinets I'm going to gleefully rip out in the next couple months.

At 4:30 (breakfast was long and I had a lot of stuff to move out of the way) I decided the S.e.ars paint was for crap. I'd tried to start painting with the gallon, but it didn't cover worth anything and dripped. My back up plan was formed when I had brunch with some girlfriends today, and one is related to a professional painter. The friend and painter both recommended Dunn Edwards, and told me how to find the store. The backup to that backup plan was the Benjamin Moore store with lousy hours, but 240 shades of white, right around the corner. The DE store, also close, was still open, but just barely. I took in my dollop of the bad quality paint and a door from off my cabinet. We found a likely color from the fan they keep at the counter, and I was decisive and chose one with very little waffling, for me. The guy asked when I wanted to pick up the paint and I said, "Oh, um, I'm painting now, can you accommodate that?" They could so I paid and waited a few minutes for them to mix it.

In the meantime, I returned the cabinet door to the car then browsed around trying to find a chip of the color I chose. By the time I found the chip, I started panicking that it was the wrong color because all the other chips were better in some way, blah blah blah and I'd just spent $50 (yikes!) on a single gallon of paint. What if I'd chosen poorly? When I got it home, I found it's an even better color than the $20 paint that would have required at least 3 coats to cover uniformly. Long story short, color is perfect, goes on smoothly, and it calms me to see it on the wall, unlike the yellowy white its covering. Totally worth the $50 and the midstream decision to change paint.

Then my neighbor noticed the activity and stopped by to return a replacement of the cutting in brush they'd borrowed ages ago, which I'd forgotten I'd lent them, and solved the mystery of the missing brush. Looking into the places where I'd used a foam brush, I think I'll be putting that brush to use tomorrow.

To top off the evening of painting, my grrlfriend and I met yet another good friend of hers at a fancy Italian place (our waiter was from north of Venice) in Santa Monica (corner SM and 7th), and had some truly fantastic food with tasty wine. The service rocked and we chatted for hours and tipped well. We thought about painting more when we got back, but my friend was dead on her feet. Turns out my new couch makes a reasonable guest bed if you're not super tall. She's sleeping the sleep of the just as I write this. I need to go to sleep now so we can hit up a baby shower and book swap I'm sort of co-hosting tomorrow in Orange County, but I'm coasting on Dr. Pepper fumes and excitement about how good this new color looks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drip Drip Drip Goes the Water

Did I mention I took a little run to the Trader Joe's and impulse bought my way through $70 of frozen foods the other day? Well I did. Tonight, reveling in my smorgasbord of frozen food options, I took out one of my two new bags of frozen berries, heated them a bit and chowed down. And on my second to last spoonful, dripped blackberry juice on my orange top. Somewhere noticeable.

Luckily my mom taught me a trick for getting fruit stains out of clothes. It probably saved my hide when I was younger and liked to climb the mulberry tree to gorge myself, totally indifferent to what I was wearing. Strangely, I remember taking fresh peas from the garden up into the tree to eat and knowing even then that while both fresh peas and mulberries were delicious, they did not compliment each other. But on to the trick, which I think she learned from our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Smilie, also the source of the great "Lemon Sunshine Cake" recipe.

How to remove fruit stains:
  1. Do NOT wash, rinse, or blot them with water of any sort. Yet. Cool water sets the stain.
  2. Boil water. Preferably in a kettle for controlled pouring.
  3. Lay out the stained garment with the stain placed over a large mouthed jar or bowl in a clean sink or large tub.
  4. When the water is boiling, hold the kettle about a foot above the stain and drip the water drop by drop onto the stain.
  5. Watch the stain melt away. Repeat as needed, moving stains into the center of the jar's mouth.

Avoid the urge to just dunk the item in boiling water or pour the water on in a stream. The first can damage the clothes and neither works as well as the slower drip drip drip method, and can leave resisdual spots. I still don't totally understand why, which irks me. But not enough to use other methods. Naturally, the sooner the better.

Conversely, hot water sets other stains, namely blood. While I'm on the topic...
How to remove blood stains:
  1. If you get blood stains on laundry, keep the stains away from hot and even warm water, or they'll set.
  2. Soak the stain in ice water, either running or still. Some suggest putting an ice cube on the stain, the laundry in a dish or tub, and walking away. I prefer to run icy water from the tap if available, or using a dish of water with ice cubes in it, or just melted ice from a leftover bucket.
  3. That's pretty much it. Ice water, not hot.

Beyond that, I recommend a side loader and adding to your detergent. Although if I'm going to visit, don't use All with any scent. I think they make it out of cat dander and ragweed with the way it makes me stuff up. The unscented works ok though.

I don't talk about books here nearly enough for the amount of reading I actually do. I just finished Emma Holly's Personal Assets and it was amazing. Scorchingly hot and satisfying, with a surprising amount of purpose. It was about people finding out where they wanted to be in life and who they wanted to be with, but oooh how they got there. It had a bit of a Judith Krantz glam to it. The threads of the plot all worked out neatly, but in that way of the movies Blue, White, Red instead of feeling contrived. Where "of course the lives and livelihoods all intertwine, it was the destination that picked the necessary characters for the story, not just some story needing the characters to wind up somewhere". One of my new personal favorite books, I'm thinking.
This post got edited about 5 times because I'm terrible with past tense grammar, particularly matching types of past tenses within one sentence or paragraph. And I was particularly clumsy with my punctuation and typos today. So if either was driving you nuts, please post a correction in the comments because otherwise I may never know my folly and will surely repeat the imperfective.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All Natural

So the fridge thing is going well, but the rest of me has been low energy. I mustered enough to go out yesterday and get some paint samples for next weekend (almost there, maybe if I mix it with white) and get my hair done (the roots were long and not flattering).

Normally when I get my color done, my head burns a bit. This time, my head burnt a lot. I was trying yet another shop with my "free cut with color" coupon. This time it was upscale place using a well known brand. When my head felt a little more icy-hot than usual, I asked about the product and heard those words I've come to dread, "Ave.da's 97% natural". Please, just take me back to the days of dumping a chemistry set on my head, it's safer; I'm allergic to plants. She went on to say how a lot of people who are sensitive to other chemicals like their product which contains mints like rosemary and whatnot. Well, the mint explains the icy-hot sensation.

I wonder if and when will people learn that 100%, or even 97%, natural does not mean safe. Arsenic is natural. Asprin is natural. Caffeine is natural. Poisonous mushrooms (aprox 90% are toxic to humans) are natural. Scotch Bonnet peppers are natural, but I wouldn't rub them in my eyes. It felt like she was brushing them on my scalp.

When I started squirming in my seat, I let her know that I might not last the whole treatment and she thought that was weird. She did have the owner come over to check on me. By the time she had all the roots covered, I was on FIRE. I tried to tough it out because I'm dumb like that. And my roots were looking drab and I didn't want to have to do this again. After a while, the heat receded a bit. I read my book and she set the timer for the minimum time. It hurt less and less and I was distracted by my old favorite Crusie, "Welcome to Temptation".

I toughed it out the whole 40 minutes and got a nice shampoo, although the mix of chemicals was nearly asphyxiating, and an OK cut and blowdry. I learned that "the Rock" works out at Golds gym and likes to be called "Duane" now. All in all not bad for fitting myself into a last minute cancellation slot. And the color is decent but not exciting.

The rest may be TMI, so stop here if you don't need the punchline. I tend to pull at my hair when I read. I don't know why and so far I haven't denuded my eyebrows so I haven't worried about it. But last night, my head was itchy. When I want to scratch it, I found scabs. Apparently the chemicals burned through my scalp shallowly enough that I mostly got plasma scabs, but there are at least a half dozen of them. I hate nature.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh Holy Light

The fridge is brightly shining! It is the light of the new fridge I own.
Brand new white Trio open to see the light burst forth in splendid glory

Long lay the food, the little fridge confining
Old fridge in the corner dangling with hotpads

Brought this from and my soul felt its worth.
New fridge with magnets

A thrill of hope, the food inside rejoices
dorm fridge filled with food

For yonder breaks, a new and glorious home
Adult fridge with same food

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Shopping Spree

There's a reason that I don't entertain myself by going to the mall. I don't window shop well... I buy stuff. Like so.
crap I bought on sale

The damage here was done in a matter of 2 hours.
1 dress, 1 pr. Lucky jeans, 1 shiny top, 1 semi-shiny top, 1 mesh shell, green gym shower shoes, lazy comfort shoes, work shoes, heels, 3 purses for 3 color palates, 6 bottles of foaming hand soap (also great for cleaning glasses), variety travel soaps, and some extra socks. I'm actually pretty excited because I got all of it for 50-80% off thanks to end of year sales. I need to go back for some "clubbing/date" tops as I'm getting tired of the couple I have that I like.

I also tried to buy a new dining room table - but despite being a featured item in the advertisement, the national chain was completely sold out of the $300 3-in-1 dining, poker, bumper pool table. Drat! I have a nice little gate leg table, but I need stuff that will provide entertainment and not require talking about feelings. Like pool. I don't have enough space for a real pool table or the desire to keep a spare poker table top in storage. But this would have worked for the price of a regular table.

None of this holds a candle to the biggest purchase of the day, however. I finally bought my real grown adult fridge! No more dorm fridge! And the best thing? I got my french door, freezer on the bottom style without blowing my budget!
best fridge
It comes on tuesday. I was prepared to settle for a freezer on the bottom, generic top. But I went out today to price appliances, and the sales lady pointed me at this one and laughed out loud at the delight on my face when I realized I could afford the fridge I wanted. It's a close out and several hundred dollars cheaper than all other similar ones. The freezer configuration is tolerable (some of them are not), but it would be $600-$1000 more to get the freezer I want, so I'm more than happy with this one. I love this fridge. It makes me happy.

I also found my new stove, also a beauty, but am going to wait on a sale for it. We only have electric here (no hassle with earthquakes and gas lines that way), so I'm getting a flat surface stove and a double oven that has the pizza/cookie oven at the top and a big oven on bottom. This way I can bake without feeling like I'm heating up the whole house for food for one. (Or hopefully two...)
double oven white free standing stove I'm going to save $200 by going for the smaller windows - the only difference I can find between this and the next version up. I won't be getting convection as it's waaaay out of my price range and I could get it in a microwave for lots less. Still debating the freestanding microwave vs the over the stove version. I have visions of pouring freshly microwaved hot liquid down my chest with the overhead version, but it would look nicer. So debating potential pain with beauty. We'll figure out later what wins.

So that's what happens when I shop. I don't just shop, I BUY. I'm happy though I spent grandma's christmas money on the small stuff. I needed another pair of jeans, a dress, and a "new color" (in this case bronze) to wear as I'm getting tired of my current staple colors. And they finally started making heels right again, so I had to get some. Yay!

What did everyone else spend their Christmahanakwanzika dough on?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Windsurfing on Mt. Boney

Dave had a top ten list titled "Things that dound dirty, but aren't" which, years later I still remember, included "Shaking hands with Abraham Lincoln" and "Windsurfing on Mt. Baldy". Given my love of adolescent humor and South Park, you won't be surprised to learn that the list popped back in my head during the hike up Mt. Boney (aka Sandstone Peak) with my co-workers. I managed to refrain from chanting it, mostly because I was out of breath, not because I have good impulse control.

And because it was a gorgeous day for a hike. All the locals say January is the best time for hiking in SoCal - cool enough to clear the sweat and no snakes. It was very windy, which meant the air was clear and the view was spectacular. We could see the mountains over in Pasadena and the Harbor Islands. My colleague shared these pictures she took (Photo credit to D.B.) and I figured I'd share so you can see where I live and work. And Lake Sherwood and Golf Course where Tiger holds his charity golf tournament.

The winding road visible here is the way we came up. The view is of the north end of Malibu and the Pacific ocean.
View of windy road up to Mt. Boney

The path was really quite nice for the most part. I'd expected it to be washed out or muddy, but it was dry and solid. A little gravelly in some areas, and not really on any abrupt cliff edges. Maybe I'll go back and see if it's still there after we get a week of heavy rain.
View of hiking path to Mt. Boney

This is a good shot of the local topography, aimed to Pasadena in the distance.
View of valley to East from Mt. Boney

Moving around to the left counter-clockwise, or anti-clockwise if you prefer, we see the lake of luxury. Big houses over there. And horse farms.
View of Lake Sherwood from Mt. Boney

Continuing the counter clockise swing, we took in the view of where we work as if we were gods looking down from Mt. Olympus. Or rather middle aged people trying to sort out our place from Am.gen. To the far right on this picture where it looks industrial.
View of work from Mt. Boney

Doing a 180 and seeing the ocean is one of the perks.
View of ocean from on top of Mt. Boney

Did I mention it was windy=/WIN-dee/ (whereas the road was windy=/WINE-dee/)? I normally don't show faces, but these guys mostly all had sunglasses so here goes.
Wind blowing at colleagues on Mt. Boney(Naturally, one of these people announced today that she's pregnant. It's not my fault, I swear!)

That's where I live and work. And some of the people I work with. Doesn't suck.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Wow. A whole year of blogging just blew past. Well, February still stands out as the longest three months of the year, but after that? Like Lightning. I'm a year into the blog, a year and a half into the job, and just shy of that in the condo. Things feel like they are coming together and I have many new friends out here - I just wish there was someone closer who would regularly hang with me for dinner or at the bar. But being happy for what I *do* have is working out pretty well for me. And that includes of some older friends who invited me out for a lovely New Year's party.

Friend C convinced, with very little arm twisting, his old high school buddy to cook up a fine spread, on Friend C's dime. Then he let some of us LA folk in on the invite - naturally, we showed! We spent the evening drinking wine and doing nerdy personality tests (I'm an iNtP, heaviest on the N) in between these courses, which also came paired with wines. Just roll your eyes back in your head now, this stuff was that good.
  • Roasted pepper and goat cheese crostini with caviar
  • Fanny bay oyster with shallot mignonette
  • Fresh Fettuccine with Parmesan and white truffles
  • Wild mushroom soup
  • Slow poached sea bass over mesclun salad
  • Roasted rack of lamb with a syrah demi-glace jus and roasted root vegetables
  • Fresh berries baked in puff pastry

I found out that while I still like goat cheese, caviar still isn't my thing. But it's New Year's and worth a try. I passed on the oysters due to the clam allergy and the fact that several someones would enjoy it more. Fortunately I love mushrooms, and found out that I don't have to fear at least one delicacy (a word which in my terminology usually means: "this is gonna be awful") and I like mushroom truffles as much as the next truffle lover. YUM. All the food was fresh from the local farmers markets. The sea bass was lovely too, and I should find out what dressing he used on the salad because it was tasty. Yum on the lamb and caramelized root veggies, including carrots of 3 different colors.

Then we watched a little South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut singing along to "Uncle Fucker" and other classics while we sobered up and had dessert. I should just state right out in my next online dating profile that if they don't think that movie is pure genius, don't bother calling. Only, you know, state it positively instead of using the word "don't". And maybe figure out what goes well with an INTP. I don't think I can distill the whole evening into only 3 happy things, although I can sum up as Food, Folk, and Fun. With wine.

I have been reading voraciously this holiday, and getting in my half hour exercise about every other day, plus a smidge extra here an there. (Since I want to run a 10K in 6 months, I need to get off my fanny and move.) If you haven't heard from me, it's because I went into hibernation mode - baking bread, reading, and staying off line. Tomorrow is going to be a rough, rough day, although given the fact that I woke up at 7am today of all days, I think my body is ready to get back to being diurnal.

I'll do some mini-goal setting and updates later, back to the Black Dagger Brotherhood for now. Once again, as with Firefly, the buzz was spot on. Y'all were right, I was not disappointed. Happy New Year to me! And to you readers out there! Thanks for sticking with me on this little adventure. I'm happier now, and I hope you are too.