Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Had a lot of firsts this year which were all positive experiences:
First trip to the Grand Canyon
First ride in a helicopter
First trip to Alaska
First time to eat frog legs
First trip to Las Vegas
First trip to see friends in Seattle
First president in my lifetime that I was thrilled to see take office

While the economy tanked around us, my job making parts for wireless connectivity recovered early and is taking off, which makes me exceptionally lucky. (In the meantime, my condo has lost roughly half its value which just makes me like everyone else.) Here's hoping for health, wealth and pursuing happiness. And keeping in touch with friends.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blue Sky

I've had a rough week or so. I have such good remediation (sinus rinse, sudafed, tylenol) that I can usually work through and outlast a sinus infection without antibiotics. The trouble is that while I don't feel bad, I also don't feel good. It makes me cranky and touchy and impatient. Finally today I'm feeling better, but the impatience to be out of work for the holiday is stronger than usual. Granted, it is clawing on everyone and tomorrow will either be no big deal or sheer hell to get through.

Even through all that emotional mess and a balky tool, there was still some good stuff. I've been saving up, so there are more than three.
  • The blue of the sky was so stunning and crisp today it seemed unreal. The sky out here still takes me by surprise.
  • I was "a reader" whose comment was published on the Daily Dish! Ok, I gamed the odds and wrote in when AS was on vacation and I was complimentary about one of his underbloggers. I managed to do it without mentioning that while I liked some aspects of the underbloggers' work, I don't like his prose... but since he didn't have to write in the Window View book, it hardly mattered. I like the little book. It is small and softcover, but once you realize it won't be huge, it's a real treat.
  • I have a good working relationship with the equipment guys and it makes a lot of things easier at work.
  • I submitted an abstract for a conference and got the acceptance today! This means I do have to work next week to get a jump on writing the whole paper, but it's good news.
  • I've got plans for christmas. I decided at the last minute (last week thursday) to see if my friends could put me up and feed me over christmas and they can. I got a cheap ticket *there*, now I need to figure out how to get back... two one way tickets re probably going to get me cavity searched by the TSA but oh well.
  • I contacted a professional organizer to see if they can help me with the clutter and a mac guy to help me with the balky eMac. Here's hoping.


Stick up a bare metal pole and start with the airing of grievances, then move on to the feats of strength.

I'll update mine later after my brain wakes up - although I'm leaning towards having not enough comments... In the meantime, undo my grievance by commenting with both a grievance and something that makes you strong. Interpret how you will! And feel free to partake of the ceremonial pork rinds and scotch before posting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Huh. Vegas the weekend before Christmas is kinda mellow, thankfully. I'm not sure I'd have been able to tolerate the packed bodies and noise and lights I remember from earlier trips with the sinus infection I took on this one. (Never been to Vegas before this March, now I've been thrice.) Between the sinus rinse, sudafed, and tylenol, I was able to hold back the tide and feel mostly OK. Perhaps all the vodka helped too - my liver may never forgive me but I spent most of last night pleasantly buzzed.

I hopped over to see the Guy Fieri Roadshow with a friend, her brother, and his girlfriend. We had fun and were entertained, but it could have been better. Fortunately, the House of Blues has an awesome happy hour that kept us pretty darn happy. Unfortunately, we planned for appetizers before the show and dinner after based on the times listed on the tickets of 7-9. But the show ran from 8:30 to 11:30 with several very long intervals of nuthin goin on so we got out after the real restaurants stopped serving food and made do with some late night cafe at the back of a noodle restaurant. Fewer giant pauses and more food in the show would have been good. It was worth taking the risk to see how it would be. I'd do something like that again (go to an unknown show of someone who entertains me in another venue). The organizer got us tickets to fly out at 1pm and return leaving at 1pm. It was a pretty humane time of day to travel. Even driving back from Orange County after the flight, I had time to unpack, unwind, and clean up.

However, I am still sick. Bleah.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blogger Down

I've basically been out for the count since tuesday.

I got my allergy shot monday then not long after the usual 15 minute assessment, started getting a massive runny nose. It felt a little like the systemic reaction I'd had 2 weeks before, but I knocked it out with sudafed and sinus rinse. I'm not sure if I was having a reaction that then made me develop a sinus infection, or if I was just coming down with something that coincided with my allergy shots. I actually didn't have a head cold on tuesday, but was unable to wake up until about noon. I did go to work; I figured it was just my body remembering I'm a girl - when it functions without medical intervention, I tend to lose one day a month to severe fatigue, and worse things - so I didn't think it was anything more than that. But then wednesday, I also felt like my brain was buried in soup all morning and that afternoon was sneezy as well. Yesterday, I was fully awake when the alarm first went off, and figured that I didn't have anything else planned so I may as well go to work. But then I wound up being pretty sneezy. Sudafed helps that a lot, though, so I wasn't really all that symptomatic, other than being irritable.

One reason I powered through the week was that we are interviewing people for a job and I wanted to meet all the candidates. It looks like we have several reasonable contenders so the decision will be tricky. I just have to remember during the decision making process that I was irritable all week and not to hold it against anyone.

One good thing is it was my day to bring breakfast. I managed not to touch all the food, and brought stuff I like and usually bring (ham, hummus, bagels, donuts, blueberry pomegranate Minute Maid juice - I bring cream cheese but don't like it) as well as some "last breakfast before christmas" specials like cranberry sauce and extra meat (sliced turkey and bacon). So that's at least going well.

Ready or not, I'm headed to Orange County tonight, which could take 2-3 hours depending on traffic. Then I'm flying to Vegas tomorrow to go see the Guy Fieri food-music Roadshow with a friend. Should be fun, if I don't relapse.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Picking Up

I forget some important things:
- it's difficult to host a party and do something like mix dough
- dusting the rolling pin and surface with flour or sugar will keep the dough from sticking so the cookies cut with cutters will actually detach and retain their shape (sadly, this didn't get figured out until late in the day. sigh)
- noise makes me more tired than just about anything

The cookie party was a rousing success. People stayed long enough to get some serious baking done. I coerced my newly widowed friend to get out of her pjs and join us. A couple people brought their kids. And a coworker brought her bluegrass quartet. They just jammed in the livingroom for about 3 hours while we fed them cookies. Funnily enough, they had been disappointed at a previous engagement when someone took the cookies away before they got off stage, so they were ripe for cookies. It was delightful to have them as it was fun music and they played well. (One of the players had a style much like the music from Chocolat - a kind of french gypsy cant.) But it also was almost overwhelmingly loud for much of the day. I'd ask them back in a heartbeat, but I might wear some hearing protection just to dull the roar.

The kitchen as I remodeled it has really good flow and several workstations in and out of the kitchen proper allowing 4 or 5 people to all be busy doing something at the same time without too much tripping over each other. I'm really happy with how it has worked out. (So far so good on the tiles too.)

Then only thing is, I still have a couple recipes to whip up and several batches of cookies that need cookie cutting to make progress and I just want to pass out and enjoy my de-cluttered condo!

Cookie Party

Today's the day! I did better with the prep this year in that I'm basically ready now for people to show up -I need to stash some stuff and change clothes, but I'm not cleaning the bathroom frantically like last year. (And no one even used the bathroom, to my knowledge.)

It's been about a 3 week process to get to this point though. I have 3 giant bags packed for the goodwill, took out innumerable bags of trash (most of it paper) and recycling. And it makes me wonder why I am willing to live with such debris. I watch shows like Clean Sweep and Hoarders and get a grim sense of what my future will be if I don't get after this stuff. I think the important thing is to have a system for incoming stuff. I can maintain systems, but if I bring something in that doesn't have a place, it can set off a cascade of lazy. But for now, it's corralled.

The kitchen tile has been re-laid. A colleague of mine did the cut pieces for me and did just a fantastic job. I'm a little nervy in that the last cut tiles have only been in place for about 18 hours and grouted for 14. The instructions want me to wait 24 hours before walking on the tile and 16 for the grout so I've had fans going since last night. But it is SO nice to have a whole floor again and not worry about tile edges or wobbly tiles.

I've made a couple of stocking up runs and am now full up with 10# flour, 3 dozen eggs, 6# butter, and various and sundry nuts and fruits. I've got a nice list of the standard cookies and perhaps someone will bring one of their favorites too. Time for one last swipe of the swiffer and I'm off to change and bring butter to the masses. I'll let you know if the bluegrass duo shows.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good Day

I checked my mail at the UPS store today. It's been three and a half years, and getting that UPS box was one of the best things I've done. I like the location (around the corner from the post office, across the freeway from work, and next to the best pizza in town), I like the owners, and I love having my real mail go somewhere safe. The owner asked today about my glass as in past years I've shipped out rather a lot of it from her store and she hadn't seen any this year. I told her that it was rather a victim of the recession and I was hoping to get back to it next year. I think I'll take her some cookies.

In my box were two excellent things, one a surprise by the fact of it, and the other a surprise by the goodness of it.

First, I paid off my car! I own my Mazda 3 outright now. Whee! This is about 2 months before I'd expected to have to stop paying - I even got a refund for overpayment.

Second, the View From Your Window book which is on sale from Blurb but comes from Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. I love this feature. Every time a new window view pops up, I take a deep breath and feel contentment for a brief moment in time. It was too overwhelming to look at all the pictures at once, so I'm going to savor it for a while. I ordered a couple extra copies for gifts. I sent one to my grandmother who is in assisted living and spends a lot of time looking out her window. I figured she could use more window views too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Visibility: RainEx vs. Generic Wiper Blades

I've been running an experiment with my windshield wipers. The last time I replaced them, I bought a pricey "RainEx" brand wiper for the drivers side and the "cheap like dirt" brand for the passenger side. (I bought blades on a wiper arm, not just the rubber blade insert.) I chose thusly for a few reasons. (1) the blade would work best on the arm designed for it; (2) because I really like the RainEx product for windshields - driving on a misty or snowy day is no problem if one has recently applied the juice; (3) Living in SoCal, I didn't need to upgrade to a snow-plow worthy blade, but I figured a name brand blade would last longer or work better than the cheap blade and (4) I thought about upgrading the cheap blade slightly too, but then figured I'd just test the absolute cheapest to see how low I could go.

So far, the wipers have mostly been dealing with dust and windshield washer fluid, which could scratch the hell out of any blade. I do, however, routinely wipe the blades off when I get gas. So every 2 weeks or so, I run a soapy paper towel over them to clean off any built up diesel fumes, dust or bug carapces to prevent streaking and get better squeegee action when I turn them on. It has been a relatively cool summer (what summer? the first hot day of my year happened in Alaska, FCOL) with only a couple of very hot days.

The blades are maybe 8 months old, but I rarely use them and clean them regularly, and they don't appear cracked or damaged. In the interest of fairness, the passenger side blade is a couple of inches shorter and I am not listing the pressure points per linear inch of blade because I don't remember and it's cold and raining outside so I'm not about to head back out and count the number of places at which the wiper holder pushes the blade against the window.

Dealing with dust/dew: No difference

We are having our first big rain of the season today.
Dealing with rain: No difference

In my experience, there is no difference between the $16.99 blade and the $4.95 blade. They both streak equally, leave similar residues (with dust, particularly), clear rain equally, and provide the same visibility.

I guess I had been hoping the RainEx blade would help recondition the windshield surface similar to how the RainEx fluid does, but I don't remember the packaging saying anything of the sort. RainEx is the *best*thing*ever* for rainy/drizzly weather, but counterproductive in dusty situations, so I haven't used it in forever. Maybe I should get a tiny bottle to have on hand for days like today. Because their wipers are no better than basic. And more than a little streaky.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Silver Lining

In honor of World AIDS Day yesterday, here's an idea I've been thinking about for a while: the horror of AIDS was the tipping point to rapid, widespread acceptance of gay people socially and legally.

Stick with me, here. I've already mentioned that I came of age during the biggest horrors of the AIDS epidemic as experienced in this country. Before anti-retrovirals, you could watch people fall apart before your eyes. Not quickly enough to be merciful; not slowly enough to find a cure. People died gruesome deaths by the thousands. (And still are if they are poor or uninsured.)

I'm not going to pretty it up. Because most of the people dying from AIDS early on were gay, there was a massive backlash against gay people which led to, among other things, people getting fired from jobs for having AIDS/being gay. This is one reason that medical record privacy is a huge issue - your boss finding out you'd even had an AIDS test could lead to the loss of your livelihood and possibly your housing and family. (There will always be some hot button issue like it, but this particular one was pretty bad for a while and still isn't entirely overcome.)

Straight people can and do and did get AIDS but the vast majority of early deaths were gay people. So when someone died of AIDS, it was pretty obvious and the overwhelmingly likely reason that they were sick was related to their sexuality. The key thing I'm thinking is that the disease outed a lot of closet dwellers and folks on the down low. It forced family members to know something for sure that they had maybe only suspected and glossed over before; it forced them out of the closet too. More, it forced people to choose between caring for and comforting their dying loved ones or not, and do it in front of others. To be sure, some people chose "not".

Still many people chose love over fear and embarrassment. These family members said, "I'm grieving for the wasteful loss of my [brother, son, father, lover, friend] and I'm not going to hide that grief". They said, "We are NOT ASHAMED of our loved one." The biggest organized demonstrations I remember were the quilts. People would make a quilt square to commemorate their loss, join with other people who had made squares, then tour the country raising the word about the horror of the disease and the desolation it left in its wake.

The quilts started as a small thing between people who might not have had anyone else with whom to share their grief when the rest of their family or friends chose "not". They came out of their own closet and reached out to others. Like a pebble being kicked in a steep snowpack, it took a focused effort by a few and turned it into an avalanche of advocacy. (I admit that I haven't read about PFLAG and other support organizations to find out when they were founded or when they took off, I'm just going with my own selective memories.) It just makes sense that a hidden minority wouldn't gain broad acceptance without advocates from the majority. And the trigger for widespread advocacy was the horror unleashed by HIV. It has been within my short lifetime that we went from not discussing gay people publicly in a serious manner to firing people for being sick with a "gay" disease, to openly discussing gay marriage and in some cases approving it.

There is still widespread homophobia - Uganda is up to some bad, bad policy; some Iraqis are trying their hand at lynching, my own state voted that gay people don't get the same legal rights as straight people. (Fortunately my previous state dispensed with this matter years ago and many countries are even further ahead.) But for all intents and purposes, I don't see homosexuality going back in the closet or being considered unnatural. There will be oscillations in the acceptance levels, but the trend is for normalization of homosexual people; it's only a matter of time. I don't expect full global acceptance in my lifetime, but I do hope that at least gay marriage will be legal in my country by the end of the next decade. And I really think the speed with which this came about (seeming glacial as it is lived, but historically quite quick) can be traced to the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Hopefully a cure and a preventative will be found and soon. It's still the case that AIDS is fatal, it's just slower now and quality of life can be maintained a relatively high level for many of the sufferers. It is still the case that many die horribly leaving behind families and children still in need of care. I look forward to the World AIDS Day when a serious breakthrough for stopping HIV in its tracks gets announced. Because as good as it is that there is now advocacy and increased levels of civil acceptance for homosexual people, the thundercloud that generated this silver lining extracted a terrible price.

I'd give him more, if I could

Those of you who have noticed my twitter feed on the side (the Otter Pops) might be aware that I'm doing trivia most wednesday nights at a local texmex place. Our team (The Dumb Bunnies) has been winning manically although I have less to do with that than new friend C. Most weeks it has just been the two of us but the team was founded by a colleague of mine from work. I'm his recruit, and friend C is his wife's recruit. For a few weeks it was the four of us and occassionally some of their other friends. Then after antibiotics did nothing for his "ulcer", my friend was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and is has mostly been the two of us since then with occasional cameos by the founder.

I'm sorrier than I can say that our team will be forever short of its founder. He died last wednesday shortly after finding out that the cancer had spread extensively. He was a young man in his late thirties or early forties at the most. It's quite shocking if I think about it too hard.

I'll be going to the funeral tomorrow. I don't really know anything to say, but I do have something to do. On the advice from the traffic school instructor I'm going to offer to drive his widow (yikes!) around any day she doesn't really feel like doing it herself. I'm not good at casseroles or hotdish, and she likely doesn't need cookies or ornaments. My other useful shareable skill is driving, so that's what I'll offer.

Now that I've shared this, I think I'll be able to do more blogging. I do try to keep my posts on topic and a lot of them felt subsidiary to this one but it took a while to come to be able to write it.

Goldfish Brain

I've been having a lot of scattered moments recently. I need to make order from the chaos, so here are all the things I've been meaning to blog about recently:
  • trip to Boston to visit friends (so relaxing! I fell asleep during a rock musical with strobe lights)
  • trip to Minnesota to visit family (good to get back there. saw grandma, 'rents, brother, friend from european backpacking trip and her boy, the rain garden my mom got installed to drain water from their church's new roof, and turkey)
  • um, alaska pictures
  • food pictures
  • cookies
  • allergies
Huh. that wasn't so much but cycling in my head it felt like 2 dozen things.

And actually, I do have two things I will be blogging about in separate posts. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Suburbia

So far so good. The housecleaning appears to have eliminated the cat dander as long as I don't dig in the mess of extension cords behind the desk. Which was necessary to connect the wireless router to the internet, not the failure mechanism I was expecting. Fortunately my brother is less allergic to dust and more willing to track down cables than I am so here we are. Yep.

Everyone made it to town ok - me, my brother, and my grandma and pop. Good thing I resolved not to diet until after thanksgiving because this visit has been all about the food. My parents are getting crazier by the day but mom's nose and tastebuds have no equal. We ate the first night at The Blackbird Cafe. Maybe it's the bird in the name, but they know their way around a bird. I had the fabulous duck with wild rice topped with habanero cherry sauce. Grandma liked the London Broil (cooked to her medium raw taste). They had a reasonably priced riesling, and some sake beer so both I and my brother were happy with the drinks too.

Today, I spent the afternoon with my friend who spent a month backpacking around Europe with me back in the day. She's trying to raise her boy bilingually, so she speaks Norwegian and her husband speaks English when the talk to him. Some of her family also comes over to supplement and he seems to be doing well when my brother doesn't bang his head into the wall. Their dog is very tolerant of random bursts of chaos - so tolerant the he didn't move out of the way when my brother stepped on him... My brother was just supposed to drop me off, but wound up staying as well and aside from that one little incident we all had a good time.

Then we drove all over the back of beyond to hit up the buffet at the dry casino. We were fortunate in that pop and my mom are both using canes right now (pop is 89 and mom had surgery on her feet) and that got us into the handicapped line. Turns out that seafood night has all you can eat crab legs and half the asian population of minneapolis turns out to gorge themselves most wednesdays. (My brother partially developed his crab cracking superskills dining there with his Laotian ex-girlfriend's family who only liked the big meat parts. My brother found that wasteful and got really good at extracting meat from the smaller segments at lightning speed.) Myself I had three and a half knucklesful of crablegs, and I was out-eaten by about 8 dozen people who might weigh half of me after the meal. Unreal. They put out piles and piles of delicious crablegs. We all ate our fill of those, grandma tried the prime rib and found it to her taste too. Whew! (we asked, they go through 32 of them in a night!) So we were all happy and full. The tummies are all stretched out in prep for thanksgiving and my brother has fixed both the cable and the TV reciever.

I have not yet written the paper abstract I need to do for work. Nor have I gone through the small pile of crap my parents put out for me to dig through to see if I want to save any of it. I think I noticed some softball award that can't be for anything but participation unless my childhood is different from what I remember. The pile has doubled since I arrived - I need to get through it before it overwhelms the place.

One thing is clear, though. My parents have very odd priorities. I really don't think they think in terms of goals and priorities. Mom had two goals today: get the special whipped cream from the natural foods co-op and buy a couple extra turkey legs. It's possible she got the whipped cream around 4:40 or so as the co-op was closing. My brother and I picked up some turkey legs around 8pm after our early bird dinner when they were out of fresh and so we went with whatever pre-cooked ones were leftover. I'm sure mom'll mention something, but we had 2 days to get that stuff at least. We just didn't. I understand myself a lot better after coming home. And am feeling good that I'm leaving tomorrow night so I have 2 full days to go home and throw stuff out when I get home.

We're only expecting to have around 8 or so for dinner tomorrow, about half of the usual, but it's early yet. The upside to my parents weird prioritizing and oddball planning is that it doesn't phase them in the slightest when 10 extra people show for dinner at the last minute. And having a ton of crap in the basement and garage means there are either extra chairs or the makings of more benches and tables at the ready. I'd be up for that if I threw out more stuff... soon.

But first, the feasting. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Orange You Glad

I came home from Boston to a really overripe banana. I keep putting old bananas in the refrigerator thinking I'll use them for banana bread one day, and just watch them shrivel for 9 months at which point I throw them out. So this time, I resolved to make the banana bread right then. I had the time; I had the banana.

I checked a couple of bread books and found a likely candidate. The recipe I chose was based on a hawaiian recipe with macademia nuts and shredded coconut. (Claim Jumper makes apple muffins with coconut and I really like what coconut does to the texture and bite of the muffin.) I had purchased some unsweetened shredded (more flaked, really) coconut from the Bangluck Market a couple weeks back and decided to try it as is, even though I suspected the recipe was expecting me to use sweetened shredded coconut. I only had one banana, so I made half a recipe. Lastly, I don't have macademias and I'm not a huge almond fan, so I tried my luck with pine nuts.

The banana bread texture was really light and fluffy. It needed more sugar, but the taste and texture were otherwise really good. I'm not sure if it was the recipe, method, or shape but it was so light and fluffy, the pine nuts I'd put in just fell out when I cut the slices. Given the fact that I often think I'll make banana bread and often don't, I may have to try this again but vary the shape of the pan to see if I can figure out if it's the ingredients, my method of stirring it up (different from recipe), or the low rise of my loaf that made the texture so fabulous.

  • 3T sugar (may want 4T if using unsweetened coconut)
  • 3T butter
  • 1 overripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 3/4c flour
  • 1/2t baking soda, level
  • 1/4t baking powder, heaping
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/4c shredded coconut
  • 1/2c nuts (macademia or almonds rec. I used pine nuts.)

Preheat oven to 350F, coat small pan with butter or Pam for Baking. Line pan with parchment if you can. I used an 8" round lined with a buttered coffee filter. Doubling the recipe calls for an 8"x4" bread pan.

Mash sugar and butter into paste with a fork. Mash banana into it. Whip in the egg and vanilla. [You could use a beater instead. I like stirring and mashing.]

Sift together the dry ingredients. Don't pack up the flour, if anything, go a little shy on it. [I usually sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup, tap it a couple times to get out big air pockets, and level it off. This time I scooped up the flour and leveled it off, so I only used 2.5 quarter-cupfuls (5/8c packed, 3/4c loose.) I sifted the stuff twice to make sure the leavening agents were well mixed in.]

When mixing the dry into the wet, conventional wisdom says don't overstir because the gluten in the flour starts to get activated and makes the bread tough. So I figured reducing the amount of flour getting a lot of stirring would help. The recipe said to add 2/3 then 1/3 of the flour, but I went even further.

Mix a third of the flour mix into the wet stuff. Stop stirring when all the flour is wet.
Sprinkle the coconut in, mix loosely until it's all distributed.
Mix half the remaining flour in until almost all incorporated.
Mix in rest of flour (and nuts if desired). Stir until just coated then stop stirring. Really, resist it. You can scrape down anything left on the edges, if you haven't already, and make sure the bottom of the bowl got scraped, but after that it's two swipes with the spoon or fork. Then stop. Really.

Pour into lubed pan, level the batter, and bake. It's done when it starts to smell really good and a toothpick comes out clean. For 2X the recipe and an 8"x4" pan, the recipe says to cook it for an hour. I used the amounts listed above, poured it into an 8" round (batter was maybe 3/4" deep to 1" deep) and it cooked in 25 minutes. Recipe says to rest the pan sideways for 10 min, but for my little pan, I just inverted it on a cooling rack and it came out clean with parchment on bottom so it didn't crack.

This smelled wonderful. It tasted good but needed more sugar. The coconut I used was finely shredded. I liked it though I'm sure tradtional American coarse shreds would work fine too. It was so light and fluffy the nuts just fell out. I'm not sure if pecans with all their crevices would work better, or tinier pieces wouldn't be so heavy, or if almond slices or slivers would work, but it is worth trying again for sure.

Let me know if you try it and have any luck. Try varying the loaf depth and the sugar amount, or just do the same thing I did, and see if you get this same thing. I'm so used to fruit and veg loaves being wet and dense that this has taken my completely by surprise. I hope it's not just dumb luck.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Busy Beaver

This week is crazy, but good. Have I ever been this organized before? Perhaps not. The blitz like nature of the trip is forcing me to organize, which is a good thing.
The Schedule:

Day, Time Activity
Monday Work
Monday PM Pack for Training class
Tuesday Noon Drop Car off at dealer for warranty service and non-warranty clutch replacement
Tuesday PM take shuttle to plane, fly to San Jose
Wednesday take excellent AVS class on Reactive Sputter Deposition
Wednesday PM take taxi to plane, fly to Burbank
Wednesday night sleep like a log
Thursday work & hammer out Boston schedule
Thursday PM pack for Boston
Friday work; print out paperwork for trip
Friday PM drive to LAX, catch red-eye to Boston
Saturday AM gracious friend picking me up from airport
Saturday noon wake up from nap, meet friend for historical walk
Saturday dinner Mmmm… Beer….Food…CBC
Saturday PM Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Sunday noon Brunch with friends. I love brunch.
Saturday afternoon Harry Potter at the Science Museum
Saturday PM Valet of the Dolls Drag Queen Theatre, and dinner
Monday noon Lunch with friends
Monday afternoon Tour east coast work facility
Monday evening Ride T back to airport with friend
Monday midnight Fly into LAX, drive home

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've made it to the AVS conference. There was one lady still lingering at the registration desk when I squeaked in at 5:05 who was able to find my materials and get me sorted for my class tomorrow. I'm excited for the class. I agitated for it quite a bit and it paid off. Now to find out if I can learn anything useful!

Not sure yet if I should take the light rail or a taxi to the airport tomorrow. Class ends at 5, my flight is at 7. It took 35 minutes to take the bus to the train to my stop. I don't know how horrid wednesday evening security is at SJC, but by the cattle corral it looked prepared to house a small town at any given time. After my wait at the courthouse clerks office yesterday, I'm none to keen to stand in another line like that. But hey. There's one flight leaving later if I need it, and I'm not sure how many people will be grabbing taxis, or if the taxis will move any faster in rush hour. Ok, now that that worry is vomited out to the world, I can stop it festering.

It was kind of funny. I stopped at the info desk at the airport to ask how long it would take a taxi to get me to the Convention Center (not the Civic Center! - apparently I stop paying attention after "C") and she saw my back pack and bright orange courier bag and maybe thought I was a budget traveler. So I spent $2 and 35 minutes to get here (and yay, they have free email stations!), had a lovely chat with a now-student-former-airman on the train, and I feel less trapped by circumstances because I know how the public transit works.

I have a weird relationship with public transit. I've used it all over Europe, but I don't usually like taking it by myself for routine trips. I resented every moment I spent commuting on the T, so I didn't spend many moments commuting on the T. If I ride with someone, its GREAT! If it gets me somewhere novel once or twice, I'm in! But if it takes 3X as long as an easier option? I'm out. But I did realize today that I do like *knowing* how the system works. Don't know if that's because I like systems or if that's because I like options, but either way, I feel somehow more lighthearted, less trapped, and less dependent having taken the light rail option. So whichever way I use to make my escape tomorrow, I'm glad I tried it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Scratch That

EDITED: Nuts. For those who saw the original title, I'm a month and 1 day late. I'm a maroon. For some reason December-1 = 9 in my noggin, rather than 11. Either way 9NOV9 entertained me. But damn, I can't even count anymore. Basic math? Fuggedaboudit. Ahrenius equations, those I can do.

So sue me, I'm backdating this because I had a ton of running around to do yesterday. It was The Day of Bureaucracy here. I spent most of monday waiting for people to sign off on a document they'd approved last friday. I spent an hour and twenty minutes in line to turn in my traffic school paperwork. (Twenty minutes would have been reasonable, forty acceptable due to the lunch hour, but to have hundreds of people in line for an hour over that is not helping make the economy more productive. You've got 11 windows; open more than 4!) Then I printed out some documentation I need to revise and... bureaucracy.

Tuesday I'm flying to San Jose for a training class on wednesday. I'll be back in about 30 hours; such are the joys of business travel. The car will be getting a new clutch while I'm gone. The labor is covered under the warranty as is the cheapest clutch part (throwout bearing) so I just have to pay for the consumables and I won't have to worry about my clutch for a while. Then, the warranty is done with. I'm at 50K miles on my "new" car! So far so good. I still love it. I hope they can get it back together...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Good Stuff

New Shoes!!
Went shopping with a friend on Saturday, and on my own on Sunday. Managed to replace both my brown and black work shoes in short order. I got black Clark heels and black flats on sale, then used my Kohls cash to buy full price sketchers. The cool thing about the sketchers is that they're the exact same design as the shoes I totally wore out, but a darker brown, which was what I was searching for having decided a darker hue would match more of my stuff. Also at Kohls, using the "free money" I got during my shopping spree a couple weeks ago, I got 2 pairs of fun heels. One for me and one for a friend - total cost for both was $20 :) Funnily enough the ones for me are technically 2 sizes too small, but fit the bottom of my foot great.

Potential new friends:
On the way back from shopping, I took the northerly route and stopped for cheap vietnamese food and a cheap movie. The only flick I felt like seeing was Whip It (yes, again) so I dropped the $3 and went in. There was a while before it started and I was one the first two people there. So I got chatting with the other lady and then her friends. We seem to have similar taste in shows so I suggested they could email me if they didn't mind me tagging along to the next twilight movie or seeing Puppet Up. Here's hoping.

Traffic School
I'm done, I'm done! Well, technically I'll be done tomorrow when I turn in my paperwork, but jeez it has been a long time dealing with this. It's done before the busiest holidays at least.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quotidian Quotes

While doing everyday, average things, I ran across three quotes today that impressed or entertained me enough to write them down, which is not so usual.

"While making decisions, one must be both a citizen a consumer."
It was from NPR about choosing what fish to eat or not eat, but I think it speaks to a larger sentiment about why sometimes "market forces" aren't the best answer for solving problems. Because "the market" doesn't always, or even generally, reward citizen behavior in the short term. We find that treating people and our environment better improves things in the long term, but those EPA regs and code updates can be a PITA today. A 20 year homeowner has a different payout on the geothermal home heater than a house flipper does.

"He knows when to turn the lightsaber on"
David Plouffe on the Daily Show, responding to Jon Stewart's crack about Obama being a Jedi knight, as a response to Obama's conservative, measured (perceived slow) steps.

Nuts, there's another one, but it'll have to wait until I check my post-it board at work. (When at a loss, there's my perennial favorite of Beavis saying, "Yeah, I'm gonna get me some N-m-Ns and spank my monkey".) EDITED to add the quote in question:
"The old tunes, played more loudly, are all that's needed."
referencing the assumptions made to direct political strategy of right-wing Republicans. Unfortunately, IMHO, this strategy can work pretty effectively in the short and mid-terms. It's only when the response falls outside the "did not/did too" level of interaction that this starts not to be true, and that has been something most Democrats don't seem to grasp. So I liked the quote but the explanation is depressing. Back to thinking about, "I wish I was a baller/ I wish I was a little bit taller/ I wish I had a phone and a girl/ I could call her." which was the video B&B were critiquing that generated the N-m-Ns quote.

The Decider

good things today

Instead of waiting until the last minute, before lunch I prepared both my (very quick) power point slides for tomorow morning's presentation. This gave my boss an opportunity to give them the once over and tweak any awkward phrasing to be more politic, even though she was in meetings most of the day. And the documents that get signed off after the presentation? Also good to go and submitted before 5pm, so I'm not here late because I have to be, but because I'm surfing the web *just long enough* that I will make it to yoga at 7:30.

On another project that has annoying complexities, it's been a struggle to figure out how to route a particularly pesky procedure through our tracking system. Most of the options involve way too much work, so the project is lingering and is not something anyone wants to do. I sat down with some people today and hammered out a reasonable solution that will be both quick to implement and not too terrible to live with. We can always change it later, but I think it's the most gain for the least pain. Having a solution has already reduced my stress level. Yay! Decision made!

I'm feeling appreciably better today, even after deciing to go back for allergy shots yesterday. (I skipped twice in october due to flu shot and illness. Usually I don't skip.)

I'm on track for visiting friends in Boston! Through some fluke email search I ran across a listing I'd made about a year ago of all the people I miss pretty regularly. It hasn't changed much and brough tears to my eyes, so even though a weekend trip the week before a holiday might seem odd and rushed, it'll be good. I decided to go, bought the ticket, and now it's a done deal.

I really like my shirt combination today. I bought some heather-type-purple jobbie made of very thin knit at Anthropologie recently. It's got a floppy cowl neck and flared sleeves.
Like this only more purple. The sleeves and neck look great on me, but the belly region is a disaster. This is ok as I bought it to layer with. I totally love it.
I unconventionally paired it with brown slacks and a rust orange short sleeve Vera Wang number (from recent Kohls shopping extravaganza, though it must be last season's because I can't find a picture anywhere) and a simple silver herringbone necklace (gold would have been better but I don't have a gold necklace in that style) and my usual rings. I love this outfit. I'm not sure how it looks to anyone else, but to me the colors compliment rather than clash, and the flared sleeves are fun. Their length extends the wearable days of the smaller shirt. I think I'll keep it as an outfit.

Time for yoga!

Monday, November 2, 2009

You Say Potato

With the troop levels in Afghanistan partly dependent on a stable Afghan government, there was lots (and lots) of jabber on the news today about how the Karzai regime and Afghans in general need to "be free of corruption" in order for the government to work. Am I the only one who finds this to be utterly ridiculous as a near term goal?

Wikipedia, for one source, goes into the many, many paths of political corruption and reminds us "In some nations, corruption is so common that it has gained normative status." meaning that pretty much all transactions occurring between two (or three) parties are contingent upon bribery, nepostism, cronyism, graft, kickbacks and the like. Forgive me, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Afghanistan one of those places that literally functions on the extra cash being funneled under the table?

When we ask for them to remove "corruption" from their government, who is defining the corruption? If the transaction involves a "normative" level of extra-legal grease that is so routine that it occurs when one buys coffee or fixes a bicycle, why would someone think it was odd to also require it for drawing government forms or getting a job? Now don't think that my incredulity here is in some way condoning corruption as a way of life or governing. I think removing corruption is a fine goal and especially necessary if the repressed and minorities have any hope of living a decent life. But I think corruption is defined much like pornography and speeding: anything more than what you do is illicit and crazy; anything less is amateur if not obstructionist. Corruption is a moving target. One could discuss its removal day in, day out for years but unless specific rules are laid down (fishing licenses cost $35, no more, no less, yes for you too), investigated, enforced, and treated seriously, it'll be business as usual.

Add to that, changing a normative behavior generally takes a generation. In the case of countries where the average age of the populace is less than 15, there's a hope this could cycle faster than ours where the average age is over 30 and a large number of voters are over 65. But it's not going to happen this year, next year, or during our next political cycle. And making demands for reform to happen now, Now, NOW! just strikes me as being infantile and pandering. But I guess jabber about setting up incentives to strive for measurably reduced corruption years from now doesn't lead the infotainment headlines. And may not even be something we ever have any say in, if the government actually resumes autonomy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Goes Wriggling through the Grass

I'm not sure if I slept too much or if I needed to sleep too much but my weekend has been lousy with a lot of sleep. To counter the slugs, I went on my usual hike. (The hike which I skipped for most of the summer due to snakes - saw a teeny tiny rattler today who took his own sweet time getting off the trail.) I climbed for 15 minutes, including stopping to breathe and chat about snakes with fellow hikers, and reached my lowest elevation yet for that milestone but was still plenty ready to turn around and head back, being totally winded.

I was reading some stuff online and came across a really concise definition of buffers in the blood and cells, and how we alter the acid/base levels in either. The bit that interests me most is this: when the acid levels from lactic acid get too high, we breathe harder. It mentions breathing harder after climbing several flights of stairs, but even living in a 4th floor walkup, I was often feeling winded after one or two flights, even when in shape. My mom is that way too. We also tend to build muscle really easily. So I wonder if my heavy breathing is more from making more lactic acid than I ought to, or from being astoundingly out of shape. Or a combination of both. Anyway, it's something I'm ruminating on.

Also, it has occurred to me that it's been a while since posting my happy items. Here are some recent ones:
  • The local mechanic found something to fix while my car is still under warranty, and the look-see only cost about $20.

  • I have a job with sick days. My vacation might not be as advertised, but the job pays the bills and doesn't force me to work when sick.

  • I seem to have avoided the worst of the plague going around. I'm sick, and it appears to be lingering, but I can still breathe (mostly), and talk, unlike many of my colleagues who have gotten clobbered by this thing and have gone hoarse from a sore throat and/or coughing. Me, I'm mostly feeling stuffy (helped by sinus rinse) and sleepy (helped by sleeping), and thus that I'm not living up to my potential ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and goshdarnit, people like me" or "being sick is not vacation"), but it's clear I'm getting off easy.

  • It looks like I will be able to see friends AND family this november
  • One more- I don't think it can be overstated how much better life is with in-unit laundry.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat

Colleagues came to the rescue in the party photo arena. I snatched the pictures of the fun food to share here. Longer account is in going green.

First, my favorite fruit salad, Demon Eyeballs!
Halloween Party Food, lychees stuffed with cherries

Less scary, but the winning food, ghostly meatloaf
Halloween Party Food, meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes

My sister's fingers! (I went as a green witch)
Halloween Party Food, green breadsticks with almond fingernails

And the hardest thing to actually dig into...
Kitty Litter Cake!
Halloween Party Food, animal crackers, tootsie rolls, and german chocolate but looks like cat poop

Enjoy, enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phantom Tonsilitis

I'm not sure if I caught the office bug from the colleague's Halloween party or if I was a little sick last week and relapsed this week, or if I just really, really, really want a sabbatical. But I've been out sick for a couple days this week, mostly sleeping. And trying not to puke. My main symptom seems to be feeling nauseous. I'm tired, my throat hurts where my tonsils used to be, I get a little dizzy at odd times, and I'm sucking down papaya pills like there's no tomorrow. The papaya enzymes are working their magic, but they wear off. I feel good for 4 hours or so, then I try to remember to pop more papaya (and fail), then feel horrible for an hour or so then feel ok for a while, then horrible. The grims sort of sneak up on me and catch me by surprise.

Which is to say that I wore myself out today by going to work, then felt grim for a few hours, then felt just fine for a couple hours, and am now confused. I'm going to head to be "early" (it's 11...) and hope for the best. But when the only thing I feel like eating for dinner is beer (one Sam's winter), a dozen pringles and a couple of ritz crackers, it doesn't make me think I'm firing on all cylinders. To back that up, I also bought my first box of wine!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Going Green

I've continued my non-fiction reading into why and how people make decisions. I'm reading an insightful, if clunky, book right now that is basically despairing over our need/desire/expectataion to find the optimal solution for every decision. The despair is because when you give too much attention to every one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions you make every day, the fear of making a sub-optimal choice can be paralyzing. I identified very much with his assessment of someone who spends too much time reaching for an ideal solution instead of settling for and being happy with a solution that is sufficient - it meets all necessary criteria and gets the job done. May not be the best, most creative, most elegant, shortest, longest, or cheapest solution, but it will serve and the solution doesn't require more than that.

I was reading this on tuesday when I realized that the reason I didn't have a halloween costume picked out for tonight's party was that I hadn't picked the *best* costume. I didn't want to recycle Medusa or the cactus. I didn't have time to make Maleficent - and I don't have the paint on latex the headdress, as I envision it, requires. (someday... someday!) I thought about what I did and didn't have available to me and decided just to be a regular ol witch. I had black clothes, I figured I could make a hat, and I had an embarrassment of green eye shadow just waiting to be used as foundation. Dressed up with a black cat pin, a black and silver bat and spiderweb table runner as a wrap, and a homemade hat, I made it to the party in costume, got positive feedback, and had a perfectly good time. I did not win best costume, but I did not feel the need to win, nor did this detract from my enjoyment. Top costume honors rightfully went to Jon&Kate+2 (my part asian co-worker and his blonde wife were rocking the look so well it was truly frightening) and Princess Leia (who came with Darth Vader and their two Jedi Knights with light sabers - yes, Darth dad had a light saber!).

I probably put more effort into the food which people enjoyed too. I made witches fingers and demon eyeballs. The fingers are breadsticks - dye dinner roll dough green, roll into small logs, slash twice across the middle for the knuckle and use egg wash to stick an almond half or slice on the end as a fingernail. (This dough wasn't as tasty as it could have been, but they tasted ok and looked really eerie.) The demon eyeballs are lychees and/or longans from a can stuffed with cherries from canned cherry pie filling. I put them together the night before and covered with lychee syrup, then today I transferred them to a decorative bowl with a few ice cubes and a squeeze of lemon. They go pretty well as a sangria-like addition to party wine.

My foodstuffs got honorable mention. Runner up was a fantastic box of kitty litter. In truth, devils food cake with crumbs on top to make it look like litter, decorated with distorted tootsie rolls. It was served in a (New!) cat box with a litter scoop. It looked tasty when sliced and put on a plate, but straight up, there was some serious "I don't wanna!" going on. Top food honors went to the J&K costume winners for a Good Eats meatloaf shaped into a ghost and 'frosted' with mashed potatoes. I'm not sure how they blackened the ketchup to draw on the eyes and I'm pretty sure that's a good thing not to know.

To sum up. My costume, while not the best ever, was actually pretty good. Certainly sufficient to the task. I really enjoyed doing the green face makeup, even if it did take a while to scrub off. My witch fingers, while not the best ever, looked fantastic and were sufficient to the task. The lychee eyeballs were fun and delicious. I have a couple pictures but not the means to upload them just now, so I went with yet another text only post. My costume probably looks better in your imagination anyway.

Let me know what costume ideas you've got for this year and if it's your best possible effort or just enough to get by and still enjoy yourself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Suspect Taught Kids

Alright. That's it. I've had it. I'm sick to death of the implication that adult male interest in kids is sinister. Since when has teaching children become a bad thing?

There's a headline today saying:
"Ter.ror Suspect Taught Kids at Muslim School".
A disinterested observer unfamiliar with American mainstream media might not note anything wrong with conveying that information, but that disinterested observer would be wrong. The connotation and intended message of that headline in today's media is this:
"Oh Noes! Confirmed Evildoer is indoctrinating innocent (although possibly already-terrorist) baby children into the ways of terror at terrorist training camp for kids who-are-not-like-our-own-precious children. "

The theme continues the fear mongering around gay marriage: "Vote your neighbor's marriage to be illegal or your precious baby children will be taught to be gay, Gay, GAY!" No. They'll be taught that being gay is ok. Which it is. So if they ARE gay, they'll grow up with self esteem rather than self loathing. They might still loathe themselves for other reasons, but not for this preventable one.

Also concerning to me: "Local father coached young girls soccer! Neighbors outraged!" I rode on an airport shuttle with two guys discussing the nearly impossible logistics of coaching one's daughter's soccer team. They aren't allowed to hold practice unless one of the moms comes to practice and stays the whole time. It's hard enough to find volunteer coaches, let alone chaperones who don't have anything to do but keep a wary eye on the coach. That's not even including a traveling team coach who has stricter rules. My sense is that anyone who is a sufficiently good coach to be, let's face it, volunteering as a traveling team coach, is doing it for love of the game and bringing the love of the game to the next generation, not for the sexual thrills.


We have made or condoned this notion that all men have pedophilic intent when they show a natural and healthy interest in children. This notion is poisoning our society. We need to stop this notion and reverse it.

Kids grow up with the message that hugs from even their own father are inappropriate, and god forbid your neighbor's father takes an interest in your well being. Or a stranger stop your child from chasing a ball into the street by actually touching your precious. He may have to register for life with the police for such a grotesque breach of human nature. To me, this insidious negative message pervading daily life is much, much more damaging than the actual risk of someone coaching softball to have a look at the goods.

We as a collective seem to have lost the ability or desire (or both) to discriminate between good and bad touches, and good and bad desires. The good outnumber the bad so overwhelmingly that people should be given the benefit of the doubt until there is just cause to suspect otherwise, not the other way around.

Yes, throughout history and the present there are people (usually trusted people rather than strangers) who will and do harm children. If your kid suddenly doesn't like Uncle Lucius, or starts avoiding the park it could be because Uncle Lucius is rude and a new bully moved into the park, or it could be worse. Investigate, yes. Decry all men to the whole town? No. Keep your kid away from a particular activity or person you don't like until you figure it out? Yes. Make unfounded accusations about people who are trying to help? No. Assert that any contact with kids makes you a raving psycho? Also no. The existence of bad apples shouldn't keep us from eating apples. Fear of stranger danger shouldn't be pervasive in everyday life for most people but as I can personally attest, it is. I spent maybe three years afraid to hug my own father until I realized what was going on - nothing. But awful messages from the media (because if it bleeds it leads, even if bleeding isn't news to anyone but the bleeder) had me convinced for a short while that there must be something, somewhere despite absolutely no evidence of inappropriateness ever in my whole life.

We need to believe, truly, that it takes a village to raise a child and that our villiages have both men and women. Friends and neighbors showing an interest in your child should be encouraged. (It's the cutest thing in the world when my parents' neighborhood kids come over to ask if my dad can come out to play.) A stranger engaging in a game of peek-a-boo with your child should be given a smile for keeping your kid happy while you're in line at the post office and they're bored. Young men who want to teach? Have at it. Even teach the young kids. Teach them at sunday school, temple, Muslim school, or space camp. Diversity counts from an early age if you want your boys to grow up thinking they truly can do anything they set their minds to. Unless you don't want them to grow up to be civic minded coaches, big brothers, teachers, scout masters, or benevolent strangers.

Please, the next time you see a message like this, realize the cumulative damage it does. Don't read that article. Don't buy that paper. Don't watch that program. It's fear mongering and nothing more. The man in it? He will not/is not harming your kids. He's probably not harming anyone's kids. It does not make society better to spread these lies and insinuations about male teachers. We can deal with the individuals who are problems without making all men into problems.

In with the love; out with the jive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make a Positive more Positive

Every so often I remember to check out the blog Already Pretty. (Yes it's in my sidebar, but I don't have time to check it as often as she updates it.) It's posted by a woman named Sal who talks fashion in body positive talk and accessible concepts. I hit it up again tonight and was thunderstruck by this post of a few days ago:

Already Pretty's Reversals of language

It's about spinning (my recurrent theme) your descriptive relationship with clothes in a positive way. Such a simple thing but I don't know that I've ever thought of it this way before. Read the entry and you'll see just how powerful and positive it can be to say, instead of:

- choker necklaces look really good on me
- my neck was made to showcase choker style necklaces

instead of;

- bootleg jeans are really slimming on me
- my legs make magic with bootleg jeans

It might be a little thing, but for all the times we see body negative messaging in a day, we need a little positive to fill in the way we speak of, and then think of ourselves. And what a fun trick this is. Just make sure to use this power for good.

And if you're really feeling the power, comment with 2 spins you make on your own showcasing your own fabulousness. (I really do rock the choker and the bootlegs. Those are mine. My rack also highlights the greatness of the crossed v-neck.
top showcasing neckline
I'm snapping up all of those I can find before the neckline goes dormant for the next 20 years.) I think this should become an internet meme. Certainly it reminds me why I like to read other people's blogs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cap'n Tightpants in Person

The author stalking took a new turn tonight in that the "author" is Nathan Fillion, aka Captain Mal, aka Castle. "Team Castle" put out a novel and he was at an LA B&N to sign it. I'm pretty sure I brushed past some people that are pretty important and/or talented, but I already mentioned how Hollywood is wasted on me. (Some dude named Seamus was there and my friend's son asked directions from the police captain on Castle before realizing who it was, so I'm not the only one.) I at least knew enough to know I shouldn't ask a question in that crowd or worse, make a statement or try to instruct the writing team what to do.

Ok, snark aside, NF is hot and charismatic in person. Totally worth the drive for the sneak peek and Q&A. He had some other guy (presumably the main author) come answer some of the questions and the difference in personality and presentation couldn't have been more different. The other guy had this self-important tone to his voice that made me want to (a) ignore him and (b) punch him. I'm sure his mom loves him very much but I did not take to him. But then Mr. Fillion stepped back to the mic and handled both the questions and the crowd beautifully. I could have handled another half hour or so even though the questions started to devolve into annoying things. I tried to take a picture but my flash and shutter didn't cooperate. If you want to see how it went, I'm sure something will pop up on youtube tomorrow.

Speaking of which, that was just about the worst run booksigning I've ever been to. I've been to all kinds of booksignings and I know from booksignings and this was not good. The signage was insufficient, incomplete, and bad. The customer service lady was both surly and wrong. They claimed to have run out of books, but they had plenty on the focus wall behind the podium. They made people with books get in a line that snaked around all over the third floor so they had a choice of watching the Q&A or being in line and they mostly chose the line. While this meant I had a great view (except for the only tall people in LA who turned out for this event) it's not like they wired the image or sound over there for the more hard core fans. The bookstore down the street can fit about 40 people at once if everyone has showered and they dealt with a 500 person signing better than freaking downtown LA B&N did. It's also strange that they ran this against his show. I was glad I went, but I don't think I'll go back for the Kathy Griffin booksigning next month if that's what it'll be like.

My book club friend, her son, and I were happy to skip out and get dinner elsewhere in the mall and chat about stuff. Hopefully she'll be getting a new supervisor at work soon which will make her life more pleasant. Me, I have to get up early tomorrow to figure out some stuff for work. But in the meantime, I'm going to go finish watching Castle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Noodley Goodness

I was too much of a wet noodle yesterday to post my daily list of good things, so I'll try to squeak it in this morning.
  • Yoga! I rather like doing yoga, but for a long time the *cough* gym I belong to *cough* hasn't offered enough yoga classes at reasonable hours. Apparently they've started offering more, later classes since the last time I checked the schedule. I desperately needed it last night and went to a very nice class. Like most yoga classes, one could modify it to one's own fitness level so the same or similar poses could be done with more or less strength. And thank cow for that because I was the fat kid in the class yesterday.

    It was my first yoga class since having nose surgery and the first one where I could mostly breathe through my nose without having to break for panting through my mouth. Kinda more refreshing that way. Also, my feet have been feeling better so I was able to do it without tennis shoes on for the first time in a couple years. Also good. But for something where you're just standing and breathing, it worked my muscles like nobody's business. I came home and just sat on the couch, kind of shaking. But it felt good because I've been tight like a drum and being so loose was a huge relief.

  • Rain! It started raining yesterday for the first time in 3 or 4 months. People in my little valley seemed to deal with it ok and not get into accidents on our stretch of freeway. The first rain of the season washes away all kinds of crud that's been building up, and nearly every gurgling stream of water I saw racing around the place was foamy with bubbles. I'm not sure that's good, but I'm going to call it good that it washed away. (Surfers - stay out of the ocean for about 3 days, per the SB dept of health.)

  • Noodle Soup! I got some noodle soup at the cheap chinese place for lunch yesterday and it really hit the spot.

A word about the flu shot. I got my flu shot after standing in line for about 30 minutes. Usually I walk up and am the only one or one of two. Maybe a few other people come but there's never been a line in the 4 (!!) years I've been getting flu shots here. There was this year! This was the regular shot, not the "hiney" shot.

[rant] I was kind of surprised by an interview done on NPR this morning talking about whether or not to make flu shots mandatory for health workers. They had, presumably, a nurse on talking about how she never really got sick, so didn't need one. Um, didn't nursing school cover how contagion works? You get innoculated not just to protect yourself, but to prevent being a carrier of deadly disease to your neighbors and clients and friends. True, vaccinations require a huge level of trust. You're getting something shot into your body that could have adverse reactions. You have to trust that the shot you're getting _is_ the vaccine and not something else. But the risk is that the adverse reactions from the injection are minimal weighed against having or transmitting a potentially lethal disease and we know they work better than just about anything to prevent mass deaths. And for a company to package and sell anything other than the vaccine, with the exception of benign saline, would be so cost prohibitive as to be vanishingly unlikely. It's a coverup that would leak out faster than fast in this age of twitter. (We do, however, need to have enforced regulations about cleanliness and quality.) I understand skepticism, but not foolishness from those who should know better. If you're going to go all paranoid about vaccines, choose a slant that might actually be probable. [/rant]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Off the Radar

I haven't heard anything yet this morning about Obama's Nobel. Maybe as is typical for friday news, people agitate a bit then forget it. But I was interested to note that after recording my views as, roughly, "so soon?" and "yep, ok", that also seems to be the main thread from the inputs Andrew Sullivan reviewed.

Improves the Taste

I went back to the cheap theater this weekend to see "Hangover" which was funny and entertaining, if not very smart. Yes, it starred all guys with some female cameo type roles, but oh well. Not every movie must have good female roles. One could argue that this didn't have good male or female roles... except the guy who leaped naked out of the trunk and started wailing away with a tire iron.

The theater is up in the next valley and rather close to the only local vietnamese restaurant I know of. It has been 3 years and I'm still stunned by 2 things: how little decent ethnic food is available outside The Valley, and how EVERY ethnic restaurant in CA sprinkles their food with cilantro. One of these days I'll remember before a steaming bowl of soup comes out with the devil soap in it. Fortunately, it hadn't steeped long and I was able to pull it out along with the raw onion garnish (wtf?). Unfortunately, the raw onion did its damage and made my belly blow up uncomfortably, but I didn't notice until after I ate the otherwise yummy beef soup with bean sprouts, basil, lime, and jalapeno add ins.

Saturday, I walked my new boots to the neighborhood cobbler to get heel strike plates put on to prevent my heels from rocking outward, then walked over to get my hair done. My previous stylist moved to a new salon that is not only more expensive and farther away, but uses product that I'm allergic to. The new stylist didn't get a funky enough color in my hair, but it is a decent looking normal color and the hair cut seems fine so I'll use her again. We also bonded over love of vietnamese food. She told me about her favorite place in The Valley, so I decided on more while I remembered to ask for no cilantro.

Pho 999 is your standard cheap diner set up, and was very busy. The rice vermicelli bowl with chopped spring rolls and roast pork was excellent. Plus, it was near an Asian market. I've been looking for one to get some lychees at a decent price for my Halloween side dish of demon eyeballs. (Lychees stuffed with cherries from pie filling.) I hit the jackpot at the Bangluck Market. I was cracking up over the name the whole time.

At the market, they had 5 or 6 types of palm sugar which I found irresistible, having never noticed it before. So now I have a moderate sized vat of palm sugar. I managed to find a tiny bottle of fish sauce for 89 cents, since I want some but don't want a giant amount. (That plus lime juice makes a tasty dipping sauce for fried stuff.) They had a half dozen brands of lychees, along with similar fruits at very affordable prices. They had mint for a third the price of the farmer's market. I impulse shopped like crazy and got out with 4 heavy bags for $22. I came back with enough time to grab some things at Trader Joes and Ralphs. And out of the three, I think Ralphs is the funniest name for a food store. But funnier, were some of the Bangluck labels many of which were translated so generically as to be useless. One heavily promoted item was bottled Maggi brand "Seasoning". The label says "improves the taste". Um, ok. It looks like soy sauce. I have no idea beyond that what it is. I didn't impulse buy that one.

Today was kind of short. I read too late into the night; slept too late in the day. While awake, I made soup from an actual recipe! I do not like the trader joe's low salt veggie broth - too carroty. But aside from that the bean soup was tasty. The soup was thickened by pureeing one can of white beans, which worked fine. Then I fell asleep on the couch. Nuts. Since then, I've reawakened, cleaned the kitchen fiendishly, packed away the newly dried farmer's market basil so I could lay out the Bangluck mint, and watched the Discovery show on Ardilopithecus. And this, of course. Aside from being a little worried about how much I slept and the cilantro sneak attacks, pretty much everything goes in the happy column for the weekend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hope and Peace

I'm trying to record my initial reactions to the news of hearing that President Obama won the Nobel Peace prize before I go searching out opinions beyond the ones I heard with the NPR broadcast this morning.

I had 2 simultaneous first reactions to hearing the news that he'd won.
  1. What has he done that warrants this?
  2. Ok, yeah, I get it.

Even more, I think Obama gets it. He mentioned that he views it as a call to continue promoting the general welfare of people not just in America but in the world at large. I see it as a statement of just how profoundly our choosing to elect him over the grandstanding of the previous administration carried off even less successfully by McCain. The rest of the world sees him as someone with his head screwed on straight who not only has a vision of a better world but has the communication skills, stratgic thinking, and patience to make significant advances. And it's also a HUGE slap in the face to the way the previous administration set about doing things. I also think it's a message from the rest of the world to the people of this country (or at least the leadership in this country) to try and work with Obama rather than against him.

It has been curious to me, as well as infuriating, to see the mental gymnastics the spokespersons of the oppositions to Obama engage in. Even this morning, the "conservative" guy on NPR basically said, "I don't like him and you can't make me". That's fine. You don't have to like him, but you do have to respect the office of president and you don't. You spewed absolute filth about people who didn't respect GWB, but you do 10 times worse to Obama and call it justified? This is your wake up call that while you might not like him, he really does speak in a way that encompases more people than it rejects and that's a good thing. Hearing this commentator make self contradictory statements: "we don't approve of Obama, but the people of this country should get the prize since 'we' voted him in." when you know damned well that this man didn't vote for him made me a little dizzy. When he tried to downplay the importance of the Nobel Peace Prize in order to justify his need to downplay Obamas influence, it was just pathetic. I have no problem with dissent. I have a problem with obstructionists.

I also wonder if it's a wake up call to Obama that just because he's meeting unprincipled, knee-jerk obstructionism at home doesn't mean he should abandon the higher aspirations he brought to the office. He seems to be slipping a bit in some of the things we elected him to do: doesn't seem to be standing up for gay civil rights the way I'd like, doesn't seem to be drawing back enough from the abuses of the previous administration. So I wonder if this is a message from the outside world saying, "keep trying, we've got your back".

One reason they awarded him the award was that he had completely changed the tone of international dialogue. I don't think the importance of that can be overstated. Probably the best seminar I ever took was one in how to get things done by being assertive rather than an aggressive bully or a passive doormat. Using the principles from the class, I complained to a neighbor about his late night party on a weeknight and not only did I get an apology and no more weeknight parties, he brought me two bottles of wine. If I hadn't said anything, he likely would have had more parties. If I'd been agressive, I don't know about the party situation, but lets just say he wouldn't have offered me snowboarding lessons. And Obama is all about the assertive language. Assertive language is inclusive but determined. And seeing just how quickly the change in tone has set the world on a different path, I do think that's a significant accomplishment, if only people will recognize what it was that changed it. Certainly he has a big personality. But it's the way he talks to people with respect without ignoring the obstacles or creating enemies that is the lesson we should learn.

Lastly, a coworker stopped by to chat. He grew up in India and mentioned that the Nobel committee has a specific set of criteria they judge to and Obama has hit the trifecta. It's a nice little summary so I'd like to share it.
Nobel Peace criteria, per Ravi
  • Looking at the world as your home
  • Speaking for oppressed people
  • Oppressed people having opportunity
Compare to the Romanian literature winner who also hits these things, but did it a while ago.

The buzz around the office is that Obama hasn't done "anything" yet and that this is a "you better do something" message. I can see that too. I really fear some backlash on this, but only because I'm so used to our backlash. On the whole though, I have hope that things will continue to change even if they don't change overnight.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Karmic Ping-Pong

It was another frogurty kind of day.

Good: The gift I sent to my friend's office arrived today
Cursed: Today was the last day of people at the office, they're shutting up the shop.
Good: It cheered her up on a rather bad day, so she called to say hi.
Cursed: Her nice business is no longer.

Good: I got up on time for work today (unlike yesterday when I slept through the alarm)
Cursed: My body didn't like it and I was a little useless. I'm still zingy enough I can't remember what I really wanted to blog about.

Good:I remember now!
Cursed:It's not *that* interesting. Well, it's two things. You can judge.

Cursed: My arms are all swollen from my allergy shots.
Good: I got to see an Ignobel award up close.

Good: Bank of America, who are usually out to scam me, actually thought my account activity was weird and put a fraud alert on it then called me to verify the charges as good or cursed.
Cursed: One of the charges (Paypal) sounded like "Plink" and repeating it didn't help.
Good: The other two of three charges were real so I assumed all was well and pressed 1 for "yep, I authorized that". Then I went online to check my account statement.
Cursed: The suspected account was behind a fraud barrier - including the list of charges I needed to verify. They asked for 1 piece of ID to verify me on the phone and roughly 18,000 online questions. Um, I don't remember if my car loan was 2005 or 2006, I bought the car at the new year and don't know if the paperwork was dated the previous or following year. Even more, I don't care. (The payments are set up to go to the last payment and stop and that's in roughly 3-5 months.) But someone with my credit report could easily know this, so why it's a security question is beyond me. So I declined to answer the questions as I just wanted to verify that I hadn't validated something odd.
Good: BOA has online chat assistance so they don't have to listen to me yell at them.
Cursed: The chat didn't offer the CC# in question as an option for "what account?" so I got sent to someone who couldn't help me.
Good: But she did give me a phone number that worked.
Cursed: There's a reason chat is better. I get unreasonably pissed off by frustrating things that take a lot longer than I think they should, and if I wait until I cool down, I don't get my issues resolved, so it's a struggle to not be pissy on the phone. I try, I really do try, to be civil and pleasant, but I was not having my very best day today and it was marginal.
Good: The other guys in the office thought I was hilarious; the lady wrote down my suggestion of being able to view (but not act on) the potentially fraudulent items in question without the cavity search.
Cursed: It looks like it was signing up for that put it over the edge. Well, that's why I LOGGED IN and created a low limit, early expire ShopSafe number to use!!! *NEXT TIME* when they try to use the expired number, then flag it.
Good: Still, in matters financial, better safe than sorry. (Mostly) They probably get a ton of complaints from those "we'll help you by auto-renewing your subscription without sending a reminder" web sites.

Good:Plus, I'd made cinnamon rolls - one set with "cooking light" dough and one with my standard "Williams Sonoma" dough. I think I'll stick with the WS, the difference is mostly 1 egg and 1/6c sugar. But the CL did offer up a decent icing recipe (2T milk, 2-4T melted butter, dash vanilla, add conf.sugar until you like texture, ~1c) that worked out well. So I took one batch of cinnamon-raisin-pecan rolls and one of ginger-cherry-apple rolls.
Cursed:They didn't disappear, but
Good:That just means more for me.
For balance: I had steamed veggies and cucumbers for dinner. And bought a birthday gift for a blogger I enjoy, just for the hell of it. He had a wish list and it seemed auspicious to be generous as my gift giving mojo has been rocking recently, and it's a little capricious.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cutting Edge of the Mundane

In addition to seeing Whip It again on Friday and the live theater Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas in Westwood today, I've been watching TV. This watching is via actual TV and Hulu, which is much of the reason I sprang for a netbook. I tend to "multitask" when watching TV, which is harder when the screen is tiny and on the floor across the way because I haven't yet sprung for a longer cable connection or a wireless transmitter. I cook, pretend to exercise, wash laundry, read, or mostly do logic puzzles. And on my penrose and altair slitherlinks, I've been taking notes when I hear something that takes my fancy.

Here are some of the notes I made, some I will try to explain, some I think do better without:
  • "You should miss me, I'm Fantastic!" the always awesome Jenna Elphman on "Accidentally on Purpose"
  • Comedian Jared Redd used the phrase amalgam "metrocurious" and mentioned, "they not hos, they health nuts, keeping everybody in shape!" Naturally this reminded me of Dan Savage's rebranding of "conveniently located and economically priced sex workers".
  • On Glee, that music instructor is more clueless than clueless, but everyone else is pretty fun. Puck/Buck (does it matter?) rather does it for me and has this fun line, "That Rachel chick makes me want to light myself on fire, but she can sing."
  • Annie Oakley was born "Phoebe Anne Moses" and was the best shot in the county by age 12. (12! What does that say about maturity/necessity in the wild west? We barely allow 12 year olds to chew gum these days.) She outshot a traveling sharpshooter (it wasn't clear how old she was but definitely a teen) and he married her and became her manager. After years of sharpshooting cigarette ash off the lit cigarette in his mouth, she died and he followed 3 weeks later. Which makes me think they either had the same virus or he had a broken heart.
  • Transvestite Entourage by Regina Slang - a quip about "the romance novel he's going to write with that pen name", from mom's favorite late night host Craig Ferguson.
  • 5'9" and 146# Actually, that's not very healthy unless his skeleton is miniscule.
  • Remember to download some cat stevens, some airborne toxic avenger (sometime around midnight), and that shorty got low song from FloRida.
  • 25mph over the limit means no traffic school (from puzzle at court)
  • sporting houses
  • "first summer blockbuster!!!" yeah, that's a super Wolverine endorsement [/sarcasm].
  • Hot water cornbread, make like silver dollar pancakes - look up recipe on DDD.
  • pesto mayo - mayo+pesto, mustard, salt, pepper, rice vinegar
  • Cinderfella
  • one booty kitchen
  • Whip It
  • "We'll just invest it....and it's gone. Please move aside, this line is for bank customers only" (South Park)
  • It sells love and it sells hairspray (probably from my head, but it's the Psychadelic Furs)
  • John Stewart, "time to kill, but none to reflect"
  • does Dannica Patrick sell stock in her brand?
  • colonial tropical - a decor theme thaI had in mind when I moved in but went totally out the window. Someone just used it on HGTV the other day.
  • 1m^3 water is 1 ton
  • beats/loses to chart for The Big Bang Theory's Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock (paper disproves spock)
  • "Cutting Edge of the Mundane" is from the Flaws of Averages which likely points out that the average person has one testicle and one breast.

So that's the clutter and noise from my head, how 'bout you? (BTW, matthew modine needs some neck firming lotion or better lighting. Yeesh. But the lady who played Roz, my favorite character on Frasier, was the other lead and rocked it.) Back to Courtney Cox in Cougar Town. Almost fun enough to make up for no more Dirt.

Updated with above strikeout and neighboring link, and to give a bithday shout out to my bro. Glad you liked the haiku shirt.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Signs of the Times

At work recently, they've been putting in germ combating measures along with educational posters. It's nice to have sanitizer around, and a spray sanitizer for common keyboards and phones in conference rooms is also cool. The occasional poster saying "we're headed into flu season, here are the symptoms and here's what you can do to prevent transmission" are tolerable. But damn.

I went to get my morning caffeine. Posted above the hot drinks station are
  • 6 Flu Warning signs
  • 3 birth announcements
  • 1 lunch discount offer
  • 1 notice about the hot drinks supplies

I'm going to have to go with 6 is about 4 too many. A week or so ago, they put up a laminated card next to the soap dispenser listing the benefits of handwashing or some such. Then there was the reminder about flu shots. Monday's arrival was "here are the symptoms of flu". I don't mind that since it's harder to get that description than you'd think. Yesterday's, posted near all sinks, was "How to wash your hands". Um, ok. But seriously? Most of our employees spend most of their days wearing nitrile gloves and facemasks. Even if they never washed, it probably wouldn't come to anything. Today's new sign is "don't come to work if you're sick, fool". It's getting pretty comical.

I'm of mixed mind about the whole prep for the flu season. I am glad they provide flu shots free for employees and cheap for family members. I get the flu shots, figuring that cycling my immune system for something other than allergies is a good idea.

Communicable diseases are kind of hard to manage perception for. If you have a readily communicable disease that starts to swiftly and inexplicably kill off people in the cohort who normally survive minor bugs, it's bad, bad news. Yet if you manage to prevent the bug from spreading, people think they were worried for nothing because it's not ethical to deny prevention/treatment in a segment of the population just so you can say, "I told you so." And if M. Gladwell in "The Tipping Point" can be believed, it just takes a few extra people crowded together to go from "probably not going to amount to anything" to "epidemic". So maybe if people, even jokingly, wash their hands more thoroughly for a few weeks while mocking the signage, it will prevent reaching that tipping point. Who knows? But damn. SIX work instructions regarding flu is still pretty hilarious.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Whip It = Good!

I capped off a long saturday at work by meeting my trivia friend at the movies for the sneak preview of Whip It. Excellent choice. Enjoyable and works out some aggression.

Basic story is small town girl doing the standard thing, which in her town is beauty pageants, but is dissatisfied and doesn't fit in. Her best friend is also a bit of a misfit but has different aspirations. Girl (Bliss) somehow decides roller derby is her gig and colludes with best friend to do it on the sly. [anti-spoiler: ellen page does NOT get her teeth knocked out]. The standard scenarios follow: gets new crowd, gets new boyfriend from new crowd, explores more of world than previously had, starts to stand up for self in regular crowd, starts to get found out, gets busted big time, then has some choices to make. Not all of those choices would be standard, imho. Anyone who reads a lot of genre fiction knows there's a format to follow but the characters and detail give the story life. So even if this were a total formula movie, it would still be good fun. But it departs from standard in a couple of places and I think it made for a stronger, more enjoyable movie. The predictable bits aren't bad - it's more that I felt smart that I predicted them correctly when they happened which felt like a good payoff.

If blogger would let me do a livejournal-cut, I would use that, but here goes. Skip this paragraph to avoid SPOILERS! Seriously, I mean it youse guys. Also, If I could type without the thumbpad deciding I've moved my cursor mid-word, that would help too. Ok. Juno, I mean Babe Ruthless has a hell of a good date when her bff is having a bad night. Seriously, that is a date. He kind of sucks later, but as Mr. Right now, he's perfect. (Not to mention, but he's also my type.) In their final encounter, I want to have flake boy watch it. As for her, I wanted to say, "the fact that it ends doesn't mean it was a failure" which kind of fit the moral too. I like that being disappointed by a boy didn't dominate the film. In many "ditch the family to follow their dreams" movies, ditching the family is a point of pride. Not so here. I liked how they handled the family dynamic. It seemed a lot healthier than most. Might be pure fiction, might be based on real life, but I give credit for them showing how to spread ones wings without crushing all beneath you as you take off. I also liked that the rookie of the year could only do so much.

Ok, safe again, spoiler phobes. On to my quibbles: The expensive pageant dress was blah; I liked the off the shelf green one better. I've never seen a real roller derby match but even so, this looked a little soft so as not to wreck the actresses. I get that but it was still a bit tame. I hope the real derbygrrls go see this anyway for the fun. The derbygrrls aren't *quite* portrayed as hookers with a heart of gold, but rather badass hookers with hearts of gold. (The hookers bit is metaphorical, just using the proper idiom.) I kind of expected them to be nastier, even if I didn't want them to be nastier. Perhaps that was to keep it watchable for the impressionable teens moviegoers? I also expected more visible bruising or attempts to cover it up. I've never understood food fights.

Whip It is a fun film. The underdogs make good is a perennial favorite genre of mine. The lack of jittery-cam was appreciated too. I enjoyed it the whole way through. The names are awesome. The costumes are fun. The actresses are all adorable, except for Juliette Lewis, who's her usual badass self. Little Sister's big makeover is a hoot. Dad is a good dad. And I bet while you're watching you enjoy it enough that you don't realize that it stars mostly women, was written by a woman, was directed by Drew Barrymore who is a hard to categorize woman, and has some excellent music by women.

I was especially motivated to go see Whip It after watching the commercial for whatever movie Ray Romano has coming up - "a bunch of guys get older and take it badly" or some such and thinking I couldn't predict any role in it that was a decent role for even a supporting actress. It was all guy movie. It may be funny, but hasn't that been done to death? (Full disclosure, I might even see it. It could be genrebusting too, but why no obvious women of substance in this here new millenium?) Well, this is an almost all girl movie, but I think guys will like it. The women are hot and loud. There's action and there's action. Did I mention Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat are cute as buttons and they hang out with older hot women? What's not to like? It opens for real on Oct 2. Go see it. Take your impressionable teen to see it too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My day started off all wrong, but it was not all bad. I have been trying to get to bed earlier this week and only kind of making it (notice it's 1am). After nearly passing out on the couch to John Stewart, I was in bed before midnight, but I took a magazine to read and it got me all fired up. I knew that reading about ideas of things to do, and food, wasn't the best idea, but combined with work worry, I'm AWAKE.

Funnily enough, in a bit on budgeting, the Cooking Light recommended feeling better by writing down "4 non-financial things you're grateful for". Wonder where I've heard that idea before... so here goes.

The kicker that really woke me up was that this gratefulness/happiness comment was 2 pghs after I found out that someone named Teri Gault stole my idea independently had a genius idea about grocery cost tracking but actually implemented it. On The Grocery Game one can get prices on items from various local grocery stores. Heh. Well, it entertains me that someone else had a similar idea to mine and makes it work.

The reason I have this magazine is that a friend of mine renewed my lapsed subscription thinking we could choose a recipe each month, make it on each coast, and compare. Have we? No. Life exploded. But I like this friend and want to keep in touch and isn't she the sweetest for thinking of it? This month has any number of recipes (lower fat cinnamon rolls, easy sausage rolls) and quick dinners that I want to try - they're either a twist on something I make a lot of or something I'd want to make a lot of if it works out. I'll be trying to give that idea a go this month, then. Back on the homefront, I got to have lunch with my friend again - we aim for every wednesday but the last 8-10 weeks have mostly not worked out.

We won again at trivia. Only instead of our recent two people, we had 8. Our team founder, my coworker, is out on medical disability and not having a great time of it. Got the usual losing weight, feeling terrible, too tired to socialize thing going on. So it was good to see him out and about with his wife and other friends of theirs. Plus with them there, we held our lead through the sports round - where did team X reloacate from? I knew one; all together, our team got double on the double or nothing that requires all correct answers.

The thing that made me happiest today happened midafternoon. I went over to a local machine shop. (There are many nearby. I find this thrilling.) I tested out and picked up a wafer handling tool I designed to use for handloading some wafers into a tool before we complete the conversion of the automated handler. It works, and it came from my brain, started as a sketch on paper, and is now a fun little tool.

Turns out I do feel better now, and more settled. I heard from work about my tool qual which is still in progress but looking good. Better than I'd feared. Maybe my process actually is robust enough now to take a licking and keep on ticking. I'm confident enough after this last check in that even if it gets put available tonight, I'll be ok with it. Now hopefully I can sleep because I have a ticket for "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" tomorrow in Santa Barbara and I want to be awake for both the show and the drive home.