Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blame Canada

Or, blame it on the gin and peer pressure. I met up with traveling friends last night, and with their friends as well. After a nice Indian dinner in the Valley, we headed to a karaoke bar. Turns out there's another gay bar in LA I haven't been to. Who knew? But we had a good time, and I got coaxed into singing. One problem with that is that LA is full of frustrated performers, so the quality level of karaoke, in my experience, is rather high out here with some hilarious exceptions.

It's not super hard to coax me into singing casually, but I'm not much of a soloist. I tend to get stiff on stage and freak out, so I like to sing with other people. I've done trios and sextets and choral music, but I really don't sing solo. Karaoke is extra weird because I might know 80% of a song really really well, but of that 80% I probably have 10% of the words wrong, and the other 20% will trip me up. Improvising is also not one of my native or well developed skill sets. (Also why I'm generally quite truthful, I'm not quick enough to lie well - that and it rarely occurs to me that I could or should.) At any rate, karaoke makes me nervous because I'm enough of a singer that I want to do well and can do well, but unpracticed enough at solo work that my ability to hold a whole song is rather questionable. And since I should be able to do better...I wasn't sure I'd have fun if I didn't do reasonably well.

One thing in my favor for this place is that most of the music I'm drawn to is also big with gay British men. If the GBMs liked it, I probably did too. I only found that out maybe 6 years or so after my tastes were set, but there you have it. So I considered doing a Pet Shop Boys song last night, PSB karaoke at a gay bar being a "perfect storm" according to one of our guys. But it's been a while since I'd done anything they had on their list (Nightlife is the album in current rotation, mostly for the song "You only tell me you love me when you're drunk"). I could have done Death Cab for Cutie's "I will follow you into the dark" (quiet) or the Indigo Girls "Galileo" (won't net me a date of my preferred gender), plus they and other choices were too mellow. I couldn't coax anyone into doing the Carpenters "Top of the World" as a duet either and I didn't want to be the one to cause drunks to cry.

Showtunes would work, except it turns out I don't know many. Most of my current showtune knowledge is from Drag Queen Theater, not Broadway. I do know most of the music to Anything Goes, but it's been years (decades) since I've sung any of the songs all the way through with verse and chorus both. Plus, I really wasn't drunk enough to go over the top with "Blow Gabriel Blow".

Despite singing the chorus in a different octave every time, my friends assured me I did a good job with "Blame Canada" from the South Park movie. Of course, they're my friends and want me to feel good. Since I had drunk enough to compromise my short term memory, I'll choose to believe them. It was actually a shorter song than I'd remembered which was nice. The added bonus was that I went directly after one of the hilarious exceptions, not the Patty LaBelle mimic. My friends got up and did "Monster Mash" which can mostly be spoken, and swore it was the longest version of the song they'd ever encountered. Fortunately our group did contain at least one seasoned karaoke singer so we were able to lay claim to some talent from our table.

No hangover, but I did sleep to noon without restlessness meaning I feel awake now for about the first time this week. And my friends are winding their way back to San Diego, for which I'm a mite jealous. I'll have to conjure up another San Diego trip soon. After the cabinets and closet get assembled.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Otter Cuteness

From icanhascheezburger, teh kyoot

Kindle vs. Nook Smackdown

Short version - I prefer the new WiFi-only Kindle. The nook's benefits of pretty cover art in the navigation panel, that it can be bought at a local store instead of being shipped, and that one can read books for free while actually in the Barnes & Noble aren't good enough to make up for the bad battery life, slow and imprecise interface, bad thru-device shopping, and it's general "also ran"-ness. I suspect I would have liked the nook more if I actually spent any time at my local B&N, but I really don't.

For long version

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Year Nesting

If you've been following the blog recently, you know that I've been
A) sick
B) nesting

Part of the nesting is *finishing* things, hence this post so I can be finished with 2010. I'm not really sure where the nesting instinct came from, but its been really fun to have time to look at my space and see what it and I need to really make it work for me. I always knew it could. Out of the 5 condo complexes I looked at, this one had the best fit for me. Despite the fact that the very best thing I could do financially is buy some other place at a good rate then walk away from this, I think that's low on the possibility list. Not due so much to sunk costs and effort, but because I honestly like this place. I'm sure there are other places I could like as well, or even better, but I don't know that I could afford them, it would take time to fix them up, and it will have taken nearly five years to get to where this place is how I want it.

Granted some of that is due to money. Not having enough money is like being a little bit sick. You know you aren't operating at full capacity, but you still get out and do everything you can manage and are reasonably happy with the result, kinda, but it's not until you feel well, or have enough money that you truly realize how much you were [avoiding, declining, not attempting, not starting, not finishing, not dreaming of].

This post turned into the "how was last year update that ate Los Angeles" with odd and gratuitous punctuation, run on sentences, and just everything. If you like me, really like me, and want to continue,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kitchen Bling

For some reason when I'm recovering from being sick, I get bursts of energy where I like to do repetitive tasks.  Often, that's baking or cooking, but that can be tetchy if I'm actually at risk of spreading contagion. Plus, this particular sick has pretty well put me off food, so I put the remaining 14 handles on my kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. Counting them up made me realize why I didn't get to it earlier - it's a lot of work!  Also, I'd been having a crisis of confidence in my measurements due to the rounded edges making it hard to find centers, particularly on the drawers. Until I wised up and realized I could measure in from each edge by the same amount and find center from those marks.  Duh.

It's been almost exactly 2 years and 1 month since the kitchen was "finished" enough for my cookie party, so how have I been getting the drawers open?

kitchen cabinet handles

There's a reason my favorite tape is currently electrical tape. This makeshift solution, viewed from above and slightly behind, has been in place and working pretty well for 25 months. The only time it gets sketchy is when my hands aren't perfectly dry because they slip off the tape. The slipperiness has been getting on my nerves, so I was feeling some motivation.

Well, that and it's not as pretty as the handles I bought. No comparison, really.
kitchen cabinet handles

Getting into the homestretch, you can see more mix of handles. The only tape handle that failed was on the bottom drawer of this stack because the drawer fronts were a little too close. Since I could open it from the bottom edge, I took the tape off.
kitchen cabinet handles, some tape, one new

Here it is, all finished up. Prior to today, there was only the handle on the vertical cabinet with glass. Now there are 6 more. And I made an effort to straighten and align the drawer fronts a little more. Done!
kitchen cabinet handles finished!

All but the corner cabinet handle are new here. I put all the upper ones horizontally - well it's obvious why on the horizontal cabinets - but on the one over the microwave, for some reason the embossed lines are rotated 90deg from the other doors relative to the hinges. I figured that spanning over that line would look weird, plus, it's in the same visual frame as the horizontal cabinets, so it works for me.
kitchen cabinet handles

After looking at the photos, I realized that the left side has the upper handles horizontal and the lowers vertical, and the right side of the kitchen is the opposite due to all the lower drawers.

Before showing the last of the handles, here's a reminder of what the right side of the kitchen looked like when I moved in. One 4 foot wide, 1 foot deep pantry. Seemed like a good idea, but wasn't. Also, that extra height wraparound on the opposite counter was bad too. As was the 25 year old white grout. My design works much, much better. (so there!)
kitchen cabinet handles

And the best part of the upgrade - the bumped out pantry with counter space, a couple of actual silverware drawers, and the manhandles. And now (but for the toe kick) it's finished! And I'll be able to get at my silverware (technically flatware, yes) with damp hands.
kitchen cabinet handles

Design wise, I really like how the square cutout detailing of the Atlas Homewares Craftsman handles in brushed nickel mirror the gridded pattern in the IKEA Adel glass cabinet doors. The mountain climber handles are manhandles from Soko. Not cheap, but I use 'em every day and love 'em every day. Thanks also to the local kitchen store who had the display of manhandles that first caught my eye, and was able to lead me to the "boring" handles for the rest of the drawers. Now I can use my beautiful "boring" handles every day too, especially easily when my hands are not perfectly dry.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Half n Half

So I'm in that weird state of recovery where it's hard to tell how useful or useless I'll be.  I don't feel good.  But I don't feel as bad as I had been.

Yesterday and the day before, I tried working.  Tuesday, I plowed through some email, got some projects that needed prodding after the holiday prodded, then came home at noon and slept for 7 hours.  I felt better yesterday, and made it through lunch and our weekly engineering meeting, when I started to feel nasty and went home to find I had a fever.  Once home, I developed a rash.

This morning, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel.  The fever is gone, but all the sinuses in my head are moving and either draining or refilling and I can feel my patience on a really, really short tether.  Not a good state in which to go to work if I don't absolutely have to.  And so far, I don't absolutely have to.  I thought about telling my boss I'd try to come in this afternoon, but I can't see that going too well.

Now I'm left with enough energy to do *something* but don't really know what I could do without getting frustrated with it.  Then, there's the guilt that if I'm functional in any way I should be at work, so do I not do things I could do to "prove" I'm sick? Or do I just do things (errands, mostly) because they really just don't take the same level of energy, commitment, and temperament that being at work does?  I'm thinking about the second option pretty hard, but only after a shower and a nap and time for the daily meds to work.

Looking at the brightside:
  1. Unlike some friends, I don't have 17" of snow. I do love snow, but I don't like digging out of it on school days.  And when one works in manufacturing, they aren't keen on one working from home.
  2.  My sick time just reset so I actually have sick days to use.
  3. Thanks to my new wireless router and the price our company stock has been at, I can shop online in the comfort of my pajamas.  I'm so excited about the new dining room I can hardly see straight.  Or maybe that's the sick, but still.  This is really only the second year of my adult life that I've had any disposable income to speak of, and I'm finding a lot of satisfaction in using it to set my place up the way I want to live, rather than the way I have to live with what I can scrounge up for pennies.
  4. A gratuitous 4th item.  Laundry in my unit is a continued miracle.  Also for most of my adult life, I didn't have laundry at home.  I would do it at friends' homes while we watched movies together or at the laundromat, or finally, take it to the wash-dry-fold.  I can't tell you how relieved and grown up I feel being able to do laundry overnight.  I have a mostly dry load in the drier waiting for the final zhush then it can be put away.  Now to decide if it's a good time to get a front-loading washer. I'm thinking maybe yes. I can shop online and all... (If you have recommendations for/against any stackable frontloaders, let me know!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dining Room Storage

I made it through 6 hours at work today (including wonton soup for lunch, just like mom used to buy!) and at the engineering meeting started feeling kinda hot and lousy.  I came home at 3, and have a temp of 99.2F.  Since my "well" temp is generally around 98.2F (like on monday at the doc's office), that means I am running a fever.  gah.   Oh well. On to the fun stuff.

I've been asking friends and family what to do about my dining room storage situation and the answer is pretty much unanimous at "wall of cabinetry". But just plain ol' kitchen cabinets weren't the right solution.  I need low rise drawers, and lots of them, for tools and craft things.  Bigger drawers for paper, smaller drawers for screwdrivers and brushes.  "Map drawers" are my ideal, but they're a little too specific and just won't fit or function.

Before I became lousy with illness, I'd received a Home Decorator's catalog.  The cover had the craft hutch I've been looking for lo these many years.  I really dug the green color (which, in its defense, matches my couch), but it's going in a line of otherwise white cabinetry, so I had to go with white.  I suppose I could always gunk it up with color later. It's Martha Stewart, if you can believe that, and it's wonderful.  It's in two pieces - the image on the right below.  A sewing machine fits in the lower right, and paper or fabric on the lower left, then all kinds of crapola in the upper hutch.

If you click though to polyvore (the first link after the picture as I accidentally deleted the link to the pic and don't have the patience to restore it) then click on the hutch, then (yeah, right) look at the alternate images, it will show you the thing loaded up for the catalog, and why I love it already.  I ordered it last night.

I also ordered 2 3-drawer filing cabinets and a 6+2 drawer that I'll get to use for tools inside (finally!) as well as pens and brushes and whatnot.  They're both 41" high, and leave just enough width that I can cram in a shelf to hold my stereo (but not the speakers) and some 12-packs of soda (which don't quite fit under the sink anymore).  And it will be beautiful and work great. 
Dining room Storage
Dining room Storage by CrankyOtter on
New cabinetry for dining room wall - while I like the curio cabinet (up left) the rest of the stuff is what I actually got. I totally would have gone for the hutch in green, except I had to go with white to not make the space look insane. I think the tall 6+2 drawer set will be good for both screwdriver type tools and pens and brushes.

The only decision left is what to do for upper cabinetry to hold my cookbooks (and whatever else).  Options are 2 rows of open, white shelves, a closed "Varde" cabinet from IKEA, or closed IKEA Adel cabinets that match my existing (but with no glass inserts) in either 36 or 66 inches wide (1 lg vs 2 small + 1 lg).

I'm so excited I'm just burning up!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On the Mend

Well, the barfy feeling is going away.  The doc said something was going around and the only thing to do about it is wait it out.  The digestive enzymes and papaya seem to help.  While I'm still bloated on very little food, I have been able to eat and keep stuff down.

I tried going back to work today.  I lasted until lunch. I'd optimistically planned to head back for our group meeting at 1:30 then see if I could stick it out.  Since I usually get chinese food for lunch on tuesday, I went over, got a giant bowl of Wonton Soup, decided that the meeting wasn't going to happen, called my boss and went home.

A friend had given me a pile of audiobooks for christmas ("Only if you take ALL of them...") and I was nearly through the last of the three Jennifer Crusie's that were in the stacks.  I put on the second to last CD of Bet Me, laid down for a nap, and woke up 7 hours later. Heh.  I back calculated that I'd lasted roughly 8 minutes between getting home and being dead to the world.

I felt somewhat better after waking up.I ordered some Pizza, forgot to ask for thin crust, but did remember to ask for none of the vile oil they put on the edge - it has the barfy parmesan smell to it that makes it inedible.  (It turns out that I actually like the parmesan sold shredded by Trader Joe's.  It doesn't have a strong essence of bile that many other parms seem to.)  I managed to wolf down three pieces! 

Since then, I've listened to the rest of the audiobook while playing Freecell or drafting out closet and dining room cabinetry layouts.  I'm feeling better but really shaky. Like "still sick" shaky.  I may or may not attempt another half day tomorrow.  The water for my unit will be off between 10-2 (or some fraction thereof), making it not great to sleep in too late, but maybe I could go for a swim at the gym or something, then hit the steam room - normally not my favorite, but might be a good idea given my current status.

Anyhow, hope everyone else is ramping into the new year with better energy than last year.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I had plans to do year end/new year posts.  But I visited friends and ate too much crab and played too much LEGO Indiana Jones, instead of blogging.  Then I had a friend visit.  Both of these were good things.  But at some point, I picked up some germs and the hair trigger on my nose sprouted a sinus infection.  I was pretty miserable with that on wednesday and thursday, but still managed to get some work done at work thanks to tylenol and sudafed and sinus rinse.  I was starting to feel better thursday night. But with the hope of not oversleeping friday, I didn't take some meds to help me sleep, and I lay mostly awake for the night. My guts were burning a bit because I caved and ate an orange. When I woke up friday, I didn't feel good, but assumed it was just residual sick and sleepiness.  [Do not read further if you are squeamish.]