Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can't decide if I want to try to shoot fireworks tonight. It looks like it's sprinkling and I just realized my remote control doesn't work with the D700 -- probably should've noticed that before, making it much harder to keep the camera steady. I'll also be pretty tired in an hour. In the absence of a decision I'm idly googling homemade rain covers and willing myself awake.

Jer works tonight so my personal New Year's Eve celebration has involved World of Warcraft and two cups of coffee. It's not the worst NYE ever. That belongs to the Christmas break I worked at Blockbuster Video and had to vacuum while the fireworks went off outside. Yay.

Without getting into it too much, these last couple of weeks have been very strange at work. My company was acquired by a much larger entity and on Monday we all had to go through HR training and start over from scratch. Vacation, seniority, sensitivity training, it all begins anew and there has been some culture shock as a result. I continue to hold the same job title, which if you caught my hints, changed about 3 months ago when I took over for my boss. One of the side effects of this change is that I've started peppering phrases like "low hanging fruit" and "where the rubber meets the road" into my speech patterns... and then I slap myself in the face as punishment.

So there's that.

I think what I really want is permission to go to sleep and not worry about fireworks and rain. Ignoring them makes me feel guilty though since this should be the last New Year's Eve in this apartment. Bah. I'll figure something out.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy In Between Holiday Time

It was a low key Christmas this year. Just me and Jer, the cats, a stack of presents, snow, and World of Warcraft. I'm not complaining. We were both spoiled and received a lot of very nice things.

I got almost entirely cooking items such as cookbooks and cooking implements -- I asked for them, it was not a statement on my abilities. My mother even got me a stand mixer, which is awesome.

I guess I will learn to bake now. :)

The snow seems to have all melted leaving behind startingly green grass. I am looking forward to getting back on a schedule and riding the bus reliably again. Although I just looked at the web site and they are operating reduced weekday schedules for my bus this week, which is stupid, since it only runs during commuter time anyway. And it's not entirely clear what "reduced weekday" means. I am getting really really sick of this.

It just translates to a lot of time standing on the street with my fingers crossed.

But now is not a time for bitterness. It is a time for laundry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Snow

Dear Snow,

I see you are falling again.

This will be my first white Christmas ever, and while that's neat, we've been out of Bailey's for 4 days. Please take a break, snow. Chambord is just not as good.

Love,
Me

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sometimes I get drunk by design

West Seattle Blog has been a great resource during this whole winter weather extravaganza. This morning I saw an article linked explaining why the city shuts down at snow sign: Seattle refuses to salt. Apparently they just pack the snow down by design. In my business we say "by design" when we really mean "we don't want to fix it and we don't want to talk about it anymore, okay?"

I am working from home again. I rescheduled the holiday potluck and my meetings are all set up as conference calls, but it still feels like cheating. There is no reason to go in now though, so I should just let it go. As for my half.com sale, I used the post office Web site to print postage and since it's under 13 ounces I can drop it in the mailbox.

We are all about problem solving over here.

And in a minute we will be all about brewing coffee.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crème Brûlée Snow

It's 8pm, note that. I just went downstairs and cleared the snow off my car, snow covered by thin sheets of ice that cracked like caramelized sugar when pressed upon, covered by more powdery snow.

I sunk a good 6 inches to the ground as I brushed and cracked and swept and cursed.

I would really like to make it into work tomorrow and at least get my laptop, but the weather report says it will freeze tonight and snow tomorrow night, which means no buses. I am a big wuss and don't really want to drive in a town full of hills and bridges that only owns 27 plows with rubber tips. But then I feel like I am making excuses and I need to mail my half.com sale and deposit my reimbursement check, but bah. I could barely clear my front window of ice, why do I think it'll be better after it has all night to freeze solid?

I am clearly not cut out for this.

More photos: Homebound edition

View of snow looking out towards Salty's:

View from my desk:

The bus was cancelled again so I'm working from home. Better get to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Color Calibration is a Right!

Jer has been encouraging me to pick a new monitor. Unfortunately I just did.

I want this: NEC LCD2690WUXi-BK-SV Black 25.5".

Drool.

I can hardly imagine what it would be like to use a monitor where I trusted the contrast and the colors and I didn't keep mistaking the permanent smudge in the upper right corner of the screen with dust that needs to be rubber stamped out. Always with the rubber stamping of the nothing.

Also and P.S. I need Photoshop CS4. Need, I say. That is all.

Snow Photos

Looking up the hill behind our place:

Looking at the street towards Salty's:

I just watched a kid snowboard down the hill shown in the first picture. The snowflakes are huge -- they actually look like the pieces of paper I used to cut up in elementary school.

It Just Keeps Coming...

As far as I can tell, it snowed all night. When I went to bed after midnight it was still falling, wind was still blustery, and the line between street and sidewalk had continued melding to become a distant memory.

It's stopped for now, but the weather report says it isn't finished. If the timing weren't so bad it'd be a lot more fun. I'm supposed to get into work tomorrow to sign benefits paperwork to prevent an interruption in service. Apparently life keeps happening even when the city shuts down. I will see if the forms can be emailed, I guess.

Check out this news story. Two buses hang over I-5 after sliding down a steep hill. Scary.

I know if you're reading this in a place where snow is common, this doesn't make much sense to you. I might seem to be blowing it out of proportion. I mean, it's just a few inches of snow, right? I saw this linked today about Seattle and snow, and it helped put it in persective.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grocery Shopping and Post Office: Starring Frightful Weather

We just braved the weather and returned triumphant from the grocery store and post office. Once we left Harbor Ave behind, the streets were not as ice and snow covered so we were able to get up the hill on Avalon, no problem. As you may expect the post office and grocery store (Safeway by the Alaska Junction) were both very very crowded.

Surrounded by carts and people and narrow aisles... I have never had a panic attack, but that was as close as I ever want to come. Luckily I made a list and focusing on checking off items made it into a game.

I have now obtained ingredients for kale and chorizo soup and we have stocked up on other main supplies, including a bottle of Eos Red Zinfandel and a liter of club soda to go with the Ginger Vodka. There will be no starving, or possibly sobriety. I even bought my holiday potluck contribution, which assumes the buses will be running on Tuesday. Doesn't look good so far.

At the grocery store, it started to snow again, right on schedule. There's this other big storm rolling in now, I guess, and this is all very strange for Seattle. I am just happy we made it to the store and back without any difficulty, after brushing the 4 inches of snow off my car.

And now it is back to World of Warcraft. Whee!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Come scavenge with us

Well, for now I still have the same position. Only the bureaucracy structure has changed. Some things I was promised didn't pan out and reservations, I have one or two. For example I may have just lost all of my accrued vacation time, but at least I'll have direct deposit and a 401(k) again.

Bright side. I haz it.

That's enough words about the place I spend most of my time.

I am sort of snowed in here, since it isn't safe to be driving on the icy hilly streets with my poor blue car. We are playing the scavenge home game for food. While Jer was still asleep I microwaved 4 meatballs and deconstructed a string cheese. For dinner we will probably have grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

I always seem to have plenty of cheese on hand.

Neither of us will starve on my watch. No sir. Even if I have to be creative with the remaining ingredients. Cous cous and meatballs! American cheese on bagels! Hot chocolate spiked with brandy!

37 route suspended Friday

According to Metro's Web site, my local bus service has been suspended.

On the bright side, considering this is the day I learn about the future of my job -- at least the first step -- I can scan in documents on my flatbed scanner and email them in, and my phone has a (newly discovered to me) convenient mute feature for the 2 hour conference call I'm scheduled for later.

Necessity is the mother of reading the instruction manual.

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Adventures


View from the bus after we got stuck on the West Seattle Bridge on-ramp

I understand that occasionally cold white flakes fall from the sky, and in many parts of the world, the infrastructure takes it in stride. Not so in Seattle. In Seattle, we panic.

As you may have guessed from the above photo, my bus got stuck in the snow. All of the passengers had to hike down the on-ramp and find another bus stop. Eventually another bus came. It was cramped, standing room only, shoulder-to-shoulder, reminded me of Tokyo during the commuter time. I got to work an hour and a half after I left my house -- normally it takes 20 minutes. That's the short version.

The snow never let up. I left the office a little after noon and waited on the street for a half hour. (I was the only one who made it to work, by the way. Okay, one other guy came in but he left a little before I did.) No one on the street had seen a bus pass by in an hour. No one was sure if one would come. One eventually came. It is colder when you have little hope.

The driver took side streets, an arbitrary adverse weather route. I begged him to let me off by the Chelan Cafe instead of proceeding up Delridge. He did so. I walked home from the West Seattle Bridge in the snow. Cold. Pretty. Tiring.

I brought my D700 and took some photos. Got home and realized my software can't read the high-techness of this fancy camera. Will have to upgrade software. In the mean time, I can convert to jpg and be hokey about it. See above.

Tomorrow I absolutely have to make it into work. Or something. We have Big Work Stuff to get done. Bah.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where'd everybody go?

I walked into work this morning a little later than usual at 8am, surprised to find the lights still off. Apparently there is a big storm a'comin' (at least big by Seattle standards), and there is ice treachery and snow madness to the North of us, soon to be sweeping to a home near me.

The irony is it was my easiest commute day this week; I only waited 15 minutes for a bus with chains to pull up instead of 25.

As my main winter accessory, I have selected a comically long white scarf from H&M, which is ever so soft, yet on close inspection resembles chains of cheese curds. I feel like Great Father Winter whenever I wear it and look down over a billow of white hanging from my chin.

Warmth supersedes looking silly in my fashion handbook.

I put my foot down, in a totally passive-aggressive way, and informed everyone in my company (which sounds more impressive than it actually is) that I am bringing meatballs to work next Tuesday at noon, and if they want to eat them that'd be awesome. Oh? And if they wanted to bring food too, I totally wouldn't mind. In fact, let's call it a Holiday Potluck, just for fun. And I'll schedule it on Outlook. Won't that be fun?

I am forcing good cheer down their throats. And meatballs.

The last 2 nights I've played World of Warcraft (surprise!), and got past a wall I hit with my Tauren Warrior back when I stopped a couple of years ago. Since my gaming epiphany, I've managed to advance almost 3 levels to 44 and I am more proud than you would expect to have done what I've done.

I am brewing coffee for myself and idly glancing at my to do list. I wonder if anyone will come in and entertain me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

To catch you up

Good day to you.

It was a busy week. Tuesday night, shopped for a dress. Wednesday night, happy hour and wrapped Jer's Christmas and birthday presents. Thursday night, met up with Courtney to see Jonathan Richman at the Triple Door, which was a lot of fun. The Triple Door is how I've always pictured a dinner club. People serve you food; you enjoy the show. No opening band, just two guys on a stage, some twinkly lights that look like stars on the backdrop behind them, and a bottle of red Zin. Fun times.

Friday night, Jer's birthday. I left work about 2:30pm, stopped at the grocery store, then came home to play WarCraft until 2am. It's what Jer wanted to do and birthday boy gets what he wants.

Saturday night, Jer's holiday party. Also, it snowed. As I sit here now in our office, I can see a patchy blanket of white on the trees and the ground. Cold but pretty.

My hands smell like coffee. I am still in my pajamas wearing fingerless pink and black stripped gloves with white skulls on them. It's about as close to Christmas feeling as I get.

Friday I am supposed to hear news about some big happenings at work. I really hope the day hurries up and arrives.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I wag my finger at Nordstrom Rack

I just had the oddest customer service experience at Nordstrom Rack. As the clerk rang me up for my purchase, he recited his spiel about a rewards card and how it could save me money, was free, and would take only 1 minute of my time. I said sure, why not.

He asked for my ID and input the information into his computer. Then he pushed a keypad forward and asked me to enter my Social Security Number.

Hold that thought for impact. Roll it around on your tongue. My. Social. Security. Number.

I chuckled and said no. He explained it was necessary in case I lost my card. It was to protect ME from MYSELF. I declined again. He continued the transaction, vaguely, and I still assumed I was being signed up for the rewards card and saving $20. I asked him about it when he handed me the receipt and he said, "Oh, without your social security number, I can't sign you up."

I blinked and said, "Really? I'm surprised you get anyone at all to give you that information. What about identity theft? Most companies use a phone number." He shrugged.

And that was that.

I'm just plan flabbergasted. They took my ID, with my birthday, address, driver's license number, and then they wanted my social security number? Incredible! Why don't I provide my bank account number while I'm at it, my mother's maiden name, and my first pet's name? It's not even a credit card application. It's a rewards card!

For the first time I wished I used Twitter so I might alert the whole Internet to this madness post-haste.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Allow myself to introduce ... myself

There was a moment today when I texted Jer, "Shoot me."

It was just that kind of day.

Of course because I'm paranoid I spent the rest of the day worried I was tempting fate, which was later exacerbated by the homeless man on the corner shouting nonsense about his Gun.

And then a jet crashed into a San Diego neighborhood.

None of this is related.

I am planning to post a notice on my photoblog that I am taking December off and will be back with lots more photos on January 1. Work is just taking too much out of me right now. World of Warcraft gets about 10% of the blame, but it's not the root of the problem. I have my fancy new camera and together we will take lots of photos, but right now my hands are cold and my shoulders are tense. There are too many projects taking my attention and in the mean time I feel like I'm drowning in filth. This apartment nees a thorough cleansing.

I just don't want to face any of it. I am not being very grown up, I know. As my minor rebellion I requested December 26 off from work. You rebel, you!

In other news I registered for Japanese 2 today, so it will be another 10 weeks of class starting in January. I bought some black button thread to try and sew the buttons back onto my winter coat. Lately I just hold it closed with my hands, which may very well explain why my hands are always cold. And that's all the nonsense I can muster.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

apathy to start the week

I only used the d700 for about a half hour and then I put it away. It's awesome, exactly what I wanted, and there are lots of new buttons to learn about. Better to take it slowly. We have time.

Been playing more WoW. I am being scolded that it is not World of AuctionCraft. Yet, my enchanter needs gold to buy stuff so he can level and make better stuff. It is neverending.

Sunday night and I managed to replace the halogen light in the living room, wrap a few presents (poorly), and pack them for shipping. I also renewed my city business license and ran a few errands last night with Jer. ... and that's it.

It is a slow and lazy month. I am supposed to know more about XSD and XSLT than I do. But that's what tomorrow is for. Tonight I am just not up to participating in productive society.

I sure hope I have enough clean clothes for tomorrow. Durn.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Time flies. Yesterday was my last Japanese class of the quarter. As I wait for my coffee to brew I will share with you my recent adventures.

After checking the UPS web site before work and verifying that the Customer Care Center indeed opened at 8am, I drove there. The lot was entirely full of cars and I parked about a quarter of a mile away thinking, "Gee, Christmas time is busy!." Upon arriving at the door to pick up my wonderful and fabulous dream camera I was confronted with harsh reality. A sign taped to the door said, "Hours: 8:30am to 8pm."

I drove to work in sadness. Nothing ever goes quite right with UPS, but I've written about that here before.

As part of a teambuilding exercise, my work group went to lunch and then to see "Quantum of Solace" at the Cinerama. I don't think I've ever willingly watched a Bond film before but I kind of liked it. Dark and a few clever moments mixed up with all of the action. Current Bond has some seriously cold dead eyes.

After work I drove back to UPS, picked up my camera after a 20-minute wait, and then headed off to class. Well, first I ripped open the box in the parking lot, standing over the trunk of my car. Then I stuffed the camera body into my camera bag so I could carry it with me for the rest of the night. No leaving unattended valuables in my car for me!

Oh, coffee's ready!

It's Friday and I'm very happy because of it. World of Warcraft is going swimmingly. My Blood Elf Hunter, Nyl, is about to reach level 25. I've spent most of the week in the Barrens killing mobs to try to get a recipe for Savory Deviate Delight. Because that right there is a big ol' moneymaker and doing so also let me kill things without getting experience -- so I wouldn't outpace Jer's character. I'm up to about 75 gold in the game, which is kind of a lot for my character level, based entirely on the auction house. I spend a lot of time at the auction house, just so we're all clear.

That's all I got.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So that was November

With this entry I have successfully posted every day in November. Whoo hoo.

I was thinking I should write a Thanksgiving post where I enumerate the multitude of things for which I'm thankful, but I keep putting it off. The truth is I'd rather just try to remember to be grateful all the time, instead of saving it up for an annual list. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

For example, just today I am grateful for spaghetti and spending time with my husband, even if most of it was quality time in a video game. I expect some significant culture shock tomorrow after spending 4 days in Horde territory... the office just won't feel right.

I forced myself to look outside and the fog on Elliott Bay was something. I still can't see the downtown lights behind that gray blanket, but earlier, there was a lone fisherman in front of a barge, and all of it was shrouded in mist. Eerie, beautiful. I considered getting my camera but decided to wait until the d700 arrives and then I'll start taking pictures again. I just wanted to get it right or not do it at all.

So now the image is trapped up here (pretend you can see me jabbing at my forehead.)

And that ends November. I hope December brings good news.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am just posting this under the wire. 11:30pm is not quite midnight. This totally counts as day 29.

Today was the third day straight of WoW playing. My brain is mushy. I have not been getting enough sleep.

Tomorrow I don't even know. I managed to shower today, cook two meals, and empty the dishwasher in addition to playing, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Also, I made it a point to look outside. It was gray. I don't think I missed anything.

Oh, the other thing I did was call my credit card company and confirm there are no fraudulent charges on my card. Apparently when you do all of your Christmas shopping in a day and then buy yourself a camera, it looks a little strange. Apparently.

I close my eyes and see little yellow circles. That's where the mines are. Or names floating over people's heads. My pet is hungry. Draw aggro. Mark the target! These are the shortest three days I've spent in a long time. The only way I know time is continuing is a random thirst and muscle tightness in my shoulders from sitting hunched over for 6 hours at a time.

wheeeeee.

Friday, November 28, 2008

hello and goodbye, friday

I probably should keep this to myself, but I've been playing WoW since 9:30am. It's 7:30pm now. Also, I played until 2am this morning when I finally passed out. And that's why I quit playing for 2 years...

But in the spirit of finishing out this month with all of the daily blog posting, I have wrenched myself away from the game for a few minutes -- or maybe a whole hour. I'm level 18, which is kind of crazy and I've taken up jewelcrafting, mining, fishing, and cooking. It's also kind of crazy how the memories of how to play came back so easily. Not much has really changed in 2 years.

I did not even bother to look outside today. I couldn't tell you if the sun came up or if it rained all day long.

There's not much else to say. I will leave you to your judging of me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Back in WoW

Before Jeremy left for work last night, after I got him to let me buy the camera, he stood in the doorway and asked for two things. One was for me to vacuum the carpet by the shredder, and the other was to start playing World of Warcraft again.

I complied.

I have not played for about two years -- I stopped because I am sometimes an all or nothin' sort of gal, and with WoW it was All.

A few weeks ago Blizzard sent me an email about a 10-day free trial for the Burning Crusade expansion. So last night, I upgraded to Burning Crusade. I installed all the patches. It took about five hours. And then this morning I surprised Jer with what I had done.

He is very excited.

After our very nice Thanksgiving dinner at Salty's we logged into the Elune server and have been playing ever since. I have a female Blood Elf Hunter who is about to reach level 10. And yeah, it's pretty fun.

I will try not to let it take over my life again and only play when Jer is around. I guess it's sort of silly to continually deny myself something that I enjoy doing, but I am wary and I'll take it slow.

Jer just made coffee and I'm going back in. I hope you had a terrific holiday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

commence with the hyperventilating

omg. i just ordered a nikon d700 camera body.

holy crap!

for those who don't keep nikon brochures in their back pocket, let's just say... this is a very fancy camera. super fancy.

i am going from a 6.1 megapixel camera to a 12.1 megapixel camera, which if you just look at how one number is bigger than the other, you can see that's kind of a big deal.

A d700 is a full-frame digital SLR, which means its image sensor is the same size as a 35mm film frame. trust me when i say that's awesome.

flashback: i wrote about acquiring my d70 back in march 2005. i still love it but it's past time to upgrade.

for technical folks: most of my lenses will work great, but i do have one DX lens -- unfortunately it's my 10.5mm fisheye -- so that's the only downside to going with the d700. (a DX lens only uses a portion of the d700 camera's sensor, so you lose functionality -- 5.1 megapixels with a DX lens)

anywho, i am having a hard time not defaulting to jargon. basically i fell in love with the d700 on my trip to japan and ever since have been scheming to buy one. today i noticed the price had fallen again and i went for it. i've been feeling unmotivated about photography lately, and this should give me just the kick in the butt i need.

jeepers. i'm a d700 owner!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

a very long day

I got home from work about two minutes ago. If you are playing the home game, that puts me at work from 8:45am to 10:30pm.

If it weren't for this national blog posting month, I would have passed out already. I promise you that.

The work thing we were doing was successful, it was just one of those things that has to happen after hours. Tomorrow I plan to only work a half day, surprising no one -- although the evening did include a couple of righteous games of foosball.

Since I am practically falling asleep sitting here, I better give it up. Happy pre-turkey day to you and you and you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Work Anecdotes

Today was mostly about patience and then performing. I jumped through hoops.

When I drink, sometimes I reflect mid-sentence: will this embarrass me tomorrow? At that point I either say, yay or nay, continue or desist. Tonight I told the Viggo Mortenson story, which mostly involves rubbing elbows with the man himself at a ballet (literally), and the John Cleese story, which mostly involves the man hearing me pee. Neither of those men would remember me if pressed, but I remember them, oh yes. And I invoke their names to break the tension.

As I told the V. Mortenson story, I realized that the whole room hushed and was listening to me. At that point I generally lose the thread and ramble, but tonight I think I did okay.

Now I ... Jer just called. We are all caught up. Tomorrow my work day will be roughly a gazillion hours long or 13, whichever comes first. So off to bed I go!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On What Excel Has To Do With Christmas

I'm just about done with Christmas shopping. See I have this system and it is all very methodical. Every month all year long I contribute to a "Santa Saver" account and then in November I open my Excel spreadsheet and go to town. The spreadsheet is full of formulas and names and items and as a result I can pretty much tell you what I got for whom since 2004.

Some might say it takes the fun out of it, but I would strongly disagree. I love my system.

Also, when the alternative is gunfire at the mall, my system sounds even better.

It was another big movie weekend for us. First we watched Brendan Fraser in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (2008) then Bela Lugosi in "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932) and finally Jackie Chan and Jet Li in "The Forbidden Kingdom" (2008).

Here I observe that the primary differences between movies made for children and horror flicks are 1) the background music and 2) in horror flicks, the flowers can and will usually eat you.

This conclusion is based on my recent viewing of "The Ruins," the first few minutes of "The Strangers," and then comparing those two against "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

You will just have to trust me.

Tomorrow is not a day I'm looking forward to, but I have fancy new work clothes to steel myself against the stress. And once the day is over, then I will only have to work approximately 12 hours on Tuesday to help get a new release out and then I will aim to work a half day on Wednesday and then there are two glorious days off.

So please. Wake me when it's Wednesday?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shots at Southcenter

There was a shooting tonight at Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, and I know this because I was there.

Jeremy and I had split up. He needed something from the Apple Store and Gamestop and I needed work clothes. I was just finishing in the dressing room when a woman came in. "There's been a shooting. I'm staying in here."

"But my husband is out there," I said to no one in particular.

I couldn't get a hold of Jer at first. Bad reception. Then I noticed the store was in lock down.

Finally Jer got through to my phone and his voice sounded garbled. He was all right but had been upstairs from where it happened. He heard the shots. He told me to stay put.

When the shots fired, people ran. It was a holiday shopping weekend at the mall; there were a lot of people.

I went to the cash register and paid for my clothes and tried to decide if I should go wait in the car. After another brief call with Jer, I headed out to wait. The parking lot was full of people in cars, trying to leave. No one was moving.

I tried to call Courtney to see if the news had picked up the story yet. We didn't know if the shooter had been caught or how many dead/injured. And I was still waiting for Jer.

He showed up and we decided to walk over to Barnes and Noble for awhile. Wait out the traffic. Courtney called back and told me it hadn't made the news ticker yet.

Later I sat in a comfy chair at Barnes and Noble, across from a woman and her young daughter. They'd been very close to the shooting but hadn't seen it. The woman watched her daughter thumb through children's books. The mother smiled nervously, sadly.

"She already knows it was a gunshot," she said.

"I hope only bad people got killed," said the little girl.

So ends day 22.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Forget the Year

Hello Friday! I've missed you. You are teh awesome.

Weather has shifted cold and I treated myself to French toast for dinner. Maple syrup and crispy bacon, you complete me.

Jer and I will watch a movie soon and I will curl up on the couch with my afghan and I will do my darnedest not to think about anything related to the day job... even though I packed two manuals in my lunch bag to read sometime this weekend. But for now! There is nothing but afghans and the flickering laptop screen.

In class last night I learned that in Japan they have "Forgetting the Year" parties in the month of December? I hope that's true. I like the idea of parties that let you leave the year behind in an alcoholic haze. Not everything, you understand, some of it I'd like to keep.

If it's possible to selectively kill my brain cells, then I am all in.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 20 is when I give up on titles

I struggle with using the right words in speech, flirting with the line between overly precise and vague. My emails come out terse and my speech tends to ramble. I know that success is a dance of managing perception, yet I wonder how I can express myself in a succinct, folksy way that does not come across as either emotional or brusque or condescending.

This is one of many questions that punctuate my sleeping time.

How do I get through? What are the magic words? Court jester or fool?

Sure. I am guilty of self-doubt. But I am also guilty of hubris. It's the contradiction that rattles me.

Sometimes when I sense it is an especially important moment, my mind blanks. I lose the thread. I focus to the point of forgetting. So I've started taking notes to compensate for drift.

I should be better at turning things around. Asking questions. Listening. If you are the one asking the questions then you need never lose the thread.

Maybe it's time to brush up on my Dale Carnegie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I can has holiday?

I'm exhausted. The last few nights I woke at 3 or 4am, stared at the ceiling for an hour or two, and tried to think calm thoughts. But all thoughts led back to work and the work I wasn't doing and the work I could have planned better and the resources I was wasting.

I know myself well enough to understand that the sort of anxiety that overtakes me in the dead of night is irrational and all consuming. The only hope is to breathe and wait for sleep because the harder I try to control it, the worse it gets. I am already doing my best and worrying about it won't change a thing.

I hesitate to share but it's what's for dinner. Warts and all.

Speaking to a co-worker today I said, "Hey, it's only work." I am guilty of not following my own advice.

Next week will not be easier. Next week I will basically interview to keep my job, whether it is explicitly stated that way or not, I know the score. And I will do my best and expect the worst, but damn, I wish this part was over.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The last of the pumpkin beer

I had pumpkin beer tonight with a friend who always helps put things in perspective. I am very lucky to have all the friends I have -- Web wise, past wise, and now wise -- you are all awesome.

I am on the tail end of the beer high listening to Tom Waits "Innocent When You Dream" and a variety of Dar Williams. It makes me feel optimistic, which lately is the opposite of what I feel when I wake up. It is an epic journey to rise, feed the cats, shower, board the bus, walk to work, and press the elevator button. The closer I get, the slower the world. I trick myself, stop for coffee, maybe a latte, take a later bus, whatever it takes.

Melodramatic, much?

It is not so bad. I am obviously a giant baby.

This is day 18.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bloggers and Booze

Hi. So tonight after work I went to Blogsgiving in Capitol Hill as the date of CeRo, and we chatted and I wore a name sticker and nursed my Nightwatch Dark Amber Ale. (The beer was excellent.)

I'm not all that clear on the origin of Blogsgiving, but I believe it involves a pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and Geocities. Or Arpanet.

Geocities/CollegePark FTW.

I kept getting asked who I write for. Mm. Me? But that is not really in vogue right now.

I had a very fine time meeting many nice people and seeing others again I haven't seen since the last event like this with the open bar of which I imbibed much, and subsequently suffered from a monumental hangover. Tonight, however, I only had the one beer and that was just fine.

Also, West Seattle represents!

P.S. CeRo is super fantastic. I told her I would say that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fried chicken and irritating unwed mothers

Jer left for work about fifteen minutes ago and Vash is giving me stink-eye because I pushed him off my chair. He's relocated directly across from me at eye-level on the open shelf above Jer's desk. He wants me to know he is not pleased.

I have some chicken breasts sitting in buttermilk that I plan to coat in flour and fry soon. But I had a big breakfast and hunger is not motivating me to proceed. Maybe I will brew some coffee.

After Indiana Jones last night we watched Juno... and I wasn't impressed. I'd heard it applauded for its use of language, but the moment a character said, "Honest to blog," I hurled a little. I guess as a previously precocious young adult with a large vocabulary I expected the film to resonate with me. But in the end I was only irritated and spent most of the film wishing someone would just smack her all ready. Which I guess if you consider that when I was 16 everyone around me wanted to smack me too, then the film was technically a success.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

lazy saturday

We finally watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and it was pretty much what I expected. It wasn't sure if it wanted to be a movie, a video game, or the newest ride at Disneyland.

There are worse ways to pass an evening.

It's getting dark early now. At 6:30 I glanced at the clock expecting it to be 8:30pm, but well, it wasn't. Good story, huh?

It's been a lazy Saturday. Jer finished watching Torchwood -- I watched the last two episodes without him -- as I practiced writing ya/yo/yu repeatedly in my notebook, with a dash of wa/o/n. I can't go back to playing "My Japanese Coach" on the DS until I know those hiragana cold and learn the vowels in katakana. That little game expects a lot.

For years I've wanted to study another language or languages, but it was one of those things that would happen someday. Never now. I'm excited it's finally happening and hope to be able to study other languages as well. I just wish I could roll my r's.

Friday, November 14, 2008

eTrade is kind of shady

My toe is purple. One of them in the middle there. I stepped into the corner of the couch before work, in the dark, in a hurry and thought, "That hurts." Later that night, I peeled off my socks to reveal a dark rainbow of bruising and thought, "That sure looks like it hurts." And you know what? It did. Or rather does.

Doesn't seem to be broken though.

My eyes are dried out. It's cold outside, but colder last night. Jer and I went to dinner and I had my first Hot Toddy. It tasted like Tylenol Cold and Flu with a Nyquil punch.

I probably won't order it again.

After dinner we each bought a cupcake then browsed the used section of the CD store.

And now we're home. I am now going to say good night to computer land because it is Friday and I deserve a break today.

Also, I got an interesting letter form eTrade today. They were notifying me that there had been no activity on my money market account for the last 18 months and my account was considered inactive. If it stays that way "[eTrade] may be required by law to turn over any funds in your account(s) to the state." The thing is... I use my eTrade brokerage account every month and I keep just enough money in this "inactive" account to avoid the quarterly $40 brokerage fee.

There is a method to my madness.

Seems awfully shady that they can just take my money away like that. And I wouldn't consider it an insignificant amount either.

I am not a fan of this business practice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Potatoes in my breakfast burrito...

Another fitful night. I woke up around 2am and said hello to Jer. Hopped on the computer. Checked my email for no good reason. I had a story idea in there somewhere that I've since forgotten. And that's what happens when I don't write them down.

Driving into Bellevue tonight, the moon hung low and yellow and full over their downtown. I crossed the floating bridge sandwiched between red brake lights and cruised behind a weaving driver.

Every week I look forward to my class, not just because it's great because it is, but because of the college cafeteria. I love cafeterias. Tonight I opted for the salad bar -- you pay per pound -- and I loaded spinach greens and all sorts of vegetables (including baby corn!) in my plastic takeaway container, drizzled Ranch and cottage cheese and crumbled egg, pickled green beans and beets, olives, sunflower seeds, and a few croutons. Not the healthiest salad, but oh so tasty.

My favorite foods are generally things I can mix together; I prefer to taste every flavor at once. Chili with angelhair pasta... mashed potatoes on chicken strips... egg yolks on hashbrowns... French fries on cheeseburgers. I especially like foods that are meant to be eaten together, like Shepherd's Pie. Casseroles are a big hit in my book.

Anyway. Japanese class is good. Only a few more weeks at this level and then I plan to enroll in the next class. Work is still work. I go. They let me sit at a desk. Sometimes I play foosball.

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Friday. Happy. Friday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mid-week blues

Work is intense. I'm facing many and varied sudden and impatient deadlines.

I can't get a grip on what's going to happen. So I maintain and I push. I spent a restless night with my pillow, filled with malformed dreams and a vague anxiety. Words and numbers on a loop, floating on the surface like soap scum, and then it was morning. Time to do it again.

It sounds awful when I put it like that. But the truth is I'm having more fun than I've had in awhile. I am busy and I see the consequences of my actions immediately.

I'll miss it if it goes away.

I initiated a direct rollover to Vanguard today. That's right, I'm finally opening a Vanguard account instead of just paying Fidelity exorbitant fees to buy Vanguard funds. (w00t) My 403(b) is flirting with the line where they usually force you to take a distribution or other action, so I made the call. The representative asked, "How long has it been since you worked for that employer?" I thought for a moment and said, "Six years?"

Man, I've had a lot of jobs.

I just listed them out but it was too depressing. I'm choosing not to share.

I'm struggling to find words tonight. At the moment I'm much more comfortable staring straight ahead. But that's what day 12'll do for ya.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

I met friends and we toasted the economy, the darkness, each other. These are not good times. Except when they are.

And that is why I'm fond of absurdity. Things are but they aren't. The inverse is usually true, except when it isn't. And a beer is still a beer is a beer. The world spins and you spin with it.

It's not spinning, if you're wondering. My kidneys got off easy tonight.

There's a chance this month won't end well. To be or not to be, says my paycheck. And I stick with it because I've always wanted to be the Chesire Cat who speaks in riddles and grins a radioactive bank of stone pearl teeth, never saying what it means and never meaning what it says.

I am going to eat a tuna fish sandwich now. Don't try and stop me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Veterans' Day

I stopped at Mitchelli's in Pioneer Square on the way to the bus. I brought a thick book on formulary strategy that I sort of read at the counter, and ordered off the happy hour menu.

I love that place.

Some places just feel right, whether it's cozy or comfortable or welcoming, it has a something. Warmth, maybe. An orange oasis in the chill blue dark.

This past weekend I caught up with Doctor Who and Torchwood. Since I finished Death Note the previous weekend, I guess that just leaves Northern Exposure and Dexter, and maybe Bones and House. My responsibilities are neverending.

Hello, Falcor. (As in the story, that is neverending.)

I received double the normal hits to my photo blog today. Everyone was searching for the WWII nurse kissing the sailor, of which I have a picture of the statue version here.

Just thought that was interesting. I never expected it to be a popular one. Note the blue sky. That is winter in San Diego.

Tom Waits is the soundtrack to this entry. He sings about November... I didn't realize "Downtown Train" was his song and that Rod Stewart only covered it, until just now. Literally, 1 minute ago. This pleases me, because as I was listening to the Tom Waits' version I was thinking, "Damn, I really like this song, but I don't like Rod Stewart." So I looked it up on wikipedia and now you're caught up.

I feel like watching "Amelie" again.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Proponent of Maximalism

Since I am abysmal at keeping up with housekeeping, I've been assigning myself one small project each weekend. The theory is completing one small project is better than wallowing in absolute filth.

This is how I define compromise.

Last weekend we replaced the lights in the kitchen, which was a project at least 1 year in the making. The previous weekend I waded through the shred pile, which consisted of a two-year backlog. Took me a week, 15 minutes to half hour each night, to complete. And the previous, previous weekend, since it is show-and-tell time, I vacuumed the carpets and washed the linens.

Today I start to tackle the monument to scrap paper in which I have enshrined my desk. Apparently it is preferable, in my mind, to create numerous fire hazards around the apartment rather than just dealing with it.

I have this irrational guilt thing about throwing stuff away and filling up the landfills and personally destroying the planet, and when you combine that ambiguous guilt with persistent procrastination you get... well, me. I am not a hoarder but you wouldn't know it by my lack of minimalism.

Is maximalism a design aesthetic?

As a kid, I remember my parents forcing me to stay in my room until it was clean. It wasn't cruel or unusual punishment, but I remember fighting it with every fiber of my being. Sitting there, staring at the floor, doing everything EXCEPT facing the out of place toys and the piles of schoolwork. Man, I HATED that.

And yet, paradoxically, in college, my first job was on the housekeeping staff. For some reason, I didn't mind the mindless work as long as I was getting paid slightly above minimum wage to do it. Give me $5 an hour and I will clean stuff all day long.

Even now? This entire blog entry has been brought to you by procrastination -- though technically I was going to do it anyway.

Cleaning is like my own personal fountain of youth. When I contemplate it I'm instantly transported back to that old house with the yellow-ish carpet, green shelves and curtains, wishing with all my heart that the mess would magically disappear.

In the intervening years I never found a magic cure. But I got REALLY good at ignoring the mess.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

those pants better come with jet packs

I get a gold star for leaving the house today. Got the haircut, finally went inside H&M, browsed Shoe Pavilion and Nordstrom, picked up lunch and went home.

Every store I entered or walked past seemed to be having huge sales. I felt caught up in some kind of unholy shopping frenzy. Suddenly I NEEDED everything.

I tried on a pair of wool trousers and a white blouse at Nordstrom, but decided that I'd rather spend $250 on almost anything else. Like, say, groceries. Then I fondled a beautiful red leather purse, but for $150 it had better have a hard drive built into it. I ended up only buying a couple of small items I actually needed.

Hello, Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo. I hear you are an invigorating cleanser!

Well-made clothes are just nice-to-have right now. Even if it would be so nice to have them.

The plan for the evening is fluid like the bottle of Oban we just bought. (Jer bought it so it doesn't count against the grocery budget.) I anticipate a viewing of the fine art film, "Baby Mama," and possibly some eating of pumpkin bread.

So ends Day 8.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'll take it

I write entries in my head but then I forget them. They are brilliant and glittering and distinguished by unusual mental keenness and just for me. They would be for you too if you were telepathic.

Maybe you should get on that.

Another week, huh? Feels like the calendar pulled a fast one. But I'll take it.

I have a hair cut appointment tomorrow. I think I will say, "Can you cut it in a way that conveys authority? I want my hair to command respect."

Or maybe I just want authority over my hair. It tells me to do things.

That is a lie.

I am feeling exceptionally silly because it is Friday night and I survived another week of feeling out of my element. I did it. And now I get to spend time with that guy I married and those cats I feed everyday.

We just ate hamburgers at a dimly lit table overlooking the downtown Seattle skyline. The fries were seasoned and crispy and the burger was cheesy. A series of birds swam by, I think they were Canada Geese, and the city lights glittered in Elliott Bay. And that's how it was.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I will probably get kicked out

In Japanese class we had to fill in blank speech bubbles based on an exchange between characters in a drawing. A woman was trying to buy a camera -- the red one, no the blue one -- and the shopkeeper was accomodating.

I couldn't just say what was expected. Oh no.

First I suggested the shopkeeper hand her the camera and say, "Here (Dozo), baby." But no one would tell me how to say baby.

In the next frame the woman holds the red camera and looks confused, a blank speech bubble above her head. In the following frame she asks to see the black camera instead.

At first, we thought, maybe the red camera is too expensive?

"But wouldn't it be better," I postured, "if there was something *wrong* with the red camera?"

"Like what?" asked my unsuspecting partner.

"I know," I said. "Can anyone tell me how to say 'This camera smells like death'?"

We all agreed that no one would want to buy a camera that smelled like death. Not even if it was very very cheap.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Day 5 of NaBloPoMo (Not that I'm Counting)

I went back and reread my voting experience in 2004. Pretty much the same story, only this time there was a happy ending.

When I opened the door this morning I was greeted by a cheery Wall Street Journal, proclaiming President-Elect Obama. I won't lie to you; I teared up a little bit.

After watching the Kerry/Bush debates four years ago I wrote here, "I turned to BF at the mid-point and said, 'When Bush wins, can we riot in the streets? Set cars on fire? ... To paraphrase the immortal Limp Bizkit, I'll need to break shit.'"

Good to see I haven't changed. For the record, I did not riot, but I was very disappointed. I rioted on the inside.

Phew. So that's done. Let's talk about something else now.

I feel like I should write something with a plot and characters and dialogue. I dunno. Like a story with a lot of pages. And a cover. And words. Definitely words. For sure I'll need words.

If I went with pictures I wouldn't need as many words.

But I can't draw.

Then words it is!

(Welcome to my inner monologue.)

For lunch I went to McDonald's and ordered a Big Mac and I'm not sorry. I know it is not real food. Burgers aren't supposed to look like that, but it satisfies the fast food itch like nobody's business.

I wonder who nobody is and what business it is of his to care so much. He always seems to weigh in on issues such as this one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Avoiding the news

Yes, I voted. I'm a permanent absentee voter and I dropped my ballot off at the King County Administration Building yesterday, slipped it right into the lock box out front. Jeremy and I sat on the couch Sunday, surrounded by printed materials, and an online voting guide from Planned Parenthood and weighed all of the options. We filled out our little ovals with dark ink and stayed mostly in the lines.

So there ya go.

After the last couple of elections I'm not as excited to see the result, but I did my duty. I exercised my privilege.

I left work early today and walked up to 2nd and Madison to catch the 37 bus. The wind was chilly as it whipped my hair around, so I stood behind the arches of the former Burke Building, remnants from 1895. Across the way, the sky reflected so brightly in the mirrored windows of a skyscraper that all I could think was "Electric Blue," which led to quietly humming Debbie Gibson's 80's hits "Out of the Blue" and "Electric Youth."

Skyscraper is a perfect word.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Success Reversed

Bad news. The TV fizzled to death again. Apparently it was only mildly impressed with our efforts to replace the fuse and lasted a day.

But oh, what a glorious day.

Hello laptop on the coffee table with mythtv installed, welcome back to my routine.

I was in meetings today from 10am to 5pm with a 45 minute break for lunch. I'm not saying this to brag -- because I'm sure you must be very jealous -- but because I am AMAZED that this is my life now. 6 weeks ago, this was not my life. I was content to sit in my little cubicle cave and surf the Internet. Sometimes I wrote things that were generally not read. Expectations were low. It's hard to disappoint anyone when they forget you're there half the time.

I went from being an afterthought on the CC line to being a direct recipient on the To line.

One of the skills I have not yet mastered is the ability to convince people my way is the right way. I spend a lot of time in my head coming up with the best solution and I sort of expect to show Them the result of all that thinking and hear Them say, "Ah yes, I see. There is no need to explain because this is CLEARLY the best possibility in all of the possible possibilities. And oh, take this fifty dollars; Awesome pays dividends."

The truth is that what comes out of my mouth is more like, "Here." And they say, "What?" And I say, "Look it." And they go, "Huh?" And then I get frustrated and yell, "So's your face!" And hide in the bathroom.

Okay I exaggerate, but debating is still not one of my better skills. I loathe justifying something that seems really really obvious. But hey, that just means I have something to write down for my 4th quarter goals, right? A weakness to highlight in a job interview? Hi, my name is Christy and you should take everything I say at face value and never question me. What a selling point!

Good grief. Is it only Monday?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Success

As mentioned previously, our TV has been kaput since September 21. Last night, while searching for local TV repairmen, we found a site that suggested the problem was a blown fuse. So we did what any good nerds would do: moved the TV to the floor and unscrewed the back.

It is, of course, dangerous to root around in the back of your TV and I wouldn't recommend it. But we exercised caution and lived to tell the tale.

The fuse is very small and located near the plug, after you get the back off it is on a large circuit board. It looked okay. The wire was intact -- no scorch marks -- but since fuses are about $6 for a pack of two, I decided to buy a replacement.

After a quick trip to Home Depot this morning, Jeremy inserted the new fuse, we replaced the back, and voila, the TV turned on. This was an exciting development and I hope the fuse doesn't blow again because that sucker is heavy.

Troubleshooting is most fun when it ends in success.

Also at Home Depot, I bought 4 more fluourescent tubes for the kitchen -- there are something like 10 in there altogether and now they're all functioning. It is bright as daylight, which causes me to constantly squint upon entry and highlights the dirty counters.

So now we have to clean the counters.

Whee.

But hey, we fixed the television! How awesome is that?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Day 1

Morning started late. I wandered out to the living room to enjoy the view but was greeted by about 9 emergency vehicles flashing their lights and blocking traffic. Weekends don't usually bring more than scuba divers to the patch of water in front of our apartment, so this was a new development.

I checked West Seattle Blog later and found out there'd been a diver reported missing, then a rescue, then a trip to the hospital.

Jer woke up eventually and I made breakfast while he brewed coffee. We decided to replace the fluorescent tube lights in the kitchen, and were mostly successful. I spent the last half hour researching where we can recycle the tubes and came up with this list of disposal sites. Then I started wondering about where to take my rechargeable toothbrush -- they sure don't make that thing easy to dismantle -- and found the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, which lists a number of locations.

The weather is drizzly and gray, just the way I like it. Happy Saturday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

National Blog Posting Month


I signed up for NaBloPoMo, I think. Or I tried to. I knew I wasn't up for NaNoWriMo, but I figured I could at least post here every day for a month. I seem to have a profile, a presence, but I'm not entirely sure if I'm supposed to post through them or through this or what. So how about I just say I'll post every day for the month of November and leave it at that.

That seems like a big enough commitment.

Jer and I just got done playing dualing DS Lites (Just call it a DS, he says), and I kicked his ass in Brain Age but he kicked my ass in Elite Beat Agents and most of Mario Kart. I am still digging My Japanese Coach, and just progressed to learning m and r in hiragana which means now I know vowels, k/g, s/z, t/d, n, and h/b/p. That puts me at a pre-schooler level, up from toddler. (This is a very good Web site for learning basic Japanese, if you have any interest.)

I rode the water taxi to and from work today, the last day of the season. They gave us free pastries and coffee; I sure will miss that little boat.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A new toy

Jeremy obtained for me a DS Lite. It is crimson and black, ever so shiny, and currently charging in the hallway. Maybe tomorrow I will have a chance to play it. Thanks, Jer!

I need to go to sleep here in a minute but I wanted to say hello. Hi. And happy Halloween.

This year it's crept up on me, all stealthy-like. I haven't bought candy. I haven't considered a costume. Last weekend we watched "The Ruins," "Nosferatu," and part of "Metropolis" but that's the extent of our celebration. I'm not even reading a scary book. I'm reading a non-fiction travel journal of a woman exploring the unbeaten tracks of Japan alone in the late 1800s. It's good but rarely frightening.

One year, 4 years ago?, I didn't buy candy and we had trick-or-treaters. We'd never had trick-or-treaters at our apartment before and I wasn't expecting it. I raced in the kitchen, tore through the cupboards and found individually wrapped Fig Newtons, which I promptly deposited into the childrens' bags. I just kept repeating, "Sorry, they're cookies," as each child stared up at me, sadly. Ever so sadly.

And that was the year I ruined Halloween for 5 children.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If you don't have anything nice to say...

The title sums up my day. Nothing nice to say, so better off not saying it.

I will practice my Japanese. I will count to 99,999 and tell you what time it is. I will tell you that this is a book or this is not a book and that this is also a book.

I won't think about how I am ready for a real vacation, something beyond 4 days in Tokyo. But you see I used all of my vacation time working the festivals. So now there is no vacation time.

I am secretly (now not so secretly) afraid my thyroid will break again. It broke on its own before and it got better before. I will take my pulse. 69 beats per minute. That is not bad at all. When I went to the doctor those years ago it was 110 beats per minute at rest. It was like butterfly wings flapping in my chest. I couldn't hold the camera steady.

Humans are highly adaptable to circumstance. Soon none of this will be new. It will be old hat and it won't bother me anymore. I am just reacting to change.

I am so good at rationalizing. I can just choose to perceive less stress. I can be mellow. Look at me. Mell-ow. Would you like some Jell-O with your Mell-ow?

I am going to eat a Fig Newton. I don't even know how I stumbled into this puzzle but if you see a round piece with a square left corner, let me know, okay?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poignant is a funny word

On Sunday I tried a chicken enchilada recipe from the Best of Cooking Light cookbook. They turned out pretty good, which was a relief because I've never shredded chicken before and I had doubts it would go well. But apparently it is not that hard to take two forks and shred the heck out of a bunch of breasts. Go me.

It's the last week I can commute by water taxi for awhile, possibly ever. It doesn't start running again until around March or April or May, and if all goes well, we may not be living here anymore.

I think the word "poignant" was especially made for experiences that you know will be your last. You just have to take care not to say it out loud because then you sound douche-y.

By you, I mean me.

I calculated my net worth today, like I do at the end of every month and it was a sad sad thing. Somewhere my retirement account is screaming. I opened the account shortly after the tech sector imploded, and most of the gains I had were wiped out. This past month was particularly brutal.

But then if the stock market were predictable it'd be a savings account, right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Calendar Officially on Sale

I mentioned this about a month ago, but now it's official. My "Scenic Seattle 2009" 12-month wall calendar is officially on sale. Here's a preview image:

And here are the details:

Scenic Seattle 2009 is a 12-month calendar that features stunning year-round views of the Seattle skyline as seen from West Seattle, as well as nearby landmarks such as the Space Needle and Snoqualmie Falls.

 

The calendar is 22 pages, 11" x 8.5", coil binding, white interior paper (100# weight), and features full-color interior ink.

 

Scenic Seattle 2009 is available for purchase at http://www.lulu.com/content/4268198

 

Individual prints are available for purchase at www.onfocusphoto.com.

I received my copy and I think it's an incredible value, but I may be a bit biased about that since I took all the photos.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Caturday!

Friday was better than Thursday and by mid-day I was practically (sometimes literally) dancing in my chair. Friday night! Go out to dinner! See Jer!

Jer drove downtown to meet me and scored convenient street parking in Pioneer Square. Then we walked over to Mitchelli's for Italian. I've walked by the restaurant at least once a day since I started at my job last March and had never been inside and it was time.

On the cozy bar side of the restaurant, they have a happy hour special, Monday-Friday, 4-6pm. $1 pizza slices (Margherita, Cheese, Pepperoni, and BBQ Chicken), and $3.75 certain draft beers and martinis. By "cozy," I don't mean crowded. There's a long counter that wraps around the bar with fixed red swivel seats. Nice big windows face the street with ivy growing around the corners. The place just has a nice, warm, homey feel.

Jer and I ordered the Happy Hour $1.95 Baked Artichoke Dip appetizer and split a roasted garlic and sausage pizza. It was all very tasty and not too heavy. The crust was thin and the toppings weren't overwhelming. For dessert we shared a slice of caramel chocolate cake.

Looks like they also have lunch specials at the counter, which I hope to take advantage of soon.

After dinner we walked over to Magic Mouse Toys and browsed. I didn't realize they had such a large board game and puzzle section. After we were there awhile I also realized that there weren't any kids around. It was all adults having a great time pointing stuff out or testing out the games. My personal favorite item was a remote controlled Zombie in the case, but I was actually most tempted to buy a really ornate coloring book.

I didn't though.

Then we came home, split a big bottle of pumpkin beer and watched "Venture Brothers" and the latest episode of "The Office." And now there's this cat in my lap who is guilting me into using my hands To Pet and not To Type.

So be it, Chiana. So be it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

drifting

I've been wandering between the living room and the office in search of something. The TV is still broken, but it's no big inconvenience to watch TV on the laptop at the coffee table. I can still sit on the couch and watch the sun's light reflected off the buildings downtown -- and skip commercials. But I get bored and wander to the office where I don't really want to sit at the computer, but it's my default place. So back and forth.

Work is ... well... They call it work for a reason.

I have a cat in my lap. And no sit down meetings scheduled for tomorrow. A day free of meetings. These are good things. I also have a strong case of wanderlust, but I'll just have to ride that out.

My head is in a weird place and thoughts are slippery. Tuesdays are always hard.

I would very much like to buy a DS Lite to play "My Japanese Coach." And I probably will when I get paid again. Or maybe I will try to barter my acoustic guitar for one.

A game-related confession: It's been 2 years since I stopped playing World of Warcraft and I still think about it more than is reasonable. When I hear people talk about it or read about it on a blog I feel a powerful urge to play again. I wonder if that will ever go away.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Plans Finalized

I made reservations today for the Thanksgiving buffet at Salty's on Alki. I suppose it's sad that I won't have to toil over a hot stove all day, preparing numerous side dishes and desserts, while heating up a Greenberg Smoked Turkey, but I am at peace with this decision.

Here is a sample of their menu:

Carved Turkey with Giblet Gravy, Carved Turkey Breast with Cranberry Sauce, Pepper-Crusted New York Strip with Au Jus and Creamy Horseradish, Clove-Studded Ham with Grilled Pineapple, Traditional Dutch Apple Stuffing, Vegetable Stuffing, Oyster Stuffing, Cornbread Stuffing, Tamale Stuffing, Blackened Salmon with Sesame Soy Dressing, Seafood Spanish Paella, Crispy Fried Seafood Assortment with House Tartar, Salty’s Famous Seafood Chowder, Oysters on the Half Shell, Dungeness Crab Sections, Ceviche, Peel and Eat Prawns, Clams and Mussels, Creamed Corn Casserole, Green Beans Amandine, Bourbon-Glazed Carrots, Brown Sugar-Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Brown Sugar-Glazed Yams with Marshmallows, Macaroni and Cheese with Uli's Famous Sausage...

The down-side is no left-overs.

But the up-side?

Food coma.

Pictures of the sun

This was already linked from I Wander. It's what I do, but it's worth reposting.

Here is a collection of awe inspiring pictures of the Sun.

Words don't do it justice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In Search of Music on a School Night

There should be an order to these things. First Thursday, then Friday.

So Thursday.

I met Courtney at Mexico for a leisurely dinner then headed up to the Paramount Theatre to see "Spring Awakening."

The show left me fairly cold. Our seats were obstructed by large scaffolding on the sides of the stage -- the most expensive, "best available" seats purchased before tickets were open to the public. Part of me wanted to let it go because I worked in a ticket office for 2 years and I understand how seating works. But seriously. These seats should not have been sold at full price and it should've been obvious far enough in advance to do something about it. Shame on you, Paramount.

The show itself... Set design is a noble art and it always disappoints me when I feel the Director must have thrown up his hands and said, "Meh." Another big open stage with some chairs moved around. Also, what looked like audience members were seated onstage for the whole performance for no reason.

Costumes were nice. Actors had beautiful faces and voices. Choreography was odd. During a song about knowing there's a moment when you're fucked, everyone bursts into epilectic fits onstage. Not so much choreography as crazy.

I suspect that they didn't have enough money for set designer or choreographer.

The structure of the plot made me sad. It's been awhile since I read Wedekind's play, but I remember being shocked and surprised and in awe of these characters' situations and most importantly, the absurdity. Only one character, Ilsa(?), was truly absurd to me. But I'd have to reread the play to be sure about this point.

The musical set us up for 2 specific events and then slammed us over the head with them. Lazy. Also, the 2nd act was way too rushed. And somehow it ended on a high note with a stupid song. In short, I'm saying that the transitions were terrible.

After the delightful surprise of Avenue Q, I was disappointed with this show.

I should also mention that mid-way through the first act, someone in the audience across the row required medical attention. The person was carried out of his seat, laid on the ground, and eventually I think a wheelchair was brought down. Someone whispered loudly, "Did you call an ambulance yet?" The show, of course, went on.

Friday night I saw Dar Williams at the Moore Theatre. Shawn Mullins opened, who I totally confused with Shawn Colvin, until he walked out onstage. Whoops. He had a beautiful voice and was a gifted storyteller, but his subject matter is not something I relate to -- though his song about suckling at the corporate breast and not losing your dreams drew a grand reaction from the crowd.

When he played his acoustic version of his late 90's hit, "Rockabye," I totally wanted to yell, "Sing it like the record!" I didn't, but I cracked myself up in my head. (For the record, it was not like the record.)

Dar Williams... She is a lot of fun. Her voice is more amazing in person than on cassette and CD, which shouldn't surprise me but it always does. Most of her set was from her current album, "Promised Land," which I've already said here that I love. She also played, "Spring Street," "The Christians and the Pagans," and "When I Was a Boy." Shivers.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Week

For this week only I went to Japanese class on Wednesday night. I repeated numbers and time and learned the difference between kono/sono/ano and kore/sore/are.

In my spare time I've discovered Hulu -- in particular Death Note, sub-titled anime series about a male high school student and a god of death. Kooky! (Only 29 more episodes to go)

Tomorrow night I have tickets to see "Spring Awakening." Mental note: move tickets to purse.

Friday night I have a ticket to see Dar Williams perform.

Pumpkin beer is scheduled around the other stuff.

The rest of the time I'll go to that place where they pay me all the moneys so I can buyz all the stuff.

Oh. So. The student I was paired with in class tonight had never heard of Cujo. Serves me right for making a rabid dog reference in Japanese class, I guess. I had to explain some other basic cultural reference to someone else the other day -- well, basic to me. So hi. I'm old. Let me teach you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank You, Lily


-- Bo Burnham, "New Math"

It's horrible, but it makes me smile.

the old man is snoring

I went in the bar and it was light out, cloudy. I left the bar and it was dark out, rainy.

Magic.

In Japanese, I accidentally said I was a book. So don't judge me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Japanese Curry

I made this recipe for Japanese Curry tonight and it turned out great. Cooked some medium grain rice in the rice cooker and it was a filling meal. Too bad Jer was at work, but there are plenty of leftovers for him.

Before Tokyo I'd never had this sort of curry. Cheap, tasty, and a little spicy, I started craving it when we came home. This recipe does a pretty good job recreating it and I got to use my big Le Creuset French Oven, so bonus.

I'm scheduled for meetings from 9am to 3pm tomorrow without a break. Would you be surprised if I told you I'm not looking forward to it?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hello, Beautiful Maladies

How come nobody told me about Tom Waits?

I had to discover him in a dive bar over Bloody Marys, extra horseradish -- a chance jukebox selection, "Innocent When You Dream," and I sat up straight.

Shame on you, America. You taught me the theme song to every 80's sit-com, but you couldn't even throw me a little gravel-throated bone.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

a little night music

One last item about Dar Williams. On her most recent album she does a cover of "Midnight Radio" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as a cover of the Fountains of Wayne song "Troubled Times." You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Moving on.

I'm doing that thing where I just go go go and not think. I would prefer to drink or be asleep, but instead I lit a pumpkin scented candle. The words aren't coming easy. I don't mention it much anymore because it's old hat, but I miss my husband. I only see him Friday nights, Saturday, and Sunday morning every week. He stayed home last Thursday to see me after my class and I really needed that. Work has been... tough. We've been on this schedule for over a year now -- 14 months, I think.

Friday is our first wedding anniversary.

It's not that I'm depressed or anything. I'm just in "go" mode. A bit overwhelmed. None of it is very interesting. But that's where I'm at. Clinging to music to keep from floating away. I don't want to take the headphones off.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

If you can't laugh...

I have a joke for you.

A man walked into a bar and said
...
THE ECONOMY!!!

Isn't that hilarious?

I almost couldn't decide between that punchline and MY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT!!!

Oh my stars. Good times.

Dar Williams is Coming to Town

I am absolutely loving Dar Williams' new album, "Promised Land," especially the song "Buzzer." Of course I do. It's about Stanley Milgram's experiments, particularly what he wrote about in the classic psychology text, "Obedience to Authority."
And he begged me to stop, but they told me to go
I press the buzzer, I press the buzzer
So get out of my head, just give me my line
I press the buzzer, I press the buzzer
- Dar Williams, "Buzzer"

For background, I studied social psychology in college. There's a shiny paper somewhere to prove it.

I'm especially excited as I listen because I finally get to see her in concert on the 17th. My friend turned me onto her music way back with "Mortal City" and I've been dutifully buying her albums since then. One of her cassettes got me through a summer working on Fire Island, and for that I will always be grateful. So many of her songs I consider favorites... "Are You Out There?" "As Cool As I Am" "Empire" "Your Fire Your Soul" "When I Was a Boy" "Better Things"

I can find a small apartment
Where a struggling artist died
And pretend because I pay the rent
I know that pain inside
- Dar Williams, "Spring Street"

Her songs unfailingly make me smile. Even the sad ones, sad smile though. If you're looking for an album to start with I recommend Out There Live. It's a great assortment and you get some bonus spoken introductions.

There's a part of the country could drop off tomorrow in an earthquake,
Yeah it's out there on the cutting edge, the people move, the sidewalks shake.
And there's another part of the country with a land that gently creaks and thuds,
Where the heavy snows make the faucets leak in bathrooms with free-standing tubs.
They're in houses that are haunted, with the kids who lie awake and think about
All the generations past who used to use that dripping sink.
- Dar Williams, "Southern California Wants To Be Western New York"

You should totally buy her stuff. I'm just saying.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

$40 for a 150 page paperback

I don't want to talk about work too much, but it's just about the only thing on my mind. I find myself needing to learn the language of scrum and agile fast, surrounded by a stack of white papers and best practice books that cost entirely too much... just to be able to communicate about basic processes.

So there's that.

I am also still learning Japanese. This week we are learning numbers and how to write k/g in hiragana. I've learned vowels so far and some introductory phrases.

Yesterday Jeremy and I went to Salmon Days in Issaquah. It was rainy and windy and cold, overall miserable. The quality of the festival is very high and it was worth a visit, but the weather, oh the weather. My fingers would freeze off if I had to sit there all day. We walked through the salmon hatchery and saw an educational booth where HawkQuest was showing off a bald eagle, a Great Horned Owl, and another one I can't remember. They were beautiful birds and I threw in a couple of bucks to help feed them. The bald eagle was there because she'd been injured and couldn't fly.

This week has been the craziest ride I've been on in a long time. I'm totally off the script and I don't know what's going to happen next. Can't even guess.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spare change?

"This week things changed," is what my diary would say if I kept a diary. On Tuesday afternoon there were layoffs and I was offered a new role, which I accepted. It is a lot of responsibility and a lot of work and I am both overwhelmed and excited. Mostly I am busy.

I am a little embarrassed to talk about the specifics of the job because I feel like it can change again in a flash, like they'll admit it was all some big freaky experiment and they got the wrong gal. In the mean time I am trying to fill some very big shoes and doing my best not to hyperventilate. At least not in public. What I do in my own time is fine.

To reward myself for being such a good soldier, I went to Starbucks and asked them to add 2 shots of espresso to a venti signature hazelnut hot chocolate. It is not too shabby.

As you can imagine the mood around the workplace is subdued. We lost friends and teammates this week. But you just have to keep truckin' and digging out all the old cliches to keep the sting from dragging you down.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The good news: I still have a job. The bad news: most of my co-workers don't. There are a lot of unknowns right now, to sum it up nice and vague. But all signs point to my job responsibilities changing significantly in the next few days.

I forgot how horrible hangovers feel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

word to the wize

If you don't want to make your employees nervous, don't schedule an all hands meeting from 4-5pm on the last day of the month which also happens to be the last day of the quarter and the day after the worst point drop in the stock market ever.

I'm just saying.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2009 Calendar of Seattle Photos

Here's a sneak peek of what I'm working on:


Click to view it larger

It's a 12-month calendar for 2009 featuring my best selling photographs of Seattle -- the lowest cost way to get them all in one place. I ordered myself a sample copy and once that arrives then I'll send an announcement to the On Focus Photo mailing list (Sign up here).

You'll be able to order the calendar here and experience the many faces of Seattle all year long, no matter where you find yourself.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Greek so I have opionions about body hair

It's not that I particularly like hairy armpits on women, but I was just thinking about all the body modifications we do everyday to stay "normal." Hair grows from a lot of places. Some of it we encourage and some of it we rip, electrocute, slice, and pluck.

Who decided what to keep? Is it because head hair grows the longest, so it wins? We can "style" it and create a "look"? Or are we trying to distance ourselves from our close relative, the chimpanzee? Incidentally, if creationists were truly comfortable with their lack of evolutionary ties, shouldn't they be campaigning for not shaving at all? Who cares if we have hairy ape armpits because we're *not* related to them anyhow!

Just seems like we built complexity into our daily routine where it wasn't really needed. If it weren't for the cultural factor and the popular assumption that one way is better than another, we could shave a bunch of useless procedures out of our lives.

I would urge you to throw out your razors, creams, gels, wax, and cancel your electrolysis appointments, fight the power!, but frankly I don't care what you do with your body. It's too late for me anyway. I've already been conditioned to prefer the properly groomed, but I think it's always worth examining -- the mindless activities that preoccupy our time, especially the repetitive tasks. Examining and making conscious choices about how we spend our time are the only ways to reliably extend the quality of life -- since quantity is anybody's guess.

Friday, September 26, 2008

oh what a tangled web

I smooshed a HUGE spider on the shower wall this morning. Also I lost $2800.

Good morning!

What have we learned today, class?

Hindsight is 20/20. Regret doesn't help anybody. Blah blah blah platitude.

But if I were to regret then I might say I should've bought a D700 instead.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WaMu News

JP Morgan Buys WaMu

WaMu Fails, Is Sold Off to J.P. Morgan

class and travel plans

My first Japanese language class was a great experience. The campus is beautiful. The teacher was engaging. The material was presented at a quick pace, but not too quick. It made me happy.

After all those fairly dull Technical Writing courses I'd forgotten how much fun it is to learn a new subject. And the facilities are amazing. I arrived early and wandered around to take it all in. You know I spent 9-ish years at the University of CA, Santa Barbara campus -- 4 years to get a degree, about 5 working full-time -- and it's amazing how much I've forgotten about actual student life. The cafeteria, the long lines for textbooks, the parking weirdness. Must've just blocked it out. I even sat in a left-handed chair at first but I figured that out soon enough.

All the work I did studying for our Tokyo trip really paid off. I had a head start on pronunciation and basic greetings, so that was nice. I'm really glad I signed up - even if the GPS died half-way there and all the extra stress of driving and parking somewhere new in the rain and dusk.

I keep pushing myself into change forgetting that it totally unnerves me.

In unrelated news, it seems like the distance between weekends is directly proportionate to how short the weekends seem.

This morning I booked a short trip to San Francisco for the beginning of next March. With that and our trip booked to New Orleans it is turning into a major travel month. The good news is if I don't take any vacation time between now and then I will have exactly enough Personal Time Off (PTO) saved up. Better not get sick then!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pahk the Cah

In preparation for my return to school, I went to bed about 8:30pm last night, which means I missed "Fringe" and "House." To be fair I made the decision while still conscious, meaning I could've forced myself to stay awake, but I was reading "The Watchmen" and the covers were so cozy and the pillows so soft and I said, screw it. They'll be on again.

I asked a coworker for parking tips downtown and he suggested parking out by the stadiums, and so I did, saving myself at least $12. I feel good about this because I have roughly $50 in my checking account and for some reason I'd rather use that for food. I might feel bad about this later since it's a game night, but I will chance it to buy lunch another day.

In my parking research -- I take parking very seriously -- I came across a student's review of the community college where I'm taking my class. He said you have 3 types of people who take classes there: The middle-aged working stiffs who want to change jobs, losers who couldn't get into a real school, or people like him, overachieving high school students who want college credit. I remember when I was just as snotty. Feels like only yesterday... I would like to point out the flaw in his logic but I'm afraid he'd just retort that 30 *is* middle-aged.

I've taken classes at this school's North campus but this is the first time I've been out to the Main campus, hence the parking conundrum. I'd prefer to take a bus but I live in no-buses-after-7pm-land. It can be a bummer sometimes, but I forgive it for the view. You have to have a free parking sticker to use the school's lots on the Main campus, so I will try to pick one up tonight. Maybe since that's settled I can stop dwelling on it. What say you, brain?

More effort has gone into figuring out how to get to the school than acquiring school supplies. Practically unheard of! Before my dentist appointment yesterday morning I stopped into an Office Max/Depot and the binders were $7.99! And they weren't even Trapper Keepers with a bunch of pockets and zippers and Velcro. They were just stupid 3-ring binders with a fancy cover. I was not impressed. What's the point of a binder if it doesn't have secret pockets? I will just go back to my trusty Levenger folio until I have to clip papers into something.

Whoops. I started looking at Levenger when I copied the link. Bad bad bad. Now I want everything again.

Levenger is one of the only stores where spending $200 seems totally reasonable to me.

Okay. Time for almonds!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to school

I start my first Japanese language class Wednesday night. It's a 10 week course, 2 hours per week, and I'm really excited. Previously I've only taken Spanish and Ancient Greek, and I ended up dropping them because of the time commitment. Well, truth be told I dropped Spanish from my life because I can't roll my r's and Ancient Greek because I was trying to get through two majors in college that had nothing to do with Ancient Greek.

Third time's the charm, right?

TV Goes Pop

The fancy 26" Panasonic we bought in 2005 (see this post) fizzed into the great beyond yesterday afternoon. I hit the On button on the remote, looked over at Chiana, heard a faint pop, and the TV stayed Off. After a quick Google search, I learned this is fairly common for the CT-26WX15 model.

Well, dang.

It's our only TV and it was about 4pm -- too late to call a repair shop -- so there was some sitting around trying to decide what to do next. Outside was drizzly, we had already gone to the Greek Festival earlier in the day, so the original plan had been to catch up on recordings. We were each at our own computer in the office and I looked over at a stack of computer books.

"Which ones can we get rid of?" I asked.

So we sorted through a huge stack of computer books, I checked their half.com values (almost entirely $0.75 each, the lowest you can price an item) and then loaded them all into sturdy bags.

"What if we take these in now?"

Jer smiled and said. "And then we could go to Chipotle..."

Our plan was set. We ended up making $8.50 for 3 full tote bags of sci-fi and computer books at Half Price Books, which we negated by picking up a Gene Wolfe book for $8.15. The book we chose is the first half of "The Book of the New Sun," since we already have the second half.

After dinner and some more window shopping, we came home and stared at the TV.

"Try it again."

"Damn."

Except... I keep my laptop in the living room. And it has Ubuntu installed on it. Idea! Jer loaded the MythTv frontend on it, installed MythVideo and there we were. Live TV is a little choppy, but we could watch our recordings and it was good enough to see us through. By the time that was figured out though, I fell asleep.

MythTv is what we use as our Tivo, basically. It's a free program that runs on the computer and is hooked up to cable. We have a backend server in the office that handles the recordings and a front end in the living room that is hooked to the TV. So we just made my laptop be the new front end so we can watch TV and recordings, is what I'm saying here.

w00t.

I don't know if we can get the TV fixed or if we will have to buy another model but I'm pretty happy that there will be no interruption in Fringe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Nemesis is Revlon ColorStay Overtime in Mulberry

It has come to my attention that for the last 3 hours I've had a major amount of lipstick on my front two teeth. In that time I have also had a successful meeting with 4 people and won 2 games of Foosball.

If I could get past the pride issue I would do this way more often.

Poking the wound

I am doing the opposite of sticking my head in the sand. I am practically hovering over my investment accounts -- sort of like picking at a scab. Before I started investing, I read a lot and came up with a basic plan for myself.
  1. No matter what is going on in the market, continue to invest small amounts regularly.
  2. Take a long-term approach. Buy and hold. Reinvest dividends.
  3. Keep expenses down.
  4. Don't be afraid to be contrarian.
  5. Take advantage of credit card rewards, but pay off the balance every month.
  6. Maintain an emergency fund.
My risk tolerance is fairly high, as shown by some of my recent purchases which I don't even want to talk about because you will probably judge me. I tend to gravitate towards index funds, but I also buy individual stocks because the chance of reward is higher. Lately I check the amounts in my IRA and wonder if this has been a stupid plan. But I am pretty stubborn, so I just keep contributing money and checking the value and crossing my fingers.

We want to buy a house in the next 6 months and I'm a little concerned about what all this will mean for our chances of getting a loan. Did all those optimistic people who are now defaulting on their mortgages ruin it for people like us? People who have rented and saved instead of jumping into something they couldn't afford? We don't have 20% saved yet, but we are halfway there (saved in a money market account not the stock market). That used to be okay for a first-time homebuyer. Is that still true? On the one hand I think it's a shame that people are defaulting, but on the other I'm resentful. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. Zero down loans were handed out like candy as far as I can tell and now the homeowners think they deserve to be bailed out because they were misled. Believing what you want to believe is not being misled. Not taking time to make an informed decision is not being misled.

And now it's all falling apart.

The only thing I can do is go back to my original strategy and keep saving. Keep investing small amounts regularly. Stay focused on a long-term view. Sure, I'll lose some money, but if past trends are any indication (although past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance) then we will climb out of this mess eventually.

Until then I'll just keep plodding along.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Blur

The weekend went by quick. Friday night: Rode bus to 1st and Pine, met Jer, ate dinner at Serious Pie, stopped at the Hurricane for Bloody Marys, saw "Dark Knight" at Pacific Place. Saturday: Haircut downtown at 10am, then Jer and I dropped off a donation to an auction in Ballard (framed print from On Focus Photo), then ate a couple of very tasty Cuban sandwiches at Paseo in Fremont, and drove around looking at neighborhoods (love the GPS), and ended the night by watching "Idiocracy." Sunday: Drove to Green Lake and clapped for 2 1/2 hours for the 3-day walkers (Go Courtney!), came home and made breakfast, watched some tv, then said goodbye to Jer again.

I'm considering making a pan of brownies now, but I worry I would eat them all by myself.

And now you're entirely caught up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Annie: I lived in my head mostly.
Cooper: That's not a bad neighborhood.
Annie: There were some pretty strange neighbors.
- Twin Peaks

Monday, September 08, 2008

This and that

I've watched about 10 hours of "House" in the last 3 days. I'm not so sure it's good for me. Really tests hypochondriac tendencies to engage in medical drama immersion. You start to suspect every bruise and mole and pang of being something sinister.

The seals are barking loudly tonight. Never actually thought I'd live in a place where I could hear seals from my living room...

I put together another action figure auction which will go live on Thursday night. Next I'll be selling Ash from Army of Darkness, Move Maniacs 3 series. This rare 6 7/8 inch figure comes with a cute little evil Ash -- the original mini me. (The current 2 auctions go through this Sunday and you can see them here.)

In other news I am trying very hard not to spend any money, or at least to minimize spending. So to help reduce dining out costs, I put in an order for Tasty Bite. (If you join their mailing list they'll send you a coupon.) Voila. Add some brown rice and you've got a complete, cheap, easy, and satisfying meal. Plus you can pretend it's an MRE.

Now you know my terribly delicous secret. Use it well.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2 days, 0 human interaction

I haven't left the house in 2 days. It's been fantastic. I did some laundry, I watched a lot of "House," caught up with my parents, cleaned a bit but not enough, and worked on a 10-minute play. With the exception of 2 phone calls to Jer and 1 to my parents, I haven't spoken to another human in over 48 hours. I could really get into this lifestyle. Too bad writing is so hard.

Oh wait. Writing is my day job. It's different though. Creative versus technical. With creative you pick threads out of the air. With technical you get the whole sweater to unravel. And sometimes you have to make diagrams. There's that.

I would just like to point out randomly, for no reason whatsoever, that writers have editors. Editing is a different skill set. But generally, in the business world, if you're employed as a writer then you're also expected to be your own editor. And so I spend most of my time writing a paragraph, deleting every other word, starting again, and I very rarely let myself hang loose like I do here. It is such a relief not to cross out every other word for clarity. Not to refer to a style guide and figure out if it's a menu or a combo box or a drop down so I can be consistent. (Or a delightful sentence fragment.)

But hey, I earn a living doing what I love to do and that's pretty awesome. Even if sometimes it sucks out all the joy by being pedanticly precise. It's still way better than answering phones.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

another typical weekend

Jer is in Chicago for his uncle's memorial service. I'm here.

I went to the gym the last three nights and now it hurts. Cause, effect. The stock market has not been kind to my retirement accounts, so I guess that means it's time to buy. Or maybe that is just what They want me to think.

We bought Jer an iPhone 3G and he's been IM'ing me during his trip. It's been pretty convenient. If you're wondering, I chose the free phone. Because I hate phones, even when they're disguised as fancy mp3 players. Does that surprise you? Probably not if you've met me.

It's a really beautiful day here. Sunny, a little cool. I'm not sure what to do. It's my first free Saturday -- free even of Jer -- in, I don't know how long. Not saying that's good or bad, it just is.

I've decided to begin my day by sleeping through some troubling dreams (likely due to the book I finished reading before bed, "Grotesque" by Natsuo Kirino) and pouring myself a large mug of coffee laced with Baileys and Cool Whip. Good morning! I will now take a lesson from the lounging cats and Chill. Or watch "Scrubs."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hi, I'm a Nerd

I'm selling action figures on eBay. (Mint and near mint on card) Finally. Eight years after packing them away to keep them collectible. Here are the first two auctions: