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


Individual prints are available for purchase at

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


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.


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

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.