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Friday, June 25, 2010

Snoopy Plates

California is considering doing a Snoopy plate. This makes me terribly happy. Snoopy is awesome. He's a beagle. He's known for the world's best happy dance. And the plates will go to support California museums. All of these rock! I hope they go forward. It's the first time I've ever been truly tempted to get a special plate.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oversleeping

My body has a remarkable capacity to doze back off in the mornings. At night, I'm lousy at getting to sleep, but in the mornings, I can go back to sleep repeatedly even with the alarm going off.

This morning I did that with both the characteristic markers of such things: incorporating NPR stories into my dreams and dreaming that I'm busy getting ready for work. No, it wasn't the White House press conference in my living room that woke me up. Instead it was that I was making coffee at home rather than drinking from the pot at the office. I mean, if I'm already running late, why would I stop and make coffee? One quick question about the illogical nature of my dream and POP! Suddenly awake with a jolt of adrenaline.

But the coffee was really good when I got to the office.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Naglee Park Garage

My favorite little local joint is now famous. The Naglee Park Garage is on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

And they're not kidding about the brussel sprouts. And the burger. Mmm... dinner sounds good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cat Integration

It all seemed logical and simple. I had two cats - Pixel and Leeloo. It's a good number of cats. Erik had two cats - Fleck and Pepper. (Because it's a good number of cats.) Then we moved in together, and well, four cats is a LOT of cats.

So we've spent six months working through the Humane Society guidelines for introducing cats to one another. On Saturday, Erik turned over and asked me to scoot over a bit as he was falling off the bed. I lifted my head to tell him he was crazy and realized that the bed hog was not a human. It was Pepper wedged in between us. Better yet, Pepper, Pixel, and Leeloo all shared the bed in a non-hissing, non-fighting truce. While we've had a bit of that here and there, it seems pretty consistent now. For a while, Pepper was convinced Leeloo just had to die, and Leeloo did everything she could to promote that idea for Pepper. Eventually we got a bit desperate, and whenever Pepper attacked Leeloo, we'd throw her in the shower. As with many cats, she does not like water. It took less than a half-dozen times of getting showered to convince her that maybe her life would be better if she let Leeloo live.

Now, why did we work so hard on integrating Pepper? Well, frankly, she's not very adoptable. She's a former feral girl who is six years old, who lost her tail to injury, who is missing her upper teeth from gum disease, who is about five to eight pounds overweight and can't really clean herself very well because of it. She's a real sweetheart, but she just doesn't scream "I'm sooooooo cute! Adopt me!" (The similar goes for Leeloo, the string-eating wonder-cat who gets two pills a day.)

Fleck on the other hand has also not thrived in his new environment, but he just screams, "I'm soooooooo cute!" He's an orange boy. He's a Manx. He's a snuggle bum who purrs like a motorboat.

I mean, seriously, he's just that cute. But he's going to be a lot happier someplace with less than four cats. He's not getting the attention he needs. We're still hoping friends or family can adopt him so that we can visit him from time to time.

But three cats comfortably sharing the bed is nice. It's a big milestone. Better yet, we left them all together with no gates or barriers for three hours on Friday night and NOBODY DIED! There wasn't even any blood. It was awesome. In my fantasy world of the future, Leeloo will only need one pill a day and we'll be able to stay out overnight without a cat sitter. Meanwhile, life is a bit more circumscribed than that at the moment. That's okay. Getting snuggled by three kitties and your favorite person on a random Saturday morning in between reading a book and dozing in and out of sleep is pretty darned good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cool!

Airline seat guru helps you pick the best seat on the plane, or at least not get stuck with the one with no underseat storage or that doesn't recline.

Starlight Cinema

One of the nice things San Jose does is a summer series of concerts and a series of outdoor movies. With the Tempest concert happening yesterday, I took a moment to browse the list. I knew I'd missed Raiders of the Lost Ark last week, but wanted to see what else was coming up.

Turns out, they're doing an outdoor showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, Erik has never seen RHPS and there's a part of me that thinks he'll never get it because Rocky is something that should be done before age 25. There's another part of me that's wanted to go again, just once, just for old times sake, but couldn't get the enthusiasm needed to go for a show that started at midnight. I figured eventually I'd grab a bunch of friends and RHPS alumni and do a backyard show or something. But the Bawdy Caste is hosting the show on July 28th and it's really not far from home (about 22 blocks!) and it starts at sundown rather than midnight. Sounds perfect! Anyone else in?

I Always Liked Broccoli

Broccoli sunscreen? Really? That's awesome! (Except for the turning you green part.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free Tempest Concert In the Park

Long-time local favorite Tempest is playing a free concert in Cupertino tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. Come on out and dance!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Fry

I started reading this article on one man's quest to create perfect fries at home thinking it would be a light exploration. Instead, it's a labor of love that results in a greater understanding of the different problems and solutions in creating a really good French fry. And also, after reading it, I really wanted really really good French fries.

Eyeglasses Online

Glasses are sort of a love/hate relationship for me. I've got an astigmatism, so everything is pretty equally blurry. In general though, I get by just fine without glasses, so spending hundreds of dollars to see a little better seems wasteful.

There are several online retailers of eyeglasses - Zenni Optical and EyeBuyDirect for example. I ordered from Zenni since I found a couple of cute frames for really low prices. The idea of online glasses is a little weird, but at about 10% of the cost of buying glasses in the store, I figured it was worth a gamble. Here's what I got:


I've never had prescription sunglasses before, so these are a real treat. I can wear sunglasses and see better at the same time. It's like a miracle!

I won't say the process was flawless. I had to sit down and measure my current glasses to get an idea of what frame dimensions would work for me. Now I really wish I could search their site by those dimensions. Then, Zenni originally sent me someone else's glasses, then asked me to send those back, which I did. Then there was a big delay while they waited for mine to come back from the incorrect recipient and eventually they gave up and remade them. The net result is that they eventually got the original order back and sent me those too.

Once I noticed how many friends wear glasses, I figured I'd best pass this information on.

Resumes

Thanks to Amy for posting these awesome and inspiring resumes. Sometimes a boring, stock format just isn't good enough. I still think Kevin's "I also like cheese" is one of the most inspired ice-breakers of all time.

The Marvelous Wonderettes

We caught The Marvelous Wonderettes at San Jose Rep last night on a Goldstar discount. It was such a treat. The show is a thin excuse to sing a bunch of 50's and 60's songs, but it holds together well. The characters are darling and I wanted their dresses. It's running for two weeks, so grab tickets if you want to see a fun little musical.

Going East

So why is it always "Back East" and "Out West?"

Last Thursday, Erik and I hopped a JetBlue flight to Boston for a weekend trip to see his family.

Arriving at the Alamo car rental joint, we checked in using the kiosk to get our compact car. A little receipt printed out instructing us to go out and pick a car from the Compact Car row. The Compact Car row was empty. A jaunt back inside to ask and they said, "Oh, just pick a Midsize." Back out, we note that the Midsize row is also empty. They say to pick a Full Size. This however is far less than ideal as it means a Chevy Impala (huge land yacht) or a four-door Ford Explorer. We'd rented a compact car since we expected to be driving in the city. We went back in and asked about the Prius in the Premium row and were told that was reserved. Erik mentioned that so was our Compact, but that didn't really work out for us. The manager went to go see what she could find. With a little black Chevy HHR pushed through the car wash, we were finally on the road.

The first stop was Erik's brother Greg's house. Greg was incredibly hospitable, offering us a chance to take a nap in his bed made up just for us. He joked that it was the "Young Manse Inn." Not only was it made up, the covers were turned down and there was little candle burning on the bedside. Rising at a far more reasonable hour of 10 a.m., we headed into Cambridge for breakfast and then toured around Harvard. We caught up to the Unofficial Tour of Harvard and followed them to the end of their route. It was just the ticket, complete with irreverent commentary from the tour guides.

We took the T out to Boston Common and started our way down the Freedom Trail. Touring graveyards and King's Church and the Old State House and Fanuil Hall and Paul Revere's House. Along the way we caught up to the National Park Service tour and listened in occasionally. The Boston Massacre wasn't so much of a massacre as a bunch of surly drunks picking on some soldiers, one soldier stumbling and accidentally firing and the other soldiers assuming they were under attack. Five guys died. That's the whole massacre. It sounds far worse when you just tell the summary - British soldiers fired on colonists. Trouble is, like a lot of history, it's actually way more complicated than that. Those dudes who got shot had been throwing rocks and ice at the soldiers for a few hours. Nowawdays they would've gotten tazed and arrested. Ah, our founding mythology. It's, um, well, not as pretty and clean as you'd like to think.

After Paul Revere's house, Greg was getting a bit tired and we were sort of historied out. After a quick trip through Mike's Pastries for a canoli, we jumped the T out to the Sam Adams Brewery. The brewery was closing early for a special party, but they escorted us back for a quick look around which actually turned into a pretty good tour. Greg admired the Beer Color Spectrum poster, so that seemed a perfect birthday gift for him, plus a 3 pack of specialty beers.

We headed back to the North End for dinner and the iPhone and Yelp yielded a bevy of well-reviewed dining options. We settled on Panza and had an outstanding meal. My free-form lasagna was a treat, but Greg's enormous butternut squash tortellinis were the clear winner for best meal.

We escorted Greg back home and picked up the car to head to Brewster to the Old Manse Inn. Erik's mom and step-dad bought the place a couple of years ago and it's just gorgeous. Scott and Jess, Erik's other brother and sister-in-law were also there with their dog Snickers. Snickers and Maggie (Karen and Rich's Portuguese Water Dog) spent the evening wrestling while we lounged on the sofa. We settled into the Chart Room for the remainder of the weekend.

We rose a little late for breakfast, but Karen cheerfully made us fritatas anyway. In the afternoon, we headed out with Scott and Jess to Provincetown. We had lunch at Vorelli's, trying the much lauded Boursin burger. We wandered up and down Commercial Street enjoying the mix of shops and cheered on the wedding party coming down the street in bike cabs. We decided to take a dune tour and learned the unfortunate history of the dunes. They were once a forest, but the pilgrims cut it all down, the top soil blew away, and it's all been eroding ever since. Oops. They've replanted some compass grass to try to keep the sand in place now.

We headed back to Brewster for lobster dinner. Now, I have never tackled a lobster before. It's just not a priority in California.
this one?
With tools in hand, I read the instructions on my plate and dove in. It's a messy beast, but pretty tasty. In the future, I suspect I'll let others do the work for me and just enjoy the meat in dishes. The whole lobster was a positively overwhelming amount of food, so I gave up halfway through the tail.

The next morning, we rose and Erik wanted to have breakfast in the dining room like a real guest. So Rich brought us our fruit salad and blueberry pancakes at the table. The dining room used to be a church for a very small congregation. I can't imagine more than 20 people could fit there. After breakfast, we played a bit of Slide 5 and took a walk down to the beach where Maggie was overjoyed to chase a stick into the water. We also popped into the Brewster General Store. In the late afternoon, Scott and Jess headed home and Erik and I headed out to Nickerson State Park for a hike around Little Cliff Pond. When we got back it was time for dinner. We'd decided on Abba, and it was the perfect choice for me. We shared mussels in a sort of Tom Kha sauce and grilled calamari in a coconut lime sauce. For entrees, Erik had the beef cheeks and I had the duck breast. Both were perfect. I look forward to getting to eat there again in the future. At dinner, Rich asked the elephant in the room question: "So what are your plans? Getting married soon?" It was hilarious to watch Karen's face. The "You can't ask that!" and "Oh my god you did not just say that!" as she recoiled was awesome.

Back to the inn where Karen didn't want to let Erik go home to California. We stayed up chatting about things. In the morning we rose for breakfast burritos and mojito melon. We headed out to see the beach at lower tide with Karen, Maggie, and a tennis ball. Maggie was in heaven. We also toodled down to the Brewster bookstore, a classic small-scale bookshop of ultimate danger. Luckily, many of the most tempting titles were already on my shelf thanks to the girls.

Back at the inn we packed our bags and headed out to the airport. The TSA gave me a rather thorough working over, largely because I had my hair up in a metal clip. Oy. Unfortunately, my bag with iPhone charger and headphones got lost in the shuffle. On the plane, we watched Dr. Who Waters of Mars and Up. Up will make me cry every time, but it's just the best.

Home again, we found happy kitties (thanks Susanne!!!) desperate for snuggles from their people and a toasty warm house that cooled rapidly in the evening breeze. Looking over the bay area from the plane, I'm once again reminded that I live in the best place on earth. Even if other places are great to visit, the SF Bay is home.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Super Carry-On Gal!

I can't wait to try this packing method for my next trip!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Science News!

Your superstitions (at least the positive ones) can help boost your confidence and improve performance. If you believe that lucky charm will help you do better, it turns out you're more likely to do well. So, silly as it may seem, bring it along. It can't hurt!

Think Nostradamus was good with predictions? Pish-tosh! He can't hold a candle to Robert Boyle (yes, as in Boyle's Law) whose predictions on the future of science were spot-on. These included everything from the art of flying to scratch-and-sniff stickers.

The spices on your burger may be doing more than merely adding to the flavor. They're chock full of anti-oxidants and actually seems to counteract the effect of malondialdehyde that forms when beef fat oxidizes. Bring on the ginger! Heap on some cinnamon! Don't skimp on the oregano!

That guy walking through the store talking on the cell phone? Yeah, that's annoying. It turns out it's how we're wired. Listening to half of a two-way conversation is actually far more distracting to our brains than having both halves of the conversation in the room with you.

I Don't Get It

I don't understand. It's not about a belief in a higher power or not; what I don't get is how any church created by men could hold such sway when it lives in a constant state of internal inconsistency. The story that got me there this week was the nun who was excommunicated for allowing an abortion when it was the only hope for saving the mother's life. If it hadn't happened, both mother and unborn child would have died with an almost 100% certainty, but somehow, that's better than allowing an abortion in a Catholic hospital. Not only better, but so much better, it's worth ending a career and throwing someone out of the church just for making that call. Yet no one has been excommunicated for raping children, even though that's happened. This offense - saving a woman's life - was more offensive to "God" and the church than raping a child. I just can't make it make sense. Why is anyone still Catholic? And also, if that's what your "God" really wants to happen, then your "God" is an asshole who doesn't deserve my worship.

BirthdayBirthdayBirthday Cirque!

Last weekend was great fun, if a tad overscheduled.

Friday was Friday Night Waltz. Erik's friend MaryAlice joined us. She's here on a consulting gig from New York and dove head first into the FNW adventure, getting spun around by Chris, Peter, and Eric Lowe especially. She'd occasionally plead, "Oh, I don't know how." But as every Fezzi knows, that's merely bait on the line. She gamely made her way through everything from waltz to Congress to cross-step to tango to two-step and stayed til the very end. She ranks firmly up for anything kind of folks I like to have around, so I'm glad I got to meet her.

Saturday was Birthday!Birthday!Birthday! First, Elizabeth's 40th birthday/Grad party at Fenton's where the "junior" sundae with lunch meant a one-meal day. So tasty, especially if you stop before you eat it all.

From there we headed to Molly's 21st birthday party at Forbidden Island. It's such a joy to finally be able to include her in such outings. The ceremonial flaming birthday mai-tai was had, and tastes of many others were enjoyed. I tried the new Jet Pilot and I approve.

From there we headed across the bay to PEERS for Mr. Fezziwig's Birthday Ball. Joreth made ice cream and I was finally tempted to consume the apricot. It was divine. The PEERless music hall went off and I made sure Mr. F had a different girl in his lap for each song. We left before the fourth set so that we could get home for Sunday's adventures.

We got up early and drove to Sacramento to take my grandparents to see Cirque du Soleil. I'd long suspected Grandma would really enjoy it. Since Alegria was making its way through town, I figured that would be a good one to see. Let me just say that the Arco Arena handicap accommodations office is awesome. I called, talked to a real person, explained the limitations, and she gave us five seats together on the floor in the front row. She told me how to get into the parking lot, how there'd be a little shuttle to the door, and that they'd take Grandma in a way with no stairs. I had it all written down so I could ask and direct folks along the way. We made it out to our seats and they couldn't have been better. There's nothing like feeling the performers might end up in your lap if things went wrong. The chap in the outsized hula hoop is still breathtaking and the fast track tumblers are joyous.

After the show, we picked up some cherries from my mom's house off my grandparent's tree, then headed out to the Hong Kong Cafe to meet up with Wendy for dinner. It is still the home of my favorite won-ton soup ever and the Chinese broccoli with chicken was a real treat.

The Monday morning alarm was far too early, and boy could I use a day off with little to do save sitting on the sofa. But that time of year has passed and really, I wouldn't pass anything up to have it any other way.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Cool Summer Breeze

I wanted a refreshing cocktail. I looked up a drink in Beachbum Berry Remixed (thanks Mice!) and made it. The Yellow Boxer was lovely, but not perfect. I changed it up.

1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. tequila
1 oz. mandarin vodka
1/2 oz. simple syrup
4 oz. soda
ice

Mix everything in a shaker save for the soda. Pour into a pint glass with over ice. Fill to soda and stir gently. If you wanna go crazy, garnish with a curl of orange peel and a sprig of mint.

It is crisp, refreshing, and the perfect thing to sip while you wait for the fans to blow out the heat that accumulated in the house while you were gone for the day. So, I call it the Summer Breeze.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Sacramento - Fallen on Hard Times

I grew up in Sacramento, so I'm always a little fascinated by its ups and downs. The one thing I've noticed over a few cycles is that Sacramento tends to trail the Bay Area market on housing price increases, but once it starts catching up, it goes completely wild for a few years. When they inevitable crash comes, it hits Sacramento far harder than the bay.

We're right there right now. It's playing out in the usual way - crashing housing prices and closing businesses. It's also translating to lots of friends in financial pickles.

And there's a quiet part of me that still wishes I could've convinced my mom to sell a couple years ago, rent for a couple years, and buy again now. The crash was easy to see coming for folks who'd lived there a while, and she could have made an awfully nice retirement nest egg. Oh well.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cookie Pressure

This article explains so much about my life, and about my day yesterday. To sum up, paying attention to what you're doing is tiring. The more things you have to carefully control or pay attention to, the less capacity you have for the rest of it. So if you're focused on learning a new program, that's way harder than using the same program you always use, and it may come out with you snapping at your coworker over someone leaving a paper jam in the printer. I know for myself, when I'm seriously concentrating on losing weight and eating less, I get much more testy about... everything, frequently coming to the conclusion that now is not the time for this because I need my patience for other things. So it goes.