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Friday, April 29, 2011

Domestic Bliss

Right at the moment, I'm living in a sort of magical zone of perfection. I may never again have it this good. Each morning, Erik and I wake up at the same time, spend 30 minutes cuddling before getting up to face the day while our cats are curled up on the bed with us. I get dressed, ready to go, and fuss with his hair, and we kiss and head off to our respective jobs. I head up to Stanford in the carpool lane with magic stickers that expire in two months. I arrive between 9 and 9:30 and walk down a quiet residential street and into my office, grab a cup of decaf, and start my day. This is where the day-to-day similarities end, but this starting position is so consistently best-case-scenario that I just had to mention it. Soon, I'll lose my access to the carpool lane. In the next year or so, I expect a change of position will mean I need to be here earlier. It's less than a week til we resume Project BorG. Erik is interviewing at two colleges in the next week for full-time positions, and both are an hour from home. So much is on the cusp of changing. It's not that it's changing for the worse. It's just that it will be different, soon. And this moment, this thing right now, I just want to take a moment to say that this is right here is not what I'd ever expected to have, not what I thought I wanted, and it's absolutely perfect and wonderful and that I'm very very grateful for it all right now. It has to change, and that's fine. But right now is beautiful and I want to remember it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bacon!

So I've been dieting since January using My Daily Plate/Livestrong. It's pretty awesome and it's totally working. I'm down about 14 pounds so far. I've still got another ten or so to go before I'm fully satisfied, but so far, so good, and most of the things in my closet are fitting now, and many newer items are just too big.

But with reduced calories, finding foods that satisfy can be sometimes tricky. Turns out though that a breakfast of two eggs, two strips of bacon, and a hash brown patty from Trader Joe's is only 350 calories. This has become sort of a weekend morning habit if we're around the house. All signs point to this being way to high in fat and cholesterol, but when you're eating less than a 1000 calories a day, I wondered how bad it could really be?

This past Monday I went and donated blood. The Stanford Blood Center tracks all of your history including cholesterol readings. I'm down to 147, which is just dandy. (Anything under 200 is considered desirable.) This is down from 186 in January, so my bacon-and-egg breakfasts have actually been a part of an overall improvement in cholesterol levels. Bacon - now a part of a healthy breakfast! Woohoo!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So What Have You Been Up To Lately?

Y'know, sometimes it feels like I'm not really doing much. There's no big huge personal project on the horizon. I'm just kind of living. Then I recount to one of my coworkers what I did in a past weekend and they look at me all goggle-eyed like I should be exhausted. But this is just the mellow time of year for me. Just enjoying the world and living well. This includes lots of fun things.

We went to the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio. It's beautifully laid out (and may be in the building my dad was working in in 1989). There were several big take-aways. Walt knew how to live and was willing to bet it all on big dreams repeatedly. Not all of them worked, but enough of them paid off to make one hell of a legacy. Also, his family moved around the mid-west a lot, and his dad kept getting different jobs - home builder, running a paper route, running a jelly factory, etc. These jobs had nothing in common and today most would take advanced degrees, licenses, and/or years of experience to do well and raise a family on. Small wonder "these kids today" struggle. The bar is set so much higher. Finally, near the end there's a photobooth strip of Walt and Lily mugging for the camera and smooching. They were both in their 60's and had been married 40+ years. I called Erik over and made him take a good look. That's what I want 40 years from now - still enjoying life and loving one another. Actually, I should say, that's what WE want. So if you find us acting like big goofballs in a photobooth, that's why.

We also went to Hobson's Choice, a Victorian Punch Bar. The punch was yummy. (Try the Go-Go Punch especially!) The decor was pretty good. The music and the clientele killed it. Standard pop oontz music has no place in a Victorian themed venue. It was one more moment that made us love Forbidden Island all the more. Forbidden Island celebrated its fifth birthday last week, so we'll need to make a pilgrimage very soon.

We're taking a class with Richard Powers on Tuesdays for Hustle and Two-Step. It's intended to be a beginner class, so it's interesting for more than just a chance to learn two-step so far. It's interesting to see all the details he lobs in for new dancers. There's a hundred, incredibly gentle tips and suggestions he's made that most new folks are trying to assimilate, and I wish I had an audio recording of the class to collect them all. It's fascinating.

After class last night, I slipped back to campus for the Stanford Ceili monthly dance party. We decided we needed to have a defined chance to really just dance rather than learning stuff. So, for three weeks, we teach all we can, and run things we learned the prior week, and on the last Tuesday of the month, we have an all dancing night. This was the first one. Before I'd actually set down my stuff, I was helping call a 4-hand set, and was dancing two minutes later. After a nice Petronella, Trip to the Cottage, and a Polka Set, we were off to gelato in downtown Palo Alto. Yum! Stanford Ceili is really working for me. I love the partnership with Bob for teaching and calling and I love that I can walk over from my office rather than driving 50 miles to dance.

On Sunday, the draw of Rachel's insanely adorable foster kittens overwhelmed the capacity to make it to Spaghetti Sunday. We ended up having a lovely dinner with Cyrus, Athena, Lorilei, Kev, and Rachel. Athena made a fresh ham, which is to say not salt cured. It was basically a huge pork roast. Very tasty, with a side of roasted veggies. So why is it exactly that ham is the traditional Easter dish anyway? Is it all a big neener neener to the Jews? "Nyah, nyah, our savior rose and told us we don't have to keep Kosher!"

The last Gaskell Ball was lovely. We managed to turn a $33 profit. Hmm. Honestly, I don't want a big profit. I want to keep it alive and well-loved. The next big project for that is to set up the email list. It's a project that utterly daunts me though, so I've been procrastinating. That aside, the last ball was lovely. Suzi and Ethan came by and danced a bit, which was a real treat. I got to wear my grandmother's dress because it fits now. It couldn't be zipped at Christmas, but at ten pounds lighter, it fit beautifully. Kim took a picture:

Also, I asked Kim if she could make a pirate coat. We had been looking online and various places for pirate coats for the Haunted Fox Hollow and generally not finding anything worthy. Kim and I are pretty much exactly the same size, so if she made it to fit her, it would be great for me. And it is great! I had to take home the prototype. Now I just need to decide what color I want for a final coat. We also handed her some lovely silk for a couple of new vests for Erik.

We stayed with Sherman and Alex because it was Alex's Baby Shower the next day. Baby showers are one of those odd rituals that seem to come with fixed requirements - like silly shower games. I offered to do games since most shower games give me hives. I figured if I did them, I could pick the least offensive. This led to guessing the mother's belly size, a trivia contest, and a gift bingo game.

After the shower, we raced to the other end of the bay to go to the Moulin Rouge Sing-a-Long at the Retro Dome. We were pleasantly surprised to bump into Karen, Crystal, and Gina. The Retro Dome is in an old Cinedome-style theater that has been purchased by some theater/RHPS geeks. They handed out hats and glow sticks for the Green Fairy and fake money and other props to toss about during the show. It was a hoot. We sang along. We wanted to dance along. And when it was over, Satine was dead, but we were buoyed by the Bohemian ideals of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love. Aw!

We headed over to Chevy's for dinner with the girls and enjoyed more food than I've eaten in months. The good news is that that just doesn't appeal anymore and we both went home stuffed and not loving it. The food was good. The company was great. But in the future, we'll split a plate.

I sitting here at my desk trying to figure out what else should include, randomly picking the after effects of blisters on my hands from go-karting. I should mention Cyrus's epic 40th birthday party of go-karts, mini-golf, air hockey, and cupcakes! We headed to Malibu Grand Prix. We forgot to separate the cats before leaving. After just a few days of happy kitties, we figured this was risky, so actually called in Christyn and Brian to go shut the gate. Amazingly, even unsupervised, Pepper had made no attempts on Leeloo's life. They were just both happily lounging around the house when he arrived and shut them on either side of the gate. Go figure. But I digress - there were go-karts! Malibu Grand Prix is a blast. It's the fastest I'll ever drive around corners. It takes an entirely bizarre set of muscles to go that fast and stay on the track. Also, I just about as short as you can be and still drive these cars. My arms stretch forward and my collar bone strains against the four-point restraint. It's a blast. I got down to 58 seconds, which is a best time for me. Cyrus got down to 56 seconds. We started the day driving cars and ended it with more cars. In the interim, we played a round of mini-golf, enjoyed yummy croissant sandwiches from Costco and homemade cupcakes from Rachel, and played several rounds of air hockey. Now, remember, I'm still dealing with little callouses on my hands now. We did a lot of racing. And air hockey. And I knew, oh yes, I knew I'd be suffering on Monday. And my arms utterly hated me and I couldn't grip anything worth a darn for two days, but it was awesome. Afterward, I very carefully and slowly drove Cyrus home and we went and hung out with 4-week-old foster kittens at Kev and Rachel's for a bit before heading home for the night. Have I mentioned how cute these kittens are? They totally are. And they'll be available for adoption in a few weeks at HSSV.

Now, I must be off to deliver roast pork Florentine and garlic carrots to Rollie and Donna with congratulations on their lovely new daughter, Elora. Yay!

Judgement Day

The billboards say that Judgment Day is coming. As it turns out, it's not so much a single day, as the wrap up of the whole shebang. It starts May 21, 2011, and should be wrapped up by late October. Apparently it says just that in the Bible. Somewhere. With some form of interpretation that makes the Bible mesh with our calendar perfectly. The guy who says that it's going to happen that day also predicted it would happen in 1994. But y'know, that was just a math error, but this time he's sure. Totally completely certain.

Sigh.

It's amazing how hard people want to believe there will be a simple, sharp end to it all. But they're never right. Oh well. Free money for the advertising companies. I guess it's better than the liposuction ad that seemed to be everywhere for a while.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I love my husband.

I've been remiss in keeping the world (and mostly my grandma. Hi Grandma!) informed lately. Let's start from where we are now.

I'm all dolled up, sitting on the sofa. We've got tickets to see Max Raabe and the Palast Orchestra at the Paramount theater in Oakland. I've been hand sewing the bottom of my camel-hair coat where the hem has fallen out while waiting for Erik to finish replacing the fixtures in the shower. The shower had started dripping again, and upon inspection this morning, the last fix from a year ago wasn't going to work again easily.

Now let's just pause here for a second so that I can make it abundantly clear how much I love my husband. He's the BEST. He fixed the drip for me a year ago. I said, "It's getting worse and really needs fixing." Within a few days, he's taken it apart and fixed it. It was the most magical moment of our then fledgling time living together. Now when it was dripping again, we talked about it earlier this week, and this morning, before breakfast, he started working on fixing the drip. This sort of thing makes him the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Better yet, when things got more complicated, he didn't just give up. We trundled off to Lowe's to get parts, did a cross-check with Home Depot, came back to Lowe's, and then came home with stuff to fix things. Meanwhile, we also got some corn seed for our garden and a burger at In-n-Out and generally enjoyed the absolutely gorgeous weather in San Jose.

We get home, and I scrub around the fixtures while he deals with an issue with Borders online store. (On that topic, all I can say is that there are very good reasons they're going out of business and Amazon has eaten their lunch and their dessert. Good riddance to bad rubbish!) He then falls to installing the faucets, filing and chiseling the tile to make the new fixtures fit. The whole thing ended up taking a bit longer than we'd planned, so we'll miss Mic's birthday party, but we're still going to make it to Max Raabe. Oh, and I have fixtures I've been daydreaming about, thinking it was too hard to fix for six years.

More later. For now, off to the show!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Science News Roundup

There's just a bucket of interesting articles open I've been wanting to share, so here goes.

First, as someone who arrived early and whose husband also arrived early, the idea of predictors and treatments for preterm delivery sounds pretty good. The best part of this research is that not only is there a clear predictive factor (a short cervix) there's also a simple solution (progesterone gel). Better yet, the solution isn't even expensive or invasive! It's the best sort of medical science.

In other news, hominids love boats and we're really good at getting places in them. Turns out, in Crete, there are tools that are at least 130,000 years old. It was originally thought that humans first settled the islands about 9000 years ago, but not so. Instead, by intention or accident, someone (perhaps not even homo sapiens), got there and made tools way way earlier. That's just cool.

Also, it's likely that fasting for a day here and there may be good for you. There's a lot of caveats, but ultimately it looks like it reduces your cholesterol, risk of heart disease, and risk of diabetes. In a similar counter-intuitive fashion, running and jogging are not bad for your knees as previously thought. It turns out that that sort of exercise actually stimulates your body to repair minor damage to the cartilage. This goes well with the TED talk and NPR story on how humans succeeded by being good endurance runners. It wasn't that we were faster. Instead, we'd chase prey to exhaustion. And we'd do it together. Watch the TED talk. It's awesome.

Have a nice weekend everyone!