Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LA Pictures posted!

I uploaded my pictures from the Getty, USC and the Petersen Museum.


Family photo!

So, for the past five years (at least!) every time we get all the "kids" together, we take a group photo. Starting last year, we added Samantha to the mix! :) So here's this year's pic, taken on the steps at Tutu's, after we stuffed ourselves at 2nd Thanksgiving (is that like the Hobbits' second breakfast?) .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Home sweet Apartment

Yes, I love Southern California, it's true. But I have to say, I like being back in my own apartment. For one thing, nobody is snoring in the next bed (or next room). Plus, I missed cooking my own food (which was only possible after a quick but expensive trip to the supermarket), and I get to wear clothes that haven't been rolled up in a suitcase for two weeks!

Of course, there are things that I miss about California, too, like Samantha's giggles, Marc's fresh-brewed coffee, and not having to go to my office everyday. Hmmm... what does that tell you? I did notice that my right arm hurt after work yesterday - it was the first time in two weeks I had worked with a mouse for a full day! I need to go back to the gym!

I really wish I had something more exciting to talk about... but I spent the second half of my day in a neverending meeting. Mind you, the meeting was about a huge project that I am looking forward to working on, but the meeting just dragged on and on and on. And on. And on. you get the picture. I couldn't stay awake for half of it - I felt so bad, because there were only 3 other people in the room!

We are planning our holiday party for the office in two weeks, which will include a potluck lunch and gift-swap. I am trying to decide between making that spinach salad (the one that made me sick - I'll just avoid the goat cheese this time), or buffalo green beans, or maybe baked artichoke hearts. Any votes from the peanut gallery?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

no more goat cheese for me!

as a p.s. to my Saturday post... that wonderful spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese is very bad if you are lactose intolerant, as I am. I have a very selective memory sometimes... or maybe it's wishful thinking -- "Eh, just a little bit can't hurt me." Well, I was wrong. Soooo wrong. So, apologies to my brothers who had to endure my complaining. I take full responsibility, and I will never do it again (at least, not with goat cheese!).

And thanks for a great visit to sunny SoCal! See everyone soon!

Black Friday - and I didn't even shop!

Samantha (and Mama and Dada) had a tough night on Thursday, none of them got any sleep. :( So we bagged our plans to go to California Adventure and took it slow on Friday. We had breakfast at Denny's - Samantha really loves those cheesy eggs! - and then just vegged at the house. Each of us took a nap of at least a few minutes at some point during the day- it was really good for all of us.

We tried to go to dinner at Shien's for sushi, but it was superduper crowded, so we ended up at Hana instead. The waitress was so nice to us, and Samantha enjoyed her miso rice (white rice soaked in miso soup). We stuffed ourselves with sushi... crunchy roll (with shrimp tempura inside) and lots of spicy tuna roll for the boys, and a sashimi roll (no rice, wrapped in cucumber slices)... Teri ordered a Philly roll (salmon and cream cheese) but, ugh. Too weird.

Today we went to Teri's mom's house (we all call her "Tutu") for our second Thanksgiving lunch/dinner. We had almost as much food, but this time there was some more greenery involved -- green beans with almonds and (my favorite food network recipe) spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese -- along with mashed potatoes and potato salad and stuffing and turkey and ham and rolls. As if I didn't overeat enough on Thursday! And more of Teri's yummy pumpkin surprise for dessert. I really have to get that recipe.

This time, instead of taking a walk around the neighborhood, we took a short drive and then a walk - around Downtown Disney! We had to go get the 50th anniversary golden ears. Of course, they won't embroider them in Downtown Disney, so Jae had to go into the park to get them for us (with his Annual Pass, he gets in for free). So now we have ears. Of course, Bryan sent me home with his ears, because he doesn't really want to take them to Australia.

Before I left to come back to Marc's (closer to LAX for my flight out tomorrow), we took the standard 4 kids picture - plus Sam, of course. I'm waiting for Jae to post it or send it to me so I can link to it.

I can't believe the kid is going to Australia for four months. I cried in the car after I said goodbye to him tonight. I know he'll be back, and I know we'll email and he'll blog (HE'D BETTER!) but it was just sort of sad. :( Bye, little brother! Good luck!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Thursday was spent at Jae's step-sister Dawn's house, with Judy (Jae's mom) and Geoff (her hubby, Dawn's dad) and Dawn's husband Greg and daughter Kasey (6 y.o.), and Dawn's sister Michelle and her friend Rachel. So all in all there were 10 adults and 2 little ones. Oh, and a dog and five cats and a bird. :)

We had a few hours of chit-chat and movie-watching while waiting for the turkey. Bryan and I watched football.

They served a ridiculous amount of food. There was turkey and honey ham and candied yams and stuffing and mashed potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and gravy and cranberry sauce and rolls. URP! Just reading that makes me feel full. After dinner, we went for a walk... just to try to digest a little.

Kasey and Sam are so cute together. They just adore each other and won't go anywhere unless the other one is there.

After the walk, we had dessert... Teri's awesome pumpkin surprise - which she's making again for Saturday - and apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake and ice cream and whipped cream. URP again!

I hope everybody had a happy Thanksgiving! :) We get to have Thanksgiving dinner again tomorrow!

Dad update

Dad is apparently feeling better. He called us yesterday when we were on our way to Thanksgiving dinner, and he was in a good mood - but I think it was the drugs talking. He said they were giving him lots of good painkillers. :)

Mom & Dad will be flying home on January 2, which is six weeks after the accident. In the meantime, one of their friends is going over in early December, so he can deliver stuff like medicine and other things.

Mom says they found a movie theater with 2-for-1 showings on Wednesdays, so we know where they'll be every week!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My heritage, and my family

The L.A. adventure continued:

On Wednesday, Marc got up and made us coffee (I was awakened by the buzzing of the coffee grinder, which was so nice!) and then we went to get bagels. "It's only a few blocks further," he said. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that when he says that, it means it's more like a mile or two... and even after we parked, we ended up hiking up Ventura Blvd in Encino anyway because we had pulled into the wrong parking lot! The bagel place was in fact tasty... for future reference, it is across from the Versailles Cuban restaurant. :)

Then I dropped Marc off at work (bye, Marc!) and went to the Skirball Cultural Center to look around. Aunt Martha had told me they had lovely stuff, and she was right! There was a great exhibit called "From Haven to Home," which marks the 350th Anniversary of the arrival first Jews who settled in America. They also displayed the paintings of Max Liebermann, who was a contemporary of Degas, Monet and Renoir, although very few people have ever heard of him. Apparently his paintings are also on display in the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid - my favorite museum. In the lobby/hallway, there was an exhibit of photographs from "Sacred Spaces - Historic Houses of Worship in the City of Angels." Some of the photos were really beautiful. The Skirball center has a large shop, too, although all I bought was a little Jewish star with red, white and blue rhinestones. It seemed so... ME! I couldn't afford the huge American flag with Statue of Liberty silhouette, made out of license plates. :(

I asked the lady at the counter how long it would take to get to LAX if I had to be there in an hour, and she said, "leave now." She wasn't kidding. It took me over an hour to get down to the airport, so I had Bryan take the shuttle to Thrifty and I picked him up there. We were both starving by that point, so when Jae called to see where we were, we asked him to help us find an In-n-Out burger on the way to his house. YUM. Of course, we weren't all that hungry for dinner when we got to Escondido, but we couldn't have made it otherwise.

We dropped our stuff at the hotel, and went up to Jae & Teri's house. Samantha was a little hesitant at first, but she attached herself to Bryan and basically wouldn't leave him alone all night -- a 180-degree turn from the last few times we've seen her, where she wouldn't go near him or hardly talked to him at all. Jae & Teri posted it on the Samantha blog - "Uncle Bryan - from zero to hero." :) hee hee Unfortunately, Uncle Bryan was soooooooo tired, he fell asleep on the sofa over there before 9pm. So I brought him back to the hotel, and he was out cold by 10!

Due to the late hour, my Thanksgiving report will be posted tomorrow. Be patient!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More of my L.A. Story

So, for dinner on Monday we went to Border Grill in Santa Monica. EXCELLENT Mexican food. The restaurant is owned by the "Too Hot Tamales" who used to have a show on the Food Network. Really neat decor, too. The mango and guava flavored margaritas were both quite tasty. We were very tempted to order seconds, but we didn't. We were definitely too full to order dessert, even though it looked tasty.

We walked over to the Third Street Promenade and happened upon the Starbucks Listening Station. It's very cool - you can look up any song or group of songs from a bunch of different albums (150,000?) and burn your own mix disk, for ~$10. They also sell all kinds of CDs. It was written up in the Washington Post last August.

We spent way more time in there than we intended... almost an hour. By the time we left (and I bought a Nnenna Freelon CD), most of the other stores were closed. We got some gelato and went to Barnes & Noble, but we had to leave there before we spent any money. ;)

Tuesday, Marc actually had to go to work (which I think he regretted later!). I slept a little late, only slightly interrupted by his neighbors ringing their little bell, for reasons as yet unknown... and went over to the Getty Museum to meet him. Fortunately, I remembered the camera AND the battery this time, so there are a LOT of pictures. This is one of my favorites. I did not alter the sky color here - it was the perfect day for photography. There are some really interesting exhibits, and the grounds are just beautiful. I will have to go back and see the rest of it when I come back to LA.

We left the Getty with plans to go see the latest Harry Potter movie, but we didn't make it to the theater in time (traffic on the 405... UGH!). Instead, we went to the Petersen automotive museum. I think Marc was surprised that I actually wanted to go to a car museum, but I really liked it! They are having an exhibit of the "Cars of Heads of State" which was very interesting. We also went to the "discovery" floor, which was closed, but we still posed on the CHiPs motorcycle! :)

We went to dinner at the lovely home of my friends Don and Tamara Rosen. Tam made a lemon chicken (it looked just like the picture in the recipe!) and "par-waved" potatoes. Estella (just turned 4) and Melina (18 mos) were on hand for entertainment. One thing is certain - Dora the Explorer is just as big on the West Coast as she is on the East Coast! Dora actually made an appearance at Estella's birthday on Sunday. Wow.

Of course, we (all the Fratkins) love Don and think of him as a member of the family, but he has one HUGE mark against him - he went to UCLA! (spit three times) and he has taught Estella the fight song and the alma mater, so we were treated to a performance. Oy vey. She's only four! Give the kid a break, really. We stayed pretty late drinking wine and lychee-tinis (apparently a very hip drink!) at the Rosens, so by the time we got back to Marc's -- good thing I was driving -- he basically just passed out. Poor guy. ;)

In the next post, more on Marc's distance measurements (where's that bagel place?), the Skirball center, and Bryan's arrival in LA.

Blogging deficiency addressed


It was pointed out to me tonight that I have been doing all kinds of fun stuff in LA since Sunday, and I haven't blogged about it at all. Oops! So here goes.

Sunday, I flew out of cold, foggy Seattle and into warm, sunny LA. By the time I got to Marc's, I was starving, and it was already 3:00pm! But it was a little too late for lunch, if we were going to go to Engine Company No. 28 for dinner. So we went to the USC bookstore to get some 'guano' (it's a long story, it's basically the nickname for souvenirs and other cheesy crap that you get at amusement parks and other places) and walked around the campus a bit. Here's a picture of Matt Leinart's Heisman trophy. We noticed that there is an empty cabinet in the trophy area, so there's room for either Matt's or Reggie's trophy this year! :)

Dinner was soooo good. We made a reservation for 5:45, which was good because we beat out the pre-theater crowd. We had excellent steak and calamari and I tried the Louisiana-style crab cakes. Very good, but totally different tasting (much spicier than Maryland crab cakes). Then we went back to Marc's, and I made him watch Grey's Anatomy, which he had never seen (he doesn't watch much tv - at least not without tivo, so he can ffwd through the commercials!).

Monday we went to Marina del Rey to have lunch with some of the guys I know from the USC Information Sciences Institute. They took us to a great sushi restaurant. We tried to find a seafood restaurant in Venice Beach that I had been to last August, but since I couldn't remember exactly where it was or what it was called, we just sort of drove around aimlessly. Oops! I might have to go figure out what the restaurant was, just to make myself feel better, and convince Marc that I'm not crazy. (heh. fat chance.)

In the afternoon, we went to the LA Public Library to see the exhibit of Art Deco Travel Posters. The library itself is beautiful... and of course I managed to bring my camera but leave the battery plugged into the wall, so there were no pictures at all that day. UGH. Stooooopid. (and my camera phone doesn't take quality pictures, so that would have been a waste) Anyway, this is my favorite poster. Unfortunately, because the posters were mostly from private collections, they didn't have any reproductions for sale, or a book of the exhibit. So I settled for a postcard.

Then, Marc got it into his head that we had to go see the Bradbury building, which he swore wasn't too far away (I have since learned NOT to trust him when he says "it's just a few blocks"...) It was used in Blade Runner. We managed to sneak into the building before they closed - it was beautiful - the wrought iron railings and old crank elevators are amazing. But again, no pictures! Unfortunately, the Bradbury building is in a part of LA that I really don't think I'd want to go to by myself or after dark. So we hustled out of there and back to the car -- but not before stopping to look at the Subway Terminal building at 417 S. Hill Street. Marc knew the history of it and explained it to me, but I can't remember enough of it to put it here. Better you should just read it from the link.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And now, in the continuing saga of the Fratkins...

What a bit of news to wake up to -- it seems on their FIRST day in London (of a 3 week trip), my father fell in the shower and cracked two ribs and punctured a lung (It's called a pneumo-thorax). He's in the hospital, on plenty of pain medication. He can't *fly* home, so they are looking into ways to come home by ship... but all of the nicer crossing ships like the QE2 are in the Mediterranean for the season already, and a neighbor told them that the crossing would be really rough this time of year. My mom had better pack a lot of dramamine! It's a 6-8 day trip!

More news when I know more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Here I am in the visitors' dugout at Safeco field. Linux also gave us baseballs with their logo on them. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Can I quote you?"

Bill Gates came and addressed our meeting yesterday, announcing that Microsoft is getting into the high performance computing "space." In the hallway, my friend Jill and I were approached by a reporter from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, who asked us some questions, and tape recorded our remarks. and then I forgot all about it.

Today was ridiculously busy, from a breakfast meeting at 8am to our panel session which didn't end til 7pm. On the way back to the hotel tonight (after the Cisco party at the EMP), I remembered that I should check the newspaper- and sure enough, he quoted me! (read to the last three paragraphs)

I've been in the paper before, for my flasher collection, but never for something work-related. This is cool!

I didn't go to the Sheryl Crow party last night -- instead, Linux Networx had a party at Safeco Field (where the Mariners play). We got to go down into the visiting team's dugout and the field!! (We didn't get to go onto the *perfectly even* grass, just on the warning track around the edge) Dessert was served in the visitors locker room, and they had a pitching area, and they let us use the indoor batting cage. My pitches were lame -- I hadn't thrown any kind of ball that hard since high school -- I only hit the center of the target twice, at 30 and then 27 mph. ugh. I didn't bother with the batting.

So tonight I decided that as long as I had RSVPed, I might as well go to the Cisco party, even if I went alone. And I can now say that I've been to the EMP... I'm really glad I didn't pay the ticket price to see the museum. I'm not really a Hendrix or Dylan fan, although it was interesting to see their historical memorabilia and read about them. They also had a hip-hop exhibit, but I skipped that.

The coolest part was the big guitar sculpture that runs up the middle of the museum, and the area where visitors can learn to play guitar or keyboards or drums, do karaoke, or be in a "band" with other people. I went directly to the keyboards, and it made me wish I had one (again). Maybe I'll put that on my Chanuka list this year...

Pictures from Safeco and EMP will be posted soon. :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

If they work on supercomputers, are they super-geeks?

Next week, upwards of 7,000 engineers, marketers, technology officers, and others will converge on Seattle for Supercomputing 2005 (otherwise known as SC'05). We (I think I fit in the "other" category) will spend the week looking at exhibits of the latest and greatest technologies, listening to presentations, and most importantly, going to parties! Yes, it's true, these geeks really know how to party. Intel and Cisco are throwing their parties (on successive nights) at the Experience Music Project. Intel has Sheryl Crow coming to sing! I am so excited.

Ok, maybe the parties aren't the most important part... I'm probably supposed to go to some of the seminars (Bill Gates is giving a keynote after all) and try to learn something. But the other big deal is who is giving away what in the Exhibit Hall. How I'm going to get through 105,000 sq. ft., I have no idea! But I have promised to bring back t-shirts and other goodies for some folks in my office, so I'd better do it. Every year it's a competition among the vendors to give away the coolest swag - and you can never tell what's going to be the "hot" item until you get there. I'll have to take some pictures of the vast sea of geeks. It's not unlike CES in Las Vegas - only the stuff they have there is much more fun - and more affordable for the average person!

I leave DC at 6:30am on Sunday morning (my own fault... I should have found a later flight). I have to remember to bring one of those spare fold-up suitcases!

Monday, November 07, 2005

He's cute, and he cooks!

My new favorite chef on the Food Network is Dave Lieberman (Good Deal with Dave Lieberman, Saturdays at 1:30pm). He's cute, he's Jewish, and he cooks tasty, quick recipes with inexpensive ingredients. :) Too bad he's only 25. heh. He made nice little potstickers, which I'd love to do, but I haven't been able to find wonton wrappers in my supermarket. I must be looking in the wrong place. hmm....

Speaking of the Food Network, we are SO over Rachael Ray - she has a magazine now? and three - no, four - different shows? can you say overexposed?! I think she thinks she's the next Emeril. Really. To be honest, DJ has been annoyed by her for a while... and I have to admit that she can be a bit annoying - she's just too cutesy sometimes. Although the "candy sushi" that she made for Halloween was very creative. (rice krispy treats and twizzlers rolled up inside fruit roll-ups and sliced across. looked just right!) :)

...and yes, I tape Dave's show on Saturday afternoons, I DO have a life. (says blog-girl...) but DJ has abandoned me for 10 days to go on a Caribbean cruise, so I have to amuse myself somehow until my trip to Seattle for Supercomputing '05.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Where's George Clooney when you need him?

Here we are in the ER in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon! You can't see the dried blood on mom's face (consider yourself lucky) or on her shirt, or her purse, or her blazer... I went and got some paper towels and wiped her off a bit after Greg took this picture. At least she was in good spirits!

The stitches were removed today, and the doctor said that they did a nice job in Atlanta. phew!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Awww.... he's so cute!

The National Zoo's baby panda, Tai Shan (tie SHON) -- which means "peaceful mountain" in Chinese -- took his first steps today.

He was born on August 2, weighing in at less than 2 pounds. Since then, he has grown to over 15lbs, and has more than doubled in length. The public isn't allowed to see him yet, but he's supposed to have his "debut" in December. In the meantime, some local stores are collecting "pennies for pandas" by offering special items for sale - like the chocolate-dipped macaroons (black and white, get it?) that Whole Foods will sell after Thanksgiving! yummmmm.... I can't wait to "meet" him. :)