Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Arrived on Saturday night. The whole fam came to pick me up at the airport, and we went to Ted's Montana Grill in Crystal City for dinner. We all had various forms of bison meat -- steak, meat loaf, short ribs, burger -- but nothing so impressive that we have to run right back. It was a little unnerving to sit underneath the wall-mounted giant stuffed buffalo head. (His name was Maximus.) When we got home, we celebrated the last night of Chanuka. I got a penguin to add to my collection (a collection that is growing daily as my mother goes out shopping), a lovely bracelet and three books I wanted (including a knitting book) from my brother. Poor kid had to brave the Crafts section of the bookstore to get the Yarn Harlot book. heh. I also opened my new (RED) iPod (thanks, Andy!) and started loading songs onto it. I loooove it!
Xmas eve at Kelly's was tons of fun, as usual. We only had nine people this year, which was a nice, small group. Hannah was the only little kid, and she milked it for all it was worth. She tried on her pink cowgirl boots as soon as she opened them, but I think they were a little too big, and not quite comfy without socks. But she did like them! (She was a crankypants all day long, and by that time, almost nothing was making her happy.) We had Kelly's awesome lasagna, salad, Aunt Karen's garlic bread (spread: 2 sticks of butter with four cloves of crushed garlic, tarragon, basil and ... dill? It was yummy), and cream puffs with chocolate sauce for dessert. We were stuffed! Kelly's mom gave me a neat long wooden sign that's a star and four stripes... If I can figure out how to get it home, it'll look great on my wall. :)
Xmas day: Chinese food! We did the reverse of the stereotypical Jewish holiday, though... we went for dim sum at Fortune and then went to the movies. We saw the latest Christopher Guest movie, "For Your Consideration." It was better than "A Mighty Wind" but not nearly as good as "Best in Show". I don't know if it's because my aunt breeds and shows dogs, or if it was just a funnier movie overall, but that by far is my favorite Guest movie. Well, ok, except for the Princess Bride. ("You don't by any chance have six fingers on your right hand?") and Spinal Tap. The rest of the day wasn't terribly exciting... and the weather was icky.
Boxing day, mom was up and out at 8am for the day-after-Xmas shopping at Lord & Taylor! I wasn't nearly awake enough to go with her. I probably should have gone along - she ended up buying a half-dozen 2' tall Santas! (I'm so confused.) It turned out to be international foods day - sushi for lunch and Indian food for dinner. Ryan and Becky picked an Indian restaurant in Columbia that was on the Zagat's list... it was hard to find, but the food was very tasty.
I'd probably have more to report, but I managed to get sick -- or a really bad allergy attack -- as soon as I got here. Just like what happened when I got to LA for Thanksgiving. ICK!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Whee! I'm a grammar whiz!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
So here I sit in Starbuck's, getting amped up on the strong smell of coffee, trying to get some work done, and drowning out the constant Xmas music with my Launchcast. (And trying to figure out what to get for everybody for Xmas/Chanuka. Any requests? suggestions?)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products."
--Jim Rutz, a columnist writing in the far-right WorldNetDaily that soy is a “devil food” that has caused a rise in homosexuality. Seriously.
Monday, December 11, 2006
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. It all depends on the gift. I looove wrapping gifts.
2. Real tree or artificial? None. Menorah, check. Chanuka lights, check. Tree? Not so much.
3. When do you put up the tree? see #2. Menorah comes out the day before Chanuka, and gets put away after the eighth night... after I've cleaned all the melted wax off the base.
4. When do you take the tree down? again, see #2.
5. Do you like eggnog? Lactose intolerance really curbs my eggnog intake. However, I would love to get a sip of Dani's famous version someday. I'll just pop a dozen lactaid pills first! I'm still on the hunt for the recipe my mom used to have for eggnog cookies. they were awesome.
6. Favorite gift received [as a child]? There are two things that I absolutely love that my parents got me - first, a script from the West Wing, signed by Dule Hill, Allison Janney, John Spencer and Richard Schiff. I literally screamed and jumped up and down when I opened it. [there's a picture of that reaction...] Second, a Lalique eagle hood ornament. (I used to have the eagle on a poster that my mom brought back from a car museum. So it was very exciting to have my own eagle.) That was my only Chanuka present that year... and dad made me play 20-questions in the week leading up to the holiday, to see if I could figure out what it was. (I couldn't.)
7. Do you have a nativity scene? I think I can safely skip answering this one.
8. Hardest person to buy for? Mom. Since she doesn't often express any "need" for anything, it's very hard to come up with something she might like that she hasn't already gotten for herself!
9. Easiest person to buy for? Jeff. I am always surprised at the cool books that come out about comic books and superheroes, and most of the time I get it right. (I think the golf/billiards set I gave him a few years ago was my worst choice ever!)
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A battery-powered light-up ring in a weird aluminum box. (last year's office white elephant - thanks, RTK.)
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mostly mail. Yikes! Better get started on those this week.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Love Actually.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas/Chanuka? This mostly depends on when Chanuka actually falls. If I see something for a specific person early in November, I'll buy it - but then I run into the challenge of making sure I can still find it by late December! Otherwise, shopping starts this week in earnest! I have been known to hit the mall on the evening of the 23rd for Xmas gifts.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? That's what "white elephant" parties are for, right?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas/Chanuka? Potato Latkes with applesauce! yum.
16. Clear lights or colored [on the tree]? Lights with Chanuka shapes attached to them - menorahs, stars, and dreidls - strung around my office.
17. Favorite Christmas song? I love the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet. But you can't beat Adam Sandler's Chanuka song, or Kyle's "Lonely Jew on Christmas" from South Park. :)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel... but that's because I went and moved to TX, so I have to travel home to DC.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Donner, Vixen, Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Cupid and Blitzen. Plus Rudolph. Is that all of them?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? K&J use an Intel "Bunny-man" that I gave them as a tree-topper. I think that's my favorite.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Eve, because I'm never there (at K&J's) in the morning. ;)
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Xmas music in the stores BEFORE Thanksgiving! UGH!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
The Priest-of-the-Month calendar, from Rome:
As Andrew Sullivan put it, "How Gay is the Vatican?"
Monday, December 04, 2006
That turned out to be a big IF.
We're perfectly content to play in the Rose Bowl, mind you. But the boys I saw on the field at the Coliseum last weekend were not the same boys that came out to play this weekend. UCLA is not that good. The Bruins were 6-5, fourth in the PAC-10. They just out-played us, plain and simple. It sucked.
And somebody, please put Brent Musberger out of his misery. I know it wouldn't have felt as bad if we had been winning, but his commentary was really horrific. Maybe he was just being snotty because USC sent a nasty letter to the network after Musberger revealed Booty's hand signals on national television (!!!) What a shmuck.
At least Reggie and Matt had good games on Sunday. [A friend of mine, a Texas Longhorn fan, made the most of his Sunday watching Vince Young and the Titans, reliving the glory days. Maybe I should have watched the Saints game?!]
As for the Rose Bowl game, unless I can change my flight, I'll be watching from Dulles airport, and will probably miss the end of the game as I fly back to Texas. Argh.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I received this photo by email (and sent to my cellphone) on Sunday. The caption was "Ceci n'est pas une Fratkin." :)
Son of Man is part of my favorite scene in The Thomas Crown Affair (the new version) -- Pierce Brosnan and his lackeys scatter around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, all wearing black coats and bowler hats and carrying briefcases full of pictures of the man in the bowler hat. It drives the cops crazy.
Marc also found (after Bryan mentioned) a picture of the Son of Man etched into the top of a Mac Powerbook, with the Apple logo in just the right spot. Very cool. If I had a Mac, I'd think of doing that too.
And that was the end of the trip to California.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Well, ok, I'll write about the rest of Saturday. :) Bry and I got up and got out of the hotel at 9am, as planned. We made great time getting to LA, pulling up at Marc's at about 11:15am. We drove up to the hills behind the Getty to pick up one of Marc's Band buddies -- they looked so cute in their matching band jackets! I should have taken a picture -- and then we were off to lunch and campus. We went to the Two Nine for lunch - the boys all had the Trojan Double Bacon Cheeseburger. (urp.)
Then we walked down to campus. The place was hopping! Bry and I immediately headed for the bookstore, where we had to stand in line to get inside! The line moved quickly, and soon we were among the hordes of people upstairs digging through shirts, sweatshirts and other Trojan paraphernalia for the perfect item. I got a t-shirt, a sweatshirt (my old one is getting pretty ragged) and a pair of USC earrings! Had to put those on right away. The kid got a yellow hat, which proved to be very useful the rest of the night - I could always find him!
We went back out to see Tommy Trojan, but he was neatly wrapped in plastic to protect him from any mischief that might come about in the weeks leading up to the UCLA game (next weekend). I took a pic with the cell phone --> By then, the band (The Spirit of Troy) was done warming up and was marching over to play for the President's BBQ, which is around the side of the building behind Tommy. So we lined up next to the path and watched the show. They're so great! We high-fived them as they went by. When they finished, they marched over to the stadium, so we followed. On the way over, we joined the rest of the fans in kicking the flagpoles at the campus gate for good luck. It's tradition.
We had GREAT seats. THANKS, MOM! We were on the 20-yard line, about 50 rows up. We were also glad we had brought/bought warm stuff, because it was already shady on our side of the stadium, and it only got colder! Bryan was admittedly a little nervous before the game - there was a lot of hype, and ND had been playing pretty well, particularly Brady Quinn. But it was not to be. There were a lot of *stupid* penalties on both sides. (Some were bad calls, and some were stupid moves by over-excited players.) USC even missed a point-after! How does that happen? There were some phenomenal plays, which I am not going to recap -- go read the Sports Illustrated article if you're interested.
After the clock ran out and everyone rushed the field, we made our way around to the other side of the stadium where the band set up to give its final concert (this was the last home game of the season). They played everything in the repertoire, and the chant changed from "Beat the Irish" to "Beat the Bruins." Then they marched out of the stadium, and we followed them back across to campus. By the time we got back to Marc's it was 10:30pm, and I had to get up at 5:30am to make my flight. I don't think I slept at all, regardless -- I was too excited about the game.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Samantha, on the other hand, is very wary of getting wet. So we sat waaaaaay far away from the splashing Shamu and the dolphins. The shows were good, although they seemed really short (30 minutes each). Sam has a great story book about baby Honu the Sea Turtle, so we were able to relate the animals to their Hawaiian names in the book. She was much more excited about the eels and other creatures when she recognized them from the book. We looked for the sea turtles (there was one on the map) but we couldn't find them. Instead we went to see the starfish in a little pond, where you could take them out of the water and touch them. Sam actually touched the starfish, especially after Dada told her that it felt scratchy like BooBoo's tongue. (BooBoo is the family cat.)
Then we went and fed the bat rays (sort of like manta rays). Sam wasn't willing to put her hands in the water, but she wanted to drop the little fish in for them to eat, which we thought was very brave. The rays kept splashing us with their fins -- either they wanted us to know they were there, so we'd feed them, or they were saying thank you. :)
We visited the eels and garibaldi (a bright orange fish that is apparently Jae's favorite), and then the flamingos and ducks. Sam showed me how she can stand on one leg just like the flamingos, and we quacked at the ducks, although they were actually quiet compared to their tall pink neighbors. We also used that opportunity to take the standard kids-at-Thanksgiving photo. :)
The last thing we had to see was the sea otters. Sam liked hearing that Uncle Bryan used to want to have a sea otter as a pet - in the bathtub! Apparently he once wrote a story about flooding the basement so the otters could live there. Good thing he never did it. heh.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Wow, there was a lot of food. Turkey, Ham, asparagus, spinach salad, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and "geoff-a-roni." and rolls. and wine. and don't forget the not-quite-seven-layer dip that we had for an appetizer. Like I said, "urp." And that's not counting the desserts!!
Teri's brother Tom made spinach salad. Tutu made asparagus and stuffing. Geoff made his own version of Rice-a-Roni, and really yummy candied sweet potatoes. and three kinds of gelato. (much of the early time was spent messing with the gelato machine and explaining what 'zabaglione' was.) We ate outdoors in the sunny 70 degree weather (why didn't I remember from last year that black jeans are not good for sitting in the sun?!). Casey and Samantha had their own little side table, and Sam actually tried some of the Thanksgiving food. The girls seem to have had a good time, and the grownups ended the evening watching "Chad Vader" on YouTube. If you are a Star Wars fan, Go watch. There are multiple episodes.
In addition to the gelato, we had Dawn's apple pie, Geoff's pumpkin cheesecake, and Teri's pumpkin delight. Then we all sat around in our food comas for a while, before everyone started to drift homeward.
We finished up with the chores pretty quickly, because we decided to go see the latest James Bond 007 movie - "Casino Royale." I liked it. It drags in places, but the opening sequence is phenomenal, and Daniel Craig is a very good Bond. Much as I looooved Pierce Brosnan, he was a little too ... "prissy" as Bond. As one of the reviewers said in People magazine, when Daniel Craig punches someone, they "stay punched." And there is a nice homage to the Ursula Andress "coming out of the ocean" scene which Teri and I very much enjoyed. I was surprised to learn that my big brother has seen very few of the classic Bond films - Sean Connery, Roger Moore, etc. Not that he has much time to watch movies any more...
We saw previews for Rocky Balboa (yes, seriously, Sylvester Stallone is slurring his way back into the boxing ring) and Spiderman 3. THAT looks awesome. And the movie poster is a lenticular flasher, which I think I need to get for my collection. ;)
Then we went to pick up our Honey Baked Ham for Thanksgiving. Oh. my. gawd. The advertising works! There were a hundred people in line at the store! Teri and I stood in line for an hour (she took a pic of the line) while the boys went to pick up Samantha. It worked out ok - even the people who had reservations had to stand in line -- next year we pick up the ham on Tuesday. We got a nice big ham, and went off to have dinner at Souplantation. Samantha really likes it there. And I can see why she loves the chicken noodle soup - I've never seen such huge noodles and big chunks of chicken! Otherwise, though, I have to say, it's a carb-lover's dream - pizza, pasta, breadsticks. :) Too bad there was so much cheese involved. The salad bar was great, though.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
So I made it to LA and went to the Getty to have lunch with MZ. Unfortunately, there was some fixing-up in progress up on the hill, so we went elsewhere for lunch. (Jerry's Deli, in Westwood) We were going to go to the Bel Air Grill, but they hadn't opened yet. Then I dropped M back off at work and went to the Getty Villa, over on PCH. It has only just reopened. It was beautiful. I particularly like the Greek painted terracotta wine cups and vases, with stories illustrated around the sides. (The muses were my favorite part of Disney's Hercules cartoon movie.) :)
But owing to the fact that my nose wouldn't stop running, and I had gotten up way too early, I finished with the museum and gardens (shown here) in about 2 hours. Picked up MZ and basically went home to crash. I definitely napped through an episode of the Bill Maher show that he had downloaded. Dinner was a wonderful lamb stew and some great appetizers at a Mediterranean place near his apartment. It wasn't a very exciting night.
Had to get up sort of early again (but the cold medicine helped me sleep through the night) to go down to LGB to pick up the kid. He walked off the plane and looked at me and said, "I left the tickets at home." AAAAAHHH!!! We managed to find a friendly neighbor and he was nice enough to go to the house and get the tickets and FedEx them to us at J&T's house. Phew! [this is not the first time Bryan has forgotten tickets... let's just leave it at that.]
I decided that if what I had was a sinus infection, I didn't want to pass it along to the Rosen girls, so we skipped lunch with them and headed south. Had to stop at In 'n Out Burger to satisfy Bryan's craving. Yum. For those of you who know what I'm talking about, he got a double-double animal style. :) Went to the Urgent Care center that my brother and sister-in-law swear by, and they told me it isn't a sinus infection, it's mostly just allergies. Prescription: Nasonex, once a day for the next three months.
We met up with Jae to pick up Samantha. She was showing off her climbing and swinging abilities in the pre-school playground. What a little acrobat! :) Then we met up with Teri at a park, and Sam showed off some more before we headed to dinner at a sushi place. Yum. The boys ordered a lot of spicy tuna rolls, which I avoided. But everything else was quite tasty.
Tomorrow we start setting up for Thanksgiving at J&T's. Doesn't sound like we'll need to make very much - everybody is brining something. As long as one of their cable channels will let us watch football, we'll be fine. :)
Sunday, November 19, 2006
You guys suck!
But thanks. :)
Tomorrow morning I'm off to LA/SD for Thanksgiving. MZ is getting me a ticket to the Getty Villa, and we might go see the 007 movie on Monday night. I'm interested to see how Daniel Craig does as Bond. I've heard good things so far. Also excited to see the Rosens after I pick up the kid at the airport on Tuesday. We are such the travelling family - mom & dad are already running around to all the antique malls and flea markets in London!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Here's a quick rundown.
Monday - flew to Tampa. Collapsed in my hotel room for a half hour before changing for evening event at convention center. Wore my red-white-and-blue cowboy boots. (I am becoming a Texan now, after all.) ;) Ended up back in the TACC hotel suite with all my co-workers, ordering pizza - the hors d'ouvres at the event left much to be desired. I think it confused a lot of people when I was walking through the exhibit floor and yelled "Hi mom!" :) Nice, since I hadn't seen her since she visited me in Austin last month.
Tuesday - ate my breakfast on the 45-min bus-ride from our hotel to the convention center. The days seemed far longer when we couldn't quickly get back to our hotel to change or rest. Here's hoping it's better next year in Reno. I didn't go to many of the presentations or meetings (I missed the keynote, I wasn't awake!) but I had a great time visiting with all the people I knew at the exhibits, and the TACC booth was really nice. Tuesday night we went to the LinuxNetworx party at Raymond James stadium, home of the TB Buccaneers. I had so much fun at Safeco Field last year, but this year wasn't as great - maybe because a few of my favorite people were missing. We also got there too late to go down onto the field and try to kick field goals or anything. Turns out the Intel/Microsoft party was going on the same night, so when we went back, M and R joined the rest of the TACC crew there. I was just too tired. They were out drinking and dancing til 1am. oy. (sorry the pic is so dark... that's the pirate ship inside the stadium)
Wednesday - Spent a lot of time either in meetings or checking out the exhibits and collecting swag. Made some great contacts for my job, and got to see some of my former employers. :) I would have gone to the reception at the art museum, but I was invited to a nice sit-down dinner instead. Spent the whole time talking to my old "work-crush" from when I was at COC - A.S. Hadn't seen him yet, so it was worth every minute!
Thursday - More schmoozing, more swag. Pictured left - pens, frisbee, stress balls, small portfolio, USB key (64MB), USB laptop fan, clip-on light, keychains... etc. We closed down the TACC booth and shipped everything home. Instead of going out to dinner, we ordered pizza in the TACC suite again. The girls made the boys go into the next room so we could watch Grey's Anatomy. :) We definitely had some bonding moments. heh. WHITSIT*.
Friday - home, sweet home!
In the meantime, on the various planes and in my hotel room (and even in the suite on Thursday night) I did a lot of knitting on the flag sock. Sock one ought to be done this weekend! Incidentally, Continental Airlines apparently does not like to use the words "emergency exit row" any more - they call it the "row marked 'no children this row' " - Is there something wrong with calling it the emergency exit? Weird.
And, a strange sighting - on the little tram between the E gates and the C gates in Houston, I spied a guy who was in my dorm senior year at Rutgers. It was definitely AB - he looks exactly the same. I almost said something, but he looked like he was racing to catch a plane. And then I started thinking about whether I actually *wanted* him to know where I am or not! [He was absolutely certain when he met me that we were b'shert... he'd have instantly gotten that idea again if I had said anything in the airport.] So, I let him go. I might just google him anyway, to see what I find. Random!
*What happens in Tampa stays in Tampa. ;)
Friday, November 10, 2006
But when forced back to reality, I will admit that my undergrad degree is from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Rutgers has a proud history in football: RU and Princeton played the first college football game EVER in 1869. [Rutgers won, 6-4]
Up til now (since the time that I was there, in nineteen-ninety-mumble), the RU football team hasn't been much of a threat to anyone but themselves... they went 1-11 in 2002. But things are looking up. They did well enough last year to make it to a Bowl game, and this year are 8-0 and the #15 team in the nation! Last night, they made it 9-0 (I can't get used to this Thursday night football thing... my dad had to call me and tell me it was on) by beating Louisville, the #3 team! Go Scarlet Knights!! They will undoubtedly move up the rankings on Sunday, so USC had better win too, or I'm gonna have to find a Rutgers Alumni club to watch football with down here! ;) ha ha
It occurred to me as I was watching the last 14 seconds of the game -- played at the enormous stadium they opened in my senior year, where Clay tried to teach me to drive on a manual transmission car in the parking lot -- that I have no t-shirts or other memorabilia with the RU logo. I guess I'll have to go to the online bookstore (or send cousin M over to New Brunswick, where I'm sure there will be a mob scene) and get something. Does this make me a fair-weather friend? I suppose. But who had ever heard of Rutgers (outside of NY/NJ)? Heck, even the folks at the Empire State Building showed their "Scarlet fever"! [and a Scarlet ESB is much cooler than an orange tower...] ;)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
In other news, Ed Bradley died of leukemia. I always liked his reports on 60 Minutes. He was the old, hip guy with the earring who did the great interviews - Michael Jordan, Lena Horne, etc. He seemed so gentle and caring, and yet he asked really tough questions and everybody answered them.
Tonight I went to the Jewish Book Fair's Local Authors night at the JCAA. The first one Josh Frank, who wrote a book about the Pixies. (He was sorta cute, in the geeky Jewish boy way that I like... and very funny.) Then Robin Chotzinoff, who grew up with an atheist father (he had been raised Jewish and rejected religion altogether), and she wrote about her experiences returning to Judaism. And Trevor Romain, a South African guy who uses his humor to help kids get through tough times - like chemo and bullies and such. They were all very good. I bought a bunch of books -- I couldn't resist! Some that I had on my Amazon wish list (instant gratification! yeah!) and some that sounded good while I was there. (I didn't buy the ones from the three authors.) Book reviews to follow... if I ever get around to reading them!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Family Stone looked sort of cute in the tv ads, but didn't do well in the theaters, and I know why. First off, Sarah Jessica Parker was playing totally against type - the anti-Carrie Bradshaw -- uptight perfectionist b*tch, and she looked decidedly uncomfortable doing it. Second, this was not nearly as funny as the ads led me to believe. It was a holiday family dramedy... Spoiler Alert- in case you planning on seeing this movie:
So, then I thought I'd watch a John Cusack movie, those are usually pretty good, right? WRONG. Seriously. I think I watched 80% of Ice Harvest on fast-forward, and only slowed down when it looked like something interesting had just happened. I'm not even going to give you a spoiler alert, because you don't want to see this movie. You never really find out how he took the $2M, but I managed to gather that he's a mob lawyer and took the money from his boss, with the help of Billy Bob Thornton. BBT is, as usual, a rather unsavory guy. Eventually, Cusack is the only character in the movie who is still alive - in order to get the money, he has to kill BBT, his boss, and the woman he loves. Blech! I actually gave this one star ("Hated It") - which is unusual for me. Oliver Platt played Cusack's drunk best friend - I think I liked him the best.
Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful weekend. USC redeemed themselves by beating Stanford 42-0 and moved back up to 7th in the rankings. But then again, Stanford is 0-9, so if we hadn't beaten them, it would have been downright tragic. The Redskins nearly gave me a heart attack, beating the Cowboys (YEAH!) with a 47-yd FG after time had run out in the game. I hope my neighbors weren't too frightened by my screaming and yelling at the tv. ;)
and, one more random note:
I am a big fan of the coffee pod. Yes, it's a little bit more wasteful (and slightly more expensive) than making coffee in my 3-cup French press or 10-cup coffeemaker, but it's so much more convenient, and about ten times easier to clean up! Target usually sells the coffee pods -- I can use almost any variety with my little Juan Valdez machine, so that's a plus :) -- for less than the regular supermarket. They're not as good as the Gevalia Caffe pods that Jen used to get and bring into the office (YUM) but it'll do for the daily ration. I figure it costs me about 50-cents per day (I make 2 pods worth, to fill my travel cup and take to work), which is much better than $2/day at Starbucks!
Why am I telling you all this? Because somebody's now selling a machine to make your own pods! So you can use REALLY good coffee grounds and make REALLY good coffee pods. Of course, making the pod totally defeats the time-saving purpose, so that would have to be done in advance, but that's minor. [At this point I started trying to figure out what it would cost per homemade pod of coffee, but then I got off on a calculating tangent and decided to stop before it got really crazy!] You don't need to know all that. ;) But there are other home goodies and gadgets on my list long before I get to this one!
Monday, October 30, 2006
I also worked a little more on my very first sock. This is a picture of the first attempt... after this, I switched to a smaller needle and cast on fewer stitches, and have now knit almost 4" of the first sock. It's great! I'm not used to having to work for so long to get only 1" of stockinette ... smaller needles, more knitting! I am also beginning to understand second-sock-itis - my friends' tendency to finish the first sock and not feel like casting on the other one!
Thank goodness we got an hour back from Daylight Savings yesterday, I needed the extra time to sleep.
I thought of the Budapest that mom and I saw in 1994. Western influence was just coming in - we turned one corner and were faced with brand new KFC, Dunkin' Donuts, and Baskin Robbins shops. But the art, churches and museums were amazing. (I'd post pictures, but those were the days of print film, so I have nothing digital of my own. I ought to scan some of them one of these days.) I'd like very much to go back to both Budapest and Prague -- because we went to both cities on the same trip, I sometimes get the two cities confused! This is a picture of the castle on the Buda side of the Danube... I have a picture of this at sunset. It's beautiful. [This photo is from the Budapest Tourism Office's website.] Mom and I stayed at the Hotel Victoria, which is right on the Danube, with only 25 rooms -- all of which face the river, overlooking the Cathedral on the other side. I think I'd stay there again if I went back. :) (I'm very excited to see that they are still there, and have a website!)
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The Drafthouse here is similar to the one in Arlington - but the food is much better! Instead of comfy chairs at round tables, it's rows of movie seats alternated with narrow tables. They have great programs and events... I will definitely have to go back!
In the meantime, I have also been kinitting my first sock. I can't believe I was so nervous about making them... it's not really that hard! I am trying a toe-up sock, so far without a pattern (once I learned the cast-on and the proper increases). I'll have to get some instruction when it comes time to turn the heel, and then I have to figure out if what kind of pattern I want to make as I go up the leg. All of this is in preparation for making the American Flag socks, which are my next planned project. That's going to involve a chart pattern (for the stars), so it'll be a little more complicated. Photos will be posted soon!
Friday, October 27, 2006
Good customer service: I used the OD website on Weds to submit a complaint about the desk. I just could not believe that the damn thing was so poorly made. (serves me right for getting the OD "brand," I suppose.) I received an email within a few hours that said that they would exchange my desk for a new one -- the next day! Yippeee!
Bad customer service: You must wait patiently at the delivery location, for they will arrive any time between 8:30am and 5:30pm. Right, because I didn't have anything else to do yesterday! We won't even go into the notion of having them call first, because clearly that didn't work last week. But they can't even provide a 3-hour window, like the cable guy?
Good customer service, part 2: Then reality set in. Did I really want to build that behemoth again?! I don't think so. Instead, I surfed the OD website and found something I'd rather have instead. The nice lady on the help line was able to make the switch (including charging me the difference in price for the new desk) in less than 10 minutes.
Bad customer service, part 2: By 3pm yesterday, I was getting really fed up with the whole waiting thing. (although it did make me realize that even though I live on a cul-de-sac, there is a lot of traffic on my street during the day!) So, I checked my order number on the website. Lo and behold, the automated system tells me my item HAS BEEN DELIVERED. Hunh? Where? to Whom? Another phone call to get a live person, and all she can say is, well, they're coming. They'll be there by 5:30 or 6:00. ARGH! To make matters worse, the order number for the removal of the old desk said it wouldn't be taken away until Friday. NOT funny.
Good customer service, part 3: Round about 4:15pm, the guys finally showed up. They delivered the new item, and took the old desk away. Yippeee!
A. MEASURE the doorway before building the furniture. See previous post about this.
1. Do not buy crappy furniture from Office Depot if you can help it. Office supplies, yes. Particleboard-that-looks-like-wood executive-style desks? Not so much.
2. Do not use big words around OD delivery guys ("behemoth" was a little much for them)
3. If you don't like soap operas, there is very little on tv during the day except Food Network.
4. Grilled ham "marinated" in peanut butter and honey sounds really tasty (Paula Deen, see #3)
5. Simon & Simon is much goofier now than I thought it was in the 80's, but the theme music makes me smile. (see #3 - I do have the Sleuth Channel ) :)
6. There is no punchline to the joke that Bender (Judd Nelson) is telling as he crawls thru the ceiling duct in the Breakfast Club. "A naked blonde walks into a bar with a poodle under one arm and a two foot salami under the other...." (that was on tv yesterday, too.)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Great-grandma Molly.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Last Thursday night, while watching this item by Keith Olbermann. (yes, I cried. I must be PMS'ing or something.)
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? It could be better. I like my printing more.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Sliced chicken breast, which they don't seem to sell much here in Austin.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Sure! I'm goofy and interesting and a good cook to boot!
7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? I have my blog now. I used to have a journal next to my bed. I still use that when I can't sleep and have to get something out of my head.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes.
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Nope.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Quaker Oatmeal Squares. Or Cracklin' Oat Bran *(which is really crack, you know. It's addictive!)
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Not if I can help it.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Emotionally? sometimes. Physically? kinda.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Mint Chocolate Chip.
14. SHOE SIZE? Sometimes 8 1/2 and sometimes 9
15. RED OR PINK? Red. Hello, have you met me?
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My low self-esteem regarding my physical appearance.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? 1. my family; and 2. Kelly, Jeff and Hannah. And Dani. and Amy. and Giselle. ok, ok... EVERBODY!
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Nah. not necessary.
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black jeans, black loafers, purple sweater.
20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Pretzel goldfish. (can't eat the cheesy ones)
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? me typing. there's nobody left in the cubicles around me.
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Burnt Sienna. I always liked that name.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? Rain, the forest, chocolate, pound cake, honeysuckle
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? a wrong number on my cell. I hate that!
25. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Eyes, then hands.
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON you stole THIS from? I don't think I've met her more than once, she's a blogger from VA.
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio
28. FAVORITE SPORT? to play: racquetball. to watch: college football (go Trojans!)
29. EYE COLOR? green
30. HAT SIZE? No clue.
31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Nope. 20/20, baby!
32. FAVORITE FOOD? French fries, chocolate, and ice cream. but not all at the same time.
33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? happy endings. John Hughes ruined me!
35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter. Love fireplaces!
36. HUGS OR KISSES? From whom? Hugs are always good.
37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate anything.
38. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I'm not looking for responses.
39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? See #38
40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Adventures of a Continental Drifter: An Around-the-World Excursion into Weirdness, Danger, Lust, and the Perils of Street Food by Elliott Hester and about to start Janet Evanovich's Twelve Sharp (thanks, Aunt Robin!)
41. WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? It's from the now-defunct Independence Air - it says "i am not normal"
42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? CSI (on Spike), CSI:Miami (CBS) and Studio 60 (on the DVR, because it's on during CSI: Miami).
43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Train whistle in the distance; the ocean crashing against the rocks; thunder rumbling when it's not right above my head
44. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles
45. THE FURTHEST YOU’VE BEEN FROM HOME? Australia!
46. WHAT’S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I have an excellent sense of direction. (thanks, Dad!)
47. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Washington, DC
48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Nobody. I copied.
Monday, October 23, 2006
1. MEASURE the doorway that the item has to go through *before* it is completely constructed.
2. Don't buy the heaviest thing in the store.
3. MEASURE the doorway that the item has to go through *before* it is completely constructed.
Yes, the Office Depot furniture arrived tonight. The Asst Mgr was nice enough to bring it over to my house in his own truck, saving me the $20 delivery fee. I had no idea how much the desk weighed. The desk top is ridiculously heavy. I had to leave the box in the kitchen and bring the pieces into the living room so I could build it! In retrospect, I could have used the $20 to pay Office Depot to build it for me.
My hands hurt. My back hurts. It was exhausting. When I finally finished (2 hours later) and stood the thing up on its legs, it occurred to me that it had to go around a tight corner... and then I looked at the doorway to the small office. and immediately reached for the measuring tape. Desk: 29 1/2 inches. Doorway: 29 1/2 inches. d'oh! I bought some of those sliders to put under furniture, so I tipped it vertical and tested. Success! The depth of the desk was only 28 1/2 inches, so after I took the door off its hinges (fortunately, the door has been removed before, so that wasn't hard), the upright desk slid straight through. Then I laid it down and brought in the drawers. Something is very wrong here - the drawers are flush with the sides on the outer edges, but about 1" short on the inner edges. hmm... BUT, it's in its little space, and I will deal with the rest tomorrow. zzzz
Time for bed!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
When mom was here last weekend, she suggested that I move the sofa back against the wall and shift the console table to one side... etc, etc. I decided this weekend I would try it, and also build the second bookcase that we got at Office Depot. (I will not bore you with the details of the undelivered office furniture; suffice it to say they're gonna call me about it tomorrow.) Lo and behold, Mom was right. It looks lovely. The only drawback is that now I'm much further from the tv... so I'm tempted to buy a bigger one. ;) I also hung some pictures on the walls and emptied a few more boxes. So this is what it looks like now. The console table is along the left wall of the room - you can just see the corner of it in the picture. Having moved the sofa back, there was enough room to build the new bookcase in the middle of the floor!
Friday night, I went to see Carlos Mencia with some girls from my office. I'll admit, I wasn't really impressed with what I had seen on Comedy Central, but he was hilarious! I nearly lost my voice from laughing, and my face hurt!
The weekend ended with a nice dinner at Korea House, which I'd never been to, despite the fact that it's in the same courtyard as my gym. We had bulgogi - the beef that you cook yourself on a hot grill in the middle of the table. It was good, but my clothing smelled awful when I got home! We were there so long we were nearly the last people in the restaurant. Who is "we", you ask? I went on a date! Yes, I know, you're shocked. Proof that you can meet nice people on Jdate!
Friday, October 20, 2006
...worry's for another day, let the music play, down at Fraggle Rock!
I have to say, I am excited that there's going to be a Fraggle Rock movie!! But when I stop and think about it, I'm not sure Ahmet Zappa is the right guy to direct... ah well, as long as the Henson family is involved, I'm sure it will be great. :)
(and yes, I already have the "Fraggle Rock - Where it All Began" DVD, thank you Bryan.)
I don't know why I am so attached to these five characters (say it with me now, "Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red!") and the other goofy creatures that inhabit their world (the Doozers!) ... Maybe I was young and impressionable when the series first aired on HBO. Maybe I'm just a huge fan of all things related to Jim Henson and the Muppets (yes, that's definitely part of it). Maybe I need to grow up. (naaaah.) Regardless, there's always a lesson to be learned in a Fraggle Rock episode, and this is a heck of a lot more entertaining than Aesop's Fables.
Jude and Josh -- well, mostly Josh -- have finished re-doing the room that will be the nursery for the baby when she is born. (and it's happening soon - mid-November!) I am pleased and flattered to see that the little penguin has been given a place of honor in the room. :)
Thursday, October 19, 2006
- the situation in Darfur
- cleaning up New Orleans
- the most violent month in Iraq yet
- the out-of-control national debt
On a related note, I've recently discovered that I cannot listen to NPR when I'm driving home from work - I end up so angry I yell at the radio! Not good. I'm not angry at NPR. I'm angry at, for example, the evangelicals they intereviewed yesterday who talked about voting for the candidate who they thought was closest to G-d. Hello? Haven't you people heard of the separation of church and state? I'm happy if the candidate is a religious person, that's fine. I just dont need to know about it. Alan Alda's character had a great line about that in the final episodes of West Wing:
"I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government," Vinick declared. (...) "Every day until the end of this campaign I'll answer any question anyone has on government," Vinick concluded. "But if you have a question on religion, please, go to church."
ok, end of rant.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I love reading Nora Ephron's posts. This week's post is about Vegas, so of course I had to read it. Apparently, in the presence of Nora and a few others, Steve Wynn (who owns a great many fabulous pieces of art, and used to display them at the Bellagio) put his elbow through a Picasso painting. This is the painting that the show* in his hotel is named for - Le Rêve. The same painting he was about to sell to a collector in Connecticut for over $100M! ouch. (Fittingly, the hole he made was basically in the woman's elbow area in the painting...)
Can you imagine?! It's aPicasso! Apparently Nora and friends had to keep mum about what they had witnessed - at least until an art restorer could look at the damage. Her observations on the experience (and on being at the Wynn hotel and how amazing it is) are amusing. And here's the piece that was eventually written about the incident in the New Yorker. I have to say, I agree with Wynn's wife - it was a sign, he had to keep the painting. :)
*Note: It's not a Cirque du Soleil show, as my ever-vigilant-about-all-things-Cirque brother pointed out, but it is directed by Franco Dragone, who has directed Cirque shows (O, Mystere) in the past.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Anyway, the pics are here: http://terifratkin.fotki.com/disney-world-2006-by-sam/
Here's one that Sam took of me. :)
It all started with a rainstorm. Thursday afternoon (after spending the day hopping back and forth between two conferences - the Governor's Conference for Women, and the UT Ready to Commercialize Conference), I went to the airport to pick up mom. She had been in Dallas all week at the EDUCAUSE Annual Meeting. Her plane was a little late because of the quick-moving storm, which lowered the temperature in Austin by 20 degrees in 2 hours. But by the time we came out of the airport, it had stopped!
We went to Central Market and had dinner at the cafe there - we shared a crab cake salad, and mom had her first taste of fish tacos. She loved them! (I make them at home all the time, ever since Jae made me taste Wahoo's! fish tacos out in San Diego.) :) [Hey! There is a Wahoo's here in Austin! Wahooooo!!]
Friday was "take my mom to work" day. Everybody at my office either knows my mom already (and loves her) or couldn't wait to meet her. The biggest challenge was getting her laptop to work. The IT guy from my office tried to help, but in the end we gave up and he lent her a loaner laptop. (By the time we got that working, it was time to go to lunch!) We decided that the computer problems were a toss-up between my mom's bad tech karma, and the fact that it was Friday the 13th. You have NO idea.
After work, Mom came to the gym with me, but she was too sick to work out -- my trainer had even come up with some fun exercises for us to do together. Oh well. So Tina did her best to fatigue every one of my muscles (she succeeded), and then we went to dinner.
Saturday was so busy, I'm still recovering. We went to Las Manitas for migas for breakfast. Awesome. Unfortunately, Marriott has bought the land that LM sits on on Congress St. and is trying to get the restaurant to move. There's a petition, a letter from City Council, a website... it's all very dramatic. We walked over to the Farmer's Market, where they were having a dog show and had puppies on display from different rescue groups - Bassett rescue and some others. They were adorable. Then it was time to go shopping!! :) We went down to Barton Creek Mall, and ended up getting some clothes for each of us. By then it was ... only 3pm!
On a normal Saturday, at this point I would probably head for home and take a short nap. But not today. From the minute mom entered my house (which she liked very much), she started listing off the pieces of furniture that I "need" to get - bookcases, a desk, etc. So off we went. We stopped at Storehouse Furniture (which apparently is going out of business, so they're having big sales!), and a few other places, but the big money was spent at Office Depot. I got a desk, three bookcases, and a desk chair. The biggest splurge was the chair ---> which I put together myself. :) The desk and the tall bookcase will be delivered on Tuesday... now all I have to do is make space in the small bedroom so I can build them!
After the furniture extravaganza, we had to pick up one or two more things. Target, here we come! Then I took mom to Zinger's Hardware, which I love. Mom admitted that if she lived here, she'd go there a lot, too. They have so much cute stuff! We went to El Arroyo for dinner - it's right near my house, but I hadn't been there yet. Yummy! It's the Austin version of Guapo's. I think I'll be there a lot. We didn't even have enough energy to go to the sports bar to hang out with the USC alumni for the game, so we followed it online. Frustrating (the sites didn't upload data in real time), but at least USC squeaked out a win.
Today's brunch was at Blue Star Cafeteria. The restaurant was surprisingly empty (it's new), but the food was very tasty! Dropped mom off at the airport, and home to nap! I bought some Zicam at Target, and between that and the vitamin C, I'm hoping to stave off the germs that mom left. Well, that and I wiped everything down with Lysol dysinfecting wipes as soon as I got home!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I swatted at it, and it went into the bathroom. I scooted to the kitchen and got the (floral-scented :)) RAID. I mostly hit the bathroom mirror, but I did get the bug a bit. If my aim with the spray had been better, the next thing that happened would not have happened - it flew into my bedroom, and took a hard right into my closet! ACK! I was too far away to see exactly where it went in the closet, and it never reappeared. I am now absolutely positive that in the next day or so, I will go in to grab a t-shirt or a pair of jeans and the bug will come out at me - alive or dead. EEEW! Needless to say, it was a little bit difficult to fall asleep...
The good news is, this is only the second one I've seen since I've been here, and they are not in the kitchen. (hm, is that good news or bad news?) Did I mention that I HATE COCKROACHES?!?
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I don't have the energy to go through everything now, but we had a GREAT time. Samantha is so bright and happy, and it's thrilling to see her growing up and learning new things every day!
Super-short recap: Baba and Grammy arrived at about midnight on Weds. Bryan and I got there in time for dinner on Thursday. Friday we went to Epcot. Saturday we went to Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is an incredible place. Thursday night and Saturday night, Jae took us to his favorite night-time spot at Pleasure Island, The Adventurers Club. (Those visits alone will require their own blog post.) We ate well, walked a lot, and slept little. But it was a heck of a lot of fun!!
I will post more later, I promise. In the meantime, plenty of little tidbits to read on the Samantha blog.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Turns out (I have just calculated), I paid for 51 kWh of light from my incandescent lightbulbs, just in the living room and my bedroom. I didn't notice that two of the bulbs in my bedroom were 100w until I went to switch them - no wonder it seemed so damn bright in there when I woke up in the morning! (I didn't count the ceiling fans in those rooms... apparently those use about 300 kWh per year, so that's another 50 kWh per month for my 2 most-used fans.) The kitchen is already fluorescent, and I don't know if I can reduce the wattage of the bathroom bulbs, but at the very least, by switching to the little swirly compact fluorescent bulbs, I'll go from 51 kWh to 22 kWh immediately. A savings of a whopping... $3-ish per month. Oh well. It seemed exciting at the time. :) [and that $3 savings pays for about ONE of the new bulbs, but the price is going down pretty fast.]
However, the $3 savings is amortized (ooh, an MBA word) over the expected 10,000 hours or so that the bulb will last - saving me from having to buy regular 60-watt bulbs for three years! The only bad thing about these bulbs is that the light is just a little too... dull, particularly when getting dressed in the morning or knitting/crocheting on the sofa, so I am keeping one incandescent for every 2 CF bulbs in my ceiling fans. And I've heard that the weather will get cool enough around here that the A/C won't be as necessary - but so far it's October and it's still in the 90's every day.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I am almost done with the second sweater for Samantha. (about time, too, since I'm giving it to her next weekend!) I probably shouldn't post the pictures, because Jae & Teri read my blog, but they'll see it soon enough anyway. I still have to wash and block it, (and do the cuff on the right sleeve), and put a tag on it. But otherwise, pretty good, eh?
Then there's the garterlac dishcloth. I love things with lines and angles. I haven't made anything from my modular knits book yet, but I saw this pattern and I thought it was pretty cool. When I was killing time last week, I picked up my multicolored sock yarn and decided to try it. I had to frog it and try again more than once... as it turned out, I had to rewrite a little of it to make it less confusing. It looks pretty neat! I like it. (The least creative thing, I think, is that I got lazy and took the picture with my dishcloth on my lap.)