Wednesday, November 29, 2006

USC 44, Notre Dame 24

That's it. That's all I need to write.

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

"Duck when Shamu Dives!"

This was the text message I got from my mother when I told her that we were going to Sea World last Friday. She remembers the last few times that we went to Sea World (when I was very young) -- we sat in the "soak zone" for both Shamu and the seal and walrus show. It's called the "soak zone" for a reason. :)

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

Photos Posted

I have posted the trip photos to Kodak Gallery.

I'll continue blogging about the trip later. :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving!

... or as I said many times by the end of the day, "urp."

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.


Family "Bonding"

Wednesday, we helped straighten up for the onslaught of family that was coming on Thursday, while Samantha went to pre-school. Bryan was happy *gardening* outside. (Hang on, Mom, I know you're in shock.) He was enjoying the warm sunny weather, while also cleaning up the garden. He pruned the rose bush waaay back, mostly so that he could get past it to reach the hose, to rinse off the nice outdoor chairs. (The way he put it, he needs outdoor physical activity, and this was as close as he could get while on vacation.) I had to take a picture. :)

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

Hello La-la-land!

After a quick weekend at home, I got up at 6am, runny nose and all, and went off to the airport to fly to LA. Why an early morning flight? One word: Non-stop (ok, two words). In order to get non-stop flights to/from LAX at an affordable fare, I am flying early in the morning in both directions. But it's worth it!

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

My sneaky family (and friends)...

It seems that my mom managed somehow to get a pair of tix to the USC-Notre Dame game next Saturday, for me and Bryan... and she got them WEEKS ago. Bryan knew, J&T knew, even MZ knew, because both Bry and I are going to stay with him after the game. But they all kept it a secret from li'l ol' me. A secret, that is, until I started bidding on a pair of tickets I saw on eBay today that were still at 99 cents... so here's hoping I don't win those, cuz we're already GOING!

You guys suck!

But thanks. :)


One American Flag Sock finished! I joined the blue yarn when I was on the plane between Houston and Austin, and finished the "stars" and the ribbing when I got home, and during the day on Saturday. It looks so cool!! Of course I immediately cast on with the red for the second sock!

Here's what the finished sock looks like, and next to it, the actual pattern. But truthfully, the only part of this pattern that I really followed was the grid for the stars. I knit toe-up rather than leg-down, and used "magic loop" vs. double-pointed needles (DPNs). but I don't think my version looks bad at all! Now if only I could figure out how to properly do the heel turn... mine always comes out with holes on the corners. ugh.

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

That's quite a haul!

I haven't written in a week. (Stick is right, I'm glad I didn't sign up for NaBloPoMo. I couldn't have done it.) Supercomputing'06 was exhausting.... even more exhausting than last year's conference in Seattle. I took even fewer photos than last year, too.

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

Go Scarlet Knights!!

If you read this blog, you know that I am a big USC football fan. Ain't nothin' but a family thing. :)

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

D.C is in shock...

Now I know why Brian Williams said election night was "like catnip, like crack!" -- It's so exciting that the world can change like this. The American people decided that they've had enough of the Republican control of the government, and the Dems will now control the House and the Senate. (It was touch-and-go there for a while, but Jim Webb managed to pull ahead by about 8,000 votes in VA. Senator Allen decided not to ask for a recount.) First thing President Bush did - let Rumsfeld resign so he can become the scapegoat for the war in Iraq. And try to rush through Bolton's confirmation before the lame duck session ends.

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

Weekend review

Friday night, I watched two Netflix movies I'd had since AUGUST... I felt it was about time to get them out of the way. I watched The Family Stone and Ice Harvest. What a waste of a Friday night!

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: Diane Keaton (the mom) has some kind of cancer and dies in the end, although the only thing we see is the next year's family Xmas without her. And the uptight b*tch loosens up and ends up with the shaggy flake brother (Luke Wilson), while her original boyfriend, the uptight business brother (Dermot Mulroney) ends up with HER SISTER (Claire Danes). I gave it two stars on Netflix ("Didn't Like It") - I didn't hate it. But don't make me watch it again.

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!