Wednesday, December 14, 2005

it's the idea that counts ...

For those of you who are still doing your holiday shopping and may have run out of ideas, I thought I would post some of the more unusual options for holiday gifts:

First on the list ... The Bacon of the Month Club

Bacon of the Month Club

Not only can you send the gift of bacon every month, you can also purchase specialty bacon items such as Bacon Brittle which is not unlike the classic Peanut Brittle but with bacon instead. yum?

Have fun! And remember, it is better to give then to receive ; )

Monday, November 28, 2005

let it snow ....

Oh …. The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, so as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ….

Baby it’s cold outside ….

That can only mean one thing – SNOW DAY!!!!!! Yes siree, the weather man is predicting snow in Seattle and being that I live at the bottom of a hill (meaning I would have to go up a hill to exit my home) tomorrow may be a snow day! I love Seattle snow days, less than an inch of snow and the entire city shuts down. I’ll walk up to get coffee (Starbucks doesn’t shut down) and then perhaps into town and then back home where I will start the fire in my fireplace by turning on the switch and spend the rest of the afternoon cuddled up on the couch with my laptop computer.

So far, this year looks like it might be a good one for snow. And I can’t wait! Bring on the Christmas movies and the hot buttered rum.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

cabin fever ...

Being that my dad was a teacher, there were always lots of descriptions thrown around during this time of year to describe why the kids in his class were bouncing off of the ceilings. Even though I am way past the age when I should be diagnosed with one of the "fevers" I have to admit that I am itching for Christmas vacation! I can't wait to put up the lights, hang the stockings, go and see Santa, put up a tree, drink egg nog and cider, put on a CD of Bing Crosby, watch White Christmas on a Sunday afternoon while wrapping Christmas presents, watch the snow fall, go for a drive to look at other people's lights, stop in front of the house where the old lady rocks for hours on her front porch, and the other one with the bubble machine where parents drop off their kids to sit on some strange man's lap - ok that is weird - debate the existence of three kings vs. a whole bunch of kinda smart guys, dodge the Christmas tree planted in the middle of town, slip on the ice, pull out the long johns from the hall closet, and basically remember that some of the best things in life are the celebrations and traditions we carry with us.

cooking for scientists ...

so, I am not a scientist, but I am what one (one being my mother ) might refer to as an anal-retentive cook. I like things precise and if the recipe calls for the bacon to be in bits than, I want those bits to be uniform. (Ok I might not be that bad, but I must admit the uniformity of the bacon bits did ensure that the bacon was evenly distributed throughout the salad. And, grating the hard boiled eggs provided the perfect dusting of egg.) I digress. The cooking site: cooking for engineers is a fun site for those of us who believe that cooking is as much a science as it is an art form (not that either are mutually exclusive.) So, check it out and let me know what you think - and if you need tips for creating egg dust, let me know : )

1000 places to see before you die - #6

sometimes, places worth seeing can be right in your own backyard. Vienna Teng reminded me of this last night while she sang "Shasta." Growing up so close to this mountain, I often overlook its splendor and magic. So, here is a photo of what it looks like today - thanks to ShastaCam. And, here are a few lines from Vienna's song:

"and you're thinking about clouds the color of fire
and the scent of an orange peel
the way Mt. Shasta explodes into windshield view
and your hands steady on the wheel

and you're thinking about how someone died that day
the you that was so carefully planned
but then again maybe this life is like a sleeping mountain
waking up to shape the land"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

boo ...

Today is the day in which all of the kids come to the office dressed in their Halloween costumes! Not only is it a great excuse to get out of work early, I love seeing every ghost, goblin and princess as they parade through the halls. For the first time in many many years, I too have a costume for Halloween. I think that it might be my first store bought costume ever.

Growing up Halloween was a "BIG" holiday which required months of planning. First there was the giant pumpkin which my grandfather would nurture in his garden and the haul up to our house to be carved. Then there were the parties, usually one or two for my parents and a carnival or haunted house for my sister and me. Finally there were the costumes!!!!! My mom would sew lavish costumes with my dad often helping with the artistic touches to the masks, heads etc... The year I went as French Fries, the costume had to be modified so that I could still play the flute in the elementary schools marching band. Never traditional, even as my friends were dressed as cheerleaders or the occasional witch, I had something different. The devil costume still remains one of my favorite. The skirt was fire red with enough red tulle beneath so that it floated as I walked. The tail did not hang limp behind me, but stood with attitude straight up in the air.

As I got older I scoffed at the idea of the big costumes, passing on the opportunity to dress as a giant Donald Duck and instead going as a punk (complete with the dog collar and blue Mohawk hair.)

This year when I found out that Halloween would again be an opportunity to dress up I called my mom for ideas. She quickly suggested a giant pumpkin with the pi sign printed on the front: Pumpkin Pie. I again passed on the idea of the big costume, feeling somewhat intimidated by the idea of dressing as a giant squash in front of people whom I don't yet know. So instead, I made my way to various stores and purchased elements which I hope will come together as a cute albeit not clever costume.

I have to admit, as I sit here watching the kids pass, I am dying to go to the car and grab my own costume and join in the parade. Too bad this year's costume is not work friendly. Maybe next year I can go as the pumpkin and partake in the kids fun as well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

pom poms ...

It is scary what can happen when you pick up a pair of pom poms ...

Fortunately my team thought I was being supportive and not that I was having a mid-life crisis ...

I am not so sure ... but, I think I should invest in pair of pom poms just for fun : )

Q is for quantum ...

My four year old niece is learning about the alphabet in school. Yesterday the teacher introduced the letter Q to the class and asked each student to come up with a word that started with that letter. Rawnie's word was quantum. I am sure the teacher is still scratching her head.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

dice hola ...

Over the past year I have developed a pretty good relationship with the Starbucks up the street from my house. Often now they will have my drink ready for me before I reach the counter to order. Sure I drink a lot of coffee but, that is still impressive. Today I had another coffee experience that may have topped my neighborhood Starbucks and given me a new "coffee home." Upon walking into this coffee show I was greeted by not one, not two, but three smiling baristas with "Hola Melissa." Ok, I have been to this particular Starbucks in Mexico City no less than 10 times in the last 2 days. And, I am usually ordering coffee for 7 of my co-workers in a Spanish accent that sounds a lot like Apu from the Simpsons. I guess it is not that unusual that I might stand out from the crowd in this environment. But still, they know my name and my drink preference in less than a week. Sorry Seattle Starbucks, it looks like I will have to make the Mexico City Starbucks my new home. Too bad the commute is so bad...

Monday, October 17, 2005

me and alice ...

In case you had started to wonder ... Alice Cooper isn't dead. He is alive and well and for the weekend at least, was enjoying a good time listening to a cover band in Cabo at the infamous CaboWabo during Sammy Haggar's annual birthday bash. This I know because, even though I haven't posted in a while, I too am alive and this weekend at least was enjoying a good time listening to a cover band in Cabo at the infamous CaboWabo duing Sammy Haggar's annual birthday bash. Life continues to be a strange ride ...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

what is in a name?

this is my new business card ...
I also just received a fresh box of new business cards for my "real" job but they aren't nearly cool enough to post.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

day one ... skating through memories

When I was a kid my family and I would often drive up north to Medford and spend a Sunday afternoon at Skate World! This magical place, complete with disco balls and strobe lights, would offer us hours of fun as we skated around in circles to the music of Men at Work or Men Without Hats – I can never remember the name of that band …

On occasion we would visit the armory in Yreka (a town much closer to mine) to skate in what I imagine was once a hanger. Unfortunately, the seams in the concrete floor made the skating process difficult and about as rewarding as skating on the sidewalks back home.

I tell you this because, while I have not skated since skate wheels were aligned horizontally instead of vertically, I am now the proud owner of rollerblades!!! As I tried the skates on in my office, nearly falling on the floor as my feet moved one way and my chair the other, I realized that much has changed in the skating world. Not only do my new skates feel more like ski boots then tennis shoes (I used to have a great pair of skates that actually looked like tennis shoes – too cool), but along with the skates I am now expected to wear all of this other protective gear – helmets, wrist pads, elbow pads, knee pads etc… Given that I am much older now, I suppose that all of this extra protection is a good thing. It just seems that it takes some of the fun out of the experience if I am constantly reminded that this activity might be hazardous to my health.

Unfortunately, my new skates come just as the weather has started to turn cold and wet. Perhaps, I will be able to encourage my friends to join me for an afternoon at an old fashion rink…. Anyone up for Skate King?

BTW – it should be said that I purchased the skates, practically new, from another person who had fantastic memories of skating. Hopefully, I will not be passing them off to yet another dreamer anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

365 days ...

365 days have passed since I began my “living life as an adventure” experiment. This morning as I awoke I had an true sense of accomplishment and confidence in reflecting back on a year where I did not let the fear of the unknown dictate the decisions I made in my life.

Much has been written in self-help books, and the like, on managing life changes. I’ve read more of these books then I like to admit and for me they all added up to a bunch of hooey. I spent most of my life trying to live five years ahead – plan – plan – plan. Unfortunately, I forgot to inform the rest of the world on my plan and life in its infinite wisdom took me on a different ride. I’d love to say that I decided one day to live life in the moment but the truth is that I was thrown into the moment and, unable to figure out how to recover a five year plan which had come apart at the seams, I reluctantly decided to follow life’s path instead.

Life as it turns out is a much better planner than I. In the last year, I have had experiences and taken on challenges which in the past would have died in the conversation phase. I have embraced old friendships and opened myself up for new relationships all of which have created a richness in my life I could never hope to repay. I am lucky! Life has given me the opportunity to take each day as it comes and appreciate the moments, be they good or bad, as a chance to be a part of the experience.

So, while this may sound a little schmaltzy, for the next 365 days I pledge to continue to approach life with an open mind and seek out opportunities which will challenge my fears. I will repay the love and support I have been given, to people I already know and those who will cross my path in the days to come. And, I will not let a moment pass without being thankful for the experience.

Friday, September 30, 2005

1000 places to see before you die - #5

Last night I received a photo from a trip I had taken last spring to Maui, Hawaii. I wasn't prepared to love Hawaii, and I still wonder if my affinity is based on the beauty of the area or the marvelous vacation I had. Either way Maui, Hawaii deserves a spot in the 1000 places to see before you die.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

meatloaf tacos and other fine cuisine ...

Last night was my first cooking class. While I came out of it with all ten fingers I was more than a little disappointed with the lesson and as far as the recipes - there is no way I will ever puree a perfectly good avocado into guacamole you can suck through a straw.

I love my grandmother, but…. (you always have to start with “I love” when you are about to dish on a relative) my grandmother had a certain knack for ruining perfectly good food, not unlike my cooking teacher. So, while the skills I learned last night were taught with more finesse then what my grandmother might offer, the basic lesson was the same – take excellent ingredients, pulverize them so they no longer can be identified and then add mayonnaise.

Setting the avocado aside, I do not understand the desire to turn meat or fish into anything other than a beautifully cooked, or raw, presentation of their pure state. The whole idea of a “loaf” or “mousse” escapes me. Last night as we pureed the chicken livers into a suckable mousse and added mayonnaise to replace the crab juice we had squeezed out of the fresh crab I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled my grandmothers own recipes. My favorite by far being “meatloaf tacos.”

For those of you wanting to recreate this classic it is quite simple… First you take a perfectly good piece of meat, season it well and serve it on Sunday. Next you take whatever is left over and put it through a meat grinder. A couple of days later you reform the newly ground meet into a presentable loaf and reheat. Finally you break apart the loaf into ground beef sized chunks, serve with tortillas and ketchup and presto – you have meatloaf tacos! The same loaf treatment can be done on anything that was once good – fresh salmon, prime rib, steak … you name it, anything can be turned into a loaf.

I have 24 hours more of cooking class before I receive my certificate as a qualified loafer. Hopefully somewhere between the salads and desert I will find something I can share with my family and friends. Otherwise, it looks like I will need to pay a visit to my grandmother – she will be so proud that I finally learned how to cook.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

birthday season ...

Ahh yes it is birthday season! It is better than Christmas and lasts longer than Thanksgiving leftovers!

So, happy birthday to mom, and dad, and my sister Syd, and Lynette, and her mom, and Beth, and Dave's mom Nancy, and my cousin Marcie, and my uncle Doogie, and Mike, Sid, Julie, Tammie, Brad, and Denise and Denise's new baby who hasn't arrived but is scheduled to arrive during Brithday Season, and the guy at the grocery store, and Rosie, and Lynn, and everyone else who is celebrating this time of year!

The holiday season has officially begun!

me and the mechanical bull ...

At some point in your life you may find yourself in the proximity of a mechanical bull. This bull may be in your client's back yard. You may need to ride this bull. If this should happen to you I have one bit of advice - seek another type of work.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

please go away rita ...

I am currently trying to get home and Rita is in my way. As I watch the storm and try to figure a route around her, I can feel my anxiety raise. I cannot even imagine the fear of those who are in her direct path. Hopefully her fury will disolve before she reaches land ...

Friday, September 16, 2005

4 weeks to a comfortable sofa ...

When I moved into my place I decided to see if it is possible to furnish an entire home with items found on the internet. The early results were very positive. Not only was I able to purchase everything (from pots and pans all the way to living room furniture) off of the internet, but everything was delivered set up and looked great within 4 weeks of my pressing the enter button. And, the entire shopping experience took no more then 90 minutes to complete. (For anyone who has ever been furniture, bedding, kitchen, etc... shopping 90 minutes is a world record.)

Unfortunately, over the past year there has been one purchase regret or as some would say "sore spot". The sofa, while looking fabulous, is not actually conducive to sitting. The problem is that while most sofas have a seat that tilts toward the back, mine tilts toward the front which results in my guests being slowly propelled off of the sofa and onto the living room floor. As for lying on the couch – don’t even think about it.

I’ve known this was an area that needed to be rectified. I’ve gone to furniture stores and sat on countless sofas. I’ve even considered purchasing big bean bags. Nothing seemed like a good replacement for the sofa which aesthetically looks so good but, which is such a pain in the butt.

A couple of weeks ago while driving to work I managed to spill a huge bottle of water all over the passenger side. As I reached into the console to pull out some napkins, to sop up the mess, out popped an article I had clipped a year ago about the Seat Bingo! Another internet sofa is on the way!

This one tilts toward the back is covered in a beautiful plush fabric (instead of the ultra-suede I chose last time) and I sprung for the “down-filled" cushions. The fact that it has cushions instead of the padded bench of the current sofa is a plus, I figured “down-filled” should put me over the edge in terms of comfort.

So, here it goes. If this sofa arrives as promised and looks and feels great, I will have succeeded in demonstrating that the internet is the perfect shopping experience. If not, I guess we will be sitting on bean bags this winter.

Btw – here are photos of two other internet sofas which I had the sense not to purchase.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

observation test

I received the following from a friend who scored 15. I scored 17 and think a few of the answers are bunk. - How well do you think you can do? (I will put the answers in the comment section - good luck)

The average person only gets 7 right. This is based on
U.S. info, so use all lobes of your brain. This can be
more difficult than it looks -it just shows how
little most of us really see!

There are 25 questions about things we see every day
or have known about all our lives. How many can you
get right? These little simple questions are harder
than you think. It just shows how little we pay
attention to the commonplace things of life.

RULES: Put your thinking caps on. No cheating! No
looking around! No getting out of your chair! No using
anything on or in your desk or computer!

Can you beat 20?? (The average is 7) Write down your
answers and check answers (in the comment section) AFTER
completing all the questions. REMEMBER-NO CHEATING!!!

not, just have fun!

Here we go!

1. On a standard traffic light,is the green on the
top or bottom?

2. How many states are there in the USA? (Don't
laugh, some people don't know.)

3. In which hand is the Statue of Liberty's torch?

4. What six colors are on the classic Campbell's soup

5. What two numbers on the telephone dial don't have
letters by them?

6. When you walk does your left arm swing with your
right or left leg? (Don't you dare get up to see!)

7. How many matches are in a standard pack?

8. On the United States flag is the top stripe red or

9. What is the lowest number on the FM dial(including decimal)? (Don't
look at that dial!)

10. Which way does water go down the drain, counter or
clockwise? (Get out of the bathroom!)

11. Which way does a "no smoking" sign's slash run?

12. How many channels on a VHF TV dial?

13. On which side of a women's blouse are the buttons(no looking!)?

14. Which way do fans rotate?

15 How many sides does a stop sign have?

16. Do books have even-numbered pages on the right
or left side?

17 How many lug nuts are on a standard car wheel?

18. How many sides are there on a standard pencil?

19. Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc. Who's

20. How many hot dog buns are in a standard package?

21. On which playing card is the card maker's

22. On which side of a Venetian blind is the cord
that adjusts the opening between the slats?

23. There are 12 buttons on a touch tone phone. What
2 symbols bear no digits?

24. How many curves are there in the standard paper

25. Does a merry-go-round turn counter or clockwise?


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

cuts like a knife ...

Despite summers spent in my grandmother’s kitchen, or perhaps because of them, my kitchen skills are eccentric to say the least. I can cook obscure meals such as Chinese stuffed rolls (from Sunset Magazine circa 1975) but I cannot chop vegetables without the process involving antiseptic and lots and lots of gauze.

Over the past few weeks, I have been making an effort to expand my cooking skills and for the most part I think the process has been going relatively smoothly. However, despite being able to now steam clams, I am still lacking some of those basic skills like cooking eggs, grilling meat, and yes – using knives. So, I am stepping up my efforts and enrolling in a cooking skills class for busy people who have this extra room in their house where they are currently storing takeout containers but in which they vaguely recall hearing that food can be prepared. (how’s that for a run-on-sentence?)

Wish me luck, I can’t wait for the course on the urban refrigerator – apparently you can make a meal from what is inside. Who knew?

Monday, September 12, 2005

he’s had a very rough term …

I found myself outside of a conversation regarding hurricane Katrina and the government’s response. “You see” said a co-worker “the president couldn’t do anything because the governor did not ask. She should have asked then the situation would have been different.”

Are you kidding me? Do people actually believe that the President of the United States of America does not have the authority to command troops without the consent of local government????? While I understand that there is protocol, and that there were discussions between the President and Governor – an emergency is an emergency!

The responding comment from another co-worker was “yea, the President has had a really rough term and none of it has been his fault.” PEOPLE!!!!! Did you see Brown’s resume, have you heard about Homeland Security, do you know where the reserve troops are???? Let me help you out, there ain’t nobody home!!!! Our troops are fighting a war with questionable support while we literally kill each other back here. I overheard a man in the Detroit Airport put it best when he asked “what are they going to do next, send in the boy scouts?”

So, I am sorry if the President had to cut short his five week vacation. I am sorry that he doesn’t bother himself with watching the news or reading the paper, and therefore did not understand the magnitude of the catastrophe which had struck. I am sorry that cronyism resulted in Brown being put in charge of FEMA. And, I am sorry that Katrina hit during a time in which our resources and intention toward domestic issues is at an all time low. But let’s be honest – the President has not had a very rough term – he is failing in his job and as anyone who has ever had a job knows – when you are not performing, it is a bad day at the office.

swaping the do-hickey

My computer and I had another "moment" today. She once again refused to power up despite my pleas, begging and downright groveling with promises of clean power and limited cookies.

Unfortunately, I had to call the "help desk" and they once again "helped" by tearing her inners out and replacing the do-hickey.

Hopefully our relationship will remain stable through this next trip.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

do you not understand EXTREME?

I took my first Extreme Body Makeover class today. Somehow when I signed up for the class the word EXTREME in the title did not register. About the ninth flight of stairs I started to question exactly what I was doing a) getting out of my nice cozy bed this morning and b) paying someone to yell at me to climb more and more stairs. The worst part of the experience was the jump roping. Panic swept over me the minute I saw the instructor bring out the ropes. I haven’t jumped rope since I was in second grade and there is reason. For hours after school I was tutored on the fine art of being able to jump into a moving rope in order that I would be able to play with the other kids. I never mastered this skill. Usually the rope would hit me in the head or cause me to topple to the ground. The jump rope songs still sing mockingly in my nightmares. By third grade the trend had moved to Chinese Jump Rope which was more to my liking – no ropes swinging for my head.

I like to think I have matured (some) since those awful days on the playground. So, this morning I picked up the rope and did my best to imitate Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, I think the rope hit my head more times then it actually swung around and while I did not fall, I certianly did not perform with grace.

Needless to say, this is not the class that is going to get me excited about working out in the morning. But, if it makes it so that I can hike and ski this winter without feeling like an old lady, well then, I guess I am in for an Extreme body makeover experience!

btw – I get my body fat measured on Tuesday - now that sounds like fun.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

hello norma jean

The era of the blonde has apparently come to an end according to researchers in the UK. While we can still claim to have "more fun" apparently the years of battering by blonde jokes, and the likes of Paris Hilton, have taken their toll on our perceived intelligence and attractiveness.

According to a new study 51 per cent of men thought brunettes were more attractive 81 per cent described them as intelligent and 67 per cent of men described them as independent and self sufficient.

Blondes were described as needy and lacking in independence by 40 per cent of those questioned.

In homage to our lost ranking I give you my favorite blonde song/joke – good bye Marilyn and hello Norma Jean.

‘Cause I’m a Blonde’ by Julie Brown (spoken lines in italics).

Because I'm blonde, I don't have to think
I talk like a baby and I never pay for drinks
Don't have to worry about gettin' a man
If I keep this blonde and I keep these tan

'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah
'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I see people workin', it just makes me giggle
'Cause I don't have to work, I just have to jiggle

'Cause I'm blonde
'Cause I'm a blonde
Don't you wish you were me?

I never learned to read and I never learned to cook
Why should I bother when I look like I look?
I know lots of people are smarter than me
But I have this philosophy:
"So what?"

'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I see girls without dates and I feel so sorry for 'em
'Cause whenever I'm around, all the men ignore 'em

'Cause I'm blonde
Nyah, nyah, nyah
'Cause I'm a blonde
Nyah, nyah, nyah

They say to make it you need talent and ambition
Well, I got a TV show, and this was my audition:

Um, okay. what was it, okay, um,
don't tell me, oh yeah, okay...
"Duck, Magnum, duck!"

'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah
'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I took an IQ test, and I flunked it, of course
I can't spell VW, but I got a Porsche

'Cause I'm a blonde
'Cause I'm a blonde
Don't you wish you were me?

I just want to say that being chosen as
this month's Miss August is like a compliment
I'll remember for as long as I can. Right now I'm
a freshman in my fourth year at UCLA, but my goal
is to become a veterinarian, 'cause I love children.

'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah
'Cause we're a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Girls think I'm snotty, and maybe it's true
With my hair and body, you would be too

'Cause I'm a blonde
B-L-... I don't know!
'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah
'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah
'Cause I'm a blonde
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Monday, September 05, 2005

1000 places to see before you die #5

Siena, Italy ... having just returned all I can say is wow! Perhaps it is the jet lag, or just a lack of vocabluary, but I cannot at this moment find the words to describe this amazing town. So, albeit cliché, "a picture is worth a thousand words" here is my new online Photo Gallery

- thanks Anandi for the Smugmug recomendation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

neglecting otis...

After the initial burst of enthusiasm over taking care of my new imaginary dog, I pulled a Paris Hilton and accidentally forgot her at someone's home. I understand from the manual that if you do not pay enough attention to your Nintendog they may run away from home and come back with fleas. Tomorrow is the company Bark-Off. If Otis shares her fleas with all of the other imaginary dogs I will have some answering to do as to the level of attention I am giving to this product. I wonder how long it takes to get rid of imaginary fleas on an imaginary dog.

Perhaps I should have started with a less demanding imaginary pet - maybe a virtual gold fish. Oh well.

Friday, August 19, 2005

training otis...

I have a new dog ... his name is Otis and he is a husky ... he loves to play fetch with the frisbee ... has a tendency to eat trash when we go out on walks ... and can do a few tricks. The problem is that Otis is not a real dog ... Otis is a Nintendog and he is consuming my life!

Our relationship started a couple of nights ago when I mistakenly removed Otis from his box and plugged him into my Nintendo DS. Now he is demanding my time 24/7. He needs to be walked, fed, bathed. We have frisbee contests to attend to and dog parks to visit. And today, I found myself wandering the halls so that Otis could meet dogs on the other side of the office. - It should probably be noted that I don't go to the other side of the office to meet people.

Just now, someone came to my office to see how the training of Otis is going. Apparently, they can hear me command "Sit Otis! Sit" from some distance down the halls.

I've recognized that my grasp on reality has been steadily slipping over the years but, I think this might just put me over the edge. I may become a high-tech hermit with only Otis, Roomba and my Robotron to keep me company. If only they could all use the same power cord.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

other duties as assigned ...

I am about to head to my bosses house to prepare a dinner for 11 ... he doesn't cook, his wife is out of town, and for some unknown reason a caterer was not considered.

I don't mind. It is kind of fun to be in a big kitchen.

I hope they don't mind ... I don't really cook.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

getting down with the politicians…

This week Seattle is host to the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual convention. Although the event is touted as an opportunity for legislatures to discuss common issues, namely how to get the national government off their backs on regulations surrounding the No Child Left Behind Act and Homeland Security, the reality is that this convention is no more then “my summer vacation in Seattle.”

I am not naive on the workings of government. I read the newspaper. I listen to the news. I am aware of the scandals that follow the relationship between lobbyists and politicians. But despite the news, I had never actually seen this “affair” take place. Last night I was privy to be part of the inner circle where this "schmoozapalooza", their words not mine, occurred.

A little background:

6045 people are registered for the convention. Around 2000 are legislatures or staff workers, the balance are lobbyists or business people (amateur lobbyists.)

A modest $1.3 million is being spent on entertainment which includes a Mariners game as well as a party at the Seattle Center.

Under the state ethics law, lawmakers are limited to accepting gifts of no more then $50. Two years ago the legislature passed an exemption in order to help cover the entertainment costs of this convention – Party On!

Back to last night … this week the focus of my job is to schmooz. Dinners, lunches, tours around Seattle and of course - BASEBALL! The purpose of all of this is to place my clients in positive situations while I work to influence them to act favorably toward my business. Duh…. It’s business. So, I was working last night in a suite at the Mariners’ game when in came a group of what appeared to be business men and “Soccer Moms” – helmet hair, matching sweater sets, not too thin and not too fat, smiles straight out of the kitchen. My first instinct was that these were not your typical sales and marketing women (a blog description for another time), nor were they “wives”. These women were part of the trend started by Patty Murray – these were a breed of the non-threatening female politician.

It is nice to see that women have gotten into the game. But, the way in which they floated from suite to suite last night – drinking wine, laughing at bad jokes, working the crowd – yuk. A part of me hoped female politicians would be that rare group of women who were able to move into a male dominated arena and play under a different set of rules. “If women ran the country,” as the saying goes, “things would be different.” “We would write laws based on what was best for the people.” The reality is that as women enter into government they quickly learn the personal benefits of playing the game and then proceed to play it with the advanced skills of manipulation learned by every women at a young age.

This type of behavior has been growing in the business world for the past 30 years. Originally people believed that as women entered into the workplace, cultures would change. Women would work together to create a more harmonized environment where their interests would be met. The reality is that the individual benefits offered by “the old boys club” are so strong, women who reach that level work to protect the “structure” with the same vigor as their male counterparts.

So, where does that leave us? I guess the question of equality is finally being answered. Men, you have nothing to worry about. We women do not want to change the rules which would favor us getting free stuff and lots of attention. In fact, if we can stay a minority group so that we receive a disproportional amount of attention and free stuff – great!

I am with you! Screw family benefits, which will costs corporations billions. Childcare in the workplace, are you kidding me? Women’s health issues, medical research, you are absolutely right – not profitable at this time, how about more Viagra. Oh, and by the way, can you poor me another glass of chardonnay.

Before last night, if you had asked me, I would have said "I schmooze because I have to in order to get my job done." But now, I think I have had my last glass of chardonnay.

Friday, August 12, 2005

1000 places to see before you die - #4

Isla Mujeres off of Cancún, México.
My one mistake during my vacation in Cancun was in not visiting Isla Mujeres until the last day. I could have stayed the entire week lounging on the beach or wandering the streets on this tiny island.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

brain freeze

The interviewer sat back in her chair and fired the next question:

“Name two consumer electronics products which have launched in the last three months…” “ummm, let me see here, last three months, hmmm” I tried to delay as I began to feel the panic build – “*&@!” I thought – I should know this…. “Ummm, well there was the….” quick think, think, think, what is hot – Satellite Radio? , no that has been out awhile – “There’s the IPOD SHUFFLE!!!! You wear it around your neck – very very cool!” I blurt out my answer with enthusiasm and then clarify that it wasn’t launched within the time frame but it was a consumer electronic product. Yea! I had done it! - The interviewer stared back in bored anticipation.

“Oh, you wanted two?” “Let’s see there was also the …” “ hmmmm…” “Does it have to be outside of the video game industry,” I asked. “No” she responds. Cool, I think. I should be able to name Video Games that have launched in the last three months. “Let me see… video game product… video game product…” Pictures of Halo 2 flash through my mind … stupid Halo 2 how can that be the only game I remember at a critical moment like this. “Well…” My mind races through visuals of the stores I have visited recently –what did I see??? – DOH! “PSP!!!!” Again, not launched in the last three months but close enough. Crisis adverted.

She smiled politely “I didn’t think you were going to pull that one out…” Yea, I thought. Thank God it wasn’t three.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


How many physicists can you name?

Science, in my opinion, is in need of a good PR campaign manager. We all benefit from scientific discoveries yet because nearly everything (and some may argue EVERYTHING) in our lives is influenced by science, it is difficult to identify one specific discovery and give credit where credit is due. Furthermore, if we can’t easily identify the multitude of ways in which science influences our lives (ie. food, shelter, transportation, health, entertainment, computers, etc….) it is easy to understand why we can’t identify the scientists who have made these discoveries either.

Jay Leno has this great segment on his show called “Jay Walking” in which he asks “average” Americans questions of fact relating to history, science, literature – things we should have learned in school. While the answers are often amusing, they point out a very clear fact about our culture – we only remember what we have been conditioned to remember through entertainment and publicity. Case and point, 9 out of 10 Americans when asked to name a person from China will name Yao Ming. I am not knocking the center for the Houston Rockets but come on people.

So… this leads to the question. I am collecting data on how many physicists people can name. Ask your friends, ask your family, ask the guy sitting next to you on the bus. Then let me know… we have 30 days to collect the information!

At the end of the 30 days I will compile the information and share the results back. GOOD LUCK PHYSICISTS!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

umm chilaquiles

My favorite part of working in Mexico is the food! Tortillas, Mole, Guacamole and Tacos unlike anything you can find in the states – I love it all. The problem is that days after I have returned to the white bread and mayonnaise North West, my stomach still craves the flavors of Mexico.

My addiction to Mexican food is so bad that I have been known to arrive at the airport 2 hours early just so I can have one final meal at my favorite Mexico City airport restaurant. This last trip was no exception. Since my flight was in the morning, my last meal in Mexico was Chilaquiles con Pollo. UMMMMM. For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to taste this amazing dish, there is a restaurant in Fremont called El Camino which has started to serve Chilaquiles as part of their Sunday morning brunch menu. Or, if you are more the adventurous type, here is a recipe for you to try.

½ med. Onion peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. salt
16oz shredded chicken (or chicken breast)
2 tsp. canola oil
¼ cup canola oil (for frying)
1 cup chicken broth
10 ripe plum tomatoes
10 corn tortillas
¼ lb shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
4 canned chipotle chilies – plus 2 tbsp. of the sauce from the can
1 cup crema mexicana (sour cream may be substituted)

Turn the oven to broil and place the tomatoes in an oven-proof casserole. Slide the casserole under the broiler and turn the tomatoes every few minutes until they are black in spots.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Remove the stems and seeds from the chilies.

Peel and seed the tomatoes and put them along with 2/3 of the onion, the chilies and their sauce, garlic and salt in a food processor.

Heat the oil (2 tsp) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Puree the tomato mixture.

Add the tomato puree to the hot oil while constantly stirring. Cook and stir for 4 minutes.

The puree will turn a slightly darker color. Add the broth and keep warm.

Assembling the Dish
Heat the remaining oil in a small sauté pan over high heat. Place the tortillas in one stack and cut them into eight wedges.

Fry the tortilla wedges using tongs, until they are just golden and slightly crispy. The tortillas should still be slightly flexible.

Drain the tortillas on a plate lined with paper towels to remove the excess grease. Put a layer of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish.

Add a single layer of tortilla wedges and then some of the shredded chicken and cheese.

Repeat this process until all of the tortillas, sauce, chicken and cheese are used. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 15 minues.

Serve with a few onion slices and a little of the cream mexicana drizzled over the top

Monday, August 08, 2005

mom and dad were right

A camping we will go, a camping we will go, hi ho a dairy oh, a camping we will go …

For the last 15 years my idea of roughing it has been a bad night in a cheap hotel. After spending every summer of my childhood in one kind of camping situation or another I had decided as an adult that I was done. No more sleeping on the ground, no more wondering what would constitute as a bathroom, no more days without the pleasure of a hot shower and a strong cup of coffee in the morning. Boy did I miss it!

The itch to spend the night outside has been growing for the past few years. I even borrowed a friend's tent last year in the hopes that maybe just maybe that would be enough to get me back into the swing of things… unfortunately, the tent, sleeping bag and lantern sat in my garage untouched until last weekend!

Friday night I flew into Seattle, after a trip to Mexico City, prepared to hit the woods. After fighting traffic from the airport (and calling everyone I knew to inform them of my plans, and make sure that there would be a search team should I not return) I met my friend Dave and together we loaded up my “gear” and headed to the Olympic Mountains.

First stop: SEATTLE, WA
We made it to the Ferry in time to catch the 7:30 departure to Bremerton or Bainbridge (not sure which - I was too busy trying to learn how to read a map). Not bad, when you consider my flight did not arrive in Seattle until after 5pm. Once on board the Ferry we dove into these awesome sandwiches which Dave had made. I had no idea that you could purchase lettuce pre-shredded. Too Cool!

The Ferry ride was quick and soon we were headed up the highway toward the Hood Canal Bridge. The original plan was to stay at a camp called Deer Something or Other… but by the time we got to the turn off it was getting late so we decided to implement Plan B. Plan B (which was to stay on the beach) soon turned into Plan C, D, and E as campground after campground greeted us with either a full or closed sign. On our third trip through Squim we gave up and bunked down on a patch of grass at the Rainbow’s End RV Park. Not exactly the “getting close to nature” experience we had planned for but nonetheless it provided us with a enough space to pitch the tent and a great story of how we once slept underneath a Shell sign next to the freeway. Having stayed at a Chevron station once when I was “camping” with my family and our van broke down, I felt that sleeping underneath a gas sign and not actually at the gas station was an improvement.

The next morning we packed up the tent in record time and hit the road. The nice lady at the Rainbow’s End wished us well and encouraged us to visit again the next time we were in Squim. Dave responded politely and let me know that we would not be traveling through Squim again any time soon.

Before heading up to Hurricane Ridge for an easy morning hike, we stopped at Jessie’s Diner for Breakfast. The fact that there were neon beer signs in every window did not sway my decision in any way. Coming from a small town, I love eating where the locals eat. These are the kind of places where people talk to each other between tables and the waitress leaves the coffee pot on your table so that you do not have to wait for a refresher.

Jessie’s special was biscuits with country gravy and sausage and eggs on the side – my favorite! However, being that we would be hiking, I decided to go for the safer scrambled eggs instead. As soon as I opened the menu, I noticed that almost all of items had a red mark next to the names. Usually this would indicate some kind of house special. However, in Jessie’s case this red mark (as defined by the warning label at the bottom of the menu) meant the dish contained eggs which might be undercooked and therefore hazardous to your health. I ordered my eggs cooked hard and continued on with the adventure.

Hurricane Ridge was beautiful! From the top you can see the glaciers on the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Victoria, Canada to the north. Getting to the top is a “easy” 1.8 mile hike up a paved trail. I soon discovered that while I have no trouble on flat surfaces, walking up hill pretty much kicks my butt. Note to self – must work out to build cardio system. Next trip I will be ready!

From Hurricane Ridge the plan was to head to the west side of the Olympics. After looking at the map we determined that it would be best to pick up supplies for dinner in Port Angeles before heading out (there aren’t many towns on the west side.) Like the night before we found ourselves driving from one end of town to the other in a desperate search. Once we decided to give up and head out of town we were rewarded with a Safeway. HURRAY! My old camping instincts kicked in and we purchased tinfoil, salmon, a lemon, an onion and a loaf of sourdough.

Not wanting to again fight the crowds for a camping spot, we chose a “primitive camp” located off of Clear Creek. Perfect. Big trees, the sound of a rambling river, a great spot for the tent and a few logs left from the last campers. SWEEET! We put up the tent and then went for the ritualistic hunt for the perfect marshmallow stick.

The key to a great camping experience is a great camp fire. Fortunately, Dave is a master fire builder and within a matter of minutes he had an awesome fire going, and on one match to boot! Once the first logs had burned down we prepared our tinfoil salmon and placed it near the center of the fire like pros. Our moms would be so proud! The meal was fabulous and the smores that followed were made even better by the wine that accompanied them. Ummm marshmallows and red wine – who knew?

The next day was equally as cool – rainforests, tide pools, crashing waves… and as we headed into Seattle it became clear to me. I like to camp! I like being outdoors, I like cooking on an open fire, I like not having to worry about how I am dressed, I like being on the top of a hill and looking down on world below, I like seeing fuzzy little creatures (not rats) scurrying across the path in front of me, and I like the quiet of not hearing the constant noise of the world. So, I guess this is another one of those instances when my parents were right. Thanks mom and dad for taking me camping when I was a kid. It really is much better then staying in a cheap hotel.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

dear john

Dear John,

I saw you last night for the first time in a while and I regret to say the magic wasn't there.

I've had a crush on you for most of my life, since that first moment when you showed up at the party as geek # 1 in "Sixteen Candles". You stole my heart when you cried in "Say Anything" and when you choose not to sleep with "The Sure Thing" I knew you were the one.

Sure we had our moments... but as you passed through the stages of your life I felt connected with you every step. I may not have been a hired killer at my 10 year class reunion - but I appreciated that your dark side had paid off. And to be honest, the pony tail you wore as you passed through the portal into John Malcovich's brain, was a bit of a stretch. But John, you were the one I kept on my top ten list - through it all.

We both know the last few years have not been satisfying. Putting your name on a $5 bill was a bad idea and I don't know where to start with "American Sweetheart" I never saw you as being so shallow. But when I would doubt where our relationship was headed I would just have to listen to a mix tape and know that some day you would come back to me.

When I heard that you were ready to find love again I was ready to take the plunge with you. Everything seemed right, you and I were again in sync with our lives and I was excited to see how we would enter this new chapter.

But have disappointed me. You sat back and played the victim in the relationship not taking responsibility for your own happiness. John, we have grown accustomed to your dark side, to the philosopher who believes that love may never come but this was too much. The old John was had a glimmer of hope that love would succeed. This time even I was surprised when it did and you seemed genuinely shocked.

Sure it would be nice if we were still in our 20s and able to be toss around relationships like juggling balls. But we are not John, we know the dark side and yet we still want to experience the ride. I was hoping you would take this ride with me... again imitating the stages in life we are traveling through.

Perhaps it is time to find a real life hero to share these experiences with. Good luck John, we'll always have Jeremy Piven to lean on.

Friday, July 29, 2005

1000 places to see before you die - #3

The Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Perhaps even more impressive then the temple itself are the temple gardens. While there I was able to watch the gardeners as they meticulously removed ever stray pine needle and leaf from the moss carpets. Picture perfect doesn't even begin to describe this place.

ps - while in Kyoto, be sure to have Blow Fish. Blow Fish is not just an item on the menu, it is a true dinning experience - maybe I'll write on my experiences with Blow Fish in the future - look for... 7 ways to prepare Blow Fish without dying.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

happy anniversary!

One year ago today I decided to get serious about my health and make some much needed changes in my diet and exercise (or lack thereof). Results? I am now 30 lbs lighter and more physically fit then I have probably ever been in my life.

The decision came while I was eating a bowl of pasta - a very very big bowl of pasta. I had just moved out on my own for the first time and was feeling stressed from the changes. On top of that, I had never really been in a position where what I ate was completely dependent upon the decisions I was making. My eating had always been somewhat influenced by roommates or other people in my life. (That may be just an excuse that I gave myself to not have to take responsibility for the weight and the poor choices I was making.) Anyhow, the first couple of weeks on my own I ate one thing - PASTA - and lots of it. Actually, come to think of it I ate two things - pasta and ICE CREAM. After finishing my pasta, I would drive the block and a half to the corner store for one of those "little" containers of Ben & Jerry's which I would proceed to finish off as soon as I got home. If I was being "good" that day I would only eat half of the container and save the rest for the next day. The thing was that because I was feeling like so much of my life was out of control, the fact that my eating was out of control did not register. Just prior to the night on the couch with the bowl of pasta, I had attended a reunion of old co-workers. Dressed all in black I thought I looked great! Unfortunately, the pictures told a different story. Photos of me dancing through the restaurant with the waiter (a different story) revealed that my belly was hanging outside my shirt and over my pants. Uck. While having a belly is not a bad thing, I am a firm believer that despite fashion, it is not a good idea to expose your belly if your belly rolls on its own. So, a week or so later I am sitting on my couch with a salad bowl of pasta (not the single serving salad bowls, the big ones in which you make the salad) eating away and feeling this pain growing in my stomach as I stretch it out to maximum capacity, when it occurs to me - what am I doing?

It is now 12 months later. I no longer eat pasta or bread and ice cream has, for the most part, become a fond memory. I know where the produce aisle is in the grocery store and while most of the time I still walk quickly through without stopping, occasionally I will pick up some fruits and vegetables. I enjoy walking and actually seek opportunities to be active, especially when I am stressed. And, my drivers license shows the correct weight for the first time ever.

The most important thing that I have learned is that life is about choices. This is my one life to spend. I can choose who I am going to be and how I am going to approach each aspect of life. .

Monday, July 25, 2005

yes virgina, there is summer in seattle

One day in the middle of April, after 180 straight days of rain and at the point in which I am convinced there has never been a day in which the sun actually made an appearance in Seattle, I will look at this photo and hopefully remember ... ahh yes, summer does eventually arrive in Seattle and when it does it is marvelous!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Friday, July 22, 2005

is "deferred success" failure?

The Professional Association of Teachers, in England, is voting this week to replace F (fail) with the designation Deferred Success. The rationale behind the proposal is that repeated instances of failure set students up for … well… failure. It is true that the letter F has gained significant power in our society as a mark of ones ability. However, to shy away from the reality that everyone is not going succeed in academic achievements is unrealistic, and takes our attention away from the real problem which is that we do not have a good system for providing both the academic minded and the non-academic minded student with the education they need to succeed in life.

As an adult I know there are people who are significantly more intelligent with a higher aptitude to higher education then I. At the same time, there is also a group which is less inclined to succeed in academic pursuits. The fact that for the most part we are all educated together in the same classes sets up the scenario for students to fail at an early age. While I can’t advocate a system whereby students are separated out early based on their test scores, I do feel we need to expand the definition of education to provide opportunities for success rather then deferring it indefinitely. Certainly one area in which we could accomplish this is by ensuring that our schools receive enough funding to offer so called “electives” in addition to the basics. If we want to keep our students motivated and wanting to learn we have to provide them with opportunities to be passionate about learning. For many students, this passion may not come from math, science or literature. These students may find this passion in music, art, shop or language. Imagine a scenario in which a student discovers that he or she is a brilliant carpenter while in the school system. This student would have the opportunity to truly explore this area of study in a supported environment (much like the science student) while at the same time also being exposed to the “basic” skills he/she will need to be successful in life.

It sounds simple and cliché but it all comes down to MONEY. That our elementary and secondary teachers are paid less than a manager at a fast food restaurant is atrocious. That there are charity events held to collect school supplies similar to food drives, is a ridiculous. Our economy is build on commerce. Commerce is dependent upon buying power. Buying power is dependent upon earnings. Earnings are dependent upon skills – are you getting the picture. I am not here to preach “no child left behind” blah blah blah, but if we do not fix the ills of our education system we are going to end up in a society which will not have the financial diversification to support the level of domestic commerce necessary to keep all of us corporate types employed.

Unfortunately, we cannot wait for deferred success, we are already failing.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

1000 places to see before you die - #2

If you find yourself in Mexico City with a free afternoon, it is worth taking a trip out to the Pyramids. You can usually find a guide who will be happy to share the history of the area with you.

50 non-essential pieces of information

The following is a list of 50 things you probably don't need to know about me. I did not create the list, but I did steal it (which is actually now 51 things you don't need to know)!

1. Your name spelled backwards: assilem
2. Where were your parents born? California
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? iTunes
4. What's your favorite restaurant? Depends on the mood – El Gaucho or a burger at Red Door, tapas at Tango, Thai food in Freemont, La Valantine in Mexico City... I could go on...
5. Last time you swam in a pool? Last weekend
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes – Sound of Music
7. How many kids do you want? Not sure, I guess I will know when they come.
8. Type of music you dislike most? Rap
9. Are you registered to vote? yes
10. Do you have cable? yes
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No
12. Ever prank call anybody? Yes before caller ID
13. Ever get a parking ticket? yes
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Maybe, more likely to bungee jump.
15. Furthest place you ever traveled? Southern Argentina
16. Do you have a garden? No, I can’t even maintain house plants.
17. What's your favorite comic strip? The defunct Calvin and Hobbes.
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Yes
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Morning shower… at night I prefer a soothing bubble bath.
20. Best movie you've seen in the past month? Not sure
21. Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni
22. Chips or popcorn? chips
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Fosil by Aveda
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? No
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No
26. Orange Juice or apple? Cranberry
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Not the last place, but recently went to La Rustica in West Seattle – YUMMM
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Snickers
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? 2004
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Last Summer
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes
32. Are you a good cook? When I have to, which is rarely, I am a decent cook.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? No
35. Sprite or 7-up? Diet 7-up but, only when I am sick
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes, railroad overalls
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? FUSE softdrink.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? Love
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, but only after the fact
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? No
42. Can ex's be friends? Yes
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My grandfather
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? No
45. What message is on your answering machine? “If you are leaving a message for Eduardo, he has moved on .” (I never actually met Eduardo, he had moved on before I got his old phone number)
46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Church Lady
47. What was the name of your first pet? dog named Bowser, cat named Sam
48. What is in your purse? wallet, lipstick, pressed powder, cell phone, pen, Ipod, two sets of keys, my security badge, passport, and shades.
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Read
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? Everything

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

capisco l'italiano

I have been studying Spanish off and on for most of my adult life. Unfortunately, my commitment level has never been very high and as a result while my comprehension is good, my ability to speak freely is limited (unless there is tequila involved.)

I think the reason for this is that Spanish has never been a choice for me. In high school and college it was a requirement for graduation and throughout my working career it has been a necessity in order to conduct business. So, while I understood the need to learn the language it has not been a passion.

Enter Italian. Now this is a language I can get behind. The only reason for me to learn this language is to be able to speak with people in Italy. And, while I have learned the correct translation for Game Boy “Il Game Boy”, there is no chance that I will be doing anything even remotely related to work with this language.

In my first lesson I have learned how to say – I speak a little Italian – which is true. I can say that one sentence. The good news is that being Latin based, the root of the word in Italian is very similar to Spanish so all of those years studying Spanish are not lost in this new endeavor.

My goal is to be able to comprehend simple conversations and be able to speak enough to understand directions, order at a restaurant and of course… buy shoes. I envision a scene in which I am sitting in a small café ordering a cappuccino and admiring my new Giuseppe Zanotti heels. Ahh yes! Italian is the language for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

home sweet home

Growing up I never understood why my parents would choose to live in such a remote location as Scott Valley . After all, it is not as though the area offered great shopping opportunities or easy access to an international airport ( a 6 hour drive is not easy access). And while, I agree that the views of the surrounding mountains are beautiful, it was impossible to understand how truly spectacular they are as a child waking up to them every morning.

This weekend I started to understand.

This small valley in Northern California is a hidden oasis in a world that seems to have lost control of time. None of the aspects of life that make me cringe exist in this small town. There are no traffic delays, unless of course you get stuck behind a cattle drive, there are not even any traffic lights. There are no lines to wait in, no hunting for parking and you don’t have to lock your car or even take out the keys when you are just running into the store for a carton of milk. And the view, the view is spectacular. The streets are lined with trees and dotted with majestic old homes, most in need of repair but still grand. The mountains surround the valley as if mother nature herself were wrapping her protective arms around the small community. The air has a constant smell of freshly cut hay, and the water that comes out of the tap is as cool and crisp as it would be if you hiked up the hill to the stream from which it originates. Everyone smiles and says hello on the street or waves at you as they pass in their pickup trucks. Church is cancelled on Sunday if there is a community event planned. Pancake breakfast is served in the park and bake sale treats include homemade (not from mix) brownies, cookies and blackberry pies. It takes five years to finish painting a house and when you are done, you start over again. The softball field has thick grass growing in right field and hand painted signs of local businesses along the fence. And, even though you moved away over a decade ago, people still greet you by name and ask about life in the city.

The life that I have chosen for myself is nearly 180 degrees from that in which I was raised. But, it is nice to know that when I am ready I can return home and be welcomed back like an adventurer returning from the new world.

give me that old time country music

The ad in the newspaper read:
Friday Night Block Party
All musicians welcome
Centrally located near restaurant and watering hole.
Bring your own lawn chairs.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Yippee - I've been linked! Thanks Dave I feel honored!

no more gum ...

20 years ago this summer I had my braces removed! I remember the feeling of my newly freed teeth and how relieved I was to be over with that part of my life. I truly believed that once my braces were removed my life would be perfect ... and it has been pretty good!

Speed forward. Today I sat in a dentist chair and had braces put back on my teeth. Apparently, a few of the techniques and procedures used in the dark ages of orthodontics were not the great ideas we thought the were.

It's not all bad. This time around there is a lot less pain, and my vanity is also being supported by my checkbook which means - goodbye wires, hello plastic!

o ha la! I guess no more gum for awhile!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

sleeping outside in a bag as a kid ….

it seems like the best thing that I ever did....

Growing up one of my favorite summer activities was sleeping outside with my best friend. Looking back, I am not sure how often this adventure took place but I do remember with great clarity the way the air smelled like freshly cut hay and thunderstorms, the way the sky lit up with more stars than can be seen in every city in the world combined, and the silence of a small town at night.

When I went away to college, my friend and I spent our first night sleeping outside. Although most people would qualify my college town as being a small town, I remember the noise from the traffic, the sounds of the neighbors, and the buzz of the street lights as being deafening. Unfortunately, I think that was the last time I slept outside. While I have frequently considered pulling out the blankets and pillows onto the deck on a warm summer night – it just doesn’t seem to hold the same magic.

Last night I spoke with my niece on the phone. She too is growing up in a small town and enjoying all of the freedoms of summer. As we talked about my upcoming visit, she shared her excitement in having a “camp out” in the backyard – maybe even a sleep over. I think I’ll join her under the stars. We’ll head to our “camp” about 9pm, tell stories until 10 and then around 11:30 I am guessing it will be time to head inside, just like when I was a kid.
I can’t wait !

Saturday, July 09, 2005

today was a good day

Some days are just plain and simple good days. Today was one of them.

Woke up and went to the store to buy more canvas – 2 for 1 sale! 48x48 is an awesome size. I can’t wait to see how it looks!

Worked in the studio for a few hours during the day and then returned in the evening to prep some canvas.

Got my first parking ticket – but it didn’t matter because today was a good day.

Locked my keys in the studio – but it didn’t matter because today was a good day.

Skipped out on going to see Star Wars 3 for the 3rd time – twice was enough.

Found a great parking spot near Palace Kitchen.

Finished reading this good book whose title I forget – something about being a wallflower.

Talked on the phone with a friend.

Went to sleep in my bed with clean crisp white sheets.

Friday, July 08, 2005

#9 - falling wall stuido

For my birthday last year I made a plan to do one “thing” that took me out of my comfort zone every month. I am now into month nine of this project and while some months have been less of a risk then others, every month has pushed me beyond the status quo and challenged how I view myself and the world. I may or may not share the previous month’s adventures (I guess maybe that could be my adventure for month 10) but, here is July.

Thing #9 – Rent art studio space in Pioneer Square and show paintings.

Last week I rented studio space in Pioneer Square and opened the Falling Wall Studio with my friend Sid. The time from signing the lease, to creating a name and logo, to holding our first show as about 72 hours!!! – No one ever accused me of moving slow once I made a decision. The experience of having my paintings on a wall and watching and listening as people came by was in a word – weird.

Aside from maybe entering things in the county fair, this was the first time in which my work was out in public for people to comment on without my direct participation in the conversation. One lady in particular stood in front of one of my pieces and ran her hands across the surface as if she was trying to receive something deeper from it then what could be seen by her eyes. I wanted to move her away and place her hands in the pockets of her coat where they would not be able to continue to explore. At the same time, I knew why she was searching the surface. This piece, along with the others in the series call to me in the same way. Even though I know that behind the colors and the crack lies a blank white canvas, I can’t help by try to pick away at the surface to see if I can discover what is hidden.

The next step on this adventure will be to create enough pieces to hold a more formal showing in September. Mark your calendars – September 1st 6pm. Hope to see you there.

Monday, July 04, 2005

i am not an animal

Whenever I see the Statue of Liberty’s head lying on a hillside the line “I am not an animal” screams through my mind. Unfortunately that is not the line from Planet of the Apes, but rather from the movie about the Elephant Man. Somehow however, when you consider the image of a dismantled statue of liberty against the backdrop of the continuation of the Patriot Act – screaming out – I AM NOT AN ANIMAL – does not seem that out of context.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

when good things happen to bad marketing ideas ...

So, you're sitting around the table with a bunch of other marketing people sampling your latest product - a strawberry kiwi popsicle (Kiwi, by the way, is a fruit named by marketers to appeal to Joe America.) "What can we do to really launch this product and generate some excitement?" One of your buddies suggests bringing back the Snapple Lady - too controversial. Another person suggests doing product sampling on the streets of New York. Not a bad idea, but what is the hook, how do we involve the media. "I Know" you say. "Let's create the world's largest Popsicle!" "People love "world's largest" gimmicks." And thus... another marketing manger is back on the street (or moved into the head office).

You gotta to love it when an "ok" idea has disastrous execution. The only thing better would have been if people had run out to the truck to taste the popsicle as it melted away instead of running for higher ground... Makes me almost wish I was marketing popsicles.

disaster on a stick

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

hope you are not offended ...

As a general rule, if you have to say “I hope you won’t be offended” before you say something, it is best to not say it at all.

Yesterday I was in a meeting in which the comment “I hope you don’t find this offensive” was repeated numerous times in a business conversation. Truth be told, I don’t know that I would have found any of the comments offensive had they not been proceeded by the disclosure that they may be inappropriate for my female ears. What I did find offensive was the continued reminder that I was not a man. I found it offensive that I was brought into the conversation for my assumed “women’s perspective.” I found it offensive that my expertise had less to do with my career and more to do with my understanding of how households operate.

News Update! I have a career. I work on par with men everyday and the strategies I am responsible for developing are not thought of as “women’s strategies”. I have a home but no one would ever accuse me of knowing how to operate a household. I like the color pink but I can still operate a complex remote control. I read business publications, I listen to the news, I can name more foreign leaders than our current president can. I cook but not very often and usually not without burning myself. I own an iron but not an ironing board. I don’t use “the rules”, I actually believe that the key to a good relationship is to treat the other person with respect and honesty. I don’t believe that there is any woman I know (working, stay-at-home mom, single, married or other) that fits into a mold of what a woman is like. I also don’t think then men can be classified this way either. Guess what…. they don’t all like sports, they aren’t only in it for the sex and they don’t all belch the alphabet after drinking a beer.

So! I hope you are not offended but get over yourself and if you want to know how a household operates, maybe you should go home and tell your wife that you need a woman’s perspective on what is needed to improve the home. I am sure she has a few things she has been trying to tell you for years.

Monday, June 27, 2005

summer nights with lyle ...

Look I understand too little too late
I realize there are things you say and do
You can never take back
But what would you be if you didn't even try
You have to try
So after a lot of thought
I'd like to reconsider
If it's not too late
Make it a cheeseburger

Saturday, June 25, 2005

wanted: sm,ns,hwp ...

There used to be this section in the newspaper for "personal ads". I say "used to" because while it still exists, it is very limited in size and scope. I know this because I have been searching the papers to find some good ads to incorporate into an art project. The premise of the piece is that each of us is looking for a definition of a relationship. ( "single white woman, height weight proportional, looking for the same for long walks on a beach and possible long term relationship.") But, that by defining people and categories we become blind to the possibilities that exist outside of those definitions. Abstract. Anyhow, the piece is stuck in a work phase until I am able to actually find enough personal ads to move forward.

Maybe that is the problem for so many people - stuck in work phase until they are able to find enough personal ads to move forward...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

you’re boring me …

Last week I went to see Mike Daisey’s new monologue – The Ugly American. His earlier work recalling his experiences at Amazon was hilarious and made me both relieved I had not jumped onto the bandwagon and at the same time disappointed I had missed out on the experience that will probably define my generation.

I love the way that Daisey is able to weave his life into such a vibrant story. It is not that his experiences are overtly unique, it is that he has taken the time to recognize the absurdity of the moment.

I relish the absurdity of the moment. It is the precise recognition we are not in control that opens the door to so many of life’s great experiences. Unfortunately, while I can often recognize the moment, putting it into words which will be both entertaining and enlightening to someone else is a skill which I have not yet honed.

Thus, my challenge with keeping up a blog…

There have been so many absurd moments this week that finding one to comment on has been almost impossible. Each time I start I am overcome with a dozen equally absurd recollections vying for my attention.

So… rather then choose one, here is my list of topics to consider:

  • naked bike riders in formation – (as opposed to naked bike riders information which is a different category covered I am sure by the Freemont Solstice Parade Association’s website.)
  • seattle mist - if you have to turn on the windshield wipers, should you put the roof up on the convertible?
  • they can’t hear you and I don’t want to – sitting with the fans
  • reality writers – if it is “reality” can it truly be written
  • an egg can stand on its end any day of the year – it just chooses not to
  • and my favorite …“you’re boring me”

Here is the bike riders in formation - let's hope the Shriners stick with their Fez!

Friday, June 17, 2005

clean sweep

Last night I went to play trivia with a friend at a local bar. This was our second attempt at becoming trivia champions and despite his exceptional knowledge of science and my equally impressive grasp of TV sitcoms, we came in second to last – again. The sticking point seems to be in the area of sports trivia. For example, in what year was the World Series cancelled due to a players strike? Hint, it was in the 90s….

My dad loves sports. Unfortunately, as a child I did not and would constantly complain whenever he would try to sit down and watch a game on the TV. “I bought this TV for … (insert major sporting event here)” he would say as I reached out to change the channel.

By the time I was 6 or 7 my dad had determined that the only way he would be able to watch a game in peace was to get me involved in the game. So, he introduced me to the great tradition of betting on sports. The bet was always the same. I would choose which team I thought would win the World Series. If my team won, my dad would clean my room. If my team lost, I would have to clean my room and keep it clean for a month. All of a sudden baseball held meaning.

To this day, as baseball season gets into full gear, I start thinking about who will win and how nice it would be to have my dad in my room, picking up my toys and putting everything back in order.

My mom and dad are planning on paying a visit next week and for his Father’s Day gift we will be going to a Mariners game on Tuesday. My dad will make sure he has his score card and a sharp pencil. I will make sure we are at the game at least a half an hour early so that we can see the first pitch. And, just to make it interesting, we will bet. I’ll take the Mariners – and Dad, if I win the vacuum is in the hall closet. Happy Father’s Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

1000 places to see before you die

I once ran across a book titled: 1000 places to see before you die. As a traveler I am always intrigued by the places other people have visited. So, here is the start of my own list/recommendations for places to see. Enjoy!

At the point where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet, the earth falls off in magnificent splendor. This is Foz de Iguacú from the Brazil side looking into Argentina.

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

eye of the tigre (tiger)

A few months ago Starbucks introduced a new ad campaign in which the band Survivor is pulled through town on a platform while coaxing an innocent consumer into buying a Frapaccino by singing to him a personalized version of Eye of the Tiger - Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom ... Last week I again encountered a bastardized version of this 80s classic while attending a rock concert in Mexico City. The music was the same, but the lyrics had been drastically changed. The idea started as a one-time spoof with the band Moderatto using the music from the 80s with new lyrics that poked fun at 80s rock. After a few shows the audience loved the music so much that it has now become a full-on rock experience with sold out shows throughout Mexico. As I stood among the 3000 screaming fans I felt lost in a situation where everything seemed familiar but was very very different.

Last night it happened again – this feeling that what I thought I knew was no longer reality. While channel surfing I came across a new show "hit me baby one more time." Much to my dismay there on the screen was Tommy Tutone singing 867-5309. But instead of being the slightly geeky lead singer with curly hair that I remembered, there was this old very geeky guy who was gray and balding. As he sang "Jenny I got your number" my immediate reaction was "yuk" why is this dirty old man calling Jenny. I am sure Jenny is relieved we now have Caller Id.

I still love the music of the 80s – it's fun and as Dick Clark would say “you can dance to it.” But seeing these old rockers in commercials and cheesy reality shows is like seeing Fat Elvis transformed onto velvet … not a good look my friends – not a good look.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

taco time ...

Ta Da! I can now post photos directly from my cell phone! Get ready to be wowed by mediocrity.

democracy and human rights filtered out ...

I was having a discussion with a friend a few weeks back regarding the impact of globalization on human rights and societal structures. More importantly, can a company such as Microsoft impact the social structure of an emerging market or closed country through either its hiring practices or the product it sells? My naive argument at the time was that through exposure and the passing of corporate norms from one culture to another, we would see changes that would impact the greater global society. Today I received the counter argument by way of the announcement that Microsoft will filter out words such as Democracy and Human Rights in order to launch MSN in China. While I still contend that corporations do have the ability to impart change, I am also now reminded that first and foremost decisions made by corporations are based on financial gains. Therefore, societies have just as much of an opportunity, if not more, to impact how corporations act (i.e. who they hire, how the workers are treated, how they operate in a community, etc..) as corporations have in impacting societies. It is a sad day when Democracy and Human Rights can be filtered out with a line of code.

Friday, June 10, 2005

chiclets vs. technology

Here is the idea ... buy a camera phone (done), set up a blog (done), travel to foreign places (done), send pictures to blog from phone ... send pictures to blog from phone ... ok... send pictures from phone to email - transfer pictures from email to computer - send pictures from computer to blog. - It may not be a perfect process but it worked.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I wonder if Neil Armstrong thought about what he would say as he stepped onto the moon. Maybe, like so many of our heroes, he had a speech writer carefully crafting "his words" into bumper-sticker-worthy phrases. I wonder this because while I will never step onto the moon, and while my words will likely never inspire the masses, the opportunity to send messages into the world via the internet is monumental. So, here I sit waiting for inspiration to hit with a catch phrase that will launch my own adventures in cyberspace.

this is my life without translation - take it as it is and interpret it as you may

So... with a click of the mouse I enter into the world of blogging. Best of luck to us all.