Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Road from Obesity

After two days of bing eating, Christmas Eve & Christmas, I'm happy to report that the scale thinks I only gained 1.5 lbs. I'm still in the not-yet-obese range. Whereas, the main Obese indicator is the % of body fat - which somehow has dropped 3% in the last few days. I'm safely under 30% now. I am happy about that, but my pants still don't fit right.

Each day, I repeat the positive affirmation, "I am losing weight." I'm reading, "The Power of Positive Thinking" which is all about self-talk, positive thinking and using visions to make your dreams come true. The book has a bit more bible than I would like in it, however it did come with this bit:
The way to happiness is simple: Free your heart from hate; your mind from worry. Fill your life with love. Sprinkle sunshine about. Live Simply. Forget self, think of others. Do onto others as you would be done to.
Oh - I can't remember it right. But you get the idea. Very good stuff.

And so I'm thinking about how I'm losing weight. How my pants are getting looser. How that piece of pie I just noshed is going to pass through me without leaving any trace.

I'm also thinking that the pooch will be a help in getting me fit. She needs two 30 minute walks a day and then a short outing in the early afternoon. That's an hour of walking - and I need to do my exercise on top of that. Unfortunately, the first of the two walks is at 5:30 am, before I get started on work for the day. This California Wuss is not big on the dark & 40 degree weather I'm finding out there at that time of day. I'm looking forward to the longer days.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dog Day

Last night we made the journey. I was sweating bullets the entire time. All 95 miles up to Sacrament to get the pooch. Now there is a little funniness about the dog. The breeder named her Jenny. Which might be fine, if her new owner wasn't named Jennifer.

We've decided to name her Tsunami instead.
Puppy check - she is panting & shivering on my lap as I write this.

I tried to take photos this morning. Not much luck. As you can see, the photo on the left is mainly of my hand.

She was never trained on a leash, but so far is doing well. The harness is working fine, no fussing from here there.

The walking is more troublesome. It is a bit noisy here, with the bay bridge and I think she is terrified when we take to the street.

Here's a head shot of her. I think we're going to get her whiskers trimmed today.

Last night, we got back to San Francisco, after about 3.5 hours of non-stop driving. We put the leash on her and put her on the street. Greg takes her and we walk her to a small patch of green. She does well and we head back towards the car.

At which point she stops. She seems to want to go onto the Embarcadero instead of heading back up Spear. Which is fine, until Greg drops the leash. His reaction is quick - he stomps on the leash, but then it breaks. Less than 10 minutes into the leash's maiden voyage, it is broken by a 7.5 lb dog. But she runs out onto the Embarcadero. Greg chases her in his couture suit. I'm almost frozen with fear.

Waving his arms, he gets the on coming traffic to stop, or at least slow down. The wee-one scurries onto the divider. Out of the way of traffic, but we're in trouble if the muni comes down the line. Finally Greg coaxes her to him. I run over, pick up my little baby and hold her all the way back to the car. So much terror and in the end, everyone was safe.

Here's my last attempt for a pre-coffee photo. Note how I get neither her nor me completely in the image.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Tree

In order to properly host my family for Christmas, Greg and I decided that we needed a tree. Since the loft has high ceilings, we were looking for something tall & skinny. Greg wanted the flocked, aka coated with white stuff tree. I think that he has great ideas and I'd go along with it. His vision included a white tree with all red lights. Sure, I have little experience with trees and decor.

So we took a stroll to the Delancey Tree Farm right across the Embarcadero from the Delancey Street Restaurant. They had large signs stating that their trees were environmentally grown and sustainable. Buying a tree from a group that supports people getting & staying sober evened out my guilt from purchasing a tree cut in the prime of its existence.

Once we took a look around, it was clear. There was only one choice. A 7 ft., flocked, noble fir. Now, having never purchased a tree. I had a bit of sticker shock. Neither Greg nor I have had a tree since leaving our parent's home, which made this super special.

To get it home was easy, he took the back and I took the top and we walked the 2 blocks back to our nest. Next we re-arranged a bit of furniture to set it in its location. This process was a blessing, as we found a new home for the side-board where it looks 1000 times better. The tree was now ready for lights. But we had none.

Off to Target. Now, I refuse to shop at WallMart, as I feel that they deliberately short change their employees, using our nation's safe net & medicare system to bolster their bottom line. Now, I'm not sure where Target falls in terms of corporate responsibility... but I do shop there.

We went through the insanity with our over-sized card. We found many household supplies, detergent, razors, a table cloth for Christmas Dinner. Then we found the Holiday section. The density of cart/person density was twice that of the rest of the store. After some jolly pushing, shoving and running over small children with our cart, we procured 10 boxes each containing a 100 little red Christmas lights. At $2 a box, it seemed like a bargain.

Once home, we poured ourselves a cocktail and got to work. I started at the bottom and Greg started at the top. We wrapped and wound 7 of the 10 strands of lights. I gave out before Greg did. He, heroically, started on the 8th, but I coaxed him away from the tree - I just didn't see any space for more lights. It glows. It twinkles. It has no ornaments.

We then placed the few gifts we have underneath. They look puny and inadequate. But the tree looks great.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Puppy Dreams

Greg's getting me a dog for Christmas. I figured it out by shaking the box. It squealed and then a yellow fluid leaked out.

Kidding, he'd never box-up and wrap a dog. That would be mean.

She's 2 years old - we decided that we weren't ready for a puppy. We've got to ease into the whole caring for another creature thing. This morning we bought a wicker crate - attractive and cozy for the wee-one. This may negatively impact my travel plans - I suspect she's worth it. And if I can have my way, she may end up going on some rides with us. Or maybe, not - that trip to the Korean country side might not be the right adventure for her.

We head up to Sacramento to get her Thursday night. She's a mini-wienie dog. Long, blonde hair and only 7.5 lbs. So very small. We got to meet her last weekend. That went well. She didn't bark at all. She was mellow when held and lively when on the ground.

I've already finished The Animal Planet's book on Dachshunds. I'm now reading a book on house training, as I want to be sure we all develop good habits. Next is a book on training canines. Right now, I'm thinking of it all as a fun project - training the pooch.

This is so neat. I'm really excited to welcome her. At the same time, there are so many life-style changes. The good thing is that I can take her to work and keep her with me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cooking the Christmas Goose

So the Goose turned out well. We are still eating it, which is good. The meat was buttery and yummy and the gravy was the perfect compliment. The stuffing needed a little more salt. I highly recommend trying it.

I will be cooking this for my family at Christmas. There is some concern that the family may find it odd, so we're thinking of a 2nd meat to serve in case not everyone is good with the bird. I think that's it for now.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Duck, Duck Goose

So I was going back and forth with my friend in England. We've been friends since high school and now she lives in Bristol. To my sadness, she won't be coming to stay with her parents for Christmas, as is often the case. Her parents still live in California -lucky for me, as they fly her home and I get to see her.

Even better, is when her parents have me for a meal. Her mother is an excellent cook and I love her invitations. She was so surprised that a California Girl liked her British fare, she gave me one of the fantastic cookbooks she made up for her brood of daughters. The cover declares, "There Isn't Anything Else, A Cook's Book". To my shame, I've only tried 1 or 2 things out of it.

This year both my friend and I will be cooking the Christmas meal. For the first time, my family is going to come over to my house for the holiday. Likewise, this is my friend's first time not going to someone else's house. We're both over 30, so I'm thinking it is time to be adults. We were discussing menu and my friend tells me about how her mother would always cook a goose and how wonderful that was. She was thinking of cooking a goose. Fascinating! I've never had goose. I wanted to cook goose after she mentioned it. I'm unsure if it is out of my competitive nature or just the idea was fantastic in itself.

So, while getting some meat to roast for dinner at Mollie Stone's, I asked the butcher if they have goose and, yes, they do. Very surprising. I thought about it and then decided to get one. I went in on Monday and asked more details, it turns out that they have 2 cases of Goose in the freezer and could they move one from the freezer to the fridge for me on Wednesday? I agreed, and flew off to Washington the next day knowing that I'd have a semi-thawed goose waiting for me to pick-up on Friday.

And today I'm cooking it. The recipe is from The Cook's Book. I had a time searching Mollie Stone's for the stuffing requirements - chestnuts, dried apricots and such. My American Super-sizing instincts took over and I realized that the recipe is a traditional British. I realized that 2 British onions might be equivalent to 1 California Large Onion - but only after I chopped them up and saw the volume. I looked at the rice, the soaked apricots (the 8 oz seemed to have morphed to 24 oz) and the onions and just knew I over did it. There was about a cup left over after I packed the goose tight. The stuffing looked and smelled fantastic, a mixure of diced, cooked onion, apricots, chestnuts & wild rice. I was supposed to have brown rice, but I had wild rice in the cupboard and thought it would add some very American flavor to this British tradition.

If it is good, I'll be cooking it for Christmas. I've got 50 minutes of baking left and then 30 minutes of resting. It looks and smells great. I'm quite excited. Greg is fussy - we've got too long until we can eat it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Obesity

Greg and I are about to embark on a new exercise program. As part of this, we go ourselves a fancy-pants scale. This scale has 4 memory slots and reads your weight, body fat, muscle percentage & provides you with a number for visceral fat & body mass index (BMI).

Greg first tried it. And was not happy with his results. The scale worked fine, the readings were the problem.

I got on and found that I am about 10lbs heavier than when I last checked - I could kinda tell, as many things have been tighter this last month. Not ideal, but not an issue. It was surprising to see that I am 20lbs above where I was two year ago - I'm still wearing the same clothes.

More than that, the body fat reading freaked me out. I am about 30.5% or 31.1% (last night vs. this morning) body fat. That seemed really high. It was 26% the last time I checked.

That said, someone thought his results put him into the obese realm. He's far from it... as I thought I was. But to calm someone's nerves I looked up the medical definition of obese online. There are 3 main criteria. First, a BMI of over 30. Whew - I'm lower than that one. Next, 30 lbs over one's healthy weight. Well, I'm only about 15 above a healthy weight for my height, and 20lbs from where I'd like to be. Finally, a body fat percentage of less than 30% in women. Uh-oh. I'm above 30%. I could be clinically called obese. Wow.

I keep hearing in the back of my head, "I'm obese, I'm obese, I'm obese."
But I'm fit. I did 45 minutes of cardio 3 days this week so far.
I don't need 2 seats on the airplane.
I wear a size 10.

The bright side - I've now got some serious motivation to adjust my diet and exercise to get back down to my ideal, I'm-getting-a-divorce-and-am-an-emotional-wreak weight. Let's hope I can drop the spare 20lbs with happy, healthy diet & exercise.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Winter Wonderland

My co-worker tells me, "Hey Jen, it's cold here. Be sure to bring warm clothes." And I think that I do. I saw that the temperatures in Washington were about 10 degrees colder than San Francisco, so I bring my warmer black jacket. I don't bring my mid-calf length coat, thinking that if I did, I'd look like a wussy Californian. I also skipped the sandals, skirts and brought nylons to layer under pants. Smart girl here....

But I didn't realize he meant, it-isn't-going-to-get-above-freezing-during-your-stay cold. So I'm now the proud owner of a lovely black down Burberry jacket. But the zipper isn't working and I've gotten stuck in my coat. I'm thinking that a jacket that cost what this one did should say, "OH! don't you look smart today!" each time I zip or unzip it. But instead is sticks and often tries to zip the fabric. It may not be my jacket for long.

I haven't seen snow for years. It started coming down as little specs. During my morning meeting I was up on the 5th floor of a high rise. At times the snow would be falling down and then it would shift directions and flow up past the window.

The streets slowly accumulated white and the taxi's tires would spin occasionally on my drive to dinner. Out the window as we drove to Arlington were the dark stencil of leafless tress against a white cloud background. It was like all the images of Christmas were coming to life. The stores and houses decorated with balls and lights all topped with snow frosting.

So pretty. I feel luck to be here. Like they knew I was coming and planned the Holiday Show for me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Early Christmas Gifts

Greg and I are letting Christmas come early this year. According the the chocolate advent day calendar my mother gave me last week, we have 3 weeks to go, but Santa dropped of Greg's gift Saturday night - well he came along to Best Buy & Circuit City, then took us on a quick side trip to BevMo.

Ms Santa, I should say, treated the man to a PlayStation 3. I have been asking myself, "what have I done - followed by out, out damn spot!". Bethatasitmay, I love him and want to spend time with him, yet I'm giving him a gift that may prevent quality time. Sony's plan worked - I was OK with getting him the toy because it also plays blu-ray DVD's. I would like to be able to watch HD movies on our projector system. Score one for Sony and their "honey we can play blu-ray DVD's on my new toy" playstation.

Sony did strike out on the receiver/tuner - whatever you call the piece of equipment that is the hub for all the other equipment. Ours does do HDMI input & output - which is great. Except it doesn't do HDMI audio & video - only video. This was discovered at about 10:30 pm Saturday night, post 3 drinks... we had visuals, no audio and a frustrated, tipsy boyfriend. After a quick check to the online manual, I found that to get the sound from the playstation, we need a optical digital audio cable.

Let me repeat that - optical digital audio cable. How much more scambled can a cable be? Optical & Audio, but it only caries audio - however the audio is in a optical format. I'm picturing subtitles and sheet music images floating down the pipe. But no, it is just a fiber optic cable. We ordered one, should be here tomorrow. I'll be in Washington, DC - good luck Greg, I hope we can wow Sal & Erika Friday night with some post dinner blu-ray.

But back to the story... 4 drinks to the wind and we're moving the playstation upstairs to the TV in the bedroom - it uses the full capacity of the HDMI and instantly worked. Good thing, as Greg was itching to start his engine. Well, start it virually... I tried to follow, but quickly passed out on the bed. Only to be occasionally awoken by gleeful squeals. I lie. What woke me up was him switching to a kill-kill game and I think the grenade was the culprit.

Much fun - now I think we'll be getting a dog in 3 weeks, this bitch will have her day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kooza and other fun

Last night Greg and I saw the latest Cirque du Soleil show to blow through San Francisco - Kooza. Much fun - totally amazing acrobatics. There were three girls who could touch their heels - I touch my toes, but they bend backwards and touch their heels. Incredible.

Go see it. It is a spectacle.


Now I'm thinking of trips to see Cirque shows. To Vegas, of course. But then I want to see my friend Sonya, my cousin David in Seattle. There happens to be a show there in April - why not combine the whole thing? Funny, instead of seeing a traveling circus, I'm traveling to see the circus.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happier Note

I finally got the pictures from Hawaii uploaded. I thought I'd post a few. Below is Me and Greg (not the best picture) on our flight over to Maui. Boy does my head look big.

Here's where we enjoyed snorkeling the 2nd day.

Here's our favorite beach on Maui.

Here's a snail with a really cool shell. It didn't puke, the yellow stuff is something it was eating.

Here's the view from our condo:

Gone Phishing

As you probably know, I work for an email security company. I recently got added to the security update email list and now am hearing about all the scary things out there on the inter-web. Gory, detailed information about these new sorts of threats. Not that this is a big surprise. Years ago, in my past life as a email administrator, I built a Snort box.

My Snort was listening to all the traffic going in and out of my old company. It was amazing the quantity and consistency of ping, hits and attempts to access our network by nefarious entities. I developed a special love for our firewall.

Now, however, those nefarious entities are more clever. Since they can't get in due to firewalls, they are coming in via the web. Sites get compromised - My Space is a prime example. The html gets hijacked and, if you go to that site, even if you're behind a firewall, you are hosed. Some of these attacks are flash based and you don't even have the options of saying, "Don't Install". Mind boggling. My company is buliding a device to scan web traffic that is used at the office. So I feel safe to surf the web at work, of course HR isn't happy to hear that. At home I've very careful about the websites I go to and now, as I'm starting to be wary of email.

Email has become a tool of the nefarious entities, as they send out innocent looking emails that direct you to malicious websites. Which wouldn't be too bad, but with the addition of flash based malware/spyware, I'm afraid to open email from unknown sources. If the email itself has html that is pulled from a website and arrives loaded with malware code, I could be taken down just by opening a message.

My personal email is hosted by an ISP that doesn't run a quality spam filter. And I suspect they don't run a sophisticated email/malware filter that would protect me from these blended threats. This week I got 2 emails from names I don't recognize into my inbox. As I'm starting to live with a bit of fear, I saw an email from a Kevin. I stared it down and then realized that Kevin was a friend of Adam and was replying-all to Adam's email from yesterday.

Evil nefarious entities are making me scared to read email. Evil, evil, evil.

Here's what I'm talking about:
Criminal poisoned search results using thousands of domains set up to convince search index software they were serious sources of information. Unsuspecting web surfers innocently surfed to sites that infected their computers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jesus Said "Give Up All Your Possessions and Follow Me"

Those famous words in the bible, I never really understood them. Then again, I'm not much of a bible scholar to begin with, so there was never much hope.

However, I stumbled upon a book by Anthony De Mello that has impacted my thoughts on life, bringing me closer to an understanding. I encourage any reader to take a look at his works, I finished Awareness and have started on one about Love. The idea stems from the I vs. the me. As he defines it, the me is the ego. It is the part of each of us that gets hungry, tired, mad. The me craves things. The me goes from one desire to another, be it affection, a new car, ice cream, praise. The I represents the steady entity that is behind the me. The I is constant. The I does not change when the physical cells are shed and replenished, nor does it change with the latest mood or desire. The I defies description, yet each of us knows its presence.

He encourages getting more in touch with the I as a means to lasting happiness & fulfillment. And to distance oneself from the me... to remember that the hunger passes, the excitements fade, the toys break. As one distances oneself from the me, one is less effected by the ups and downs of the day.

His ideas ring very true to me. I have been trying to read the bible, along with working, staying fit, and writing a new life plan for myself. When reading the bible, I've been focusing on the quotes of Jesus. With this another things he says, I believe that his instructions were to give up the ties to the possessions and to go to God.

Arm Status

I am happy to report that the arm has nearly complete healed. It took about a week. The bruising is still there, but the pain is almost gone. Good news.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lesson Learned

Yesterday I got implanted with Implanon - No, Dad, I'm not really having sex (not that I could claim purity after being married) I just want to regulate my cycle. It was an amazingly easy procedure. What I didn't expect was that my upper left arm was going to be wrapped in a mummy-like bandage that can't get wet for 24 hours... then I have an under bandage (tape in an X over the wound) that needs to stay on for 3-5 days. Great... I thought I could handle it.

Well, until now. Greg flew out last night and I'm on my own to care for myself. This morning trying I had to figure out how to keep my bandage dry, as instructed, while showering. I concocted a super-bandage out of packing tape & a plastic bag. Getting it strapped on was a challenge and I felt pretty studly after doing it all one-handed. But then, while cutting it off I realized that the mummy bandage was soaking wet. It had to go - I don't think a wet, possibly spore infested compress would be good for me, especially with those recent reports of killer staph.

So off goes the mummy and then I realize that the insertion caused a bit of bruising. I've got a skinny, 2 inch long strip of bruise that looks like some sci-fi creature. Fun - I'll have to keep my arm down while at the pool tomorrow (I'll be soaking up rays in Palm Springs).

Now, thinking about that Staph again, I'm figuring that I need to put something over the X bandage, which seems a bit too open. I go into the medicine basket and find a large bandage. I put it on and all's well, right? Noooo... I didn't realize that the mummy bandage was immobilizing the X bandage. Now it is free to move with my arm and I swear I'm ripping open the 1/8 in' cut each time I move my left arm.

The pain brings tears to my eyes and, more annoyingly, it is both sapping me of the little energy I have. and I have no one to cry to for pity. Greg is in meetings all day, so there is no one to provide me with needed coddling. Damn it. Instead I run around the office and cry in my cube.

Lesson: Reserve medical procedures for Friday afternoons so I can play the pity card over the weekend; Also: be sure that the significant other is available to nurse & pamper.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Trips and Adventures

So I'm a touch behind on this...
But I just took Greg to Maui for his birthday... and I was thinking much of the time of posting describing the trip. I'll be working on putting it into words soon.

To summarize - We left the morning of 11/1. We got in and immediately headed to Cafe Mambo to enjoy their Kahlua Duck Fajitas. We jumped into the ocean at the beach with the youth center and then headed to the Northwest corner of the island to our condo (rented, not owned) in Kapalua Bay Villas. Dinner at Sansei - very yummy sushi.

Day 2 was spent at the beach - somehow we got there before 10 AM. Had a terrible breakfast at the Westin. As we were eating there at their Ono restaurant we noticed that the local birds - the ones hustling for under-table-crumbs, were all a touch on the heavy side. Not a good sign. That and the waiter didn't quite catch my attempt to order 2 omelets with 3 things in each -instead producing 1 omelet with 6 ingredients. I was ordering - usually Greg's responsibility - I've been officially relieved of future ordering attempts. We spent the afternoon at the beach and burnt ourselves to a crisp. Back to Sansei for dinner.

The next day, we were worried about what to do... however got ourselves rash guards, masks and snorkels. We drove back to the beach and parked in the shade. Thankfully it was a touch overcast, so we weren't as likely to burn. We tried out the snorkels and immediately saw sea turtles and a variety of fishes. Greg saw an eel - but I had to get out, as I was wheezing. My hypochondria was flaring up, and I had self-diagnosised bronchitis... thankfully it cured itself by yesterday morning. We met up with a former co-worker and her daughters for dinner. Such a lovely time.

Yesterday we got in some more snorkeling in the morning. Our favorite beach was flat as a pancake, so we decided it would be good to head around the island to Paia where we've always had more luck with waves. Our goal was to get in some body surfing prior to lift-off. But fate was not with us. The waves near Paia were crazy - choppy & not so good for surfing. Then it started raining... while it did make leaving the island easier, it didn't help with our trying to get in some swimming time.

Our flight home was late, we didn't sleep much and I'm here at the office. My hair still has ocean salt in it (showered, but didn't have time for hair washing - so I have a salty french twist)... anyway, I'm so exhausted I feel drunk.

More exciting writing to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Weekend Plans

My mother and I are going to San Francisco's Open Studios this weekend.
We've been going for nearly 10 years now. The routine has stayed the same - first we got to the exhibit hall and review the section of art samples for the studios who are open. Then we map out where those studios are and head out. I've had friends join us through the years - maybe I can talk Greg into going with us this year.

My favorite cluster of artists work at the old Hunter's Point shipyard. There are several buildings, each with several floors and I do my best to not get over-loaded. About 3 years ago - when I went with Michael and my mother, I fell in love with lovely paintings of rural Marin. Last year I treated myself to a new necklace by Brooke Jasmine. Almost every time I wear that necklace, I get comments - a very smart purchase!

Going to this every year helps me feel more connected to the local artistic community. Not that I can be a significant patron of the arts, yet they open their studios to provide us with a little window into their community. We can see and learn what they are doing - if possible, support them with a purchase.

I think I've waxed on about this before, and so will keep it short. I believe that societies are judged on their creative additions to our culture bank. We look to Athens, not Sparta. We look to cultures that have produced art, literature and poetry. I like staying in touch with the part of San Francisco that adds to our culture's greatness.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Never Ending Road to Self Improvemnt

Greg got me started on a program of Life Mastery and I've spent much of the last few months spinning my extra cycles on thoughts regarding my vales, my purpose, my talents and how those can be better defined - or even defined at all in some cases - and then how those line up with my job, career and other focuses in life.

The first hurdle I faced - I wasn't sure of what my values were. It took a while to figure that out. There are things I like, activities I enjoy but I couldn't always justify those as values. Just because I like to cook, does that mean I value food more than the next guy. And is food a value? I thought values were concepts - like freedom, honesty or maybe a cool car? I value time off - but is that sloth? After all that thought and a couple attempts to find answers or, at least the right questions, in self-help books - I've come to the conclusion that I need to write a book.

Back to the topic... After 3 weeks I think I sorted it out. I value my connection to family & friends (that is why I moved back to San Francisco from Los Angeles) - but I'm not spending enough time on them. I value health and so am going to stick more to the low-carb meal plan as well as get myself to yoga 3-4 times a week with 1 supplemental visit to the gym. And I value continuing self improvement.

Right now I'm reading The Relationship Cure (by John Gottman) - which sounds like it would end all need for those pesky relationships, but instead is supposed to help me with my communication skills. Some might suggest that I simply speaking slower and enunciating more, but pshaw!

I'm only 1/2 way through and was taking the personality command center tests which make me realize two things. First, I love personality tests. They are fun! The majority of them don't really help me get anywhere, but still they amuse me when joining Greg on the couch for an occasional hour or two of professional sports.

Next, how I perceive myself can be in stark contrast to how Greg sees me. When I think of myself being nurturing, I remember leaving a sick ex-significant other in bed with a cold. I was so filled with contempt for him at the time, I had to leave the house. I was utterly unable to tend to him or even warm up some chicken soup for him. He and his stuffy nose repulsed me and it angered me to have any obligation to him. On the other hand, I talk to and tend and trim my orchids incessantly. Greg sees that as nurturing. Maybe it is that I do my best to keep good things around the house for him to nibble on. I also love to cook and do little nice things for friends... does it count as being a nurturing person if one only shows that side around those who they care for?

I guess I need to keep working at this. But I'm also reading the bible (the New Living Translation - that King James version is exhausting), as I think everyone should. And yesterday I found a passage in the first book of Peter that was encouraging in my struggle to be a better person:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.

Some of you who have known me for years are probably amazed that I would quote the bible... And I'm surprised myself at what I'm finding in there. We all have gifts, we all should take time to realize what they are and then go out to use those gifts with all your heart and for the benefit of all. That's universal.

Now, if only I could figure out what my gifts are!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Smart Security

Yesterday I was reading about how the Bush Administration wants to go into Iran. This shouldn't be a surprise - they have been saber rattling for years. First they tried the same argument as they did against Iraq - "They are about to have nuclear weapons." But the public was tired of that. We didn't do so well trying to prevent Iraq from developing their sand into plutonium.

Now they are squealing about how Iran is the cause of Iraq's civil war. Unfortunately they are gaining traction with this argument. When will the public awaken to how much less secure the Bush Administration is making us? This aggression towards "rogue" nations that only servers to make us look like bullies. Going into Iran will launch us into another mind boggling expensive quagmire. It won't be long before they tell us that we will be welcomed with open arms by the Iranian people... parades & roses & all.

Smart Security means making friends in the world. Instead of invading at the drop of a hat and chasing after non-existent enemies and weapons, we should be focusing on stopping the real threats. We should focus our energy on Afghanistan - where the real threat is. We should be rebuilding and providing for the poor & needy in nations where terrorists take hold. If we provided medicine to the sick, food to the hungry and clean water to the dry, we'd have many fewer enemies in the world. Bin Laden would have a hard time recruiting suicide bombers if the majority of Muslims owed the bread on their table to America.

Smart Security is not alienating other nations. It is building coalitions. It is recognizing others viewpoints and finding common ground. It is working with, not talking down. It is researching and respecting other societies and countries. Our way works well for us and most other cutlurs find that their ways work well for them.

We need to ask our presidential candidates how we are going to leave this wasteful path of war and implement Smart Security solutions.

I think Bill Richardson has a good grasp on what this means:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why do we need torture?

For a while I didn't really care. I think I was like most Americans. We didn't care that the Bush Administration wanted to use torture against those pesky terrorists. The terrorists were out to destroy us, right?

But then I've been thinking about it more - torture & Guantanamo. What is going to happen to the people suck there? At first it was fine - we needed information to fight the war. But why does he want to keep bugging those guys stuck in that Cuban prison? How many years have they been there? And they have total isolation - no letters from family. I keep thinking of the family back in Afghanistan that has no clue about where little johnny is. Let them just go home. Do they really have to serve a life sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

And then the military tribunals - what a joke. The defendants don't hear evidence against them. They don't get lawyers. They cannot confront those accusing them. I would think it better to not have a court than to have such a farce.

When did we Americans start to stoop so low? Bush has been dragging us down. I know - this is nothing new. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but what if we get another NeoCon in office? How can we as individuals stop this alarming trend of destroying American values in the name of security.

Then, I have yet to see torture work. When a man is under duress, he just says what the torturer says to say. Valuable information is rarely obtained. Just forced confessions. More than a tool to elicit data, torture is a weapon to inflict fear upon a population. Current we are using it against the terrorists, but when will we shift to start using it against internal terrorists?

We say that can't happen, but Bush has already received permission to declare anyone an enemy combatant. Once an Enemy Combatant, the person loses all rights of a citizen. No trial, no habeus corpus, no contact with one's family, no lawyers... just a quick trip to Gitmo where torture is allowed.

The torture has got to stop. Habeus Corpus must be restored. We need to speak to our representatives - let them know that this isn't acceptable, under any condition. That we are civilized, not savage. We understand and respect human rights - even of those that do not respect ours. We are better than the terrorist and we need to live that way.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Puppy calling

Not too long ago, I was escaping the heat of Palm Springs by browsing in a giant book store. I was browsing the pet section and pulled out a large tome on dogs. I looked up the Toy Breeds, as I prefer small dogs. It took some time to explain why toy dogs exist: for the comfort and amusement of their owners.

That struck me as funny. The next time I was visiting my friends with the four pugs, I took time to try to explain to the pugs that their entire existence was about my happiness. The information didn't take. I got more reaction when I said the word, Cheese.

Recently I've been hearing the puppy howl. I'd like a little guy. A King James Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier or something small and loving. Greg has a thing for mini-daschounds. I'm not as familiar with that breed, but we found some cute ones online. It looks like you have to order them from a breeder... put your money down on litter around conception time.

Since I want the dog and Greg has to be coaxed into it, I suspect we'll have a mini-daschound. Which is fine... but then another thing popped up. He's not keen on us getting a puppy until one of us - specifically me - is home full time to tend & train the wee-one.

Now this job seems eternal... My company got bought by a computer giant this year, so many of us here are waiting for the pink slips. This company already has a sales force and we haven't heard any talk of integration, which is suspicious.

We'll see, I want to get a puppy before Greg can find another reason for me not to have it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Like a Flower Petal Blooming

Right before I headed off to Italy, Greg and I discussed getting our bodies into better shape. I think this is an eternal concern for our contemporaries, and isn't a surprise. Our strategy was to go on the Atkins diet. Having had some success with Weight Watchers, I was a bit skeptical of the high-protein, low-carb thing. However, after about 5 months, I have to say I love it. I've had much fun changing around the menus. I miss pasta, but love the meat. And I'm able to give blood now that my iron levels are high again.

We're keeping track with the fitness. I'm slowly switching from the gym to yoga 3 or 4 times a week. I'm going to Bikram yoga - where the room is 100 degrees or higher and we do the same series of postures every time. I can see a difference in my body, although it may be all in my head. I haven't been near a scale, so I don't know if that is moving.

What really keeps me coming back is the tranquility I feel during and after the classes. I used get a meditative feeling from intense time on the work-out machines, but this is much more balanced. The downside is that I'm supposed to breathe through my nose and with all that sweat, I'm finding the smells icky. I encourage everyone to go out and give it a try. Well, two tries, the first time might be a bit much.

Since Greg started the business, we've been skipping the alcohol in the evenings. Going without the evening glass of wine has been less challenging that I thought it would be. I don't miss it. My experiences with alcohol in the home are so varied. I started drinking regularly in Italy, as my Italian host family offered only 3 beverages: wine, water & coffee.

Then, after graduating college, I was poor and living with Duncan. I had such tight fists, I wouldn't even buy a bottle of wine for myself. Duncan was a beer drinker and liked to have a drink at the end of the day. When we went shopping, I would be so anxious that he would buy the higher priced Anchor Steam beer instead of a cheaper brand. So painful.

Now I'm spending money on orchids, their high lasts longer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

4 Minutes Twice a Day

So I was reading Social Intelligence a few months back and they cited a book Contact: The First Four Minutes by Zunin, Leonard. The idea is, when you meet someone or initiate contact, the first 4 minutes make the biggest impression. Be it for a sales meeting, date or just time with friends & family. Focus on making an effort in the first four minutes and you'll get better results and relationships.

The idea passed along, specifically in relation to relationships, is that the two most important times of day are when you wake up and when you get home. At these two times, the couple should take 4 minutes to focus on each other and the relationship. This manifests in a chat about ideas, or about each other - no dumping, no honey-do lists, just stop what you're doing and focus on the person.

Greg and I have implemented this and it is such a highlight of our day. I get up super early and then, when Greg wakes up, we go out to the couch and have a few minutes... sometimes it morphs into other discussions or lasts closer to 20 minutes. And then the same goes when we both get home. We both look forward to it now.

The other day, we didn't do our 4 minutes and it made me cranky for quite a while. I hadn't realized how much I look forward to my fix. Even when I asked for it, it wasn't enough. Funny, how a such a small thing has such a big impact. I like having two times each day when I get 100% of Greg's attention. He get's 100% of mine. We share, chat, flirt, tease and often cuddle - providing neither of us is straight from a work-out and covered in sweat.

It makes a big difference - Give it a try.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dogs and Family

Greg is off at a conference and my little brother's wife is off for work, so we hung out and had dinner together. Me, BCD and his two dogs: Maggie and Zach. Zach growls when he's getting the petting and strokes he likes. Maggie is only a year old and is still very much a puppy. I have fun with Zach, the old grouch and take time to train Maggie. She seems to like discipline.

I had hoped to get a view of Maggie singing as she did for You Tube, but she was feeling shy tonight.

BCD and I chatted about the family - I think partly as we had just had the cousin convention. We could see patterns of behavior and how specific people's behavior caused ripples that cascade out through our generation.

Just yesterday I was reflecting on some of my own patterns of thought. It occurred to me that I don't like to lose, give-up or reject people who may or may not be contributing much to my life any more. Many times I've been asked, "Why are you friends with her/him/them?".

It took a while, but I finally have a response: "Because Jenny Gelb and Anna Moore were mean to me when we were in grade school." I was sleeping over at one of their houses and I clearly recall being asked to find fault with another girl in our class. "Tell me what you don't like about Shiera."

Nearly 30 years later the scars are still visible - I cling on to old friends, as I do my Dukes of Hazard Lunch box. And I can be wickedly petty - Just give me another chance, Jenny Gelb, I can answer your query about Shiera. Have I spent 25 years practicing and honing my response?

Now that is just in my life. With BCD we can inspect the familial ripples. Our big question, what happened to our family matriarch. Where did she get the mean streak that ties into her obsession with people's weight? What happened? Her comments needle 2 generations and it is possible that it will linger in other ways on her 3rd.

More reason to stick to the light. Focus on love. Be grateful. Prefer silence to apologies. Harsh words linger.


The new home has been a doubling as a hotel for a few weeks. We've had two Scotsmen, 1 Californian and my beloved Cousin Nathan come visit in the last six weeks.

Thankfully, our couch is quite comfortable, as our guests can choose between it and our air mattress. Not that glamorous, but I'm happy to host. So far, everyone has been quite generous with their appreciation for our limited hosting resources.

The most recent visit was Cousin Nate. Nathan takes advantage of his position as a Delta pilot by spending most of his time traveling. I believe he is down in Rio now enjoying the Latin lifestyle. His sense of humor matches mine - thinking of him make me laugh, well, in a good way.

Nathan wasn't the only cousin visiting. This summer Dania is doing an internship with a large international back and so is living in San Francisco with her husband Chris. The Kansas City Cousins, David & Lauren flew out to join in the fun. Brothers & Sisters-in-Law made themselves available for social activities. Dad and Cathy put on a LOVELY lunch - with yummy, yummy food that had me forgetting my current diet. The Cousin Crew hopped on the noon ferry from San Francisco up to Sausalito for the lunch. Unlike most August San Francisco days, we were totally without fog. Having had some bone chilling ferry rides in the past, I pushed Greg to bring a coat. However, he ended up carrying the coat and sporting a sunburn... oops.

The next day a limited Cousin Crew (Dania, David, Nathan, Lauren and myself) did a march from Crissy Fields to the Golden Gate Bridge. Chrissy Fields started out as a grass landing field and served as a military landing area for several decades. The last decade, they pulled out the airfield and restored the natural habitat. I have a few memories from childhood of watching air shows from there - the cousins were amazed, looking at the green grass, lagoon and restored habitat.

Monday I had scheduled a day off and enjoyed time with Lauren & David. We went down to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I was entranced by a photography exhibit by Martin Munkacsi. Go check it out - just amazing photos. I went back last week with my mother to have more time to enjoy the photos. Later in that visit, we found another stunning piece. Anthony McCall built a magical experience out of smoke and light called You and I, Horizontal. The title doesn't match the work.

After they left, things at the loft quieted down. Greg and I have been focusing on this new endeavor. More on that later.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Other Developments

I'll make this one short & sweet. I've moved. No longer am I enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Castro, instead, I'm in a loft in the South of Market. The move had to be at the end of the quarter while my company was getting assimilated into the Borg of a not-to-be-named computer giant. The last couple weeks have been totally draining, but my head is getting back above water - hence the time and energy for a quick blog or two.

I can see the Bay Bridge from my bed. There are exposed brick walls. We have two floors and two parking spots. Greg's got his grill out front. We have an electric stove, but that doesn't matter too much. Yesterday we cooked the most amazing 4th of July meal I've ever had. It started with slow-cooked chili (6 hours in the crock pot), then we moved on to the main course of marinated, grilled tri-tip, twice baked cauliflower & Texas Braised Cabbage. So good!! We're doing Atkins hence the twice baked cauliflower.

It feels like a dream.

Long, Lost Blog

I realize it has been a while since I have posted. I did fly Virgin off to Europe in late May. I'll never do that again. Virgin seems to be the airline that specializes in pass the buck. Now, I know that we all have lowered expectations, but they go beyond the call of inactivity. I filled out a comment card after my flight to Europe in a broken chair and attempted to give it to the woman who was checking me in at Heathrow only to be told that I had to mail it in. She couldn't take it.

My advice:

On top of that, they never gave me the refund they told me they were going to give. And they won't let me change the ticket into my name, even though I purchased it so that I could use it. Just unbelievable. I have a lot of four letter words for them.

Beyond that, things are going great. The trip was fantastic. England and a visit to my girlfriend there was delightful. Bristol is a fun and beautiful city. I rate it highly and hope to go back again some day.

After a weekend in Bristol, I flew down to Milan. Rented a car - and oh my! Hertz isn't the same in Italy. But I got an acceleration-challenged tiny car. It did great taking me up to Lake Como, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. For years I have heard about the lakes and finally I took the time to visit. I stayed in a villa from the 1700's and got myself a room that looked out on to the water and the mountains that spring up from there. I saw the Alps, for the first time.

It was hard to pick a hotel, as I kept wanting to keep driving around more. I stopped in one of the larger towns and choose this gorgeous hotel. The rest of the afternoon I passed at the pool sunning myself. It might seem odd to doze next to a pool when there is a beautiful lake across the street, but there was no beach at the lake. So I opted for a cushioned lounge chair instead of a dock.

My little brother gave me a gift certificate for a few downloadable books for my birthday. I got 3 set up on my iPod for the trip. One was a mystery about the shroud of turin, another a history of the bubonic plague (I had been wanting to read it for ages) and the final was a business book (how to do more in less time). The book about the black death had captured my interest first.

The next morning I set off to do a lap around the lake. I drove up to the top and then back south, the whole while listening to how the black death impacted Europe. So strange to be listening to such terrible things while enjoying stunning scenery. I had lunch in Bellagio, which was only so-so as the town was clearly based on tourism and I didn't have any resources to escape the mundane.

After the journey around the lake, I made it down to Florence and spent the rest of the week with my Italian family. How I have missed them. My Italian Mamma and I cooked each day. I got the recipe for Rabbit Stew, which I have always loved. I think it was because one morning, after a particularly long and alcohol infested night I woke up hung yet smelling something delightful. I stumbled out to the kitchen and she served me up the most amazing stew over soft polenta. My stomach wouldn't let me have much and I think I have spent years trying to make up for not being able to enjoy it that morning.

We also had a review session of "Roast-Beef". Going to the grocery store with her, I learned the secret - she uses a fillet roast. After I got back to the states, I had to make one for Greg... the meat cost $45. I did get it at Mollie Stones, but still. It did taste almost as good. I'll have to try it again - once Greg and I go off financial lock-down.

As always, the trip was too short. I choose to fly home so that I would arrive early Saturday afternoon. Greg met me at the airport and had a lovely "re-entry weekend" planned. Instead of taking me home, we spent the night in a hotel. One with room-service and an extra comfy bed. The next day we went to see a baseball game, I had really wanted to get to one. I love spending a sunny afternoon at the ball park. Barry didn't hit a home run for me, but Greg did by making me dinner. Monday (it was over Memorial Day Weekend), he had tickets for Pirates of the Carribean. Having such a thoughtful welcome home weekend really made it all better.

On a bummer note - my camera broke the 2nd day and I had a disposable, but the photos didn't turn out. So no pictures. Sad.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Oh-My-God Amazing Food at Radio Africa

Last night Greg and I tried out a "Nomadic Restaurant" - Radio Africa.

The experience was both divine and 100% San Francisco. So, Eskender Aseged runs this restaurant 2 nights a week at Velo Rouge Cafe in San Francisco and then 1 day a week at Sweet Adeline Bakeshop in Berkeley. I made reservations for us, which were easy to come by - but don't expect that to continue! - and we showed up to find 3 long communal tables. Now Greg and I aren't always social with strangers... and we were sat at a table where another couple was cuddled on the far end. Greg helped me with my coat and then sat me, and we said Hi to our table-mates, but then went back to focusing on our little world.

The menu had 4 courses, the edamame hummus they brought out with this insanely good bread was not on the menu, simply there for us to enjoy. We picked the fish entree rather than the veggie option and the meal was off. The first course was seasoned prawns all in a line, the next line was a slice of Spanish Tort - their traditional egg & potato tort -with blue potatoes and the perfect spices. The bottom of our plate held an arugula salad, not over powered by the dressing, with rainbow carrots and Parmesan shavings. Each bit had its intense, yet clean flavors to enjoy. Each one complemented the other.

Next came the soup and our more table-mates. This time we had 3 people, at least two of whom worked at Campton Place. They spiced up the conversation, as we were drawn into their conversation. It is hard to ignore people while rubbing knees under the table. The trio added insight into the chef (they worked with him) and some advice about the wine. We had picked out a nice white and Greg got fancy with champagne to go with dessert.

The soup was simple yet exceptional. Each ingredient pulled its own weight but didn't over power... beans in a veggie broth with greens (almost looked like baby red chard) and pesto drizzled over it.

By the time our entrees appeared we had moved on to holistic psychotherapy as a topic which nicely matched our perfectly cooked halibut, spinach & potato alichia and cous cous. Thankfully, we both became so engrossed in our food we neglected the conversation until it journeyed elsewhere.

Dessert sounds so plain, vanilla ice cream, strawberries and blackberries. I don't even care much for vanilla, but it so sweet and flavorful; it contrasted and balanced the tart & sweet berries. The champagne just made it all happier and we learned about K & L Wine store's champagne club - 2 bottles every other month for around $70. We have to look into that further.

Oh and what did this feast (before the alcohol) cost? $28 per person!! Insane. We'll be back.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Just outside my cube is some propoganda. It reads, "Everything you can imagine is real" - Pablo Picasso.

Does that mean I have such a limited imagination that I can only imagine what is already in this world? Or does it mean that this world is bigger and more vast and fuller? Or does it mean that if I imagine something it becomes real?

I'm not sure if it is uplifting or depressing. It discourages me from being inventive, as I both fear bringing my imagined thoughts into reality and am discouraged that they could already be real.

After thoughts like those, my 5 sheet 50 line quotes seem almost up-lifting.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blessing Counting - Self-indulgent Drivel

A year ago I was on the road, driving from Los Angeles out to Texas. The images of that trip, the stark mountains, hiking in White Sands National Monument and doing a lap around one of the mittens in Monument Valley - it all burns brightly in my head. It was the start of several months of travel, most of it on my own. The departure point was a point of unhappiness - ending a major relationship, leaving a unsatisfactory job and throwing the map I had plotted of my future.

About two weeks before I left I met Greg. Somehow he stuck with me through the travels, was there to help me with moves and changes physical and mental. So I've been thinking of how lucky I am. I read a fantastic book about becoming an optimist and training one's mind to be happy. Today, with my dark mood - nothing like wanting to be out on the open road alone, yet stuck in a cube with a split keyboard - I am trying to count blessing.
1. I'm in a supportive, happy relationship with Greg
2. That I love where I live - the city, near friends & family
3. I like my job - even with some of the recent hiccups.
There are so many more. I'll keep counting and doing quotes and making calls on the side.
I'm feeling better already - even if I'm not on a plane to Hong Kong, Scotland, Cape Cod or Hawaii.

Friday, April 13, 2007

On the Road Again

About this time last year I posted about buying my tickets to China. Yesterday I bought my tickets to Europe. I know, not the big adventures of last year (I am employed this round and can't take 4 months off), but this should still be fun. I haven't been back since 2001. I'm heading off to Bristol to visit with Bristol Girl and then down to Italy to visit with the family I used to live with. Should be good.

I miss the desert. It is coming up on a year since I was out exploring the barren rocks and hills of the Southwest. Such a magical place. I'll have to make due with the old world.

This trip should be fun. I'll be flying alone as this isn't a good time for Greg to travel. Which is too bad, but I'm sure I'll manage. I'll be trying Easy Jet for the 1st time and will have more time to practice cooking with my Italian Mam ma while in Florence. Should be fun.

Good People

I have to share a short story with you. The other day I was at Costco over on 10th & Harrison. I got my goods (water & gum) and went out to my car. I loaded them up in Oola and got in the driver's seat. I pulled my keys out of my pocket and they slip out of my hand and between the seat and the console.

I try to get to the keys for 15 minutes. I accidentally lock the car while trying to grab them - better lock than set off the panic, eh? And finally give-up and decide to take a taxi home to get my 2nd set of keys. I go out to the street in a cloud of frustration and hail a cab. I tell the cabbie that I have to go home and get my keys and would he be willing to wait while I run in? He hears my lament of stuck keys and says to let him have a try.

Looking at the guy - he's probably in his late 50's and about my size - bald head buy energetic. He offers to try to get them himself and I say sure. I'd rather let him try and who knows what would happen. He goes to the car - everything is locked but the driver's side door. We open that and set off the alarm. I explain where the keys fell and he goes to town. The alarm stops after a minute and he gets out and says that it is impossible. My face falls and I resign myself to not having time to work out because I have to run all over town taking care of this. But then he says, "just kidding!" and hands me my keys.

I was so elated I almost hugged him. I paid for the fare & gave a $20 tip. Tears were in my eyes.

I was so wound up that I didn't get his name. But he made my day and I wish I could say thank you more than just a tip. He did a small miracle for me and turned my day around. Thank you Mr. Yellow Cab Driver!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Out of Sorts

This morning I see the sun calling and to put the top down on the new car. I take off for work to a dance version of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. I think that got under my skin.

As I'm pulling on to southbound 101 from Army, AKA Caesar Chavez, I see a woman hitchhiking. She's got no bags, is clean and dressed normally. I pick her up. She initially asks to go to Sequoia National Park, but I say I can't take her that far, and she asks for the airport. Is explain I'm going to San Bruno and she says fine. And we're off.

As we start to get going, she seems silghtly distressed and anxious. She tells me her name is Simone and I introduce myself as well. She isn't into answering any questions which is fine, as her answers seem off. I'm try to figure out if she is either on drugs (which seems unlikely, as her behavior is unlike many drug addicts and her clothing isn't that of a chronic user), or off drugs which makes me want to take her to a pharmacy. Finally she casually says that she hears voices.

"Oh. " I try to sound casual, like I hear that all the time. I'm getting anxious - what do I do with her? My dad is a psychiatrist and, as a teen, he'd kid me about calling in a 5150 - the police code for taking someone into custody who is a bit, um, touched or having a tough time. I was imagining the call: "Dad, Hi!"..."Good, and you?"..."Listen, I've got a crazy person in my car, what do I do?"


As it turns out, she also thinks that she is going to be assassinated. Hmm, I just hope it doesn't happen while in my new car. Terrible of me, I know. But as we're stuck in traffic, she's getting more nervous, so I'm waiting to see a black car filled with extras from the cast of The Sopranos, their guns poking out of cracked windows speeding by and letting loose.

She wants me to put the top up on the car. We're going 65 mph. That isn't an option.

But nothing happened. I offered to drop her off at the Airport Car Rental place - it has a tram and she could take that over to the airport, but "that won't work" she tells me. Really? I refrain from asking, "Why not?" We agree to drop her off in the downtown of South San Francisco. I'm hoping for the best for her.

While I felt quite rattled, but not as rattled as I felt 20 minutes later when I saw my quota, nothing really happened from this micro-adventure. I can't quite call it an adventure either, as the ex-husband had drilled into me, "It isn't an adventure until something goes dramatically wrong." For me, nothing went wrong.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Virgin Disaster

So Greg and I have booked tickets to go to London in April. We decided to try Virgin Atlantic due to their great reputation. Now, we realized, after booking the tickets, that we couldn't to the trip when we had originally thought. So, we do what rational people do, we called the airlines and attempted to change the tickets.

I should note that I'm typing this blog entry with the phone cradled against my ear. We're on our 3rd phone call to Virgin. Initially we called to change the ticket from a $750 round trip to a $550 round trip. We thought we'd be able to cover the change fee with the drop in ticket price. How shocked were we to find out that if we changed tickets, that we didn't get credit for taking a cheaper flight. No, we lose the difference between the flights and still have to pay the change fee - putting me out $1,000. If we were to switch to more expensive tickets, then we have to pay the difference.

Just hung up after spending 30 minutes on hold and not being put through to a manager. While waiting, I found a better flight and they then tell me, after 30 minutes on hold, that I can't change to the webfare. Their answers change every 5 minute and there doesn't seem to be anyone responsible. Amazing.

Such a nightmare and I still don't have tickets booked again. At least I know that I'm wasting their resources as well as my own.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Other news

Reports on other fronts...

Friday I finally got to the Social Security office. I think I nearly confused the poor bureaucrat by providing examples of ID in my (formerly) married and maiden name forms. But I got things sorted out and I'll be back to DeLano before long. This is the longest process - although I'm getting off easy. I have friends who have dealt with 3 or 4 year long divorces and then the hangover for another few years.

On other notes, Greg and I had a great time on Oahu for President's Day. We were in Waikiki on the 18th floor of a hotel with a sunset view that was simply blinding. We went body surfing on the North side of the Island with the best, slow and strong waves. A sea turtle came by to keep us company - not that we were lonely with our 100 closest friends there. The food was much better than both Maui and Kauai - but there were many more crowds. I'd go back.

The cold rain here makes me miss the tropics even more.

Hundreds of Birds

As I crested 101 by Candlestick Park this morning, I saw several hundreds of seagulls aloft. They were swirling and swarming from the left of my vision to the right. I'm guessing something happened at the landfill (don't you love how we've left behind the garbage dump and now use landfills? So much more sanitary.) to set this flock aloft.

They reminded me of a description I once read of an early explorer of the American West who talked about how the birds would fill the sky and blacken the sun. There were so many. This was a modern, scrawny substitute. Just the same, their whirling motion was entrancing, even if my nerves were twitching from some hangover of The Birds.

But on I drove - and driving is so much fun. Last week my new car came. I treated myself to a cute little Mercedes-Benz roadster. I'm not sure what I was thinking, as I got the AMG version - so it jumps (and scares me a little) when I step on the gas too hard. Soon I'll be taking it down to visit my mother. Don't tell her, but this trip will be more about seeing what curves feel like in a sports car than family time.

Saturday night, Greg and I curled up with the original version of The Producers. Oola - was the secratary's name... the "toy" that they treated themselves to once they had all that money. I like the idea... so my little SLK32 has been christened Oola.

That joy is tempered only with the challenges of having 2 cars and no garage in San Francisco. The Jetta is still with me - it has a new transmission and the clutch got fixed last fall - it is in great condition. Any one interested? It has nearly 170k miles, but will be solid for many, many more.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bumble and Bumble

anMy short commentary regarding Gavin's affair:
None of our business. He's been a great mayor. Let him stay focused on his work. He's human. I realize he's been like a teenage boy, chasing tail like a fevered buck and could use some restraints... but have some compassion. I feel bad for the woman, the betrayed husband and for Gavin. Turn off the spot lights and shut down the electron-microscope for a bit.

I think we're best letting this drop and focusing on the important issues of the day. Like why my street (18th Street, near Castro) is having MORE construction. I've lived there 5 months and there has been construction for 4 of them. Enough is enough!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


In my continuing purge of goods, I realized I had several books that are origin-free. Michael told me they were mine, yet I have no idea how (aside through marriage) that they came into my possession. It makes sense that they would be mine, as they are about architecture. (My undergraduate degree is in Architecture) - but there are no inscriptions or indications of where they came from. It is like they materialized from dust -which in my home is entirely possible.

As I am no longer pursuing studies or anything more than an casual enjoyment of architecture, I'm not sure what to do with them. All of the books are from the 1960's - two by Pevsner "An Outline of European Architecture" and "Pioneers of Modern Design". Then Le Corbusier's "Towards a New Architecture" (1963 edition). Finally, Hitchcock’s "Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" All worthy tomes, yet not worth selling on eBay. I may see if I can sell them to the local used book store for $2 a pop.

There is a guilt with getting rid of books in me. Books are the main vehicle through which society's information traffics the centuries. Libraries provide the time machine and preservation means for ideas, stories and histories. Sometimes there are problems with the storage locker. Notice how the Ancient Greek authors have names that cluster around eight letters, A, D, E, H, P, S, T and X. Why? Was there a fire and only these shelves left standing amid the ashes?

That I do not want to keep these books suggests that I am not a good steward of our culture. While I can soothe myself with the thought that I am limited by my means. If I had space, they would have a good home. Yet with a mixture of honesty and guilt, I know that I am not as interested in these ideas as I am others. One can also add in the nagging feeling that I will, at some time in the future, want to have these books. One day I'll be possess with the need to know what caused specific elements to appear in European cathedrals or review Le Corbusier's Manual of the Dwelling. At which point, I will not have these reference books on hand and will lose legitimacy in an argument because I lack a sufficient bibliography.

Those worries aside, these books will be put along the "too lazy or unsure to take action" wall in my apartment and I'll get changed into my killer, pink sock money pajamas. In bed with me will be Carly Fiorina - well, the biography of her that my mother gave me for Christmas. Not one to voluntarily read a biography - though somehow memoirs are acceptable? - I will be giving Carly a change to show me her world view.

Wishing everyone a good read. Please post me ideas of what to do with these books - or a request and I'll send them too you.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Uppers and Downers - a biographical entry.

Let's start with the bad news:
Despite the over the top appearance of my cube, I did not win the Most Decorated Cube contest. Totally stunned - both me and most of my coworkers. I have started to plan what I'll be doing for next year's contest.

As for the Uppers:
I welcomed in the New Year in on Maui . Greg and I spent the last week in bungalow in Lahaina. Our Love Nest had windows which were glass-free, instead had screens and curtains. The ocean breezes kept us cool and I did my best to keep it down, as not to disturb the neighbors.

We got in and spent the first day getting sorted out - I needed a new bikini and we had brought food with us (using this cool service: We bought a small rolling cube cooler and packed it with the frozen prepared meals, sandwich fixings and blue ice. It all got there in once piece... Lucky for us, as the baked pasta was heavenly.

The condo was nice, as we had space to cook and store food. Also, we could make up the cooler with sandwiches, vodka, mixers and snacks for the day. As usual, we neglected to bring a camera, so there are no pictures to share.

We spent the next day trying to find the perfect beach - we ended up going all around the Northwest bulb. At one point we were on a one lane road that just clung to the hill side. We were supposed to have a convertible PT cruiser, but due to chaos at the car rental, we ended up with a convertible seabring. We got in at 10 pm and were in line for nearly 45 minutes before they got to us. Then it took about 10 minutes to sort us out - followed by two trips back and forth to the lot. It seems that Alamo on Maui is unable to see which slots have cars, and so we kept getting sent to parking spaces that were without vehicles parked in them.

Greg is so mellow, that these little challenges just roll off him. I wish everyone were like that - able to make bad situations pleasant instead of turning up the heat and popping one's top.

Anyway, the next day we land ourselves at a fantastic Orchid Farm and spent two hours wondering around. I ended up buying three, Greg two. But one of his is super special. The names are very hard to remember as they are scientific. Now all I have to do is get a heat lamp and orchid zone set up in my apartment. Very exciting.

The day after, we got boogie boards and I we had some good time at the beach. The beach we found to be the most suitable, best waves and fewest people is called Slaughter House Beach. It is a turn or two past Fleming Beach, North of Napili. The beach had a large sand bar that gives it two breaks. The 2nd being much smaller and more my speed. About 6 years ago I had a terrible experience. I had gone out with my ex in Santa Cruz in high surf, we were surfing, or attempting to, at the time. I got stuck in a terrible shore break and had a panic attack getting myself out. Greg was fantastic, sticking with me and helping me get re-acclimated to the waves. By the last day I was body surfing (the rash on the tummy got me off the board after 1 day) and diving over and under the waves. So much fun!

Anyway, on Hawaii, fireworks are legal between 9 pm and 1 am on New Year's Eve. So we bought ourselves a big box, a bottle of champagne and a lighter and enjoyed the end of 2006 with just each other on the beach. It was the first time in years that I could just relax. So many New Year's Eves were spent worrying about being at the right party, or was everyone having a good time or would we rather be elsewhere... I was in the right place and with the right person.

The next day - yes, it did feel like this trip went on forever, and be glad I don't have pictures to show you...
The next day we went down Haleakala on bikes, then chased good waves and good weather - finding one or the other. Finishing the night with Ulelana. A dramatic show that had good moments in between dull sections.

On the way home I learned that my company is getting bought by Cisco and so work is now a grand confusion. Keep your fingers crossed for me and hope for Big Money with this shake-out.

With that, I've got to get back to work.

Happy New Year!