Sunday, December 21, 2008

Out of the Norm

Saturday morning I went with my friend & housemate, Ruth Ann to her yoga class. She has been telling me about how great it is ever since I moved in. I wasn't so sure, but the opportunity arose and I found myself safely tucked in her Volvo on the way to Berkeley at 7:30 AM.

The studio is in the trendy cluster of shops near where University Avenue meets highway 80. The train tracks pass there and the morning Amtrak train tooted as it headed north. The weather has been trending cold lately, so we pulled our jackets closer as we walked from the car to the studio.

Less than 10 people were there when we arrived. It took 10 seconds to see that I was going to be the youngest woman in there. Most of the class had hit menopause 10-20 years ago. Being the intellectual Berkeley earthy types, they dutifully accepted the extra roll around their middles and the wire gray hairs that crowded out their youthful color. Something about their educated morals prevented them from hiding the gray, I suspected.

While I was thinking, "would it kill you to use some hair product?" I could feel their scorn as the looked at me in my bright pink tank top that proudly declared, "Freakishly Strong". This was far from my fiercely athletic San Francisco yoga classes.

Now, I have to say, I tried to block it all out once we started. My goal was to have an hour focused on my breathing - no thoughts of past, future or contemplation. Simply calm breathing. But it kept creeping in. Things like, "Wow, I didn't think they'd be able to hold warrior 2 for so long."

After quite a bit of internal judging - judging them for judging me and judging myself for being so judgmental - I realized how great it was that I was doing a different practice of yoga. When in my regular class, I'm working so hard it is easy to keep my focus narrow. In this class, I had to push myself in a different way. Instead of fighting for my breath, I had to fight for a calm mind. I wish I could say that realization made it all easy, but no. I still struggled but felt better about the whole experience.

Recently I read an article about how to become lucky. The ideas continue to echo in my head. It encourages doing things to keep the mind open to the world. Go home on a different route. Focus on what is there, not on what one wants to be there. Doing this yoga class helped me stay open - drop my drive to get the crazy yoga workout and open up to what was actually happening. I shall continue the struggle to keep my mind more alert to what is happeneing.

Holiday Season Walk

Yesterday Tsunami and I took a nice long walk about town. We started out from the 6th & Brannan loft, went up & over to 9th, crossed Market and went West on Hayes. There were many people out, sales signs in the windows next to wreathes and holiday details.

We continued on Hayes, leaving the bo-ho artsy section, passing the projects and up the hill to Filmore. A right turn on Filmore and down the hill to the lively jazz area. We got some comments and I just smiled. The black street culture is so much more interactive than the land of the bo-ho.

We passed by Japantown, through yuppie Filmore, where I had to put Tsunami in her bag, lest she get trampled by the well shod feet going by. Again, shoppers, sale signs and Christmas cheer. The shops turned to mansions as we reached the apex of the hill. Over the crest and a view of the bay opened up. The few clouds stayed high in the sky, letting a painter's view hang. I saw the bridge, the Marin hills, Mt. Tam, the blue water, the houses tucked in the green, like ornaments on a well decorated tree. Outstanding view.

Down the hill we went, passing Union, then Chestnut and the beautiful people. Strange how my outfit does not change, yet how I feel wearing it changes by the neighborhood. I felt fuddy-dud and style free in Hayes Valley, overly athletic in SOMA, typically white going through the Filmore Jazz-land, perfectly normal in the Marina & Cow Hollow and then invisible while trekking by Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39. Strange how being adjacent to mid-western tourists relieves me of any insecurity of what I'm wearing.

At almost the end of Filmore, we made a left on Cervantes that took us to the west edge of the Marina Green. The weather was quite cool and without significant breeze, so most boats were in their slips. We picked up the pace as we headed towards Fort Mason. Up that hill and we ran into another wiener dog, Winston. Very nice guy - totally mellow and a wirehair that was suspiciously non-wiry. His coat shone with a silver-gray which looked much like a grandfather's beard. A very sweet dog and I was happy for Tsui to see that she wasn't alone as the only silky wirehair in this world.

Over Fort Mason and down to the Wharf where again I had to toss Tsui into the bad. But this time, I wasn't worried about some Prada heels crushing a hole in her paw, it was death by Adidas that frightened me. We did poke our heads into some tourist shops, as it was suggested that someone in England would like a San Francisco snow globe. I couldn't buy one. They were all heinous. Like garish mockeries of my beautiful city, wrapped in hard plastic with cheap bits in the water. Some things I just cannot do...

We were off again and happy to find the crowds thinning as soon as we passed Pier 39. Tsunami was back on the ground and the sun was tucking herself in behind the hills. We strided down the Embarcadero as dusk fell and the holiday lights detailed the sky scrappers much as the holiday flourishes detailed the goods in the store windows. By the time we got to the Ferry building, the transamerica pyramid star was glowing. At the bow & arrow, there were other stars in the sky to match the one atop the pyramid. So lovely.

Every year the city spiffs itself up for Christmas. I do realize much of it is meant to encourage us to share our wealth with the local merchants, yet I so appreciate the beauty of it all. Time, energy and thought all going into making things prettier, better. I so appreciate it. I get warm and fuzzy as I walk around the city, hearing the big band holiday songs pour out from the ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza. I love it. I cannot understand people for whom this time of year brings out such negativity; and the bravado of wearing their grinch like a badge of honor. Lighten up I say!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Furry Hearts

I brought little Tsunami on my first date with Marc. It helped that he was cooking me dinner and that Chez Marc allowed four legged friends in the restaurant. His two boxers were a bit wary of little Tsui , then again they still are(very funny, as the boxers weigh 10x Tsui and she can push Austin off his food). I'm not sure if it is a breed thing or if we doggie parents haven't quite gotten past the "step-siblings" phase.

Marc's dogs, Zoe & Austin, are beautiful, elegant boxers. They have big mugs that are often wet & slimy. So far they've covered me is drool, hair and scratches - Austin needs to keep his toes trimmer. Zoe speaks like Chewbacca when she wants attention. Austin growls when he's being over cuddled. Marc and his exwife got Zoe first and then Austin 2 years later. The pooches grew up together. They have a tight bond that has yet to extend to Tsunami.

When Marc and I first started dating, I knew I wanted the doggie love. I have special doggie love from Brendan's dog Maggie. Last time I visited, she got so excited that she peed on the floor THREE times! Not that I want the boxers wetting themselves when they see me, mind you, but I do want some acknowledgement that I'm a little special to them. This morning I feel like I got it a bit.

As usual, I got out of bed bright & early. Tsunami was doing her small doggie jig - the happy bounce-run-walk-spin that I was awake. Zoe and Austin got up with me this morning. They came downstairs with me and stayed. Usually they return to be back near the sleeping Marc. However this morning, even after they realized I wasn't going to feed them, they stayed with me. They are now dozing about the den where I'm working. They both approached me for love - which I didn't really expect them to do. Austin is arms' length away - I think I'm making the most headway with him.

I will keep feeding, walking & loving them. I know I'll totally win them over. It only took the cat 2 weeks... she already is coming to me for love and hissing at Marc's ex. Can't say that made me sad.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Uneducated Auto Bail Out Opinion

So I was just reading this:

Bush May Tap Wall St. Bailout Fund For Automakers

When I first read the headline, I thought hallelujah! Bush is calling for the Market to Fix itself. For our Capitalist giants to be required to bend to the laws of supply & demand - specifically, if you supply crappy product, you will find that the demand is equally as crappy. But no. Our Lame-duck President is trying to give away our string-free tax dollar allocation to the auto industry. This president's affection for lack of regulation is really working well for us, isn't it?

Now, I understand that idea of "too big to fail" and that there are ripple effects to letting these badly managed antiquated behemoths flounder. And I do think that we need to step in to help the situation. We do not want to see so many laborers & the economies that are based on the auto industry jobs crumble.

I believe we should give them money and I want a web of strings attached. I want ALL vehicles gas powered vehicles to have 50 MGP or higher. I want 50% of their fleet to be zero emmisions/electric/hydrogen - or get powered some other way than oil - and when I say Zero Emissions, I'm not talking about Bush's EPA's Zero-emmission. I want REAL zero emmissions - we can talk to the Europeans about this, as they seem to have a better grip on it. I want them to develop & nearly give out engine modifications to existing models to increase fuel efficiency and/or swap out internal combustion engines with a new, better, cleaner solution. It is not impossible. They just don't want to do it.

I want adult educaiton for their workers - they have a bloated workforce and they need to provide training for them to do other things. I want their Executive to Labor salary ration to be less than 200 to 1. I want the corporate jets to go - the executive bathrooms... they need to flatten out just like the rest of the companies out there.

I want my tax dollars to be used to maximum effect - if I'm going to bail out the auto-industry, I expect that it is going to re-invent, not only how we power our transportation, but revolutionize transportation. They should be required to re-education its workers so that they can do more for the company. How much untapped talent do we have?

These dollars should be tied to making America the World Leader in engine innovation. Do it better, faster, cheaper and cleaner. We can do it. I have faith in America.

I do not want one cent to be given to them if they have this idea that it will just let them be business as usual. The CEO's said they'd work for $1 - but they never said how much stock they were going to get. Is the company going to continue to pay for their cars? Can we get rid of their drivers too?

We need to help - we just can't allow our country, our auto-industry or our economy to keep on this wrong track.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mess Bush is Leaving Behind

As the days with Bush wane, I'm struck by how much damage that man was able to do.
Our environment is much worse off. That is no surprise, after his term as governor he took Texas to the top of the list for most polluted states.
Our economy is in shambles. He inherited a surplus and left us with the worst economic crisis since the great depression - along with government needed take-overs of our banking & auto industries.
Our country is involved in two wars, one of which was caused by his lies and falsehoods.
Our educational system continues to lose ground, and I have yet to meet a teacher or parent who has anything positive to say about "No Child Left Behind".

It is totally an completely amazing the damage his administration has done - and continues to do with his despicable mid-night presidential edicts. It seems like it will never end. I hope that Obama, with his force for good will be able to reverse much of the Bush legacy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip Highlights

So, I'm a bit late posting this. I hope you'll pardon my tardiness.

Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Marc and I headed South. We skipped out on Visalia and took the backroads to Three Rivers. I had booked a motel online which isn't my standard road trip system. In the past, we have just found hotels/motels/inns, however it was Thanksgiving and we were near often visited National Parks and I just didn't want to have that stress. So we drive up to the first place I booked and their "cabins" were single-wides and I was apprehensive.

Marc was not phased - good man! We got our room and crashed in the slightly too firm bed. The next morning, Wednesday I made up sandwiches, Marc tended the cooler and we were off by about 7 AM. We had packed most of our food, as both a cost savings measure (we were interested in how cheap we could do this trip) and so that we didn't have to stop all the time for food.

So we drive into Sequoia National Park and it is just beautiful. Except that we didn't have too much in the way of views due to a low could cover. That, however, didn't hide the big bear we passed as we drove in. I've been visiting the Sierra Nevada mountains my entire life and have never seen a bear. Marc on his first trip - there is one posing for photo ops.

We drive in, take a hike through the "oh my god these trees are so big" forest to Moro Rock. We visited the Ranger/Nature Station, did the Congressional Walk and then headed to Grant's Village in Kings Canyon Park. Again, I had booked a room in advance... not wanting to take a chance. This time, we get the keys and were sent to the "cabins". Oh dear, we drive over in the light rain and the cabins were clearly built in the 30's. Not only that, but 1/2 the village had tarp over the roofs, and were definitely not in habitable condition. The cabin is a duplex and the room fits the two full beds, desk and 1 night stand quite well... there is no phone, no TV and the bathroom was added on in the 50's sometime. How's that for authentic.

Marc had a bit of altitude sickness and so took a nap. We had dinner at the restaurant in Grant's Village - I cannot believe I paid $17 for a bowl of lamb stew. $17! Crazy...

But we did visit the nature center and had our hike planned so that when we woke up on Thursday, we were ready to go. The hike was around the Redwood Grove. As we drove up to the dirt road that would take us to the train head, I realized there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. I couldn't recall the last time I was happily about to trek off into bear filled wilderness in weather that would allow for snow to stick... this would be fun. No bear sitings on the way in, but we weren't sure if the all-wheel drive VW would be able to take a steep, possibly ice covered dirt road. So we decide to walk the 2 miles down to the trail head.

Marc kept saying, "Yes, it's fine" to my questions about "are you sure you want to do this?". I wanted to do this, and was amazed that he did too! But he did. We got to the train head, did the 7 mile loop and trekked back up. His little toe was angry... but he grimaced through it. The hike itself as so nice. We were totally alone. Aside from a truck passing us on the way down to the trail head (Ok, so the VW would have made it....) we were totally alone. It was really neat. The weather was still low clouds/fog. We found trees that, when toppled, would have fit 2 of our cabins within.

Eventually we made it back to the car, ate the sandwiches we were afraid to eat in the woods (the bear might smell and come & find us) and were off Northward to Oakhurst, a town not far outside Yosemite. We got there and some speed junkies at the front door checked us in. We showered and enjoyed our cheese & cracker Thanksgiving feast. There was so much to be thankful for.

Friday we were up a little late. We added up the mileage - we had done nearly 18 miles above 5000 ft elevation. We were a little tired. So we went out to breakfast at the local joint and pondered what it was about rural folk that gives them a special vapid expression that we never see on the urban or suburban dumb. We didn't find an answer.

But we got on the road late, but the sun was out, the clouds were gone and there was a long line of cars trying to get into Yosemite. The drive into the valley was filled with photo Ops and we took many of them. Marc did his fun, daily, morning update video. We had to do it twice, as he was too deadpan the first time. Our hike was short, we figured we'd give our bodies a little rest. We went East, to see Mirror Lake. And found another bear.

When asked how big the bear was, "Much bigger than us!" was our frightened conclusion. It crossed the path, not much more than 20 feet in front of us. We paused, and slowly inched forward up the train. Only to find that it had doubled back and was heading back to the trail. We then backed up the trail a bit until a nice man & his dog came along. He held his dog and we all went forward together. The bear had split by then. But we were on edge. About 1/2 a mile farther up, we passed a couple heading back in and they reported that they saw another bear - adding fear to anxiety. It was a tense walk. Thankfully, we were not alone for long. There were so many people on the trail.

When we reached Lake Mirror, we enjoyed the view, the company of 100 of our best friends - who for some reason were all Indian? And then took the main, busy road back to the Village. Marc's toe was really acting up by the end of it and we called it quits, heading to the Cedar Lodge in El Portal for our lodging.

Checking into the Cedar Lodge was amusing - I asked for a room upgrade and we were happily surprised when we got it. It had a kings size, comfortable, 4 poster bed. But better than that was the bathtub that was so big, we could sit in it side-by-side. And we did! So relaxing after the long hikes. Even though it was a short day, we did about 5 miles... taking the three day total to 23 miles.

Saturday, our last day on the trip. we woke fairly early and headed back to Yosemite. The night before we enjoyed dinner at the bar and our bar man suggested we do the upper Yosemite Falls hike - and I made sure that this was Marc's choice, as I had picked the 10 mile hike and didn't want to be torturing him. There was a little confusion and Marc realized, at about mile 2, that the hike was not to the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, but to the source. We did 2600 ft elevation gain in 3.5 miles. It was a world of switchbacks. I loved it - total exercise high. Marc loved the top - he had never done anything like that before and the way down. 7 miles and unbelievable views. What a way to cap our trip! I'll never see picture of the falls again and not think of my trek to the top.

Another neat thing - there was a 7 month pregnant woman we passed on the trail. Makes me think that I could do fun things while pregnant... not that I want to sit on the couch and eat bon-bons for 9 months (that would be my own personal hell).

The drive home was through rural California, more beautiful views and the longest twilight I have seen in a while. We crashed at home and then I looked up the questions I had noted down. While hiking Marc and I would occasionally come up with questions that neither of us had answers too... so at home I learned about the anatomy of trees, that Smokey National Park is the most visited National Park, followed by the Grand Canyon and then Yosemite. That the Grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bears and one more interesting fact that I have already forgotten. Damn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blog Heaven... Travel Log, Pre-Trip Preparation

Travel Log... nothing too deep here!
Marc and I are heading out on my first road trip since leaving Los Angeles & married life. I'm SO totally excited!! We're leaving in a few hours, driving out to 99 and south. Making a left to go over to Visalia - I think Duncan's friend Charles was from Visalia, always heard of it, never thought I'd pass though it. We're staying at Three Rivers tonight and then tomorrow we head into Sequoia National Park.

It has been ages since I've been to the mountains. I miss it so. Michael and I had such wonderful road trips. Speaking of Michael, I finally ran into him. Quite a pedestrian encounter, but shocking all the same. I have to admit, I do check his blog occasionally - the voyeur that I am. He seems to be doing well and that is good to see.

So, today we're off. Giant Sequoias today, then tomorrow King's Canyon. Then two days in Yosemite. I've got to do a little research and figure out some 3-5 miles hikes with views for us to do the next few days. More than anything, I'm looking forward to seeing the lovely landscape that is California. I want to see the hills and the views.

Next summer I hope to climb Half Dome. Marc is game. He's also game to join me on that marathon quest I have - how amazing is that? I think I found a keeper, and so quickly - another truly amazing thing. It's like I'm living under a rain cloud of blessings- but then, it could be in my outlook. I recently read an article about luck. How people see themselves as lucky see most of life as blessings. They look at what is and pluck out the good. Where as those who see themselves as unlucky are more focused, searching for what they want and often do not see it, or any other good thing as it doesn't fall into their myopic focus.

Department of Funny Names

I'm so juvenile - can I be the only one to find it humorous that Obama found someone with an odder name to name to his cabinet?
Obama Names Orszaq to Run White House Budget Office

Deep Thoughts from Dr. Who

Last night Marc and I were watching an episode of Dr. Who. (Boy do I feel geeky admitting that!)
Regardless, they were visiting New York in the 1930's and they were set in Hooverville - the homeless encampment that was there during the great depression.

What struck me was the thought, will this happen again with our current economic crisis? There was a recurring theme - work, no matter how menial the job - or starve. Will it get that bad? Mixed in with these thoughts was the recent NPR report on a farm in Colorado that offered to let the general public come and pick the fields bare after the harvest. 40,000 people showed up and there was some massive amount of food that was harvested and taken home.

The ideas that arise in my head are, "How can we have Americans going hungry when we are still exporting food"? We have more sophisticated food production techniques and we subsidize our crop production - can't we better manage that to bring food to those without in America?

Next, with the housing problems, will we again see Hoovervilles? In the 30's there was a general stoppage of the economy. The engine stopped humming. We are facing a current slow down of the engine now. Seems like we could use this time to improve the fundamentals of our system. What brought us out of the Great Depression was a war. This time I expect that innovation will save us. We have a fantastic base of intelligence in this country - and a culture that fosters innovation. Put money into research, development and solutions. The brought us a new way of doing business. Find new, cheaper, faster ways to do things and then lead the world with an engine of brain power.

We can do more science research, stem cell discovery, computer innovations, green energy - provide a better value proposition than over-sized, gas guzzling trucks from Detroit. We can make the needed changes. We have the internet and new, cheap ways to innovate. Anyone with access to a library can give themselves new skills, educate themselves and put themselves in a better position.

The people in Hooverville in the show didn't have those resources. They didn't have ways to add skills, or value. Now, with our new economy more people have more means to prosper. I think helping people see the new avenues could help fix our economy.

Monday, November 17, 2008


So yesterday I think I took myself down in Marc's opinion. I requested one television show. Now, I'm slightly anti-TV. I feel like it is a big waste of time, for the most part. I don't like getting hooked on shows, as I'm so drawn to them. I think of TV as somewhere between cigarettes and alcohol: Possibly a little could do you good; must mostly it is addictive and detrimental to your health.
I'm not alone -

Now, all that said - I did admit to Marc, my enjoyment of a specific show. This show is the equivalent to an umbrella drink you have only on tropical vacations - Wipe Out. It is a bit embarassing, as the show it 100% useless. I learn nothing. I do not feel empathy or compassion for any characters. No, instead I laugh and laugh and laugh.

The way I do justify this, however, is that laughter is the best medicine - see:
So, watching Wipe Out, or going to see Tropic Thunder or, my own personal favorite - Dodgeball: the True Underdog Story - it is all medicinal. Like going to the gym, but for mental health and well being. In the end, I just feel better. I do think my abs get a workout from jerking around all that air. My vocal cords are strained and I feel spent by the end of.

So, Marc, Please, Pretty Please - will you watch Wipe Out with me? It is for our health.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Older Brother Adoration

So, having grown up with Warren, I'm still programmed to have a mild dislike for him. As my brainiack older brother, I find that he is excessively smart and focused. In order to feel better about being in his shadow, I console myself with thoughts like, "He's a geek."
That said, I worked with him at Sunesis years ago and that was a wonderful, wonderful time for me. I did IT work and didn't really understand what was happening in the labs and on the robots - basically the research methods were beyong me.
But, thanks to my big brother, the geek, I finally understand.
Here's a little video he helped to create which blessed me with the light of understanding.
He did all the images of chemical structures, they spin and change from lines to bubbles and back. He both wrote & sells the open source software that runs that and does contract work - I think he occasionally works with lawyers on drug suits. If you're interested:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notes from the spam file

I work for a company that produces appliances to filter email for spam and viruses. I just got an email blast from a Product Manager who, for I think the first time in my 2 years at this company, wanted to report a giant drop in spam.
A company call McColo down in San Jose has been hosting icky sites - ones that allow trafficing of spam money, child porn and other bad stuff, was being monitored by their ISP Global Crossing. Global Crossing pulled the plug on them Tuesday afternoon. The result - a 75% drop in spam volumes. 75%!! Crazy. My own daily spam email went from the standard list of 20+ emails to 4. I was wondering of we had some new crazy-good filter. Nope, we just had less spam.
Marketing sent us this email so that we could answer questions from any confused customers. "No, your appliance isn't broken, they just shut down a big spam hub." Maybe I'll get a converstaion tlie that today... kinda doubt it.
If only that would cause more than a week or two dent in spam...

Here is more information:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last night I took Tsunami out for a walk just about at sunset. From where I walked, I could see Mt. Diablo in the west. The lighting gave a perspective of the distance and clouds such that they appeared to be a roof over Mt diablo. The colors moved from cloud white to tween pink as the mountain lost its details and became a dark silhouette on the horizon.

On the Eastern Front, the moon was coming up. It appeared fully if not almost. It glowed. With the sun on my right, the moon reflecting its light on my left, I paused to think. All that light bouncing off the moon is light that came from the sun and didn't get stopped by our planet. Earth's shadow is so microscopic on the planetary scale. While I think we're so big and my ego feels like we take up so much space, in reality we don't. A lunar eclipse happens - I've seen several in my life, but they aren't a regular occurrence, as I would think they should be. The moon is small compared to Earth, and yet it rarely finds itself in our shadow.

We are much smaller than we'd like to think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lovely Sunday

Yesterday was one of the better Sundays on record.
It wasn't a Sunday I could have imagined enjoying 10 years ago, when Sunday was for tending hangovers and recounting the events of Saturday night. This Sunday found its glory in being a day filled with exactly what I wanted to do; a manifestation of my priorities and values.
Unlike years past, I awoke around 8 AM and was out on the open road by 8:30. Marc and I had an urban hike on the morning agenda. We left the house and went south, then west, past the ball park and around along the Embarcadero, stopping for breakfast at Ghirardelli Square.

Most of this route - said like "root" if you're British - I knew by heart, having walked it so many times. However I didn't know exactly where Ghirardelli square was. Marc, who is not a long time San Francisco resident, said he'd lead me there. I have to admit, I had my doubts as we walked the full length of the tourists district. When we passed the Cannery, I was pretty sure we were going to have to double back. Instead, it appeared like a mirage, just as Marc promised. As we climbed the steps, we passed McCormick's & Kuletos' where Adam had taken me to dinner over 12 years ago. I never could figure out where we had eaten and was thrilled to finally learn where it was.

We had agreed to see what we could find for food at Ghirardelli Square. I had hoped we would find Fritz's opens so we could enjoy their crepes & fries, but it was no longer there. We dined at Lori's Diner which was exceptionally mediocre. Tsunami did get to come in the restaurant with us, which was nice and my eggs were good.

Before long we were off again, through Aquatic Park, up over Fort Mason, down along the waterfront of the Marina Green and then to Crissy Field. We walked down & back, then stolled through the Palace of Fine Arts. For the last few months, I had done a number of urban hikes in my walking training. This was the first long hike that Marc had kept me company. He, like me, enjoyed nearly the same thing - watching how the buildings move as one walks past, drinking in the views, mocking the tourists. Having a companion for this walk was such a treat.

After tackling Filmore Street and passing the local color to be found in Hayes Valley & the Civic Center, we made our way home completing a solid 11.5 miles. We were beat. Marc took a short snooze while I packed up my things. We hopped in the car and headed east out to the Country Home. With a quick stop at Whole Foods, we landed at Marc's place with food & provisions for the coming week. We unpacked and I was left to cook in the kitchen.

I boiled up a chicken, picked the meat from the corpse for snacking and boiled down the stock further to have for future soups. The main dinner was a chili with squash & chard. I was quite a prize, having not carefully read the recipe. I was 2 cans of beans short as well as a can of crushed tomatoes. Marc kindly ran out to get those, while I kept cooking, only to realize that the squash I was peeling & dicing was not the butternut that the recipe called for. I simply minimized the amount of squash and then realized I was short on ground cumin. So I had to spend 10 minutes grinding the cumin seeds into ground cumin.

After dinner we enjoyed reading hour. Such a lovely day. Walking, cooking and reading. I tended my health, I fed my body and stimulated my mind. Such simple pleasures, I wonder how it took me so long to enjoy their richness.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Two Ideas for the next election

The apparent passing of Prop 8 has put a damper on the happiness I felt with the Obama victory. How can so many of my fellow Californians be so prejudiced?

But more than that, how can it be that we only need 50%+1 vote to change the state constitution? That is also totally amazing. Women make up more than 50% of the population, maybe we should change sufferage to only women? We'd just need that 50% +1 to remove men's suffrage. So I think we should put two measure on the ballot: 1.) Change the constitution so that it takes a 60% of the vote to change the constitution and 2.) Introduce a marriage equality constitutional measure to allow any 2 people, over the age of 18 to wed. You know, that really should be over the age of 21 - getting married at 18 is just silly. Maybe 30 would be the best... I was unable to get it right at the ripe age of 28. But fix both problems with one fell swoop.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I am so happy. McCain is about to concede defeat.
We really are seeing the end of the horrific Bush years.


Less than 100 years ago, women weren't allow to vote. At that time we were working our way to citizenship from chattel. The long road hasn't been easy and we're still plugging away. Not helped by those who think that discrimination is (choose one of the following): Non-existent, our fault (be it that we are actually inferior or our actions simply lead to so be paid less), justified.

Today we get to vote. I encourage everyone to go out and vote. In California we have two very important measures to defeat: Prop 8 & Prop 4. They strip away rights of our citizens. The conservative minority keeps trying to make our society more hateful and restrictive. We must go out and vote against these two measures. Prop 8 removes the right of gay people to marry. Prop 4 requires that minors get signed permission from their parents to have an abortion - leaving our most vulnerable population stuck with back alley abortions or unwanted pregnancies.

Also, we have the chance to vote for president. We can take steps to move our country to a more positive vision - one where we care for the environment; where we provide for those with less; where we might give people a shot at health insurance; where we education our children instead of leading them into useless wars; where we join the global community instead of trying to dominate it.

We can get on a better path. Please go out and vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Better Money Management

I feel fantastic. Finally I have vindication...

Since I've been aware, I have seen the Republican Party run up massive amounts of government debt with out of control spending and their lets give the rich a free ride tax policy. I'm not the only one who sees it that way.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Last Spring I decided to start walking as my primary form of exercise. I got a couple books on the topic. I was giving a GPS watch to track my walking. I've really enjoyed it. Part of the motivation was to walk a 1/2 marathon. I signed up for the one happening in San Francisco on Sunday, and then I jumped the gun and did one in July.

But even with the July race behind me, I still was looking to the Nov. 2nd race to improve my time. Now, not so much. I moved, I traveled and essentially took 3 weeks off training. Then I got a nasty cold that has morphed into a sinus infection. I feel miserable. My right sinus is throbbing while my body feels as if I just finished a 13.1 mile trek.

There will be more races. I will sit this one out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I think I fell down on my travel log of the last week.
As a result, I am going to describe some of the highlights while awaiting some yummy crepes courtesy of a fine Englishman.

Friday's hightlight was walking with Mary and her friend Lou. Mary and Lou know each other from a former job. We talked about everything under the sun and I was able to use my story of, "I was on a plane with Matt Gozales!" to derail a potential conversation about the presidential race. I did indulge a bit and told them about my new man, Marc. They were hopeful and suggested that I have him out for a thurough evaluation before taking any additional steps. I'm fine with that. I'm sure Marc would have fun and I just love that little corner of Cape Cod, I'll go back any time.

Friday night was back to Boston to stay with bestfriend Hilary. She has the cutest condo in Chelsea. I was very, very impressed. A condo and it is NICE. We enjoyed a little chatting, went out for Indian food and crashed.

Saturday we met up with Kate & Heather, and Heather's friend Cynthia. I know Heather from volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in San Francisco. She knows Cynthia from their time in the Peace Corps. Kate was with me & Hilary at Smith - and she and I did our Junior Year Abroad in Italy together. Kate's an Artist... so she was a good guide for our tour of the ICA. But we all met up for lunch at the ICA Cafe. Very fun.

Now the company at lunch was just fantastic. But that would be boring to read about... so I'll move on to the incredible exhibit at the ICA. The featured show was of Tara Donovan. She builds organic shapes with everyday objects. One of the most sucessful is the straw wall. She piles up straws and then sculpts out forms. Magical. If you are in Boston, I highly reccomend a trip.

After the ICA, Kate, Hilary and I went down to Harvard Square. We were chasing a display of jewelery that my housemate's friend had on display. But we didn't know where the display was, only that it was in Cambridge. Well, we didn't land near it and were swamped by the crush of visitors to that area for the Head of the Charles. So, we did what most people would do - ducked into a pub for a drink and nibble.

Saturday night, Hilary tolerated my domestic leanings and we made a yummy lamb stew with lemon & olives. That stew was yummy and much different from the lamb stew I made for Marc, Roy, Rob & Ron last night. There is the oddest streak of lamb stew craving in me.

Sunday Hilary, Frances (Hilary's housemate) and I went out to the harvest festival at Rockport. So cute, so quaint and so damn cold. We wandered around town. I got a mug with polar bears for Hilary and she got the matching bib for Giada. Francis was the responsible one, not indulging in retail therapy. The description of the festival described music and fun, yet with the blowing wind and chill, there wasn't much outdoor merriment.

Monday I departed the 35 degree weather in Boston for 85 degree heat in Austin. Meeting baby Giada was just wonderful. She is so cute and she just loved my cell phone. I only got worried on the 2nd day when I realized she had inadvertantly unlocked the phone and placed a call to Marc at 5 am. Thankfully it didn't wake him up, but she did get some phone restriction.

Tuesday we ventured off to Lake Travis. Adam & Rose have joined this club at a dock where they can rent a boat for cheap rather than owning it. Very nice service. We got a pontoon boat and an innertube and were off. Rose made some amazing tuna salad sandwiches and yummy fruit salad that we chowed down on prior to going tubing. I was first and about choked on water laughing so hard while getting dragged about. Next up Adam wanted to go with baby Giada. He decided to do the standard inner tube, but got in, got the baby and promptly flipped. Thankfully there was no harm aside from some tears from Giada.

On another note, this trip to Austin was one of the best. Both mornings I took a walk around Town Lake... got in some exercise and enjoyed the scenery. Adam and Rose live in the cutest neighborhood. Adam talks about how it is in transition. Most of the cottages were built in the early 1900's. It sounds like they were starting to fall down until 10-20 years ago when they were getting purchased as low cost houses. People started to fix them up, remodel and in some cases, totally redo. It feels like a Burningman settlement. While there is a theme to the structures, the variations feel like an artist working on a concept - a bit like Monet and his haystacks. I look forward to returning.

Back to San Francisco on Wednesday and then out to Oakley to be with Marc and meet his friends visiting England. Lucky me, I got included in the annual bowling trip. I am a little embarassed that I won the tournament - I think they were just being gentlemen... or maybe it was my game's improvement with each drink. Eather way, they were gracious with my victory.

Friday my cold took me out - I was on the couch most of the day, marveling at how being sick drops my IQ significantly. While I did check emails for work, I did my best to not respond, as only 1 piston was firing. Today, I'm still in the famous pink pj's, my head feels like it will soon explode while my nose is exploding. I hope I recover soon. I'm lazy and not going to proof read this entry, please excuse all flubs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Words of Wisdom

So I've been irked by a certain cousin's status posting on Facebook. The glass is always half empty. Not enough money. Working out is hard. I feel bad for her. I've been in that mentality. Where the world is big and scary and simply too much.

The last few years I've made a departure from that mind frame. I wish I could share with her words of wisdom. Something to help her move from where she is to where she wakes up happy for the day. And then I ask, how? How can I share the wisdom with out her asking? Firstly, she needs to want & believe there is a better way. Then, what would I say?

The glass is always filled half way. There will always be people richer and poorer, happier, sadder. We don't get what we want in life - no one does. I likened it to being in a restaurant. Each person orders what they want. I might pick a fillet mignon with a mushroom sauce, truffled potatoes and brussel sprouts sauteed in garlic butter. However from the kitchen comes mussels in a lemon, white wine broth. It is yummy and briny and something I might not have choosen for my selft.

It is up to me how to resopnd. I can try the mussels - they might suit me just fine and could turn out to be more to my liking than that fillet I thought I wanted. I might talk to the waiter and see what I can do about getting a fillet - work to get what I want; fighting against what was given in an attempt to get my own vision. Or I might pick at the mussels and annoy my dinner guests with complaints at how I didn't get what I wanted.

We all get served something else in life - we get to choose our reaction to it. The fun of life is that we get mussels. The fun is that we're at the table. We're eating. We've got company. That there is a meal at all I hope she can someday appreciate the meal instead of focusing on the problems with the service.

Framing the problem in a larger context is critical. If you isolate the physical discomfort of a work out, yes, they are tough and can be painful. However, when moving the frame back to include what they do for the mental & physical health they are much more enjoyable. I had the worst long walk to date 2 weeks ago. I was out in Oakley and there weren't sidewalks. I was walking on the dusty shoulder of the road with large trucks whizzing past. It was hot, and I couldn't find any drinking fountains. Until the last 3 miles, I disliked the scenery and couldn't distract myself by enjoying lovely vistas. It was the slowest and most unpleasant walk I had taken to date. Yet, I didn't stop. I didn't cut back short. I set out to do 12 miles and I was going to do 12 miles. I wanted to burn those calories. I wanted to fulfill the promise to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could over come difficulty. It sucked. I'm glad I did it.

Another part is not being a victim. Take control of what you can control. You can always do something. It might not be what you want or the ideal, but you can take action. If you don't like your body - it is up to go you to change it. Change the mixture of food intake. Change the exercise routine. It may be tough & unpleasant and so is disdain for one's appearance.

But I'm preaching to the choir. I don't think she'll ask. I hope she does. I'll keep working my message, honing it and making it more uplifting. I want to be ready if she ever does. Cousin don't preach.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brushes with Greatness

As I settle into my seat on my jetblue flight to Boston, via JFK, I see a familiar face heading down the aisle. I know him... but not sure where/how. So familiar... and then the guy in the row behind me nails it, “That’s Matt Gonzales!” And it is. I’m flying – literally, as I write this, but there will be lag time between writing and posting – with the Green Party Vice Presidential candidate. So odd.

I turn back to my 2.5 month stack of New Yorkers and try to make headway. I finish the August 25th issue – not much in there and move on to the Oct 6 – too much in there! And then find that after I read an article on the painter Elizabeth Peyton I’m not ready to move on to the one about Normal Mailer – someone I feel like I should know more than I do. But maybe I’ll skip it and move on to the Stolen Forests piece on tree theft in China.

And then I feel the connection with green and china and realize what I really want to do is revise my life plan. I’m not sure if I’ve written about that before. It is one of the best things to come out of my attempt at being a mortgage broker, the Duncan Life Plan. I want to share it with a friend and realized it really needed some tune-up. 2008 didn’t go quite as planned in some regards and in others, I believe having my goals articulated helped me grow and keep focused.

In fact, my clarification on family and friends helped motivate me to take the trip that I am currently on. Seeing my cousins, Aunt & Uncle, friends, Hilary & Adam is a priority to me and I am happy to live my priorities. While I’m still adjusting to life without Greg, I’m conscious of what a blessing it was to be with him for 2 years. How I was able to grow and come away with a strong picture of my values.

So, I’m reflecting on my priorities, flying across county and playing with my camera. You know, I don’t think I’m ½ a photogenic as I was at a younger age. Photos to come... I’m imitating Adam with a shot of the world from the airplane window and my work. And I chickend out - I'm not willing to post the picture of me, sorry... just not good enough.

I’ll get better – that’s why I have a life plan. Each day, each hour, I make better choices. And with it comes a deep seated happiness. Matt Gonzales lives his values, as far as I can tell. He’s putting himself out there, raising issues and working for his community. I’m not there, yet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On my way to work

Driving in today, I saw the most beautiful sunrise. I came down the hill on 101, passing the dump and there was a orange-pink sky. Little smatterings of clouds were catching the sun's rays. The hills in the East Bay were still in shadow, creating a dramatic silhouette against the rosy dawn. It was still dark enough for the lights to sparkle and the bay water was serene. As if Nature was aware of its beauty, it sent a few birds up to complete the scene.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tsui Love

I got my first real doggie scare yesterday. I took Tsunami for her monthly grooming visit. She doesn't much care for grooming. Despite that, I insist that a professional clean her ears, file down her nails and giver her a monthly clean-up & wash.

However, things took a bad turn yesterday. Tsunami escaped. She wriggled free of the groomers arms just as a visitor was coming into the store. The open door allowed my wee-one to flee down the Embarcadero. She knows the 'hood, as we walk there all the time. The groomer chased her, but I think all that walking I've done with Tsui has only served to make her quick & elusive.

A nice guy with a bike had her briefly, but she wiggled free again and went on a homeward direction up the embarcadero. Up near the Waterbar two woderful women were able to corner her and take her home. I have no idea how/who they called the groomer... I think the guy on the bike realized what was happening and suggested who to call. But the called the groomer who went over with a photo and saw that my sweet Tsunami was there & safe.

Greg drove me over to get her and I brought her home safe and sound. Wow, dog ownership is exhausting. With all that, I have millions & millions of thank yous for the strangers who stopped in the day to rescue my dog. And a big thank you to the groomer for being so pro-active about signage and getting my dog back.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Like a Jackson Pollock Painting

Life today feels like a mess so I think of art.

I watched the debate for 1 hour last night. I got so annoyed by McCain's wheezy, "My Friend" weirdness that I have to turn it off. He reminded me of the that villain from the 1940's movies who rasps, "Yes Boss" when asked to do some diabolical task. Not what I want in the leader of the free world.

I'm moving. It's only for a bit, a short term, furnished rental. Tsunami is coming with me. I'm excited. And want to thank Greg for being a total champ in all this. Cheers to you Greg!

I'm going to be travling for the majority of the next 2 weeks. If moving isn't enough chaos, I thought adding in two trips would kick it up a notch. I'm SO excited to go out to Cape Cod to see my Aunt Mary & Uncle Ed. Then over to Boston where Hilary is hosting me for a few days. I hope to get in a quick visit with Heather & Kate. Monday I'll head to Austin to meet Giada - Adam's wee one. I'm sure I'll be posting from the road - pictures & reports.

I hope to be home & settled in time to vote.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Prop 4 - Vote No

With the Presidential election less than 30 days away, many important issues get lost in the media blitz. One of these things is Proposition 4 - a constitutional amendment (since simple laws on this matter keep getting struck down) to require minors to obtain parental approval for an abortion.

We all believe in good family values. Supporting and encouraging close ties between parents and children. However, if those ties don't exist, legally imposing them at a crisis time does a huge disservice to our girls. I believe it is up to the parents to build a strong relationship with their daughters. With that in place, and she were to get pregnant, she'll go to them. They, as a family, can then figure out the best course of action.

However, this law doesn't do anything to build those family ties. Instead, it simply injects government into the family at a crisis time. This law puts the girls who don't have parental resources, our most vulnerable population, in a terrible situation. They don't have the resources at home to deal with the crisis and then they are not allow to manage it on their own. This law severly limits their health care options. They will be forced to forge signatures, carry the child - without family support/resources - or try to terminate on their own - with dangerous and possible fatal consequences.

Our girls are too important than to be used as pawns in the cultural war on womens' rights.

Please Vote No on 4.

More information:

Elite Lovers, I'm not the only one

It seems that I'm not the only voice saying that Elite is not a bad word:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debates Discussed

I very much enjoyed watching last night's debate. I wonder how many tuned in expecting Tina Fey to be up there talking to Biden.

I didn't know much about Biden and was very impressed with his answers. They addressed the questions, they were complete and I felt like he could have talked more on several subjects. He was calm and intelligent.

As for Palin, she kept repeating the same things. I really wanted Biden to say, "You know, Governor Palin, just because you keep calling McCain a Mavrick doesn't make him one." She wasn't remarkably stupid - but is that the backhanded compliment we want said about our nation's #2 leader? She blatantly disregarded the questions asked of her several times to return to the subject she had clearly felt more comfortable with - how much information can she cram study in 2 weeks? I did get the impression that she was like a high school senior who parties until Finals week and then gets stuck trying to learn everything before the big test.

On another thing, I was shocked that she could juxtapose our need to improve our infrastructure with the cut taxes slogan. How are we going to spend more money with tax cuts? I just don't get it. Fiscal responsibility - the Republican Party has lost that completely.

I hope we get a good set of montages and SNL skits in the coming days.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I forgot -

Go Watch The Debates!
Register to Vote!
Get Out And Vote!

I will send you a personal email reminder if you need help with any of the above activities.
Just send me your email.
I will not sell your email or market to you - only send you reminders for elections.


I have to say I'm totally jazzed for tonight's debate. I enjoyed the presidential debate last week - having watched it with pugs for company. They didn't give much good feedback, but I had a friend on IM who I was sharing comments with and a running commentary string on Facebook. I think Obama came off as knowledgeable and McCain seemed still and very old.

Now, I've got higher expectations from the Vice-Presidentail debates. With Sarah Palin clearly demonstrating her lack of intelligence in her recent interviews, I'm hoping to see her get knocked about a bit. I expect that she'll be up, not only against Biden, but the cultural bias against women. It is nearly impossible for a woman to appear to have leadership qualities, as it is a moving target. Whatever qualities we look for in a leader, women just lack. If she stands up for her self, she'll likely be seen as shrill. Combine that with her utter lack of qualifications and it things appear dim for Sarah.

What I find extra angering is how she and the campaign aren't taking responsibility for her gaffs, but blaming "gotcha journalism". How is being asked direct questions a gotcha? If she says she has international experience, I'd like to hear about it. Living near Russia doesn't count. She says the Supreme Courts' decisions have divided America - but can't name one? These are basic conversational questions. When someone makes a statement, they better have facts, figures and the ability to give a rational backup for what they proclaim.

To me I see it as another attack by the Republican Right to try to limit our freedoms. Bush is well known for his distain of the media. I am frightened that our top leader holds freedom of the press in contempt. One of the key bits of our Bill of Rights he doesn't like, as it hinders his ability to bamboozle the populace. Vile.

I want transparency in the government. I want intelligence. I want benevolance. Yes, I'll ask for the moon and the stars to. We can do better.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Living Fully

I went Super Camp when I was 15. One of the things I learned there, aside from taking notes in a graphic mode instead of outline, was to live fully. To do everything I do at 100%. If you're going to run, run to the best of your ability. If you're going to sing along to the radio, don't just sing, dance too. Don't hold back. Go all out.

Sounds easy, until fear creeps in. The standard FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt). "What will people think?" "Are you sure this is a good idea?" "Maybe I'm not good enough."

But then the other side counters with, "What is the worst that could happen? Really?" "What would you miss out on if you didn't?" "If you wait to be good/rich/prepared enough you'll never do it" And it gets easier to let go. Easier to be more daring. Easier to get off the couch and take action. Easier take the risk. Easier to say what one thinks. Easier to ask the hard questions.

We only get one go-around on this planet. Volunteer for that hard project. Take the trip you're thinking about. Have the kids (no, I'm not pregnant, sorry mom!).

Goodness, I sound like a self help book. I hope I help more than just myself.

In Defense of Brains

So, I hear people calling Obama an Elitist. And I can't get it. Doesn't Elite mean, Highest Caliber? The Top Quality? Why is that a bad thing?
I want the best and the brightest running the government. I want thoughtful, knowledgeable and intelligent people running the government. I don't want those whose top quality is loyalty running the government.
It is clear that the McCain crew has no intention of changing the Bush ways. Palin wasn't even able to finish school in a normal amount of time. What is her track record? Raising local taxes. Getting HUGE earmarks for her small town. Doing her best to restrict access to information.
Now, if one has a choice, wouldn't he/she want to go to the best doctor? Wouldn't one take their car to the most capable mechanic? Why would it be OK for the government to be different?
I am in favor of the elite. I'm in favor of the smart running the government. I'm in favor of those with education finding solutions to the credit crisis. I not in favor of CEO's in charge of energy companies writing our energy policy to line their pockets. I'm not in favor of Bank Presidents getting billion dollar bail outs to solve the crisis they created.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Morning Mile

I'd like to say that Tsunami and I like to go for morning walks, but that would be a lie. Tsunami tolerates her morning walk as she knows that she'll get food at the end. I, on the other hand, get up for work an extra 1/2 hour early so that I can take a break at sunrise to go for a walk. All in the name of quality dog parenting.

The middle of summer was my favorite time to walk in the morning. In June, the sun rises before 6 AM. The Embarcadero is still asleep. Only the construction workers on their way to the Infinity are about, parking & walking with their lunch boxes to the site.

While the sky changes in the east, highlighting the eastern hills. The bridge lights stay on, but fade against the imposing outline of the bridge. Those living on the street can be found still dozing or break down their night encampment. I find it surprising how early the homeless are in the sleeping bags and how early they are up; much more in rhythm with the day.

We walk down to the ball park and back. The sun comes up. The sky's morning pastel hues turn to a pale blue. I return from my peace-seeking walk to feed the dog and answer missed calls.

Now, with sunrise closer to 7 am, there is more traffic. More people on the street, more cars making their way to the office. I forget that I don't have the street to my self, and only 1/2 way to Market street do I realize my pink, flannel PJ top could be visible under my partially zipped up coat. Summer in San Francisco and I stay warm on my morning walks with a calf length down coat. Living here does make one soft.

Talking with a friend about his home town of London. He said it was much like San Francisco - lots of culture and terrible weather. Funny, never thought if it that way.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tsunami Status

I think I want to start a new doggie owner support group, as I need to know that I'm not alone with the excessive doggie worries.
Tsunami is fine after the chocolate incident, except that she started this odd eating-wheezing thing. Sunday afternoon I had gone to my friend's house for dinner and it was a wee embarrassing. My friend does know about dogs - he has 2 boxers, yet when it came to doggie feeding hour and Tsunami starts to sound like she's dying, I have to say I was a little uncomfortable. Again, she seemed fine... except for this snort/wheeze noise. Such a small dog can make a big noise. I ignored it and hoped it would go away.
Unfortunately it didn't.
Monday morning I feed the doggie and the wheezing is worse. She kept having to stop eating to do the wheezing thing. Tears are coming to my eyes... I call the vet. She finishes her meal, comes over for some love (I am so well trained, she should be giving me the treats!) and then curls up in the doggie bed under my desk.
I take her to the vet only to learn that the wheezing is totally fine. When doggies toss their cookies, or as Sal cleverly noted, "Tsunami tossing her cookies is called a cyclone." Thank you Sal - when are you going to write that clever book? - digression!
Dogs can inflame their soft palette when they get ill and that was what happened to Tsuanmi. Nothing to be done, she's fine, she'll heal. Nearly $70 to learn that (and to get some heart worm medication for the pup).
Can I be a hypocondriac on my dog's behalf?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chocolate Blessings

When I got home last night, I found that Tsunami had consumed a full Dagoba chocolate bar (I only name the brand as I read a fascinating story of the founder of Dagoba in the New Yorker and feel so sophiticated when I consume his chocolate). We were careless and left it on the coffee table. Tsunami took it to task. I found the shredded remains of the wrapper on the couch.

Knowing that dogs and chocolate don't mix, I was terrified. Would she die? Would she be sick all night? I stayed up with her a bit - I think my anxiety was preventing me from slumber. She seemed normal, but a little energetic for 1 AM. I crashed on the couch to be near her. At 3:50 I wake up to what sounds like Tsunami eating. I knew she shouldn't be eating, this could only be something bad.

I look over the couch to see her licking up her vomit. She had tossed her cookies and was re-eating her evening snack. I stumbled to the sink, got one towel wet & soapy, the other just wet. By the time I got back to the couch, she had finished up all that had made it to the floor. I wiped down the couch, covered the couch with a sheet and tried to go back to sleep, hoping that would be the only incident.

7 AM and I'm awake again. Why? I check the vacinity for vomit - none, and try to go back to sleep. Tsunami wants none of it. She is running back & forth along the couch. It takes a bit, but finally pull my self together and decide I'm going to try to run the excess energy out of her. I tell my woes to a friend via email and learn that she's probably just hyped up on caffiene. She is. We did about 3 miles and she was still looking for wind sprints at the end of it all.

But we head south on the Embarcadero. The booths are just getting set up for the SF Block Party. I have to say - that was so cool!!!

The YMCA had a hula-hoop station as well as some work-out gear at the green near the ball park. The Delancy street folk were cooking up a BBQ. I kept walking down past the park, around the cove and found San Francisco Double Dutch teaching people how to jump rope. There was a solar powered DJ Station. Farther down there was more music and a place to rent skates & rollerblades.

People were everywhere - family, couples, singles. Everyone smiled and casually greeted others in passing. I help Tsunami so that kids & adults could pat her silky fur. There were roaming sound systems bringing tunes up & down the embarcadero.

The best part was that they had openned up PacBell Park - or whatever they are calling the stadium these days... and I went up via the back door, where one can observe the games at ground level. The nice lady said that my dog couldn't go out on the field, but she'd watch her so I could. I hesitated. I hate to leave Tsunami. But the pull of running the bases was just too great. I tied her up and ran out. I can't say what a rush it is to be out on the field. The stands were empty, but the vision of how it feels to have them filled and look up - I can only imagine. I started at 1st and did a fast run around - as if I had been on 1st and the guy behind me hit a double that I was going to make into an RBI. I ran fast - amusing the stadium watchers. They tried to get me to do a 2nd lap.

What a rush!! I'm still smiling.
I mostly tired out my pooch. I might have to take her out again and go North this time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Slideboxx or I have really cool friends

I loved working at Sunesis. Almost all (there were a few exceptions) were remarkably smart, driven and all around good. I miss working with them.

One of them, my former manager, Charles Wolfus, developed (with some geeky help from another Sunite) Slideboxx - I have to say I was a bit skeptical about it, but there is a free trial, so to humor Charles, I downloaded it.

It rocks! I point it at my presentations folder and I then have thumbnails of all the slides in all the presentations. We've all done it - we have a specific slide that gets altered just a wee bit and we want a specific version and to find it involves opening 3-10 different presentations. Now, I can just scan through the thumbnails, then click & drag it to the other window, where I build my new presentation. SO COOL!!

I have to say, try it! Even if you're not a big presenter (I'm not), it really saves time.
Just to make it easy for you...Download

Now, I am just amazed that someone I know came up with this! Its like knowing someone who invents something fantastic and usable... like, say um, the toaster. That analogy isn't working out well.
Anyway, keep it up fine friends! I enjoy greatness by association.

Monday, September 01, 2008

How dumb do they think we are?

The GOP desperately wants to woo those women voters. The moms concerned about their children and their futures. So they picked a female VP to run with ancient McCain. Palin, a mother of 5 children who should know about what it is like to be a mother & woman. She's got 1 child still in diapers and her oldest is pregnant with the next generation. I guess that Abstinence Only Education worked - Thanks Bush! But she will marry the father... I with the young couple truckloads of luck, they will need it. Do you think it will be weird for the child to have an uncle one grade level above it in school?

Really, could this woman be any farther from Hilary Clinton? She's conservative. She abhors a woman's right to choose. She's down for drilling in the arctic wilderness and raping our environment with no thought of leaving a bountiful world for all of her children. She's a right-wing wack job.

It amazes me. They insult us while trying to woo us. How much more clear do they make it? The Republican Party is not a place for women.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I was at a yoga thing on Saturday where the teacher was talking about our internal filters. Like when we want to buy a car, we have an idea of that car in our mind and then our brain starts to see them. We suddenly see all the silver BMW's or red Priuses or whatever it is we want. And then I was reading a quote about how most of us live in echo chambers.

Understandable, we watch things that we like. We read books that reinforce our vision of the world. And I was wondering how much do I live in that echo chamber. For my liberal self, San Francisco can be a glorious bubble. However, in an effort to grow and better see the world, getting out of the bubble and turning off my filters would be beneficial.

The book I was reading suggested that artists try a NASCAR event. I think I'll take Drag-Racing.
Nature lovers should try a city hike. It is almost hard for me to come up with ideas... I should try reading the Christian Science Monitor or Fox News. Oh that sounds dreadful - the Fox News Part at least.

Maybe I don't really like this idea. Much worse that eating one's brussel sprouts.

Tsunami Takes a Nap

Tsunami sleeping with abandon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

5 'stashios

I just got to my desk at the office to find 5 pistachios waiting for me. No note. Just five little guys hanging out.

I'm not sure how/why - I didn't see anyone enjoying pistachios on Friday. The could be 'stachio refugees. I should care for them, not eat them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Composting Blues

The bell has rung and I'm going on round 3 with the compost machine.

I think I wrote about the compost explosion. I got that all corrected - added the sawdust & fresh dirt (thanks Mom!). Everything was fine until I jammed the machine. Suddenly it went from a mixing session every couple hours to one ever 65 minutes then, to out-do itself (I think it got into the spirit of the Olympics) and upped the ante to non-stop mixing. I called & emailed Naturemill. I think they were having a bad week - but they've more than made up for it now. If nothing else, I expect they may give me a "Dedicated Composter of the Year" t-shirt.

While they didn't let me pick-up a fix from their office, they did get back to me and had a fix for the trap door in my hands in less than 24 hours. They also explained how to re-set the machine (unplug, press the OK button & then plug the power back in) and I got it back to normal functioning.

Unfortunately through all this I was utterly unable to control my composting urges (I am thinking I might need 2 of these suckers to keep pace with my biodegradable waste), as I kept adding material. I added baking soda and saw dust, but I think that with some of the fussing and the excessive additions, I might have freaked out the delicate microbes.

I've stunk up the apartment again. It makes me sad. However, I will persevere. Over my nose, I'll put a clothes pin and I will numb my senses with additions of red wine. In the end, I know I will conquer the compost. I will master the mulch!

I'm burning a sacred scented candle for good luck.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I woke up with songs in my head. Initially it was Estelle's This American Boy.
But that was superseded by the song from my dancing all night at illegal parties in SOMA warehouses - that would be before the stadium was built and the 'hood got gentrified and started to be called South. But this song, I can recall the refrain, and have no idea as to the name or artist. "Sunshine on a cloudy day... makes my soul" and then the lyrics get blurry - something about lift up and fly away - not sure and I have no glo-sticks to jar my memory.
It isn't the Temptations or Otis. Its acid jazz with a female vocalist. No one I am still in touch with from that scene remembers the song and I can't find anything on the web. It isn't this: either.
So, I'm going to get that out of my head and play my other favorite from that time in my life, Future Sound of London's Papa New Guinea - a song that never fails to take me to a happy place.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend of Fun

I headed south for the weekend, catching a Friday afternoon flight from SFO to Santa Ana. I hadn't been back to So Cal in nearly 2 years and it was quite a trip. Having flown into the LA area so many times, I really enjoyed my window seat facing East on the clear flight south. I could see the Channel Islands, Malibu and I smiled remembering the trip to Catalina Michael and I took with Steve and Kim, years ago.

But Steve picked me up at the airport and we went back to the house. Kim was there with little Audrey. Audrey was shy at first, but soon took to me. She even helped me unpack - as you can see.

Friday we got Sushi and watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Steve and I passed out on the couch by 11 pm. Kim, who had not enjoyed any of the wine, was mocking us the next day.

The next morning was a bit slow, we had coffee on the couch while catching up on what we missed having passed out so early the night before.

Saturday Kim & I headed for the Nail Salon - Happy Nail & Spa. They say they are going to have a salon up in SF before long. Yippee for me. They do a great job and aren't TOO expensive. The nice Vietnamese lady working on my manicure wasn't as impressed about the opening ceremony. I think there was a bit of Anti-Chinese sentiment among the salon workers.

Saturday afternoon we spent soaking up some sun at the pool. I had forgotten how nice the Southern eye candy can be. Men do take a little better care of themselves down there. The women, well, let's just say they appeared to have permanently equipped themselves with frontal flotation devices - for safety reasons, I'm sure.

Saturday night I had a BLAST making dinner for Kim & Steve (Audrey fell asleep before the meal was ready). I got some special wine - Barrel 37 Shirah or something and then made up the Coq au Vin recipe from Joy of Cooking. It was exceptional. I think they were tickled to have home cooking without effort.
Steve cleaning up from my cooking fun.
Sunday I helped Audrey with her nascent photography career. I've posted a collection of her early work here.

Steve & Kim are totally wonderful people. I'm so happy that they, and little Audrey, are part of my life. Thanks guys!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I watched the opening of the Olympics and was stunned. Amazed. I saw things that I didn't think were possible. My words aren't suitable to describe the beauty and wonder of the show.
Kudos China!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Happiness Count Down

10. Farm Fresh to You delivered a pack of wonderful organic, local produce and I'm enjoying a breakfast of veggie stew. I wonder if Chef Jesse Minor would have a good recipe to share with me for next week's veggies... hmmm.

9. My composter doesn't stink. I gave some compost to mom and she gave me fresh dirt. Back to being environmentally friendly and having a happy house. But we did have some difficulty with the mixer - it got suck for a day and now it is mixing hourly instead of every couple hours and that it annoying.

8. I've got all my stuff washed & ready for my favorite Yoga class on Monday afternoon. I'd say who teaches & where, but the class already has too many devotees. I think it has to do with the instructor being hot - and not just physically, but mentally and stuff. And it is a great physical & mental workout too.

7. Tsunami is taking to her litter box. I don't have to walk her late night or 1st thing. I think she's glad too, as she knows she is supposed to pee on the grass, but hates it. She puts her little paws on the grass and keeps her back paws on the cement, and pees - which looks so funny. But isn't so funny when she pees and it pools and gets a back paw wet. Then she lifts up that paw and kinda wiggles it while peeing and keeping her little doggie balance.

6. Two Books: The Red Book & Pronia. (Thank you Mark for the reading list & Sera for writing) They fill my mind with beautiful ideas and help me dream bigger; shake lose of the stale mental habits.

5. I got on the scale and was down another pound since my last, "can the scale be right" weigh-in. I'm down to a BMI of 25! Wow. Is that one of those Stale Mental Habits - the desire to be thinner?

4. Today is the birthday of my good friend Hilary. Happy Birthday Hilary!!

3. My cousin Dania invited me for dinner. Yes Please! I'll be there on 8/13. Should I bring beer or wine? And let me know what time.

2. I'm heading to Newport Beach to hang out with Steve, Kimmy and Now Featuring Audrey! Two amazing, funny, interesting & wonderful people who like me As for the third, I haven't met Audrey yet, but I'm sure she will wow me with her awesomeness. Lucky me!

1. I finished my first 1/2 marathon in 2.5 hours - 6 minutes faster than my stretch goal of 12 minute miles. The runners high has yet to dissipate - I did something better than I imagined I could. Give me a mountain to climb - I'm ready!

Now let's all go out and have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Go Paris Go!

Now, living in a Blue State, I don't see too many McCain ads. He doesn't waste him money advertising in San Francisco.
So I read headlines about them on my Google News page - and only the headlines, as I'm sure we'll be seeing many accusations and insults hurled from both sides. I did find it odd that McCain was calling Obama a celebrity. Is John McCain trying to say he's not so well known that he can't be considered famous? What is he going to say next, "Obama's just a web presence" - oh wait, McCain wouldn't know, as he can't figure out how to get on to the internet.
But I did see this response from Paris:
Which was utterly fantastic. Funny and real. How great would it be if she started a regular campaign? What a breath of fresh air! We could see her response to the issues we care about and target McCain directly. If a "I'm Hot" young woman could take down the heir to the BushCo board, I think many youth would be much more interested in politics.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When I turn 80, I will be just hitting my stride

When I turn 80, I will be just hitting my stride. There will be no rocker for me.

I will be taking the kids of the country to the city and the city kids to the country.
I will have lobbied for legislation whereby for each hour a youth spends with a video game, they will be required to spend 2 in creative or athletic pursuits. I'll be monitoring the ballet classes, the sports games, reviewing the drawings, helping stage the plays that get written and finding rhymes for their poems.
I will be learning about the old and discovering the new.
I will be writing a book for the old fashioned and recording my dreams with the new technologies for the next generation.
With 50 years of yoga under my belt, my nose will finally reach my toes.
I will be teaching lessons in how to dream, big, better, brighter.
I will assure that the girl athletes know that their games are worthy of epic poems.
I will be finding new uses for lavender.
I will see the sunrise for what seems like the first time.
I will take time each day to enjoy my 5 senses.
I will invent new religions, and then become a heretic.
I will find all four corners of the world and marvel at how none of them are 90 degree angles.
I will be asking questions.
I will be spending long hours on projects.
I will be actively participating, enjoying and living.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Waterboard Cheney

Reading about Ashcroft's defense of waterboarding turned my stomach. How can a simulation of drowning not be considered torture? According to him, it is a valuable interrogation technique. Seeing as how the Cheney & Bush Co. are stubbornly refusing to provide congress & the nation with any answers regarding their reign of terror.

Maybe it would be good for Congress to follow Ashcroft's legal opinion regarding waterboarding. As Cheney refuses to come in to give testimony, I think that the people's representatives have the right to capture the enemy combattant and then use harsh extraction of detailed information system.

As long as I can be the one to dunk the guy in between questions:
Who leaked Valerie Blane's Identity?
Which Big Oil Company Executives wrote out energy policy?
What was the real reason we went to war - and don't even think of mentioning WMD's!

It could work. But that's not very peaceful or zen of me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Victories Big & Small

First, victory over the recalcitrant Naturemill composter.
We had a little odor problem. Greg believes it is due to my adding meat remains combined with his adding coffee grounds. That we created an inhospitable, acidic environment bad for our microbes. It smelled. We burned a scented candle. I covered the unit with a dry cleaning bag to try to contain it. It had water coming out of it.
First I added some saw dust pellets and some baking soda. But it wasn't enough. I added more baking soda & saw dust pellets. I was frustrated. I told my friends the story in a humorous fashion over the weekend. Unfortunately laughing at the situation didn't help the lingering cloud of funk. By Monday night, I had had enough. I called Marci in desperation.
I drove across town to her & Aaron's house and got dirt. Tuesday morning I added the dirt. Today, it doesn't smell. I'm excited. The first time in a week, the unit seems to be happy. I'm not going to push it. I'm going to let it churn & digest and then I'll have the contents spewed out and pass them on to either Marci & Aaron, Mom or Dad.

A small battle won in the long war with my weight...
I was excited that I didn't gain any weight while on the trip to Minnesota. However, I was dismayed that it popped up a bit after my 1st week back. But I hopped on the scale this morning, 2 days later, and it was the lowest it has been since I got back on Weight Watchers. Not that I have illusions that a 2.5 lb weight loss in 2 days is real - I'll be impressed if I'm this weight or lower next week. How does my body do it? I can lose weight in my sleep - I think it is water loss.
At the same time, I'm encouraged that I'm heading in the right direction. More veggie products, less carbs & less fat. If I keep this up, I'll have a BMI of less than 25 in another few weeks.

I'm ready for more wins.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Minnesota Photos

Deanna, Kendall & Me
Lower Bottle Lake at Sunset
Paul Bunyan, Zen & Me
Dave, Cigar & Little Owen AKA Omar the Terrorist
Kids at newly developed lake beach.

Tsunami with Flower

Ok, so I'm in love with my puppy. I hope you enjoy the photo shoot from a few weeks ago. Thanks to Marci & Aaron for helping out with these.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Landmark Changes

I know, I didn't finish up the tale of CAJ, but I saw this on the SF Chron's front page and it really bugged me.
The Headline:
Judging the bridge's 5 suicide barrier designs

What strikes me is that this bridge has be there for more than 70 years and we've had more than two thousand people jump from it. Unfortunately most died. The tragedy lies in the cause of the problem - that those committing suicide are sad, lost and desperate.

I don't see the need for us to revamp our bridge and its design to make it harder to jump off. I suspect that those wishing to jump will find a way to hurl themselves off of the bridge regardless of the impediments we put in place. Nor am I convinced that putting the impediment in place will cause someone to stop and think, "hmm, they put a higher fence up, maybe I should reconsider..."

We shouldn't dumb down the entire world, from bottles to bridges to in a futile attempt to prevent suicide. Our time & money would be better spent on social work than on destroying our bridge.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


So just got back from a 5 day trip to Minnesota to hang with Mom's family.

Wednesday I flew in and was promptly deposited with my mother at Cousin Deanna's house. Nice place. Her 3000 sq foot house on an acre of land was a delight. Later I learned that her mortgage payment is about the same as my sub-1000 sq ft loft in SF. Wow.

We got up and got coffee before Crazy Aunt Judy (CAJ) came to get us. CAJ can be quite amusing - she declares that she Always, Always, Always gets up at 9:30 AM. However, I never saw her wake up at that time at any point in this trip.

Thursday was spent driving out to Lower Bottle Lake where Cousins Deanna and Dave have a cabin. It was left to them by their father, Tom, who passed this year. Tom & CAJ broke up years ago, but Judy's memories were of having terrible problems up there. She went into detail about those problems over lunch while we were driving up. Thanks Aunt Judy, way to get us psyched up!

We stayed at the Super 8 in Park Rapids, the Cousins, their spouses and the gaggle of kids were at the cabin.
More later.

Tsunami Time

No Paparazzi!
Head shot

Monday, June 30, 2008

Compost This

I subscribe to Daily Candy and they had featured this a while back:
And indoor composting machine. Now when I first showed this to Greg, I don't think he realized I was serious. He advocated us purchasing the one that handles dog poop. I really wanted to try this indoor composting, but am not ready for the dog-doo part. I cook enough that we might need a 2nd unit. If it comes to that, I'll get pet friendly unit. Despite his taunting, I went ahead and got it.
Getting it was a 2.5 week ordeal, as they had the wrong address, so my credit card wouldn't work. Then it was shipped ground from Chicago. Thankfully it wasn't waterlogged with the flooding out there. It got to my office, but I was in Washington DC on a business trip. Finally, it came home with me Friday.
I had been saving compostable bits from my cooking from Wednesday on in preparation for its arrival and use. Only after I eagerly opened it up, I learned that I was going to need 2 cups of topsoil from a garden where plants were happily growing to provide the microbes for natural composting.
Where am I, the downtown, city dweller going to find that? I could just imagine getting caught dirt-robbing the neighborhood gardens. Or worse, I could get dirt that was overly chemical & pesticide laden.
I did what any woman does when in need of help, I called my dad. Greg and I were going to be up in Sausalito looking at possible apartments Sunday afternoon and I figured I could stop by and get some dirt from his garden.
It was an odd phone conversation, "You want what?""What are you going to do with the dirt?"
Once they understood, they happily agreed to provide me with the needed dirt. When we stopped by, they did express concern that their dirt was inadequate. Of all things, they were unsure if their dirt was dirty enough. I didn't know one could be self conscious of garden dirt and, to their credit, they did reflect upon where I should dig for dirt in their garden. There were offers to supply additional dirt if we found that the initial batch was lacking.
But we got it home, I put the dirt in, added the suggested 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 4 days worth of scraps - it only said to fill it 1/2 way, but I had so much! I may have over-filled it. Everything went in, the plug was plugged in and then it didn't do anything. I just sat there. Then, at about 10 pm, after we were rosy on our wine we hear what we think is a distant siren. We get our lazy tushes off the couch to go close the front door - thinking that it was coming from the outside - as we pass through the kitchen, I realize it is on our new nifty composter. Inside it was churning.
Against the instructions, we openned the lid to see all the goodies getting turned about. It looked very soil like - I think that is due to both the soil and the coffee grounds. I was proud.
This morning I'm trying to resist opening it up again. There is a little engine in there keeping teh compost warm and turning at specified intervals. My mom has signed up for compost and I think my father & Cathy will take some. I should be able to deliver a wonder bread loaf sized output of fertilizer every 2 weeks.
The funniest part of all this, in my mind, is how I cannot utilize my product. It will need to dry & cure before getting used inside. Since I have no drying area, I'm just stuck producing this quality, organic compost and giving it away. It is good for the planet.