Saturday, December 30, 2006
We found a contractor who seems like a nice guy through a flyer he posted in my building at Microsoft. His wife is the executive assistant for Soma, one of our VPs, so he said something to the effect that he had to do great work for Microsoft employees because they knew where to find him.
He's coming on Tuesday to scrape the popcorn stuff off the ceiling, wire the projector into the outlets in the ceiling so we don't have a 3 foot long cord hanging down from the ceiling to the nearest wall outlet, remove some crappy lights built into the ceiling, install two new ceiling fans with lights, remove the gorgeous but unused shallow built-in cabinets, and patch all holes in the ceiling from TJ's projector installation.
Since he doesn't paint walls, TJ and I decided to tackle that task ourselves. I've never done a large scale painting project, so wish us luck! The biggest thing I painted (with Kristin's help) was the beehive fireplace in my house in Tucson. We're going to paint the room with some fancy-schmancy paint recommended by an interior decorator - Ylang Ylang is the color name. Not sure how to pronounce it, but it's a light, warm cream color.
Tip for aspiring painters: *definitely* buy a sample of the paint colors you're considering, even if you have to buy a whole quart, and paint some on the wall to see whether you like it. We skipped this step when we had this same living room painted when we moved it, and ended up with an atrocious sky blue that made the room seem very cold, like the inside of an igloo. Apparently blues and greens come out much darker when you paint a large space, than they appear on the color chip.
So we picked out three colors and put them on the wall, and two of them looked like pee. Seriously. It was pretty clear which one we liked best. So after the contractor is done with his work (probably the week after next), we will do the paint. We haven't yet decided whether to paint the wood trim and the back of the doors. The decorator recommended it but it seems like a hassle, plus all the wood trim in our house is the same color, and it seems weird to change it just for this room. So we're playing that one by ear. Maybe the rest of the painting will go so well we'll tackle the trim too.
In preparation for all this work, we need to move everything out of that room. We've already started with the CDs and books. That's what we'll be doing this weekend. It'll be sad to dismantle the projector and screen, because that means we won't have TV for the next couple of weeks. I suppose that's a good way to start the New Year, though. Maybe we'll get to the gym more often.
Cheers, and Happy New Year to all of you. Best of luck on all your upcoming projects!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
First, my friend Nathalie from work had her twins, Allison and Joshua. Congrats to Nathalie, Eddie and Nathan!
Then our friend Ron from Caltech and his wife Allison had their baby, Alex. Woo hoo!
Next month, our friend Betsy from Caltech, who was also my Math 1 teaching assistant (the second time around), and one of the smartest people we know, is coming to Seattle next month for a conference and bringing her baby Ayla. Betsy is a professor so I'm curious to talk to her about how she's balancing her work and being a mom, since the academic world is quite different from Dilbert, Inc.
Yay for babies. I like babies. (Other peoples' babies, so don't get too excited there. You know who you are.)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Today was our first full day at home, and he slept all day in his bed at the foot of ours. I too was in bed all day so it was nice and cozy. He turned up his nose at breakfast time, but then ate everything in the evening, so maybe he's settling back in to his routine. Poor guy.
The other reason he's not hungry could be his allergy shots. Yes, you read that right. We are giving our dog a course of allergen desensitization shots. You may remember several posts from 2005 and 2006 detailing Peanut's mysterious itchiness. We tried different shampoos, different food, to no avail. The only thing that soothed his inflamed skin was a course of prednisone, which isn't something we should give him long-term. Plus it makes him cranky and bloated, and scary to Spike.
So after taking a lot of our money for mysterious Peanut itchiness appointments, our vet recommended we see an "animal dermatologist". I had no idea such a person existed. There are apparently only two in all of Seattle, and the one we called had a 6 week wait to see him. Clearly TJ and I are in the wrong business.
The Dog Dermatologist, Dr. D.D. for short, was a very nice guy and took a lot of time explaining what might be going on with poor Peanut. He decided Peanut needed an allergy skin test so he had to take him into the back room (I'm sure dogs hate it) and sedated him lightly, then shaved a 4" x 8" panel in the side of our dog. He then stuck Peanut with 58 different environmental allergens, plus saline and histamine for controls. Turns out Peanut shows a significant allergic reaction to about 25 of them.
So the result was that they would make up a special allergen solution for us based on Peanut's allergies and we would have to stick our dog every other day for 2 months, then weekly for another few months. At that point, I guess we'll go back for another test to see if he's better, or maybe we'll just monitor him to see if he's still itchy.
Peanut, stoic and impervious to pain, doesn't even notice when you inject him. I'm too queasy to do it, so I'm the treat holder, while TJ does the injection. Peanut is so focused on the treat that he doesn't even notice TJ. Amazing.
We also got a prescription for an antifungal medication that Dr. DD instructed us to fill at a regular pharmacy. He also (helpfully) told us to call around for prices on it since it tends to vary a lot and also mentioned that the Fred Meyer pharmacy will match the lowest price you can find. Figuring it wasn't a big deal, I called our two nearest pharmacies and they quoted me, for 80 tablets, $180 and $95, I kid you not. Intrigued, I called a few more pharmacies and got quotes for $65 to $110. I called Costco and they said it would be $22. Bingo!
Since Costco is a good 20 minutes away and I'm not sure our membership is still valid, I went to Fred Meyer and they agreed to match the price (without even checking, I think they were glad I saved them a phone call). The pharmacist was very confused when I picked up the prescription -- he asked me if "Peanut" was my child. In a tone of voice like "Why would anyone name their child Peanut?" When I explained it was my dog, it didn't seem to help. I guess they don't learn about dogs in pharmacy school. He mumbled some things about not drinking alcohol with the medicine and about taking it with milk. (Um, my dog doesn't drink, and we don't give him milk either...).
This experience got me thinking about what people without health insurance do when they need a prescription. Do they call around? Can they even afford the pills? If I hadn't been tipped off by Dr. DD, I wouldn't have thought to call around, because I didn't realize the same drug could cost anywhere from $22 to $180. That's ridiculous.
I needed to get a couple of Starbucks gift cards so I went to the Starbucks conveniently located inside Safeway. (Gotta love Seattle, a Starbucks on every corner!) I'm standing in line behind a guy who looked suspiciously like Steve Ballmer, but shorter and thinner. Since I was sporting the Dayquil haze, I wasn't sure if it was him, until I noticed him checking his email on his Motorola Q (phone of champions, I say!) and the baristas gave him a cheerful holiday greeting by name. I could have said something to him, but I wasn't sure what.
I guess I missed my (probably) once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce myself to the CEO of my company and give him my elevator speech that I'm supposed to have prepared for just this sort of occasion. I guess I am a horrible businessperson/networker. But that's nothing I didn't know before.
What would you have done?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Thanks be to PSE - we got our power back today. Or maybe late last night. So now I'm tucked into my bed, with its cozy down comforter and flannel "happy trees" cover, with two snoozing dogs on the floor beside me. (Even in times of emergency, dogs are not allowed in our bed, according to TJ.) I've got a wicked sinus cold so I'm self medicating with Dayquil/Nyquil, hot tea and OJ.
I'm so happy to be back home again. We were settling in quite nicely at Aunt Susie's house, but it felt like we were invading someone else's space. Though it was a nice comfy space since Aunt Susie has more cable channels than we do, a great couch for sleeping on, and more interesting dog toys.
More people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, including a whole family who was running their gas generator in their closed garage. So sad. (I actually didn't know you shouldn't do that either.) And the hyperbaric chamber at Virginia Mason has been quite busy, with over 100 people doing 2 hour shifts in there around the clock - that's the treatment for CO poisoning.
One thing I remember from my $100,000 college education: a carbon monoxide molecule binds much tighter than oxygen to your hemoglobin, so when you build up enough CO in your body, it displaces all of the O2 molecules and you pretty much suffocate for lack of oxygen. For some reason this fact fascinates me. Maybe it's just the simplicity of it.
At any rate, my public service announcement of the day: Carbon Monoxide Kills! Don't use your gas grill, propane heater, or gas generator indoors. Even using it just outside of your house can cause CO levels to build up in your house and kill you. You will feel nauseous, disoriented, sleepy, and then dead. Just don't do it. Better yet, also get yourself a carbon monoxide detector thingy, one that's battery powered.
Now I'm going to get some sleep. Toodle-oo!
Monday, December 18, 2006
After spending 2 days braving it out at home with TJs awesome fire-building skills (who knew I married a former Boy Scout!), when it hit 40 degrees inside the house yesterday we knew it was time for a new plan. Plus we had burned through all of the firewood we bought, plus two boxes full that we borrowed from our kind neighbors. TJ bought a fancy propane powered heater, but we quickly discovered it would kill us by emitting carbon monoxide if we used it indoors. Apparently several people across Seattle have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning by running generators and gas grills indoor, so now I'm paranoid about it.
So yesterday we packed up the dogs, our laptops and a few sets of clothes and spent the day at Aunt Susie's house in Shoreline, then spent the night at the lovely Hotel Vintage Park downtown. It's a great little boutique hotel that accepts dogs and has free wireless Internet. Since Aunt Susie and family were off to Tucson today they kindly offered their house to us while they were gone. (We didn't want to be in their way while they were getting ready for their road trip, so we booked the hotel for last night.)
So now we're at Aunt Susie's house for tonight. Hopefully our power will be restored tomorrow but I don't have high hopes. Something like 200,000 homes are still without power in Seattle, and I think they've fixed the transmission lines for our general area. Now we have to wait for them to fix the local distribution line, likely the one that's down on the main road down the street from us. That could be several days from now but we have our fingers crossed for tomorrow.
TJ and I are playing hooky from work because we can't leave the dogs alone long enough to get to work. I think we'll be settled in enough tomorrow to try to work remotely.
This situation sucks, but there are a lot more people worse off than us who are in public shelters or toughing it out in their houses because they don't have another place to go. So today's post is dedicated to Aunt Susie, Uncle Ray, and Norman for letting us use their heat and electricity.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
It Takes Two - Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock
Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
Pon de Replay - Rihanna
The Ballad of Jayne - L.A. Guns
Hot Cherie - Hardline
Yes, I've got crazy taste in music. It's all over the place. I love iTunes for its extensive catalog, but also for the fact that you can buy the one song you like from an album and not all the "filler", especially for artists like Usher and Rihanna where I don't like the vast majority of their music.
Another advantage of being a grownup with a real job is that I can buy more than one CD at a time. And in fact, to get the free shipping at Amazon.com, it makes financial sense to do that. I remember being in high school and having to save up for that cassette tape I wanted, or in college buying 1 or at the most 2 used CDs at once. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind used CDs but I've had horrible luck with the places near us here - lots of scratches and unplayable discs.
So recently I've bought 5 CDs - woo hoo!
Twisted Christmas - Twisted Sister
Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan
Daughtry (the cool bald guy from American Idol)
Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Soundtrack
Eyes Open - Snow Patrol
I'm still in the early stages of listening to these so I can't tell you which ones I love and which suck, but I really like Sarah's CD, as well as Daughtry. But those were safe choices for me. The Grey's Anatomy CD has a lot of music/bands I haven't heard of before, and most I don't really remember from the show. Liking that and Snow Patrol will be the true test of whether I'm still cool, or just stuck in the 80s.
So what are y'all listening to?
Monday, November 27, 2006
It took me almost an hour and a half to get home from work today. And I was actually in a different building, even closer to home than usual. I sat in the parking garage for an hour trying to get out. Then another half an hour to inch my way home the remaining mile.
I don't have a lot of experience driving in the snow, and many Microsofties don't have a lot of experience driving, period, so that made it quite a treacherous commute home. I was doing ok until I got to our street, a very steep hill. I made it up the first part (thank god for the antilock brakes/stability goo) and after all the sliding around, didn't want to attempt the 2nd hill. So I left poor Otto on the side of the road. I hope he'll forgive me for that. Fortunately it's stopped snowing.
And of course, during this painful commute, I got one of my awful sinus headaches accompanied by nausea. For nearly the entire drive home I fantasized about getting into my PJs and climbing into bed, and that's what kept me going. One Advil and a nice nap later, I'm doing much better.
TJ is at the Seahawks game tonight. And his cell phone isn't on. I hate that.
And here's a special shout out to the stupid neighborhood kids sledding down our street. Let's hope they can stop before a car runs them over. Duh.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I'm beginning to think that I can't pursue this goal in a relatively pain-free way. I think it might be time to bring on the pain. The "structure and discipline", as TJ is fond of mentioning.
Exercise isn't (yet) something that just "happens" to me. I need to aggressively plan, schedule and prioritize it. I've flaked on my yoga class two weeks in a row. Not good, since next week I'll be in Tucson and can't attend. I've done minimal cardio in the past week.
A small victory is that I'm definitely eating at home more often, but still not enough. I thinks small changes aren't enough to jumpstart my slooow 31-year old metabolism.
So here's to tomorrow being a new day, and STRUCTURE AND DISCIPLINE. Here's to not just knowing what to do, but actually doing it.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
It's a well-done show about relationships. Not a lot of yucky medical stuff, but enough that I have to turn away from the TV occasionally, like I do with CSI. They're also surprisingly good at portraying emotions without veering into melodrama, and also inserting some humor right before things get too cheesy. I love it. Though they seem to have a bit of a formula, since every show seems to have its "weepy moment". The director is from Bellevue, which explains why all the Seattle-related stuff on the show is so authentic.
Tomorrow Oprah will be on the set of the show interviewing all the actors. And somewhere in Seattle, her buddy Gayle King will be hosting a fan party, which could be fun, or just filled with creepy people who wish Seattle Grace was a real hospital. I'm not that creepy. Yet.
And speaking of creepy, today's award goes to Creepy Beagle Breeder Man at Marymoor. Our conversation started out normally (for a dog park conversation). He told me Spike was an exceptionally good-looking beagle. Of course he is! Spike gets a lot of compliments, mostly because he's not fat like most beagles. And then Creepy Beagle Breeder Man asked if he was neutered, then was disappointed to find out he was, because he's got a girl beagle with similar markings and they'd make great puppies, blah blah blah. Like what we need in this world is more beagle puppies from some half-assed backyard breeder.
If you haven't figured it out, I'm a big fan of getting a dog from rescue organizations and shelters. And of spaying/neutering. There are just too many dogs out there that no one wants, and not enough room to shelter all of them. If it weren't for TJ being the voice of reason, I'd be Crazy Dog Lady with a houseful of dogs. Now I'm just Crazy Dog Lady with 2 dogs.
And that's my Public Service Announcement for the day.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I'm pretty apathetic when it comes to politics. There are only a handful of items I really care about:
--that our leaders are smart and maintain integrity
--a woman's right to choose
--equal treatment/civil rights/non-discrimination for *everyone*
--some degree of taxation to support the education system and those less fortunate
--separation of church and state
I left all of the judge elections blank since I didn't know anything about them.
For the House of Representatives, I voted for Darcy Burner, former Microsoft manager because she's a smart woman, not a career politician and not as icky as her opponent Dave Reichert. God forbid we should be able to find anything concrete about their views instead of empty rhetoric and blathering about lower taxes. Sadly, I don't think she's going to win - it's close and they're still counting but it doesn't look good. I am impressed that she made such a strong showing against an incumbent, with no political background.
I was also happy to see Jim Webb won in Virginia. His opponent George Allen is the kind of ass I ran into a lot growing up.
Other than that it was a fairly boring election. I guess the Democrats have taken over the Senate. Which is better than the alternative, but I wish we had less of this partisan crap and just more smart people running the country.
Like Martin Sheen, or at least his character on "The West Wing". I would love to see the day when an articulate Nobel Prize winner is our president.
Our current situation reminds me of this bumper sticker: "Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot" How can you not love that? And even more, how great is it that we live in a country where I can say that freely on my public blog? Woo hoo!
Calories: Didn't track, ate out for lunch & dinner w/ friends but made decent choices
Another great day working part time! I worked out first thing in the morning. Well, first thing in my morning anyway, and then met with Tracy later in the day for our usual lifting workout. She made me do those supersets of weights, where you start with a light weight, then progress to 2 heavier weights for the same exercise, with no rest between sets. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but in a good way. I definitely feel stronger and more muscle-y.
Also posted a bunch of stuff on Craigslist today, so hopefully I can get the excess furniture out of the exercise room so I can use it for exercise (and feel good about being in there!) again.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk to a personal chef to get some guidance on how to plan for, shop, and cook interesting healthy meals. I seem to do ok with one thing at a time, but can't seem to make a complete meal and figured out what to eat in the course of a week. Ideally this would be something TJ would eat too. I'll keep you posted on what I learn!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Calories: ? (Sparkpeople site closed for maintenance).
Did not eat out today!
I cleaned out the fridge and did some abbreviated grocery shopping today. I am also happy I got my 40 min of cardio in - again, when I got there I wasn't really in the mood. I took it easy today (4th straight day of working out) so kept my HR lower than usual.
Today's not so great thing: ate a bunch of chips left over from Friday's poker game
But I did resist the call of Baja Fresh and ate at home today. Even made pancakes this morning for breakfast, with enough leftover for tomorrow. YAY.
Gearing up for the next 3 days of work. I am loving this schedule! Tomorrow's some sort of touchy-feely self-awareness seminar with all the Program Mgrs in our division so it shouldn't be too terribly stressful, and will make this week seem even shorter!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
I'm going to try to commit to writing just a little every day to account for my workouts and food intake so I can quickly glance over how I've done any given day.
I'm using Sparkpeople as a food and exercise journal. It's great, considering it's free. Lots of features, nice design, fairly easy to use. Yesterday I started tracking food again, since I haven't been since the first few weeks.
Which was apparent in my 6 week check-in. According to the bioelectrical impedance measurement, I've lost 3.5 lbs of body fat, which is great. However, I am actually up a pound from my starting weight. How sad is that? But no big surprise since I've been so freakin' lax about my diet. And boy, have I indulged in a *lot* of crap in the past 6 months or so.
So I've decided that my next focus would be to tackle eating right. I have a decent rhythm down for exercise. I won't go so far as to say I love it or look forward to doing it, but I definitely sense an increase in muscle tone in my arms, which are always the first to shape up. I'm also a lot less tired these days and able to get up around 7:30ish for work without an alarm. And I *always* feel good after I exercise.
I love food. But lately, I've been craving bland foods like bananas, oatmeal, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese with the uniformly cut frozen mixed vegetables, quesadillas, french toast, pancakes etc. I think it's the cold weather, and maybe some overload from having eaten out so much in the past few months. I just can't get used to eating fresh, healthy, simple foods like fruits and vegetables. I can't remember the last time I ate a piece of fresh fruit that wasn't a banana. Sad, I know. And steamed, plain vegetables? Probably months. I have had a few salads here and there when we go out to eat so I'm not totally starved for vitamins. So I'm in pretty bad shape with respect to eating right.
The thought of certain foods makes me nauseous for some reason. And no, I'm not pregnant so don't even think that's why! This would happen to me as a kid, too - I'd get grossed out by certain foods and would need to take some time "off" with them. I go through this with yogurt fairly frequently, as well as tuna. It also happened with American cheese slices, because there were these little bits that got caught in the wrapper edges that for some reason, really bothered me. Weird, I know.
I've also discovered that there are a lot of healthy foods, mostly protein, that I really don't like. Like chicken breasts, ground meat of any kind, tofu, and most cooked fish. I do love sushi and most shellfish, though so I'm not totally in trouble.
I was sad to find out from my dietitian that milk and yogurt have to count as a carbohydrate serving due to the high amounts of lactose. I'm having enough trouble keeping my carb servings in check *and* getting enough protein. But, since I'm trying to figure out how to eat right for the long run, I'm trying not to get too hung up on that.
Anyway, just a reminder - this blog is mostly for me to review my progress and document my program. So if you find this terribly boring, please find a more interesting blog. Or go watch Grey's Anatomy - Seasons 1 and 2 are on DVD. I've now seen the first half of Season 1, which filled in some holes for me. Can't wait to watch the rest!
On a more positive note, I've worked out the last 3 days, so this working part-time thing was a good idea. Woo hoo!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
1. Origins "Ginger with a Twist" body wash - a great scent and perfect lather. Yum. Thanks, Leslie.
2. Grey's Anatomy - I held out for a long time, not wanting to watch another "ER" or god forbid, "Scrubs". Turns out it's neither. I *love* it. Now I've got to find out where I can rent the previous seasons.
3. Whole Foods Market - they opened a new one in Redmond. It's a beautiful thing. But don't go on weekends or the crowds will drive you batty. The only sad thing is that the Redmond store doesn't have the crepe stand like the Bellevue one.
4. Cupcake Bakeshop - gorgeous blog, amazing cupcakes. I don't even need to eat any - just reading this site makes me happy.
5. Holiday Snowflakes Stamps - even better once you know they are actual photographs taken by a Caltech physicist!
Just wanted to share some of the little things that make my day!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
This week was a pretty good one in terms of exercise - cardio Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, and the usual training sessions with Tracy on Tues and Sat. There was a scheduling mixup on Thursday so we didn't lift. Which was just as well since I was still recovering from Tuesday's horrible walking lunges. In fact, today was the first day I wasn't sore.
Lately my lower back has been really sore, which makes me feel old. I tried some stretching halfheartedly, and that sort of helped.
I went to a free yoga class at the Pro Club yesterday, not really expecting anything. But it was amazing - I felt better immediately. I've lost a lot of flexibility when I gained all this weight, so I really need to work on that to avoid problems in the future. The yoga teacher was very "new age" but good at explaining what we needed to do. So I signed up for a weekly class on Friday mornings in November. Woo hoo! I'm hoping that doing this just once a week will be enough to help with the soreness. Note to self (and anyone else local): the Pro Club yoga studio is *very* warm, so dress accordingly.
Today I dragged myself out of bed to workout with Tracy. I stuck around to do cardio afterwards (SHS has a few cardio machines and People magazine). I did the mandatory 30 minutes on the elliptical, but felt pretty good, so I walked for another 15. That's the longest cardio session I've done in months, and it felt awesome. I'm definitely seeing an increase in energy, even if there's no decrease on the scale. So here's to little victories...
I also uploaded 5 new galleries to our Smugmug site:
So you can see what we've been up to recently: Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, dog park, dog sitting, birthday dinners. It was quite a busy summer for us!
After sorting through all these pictures, I realized that I want to focus more on getting pictures when we go somewhere or hang out with friends. My pictures from Kristine's wedding were pretty pathetic - none of the bride after she got dressed, nothing from the extremely fun rehearsal dinner at Buca di Beppo, or from the church while we rehearsed. I think I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures.
I started thinking about pictures yesterday, when I watched a slideshow a coworker had put together for his wedding. He seemed to have tons of pictures of his fiancee and himself at various events, and with all their friends. We have a lot of dog pictures, but not too many of ourselves, or with our friends. I guess I need to start keeping my camera battery charged and carrying it in my purse. (My cell phone camera is next to useless, with its crappy LED flash.)
My guess is that TJ is not going to be thrilled about my newfound interest in getting pictures of him...
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
After 15+ years of dieting, I guess I should know better than to think I could be lax about what I ate as long as I worked out. That may have worked in my early 20s but I guess the ol' metabolism isn't going to let me slide now that I'm 31. Pity.
I start working part time next week, so it's a perfect time to get serious about this thing. I am debating about signing up for a weekly yoga class at the Pro Club on Friday mornings. I'm so sore these days, especially my lower back and hamstrings, and painfully inflexible. That's only going to lead to problems down the road, so I thought a little yoga might help. And honestly, that's what Thursdays and Fridays are for -- focusing on The Plan.
So far this week I'm off to a pretty good start - cardio yesterday and today for 40 min, and the usual Tuesday weight session with Tracy. Lots of lunges, so I'm sore today. But sore means the muscles are doing something, so that's good. I think I'm going to ask her to push me a little harder so I can make some progress.
Yay for having a plan!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Since I haven't posted in a month, I guess I have some catching up to do. Lots of stuff going on around here. TJ and I just got back from Pittsburgh this morning. We went there for the weekend because Kristine was getting married. So I'll dedicate this post to Kristine and her wedding.
Kristine and I met in Mrs. Rockwell's Biology II class my senior year in high school. We hit it off immediately, especially when we found out our birthdays were the same day (a year apart). She definitely made high school a better place for me (senior year was a tough one for me, for a lot of insignificant reasons that seemed monumental to my hormonal teenaged mind). She and I were two of maybe 5 Asians in our ENTIRE school of 600 people. Looking back on it, I am so glad to have had a good friend at school who had a similar background.
We did all the usual teenaged girl stuff together: movies, mall, school football games, hanging out with friends, etc. We also went on each others' family vacations and shared the same goofy sense of humor. Since I was a year ahead of her in school, I went off to college first. She came to visit me there a few times, but I wasn't the best at keeping in touch (especially since email was very new at the time).
But we stayed in touch, sporadically, over the years. Kristine went to college in Boston, then moved to Philly to work, and later, attend dental school. That's where she met Mike, her fiance. During those years she visited me in Seattle and Arizona. I saw her a few times when I was in Delaware for work, though now I wish I had stayed in better touch with her since that was the closest we had lived to each other in years. We caught up on big events via email, but that's not the same as talking and hanging out often. (Sometimes growing up sucks.)
When TJ and I got married last year, we were planning to invite only family and 1 friend each (Maid of Honor Kristin & Best Man Dave, both of whom we met at Caltech). But something just didn't sit right with me. I couldn't imagine my wedding without Kristine being there even though we hadn't talked in a long time, and were sketchy with email. So I invited her and she came, bringing her boyfriend Mike, who I hadn't met before. Since we had a very small wedding, I got to spend some time talking to them, which was great. As it turns out, it was a good trip for her, too. Mike proposed to her the day after our wedding!
We saw each other again in Las Vegas the next month and spent nearly a whole day together wandering that strange (and fun) city. It was great to catch up with her. A few months ago when she asked me to be a sponsor at her wedding (a Filipino tradition), of course I said yes.
So TJ and I made the trip to Pittsburgh this weekend. It was the first time I had been there in 8 years and the area where I used to live is a *lot* different, with a mall, tons of restaurants, and more strip malls than you can imagine (think Lynnwood).
I finally got to meet Kristine's friends from college and dental school and her cousin Manher, whom she always talked about. I guess we haven't changed that much since high school, since I *loved* meeting her friends, and thought they were really nice, interesting, and a lot of fun. As one of her bridesmaids pointed out, "Kristine's friends are so cool!" We had a grand time at the rehearsal and dinner (Buca di Beppo, Station Square).
The wedding itself was lovely. Kristine truly looked like a princess (and I hope she felt like one too!). Attending Catholic Mass was like hearing an old song and still remembering all the words. While I am not a fan of religion in general, the rituals of the Catholic mass are somehow comforting to me - the "audience participation" parts, the order of the ceremony, and the fact that the prayers and words are always the same, no matter who is conducting it. The homily the priest gave was pretty funny - he was a young guy and talked about loving the Steelers and root canals (you just had to be there).
I had some anxiety about my role as a cord sponsor, but my "cord buddy", Amor, was Filipino and knew what was going on and what we had to do. We managed to drape the cord around Kristine and Mike and remove it without incident.
At the reception, TJ and I sat with Brian, Heather, Darren, and John, some friends from high school that I hadn't seen in about 10-12 years. It was neat to find out what people have been up to, and try to picture the same kids I knew in high school now with kids of their own. Weird.
By far, the best part of the reception was the music (though TJ thought it was the steak dinner). Not sure if it was the DJ's contribution, or someone in the bridal party, but there was *lots* of bhangra. And people loved it. There were several Indian-Americans in attendance, but *everyone*, including Mike and Kristines' families were bustin' a move to the bhangra and having a *great* time. There was also a lot of hip-hop, which I loooove for dancing.
That was the most fun I've had at a wedding (besides my own, of course!). We met a lot of great people and invited them all to visit us in Seattle. I got to reconnect with Kristine, and will definitely keep in better touch now that my work schedule will be reduced (more on that in my work blog).
We didn't get much sleep this weekend but it was definitely worth it. Congratulations Mike and Kristine!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
But now the papers and clutter are piling up around the house, and we've got to get ready for our trip to Pittsburgh for Kristine's wedding next week. So I've been a bit stressed out.
Resulting in less than stellar adherence to my diet and exercise plan. I've attended all of my trainer appointments, thus getting my strength training in, but have been absolute crap about doing cardio. Today I slept all day because I just didn't feel too good. Back to the grind tomorrow, I guess.
I need to get all my ducks in a row so that I feel like I have some time to really focus on stuff - I think work will allow me to do that in a few weeks. Right now I just feel scattered and pulled in a bunch of different directions :(.
Ick, sorry for the whining!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Tuesday's weigh-in wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped - I've lost half a pound. But less is always good, and to be perfectly honest, my eating habits haven't been stellar. I haven't tracked what I ate for the past couple of days, which sucks. So back on track tomorrow. My snacks have definitely been better, and I'm really trying to watch those empty carbs.
Small changes are less painful, and I'm doing great with the exercise. I only made it to 3x cardio last week, thanks to Saturday's lunges and my inability to move from the couch on Sunday due to the intense pain in my hamstrings. That pain continued to Monday so I took that day off as well.
Tuesday I was back at Le Pro to do cardio in the morning, and workout with Tracy in the evening. Two-a-day workouts sounds really tedious, but actually isn't that bad. Since I'm only doing weights with Tracy, I don't sweat much so I only need to shower after cardio. And 30 minute chunks are much more agreeable than a whole hour.
Tomorrow morning at 7:15, I have a free "Bhangracize" class at the Pro Club. Not sure if I want to get up that early, so I'm going to play it by ear. If I don't make it for that, I'll do cardio anyway.
At some point I need to find an outfit to wear to Kristine's wedding (hi Kristine!). I might wait another week or two to see if all this weight training helps in the clothing department - I tend to see results pretty quickly when I lift weights, even if the number on the scale doesn't change much.
Anyway, the next problem for me to tackle is the food. I've been to Kidd Valley twice this week, and I'm sure their grilled cheese is better than their burgers, but yet not too healthy. Somehow the food in the fridge just hasn't appealed to me. Sad.
Good thing this is a 6 month program! Plenty of time for me to exchange lame habits for good ones!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
I have officially completed my first 3 workouts at SHS as of this morning. And I'm still standing. With Jell-o legs, mind you, but we won't dwell on that.
First off, I *LOVE* the 30 minute trainer sessions. It's too short a time to contemplate my hatred of exercise. We do 2 (and sometimes 3) quick sets of 10 of the various exercises and I'm done. Not a lot of time between sets, so I don't even have time to think about how much exercise sucks.
And I'll let you in on a secret - after a week of regular exercise, I'm actually starting to hate it less. I love that virtuous feeling I get when my workout is completed before 10am. I like the slightly sore feeling I get the day after a hard workout. And though in reality I'm not any thinner (yet), I feel just a little bit better about what I see in the mirror.
Today was a harder workout than Thursday. We did walking lunges across the room and back. Those have never been my favorite, and I'm already feeling it now - I can't really stand up for long periods of time (aforementioned Jell-O legs) and tomorrow will be BAD. Right before the wedding last year I was actually doing those lunges with 15-lb weights. Crazy.
Tracking my food intake has been a bit harder - I'm actually a day behind now so I need to go reconstruct what I ate yesterday. The Web-based tool I use at SparkPeople.com is really easy, but I just seem to forget to do it. I'm not sure how to remind myself to do it - any tips from you out there?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I did 30 min of hard cardio at Le Pro Club, and my heart rate ranged from 152 to 173 which is 80=90%+ of my MHR. Yay. Since I'm quite out of shape, it gets up there pretty quick and stays there without me feeling like I'm going to pass out. I guess it'll get harder as I get more fit, but I'll worry about that later.
My first actual workout with Tracy was today and it was fabulous. It was over before I knew it - 30 min of weight training, 2 or 3 sets of 10 of each exercise and that's it. Had to do full situps, very hard, but that was the worst of the bunch. This is the kind of workout I could get used to - quick and dirty, get in and out of there, and that's it.
Slight annoyance of the day - they confiscated my healthy snacks at Safeco Field when I got there for the Company Meeting. But even without my snacks I managed to stay under 1300 calories today. Woo hoo! So far, this isn't bad at all :)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
First off, I don't recommend this movie unless you're a fan of the humor in "South Park". It's very crass. If you can get past this, it's hilarious (and very smart, in a sly way).
I *LOVE* that the two main characters are Asian-Americans. Not caricatures (aka Apu on The Simpsons) and not foreigners with accents - two regular guys. These guys are portrayed as being loser-cool, attractive to women and not the typical nerd stereotype that Asian Americans are usually stuck with on American TV and movies. The movie doesn't have much plot but is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. And no, I wasn't stoned.
There's some controversy on the Internet (do a search on Sepia Mutiny) about how this movie is disrespectful to women. It's true, there's a lot of typical frat boy humor in it. (Reminds me of my favorite line in South Park when Cartman says "Get back in the kitchen, bitch and make me some PIE!"). But the point was not to make a PC shiny happy movie where all are represented in a positive light.
I'm just glad that a mainstream funny movie, stars two Asian American guys. There aren't a whole lot of people like us on TV or in the movies (Bend it Like Beckham being the major exception). I think Canada and the UK TV shows are further ahead in this respect. But it's nice not to be "invisible" anymore, and not to always be the doctor or computer geek on "Law and Order", though props to them for having any Asian American characters at all.
So if you saw the movie, what did you think? And as a side note, I thought it was interesting I used the word "freakshow" in the last post. If you saw the movie, you'll understand why.
First I met Tracy, my trainer, who's tiny. She also doesn't take any crap from slacker exercisers like me. She accurately pegged me as a person who doesn't do sports because I wasn't good at it when I first tried it and thus gave it up.
Sadly, I have 40% body fat according to their bioelectrical impedance measurement. She said she thought it might be off since I was dehydrated. Ugh. Let's hope it's off by +15%, that's all I have to say.
We spent the first session figuring out what my baseline was - what my heart rate looked like in 6 min of cardio, and how much weight I could lift for each exercise I had to do. The starting weight was one where I could just complete 10 reps with good form. I guess I picked the right weights because I am sore today.
She also made me do as many calf raises as I could do (30) and wall squats with the giant exercise ball (60, but for the record I could do more, we just decided to stop), and crunches in a minute (30).
Our first real workout is tomorrow, thankfully for only 30 min. I'm on my own to do cardio so I think I'll do that in the morning. I'm supposed to do cardio at 80% of my MHR which is 190 for my age.
After my meeting with Tracy, I went to see the dietitian Marilyn who reviewed my atrocious eating habits for the past couple of weeks: very few vegetables, a lot of deep fried goodies, and lots of eating out.
She also asked me to rate my motivation on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being "Nothing can stop me from succeeding on this program". I answered honestly, and gave it a 3.5. She asked me to rank my confidence in success from 1 to 5, and I gave it a 3. I've tried a lot of times to do this, so I'm a little worried about how this time will be different. But I do think this will work if I can figure out how to stick with it.
Marilyn emphasized that this was not a "diet" but just a way to eat. The first thing I'm going to work on is eating a better balance of carbs and protein. My target is 175g per day which is about 3 servings per meal, with some more left over for snacks. I'm also supposed to focus on getting around 45g of fat per day, which is fairly high for me when I don't eat out.
So the first two days haven't been too bad. I've been tracking my intake on SparkPeople so it automatically counts fat, carbs, protein and calories. Today was 1175 calories, yesterday 1560. And I didn't really have to think about it too much while I was eating - I just tracked it all at the end of the day.
Tomorrow morning I'd like to get to the Pro Club early to do my 30 min of hard cardio before we go to the Company Meeting and sit on our butts all day. So far, so good.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I worked with the scheduling folks to get my trainer appointments set up. For now I'll be working out with Tracy at 7:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am on Saturdays. That might change once my work schedule changes to part-time.
My first appointment is tomorrow. In addition, my first dietitian appointment is tomorrow as well as my first "behavior change" appointment. So I'll be spending a good chunk of the late afternoon/evening at SHS tomorrow.
Today I met with Dr. Gough and she took a "before" picture, took my measurements and talked to me about my goals. So here they are:
Exercise: Be able to run a 5K in less than 30 min
Nutrition: Learn how to eat so I can lose weight, then maintain it, without having to count calories - she called it "eating intuitively".
They have an Access database to hold participant info- I noticed some typos on the forms, and thought there might be an easier way for it to work. Maybe if I like it there, I'll offer to fix it for them :)
I'm looking forward to really getting started tomorrow.
Today I walked to work (30 min), then walked to a meeting in another building (about 20 min round trip) and walked to SHS (25 min). Not bad - the new Timbuk2 messenger bag is working well, even with the laptop inside.
I'll let you know if I reconsider tomorrow after 3 hours straight of what I affectionately call "Fat Camp".
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I got a bit of a wake-up call yesterday. My first appointment of the day was a "Health Screening" at Microsoft. They had it set up in a large conference room, with different "stations" for cholesterol testing, blood pressure, body fat, weight, and a nurse consultation about your numbers.
This was my starting point for my Sound Health Solutions program, since I couldn't get an appointment with my doctor for a physical until mid-October. So here are my numbers:
Blood Pressure: 99/70
Total Cholesterol: 179
Fasting Triglycerides: 77
Fasting Glucose: 91
So any of you with some health knowledge will know that my numbers look pretty good.
Now for the bad news:
Body Fat %: 37.7
My nurse consultation was short and sweet. She pointed at the body fat/BMI numbers and said "You need to do something about this NOW while you're still young." She said I had been blessed with great genetics (thanks Amma and Appa) which allowed me to have such great cholesterol/glucose numbers while being so overweight. She also said she recently lost 55 pounds and wishes she hadn't waited until her 50s to do so. It was a short and sweet message for me that I needed to hear (again.)
So I guess I've got my work cut out for me! I've decided to give up red meat, since my last couple of beefy meals have grossed me out, and if I don't really like it, why should I eat it? I'm not sure about becoming a total vegetarian yet, though I'm not that excited about chicken either. I definitely can't give up seafood thanks to my love for sushi and shellfish. So we'll see how it goes - I struggle with getting enough protein so I look forward to working with the dietitian in the next few months.
My first consultation with the SHS doctor is Monday afternoon, so I'll get a better idea of how the program works. But I'm ready to start now.
Today's workout was pretty short - I *did not* want to be there, so I did 10 min on the elliptical and 20 min walking on the treadmill and called it a day. 65-80% MHR, so it wasn't totally lame.
My next project is cleaning out the fridge *shudder*.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
This week demonstrated to me exactly why my efforts at dieting and exercise fail - I get busy or stressed at work, and all good habits go out the window. I did walk *a lot* yesterday, but unfortunately forgot my pedometer so I don't know if I got my 10000 steps. I feel confident that I got at least 7-8000 though. Today I woke up late, got to work late, and then was so exhausted when I got home I changed into my PJs (at 6:30pm!) and snuggled on the couch with Spike to watch:
1. Mark Wahlberg on "Inside the Actors Studio" - loved it - he seems like a genuinely good guy, and darn he just gets more handsome as he gets older.
2. Project Runway - always good, and yay for Laura for finally winning a challenge. Gorgeous dress she made, though I'm still pulling for Michael.
3. Rock Star: Supernova finale - well, I'm actually waiting for TJ to come home from work so we can watch this together...
But you get the idea - came home, got on the couch for several hours of TV viewing. No trips to the gym in sight (especially not since I forgot my car keys at work today!). This week has been a little rough at work for reasons I shouldn't discuss on a public blog but I think once I get the part-time thing ironed out, it'll work itself out.
Oh and did I mention I've eaten at least one meal out every day this week?? Arghhh.
But tomorrow is another day and a chance to redeem myself. Lately I've been obsessing over diet Coke with ice, almost like a comfort food, and though it's not terribly bad for me (except for all the chemicals and fake-ness) it worries me that I crave it when I'm stressed. Boo. I thought that was at least one bad habit I didn't have - eating emotionally...
Anyway, thanks to all my friends for the support you've expressed here :) You guys are great, and it's about time you all moved to Seattle, dammit!!!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Instead of stressing about it, I got up and went through my closet and removed anything that didn't fit. Sadly, I now have 3 huge shopping bags full of stuff that doesn't fit. The upside to that is that once I drop some weight and start lifting weights again, I can go "shopping" in my own closet and rediscover some of those cute clothes. It's a great way to assess progress.
Dr. Pamela Peeke, who wrote "Body for Life for Women", believes very strongly in what she calls the "clothes-o-meter". She recommends getting out a pair of jeans or other piece of clothing and using that as your measurement of success, rather than relying on the scale which doesn't adequately reflect progress. And face it, it sometimes just LIES.
So needless to say I didn't get up at 7am to work out.
I walked to work today with my cute new Timbuk2 messenger bag (sans laptop since I'm still waiting for eBags.com to send me the neoprene laptop sleeve I ordered). I love it - it's just the right size, is super light, even with my laptop inside, and the colors (red & orange) are so cheerful. They do make a laptop version with the sleeve built in, but it's *heavy* and only comes in two sizes - too big and even bigger. It was actually cheaper for me to buy the small messenger bag and order a separate $20 protective case for my laptop that'll fit inside. (And much lighter).
Like a good girl, I remembered to use my pedometer today and got in 8000 steps. Yay! Not bad, considering my usual sedentary day is around 2000 or less.
Tomorrow I'm going to take the bus downtown because I'm attending a tradeshow for work. That should be fun. Unfortunately I have some meetings in the afternoon, so I've got to come straight home from work after my shift in the Speech Server booth is done. But, if I walk from home all the way to the bus stop, it's a nice healthy walk and I'll get in a lot of steps. My goal for tomorrow is 10000 steps.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
It's amazing how easily I get distracted - I caught myself three times this morning trying to do some random chore, rather than focusing on getting dressed, eating something, and getting out the door to the gym. After throwing in a load of laundry, and taking out the overflowing trash, I was finally on my way to the gym.
My goal for today was another 40 minutes of cardio. I spent 30 min on the regular elliptical (no arms) and remembered to wear my HR monitor, and kept my HR at 70-80% of my max. Since I felt like doing a little running again (two days in a row!) I hopped on the treadmill and did 4 intervals of 2 min walking/1min running. It felt great. I was a little sore this morning from yesterday's workout but it was the good kind of "I worked out and now I feel virtuous" sore.
I know that morning workouts are best for me - now I just need to get to bed earlier and drag myself to the gym before 8 on work days. That's going to be the hard part! But after just 2 days in a row of working out (a veritable streak!) I already feel better. So maybe I can hang on to that feeling tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off at 7am. Hah!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
One of the features of Weight Watchers Online is a group of message boards. Nothing terribly special, the same kind of forums you'd find on any special-interest website. They're good for wasting time, picking up new diet and exercise tips, wallowing in some healthy schadenfreude (ie, at least I don't need to lose as much as *her*), and absorbing other peoples' insights about being overweight and the process getting healthy.
One post stuck with me - the woman had posted that maybe she had too much self-esteem because she just couldn't stick with any weight loss program. She'd look in the mirror and think that she didn't look *too* bad, even though her doctor and the number on the scale told her otherwise.
That really resonated with me. I've got healthy self-esteem, I don't call myself fat or make disparaging remarks about myself (even the 'zaftig' thing is me kidding around). It's true, I'm not happy with the way I look, but I'm not totally disgusted by it either. Which is a problem when it comes to motivation and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. I haven't hit that "rock bottom" place where I'm totally miserable and can't function unless I do something about the problem. Unfortunately this hinders my efforts to get to a healthy weight.
And it only gets worse, as I start losing weight. At my wedding, my weight was in the 140s, which is still appallingly high for my height (damn those short genes!) but I was feeling great because I had worked hard to get there. And that's what kept me from staying on track after that - I get comfortable, think that I'm "close enough" and start to get lazy about food and exercise. This happens every time.
So how do I get around that? I like the idea of figuring out a lifestyle change, and just eating/working out that way permanently. Like Oprah says, exercising should be like brushing your teeth. You just do it every day, and it's non-negotiable. It's not about *liking it* or choosing to do it - you just do it because it's essential for your health. I never think "oh, I could skip brushing me teeth and then I'd get to work 5 min sooner" but I do that all the time with skipping breakfast or not walking to work.
Anyway, this is a topic rattling around in my head while I get myself mentally ready to start my new program. Any thoughts on this?
Anyway, there's a nice long post over there so if you're interested you can go read it. I'll still keep this blog for cute dog and TJ stories :).
From Zaftig to Svelte
I pondered where to host this new blog -- there are supposedly weight loss blogging sites that have cool tools you can use, and communities you can join, but I am super happy with Blogger since my "regular" blog is there too.
I wanted to make a clean start and also have a place where I could blog mundane details like whether I worked out, and what interesting things I ate. I figured most people wouldn't care about that sort of thing.
The other reason I'm starting a whole new blog is to commemorate the upcoming start of my serious, skin-in-the-game, comprehensive 26-week program at Sound Health Solutions. My fabulous employer will be paying for most of it, and my portion of the cost is a little more than taking a class at UW. If I can fork over the money to take a class, I certainly can pay for something this important, and spend at least the same amount of time on it as I would a 5-credit class.
I'm lucky to have such great benefits, but also unlucky that my BMI is high enough that I qualify for such a program. I weigh more now than I ever have. Seeing that in writing is a little bit scary. I've wreaked havoc on my body from "dieting" over the past 15 years, though thankfully none of the attempts were unhealthy, just inconsistent. I've been successful once before (in 1997 I lost about 40 lbs, but unfortunately managed to find those again this year). This past year has really been awful for me with respect to gaining weight. I lost nearly 20 lbs for our wedding (yay for good wedding pictures) through a torturous exercise and high protein diet plan. As everyone knows, once you quit the high protein world, the weight comes right back on. And I love me those carbs. Couple that with being happily married, super busy at work planning two huge customer events, and eating out with friends, and you have the recipe for a 30 lb weight gain over 19 months. Horrifying.
I am way too scared to admit how much I weigh here, but in a perfect world I'd like to lose around 45 lbs. That may not be realistic for me to maintain, so I'll worry about it when I get there.
My new program starts on September 18. They've sent me a bunch of questionnaires to fill out. I worked on them last night. One is about depression, on which I probably scored the equivalent of "mildly blah". The other was about self esteem, which thankfully I have no problem with, except on the questions relating to appearance.
The worst one was on "Behavior Change". I have always thought I didn't have emotional issues with food and really it's just a question of me eating the right foods and exercising. I know what I need to do, I just don't do it. And that's sort of true. I breezed through all the questions like "I eat when I'm angry" and "I eat when I'm sad". I don't do those things. But then there were questions like "I eat to celebrate with friends" and "I eat out often in restaurants" and "I look forward to exercising". So I guess I'll have my work cut out for me.
The thing I like is that the questionnaire seems to be asking the *right* questions for me. This program isn't just for morbidly obese folks who have severe childhood traumas, it also seems to be good for people like me who just don't do the right things, have trouble planning meals, and getting to the gym. A friend of mine also went through this program and spoke very highly of it.
I'll post more about the program itself once I get started. The gist of it is to make a lifestyle change, not just a temporary diet and exercise program. It's very flexible, and accomodates people who travel a lot, eat out a lot, want to exercise at home, don't want to count calories, etc. It's super-personalized and you experiment to find out what works so you can sustain it. I'm looking forward to this new approach - I really want to get away from "counting" things, whether it be points, calories, fat grams, whatever.
Today I went to the gym for the first time this week and did 40 minutes of hard cardio, at 70-85% of my maximum heart rate (which I'm estimating at 200 to make the math easy, based on the 220-age formula). It felt really good to sweat. I did 25 minutes on the dual-action elliptical, and 15 minutes of run walk (2min walk, 30sec run) on the treadmill. It even felt good to run again (just a little bit).
Anyway, I want to get back to working out the next few weeks before I start at SHS, so I'm not totally overwhelmed by having to exercise 3x a week for an hour. I just finished that time-sucking Statistics class today, so now I really have *no* excuse for not working out.
Wish me luck on this long, strange trip! 26 weeks seems like forever but I know I'll need every minute of it to get to my goal. (And I might even need more time, since I'll be figuring out what changes I need to make that I can actually live with forever.)
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I'm blogging from my fancy new Motorola Q Smartphone, which I bought this week after getting my yearly performance review. The Man was good to me this year. Plus my old phone is 3 years old and no self-respecting gadget freak can last that long! This is just a test of Blogger's mobile posting feature. Oh, and i took that picture of Peanut with my new Q too. Whaddya think?
Friday, August 25, 2006
I drove to Seattle today for the last day of my class, and it was amazingly traffic-free both ways. I think I actually got there quicker than I do on weekends! Handy tip: if you get to downtown early, park at Pacific Place - it's reasonable, compared to other parking garages and nearly empty before 9am. I paid $18 for about 6.5 hours. On weekends, or for 4 hours or less, it's much cheaper.
I said goodbye to Buddy the Espresso Dog and his coffee-making person Scott. They seem to have a sort of friendly strangers coffee club - anytime you go to his cart there are a few people sitting or standing around talking to each other about various interesting things. That's what I like about cities, or at least accessible ones like Seattle. I don't really feel threatened or afraid (like I did the few times I was in NYC) and it's got a well defined, fairly clean downtown (unlike LA). Again, another thing about Seattle that reminds me of Pittsburgh.
Which reminds me - I'm going to Pittsburgh in October for Kristine's wedding. YAY! I can't wait - I haven't been back there since Karthik and Maya's wedding 8 years ago. Thanks to Deloitte Consulting, I got us free first class tickets to Pittsburgh and a 3 night stay at a nice hotel. Consulting was the job that keeps on giving, I guess.
I did some shopping today but nothing terribly exciting. Replenished my stock of Aveda shampoo with the nice big liter sized bottles, and got a free tote bag. Since I buy so much stuff there, I joined their rewards club for $10 and got a little makeup bag of samples (I'm such a sucker). But they send me cards for free samples every month, and I got a free regular sized lotion for my birthday. I love that store.
Today I got a pair of nice jeans at J. Jill to tide me over the next few months, in a size I really prefer not to own. Quel horreur. But at least I'll have something decent to wear.
This week I finally went back to the gym for a free "bhangracize" class. It was really fun, more like a dance class than exercise and the hour went by pretty quick. I've learned my lesson signing up for series of classes (I never make it through the whole thing) but if they offer single sessions again, I'd definitely go. The class was *packed* and the music was fun. Exercise is so much better when it doesn't seem like a chore.
So where is everybody? I haven't gotten too many comments lately.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
One of the great things about the class, which at first freaked me out, is that there is *no* Internet access in the classroom. I hadn't realized how much freakin' time I spend online, either checking my email (work and personal) or surfing the web. Without this huge distraction, I can actually pay attention to the instructor and have learned an amazing amount of cool stuff this week. It is so great to settle my mind and focus on one thing instead of multitasking - it really has reduced my stress level. I'm definitely going to try to keep this going, and minimize my background tasks so I can focus on one thing at a time since it's been hugely effective.
The other great thing about the class is that it's downtown. I have taken the bus there every day this week. Seattle has a great bus system that I discovered while I was in graduate school since parking in Seattle proper is either too expensive or hard to find. Couple that with my pathetic parallel parking skills and the shiny new car, and I'll take the bus anyday. Especially since Microsoft provides us with a free bus pass.
Getting up early to catch the bus, and walking everywhere once I'm downtown has been such a great change of pace for me and is shaking me out of my suburban rut. I have more time in my day, and oddly, am less tired than usual - I guess it's that extra exercise, and maybe the fact that sloth breeds more sloth.
Every morning I've walked past a coffee cart on Pine St, just before 7th next to Vons. There is an adorable Golden Retriever named Buddy manning the cart (with his person making the coffee, of course. Silly you - dogs don't make coffee for people!). I've stopped to say hi to him almost every morning (when he's out of his crate) and also at lunch time just to get some prime dog lovin' before going back to class.
Little things like that make me happy. And tomorrow, I might spend a bit of time shopping after class. There is prime shopping downtown and I'm more than a little sick of my usual Redmond Town Center/Bellevue Square jaunts. I've been looking forward to this all week, and even finished my statistics homework set #7 last night so I could shop with a clear conscience tomorrow. (Though I really should get started on #8 - I only have a week left and 2 homework sets and the final to go!)
One thing that did not make me happy - on the bus yesterday I sat next to a guy who was avidly reading Ann Rule's book about the Green River Killer. I know that True Crime is a valid literary genre and all that, but if you're into that stuff, please read it at home. Otherwise people in public spaces will think you're a wacko. I tried to sit very still and blend into the scenery. Maybe this guy reads these books so no one will sit next to him? I thought about changing seats, but the bus was full and I didn't want to call undue attention to myself...
Tomorrow I'm going to drive (all the better to transport my shopping!) so no weird bus dudes for me.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
One is Rock Star:Supernova and the other is Project Runway (Season 3). While none of the candidates on Rock Star have really impressed me consistently, on Project Runway, there are several really talented ones.
The challenge on today's episode was great - each designer had to design for one of the others' moms or sisters, most of whom were plus sized. And oddly enough, this stumped a few of the designers. I guess that shouldn't have been surprising to me, but I figured if you called yourself a designer who actually makes clothes (as opposed to pseudo designers like Gwen Stefani, J. Lo and the Olsen twins who put their names on other peoples' work), you'd be able to dress a wide range of *real* people not just the superhuman size 0 runway models.
Anyway, it was nice to see what they came up with, and reminded me yet again, that clothes really do look better on well-proportioned bodies.
Which just served as further motivation for me to lose the weight already dammit! TJ and I have done quite well with our not eating out plan (we're in the second week of three now). We went out to Claim Jumper, once as a weakness when it was just too damn hot to stay home, and once with John and Jenna. But other than that, no spontaneous bad meals out. And I don't think I've eaten a single deep fried item in those two weeks, which is also great. (Laugh if you must but I was seriously on a bad path before this...)
Anyway, buying new clothes, or even fitting into my boxes of "used to be" sized clothes would be amazing. I'm taking baby steps to get there, and need to get a couple more of my "projects" out of the way so I can focus on this better. The first one being that darn Statistics class. It will be over on Sept 2. And I'll get my $1000 back as tuition reimbursement from Microsoft and move on with my life. Yay! The next change after that will be figuring out how to adjust my work life balance (waking up before 9am would probably help there...)
Anyway, I just had to spontaneously blog after Michael Kors' awesome quote on Project Runway - "That looked like Comme des Garcons goes to the Amish country". Rock on Michael!
Back to regularly scheduled programming (so I can find out who won and who's OUT!)
Monday, August 14, 2006
I just got back from the Toad the Wet Sprocket concert at the Moore Theater in Seattle. And I'm so happy. The last time I saw them was in 1997, I think, also at the Moore. I was really sad when they broke up. Their music completely and totally reminds me of college. This was the seventh time I've seen them - the first time was 14 years ago, at the University of Redlands.
It was a great show - they played nearly all the songs on Dulcinea, some from Coil, a few from Fear, and a few other random ones. We're all a little older now :). They came out for two encores, the first was for "Walk on the Ocean" and "Hello" and the second was "I Will Not Take These Things for Granted".
And just like almost every single other Toad concert I've gone to, I went with Jasmine and Chris. But this time, I had new friends with me as well - Dre and Dave met me there, and Dave scored some incredible seats from some folks he knew, so instead of sitting on the balcony, we ended up with seats in the 4th row!! It was amazing. (The Moore Theater is pretty small, so even our balcony seats were great.)
Some people are movie people (like TJ) - they'll watch the same movies multiple times and will watch all sorts of new ones. I only like movies where I have a reasonable chance of liking them - a bad movie will put me in a bad mood for days. And except for a few movies, I typically don't care to watch them more than once.
I'm a music person. I will listen to the same few CDs a million times and not get sick of them. I seek out new music and there's nothing like "discovering" a new artist that rocks my world (Hello, Vienna Teng or Kasey Chambers). If I go on a road trip, there are a few CDs I make sure I have with me: Queensryche "Operation Mindcrime", Matchbox 20 "Yourself or Someone Like You" and Toad the Wet Sprocket "Fear". Everytime I hear those albums, they're comforting and familiar, as well as new and interesting. A certain song will take me to an exact point in time where I can remember where I was and who I was with, even if that was 15 or 20 years ago. And my brain is full of song lyrics from approximately 1983 (when I discovered Cyndi Lauper and Madonna) onwards. If I used that brain space for something else, I probably would have done much better academically...
I've seen *a lot* of concerts since my first one - David Lee Roth/Poison at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, 1989. TTWS and Queensryche are the two bands I've seen the most (7 or 8 times each) and I'd still go see them every time they play somewhere nearby.
At this point I'm just rambling and trying to share some of that happy vibe I'm feeling right now. (And no, this isn't chemically induced!) All is right in the world tonight. :)
It's all worth waiting for...
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I bought the tickets on Friday so arranged to pick them up at Will Call, which they claimed opened at 8pm, and the show started at 9. I wanted to get there a bit early, to get a seat (if such a thing were possible) and sort out the ticket business. So we got there around 8:25 after circling several blocks to find parking. (Now I remember why I live on the "dreaded" Eastside.) Well, as it turns out, Chop Suey changed their story. Doors opened at 9, and show didn't start until 10. Boo to Chop Suey for posting inaccurate info on their website!
TJ was being quite a trooper at this point, since he had been out jet-skiing on Lake Washington all day and was pretty tired. (In Old Man Creath-land, a show starting at 9pm is a late night...) So we went across the street to Piecora's Pizza (original NYC Pizza, apparently) and got some Coke to fuel our wait.
We got in line in front of the club and at 9pm they finally let us in. The club was pretty tiny, just a huge open floor with a few tables in the way back, a huge bar on one side, and some barstools along the other side. Tiny stage, full of the musicians' equipment. Not anywhere near as lovely as the Triple Door, where she played the last 2 times I saw her. Oh, and no food served here either. I guess that's what the pizza place across the street is for. We found a couple of stools right in front and hung out for the next hour.
I thought the crowd was very Microsoft-ish - a mix of different ages, lots of Asian folks (me included) and rather mellow and well-behaved for a show. There were at least 2 identifiable groups: the young software engineer contingent (us included) and the NPR contingent (older, conservatively dressed, seemed vaguely uncomfortable to be in a club with no seating). Props to the very nice bartender, the yummy Lemon Drop Martini he made me, and the policy on free refills on Coke-like products.
Promptly at 10pm, Vienna took the stage with her small band (3 people total including herself). When I was a teenager, I used to write down the setlist for each show right after I came home so I'd remember it.
Now that I'm old, I just went straight to bed last night, so here's my recall of last night's show:
Enough to Go By
Whatever You Want
Unwritten Letter #1
Love Turns 40
Nothing Without You (**LOVE** this song, made me weepy)
City Hall (cute dancing by Marika and Dina)
They came back for a quick encore (didn't leave us hanging for too long!):
That last song totally made my night. Last time I saw Vienna, I met her briefly at the end of the show and told her we played Harbor at our wedding (during the time the guests were arriving and mingling, for those of you who were there). So that song is my absolute favorite of hers (not least because she described it as her foray into progressive rock). Woo hoo.
After she was done, we left, so I don't know if she played with Duncan Sheik at all. Several other people left as well, so I guess we weren't the only ones there just to see Vienna.
Oh, and I saw Michael Kaplan there but felt like a dork so didn't go over and say hi, since I know him (or rather, know about him) only through the Internet. Except for that one time he snarked at me about a Windows bug assigned to him, but that was a long time ago...
Now, if only Barnesandnoble.com would get their act together and ship me her new CD, already! I pre-ordered it and it's still not here. (Defeats the point of pre-ordering it, doesn't it??)
Anyway, I'm really happy I went. I was resigned to not going, cuz I couldn't find anyone to go with, but thanks to my sweetpie husband, I thoroughly enjoyed my fifth Vienna Teng show. She's almost up there with Toad The Wet Sprocket (6 times) and Queensryche (7 times), both of whom I'll see this year.
Party on, Wayne.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The Museum's building and plaza is pretty cool, nice and modern, lots of open spaces and light. The weird thing is that they have only one gallery with a couple of rooms, and they were running a few exhibits, only one of which was actually glass.
This was true the last time I went there, a few years ago with Kristin. I mean, if you're going to call yourself 'The Museum of Glass', I'd expect a much larger exhibition of actual glass. (duh). If I wanted to see weirdo mixed-media/film/scary paintings, I'd go to any one of the zillions of regular museums around here.
They did have a cool piece in their open lobby area, called 'Banketje' by Beth Lipman.
She recreated a 17th century Dutch still life painting of an overflowing banquet table, completely in clear glass. There were even a few broken pieces on the floor, and we couldn't figure out whether they were supposed to be there or had fallen off. (Turns out, after reading the fine print, they were supposed to be there, representing life's excesses or something...) From the description, it took 15 people to make the 400 objects on that table.
And that's what I think is pretty neat about glass art - it seems to be a team effort (though I guess the primary artist gets all the credit, much like Nobel Prize-winning science). Dale Chihuly, the famous glass artist who created the amazing ceiling sculpture at the Bellagio's lobby (with over 2,000 individual pieces!), has three huge installations on the Bridge of Glass, right outside the Museum. Each of those has a ton of individual pieces, which must have been created by a huge team, judging from the complexity of what's there. I wish I had my camera, but I'll have to be satisfied with the photos I stole from the Chihuly website:
But the absolutely coolest part of the museum was The Hot Shop. It's a live glassblowing studio, with real artists and their teams making new glass sculptures. You can sit right in front, enough to feel the heat from the 6 furnaces and various ovens, and watch them do their intricate dance to work quickly with the glass while it's malleable, while not poking each other with the 2000 degree metal implements. We were there for over an hour, watching them create a stripy worm-like vase, which was supposed to look like a 70s striped stocking. One of the guys even talked to us a little bit, answering our questions.
It reminded me of sitting at the "Chef's Counter" at Alan Wong's restaurant in Hawaii and watching those guys prepare the meals. The Hot Shop and Bridge of Glass were well worth the trip to Tacoma. That, and seeing family, of course!
We ate lunch at Blue Olive, the ultra-hip restaurant and lounge right by the museum. It was pretty good, not spectacular. Nearby was also Urban Dogs, a very cool pet accessory boutique, but TJ wouldn't let me go there since our dogs have too much "stuff" already. (Spike disagrees, and wouldn't mind some new treats every now and then.)
After we returned home, I collected the dogs in our air-conditioned bedroom and we napped and hid out from the heat for the next several hours. It's been a nice lazy day. I even managed to get to the gym, and read half of the chapter about binomial distributions for my online Statistics course. What more could a girl ask for out of a weekend day?
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The end of the second lap, we were passed by a couple of guys running by us. They weren't dressed in workout clothes, but in street clothes, and had no dog. A little weird for the dog park, but I didn't think much of it. One of them slowed down to pet another beagle in front of us. They were Latino, with shaved heads, muscle Ts and some tattoos.
As Spike and I were getting ready to leave, we saw 2 police cars pull up. Two cops got out and walked into the park (not near us), clearly looking for something and not sure which way to go. Here's the conflict. My first thought was that they must be looking for those two guys. But that's a pretty racist thought and that bothers me. For all I know they could have been looking for the nice (white) family with the Basset hound who was leaving at the same time.
I decided not to do anything. The cops didn't come over and ask me anything, and I didn't feel the need to approach them. I do have a certain mistrust for cops in general (maybe another prejudice?) but that has to do with my vague distrust for "The Man". I'm more troubled by the thought that I automatically assumed they were looking for those two guys. On the other hand, if those were two white guys, with tattoos, muscle Ts and no dogs, running out of the dog park, I would have thought the same thing. So maybe I'm not as much racist as I am likely to judge those with a certain "look".
What would you do/think?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
But I digress. The real reason for my post is to tell you about a new friend we made in Savannah:
On Wednesday night, we went out to dinner with my parents. Upon our return, we saw a dog wandering around near their street - an adorable little beagle guy. Their subdivision doesn't usually have dogs running loose, so we stopped to see if he had any tags. He had a tag for a microchip, as well as his county license, but no nametag. Since he was little, and mostly friendly (but very nervous), TJ scooped him up and we took him home. It was around 10pm, and the county licensing office was closed. I called the Avid microchip number, and they told me that particular chip was registered to a vet, but they didn't have an owner's name. And of course, the vet was already closed. So we decided to hold on to the little guy that night, and then call the vet in the morning.
TJ had the idea of walking around the neighborhood to see if anyone was out looking for him. So we set off, TJ, the little guy, and myself, along the main road through my parent's giant subdivision. We walked for about 35 minutes, and I thought the street we were on would loop around back to the subdivision entrance.
Well, I was wrong. We kept walking, and another 20 minutes later, saw the Savannah police cruiser that monitors the neighborhood at night. We told him we were a little bit lost, and he recognized us because my mom had called him to tell him about the dog we found, in case someone had called the security patrol looking for him. He thought it was hilarious we had walked so far from home and offered us his cell phone so I could call my parents to come pick us up. (I had left mine at home, and TJs had no juice - not smart...) We couldn't get a hold of them, so the nice policeman drove back to my parents house (a good 3 miles away!) and asked my dad to come and pick us up.
During this whole adventure, the little beagle stayed calm and was really enjoying his nice long walk. He had a ton of energy.
When we got back home (thanks Appa) we put the little guy in the screened-in porch outside, since we didn't know if he was housetrained. By then it was pretty late, and time for us to go to bed. I hung out with the dog for a while, and he was just the sweetest little guy. When I left him on the porch, he just started whining this sad little squeaky whine.
Well, I couldn't take it. I asked my mom if I could bring him inside (somehow that made me feel like I was 10 years old again) and she reluctantly agreed. I brought him up to our bedroom, on the leash and after a little coaxing, he jumped right up on the bed, and curled up by me to go to sleep. An hour or so later, he got a little anxious, so we went outside (quickly!). After that, he slept with TJ, all curled up in a little beagle ball. Apparently, like Spike, he was wiggly and kicked TJ a lot, so it was a long night for them. I slept well. :)
I woke up early and we fed him because his stomach was growling. He happily ate my parents' dog's "senior" dog food. I took the little guy for a short walk and hoped that someone would recognize him. Though, honestly, at that point, I hoped he didn't have a home, and we could keep him! Around 7:15, the vet called us back (I left a message with his chip number) and let us know the name, address and phone number of his owner. I called them, and the wife was happy to hear we had her dog. I was sad to hear they were looking for him because I was already making plans to figure out how to get him back to Seattle. About 20 minutes later, her husband came to pick him up.
We found out the little guy's name was Bogey, he was about a year old, and he liked to go golfing with his person, and he jumped out of the golf cart to chase something, and got loose. They had found him as a stray, so he seems to have a bit of a wandering personality, just like most beagles. From the looks of him, and his boundless energy, I suspect he's a beagle/Jack Russell mix, because he was much smaller than Spike and his ears were a slightly different shape. Unfortunately the guy was using a shock collar to train Bogey, which I really think is WRONG for such a little dog, and one who seemed eager to please people.
Later in the day, Bogey's person dropped off a $25 gift certificate to Petsmart for us, which was nice, and totally unnecessary. I got to say goodbye to Bogey again, and so did TJ. While I would have loved to bring him home, I'm sure Bogey is happy to be with his people, and shock collar notwithstanding, he seems to have a pretty good life.
That's the 3rd dog I've found, and returned home. The first was Abby, a black lab who was wandering down the road near our rental house in Bellevue, and the second was a giant malamute belonging to one of our neighbor's visiting sons. That's a pretty good record.