Friday, May 30, 2008

In me the Wishmaster

In searching for a decent Nightwish clip to post as part of my concert "review", I ran into this little video powerpoint presentation of misheard lyrics to a Nightwish song. It's hilarious (maybe more so because I *love* the song and have no idea what most of the actual lyrics are). I am sharing it with you:

Nightwish's lyrics are somewhat hard to understand, partly because of Tarja's operatic voice and also probably somewhat due to the Finnish-accented English. Couple that with loud guitars and drums and your mind can make up all sorts of lyrics.

Watch and enjoy. Am I a dork to think that was totally funny?

Also, I am so glad it's Friday. My new job is insanely busy. I'm already behind. How is that possible after 2 weeks?!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reveal to me my true name

$13 for Internet access was just too much to pay, or else I would have blogged from Las Vegas this weekend. We went there primarily so that Dave and I could see Nightwish, an amazing metal band from Finland.

I actually learned about Nightwish from Dave back in 2005 when he mentioned in casual conversation that he had just seen a metal band with a female lead singer who was classically trained in opera. So of course my curiosity was piqued, and eventually I heard them on my XM radio so I bought their album Once. And I was blown away by their amazing, different sort of sound. (I'm a huge fan of 80s metal but I can't name one decent band with a female singer. No, Vixen does not count.)

So of course, the next time they came to Seattle I was going to be there. And that didn't happen until October 2007, when luck would have it, I got so sick the week before the concert that there was no way I could make it standing in a club for the show. I still regret not going, but I know I would have been sick for an extra week if I had gone to the show.

But I was going to see them live, and I was thrilled to find out they were coming back to the US in 2008 for a short tour. Unfortunately Seattle wasn't on their list, but Vancouver was, and so was Las Vegas. And the Vegas show was on a Saturday night. Of a long weekend. So that sealed the deal and I planned this trip a few months ago.

The show was at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, which is basically a large club with a balcony. I hate TicketMaster so I bought the tickets through a fan site linked on the Nightwish page. This caused us some concern since the venue didn't get our names on the Will Call list until a couple of hours before the show. But that minor crisis was averted.

We stood in line briefly with all the goth and metal kids and grownups (it was an all ages show) and once the doors opened, we found a perfect spot in front of the bar, with a bench to lean on, where we had a perfect view of the stage but didn't need to be on the floor with everyone else. I guess that means I'm getting old, if I just want to hang out in back and stand there with my drink in a comfortable spot.

The HOB has an interesting scheme - there are a few bar tables with a great view of the stage that you can sit at *if* you incur at least a $150 bar tab. Their mixed drinks were about $8, and since Dave wasn't drinking, there was no way I could justify this. But if you go there with a group, it's a great deal and you'll be comfy. (That's the oldness talking again.)

We were pleasantly surprised by the opening band, Sonic Syndicate. I heard a couple of their song clips on MySpace and thought they *might* be ok. They are a metal band too (from Sweden, I think) and the interesting thing about them is that they have 2 lead vocalists, one who does the Cookie Monster death metal growly thing, and the other who can really sing. At the show we found out the one who can sing can also do growly, but it sounded different and surprisingly complementary to the other guy.

Usually I just tune out when it turns to the Cookie Monster sound, but these guys were really good. Their music was amazing, and having both vocalists was really cool. It was almost like the death metal vocal dude was there as another instrument that made up their sound. I think I'm going to download their stuff if I can find it on Amazon MP3, or buy the CD. I'm so over iTunes and their DRM.

Here's one of their videos:

Also, their bass player was a GIRL! And she was good, and it wasn't a big deal that she was a girl - she wasn't like Fergie or Gwen Stefani, whose girlness is part of their bands' image. She was just one of the members of the band, and awesome.

After a short break, Nightwish came on. I don't think I can even do justice to the show by writing any kind of review. It was just *incredible* and totally worth the wait. No fancy pyrotechnics, or costume changes, or elaborate video montages. Just the band, and their awesome music, and a ton of energy. It was the best show I've seen in a long time, probably partly because they're one of the few bands I've seen recently that I've never seen live before. I think HIM was the last.

They played several songs from the new album (Dark Passion Play):
Bye Bye Beautiful (kickass opener)
The Poet and the Pendulum (even better live)
Whoever Brings the Night
The Islander

They almost ready my mind, because they skipped most of the ones I'm not crazy about. I am sad that they didn't do "Cadence of Her Last Breath" which is one of my favorites.

They also did quite a few of the older songs, which was interesting to watch how the new vocalist Anette handled those. Her voice is *really* different from Tarja's, an alto (if I had to guess) and a harder, more rock 'n' roll than the opera vibe that Tarja's has.

I Wish I Had An Angel
Sleeping Sun (one of my favorites!!)
Wishmaster (dazzling)

I may have forgotten a few songs. The show was way too short - only an hour and a half. But for a band used to selling out arenas in Europe, playing to a club that wasn't quite full was probably a strange experience. Maybe someday I'll get to see them in Finland!

But wow, this was such a great experience and truly one of the top 5 concerts I've ever been to. I'd totally see them again. And again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Exercise: Walked with Aimee at the Pro Club, 100 minutes and just under 6 miles. Woot!!

Food: Ate the usual cereal-milk-banana breakfast, protein shake for lunch, and went to the Outback for dinner.

What I did right today: Walking! Bought new shoes for walking, so I can do the half marathon. Protein shake to get some extra protein into my carb-heavy life. Also didn't have any caffeine after lunchtime. So I might actually be able to sleep!

What I could have done better: Gotten the salad without dressing at Outback. Stupid salad was drowning in heavy dressing. Skipped the cheese fries. Oh, I am powerless when faced with the two things i love most: cheese and fries.

Plan for tomorrow:
1. Walk to work, at least from TJ's building if not from home (feet are very sore today)
2. Bring lunch to work plus snacks
3. Eat at home for dinner.
4. Actually review plan so I know what I'm supposed to do

It's a new life

I am trying this new service called Jott, it lets you dictate blog posts over the phone and it will transcribe them into your blog. So, did it work? listen

Powered by Jott

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I guess this log will only work if I actually write in it. So I'm going to try to write at the end of each day just to check in with myself and review what I've done. Again, this is more for me than any external readers. Because it's boring.

Walked on the Microsoft campus with Aimee and Spike today, for about 40 min. It felt good even though it was HOT.

Food: Ate the usual cereal-milk-banana breakfast, Canyons nachos for lunch and a nice light dinner of yogurt, naan and V8. (Weird, I know.)

What I did right today: Definitely the walking. I told myself last night it was a top priority for me, and that seemed to work.

What I could have done better: Not given into my chicken nachos craving for lunch. As usual, I waited until I was so hungry I couldn't see straight. And as usual, it led me to a bad choice.

Plan for tomorrow:
1. Walk with Aimee at Pro Club at 8:30am
2. Clean out fridge
3. Track my food on WW Online (for reals)

Peanut peanut peanut is a giant peanut dog

Sometimes I like to do random searches on Etsy, just to see what comes up. When I searched for 'caltech', I found photograph of a tile fountain on campus that was tucked away in a little corner, but I would see it on my way to class often. It sort of felt like my own little secret since people were always rushing around, stressed out, and I felt like a lot of them didn't really *see* how beautiful the campus really was.

So recently I searched for 'peanut' in the jewelry section, just to see what I'd find. And I fell in love with this gorgeous pendant by Etsy seller alisamiller, but it's not exactly an impulse purchase.

So I've put it in my Favorites so I can think about it and save my little pennies. Or sell a lot of GeekMagnets.

But this evening, in my Etsy peanut search, I found this adorable pendant from bunkleberry studios, which was totally suitable for a late-night impulse purchase.

I can't wait to get it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Workin' 9 to 5

So apparently going back to work reduces my posting frequency. This has been both a really long and a really short week all at once. I can't believe I was just in New Employee Orientation earlier this week. On the other hand, I also can't believe it's already Friday night. Not sure how that happened.

I have been deluged with a firehose of information for my new job. Plus there's the usual stuff you do when you start a new job, to get settled in the environment. I didn't get my new laptop until Thursday afternoon so I was feeling pretty unsettled before that (my MacBook couldn't access internal websites because of a Windows security requirement, and I don't know enough to figure out how to get around it).

Everything at work is online, and the company runs via email so not having a computer is like playing ice hockey with no skates. I guess you could do it, but it's not really the most efficient way to go about it.

My new work laptop is awesome - it's a Toshiba Portege m700 Tablet PC. Small and light, which is a requirement for me in a laptop. Not as thin and pretty as my Macbook, but the Tablet features definitely make up for that. I may have to do another handwritten blog post. It's also shiny brand new and has 4GB of RAM, so it's fast and responsive, and Vista makes it pretty.

I spent the past couple of days getting it set up with all the work software I needed, and also the personal stuff like my Favorites, Messenger, and of course, pictures of the puppies for my screen saver. I have to admit I love the fact that Microsoft doesn't skimp on equipment for its employees to get work done, and doesn't try to legislate what we can do with our work machines. (I mean, obviously, I can't download porn, but I can put my own background on it, and use it to post to my personal blog.)

Oh, and speaking of blogs, I reopened my Microsoft blog. But first I need to talk to my manager about what I can blog about there. Let's just say that I work on some sensitive stuff, and leave it at that. I'm not sure if I can talk about it or not on my blog. Better safe than sorry.

Thanks to everyone who gave me design feedback on the blog. I might work on it this weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Makin' love out of nothing at all

Well, so today was my first day at my new (old) job. But actually, it was a day of New Employee Orientation. So I got no real work done, and learned only 1 new fact, which was pretty cool, except that it doesn't apply to me:

If you have had or adopted a child anytime in the last year, even if your start date at work is today, you are eligible to take your 4 weeks of paid parental leave.

Now *that* is a pretty amazing benefit in itself, but the fact that it retroactively applies to children acquired before you were an employee? Wow. There were a couple of people in my orientation group that gasped out loud when they heard it. 4 weeks of unexpected paid vacation to bond with your kid? Sweet!

And speaking of the orientation group, there were more than 100 people who started today. And they hold orientation every Monday. Talk about getting assimilated into the empire.

I guess having to attend a day and a half of New Employee Orientation is my punishment for quitting Microsoft in the first place. I wish there were some kind of escape clause for people who have been gone less than a year. I'm actually ready to start jumping into real work, getting my laptop set up, and all that, but instead, I'm sitting in NEO getting the life sucked out of me by hearing all the info I already knew and watching a lot of very well made propaganda videos.

The best thing that happened to me today? Winning a $10 gift certificate to the company store because I knew the name of the weird 'O' character in the Microsoft logo. It's a blibbet. See, I knew that this useless knowledge would come in handy someday!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Help! I need somebody

First things first - Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. Especially my own Amma, who I didn't get to talk to because I slept until noon today (crazy insomnia last night) and flaked out completely on the date until I remembered to call her late this evening. (In my defense, I did remember earlier in the week, when I ordered her some fabulous things from Etsy.)

In other news, today is my last official day of unemployment. Waaah. I'm sort of ready to go back to work, but really, another week off would have been lovely.

I did get a lot done this week, including making and designing a new set of "Coffee and Dessert" GeekMagnets, which are now posted in my Etsy shop.

Yesterday I got a package in the mail, all the way from Australia. A fellow Etsy seller was clearing out her bead stash and posted a huge lot of handmade lampwork glass beads for sale. And I LOVE "variety packs" of beads, because sometimes I just don't know what I'm looking for, exactly.

For those of you who are not bead addicts, lampwork beads are made individually by hand using a torch and various colors of glass rods. Very carefully. They can get pretty elaborate, with all sorts of delicious color combinations.

I thought you might like to see a couple of my favorites.

This one reminds me of the most deliciously-iced donut ever. The color is so juicy and summery bright:

This one looks like a mutant sea creature from a Dr. Seuss story, all nubbly and bumpy with lime green suckers:

I've got some projects in mind for my new stash, and I'll post the pictures here.

And now my plea to you, my loyal reader(s).

I need some help with my blog layout and design. It feels too cluttered to me. I need to figure out how to keep all the elements I need while maintaining a simple, attractive feel. So I welcome any comments you have that may help. Be brutally honest and the person with the best suggestions will win a little somethin'-somethin' from the Lab.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Right now I'm so in love with you

A couple of woot-worthy things that happened lately:

Yesterday, TJ and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary.

Yay! It's gone by really fast, and has been really fun, so we decided to renew the agreement for another 3 years. He was angling for one year, but I convinced him to make it three :)

A very cool wedding and design blog called Fiore Fresco featured my GeekMagnets! This was totally unsolicited - I found her blog through someone's search terms that they used to get to mine - they were searching for 'wedding Canlis' so I thought I'd click on it. I left her a comment a few days ago, just saying that our wedding was at Canlis too. Kind of cool, the way the Internet works, huh?

I'm actually working on a few new sets of GeekMagnets combining my love of science with my love of food. Here's a sneak peek at one of the designs I created, for the molecule that gives black pepper its distinctive flavor:

I'll post these in my etsy shop in the next couple of days. I know you can't wait :D

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

And water can't cover her memory

Ooh, so the first of the four concerts in this summer's concert season was last night - Dream Theater on their Progressive Nation 2008 tour. There were 3 opening bands I had never heard of, and having sat through a lot more sucky opening bands than great ones, Dave and I decided to get dinner instead.

We got to the WaMu Theater in downtown Seattle (more on that later) just before the last opening band, Opeth, took the stage. I had high hopes for the opening bands, since this was supposed to be a "festival" of progressive rock, and I love me my progressive rock. (And now begins the section where I am at risk for another round of public ridicule by some obscure music blog.)

There were a lot of Opeth fans in the theater, mostly teen boys with that longish shaggy skater-looking hair. (Yes, I'm old and hopelessly uncool.)

Sadly, I was not one of those fans. Opeth is mostly death metal, with some time signature changes thrown in, so I guess that's why they fell under the "progressive" label. Their musicians were pretty good, but the songs seemed disjointed. Like someone took random death metal songs and threw them in a blender.

And of course, any self-respecting death metal band has to have the growly singer uttering unintelligible lyrics. Dave likened this vocal style to Cookie Monster, which cracked me up (but it's so true!).

Their lead singer was surprisingly charming and unscary in his mid-song banter. And when he wanted to, he could actually sing well. But apparently he chose not to for nearly every song. So we gritted our teeth and waited for their set to finish. It was a long hour.

After that, and a short set-change interlude, Dream Theater came on. This was the second time I've seen them live, and this time I was especially struck by what freakin' amazing musicians they all are. I *could not* take my eyes off Mike Portnoy, their kickass drummer, or Jordan Rudess, the keyboardist. The keytar was a nice touch too. :)

Fortunately for me and my short self, they had a huge video screen where they alternated entertaining cartoons featuring the band with camera footage of the musicians, so I got to see more than just the back of the really tall guy in front of me.

DT played most of their newest album, Systematic Chaos, which upon first listen I hated because a lot of it sounds like late 1980s era Metallica. But after a few times through, it's definitely growing on me, and I can hear the interesting twists Dream Theater brings to it. (Though I still argue it sounds a LOT like old Metallica.)

They played only a couple of songs (Take the Time and Surrounded) from Images and Words, which is my favorite album of theirs. But again, the musicians were just so awesome that even the few songs I didn't recognize were good. They didn't play for as long as they did when I saw them with Queensryche here a few years ago - their encore was pretty short. Another 30 minutes would have been great. Maybe I'm just old and crotchety, but back in the day (barefoot, in the snow, both ways), I remember metal bands would play a minimum of 2 hours, and often 3. Now we're lucky if we get an hour and half from the headlining act.

And the WaMu Theater? Not so great, but not horrible either. The sound was much better than the craptastic Showbox SoDo (aka Concrete Bunker). Seats were cushy, but if you're in the floor section, it's really hard to see if you're short. And the venue staff are a little over-enthusiastic about not letting people stand in the back, which was silly, because the venue had a lot of empty seats, and a very mellow crowd last night. I'd see another show there - parking was easy, it's nearby, and traffic afterwards was not an issue.

Next up: Nightwish in Las Vegas on Memorial Day Weekend. I am *so* excited for this show, since I was sick when they came to Seattle last October, and had to give up my ticket. I can't wait to see their new singer live! And of course, Vegas is always a blast. Woot!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You can't touch this

Yes, boys and girls, it's time for another episode of sewing class Show and Tell with your host Anandi.

Yesterday I made a potholder. Not just any potholder, but one that works like an oven mitt, where you stick your hand in it. Behold:

Here's the less impressive back (don't pay any attention to the wonky stitching that was supposed to be *under* the bias tape - that's operator error):

This was a really fun project - it had a lot of steps and was really satisfying when the finished piece came together at the end. Even when the stitching isn't perfect, it's still a functional potholder. And really, who's gonna look at my potholders too closely? The side with the wonky stitching is the one that touches the hot things.

We learned how to use a pattern, and cut several layers of fabric at once with a rotary cutter. We learned how to use and sew bias tape, and how to use a zipper foot on the sewing machine to sew down the sides with the cording (to give it more body).

If you want the pattern, my fabulous sewing teacher Eva Holen sells it in quilt stores, and I found one on EBay.

She also let me come in 30 min early to work on my placemats from last week's class, the one I missed. I did the cutting and initial sewing but have a few more steps to do to finish it. She said I could come back tomorrow morning while she's teaching her other class, and finish them up. I'll probably do that since I don't have a job right now. Woo hoo!

I think I must have learned how to do some of this stuff in 8th grade home ec, but I really don't remember it. And I certainly didn't *like* it, not least of all because I had to take home ec at a high school that was totally ghetto, because my Catholic school didn't offer it but required us to take it. It was a very interesting experience from a people-watching perspective for my 11 year old self, but not so much educational. Lots of fights (other people) and a lot of PDA (because it was a high school). Oh, and the worst part was that our principal nun had to drive me there because I didn't live in that school district. *So* embarassing.

Boy, am I glad not to be a kid anymore.

Day 6 Already!!

Well, so I've nearly survived a week on WW. And I haven't completely blown my point allowance yet (though I'm down to 6 extra points for today and tomorrow).

I figured something out - I can eat out once a day and still stay within my points. My unscientific study indicates that my eating out meals are way more points than the grub I can rustle up at home, so in order to absorb the "cost" of those meals, I need to eat pretty conservatively the rest of the day. WHich isn't so bad.

Today TJ and I went to breakfast at the Village Square Cafe in Redmond. We'd never been there before, and it's YUMMY. American comfort food at its finest. So after that 13 point breakfast, I've got to chill for the rest of the day. And get in some walking.

Today's Peanut's turn. Yesterday Beagle and I did the standard 35-ish minute loop down the street around the block and back up the street. Because our hill is so steep, it was a rough climb, but today that soreness feels good. Like I actually *did* something.

So far so good :D

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