Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Auto Bailout

Must see revised Big Three ad, via BoingBoing (and Soot and Ashes, where I first saw it)

Just keep remembering, we should (apparently) privatize profits, and socialize losses. Right? Right?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Giving thanks

Every year when asked what I am most thankful for (it's a Thanksgiving tradition at Grandma Kay's house, we go around the room saying what we are thankful for) of course the thing that comes up first is "my wonderful family." And I mean it!

Which made it harder to not go to the big family Thanksgiving for the first time. But this is part of being married, and so I joined Paul's family in Henderson, NV.

I missed my family something fierce, but this nearly made up for it:










I am very thankful for fabulosity and sparkle power.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bye, Bye, Big Three

Full disclosure: I hate cars. I don't know how to drive, and if I did, I would rarely do it. Well, specifically, I don't hate cars themselves, but the culture around them. There is a time and place for cars, but it is not as we use them today.


When Paulson first tried to pass of his 3 page plan (loosely: "hey! I know! Why don't you give me 700 billion dollars to do with what I want, without any oversight at all?") that should have raised big red flags. He has no business doing what he is doing. Bailing out corporate failures is a mess, and the package is a very expensive mistake.

It's not going to work to try to make the banks lend out this free money. Duh, they were failing at their jobs, so we gave them our money to throw after it? No really, here is some very good explanation of why it isn't working. Article 1, and its follow-up. Of course, it is more complicated than those two articles, and I recommend anyone interested in economics take to reading that blog more in-depth for excellent and usually very readable analysis.

But, this new thing? This automaker thing? Outrageous.

The other day I bookmarked something I wanted to write about (found via Boing Boing Gadgets). It's a Business Week article titled "The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can't Have" and the gist of it is, Ford has a clean-diesel car in Europe that gets 65mpg, but they won't bother with it here because Americans don't want diesel. Production and import would be expensive, and, they say, "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars."

Fucking ridiculous. These American automakers will not bother with new tech, they won't bother with trying to sell better engineering to Americans. They just want to continue to suck out loud, and then they want us to give them money to continue some more. Why? So they can keep producing SUVs?!?!?

Ironically, the day before I read this, a coworker sat and chatted with me about the new car he is on the waitlist for. He canceled the car he had ordered when he heard about this great new one, a clean-running diesel that got something like 65mpg! From? oh, some European carmaker.

Thanks, Big Three.

Then, yesterday, also via Boing Boing Gadgets, I saw this article in Forbes about Honda. Really, it's a great article, and worth reading about a manufacturing company where engineering rules and problems are there to be solved, with weird angles if necessary:
"But there's nothing Honda hates more than waste, and there is nothing Honda likes more than an engineering problem. Indeed, how else to explain why Honda has studied the maddeningly evasive cockroach (for anticollision technology), decoded the rice genome (to increase crop yields and create more-productive crops for biofuels) and developed a robot that can get instructions by reading human brain waves (to learn how machines and humans can better coexist)."
Why can't our Big Three invent? Why do they refuse to do anything but throw money at marketing SUVs that are good for nearly nobody?

More importantly, why should we throw money after them? They should fail, so that new ideas can come in their place. Capitalism may or may not be the best system, but it will not work at all if bad companies are not allowed to fail. What reason do they have to change? What evidence do we have that they can change? If they are propped up by our precious few tax dollars, we will be dragged down with them as we waste our money on investing in the past rather than the future.


PS: you agree? Go here, and contact your congresscritters

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

October 3-5: Venice

This was mostly written whilst on the train to Florence, and I am just getting to it now...


In the canal by our hotel in Venice. The water is clearer than we expected, and there are FISHES!


On Day 2, our first full day after arriving, we got out in the morning to see the Basilica di San Marco. As we were in line, we saw the floods starting, first as a puddle in the front of the church, which grew as we were in line, so that the narthex (entry way) of the church was solidly flooded by the time we got in. They put out planks to walk on, as this is completely normal flooding. We paid the 6 Euro to go upstairs to the museum and loggia, where we saw the 4 Horses and stood out on the loggia just in time for the 12:00 bells, first from the Torre dell'Orologio, which is hit by a mechanical man with a hammer, and then across the piazza at the Campanile, a much louder bell. On the other side of the loggia, we looked down onto the top of two columns, one covered in dead pigeons, one with none at all. Is this where pigeons go to die? Some sort of pigeon executioner's square? Paul's theory was that people throw dead pigeons onto the one column, but I have my doubts.


It's a small world after all!


Where pigeons go to die?


View from the side of the loggia, out over the Piazzetta

The Basilica itself is amazing(ly overdone) but there are countless records of that elsewhere. We paid a few Euro to go to the Treasury to see a bunch of stolen and some legitimately gotten treasure, some very impressive Byzantine chalices, and, most importantly, reliquaries. I really can't get enough of this stuff: bones, teeth, the "True Cross," and best of all, a whole hand, apparently of Saint Martha.

On the way to the Basilica, on the Ponte Dell'Accademia




After the Basilica, we had some melty cheese sandwiches and headed to see the Ghetto. On the way, we had our first gelato of the day, and stopped to see St. Lucy in Saint Geramia's church. You can see her hands and feet, but the face is covered with a mask. There are several paintings and sculptures of St. Lucy in the church, which I always find funny because she is usually depicted holding a dish with her eyes in it, yet she always has eyes in her head. I suppose no one wanted to depict her with just sockets? Odd, since the religious art frequently relishes the grotesque.

We noticed the vending machines in front of the pharmacies offer all sorts of things you might need in an emergency.

We got to the Ghetto just in time to miss the last tour of the Museo Ebraico. I had done the tour last time and Paul said he just wanted to see the Ghetto. The buildings of the Ghetto Nuovo are close together, and stacked high with low-ceilinged apartments. You get a pretty good sense of the crowding just by seeing the dwellings. The Holocaust memorial in the Campo again nearly made me cry. Just as last time I was here, uniformed police were hanging around the Campo. Coincidence? Or because people have attempted some anti-Semitic crimes here? Either way, the history of his place is heavy. And? People still live here. As we left, we passed by several Jewish shops and bakeries, and on the way out, some guy said something unintelligible to us, and when we looked confused, asked "You speak Hebrew?" Uh, no. Not even a little.

We wandered around the Rialto markets and over the famed bride of tourists and knick-knacks. Heading back into St. Mark's Sestiere, we wandered and happened upon the Scala del Bovolo, a happy surprise sine I had been wondering where "that staircase" was but had no idea what I was looking for. As famous and sunning as it is, it is just stuck in a small backyard area, overgrown and hidden in an alley where no one can be impressed by it. I had assumed it would be posing on the Grand Canal, or an important piazza.

Scala del Bovolo


We also stopped briefly at St. Moise, generally thought to be Venice's ugliest church I'd been impressed by the dubious facade before, but this time we got to duck in and be astounded by the bombastic altarpiece. OMG. I wanted to get a better look at it, but some guy rang a little bell and a priest came in, so we scurried off.

Venice is beautiful everywhere you look.

Dinner was followed by gelato #2, and then we decided to go drink beers in the Campo San Margherita with all the adorable college students. We wondered if we were supposed to care when the Polizia pulled up in their bat and disembarked to walk the crowd. No one moved, so neither did we. The college students ranged from mall-punks to pegged-jean-unfortunate-hair metalheads to your run of the mill jeans-and-sweatshirts types. Venice is marred by more graffitti than you would expect, and we were consistently charmed by the earnest scrawlings against biotech and a "global Italy." On the square, we also had gelato #3, then retired for the evening.


day 3 we got out of the apartment even later, as I was starting to feel like I was coming down with something. The goal was to go the the Palazzo Ducale, and... success! We made it. The Palazzo tour gives you a close-up look at many architectural details, a lot of painting (some important, and others just over-the-top tacky) and a good background on Venetian history and the structure of society and government. you also get to tour the prisons and the armory. The weapons exhibit is large, with my highlights being the velvet-covered shields, weapons, and helmets, the funny artwork on some old rifles, and most importantly, listening to two children ask their respective parents "what is this?" in reference to a particularly gruesome chastity belt, and listening to the parents explain to their 5-8 year-olds in detail, in German and some other language. Where I didn't understand, I could tell by the looks on the little girls' faces that the explanation had been sufficiently accurate and detailed. I guess I'm a prudish America but I might have said "I don't know" and moved on. At least until they were a little older? It was hilarious and we were tempted to linger little longer for a third and fourth family.

The Palazzo Ducale from it's interior courtyard


Bling! The Scala del'Oro in the Palazzo Ducale

We spent several hours at the Palazzo Ducale and then puttered around for a bit before deciding to get warmer clothes and then take a few water buses to see Venice from the Canal and maybe visit Giudecca. Unfortunately we came to the realization that we were having banking problems, so after watching perhaps the most spectacular sunset ever, we spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get through to Paul's bank by phone. UGH. We seem to have figured out (no help from the bank though) the problem and may actually be ale to pay for our meals and lodging. I think. Given all of that and a lot of confusion with the bus information, we canceled on our idea to visit Giudecca in favor of having dinner (there's a small window of opportunity for meals at certain hours, and if you miss it, you are SOL) After dinner we saw a few more vistas, and called it a day. No gelato!

The most spectacular sunset ever

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Damn I wish I had found these before






Vote Because He Doesn't Want You To

Ugh, disgusting.


Early voting is so wrong!
Poor, old people are voting!
Except it's ok when *I* do it.



I'm guessing this guy never waited 5 hours in the rain to vote.
I hear his argument, and it is lame. So lame, I can't even figure out if he's serious or joking.
Poor old people voting early is bad because something might happen in the last week to change our mind???? There is NOTHING that could have happened in the last week to change my mind about the presidential election. Many of us just wanted it to be over (on both sides, I'm sure) and voting early means you can move on. I am sure there are those who are still weighing, and they were well served by coming in to vote on election day. But for those of us who are disgusted by the shell of McCain and the filthy campaign he's run, there was no chance of an October Surprise, unless it was that we woke up and it was all a bad dream.

And if that is his argument, why is absentee voting ok? I have an absentee ballot, so it is ok for me to vote early? WTF?

This is an unfortunate man, trying to make an excuse for what he really wants to say, which is, people shouldn't be allowed to vote. We should make it as difficult and painful as possible for (other) people to vote.

Blech. Disgusting.

I voted!

So did Paul. Yay!!
Voting makes me very happy, and I hope the results will as well.

Go vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why get married?

I didn't really have a good reason to want to get married. Paul and I were already committed (mixing 401Ks and mortgages is a *lot* more serious than a silly marriage certificate, legally speaking) and we were already living together. Most of my family had already decided that we were really married deep down inside. So why do it? For my part, I have been inspired by the wonderful marriages of my parents and grandparents, and once I had Paul and knew he was for me, I wanted to get *married" and I wanted to grow that into something as beautiful as what my grandmother and grandfather had.

As we planned our wedding, I was also secretly sure nothing would change, and partially wondered why throw a big party to say “we're married now!” when really you were married all along in your souls. I was ready for the anti-climax.

But I was wrong.

There is something different about being married. And I don't know what it is. Some undefinable change happens, and you make it happen, but it is also outside of you. We threw a wedding and tried to include as many people as we could, with the belief that the community's support was a necessary part of taking just being in love to being married, to a public commitment, and a commitment from the public, to support and grow this new family unit. There is something invested by the community, into the couple, that is bigger than what we could make for ourselves.

And every day I look at Paul a little differently, though nothing has objectively changed. But, somehow, it has changed.


And with heavy heart I worry now that this right will be taken away from millions of people in my community. Tomorrow the people of California will vote on whether to take away marriage from people who love people of the same gender.

During the wedding planning, I read of several couples who decided not to get married legally because they could not go along with an institution unfairly denied to gays and lesbians. I was happy that I didn't have to make that decision, and proud to get married in a state where all of my friends and fellow Californians could marry as they chose. How civilized! How loving!

And that day? I was never one to fantasize about dream weddings, and fuss about the perfect details of My Perfect Wedding Day, but you know what? It was perfect. Because I was surrounded by my community, and they were there in love to witness and support our marriage.

And I want that right for all of my friends. The deserve it. They need it. Their children need it.

I've heard the arguments:
  • that Prop 8 is bad for children won't someone think of the children!??!?! (but what about the fact the gay teenagers have such high suicide rates? Perhaps if they weren't ostracized, they'd have an easier time of it? Oh, and since other countries have already moved forward, we already have studies, showing the kids are alright.)
  • That marriage is a religious ideal from that person's church. Well, fine, that person's church can do what it wants, but as long as the state is involved, it must be an equally available institution. I could just as easily make up a religion and start saying marriage was only for gay people. So what about my religious beliefs? The best answer would be for the state to only honor and create civil unions, and have nothing to do with "marriages," which are apparently owned by whatever religious institution the person you are talking to belongs.
  • That this will destroy marriage is my favorite. With a divorce rate of 50%, I think straight people have done a fine enough job of destroying marriage. And for my part, for my marriage, I will be honored to have taken part in an institution that is shared by all the people in my community, many of whom are gay and lesbian. Applying a “separate but equal” institution would honestly make me a little less proud of the “married” thing. Marriage should be a tool of community building, not separating, and entered with love and compassion, not fear and paranoia. (and? I've looked into it. Civil unions do NOT give the same rights and protections as marriages do. Yes, allowing people to ride the bus is great, but making them sit in the back is not equal, and should not be tolerated.)

There are two pieces of video that I hope everyone will take a moment to watch. The first is a commercial supporting Prop 8, except the words have been changed slightly, so you can see what this is really about. Please let this sink in:



The second piece is a heartfelt speech given by the mayor of San Diego in September of 2007. The mayor was set to veto a resolution in support of gay marriage, and had vowed he would do so. Instead, he gave this press conference:



His speech was heartfelt and thoughtful, and gave me hope that even those who have been mistaken on this issue in the past, even the vociferous haters of equal rights for gays, can grow and change and see a better way. Is there anyone in your life you can reach, to help them see things in a better way?

And please, if you do nothing else, vote against Proposition 8.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 1-2, 2008

10/1-2/08
Caltrain->BART->SFO->JFK->MXP->Milan train station->Venice

What would get you out of bed at 3am? For me, Wednesday, the alarm at 3, out of the shower, dressed, packed, and out the door at 4am, and the sky was beautiful and the stars were *really* clear. And we thought "wouldn't it be funny to stomp around on our neighbors' roofs and stand in front of their windows laughing loudly to the same jokes over and over?" (which is what they do at all hours when we are trying to sleep) Then we saw that the neighbors were in fact, still awake and watching TV next door with the door wide open. Damn.

Then Caltrain -> SFO -> BART -> SFO -> JFK. All pretty uneventful. I like, when I fly overseas, to take Tylenol PM or something like it and sleep through the entire flight. But always wait until the flight actually takes off, because you never know how long they might keep you on the tarmac after leaving the gate. In this case it was about 1 1/2 hours, first because there were too many planes in line, then because while we waited the weather turned bad and we had to wait for it to pass, and then? Then because during that weather, one of the computers they use to direct traffic wen out, so they were sharing a single runway for all departures and arrivals (arrivals have priority) What. Ever. Once in the air, I slept like a log. Or a corpse, as Paul described it.

Either way, I woke up somewhere over, like, France. We then passed over the Alps, which were stunning, and descended over the red rooftops of Italy.
The view of the Alps from the airplane


Arrival was easy enough, and since Paul had the good sense to figure out in advance that we needed to be at a different train station, we took a bus to Milan's central station which is over an hour away. There we encountered our first food disaster in the form of a prepackaged sandwich, disgusting beyond our wildest dreams.

Worst. Sandwich. Ever.

The train ride to Venice was terrible, being seated in a compartment with a stinky man and a woman who alternated between sitting and flipping through her cellphone's library of christian rock and pop at full volume, and getting up and climbing over everyone to get in and out every five minutes. And it took for-ever. Finally we arrived at Santa Lucia Station in Venice and jetted out to get lost without a real map of Venice. We finally did stumble on our place but no one was there, so we ended up at an outdoor cafe for an Italian classic: really atrocious pizza and cheap wine. I wasn't at all surprised by this, having already established that Italians do not know anything about good pizza. (I'm a Chicago-style girl myself) The best thing about this cafe was the number and aggressiveness of the pigeons, who are accustomed in Venice to joining you at your table if you let them. As one family was in the process of leaving, they were swarmed such that the mother had to grab one last slice of pizza from the only non-pigeonated pizza as she made her hasty retreat. The pigeons then swarmed the table, knocking off a napkin holder and sending glass to the ground to shatter. Waitstaff appeared unfazed. In addition to the aggressive pigeons, there were also some very cute house finches and especially scream-y gulls. Also, lots of dogs some on leashes, many just wandering the streets (watch where you step) And so far, two not-very-friendly window cats.

After we checked into our hotel, we spent the evening wandering around and exploring the city.



Me in the neighborhood near our hotel.


Paul by the Grand Canal.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wedding guests



(one of a series of ruminations about the wedding process and our wedding)

I was not one of these girls who imagined her dream wedding. I never had a pre-planned, just drop in Mr. Guy here. Planning a wedding would come later, when there was a person I was actually planning to marry. Which happened in February.

A lot of what happened in between was poorly planned. From a project plan point, we might have slowed down and outlined our triple constraint, prioritized various goals, identified our stakeholders, and generally dragged it out for a great many billable hours. But I had no intention of letting this thing draw out. I've always been irritated by the people who get engaged forEVER and either plan a wedding a few years out or just get engaged with no wedding in the works. OK, we are not getting any younger, I don't have time for that. Also, engaged means planning to marry, so if you don't want to get married, DON'T GET ENGAGED. We came up with a number of months that seemed reasonable, given our vast knowledge of wedding planning, set the date, and moved full steam ahead! In retrospect, I think six months is perfect. Less is not enough unless you are having a very small wedding. More would have driven me insane, because no matter how good you are about keeping balance in our life, you will get sucked in to the planning and lose your real life, and get tired of wishing it would just get over with already. The longest I could have put up with this would be a year, and that would have been a stretch.

The next logical step would be to come up with some sort of vision for what you want. A small, intimate gathering by candlelight? A huge 500 person extravaganza? Who knows? We didn't really do this. We sort of nibbled away at this as we went along, without a defining vision. Here's what we knew:
  • We wanted to invite everyone who was important to us
  • We didn't want to blow a ton of cash
  • We wanted to eat food
  • We wanted to enjoy it
  • We wanted it to be friendly and homey and familyish, not orchestrated and perfect.

Points one and two are pushing against each other. Any wedding planning resource will tell you that the best way to cut costs is to cut guests. We didn't want to do that. We didn't want to regret that so-and-so wasn't there because we decided to have the ice sculpture and monogrammed napkins. So we let our parents have nearly free reign with the guest list, and we invited all the family and friends we could.

There is still a point where you have to draw a line about what friends to invite and which to leave out. We had to weigh this wish to include everyone against the wish to have a small enough crowd that we could actually spend quality time with people. That was tough sometimes. People you kind of wish you could invite but decide you can't are a constant source of guilt in the wedding planning process. Deal with it. (and anyone who doesn't have an invitation who asks when the wedding is and what they should wear? So totally not OK)

The last thing I want to say about the guests is the most important.
One thing I know a lot of couples planning wedding do (wrong) is decide not to allow kids at their weddings. This option hadn't really occurred to me at all until I started reading forums of women complaining about the headaches they were going through to make this happen. It is my strong recommendation that no one do this, unless you are having a very very small wedding and just want to keep it more intimate. Disallowing kids complicates things and makes people mad, which increases your stress level. You have to start dealing with technicalities. What age to you cut off at? Are certain close family members excluded? So and so can't come unless they bring their kid... Every one of these conversations will make people stressed and angry, and you do not need that when you are trying to plan a happy celebration.

More importantly, to us, was this simple fact: marriage is about family. Family frequently involves kids. Marriage is not about a beautiful wedding with no distractions or messes or noise. Family is noisy and messy, and our wedding would be too.


As it turned out, having the kids around was fantastic, and one of the things I heard the most was how much fun everyone had with the kids running around. During the ceremony, Emiko was escaping repeatedly from her mom, running through my field of vision behind Paul. Watching her kept me very happy while I tried not to think about how annoying it was that the microphone stopped working. During the wine and beer hour in the courtyard, several little girls in Paul's extended family attacked me with lots of sweet questions and affections while other kids found a watering can and started watering all the plants they could find. And during the reception, since the space was fenced in and fairly flat and clean, the kids got free reign with space and toys to go nuts. Best moment? One little girl tore her dress off and streaked around with her mom chasing her frantically, and Quinn apparently got a black eye which fazed him not in the least. I'm not really very good with kids, but I did enjoy having them around and seeing them have so much fun (and feeding them cupcakes!)

In short, I'm very glad that our choice of venue left us the flexibility to invite as many people as we wanted, and that we were so lucky to have all those people come.

It's just a word, after all

(I started writing this, after a lot of time thinking about it, on September 9th. Now it is way in the past, sort of)


Among the frivolous decisions about flowers, and cakes, and processional music and chocolate fountains, there are a few mines hidden in the wedding process. One thing I'm stuck on is names.

There are a lot of decisions that really ought to be personal ones, but that once made, people will jump to all kinds of conclusions about. In the wedding process, this one is probably the worst. If you change your name, it must be because you've given in to the patriarchy, that you've given up your identity, and not done any independent thought. You can't really be a feminist, surely, if you throw away your name and adopt your husband's.

And if you decide to keep your own name? You're being difficult, confusing, and not a team player. What name do your kids get? I've heard of them getting the father's name (why?) and I've heard the most bizarre one where the girls get the mom's name and the boys get the dad's name. All these names seem really silly and confusing. What is the point of a last name, if not to indicate which group you are with? And if you each have a different name, why not drop it altogether?


You could hyphenate, and saddle yourself and your children with an ever-growing list of names.
You could both change your names, to a hybrid, or some other name you like
Your husband could change his name to yours.

There are plenty of good reasons to change, and plenty of good reasons to keep my name. Unfortunately, I don't have very strong feelings either way. Paul knows he wants to keep his name unchanged. He feels strongly about this, and he doesn't care what I do with my name.

If I had an extraordinarily cool name to start with, I'd probably want to keep it. But my name is pretty generic. I like it because I share my dad's initials, as well as his dad's, so I've determined that by default I'll inherit all of his tools and anything else he's initialed. (ha!) Another, very strong, reason I lean toward keeping my name is that it is very hard for people to find you if you change your name. It's unfortunate how difficult it is to track down old friends and colleagues, and worse when you try to track family history. What about all the long lost friends who've found me on LinkedIn and such? What about all of my business contacts? It seems unfair that only women are really saddled with this problem.

I could move my maiden name to my middle name and take Paul's name for my last name. But I am a lover of our silly little traditions and conventions, and everyone in my family shares the same middle initial. And my middle name necessarily comes with my first name in the myth of my creation (something about my parents deciding they wanted a girl with my first and middle name)

And, on a level I hadn't thought would bug me, there's this question I see voiced in wedding-planning forums, something about, "my last name is my family, my identity. I don't want to erase my identity when I get married." This seems a little silly, since your name isn't your identity. Except, even knowing this, a part of me is sad to leave that name and unit behind. Can I still visit the Compound as a part of it, or just a visitor? For me, personally, I carry the family name of my dad's family, which, frankly, we have not been as close to as with my mother's. My dad's dad was a very good man, a loving man, and one I regret not making more time for. I carry my mother's family traits with me most visibly, what I have of my dad's family is more subtle, except the name.

oy. Just a part of growing up and moving out, I suppose.



Anyway, I came to a fairly certain conclusion that I would change my name (the desire to create a family unit, a TEAM name is the deciding factor, I think), but then couldn't force myself to print it on my placecard in preparation for the wedding reception. This doesn't bode well. Then since I had to book a flight for November, I decided I couldn't change it until after dealing with the nice smart TSA agents.

In the end, well, it isn't at the end yet. I think I'll be changing my name, but, not yet, and not without serious doubts on both sides.

ketchup

During the wedding planning process, I had a bunch of thoughts I wanted to record, as documents, and advice, as memories... and I didn't get to it, because of time constraints, or because of not wanting to over-saturate my life with wedding stuff, or for want to leave my options and surprises open. Now that it's behind me, I want to catch up with a few things I started thinking, and in some cases started writing, during the wedding planing, through now.

I've been way behind on blogging for a long time now, either because I am too busy or because I no longer have the energy or drive to publish everything. I'm going to do some catch up in the next week or so, so be forewarned! I have a few long-winded journals from Italy and a whole lot of pictures from that and other things. Onward, and in no particular order or organization!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Something I actually like about Mountain View

We saw a lot of neat birds when we were in Italy, but it was so comforting to see the crows when I got back to Mountain View. I love to watch them as they play and chat. Crows are among my favorite birds, and we did not have them in my old neighborhood in San Francisco.

Yesterday morning I got out of bed around 6 after not sleeping much, earlier than the birds so I heard their voices start in the morning. Our birds.

This morning I got up around 5 after being awake since around 2:30. Paul can't sleep either, so we have the rare opportunity to spend our morning together before work, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, huddling under blankets, talking about plans, and poring over our new cookbooks. It is delightful. I've never been jetlagged before, but I am kind of enjoying it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HOME!

We made it!
Home!
Got in around 7:45 pm and headed straight to Kapps to finally have some decent pizza. It's been a long two weeks, lots of pictures, more later.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How I know I am getting old

Yesterday I noticed that Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and The Marabou Stork Nightmares, would be at my office talking today at 1pm. I thought that would *so cool* except when I looked today to see the details, I noticed Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning economist, would be talking at 12.

I chose Stiglitz.

How mature.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Voter Fraud

Think Palin is too much even for the middle america christians? Think Obama is a shoe-in because, well, duh, the other folks are too scary?

OK, so even IF the masses are convinced not to vote against their own interests. Even IF the masses want Obama over MCain... what if it doesn't matter?

I linked this in my "What I'm Reading," but I think it's important enough to draw attention to. Voter fraud is starting, it is in full swing, and what is being done?

If we want this change to happen, we need to keep an eye on the process itself, and see to it that the election is not lost to vote fraud and scare tactics.

funniest (scariest? saddest?) video of Palin yet

This about sums it up:


Actually, I take that back. It doesn't even scratch the surface. Palin isn't so much funny as she is scary as hell. (do you think we should charge rape victims for their rape kits? or teach creationism in schools? ban books from libraries? Have you thought about what kind of judges this woman would like to appoint?)

I've added a little thingamajig ("What I'm Reading") to my blog page which shows some of the blog posts I've found interesting. Lately, a lot of these are about politics, and they are very very illuminating. Please take a look!

I read a *lot* of blogs and I've gotten a ton of neat information from the Scienceblogs in particular. In addition to the expected science commentary, there is a ton of really well thought out analysis of current events.

If you are reading my blog through a feed reader, you'll miss this stuff, but I invite you to take a look at a few of these and see if you might want to add them to your feed reader.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm a Community Organizer

psst, pass it on!

One of the most disturbing things I saw last week at the Republican National Convention was the open ridicule of community organizers. It shocked even me, already having a low opinion of the politicians in that party, to see the derision aimed at those who work in their communities to make the world a better place. I had assumed community organizers were a shared value of the big cities and the small towns, whose values they claim to be solely theirs, I had assumed that we all held in reverence the idea that grassroots organization and working together was what made our country and democracy possible and great.

I guess I was wrong. Giuliani and Palin made fun of people who work in their communities, and the convention attendees ate it up. Demonizing people who serve their communities was met with laughter and applause.

So, fine. Here it is.

I am a community organizer, and I'm for Obama.

  • In the last year, I have worked as part of a team that launched the first year of my company's global service initiative. We had several thousand people all over the world doing service in their communities. I not only organized project in my own community, but as the coordinator of project signup tools and therefor having a lot of work with the project leads, I helped community organizers all over the world! (maybe they're for Obama too)

Before that, I 've been a community organizer in many ways:
  • I was part of a small team that took on fundraising and other issues for a motorcyclist friend with a massive head injury stranded thousands of miles from home. We mobilized the community to raise funds and awareness, and coordinate his return home and ongoing visitors and care in the local hospital.
  • I've served on planning and execution various large-scale service projects and events with Girl Scouts over the years.
My parents are community organizers. My grandparents are community organizers. This value of service and community has long been the thing I admire most about them. To see this tradition mocked so openly by the Republican Party was shocking and disheartening to me. I expect to differ on issues of politics, but to find that we don't share even the same basic value of people taking action and involvement in their communities was new to me. It tells me there's no place in their view of small towns and small people making big impacts. In this view, a person has no hope or responsibility to make a difference. Maybe they are saying that action and change should only come from big government and trickle down?

I'm a community organizer, and the Republicans think that's disgusting and ridiculous.



I'd like to start a chain here. If you have a blog, please take a moment to talk about community organization in your life. Are you a community organizer? Do you think community organizers are stupid like the Republicans do?
No blog? How about an email, or, heck, even snail mail.


pssst, pass it on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prezzies!!!

Yesterday was a momentous day for our wedding. We got our first wedding gift!*

And? It was from our justgive.org registry, which makes it ten times better!

Confession: I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel with "gifts" of charity. In my heart and brain, I know it is the bestest and most noble thing. But part of me was doubting how I'd really feel. As honorable as a charity registry might be, wouldn't I feel sad at not having presents? For me? ME? With big bows on them? Of course, we didn't really want more stuff, we don't have room for more stuff, but who doesn't love opening presents? It's a fleeting thrill, yes, but I must admit it is a real one.

In reality, when I got that message in my inbox saying someone had given money to Doctors without Borders in honor of us, I almost cried. I'm almost crying right now. Call it bridal bonkers, but I've always been one to cry at the drop of a hat. Whether or not we need towels or wine glasses (I have broken nearly all of ours in the dishwasher), I am so completely touched by the idea that our love and marriage will grow into something special, not only for us and our family, but for people across the globe who really, really need help. I have a fantasy at least, that this Doctors Without Borders things will impact one life, then many, and spread out like a friendly, healing cancer all over some community, heck, maybe the world?

So even if we are both wiped out by a massive earthquake tomorrow, our love and our loved ones' generosity, has created a real and lasting impact on the world.

I can't do that with a toaster.



*actually, not exactly our first wedding gift, since we have been gifted with our parents' generosities in helping with the wedding, and our first night of married life hotel room (thanks mom in law!) -- no, we won't tell you where it is!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

chiggers and beer!

preach on!


I spent the weekend in and about Cincinnati, where my mother had planned an amazing feat-- a worldwide reunion of Pulskamps. There were about 209 people there, and 209 is also the number you get when you add the average temperature to the average humidity over the weekend, plus the number of chigger bites I got on my feet.


Friday night, there was a shindig in a beer garden at a German Club not too far from our hotel. After setting up a bit, we proceeded to drink German beer (not my favorite) and spend the evening eating and getting to know people. A visitor from Germany gave a great presentation about the old family farm and Germany in general. The location was very nice, and I secretly wish I had a spot like this available for my wedding. A covered, open-air hall with a bar at one end, adjacent to an outdoor beer garden canopied by trees, adjacent to a little forest with a path winding into it. The cicadas were very noisy but relaxing, and I tried to nap on a picnic table for a bit. At night, there were a very few fireflies.

After returning to the hotel, we all decided to stay up late, so we commandeered the lobby of the hotel and brought down wine and snacks. Grandma led the charge.

Saturday was the main event, out at the tiny town my ancestors first settled when they arrived. Highlights here were a stunning view into the valley, a nice old graveyard with many a family grave in it, from the way-back-whens, and......?


Moonshine!!!


Not that there wasn't "beer." There was plenty of Miller High Life ("The Champagne of Beers") and Natty Light Ice to go around. I choked down one of each, in solidarity.


What did we do there? After traipsing around on the graves looking for our family name (of which there were many instances), we split up to go to the first family farm. How do you get around in the countryside?


A HAYRIDE, of course! Actually, I did not fit in either of the two hayrides, so I went with my family in the rental car, which worked out nicely, since one of the locals was guiding us and giving us lots of stories.


First stop was the first farm the family settled, which has recently been purchased back into the family. This picture shows the new barn, obviously not vintage. Inside, a barn swallow nest was full of a protectant parent and several little mouths. The pictures I took with my phone were not stellar, but better photos will come when my sister and dad get their photos out.




UPDATE: screw photos! We have video!!! My dad is so cool. Does your dad have a youtube account???

We proceeded on to an old German town called Oldenburg, where we poked around the church and witnessed the horrors of a Midwestern bridal party.

Then, more farm! We stopped at a farm that is still in the family, where we saw a cousin's John Deere tractor collection, spanning back to the 1930's.

When we returned to the town, Jennifer and I snuck across the street to the tavern. It was everything you would want in a small town tavern. We chatted with locals and drank Smirnoff Ice. There were no taps, just beer in cans-- Bud Light and Natty Light Ice! This tiny town of, I'm guessing, about 100 people, once boasted three taverns! But only Sally's place is left.

After wrapping up the party, we returned back to our hotel, stopping at a gas station along the way, where I was sure I could get some better beer. Not so! There was nothing but mountains of crap beer everywhere.

This about sums it up:
No beer for me!

Sunday we went to Cincinnati to see the conservatory and the Cincinnati Art Museum. They have a good museum, and the park it was in seemed quite nice, but really I had no time to see the city before heading to the airport.

Sunday night I got home to find that my feet had been attacked by chiggers. Ironically, I was wearing shoes and socks the entire time, while my sister exposed her feet with flip-flops, but I ended up with bites all over my feet. They are really not all that bad. Wherever I was when I picked them up, it must have been scenic. The area we were in was quite beautiful, unlike some of the other places I'd been in the Midwest. The old towns were nestled into green forested hills with winding country roads. Almost pretty enough to go back. Almost.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

stink

Ugh.
Being in a stuffy place with other people totally icks me out. I don't want to have to smell the remnants of your lunch or your stinky perfume or yesterday's sweat. Please don't join a crowded all hands meeting if you have doused yourself with cologne, skipped showers for a week, or need to sigh deeply every five minutes onto the poor trapped sould around you.

Yesterday? At the gym, a guy came up to the treadmill next to me who smelled like mold. Ick. Like he put away his clothes wet. As soon as he started moving, that quickly gave way to BO, and once he started sweating, there was fresh BO on top of it. Totally gross.

SHOWERS, people! please! no gym if you haven't showered recently! And covering it up with cologne (or moldy clothes) does not count!

yuck.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I've been thinking a lot about imperfection lately, and today is the right day for this thought to be posted.

Maybe this is where my low stress level comes from when planning wedding stuff. Someone asks about linens and I just don't care.
Really? I do not want a Perfect Day for my wedding. Perfect days get filed into the unknown.

The other day, Paul and I rode by the Cycle Gear in San Jose on our way back from something. Every time I go by, I think of the time Charles and I got stuck there. He lived in the neighborhood, and he'd help me work on my bike all the time, so we must have gone there a lot in those days. But I only remember one time, when we got whatever we came for, then returned to the Mighty Festiva, where Charles promptly broke the key off in the ignition. He was pretty unhappy with this. We had to wait for someone to come save us, and in the meantime, Charles was not happy. We went to the bizarro grocery store in the strip mall, and bought a small plastic motorcycle to play with while we waited. It must have cost a whole dollar.

One time, we rode to Los Angeles together. That was memorable, but what was really memorable was when we got to the Grapevine and realized there was no brake fluid in my bike. Well, none that could be seen. And the screws holding the reservoir shut were completely chewed. Charles was apparently slightly terrified. We did make it to the Motel 6 at just off of Hollywood Blvd (you could see Frederick's from the window) without catastrophe, but it was a good story later. You know what would have been a boring story? "One time, Charles and I rode over the Grapevine with perfectly functioning brakes." When we got the the Motel 6, there was an ambulance outside already-- it was a "colorful" neighborhood, and only the finest of hotels.

When Charles had cancer, I would come and visit during the time in his chemo cycle when he was most able to eat (comparatively, but still felt like shit) We'd go eat at the Mexican joint, then go back to the house so he could throw up. Then? Ice Cream! Always throw up so you can have ice cream too!

When you are with the right people, in the right place, perfection isn't necessary. You know everything will be OK, and this will all come out as a good memory someday. I'm sure that we've had plenty of perfectly passable times together, but I simply don't remember them all that well. What I remember most, what I recount to others the most, is all the insanely stoopid things we did and broke and crashed and muddled through. The time we paid the carnie $5 to let us ride the zipper over and over again even though we were completely blotto, all the times Charles rescued me when my ratbike was broken on the side of the road, or bumpstarted my reluctant DR350. When he and his bike slid backwards on a trail into me and my bike, wrapping the four of us into a tangled mess, gas burns and all! Hooray for disgusting burns!

At least the burns are memorable (if not scarring)
I have a vague notion that we must have ridden many perfect miles, but they aren't the miles I'll tell my grandchildren about.

botox bridesmaids! hell yeah!

This is sheer awesome

Becky Lee, 39, a Manhattan photographer, declined when a friend asked her — and five other attendants — to have their breasts enhanced. “We’re all Asian and didn’t have a whole lot of cleavage, and she found a doctor in L.A. who was willing to do four for the price of two,” said Ms. Lee, who wore a push-up bra instead.



I'm totally doing this to my wedding party.

oh, and who in the hell gets surgery at a two-for-one place????

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Broken Heart...

... Rate Monitor

I am again in the market for a heart rate monitor. The one I bought a few weeks back worked great! For like two weeks! And now, apparently, is crapped out.

Any recommendations? NOt the uber-high-end expensive ones, I hope. I don't need GPS or any of that. I just need to keep accurate track of my little hummingbird heart while I go about my day and exercise.



I worked on writing a post covering my Atlanta trip, but who has time to finish such things?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Today

http://action.aclu.org/july4taf

I'm not a big fan of watching fireworks. Fun to set off, not so much fun to observe from a distance.
Flag wavers and "Support Our Troops" stickers worry me, and "These Colors Don't Run" trinkets make me cringe.

When Barack Obama failed to wear a lapel pin depicting the United States flag, his patriotism was questioned. What has this populace come to, that they overlook the substance of a man's body of work for the people, only to complain he is not wearing a pin? A pin that, like the bumper stickers, plastic flags, and yellow ribbon magnets, was probably imported from China?

How easily the public is outraged by a student burning a flag in protest, while we ignore the fact that America, our great experiment in democracy and equality, has taken to torturing people. Humans. Illegally detained humans, being tortured, not just on our watch, but at our hands. We've taken to not offering up our own freedoms and rights, as we've allowed ourselves to believe that this is the only way to security.

And even if it were true that such a trade would work, when did we shift to giving up freedom for security?

This day commemorates our independence. It commemorates something huge. A statement that, we, the people, were not going to take it anymore. And that we would fight for this, and it would be worth it. Because it was the right thing, that all of us were created equal, and that we had certain rights and they were worth protecting.

And somewhere along the way, it changed. Now we're told that the patriotic thing to do in the face of terror is to 1.) go shopping, 2.) give up some of those hard-won constitutional rights and freedoms. "You don't need rights. Let the government protect you," we're told, "after all, you're not a terrorist are you? You're either with us, or ag'in' us!"

All around us, people are nodding in agreement. And it's insane, and sad, and terrifying.

Today, of all days, please take the time to do something. This coming week, our Senate will be considering legislation that will essentially let Bush and the telecom industry off the hook for illegally spying on American citizens.

The simple version is that Bush told these companies to illegally spy on American Citizens, so that makes it legal. This logic, in short, says that if the president says something is ok, the law doesn't matter. That is, pardon my french, seriously fucked up. In my mind, this is probably one of the worst things to happen in this president's term (and that is saying a lot), and an extremely dangerous precedent.

Unfortunately, this has already made it through the House. Think you don't need to bother? Think your senator wouldn't possibly do this? The House members who caved on this shocked me. Pelosi voted FOR this. Please, take a minute, and send this on to your friends.

And remember what our ancestors fought to create when they declared their independence. It was not a nanny state where a big government spied on its own citizens, or where the president was above the law of the land.


From the ACLU:

As we are getting ready to celebrate Independence Day, the Senate is getting ready to sell out our freedom by passing an unconstitutional spying bill that lets lawbreaking telecom companies off the hook.

These companies handed over huge amounts of information to the Bush administration, potentially millions of emails and phone calls and more, without getting a warrant.

Without enough public outcry, the Senate will let these phone companies off the hook and let Bush and future presidents keep spying on Americans without getting a warrant. Will you please help stop this horrendous bill?

Send an email to your senators now and help protect freedom this Independence Day. Go to:
http://action.aclu.org/july4taf

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Since I am so far behind in blobbing, I'll just take some random events in the past few weeks to yammer about.

Paul heroically propped me up between late April and early June, while I attempted to prep for a PMP training class in Atlanta. When I signed up, I decided to read a book or two before going to class, so I'd be familiar with the vocabulary and concepts. No problem. I was reading (slowly... it was dull) one book and had another lined up behind it, when, six weeks before the class, I received a package from the AMA. It included a copy of the Guide to the PMBOK and a study guide. And instructions. Apparently, I was to read these two riveting works, which could be accomplished in 30 hours, and then do some practice tests, before arriving at the class. In six weeks. WTF?!

It's not that I didn't want to read these (OK, I didn't want to read the PMBOK. I tried once. It is not for reading. Referring to, yes) But dumping this much reading and work into the lap of a busy person with such a time constraint is a bit unfair. Presumably, we all have jobs, else we could not afford the high tuition associated with an AMA three-day course. And, you know, some of us have lives too. Like, kids, friends, school, um, WEDDINGS?

So for those six weeks I did work, and then came home and read, as hard as I could. I mean, this is not engaging reading. It was terrible. Blech. I read on the bus and in bed and when I wasn't reading, I crammed in a few wedding tasks. And fell behind. I never got to the PMBOK, and I didn't even *quite* finish the study guide. I fell hopelessly behind in wedding tasks. There was no way I could catch up on laundry or feeding myself. that's where Paul stepped in. Ever patient, he basically ran the house for that time. No complaining when I said I couldn't go for a walk because I had to read my damn book.

I flew to Atlanta on a Sunday and took the train (sort of like a BART train) to my place in Midtown. they were apparently having a little heatwave, so it was about 97 degrees, and a million percent humidity. I asked at the hotel desk where I might go for dinner, and they were like "there's nothing nearby! The closest thing is probably, like TEN MINUTES away!"

I had a hunch about a restaurant based solely on its name, and walked out to find it. About four blocks away is too far to walk? Probably because of the heat, but this wimpy Californian can rough it. And? It was awesome! The food was OK (veggie burger with dry-ish hummus) but they had beer, and the bestest patio to sit in.

The PMP Prep Express class at the AMA was actually really good. I mean, considering the dry subject and the silliness of trying to learn the PMI's specific vocabulary and processes (versus real-life), the class was pretty helpful. I would recommend it to anyone looking to prepare for the exam, or collect PDUs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

brekkies!




This is what I had for breakfast today.
  • Scottish Steel-Cut Oatmeal with ground flax seed and dried blueberries
  • a whole bunch of fruit
  • Veggie sausage (some protein?)
  • and, today only, a tasty, tasty scone
Minus the scone (it was dried cherry and vanilla bean! How could I resist?) this is what I've been eating for breakfast for the past week or so. And? Stopping for a better breakfast really seems to make a difference in the way I feel all day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Late

I just, finally, posted two blobs I wrote on the airplane ride back from Atlanta. "What?" you say, "you were in Atlanta?!??! I didn't know that from your blog!"

It's true, I've become very lazy and late about posting. All kinds of things are going on that don't get posted anymore. I simply don't find the time these days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Dress, or How I lost my mind and turned into a "bride"

This is an overdue post that I've been meaning to process for a while. So now as I sit on an overly turbulent (now they call it "rough air" -- can I use to to exfoliate?) flight back from training in Atlanta, I'm catching up.


I tend to be a fairly pragmatic person, so the big expenditures on stuff that can't be re-used isn't my bag. A lot of brides are buying their dresses used on eBay and selling them after the event. How practical! I'm practical! Why, then am I going through making a wedding dress? And why is said wedding dress being made of silks, with hours of handwork? And a dress that can't be reworn anywhere else? A dress I plan to pack away and carry around with me for the rest of my life, in box? Isn't it a waste? What happened to that reasonable girl???


It is not, as one might think, because I majored in fashion design. Hell, I could have designed it and had someone else make it.

Maybe it goes back to the sewing machine. I was very tempted to sew the whole thing on my great-grandmother's sewing machine. The sewing machine I learned to sew on. The one I used through high school. The one I will pass on to my son or daughter one day, along with its story? The story of this machine is fairly personal, but the takeaway is that this machine is made of memories of my grandmother (even though we never used it together) My grandmother is quite a seamstress, as was her mother, and...? before her? I can only guess.

My mother taught me to sew by pinning the seams and sending me off to run the stitches. After each seam, I would return and she would pin the next seam. She says she doesn't know how to sew, I guess because I later ran off to art school to learn how to sew *correctly,* which is a lot more stressful.

Whether she sews or not, she embroiders, tats, knits, quilts, does blackwork, and god knows what else. Growing up, there was always a craft, a scrap, a project, something. When I made my dress for a high school dance, I knew the pride in replying "Thank you, I made it." usually met with surprise.

No surprise. This is what you do, isn't it? You learn from your mother, and she from hers, and so on. And when a baby is born, the ceder chest is opened, and all the things laid out. Grandma so-and-so made this piece of lace. This was the veil I made for my wedding, here is you first communion gown...

So of course you make the wedding dress. And of course it is impractical, and hopefully made beautiful for no reason other than, this is what we do. And it will be worn once, and then kept forever, and someday, I will pull it out of my cedar chest and say "here is the dress from my wedding. I made it of silk, and my mother embroidered it. And then it was put away, and all for the sole purpose of this moment, and all the similar moments that will follow as you pass it down in its bits and pieces along with the fragments of lace, linen, sweat, pride, and memory that I have received from my mothers and grandmothers.



If I had the time, I'd love to hand make every element of the wedding, ceremony, and decor. I love crafts and I like design (duh). But that isn't something I have time for, and I know those fancy flowers won't keep.

But the dress, it has to be impractical. No $200 Target dress will do, nor will selling it so that someone else can use it, to keep it recycled. It is a selfish thing, a manifestation of history and personality and love. A thread in the fabric of my family story.

Impractical? Maybe, but not as much as the beer donkeys I also wanted for the wedding.

Stupid Wedding -isms

for reasons that are probably apparent (to everyone except Paul, who thinks I'm crazy), I have been reading blogs and books and such about weddings lately.

I learned this: everyone has a different idea of what this wedding things should be for them (and sometimes for others)

There are a lot of "shoulds" and trends, and emphasis on trying to create "Your Perfect Day"

Martha Stewart is a clumsy preschooler compared to some of the really nice wedding plan and design stuff out there.

So you get poisoning from reading too much of it. Not because it is, like Drano. More like a bellyache from too much candy. It's OK, but not a good full diet.
After reading too many posts about Out of Town Baskets and Chocolate Fountains (I like my chocolate in its purest form, no fountaining, thank you very much) it is nice to take a look at some of the other end of the spectrum. I tend to fall somewhere in the range of "let's just have a big party," and "Oh! Craft Projects! I LOVE crafts!" So I'm a little bipolar. I think Paul has given up on me.

There are a few really terrible phrases I keep coming across in wedding planning propaganda, that are really really terrible.

My Perfect Day
There is no such thing as a perfect day. Or a perfect anything, *unless* you are able to understand that perfect isn't, so it follows that a little imperfect might be perfect. case in point? Paul is perfect. My mother seemed concerned with this declaration, and asked "surely he must have *some* flaws?" Yes! of course he does! If he were totally perfect, that would be an insult to god. He has just the right imperfections to be perfect for me. Duh. So Your Perfect Day will only be perfect if you are ready to roll with the flaws it will certainly give you. Besides, I like challenges, and surprises, to some extent. That said, I am still demanding dolphins.

The only thing worse that The Perfect Day is The Most Important Day of My Life. OMG. That is really pathetic. This bride ought to be shot at the end of the wedding. After all, it's all downhill from there anyway.

Then we move on to, and I really think this is the tagline that makes the wedding industry the most money "It's the Details that really make The Day Special." Kill me! This was not on the practice PMP test I took today, but:
What makes your wedding day special?
a. monogrammed napkin rings and signature cocktails in your colors
b. That guy, the one you are pledging your undying love to and joining lives with
c. the gathering of your friends and family to celebrate this love and commitment
d. the donkey with a sombrero, and beer in its saddlebags.
e. b, c, & d

Answer?
I'm hoping for "e", but the donkey apparently lives in Texas. (damn, and I think this is the one wedding detail Paul seemed on board with)

Am I getting bitter about weddings? No! In fact, I am enjoying it quite a bit.. I just think it's important to step back every so often as you get swept into all these skewed expectations, commercialism, and weird fantasies.

At the same time, the craft and design loving part of me would love to go ape shit and personally hand paint every invitation, after sewing it together out of scraps from the dress I am making. I want to say "I made everything-- the invitations, the dress, the cake, the chairs you are sitting on, the sun that is shining right now (I needed just the perfect hue of light)-- everything!"

Craftiness aside, I need to keep it fairly simple given other things needing my attention these days. I'm just excited about having a party with everyone there.
Repeat after me! "A wedding is not an elaborate photo shoot. It is the unique story and celebration of you two and the family you are a part of." Or, "it is an excuse to gather your family and friends and wear fancy clothes and eat cake!"

Or something
And a chance to rent a beer donkey.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Birds

Last week it was hot. It was so hot, I said I wouldn't come home Thursday after work. My office is air conditioned, and our house, it was not. It was like 95+ at night.

I have plenty of things I should be doing, but instead, I opted to go for a walk with Paul to the Shoreline waterfront area, to see the sunset. Paul met me at work and we walked out to the Bay.





On the way, we saw jackrabbits and squirrels, and I stopped to drink (I cannot drink while walking)









We had a snack and headed out to the shoreline, where we found a little inlet where the birds were gathering at twilight. We watched as the 15 or so pelicans were joined by more pelicans, which would fly in in small groups. They are master aerialists, flying wing to wing in wide circles as they come in for landing. When there were a good 40 or so pelicans, they all started to swim off together.

Also there were about 15 egrets, maybe 20 night herons, and some avocets, all gathered in the same bay for dinner. It was a scene of incredible beauty, and we are thrilled to have it so nearby.