Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

The downside of not having any kids on Halloween:
I don't get any candy.

The upside:
I don't have a kid.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We were sitting in front of the tv, watching Sopranos, and having tacos for dinner, when an earthquake hit. While the earthquake was mild, we could obviously feel it and it lasted about 25 seconds. I immediately jumped up and ran to a doorway. I started to stress out because I imagined the house collapsing or their being a big fire and us trying to get the kitties out. I grew up with the real threat of earthquakes and all the scary dramas of earthquakes. So while it’s possible that a giant sinkhole might open up when an earthquake hits, it’s probably unlikely that I will fall in and get squished when the sinkhole closes back up.

Anyway, the husband, the kitties, and I are all safe. This was the first earthquake the husband experienced and it was kind of neat to share the moment with him. Our homework is to figure out what we should do in case of an earthquake…stand in a doorway, duck under a table, not quite sure which is the protocol nowadays.

Today was a long work day. I worked 10 hours to make up for two I had missed yesterday. I left work early yesterday to go to soccer practice and it started raining as soon as I got in the car. Since tomorrow is Halloween, practice is cancelled then too. So no practice at all this week. I am happy and sad.

On Monday I also taught my monthly computer class at the local senior center. The course was an introduction to email. So I basically set everyone up with email (my computer screen was projected onto a screen and they followed on their computers) and showed them a few things such as how to check and send email. Most people were pretty comfortable with the mouse and being on the internet, but I had one lady who worked really slow and we never finished getting her set up with an email address within the hour-long class.

Here are a few kitty pictures for your enjoyment.

When we got home a few days ago, Noodles was sitting on the couch in the sun. I think these pictures turned out cute. It's easy to take artsy pictures when you have good lighting and a great subject.

When we got home yesterday, Major was sitting on the chili plants. That's why they keep dying on us.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend Summary

Had a good weekend. It was busy.

My little girls lost again. We dominated most of the first half but we only got one goal. The other team also got a goal on a breakaway. Their forwards were extremely fast. The second half was more evenly matched but they scored and we didn’t so we lost. I’ve been a little frustrated lately with the number of girls that shows up to practice. Last week I only had 7 girls—half the team!—show up on Wednesday. This week we will have no practice. It was raining today and Wednesday is Halloween. The main reason the girls don’t show up to practice is because they have some other sport that they are playing. I always played sports growing up—soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball. But I only played one sport per season. These days, these girls have multiple activities going on at a time. I won’t be surprised if they get burnt out before they finish high school.

We had another coaches/refs game on Saturday. I was in better shape than I expected and definitely played a lot better than I did a couple of weeks ago at the first coaches/refs game. I was happy. After the game we went to the local brew-pub for beers and dinner to offset all the calories we had burnt.

We also went shoe shopping and got some pretty sweet, but pretty expensive, running shoes. Who knew you could pay over $100 for running shoes?! The husband and I are going to run a 10K one day (soon). We’ll probably fly down to L.A. in the spring and run the 10K with my dad and a friend. My friend Erin is a hard core runner and she’s done marathons before. I can easily get into shape and run about 4 miles at a 9:15/mile pace. What always kills me is travel because I end up not working out for a couple of weeks and it’s always mentally challenging to get back into the habit.

Sunday we watched the Patriots kills the Redskins. We thought the game was going to be on TV and we sat on the couch for the first 10 minutes, flipping channels, looking for the game. It turns out that since our local area has 2 pro football teams (that suck), they won’t televise the Patriots’ game. So we had to go to our local bar again. This time around there were more Patriots fans than the two regulars (us).

Random thoughts for the day:

We just booked our flights to New England for the holidays. We used our free Southwest tickets we had accumulated from all my business trips last year. I was under the impression that if a seat was available on a Southwest flight, then you could use your travel voucher. Not the case. Southwest only allots a certain number of rewards seats per flight. So we ended up having to create a pretty yucky itinerary (flight on Christmas day). Damn holiday travel! Everyone else needs to stay home so that we can fly when we want to! Actually the real problem is that we kept putting off booking our flights until we figured out who would take care of our 4 cats while we are gone. That’s what happens when you have 4 cats. We still don’t know who’s going to take care of them. Any volunteers?

So I’ve been reading up on the Patriots vs. Colts game coming up this weekend and what I’ve noticed is that they always say the Patriots are a great team, but so are the Colts; the Patriots have a great quarterback, but so do the Colts. So I think subconsciously, everyone agrees New England is the better team, even though the Colts are the defending champs.

I had a lot more random thoughts but I’ve forgotten them all by now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blog Changes

I am trying to get my readership up. I have about 5 readers (Austin, Houston, NY, ME, and Sweden). But I like to tell my husband I only have 2, not including him. So I was thinking of making my blog more of hey, this is what it's like being an engineer, living in the Bay Area with a non-Mexican engineer husband, 4 cats, in a 900 square foot, 2-floor condo sharing 1 pretty old car. I aspire to model my blog after my sister-in-law's and concuños (Spanish term for an in-law-in-law). They chronicle their lives living in Maine. When I read their blog I feel as if I too am living in Maine, without actually having to be there.

So I'll try to fill you in on the more exciting details of my life on a daily or every-other-day basis.

I am currently re-watching season 2 of the Sopranos. Monkey, the big adventurer in the family, was gone for about 3 days. She returned yesterday around noon, and slept for about 34 hours straight. She just woke up and is whining at the door to go outside, but since it's late, she has to stay inside. I don't know if I could ever sleep for more than 10-12 hours straight, no matter how long I stayed up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Way It Is

My brother (my blood) is a big fan of the LA Lakers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the NY Yankees (gasp!).

My husband (my love) is a fan of anyone who beats the Lakers, the New England Patriots, and the Boston Red Sox.

Fortunately for me they act like adults and keep it civil.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sports Update

Has anyone been watching the New England Patriots walk all over their opponents? Last weekend the Patriots beat the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas in a very exciting match-up. Both teams were 5-0 going into the game but the Patriots were clearly the better team. This weekend the Patriots played Miami who were 0-6. The amazing thing about the game is that for a good part of the game (the entire first quarter and a little more, I think), both quarterbacks had perfect completion rates. The 49-28 score doesn't reflect how well the Dolphins played. They actually played pretty well and when Lemon, the quarterback, was hot, he was hot. But the Patriots are clearly the better team in the game, and perhaps the NFL.

My little girls, on the other hand, have not been doing so well. We've lost our last two games, 0-1. The other teams have scored in the first quarter and while we play really well and have plenty of opportunities, we just can't convert. I was especially proud of my girls in the last game because they played like they wanted to win. We got a penalty kick at the end of first half. My player kicked the ball right at the goalie and then nailed the rebound over the goal. Towards the end of the second half, the other team got a penalty kick too, and our goalie saved it. In my soccer experience, a penalty kick usually results in a goal. However, in AYSO teenaged girls' soccer, of the 5 penalty kicks I have witnessed, none have resulted in a goal. Interesting.

Other sports side notes:

I find myself reading up on pro football during the week. I don't like it.

Watching the Red Sox vs. the Indians in game 7 of the semifinals. It's the bottom of the 8th and the Red Sox are in the lead, 6-2. It looks good for the Sox.

You can now watch Women's College Soccer on ESPN and other cable sports channels. I was watching UCLA vs. Oregon yesterday afternoon. I miss playing soccer.

Last weekend we had a coaches/referees game. It was fun. I wasn't as sore as I expected to be the day after the game. However, while I was playing, I realized I had forgotten how big the soccer field is. It definitely gave me a new perspective on how my little girls might feel when they play. It's definitely much easier to yell at someone to get back on defense than to do it myself. It had been a while since I had been on the field.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Middle-Class Crunch

I always hear about a “middle-class squeeze” but the evidence I saw made me believe that people were just making bad choices. I know that a lot of a family’s income goes towards the mortgage, especially if the houses were purchased within the last 10 years in expensive real estate markets (New York, San Francisco, etc.). However, to me it seemed that people were preferring to buy the $400 Coach bag and pay $10,000’s more for a luxury car rather than save money for a possible layoff or health emergency. But according to this article, it turns out that people are actually spending a lot less on the extras than they were 30 yeas ago. Huh?

So there are 2 main thing happening here: a lot of the luxury items (such as the dishwasher, having 2 family cars, weekend clothes) are a lot cheaper today than they were 30 years ago and a lot of the money people have is actually going to the essentials (health care, mortgage). For example, a mortgage 30 years ago in today’s dollars was about $5820/year, while today it’s about $10,250/year. On the other hand, basic appliances that might still be a luxury in some households (dishwasher) cost almost 1/10th of what they cost 30 years ago. One shocking fact is that incomes are the same now as they were 30 years ago (adjusted to today’s dollars). It’s true that families today have a lot more money because usually both parents work (compared to a single-income family of the mid-1970’s). However, with both parents working, there are usually other expenses—child care, 2 family cars, etc.

My husband and I are dinks—dual income, no kids. It’s a more realistic description of the yuppy (young urban professional). We have good jobs, no debt, a nice savings account, and yet it will be years before we can afford a house in the Bay Area. Granted, we are being slightly conservative—we could probably easily be approved for a loan in which 40% of our gross income goes towards paying off a small, fixer-upper on the bad side of town. But what would happen if one of us lost our job or we had another emergency? So for the time being we will have to be satisfied renting our small townhouse. While our rent increases every few months, it is still at 1/3 of what a mortgage would be.

Flower Mishap

A bride is suing her florist because the florist substituted “pastel pink and green hydrangeas for the dark rust and green ones she had specified for 22 centerpieces.” That could be valid. How much did the flowers cost? $27,435.14. The bride’s case should get thrown out in court because she’s an idiot and spent so much on flowers. I wonder what the total bill for the wedding was? Probably more than the $400,000 she is suing for.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back in Texas

As I write this post, I am sitting in the Houston airport, waiting for my flight to New Orleans. The hubby and I spent a few days in Texas on vacation and are now headed to NOLA for a business conference (I will be at conference sessions all day while my husband partakes of the spouse programs with all the wives—I work in a male-dominant field).

Our trip to Texas was great. We spent most of our time in Austin and then went to Houston for less than 24 hours (thank goodness). Austin is a great city. If you’ve never been, you won’t understand until you spend a few days there. Austin has a culture that is a mix of hippies, diverse college students, young professionals, homeless people (“I love the homeless people,” says my husband looking over my shoulder) and real Texans. The nightlife is great, the food is abundant and yummy, and you could never run out of fun things to do. The only 2 bad things about Austin is that the weather is hot and humid and it is in the middle of Texas (you could drive for hours and still be in Texas).

A wedding was the original inspiration for our trip to Austin. Congratulations to my high school and grad school friend B and her new husband T. They had a lovely Catholic ceremony followed by a wonderful reception at the UT alumni center. I used to never cry at weddings, until I got married. Now I start crying as soon as the parents walk down the aisle. I wonder what that means.

It turns out that while we were in Austin, we got to meet our dear friends’ O and G’s 20 hour old baby girl. Congrats to the proud parents and their beautiful, beautiful baby girl. It’s quite an amazing sight to see some of your best friends holding their baby for the first times in their lives. Baby N is one lucky girl as she is going to have some of the most loving and doting parents in the world.

While we were in Austin we drove around a lot and checked out all of the places and areas we used to frequent. In the 4 years since we’ve been gone, Austin has changed a lot. Some of it is good (dense housing above some retail in a great location) and some of it is bad (a ton of cookie-cutter sub developments). There is also a big price difference based on radius from the city center/university area and the neighborhood. A nice house on a large lot (half an acre) about 10 miles from downtown might cost around $200k, while a small place with a small yard right next to the freeway and train tracks but about 1.5 miles from the university will cost over $400k. The real estate market seems to have done really well in the last year (double digit percentage home value increases), but I am not sure how long Austin can sustain that. There is a lot of building going on and while I expect a lot of Californians are fleeing to Austin, I don’t think the population is growing that fast and thus there may be a large surplus of homes in the coming years.

We drove to Houston for a night to hang out with the uncles, aunts, and cousins. We were greeted with a delicious Texan-Mexican BBQ – carne asada, grilled chicken, and deer sausage. It felt great to sit around the grill sharing stories (the time I sent my husband to buy cilantro and he came back with parsley), drinking bear, and chowing down, despite the heat and humidity (we would step inside to the air conditioning when we needed breaks from the oppressive weather). Thanks for hosting us Familia N.

The last event of our Texas trip was meeting up with our grad school friend P-Diablo in Houston. It was so nice to see him again and to share grad school stories. The trash talking about the Patriots and Cowboys was quite entertaining.

Overall it was a great trip. On to New Orleans.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Amazing Footwork

The Women's World Cup is over. My husband and I got up super early on Sunday morning to watch Brazil vs. Germany in the final. I was quite impressed with Brazil's fast-paced, agressive, showy soccer. It was great. I felt that they lacked some of the skill I would expect in pros (missed volleys, trying to do a move but forgetting the soccer ball), but overall I was impressed with how they played. Germany ended up winning the game, 2-0. Brazil had an almost sure chance to score when they were awarded a penalty kick, but the German goalie stopped the kick.

ESPN has a highlights video from the painful US loss to Brazil in the semifinals. Objectively, however, Brazil had some amazing goals. You have to see their fancy footwork, especially Marta's goal in which she flicks the ball with her heel and she goes one way the ball goes the other way around the defender. Beautiful goal!