Monday, December 31, 2007

Holiday Wrapup

It's been sooo long since I've posted. My New Year's resolution is to post more. Let's see how long it takes for me to break that.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at our house with my parents and brother. The family drove up for the weekend and we spent most of our time watching football (Cowboys and Patriots) and eating. For our Christmas Eve dinner we had a multi-course meal of spinach salad, potato cheddar soup, a cheese platter, and dry aged steaks (very yummy) with steamed asparagus. We pan fried the steaks and then finished them off in the oven. Desert consisted of a pear tart with ice cream, which was also good.

On Christmas day we had a long trip to the east coast, through Chicago. Both flights were mostly full but uneventful, apart from the kids who kept kicking our seats on the 4 hour stretch to Chicago. The flight attendants were very good about talking to the kids and trying to reason with them, which usually stopped the kicking for 5-10 minutes. But there was only so much time they could spend watching the kids. We though about turning around and telling the mother that we were going to teach the kids swear words if they didn't stop. But it was Christmas so we were nice.

The weather in Boston has been pretty good. There is plenty of snow on the ground but it hasn't gotten much colder than 30 F. It's always so much fun to see family. Everyone has been great and it's been fun catching up. We took a weekend trip to Maine to visit my sister-in-law and her husband. We had a great time riding snowmobiles. We also went out to eat at a great Irish (or Scottish, can't remember) pub/restaurant that had really tasty food and beer. I had fish and chips and those are probably the best I've had in the US. It's not like the stuff you get in the UK, but it was pretty good. We also watched the big Patriots vs. Giants game on my concuño's* big HDTV. It was a sweet tv and a great game.

Right now I'm waiting for the time to pass so we can go out and celebrate New Year's. Happy New Year, everyone.

*Concuño is the Spanish word for the relationship between me and my in-law's spouse. So it's like my in-law-in-law. Since there's a Spanish word for it, I'm using it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

So for the past week, the main CNN page has had a news link to a video entitled "Naked Men Shop for Skittles." I haven't seen the video because I only check out CNN when I'm at work and I'm not going there. But you can check it out yourself.

We went to our local sports bar to check out the Patriots vs. Jets game. Good game. The Steelers vs. Jaguars game was on at the same time. Every time the Jets scored or got a good play, the Steelers fans would cheer and wave their yellow terrible towels. When the Jaguars scored, the Patriots fans would cheer. The best was last weekend when we again had to go to the bar to watch the Pats vs Steelers game. The Steelers fans were talking a lot of trash early in the game, but as the Pats kept scoring, the Steelers got really quiet. The silence was truly golden.

Hot dogs give me headaches. I have lots of data points throughout the years. It's too bad because I do like to eat hot dogs every once in a while.

On NPR the other day I heard a story about a new way of transmitting sound by ultrasound. I'm not sure what type of equipment is needed but the sound waves can be directed to a specific point and they sound extremely clear to the receiver. It was so clear that it was described as voices in their head. One possible military (of course) application is for crowd control by directing painful sounds to a few or many people within a crowd. This reminds me of the military's directed energy weapons. When microwave radiation is directed at a person, their skin feels as if it is burning but it's physically harmless. So in theory it's a good idea. Unless that person is wearing metal or other materials that will absorb the energy and then they'll have a really hot zipper or button (e.g., zipper on jeans) against their skin. That would definitely leave a scar.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some of My Thoughts Today

About 10 times a day, I'll be thinking of something and realize that my thought is good post material and that I should post about it. But by the time I get around to posting about it, if I ever do, I have forgotten what I was thinking.

The husband and I went to the gym today at lunch. It was almost empty. We like that. We don't like to compete for machines and it's always annoying to see a bunch of guys drooling over women in skimpy outfits with make-up and styled hair. Don't wear your hair down, like you just walked out of a salon, when you go to the gym. I had a soccer teammate when I was younger who always made up her eyes with eyeliner and mascara before every game. I never understood why.

We try to be conservative when it comes to our footprint on the environment. But I always wonder if I'm making the right choice. For example, should I pack my leftover pizza in a plastic bag, foil, or a Tupperware? The plastic bag can be sturdy and I can wash it. But washing it will use water and soap. The more bags I wash the more I can be efficient with my water and soap. Foil I can really only reuse a couple of times but it can serve both as storage and a surface to reheat my pizza in the oven. The Tupperware will have the longest life but it does take up space in the dishwasher. Similar arguments can be had for most of the the things that we do. That's too much to think about.

I'm not a big fan of Christmas decorations. I like to look at decorated trees and Christmas lights, but I don't like to put up a tree and then have to remove and store the decorations. It's too much work. Maybe when we have kids I'll enjoy that. This year we'll hang stockings on our cat trees.

Our charities of choice this year are (in descending order): World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, the Humane Society, and a three way tie of local food bank, ACLU, and Amnesty International.

At work I've been working with a finite element version of a dummy model (a computer model of the dummies used in car crash tests). The dummy is in a seated position and I had to create a flat plate to work as a seat. I was zoomed in on the butt area to ensure that the butt was not penetrating the seat (yes, this is the terminology I would use) when my boss walked in. I was embarrassed. Later in the afternoon it happened again. I felt like such a pervert.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not Much Going On Over Here

So not much to report. Monday I had a coed indoor soccer game at a reasonable time of 8:25 pm. I was home by 10 pm, showered, ate cereal and watched The Wire before heading to bed.

I can eat cereal at all times of the day. Growing up, we used to have a big breakfast (usually a burrito of leftovers, rarely did we eat cereal for breakfast), a small lunch, dinner right after school, around 4 pm, and cereal before going to bed. It's different, I know. Cereal is something that I don't mind experimenting with (trying different kinds) and I usually can make up my mind without regrets (unlike trying to pick only 1 ice cream flavor). I look forward to my Saturday and Sunday mornings when I can sit down with my bowl of cereal. During the week I have breakfast at work and it's usually oatmeal with honey.

We've been watching season 4 of The Wire (HBO dvd's) while we have dinner. It's a great show. As soon as we finish we'll move on to rewatching The Sopranos (currently in season 2) so that we can lead up to the final season which we haven't seen yet. We subscribe to Netflix and we've had both The Motorcycle Diaries and Vacancy for a few weeks because we prefer to watch our HBO dvd's. The husband doesn't want to watch Vacancy because he's afraid it will be too much like Hostel. Did anyone see that movie? That was insane. And there's a part II.


It seems that most people who meet me can't figure out my ethnicity. Most people that know me, know that I am Mexican, born in the US. However, people have made all sorts of random assumptions about my heritage, including:

Filipino - this one is totally fine and an acceptable assumption.
African-American - it must be my cheekbones.
Native American - see above.
Turkish - really?
Indian - assumed by people from India!

When I shaved my hair and was wearing a head scarf, people assumed I was Muslim. The worse I've gotten was "the Vietnamese kid Angelina Jolie adopted." That was a comment made by my brother when I sent him a picture shortly after I shaved my head. Thanks.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Some Closure

About 15 months ago, our beloved cat Waffles was attacked by a dog. Waffles was really THE best cat in the world. He was extremely loving and had a great purr. Often he would start purring as soon as we looked at him. He was also a great traveler and would often accompany us on car trips and even flew to Boston with us one Christmas (and had a great time in the snow). Even though he was a cat, Waffles was a little clumsy. He liked to climb the narrow plank above the blinds in front of our sliding glass door. The time he slipped and was stuck, dangling by his claws as I struggled to help him down, was his last attempt.

Waffles was attacked in our apartment complex by a chow/golden retriever mix, almost like a small, cinnamon-colored bear. Waffles was about 14 months and he loved exploring outside. Our neighbors would always find him chasing butterflies. Even outside he would purr as soon as he saw us pull into the driveway. I was on business travel when he was attacked. I remember the morning before, as I was getting ready to leave for my trip, Waffles went to the door and stretched himself, reaching for the door knob. I gave him one last pet and let him go out for his daily adventure.

The dog attacked Waffles at the innermost corner of our apartment complex. Our landlady heard the attack and she called the dog off. Waffles had very little obvious injuries. He only had a few puncture marks near his neck and his lower jaw was fractured. However, he fell into a coma. During the attack, the dog had him in his mouth and shook him like a toy (a characteristic of chows). In an attempt to help figure out what was wrong with him, we drove him to the UC Davis veterinary hospital (one of the best in the nation). An MRI showed that the trauma to his brain was extensive and the neurologist recommended that we put him to rest. It still hurts to remember after all these months.

While our landlady had witnessed the attack and the police knew which dog it had been (this dog had been involved in previous incidents), there are no lineups for dogs. The only way something could have been done was if a policeman had witnessed the incident or the dog had been caught.

On Sunday afternoon I was in the kitchen when I heard a dog bark. I went into the backyard to figure out where the barking was coming from, when I heard more barking and I heard a cat growl. I hoisted myself onto our back fence (we have an empty lot behind our apartment) and I saw the same dog attacking our neighbors Siamese cat, Seymour. Seymour was on the ground, I could see blood on his inner thigh, and the dog was trying to bite him. I started screaming and the dog hesitated and started running away. I remembered what the cops had said about the dog having to be caught. So I started calling after the dog in a soft, friendly voice (I am amazed that I was able to do that despite my anger). I jumped the fence, scraping my wrists pretty bad and losing my slippers on the way over, and chased after the dog.

The dog didn't run very fast and he kept looking back at me to see if I was following. He ran across the major street and started running down his block (we know where the dog lives). I panicked and sprinted ahead to cut him off; I didn't want him to get to his house and seek refuge. When the dog got to me, he stopped and sat down. At that time, I yelled at a man leaving his house to call the police. He did. I stood there, in the middle of the street, looking at the dog. I started feeling bad because I knew that it was really the owners fault, not the dogs. Sure, the dog had attacked, but the owners had allowed their dog to get out (often) and for the dog, attacking a cat was just a game to him. Actually, I think the dog is a girl. But, as she stood there, panting and looking perfectly harmless, I could also see the blood on her muzzle. If the dog was euthanized, at least she would have a less painful end than Waffles.

We waited about 5 minutes when the dog's owners pulled out of the driveway about 4 houses down. They yelled for the dog and the dog got up and started running in the opposite direction. I ran after him. The owners asked that I help them catch their dog. I chased the dog back across the busy street and down a side street. At that time, the owners caught up with us and a 16 year old kid brought the leash. I told the kid the dog had been involved in a cat attack and that we were going to wait for the police. I grabbed the leash and walked back towards our apartment complex with the dog. The police arrived soon after that.

Seymour is most likely going to be ok. His injuries are to his back leg and there is mostly only soft tissue damage. The dog was handed back to the owners on the condition that they surrender her tomorrow. Otherwise, the police department said they would build a case against the family. Supposedly. I am amazed that the dog was not taken by animal control. Perhaps if the dog had attacked me the police would have taken the incident more seriously. Perhaps if something had been done after the first incident (I don't know the details), Waffles would still be alive. Perhaps if something had been done after Waffles was attacked, Seymour would be ok.

I am still sad that Waffles was taken from us so horribly and so soon. He really was the best cat. He was the cat I dreamed our kids would get to meet. But we were lucky because we appreciated him every day we had him. My husband and I would always comment on what a wonderful cat he was. I am glad that he was in our lives, even if it was for a short time.