Tuesday, April 29, 2008

He's A Star!

Check out my brother-in-law, here.

Sorry, I didn't know how to actually put in the movie link.

Florida Highlights

Last weekend I was in Florida for a work conference (yeah, over the weekend). I meant to do a lot of personal work (emails, posting, sort through NY pictures) while I was there, but I forgot my laptop power cord and I really had no free time.

The flight to FL was kind of exciting since our flight got canceled. Normally I would be quite annoyed by this but I kind of enjoyed the added twist to our work travel plans and I was in no hurry to get to work. When I used to travel to NM for work all the time, my flights on Monday morning were always on time but getting home on Friday afternoon was usually a nightmare. We ended up having to take a taxi to San Francisco to catch a later flight and we arrived about 1.5 hours behind schedule. On my flight from San Francisco to Dallas, I sat between two very friendly but somewhat obnoxious porn producers. That’s right, porn producers on their way to Dallas for a production. Our conversations ranged from what they look for in actors/actresses to what goes on in a typical shoot to coaching kids’ hockey. But the best part of our changed travel plans was flying first class for the second leg of our trip. It was nice. I never new warmed nuts could be so yummy!

So every two years my company hosts a conference for all their engineers and scientists to come together, get some training, have a good time, and network. We have offices all over the US and I often work with people I’ve only met through email and phone. So it’s always nice to put a face to a name. Our conference gets started with an ice breaker which is basically an adult science fair project (everyone showcases their projects and there’s lots of food and alcohol). On Friday we have classes all day (like how to manage projects, market, etc.) and are free on Friday evening. On Saturday we have technical sessions in the morning, a keynote speaker in the afternoon, and a nice banquet in the evening with lots of alcohol and awards (company stock and money). For a bunch of engineers and scientists, everyone is pretty social and has a good time. And they can drink. Which is probably a bit of a dilemma because while the alcohol is free, your boss is there so you probably want to display some self control. One guy behind me in line at the bar was so drunk, he was swaying and having trouble keeping the beer in his glass.

This year I took an advanced project management class which was only ok and that's because the instructor let us out early. They were pushing Microsoft Project which sucks, even for Microsoft products. Most of the technical sessions I attended were really cool. My company does a lot of different things and the projects in robotics are awesome – my favorites were the talks on robotic landmine detection, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), and water UAV’s. And I even got in a question during the talks. I try to get in at least one good question at a conference, which is pretty good because I tend to have lots of questions, but I usually talk myself out of asking them because they are stupid. But half the time someone else will ask my question. Our keynote speaker wasn’t very good. We had Burt Rutan as our guest speaker at the last conference and he’s a hard act to follow. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Rutan is the guy who designed and flew SpaceShipOne, the first commercial craft to go into orbit. They won the X prize.

Usually I love going to conferences because I like to network (exchange business cards) and I tend to get inspired and motivated to work harder both in my professional and personal life. This time around I didn’t get inspired until the technical talks and then it was mostly – “Cool! How do I get on their project?” But in the least I got to meet lots of people, eat lots of food, and drink lots of wine.

For our free night we went to Ragland Road, an Irish pub in Downtown Disney. I had salmon wrapped in smoked salmon and then baked. It was quite good. I also tried Grolsch and Boddingtons Ale. Grolsch is light and a good summer beer. I can drink it without eating food. Boddingtons is a neat beer because it looks just like Guinness (you get a lesson in fluid dynamics watching a pint of Guinness) but it's white. It doesn't taste much like Guinness, but I would probably need a burger to balance the beer.

I got home on Sunday afternoon and we immediately started packing and moving our stuff. It’s going to be a long week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back, But Only for a Couple of Days

I'm back from a fabulous trip to New York with my brother. We had a blast! Once I get my pictures sorted out I will make a post. Here are some highlights: being a Bleacher-Creature at Yankees Stadium, watching our stop whiz by on the subway and not knowing why the train didn't stop, a sore neck from staring up at the buildings on Wall Street, getting yelled at at the Met for touching a statue, mastering the crosswalks like a true New Yorker then almost getting flattened by a bus, savoring cheesecake, partying in Jay-Z's private room at the 40/40 Club, a bumpy ride through Central Park on a bicycle rickshaw. Stay tuned for more...but it might be a while. I leave for FL (another cross-country trip) on Thursday and won't be back until Sunday. And next week we move. I don't know how I'm going to make it until the end of the day let alone another two weeks. I'm exhausted. Well, here's some comic relief:

Here are a few things people told me when I was younger that I now find quite amusing:

Don’t stare at a dog pooping because you’ll get a pimple on your nose (I’m totally serious)

If you chew gum past 9 pm it’s as if you’re chewing the bones of your dead dog (buried in the backyard)

Don’t do chest traps (in soccer) or you’ll get breast cancer (I believed this until my college phys. ed. teacher set me straight)

If you eat too much fish, you’ll turn into a fish – it was either that or you’ll get paralyzed

If you shower too many times a day, you’ll turn into a fish

If you swallow a fish bone or a piece of an egg shell it will pierce a hole in your heart and you’ll die (to this day I still chew fish about 100 times and am super careful when I am cracking eggs)

If you turn your eyelid inside out it will get stuck that way (my husband agrees with this one)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nothing Much Going On

I had an indoor game last night. We won 2-1. The husband played defense and he did a pretty good job. I pulled something in my quad pretty early in the game and I was stupid enough to keep playing. After the game it was a little hard to walk properly and I had a lot of trouble going up/down the stairs. But as soon as I got home I iced my leg and took some advil. It felt much better this morning but I am still icing and taking advil. I am going to be walking around a lot in the next few days and I don’t want my leg holding me back.

I am always hesitant to open email from the Human Society, the SPCA, the WWF, and the like. But I’m glad I opened one I received today with the subject: “Important update on Canada's seal hunt”

Here's the most exciting piece of news: the European Environment Commissioner has announced a plan to ban the trade in all seal products originating from inhumane hunts. This builds upon the historic declaration by the European parliament in 2006. If an EU-wide ban is enacted, the fashion houses serving the main markets for seal skins today -- China and Russia -- would be forced to stop, and millions of baby seals would be saved from cruel slaughter. In the meantime, many nations have either banned seal product trade or announced their intentions to do so. They include: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Panama, Mexico, and the United States. Just the potential for an EU ban on seal products has saved thousands of seals already. Prices paid for seal skins this year have declined so much that most sealers have chosen to stay home.

Good. It’s overwhelming and depressing to hear about all the horrible things that people do to each other and to animals. But little victories like these are quite heartening.

I thought of another thing a driver can do to help a cyclist: use daytime headlights. I have a little rearview mirror attached to my helmet. It’s quite easy to see a car coming up behind me with a quick glance into my mirror if they have their headlights on.

New York ... 1 day to go! At this time (Eastern time) in 2 days we’ll be watching a Yankees vs. Red Sox game at Yankee stadium. I’m not sure who to root for.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Monday Already?!

Had a great weekend. The weather was great – about 80 and sunny all weekend. If anything, it was a little too hot but I won’t complain.

My outdoor coed team lost on Thursday night, 0-5. We should have won. We played great for the first 20 minutes but after the first couple of goals the team just kind of fell apart and everyone started yelling at everyone else. It was weird. I am missing this week’s game but hopefully there won’t be too much tension.

Friday night we just stayed in and did nothing – I worked on making cards and the husband played video games.

Saturday was busy. I had soccer practice with my little girls in the morning. It was a great practice. The weather was perfect (no more cold and wind) and it was great to practice on the turf. I put my cleats (and shingaurds) on and participated in the drills with the girls. In the afternoon we went to Oakland (the nice part of Oakland that borders Berkeley) for a bloggers’ meet-up. I love going to these because everyone is really nice and usually there’s only one other female there. Although honestly, I don’t have much of a blog compared to everyone else that goes. But they are still fun. We had planned to go to my coworker’s daughter’s 2nd birthday party, but getting to Berkeley was a royal pain and we were so far behind schedule that we had to skip the birthday party. Something I ate did not agree with me because I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible stomach pains. These weren’t “I feel like I am going to throw up” sensations but actual pain. At first it was part of my dream and I remember being very unhappy but I couldn’t quite figure out why. So I ended up taking Sunday pretty easy which basically meant that we skipped out on a bike ride we had planned but ended up doing some shopping and house chores.

I rode my bike in to work again today. The morning ride is usually pretty easy and uneventful. But my rides home always require a lot more caution. There is always a lot more traffic in the afternoon along with other incidents like construction. Here are a few things that I wish drivers did while I am riding my bike:

Signal – please signal! It’s annoying enough when I’m in a car. When I am riding along in the bike lane you really have to let me know that you are going to cut me off to make your right turn so that I can slow down.

Not being in the lane of traffic next to me when there are multiple, free lanes – this is especially annoying when there are cars parked in the bike lane (even if the bike lane is wider). Just like you always have to drive defensively and assume another driver is going to do something stupid, please assume that something might go wrong with my bike (litter in the bike lane, people getting in/out of their cars) that may cause me to swerve into traffic lanes if I can’t stop in time.

Getting out of their parked cars without looking – my coworker was finishing up a race when some lady opened her car door without looking (she was on her cell phone). My coworker rode shoulder first into the corner of the door and was sent flying across a lane of traffic. Fortunately there were no cars driving near him, but he did have to have major surgery to fix his shoulder/arm. Please, please look before you open your car door, especially if you are parked in a bike lane.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Good Monkey Picture

Here's a good Monkey picture taken by my brother-in-law at my parents' house.

Monkey is the most photogenic of all our kitties. Waffles was pretty good too.

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday

We caught the end of Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash movie. That’s such a great movie. I love Johnny Cash and his music. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend it.

Work has been ok this week. I went to Michaels at lunch with my coworker (the only other female in my office) two days in a row. Michaels is having a big sale and I wanted to stock up on scrapbooking and card making supplies. I didn’t end up getting very much, only a few spools of ribbon and a couple of other stamping tools. I did also get a nice, shadowbox-type of wood frame that I had planned on turning into a cork board with all our wine corks I have been saving, but I ended up returning it because the size was wrong and the corks didn’t fit properly.

Has everyone seen the amazing Victoria Falls pictures that have been going around the web? You can find some pictures here. Last night I saw the end of a Globe Trekker episode on Victoria Falls. I would love to visit Africa and go on a game ride or safari. Maybe for my age milestone I’ll get a nice camera and lens and I’ll go to Africa.

While I was searching for the Globe Trekker TV show website, I stumbled across this other global trekker. His images are amazing! I haven’t looked through his entire image library yet, but I especially liked the safari pictures. Now I really want to go to Africa. Any travel companions out there?

I am so glad it’s Thursday. Although I am having a lot of trouble remembering that and I keep thinking it’s actually Tuesday. That’s probably because my outdoor coed soccer games are usually on Tuesday nights, but this week it’s on a Thursday night.

Update: Here's another cool picture I found.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday Blues

I rode my bike to work today. All 1.5 miles of my commute. I really should ride a lot more often. When we move to our new place, my bike commute will be along a hike/bike trail which will be even better. Plus, the ride will be ~3 miles, so it will be more of a workout. Hopefully I’ll stick with it. The only bad thing is that I hit a big energy drop right around 10 am (at least I did today) in addition to the afternoon drop. But that might also be due to my getting less sleep. I am trying to cut back on 1-2 hours from my 8-9 hour norm so that I have more time to do the stuff I really want to do, like crafts. But lately I’ve noticed that I am having trouble remembering stuff. Like this morning I brought up an explorer window to look something up, and by the time the window came up, I had forgotten what I was going to Google. And I often find myself on the second floor but can’t remember why I went there (or how I got there). So this might be due to my lack of sleep, or perhaps old age. I’m hitting an age milestone later this year – the one you hit when you are about my age.

I had an indoor game last night and we won, 12-3. It was great to be on the other side of the high score. But at the same time I don’t like to win by a ton of goals. I feel just as bad when I loose as when we win by a lot. We had 2 new guys and one of them was really, really good. He scored most of the goals but he did also give a few good assists.

This past weekend was pretty good. On Saturday I spent all day at the soccer field. My little girls had a soccer tournament and they played 3 games. They didn’t do very well. The good thing is that they quickly forgot about losing and everyone had a great time at dinner after our last game in the tournament. Plus, not advancing in the tournament meant I had a free Sunday.

On Sunday I spent a good amount of time working on my cards. In the morning we went to our local farmers’ market and came back with some delicious apple cider, beautiful strawberries and a very good sausage that I used in Emeril’s Kicked Up Sausage Macaroni and Cheese. We also got some cayenne pepper fresh spaghetti that we’ll have for dinner tonight with some butter and cheese.

Website role call – I found these websites on a Martha Stewart article on 100 reasons why you should declutter and organize:

Donate your lightly used business suits and business clothes to Dress for Success to help disadvantaged women get the clothes they need to make a great first impression at an interview.

Can’t figure out what to do with your fancy evening wear and ball gowns? Donate them to Operation Fairy Dust who will in turn distribute them to underprivileged girls to wear on their prom night.

Want to get rid of those winter coats now that spring is here? Donate you lightly used coats to One Warm Coat. This one might take a little more work since you have to find a coat drive or agency in your area.

Have an old pair of eyeglasses? Don’t throw them away, dontate them to Unite for Sight who will send them to people in need around the world. Also check out Give the Gift of Sight.

Donate those books and textbooks to Books for Africa and you can make room on your bookshelves for new books. You send your books to St. Paul, MN and they send them on to Africa.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy April Fools Day!

This weekend was busy but not too busy. On Friday night and Saturday night I went to a cropping party at my Creative Memories consultant’s house. I had a good time and made great progress on my scrapbooks. I am now currently putting together my Mexico summer pictures. So I am almost caught up. The only bad thing about working on my albums so hard is that I haven’t been making any greeting cards lately. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Maybe I should cut back on how many hours I work during the week. But then I wouldn’t have enough money to satisfy my craft needs.

I woke up around 3:30 am on Monday morning because I was having a bad dream. Major was stretched out and hogging a lot of my bed space, the husband was snoring away in the middle of the bed, and when I tried to move my leg, Monkey growled at me. For some reason, I was disappointed that it wasn’t morning yet. Like I was excited to go to work. Maybe it was all a dream.

Last night we had our second playoff game for indoor. We lost. We played the first place team and they were good. They won the division so they are moving up a division. And since we didn’t lose every game, we stay in the same division. That’s fine because playing against good teams will make us better. Although the team we played against last night was good, they didn’t have good sportsmanship. At one point in time, on of their girls got nailed in the face with the ball and she went down. Some of her guy teammates started yelling at her to get up because she was wasting time. They were already up 5-0. I wouldn’t want to play for their team. Our next season starts next week and the husband said he would give it a try. He’ll be playing indoor with me!! I’m hella excited!!!

I found a cool website: www.zillow.com. You just type in your zipcode or address and it tells you what houses are for sale in the area and the estimated value of those houses that are not for sale. Our neighborhood has mostly flat-lined, and maybe gone down a bit. My parents’ neighborhood in Southern California has gone down significantly – about 20%. They should have sold two years ago.

We are moving at the beginning of May to the other side of town. Supposedly that’s the better side of town and right now we live in the gang area. But it’s still perfectly safe. Although I have heard police sirens a lot more often in the past few months.

Our new place is a duplex and we’ll have a bigger kitchen, washer/dryer hookups, and we’ll share a 2-car garage (not attached). We are very sad to leave our place but it’s exciting to move up in the renters’ world. I am starting to look at washers/dryers and the ones I want are very expensive. Hopefully I can convince the husband. He did just get a pretty sweet laptop.