Friday, October 30, 2009

Good News , Bad News

I feel like I am oddly on a surprise roller coaster lately. Bad surprises can be just as interesting as good ones, I have decided, but that doesn't change the fact that every surprise may have attached to it a very unique set of emotions. Yesterday I received a birthday surprise text from C! He is taking me to our favorite staycation spot for my birthday. Not only that, but he also scored premium accommodations without a premium price! Good News!

Today, while sitting across the table from our most talented and elite design guy, R.G., I learned that he has been fighting the battle with cancer. Prior to that news, he explained how he received his inspiration for the design of one of our products. As I looked at him, I noticed he was glowing, absolutely glowing with a radiance as he explained the spiritual nature behind the design. It took my breath away and I thought, how lucky we are to have someone who is willing to listen to what God tells him, that he can receive a piece of Godly intelligence, and if you saw the design, you would understand. Then the news, coupled with the realization that even the VERY best, and most talented of God's children face challenges, and not because of any fault of their own. Bad News.

I received my grades from school - my final exam was 93/100. Not too shabby for having questioned if I had even passed. I pulled an A- out of the class. Good News!

This morning I weighed myself. Sigh, I gained three pounds during my mad two-week rush to finish my class! The tough thing for me about putting on a few pounds is that it makes my tummy poke out just enough that inevitably somebody asks, or at least alludes to the fact that I might be pregnant. No fun. Well, I guess it's salads and celery from here on out. At least it will keep me out of the candy bowl for Halloween. Bad News.

Today I arrived home to find my dad waiting to say hello. He just stayed and chatted. It was so nice! I loaded him up with apples, walnuts, and some other items when he left, just like he has done with me for years! Anytime I visit, he gives me something. I was glad to send him off with something because that has been our mode of communication for years. It doesn't matter what it is, but giving and receiving is just another way to say I love you! He does say I love you often, however. Oh, and my mom even called yesterday to see how my test went! Good News!

After dad left, I strolled over to the mailbox with Kawi tucked down in my fuzzy brown coat to protect him against the cold. Two items peeked out at me from the cold, grey confines of the mailbox: C's dirtbike tabs, and . . . the long awaited special delivery! The envelope was thin. This didn't look too positive, and it wasn't. Ah, what a daze of what ifs! I sat there gazing at the letter as if the text would magically rearrange, and maybe the next time I read it, the results would be different. I finally released several heavy sighs from the cavern deep in my chest that had held them in every time I opened the mailbox. At last I knew. Bad News.

Hmmm. I guess I really should end on a positive note. I have a great job, a healthy body, a wonderful husband, a warm home, a house full of food, vehicles that run, a yard full of fruit-yielding trees, a little bird who ALWAYS wants to hang out with me (unless C is home), I have the great opportunity of attending school and working to get my CS Master's degree, and the day off tomorrow! Oh! I've got it! Here is a really great one: My boss gave me the day off for my birthday (or day of my choosing for my birthday)! Good News!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust. . .

Normally, I feel pretty good after I finish. I want to turn big and green and posture to show just how big my muscles are because I really knocked it out of the park. This time I felt exhausted. I was frantically scrambling to finish, and stopped just minutes shy of the finish line. I flipped through the fourteen pages of answers, and didn't have an ounce of umph to check carefully over my work. Who expects you to program on paper, after all? I was at a serious disadvantage with a Bic Stick fine point, when I am absolutely a G2 girl, not to mention I was still wearing nylons from work. What was I thinking? Nylons absolutely limit mental harmony. I guess I will find out in the next couple of days how I did. I sure hope I passed, because one of the classes I just enrolled in requires that I pass that test. Class number 2/10: Complete.

On the way home I stopped by Walmart with one thing in mind: Valdosta. I say that I stopped by Walmart, which I did, but then I saw the herds of shoppers, and opted for a quieter visit at Smiths. And the desire of my salivation glands had just arrived in the store! If you have never heard of it, Valdosta is a blissfully adventurous gourmet treat. You pop a handful in your mouth and your teeth sink into buttery premium pecans serenaded in sweet orange, and tangoed in ground pepper. Next you taste a tangy, sweet cranberry, hiding behind a pecan half, and likewise dusted in edgy black pepper. Oh, it's also a healthy snack, which makes it taste even better! Daily food raving: Complete.

When I arrived home, Kawi had been in his cage ALL DAY since C went to Bishopric, and I went straight to my three hour test. He was super cuddly and wanted his head scratched and wanted to play. You must know, it's very hard to convey that a bird really loves to be cuddled and play without sounding crazy, but trust me. The best part is when, after a really long day, he shuffles up as close to your face as he can get, draws one foot up into his feathers, turns his little lemon face toward his back, and buries his beak behind one wing. Dutiful bird cuddles: Complete.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exercise is Just Yummy!

Sometimes exercise is one of those things that sounds just as delicious as a big, fat, juicy peach, or a slice of savory roast beef, or if you are vegetarian, a big pan of broiled eggplant and red peppers lighly tossed in a bit of olive oil and garlic, kissed on the edges by the blackening heat! Ah, when you have been studying and sick and hurt and unable to dive into a nice meaty workout, there is nothing that sounds more inviting than a nice steady run on the treadmill (or outside), and so many chin-ups that your arms are exhausted, and so many leg presses that your legs burn, and so many pushups that your shoulders tremble to hold you up!

It doesn't get any better than having a healthy body and an insatiable drive to make it healthier!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What do you say?

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the health food store to pick up some study treats (coconut curry, dried mangoes, fresh peanut butter, and a few honey toffees), when I saw the sweetest, most beloved young lady from church. She graduated, her mother re-married and moved away, and I hadn't seen her in quite a while. As I expressed how happy I was to see her, I noticed she had obtained eyelash extensions. They were very pretty, but I wasn't sure whether I should say something about them or not.

As one who frankly doesn't understand physical alteration, I place this question out there (and perhaps my beloved young friend will even jump in and help me out!). What do you say when someone alters his or her appearance? In this situation, I would assume that the phrase, "My, what big and beautiful eyelashes you have!" would be appropriate, however, there would be some circumstances where that would not be the right thing to say. What if that person is just trying to make it look like it is natural, and doesn't REALLY want you to say anything. Do you risk hurting their pride by noticing, or do you risk hurting their feelings if you act like you didn't notice?

I do not post this question with any malintent, just with a sincere interest in the answer. Aside from adding a few highlights to my hair, I have never considered changing anything about my physical appearance. For my wedding I got acrylic nails, and immediately soaked them off with acetone afterwards. I couldn't stand the feeling of big fat fake nails on my hands. That's not to say that they don't look nice on other people, just not on me. What do you think? Say something or not?


Family status not included, here are some of the things I long to do:
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro to see the amazing alien-like plant life that lives there.

  • Learn Armenian (and Turkish). I know how to read some, but I want to speak it because:

  • I want to live in Armenia long enough to finish my book/trilogy on Armenia.

  • Complete my graduate CS degree.

  • Learn a level of fluency in Polish because I want to . . .

  • Visit Gnesen/Gniezno, where my ancestors once lived.

  • Get to the point where I am comfortable speaking Hebrew. I read it, and can pronounce it.

  • Strengthen my conversational Castillian and New World Spanish to a level of fluency because my world is filling up with Spanish.

  • Work on a few more languages on my do-do list . . .

  • Publish books that will make a difference in the world, like the one I started on racism.

  • Do silent good works throughout the world, without anyone knowing. There is a piece of magic behind anonymity in good works that becomes drab and glisterless when it is painted on a newspaper or TV screen. (See, this is what I mean about creating your own words. You know exactly what I mean when I use the word, but it may not appear in the dictionary - - - yet! Use it, and see where it takes you! Dictionaries, it turns out, only contain those words which are used in everyday language. Too often people think that if it isn't in the dictionary, it is off limits. Well, I prefer to push the envelope on that concept. When snicker-snack was first used in the the Jabberwocky, it didn't appear in a dictionary either. We all know what it means now.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Honest Kitchen

I have an honest kitchen. It doesn't try to look clean when it is dirty. It doesn't hide anything. The white, glasstop stove looks brown when stuff is burned on, and if a pot boils over, the food doesn't spill down into the bowl below the element. It is all right there on an even playing field. The oven doesn't make you cry when you have to clean it because the bottom of the oven is one solid surface, and only requires a wipe down after broiling off the food.

The countertops don't hide the dirt. On the contrary, the absolute black granite looks elegantly dusted with white after a baking spree, or covered in goo when goo decides to settle there. Ah, but when it is clean you can see your face in it as if it was a mirror! And the caulk doesn't pretend to be white and later turn yellow, because it is black, and black it will remain.

The fridge is ghostly white, and late at night you can hear it howl and moan in the darkness. When it makes ice, it sounds like the chains of Marley, dragging across the slate floor. The dishwasher is the most honest appliance in my kitchen. It takes every ounce of calcium that our mineral-rich water has to offer, and generously distributes it across my cobalt blue dishes so that when they have completed their visit in the dishwasher dungeon, they emerge looking like blue powdered doughnuts.
Today while I cleaned the kitchen, Kawi decided to do his two favorite activities (in addition to trying to get as close as possible to the red hot burners, hot running water, or aluminum cookie sheets fresh from the oven). He tasted the backspash grout, and licked the grater while admiring that handsome cheeky fellow in its shiny metal surface.
C was busy ALL DAY! He taught fitness as a merit badge counselor to a batch of 11 year olds early this morning, ran the grass clippings to the dump (which he gathered last night after mowing), ran to the gym, and then presided at a convert baptism. We then met some friends for a long-awaited date night that started around 3:45, and ended at 7:45. In less than 11 hours, C will be back at church for bishopric meeting, and won't come home again until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, followed by home teaching. Well, at least I get to see him for a few hours in the evening!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SURPRISE!!!!! (And hurrah for mediocrity)

Doesn't that word just fill you will excitement, and your mind with a flood of thoughts of what it could be? I think I have an abnormal love of surprises. It doesn't even have to be something important. I can never get enough of them! For me, checking the mail is a surprise! I have three mail boxes, so if one is empty, I have a 66% chance of getting mail. If two are empty, that narrows the odds to 33%.

I have been watching the mail for something for four weeks in anticipation of a delivery. In the meantime, I also ordered three tubes of the very best mascara in the world: Max Factor 2000 Calorie Extreme Blackest Brown, and when I opened my mailbox to find a key, I felt a little rush. MAYBE it was the mascara, but maybe it was the something else. It was the mascara (still no special delivery). Finally, today when I opened the mailbox, I didn't even hold my breath while slowly opening the door. I just opened it. I think I have come to terms that my special delivery is not coming.

Things I look forward to during the day: checking my e-mail - you never know what may arrive. I have four e-mail accounts that I keep for different reasons, although I check them at varying intervals. I also have some random other ones I never use. Text messages are usually fun. I love getting one from C, but with my iPhone, I get to read it right away, so some of the surprise anticipation is gone. Voicemail - my work has a phone system where voicemails arrive as files in my e-mail account. If I am in a meeting, I have to sit there and wonder, who could it be? I type the number into the reverse search on MSN to decide where it arrived from. Usually I can figure it out. It's a puzzle to solve.

Listening to The Economist. Now this sounds strange, but I love hearing about the amazing and heart-wrenching things happening in the world. It makes me feel like I am making a difference somehow just taking the time to know about what my fellow earth neighbors are going through, and then I dream about going to those countries and making a difference somehow.

I did receive a surprise this last week. It came in the form of an e-mail. At work I have consistently performed at a jaw-dropping velocity. I am not trying to brag, I am just being honest. My boss said so, her boss said so. . . in fact, my last performance review encouraged me to work less. Well, since working toward my graduate degree, my work velocity has diminished to less than half of what it was. I even dropped the ball a few times on purpose just to let myself see that the world would not end if I did. To my great astonishment, it really didn't end!

Back to the e-mail, our communications specialist sent me an invitation to a special luncheon where excellent employees are recognized by managers for their contributions. It just started this year, and I nominated some of my outstanding writers for consistently exceeding their goals. I was sick at home, and thought it must be a hallucination. When I arrived back at work I asked my manager if there had been some mistake. "I feel like I am being recognized for my mediocrity," I told her. She told me that I was still working at the same amazing velocity, but that it was just distributed in a different way. Well, rather than insult her judgment and intelligence, because she is an amazingly sharp woman, I accepted her decision.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If Ever Two Were One . . .

During my sophomore year in High School, my tenth grade English teacher told a story of the birth of his first child. He was desperately poor, and wanted so badly to share something special with his wife. He had no money. It was late at night, and, as he walked outside of the hospital, he found the most beautiful rose in someone's yard. Despite the late hour, he knocked on the door, and pleaded with the disgruntled home owner, could he please have that beautiful rose to give to his wife who had just borne their first child?

A short time later, he returned to the hospital with the late-night rose, and a note for his wife, containing the slightly altered words of Anne Bradstreet to her husband, Governor Simon Bradstreet. We memorized those words, every one of them. We didn't just memorize them in our minds, rather we memorized them in our hearts.

It seemed too impossibly beautiful to think that a mother of eight who lived in the 1600s could capture such sincere intimacy in this private letter to her husband. At the time I could only hope to feel so about my future beloved, but while I attempt to express how I feel about my own husband now, I do not think any words could say it better than Anne did, almost four hundred years ago:

To My Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

What Matters Most

I love to catch a glimpse of true meaning - the kind that grounds you when so much seems up in the air. I found this great little message that resounded for me and thought I would share it here:

October in all its Glory

This past weekend I ventured outside for one of the last hammock days of the year. Most of the birds with which Kawi usually converses had packed their bags for warmer skies. The tepid air was still and calm, and oddly Kawi followed suit.

At some point in his hammock wanderings, Kawi looked astonishingly at my unkempt pedicure, and attempted to remedy the situation. No, he wasn't hungry for toe jam. I offered him some birdseed, but he politely declined, fixating on my chipped nail polish for the better part of twenty minutes. While his efforts were fruitless, his care for my appearance was obvious, so I was encouraged to put a little more effort into my upkeep. I must admit that it took great restraint to avoid jerking my feet, because a tiny little bird nibbling on your toes really tickles!

How is C doing? Funny you should ask. He just called to check up on me! Great men do great things, and greater men do little things that matter a lot. Dr. Laura talks about how men, when treated right, will swim through shark infested waters to get you a lemonade. While I can't qualify the part about me treating him right, although I certainly try, C is definitely that man. Since I have been sick he has offered every day to get me my favorite egg drop soup and diet lemonade so I would have some comfort food. While he didn't swim through shark infested waters, he did drive through shark infested traffic during rush hour to bring this stuff to me - on his own! What a man!

Well, C has been busily working on school, spending many hours each week as a leader in our church group, and spending long hours at work. He also faithfully goes to the gym several times a week. He makes me laugh, and tells me I am cute when I make funny noises while programming. He comes home every day to Kawi screaming his name until he comes into the house, at which time Kawi sweetly says, "Hi Buddy! Whatcha doin'?" He then plays with Kawi until, exhausted, Kawi fluffs up on C's chest and growls at me any time I look like I just might sever him from his beloved C, until we finally put him back in his cage for the night.

Today, I am HOPEFULLY having the last of my sick days forEVER, and decided to take a mental break from programming to change the layout of the blog. What else do you do when you are home sick? Programming, of course! Don't worry, I have taken my computer science dialogue elsewhere to avoid turning off those less inclined to techy-talk. And what does Kawi do while I program? Well, after many attempts to rip off the keys on my keyboard, or admire his reflection in my high-gloss screen, he finally found his place in my computing world. Here he dutifully ensures that my keyboard is not fluff-deficient by preening himself atop my computer screen.

Final pic of the day - my beautiful heirloom tomatoes that didn't quite ripen before the frost. According to a friend of mine from the Czech Republic, these last for months in an apple box in a dark room, and then you put them in the light before you need to use them! Maybe some year I will attempt to keep my green tomatoes for months, but instead just fried a few, and gave the rest to said C.R. friend.

I'll leave you with this great little video:

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Little Rat that Could

Sunday night I finally mailed off my 2nd assignment for my CS class that ends on Thursday, and as a sort of reward to myself (aside from skipping around the kitchen island to get all of the flat places normalized from sitting all day), I glanced at some of the noteworthy blogs.

Sometimes the noteworthy blogs are really noteworthy, and sometimes they really aren't. The Sunday noteworthy was truly noteworthy. How do you explain noteworthy, when here is a young Idaho woman who writes about McDonalds ice cream cones and walking the dog, and makes it sound so inviting and magical? Really, I dare say that my first impulse was to think this life was overly simple, but after three minutes I was hooked!

I think the appeal for me was the sparkle in her words, and beautiful simplicity of her life. I say simplicity not as an insult, but rather as a longing for a more simple time in my own life. There was no biting sarcasm, or bleak perspective on life, rather it was like a hazelnut milk steamer: warm, frothy, rich, and welcoming (and the ones I get come in a sparkly white cups). I think that same simplicity ran over into her cooking blog also, which, much like me, is the essence of good food without the madness of measuring or precision - for the most part.

At work today, a fellow manager and I discussed a new website/product we are developing in a "we-are-smarter-than-me" brainstorming session. He asked me what would set us apart with this new tool. I told him about Nat The Fat Rat, and replied, we need sparkle in the simple things, like when you go to Disneyland, and everyone helps create this magical place. We need a magical place for our users to come that is simple, inviting, and - - - that sparkles! Thanks, Nat, for sharing the magic!

Friday, October 16, 2009


After three days at home, I am really starting to feel - well, really lonely. I was supposed to go to a Computer Science social tonight (I know, sounds thrilling, right?) but my sick stomach really did a number on me today. I hated dropping out tonight, but had no other choice.

The sad part is that I don't really have time to socialize for another week - I have my class deadline on the 22nd, and on the 23rd I have to finish a syllabus for a conference in January. Blast. I never should have agreed to that. I started saying no to conference requests over a year ago and I am still dealing with the aftermath!

I was so wiped out today that I fell into one of those coma-sleep-zones around 2, and woke a couple of hours later. I was so disoriented I couldn't figure out what day it was for a moment. After pounding several packets of probiotics and feeding the bacteria with a nice sugary lemon bar, I actually started feeling better! I am sure the nap didn't hurt much either. This bug must have wiped out the good bacteria in my system. I hope I feel good enough to go to Yoga tomorrow, but we will see.

Well, despite my less-than-healthy condition, and my gnawing loneliness, I made good progress on my class today. I finally nailed some of the problems I got hung up on with constructors, although I think there is something wrong with my IDE (developer environment - er, in plain English, the thing in which I write code). It has given me problems with creating and linking classes and header files. Nevertheless, I managed to pound out four programs and several functions today. If I can get at least 5-6 done tomorrow, I might have some hope of finishing this class on time!

A Few Tidbits of Knowledge

A few things I have had the privilege of learning over the past week include:

  • Glucerna doesn't make you sicker when you have the stomach flu

  • Tiny little cockatiels still need a nap even after 12 hours of sleep

  • There is a GOOD way to deal with the war against religious freedoms

  • Responding to emotions in the right way can make or break a relationship

  • Vocabulary-deficient individuals are under the delusion that improvising with four letter words actually makes them sound smarter (no, this wasn't learned in association with the previous learning. . . )

  • Don't go to a salon when you don't feel well - you won't leave feeling better.

  • Programming is really the art of writing a novel in terms of verbs and nouns interacting with well-defined characters

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Redefining Life

Every so often you have one of those life defining moments where you realize the space you have been taking in this world just isn't cutting it. You look at the minutes and hours you have spent over the years and determine that some remodeling is long overdue. I guess the best comparison might be to say that you have been living in this little house because it is where you have always been, and then someone opens your eyes to the fact that your bank account can actually get you a mansion, with all of the luxuries to boot.

I am not talking about money. I am talking about the mental bank account. Sure, one thinks she is using it. I like to think that my mental budget is managed quite well. I turn off the radio whenever commercials come on because I don't need that garbage in my head. I listen to audio books, or language CDs, or some source of spiritual nourishment when I am not mentally plowing through some thrilling problem or analyzing some fact or event.

My mind is an amazing place - an exciting laboratory of new things, or better yet, a cutting edge research center. I am most uncomfortable when I am not mentally engaged. Mental engagement is more satisfying to me than sleep or food. In order to be at my best mentally, however, I need take time for exercise, food, and sleep. So why this need to redefine? I recently noticed that there are significant gaps in the scope of my mental universe.

There are pieces of knowledge that are useless, like looking at the pretty dress that Nicole Kidman wore at this year's award ceremony, or spending an hour wondering how women could possibly waste time and money on rump implants. There are moments that add up to hours of randomly searching for irrelevant bits of information online, or spending twenty minutes picking out the right color of lipstick. For those who know me, this is not my usual form of mental engagement, however, I look at these as leaks in a precious and valuable bank account.

I think I have wasted too much time on insignificance and unimportance, and need to stretch outside of this thin shelled dome of thoughts I have been satisfied with for so many years. There is so much more out there than I have ever taken the time to realize and learn. Here is to stretching, growing, expanding, and excavating the soul and the mind to take in more than ever before.

As 2 Ne 9:51 says, "Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy." I think the same applies with time: Do not spend your time on that which is of no worth, nor your thoughts on that which cannot satisfy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Get Depressed: Remove physical activity from your life!

I am not a regular follower of Dr. Laura, but I like her savvy, wit, and family values. A few days ago I turned on the radio, and instead of listening to the audio edition of the Economist, I listened as Dr. Laura told a young fellow to get out and exercise. He was depressed, and she explained that when people get depressed they stop moving. I thought about this and figure it runs the opposite direction as well: removing physical activity from your life increases your chances of getting depressed. No, I am not depressed, but this was yet another example to me of the unbounded benefits of exercise.

Speaking of exercise, I went to the gym this morning in hopes that Tyran was teaching yoga. As I peeked through the glass, the other instructor popped her head through the door and hailed me in. Against my better judgment, I succumbed to her pressure, and after 20 minutes of stretch-til-you-hurt-yourself class, I steeled myself against the possibility of hurting her feelings, and walked out. Aerobics instructors do not yoga instructors make. Creative license with yoga moves by the inexperienced is not a good combination for this holistic art. I bicycled while reading Gottman instead.

We picked our apples yesterday. I say "we," but I was studying, instead of picking. We yielded about 10 boxes full from seven of our nine trees. Two of the trees were sparse this year, the baby Braeburn only yielded one apple, and we didn't get to the last tree yet.

Part of the harvest is shown here. Despite the fact that we didn't spray, we gathered more good apples than I expected. I sent out an e-mail yesterday at about 1:00 PM to my fellow employees, and received two requests for boxes, and one request for a bag within about 20 minutes. It looks like I am not the only workaholic in the bunch.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lunges and Lacerated Laptops

Strange as it may sound, I have really missed doing lunges. When I was injured I was doing lunges every day. Unfortunately, I think it might have been a crossover lunge with a hammer curl that did the original damage to my foot, so I have avoided them since mid-August. Nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder.

Tonight while exercising, I thought, maybe it was doing lunges in my super high-tech, ultra structured shoes that did the damage. When I tried to do lunges in bare feet, it was wonderful, and I didn't experience the same strain I did before. Speaking of bare feet, a fellow blogger, 400 Watts recently mentioned that a new line of minimalist shoes by a company named Skora is coming out in 2010. Not to mention that they look a little more normal, but will work much better for a friend of mine who's feet won't work with VFFs.

Last night, as I sat down on my big comfy "chair" to program, I fired up my computer and got the "No hard drive located" message. Of course, your mind quickly thinks, no. Impossible. It's only a year old. Restart. NO! RESTART! NOOOOOOO!!!!!! And then, in the distance, amidst the faint hum of organ music, you hear the words, "Beloved, we are gathered here today to bid farewell to the hard drive of A's computer, which died in it's prime, full of many valuable documents."

While I am fiercely adamant about regularly backing up my home laptop, which has crashed twice in the past three years, I have failed to back up my work computer for over a year. Fortunately, my biggest loss was my OneNote work notebook which I THINK I have backed up somewhere. I have most of my critical files saved in my e-mail cabinet. Lucky me, I had just sent off my major programming assignments THE NIGHT BEFORE my hard drive crashed. Hallelujah!

Well, here's to another long weekend of programming. Two weeks to the drop dead date. I went to the wedding reception tonight of a good friend - a HUGE sacrifice for me right now. I am very anti-social lately with my time being consumed by school. I think I may have lost some of my friends, but hey, maybe in three years I'll get them back. I made hors d'ouvres for the party - whipped Alta Dena cream cheese with a fresh mint leaf and fresh strawberry slice atop a whole wheat cracker; Sweet Vidalia Onion relish and whipped Alta Dena atop a bland water cracker (to make the flavor pop); and a tiny meatball kabob: a pineapple tidbit, followed by 1/3 slice of a chicken-pineapple meatball, another pineapple tidbit, standing atop a small square of smoked gouda.

They were on the healthy side, and looked pretty (sorry, forgot to take pics). My friend had a great time with her new hubby, and although I gave her a gift, she will never know that the greatest gift I gave tonight was my time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So, last night I was reading in a biggest loser book that anyone under 150 lbs who wants to lose weight should eat only 1050 cals per day. While I am reasonably cautious with my calorie consumption, I must admit that 1400-1500 is more in my ballpark. I thought 1300 sounded hard! Granted, that doesn't take into account calories you burn with exercise, but really! I have been trying to figure this one out. To reach my weight goal by my birthday, not too far away, I can't pound pavement madly, so I have to be cautious with my food (so much for my very tasty trip to Seattle - but it was worth it.)

For breakfast I ate a carb master blackberry yogurt and 1/4 cup of nuts and dried fruits. For lunch I enjoyed an egg-white scramble with Chanterelle mushrooms, 2 oz of crumbled pepper-smoked salmon, and onions, and a plum for dessert. Quite nice, I must admit. For a snack, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries with Splenda, and for dinner, an artichoke, 1/2 cup of wild rice, grilled shrimp and green beans.

On a less shallow topic, I have to admit my recent trip to Seattle was a very interesting one from the perspective of national safety. As you might have read over a week ago on BBC, the recent bombing in close proximity to Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef was discovered to be caused by a bomb located INSIDE of the suicide bomber.

So, while walking through the airport security points, I thought, right. This is REALLY helpful! Metal inside of the body is undetectable by standard equipment being used by airport security, so one of these days, instead of running your luggage and shoes through that x-ray, it just might be you on that conveyor belt. My long-distance bicyclist friend who recently crashed and had a permanent stainless steel plate installed on his collarbone could really have fun with that one. Shortly after his accident, he texted me and said, "I guess I shouldn't go around saying that I'm 'the bomb.'" Truly.

Investment tip? The demand for x-rays could really skyrocket in the upcoming years.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Solo Day 3 - Evening Essen

As it turns out, one chicken satay and one fish roll don't equal dinner, so I opened the hotel restaurant menu and tried to find something that looked worthwhile. While the prices reflected otherwise, I couldn't find anything to top a Denny's menu, so I ventured out to Marrakesh for a little B'Stilla Royale.

Shown here in a slightly rumpled condition, the B'Stilla Royale is one of those dishes you taste once and never forget. It is simply amazing; philo dough filled with minced chicken and scrambled eggs, and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. C'mon, you can't tell me you've never enjoyed it when the maple syrup drizzles over into your eggs and sausage - yes, that kind of good. It is spectacular, intended to be eaten only with your hands, and very messy. Considering I got it to go, I was not obliged to eat it with my hands, but given the consistency, I didn't fare too well with cutlery, and ultimately caved in to the intended method of eating it.

Honey, I think I am officially a food snob. I bemoan the fact that I have to go back to a state without these delightfully diverse eateries, but rather must subsist on poor substitutions for foreign food. Well, perhaps there is merit in not being so close to such top quality cuisine: I remain thin.

My venturings this evening only brought on a couple of a lustful looks. I swear, you'd think I am running around in mini skirts and tank tops instead of jeans, a rain jacket, and funny looking shoes! One fellow winked at me so many times that I almost asked if he had something in his eye. Another fellow saw me crossing the street and, after making a sound that made me feel like a meal, said, "NNNice! How are YOU doing this evening?" I politely said, "Fine, thank you," and then proceeded to walk in a circle to make sure I didn't bring home any friendly neighborhood men with me before returning to the hotel.

Solo Day 3 - Morning Market Raid

I reached for my laptop the moment my mind was awake, and started studying. A few hours later, I took a bus to Pike's Place Market to add a couple more items to my take-homes: alder and pepper smoked salmon, plumcots, chanterelle mushrooms, and a giant apple fritter for my sweetheart. The fritter, shown here, is fully the size of a dinnerplate. I also picked up some honeycomb and Turkish Delight as a treat for myself, and an enormous mango for tomorrow's breakfast.

After I exhausted my interests in the market, I strolled along some of the clothing shops on 1st Avenue. One of the shopkeepers recommended a Vietnamese restaurant on the corner of Stewart and 2nd Ave, Long Provincial Restaurant. I was certainly not disappointed with the fare, served with flavor and flare. Shown here, my order of savory chicken satay and flavorful turmeric fish rolls totalled just over ten dollars and was more food than I could eat. I'll enjoy the rest for dinner tonight.

General Conference has been delightful today. Five new temples were announced this morning, in Florida, Japan, Utah, and two other locations I don't immediately recall. Elder Oaks' talk on parenting with love while upholding God's standards was bold and amazing. I am sure many parents grieve over the balance between loving their children while holding them accountable, and he provided a great sermon on this particularly challenging dilemma. Elder Scott taught boldly on avoiding pornography, something especially destructive to families and relationships today.

Well, I have had enough of a break from my studies, so back to work. Tomorrow I return home!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Solo Day 2 - Rain vs. VFFs

Yesterday I walked down to Pikes Place in my New Balance running shoes. By the time I arrived back that night, my plantar fasciitis had flared up and this morning when I woke, my foot was very sore. Today I donned my Vibrum Five Fingers and strolled down to the waterfront piers in the rain, this trip was much farther away, but how can you visit Seattle without getting huckleberry ice cream and Ivars chowder?

I must admit I received many unusual looks, but at the end of the day my foot was pain free, although cold and damp. I can't say I recommend puddle jumping in VFFs in October. While the bottoms of these shoes are waterproof, the tops are not. Also, in just the right terrain they don't have the same traction as Asics or New Balance when wet. I had to mind my feet much more than with other shoes, and without socks, they got colder faster. Still, chilled toes were quickly warm once I returned to the hotel, more than I can say for yesterday's pain. Ironically, less shoe is better, at least in this case.

I did catch my prize cone and a few other treats, including blackened salmon and Ivars clams before heading back, and have been programming since I returned.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Solo Seattle Study Time

C was obliged to work this week and rather than burn both airline tickets, I am going it solo for some study time. I met some very interesting individuals on the plane, and had a couple of offers for dates, including one Omar who had once lived in my state, and assumed that fact alone was enough to go hang out together. I think Hafezi was the name of the Amazon employee I met whose job entails searching for and killing security breaches in their system. I met Amanda and Dawn on the plane, both visiting Seattle for the first time. I met Billy who took a 13 hour busride down to Vegas for work that didn't pan out, and who, stranded, hadn't eaten in three days. I gave him my one orchard apple, a bag of gourmet nuts, and a couple of dollars for a snack while waiting for his ride. I also met Ethiopian Adisu who just finished an International Law degree in Florida, and hopes to eventually get a job with the UN, and some day represent his country there, or to work with a human rights organization.

In addition to getting some work done today, I took a stroll down to the Pike Place Market, passing a clothing store that contained clothes that looked old, older, and oldest, tat, tattered, and tattest, and expensive, expensiver, and expensivest (don't wordsmiths make up new words?). Yep. The least expensive item I found was a $250.00 scarf, and the most expensive was a $1300.00 blazer, and I only looked at five pricetags. Yowzer. Well, nothing personal, but I would much rather buy a Mac than spend $1300.00 on a blazer. It wasn't even good looking.

At the market I picked up some nectarines, raspberries and plumcots, which are absolutely sweet and perfectly ripe. I also got hit on by two of the produce salesmen, likely just part of the job. One of them thought we didn't have grapes in my state. Odd. I also purchased pepper strawberry jam, croissants, orange glazed hazelnuts, pepper smoked salmon from the fish-throwing place, and an amazing (and messy) gyro for dinner.

On the way back to the hotel I spotted a couple looking at a map. I passed, then turned back to see if I could help with my limited Seattle knowledge. Where was the mall? I pulled out my Garmin, but the battery was dead, so I pulled out my iPhone and voila! Four blocks back that way, and one block up. They were delighted.

The people I have met so far have certainly made this trip colorful, and the food has been most flavorful. Speaking of food, I have much to do in the way of programming tomorrow, but hope to get in a trip to Steamers for a Colossal Cone and maybe some Ivars chowder.

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