Sunday, October 29, 2006

Video Roundup

The Internet is awash with media and some of it is even worth watching.

(1) Keith Olbermann on Habeas Corpus (a.k.a. determining whether or not a person is imprisoned lawfully and whether they should be released from custody). Why does this matter to me as a law abiding and legal citizen of this country? Listen for a mention about Japanese-Americans. That didn't just happen to "other" people.

(2) A new approach to episodic entertainment: the internet soap opera "Sam Has 7 Friends." Written and directed by four gentlemen from LA, two of them Cougs (Chris Hampel & Doug Cheney). Produced by Mr. Marcus and crewed by many other talented and fabulous WSU alumni.
Check out:

(3) Dove's short film "Evolution of a Model" --an eye opening look how beauty is made. (Thanks to Anne for sending this).

(4) My favorite South Park character, even though I'm lactose intolerant.

(5) Robot Chicken shows what really happened after the Death Star blew up...

Tuckpointing and its merits

Prior to purchasing our home, I had never heard of the term "tuckpointing" before. As we ascended the steps of this house for the first time, our realtor said, "You might need to do some tuckpointing if you bought this place..." Little did we know how ominous those words would be. Tuckpointing is grinding out old mortar between bricks to a depth of 1/2" to 3/4" and then filling in with new mortar. Because brick and mortar are basically the water seal around a brick house, it's important for preventing water damage to the interior walls. Think of it as the "penance" a brick house owner pays for not having to side or paint for 75 years. Visually it makes quite a difference too. Before:
Only a professional mason should do tuckpointing because of the skill needed and labor intensity of the process. If done wrong, the joints could fail and your brick house could look like a patchwork experiment in "cheapery". Naturally, tuckpointing is one of the more expensive yet non-value adding home improvements you can do (dollar for dollar). It's not that it isn't valued so much as it's just expected that the bricks & mortar "work". You would never know how messy it can be until you live through it. As they grind out all the old mortar and sand, a thick layer of dust settles on everything in a 25 foot radius and it gets tracked everywhere. Add rain and you get a gray paste that dries into a barnacle-like cement. To a passer-by, it appears our house survived the eruption of Mt. St. Helens all over again. The other exciting thing to come from this experience is the discovery that the chimney (for a fireplace we don't use) is slightly wobbly. This is due to a 2-foot by 2-foot patch at the roofline on the house side where all the mortar has fallen out. We intend to shore that up with new mortar and strengthen the chimney overall. But really, how secure can you make a 14-foot tower of bricks in a seismic zone?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shoe Disdain

Last Saturday I found myself marooned in the Nordstrom Shoe Department with Amy & Darcie. We buzzed around looking at all the new chic styles, many of which defied imagination and practicality. The shoes that got me excited were the European Ergo shoes of Ecco, Dansko, Mephisto---and of course, only the black ones. I think it's safe to say, my relationship with "fashionable" shoes is over.

Many girlfriends say to me when wearing leg contorting, stride altering foot fashion, "...but these are really comfortable." Yeah, well I don't believe you. I know you want to think they are. But you never thought you'd actually pay that much for an impared ability to walk and pain like that. It's not hard to guess why models look so angst-ridden. Besides not eating, they have to walk around in uncomfortable shoes all day while everyone's looking at them.

But let's get one thing straight, I am not a proponent of Birkenstocks or Crocs. My mother staged a psyche-scarring event one Christmas when she placed a gift of mine in a Birkenstocks box but weighted it like there were Birks in there and wrapped it. (Mother, I will exact my revenge one day, mark my words.) What's my beef? Birks are hideous and Crocs can be washed in the dishwasher. Which brings up issues of sanitation. But that's another topic...

Back at Nordstrom, there were so many people trying on shoes last Saturday, you had to weave through the boxes and the bodies with ace precision for fear of bumping into someone strutting around in 4 inch heels. Did you know that Jessica Simpson has her own do I say... "ghetto fabulous" line of shoes? Definitely a sign of the coming apocalypse. This day also marks the first time I got to inspect Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes for myself. I'm sorry ladies, I know I sound like a traitor to all of woman-kind but what's the big deal? Six hundred dollars for a pair of strappy festive heels?

It's all about priorities I guess.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

An Open Letter to our cat, Oliver

Dear Oliver, As you know, your father brought you into this family from a former relationship and over the past few years, I have come to love you as my own. So at this point, I feel there are some things we should discuss. Now, I understand that looking one's best is very important. Why else would you constantly groom yourself and rub up against every corner in the entire house? But when I try to pet you, why do you stay just out of reach or scamper out of the room? And god forbid I try to pick you up. You get all wiggly and impatient. Why can't you just let me love you? Sometimes you are extremely charming when you thread through my legs while I am making breakfast or playfully cute when you chase my pant cuffs. But mark my words cat, if you continue to cut in front of me when I'm coming down the stairs, I will kick you like a football. Why do you tempt fate like that? I tend to overlook your between-meal snacking because eating flies and spiders augments your protein intake. Besides it's the only contributory task you do around here and I don't want to take that away from you. But I do want you to know it's rude to stare at people. Especially when your dad and I are snuggling on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy or a Net Flix--I can see you across the room watching us. Lately, you've been acting really weird and will not be consoled. What's with the despondent meowing and mindless pacing? You can't possibly be hungry because you have an electronic feeder that provides you sustenance 4-times a day. You can't be thirsty because you have a high-tech water fountain delivering oxyginated water. You can't be bored because you have numerous toys and a cat door to the vast and interesting outside world. And you can't be lonely because you have all the neighborhood cats to play with, including your Tabby boyfriend, Hunter. (Not that there's anything wrong with it...) We assume this is why you hiss at all our female guests and take to male contractors so quickly. I only want you to be happy. But you have to make an effort too. Do you think you could just relax a little, watch where you're going and be nicer to the ladies? In return, you can continue your favorite pastime of licking the side of the dishwasher as much as you like. Love always, Your step-mama

Monday, October 16, 2006

Camping + Deep Thoughts

A few weekends ago, we camped on Camano Island with Dan & Jill. One of the nights we where there, I dreamt I was an aria-singing, 17th century duchess, riding my electric unicorn while diamonds rained from the sky. But the most bizarre thing about it all was that I had actually agreed to go camping...

Though we stayed in heated cabins, we did have to go outside to cook and use the centralized shower/bathroom. Without a doubt, Dan & Jill took very good care of us. There seems to be a camping equivalent to everything you can find in the kitchen: a free-standing propane stove with griddle, a rack to prop bread over the propane burner aka "a toaster," headlamps, coolers, pans and so forth.

Dan introduced us to a cookie with embedded dark chocolate so that when making smores we didn't have to precariously balance, squeeze and break them. Brilliant! Now, washing dishes in the wilderness is not that easy either--especially sanitization. How do you accomplish this when you're scrubbing pans, rinsing from a cold water spigot and setting them on the dirty, dirty ground? Jill came up with a excellent solution: once they were washed at the cold tap, she filled a plastic tub with boiled water then soaked them. It's like a Japanese-style bath for the dishes. That Dan & Jill--such resourceful people.

Another cool thing to do in nature is make music as Dan and Ken discovered when they assembled a driftwood marimba shown here:

It made an unexpectedly rich sound and the guys jammed for a long time on it, leaving Ken with two well-earned blisters. But the fact they made something out of stuff lying around made me think about people from a much earlier time...

How did the Native Americans survive back then without things like plastic tubs, baggies, tupperware and water bottles? Things I take for granted like food preparation, going to the bathroom, saying warm and finding shelter were all basic survival concerns for them. It caused me to reflect throughout the weekend and ask myself when feeling inept, "What would the Native Americans Do?"

My answer: I'm really not sure, but in the grand scope of things, it's got to amount to more than just tribal casinos & firework stands.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cable 8 turns 20 in Style

Let me just say that the Alumni of Cable 8 (with the help of the current Cable 8'ers) whooped it up this weekend in what can only be described as a series of hilarious hijinks, coupled with an epic drink-a-thon, the likes of which Pullman has never seen. All of it powered by the delusion we can still party like we're 22. Friday night kicked off the festivities as we paid homage to a very special organization which effectively gave us all a spring board into our careers and social lives. A huge thank-you to Marvin, Monique, the current board and students of Cable 8 for a fitting tribute. Fantastic job all around!

This weekend was also an exercise in reliving the lost college years:

1. watching Cougar Football,
2. eating greasy food
3. drinking out of pitchers
4. cage-dancing (believe it!)
5. more cage-dancing
6. and of course, hanging out with some of the coolest people on the planet.

One of the best weekends of my life. Truly and for sure. Thanks again to every one who made it to Pullman and special thanks to Ken, who just rolled with it all. See a bunch more photos from the weekend on Flickr CLICK HERE. Enjoy!

F.A.Q. What is Cable 8? A student run cable network at Washington State University that produces programming and is structured like a real-world cable broadcast station. Students volunteer to direct, produce, crew and cast shows ranging from entertainment, sports, news magazine, long-form, soap opera, reality-based, etc. The productions are overseen by an advisor (currently Marvin Marcelo, originally Neal Robison) and a student elected board of directors.
When I attended WSU, I was a show director for Coug Stew & the ASWSU Debates my junior year and the Executive VP of the board my senior year.

Why is it significant? In a nutshell: Hands on training for real world TV production and friends for life.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I don't know when it happened, but recently I became an NPR Junkie. It's like this constant hunger to know the latest thing to know about. We wake up to it and recently we've been going to sleep to it too. It never leaves us: in the car, in the house, on my MP3 player (not an iPod) and sometimes at work on the Internets.

When we traveled to the East Coast last June and rented a car, I was immediately flipping through the dial to find the NPR-esque "directed tone of voice." Is it the rich, throaty microphones that make them sounds so smart?

I remember being exposed to NPR in my 20's since I worked for the Public TV station KWSU which was right next to NW Public Radio in Pullman. But it didn't matter to me then. No, at that time, I would be happy sitting though 5 minutes of annoying commercials to hear Pearl Jam with static. As you mature, tastes change but maturity doesn't stop me from making lists.

Favorite show: This American Life
Favorite NPR personality: Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace & Ira Glass of This American Life
Favorite KUOW personalities: John Moe & Ruby de Luna

To be fair and balanced:
Least favorite show: Prairie Home Companion (Broadcasted from Pullman last week)
Least favorite NPR personality: Diane Rehm of Diane Rehm Show
Least favorite KUOW personality: Steve Scher of Weekday

Who doesn't love Kai & Ira? Or Ika & Rai. But Prairie Home Companion---what is going on in that show? Ken and Mom seem to like it but....why?

If you are also NPR fans, you know what time of year it is. Time to pay the fiddler. Time to groan with disdain as the usually articulate on-air personalities ad-lib and crack jokes for 20 minutes an hour so you will PLEDGE some money. When you are an addict of the sweet NPR goodness, the interruption of the content is excrutiating.

I've been on the other side of this when I worked at KWSU along with Karen, Ian, Marvin & Mantooth. I understand that half the operating budget comes from the pledge drive but oh, the humanity. Of course, Ken & I will pledge some money like we always do. But the other night I was telling Ken, "If we had a load of money, I would call up those clowns on the first day and say 'how much would it take for you to shut up and resume normal programming?' Because I would write them a check and drive it over myself. Seriously."

On another note, we are leaving for Pullman tomorrow to attend the Cable 8 Reunion. Looking forward to seeing all the Comm Cougs!

Learning from the Misfortune of Others

Welcome to my first official blog entry. Ok, let's get this party started....

There was a time in my life (early 20's) when I had to go through experiences myself to realize anything. Cautionary tales were never enough, because invariably I thought I could succeed where others failed. More often than not though, this involved "relationships" and tell-tale actions/words that predicted impending doom. The scraped knees and ego bruises were always necessary to made it real. As I crossed over into the self-affirming, relieved-to-escape-the-twenties 30's, I now find I'm all about gathering information of other people's experiences and chewing on them like a wad of Bubblicious. I'm all, "tell me everything, I want to know every single thing and everything about it...." I have learned from my avid reading of that you never, ever write about your workplace or your co-workers on your blog. It can get you fired. So I'm not gonna do that.

But how about another workplace in the news, namely Big Fish Games and today's layoff drama unfolding in the comment section of this Seattle PI blog. Do yourself a favor and read all of those comments. I have been hitting refresh on that page all day--it's incredulously fascinating. Evidently, there is a great disparity between the management's official explanation of what went down & the comments coming in from (supposed) former employees. If the uglier side of this is true (people being let go days before their stock options vest, employees being falsely assured their jobs were safe, no warning about the impending layoff), it certainly doesn't speak well for BFG or employee rights in general.

Update: From feedback I've been receiving about this entry, it seems that I may have insinuated that I work for Big Fish. I have never been affiliated with them but wanted you to know that no matter what, I will not be talking about my work on this blog.