Thursday, November 30, 2006

Add snow, remove brain

A lot of people like snow.... and I am not one of them. Whether skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding or just walking down the sidewalk, something about playing in the fluffy white drifts of the frozen tundra makes some people so excited for Winter that they just can't wait. As for me, besides my deep and abiding fear of sliding and falling, I also don't like being cold. It puts a big damper on enjoying the snow. But the worst thing about the recent snow we've had in Seattle is that it takes an already dysfunctional transit system and reduces it to a "survival of the fittest" SUV contest. While I admire the show-must-go-on attitude of those who insist on driving in inclement weather, sometimes people don't think. Consider the many hills here in Seattle and the coefficient of ice friction, all riding on a misplaced confidence in all-weather tires. This is what you get: All photos by Mike Siegel of the Seattle Times.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Running Man

Today, in the wee early hours of the cold morning with rain/snow coming down, Ken (along with 5000 others) ran the Seattle Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and finished in just under two hours. Way to go honey!

Pizzelle Making Madness

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, my mom, my cousin (Angela) and I got together and made our family's quintessential Christmas treat: the Italian waffle cookies known as "Pizzelles."
This is what Christmas tastes like.
Since the beginning of time, my Italian grandmother made coffee cans full of these cookies for the holidays. They are not baked like traditional cookies but made on an iron and flavored with anise. The other ingredients for these cookies are very basic but the secret is to know how long to leave them on the iron. I guess you can use other flavorings besides anise but the balance of the sweet and licorice is the way they should be done. A sweet crunchy cookie with that hint of bitterness gives it character, just like all the Italians I know. Since my grandmother passed in 1997, my mother has taken on the mantle of supplying these much coveted cookies for the holiday festivities. But a couple years ago, she gave my cousin and I our own irons so now we all can make them.
Ken, Cindy and Austin hung out while all this was going on. There was an impromptu guitar jam session and fun with a stick horse. Hilarity ensued. Note that Austin is smiling--it was a banner day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Apple Cup, pt. 2

Let's say the first song you ever learned was the WSU Fight Song,
and from birth through age 23, your family's social calendar revolved around this,
and on your first day at college, your father personally introduced you to the WSU President, the Vice-Provost and Alumni Center Director so that if you screwed up he would know,
and that despite living in Seattle for 10 years, every time you see Husky Stadium you can't help but sneer.
Welcome to my Cougar-ific world.

Here's more on the Apple Cup...

Every Coug knows how bad it feels to lose a game that should be yours, especially to the Huskies, because it happens a lot. As a result, somebody came up with the term "to Coug it." (And, there is even a Wikipedia entry for it HERE.) The key concept: 'snatching defeat from the almost certain clutches of victory.' You'll know it when you see it. It begins innocently enough as a pin-prick of doubt, a tiny seed of insecurity that soon takes over and the team begins to fall apart. As the team misfires and the Huskies capitalize on mistakes, the mood of the crowd turns from elation & surety to unmistakable dread. The longest moments of your life can be spent watching the second half of the Apple Cup.

To find out more about why it's come to this, here's a little something about the Huskies. Their campus is unparallelled in showcasing the beauty of the region with views of mountains and waterways, anchored by a majestic fountain and dotted with nostalgic ivy-covered brick buildings. The metropolitan nature of Seattle attracts students looking for cultural offerings and a chance to experience the big city while in the safety of student life. With all the distractions, the students don't really have to interact with each other unless they are Greek (frat/soro). The alumni are usual wealthy and those who stay in Seattle go on to be tech-savvy nerd geniuses or golf-shirt-wearing sales people.

Pullman on the other hand boasts acres of wheat fields and a handful of mediocre restaurants. The nightlife completely revolves around the students, reaching the heights of sophistication with a keg of beer, a 5-disk CD changer and bowl of Doritos. The students don't let their renown music program marked by the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, their usually ranked women's sports teams & a to-die-for recreation center distract them. They have a lot of time on their hands and there's nothing like boredom and a desire for mischief to bring people together. But after they leave, WSU alumni top the list for percentage of contributing alumni for a public university (nationally).

But no question about it, the Apple Cup is about inferiority. It is an exercise in the mental gymnastics of worthiness. No matter how well the Cougs have done in the season leading up to this game, there is a gut-wrenching, fingernail-biting anguish surrounding this 3-hour bookend of potential glory. It is an event to replay and stew over for 8 months until the next football season starts. Not surprisingly, many WSU players say that this game means more to them than a bowl berth because of the legacy of redemption and the pride at stake.

Cougs may be inconsistent in their football but they are loyal in their being. Take a close look at a Coug and you'll see a gleam in their eye hoping that next year could be the year to teach those Huskies a lesson. We just have to believe we deserve it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apple Cup, pt. 1

This sums it up for now... More analysis tomorrow. Photo from Mark Harrison of the Seattle Times (here).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What I've been reading lately

As Ken astutely noted today, I have a curious habit called "snack food half-life" where I will eat up to half of any given volume of snack food and then paperclip it shut and forget about it. Weeks later, I'll come back to it but only eat half of the new amount. It results in me never finishing a given snack food and ending up with a square of chocolate, one tidbit of organic beef jerky, 3 sticks of sugarless green apple flavored gum, a bag of tortilla chip crumbs, 2 ginger snap cookies and an almost empty box of Junior mints-- all of these having entered our house during the third week of summer. You may not know this but I approach books in the same way, so instead of waiting years for me to finish them, I'll give you some mid-way reviews.

I have two books that I'm trying to get through at the moment and neither of them sustains me for longer than 20 minutes a sitting. The first one I've been reading as an earnest attempt to understand the complex societal pressures of motherhood in the book called "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars." Now before you start get any ideas, understand that if anything were to "happen" I would tell you. So consider my reading of the book "research"--like one does before doing anything completely life-altering.

So this book (the first half anyway) discusses how American society really puts pressure on women and judges them on one particular issue: do you stay at home when you have kids or do you continue to work? The problem that I have with this book (thus far) is how the author spends too much time explaining the issue and by page 80 has yet to introduce some solutions or any sign that we are getting closer to a hook. Like I've said to my uncle Randy who puts way too much garlic in the Caesar salad, "Think of the amount of garlic you use, cut it in half, then cut it in half again." Ms. Miriam Peskowitz could have used this advice in the first part of her treatise.
Don't get me wrong, some people need all the details and several sets of data spelled out for them. In this case, I think most people can agree that with more women in the workforce, a more consumerism approach to happiness (i.e. need for more money), the reluctance of the American workplace to accommodate parents and the biological fact that women make the breast milk, we women will continue to face a tough choice. (I feel like I've just summed up what this book is about). Shall I bother to finish it? Hmm, yet another tough choice...

The second book I'm reading is a great sharing book with Ken. I like to read it to him right before we go to bed. I first heard about it on NPR and it's a doozy called "Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation." Now before you get all flustered, this is a scientifically researched book, cleverly written in the form of a sex advice column. Insects and animals "write in" to Dr. Tatiana who illuminates on relationships, courtship, sex, reproduction, parenthood and behavior commonplace in the animal kingdom. Insects by far have the most bizarre situations. The other day I read about the female praying mantis and the Australian redback spider who actually eat their mates after doing "the nasty" --in a way that really earns its name. It also talks about the fascinating way nature has equipped all beings, large and small, with advantages to propagate their species. It's a dense book, full of facts and humor. I definitely recommend.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our morning conversation

"In the comics, Superman and Wonder Woman end up having a child together. I wonder what it's like to have the strongest male and female superheros as parents..."

"Chelsea Clinton?"

(Incessant laughter)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tastes like Victory

Does it get much better than this: the Dems take control of both the House & Senate, Rumsfeld resigns and Britney files for divorce from K-Freeloader? Don’t wake me if I’m dreaming!

I was so nervous last night. Both Ken and I had our laptops up on CNN, refreshing the pages on the national and local races every few minutes as NPR live coverage blared over the living room speakers. I felt so invested in this election that I have a holdover migrane today from the suspense of it all. Aye.

As the results poured in last night, the numbers got better. And I felt a great sense of …relief. Relief that I am not crazy. When GW first got elected, I was annoyed but I thought, “How much harm can he do? He’s got Colin Powell and other smart people around him. They won’t let him mess up too much.” And as we all know, lots of shit went down. So when it came time for re-election, I thought, well now we can throw this bum out. But to my surprise, more people than not wanted to give him a second term.

For the first time in my life, I began to feel like I didn’t know my own country. Who were these brain-washed people portrayed in the media as Middle American, church-going, Walmart-shopping, mini-van driving, average citizens who believed this guy and his party were the ticket to run the most powerful nation in the world? I began to feel like a misfit and, you know, edging toward a Brad-Pitt-12-Monkeys brand of crazy. Meanwhile, the country was swinging toward intolerance, conservatism and fear-mongering. You know how sometimes you joke about moving to Canada? Well we actually started to talk about it. “Vancouver BC isn’t that far away,” I’d say.

I would lament how my great-grandparents immigrated to this country to give their families a better life. And how ironic that after all their sacrifice, I would now consider giving it all up. But today, I felt like this horrible nightmare that has been the Bush Administration & Republican Crusade for Absolute Power is over. It’s like everyone woke up from their apathy naps and decided to reclaim the country. I am proud of this country again.

You have to watch these politicians. They’re a different breed of person. Ken’s brother, Ed, who is a Republican (but we love him anyway) said the other night, “We may disagree politically, but I think we do agree that these races have gotten dirty and no one is untarnished.” It’s true, what kind of sane, smart person would submit themselves (and their families) to the level of scrutiny in the public eye? The reason can only be either: (1) someone who is dying to serve their country or (2) someone who is dying to get their hands on power and influence. The latter will always play a part because we are human. But it’s the former that gives me a little hope to hang on and see what’s next for America.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Feeling Smug about Driving a Hybrid

The creators of South Park have seized upon the phenomena of hybrid owners feeling "smug" about themselves in an episode called "Smug Alert." As ridiculous as some aspects of the show are, I indeed have felt a sense of superiority by owning and driving a Prius.

I think it starts with the satisfaction that comes when people at the gas station ask what our miles per gallon are and I cheerfully reply "45 to 50." Or the affirmation of knowing that our contribution to carbon emissions (and therefore global warming) is less than regular cars. Or "sticking it" to Big Oil and the American car companies by choosing to put our money where our beliefs are. But most importantly, it proves that we are "champions of the environment."

But something has begun to bother me. I can't push away the inner voice that says: Is that all you can do? I now realize the glaring hypocrisy of considering myself an "environmentalist" strictly by what I drive. What about the rest of my life, not spent in the car? In our household, we don't compost or reuse ziplock sandwich bags. We throw lots of plastic things away and generate a full can of garbage every week. We leave lights on in rooms we aren't in and have an oil-burning furnace for heat. Within this year, we've taken enough airline flights to nullify the good we do by driving the Prius. (Figured HERE.)

For me, hybrid smugness has given way to considering my impact on the world. And it's something I can either live with or start to change. Driving a hybrid is a good step in dealing with the environmental problems of this planet but should not be considered the final one.

(Congrats to Dad for joining the hybrid nation. Welcome to the Smug Club.)

(UPDATE: And of course hats off to Duke who has owned a hybrid since 2001 and had "Insight" long before the rest of us to be kind to the Earth.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stuck in a moment

And you can't get out of it.

There are certain moments in my life that kept ahold of me to the point where I didn't want to move on for awhile. I needed to make sure I didn't miss anything and had felt all the feelings before letting the moment slip too far into the past. Naturally, I felt this way about our wedding. I succumbed to a "postpartum depression" of sorts after eight solid months of planning and focus. For all that time, effort, attention, worry, cost, stress and expectation, five hours goes by much too fast. What helped me move on was to look at the pictures, watch the video, talk incessantly about it and get some
media coverage.

Similar feelings have emerged around the Cable 8 Reunion. A moment so truly special, it surely will never happen again with the same people and the same youth-recapturing abandon. I just need a little more time to savor it. I've sorted and uploaded the pictures, written about the event in the blog, told friends and family all about it and of course, obtained some media coverage.

Alaska Airlines is celebrating it's 75th anniversary by inviting customers to
share warm and fuzzy stories about experiences on Alaska/Horizon. Behold the shamelessness!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

(Anti-) Motivators

These guys do a pretty good job but now you can make your own.

 Here are mine:

Runner up: "Silence - Mimes make the same amount of noise alive as they do dead."
(Thank you Revvy!)

 To make your own motivator, go HERE.