Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't buy these

This morning I had to make my own oatmeal because Ken is off snow-boarding with his co-workers for a morale event. When he's here, he makes very good oatmeal with the steel-cut oats and cinnamon and flax seed and raisins. But today I decided to make myself an especially big batch so that I could have some again tomorrow. After cooking the oats, I grabbed a handful of raisins and plopped them into the pan. As I moved the raisin container, I spilled it all over the stove. ****! But then I noticed several beetle-like creatures moving on the stove top. My first thought was that the beetles had just been there on the stove (though I hadn't noticed them before) and I spilled the raisins on top of them. So I took the remainder of the raisins and dump them into a glass lid so I could inspect them. Well as you probably guessed, these little beetles were "raisin stowaways". I left the kitchen in utter disgust after dumping the raisins straight into the garbage. But there is still a huge pot of cooked oatmeal with beetle raisins on the stove and while I will not eat it, I can't bring myself to throw it away. Do you realize had I not spilled the raisins, I would not have known the evil the lurched in my breakfast? It really makes you think.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A few updates

On the kitchen remodel...
Things are progressing. Aside from a little freak out moment last week when I temporarily felt overwhelmed, I think this thing is well in hand. But then again, we have not moved anything out of the kitchen nor have we been inconvenienced yet. To date, we have received delivery of our refrigerator & over-the-range microwave, purchased all the recessed light fixtures but most importantly decided upon our cabinet maker and finished our palette. Behold:
Isn't that calm and respectable? Unlike this. On nightly entertainment... One of my co-workers Keith loves the new Battlestar Galactica series on Sci-Fi channel. He said it was the best written show on television. I decided to take him up on his offer to loan the DVDs to me. Wow. Was he right. It's a riveting show because while there are all these great effects and space battles, there's an even better plot with flawed, interesting characters. I was definitely surprised on how it grabbed me. The other night when I was rather tired after watching 4 episodes in a row, I accidentally referred to the show as "Startlebear Galactica" and thus it shall forever be named in this house. Right now I'm half-way through the 2nd season. I'm told currently they are in the middle of the 4th and final season. With the writers strike, everything is up in the air. On the Alma Mater... The Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University is moving from being a department in the Liberal Arts College to being it's own college. What this means is that the money it brings in from students will be kept mostly within the Communications program as opposed to just a fraction, as was the case before with the rest going in the larger Liberal Arts Coffers. Don't get me wrong, I have an English Minor and I support the efforts of the Liberal Arts College but it has been unfairly siphoning off the funding the could have developed the Communications program into something much more competitive, especially during the days when I was there. It's a long time coming and I believe this struggle cost a few people their jobs a few years ago when the idea wasn't as popular nor had the support of key high-positioned figures. On sure to be controversial discussions... I'm reading a book by renown atheist Sam Harris called Letter to a Christian Nation. My mind is racing with thoughts and concepts that I need to ruminate on for just a little longer. But I look forward to discussing it on the blog. I hope you will stay tuned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Boating in Mid-January in Seattle

A few weeks ago Sean & Shannon let us know of their plan to go out on Sean's Dad's boat to help show Tamara, a guest from Australia, how us Seattlites kick-it up here in the PNW. The goal was to show her the Locks, the lakes and the city from the water. But honestly, the idea of being on a boat in the middle of January made me shiver with anticipation due to the cold snap we've been having lately. But we hoped for the best.. So imagine our delight yesterday as we were greeted by the most beautiful day. We actually got to see the sun! It was fantastic--granted the temperature wasn't much over 40 degrees--but traversing the waterways on such a glorous day, good times. (See, it doesn't always rain here.) I'd also forgotten the boat has a heated full-sized enclosed cabin so that too was a very pleasant surprise. On this 3-hour cruise, we can loosely assign roles: Ron (Sean's Dad): The Skipper Sean: Gilligan Shannon: Mary Anne Tamara: Ginger Ken: The Professor Me: Mrs. Howell...Because I'm about as useful as she would be on a boat. Going through the Ballard Locks was a trip. With the level of Lakes Washington & Union being higher than that of Elliott Bay/Puget Sound, the Locks play an important role in making sure the water levels are maintained. Boats pass through this Army Corps of Engineers Managed Area 24-hours a day. I'm sure the folks who are running the Locks see a lot of crazy things and pure stupidity on the part of boaters. So I guess we shouldn't have been surprised when they were kinda rude to Ken when he asked an innocent question. But still...
As you can see we have some very good-looking deck hands...

A.K.A. Bumper Girl

A structure I use daily but never seen from this angle. Seems like it's always going up when I'm late or in a hurry.

Ken & I clowning around with perspective...

Many thanks to the Testas for a day of good eats, good company and good fun. Full Album Here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kitchen Remodel Starts Now

This is where we are... This is where we're going... Stay tuned for updates and fits of insanity which will ensue.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

End of an Era: Bill Gates moves on

By now everyone has heard that Bill Gates is moving on from Microsoft to focus solely on philanthropy. He gave his final Keynote at the mammoth Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in the Den of Sin (Las Vegas) last week. A video was shown of what Bill's final day might be like. If you haven't seen it, take a look. It's hilarious.

On a personal note, I've had a close encounter with this man/myth/legend back during my tenure at Microsoft Studios in the late 90's. It was early on a crisp fall day and the Department of Justice was coming after Microsoft for anti-trust violations. Because of the nature of the investigation, Bill Gates and other execs had to do satellite linkups for testimony and questioning. I was in miraculously early due to light traffic. Suddenly a cameraman came running into scheduling and pleaded with me to come with him. We ran toward Studio A.

"So what do you need me for?"
"Can you do hair and makeup?"
"Sure. But who I am working on?"
"Bill G."
(Gulp) "Oh."

For anyone who knows me, I am really not qualified to apply makeup or fix hair on anyone, let alone Bill Gates. But I was the only female in the building at the time so that qualified me. I nervously walked into the studio with the makeup kit and there he was, sitting on a stool as the crew fussed with cameras and lights. I approached Bill and said a meek "hi." Then I asked him if it was ok if I put some powder on him to take the shine off. He closed his eyes and started rocking a little, muttering to himself. I don't think I've ever applied powder on a moving target before but I achieved even coverage. Then I needed to comb his hair. And I have to tell you, the most amazing detail with stays with me to this day was how soft his hair was. Like the fur on an angel bunny. He must use the nicest shampoo on the planet with rare herbs, berries and endangered species. Just before stepping out of the shot, I tried to adjust his collar that had his typical "I-just-slept-in-this-shirt" look. The uplink started and I held his water.

I was soon relieved by the actual hair & makeup person who look completely flustered that she was late and that someone else had to do the job. But it was a rush and something I'll never forget. Regardless of how one feels about Microsoft, it sure was something to be in the presence of someone that influential, well-known and powerful. Even if you're just trying to make his face less shiny.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Welcoming 2008

The Armstrongs hosted a lovely & intimate New Year's Eve last night with nibbles and games aplenty. With both the Wii and Xbox going in separate rooms, there was no shortage on diversions. The best part was the Rock Band Game that Scott had on the Xbox. Here's Scott rocking the drums: Our hosts made throwing an interactive party look so easy. They decorated and gave us all fun hats to wear. Ms. Jamie says she is feeling great and looks terrific. These two will be looking a bit more tired in 6 months when their baby arrives but for now, partying past midnight is no problem. Ken & I got to catch up and jam out with Darcie and Yosef. Here I think we're performing "Say It Ain't So" by Weezer. It's one of my favs that we also have on the home karaoke machine. Yosef reacts when he (and rest of us) realize that something's amiss with the Space Needle Fireworks... View of the fireworks once they got going via the Armstrong's *sweet* HD TV. Rocking out Faith No More's "Epic". A long Boston song to close out the evening with a little air-guitar performance for flair. Thanks to the Armstrongs and their guests for a fun and memorable evening.

Oliver (& Us): Transfixed

You probably think we are insane to encourage our cat to watch TV but I tell you, this Video Catnip DVD seems to capture Oliver's imagination like nothing else we've seen. (That is, if cats have an imagination) We decided to test his concentration. Impressive. He's getting to the point where he may well start pushing buttons on the receiver. They put a warning on the DVD that cats have jumped onto TVs or tried to get inside televisions looking for the stars of the video. So now I make sure to close the cabinet when we are not using it. We try to be responsible cat parents and limit his DVD watching to 15-20 minutes a day. But an odd side-effect of this DVD is that he will sit and watch our TV shows as well. He probably hopes to glimse a juicy bird or squirrel. But he must be kicking himself inside because up to now, he would just stare at us when we watched TV ignoring the magic movie box. To think what he was missing...