Friday, June 30, 2006

Winging it

Kind of a strange week for me. Despite being on vacation, I discovered that I feel better if I get to the gym at 5:30 am than if I sleep in and get there at 9:00 am. Um, why am I getting up so early during my summer vacation? I've turned into a morning person as well as a night person? Sleep is for the weak! But...but...I like to sleep. Gah!

I'm at the airport, waiting to board a plane for Vancouver. I've gathered peanut M&Ms, water, and sudoku puzzles. Ready to go! (Especially since there is some right-wing whack job on the TV.) Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Global, Local

We had a very pleasant weekend, including seeing two movies. The first was "An Inconvenient Truth", which was very well constructed. Not that I need to be convinced about global warming, but I thought Gore presented the scientific reasoning in a very clear fashion. Great graphs - I need some of those graphs. I am such a geek. We also saw an IMAX film, "Roving Mars". It was nicely done, but I found some of the mix of computer graphics and real images bothersome. For example, often when the rovers are shown roving on Mars, the devices are moving against real images that they have sent back to Earth. The blend is wonderfully done, but I wonder if the audience misses out on what is real and what isn't? As a scientist and educator, I find myself being concerned about such things. And I wanted more images of Mars!

We are lucky to have an IMAX theater in our neighborhood, but it's in a very busy mall. Yesterday the mall was even more annoying than usual, with a beauty pageant for little girls occurring in the food court. Yes, six-year old girls wearing bikinis, parading in front of strangers, learning that their self-worth is totally dependent on their body image. Good job, parents!

Speaking of the neighborhood, Greg has mentioned our concern for First Person Shooter, the man who's always playing computer games at our Starbucks. Recently he's been there at all times of day and night, obviously without leaving, and we had grown convinced that he was living out of his truck. That's never easy, but 110 degree weather makes it even worse. We haven't seen him for a few days, and we've found that we're kinda worried for him. We're also worried for Preacher Dude, He's a pastor near the university, and for ages he's been at Starbucks in the morning writing his sermons and chatting with everyone. He's the kind of man who will let you know you're welcome to show up for Christmas Eve services, but doesn't attempt to preach to you. He was gone for quite awhile, and we had assumed he was off on one of his frequent trips, but he came back this week painfully thin and obviously ill - cancer. If you have time, beam healing thoughts towards Preacher Dude; he'd do the same for you.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Seven Songs

According to my most beloved Kirsten, I am to list seven songs I am currently enjoying. Feel free to play along if you like. I decided to look at my "Top 25 Most Played" on iTunes to help me out. Wow, um, maybe I should listen to something other than NIN sometimes? Nah. All of the following are by NIN:

  • "The Perfect Drug" - Lost Highway soundtrack - A good song, with a beautiful video featuring Trent Reznor with his most Morpheus-like look.
  • "Beside You in Time" - With Teeth - The pulsating rhythm of this song really gets under my skin.
  • "Eraser" - The Downward Spiral - I've been listening to this a lot in traffic recently, over and over again. This does not bode well for other people on the road.
  • "Eraser (Denial: Realization) - Further Down the Spiral - Rumor has it that Fight Club was written while listening to this album. Mmm....Fight Club...
  • "March of the Pigs" - And All that Could Have Been - This live track takes me right back to the concert experience. This song is at its best performed live.
  • "Last" - Broken - "This isn't meant to last. This is for right now."
  • "Leaving Hope" - Still - You've likely never heard this album, but this is Trent's finest work. This song features delicate, sorrowful piano playing. I don't know if I so much enjoy this song, but rather that this is the song that most affects me.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tell me where to go

I want to plan another trip during this summer vacation of mine. I just haven't decided where to go yet. There's also the additional snag of work obligations, so the trip will most likely have to be short pending meeting schedules. Here are some of my ideas so far:

  • Convince Greg to quit his job and take a long trip with me. (My favorite idea by the way)
  • Drive to the Central or Lost Coast of California. Can't do that often enough.
  • Find a nice spot on the Atlantic Coast to visit, as I've never seen the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Go back to D.C. and hit all of the museums that I didn't get to in January. (And go back to some I did see. Meteorites! Spaceships!)
  • I've never been to Boston, and I could go see a game at Fenway.

Any ideas? Suggestions?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The NBA season is over, and now begins the emptiness that will last until September 7th. I didn't particular care about or for either Dallas or Miami. What peeved me more was the choice of Tom Petty for the Finals music. Tom Petty? I've nothing against Tom Petty, but when I think basketball, Tom Petty does not immediately spring to mind. (Alonzo Mourning is a stunningly gorgeous man, by the way.)

I was subjected to another peeve of mine today. I was in a public restroom, watching yet another neurotic person wash their hands and then try not to touch anything on the way out. Really, people, because most do wash their hands, the inner doorknob has less germs than the outer doorknob. Anyway, this person was so obsessed with not touching any fixtures with her clean hands that she gave up trying to turn off the water. Yup, that's right, she left the water running rather than touch the faucet. Guess that's okay, we have so much water here in the desert after all.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Family Matters

Happy Father's Day to all fathers out there, especially my friends who became new fathers this year - Brian, Randy, and the latest, Jon!

I just returned from a weekend in Sacramento. I was there to visit the family and attend my niece Ashley's graduation from UC Davis. Congrats to the Spoiled Princess! I also met my great-nephew Hunter (my niece Renee's son). He's just adorable. I had so much fun with him. And as with any family gathering, much food was eaten. I'm sorry that I forgot my camera, because I think you won't believe how much food there was at the graduation party without evidence. Oof. My brother, mother, and I helped my sister with party preparation - I spent an hour shredding pork for pulled pork and carnitas. Whoa.

This was my first time flying to Sacramento, and it was lovely from the air: rivers, farmland, flooded rice paddies, flocks of herons. I do miss Northern California. I kinda miss my family, too. As it was Father's Day, I went to visit my father's grave. He's buried in the cemetary next to the old drive-in theater he used to take us to. I remember watching Star Wars out the back window while my parents were watching something lame on the front screen. And yes, I was wearing PJs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wish fulfillment

Everybody wish Charly an amazing summer - he's at MIT for a summer research program, and it sounds like he's already having fun. Go Charly!

Did you know that Whole Foods will let you try samples of chocolate? I jokingly mentioned at the cheese counter that they should have out samples of the chocolate like they do of the cheese, and the cheese dude said that they keep some bits of the chocolate behind the counter and that they'd break open any chocolate I wanted to taste. I thanked him, backed away slowly, and have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity. What an opportunity!

I had a strange dream, in which I found an audio clip of Trent Reznor singing the theme from "Firefly". I'm sure that falls under "wish fulfillment fantasy", but I'm not sure how.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Big Thoughts

There was a news story this week about Wendy's renaming their "Biggie" and "Great Biggie" sizes because the names confused the customers. So "Great Biggie" will now be "large" and "Biggie" will be called "medium". The previous "medium" will now be the "small", and they have eliminated what was once their "small" option. The portion sizes aren't changing, just the names. This reminded me of my attempts to get small sodas on my road trip. I like the caffeine, sugar, and ease of use of fountain soda while I'm driving. However, I don't want half a gallon of soda. I always get the smallest size, but depending on the gas station/convenience store, this smallest size varies greatly. Two years ago, on my first long solo road trip, I was able to get 16 oz. Last year, those were harder to find, and in many cases even when I could find the cups, the stores were no longer stocking the lids. I found myself using coffee lids frequently. This year, I didn't find a single 16 oz option, located few 20 oz (in once case, the store had permanently blocked the bin for these cups) and usually found myself just not filling up a 24 oz cup all the way. At one store, the clerk took a long time ringing me up, because he'd never had to use the code for the smallest soda size before.

I never did give into my craving for Fritos (only three ingredients - corn, oil, salt), because the small bags I found contained four servings.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Just look

No words necessary - NGC 5866, from Hubble

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Road Notes

You know that jerk on the road who rides right up on your tail til you have to move over and let them pass? And then you see them do that to other people? You know how you bemoan the fact that there is no police officer around and once, just once, you'd like to see the jerk get caught? Last Tuesday, near the New Mexico/Colorado border, I finally saw the jerk get pulled over. Yay!

I was at a convenience store on the outskirts of Pueblo and the dude in front of me asked for a case of bacon. The clerk brought a case of bacon out of the storeroom for him.

While playing in the snow at Rocky Mountain National Park, a toddler was singing "Jingle Bells". Well, it did look a lot like Christmas.

On the way back home, between Flagstaff and Phoenix, my little two-year old grey Honda Civic passed the 45,000 mile mark. The car averaged 40 mpg on this trip, maxing out at 48 mpg the day up in Rocky Mountain National Park - gotta love coasting with gravity! I would also like to give heartfelt thanks, from me and a family of deer, to the brakes on the car.

In case you're not yet convinced to run out and visit your National Parks, here's an image of what the parks protect and preserve. (I always come back from these trips wanting to be a ranger when I grow up.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Now I get it

Look, it's the Colorado Colorado! (This really amuses me.)

Tonight found me in Santa Fe. New Mexican food, fancy hotel, bubble bath and a fluffy robe - gosh, I love this town. But I'm ready to head home.