Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Signs of Doggy Intelligence

Bo just showed another glimmer of understanding. While Luke was distracted, Bo wandered over and picked up the stub of rawhide that Luke had been gnawing, and carried it under a desk to enjoy for himself. Luke, ready to get back to his rawhide began turning his head this way and that, trying to figure out where it had disappeared to. "Bo" I said, "did you steal Luke's bone?" Bo immediately got up, walked over to Luke and kind of pitched the bone so it landed at Luke's feet. It was probably just coincidence, but sometimes Bo acts like a really smart dog. Maybe he's just playing dumb so we don't catch on to his evil plan for world domination.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

To Be

I finished my last project on Thursday of last week. Friday I took the kids to Great America. It was great. I could enjoy the feeling of having nothing I had to do with no guilt because I've been justifying my existence on this planet and in this family by Earning. Monday was good too. I had errands to do. Lots of stuff I had to get done. Again I could justify my existence by Doing. Today I woke up with no work, no real plans, and my first instinct was to start scouring the job postings. I tried very hard to resist that urge, but failed. Then the draggy desperate feeling I got when I thought about applying for the jobs that I was qualified for set off an internal alarm system.

I started the summer off with this great sense of liberation. The world was my oyster. The kids were without camps, I was going to be out of work, Steve was between big projects. We would go places, be spontaneous, take a road trip. Then I got slammed with work. Since June 17th (my birthday) I have been wading through projects, feeling this vague sense of loss. Where did my oyster go? I promised myself I'd get to it when I was done with the last project. Now here I am at that point finally, and rather than take a deep breath and enjoy my freedom, my first instinct was to jump right back into the fray.

So here is what I'm NOT going to do. I am not going to apply for any jobs. I am not going to make any calls to drum up more work. Today, and for an indefinite amount of time, I am just going to be. I am going to enjoy what I have and what I am. What I have is a husband who will support me financially and emotionally in absolutely any crazy scheme I come up with, money-making or not. Steve is my single greatest asset. I have time too. Time to figure out what I want to do with myself, be it full-time mother to my kids, single greatest asset to my husband, blogger, biologist, or some other choice I haven't thought of yet. So this is me, stopping to just let life unfurl in front of me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Car Naming

Somewhere along the line I seem to have become somebody who names their cars. I never set out to name them all, but looking back, I realize that almost every one I have owned has had a name. Perhaps I was inspired by a friend who named her little red Chevy, Nanny Nova. My first car was a goose-shit green, four-door 1970 Chevrolet Malibu. My sisters and I each took a turn at driving it, and each of us hated it as much as the one before. We called it The Green Bomb. It had few redeeming features, unless you count the capacious back seat, which… saw some good times.

The Green Bomb was replaced by a little silver Honda CRX HF. It got amazing gas mileage and thrived on neglect. It was the first car I ever owned, and because my parents failed to educate me in the ways of car maintenance, I drove it into the ground. I think I serviced it once in the time I owned it. Because I always had bad dreams about werewolves, I named my CRX The Silver Bullet. Steve bought a CRX also, and after we moved up to the Bay area, it didn’t take long before we got tired of only having two-seater cars to transport our friends and family around in when they came to visit. The CRX was replaced with an Acura Integra with more seats, and apparently, less personality. Somehow the Acura never got a name.

Once I started doing field biology, I needed something I could drive off-road. Taking the Acura out on levees where it would bottom out and come back reeking of burning weeds wasn't a comfortable feeling, but it looked cool with a kayak strapped to the top. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to replace the Acura with until I saw the new Subaru Outback. What a great-looking car! It reminded me of the dirty little green cartoon SUV in the Chevron commercials with two bikes in a rack on top. Freddie 4-Wheeler was what it was called, and so that was what I called my Subaru. It was a great car for about eight years, but then, as my father would say, it began to show its whiskers. Subarus don't seem to hold together too well. Cup holders got shattered by the simple act of my children misstepping in the back seat. The front cup holders were positioned so that a sweating soda cup would drip right into the climate control knobs, which became sticky and quit working. The worst part of its aging was that the car developed a persistent oil leak that left it smoking from the hood at stop lights.

For my 40th birthday, we replaced the Subaru with a Volvo XC90. I really wanted that car, but had some major reservations. Gas mileage was number one. With predictions that gas prices would go up to $5 a gallon, I thought seriously about getting the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We liked the Highlander, but that third row of seats was tiny! Price was another factor. At over $40 thousand dollars, it seemed like a pretty extravagant expense. I tried to talk myself out of wanting the Volvo by doing a lot of reading online on car owner forums about the XC90. I hoped I'd find tons of people talking about what a crappy car it was for the money. Most owners really liked the car though, and the many glowing accounts about the safety of the Volvo, eased my doubts. One owner, however, recounted a horror story about a trip to Los Angeles when The Big Swede, as they had named their car, needed a major overhaul because its central computer had quit working. From that point on they called it The Scarecrow (as in, If I Only Had a Brain). Objections aside, we took the plunge and three years ago the new Volvo became mine. I told Steve we needed to come up with a name for the new car, lamenting that The Big Swede had already been used. Being and avid fan of cycling, Steve of course knew that this was the nickname of Magnus Backstedt, the professional cyclist who rides for the Garmin-Chipotle team. Now when we decide which car to take, it’s either the Audi (Steve doesn’t name his cars) or Magnus.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Garrett rattled off a couple of funnies when we were in San Diego:

Steve, after concluding one of many very long chats with my dad, went to check up on the boys to find them playing their Gameboys back in the bedroom. He proceeded to take them to task, saying "You two are back here being unsociable playing video games, Mom is being unsociable reading....." To which Garrett replied, "Yeah, and you are being unsociable talking with Grandpa!"

My dad took some video of Garrett playing piano and Weston playing guitar. Both boys did a very nice job, and the grandparents were suitably impressed. Later, my dad was in his office, editing the footage of Garrett playing piano, and Garrett and Weston were in the next room, again playing their Gameboys. Garrett, hearing the piano music on the computer snickered to Weston, "Whoever is playing the piano, really sucks!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dare Devil

On a happier note than my last post, I met my friend Meredith and her brood of five, plus her sister Tammy, at Great America today. Weston isn't much into rides so the plan was just to hang out at Boomerang Bay and do the water slides. After a few hours, Garrett starting hankering for some more thrills though. He had his eye on one of this boat, that swings like a pendulum, finally gaining enough momentum to hang upside down, then plummet to complete a full circle. His initial reaction to the ride was a maybe, but when his friend Kaylie said she'd ride it with him, he was all for it.

After lunch (smart to plan the ride where they hang upside down after lunch, right?) we headed over to the ride. There was pretty much no line, so they were immediately at the gate watching the thing spin, with nothing to do but get cold feet. And cold feet were exactly what Kaylie got. She spun on her heel and left Garrett where he stood. He went as far as to actually get on the ride by himself, thinking that she would follow, but when it became apparent that he was going to have to ride alone, his shoulders slumped and he got off, resigned to never experiencing the swing.

Undaunted, I called Tammy who was elsewhere in the park with Kaylie's older brother Joey. Joey, like Garrett, will ride anything. He was only too happy to join Garrett. Once again, there was no line, so in minutes Joey and Garrett were strapped in and ready to ride. Just as it was about to start up, Garrett looked as if he was about to fill his pants, but by the time he got off (and after hanging upside down for what seemed like an eternity to his poor mother below), he was screaming his usual post-ride "AWESOME!!!" Kaylie, on the other hand, poor one, looked as though someone had stuck a pin in her and let out all of the air. She really wanted to be the one hooting and hollering at the end of that ride with Garrett. Alas she, like Weston, has that handy adaptive trait called fear.

Goodbye to Randy Pausch

Cancer has claimed another victim. Professor Randy Pausch, who delivered the inspiring Last Lecture that shot to fame on YouTube, has died at the age of 47 of pancreatic cancer. My condolences to his family. Since I first heard about Randy and watched him on Oprah (a show I otherwise never watch), I have followed his fight on his blog. Hearing he had died was like a punch in the stomach. Cancer is a son of a bitch!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stupid is as Stupid Dogs

It is official. I have the dumbest dog in the world. Bo just randomly started barking like a complete maniac. What was he barking at?

My wall calendar that has had the same picture on it since July 1st (naturally). And just in case you don't think he was pissed that it was a picture of a dog, he became more agitated when we praised and petted the picture.

Updated to add:

Perhaps this is a manifestation of intelligence on Bo's part. This article suggests that dogs are actually able to interpret the contents of photographs like humans do. Bo is really a savant.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The View From My Window

Growing up in La Jolla we didn’t have a whole lot of space between houses, so my bedroom looked out into the Springhorn’s side yard. For some reason, I referred to Mr. Springhorn as “Big Puff Man”. My father, never one to miss a good opportunity to invent a nickname, called him Nebbish. His explanation of the term nebbish went as follows: If a pile of dog poop was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, a normal person would step over it or around it. A person of lesser intelligence would step in it. The nebbish? Well, the poop would fly up and hit him. I don’t recall anything about Mr. Springhorn other than the names we called him, so if we was indeed a nebbish, I was none the wiser. The Springhorns are long gone, their house now replaced with a multi-million dollar mansion which affords no view at all from my former bedroom window, save the looming side of this palatial estate.

The first apartment I lived in was home to a bunch of college students. I was roommates with my best friend Jenny. We have known each other since we were 14, but after living together, took a year-long, much-needed hiatus from speaking to each other. The group of neighbors in one wing of this complex got together regularly. We did our grocery shopping and hung out by the pool eating Popsicle Big Sticks and gossiping. Sort of like Melrose Place, without all of the promiscuity. My bedroom window looked out on the parking lot in which my poor little CRX HF got broken into multiple times, and gutted of its stereo system. On a more positive note, my neighbor, Matt serenaded me with You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling from the parking lot beneath this window (in a completely platonic way). This was the year that the movie Top Gun came out, and we lived about 2 miles from where it was filmed. One of my neighbors was my future husband, Steve.

About two years later, Steve and I flew up to northern California to look for a place to live. The company he worked for was relocated, and he asked me to move in with him. After a week of searching, we had had very little luck finding something affordable that was also in a neighborhood that lived up to our high standards. Running out of time, we finally found a little place with the coolest nautilus-shaped shower. The stall needed no door, and instead you circled back into the inner chambers to conduct your ablutions. The view from all of the windows was quite unremarkable, and did not indicate any cause for concern. Congratulating ourselves on our good luck, we paid our first month’s rent. Just as were signing the rental agreement, we heard the first train rattle by. Too late now, we shrugged, and finished off our signatures. Two months later, we had moved to a locale a bit more off the beaten tracks.

We lived with Steve’s parents for a while after we had Weston and before we bought our house. His parents have a huge old valley oak tree in front of their house, and our bedroom window looked out into the branches of that tree. At the time I was working on getting my Master’s degree in biology. One afternoon I was studying for my ecology class and reading about feeding guilds. According to the book I was studying, all of the species that feed on a plant in the same way are part of the same guild. This is not a totally easy concept to visualize, but as I looked out at that oak tree, it became totally clear. A flock of California quail could be seen pecking around the base of the tree in one guild. A nuthatch, and a bunch of chickadees feeding on insects gleaned from the bark belonged to another. The woodpecker drilling deep beneath the bark belonged to a third. I think I aced that question in the essay section of my exam.

I moved so many times between that first apartment and our current house, that by the time we owned our own little slice of San Jose, my personal belongings had been pared down to a few pieces of furniture, clothes, and the contents of one or two large boxes. When we first moved in our bedroom looked out on a Doughboy style pool surrounded by aggregate patio. Terrified that I would wake up one morning to find Weston floating face down in the pool, I insisted that we get rid of it. It wasn’t a very nice pool anyway. It was always filled with leaves from the overhanging trees. It wasn't heated either, so anything deeper than the first two inches was shrink-your-assets cold. So out the pool came, and after several years of trying to landscape the remaining hole, we finally put in a lawn and a nice interlocking paving stone patio. Now, eleven years later, we have come full circle. The summer of 2008 has been a hot one. Almost all of the kids in our neighborhood are a lot older than Garrett. Consequently though he loves to swim, he hardly gets invited to another house to do so. A couple of weekends ago, Steve and I went out and bought a small inflatable pool that holds about 180 gallons of water. The kids love it and spend hours wetting every available surface within 10 feet with their splashing. Including my bedroom window, which once again looks out on a pool.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off to So Cal!

I'm off to visit family in San Diego until Tuesday night of next week. I'm sure it will be a really nice, relaxing vacation, but I gotta tell you, the lead-up to it has been a sunnuvabitch! I've been doing laundry since about 7:00 this morning and have finally managed to pare down the piles in each of our four laundry baskets to a few things we never wear, and some dry clean only items. The dishwasher ran out of salts, our water purifying system needed fresh cartridges, and the vacuum cleaner broke in the middle of my feverish cleaning binge. These malfunctions necessitated multiple errands to various parts of Silicon Valley, along with trips to the bank, gas station, grocery store, blah, blah, blah, God I need a beer. Posting will be light until I return. Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crimes Agains the Human Foot

I consider shoes to be one of the finest additions to any wardrobe. It is difficult for a woman to have enough shoes because unlike men, we can’t get away with pairing almost any outfit with shoes in the following categories: formal brown, formal black, casual brown, casual black, and running shoe, with the occasional casual sandal thrown in. Women need casual and formal heels in a myriad of colors and hues, flats, sandals, thongs, etc. ad nauseam. With all of the shoes we have to keep on hand, the occasional fashion faux pas is nearly unavoidable. But some shoes are just so mind-jarringly ugly that they give me a headache and make me grumpy. They follow in no particular order:

The peep toe flat:

This shoe (and even peep toe heels sometimes), is guaranteed to make any outfit, no matter how cute, scream 80’s frump.


These things are God awful! Add those Jibbitz things to them, and they don’t improve. They look like they would make your feet smell nasty after about a half hour. I’ve heard they’re comfortable, but people, wear them to fetch the newspaper at the end of the driveway or out to garden. Think of them like pajamas. Comfortable for around the house, but don’t leave the house in them. And here’s another thing. Mothers, don’t put these on your little boys. Just don’t.


Spritz on a little patchouli and rat your hair into dreadlocks and maybe through on a gypsy skirt and your hippie look will be complete.

And these things:

How does any man plunk these on his feet and say to himself, “There. My look is complete.” They are guaranteed to highlight your worst features guys. White legs and toe hair! Step away from the clunky Velcro sandal.

Thank you for listening!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amazon Kindle for the Brain

Last night I came up with SUCH a funny Twitter post. The only problem was, it was in the middle of the night when I was half asleep. Of course by morning I had forgotten what it was. Can someone please come up with a wireless download system that will glean all of the fabulous blog content, ideas for the next great American novel, and witty comebacks to snarky remarks that develop in my brain at night, directly to my laptop? Thanks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

$1,419,507 Strong

Weston, Garrett and I just finished the LIVESTRONG Challenge 5K Run/Walk. Following on the heels of the fund raiser appreciation dinner last night, it has been an inspiring weekend. I'm going to keep it brief because I was too amped up to sleep much last night, then got up really early to send Steve off on his 100 mile ride this morning at 7:30. Highlights were:

* Dinner at the Fairmont at which Lance Armstrong was present (with his girlfriend Kate Hudson) and spoke at length. Totally wanted to stalk him, but restrained myself in favor of just staring a lot.

* Positioning ourselves in JUST the right spot so that when Lance rode onto the course Weston and Garrett were so close they could have reached out and touched him. Again, admirable restraint by all.

* Being a part of that HUGE group of participants, survivors, and volunteers from San Jose that helped to raise $1,410,507 to fight cancer.

* Crossing the finish line with Weston and Garrett.

I'm off to get showered, finish my laundry and grocery shopping, and then meet my man at the finish line!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Pain of Being Zookeeper to Stuffed Animals

I am evil. Or at least I feel like an evil person right now. About a month ago, Weston decided he was too old for stuffed animals and gave his enormous collection to Garrett. Nice, right? Yes, but Garrett already has an enormous collection of his own. For a week or so, Garrett's sleeping quarters were confined to a small sliver of his bed not already occupied by stuffed monkeys, lions, cats, bears, puffins, and unidentifiable puff-balls. The day before our cleaning lady was to arrive, I finally moved most of them to Garrett's closet. The mere suggestion that some of them should be donated to another child not so fortunate as him was enough to bring this otherwise stoic child to tears.

Fast forward to last weekend when an older (and more enterprising) boy across the street was having his semi-annual fleece-the-neighbor's-children sale. Garrett came in itching to turn over some of his hard-earned cash to this future Ron Popeil. My answer was that yes, he could buy a mini baseball bat, for a dollar, if and only if he gathered up 15 stuffed animals for donation to a worthy cause. Off Garrett went with fire in his eye and purpose in his step. A few moments later I began to hear sniffs and snuffles, and it was not long before he re-emerged with tears pooling on his lower lashes. He is now sitting resigned in front of the television, secure in the knowledge that his bears and cats are safe, but that the stewardship of this large collection of stuffed animals comes at at stiff price.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Skip to the Pooh My Darling

Since summer began we have instituted a program wherein the boys have to earn time on the computer by engaging in several hours of more productive time such as arts and crafts, music practice, reading, and outside time. They've been pretty good about keeping up with it, seemingly highly motivated by the opportunity to play hour after hour of Guild Wars.

The boys just got out of the new pool and then fulfilled a bit more of their outside time by taking the pooches for a walk. This resulted in a bit of an altercation because Garrett would not pick up a "nasty green pooh" delivered by Master Luke, on the excuse that he had no pooh bag (which was in his pocket). The rule is that you pick up the pooh of whichever dog is on the end of your leash. He insisted on taking Luke this time, so it was his to gather. I sent both boys back out to retrieve the turds, and apparently Weston laughed at Garrett's repeated attempts to collect the poorly constituted excrement and abandoned him part way through the process. Garrett returned in a rather ill humor, but my sympathetic attendance to his recounting of the whole affair along with a piano practice seems to have soothed him. He is currently plunking away at the piano and occasionally congratulating himself on a job well done.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

California Fires

It has been about a month since the fire season started here in California. I'm fortunate to live in San Jose where all we've had to deal with has been the occasional holocaust sunset and a couple of weeks of really crappy air quality. Many others have not been so fortunate. Lost property, evacuations, and vanished pets have been thrust upon them by these fires. On the radio, I heard a story about home owners that refused to evacuate. They were informed by officials that they could not be forced to leave, but they must provide the names of their next of kin and dental records to identify their bodies later. I have been checking in regularly at CalFire for updates on the fires closest to us, burning in the Los Padres National Forest. Looking for a satellite image of the smoke from the fire, I found this blog, which chronicles the efforts of the men and women on the front lines of the war on California's fires. From the latest blog post, it sounds as though resources are stretched to the limit. Take a minute to look at this site and you'll get an idea of just how big of a job these firefighters are up against. Best of luck to you guys!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Do Books Reflect Our Speaking Style?

Steve and I have a huge collection of books. So large, in fact, that our five bookshelves don’t hold it. Books litter all of the horizontal surfaces of our house, and this is AFTER we had a garage sale (I hate those things) and practically gave away all of the books that we weren’t ever planning to read again. It also doesn’t include the two shelves of books in the boys’ rooms. My criteria for getting rid of a book was whether I could remember any of the plot details without looking at the synopsis on the back or inside cover. If the answer was no (hello Oprah’s Vanilla-Flavored Plots Book Club) then the book went into the get-rid-of-it pile.

It recently occurred to me that the reason that we have so many books is that Steve and I have completely different taste in books. While I love books that are heavy on plot, Steve is much more into books that engage in a lot of what I refer to as navel-gazing. I recently read Ian McEwan’s ,A Child In Time, and while I enjoyed it, I found my self mentally fast-forwarding through a lot of parts in which the main character embarks upon esoteric mental journeys into some perhaps imagined past. “Whatever.”, I thought, “Just tell me what happens next. Does he find his daughter?” Steve loves Ian McEwan, and Kazuo Ishiguro. He is as much enchanted by the linguistic style, as he is by the story. I loved The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Steve recently picked it up, and as much as he wanted to love it, just didn’t. If we had a more similar taste in books, I’m guessing our book cases would be less stuffed.

I think our reading styles are reflected in our speaking styles. When I tell as story, I leave out extraneous and sometime even necessary detail, and stick to the meat of the point I’m trying to get across. Steve’s speaking style is a tad more, (erm….) loquacious. When he tells a story, no detail is left untold, and he has yet to meet a subreference (or even sub subreference) that he didn’t feel would enhance his story by its in-depth exploration. If speaking style does in fact reflect reading style, I wonder how never reading for pleasure, as is fairly common in our television oriented society, is reflected in speech?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Cost of Doing Business

About a year ago, the company that I had been working as an independent contractor for four years, picked up and moved offices from 1/2 mile from me to 60 miles away. This was supposed to be a central location for all of us who worked for the company from all over the Bay Area, but it just ended up being far away from everybody rather than just a few of us.

To add insult to injury, at the beginning of the year I was told that in order to continue to work with the company I had to hire on at an hourly rate that was a full $10.50 lower than my former rate. Dedicated employees were expected to make somewhat regular visits to the office (ie. at least once a week), oh and there will be no guarantee of regular hours because salaried employees get first crack.

Enter skyrocketing gas prices and you get the following sickening scenario:

Volvo XC90 (yup, probably should have gone with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid): 17 mpg average
Trip to the office: 121 miles round trip
Price of Gas: We'll go with about $4.60/gallon
Two Hours of unpaid time: 'bout $75

121 miles/17 mpg is about 7 gallons of gas. Factor in a gas price of $4.60 and I've spent about $35 in gas. Add on the $75 of unproductive time and it has now cost me a cool $100 to $110 to get to and from the office.

Now let's look at how much I make while I work. Typically I work from 7:30 until 1:30 to ensure that I miss traffic and get back in time to pick Garrett up by 3:00. At the end of the day I take home a mere $182.50. Subtract the worse case scenario of $110 in cost to me? $72.50. And that is before taxes. After I figure in taxes and wear and tear on my car, poof! I just paid money to walk out the door and have a shitty, stressful day in the office.

Will I be driving up to the office anymore? I'm gonna have to say a big "HELL NO" on that one.

Total Hands-Free Driving

As of July 1, 2008, all Californians have to use a hands-free headset while driving a car. About two weeks ago, I went out and bought a traditional headset with a cord that plugs into the phone and a microphone about midway down the cord. Steve recommended this over a wireless headset because it would never require charging. The first time I got in the car with it, the wires got wrapped around the seat belt, yanking the ear buds out when I went to strap myself in, I felt entangled in wires, and plugging and clipping all that stuff made me a little nutty every time I got in and out of the car. I quickly decided to spend a little birthday money to get a wireless headset, and that has proved to be an easier solution. With due credit to Steve, I keep the more traditional headset in my car as a backup for the times when I will find myself in need of answering a call in my car, and my wireless is out of juice.

This new law has ushered in a new and perplexing era for the Luddites of our fair state. The high tech and marketing folks have been operating their wireless headsets with ease for years now, but the rest of us are trying to catch up. On Tuesday morning, I hung up on a co-worker, not once but twice, because there is a slight delay which causes the phone to keep ringing after the headset has made the connection, but not yet activated the call. This caused me to hit the call activate button a second time, connecting me and almost immediately disconnecting me from my caller. Apologies were necessary. Others must be having this same problem, because in the grocery store parking lot I saw a man repeatedly trying to connect a call on his cell phone, finally surrendering the phone, along with an extravagant eye-roll, to his more-competent wife.

A friend told me about her mother (an older lady) attempting to work out the kinks on her wireless headset. Unaware that the headset could be powered down when she wanted to use her phone's microphone to talk, her mother called Meredith five or six times in rapid succession, moving a little farther away each time until she was out of range of her headset. Of course the headset was in a different room, so she couldn't hear her daughter yelling at her to knock off all the damn phone calls.

Steve and I got to wondering, early on in an hour-long drive to his parent's house, what other devices would be necessary to ensure that we never drive distracted. We came up with a few:

Hands-free sandwich/hamburger/burrito eating device
Remote activated fighting sibling smacker
Hands-free baby bottle deliverer and screaming baby soother
No-hands needed lipstick and eyeliner applicator
Automatic newspaper and map read aloud device (although to be fair these already exist in the form of your car radio, and GPS unit, but people still try to read newspapers, books, and maps while driving)

All of this talk of sandwiches and burritos is making me hungry. Any other ideas on hands-free devices for the car?

Friday, July 04, 2008


Previous posts not withstanding, I am a huge fan of Lance Armstrong, so I was delighted and very proud of Steve when he decided that this year he would participate in the LIVESTRONG Challenge. With the help of friends and family, Steve has raised $3,395 so far and has put in 394.5 miles (not that he's keeping records, of course) on his bike in training.

Last night after dinner, Steve and I were talking about where we could see him off for his ride so we could be there to cheer him on. Then he mentioned that there was also a 5K run/walk in downtown San Jose that is also part of the LIVESTRONG Challenge. Sounded intriguing to me, so now Garrett, Weston, and I have all registered to participate in the run/walk, effectively raising another $150 to fight cancer. I am dedicating my run/walk (probably more walk than run) to my grandmother Virginia Dawson, to died much too early from pancreatic cancer. If you decide that you would like to sponsor my run/walk, you can access my personal page here.

Edited to add: I should also note that my own too-close-for-comfort brush with cancer also motivated me to take up this cause. You can read about that here and here and here. You just never know how close to home this bastard of a disease will strike. We all like to think of cancer as a disease that doesn't happen to us or our immediate family members. To think this way is a perfectly healthy and acceptable coping mechanism. I can tell you though, that when that mechanism gets taken away, it sucks. Really. Really. Sucks. Stay healthy all!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Toenail Fairy

Sometimes the best parenting advice can come from the strangest places. Take this idea, which came from a friend of mine, whose life was at the opposite side of the spectrum from Dad. He was more fervently in search of Miss Flavor of The Week zone of the spectrum. (Sorry Tom, if you read this. I calls 'em as I sees 'em). When Weston was about three-years-old, his big toe got shut in the car door in a very unfortunate accident. Within a week or so, it became clear from the blackened appearance of the nail, that it was going to fall off. The nail took its own sweet time singing its swan song, but there came the fateful day when, hanging by a minuscule thread of skin, that puppy was about to go. Weston was very alarmed by this, particularly since it appeared that a little surgical intervention (via some nail scissors) was going to be required to dispense with the dangling, blackened mess. As luck would have it, we were armed with my bachelor friend's suggestion: the Toenail Fairy. Weston was too young to care about money, so instead of bringing money, we promised him that the Toenail Fairy brought LEGOs. Goodbye anxiety, hello anticipation!

Some years later we trotted out the Fingernail Fairy when Garrett's finger got shut in a door and he subsequently developed an infection (yes, let's all just dwell on that for a moment) under his nail bed. By some miracle, he managed to keep the fingernail despite the large amount of La Jolla Shores Beach sand that became lodged underneath during our vacation in San Diego. He was so sad about not getting LEGOs from the Fingernail Fairy, that we took pity on him and allowed him to put a trimming from the injured nail under his pillow once it became clear that the nail was staying put. There should be a designated fairy for every body part one might lose!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Glory Hole-aluja!

I very recently came across the slang term glory hole on Twitter, and of course had to satisfy my curiosity by looking it up on Urban Dictionary. Imagine my amusement when, having been invited to go house boating for a weekend with a friend at Lake New Melones, we drove by the following sign on our way there:
I believe this must be where Senator Larry Craig vacations. I picture long lines of furtive looking men, waiting to get into the next of row upon row of bathrooms. Nearby there was the Glory Hole Shopping Center which featured Glory Hole Sports. Residents of this area must do a lot of eye-rolling each time some wag thinks he is the first individual, hip enough to make all of those great glory hole puns. New Melones being in the heart of gold country, I think it is safe to assume this area is named after a mining term, but still, the puns are difficult not to make.