Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It Sucked and then I Cried

I got a new book yesterday and read half of it already, "It Sucked and then I Cried--How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita" by Heather Armstrong, a prolific blogger of http://www.dooce.com/. Her writing style appeals to me and I can relate to her life experiences, she would be the writer and blogger I would aspire to be if I aspired to be those things. I recommend the book and her blog for genuine entertainment.

New Topic: Occasionally I check in on the statistics for my web site and noticed someone from Bucharest, Romania had looked at my blog. I wondered how that person found me so I drilled down and saw that they were searching for "Free Tribabe Movies" and "Hot Tribabe". They must have been deeply disappointed with the Oregon Coast photo spread. I can't make friends with everybody!

New Topic: I wanted to give the university perspective on federal stimulus package(s): it's a big deal to research institutions. Our faculty are going crazy trying to secure some of this federal money that is being added to the budgets at NIH and NSF. I spoke with a friend this weekend who does water planning permits and they are getting swamped with permit requests for "shovel ready" federal stimulus projects. I am not commenting either way on whether or not this is a good long term solution, I'm just sharing what I am starting to see around me.

Last Topic: I've had a low grade headache (from allergies I think) and have only been sporadically sleeping, waking up at 3:30 am or not being able to sleep until after midnight. This makes me grouchy and for this, I must apologize because I know people would rather see free tribabe videos than grouchy, aging, and complaining tribabe. Sorry!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oregon Coast in March

We were dog sitting our friend Milo this weekend so a short trip to the coast to wear the dogs out and to clear out my sinuses was in order on Friday afternoon. We were fortunate in that it was not windy or too cold, here is what the coast looks like in March...

Not exactly swimming temperatures but it rarely is on the Oregon coast but it was a nice day trip. We did some screen printing this weekend since the first triathlon of the season is coming up next weekend and I will be back to doing event sales. I'm anxious to see how the economy impacts sales, I decided to not build up a bunch of inventory this year in case things don't go well. I'm not looking forward to getting up before 5am next Saturday, even though the event is here in Corvallis, we are helping with registration so we'll have to setup my booth before registration starts.

BTW, I made a total a@@ out of myself while swimming today. I arrived a few minutes late and all of the lanes were full except for a few that had 2 swimmers. The lane I typically swim in had 3 swimmers so I made my way across the pool and jumped in with some folks I don't normally swim with. I learned the hard way that the lines in the pool are not in the same place across the lanes, it's an old pool and they when built it they didn't have lane dividers. Anyway, we're doing breast stroke and I push off with all my might and hear a bit of a boom from someone kicking over my head. I was thinking, what was that?! when I popped up and found I was in the next lane over. That's right, I pushed off and ended up in the wrong lane.

I so impressed my new lane mates that they decided they were just going to watch me to see what I would do next. :-( Dork!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just say no to hippie cures

I started getting a nasty headache last night which continued throughout the day today. I think it's allergies since things are starting to bloom around here. It turns out that my dog wasn't feeling well today either, when we woke up we heard an unnatural noise coming from his stomach. So the dog and I slept in and laid on the couch all day. Bill made BLTs for lunch, bacon is the one thing the dog will eat no matter what, and we've found that once he eats something, he gets better.

My head hurt so bad I couldn't read or watch TV which got boring after laying still for 4 hours. I managed to surf the web for a while and came across this silly web site http://icanhascheezburger.com which had me laughing so hard I was crying. Here are some of my favorites:

After spending my valuable time surfing the web, I decided I was well enough for Bill to drive me to the natural foods co-op so I could buy a neti pot. You put salt water in the pot and run water through your nose to clean your nasal canal. I'm so plugged up the water just ran down my throat and choked me. So the hippie cure failed me. I'll try it again when my sinuses aren't the size of apples. My Dr. cleared me to take Sudafed but said not to take it until tomorrow because it would disrupt sleep. I really hope it works because I'm afraid of what I will do if I can't work tomorrow. Funny web sites about cows?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Angry Gardner

I couldn't help but notice while looking out my window day after day, that no one had done any weeding, pruning, or mowing in our backyard in several months. It was last fall to be exact, so that made us a good 4 months behind on yard work. Oops. Being the determined type, I set out to prune all of the tall, dead, climbing things that inhabit our yard before they started growing again in epic proportions. Which led me to a revelation, I am an angry gardener. Where most find the work therapeutic and relaxing, I find my temper growing as the wheel barrow fills higher and higher with anger bi-products.

I was in such an angry state after an hour of work that I decided we were ripping out several plants and starting over. Perhaps gardening is not a preferred hobby for me?

Something else that makes me angry: the month of March.

It's not the rain, because spring means that summer is right around the corner.
It's not that everyone has evacuated town for spring break while I remain behind at work, I love an empty office and empty parking lots.
It's one thing and one thing only about March that makes me angry and it's two words that I hate to hear: March Madness.

My husband drives me nuts over college basketball. I basically lose his interest and company for the month of March. If that wasn't bad enough to lose your best friend to the t.v., he still holds the delusion that I will enjoy watching basketball if I would just give it a chance. Uh, NOOOOO. Rather than list all the things I can't stand about over-hyped college sports, I will list the one thing I like about college basketball: Gonzaga. Because I'm from Spokane and because it's the only time that a team of predominately white young men from a private university are considered underdogs.

Have you had enough of my bad attitude? I do have one good thing to say, we saw the movie "I Love You Man" and it was pretty funny despite the crass humor. I will stay away from gardening for a while until my head clears, otherwise, there will be nothing left of the back yard.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to win friends and influence people with sushi

A former roommate showed me how to roll sushi and whenever I want to impress someone, I invite them over for sushi. They are often highly impressed and think I am smart and fabulous because sushi in a restaurant is very expensive and you can pig out like a rich person if you make it at home. I am a mere simpleton, so here is how a simpleton makes sushi at home (aka the California roll or sushi without fish).

The primary ingredient in sushi is sushi rice, and you must purchase high quality sushi rice and cook it according to instructions (less water). Minute Rice will not suffice! Repeat in your Johnny Cochran voice, "Minute Rice will not suffice!" Very good. OK, sushi rice should be very sticky and needs to be refrigerated before rolling. You cannot work with warm rice. Sorry! Season sushi rice with a sugar and rice vinegar. Go searching for recipes if you would like specifics. :)

Next you chop veggies into thin strips, this is the hardest part. Avocado, carrots, and cucumber are my favorite for California rolls. You will need seaweed paper called nori paper, wasabi, low salt soy sauce, and pickled ginger. If you have never made sushi at home before, you will need to buy these items, however, once you have them in your pantry, you will only need to buy fresh veggies to roll your own.

I have purchased a special sushi making contraption called a "Maki Sushi Ki" that allows you to place rice on the nori paper, smush it down and then place veggies in a little trough. I put ginger in my roll on top of the veggies, some people also put a thin strip of wasabi inside. I save my wasabi for the soy sauce because I put too much in once and you don't make that mistake twice.
After you fill with goodies, you top with more rice and with my contraption, you smush it all together and then nicely wrap the paper around.
This is easier than rolling the sushi, however it does come out in a square shape instead of a round shape.
A little bit of water on your fingers will seal the paper. Next you slice into bite size pieces and start eating! I place a dab of spicy wasabi (purchased pre-made in a tube) into soy sauce and start dipping. 9 pieces of California roll have 281 calories. It makes a great appetizer or pig out on multiple rolls for a filling dinner.

You can add smoked salmon or crab if you would like to add some protein to your California roll. The only problem with trying this is you might become addicted and want to eat it every day. Burbing wasabi and seaweed paper might lose you some friends so be careful your plans don't backfire. Literally!

All I hear is ducks

When the hubby and I take our evening walk, it often sounds like ducks are following us but that is not what this post is about. I have a new co-worker, she just moved to our small town from the big city and I asked her transition here was going. She said her husband wasn't here yet, he was still back in the city and the last time they spoke he could barely hear her because a police helicopter was circling overhead and making a huge ruckus. She replied back to him, "All I hear now is ducks."

It's true, here in the Willamette Valley, we get a ton of migrating birds from fall through spring. The skies are full of flocks of birds. The only time we hear a helicopter is if the ROTC is doing something in our area which happens only a few times a year. It's quiet here, you either like the sound of birds, or you don't. I remember sitting in a cafe once listening to a woman complain about the damn birds outside her bedroom window. I thought she was a bitter old biscuit and I hoped the birds were the early type.

Occasionally, I question myself and wonder if I am holding myself back by staying in a small town. Surely I would have more career opportunities in the city and would be surrounded by more dynamic people. Right now, that isn't a priority to me, so here I will stay, listening to the ducks, and being grateful there isn't a police helicopter within 100 miles of me. I lived for a short time in Las Vegas and was awoken once by a police helicopter chasing someone on foot. I definitely prefer waking up to the sound of birds.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weekend in Seattle

Girlfriends at the Pike Place Market

I took a quick trip up to Seattle this weekend to celebrate Sunny's birthday with our friend Heather. We left early Saturday morning and were greeted with gusting wind, temps in the low 40s, and rain. It quickly brought back to me what living in Seattle is like! A beautiful city but you have to make the most of it when it's gray outside.

Erika, Sunny, and Heather at Monaco Hotel

In addition to the nasty weather, we drove into the back of the St Patrick's day parade in downtown Seattle when we arrived so we spent our first hour in the city trying to get to our hotel so we could ditch the car which was going nowhere fast. Our first pitstop was Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom's started in Seattle so along with a trip to the original Starbuck's and Pike Place Market, Nordstrom is another Seattle original. After shopping, I took a short nap while the girl's went out for a cocktail, then we got ready for the evening and went out to dinner at the Steelhead Diner.

Flowers at Pike Place Market

We drove north to the U-district (UW) and saw a comedy show which was hilarious but the club was rank, dank, and stank. We had to class it up after that so we went out to a wine bar after called "Purple" and wrapped up an enjoyable evening.

The view from West Seattle

Sunday morning we had some glimpses of the sun and we hit Pike Place Market for some warm mac-n-cheese from a cheese shop. Then we shopped some more and ended up going to REI which was epically large. I drove the ladies over to West Seattle for lunch and sightseeing and we ended the trip at "Cupcake Royale" and I have to say I'm glad that place wasn't there when I lived there because I would have been FAT. I used to live only 2 blocks from where the cupcake place now sits. Danger Will Robinson.

Become a foodie at the market

The drive home sucked, it was gusting wind and raining but the weekend was great despite the stupid weather. I think we'll head back in the summer so we can really enjoy the city. I was on strict orders from Bill to buy Sunny a shot of Jaegermeister but none of the high-end bars we went to served it. He'll have to take her somewhere local for that experience, I'll watch thanks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

That time at Ironman Cananda

I love a good conversation and I actually don't get along very well with people who can't hold up their end of a good long talk but... have you ever been cornered by a real yapper and sat there in silent horror while the person talk talk talk talk talk talk talked until you wanted to run for your life? That's actually a good reason to become a runner if you think about it.

Anyway, my wonderful husband has a mild case of yapping that I find genuinely comical and just a little annoying. He can be a great listener but if he gets going on something he's passionate about, like sustainability or triathlon, he won't stop. Ever. I now interrupt him mid-sentence and say, "Honey, you are yapping" which eventually leads to him slowing down.

Sound brutal? Well you haven't heard about that time at Ironman Canada! I have! Many, many, many times. If you know my husband, I dare you to ask him about it.

My husband's mother (the mother of 4 boys) is the most patient listener on the planet. We were at lunch somewhere with Bill's large family and Bill was loudly telling his mom about that time at Ironman Canada when someone put tacks on the road and he had to ride for 20 miles on two flat tires until tech support caught up with him because there were so many people with flat tires that day and it was over 100 degrees outside which was the hottest year ever in the history of the event and... you can see how this would go on and on. I am sure pretty sure he has told his mom that story many times before and you know she loves him because she'll listen to him tell it every time.

It is now a big joke in our house, when one of us says "that time at Ironman Canada..." because it represents that we need to laugh at ourselves and each other and we like laughing at each other.

I am sharing this story because I think everybody gets to yapping at some point and has a hard time stopping (like me, right now) and it is a great skill to have to know when to wrap up a good story, smile, and take your turn listening.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Like, OMG!

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in "Legally Blond"

I caught the elevator to my office the other day and noticed a young woman in a low cut, tight fitting pink sweater pushing a hand cart full of files struggling to get onto the elevator. I held the door for her and she said, "Thanks, oh my God, this is like, SO heavy!" I thought, oh she has no idea. I know, from like, my own personal experience, which was like, totally a bummer. I can vividly remember pushing reems of copy paper I had just bought at the office supply store back when I was 20. I had on a short skirt and could barely maneuver the cart in my high heels.

I have been working since I was 17 and all throughout my twenties I was frustrated that people didn't take me seriously. One of the primary responsibilities of one of my early jobs was to run "mail merge" in Microsoft Word because no one else in the office knew how to do it. I wrote instructions on it and trained everyone but they still relied on me. Despite the fact that I proved I had special knowledge and aptitude, I was still treated like a receptionist who files her nails to pass the time. By the way, I file my nails about once a year and never at work!

This continued until I hit my 30s and after a few more years of struggling, I am finally to a place where people listen to and respect me. Part of the problem was me. I acted my age. I drug my feet when I walked, dressed like I just walked out of the mall, and spoke like a teenager. Why would anyone respect me, I didn't really deserve it.

Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick in "Election"

Now I am asked to facilitate meetings and serve on committees and I finally feel respected for the contributions I bring to the workplace. What changed? First of all, I dress appropriately, this is important and people want to deny this fact but how you dress affects the way people view you. I don't wear tight pink sweaters that are low cut because that would be ridiculous. This isn't 1952 and I'm not looking for a husband. I also speak clearly and think first about what other people want rather than strictly about what I want. This comes through to people and they feel respected by me first, which allows them to easily respect me back.

It has taken 20 years of mistakes to get this far and I don't want a re-do on my life but I could have done without a few experiences, like getting sexually harassed.

There are a few young women in my office who started out as student workers but have worked themselves into full time positions making a decent amount of money while their peers are still living with their parents and trying to find a job. The difference is simple, they showed up for work as a student, behaved in a professional manner and proved themselves necessary and it worked. They are starting their careers early in a tough job market. I can tell you that they are rare, I have tried to hire many student workers and 95% of them were small disasters. I probably would have been one at that age too. I have been giving career advice to one of the young worker friends and I can tell you one thing, I don't have to advise her on how to speak or dress, she's already got that down. Where was my mentor 20 years ago?!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Swim for Health 2009

For the past several months I have been working on a fund raising event for a fund my swim coach started that funds research on healthy aging. We didn't have any money to donate to the fund when he started it a few years ago but we wanted to contribute to it once Bill started working and ultimately I came up with the idea to have a swim fund raiser.

To be honest, it was more work than I thought it would be but the entire experience was so rewarding that I would do it all again tomorrow. The event consisted of a 1/2 hour relay swim with teams of 4 or 6 that swam 25 yard increments and volunteers counting the # of lengths the team completed. Our team, the Slacker Triathletes, won the 4 person team division by swimming 110 lengths total. We threw in some butterfly for fun and some of my teammates convinced a volunteer to bring some cookies over so we had snacks in between swimming lengths.

The six person team swim ended in a tie so they had a swim off where each members swam 25 and one team out-edged the other by less than 1 second. It was fun to watch and even some of the student volunteers said they wanted to get a team together for next year.

The event ended with 100 free, back, breast, fly, and IM. I convinced Bill and our friend Gayle to swim all of the events. They both had red faces by the time they were done, coach gave them almost no rest in between events! We might have to call that the Ironman division next year. Bill did PR his 100 free time swimming it in 0:58. Very impressive for an old jock like him who still doesn't train no matter what his wife thinks about it.

I'm really looking forward to next year, when hopefully, we will have more people to coordinate. I handled registration and only got in a 50 yard warm up before the event started so organizing and participating was a little stressful. But fun! You can see more photos at: http://tribabe.smugmug.com/gallery/7563636_f2o2q#P-1-15

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Productivity just came to a standstill

Received this interoffice email...

I found a new recipe for bread pudding and brought in the results today, come over and sample some. If you are on a diet, you won't want to sample it as it contains 2 dozen glazed donuts and is topped with a sugar glaze.

OMG. Anyone who eats it will go into a sugar coma by noon and anyone who refrains will be struggling all day to not rush over and stick their face into it. I'm going to have to eat lunch at 10 am so I don't end up with bread pudding all over myself and my clothing. No one will get anything done today as a result of this new recipe. Stop thinking about it before you go make it yourself!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Popsicle toes

This is a daily sight in our house, we actually set up the step ladder next to the heater so the cat can warm herself. This was her idea, if the ladder is leaning against the wall and collapsed, she will try to climb on it or meow at you when you walk by so you will set it up for her. She pays me back by sleeping on my feet at night and keeping my toes warm.

Speaking of warm toes, last night we got in bed and I took my socks off and proceeded to snuggle my feet next to my warm husband. He said, "AH! What the heck did you take your socks off for? Your feet are freezing!" Well yes, my feet were cold which is why I was putting them on his warm body. It made total sense to me and no sense at all to him. Where was the cat when I needed her?

Speaking of interesting responses from my husband, I met my friend last night to aqua jog and Bill did something I'm not too sure about. My friend is 7 months pregnant and perched on the edge of the pool in her swimming suit when Bill comes straight at her and sticks his hand on her stomach. I tried to let him know that he should ask first but as he later explained to me, he has known her for 10 years and it's OK if he touches her stomach. OK for him, yes, but OK for her? I'm not so sure. I hope she wasn't horrified.

Speaking of slightly horrifying things my husband does, he has a charm about him and he gets away with a lot unless I call him on it. We were at a BBQ with a bunch of athletes and he loudly exclaimed, "WOW! You're going to eat another huge hamburger! That's impressive!" to a skinny runner chick. I wanted to clock him. He also refers to a couple we know as "hobbits" because they are shorter than we are. He calls them hobbits to their faces by the way, not behind their backs, and for some reason, they seem to think it's funny.

I think it's horrifying. Which is why I will continue to stick my freezing cold toes on his searingly hot body so that the universe will return to a karmic balance in our household. ahhhh!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Unsubscribe me

After spending too much $$ during the holidays, I decided to get rid of some temptations by unsubscribing from some of the email advertising that is sent to me. Once you order from a store online, you usually start receiving weekly emails listing their specials and it turns out, I was receiving a lot of emails because I'm still unsubscribing myself after two months! Those companies were getting a lot of free advertising from those emails but not anymore. Temptation gone!

You know that whole "simplify your life" movement that started several years ago? There's that magazine "Real Simple" and a bunch of books that came out with in depth and existential instructions on how to simplify your life. Immediately I was skeptical when I heard about this and to this day I will only read "Real Simple" if it's free in the doctor's office. Why do you need to buy something to tell you how to simplify your life? I think they are trying to build a cottage industry on this concept, selling you glass jars for organizing your stuff and fancy labels so things look more simple.

I call BS! If you want to simplify your life, stop making things complicated by buying magazines and books on how to make things simple. Stop buying crap and get rid of the majority of your clutter by donating or recycling it. It's real simple.

BTW, my salary was officially frozen for the next two years. I'm not special, every state worker in Oregon is in the same boat. I'm going to look for ways to spend less over the next 2 years so it's doesn't feel like my cost of living is going up. I may just start showing up to work in used, threadbare clothing with a lunch I obtained from the dumpster outside of the dorm. Or maybe not.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cabin fever

Ahhhhh! I need to get out of town and go do something! It rained all weekend so we mostly stayed in and worked on taxes. BOR-ING! I'm so bored I've been thinking about going with Bill on one of his business trips down to San Francisco or up north to Canada. Luckily I have a girl's weekend coming up in two weeks, our friend Sunny is having a birthday and she has never been to Seattle so I must escort her and make sure she has a blast!

I lived in Seattle for 3 years back in 1997 and worked for the City of Seattle at the computer help desk. Worst job ever!!! 65% of my job was asking people to reboot their computers. It was like a slow death. I also struggled with the climate there, it rains almost every day in Seattle. A beautiful and exciting city but the weather is DANK. Commuting was also a nightmare, I lived in several locations including Shoreline, Kent, and West Seattle and worked downtown. Once I gave myself permission to leave, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

My next job was at Eastern Washington University in small town Washington on the other side of the state. I went to a coffee stand on my first day of work and the barista asked me how I was doing and I almost cried. I worked with people for 2+ years in Seattle who never asked me how I was doing. I am not cut out for city living. But I will enjoy visiting and remembering the good old days when I used to walk down to the Pike Place Market for lunch and buy myself a bouquet of flowers.