Wednesday, January 28, 2009


At some point, probably pretty early in life and certainly before I left home, I gave up resisting the early Saturday morning projects and began to embrace them as a way of life. The proper, normal way to live was to make a list of things to do, then check them off as you do them. Preferable before lunch.

My dad and his wife Deb are visiting Seattle this week. As a course of habit my dad and I do small projects around my house during his visit. The running joke is a true story from his first visit to my new Seattle home: we worked seven consecutive, long days pulling out old knob-and-tube wiring and replacing with proper modern electrical work (to code, my dad is an electrician by trade); my father left Seattle having never seen the garage or back yard. Yes, we're driven. We had a list (actually, three) and everything was checked off at the end.

In subsequent visits we've made time for our other hobby, pool. We've eaten out more and seen the city. We've also updated attic insulation, built shelves, fixed a dryer, added lights, fixed plumbing, and painted. This time, we're working on three projects.

First, we're updating all the locks in the house. We're moving from the single cylinder deadbolts to double cylinder deadbolts, so that would-be robbers can't just break a window and unlock the door. We're adding electrical support to the newly installed sink garbage disposer. We're installing a wall mounted coat rack, hanging some heavy frames, and changing the bathroom vent to actually vent outside the building. We should have time for a few racks of pool on Friday. I put it on the list.

So far, we've done two trips to The Home Depot. We have one more planned tomorrow (we just made out BOM (bill of materials) for the rest of the projects). I bet we'll go at least one more time after that. Heck, it's only 25 blocks away. That's a lot closer than Pennsylvania. It's times like these that I can really appreciate how much advantage those who stay near home enjoy. Parents and other family members can add so much information, experience, and fun to mundane projects. Those of us who have chosen to move far away, well, we have it just a bit harder. Except when the dads visit.


This economy is getting me down. I've been forced to check in with my 401(k) (should be renamed to 201(k) at this point) and other accounts to prep for taxes. I've been reading the news on the bus on my phone, which is very unhealthy. News. Bus. Phone. All not good for me. And yesterday, once again, I had to be a conspirator in the laying off of very good people. Two guys from my team had their stint at The Company cut short by some accountant somewhere who decided we had five too many people.

I'm sure it gets easier later in one's career. Presently, letting go fathers or mothers or sole bread winners gets me down. Unlike the Insightful layoffs, I can't guarantee we'll find new jobs quickly for them. You might have heard the big M has been doing some pruning as well.

Good people. Hard workers. Productive people. The chaff blew away months ago. It makes me worried about the times ahead. If good people are getting laid off now, how long before all of us should worry? I'm just a middle manager -- I can't believe I survived this cut. I doubt I'll be so lucky next time. I am focusing on showing business value with everything I do at work in these times. Still, if some accountant says we have five too many...

Quincy and I were going to buy a car last weekend. We decided to wait a bit. This is exactly what you're hearing on the news. Two rich yuppies, worried for the jobs and comfort, curtail extra spending and large purchases. Slowly, bit by bit, the economy collapses. Clearly operating in our individual best interest might not get us out of this collective jam. But I'm not going to be the first back into the car lot.

Hard times? Not yet for most of us. But this is a downturn; that word is all too perfect. As we face the inevitable slope falling away from us, we pick up speed, worry more, and I at least feel helpless in fixing it.

Heck, even Birkshire Hathaway is down 40% from last year. What's an investor to do?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Agility Photographs

I’m still getting used to taking low-light photos using my speedlight. Fortunately, Quincy and Grete provide me practice and encouragement (not to mention photogenic content).

This week we went up to a gym in Lynnwood where Quincy and some of her dog agility classmates practice. While the gym has standard lighting, it turns out it’s way too dark for non-flash, quick shutter photography. I found this out the first time I joined them (there were no useable photos… just too dark or too blurry). This time, I brought Quincy’s D90 (which has higher ISO settings) and my speedflash.

I found that all the research I did on proper technique really paid off. Oh, right, I didn’t look up anything at all. That must be why my photographs fell into two categories: washed out and dim. I was at least able to stop the action. Quincy loved it, of course. We learned that Grete curls her toes under her on jumps; some dog curl, others stretch. I would have bet her a stretcher, given how often she’s sprawled out on the bed in every direction.

I’m thinking that distance is a great factor in these types of photographs. Zooming in and out with the 55-200 lens doesn’t change the brightness of the flash much; but moving physically closer to the action (or the action moving closer to me) does impact quite a bit. I’m thinking that I might have a setup for close, medium, and far shots. What knobs to widget I have no idea. I guess I’ll just have to look something up!

You can see more photos on Quincy’s Flickr page (linked from the photo above).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yay for Fire Drills!

We just had a fire drill at the building. They had everyone walk down the stairs 7 floors, then back up. We had our own safety marshals lurking in our midst -- who knew?

Working downtown is loads of fun!

New Energy

We have the White House. An era of responsibility and accountability begins today. President Obama has already made bold moves (New York Times). I overheard a correspondent say that most of the Great Work done by previous presidents happens in the first year of his first term. Our new President seems to fully understand that his political capitol will likely never again be this abundant. The illegal prison in Cuba is closing; terrorist trials are reset; former President Bush's executive orders are all halted until full legal review can be completed; and the Joint Chiefs are asked to prepare a 16 month withdrawal plan for Iraq. It's noon on his first day.

I am giddy, I say giddy, with anticipation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Traveling with Celiac Disease – Part 2

Lilli and Loo's General Tsu's Tofu
After 36 hours of meat, the company let me loose on New York City at 3pm. I immediately hopped on the N to 61st and Lexington to Lilli and Loo, a Chinese restaurant with a gluten free menu.

Chinese food is often made with soy sauce and Hoisin sauce. Both of these are almost never gluten free. In Seattle, I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant that can accommodate me. I haven’t had any Chinese in over six months, easily the longest I’ve ever gone in a life filled with fantastic Chinese food.

Lilli and Loo also had a dish that I haven’t had in years: General Tsu’s Tofu. My local Chinese place stopped making it for me because it was too hard to keep the tofu intact. I begged and begged, but after more than two years of making it for me they stopped. Then, celiac. Lilli and Loo’s GTT was sweet and a little spicy. The tofu was medium-firm and a little crunchy. The sauce was thin, but dark. I was wonderful. I ate it all, even though I had just crammed three plates of crappy salads down my gullet at the hotel lunch buffet. I ate alone, and the restaurant was empty except for two Japanese students picking at an appetizer.

After that, I headed up to Harlem to meet Regina at her house. She had planned dinner at ___, a Risotto-centric tiny restaurant. It turns out that they are a Mecca for celiacs. They have four different gluten free beers, all their desserts are gluten free, all their bread is gluten free, nearly all their risottos are gluten free (gorgonzola is not gluten free), nearly all their appetizers are gluten free, and everything is labeled on the main menu. Moments after we arrived and said yes to the 30 minute wait, a couple came in behind us. The man was visibly excited about the prospect of gluten-free beer; when the hostess began to tell him about the menu and desserts, his enthusiasm grew almost feverish. This was a guy who clearly hadn’t been expecting much. I know the feeling.

This was the first time I encountered another celiac in public. We didn’t exchange conversation at all, but I felt so much better. Look, here’s a tall, hunk of a man getting giddy over gluten free cookies and weak beer. I am not alone. We sat down and I couldn’t help but overhear “celiac” and “gluten free” from table after table. I looked around and saw at least six gluten free beers (there’s only nine two-person tables in the whole restaurant). The table came with two gluten free breadsticks. Then they brought more. I didn’t cry but I could have.

The risotto was good. It was filling and warm and flavorful and cheesy. Quincy will love it. But the atmosphere was a real treat. I felt normal and welcome, not just tolerated and accommodated.

On my last day in NYC, Regina took me to Lili (not actually associated with Lilli and Loo, from what I can tell) on 57th near 7th. They also had a gluten free menu and General Tsu’s Tofu. I also ordered “rock shrimp tempura” because I hadn’t eaten tempura in 7 months either. Regina ordered a small flotilla of sushi. Our food was awesome. The appetizer was to die for (I almost ordered more). It had a coconut sauce and a little tangy spice. Oh, I miss it already. And the GTT was spicy, thick, a little too sweet and made with soft tofu perfectly fried, balancing moistness with flavor with crunchiness. Next to us, a fellow celiac ordered dumplings, a stir fry, and tea, double checking every order as he placed it and as he received it. The waiter prefaced, for me as well, every item with “your gluten free” so there was absolutely no chance of confusion. He also prefaced items just for Regina wish “and this is just for you” or “and this has gluten.” It’s small, but the shift from accommodating to fully accepting as a course of action is incredibly freeing. I got a little misty eyed again. Quincy would have cried, I’m sure of it. Unlike Lilli and Loo, our Lili waiter told me not to eat the fortune cookie.

In all, New York City obviously has a strong GF community. It inspired me to work on that in Seattle. I’m not sure how much effort I want to put into it, but I am going to at least start a dialog with the three Chinese restaurants in our neighborhood.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Traveling with Celiac Disease – part 1

Yeah, that's red meat

Quincy hid her worrying about me well. I don’t really worry. I probably should have, and I appreciate that she did.

My plane flight, my first since being diagnosed with celiac disease, was a nonevent thanks to two Think Thin protein bars, a bag of Rice Chex, and four homemade gluten-free M&M cookies. All of that was Q’s idea. Well played.

My first 36 hours in NYC were to be dictated by the ebb and flow of classic hotel conference – 72 degrees and fluorescent and coffee that had me pining for NesCafĂ©. My only escape was my first dinner. But, I arrived at the hotel at 10pm, so my options were limited by how far I could get in 15 minutes. I walked down the street to an Italian place that had a Risotto special.

The Risotto was good, but I didn’t expect muscles around it. The salmon in it, certainly Atlantic, tasted an awful lot like chicken and had a texture similar to balsa wood. Still, the meal was huge, nourishing, and I didn’t have to explain anything since Risotto is nearly always safe. I burned my tongue on the first bite, thank goodness.

After that, I was at the mercy of the event planner’s communication with the hotel kitchen staff. She took up the task vigilantly, finding me before every meal and making sure there was something for me. At breakfast I had some fruit (all the hot food and pastries were off limits) and coffee. At snack time, I had fruit (all the desserts and bagged munchies were unsafe) and coffee. At the buffet lunch the first day I had a dry salad, a shrimp salad (questionable) and raw veggies. And coffee. At lunch the second day, I fared very well with potatoes, a safe shrimp salad, and mozzarella/tomato salad. I ate three full plates. And a cup of coffee.

For the one dinner, which by all accounts was a dreadful arrangement of cafeteria food supplemented with fantastic conversation, I was served a medium-rare steak and steamed vegetables. Obviously, something went wrong. But, I played it cool and tried to eat a little of the cow. Yeah, not so much. The woman sitting next to me was amused. I couldn’t have the dessert, though I was offered fruit after everyone was done. I took the coffee instead. We headed over to a Scotch bar across the street and sampled a few different Scotches until 2am. I ate every gluten-free item in the minibar when I returned (one can of mixed nuts).

I ate, in total, seven Think Thin bars on this three and a half day trip. Fortunately, the pain I endured at the conference was repaid with a treat, a surprise, and a surprise treat.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

DiSC ®

No surprises here

I’ve been to a couple management training seminars. And of course, there’s my time invested in PSI. I figured that FTI’s “Director/Manager School” would be at best a refresher, at worst a disheartening corporate-speak snoozer. But, I bucked up, dressed up, and opened my mind to the possibility that the experience would be worth my time.

It was. DiSC is one of many work-style assessment and awareness training systems. It starts with 75 words that the student grades from “never” to “always” in applicability to their work-style. Purportedly statistically sound algorithms categorize your style into four categories: Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, and Steadiness. This breakdown is similar to the Controller-Promoter-Analyst-Supporter roles in PSI. You may place dead center in a category, or close to a second category; you may place near the center (easy to shift) or high on the edge (born natural).

Surprise everyone: I’m a high Di! Modes I tend to exhibit: Drive, Active and Encouragement. Yeah, shocker. My polar opposite (or perfect counterpart) would be a classified a Reliable Objective Supporter.

So, it’s easy to generate a pile of stereotypical, useful strengths from this information. Generally speaking, almost every attribute we drilled into for D and i fit me pretty well; most of the others didn’t really apply to my core work style, though certain I have supported, analyzed, collaborated, and been reliable. The most useful bit was next.

After spending an hour or so examining the basic behaviors and stereotypes of each grouping, we started to dive into exactly how each group does (generally) and could (ideally) interact with each other group in some common managerial scenarios.

For example, the most interesting to me is how a D or an i could interact with a C. Many QA engineers are C’s (or S’s), and often the very best at the technology and the methodology are naturals and far from the center. The customized personal report described exactly what I do – sadly, the description was under the heading “Potential problems when working together.” But there is hope. I knew that C folks like to have logical, fact-based goals and that they like to work alone; what I didn’t know is that they often prefer written communication to my fly-by face-to-face drop ins and may perceive my checking in as a lack of confidence (in them), an annoyance or even bullying. They prefer to go over options slowly (something I’m not sure I’ve ever done intentionally) and need to know that they will be given the time and space to complete their tasks to their high quality bar.

So what will I change? Certainly I’m going to focus more on fact-based goals and remove some of the emotional/political/collaborative language that I so love using. Doing work to get so-and-so out from under water is probably less attractive than doing the same work to increase product quality. Heck, same same. Also, I’ve got to stop bothering them. No wonder I get those looks sometimes!

There was much more, but all in all I found the specific advice about interactions across category lines to be helpful. I’m no idiot; I know people are more complicated than just four work-style types. But learning how to motivate, delegate, develop, and collaborate with certain stereotypes will be a handy cheat-sheet for the office.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Relationship Economics 101

It’s rare that a speaker can plow through material of any kind and leave me behind, or even lagging. No matter the depth or pace, I usually can keep up with the parts that I find interesting. This afternoon Mr. David Nour wasted me.

David was hired by The Company to give a 120 minute motivational talk titled “Relationship Economics.” His recently published book of the same title (Wiley, 2008) has been turning heads. This guy’s background story is head spinning as well. He arrived in the country from Iran in the early 80’s no knowing a lick of English. Now he is paid by Fortune 100 C-level executives to help them build their business networks and encourage their own professional growth. A 1st-generation immigrant story of the nth degree.

There was a lot in David’s talk. I had little hope of absorbing much new material at his breakneck speed. I jotted down a few new concepts, but mostly I was reminded of some of the lessons and best practices of my own professional development that I left behind in the last year.

First, I have not been growing my personal relationships. I have been growing one with Miracle Grow, Full Spectrum Lights, and attention, mind you, but my network is slowly fading to the background through starvation even as my relationship with Quincy grows daily. There’s absolutely no reason why I can’t do both at the same time. David brought up a number of quick tricks that I plan to make habits of. Personal notes; grooming my LinkedIn; finding reasons to connect with geographically distant friends; spending work-hour downtimes like lunch growing internal relationships; and most basically, doing something for others more often – these are just some.

As y’all know, I’ve been looking for more meaning lately. All it took was a couple months of decent blood flow and I’m ready for the next big thing. Maybe the next big thing is a thousand little things.

Or more accurately, maybe the next big thing will be the result of a thousand little things. My last 90 goal was to take over the QA department of The Company. Even though I worked pretty half-assed at it, the Universe still managed to plop most of the department and a promotion in my lap in just over 90 days. My next goal is for something different: I’d like to get offered a job of higher rank. I have yet to be recruited for much of anything. This is a direct effect of a starving relationship portfolio. Heck, I’ve ignored emails from people likely to offer me a job in the past just because I wasn’t in the mood or thought I knew I wouldn’t want it. I’ve got a few grade-A connections, people who I actually like as well, that I have been ignoring. Time for me to step up.

And, you all know me. Once I set my mind to something, even if I put it on the back burner, eventually I get exactly what I want. Or better.

But now, it’s time for dinner. Here’s hoping it’s less exotic fishy than last night’s course!

Monday, January 12, 2009


From the Can-Can, not a gay bar.  But who wants to be outted on a blog?  No one.

Gay bars in Seattle, by and large, are not scary.

My first experience being a tourist in such a strange land was in Wilkes-Barre at a bar called Twist (I had to look that up). It was positioned such that my college apartment was halfway down an alley between it and the only full nudie bar in the city, Toppers (I didn't have to look that up). It created a general weirdness vortex under our fire escape where we learned that human poo outlasts winter snows and wrote a punk song called "don't pee on my house" to serenade our late night visitors. Anyway, my old friend Tyler and I swung by Twist after being asked to leave an Irish Pub for not fighting. It was late - very late - and the bartender gladly made two "Mind Erasers" for the tall blond and young kid. From what I can vaguely recall (the drink lived up to its name) we were followed out of the place by two lonely, likely married (to wives), men who very much wanted to give us a ride home. I'm sure they had the best intentions. Tyler and I had a good laugh, then chucked on his carpet.

This weekend I accompanied a few of my friends to show support of the Capitol Hill scene in the face of a crazy threat from a deranged or lonely person. Apparently, and I'll let the FBI handle the details, some nut job sent letters to most of the gay bars on Capitol Hill (and one to The Stranger) threatening to spike 55 drinks with ricin. Which would not be nice. Anyway, the gay community answered in the best way they know how: they threw a party and called for a pub-crawl.

I'm not much for crawling, and neither are my friends. We actually camped out at Purr most of the night on big, cushy leather couches. Dan Savage dropped by. He sends his regards. He's much cuter in person, but I'm still straight.

So, my friends and I talked at the top of our voice while tall beefy men and obviously-not-ladies women danced and flirted somewhere on the other end of the bar. None of us are dancers (though I believe one has a thing for them).

Long story short: at least so far the threat is as empty as the threater's head. I hope it stays that way. The news camera outside of Purr Saturday night made my skin crawl. Too much attention to such a despicable act. Why can't we all just get a long?

Friday, January 09, 2009


Man, nothing warms the heart like a baby in hip-slogan apparel. One of my coworkers welcomed his second bundle of joy, Allison, into his home a few weeks ago. Nick's shares my love of hockey... heck, his love is bigger than my love (but he's Canadian and had a head start). I figured this slogan was appropriate. Here's to the NHL's future goaltender!

Anyhow, after that last blog post, I figured I needed to change the energy. This should do the trick!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

By friend, I mean creepy Russian mafia-looking dude

Art and Sin
I'm not easily startled. But today I got a good little rush of adrenaline on my way home.

I had a drink and dinner with Megan at Vessel and Purple downtown after work. I walked over to the bus stop outside Macy's at 3rd and Pine to wait for my bus. While standing in the rain under the awning with 40 other people, I noticed the guy next to me staring at me. I made brief eye contact and went back to staring straight ahead. It's not unexpected to encounter strange people at the bus stop, and the stop at Pine at 7:20 is not exception. The 358 pulled up and I boarded. So did my new friend.

I picked an elevated seat midway back in the bus on the driver's side. He sat at the sideways facing seat closest to the front door. I did a quick plan of action in my head in the off chance that this guy was going to follow me somewhere. I rehashed his description in my head as well, so that I would remember later.

He stood about 5'11" and weighed about 180 pounds, maybe a little more. He wore brand new glossy black Adidas track shoes, brand new orange and black track pants, and a brown knit cap with white stars (or snowflakes). He was very Slavic looking, probably light hair and probably dark brown eyes. He was clean shaven and wore a flat expression the entire encounter.

As the bus ran its route, he looked towards the back of a bus now and then. Everyone does that. I stared straight ahead mostly, not really looking at him. Once the bus passed 70th, he looked directly at me at every stop. I made eye contact a few times, and he always quickly turned his head back towards the front of the bus. I considered multiple options, and decided that my stop at 100th was likely the safest bet, with the well lit Subway and Burger Master nearby. I figured I'd keep to a crowded area until he went away, with my cell ready for 911 should I need it.

As I prepared to exit the bus via the front door, he stood up normally in front of me and exited before me. He went north, towards HT Market; I went south towards Burger Master. After 20 or so steps, I turned back and spotted him turning back towards me. Maybe I spooked him? He took off running towards HT.

Now, it was pouring rain and gusting wind, so running towards cover didn’t strike me as too suspicious in itself. I crossed 100th and waited for the light to change so I could cross Aurora heading west; I stared back towards where I last saw him. Sure enough, a few seconds later he reappeared. We exchanged eye contact and flat expressions.

I pulled out my cell phone (dialing 911 but not pressing the call button) and walked across Aurora very slowly. He walked faster, then crossed 100th well in front of me and jogged towards the awning and the tanning business and cigarette store. There were two men smoking there. I walked passed the building about two steps, turned around, counted "One. Two." then took two confident strides back towards Aurora into view of my new friend. Surprisingly he was walking quickly back towards me as well! Okay, now we were following each other.

I lit up my cell and made it obvious, walked sorta backwards across 100th towards Aurora and kept him in view. As soon as he saw me he ran passed me (not too close) to the awning of the motorcycle shop, staring at me almost the whole way. Two seconds later he ran towards the alley behind the tanning/cigarette shop building and disappeared into the shadows. At this point, I was sure that 1) he was following me and 2) I spooked him away. I was also sure where he disappeared was between me and my house on an unlit empty street. Sigh.

So, I waited in the pouring rain until two other people appeared out of nowhere to walk up my street. I walked up with them, keeping my eyes peeled. When I got home, I stared down the street waiting to see if he followed. Nothing for 30 minutes. Yeah, he spooked me too.

All in all, nothing happened. If I needed to, I was always within 20 meters of a populated well lit area. I wonder if I did the right thing? At one point, when we were closest and he was running, I realized that dialing 911 was going to be very slow (though I had it pre-dialed at that point). He was very fast and bigger than me. I was depending on the kindness of strangers a little too much for my liking. But what were my other options?

I've been attempted to be mugged once in my dumpy college town. It was just some old druggie who didn't have a weapon and was too chicken to call my bluff of a fight. I've also averted a few confrontations by simply addressing the person in a friendly matter right away, eliminating the element of surprise (they just walked away). I felt young and invincible with nothing to lose. This was different. Maybe he just wanted my cell and wallet. I'd freely give those up. Maybe he was unarmed or maybe all of this is just my imagination. The only lingering uneasiness I have is that now I'll never know. It's unresolved, like some sort of independent film.

Sorry for the long post. I wrote all this up in detail to pass on to our neighborhood watch committee, and our local Police officer. I figured blogging it couldn't hurt.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, What's Next?

There was a time in my life, let's call in the 90s, that I believed any good night in January would count as a celebration of my birthday. I have had birthday parties thrown for me before. Toni and Tyler did a splendid job surprising me on my 21st; Regina and Rick put up with me talking up a Secret Service agent for hours at the bar next to the Pearl one year; and of course childhood is filled with all kinds of warm fuzzy nostalgia. But, the real break was the surprise party Rishi threw me four years ago. We had just rekindled our friendship after the Liz Years, and he absolutely blew my mind with a well executed everyone-I-know-shows-up-on-time-except-me party at the Garage. I actually lost the ability to speak. Can you imagine? It happened. There were many witnesses.

Since then, I've celebrated turning 30 on a beach with 15,000 in Thailand; at 30,000 feet with the woman I'm going to (eventually, really) marry; and this year, a rousing party at my house thrown by the same amazing woman.

It's all about the people. Again this year I lost words. I had written down the night before some things I wanted to say to everyone. I had imagined a smaller crowd and, well, Lou Reed (I was tired and listening to Howe Gelb, okay). I think I ended up saying something like "thanks for coming - er - it's all about the people." Then I ate my gluten-free cupcake.

So, it's no surprise I'm taking my good time getting to the point here, too.

Friends are the family I choose. I'm not saying this to disparage my family; on the contrary, I would consider life a success if I could surround myself with people of the same caliber as those who raised me. And, well, I think my life is a success. Whatever gets thrown at me, I seem to be able to keep my footing pretty well (with a little help, for sure).

The last year, my 31st*, was one of taking and being supported. I didn't realize the energy I lost. My life blood was thin.

Rishi pulled me aside at my party and asked me what I was going to do this year with my renewed energy. I mentioned my two days volunteering with the Food Bank. Never impressed, he pressed me to do more. Why not organize a larger group? I can't say I haven't been thinking that already. My energy is my greatest gift, and continuing on this path of mediocrity is cheating everyone. Today, Quincy shared a blog written by a line cook. Again, I feel like the universe, through my friends, is pushing me forward.

So, with another calendar year comes another life-year comes a chance to do something different (and, with any luck, reap different results). Here I go!

Now, some party pics, again, thanks to all those friends:

* actually, it was my 32nd year. Funny how that works.

Olympic Ice Hockey Tickets

A few months ago, it seems forever now, I put in my request for Olympic event tickets with CoSport, the only vendor to the US for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. I requested way more tickets than I wanted (heck, more than I could afford) in hopes to get at least a couple men’s ice hockey tickets in the lottery.

I got word today from CoSport that the lottery results are such that I have purchased six pairs of hockey tickets and two pairs of curling tickets! I’m stoked. Quincy is already researching a place to stay. It’ll probably mean a few days away from Grete, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (when else will I live so close to a Winter Olympics host city?).

I got more tickets than I expected to get. This means that I have too many and I’ll be looking to sell or trade some of the events. We got events for a Sat, Sun, Mon, and Wednesday, so I’m going to try to find a non-hockey ticket for the free day.

We did get a Quarter Finals hockey game, which is super exciting. I didn’t even try for the metal games (while they’re super-exciting and guaranteed to have the best teams, they’re expensive and the odds of getting any were lower). We won’t know our exact seats (though I did get the best sections for each of the games) until later this year. We won’t know which teams we’ll be watching until right before hand (or in the case of the Quarter Finals, the night before).

I want to sell a pair of tickets to three different men’s ice hockey games and one pair for a curling match. If you know someone who is interested, I’ll be selling them for exactly what I paid for them. If you know anyone who has their own tickets to sell, please let me know.

Oh, I can’t wait!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Quincy and I spent two hours the other night pouring over the Territorial Seed catalog. Megan's mother suggested them as a great resource for local (well, Oregon is fairly local) seeds, starts and plants. We tried to stick with the seeds for now, but we will take Megan's mom's other suggestion, the Basil Perpetuo plant:

So, for our reference and your reading pleasure, here's what we're going to try to stick in the ground this summer:






Brussel Sprouts


Giant Sunflowers

Infrared Sunflowers

Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Yellow Pear Tomato

Super Sugar Peas

Saturday, January 03, 2009

White elephant party

Maggi & Jeff hosted a super fun white elephant party this year. Quincy got stuck with, er, won, a seven-days-of-soap pack. I smell a re-gift. I held onto a super-cool apron for a moment, but lost it in the fray. Much fun was had, and if Maggi & Jeff's party wasn't going on 4+ years, I'd host one next year. The photos from the party are here.

Quincy and I themed our white elephant gifts on gaming. I brought along an Atari joystick that had been converted to include, in the joystick itself, 12 games. Along with that I included an old master-mind-like electronic game from the early 1980's (you try to guess the 4-digit combination the computer randomly generated). Quincy wrapped two sets of Magic: The Gathering cards, two Shadowrun books (the Seattle expansion; oooo) and a Star Wars role playing book. I think we geeked the heck out of the joint. There was a modern board game version of Mastermind at the party as well.

Since I missed the Insightful holiday party this year, it was good to get my White Elephant gift exchanging out of my system. Go tack!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Some assembly required

Ever try to assemble something from IKEA? Or worse, Sears? Frustratingly sparse instructions, tabs that don't fit into slots and cheap plastic or fake wood parts drive me batty. Well, actually, I take it mostly in stride. Still, this year Santa (read: Quincy and Megan & Talina) gave me a couple of gifts so easy to assemble that I felt the urge to blog. Really.

Misco 4-shelf Greenhouse

The first piece to assemble was the Misco Home Garden 2-shelf Greenhouse. These shelving units are meant for sprouting seeds in spring. Last year we searched everywhere, but they were sold out long before March. This year, Quincy got a jump on the competition. The shelving unit is made up of metal tubes, plastic connectors, metal wire shelf racks, and a vinyl cover. The instructions were simple, the tubes fit snugly, the racks were just set on the shelf, the vinyl fit perfectly, and the whole thing went together in less than 10 minutes, including unwrapping it. There wasn't too much wasteful packaging (just some thin plastic around the tubes and a few cardboard spacers). In the end, the shelf looks sturdy enough to hold our plants after the sprouting season. Was to go, Q!

Terrazza Square PlanterTerrazza Square Planter

Megan and Talina outdid themselves this year with a wonderful, thoughtful gift. I've been jealous of Megan's balcony gardens since I first gazed upon the jungle she created. Her tomato plants are so big they act as privacy shrubs. In small part her success was due to the automatically watering (there's a reservoir in the bottom) Terrazza planters, which are legendary in their ability to turn a small tomato start into a forest of lush branches and leaves. The entire product is made from a hard plastic that looked like it was never going to fit together. But, following the easy instructions the dang thing snapped together in just a few minutes. Everything was so perfectly fitting that I'm confident it'll last for years. After all, Megan did move hers from one apartment balcony to another, with dirt, without them falling apart.

Both gifts were absolutely wonderful. Well thought out and in the end completely satisfying. Wait until you see all the seeds we sprout and all the tomatoes we harvest! Best of all, I didn't spend an afternoon putting them together! Woot!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 in thumbnails

After the fall

This year started off auspiciously with a backwards repel down a waterfall in Costa Rica. I came back sore and wondering what the heck I was thinking. That was January 1st. The 365 days that followed stayed in the same theme: exhilarating and sometimes painful. Overall, it was one of the busiest and most eventful years of my life.

Dad and Me and a fake treeDSC_7322_weQ and Me at Jeff and Maggi's not-weddingbasement stairsMe 'n' QReclaimed spaceBedroom painted

My dad visited in January, followed by a nontraditional wedding between two of Quincy's best friends, Maggi and Jeff. I spent January through March unemployed by choice, preparing the house for Quincy, Grete and Gesso to move in, and relaxing for the first time in years. Rick moved out in February after four years of living in my basement -- it was both sad and happy, as he is now in Portland with more room, more light, and more music in his life.

ClassyOmar, you king of men.Super modelLots of beer.  Too much.Easy does itSmith's cider... almost has big as Q!

Rishi, Omar and I went to Vegas for the Super Bowl ('nuf said) and Grete spent her first weekend at my house. Quincy and friends spent long hours ripping up the floor in her kitchen, preparing it for an eventual sale which would be both stressful and ultimately rewarding.

Lookout Point HikeHappy Mother's Day!Drive Home from ORCute!We move fastBaba liked Q.  No surprise there!Candids during the formal photosGroom and his men

Quincy, Grete and I met my mother and Eileen on the Oregon coast for a long weekend of hiking and beach walks. I was getting weaker and sicker at this point, and visited the doctor for more blood work. Still no idea what it could be, we traveled to Pennsylvania to meet my family and to South Dakota to visit Quincy's. I swung up to Vermont to see Brian wed Becca, certainly one of the most beautiful weddings I will ever witness.

Team Grete's Gang!Wildflowers everywhereColors!Q in the sunBest friends (for 1/1,000 of a second, anyway)Mark the date...Vena and Simon's WeddingFirst from-scratch waffle

Quincy and Grete ran their first 5k. Quincy moved in and we started gardening in earnest in the middle of the summer. By July, I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Just one month later, with a fresh supply of oxygen in my blood, I asked Quincy to merry me (the day before Vena married Simon, another beautiful gathering of friends and family).

S'up, camera man?Game nightWedding Planning NightJust like when she was a puppyBus Ride home

We dog sat DJ & Emily's Lola and hosted a super-fun game night in the fall. Megan and Talina got engaged this summer as well, so we spent a few nights sharing our wedding planning. I continued working at Attenex, taking the bus every day, and re-learning how to manage stress (now that my energy returned, so did much angst).

Homestead in 1937The eyes have itReady for the Cougar PartyDeath stairs removeddad.  help.  please.Audrey's first HalloweenPre-furminator frown?Punk is DeadgigglesGrete in the snowNEPA the gnome covered in snowcutest couple ever

Parties (with DJ & Emily's new baby!), outdoor lights, and snow capped off an amazing year. Quincy and I have absolutely no idea what next year will hold for us. After all that we've done so far, I know we're both hoping for a little breather. So, who wants to take bets? hehe... I didn't think so. Let's go sailing!