Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is the problem Tivo or Best Buy?!

I meant to post about this, but forgot...

A couple weeks ago, we lost the PC, DVR, and cable box all in one weekend; well, the PC and DVR had been slowly dying and it just got to the point where I had to do something about it.

I went to Apple and got a MacMINI.
I went to best buy and got an HD Tivo with dual receivers.

I plugged it all in, and made an appointment for the cable company to come over and install cable cards.

NONE of this process was easy. I came home from work every night for a week and spent at least 4 hours with one of these two machines trying to get it to work. Maybe one day, I'll talk about the MacMINI; but today... I am PISSED OFF about the Tivo.

That first one that I bought, on Sunday... got the cable card installed on Wed; that night, recorded Countdown and when we watched it the video would fast-forward randomly leaving the sound behind. Called Tivo... after an hour, the guy says: that's a problem with the harddrive - return it.
So the Friday BEFORE Xmas; I'm at the Best Buy at the mall, exchanging the Tivo!

Get the new one installed; cable doesn't work... company sends a guy out on Sunday to install new cards. Cool. Looks like everthing will be ok. and it was... for a week.
Here we are trying to watch the Patriots game; and guess what?! New Tivo has the SAME problem as the LAST one! Video randomly freezing, sound left behind... and now we are watching NFL on the antenna!!!! I cannot BELIEVE this BS! Having lived with an original first gen Panasonic ReplayTV that gave us NO; that's ABSOLUTELY NO problems for TEN years!!!!! until it just got old... I CANNOT believe that this Tivo company can have such a hold on the market when their product ABSOLUTELY SUCKS!

What are you supposed to do?
Get a dish with their DVR? rent a DVR from the cable company?
Panasonic, what the hell!! Where did you go?!

or is it the palette of Tivo's that Best Buy has... ?
do I risk a third from this location? or go somewhere else?

pisses me off

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lamborghini Gallardo

A land shark! I spent some time watching cones on Sunday and had the experience of this car coming at me less than 6 feet away; top speed into a corner. I was scared!


The cats love when I work at home!

Max all curled up on the blankie like a baby...

Molly right next to me....

Me and my kitties!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cookies - a retrospective reposted

A couple years ago, my friend's mom got really sick, and she decided that she needed a holiday tradition to substitute for the family ones that she knew would be going away. Beth joined us for a little bit that year.

So we decided to bake Holiday Cookies! The next year, she was pregnant and I was sick, but we decided to do it anyway; because you can't have a tradition if you don't actually do it every year. I don't think Beth made it this year, but she can correct me if I'm wrong.

Her son was nearly a year, and so well behaved that he just sat on the carpet all day and played while we baked. Beth also started to join us full force!

2006 (3)
At over 1, the little guy needed a babysitter!

2006 (11)
and so she made it into the photo with my mom (who is always a HUGE help with washing up)

And this year! 100% me and the girls!

I had to repost this because Blogger messed up the photos; and I couldn't fix it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

community and ethnicity

I left the house less than 5 mins after Greg this morning.
Him on his BIKE (that's a human-powered one) and me in my car.
We travel in generally the same direction, a little northwest for about 4 miles, to cross (him) and get on (me) the highway; but using different routes - because he chooses ones with bike lanes and I choose ones with fewer traffic lights and stops.
Today, he crossed in front of me about 1/2 mile from the highway.
I think its ridiculous that the traffic I had to sit in between my house and that street was so bad that he, on his route with more lights and stops, got there at the same time. Ridiculous, I say!
I don't think about this too often, because its just normal at this point; but today something happened that startled me into the reality.
My office is EXTREMELY diverse! We have people from all over the world of all different races and ethnicities: Chinese, Indian, Native American, white, black, African-American (me and this guy from Kenya), Mexican, Peruvian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Bangladeshi, and I'm sure I'm missing someone...
We joke about it in my department because there are probably only 2 people who were actually born in America working in the department (ok, that might be an exageration, but its enough that they are always in the minority at meetings).
Most of the time, I don't really think about it...
But today, as I was walking down the hall, the guy from Peru was giving comments to a guy from Mexico on his engineering design, in Spanish!
It was pretty cool.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Have you seen this?

A refreshing change from the usual young women writhing on the screen. I saw this at my gym and had a good laugh with the woman on the trainer next to me.
Kudos to Ben Kweller for tacking a risk and doing something out of the ordinary.
(Ben Kweller - Penny On The Train Track)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I just cleaned out my sockdrawer.

The ultimate form of procrastination!

(I should be writing my chapter!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

How to Build Community

The coffee shop in Park City, UT has instructions:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Technically, my first time

This weekend was the first time that I went out on the autoX track alone in my car.
I have done performance driving and autoX three times, and have had someone in my car all the time.

I'm glad I'm over that!

I had always wanted someone in the car with me because I know that my limitations are me and not the car's. When you have a ride-along, they will say to you "gas" "Gas" "GAAAS", and you push through your limitations to get closer to understanding the car.

All week, and all morning, I was really scared about having to push myself. I gave myself all the peptalks I could think of:
you need to be MOVING around in the car
you need to hear your wheels squeal
the car can do more than you!
I gave myself 5 instructions to memorize on the course so that I felt like I had a pattern.

And after all that, I'd have to say, its far more fulfilling to speed up on every run because its you doing the pushing; than it is when there is someone in the car taking responsibility for you.

Now I am excited about practicing more, pushing my limits out, and getting closer to understanding the car.

I've signed up for a 2 day event in December, and I'm hoping that having 2 full days will give me some serious seat time to break through my limitations and really get the most out of my car.

there should only be THREE wheels touching the ground here...

Coming in to the finish

Monday, October 29, 2007

ho hum technology

My computer hates iTunes.
the internet connection works fine; and then you open itunes and try to go to the store, or download podcasts, or god-forbid: buy music!
and suddenly - all traffic stops.
I've taken to running a "ping" all the time... and you can see the Request Timed Out lines multiply while you do anything in iTunes.
and, no, I don't have a MAC!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ah, Marathons.

So, that marathon of last weekend, eh?!
Greg had a mind slip.
Reno was COLD! it SNOWED.
reluctantly, we left the warm hotel room and drove to Susanville, CA - through the SNOW.
We went to check into the hotel - sorry, have to wait until 3pm; sorry, no late checkout because we're fully booked for the marathon.
I said to Greg, isn't that weird that they are fully booked the night AFTER the marathon? People must stay an extra day.
We went to pick up his number and packet - sorry, don't open until 3pm
We went to find a place for lunch - after 2 failed attempts, ended up at a bakery deli which, seriously, seemed like the only place to eat in town.

In trying to waste time, we thought we'd drive down and find the route (this is a trail marathon on a "rails to trails" route so you can't drive on it... just close). Greg went running down the trail to check it out and started having a chat with another guy - who told him: dun dun daaa!!!

The marathon is on Sunday!

There was nowhere in Susanville with availability, we didn't want to deal with fees to change flights; I hadn't been home since Tues and didn't want to be gone another day. So Greg decided to run the 1/2 on Sat. The race director was not happy about the request and went on about not enough space on buses, and no guarantees, etc.
Anyway - long story short - there was conniving, early arrivals, scheming, watching, pacing, planning, and in the end, too many buses! and Greg ran.
He had fun, and decided we would get it right next year and he'd run the whole thing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall, spring, no... fall; whatever... SOME season... in AZ

When the temperature starts cooling off here in Arizona, we don't go running off to the closest pumpkin patch; we don't start mulling cider; we don't start covering plant beds and bringing in the outdoor furniture.
What we do, is take the furniture out. We shake out the cushions. We put up the umbrellas. We make lemonade. And we visit the nursery.

Yesterday, I took all the pots and emptied them out onto a tarp. We added some compost and fertilizer. Today, we bought new pots for the front door, and about 50 little plants to add into the containers. The outside is ready for some quality time.
Here are some photos.



front door:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

for those who are interested

here's what last week looked like:
Monday - worked in my office until 8pm to prepare two scopes
Tuesday - flew to Fort Worth, drove to airport in Dallas, drove to Arlington office, chaired a project kickoff meeting until 9pm
Wednesday - continued the meeting, did a presentation for the client, flew home, got a call on my drive had to divert to coffee shop to work for 2 hours
Thursday - worked in my office until 7pm fixing things that should have been done right the first time - last week!
Friday - drove to Flagstaff to attend the kickoff meeting for a book where Greg and I have been asked to contribute chapters related to our thesis research, got home at 8pm
I am SO glad I have NO plans this weekend!
next week looks like this:
Monday - in office again; I hope I can get home at a decent hour!
Tuesday - fly back to TX
Wednesday - attend the client's kickoff meeting
Thursday - continuation of Wednesday meeting; fly to Reno to meet up with Greg
Friday - drive from Reno to Susanville, CA
Saturday - watch Greg run a marathon, drive back to Reno
Sunday - home!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ultimate Driving Experience

so here's the last event:
The project manager on one of my jobs decided that we needed a team building event. So he organized a driving experience at BeaveRun, a full-service automotive facility.
The day started with one of the local team members hosting a skeet-shooting morning. No, I didn’t take a turn… shooting a shotgun just doesn’t appeal to me.
After lunch, we headed over to BeaveRun. Our first event was go-kart races. We got a couple turns round the track for people to get used to the cars. It was an outdoor track with some elevation changes. After getting comfortable, they did a time run, and then used the results to put us into teams of 3 for an endurance race. The race rules had everyone taking at least one turn on the track, but the order, or amount of time was up to the teams. Of course, the teams with very strong drivers had them take most of the runs. The all boys team came first, and the all girls team came last – kind of predictable since the ladies were the least likely to take chances on the track.
Go-karts are exhausting. It takes a lot of maintained strength to keep them turned, to steer out of one turn into another. It occurred to me after a while, that it would be better to save some energy for the other TWO events of the day.

After the endurance run, we headed over to an autoX course. The instructors took groups through the course in the Mazda 6s, which weeded out a lot of the faint-of-heart. We got a couple practice runs, and then each person got two timed runs. Your times were added together for placing in the results, so you had to have two consistent runs. I messed up on the first one taking a late turn too fast and mushed a couple cones – adding 2 seconds to my finish time. I was the second fastest woman, but a couple seconds behind the leading man.
It took a while for me to get used to the Mazda. Its steering was really sloppy and it didn’t feel responsive – compared to my car. The MC of our event also has an ’05 MCS, and I made a comment to him about how much the Mazda sucked, and he was rolling on the floor laughing.

If we weren’t exhausted enough, we headed over to a full race track. We didn’t do a race event here, we took turns driving a Chevy Caprice (read: BOAT) around the course. The track was a fast one, so the turns were not to technical. They had cones at each turn apex on the side of the track you needed to hit, so it was like a connect-the-dots driving from cone to cone. The track that I drove for the performance driving classes in Vegas was more interesting with some tighter turns, and that was a more fun driving course. Since we were driving Caprice’s, probably didn’t matter too much.
While we were ding the autoX, the project manager (who has been driving at BeaveRun for a year) had been taking some laps on the track in a Formula One car. He races a Porsche that he has race prep’ed with track tires, racing seats, and harnesses. While we were taking turns with the Caprice, he was taking people on rides in the Porsche. After all the crap that we’d been driving that day, it was really nice to be in a car that actually responded. It stopped without shaking, it turned when he moved the wheel, and it accelerated on command. I think the fastest we got was around 120mph.
The photos of that day aren’t the greatest… here’s one of me in a 6:

And there’s the Porsche on the left:

Monday, September 24, 2007


Black Hawk "Down"

One of my projects is in a remote part of Arizona, there are no access roads or routes to get close to the project area. Our client organized for us to get a ride with the AZ National Guard in a black hawk helicopter.

Here we are getting ready to board.

Here's my view on the inside.

We flew from Phoenix to Tucson to pick up more passengers, and then we took off to the border. We flew across the project area a couple times, and then the pilot headed north all of a sudden.
On the headset, we heard:
"is that a flicker? yes, it is. Oh man! not a flicker" and the next thing we knew they were looking for a place to land. Once we were down, I asked them what had happened. Their transmission fluid has a magnet that attracts loose metal bits, and if they are attached, it makes "flicker" in the indicator light. Their procedure is to shut down the engine - which is what they did... so basically, we did an emergency landing with only one engine.

Separate post showing me talking to the "Crew Chief," who is also an engineer, about what was going on.

They sent another helicopter to get us. Here it is landing:




We flew to Nogales and had lunch, and then around the border some more, and then home.

I would have to summarize the majority of this experience as "boring". Stuck in a seat with a 4-point harness; can't move, can't look out too much; too loud to talk to anyone; SUPER uncomfortable seats.

Stop by tomorrow to learn all about the Driving


Sunday, September 23, 2007

recap - Sunday to Sunday

I'm gonna recap my exciting week in three posts; you know, to milk it as much as I can since I haven't had this much postworthy excitement in one week for a while...

- Last Sunday, I did the Solo II autocross for the first time
- On Tuesday, I took a black hawk helicopter from Phoenix to Tucson to the border and back with some fairly eventful happenings in the middle
- On Friday, I went to Pittsburgh for a full day of driving mania as part of a teambuilding event.

First off, AutoX:

It was a LONG day starting at 6am for walking the course, driver's meeting, novice meeting, and Tech. It was HOT. I took the wheel at 1pm... which means I was heat fried before I'd even started. I had an instructor with me for all 4 runs, which I think helps me to push myself more than I would if I were alone. My time improved each lap...
starting with: 55.648, to 48.461, to 45.774 (with 2 cones = 49.774), and finally 45.103 (with one cone = 47.103).

The best of the stock MINIs was doing the course in 40.443, so by my last lap, I wasn't too far off; which I think is pretty good for my very first time.

Here's the course:

...and here are some pics of me on the course

next up: "Black Hawk Down"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Week...

... is crazy. I have some truly exciting events going on; but they are keeping me very busy, so I don't have time to download the photos and post. Also, some of them have been threatening to cancel, and thanks to Murphy's Law, I am going to stop talking about specifics until I have completely enjoyed my week.

This is your notice to check back on the weekend (Sunday) when I can give you the full low-down.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Yesterday, I got stuck on a different route home, and the traffic was horrific. It was one of those moments when you felt like you were not moving, and would never move. I thought of Blackbird's great documentary posts, and thought I'd give it a try.

starting time 5:41

a minute later, still haven't moved, this is the view

took a photo out of the side window to show progress.

at 5:43 we moved forward. All the way to the light!

and here's my sideview:

the guy on my right saw me taking photos, and started motioning to me to photograph him. I rolled down my window, and we had a little exchange about traffic. The sun was at the wrong angle, here he is:

the light turned green, but all these people thought they would run their orange/red to make the left, so it was a good long while before I actually got through the light. Of course, I took a picture of them.

Isn't that illegal to block an intersection?

Finally, I get through all the mahem to my favorite part of my daily commute: The Metered Ramp. This traffic control feature may be a good idea, but for the driver of a stick... it SUCKS!

I got on the highway shortly after 5:47. All of this took place in less than a mile. And my documentation shows that it was only 6 minutes, clearly demonstrating that my patience is worse than the traffic!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Delivery Dyslexia

Sometimes, I think it would be fun to receive a present at work and I give my online orders my work address for delivery.
When the item arrives in our office, it is delivered to the front desk, where the receptionist signs for it, and puts it on top of all the other boxes from deliveries.
This is the same procedure all the office orders go through - computers, office supplies, paper, everything.
They sit at the front desk until the receptionist notifies the recipient to come and get it.
She's pretty slow with these notifications.
You'd think she would want to get rid of all those boxes lying around in the welcome area of our company.
When I am expecting a present at work, I sometimes go to the delivery service website to find that it has already been delivered.
Its quite shocking to have that page open up and the status say "Delivered".
So, what I'm saying, is that I have to go to a website for an outside delivery service to learn that I have a package at the front desk.
A package that is sitting in front of someone who gets paid by my company to make sure that things (phone calls, reports, plans) get sent to the right person.
Come to think of it, a vendor called me this morning to tell me they sent me a fax... this machine is right next to said receptionist.
I wish there was a website I could check to learn about those deliveries!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Year 2 in Black Rock City

you're only a virgin once. That's for sure. And virgin year is very special. The difference between year 1 and 2 is monumental.

The nature of Black Rock City is that its always different. So if you were hoping to go to that cafe on the corner, or hop from bar to bar on that street, it won't be like that this year. Your home will be in a different place, and the people around you will be different.

One thing that really made a difference was the absence of Marty's friend Julia. I didn't realize it last year, but she was really the motivator, the instigator, the organizer, and the creator of home base. Instead of being a small intimate camp of friends, this year we were part of a subdivision of other people who know each other. It was interesting to see these other visitors and how they created their experience, but I missed the intimacy of "home".

Another huge affect on Year 2 - white-out dust storms 2 days in a row. Getting caught in the first one meant that I didn't really want to get stuck in the second. But sitting inside for 4 hours in the prime exploring part of the day, was a damper... a buzz kill.

One more big difference. Last year, the night clubs were spread out - at 2:00, 9:00, 6:00 and on the playa... so you could pop here, pop there, and try everything out before committing. This year, it was either 2:00 or 9:00 and going between the two took some time.

As always, time was irrelevant, plans were impossible to remember, experiences were as they came, other residents were giving. This is the magic of Black Rock City.

Every year there are lessons learned, and every year there is a list of what to do next time. Its like a constantly evolving learning experience. An experience experience.

see you on the playa.

Monday, August 20, 2007

its that time of year again

...time to take on the Pilgrimage to the mecca of non-conformity.
I have been planning this undertaking since we drove out of the Nevada desert a year ago. I have a piece of cardboard with green highlighter making a list of things to take to Black Rock City in 2007.
Well, the last month has been a slew of lists, spreadsheets have been humming, and all my green words have a check mark.
Burying myself in planning and preparation has kept my anticipation under check. But I suppose that with any sort of pilgrimage, preparation is part of the process.
We have a week to go.... and I have to mentally force myself to keep the anticipation at bay so that I can function at work, and get through the day.
The feeling of excitement is going to start building starting tonight at 11pm when I pick up M&M from the airport; they will be running around in ernest the next couple days preparing and executing their list of pilgrimage items. I will be jealous. I am stuck here looking at a different kind of spreadsheet, beholden to a phone and a computer that require me to focus on processing a different kind of data.
I get through on one thought -
"this time next week"
ladies and gents, this year, its NO HOLDS BARRED!
I am going to be IN it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coming Along Nicely

Aaron is definately getting in to the mood. Here he is creating outfits for BRC.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

just in case

you read my blog through a feedreader...

I accidentally sent an email to my blog instead of to myself (its 'cause I need to pee and I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing).

Well, said email popped up in my inbox: "musings just made a new post"

and I rushed over here to delete it.

but it looks like it got into the feed (superspeedy), and I don't know how to delete it from there.

anyway - if you read my email through a feedreader, you will now know how much we pay for electricity, what I owe on my credit card this month, the cost to have a cat sitter come to the house everyday for a week, and how much the lawn people charged us to mow, fertilize, and haul away two tarps full of palm tree shingles removed by lightening.

thrilling, isn't it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter

BTW - I have put off reading 7. I decided after reading chapter 1 that I don't remember anything; and I have gone back to book 5. to be read between now and the seeing the movie - I'm 1/2 way; maybe I'll make it by next Sat; then 6, then 7..... I am prolonging, procrastinating, and savoring.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I actually have something worth posting today!

Our house got hit by lightning last night.
We were awakened at midnight to a HUGE BANG that sounded like a house fell on our house; Greg had jumped into my arms, and I had yelled "Dad"  (!) we went back to sleep thinking that it was just close;
this morning we looked outside to see what damage there was from the big dust storm wind;
and amongst the litter of palm tree scales on the ground, were broken tiles from the corner of the cupola by the front door. The roof in that area is all blackened. So, I think that it was hit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"The Golden Compass"

the world went crazy for Harry Potter, and yes I did too. So sometime after the first book came out, I read an interview with JK Rowling where she listed some books that she found inspirational. I decided to try The Golden Compass. I found it in the adult sci-fi section at my library. It took me about three months to read chapter 1, I just couldn't get into it. So I thought, I'll skip over chapter 1 and see if it gets any better in chapter 2.
I was hooked.
I became intrigued, obsessed, engrossed, enticed, and empathetic to the protagonist, Lyra. I couldn't put it down. I rushed to the library and checked out the other 2 books in the trilogy. The other two were in the children's section, and this is when I realized that these were actually children's books. I had always thought it strange that Pullman had decided to have a girl as the protagonist of an adult series of books.
After finishing all three, I declared these to be my favorite books ever.
and now there is a movie.
Yes, I am one of those people who wished that every Harry Potter movie was 8 hours long, representing every moment of every book; and I tell you... that for His Dark Materials, I wish that even more!
I enjoyed seeing the wizard books come to life on the screen and never felt disappointed with the depictions. His Dark Materials are filled with so many more fanciful phenomena, that I am scared that something will be missed. And also, the message, the strong emotion of bravery and strength in Lyra, I really hope that New Line can capture these tiny nuggets as they tell this story in a children's movie that will probably overemphasize the action.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

two things

just got back from vacation, and two things strike me immediately.
1. so much disposable income going to the purchase of the iPhone... without any consideration for the exorbitant monthly fee charged by ATT. Ok, I understand, early adopter and all that... but comeon! don't let the service provider rip you off by allowing the charges! They set a price-point, and you fell for it!
2. Live Earth. I looked at the line up online, and immediately noticed that artists from different countries were playing in OTHER countries! what!? all that jet fuel! and don't tell me they bought carbon credits! I don't care! that is NOT THE SAME as saving the planet by reducing emissions!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh! Canada

We're in Canada, and its all about Canada Day, eh!

Walked around Victoria, and it was pretty mellow on the south side, then we got to the houses of Parliment and it was a PARTY! It was all about wearing the flag as a mini dress. I have to share...

Happy Birthday, Canada!