Friday, July 29, 2005

photo friday - somber

This was from my trip back home in June. It was one of those days when Matt had a playtime hangover.

Check out tons of other somber photos (or cast noteworthy votes for last week's entries) here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Park Challenge 4, or how I spent my weekend

This past Sunday was Park Challenge. It's a little event that Greg and Dave started a few years ago and I worked my way into to the mix because it is a way for me to legitimately purchase office supplies.
The event itself is like a treasure/scavenger hunt where teams of 2 - 4 solve some puzzles and then use the answers to map their way around Golden Gate Park to find different checkpoints. Greg and Dave write the puzzles and make a neato map for the race and I deal with the business end of stuff. I have kick ass jobs like helping make the puzzles look sassy, buying and using office supplies (including Sharpies!) and making forms in Excel.

This past Sunday was Park Challenge 4, we ended up having over 40 teams pre-register so we figured that we should probably have 50 packets of puzzles on hand. This did not occur to us until Thursday, when we counted only 30 of the things we already prepared. So even though we tried to avoid it with planning for months, we still ended up working ourselves down to a nub on Saturday. All ended well, but in the future it's probably best that I do not work on last minute projects with markers sporting warnings about "proper ventilation" on the package. Because no matter how many windows you open, by puzzle number 15 out of 50 everything starts to get hilarious. Like milk-out-the-nose hilarious.

and now for my PC4 scrapbook:

This was the garbage truck that came through just as all the teams sat down to dig into the first two puzzles. Alex HAD to take a picture of it, because he said it looked like a horror movie. Jokes along the line of "uh oh, here comes the nerd collector" were plentiful.

Here's a team working simultaneously on the Chess Puzzle and Reverse Taboo. This guy is actually a Chess Master and was having some trouble because the way the puzzle was set up did not actually follow some of the rules of chess.

Here are all the boxes of Chess boards, it was marking all these up with gold markers that had me feeling like I was all hopped up on goofballs Saturday night.
Dave and Greg looking relaxed (as relaxed as people can be in matching shirts), waiting for the first team to finish.

and here I am with Greg trying to look smart at the finish line. Perhaps I would look smarter if I took the cap off the pen before holding it to the paper.
(moments after this photo was taken the nerd collector came to take me away.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

meet Oliver

or as I like to call him, the Four Pound Hurricane.
He is one crazy little dude but he's so cute that it's impossible to stay mad at him. Even if he does find it necessary to bite your Achilles heel while you're doing dishes or find higher ground by clawing his way up your leg.

He's a big fan of Alex's gold graduation cord (which I like to call his 100,000 dollar toy), crumpled paper and Zach's senior cat food. In his free time he can be found chewing on toy fish, napping on a cutie little cat bed or shredding the curtains in the guest room.

Ollie also loves to pick fights with cats 4 times larger than himself.
Come on by and say hi, he also loves guests.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I've got to unsubscribe

I like to pretend that I knit a lot, but I really don't. When I do buy yarn I buy it cheap, so a while ago I bought a bunch of skeins from Herrschners. The yarn wasn't bad, but I keep getting weekly emails telling me all about their specials. This is what I saw when I opened my email with this week's special deals.

As if that wasn't bad enough the ad also sports this sassy Santa. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that he's giving me a "come hither, I've got a secret" sort of look.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I thought things were going to change when Alex finished school. I'll even go far as to say I thought that life would get so awesome that it would blow my mind. I had a picture in my head of our excellent life, you know, the one where we would move into the city (any city), start having lavish cocktail parties, wear overpriced shoes just to look fabulous and never have to dust again. But none of that stuff is happening. Instead, my life is changing in a weird way. I'm realizing that although things have shifted they've pretty much stayed the same. We still live in University housing, we still have to save money and Alex is still busy at night reading stuff about eyes. Dinners are not lavish and I haven't bought any new shoes. At least now we're able to go out for dinner in a restaurant and not give each other guilty glances when the bill hits the table, which is a welcome change, but I thought that life would somehow become carefree, like I would be running on the beach a lot... or something like that.

One thing that needs to change for me to feel like I'm finally moving forward is the housing situation, I'm so done with the University Village. We thought about buying a condo, but that requires some long term, hard core saving, so we decided that moving to another apartment might be the right thing to do. On Monday night we set out on our new housing journey and decided to look at two apartments which have cheaper rent than what we're still forking over to the University. Obviously, there was a reason why these apartments were so cheap. I ended up looking at the first apartment by myself because Alex's last patient was late. (oh, being married to an O.D. is sooo hard. bitch, moan, etc..) The apartment was in downtown Oakland, not a great part of downtown Oakland, but it wasn't too shabby. The building itself was kind of cute, it had a courtyard and the lofts there, which were already rented, looked nice. But the apartments for rent were awful. Awful is an understatement, I'm just going to cut to the chase here and tell you that they were shitholes. I knew it was destined for failure when the dude showing the apartment apologized for the loud music across the hall from the apartment I was viewing. The apology went a little something like this,
Allow me to say I'm sorry for the loud music. There's an unknown tenant in that apartment. I think there was a divorce or something and now there's some strange person in there. We're not sure what's going on. It's like a nightclub!
Here's a little tip for anyone showing an apartment: Don't admit to prospective renters that you have no clue, nor are you willing to research what goes on in the building for which you are claiming responsibility. It just doesn't sit right. Unless I want to live in a nightclub, then by all means, tell everyone to rock out even if you have no idea who the hell they are.

I looked at a one bedroom unit first, one with a "remodeled" bathroom. This meant that the shower stall had been cleaned, there was a new shower curtain and toilet paper was on the roll. Otherwise the bathroom was craptastic, complete with mildew in the corners and a sink which dripped. Slumlord then showed me what he called a "spacious two bedroom." It was about 800 square feet and had an even worse bathroom, which stunned me, because I didn't think that was possible. All the floors were covered with stained, brown carpet that smelled like a litterbox. The kitchen was so small that it had a Barbie stove and a mini fridge. The only heater was in the living room, it was about 40 years old and it took up half the space in there. No daylight came through any of the 4 windows, each was blocked by another wall from another building. It was the most depressing thing I had ever seen. I thanked Slumlord for his time and exited as I heard 50 Cent's In Da Club, which was actually Slumlord's phone ringing.

When I left the building I got a call from Alex, who had finally made it to a BART station close by. I said I would come and find him, but I don't really know my way around that neighborhood, so it took me roughly 30 minutes to find the corner where he was standing. Needless to say we were both quite cranky by the time Alex got in the car. But we forged onward to look at one more apartment. We drove over to Lake Merritt to look at a one bedroom apartment with hardwood floors and a walk-in closet. ooooh, aaaaahhhh. Unfortunately it was being shown by the same management company, and not surprisingly, no one was there to let us in when we arrived. We made some calls, left some voicemails, waited for 20 minutes and eventually gave up and drove back to the Village. That building actually looked pretty nice, so I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to see it, but I suppose it just wasn't meant to be, at least not this week. Maybe not this month. Maybe not this year. University housing really isn't that bad. After looking at what hovels I could live in, I was pleased to return to our spacious, free utilities and DSL, two bedroom habitat.

Maybe the kind of change I need is something more like getting a new kitten. Good thing I'm getting one on Saturday.
Now I will observe a moment of silence, because my little kitty went through his orchidectomy today. He never even had a chance to live it up. Poor little guy. At least he'll have a big, non-moldy apartment to call home.

Friday, July 08, 2005

mmm, bananas

Ape Escape is a pretty awesome game, but not as awesome as this ad.
click on the 2nd ad down in the right column, the one with the two guys facing each other... yeah, the one with the mound of bananas in between them.

photo friday - candid

This is my entry for this week, you can click on the picture if you'd like to see a larger version. I took this at the Oyster and Beer Festival in April.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

up the river (a post I meant to write a long time ago)

Many moons ago, about three months ago, I went on a rafting trip. It was the second annual 'Greg's Birthday' rafting trip. Last year was pretty rad, we had beautiful weather, went down a fairly easy fork of the river and I didn't have a vestibular disorder. This year proved to be a little more challenging for me with a chill in the air and some rain, class V rapids and spending a lot of time trying to convince myself I wasn't falling out of the boat when that's exactly what it felt like.

It's funny the little things I forgot about rafting after a year; things like how much work it is just to get into a rented wet suit and then realizing how much back fat I actually have once I finally cram myself into the wetsuit. And just because I paid to go rafting doesn't mean I'm going for a pleasant cruise down a river, there's some work involved. The paddling can be hard sometimes, but what's even harder is carrying the boat and paddles in and out of the water. This may not sound hard, but believe me, if you're weak and wimpy like me and wearing a wetsuit, helmet, jacket and life preserver, it is.

We camped the night before, so that always means that I can count on a solid 2 hours of sleep accompanied by 4 hours of tossing and turning. On top of being tired we had an hour van ride down windy roads to get to our starting point of the river, so I was pretty loopy by the time I disembarked from the van. I don't think I need to describe in detail what a lame ass I looked like in a wetsuit and rubber booties trying to stay steady on downhill gravel while attempting to hold my portion of the raft up over my head. I was sweating and it wasn't even hot out. By the time we got the boat into the water I was whimpering like a big baby, but once we got to paddling I tried my best to keep a stiff upper lip. Let me stress, tried, because the reality of it was that salty tears dribbled down my face over the sheer frustration of being dizzy and I wanted out when the guide said "waterfall" and "straight ahead." Sitting on the edge of a moving, bouncy, air filled vehicle probably isn't the best way for someone with balance issues to spend a Sunday, but gosh darn it, once you start a rafting trip with 14 other people it's not okay to say "hey, I changed my mind. Do you mind if we go back?"

I did much better the further we went but besides battling balance problems I had to deal with much more serious issues, like figuring out if I was on the right or left side of the boat when our guide yelled out commands. This was hard not only because I'm directionally challenged (and when holding a paddle it's hard to hold out your hands to see which one makes the 'L means left' shape), but also because our guide was from New Zealand and when he said left it sounded like lift and paddle sounded like peddle. Yeah, I know you can't peddle or lift in a raft, but that's what it sounded like and it confused me. Even though I knew what he meant and I kept repeating "you're on the left, you're on the left" in my head, it took a long time for me to process the information... and then about 25 minutes into the trip the guide asked me to move from the from the left side of the boat to the right side. Great.

The waterfall turned out to be not so big and pretty fun and once I got past my panic, I had a great time. The next big challenge was stopping for lunch. With the kind of vestibular damage I have the weird thing is that I'm okay once I get moving, like driving 65 on a freeway, but once I stop it still feels like everything is moving for awhile. So basically it was like eating at 40 mph. Even harder than eating was navigating my way up a hill to use the small tower of PVC tubes and bag that the rafting folks like to call the toilet. With some help from Alex working security for me at the makeshift restroom, I was able to pee in peace and make it back to the raft in one piece. The last part of the trip was really easy, we had been through the bulk of the rapids before lunch. The hardest part of the end of the trip was riding back to the campground cramped in a van with a bunch of other wet, exhausted and sweaty people. Steamy windows had new meaning.

So next year when April rolls around, chances are I'll forget about all the things I bitched about and get all giddy while raving about the mind-blowing water extravaganza I'll be attending. If I happen to get in your face regarding any sort of rafting experience please feel free to tell me to shut my big yap. Or shove me. Either one should work just fine.

Here's a picture of most of the rafting crew. See, I'm smiling, I did have fun, I swear.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

without a tripod

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who took some great photos of fireworks. I, on the other hand, took crappy photos like this.

At least we could see the fireworks this year, which was so much better than last year when we hoofed down to the Albany Bulb in the cold and wind only to realize that fireworks under cloud cover just look like you're in some sort of war zone. This year it was still cold and windy, but we were able to see about 5 different shows. Although Berkeley is the closest and the one we had the best view of, it was unfortunately the lamest show. I guess whoever does the fireworks for them doesn't realize that it's fucking freezing out and you can actually speed up the show by sending up one explosive while another is already in the air. Five seconds in between small fireworks is actually annoying and the show lasted for more than a half hour. Completely unnecessary.

My favorite part of going to the Albany Bulb every year is the heavy cop who stands at the entrance to the park and says the same speech to each group of people entering.
Welcome to Albany. We only have two rules here; no alcohol and no fireworks. Okay? Because if you are caught with either you'll be spending the night in the Albany jail. Okay?
And then I guess you're supposed to say okay back or give him some sort of sign that you understood him, because he keeps looking at you until you say "yeah" or give him the thumbs up or something. I just think it's funny that there are only two rules, I suppose crack pipes and guns are okay as long as you don't have any beer or roman candles. Richard and Wil joined us at the Bulb where we found a good spot without too much wind and nice place to enjoy our refreshments.

Friday, July 01, 2005


I just found out that I have to work tomorrow, which totally makes me want to punch someone in the face. And he knows who he is.

Since I have to do all this last minute stuff for tomorrow's shoot I don't have time to write about what I wanted to write about, which was a fire that destroyed the scene shop for Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I'm sure that it's going to be a hard summer and next season for them because of it, and I'm sitting here complaining because I have to go to a concert tomorrow and get paid overtime. I'm such a jerk. Anyways, here are some pictures I took the day after the fire. (click on the photo below for a slide show)