Tuesday, February 28, 2006

one more time with feeling

God, its nearly midnight and TH and I have dueling laptops and are working from home. I think I may have to divorce my laptop and consider that life is much more interesting when you don't spend it working.

Then again, if I spent time at work working instead in meetings or on the phone about a meeting I would have time to work.



Pancake Gals

I'm sorry I won't be in London today for the great Pancake Race. Its Shrove Tuesday to some, Mardi Gras for most and all I care about is TH's pancakes for dinner with a bit of lemon and sugar. Yum.

Its a tradition that I'm all for keeping up with.


Monday, February 27, 2006

It doesn't really matter what day it is

Me, sometime in my infancy, I believe in Chicago, 1965.

I was on the phone with my mom yesterday morning and we talked for about 10 minutes about this and that and finally I said - "aren't you going to wish my a happy birthday?" She said "Your birthday is tomorrow, the 26th". I told her today was the 26th. Anyways, no matter what day, you have to be in the mood to celebrate. This weekend was not it.

Like last year, I have a major work crunch, a paper for my seminar and too much on my plate to even enjoy dinner out. I fell asleep reading about landscape and memory last night.

So, I'm celebrating my prime birthday (you figure it out), in Paris on Friday with dinner at Cafe Cassette or maybe somewhere swankier like Violin d'Ingres and a brief shopping excursion somewhere interesting.

TH consoled me with the fact that until his dying day, her father was convinced her birthday was six days later than it was, her first due date.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

the love boat

I had a moderately sheltered childhood. I'm not saying it was a bad thing, in fact, I think it was good. My parents were very social people and every other weekend would find us at the home of an Iranian friend who was hosting a "mehmooni" or party that usually started around 7 and went until 11 or 12. There weren't that many Iranians in the Pacific Northwest in the 70s, so we stuck together. The kids grew up together and we are all still pretty close. If the family hosting the gathering was further than our watersheds (Redmond, Medina, Three Points, Bridle Trails or Seattle), it would make for a long day. We would start early and make a trek to Centralia (god, we didn't know about Burgerville back then) or Olympia and it seemed so exotic.

In any case, it was good clean fun. Our parents would talk and laugh. It would feel like a salon after dinner where they would discuss politics or poetry. Before dinner, it was typically gender segregated with the women in the kitchen talking and prepping the food and then men in the living room usually talking shop (most of them were doctors). The girls would usually help set the table with the chafing dishes and all the large silverplate platters for rice, stews, salads and greens. The guys, probably were outside rough housing or inside playing foosball. It was well before dvds, Playstations or easy availability of recreational drugs. Dinner was served with great fanfare and as with all Iranians, you just can't have one main course, so there was lots of variety. I think this gene has skipped this generation. The kids would come in and get food and go eat at the kids table and the adults would get food and then find places to sit around the table or in the living room. Iranians are not big on sit down dinners. Go figure- generation skipping gene strikes again.

When dinner was done and some sort of sweet was served, the parents would go on saloning and the kids would all gather up around the tv in the rec room for the Saturday night line up of the Love Boat and then Fantasy Island. I learned to love the Love Boat and looked forward to the guest stars. It kept us happy for a few years, until we discovered boys, rock and roll and that there was life outside our happy clan. I still think fondly of that show and look forward to a few snippets I see when I channel surf on travel. I never got into Fantasy Island. I'm not sure if it was Herve Villechaise or the sinister plotlines, but it always felt so desperate.

I also was so tired from figure skating practice that I conked out sometime after the plot was outlined for FI. I would be happy when I woke up with a quilt draped over me and my parents gently nudging me off the couch to say my blearly farewells to my friends and our hosts and popped into the car for the drive home.

Tonight as I sit at home with dueling laptops crunching data, I wish I could be 11 again, watching the Love Boat with my friends and having not a care in the world.


Friday, February 24, 2006

numb and whatever

Mmmm. Donuts. February 2006.

I really needed to go back to work this evening to see if my data had transferred to my latest trinket from TH. It is pictured here. I wanted something in a red box for my birthday, but as excited as I am about this, I was hoping that it would come from another company famous for its red boxes, not Lacie in Hillsboro. I guess that is the cool thing about being an adult, you can make your purchases if you wish. As for going back to work, I just couldn't do it. It was too cold. I was exhausted, both emotionally and physically. Today, I left at 5:30, that is the earliest I have in weeks. It was light when I got home, that was wierd.

I did succeed in getting the USGS to cooperate tonight. I have lots of data now and we'll see if I can make it all work this weekend, my deadlines keep getting moved up!

later taters.



TH and I received emails today inviting us to the Memorial Service of a friend we had no idea had passed away. She was only 46 and though we had not been in contact in years, we had both thought of her in the last few days. She was a great friend, mom and all over good person. We tried to keep in contact, but for some reason, they pulled away from us. After a while, its just not any fun to even try to keep in contact via christmas cards or birthdays.

I can't believe she's gone.

I was going to spend my tomorrow morning putting back my study, but I guess I'll just go to a Memorial Service instead.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

truly getting back to normal

Crocuses, Front Lawn, February 2006.

Dinner was delightful and knife and forky. Thin cut pork chopped dredged in flour and herbs, sauteed in a pan with shallots and sliced mushrooms and finished off with some marsala. Artichokes and herbed spinach pasta for sides. It was definitely yummy and normal.

Spitting now and cold and raw. The garden looks like it miraculously made it through the worst of the cold weather. There is a forecast of below freezing for the next few nights, so we'll be covering the citrus again. I can't wait for the fucshias to make it back out. I love them, but not in my front hall.

I think I lost two small hellebores that were in pots, at least their flower potential. Me thinks the plants are okay. I'll miss the first great plant sale of the year next weekend, but there will be more to come. I noticed today that the first of the peas are starting to break through the ground. I'm going to read the forecast discussion before I make the first few rose prunings.


network issues

from: seamless.usgs.gov

"System Status:
Network Outage: Thursday February 23, 2006. The system is down due to network issues. We expect the system to be available again this afternoon. Thank you for you patience and we apologize for any inconvenience."

Yeah, right. You have been down all week and I can't get dick done.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

feeling like a truck ran over me

Flood Marker, Rome January 2004.

Half our developers are sick, I'm all blurry and really feeling nasty. I will chug down vitamin C today, but right now the idea of spending three hours staring at slides does not excite me. I am happy to report that we did find somewhere to stay in Rome for March and D. has graciously offered to bring his camera for me to test this week. It will be interesting to stay somewhere different. I wanted to stay on the other side of the river, but the place we wanted was not available. This is close to TH's favorite gelateria, some grocery stores and our coffee place of choice. I am planning on spending some quality time on the streets looking for signs much like the one you see in this entry. Katherine Rinne, an architect, who started the Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome project which I am building some of my own work on. As long as the apartment has a moka, a good bed and some light, I should be happy. If I'm desperate for a computer I know where to go.

I need to start looking for a GPS now.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006


My Nikon D50 crapped out this weekend, right when I was going to take some pics. It was flashing some errors and when JK and I got back from erranding etc. I spent some quality time on some message boards trying to figure out how to troubleshoot from 5500 miles away. I shot off some nice pics on Saturday, which I would love to share, but sorry, you'll have to wait. I took the camera back to the store (local chain) and they said it had to be fixed by Nikon. I bid a sad goodbye to my most favorite camera and hopefully they'll either replace the body or fix it. Its under waranty and TH was smart enough to buy the extended waranty when we bought the camera in late September. I'm bummed since I have an upcoming trip to Brussels and Chicago and in less than a month I go to Rome. I have grown quite dependent on the D50 and I can't go back to my 5 megapixel camera now.

TH mentioned that it bummed her that something so technologically advanced could peter out in 5 months of use and wasn't sure we could trust it in the future. The manager of the store said that they would probably replace the body,which though I appreciate makes us realize that there are no longer craftsmen/women who take care of these things. Everything gets shipped off to the factory and more than likely, it will get trashed and a new one sent. Just like the Ipod, just like my first portable CD player, just like the hundreds of VCRs and DVD players that end up by the side of the garbage dumpsters or in landfills.

In the meanwhile, I'm without my D50. I did ask a friend if I could borrow or pay him to use his SLR Pentax for the next few weeks, he just replaced it with a D200, so I have that option, but I'm just bummed.

Other than that, a bit tired, but not jetlagged. I made dinner tonight and though it was basic, it was all done at home in a kitchen with without boxes everywhere.


Monday, February 20, 2006

stygian darkness

Nothing like flying across the Atlantic without a window and stygian darkness. At least I finished my netflix, worked and watched 8 episodes of that adorable Jason Bateman in AD. At least I got out for an hour or so this morning, walking towards Holborn and through back streets to avoid the hustle and bustle that is Oxford Street.

Back home now. Cheese is in fridge, rollaboard unpacked, clothes in hamper, chargers accounted for and presents presented to TH. We have dueling laptops right now and I'm about to wash off 5500 miles of jet fuel and go to bed. God, I get to do it again (Paris and Brussels in 10 days).

Later taters,


Sunday, February 19, 2006

sunday lunch

Actually, brunch at st. john with JK and E. and it was yummy. Great room and definitely will return for lunch, other than that, picking up some books for TH and some club bars as well. Visited my aunty in Finchley and realize that I'm due for a Ground Force weekend in April. Other than that Now, just hanging in the room and about to hit the club for a decaf cappucino to warm up with.
Tomorrow a few errands and then back to the airport. I'm glad I came, TH has kept herself busy with fun projects and hopefully I can convince her to return with me in April.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

things that require thinking

How many masters degrees does it take to send a text message?

Three, one for JK and two for me.

Had a nice day puttering about picking up cheese, fighting crowds at Borough Market, lunch at Roast, dinner at wagamamas with crazy Flyertalkers and then drinks at the Groucho Club and a visit to a Crapper Toilet.

Will post pics when I get back. That is the only cord I forgot.


Friday, February 17, 2006

off like a herd of turtles

Bank for notary and then off to the airport where my flight is already listed as late out of Seattle, giving me a tiny connection time in Chicago. I think I may pick up a sandwich just to be sure that I dont' starve to death (never really a problem.

I have data to test for my beta and that should keep me busy for a while.

Yes, it is the first time since 2003 that my upgrade has not cleared.

Talk to you all from London.

I think.


baby its cold inside

The freezer that is. I was rifling through the deep freeze today looking for my will and power of attorney I realized that first, you should put in in the freezer because its a fire proof place. However, its cold and honestly, its a stupid place when you are a hurry.

However, the next few weeks we'll be eating a lot of white salmon, blueberries, tomato sauce and lamb.

Its cold out as well. Many of the neighborhood plants are covered in blankets and sheets. The cold snap is not as severe as first thought. The forecast discussion sounds dissapointed. I'm not.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

i'm a mule

Hellebore orientalis, February 2006.

There is a really long old thread on flyertalk about the things that we are asked to bring back and forth as frequent travellers. My mom just talked to my auntie in London. My bag, once empty but for a few tech documents, powercord for my cracktop, a skirt, yoga pants, tights and a tshirt or three is now chockablock full of zip lock bags and emergen-c. No biggie, she has done millions of things for me in the past and I love her to death. I would bring her my mom if she would decide that London in February wasn't so bad.

Typically I bring emergen-c, ziplock bags (I question this), l'oreal conditioner, chicken stock and lemon pepper. I bring back cheese. That is about it. I love London to bits, but short of cheese and a few books, I need nothing from there. I will be hitting the cheese shops and perhaps a bookstore or three if time permits, but mostly I'll be there to make sure JK doesn't get into too much trouble.


I usually don't check my seat assignments very often unless I have a crap seat, which I do LHR-ORD on Monday. In hopes of moving from my okay seat to a better one, I have been checking the seat maps in hopes the others coach to business class upgrades have cleared and their seats have opened. That is, the creme de la creme of the coach seats that mere mortals cannot pre-reserve.

Just my luck, 31B opened on my return, so I'm back to the rollaboard as the ottoman, the latest OK!, powerport and tons of leg room seat on a not very full flight. A picnic lunch from the Cathay Pacific First Lounge and a large costa coffee and I'm good for the next 9 hours.


Now if my domestic upgrades would clear and I would feel better, then we could be very excited.

I'll stop boring you with the minute details of my life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

too much information

It appears if I will be flying in the back of the bus for my trip to London on Friday. The transatlantic part doesn't bother me that much as I'm getting used to it and I have an exit row which if I can leave my rollaboard down for most of the flight, should be great.

My Seattle-ORD flight may suck, again I'm in the exit row, but for some reason, they just aren't yielding the seat for me.

I hate that.

I usually pick my seats on my preferences, exit row, bulkhead, desire to see Greenland, etc... If it is a plane I'm not familiar with, I use something like Seatguru as my guide. The website has lots of seat maps for different airlines and plane configurations and gives you the locations of the powerports and user comments. I have found it a great resource. You do need to know your equipment though, you can usually find that on your reservation and itinerary.

Give me strength. I was seriously considering calling Alaska and seeing if I could redeem 90 to 120K for a Club/First seat on Friday just to avoid Chicago and the infinite delays, no points, but a non stop flight.

And I'm catching something...


Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

I would send you all a bunch of marshmallows, but I'm about 12 hours from a working kitchen, so that is going to have to wait. You're going to have to settle for virtual mallows.

I used to hate Valentine's day. I like it now, its close to my birthday and there is usually chocolate involved. TH used to hate it, but I think she now realizes that its not a bad way to show your affection.

Then again, shouldn't every day be valentine's day -- be good to yourself, your loved ones and realize that if we all showed a little more patience, understanding and compassion, life would be more sane.

Oh, pass the bonbons will ya?


100 hours and counting

My upgrade for sea-ord on Friday has not cleared. They are holding 5 revenue seats, I am either number 1 or 2 on the waitlist. At least I have an exit row and will go to TJ's on the way to airport to pick up asian chicken salad for lunch. So, maybe I'll have JK's luck and I'll clear.

If not, its going to be a looooooooooooooong day.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

let the fun begin

Woke up this morning to the rat a tat of a flicker trying to drill a hole into a birch tree, it was comforting and a sure sign of spring.

Spent the day running errands including a trip to the Winter Market for veggies and hellebores, Ace for more little felt pads and trying in vain to wash my car. It was sunny, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Spent a bit of the afternoon celebrating the impending decadal bd of AM, while lunching at the Bayshore Room at the Yarrow Bay Grill. Yummy food, lovely room and lovely company.

Tonight TH and I being dragged to a garage in Interbay to listen to AM and his childhood friends, college friends and med school friends play loud instruments and eat bbq. We're bringing Top Pot donuts and earplugs. Should be good, Steelpole bathtub, Mr. Epp, Morphine and Snowman Hospital. Like I said, I'm bringing earplugs and my camera which are key. JK is in Austin, but I know if she wasn't she'd stay until the bitter end. ;)


Friday, February 10, 2006

drat, foiled again

Trying to find somewhere to stay in Rome for four days in March. The apartment we would use is booked, I tried to get another one in the same area and was told by Dottore M. that our stay was too short and his apartment was too exclusive to rent it to us for a shorter stay because we were not really going to see all we could of the Eternal City in such a short period of time.

WTF? What the heck does he know what we are planning on doing while there?

Geez. I responded snarkily that I spend 15 days a year in Rome. I was not a tourist and there to do a research project (I am) and that I would find somewhere else that would be more amenable to our short stay. I refuse to stay in a hotel, which limits our ability to find something that will work. I continue to look, hoping that I can get into this as a stand by.

Bite me D. Mauro.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

frequent flying

Great circle mapper - January-March 2006. Oh the places you will go! Some over and over again, it seems.

Today I spent a great deal of time placating JK whose upgrades to DFW/Austin hadn't cleared before the 24 hour mark and figuring out with TH how to get to London and back and then to FCO with the least amount of stress to our pockets and our bodies. Hint: Upgrading on BA to Club on 2 hour flights makes it all better. It is all okay, its just part of the game, the checking the flight loads, calling the super secret line, figuring out the cost/benefit ratio to upgrading v. sitting in coach. I still managed to get California to behave and have a decent conversation with my accountant as well. Sometimes, multitasking is a good thing.

Anyhoo,when I put in my travel from January until the end of March, I was appalled to see that I will have flown over 64K. Yes, campers, that is alot of peanuts and little bottles of water and luna bar and only 15K of it will be work related!

Hmm, I wonder why I can't seem to lose any weight.


storage lust

TH wants one of these for Valentine's day. Seems practical and honestly, ever since I lost my work laptop hard drive, I have become fanatic and obsessed about backing up and archiving data, photos and documents. I use a thumb drive for some stuff, but its now too small. I love my lacie 160 gig drive, but I'm looking to buy another one, like this, for another back up.

How do you back up your information?



Aqua Virgine, Rome December 2005.

I'm trying hard today, I've been sort of negative the past few weeks with all the stuff that has been going on.

Things that currently make me smile:

1. Spring is springing up here! I'm excited to see my bulbs up, the sun out, neighbors and their dogs out walking and that maybe we'll get out and garden this week.
2. My silly district line cosmetic bag that TH bought me for Xmas. The color scheme is orange, yellow and black which matches my computer bag perfectly and reminds me of London every time I use it. I still can't understand why the green district line has orange upholstery.
3. My father, for all that he can drive me crazy, still calls me every day at work just to check in. I love that.
4. TH, since she came up with a brilliant idea for my project topic for my "representations of Rome" seminar that takes into account my love of maps, rivers, flooding, GIS and symbology. She is soo smart.
5. The fact that we both do the same sorts of things technology wise and that we can talk about it at length and bounce ideas back and forth of eachother.
6. That Saturday may be marshmallow making day chez nm.
7. Tomorrow night I will be buying bulbs at the NW Flower and Garden show.
8. Sunday, I will be planting sweet peas.
9. That for all I bitch and moan, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, February 06, 2006

just a wall to lean on

That is what I am currently doing, leaning on a wall in my hallway as there is not a place to perch to blog.

We went to my parent's condo tonight for dinner, TH made a yummy mushroom udon with springish vegetables and a chicken we roasted the night before. It was excellent and green. I caught up on a up/down and TH channel surfed until we got bored and decided to go home. Neither of us are big tv watchers, but the other options at home are to read (no big there) or sleep. Since there is no where to read, we would just sleep and sleeping at 8 pm is not an option.

So, here we blog, leaning, like we're at the airport.

Things are looking up - its supposedly dry this week. I'm going to scoot out early on Thursday and Friday and hack back at my blackcurrants and raspberries and maybe even go for a walk in the light. Imagine that!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

chaos redux

TH and I spent today everything from the living room into the kitchen and the front hall. This entailed putting little felt squares/pads onto every piece of furniture we own. I feel like the next step will be doilies, little lladro figurines and coasters.

They are starting on our living room Monday. We are going to call and accept the bid on the cabinets (I think), so we're in for even more disarray.

However, we can enter the kitchen from the back, so we can at least get to our refrigerator. Even managed to eat a home cooked meal for dinner, not at our house, but close enough.

Things could get back to normal by say mid March.

On a bright note: The daphne is starting to bloom, we have tons of irises blooming and things are bursting in the garden.


Friday, February 03, 2006

weather girls

I have spent most of the last week dealing with how science and policy mix and don't mix and really wondering how our next generation of female scientists will excel in a world that still has men saying "so, what do you ladies do" - "er, i'm a rocket scientist" or "I model large scale atmospheric and oceanographic data sets". If I could live my life again I would have combined science with policy at an early age and learned something about management organization so that I could lead instead of follow. That is the only way I believe that women will see positive movement in the sciences.

This week has been very eye opening for me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


My Phil, London, November 2005.

The other Phil's prediction.

Don't remove that mulch. Phil has gone back to sleeping, eating chocolate and watching DVDs. He noted that it was nice to see the first ice follies daffodil in full bloom and the rest of the buds looked inviting. He enjoyed the daphne and the irises, but he'll wait for the really fat buds, an infusion of debauve and gallais from Paris (all dark please) and then he'll think about coming out again.

P.S. Methinks it is time to start soaking those sweet peas seeds for early blooms.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


White boy flights. Yup, that is what I had today, the guy who looks like he has the IQ of a tadpole who can't be bothered to take off his sunglasses or his bose headphones the whole flight. The one who was doing multiple guess tests for his futures trading exam and threw his shit on my seat.


The next flight had a more well mannered guy who did much the same. What is with these boys? Can you perhaps wait until you are positive you don't have a seat opponent before putting all your crap on my seat?

Could you perhaps help the sub 5' woman get her rollaboard out of the overhead?

I'll bet you tomorrow will be much the same.

Other than that, the floors look great. I called on my way back from the airport and they told me not to walk on them for a while, I said I had to go home to get ready to leave again, they said okay, sans shoes.

It really looks nice. I can't wait to see it in the light.