Monday, July 31, 2006

The Maine Report

Maine was wonderful!
First off, the weather and the location were beautiful. Scott’s grandmother’s house is right on a tidal river, and you can see the ocean just across the opposite shore. The weather was warm and sunny, so even though the water was cold (56°F), it didn’t take much encouragement to jump in and cool off.

Next, the people I met are wonderful; everyone was so warm and welcoming. There were 40+ people there: grandma, 6 children, 16 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren, and all of the in-laws and significant others. And don’t forget the 4 big dogs. But it didn’t feel overwhelming – it just felt fun. I’m sure it helps that I’ve grown up going to big family gatherings (my mom is one of 6 kids, and I’m one of 18 grandchildren), but there’s no substitute for warm hospitality and taking the time to reach out to “the new kid.” In particular, it was great to spend time with Scott’s parents and his sister Julie again.

Now for a rundown of the weekend.
We left on Thursday afternoon, but missed our flight to Manchester. Instead of flying out the next morning, we caught a flight to Hartford where Julie picked us up. We spent the night in Amherst and then drove up on Friday morning… which took us longer than expected because we had to (1) stop by the Manchester airport to pick up our checked bag and (2) change a flat tire. We arrived around 2 pm, just 15 hours late!

The first round of introductions started, we ate lunch, and then we hit the beach for some reading and sunning. A nice big pasta dinner, a little bridal shower for one of the soon-to-be-wed grandchildren and her fiancé, a game of Asshole, and then off to bed. (The family rented out the cottage across the street, and Scott and I got to sleep in the screen porch!)

The sun woke me up at 5:45 the next morning, so I took myself for a long walk on the beach. After breakfast and coffee, Scott and I went for a 4-mile run on the beach. We hung out, read, chatted, lunched, beached, fried, and got cleaned up for 5 pm family photos. (Incredibly efficient photos! I was so impressed! These guys were pros.)

At 7 o’clock, everyone gathered on the deck for a short grace and thanksgiving. Scott’s grandmother talked about how wonderful it was that her family all loved each other and got along with each other. I couldn’t agree more.

Then dinner began. First, steamers. Boxes of them. Scott said they’re some of the best he’s ever had. (They’re certainly the best I’ve ever had, but I don’t have much history to go on.) Then lobster! Robbie gave me excellent coaching on how to dissect mine, and I had a great time. Legs, tail, claws. Not too much spilling/spurting/dripping, at least no more than my neighbors.

By the time dinner was finished, I was exhausted. The combination of an early morning, 8 miles of exercise, all the sun and sand, and a full belly meant that I spent a few hours reading in relative calm. (Scott comes from a family of avid readers, so I wasn’t the only one retreating this way.) The evening ended with a stroll into downtown Ogunquit for ice cream sundaes. It was crowded with tourists and fun to see things so lively.

I slept in until 7 on Sunday morning and went on another morning run with Scott. We had perfect weather. Even though the sun was already starting to get hot, there was a cool ocean breeze and a little bit of (quite beautiful) fog. His parents and aunt took us on a walk to Perkin’s Cove, via a path called the Marginal Way that reminded me of a more dramatic version of the Lakewalk. While the landscape around the house was filled with sandy beaches, this walk brought us past the typical rocky Maine coastline. We spent some time climbing around on the rocks and examining tide pools. Scott’s dad gave each of us a dollar to spend at the candy store at Perkin’s Cove, and Scott wisely advised me to spend it on salt-water taffy.

Another lazy afternoon of lunch, reading, sunning, walking on the beach. At 5, it was time to go. It felt too soon.

Scott and I managed to catch our flight out, and got back to Baltimore safe and sound. A long bus ride to the District, a long metro ride to Columbia Heights, and what felt like a very long walk home to my apartment. Just as we were nearing my home, and the sense of relief at finally being home was starting to come over me, I glanced up at the sky. It was milky blue from the light pollution, and you could barely see the stars up there. Nothing like the black Maine sky with the Milky Way spread across it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Impatient for Maine, and music I like.

I'm awfully impatient to leave the office. Only a few more hours, and then we're off to Maine!

In the meantime, I'm listening to Regina Spektor, whose CD I'm thinking of buying.
Here's an All Things Considered interview with her, and here's her MySpace page. You can listen to several of her songs on each site.

Or I might just buy the latest Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack...

I went for a long-ish run this morning. It's such a privilege to be able to casually jog down to the Reflecting Pool and take in the National Mall... even when it's hot and humid out. Sadly, I didn't stretch enough afterwards and am now feeling the effects. I'll just have to go for a long walk on the beach tonight to loosen up my muscles.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's Official!

I'm moving in with Scott in August!
I'll be a bona fide Delafielder!

I'm not sure exactly when yet. But I'm excited. And sort of nervous. But happy that it's official. It's been vague and speculative for a while now. More details to follow.

I love summer.

Subscribing to Ali's belief that non-smokers need breaks too, I just went for a walk down to the White House and back.

It is beautiful outside!

The sun is warm, and the grass is fragrant.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More good ESC press

From The Second Life Insider:
If anyone is going to be involved in the future direction of the Internet (with all the latest ramblings currently going on about 'Web 2.0'), it's [the Electric Sheep Company]. Among its constituents are the well-regarded and influential residents Satchmo Prototype, FlipperPA Peregrine, and Forseti Svarog. Currently, their most visible product is SL Boutique, the one-stop-shopping site for all your SL needs.

Keep an eye on these guys; they're plugged in to the future... just look at their logo! And any company whose name derives (as I guess) from a Philip K. Dick novel is the company I want to keep.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Exuberant for no particular reason.

I guess most of my posts are more interesting to me than to anyone else, since I'm just talking about myself, but I'll warn you that this post is probably particularly boring to anyone who's not me, because I basically write about two dreams that I had, and it's never as interesting to hear about someone else's dream as it is to talk about how crazy your own dream was. You have been warned.

This morning I had one of the most joyful dreams I can remember. It started off at home in Duluth, where I was asking my mom what she wanted for her birthday. I suggested a new journal to write in, but she said what she really wanted was the diary she had written in as a child. It had gone missing, but she thought it might be at the library, because she had donated a bunch of books there a while back. (During this exchange, I opened up my dad's journal, to see if he needed a new one, and was pleasantly surprised to find it filled with beautiful caligraphy that he had been practicing.)

So I went to the library, and started looking through the shelves for a little book with a black and white photo of a girl and a horse on the cover. Then I realized that the diary wouldn't have a Dewey Decimal number on it, and that thte librarians probably would have put it in the lost and found, not in the stacks. So I went back and asked the guys at the information desk. They looked at me, and then looked at each other and said, "I wonder if...she's the one??" They jumped up and sprinted to the front of the library where the lost and found was. They were so excited! They were screeching and skidding around corners! I ran after them, and sure enough, there was the diary. We were all ridiculously happy.

I had another dream about Duluth on Wednesday - both that one and today's were packed with vibrant imagery and real people and places. Pretty fun.

Wednesday's dream was about Scott visiting Duluth for the first time. We went to see Swan Lake at the DECC and sat next to Robert, the Minnesota Ballet's ballet master. But the auditorium was slowly filling up with water, so we had to move to the balcony after the intermission. We also met Nancy Lokken (my first violin teacher) and my mom, who was catsitting three of my uncle's huge orange tomcats.

It's been a great morning since waking up.
  1. Today's the day we leave for a camping trip!
  2. On the ride to work, there was something in the air, and the way the sun was rising, that reminded me of being at the cabin. I can't wait to go. Maybe I'm homesick, and that's why I'm having all these dreams?
  3. Thomas Circle is paved! It's so nice to have that big, ugly construction site nearing completion!
  4. I faxed in paperwork to enroll in the company's health insurance plan. Finally!
  5. Alissa got accepted as a transfer student to the University of Minnesota's law school! Yaay! I'm so happy for her.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

3 x (2 Reviews)

Movie Reviews

I got to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest last night. Arrrgh! Parts of it felt too silly, like when 3 guys are having a sword fight inside of a giant wheel that’s rolling down a hill. First, it’s silly that they’re even able to fight each other, when normal people would be holding on for dear life and/or breaking their necks. Second, the wheel would just run into a tree and fall over instead of rolling straight through the forest at break-neck speed. But when I let go and suspended my disbelief, it was fun – definitely exciting to see it on the big screen. The fish-ghost-pirates are wonderful; I would have loved to have been on that design team! Johnny Depp is wonderful, especially the way he runs. I can add him to my list of actors with good physical humor. (Rowan Atkinson and Jim Carey are the other two so far.) The ending doesn’t feel like an ending. I understand their desire to create a cliff-hanger to encourage everyone to go see the third one (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), but that’s not an excuse for this petering-out. Paul said it felt like half a movie. I heartily agree, matey.

The movie I really enjoyed this weekend was Bubba Ho-tep, which Scott and I watched on Friday night. It contains a good deal of absurdity, and it’s absurdly good. It takes place in a Texan rest home where Elvis and JFK live. They have to battle an Egyptian mummy. There’s campy B-rate horror but really good suspense. There are neat camera shots and great colors. There are musings on the meaning of life. Rent it!

Book Reviews

I finished The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald this morning. We’re going to see it performed at the Guthrie Theater in September, so I wanted to reread it. I last read it sometime in middle school, but I couldn’t remember any of the plot. I think I’m going to go back read it again this week. It’s a short book, and I feel like I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time through. I feel like I’ve gotten “bad” at literature, like I’ve forgotten how to think about how symbolism works. That bothers me, so this might serve as a good little brush up. Where’s a book group when you need one? (Actually, for all of you readers out there: Let me know if you want to read and discuss Gatsby. Seriously. What’s up with T.J.Eckleberg?)

This afternoon, I started The Non-Designer’s Type Book by Robin Williams and am thoroughly enjoying it. Kenneth gave it to me yesterday. He’s a graphic designer, and I’m toying with the idea of learning graphic design, and he said this book was one that got him started on his career. I can see why. Reading it makes me want to go out and do it. (My first project will be redesigning this blog. I’ll need to figure out more HTML before major changes occur though.)

Miscellaneous Reviews

I got to go swimming yesterday! Armand brought Brooke and Kenneth and I out to Scotts Run. It’s a short drive from the city and then a short hike from the road. There are enough rocks in the river and fish dams built between the rocks that it’s pretty easy to make your way out to the middle of the Potomac. There, you can sit right in the rapids, so it feels like a jacuzzi and sounds much nicer. A serenade, Kenneth said. Absolutely perfect on a still, muggy day. We ate our picnic lunch, basked in the sun and talked about all the great blue herons we saw.

Scott and I visited Busboys and Poets today, down at 14th and V. I’ve been meaning to go there for a while, and this afternoon’s need for caffeine and air-conditioning provided the perfect opportunity. Good pizza, good espresso, and a server who let us sit and read (and nap, in Scott’s case) long after we had finished eating make me pretty excited about going back.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Niceties of the week.

Tuesday was nice, because Scott and I went climbing after work. I was feeling pretty tired and weak when we arrived, and he was nauseous from the long, hot metro ride. But we ended up having a really great night there! I climbed 5.8's more easily than I ever have in the past, and I started into 5.9's. I was quite pleased with myself. I think I must have learned a lot from climbing outdoors... like how to trust small holds. I felt much more aggressive/confident than I have in a while. It was so much fun!
Tuesday continued to be nice, because we arrived home to find that my apartment contained brand new carpet and, wonder of wonders, brand new linoleum in the kitchen! (Up until now, there's been carpet in the kitchen. Stupid.) The place still smells like it's full of new carpeting, but I can't complain. It's much better than it smelling like toxic death mold.

Wednesday was nice because we had a little dinner party. I made a lovely cucumber soup that I got in an e-mail from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's weekly Splendid Table "Weeknight Kitchen" e-mail. Usually I just daydream of getting around to making her recipes, so it was fun to finally do one! It was even more fun to hang out with Scott, Liz, Jack and a pair of Danes staying at Delafield. Jack brought some amazing chocolate-flavored mint from his garden that Liz mixed with french vanilla yogurt and served over fruit salad. Fantastic!

Thursday was nice because we're having a company meeting here, and I finally got to meet a bunch of sheep I've been working with for a while but have only known via e-mail or Second Life. We're a great group of people, and it makes me that much more excited to be working with them.

Friday is pretty nice so far. My U-lock broke this morning, but I had a nice breakfast with Scott and a nice workout at the gym where I decided that I need to improve my form on deadlifts to prevent top-of-the-knee bruises. It's muggy out, but I like it. (I probably wouldn't like it if I didn't have an air-conditioned office to retreat to.)

Tomorrow I get to go to Scotts Run (no relation to the bf) for a picnic, hike and swim. I'm very excited!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

2 good reviews

The Electric Sheep Company put on a mixed reality event on Monday night - they brought the Home Run Derby into Second Life. And it went darn well!

Eric Rice: Home run kings: MLB, ESPN, Second Life, & The Electric Sheep
CNET: 'Second Life' makes an All-Star pitch

Monday, July 10, 2006

What to do in DC if the weather is amazing.

A glorious weekend.

Scott picked me up after work on Friday, and we biked down to the sculpture garden for a picnic dinner accompanied by live jazz. This was the first time I've been able to "Jazz in the Garden" this summer, and it was wonderful: just the right temperature, and packed with families, couples, groups of friends. Such a perfect way to end the week! Dinner was comprised of Whole Foods delicacies: fresh ciabatta, mustard seed gouda, tomatoes sprinkled with salt, mixed olives, a dark chocolate-y beer, and blueberries for dessert.

We didn't get moving quite as early as we had intended on Saturday morning, but we did eventually make it out to Carderock where I got to climb outdoors for the first time ever! It’s a beautiful location, and we had perfect weather. I was surprised at how different it felt from indoors. Grippier. Greater friction let me trust tinier holds. But it meant that my fingers and toes got worn out before the rest of me. (Usually my arms go first.) Hopefully I can stay out a little longer next time I go. I’m definitely impatient to go again soon!
I spent the afternoon wandering around the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and through DC while Scott got caught up on work. I saw a great band, AfriCaribe, in the Nuestra Música: Latino Chicago section of the festival, as well as a neat hip hop group. From there, I moved on to the Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions section, which didn’t look all that exciting on the Smithsonian website, but which was definitely worth a visit. Each tent represented a different region of North America, and just about each one had live demonstrations going on. The baskets were beautifully constructed and patterned; seeing them made me want to learn how to weave them myself.
The Festival was closing down for the night at this point, so I didn’t get to see the Alberta tents. Instead, I took a walk up through the city to Dupont – something I haven’t done in a long time. When I first moved to DC, I had all kinds of time on my hands, so I walked everywhere. I didn’t really see anything new, but I saw it at a new pace. I read the names on the bases of statues and eavesdropped on tourists’ conversations.
At Dupont, I watched some breakdancers and tried to block out the whiny singer with a guitar. I read the New Yorker, dozed off for a bit, and eventually went back home with Scott.
We spent the evening playing games with LT, Taren and Mike. Taren taught us a new game, Things, which I will certainly spread to new circles of friends. It’s a riot.

I had a peaceful, New-Yorker-filled Sunday morning, and then did chores while Scott had Ultimate practice. I went for a long-ish run, which felt good even though it demonstrated how out of shape I am. Around 2, Scott and I helped two of his friends move into their beautiful new house. We all hung out to watch Italy’s victory, got dinner (falafel!) and then split. Poor Scott had to go back to the office, so I put together a vegetable-bean salad for the week and had a peaceful New-Yorker-filled night.

The weekend felt long and relaxed without being lazy. Maybe not as exciting as a tournament or touring another city, but easily as desirable.

(This is my first 5-day work week in over a month! How am I going to survive until next weekend?)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Good things underfoot

One highlight from the weekend I forgot to post about is my purchase of a new pair of cleats. I knew I was going to need a new pair at some point, but when the grass started tickling my toes during a dump drill at a recent BRDM practice, the purchase became inevitable. LT kindly took me cleat shopping with her, as it is an activity that requires a car in the DC metro area (grrr). But I failed to find cleats to my liking. Or I was indecisive. In any case, I played my first game at potlatch in my old cleats, both of which were held together with athletic tape. They looked like saddle shoes - cute! But as soon as the game and the cheers were over, I ran over to the Gaia tent (Gaia specializes in Ultimate gear) and purchased a truly wonderful pair of shoes. The white feels a little flashy, but it's worth it for the way they let me cut.

Conversation with my old cleats:
Me: Oh! Let's cut now!
Old Cleats: Huh? Now?
Me: Yeah, a nice sharp V-shaped cut. Here, I'll plant my foot so I can turn and run the other way.
Old Cleats: How about a nice U-shaped cut? We wouldn't want to do anything drastic here...

Conversation with my new cleats:
Me: Hmm, maybe I should cut now...
New Cleats: GREAT idea! Yeah! Now! Here we go!

Seriously, cutting feels effortless in these things. Maybe it's because my old cleats were just so decrepit, or because the new ones have pegs instead of flat cleats, or because they have the extra toe cleat, or because they're flashy looking. I can't wait to play in them some more!

The second good thing underfoot is the bare cement in my apartment. I returned home from Seattle to find the carpet still soggy from the insane rain we'd received, but by this time a healthy crop of mold had also developed. Black mold. Toxic death mold, even. But today, a crew came in, ripped all of it up, and carted it away. It needs to stay exposed for a few days so that everything can air out completely (we've got a killer fan going to hasten the process), and then we'll get brand new carpet... and maybe even linoleum in the kitchen instead of carpeting!!

Death Mold Attacks Nation's Capitol
(You should click on this link just to see the great photo.)

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Seattle Report

My apologies for the posting delay. I got back from Seattle on Wednesday, but have been tired and busy since then! But now it’s Friday afternoon, and I feel like I’ve done enough work today to warrant a little posting.

Scott and I took off bright and early on Thursday morning and had nice, uneventful flights. We picked up our rental car and headed north to the University of Washington where I met with two members of the Information School. I’m thinking of getting a Master’s of Information Science, and UW’s program is young but supposedly very good. A pleasant, helpful visit all around! I’m not convinced I want to get an MSI, and this helped clarify the pros and cons for me.
Scott and I took in the UW art gallery, which had a great Maya Lin show. It was all about landscapes, which was particularly relevant and exciting, because the entire plane ride from St. Louis to Seattle, I was peering out the window and admiring everything below. Very different from the DC-to-MN flight, much drier and rougher.
Note to Dad – Maya Lin has been commissioned to do a piece along the Columbia River to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It’s beautiful, and reminded me of your trip down that river.
From the University, Scott and I headed south and spent some time wandering around downtown Seattle. We started at Pike Place Market, went down to Pioneer Square, and back again before we got hungry. We ate at The Islander because the first thing listed on their menu was a Pu Pu Platter. On the flight out, I was working on a crossword puzzle. One of the answers was “pu pu platter”, which prompted me to wonder what a pu pu platter really is. Scott was as clueless as I, so we decided to search out Seattle’s finest Polynesian establishment in order to quench our thirst for knowledge. We actually stumbled onto The Islander rather than sought it out, but we quenched our physical thirst with crazy cocktails (a Pain Killer and a Dark & Stormy) in addition to our academic thirst.
Not quite ready to call it a night, we stopped for coffee and a slice of Marion Berry pie. We were sure it was a pun on DC’s illustrious ex-mayor, but in fact there really is such a thing as a marion berry. It’s tasty!

Friday morning saw us an Irish pub with 8 of our teammates watching the Germany/Argentina World Cup game. It went into overtime, and Scott and I left before it was over to go to the Pacific Science Center. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3-D Imax movie featuring narration by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, music by Danny Elfman, and tons of really crazy deep sea creatures. Can’t remember the last time I watched a 3-D movie… it’s so much fun!
We met up with my friend Paul and took in the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Lovely! Scott and I wandered through Chinatown before heading home for the night. (Our team got to stay at a friend’s enormous house, which makes hanging out and cleaning up so much easier than hoteling or camping.)

The tournament was on Saturday and Sunday. We played 4 games each day, and won 2 per day. Couldn’t ask for nicer weather or nicer teammates. We were largely a BRDM team, with some DC and Canadian pickups. The neat thing about Potlatch is that the games and gifts at the end of each game are as important as the game itself. We sang songs, did shots, played games, and traded MVP/spirit/misc awards. The “102 Damn Asians” team gave us a dog dish full of “puppy chow”, and the fiesta team (who’s name escapes me) gave us a pitcher of margaritas. Our drink gift was Dickel and Pickle – whisky and pickle juice – which is not as bad as you’d think. I actually kind of like it.
Anyways, the tournament was great. I love my sport and the people who play it. Many thanks to my teammates and to my opponents for giving me the opportunity to play! Also, a HUGE thanks to Paul for captaining this team. It takes an enormous amount of energy to coordinate a trip across the country, and an enormous amount of energy to manage them on the field. He performed beautifully.

Monday started off with a team pancake breakfast, and people started to part ways. Scott and I, along with Nate, Jess and Caryn, headed south towards Mt. Rainier for some camping. We spent Monday afternoon at a mosquito-infested campsite. Fortunately, it was on a pretty little alpine lake. The scenery, and being able to jump into just-melted water, made up for the bugs. We hiked (bushwhacked) up to a ridge that evening. It’s one of those experiences where I know I was miserable at the time, but now the thing I remember most the amazing view of Mt. Rainier when we got to the top… and the relief we felt when we discovered that we could take a road back down to the campsite.
One more swim, a campfire, quesadillas and big bottle of cheap wine, and then we were off to bed.

Tuesday started off with a swim (a much colder swim than the previous night!), and then we drove down to the Carbon River Glacier. We hiked 3.5 miles on a pretty trail (no bushwacking!), ate lunch overlooking a glacier, and headed back. We dropped off our 3 companions, got dinner (Mongolian!), and went to the airport. I’ve never slept so well on planes/airport floors in my life!