Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pumpkin Carving 2006

We got to carve pumpkins tonight!

Here's Jonathan's nervous-looking Bert.

Here's John's drooling cyclops.

Here's my snarling blind-in-one-eye beast.

And here's my electric sheep shooting laser beams from its eyes.

The Sheep Report

I get to go home tomorrow! It dawned on me this evening that it’s been a long time that I’ve been gone. Maybe it’s just the amount of stuff that I’ve crammed into 10 days that makes it feel like such a long time. In any case, I’m excited to be heading south to DC tomorrow.

This last leg of my trip has been great though. The Sheep gathered in upstate New York for a long weekend. We’ve done some good, collaborative brainstorming, discussing and working, but more importantly, we got to meet each other (we’ve hired at least five new people since our August meeting in California), hang out, sing karaoke, bond, and generally get to know each other. No trust falls or “Truth or Dare” though. Not even in Second Life. I had a little bit of the “little sister trying to hang out with the cool, older kids” feeling early on, but that happily evaporated by Saturday. It’s nice to feel necessary… or at least participatory.

One of the nicest things about being in this part of NY was the perfect fall weather we got on Friday. Bright blue sky, bright fall leaves, crisp breezes. It was rainy on Saturday and wet and windy today, but we seem to be amazingly free of cabin fever.

Another one of the nicest things about being here is the hospitality. We’re staying at the home of two of our employees’ parents house, and all weekend long we’ve been fed amazing made-from-scratch food: bread, muffins, soups, salads, birthday cakes. We’re being completely spoiled. Not to mention the abundance of sheets, blankets, mattresses, and towels (laundered daily). Amazingly generous. We are one lucky herd!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Brooklyn report

Another en route entry. This time I’m on the train from The City to Albany, in the good company of eight other Sheep.

I got to JFK right on schedule on Tuesday and subwayed my way to Brooklyn. I tried to get some work done, but it was mostly an exercise in how wireless cafés can fail you. The first-choice café, the one Jaime recommended to me, was closed. Number two was full of mothers and infants and didn’t have a working outlet. They did have excellent food, though, so I ate there and worked until my battery ran out. Number three, Barnes and Noble, had neither outlets nor a free network, so I wandered back to #2 and drank coffee and read. Happily, Jaime finished work at 2:30, so I really didn’t have too much time to kill. She and her brother and sister and I went back to the apartment where I got to meet Scarlet!

I spent most of today at Tea Lounge in Brooklyn where the wi-fi was free, and the cappuccino was frothy. I got some work done, and I got to juggle some last-minute travel plans. Crossing my fingers that everyone makes it to Lake George this weekend without incident. There will be 19 of us there by Saturday!

Yesterday I worked from K & J’s apartment in the morning, and then I headed up to Union Square and met Jesse for lunch at a great vegetarian-asian place (Zen Palace, I think?). We spent the afternoon wandering north through the city, catching up. Good times. I met Kate when she was done with work, we went to her gym, we went home and ordered in Thai food, we watched lots of TV. (My apologies to K & J for keeping them up late!)

Today I worked from the apartment until my caffeine addiction sent me out in search of coffee. Tea Lounge, which had failed me on Tuesday, was open and had plenty of outlets to support its free wi-fi. Good coffee, good atmosphere, good thing I was on-call, as there were a few last-minute Sheep travel arrangements to be juggled. I took off at two, met up with Sheep at Penn Station and successfully boarded the Lakeshore Limited with service to Albany. The route is right along the Hudson, which was glowing with reflected fall leaves and late-afternoon sunshine. Beautiful!

DC Future Salon presents...

Second Life Metaverse Roadmap with the Electric Sheep Company
If you're free and in DC on November 8th, stop by the Sheep offices!
The Electric Sheep Company is one of the most interesting and innovative companies in DC right now. Come see how this 3D web developer for Metaverse Worlds is leading the entry into the 3D web.

Details here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


By the way, I just posted a bunch of Baudette photos here. They're mostly for the benefit of my family, but they may be of general interest!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Northwoods Departure

I'm on the plane headed from Minneapolis to New York. I got to witness the most amazing sunrise during the ascent. The sky above the horizon was intensely red, and the clouds that we flew into were pink and violet. Once we arrived on top of the cloud bank, the scene was silver and blue; heavenly enough that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see choirs of angels hanging out.

It’s a bittersweet departure for sure. Sad to be leaving my family and Duluth, excited to be visiting Kate and Jaime for a few days. Wishing I could go home and see Scott after that, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the Sheep meeting once I’m there and get something out of it.

Scott’s corner – He got to go to El Salvador over the weekend and hang out on the beach and drink coconut milk. He’s back in Sanarate now for a few more days of research, and then he’s coming home on Wednesday. Sounds like it’s been a successful trip; things are on schedule and they got some good interviews.

Grandma’s corner – Her 80th birthday party was a success! She doesn’t like to draw attention to herself, doesn’t want people to fuss over her, but we all wanted to do this for her, and she ended up enjoying herself. Her six children, their six spouses, and 13 of her 18 grandchildren plus one grandson-in-law took her out to dinner on Saturday night. We dined at the Borderview Resort, where one can, in fact, view the US-Canada border: the Rainy River. There are fishermen out there all the time, as long as the river is open enough for boats to navigate or icy enough for snowmobiles and ice-fishing houses. Even this weekend, in the cold, windy weather, the river was filled with boats. Not my cup of tea, but I’m glad so many others are enjoying it, I guess. I had walleye for dinner… so at least I’m enjoying it in that sense.

After dinner, we retired to my Uncle Neal and Aunt Diane’s house for birthday cake. We were joined by the extended family. My mom has 12 cousins. I’m not sure how many of them were there, but the house was certainly lively. The party broke up around 11, only to reconvene 10 hours later for brunch. (Huge props to my aunt and uncle for hosting all of it.) And then the Twin Cities families started the five-hour drive home, and the Duluth contingent started our little four-hour trip.

I’m excited about the prospect of spending Christmas in Baudette this year. We haven’t done that in a long time, but this weekend reminded me how great it is to be up there with everyone. It’s raucous, good-natured, woodsy, wholesome.

A funny work related note from the weekend: some of my cousins were watching the Laguna Beach marathon on Saturday morning, and they saw commercials for VLB! I had been talking about it earlier, so they were excited to tell me they had seen ads for “that virtual thing you do.” Neat!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy Mole Day!

I know I’m such a Minnesota nut, but I just can’t help it. Duluth is beautiful. Today Mom and I went down to the Lakewalk for a walk, and the lake was absolutely gorgeous. Deep blue under an ominous cloudscape, the city and hillside lit up by honey-colored afternoon sun.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Northwoods Arrival

The drive up to Baudette this morning was great. Nothing like four hours in a car to catch up with the parents. The tamaracks are golden and absolutely beautiful. Under a grey sky, they were practically glowing amid the black and white birch and spruce trees. Should have taken a photo. Even Grandma remarked that they look more brilliant this year than usual. And we saw six bald eagles. They hang out along the highway waiting for roadkill, which we unintentionally provided for them in the form of a rabbit.

We arrived just before noon, unloaded the Volvo, and ate lunch around the big pine table. We drank some coffee, and caught up on the local news:

The big news is that a hunter and his buddy’s golden retriever went missing on Monday, and the extensive search efforts haven’t turned up any trace of him. They’ve done ground sweeps and infrared fly-overs. Even the canine units haven’t come across anything. There’s not much chance that he’s still alive, since the nights this week have been cold any rainy and he wasn’t wearing adequate clothing. Sad.

The other story is of a school principal over in Indus. He lived next to the school where he worked, set a trap for a skunk, but caught his cat in it instead. Faced with the problem of having two motherless kittens at home, he decided NOT to keep them himself, NOT to ask if any of the students wanted to adopt them, NOT to bring them to the humane society. He decided to shoot them. With a 12 gauge shotgun. During school hours. Understandably, students were upset. Gunshots on school grounds, plus their principal blasting away kittens?? The nutcase has since resigned.

We headed out to the family hunting cabin that my grandfather and his two brothers built. It’s a big old log cabin with a generator and an outhouse. Genuinely rustic. Everyone in my family calls it the Yukon Palace, but no one knows why. I haven’t been out there for years, but it’s one of those places that doesn’t change. We rolled in around 4, brought our potluck donations to the kitchen table, and were immediately instructed to take a plastic cup out to the fire outside. That’s where the wine was. Several hours of good old-fashioned socializing ensued. Dinner was squash, calico beans, macaroni hotdish, potatoes and gravy, with apple crisp for dessert. No Jell-O salad, just good food for cold weather. After a brisk after dinner walk with Mom, some aunts and some cousins, we headed back to Grandma’s house, counting a dozen or so deer along the way.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm off!

Good-bye DC!
Hello Minnesota!
See ya soon New York!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rhapsody on Telecommuting

I like having an office to work from. It’s nice to arrive at a place, do work, and then leave that place and not do work. I missed that when I lived at work (St. Stephen’s School, 2003-2004) and when I worked from home (earlier this year). It’s nice to have coworkers, water-cooler-chat, a supply room with envelopes and a printer, etc. But all week long, I’ve been giddily anticipating today’s sunny 75°F weather. And I knew that I’d hate the office today, that it would be nothing but a big computer in an undecorated white-walled, one-windowed cell adjacent to the mechanical room and its incessant, grating-on-your-subconscious rumbling noise.

Today I worked from the living room couch all morning, with the front door wide open and fresh breezes and neighborhood noises coming in. This afternoon, I’m working from Open City, a Woodley Park café. It was bustling when I arrived, but I managed to grab a small table next to a wide-open window. My computer connected to the internet seamlessly, and I logged into Virtual Laguna Beach – a place much less idyllic than my current surroundings.

Also, life at the Electric Sheep Company has been exciting lately. Skim through our company's blog, We the Sheeple, for much more articulate and in-depth accounts of what's been going on with ESC and with Second Life. In short, we just launched Reuter's island, and it's been getting tons of press (not surprising), which in turn is driving tons of people to Second Life. Giff says that "Google news tracks 164 stories related to all of this." Uf da! The Sony/BMG island is open, and Ben Folds is coming to the party on Thursday night! There are celebrities in VLB too. Last night, a Laguna Beach cast member met fans in-world, and two more are coming in next week. This is huge and fantastic!

And... my new pink phone arrived. It's fully funcitonal, even in the the deepest darkest parts of Delafield's basement.

And I volunteered for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (or DCCC, pronounced "D-trip" if you're in the know) last night. Aaron's responsible for convincing me to do it. Liz gets the credit for organizing those of us who went. And I got to see Ali, Megan and Sam down there - quite the Ulimate crew! We called Floridians and tried to encourage them to vote for Christine Jennings. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I got out of my comfort zone and did a good pre-election thing.

And Scott arrived in Guatemala safe and sound! I got to talk to him today as he was on his way from Guatemala City to Sanarate. He says to say hi.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's grey and drizzly here today, and Scott left for Guatemala this morning. I wish I were joining him.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pet Shop Boys, Deepest Darkest Maryland

We got to the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall just before eight, picked up our free tickets and complimentary CD, and found our seats - front row of the first tier of the balcony. Fantastic location. In the Hawaii section even! Made note of the male to female ratio, somewhere around 2:1 or 3:1. Idly wondered if they were a gay band. The show began: two guys in white jumpsuits tore away the brain image to reveal a pair of silhouettes, from which emerged the men matching those silhouettes! Applause. Then two MORE men matching the silhouettes emerged. Um, more applause. Huh? And then a third pair of men matching the silhouettes emerged, and there was tons of applause. Aha! These must be the real Pet Shop Boys! (Turns out the first two were backup singers, and the second two were backup dancers. Sneaky...)

Our next clue that this might be a gay-friendly group came during intermission, when Scott and I tore open our CD. It's pink! Neon pink. And there's a track entitled "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show." The second act brought us a pronouncement from Neil Tennant: "DC, you are so flamboyant!", a song of the same nature, and a number of dancing cowboys wearing gold lamé, head-to-toe. Gay. Yep. Got it. Fabulous!

A fun show overall. It didn't overwhelm me, but I had a good time and am certainly glad that I got to see them. And now that I've listened to their album Fundamental a few times, they're really growing on me!

So that was the very end of the weekend, Sunday night. I was tired on Friday night, so skipped out on a happy hour and a going-away party in favor of lying on the floor reading New Yorker articles for an hour. When Scott got home, we watched Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, a documentary that
interweaves the stories of four obsessive men, each driven to create eccentric worlds of their dreams, all involving animals: Dave Hoover, a lion tamer who idolizes the late Clyde Beatty, and who shares his odd theories on the mental processes of wild animals; George Mendonça, a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to painstakingly shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; Ray Mendez, who is fascinated with hairless mole-rats, tiny buck-toothed mammals who behave like insects; and Rodney Brooks, an M.I.T. scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs without specific instructions from a human controller. As the film proceeds, thematic connections between the four protagonists begin to emerge: the lion tamer and the topiary gardener look back at ways of life which are fading from the scene; the mole-rat specialist and the robot scientist eye the future, envisioning creatures that may someday replace the human race.
This one gets the Scott and Libby seal of approval. Not as good as Bubba Ho-Tep, I think, but worth watching.

I was up early on Saturday morning and got to read and drink coffee for a few peaceful hours. Then I made ratatouille (to use up the 2 eggplants and 6 zucchini that were threatening to go bad) and played Scrabble with Scott (where I got lucky with letters so beat him soundly). We headed out to Maryland in the afternoon and met up with my aunt and uncle. We stopped at a farm store for apples (honey crisp! Yum!) and pumpkins, went for a walk with their Newfoundland Winston in the nature preserve across the street from their house (which my uncle refers to as deepest, darkest Maryland), sipped wine and looked at pictures from my uncle's and dad's recent kayak trip before heading out for dinner at an excellent Italian place nearby. Nice dinner, nice chatting at home, sound sleeping, tasty fresh-out-of-the-oven coffee cake in the morning. They dropped us off on their way to church, and we went home and played Scrabble. Scott won this time, but I was close!

Friday, October 13, 2006

MJ, Pet Shop Boys, Ben Folds

I made great strides in my cultural literacy last night. A bunch of us went to Heaven & Hell for their weekly 80's Dance Party. Super fun companions and super fun music, but highly educational as well. I saw Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video for the first time. So many cultural references (like the weird little zombie dance) finally have roots! And wow, MJ is something else, isn't he? We also got to watch a video of him in a rhinestone sweatsuit.

Also at Heaven & Hell, Scott entered me in a drawing for tickets to a Pet Shop Boys concert, and I won! Not terribly surprising, since the place was pretty dead. I'd never heard of this band before, but a brief googling brought positive results. From Wikipedia:
The longevity of their career is generally attributed to their ability to create melodic pop/dance music with intelligent lyrics and striking style. They are one of the most consistently successful duos in pop music, particularly in Europe.
Finally, check out my coworker's blog post about exciting Electric Sheep Company launches coming up on Thursday the 19th. Ben Folds is going to be in world for both of them!! Way cool!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Taking care of business

The mundane things of my life this week:

I got my first-ever jury summons! This means I'm an adult and a District resident. Yay! Except that it's jury duty... Stay tuned for Legal Adventures in early November.

I signed up for a Verizon account, and I'm getting a pink RAZR phone (free) to go with it. No more Cingular for me.

I practiced violin last night. Cannot wait to get my shoulder rest back. Less than two weeks now until I'm in NYC visiting Kate and Jaime (who have my shoulder rest). Cannot wait to see them, apart from the shoulder rest business!

Here's a picture from my office window. I like how I can see the sky reflected in the building across from me. I wish I could open my window - it's gorgeous out today.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Wedding Weekend!

We had a wedding at Delafield last weekend! It was easily one of the best weddings I've ever been to. I think that's because it was as much about us, the family and friends, as it was about Peter and Bethany. Yes, we were celebrating their commitment to each other, but we were also celebrating the strength of our community and our commitment to supporting each other. The couple was sharing their union with us and asking for our support rather than standing in the spotlight and asking us to be happy for them.

Things started on Friday night with a dinner for family, housemates and close friends. We had a sort of Quaker meeting, where we all sat around the living room and offered thoughts, blessings, advice, etc to Peter and Bethany. Hard to describe how good and meaningful it felt. Certainly a case of the whole being more than a sum of its parts.

Saturday morning was low-key, with people stopping by for brunch around 10:30. The Delafield kitchen was at its finest - too many people given the limited counter space, but everyone finding a way to do their part - dicing fruit, beating eggs, washing dishes, etc.

Around 1 we mobilized and brought all the wedding stuff (food, plants and flowers for decorating, people) down to the conference room of our office building. They had hoped to have the ceremony outside, but chilly, drizzly weather forced us to fall back on plan B. Plan A would have been lovely, but plan B turned out just fine. Peter and Bethany read their vows to their community, to their families, and to each other. Beautifully written, beautifully spoken. We stayed downtown and ate picnic food until 6 or so, and then took a break before the evening festivities.

Those took place back at Delafield - hors d'ouevres, cocktails, then dancing, then cake, and then more dancing. Super fun dancing - Peter put together a great playlist, and there were easily enough people enthusiastic about dancing to keep the floor going all night long. Things wound down around 3 am, with the last guests helping to clean up the place - always appreciated.

Another low-key morning on Sunday. I didn't wake up until 9! A rare occurance. Brunch for a few more family and friends, floor mopping, furniture arranging, tranforming the place back into everyday Delafield. (We left the white lights up though. Yay!)

A very successful wedding. I'm so happy to have been a part of it, even though I've only known the couple a year or so. Best wishes to them!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rain rain rain rain rain.

It started during our bike home last night from a yummy Ethiopian dinner. By the time we got home, we were cold and wet but upon entering Delafield, were instantly welcomed into a warm, bustling house. Peter and Bethany’s wedding preparations were in full swing – good smells coming from the kitchen, parents in town, white lights and white tulle everywhere. We spent a few hours decorating, while others set up the sound system for the weekend’s dance party (!!!) and baked chocolate cheesecake.

We fell asleep to the sound of rain and listened to it all night long. I decided not to get on my bike at 6:30 and ride down through the cold, dark wet city for pilates. I decided I could work from home until the rain let up.

But… then I broke the internet. Well, I reset our modem instead of just powering it off and on again. So after fruitless putzing, I hopped on my bike and rode through the cold, wet, no-longer-dark but now-traffic-congested city to work. Blick. Just like Wednesday was the perfect day to work outside at Mocha Hut, today would have been the perfect day to work from under an afghan on the couch.

I have a feeling there will be more rainy DC days to come, so I’ll get my telecommute on another day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Old Crow Opportunity Missed

The band was great. The venue was not. I felt claustrophobic and hot, and my body hurt. When I could concentrate on the band, when I caught a glimpse of the fiddler, it was really wonderful. But I couldn't focus on them enough of the time, so I left after their first set, only to have Scott tell me that the second half was absolutely incredible and that I probably could have found more space upstairs. So I sent to sleep disappointed in myself for not sticking it out, I tossed and turned, and I woke up feeling sad and vaguely angry.

Which is silly. I made a mistake. Today's a new, beautiful day. Come on, Emotions, get with the program! Shape up!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Soaking Up U Street

We've been enjoying knockout weather these past two days. Right now it's sunny and 80°F, so I've been working on the patio of Mocha Hut all afternoon long. I started out in Dupont Circle, but the free wifi kept disconnecting, so I pushed north to U Street. Mocha Hut (13th & U) was the obvious choice because it's not Starbucks, and it has outdoor seating. Not quite the same as enjoying a late afternoon coffee and crossword puzzle on the patio at home in Duluth... but the fact that it reminds me of being there is good enough. Pretty good people watching. Darn good toy dog watching.

In an hour, I'm meeting a crew one block over at Ben's Chili Bowl (12th & U), and from there we're headed to the 9:30 Club (8th & v) to see Old Crow Medicine Show.

By the way, Old Crow Medicine Show says:
We will be returning to A Prairie Home Companion this Saturday as part of the 33rd annual Season Premiere Broadcast, Meatloaf Supper, and Street Dance. Bring your appetites and dancing shoes, or tune your radio to your local NPR station.

other stuff...
1. Cingular is sending me a new phone due to a desperate desire that their device works at Delafield and I won't leave them for a different service!

2. I registered a new VLB avatar today. A guy named Lion.

He came with black eyebrows, but I bought him a nice pair of camel-colored ones. Can you believe that eyebrows cost more than sneakers? I paid 97 MTV$ for those suckers, versus only 85 MTV$ for his new shoes (also in camel).

3. Here's a picture of a lion attacking a camel.

Why is the girl lion just lying there?
Is she a pacifist?
Is she playing dead, waiting to launch a surprise attack?
Did the camel driver put a spell on her?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Good to be alive.

Two Ultimate players were killed in a car crash on their way home from Regionals last weekend. And we held a moment of silence before our first game last Saturday to remember another player killed in a crash over the summer. And yesterday there was yet another school shooting.

What a gift to be alive on such a beautiful, ordinary day. I will not take it for granted. My health, my family and friends, our love for one another, our safety.

Monday, October 02, 2006


We were seeded 11th and finished 9th. Rock on! Our most exciting game was against Germ Circus - they took half 8-3, we traded points to bring it up to 12-7, and then we pulled away and won 16-14. Incredible! I feel okay with how I played, but I felt out of shape. So I'm determined that next year will be a different story. I'll do my track workouts religiously, I swear. I'll figure out how to jump and catch higher discs. Maybe I'll even convince myself to layout.

First, I should learn to keep my eyes open when I catch.

Really, the most important part about the weekend was being part of such a wonderful team. They make me smile.