Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Twenty-six is my favorite number. It's also, incidentally, my new age. :) my cowowrkers bought lunch for me, my friends bought me drinks (and delicious cupcakes), my best friend called me, and my parents got me a "Meh" T-shirt. All in all, a very pleasant birthday. :)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spanish Dreams


Last night, I dreamed in Spanish. That happens once every two or three months (or so). When I wake from a Spanish dream, I still think in Spanish. For example, I continued speaking in Spanish to my cats when I gave them breakfast this morning. :)

What I don't understand about my dream is this: How is it possible that the Spanish speakers speak Spanish I don't understand well, when what they're saying is from my own mind?? But it's true — sometimes in my dream, I had to ask them to repeat what they said. Very strange.

Oh, Mr. Subjunctive! I need to check my notes about you. :P


Anoche, soñé en español. Eso ocurre una vez cada dos o tres meses (o algo así). Cuando me despierto de un sueño españól, sigo pensando en español. Por ejemplo, voy hablando con mis gatas en español cuando las di su desayuno esta manañá. :)

Lo que no entiendo de mi sueño es esto: ¿Cómo es posible que los hispanohablantes hablen español que yo no entienda bien, cuando lo que dicen es de mi propio mente?? Pero es verdad — algunas veces en mi sueño, tuve que pedir que ellos repitieran lo que dijeron. Muy extraño.

Ay, señor Subjuntivo! Necesito revisar mis notas sobre ti. :P


Friday, December 4, 2009

First Day of Work, Again (Israesisat a Lhi)

(Backdated post...)


I worked my first day. I had no company computer. Even so, I am happy. Will they be my friends?


Zame a kesath a ir rae ateilh. Ekamioter mozreshata one uan ateilh. Lhikei zrazo atei. Amaizorei isemei ia aikeish?


I worked my first day.
Zame a kesath a ir rae ateilh.
work that day that one at I-did
I had no company computer.
Ekamioter mozreshata one uan ateilh.
computer of-company have not I-did
Even so, I am happy.
Lhikei zrazo atei.
am-happy even-so I
Will they be my friends?
Amaizorei isemei ia aikeish?
my-friends become yes/no they

Words like this were coined for this entry; words like this demonstrate new grammar needed for this entry. See my website for more information about Lhenazi.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jambool It Is (Israesisat a Ne)


The second company said they're not giving me an offer. I will work for Jambool. I will work soon, tomorrow!

Writing numbered journal entries creates many numbers! One, two... What will the next number be? I will know soon!


Noke zreshatalh a ne zame-anen oan a-one atei. Zamei a Shamol-rae ateish. Zamei a some, a kesath ash shate, ateish!

Kazeme ainisraesisat a trimeta-one teze ox aitrimetan. Ir, ne... Thai-zre sia trimeta ash shate? Ilhei a some ateish!


The second company said they're not giving me an offer.
Noke zreshatalh a ne zame-anen oan a-one atei.
says company-did that two work-giving not that-have me
I will work for Jambool.
Zamei a Shamol-rae ateish.
work that Jambool-at I-will
I will work soon, tomorrow!
Zamei a some, a kesath ash shate, ateish!
work that near, that day that will come, I-will!
Writing numbered journal entries creates many numbers.
Kazeme ainisraesisat a trimeta-one teze ox aitrimetan.
creates journal-pieces that number-has writing many numbers
One, two...
Ir, ne...
What will the next number be?
Thai-zre sia trimeta ash shate?
what-is what number that-will come
I will know soon!
Ilhei a some ateish!
know that near I-will

Words like this were coined for this entry; words like this demonstrate new grammar needed for this entry. See my website for more information about Lhenazi.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Israesisat a Ir

Zrishelhei a tie-ikath-rae zreshatalh a ne atein. Klhime a iakor-rae ateilh. Lhike Thores na ateilh atezon a oishe. Mazrisi kaixei na Sheri-an ezrolhin Zelata. Tezei a lho-rae atei tie israesisatan.

English Translation:

I interviewed at a second company this morning.
Zrishelhei a tie-ikath-rae zreshatalh a ne atein.
interview that this-morning-at company-did that is-second me
I read at a cafe.
Klhime a iakor-rae ateilh.
read that café-at I-did
Forrest and I ate a tasty dinner.
Lhike Thores na ateilh atezon a oishe.
eat Forrest and I-did dinner that is-tasty
We played a Zelda game with Jerry.
Mazrisi kaixei na Sheri-an ezrolhin Zelata.
play we and Jerry-did game Zelda
I am writing this journal entry now.
Tezei a lho-rae atei tie israesisatan.
write that now-at I this journal-piece

Words like this were coined for this entry; words like this demonstrate new grammar needed for this entry.

[Lhenazi information]


Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Job Offer!

This time around, I was unemployed for only a little over 2 weeks. Booyah! I haven't officially accepted the offer yet because I haven't officially received all the numbers in writing. But I expect everything will look reasonable and I'll have a shiny new job ASAP. :D

That's all for today's blog post!


...with whom, you ask? Oh, right. Good question. ;) The company's called Jambool, located in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Their primary product is Social Gold, which is a payments platform that game developers can use for virtual currencies used in-game, bought with real money. Many of their merchant-clients are Facebook games, but they also support other web (and Flash) apps.

Speaking of Facebook... I had noticed while researching the company that their Social Gold app page had horrible reviews. I was really concerned about it, and it was the first question I asked them today during my on-site interview. Their explanation is this: Social Gold is just the payment platform; if the game that uses Social Gold doesn't do the right thing (either through bugs or fraud), then Jambool can't help that. That seems true, on the one hand, although on the other I'd like to see some kind of response to that effect — "Sorry for your bad experience! But you need to contact the game company if they didn't give you the points you bought through us." It's a bad user experience to vent about getting "ripped off" and no one from the company even comments on it.

The second comment Jambool folks had to say about this was that they were looking to hire someone to actually have the time to respond to these comments and concerns. ;) So it's not as great a situation as if they'd never had the bad reviews on the Facebook app page, but neither does Jambool seem to be fraudsters themselves.

Anyhow! I should be getting hard details tomorrow morning, and unless something is really off in the offer, I'll probably be starting work again soon!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Throwing in the NaNo Towel

You'd think that getting laid off would give me ample time to catch up on my NaNo writing. Alas, I've been focusing instead of hunting down lots of job leads. When I need a break from that, I really just need to get away from the computer entirely... so I join my friends playing Left4Dead 2 (which just came out).

I'm really rather bummed about it, but it no longer looks realistic that I'll make 50k by the end of the month. I can feel inspired about the underdog fight for word count, but not the impossible fight. *sigh*

I hope Steve and Pavel make it!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Negative Words Per Hour

Oh noes, I just discovered that I had typed some notes into my story document rather than my notes document. I moved the words to where they belonged, but that means I just lost 300 words in the last hour of writing. Sad panda!


Racing Against Other Seattle Wrimos

I didn't make the substantial word count progress I was hoping for this weekend, so now I'm finally starting to worry about "winning" NaNo this year. :( I'm not giving up, though!

For short-term motivation, I'm using the list of Seattle participants, sorted by word count. I'm on the 14th page and steadily working my way up the list. Every couple minutes of writing, my word count becomes higher than the next person on the list and I'm a little bit closer to my goal.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Five Isles

My island nation is becoming less and less Victorian all the time. It was the starting point of how I imagined the setting, but it's becoming its own society. I should probably stop referring to it as "Victorian" in any sense, since at this point the label is more misleading that helpful.

Let me demonstrate with the names of my islands. There are five:

  1. Isle of Esperion
    • people are referred to as Esperi
    • furthest away from the rest of the isles and closest to whale migration paths; only island to have sea-worthy boats (the rest of the isles only sail the shallow water between them)
    • first settled; oldest ruling family but also least powerful; considered more "salt of the earth," at least in comparison with the other noble families
  2. Isle of Cadhemar
    • people are referred to as Cadhemarians
    • abundant bogs (peat for fuel and fertilizer; bog iron) and clay (bricks, ceramics)
    • family has a reputation of being "snooty" compared to the other noble families; Here There Be Grammarians :P
  3. Isle of Veranez
    • people are referred to as Veranese
    • peals (used as currency)
    • the king historically came from this family; especially bitter toward Moreinya's "recent" rise to power
  4. Isle of Azerít
    • people are referred to as Azerians
    • education; this is where the best advisers, economists, administrators, architects, intellectuals, and artists come from
    • second sons often end up here for higher learning then bring knowledge back to their families
    • acute accent mark subject to change
  5. Isle of Moreinya
    • people are referred to as Moreinyans
    • artificial island built over an especially volcanically active region; surplus geothermal energy makes this family very powerful (no pun intendend ;))
    • newest island and youngest noble family to gain control of an "island," such as it is; the king often comes from the Moreinya family


Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Job For You!

November 12th was my one-month "anniversary" of my new job. The board members controlling the company decided that it would be a good time for a 50% "reduction in workforce." Extreme suxor. They reduced staff from ~20 to 11. There is no more HR, and all other positions lost any "redundant" folk. As the second developer, I was obviously the one let go.

They let us know Thursday that our last day would be... Thursday. Ouch. At least they're extending my medical benefits through the end of the year rather than the end of the month...

So yeah. This is officially ridiculous. I'm looking for a new job after just one month. *sigh*.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Name My Island Nation

I need some naming help now. In my setting, I have a collection of extremely isolated islands, subdivided into clusters. Each cluster is owned/ruled by one family and has been such for generations. Each cluster has one large island, where the capital city is, and a varying number of smaller islands, where the agriculture and other supporting industries happen.

Each cluster of islands, being ruled by one family, is named for that family. Right now, I have named the island cluster where my main character lives: Moreinya. (I'm intending that to be pronounced [moˈɹeinjə], for you folk who can read IPA.)

What I'd like is suggestions for the other island names. (And maybe a suggestion for a better term than "cluster," too. ;)) I'm thinking there are between 4 and 11 clusters, so the more name suggestions, the better.

I'm going with a vaguely Victorian flavor, so here are the first and last names I've used so far in the story: Miley, Claire, Annabel, Irene, Edith, Abigale, Lenore, Sarah; Miles, Isaac, Robert, Nicholas, Simon, Henry; Moreinya, Wessin, Feingeld.

Also cross-posted to the NaNoWriMo forums.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kingly Rewards

A snippet of a scene near the end wanted itself written. It appears that Miley attracts the attention of the king, who grants her independent "personhood" after having lived years as property. But Miley is going to have a separate, much lower-ranking love interest. So the king is rewarding Miley for some service she did, rather than because he wants her.

The question is, what did Miley do to be A) noticed by the king and B) rewarded with the rare honor of personhood to an "unfamilied" individual, which is done through adoption into the king's own family?

Perhaps the man she was sold to, a lesser noble, was plotting something against the king and Miley was able to disrupt the plot? (How was she able to "defeat" a noble with far more resources than she?) Perhaps she saved the life of someone dear to the king? (How would she be in a position to do that? Was it the abused girl that she rescues? Why could Miley save this person but the king could not?) Any other ideas out there?

Update, 1 AM: I'm going with the "foils a plot against the king" route after talking it through with Jerry.


DIY Rubber Ducky... Sorta

The NaNoWriMo Seattle region's mascot is the duck. We identify each other in random cafés by rubby duckies on the tables. I brought mine with me to a write-in last night, but in my rush to catch my ride when I left, I forgot to put my ducky back in my bag!

I've sent a message to the guy who organized the write-in, hoping that he has my ducky. In the meantime, I've made myself some rubber ducky Post-It Notes (sticky side is the base of the ducky) so I can still be known to my fellow WriMos. :)


Momentum at Last


My word-count-behind-ness will not keep me down! I've written 800 words today, and that's on a lunch break. I have not even begun to write today! I'm going to a café after work, where I shall lay the smack-down on my word count. (Not catch up completely yet, though; I'm determined, not crazy.)

You heard me, sporadically-working progress bar! I'm throwing down the gauntlet!

This is like Week 1 for me, with a new story itching to get written. I'll probably lag behind in the typical Week 2 doldrums that have started afflicting my fellow WriMos. But if I can ride this momentum and hit, say, 3000 words for the next few days, I can be back on target by the Night of Writing Dangerously (aka the halfway point of NaNo).

Sanctuary Synopsis

For the first week of NaNo, I was coming up with some new angle, some new story, pretty much every day. I changed the title of my document more than once a day. When I finally came up with my current story idea, a title just came to me: Sanctuary. My document has kept this title since acquiring it on Sunday. It's clearly Meant To Be™.

So my main character is Miley, named such because her father wanted her to be a boy. When her baby brother Miles is born, her world is turned upside down. In a world where only 2 children are permitted per family, any "extra" children become property rather than people. Miley is "unfamilied" and sold to a brothel to repay a debt her father owes. She is strong-willed and disobedient, and will spend the rest of the story fighting back against those who believe that owning her means controlling her. She will carve out her own place in the world and find a way to become her own person again.

At least that's the planned story. Stay tuned; characters have a way of determining their own destiny if you let them get away with it. ;)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Had a Dream

So what I'd written about NaNo so far? Throw it all out. I have a dream.

Or rather, I had a dream. Last night. Usually my dreams jump around in illogical ways and are rather odd. Last night, I dreamed consecutive scenes with plot, characters, conflict, the works. No ending, but that gives me room to explore. It feels almost like cheating, but I'm only stealing from myself.

I'm days behind from all the floundering and lost momentum. But I finally feel like I have something to write. Yay! :)


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maybe Like Groundhog Day

I still don't know what my NaNo story is about, 4000 words in. It currently wants to do a Groundhog Day thing, but without the narrator being consciously aware of the repeats and with there being some (sometimes significant) variation between the repeats. Again, I don't know if that's what this story really wants to be, but I'm trying to go with the flow here.

The narrator was going to be boring and just get out of bed, get ready for work, and head out. I was even about to type those words. Instead, the cat jumped underfoot as she was walking to the bathroom. She falls and breaks a wrist trying to catch herself. Now her whole day will be different. That's what she gets for planning a boring day in my story. ;)


Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo Without a Plan

No plot no problem indeed. I had been intending on writing the sequel to last year's (as yet unrevised) NaNo fantasy story. But 3 days before NaNo, I threw that idea out the window in favor of following a crazy gimmick of an idea that has no characters, plot, or purpose yet. Such is the spirit of NaNo. :)

I want to try writing in second person. Well, it's really narrated in first person, but the narrator is addressing the story to the second person. So the two main characters' names are "I" and "you." But it's not like a Choose Your Own Adventure story. It's more like if you were reading someone's journal entries, but in present tense, as the events are happening. I may decide to abandon this unconventional format in a few days, but I'm curious enough that I want to see how it looks.

As I said, I have no characters, plot, goals, antagonists, obstacles, or anything. November 1st, I had this image in my head that "you and I" had just been left alone with an isolated mountain cabin, going on an off-grid vacation of sorts. "We" spent the day's word count unpacking, mostly.

On November 2nd (aka today), "we" jumped settings entirely and are disembarking from a plane in Mexico City. Maybe that cabin from yesterday is in the mountains of Mexico, not California? "We" could take the train there, perhaps.

But for now, I'm just letting "us" wander around and see where "we" end up. That's actually how last year's NaNo story wrote itself, and I was fairly happy with it. So it's not a guaranteed disaster, in any case. :P

Can I apply this post's 295 words toward today's word count? Pretty please?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Job!

So I am very belatedly (and back-dated-ly) writing about my new job. No more unemployment! Yay! :)

Two weeks ago, I started my new job at Recruiting.com (formerly known as Jobster). We work on making software to help recruiters find and track candidates, with a focus on easy-of-use, which I particularly like. The company is like 20 people total, and the dev department consists of the product manager, the QA lead (who manages the remote QA team), the graphic designer / basic front-end programmer, the lead dev, and me. That's the entire dev team. It's pretty awesome to have the potential for really mattering to the team and the product.

No one's griping off to the side about how things suck around here. My manager is very much a peer that I feel comfortable with, not some parental-acting figure that hasn't kept up with the latest technologies.

So far as I can tell, the people are pretty fun, too. Lots of joking around and generally being relaxed.

Not to mention I got a raise compared with my old job at Microsoft (although probably not if you factor in differences in benefits, but still...). I also have a "window office," or rather a view of Puget Sound from my desk. We have "professional development" every Thursday at noon, by which I mean we all eat pizza while watching The Office. ;) We have wine and Rock Band on Fridays. When the weather's nice, we grill out on our balcony overlooking the Sound. It's pretty awesome, really. :P

So I think I made the right decision for myself. I definitely feel less stressed and more happy. All in all, good times. :)


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chicken Salad

I made myself some chicken salad from scratch today. I didn't even follow a recipe! (This is a noteworthy accomplishment for me, since I'm normally one of those by-the-letter recipe-following non-cooks.) Forrest will even vouch for the tastiness of my chicken salad.

I didn't have walnuts, but I think they would have been a nice addition. So in the recipe below, I'm adding 'em. I'm recording the "recipe" below, in case I forget what I put in it. :)

Chicken Salad

  • rotisserie chicken thigh & drumstick, shredded
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 inches of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 or 2 slices of red onion, chopped
  • dried cranberries, about ¼ cup or so
  • handful of walnuts, chopped
  • two big teaspoon glops of mayonnaise
  • sprinkle of lemon juice (equivalent to squeezing a slice)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Combine chicken, celery, cucumber, onion, cranberries, and walnuts in a bowl.

Add mayonnaise. Stir until evenly distributed.

Add lemon juice and salt & pepper.

Yields: 1 main course serving, or 2 side servings


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Offer!

I'm really lucky that there's no web cam in my living room. Otherwise, everyone would have seen me doing an exceptionally silly-looking Happy Dance. In lobster pajama pants and a dust ruffle, no less. ;)

Hot on the heels of my last blog post talking about all the interviewing I did, I just got a call from my recruiter that the startup wants to extend me a job offer! So now, even if Amazon and Google don't give me an offer, I will have a job. So awesome!

One "wallows" in self-pity; on the other hand, what does one do with being pleased with oneself? I'm not sure, so I guess I'll have to just go wallow in it. :)


Forrest, Interviews, & LoCoWriMo

Forrest is Back!

Well, back in cell phone contact with the rest of the world, anyway. I pick him up tomorrow at the airport; so excited! I haven't seen him in nearly a month now. He says he had a good time, but I haven't heard all the interesting details of his trip yet.


Last week, I did an in-person interview with Jerry's team at Amazon, another in-person interview with a startup in Seattle, and a phone screen with Google. I never know how to judge whether the interviews went well; my feelings about them don't seem to correlate well with offer vs no-offer. So I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

Amazon is having its team debrief meeting late this afternoon, so I should hear back from them by end of week. The startup is finishing up its interviews of all its scheduled candidate interviews today as well — two days ago I was still on their "short list" of picks. I should hear back from them, one way or another, soon too.

And I finally passed Google's phone screen! (I had done a phone interview just before graduating college, and they weren't interesting in moving forward then.) I have an in-person interview with Google this Friday. I should probably get over my "not good enough for Google" feelings if I want to do well on their interview, eh? ;)


Finally, you may have noticed a new progress bar in my blog's sidebar, just above my "NaNoWriMo participant" badge.

In addition to November's NaNoWriMo, where a bunch of ambitious/crazy internet folk try to write a 50,000-word novel(la) in a month, I'm also doing LoCoWriMo, where a bunch of ambitious/crazy conlanger folk try to write an original story completely in their respective conlangs in a month.

Because each person's conlang is at different levels of development and completeness, we each have a personalized word count goal. I timed myself at around 100 words per hours in Asha'ille, so my goal for October is 6000 words. If it turns out that, with practice, I start writing significantly faster, then I'll increase my word count goal.

At the stroke of midnight, I'm going to write as much as I can. That should give me some "buffer" slack-off time for the first couple days that Forrest is back in town.

Track my progress with the progress bar! :)


Monday, September 21, 2009

Español Adentro

So I'm currently on a practice-Spanish kick, which means I'm reading La Isla de la Pasión by Laura Restrepo (recommended to me by a Colombian woman I met in the library), watching Plutón BRB Nero (a sci-fi comedy TV show from Spain), and doing an email pen pal exchange with a programmer in Madrid.

The book helps with reading, the TV show with listening, but the pen pal guy is helping out with my production errors. I'm pretty verbose when I explain to him why his English errors are wrong, but he just highlights and corrects my mistakes without so much commentary. Fair enough; I don't expect anyone else to get so into explaining language mistakes. ;)

For myself, though, I'm going to research the why of the errors he's pointed out and document them here. I'm more likely to learn the lesson, so to speak, if I write it out here and try to "teach" it to others. Even if those others don't really exist; 'sokay. :P I trolled the WordReference forums for my info:

sólo parques adentro de la ciudad
I don't remember ever learning the distinction between adentro and dentro. Apparently, the former is used with verbs of motion; the latter is used in all other cases. In Spain, dentro is preferred even in some cases where Latin America would use adentro. [WR, DPD1, DPD2]
¿Cuáles Qué lenguajes usas en tu trabajo? Cuál es tu favorito?
The dreaded qué vs cuál distinction. *sigh* Cuál + ser and qué + noun are asking for a choice; qué + ser is asking for a definition. [WR, DPD1, DPD2]

Corrections and further explanations welcome.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

It Be That Day o' the Year

Me cat Marrrry celebrates Talk Like a Pirate Day with peg leg and eye patch. Amy is a wench and would not submit to such "celebrations."

This here blog, an' me own website be participatin' too, thanks to Yahoo speakin' Pirate for the Internets at large.

Yarrrrrrr! :)


Friday, September 11, 2009

No Amazon Offer

My Daily Stats
Exercise Food Spanish Writing Conlanging
Steps Calories Time Words Activities
15,900 1730 Pandora station (1-2 hours) Lhenazi font & keyboard layout

So 2 weeks after my last interview with Amazon, I finally heard back, and it's a no-go. :( I'll continue my search elsewhere. *sigh*


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lhenazi Font & Eating Poorly

My Daily Stats
Exercise Food Spanish Writing Conlanging
Steps Calories Time Words Activities
5500 1050 ± 200 Lhenazi font

On Tuesday, I spent several hours at a cafe creating a handwritten script for my new conlang. Yesterday, I spent several hours at a cafe creating a font for my new conlang! I have some more cleanup work to do with it, but it's almost done already:

Basic Lhenazi Characters

After closing time, I walked over to Jerry's for some True Blood and Left 4 Dead. Vampires good, zombies bad. :) By the time we were done with that, it was like 2 AM and I bummed a ride home. Thus only 5k steps, whereas I probably would have had closer to 8k if I'd walked home too. Ah well, there's always tomorrow, as the old DDR machine says.

And about those calories... My "target" is 1200 calories per day. It may look like I did well yesterday... except that here's the list of healthy things I ate:

  • 3 slices of gouda
  • 6 oz milk
  • 12 oz mocha
  • molasses cookie
  • croissant
  • Mirror Pond pale ale
  • coffee w/cream & sugar

So yeah. Tasty, but not so good, eh? Damn Caffe Ladro and their bakery! It's out to get me, clearly. ;)


Handwriting for Lhenazi

My Daily Stats
Exercise Food Spanish Writing Conlanging
Steps Calories Time Words Activities
9,600 1400 ± 200 Lhenazi handwriting

I walked to Fremont Coffee yesterday evening and spent 2 hours there creating a writing system for my new conlang Lhenazi. It's a syllabary, which means that each "letter" is actually a consonant plus a vowel sound. So you can't write "t" by itself; you have to write "ta," "to," etc. This works well for languages that only allow simple syllable structures made up of consonant-vowel pairs. Once you start allowing complex clusters like English's "strengths," a syllabary just isn't going to cut it.

At 9 PM, Fremont Coffee closed and kicked me out. I asked the barista if there were any other cafes open later, but she said there weren't. I remembered a Tully's (one that their own website doesn't know about — strange, no?) on the way back home, so I walked over there to check it out. But it had closed at 9 too.

I called up my mom for Yelp "ground support" and discovered that Caffe Ladro has a location open until 11 PM across the street from Fremont Coffee. What a lying barista! ;) So I walked back to Caffe Ladro (I was walking for the exercise anyway...) and enjoyed myself some more time finishing up the script for Lhenazi. I also enjoyed me some delicious cranberry pecan muffin made at the> cafe. Mmm!

What took so long at these cafes? "Evolving" my syllabary! Syllabaries (and other writing systems, too) often come from little pictograms that eventually begin to stand for the sound of the item drawn instead of the item itself. So I developed my script by drawing little pictures for all 52 possible syllables, then wrote drew those pictures repeatedly until they "eroded" into abstract, simple shapes. It sounds tedious, but it was actually surprisingly fun. I did the whole thing in 4 hours!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Conlanging & Dead Car

My Daily Stats
Exercise Food Spanish Writing Conlanging
Steps Calories Time Words Activities
13,700 too many Los Amantes del Círculo Polar (1:48h) 0
Lhenazi grammar (word order, possession, adjectives)

I went to bed late last night but still got up at 10:20 AM, when the sun got too annoying. I've intentionally left the blinds open to get me up, you see.

I worked on my new conlang Lhenazi, which I've been having a lot of fun with. It's a new language that belongs with my NaNoWriMo trilogy, and will suffer less from being created in the time before I had studied linguistics. I still love my old Asha'ille, but it definitely has its "because I like it" rather than "because it's linguistically sound" moments. ;)

Then Steve and I went over to Jerry's, where there was more conlanging (on my part, anyway), then pizza dough and taco pizza and zombies.

I walked to Jerry's and back, so that's how my 10k+ step goal was reached for the day. I really need to walk more, I says to myself. And Fate is listening! Fate says, okay, let's make your car stop running while you're in the middle of driving. That'll get you walking more. Helpful ol' Fate.

Forrest's off on his backpacking trip as of tomorrow, so he can't exactly fix my car for me. But Jerry says that he should have time to look at it on Wednesday. Hopefully it's something easily fixable...


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kerning Error

Forrest is truly a horrible person for pointing out that the "Kern River" label on his map had a kerning error in it. *groan*


Monday, August 31, 2009

Vancouver with Forrest and Ilona

Before Ilona's summer internship is over, she wanted to go to Canada. So last Saturday we did just that: see pictures of Vancouver!

Forrest had mentioned 3 weeks ago, when Ilona first talked about Canada, that we should make sure we had the car insurance paperwork Canada required. But we didn't do it right then, and so we all forgot about it until late Friday afternoon. Canada requires the original paperwork, not a fax of it, so there was nothing my insurance company could do at that point.

Luckily, one of Ilona's internship perks is $75 car rental reimbursement. Rather than cancel our trip, we rented a car that came with Canada-approved insurance. Disaster avoided! :)

We only spent 1 day there, so we didn't have time to do everything we were interested in. We did have a good time, though, doing various things:


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good Luck Comic by Alberto Montt

I've been trolling Spanish-language sites recently, looking for input to improve my Spanish. I stumbled upon (heh, literally: I used StumbleUpon) this artist Alberto Montt who posts daily one-panel strips that sorta remind me of the Far Side.

The Spanish says, "Take this. I have the other at home. You'll see how good luck changes your live. I've found in the street: three rings, two pairs of gloves, and I've stopped biting my nails."


Friday, August 14, 2009

Unexpected Summer Vacation

This post lies about its date. Hey, it's when I started writing this post, at least... :)

Driving to California

Since both Forrest and I are between jobs right now, we decided to take advantage of the freedom and have ourselves a summer vacation. We drove down to California to visit family and camp. We went through central Washington, which I've never been through before. There was a ton of grain; in fact, probably more than 1 ton. ;) We also got some pretty cool vistas of several Cascade stratovolcanos at once.

We took our time, camping one night at some state park whose name I don't remember, and then a second night at Howard's Gulch which had the most amazingly clean pit toilets I've ever used.

Camping in California

The third evening, we finally arrived at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where my extended family camps in the Sierras*. Our first morning there, we woke up to discover that yellow jackets really love our orange backpacking tent! It was quite the exciting event, escaping from inside a tent swarmed by 10-20 yellow jackets! Not friendly little bumble bees, but angry carnivorous yellow jackets. :( We managed to get unscathed, thankfully.

The area has a lot of limestone caverns, so we took Forrest to see his first one! He commented that photos of cavern formations always look a little creepy, but when you're there in person they're anything but. So true! Caverns remind me a little of how cathedrals make me feel, actually.

After camping, we drove along the eastern Sierra, heading for Yosemite and eventually Santa Cruz. Forrest saw a road heading up a hill/small mountain; he wanted to check out the fire lookout tower at the top, so up we went. Up a rocky dirt road, in his lowered del Sol. I kept worrying that something important would be ripped out from under his car and we'd be stranded up this random mountain with no one around, but such badness did not happen, so it's all good.

We saw some hawks close-up driving up to the lookout. At the top of the mountain, we were actually above some of them. Pretty cool!

We had cell reception at the lookout, so Forrest called his dad to say hi and tell him where we were. Apparently Forrest's grandfather had worked in a fire lookout like this one summer when he was young.

Then we drove back down — again, without incident — and headed for a camping spot near Mammoth Lakes. We found a pretty awesome campsite, complete with all-morning shade and our own personal creek, in an otherwise dry and sunny Tuff Campground.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

While we were in the area, we checked out the ancient bristlecone pine forest in the White Mountains. These trees are short, stubby, and gnarly because at 10-11,000 feet, growing conditions aren't exactly ideal for big, fast growth. So these bristlecone pines grow very slowly and densely, and if one section of the tree dies, the rest of just keeps on growing around it, resulting in the gnarliness. They're amazingly long-lived — thousands of years old, in some cases. They're not as big as the giant sequoias of Calaveras or as tall as Santa Cruz's coast redwoods, but they have their own kind of ancient, twisted impressiveness.

And just in case you're wondering, everyone feels like a wuss hiking around at 11,000 feet!

After huffing around the quarter-mile trail near the visitor center, we drove out a 12-mile dirt road (in better condition than the lookout tower road) to see the rest of the forest. There were some awesome views of the eastern Sierra while taking an hour to go 12 miles, especially on the drive back through sunset. We even saw a horse, of all things.

The alpine environment up there is very pretty, in an awe-inspiring, stark kind of way.

Sightseeing Before Santa Cruz

Another day, we checked out the Devil's Postpile. Forrest was disappointed at how Disneyland-esque it felt, since you have to ride on a shuttle filled with touristy types who look like they've never gone for a hike in their lives. The formation itself was pretty cool-looking, though. The basalt columns naturally form hexagons, which was weird to see.

Finally, we started heading to Santa Cruz to visit with Forrest's family. We drove through Yosemite, which I had only been to as a little kid and had no real memories of. Those are some impressive granite domes! Which I managed not to take any pictures of. Hrm. You'll have to ask Google for pictures of Yosemite. ;)

In Santa Cruz with Forrest's Family

Forrest's family was doing a house-sit, so we stayed there rather than at the boat. The house was really nice! It had several outdoor areas that felt almost like rooms themselves, including the deck you see in the photo. We grilled some really tasty dinners there.

Forrest, his mom Sandy, and I went one evening to Fins Cafe to play Spite and cribbage (which I didn't-lose by one whole point!). This cafe makes its own chai mix and will blend spices to your liking. I still have trouble getting independent-coffee-shop mochas to be as sweet as I like, though... :(

I spent one evening plotted with Sandy about last year's NaNoWriMo story, which I'm still editing. In talking with her, I discovered that the end of that story is really just the beginning of larger troubles for my characters: I have a trilogy on my hands! Eep! But that's a good thing, right? At least now I know what I'm writing for NaNo this year.

Forrest and I had been planning on backpacking for our last week of "vacation" before returning to Seattle in time for my Amazon interview. But I developed this nasty rash on my chest, back, and neck that lasted a week. We figured a backpack rubbing against a rash would be Bad Times, so we canceled our trip. Really rather disappointing.

I was hoping the rash would resolve itself over time, but after a week I gave up and went to a drop-in clinic. The doctor took one look at it and declared that was hot tub rash if she'd ever seen it. She gave me a prescription for some cream that kinda reduced the itching — but more importantly, it cleared up the rash in the next two days! Too bad it wasn't in time to still go on a backpacking trip. :(

Forrest, Sandy, his brother Ari, and I went into San Francisco for the day. We had dim sum at the Four Seas like always, then visited Grace Cathedral like always. I kinda like their SF traditions. We also spent like 2 hours (well, it felt like 2 hours...) driving around looking for a magic shop that carried some special cards Forrest wanted. We finally found them, though, after he had searched for months to find them. And the card trick he does with them is pretty fun, so I guess it's all good. :)

We also went out sailing on their boat one day. Just around the coastline, but still, it was a beautiful day and I had a good time. Except for the part where we stopped at a dock and I was severely menaced by a pelican. Have they no fear?!

Driving Back Home

Finally, we left Santa Cruz and started the long drive back home. We took Highway 1 along the coast, which is very slow going compared to I-5, but much prettier. We stopped to check out the Point Arenas Lighthouse and took lots of pictures; follow the photo link to see the rest of them, if you're interested in lighthouses.

We arrived home late Wednesday evening, just in time for my Thursday morning interview with Amazon. All's well that ends well!

* This has been something of an ongoing debate, me vs Forrest and his dad. They both insist that "the Sierras" would imply multiple ranges, whereas in my usage I'm only talking about multiple mountains within one range. It's the Sierra Nevada mountain range, with "Sierra Nevada" being just a name in English and thus capable of being referred to in the plural, like any other mountain range's name. I intend to write a longer post defending my position. ;)

Apparently I say "the Sierras" but "the Eastern Sierra." What an odd mix.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Quit! :D

I turned in my letter (rather, email) of resignation today. Man, do I feel so much happier! I've been pretty gloomy, moody, and irritable lately. I apologize for bringing anyone else down while I've wrestled with being unhappy at work. But next Thursday is my last day. Woohoo!

Okay, so it's also really freakin' scary, since I don't already have a job lined up and Forrest's still unemployed. Scary situation. But I've been increasingly unhappy at work for a year now. My mom and HR both commented that the headache-that-would-not-die could very well be stress-induced. The doctor said it wasn't impossible to be stress-related, though it's hard to prove that causal relationship in any given case. All I can say is that it finally cleared up over the weekend, after I started really believing I was going to quit work. And I do have some savings to pay bills for a while yet...

I feel positively giddy right now. I know it will wear off and the creeping fear of uncertainty will pop up, but right now I'm going with the happy.

Unintentionally funny: I logged in to Microsoft's internal Health & Wellness site to look up some benefit info. The top headline on the site was "Quit for Life Today!" Don't mind if I do! :)

Let's end this post with some links:


Monday, June 29, 2009

Week-Long Headache

Last Monday night, I developed a nasty headache. A sense of nausea came along with it — it felt like motion-sickness in my head, not like food-poisioning in my stomach. I went to bed, hoping to sleep it off.

But it didn’t go away Tuesday or Wednesday, even though I stayed home and rested. So Wednesday I went to one of those drop-in medical clinics. The doctor wasn't exactly sure what's going on. Her best guess was that it might be my first migraine. (Apparently only some migraine-suffers are sensitive to light and sound, which I didn’t know. Specific migraine symptoms are supposedly rather individual.)

But it might something else. Helpful, those doctors are. :( (As if humans are complex or something! Psh!) She said there's a stomach flu going around that does have headache and nausea as symptoms, but my stomach feels and sounds fine. (As I said above, the nausea feels located in my head, not my stomach.) She said it could be low thyroid. She said it could be related to my other weird neurological thing. They took some blood samples (botching up my elbow all bruisy while they were at it) to rule out non-migraine causes. Update, 4 PM: The blood work all came back normal. So "migraine" remains the most likely diagnosis.

The doctor prescribed some Vicodin for the pain, which I took on Thursday. Unfortunately, it makes the nausea worse. I'd rather have a headache than worse nausea, so I stopped taking them.

Now that I've had this headache and nausea for a week, I've noticed patterns. The headache is worse in the morning, right after waking up. The nausea seems motion-sensitive: I inevitably feel sick in a car, and just walking or pacing can bring it on, too. Update, 4 PM: Rapidly scrolling text also triggers it. Awesome! Sitting still makes the nausea go away and lets the headache recede to mostly-ignorable levels. If I sit still long enough, I feel pretty much normal. So I've found coping strategies. But it really should just go away, dammit! :(


Monday, June 22, 2009

Month and a Half of Doing Very Little

What's been going on since I last posted a month and a half ago? Well, Forrest was away in California visiting his family, backpacking, and road-tripping it up. While he was gone, my days mostly consisted of work, bookstores, Battlestar Galactica, and more bookstores. I sure am exciting when left to my own devices! ;)

The weather was extremely nice while Forrest was gone, though. (He's brought the rain back with him, but I'll forgive him since I'm glad he's finally home. :)) But while the sunny not-too-hot weather lasted, I did try to enjoy it a little. For instance, I fixed myself lunch (that is, I heated up some frozen Trader Joe's food) and ate it in the backyard while reading a book. Very pleasant afternoon, that was.

In less good news, my cat Amy finally killed my spider plant. A friend from work had given me a cutting of his spider plant a while back. I was proud of myself for not having killed it yet despite weeks on end of neglect, followed by guilt-ridden waterings. ;) Then I started noticing that its leaves had little punctures in them. Little cat-tooth-sized punctures. But I never caught either cat in the act.

Then one night, I was woken up around 3 AM by this great crashing, breaking sound. I jumped out of bed to see what the cats had broken this time. (They already have one ex-vase to their credit.) Amy was slinking out of the kitchen, and in the sink was the broken terra cotta pot that had held my spider plant.

The next morning, I transplanted it to the backyard. I haven't checked on it since then, so it's probably very dead by now. :(

I don't love all plants, though. For instance, knotweed must die. Japanese knotweed is a nasty, nasty invasive that grows on our neighbor's property and, along with their bamboo, sneaks under the fence and sprouts up all over our yard. It can grow 1 foot per week, and that's bushy too, not just straight up! It's Bad Times™.

So I spent some time hacking it all down. The photo is a pile from one afternoon's murderous knotweed rampage. Muahaha!

Back to good plants. Like strawberries. Everybody likes strawberries! Last year, some critter was liking our strawberries, unfortunately. Just as the berries started to turn red, but before they were actually ripe enough for people to eat, something would munch holes in them and let the rest rot. So we didn't get to eat any of last year's crop.

We never did find out if the culprit was slugs or birds or what. In any case, they seem to be ignoring this year's strawberries. Yay! :) So we've enjoyed the handful of strawberries that the plants have produced so far. They're small but very flavorful.

Finally, two weeks ago my team at work went out to Blake Island on a manager's 50' boat, the Henry Young, as a morale event. I have a whole set of photos from the trip.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ozette Backpacking Overnighter

Now that the snow has melted and the skiing season is over, I'm looking forward to other outdoor activities. Like backpacking! Forrest and I took Jerry on his first backpacking trip: an easy, flat 6-mile roundtrip hike on the Olympic Peninsula.

The night before our backpacking trip, we camped overnight at Salt Creek Recreation Area. It was very windy on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Even though my sleeping bag claims to be rated down to 15°F and it must have been in the 30s, I was still shivering and waking up once an hour. :( Either my bag lies or I sleep really cold; either way, I need to upgrade my bag to something warmer.

We got a late start on Saturday, not getting to the trailhead until 2 PM. "Quick stops" at stores for last-minute forgotten items sure does add up to a lot of time! We only had a 3-mile hike out to Sand Point on the coast, though, so we weren't worried about the time.

It was quite odd backpacking on such a tame boardwalk trail. Forrest and I both felt that it was harder on the feet. At least the boardwalk wasn't wet; we had been warned that it gets extremely slippery when wet, which is all the time in a temperate rain forest. But look at how dense the bushes are: I'm grateful there was a trail hacked through it and permanently held open by this boardwalk, 'cause there's no way you could hike through there without a machete otherwise.

We set up camp in the trees just beyond the beach. They provided a good windbreak, but we still had an easy trail out to the beach. Or at least out to the driftwood.

While Forrest and Jerry put up the tents, I went down to the creek to filter some water for dinner. I had remembered the task being tiring and boring, and pumping the water through the water sure was taking forever! I finally wore out my weak little triceps and was about to give up when Jerry showed up. He took over and I went back to camp to update Forrest on our slow progress. Not very longer afterward, Jerry returned to report that he must be doing something wrong, because no water was getting through.

Forrest asked us if we had cleaned the filter. I hadn't, because on our previous trips a fresh filter had been good for several water bottles before it had needed cleaning. And Jerry hadn't, because he'd never used a water filter before. Forrest went back with us to the creek to show us how to do things properly. :) It turns out that the water was so tanninized from running through the forest leaves that it clogged up the filter twice per water bottle! No wonder Jerry and I had such trouble.

We had originally planned on hiking the full Ozette Triangle loop trail (9 miles total). But we didn't finish breaking camp on Sunday until almost 1 PM, the weather was windy and chilly, my feet were hurting (wimpy city-slicker feet!), and we were feeling generally lazy. So we decided to hike back out the way we came.

On the hike out, we started passing several "leaf vodoo" faces. We suspect the boy scout troop that camped next to us was responsible. :)

I'm glad we went on a little weekend backpacking trip. I had fun, and being in the outdoors is relaxing after a week in an office building. Hopefully we'll do more trips!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cross-Country Ski Skills Checklist

I found a good "checklist" of skills for cross-country skiing at the Snoqualmie Nordic Center. I'll be checking off the various techniques as I learn them.

Basic Beginner

Flat Skills
  • basic diagonal stride, with poles
  • star turn
  • double pole
Uphill Skills (gentle slope)
  • diagonal stride
  • side-step
  • herringbone
  • traverse and turn
Downhill Skills (gentle slope)
  • side-step
  • straight run
  • gliding wedge
  • braking wedge
  • stop at bottom with braking wedge

Advanced Beginner

Flat Skills
  • proficient diagonal stride, with some glide
  • kick/double pole
  • kick turn
Uphill Skills (gentle slope)
  • traverse with kick turn
Downhill Skills (gentle slope)
  • steered turns with braking wedge

Intermediate Skills

Flat Skills
  • efficient diagonal stride, with good glide
  • marathon skate
  • turn in place
Uphill Skills (most terrain)
  • half herringbone
Downhill Skills (most terrain)
  • linked wedge christies
  • linked stem christies (parallel finish)
  • stop on hills in wedge (parallel finish)

Advanced Skills

Flat Skills
  • efficient and flowing diagonal stride, with good glide
Downhill Skills (all terrain)
  • linked turns in open parallel
  • linked turns in modified telemark
  • stop on hills in parallel

As you can see (as of Feb 26th), I've been focusing on gaining techniques to let me control my downhill speeds. I dislike the adrenaline I get from zooming down hills without the ability to slow down. So I already have one downhill skill in the "intermediate" category.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Cross-County Skiing Every Weekend

Since we first went cross-country skiing in January, we've gone every weekend (usually both days) since then. Excepting one weekend where Forrest and I did a Wilderss First Aid course instead, that is.

So you might say that I'm really rather enjoying cross-country skiing. :) You might also notice that I haven't, ahem, posted about my trips after that first one. My bad. I do have ski photos uploaded to Flickr, at least...

At some point, expect back-dated posts to regale you with tales from the Learning How To Ski department. :)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Budgeting with Shared Expenses

I use Yodlee MoneyCenter to track my personal finances. Its UI isn't all that attractive, but it generally works pretty well. It automatically retrieves transactions from all my accounts, so I don't have to bother with data-entry. This is a huge plus for me; otherwise, I probably wouldn't do it at all.

But things fall apart when you want to follow a budget but you have shared expenses with someone. Say I've budgeted $200 for eating out. Yodlee can generate an "expense report" for that category, no problem. Except, what if I've only spent $100 on restaurants but my boyfriend has spent $400, half of which is my share? Then I'm clearly over budget, but Yodlee knows nothing about Forrest's accounts. Similarly, what if I've spent $300 on restaurants, but half of that is Forrest's share, so I've "really" only spent $150? Again, Yodlee has no way of dealing with this in its expense report or budgeting features.

On the other side of things, BillMonk is very useful for tracking who owes whom for shared expenses, but it has no personal finance reporting mechanisms at all (by design). So this doesn't really solve my problem either.

Enter Buxfer. As a former BillMonk employee, I feel like I'm "cheating" on BillMonk by even considering Buxfer. On the other hand, BillMonk never wanted to be a personal finance tracker, just a debt-between-friends tracker, so maybe I should let the guilt go. In any case, Buxfer does automatic transaction downloading and correctly understands how shared expenses affect budgets.

So I may be abandoning Yodlee and BillMonk in favor of Buxfer. Buxfer even has an API, so I should be able to whip up some script to take BillMonk's exported XML data and import it into Buxfer. (BillMonk almost released its API...) My group of friends still uses BillMonk, though, so I may have to write another script to keep my Buxfer account in sync with BillMonk.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20 Finance Questions

One of the personal finance blogs I read is "I Will Teach You To Be Rich." Ramit (the blog's author) posted an interesting list a couple days ago: 20 questions that your financially unprepared friends are afraid of. Check it out.

It's really too bad talking about money is such a touchy topic; I find that I usually learn something when I talk to others about finances. But I have to judge whether it's safe to breach the topic in the first place. Frank discussions are unfortunately rare, apart from talking with my dad.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Almost-Perfect Roth IRA Contributions

The contribution limit to a Roth IRA in 2008 was $5000. I set up automatic deposits from my paycheck so than X dollars went to Vanguard, and in Vanguard I set it up to divide that single deposit into Y% to the Roth IRA and Z% to my money market fund. I started my job in February, not January, so my math had to take that into account, too — divide things by 11, not 12.

Despite these factors, I ended up with $4998.36 in my Roth IRA account at the end of 2008. That means I was only off by $1.64, and that was only because I couldn't use enough precision in the Vanguard percentages! I so win.

So I bought myself $1.64 worth of shares to round out the 2008 tax year to the complete $5000 limit. I am pleased with my spreadsheet math. :) Oh, and having saved that money is pleasing, too, of course. ;)


Learning Words via Etymologies

I'm using FlashcardDB to study Spanish vocabulary. Generally it's going pretty well, but some similar words are really tripping me up; I can't keep them straight! So, to help myself, I've researched the etymologies of the Spanish words and tried to find cognates, however distant, in English.

This works like silly mnemonics, except that I also find the etymologies themselves interesting. More work than just making up silly memorable stories, sure, but what do you expect from a lingweenie? :)

perjudicial: damaging, harmful, detrimental
From perjudicar: "Ocasionar daño o menoscabo material o moral." Looks like it's related to English injury.
precavido: cautious, prudent
From precaver: "Prevenir un riesgo, daño o peligro, para guardarse de él y evitarlo." May be related to English precaution? Think of the "v" in precavido being that Latin "u/v", so it's really precauido (but not really), which is more like precaution.
precipitado: hasty, rash
From precipitarse: "Arrojarse inconsideradamente y sin prudencia a ejecutar o decir algo." From Latin praecipitāre "to throw or cause to fall headlong," from which English precipitation comes. Rain is water falling headlong to earth, right? That hasty precipitation, has no parachute! :)

And the other set of words giving me trouble:

terco: stubborn, obstinate
The RAE has no etymology for this one. :( Think of someone being a turkey, which as "a stupid, slow, inept, or otherwise worthless person" isn't quite the same, but gets in the right ballpark of semantics, anyhow.
tosco: coarse, rough, crude, unrefined
From Vicus Tuscus, "el barrio etrusco, por alusión a la gente libertina que vivía en esta zona de Roma." So the folks on Etruscan Street were rough, crude, unrefined folks, apparently.
áspero: coarse, rough, harsh
"Insuave al tacto, por tener la superficie desigual, como la piedra o madera no pulimentada, la tela grosera, etc." Compare English asperate (which you didn't know existed): "To make rough or uneven in surface, rugged or harsh in sound, manner, etc" from the same Latin root asper. Although unrelated, think of an aspirated voice being rougher.
asqueroso: disgusting, filty, revolting
"Que causa o tiene asco." From Greek ἐσχάρα, which literally meant hearth. English scar is ultimately from the same origin as Spanish asqueroso: ἐσχάρα hearth → the mark of a burn (from said hearth) → scar the trace of a healed burn (or other wound). Scars and burns can be disgusting, right? So scars are asquerosos.

Update, 9:45 PM: It's already working for me! I just did some of the flashcards again, and this time I finally got all of them right! Wootles.

Spanish definitions and etymologies are from the Real Academia Española; the English ones are from the Oxford English Dictionary.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cross-Country Skiing is Painful!

So yes, cross-country skiing is fun. But it's also painful the next day! I swear, all of my muscles hurt. Even my triceps. Silly little triceps. Every time I move, something aches. I think I'll deal with this by reading about skiing, rather than actually skiing, at least until next weekend. :)


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cross-Country Skiing is Fun!

In college, Forrest and I went downhill skiing... once. I quickly discovered that I disliked the adrenaline produced from zooming downhill with minimal confidence in my ability to recover if anything went wrong. So Forrest has been angling for some cross-country skiing instead. This weekend, we finally made it up to the snow!

Jerry came along with us. Neither he nor I had ever been cross-country skiing before*, so we signed up for the beginner's lesson. We meant to get there in time for the 10:30 lesson, but we took too long at the grocery store getting supplies and wandering around looking for a gas station, so we missed the lesson. We mentioned this to the lady doing registration, and she hooked us up with Betty, one of the instructors, to do a private lesson for us at 11. Very awesome, since we were only charged the standard rate.

Cross-country skiing was much easier than I was expecting! Granted, this is probably in large part because we were learning on groomed trails with convenient little ruts to guide the skis. Even so, I had a lot of fun figuring out the right amount of effort vs glide.

I only fell down 3 times, and all those were within a 5-minute window until I figured out that looking backward while moving made me fall. At which point I stopped doing that, and I didn't fall any more. Jerry can't say the same, falling a total of 18 times throughout the day. But his center of gravity's higher than mine, and his skis were longer and more difficult to deal with, so he's got some good excuses. Forrest fell too, so no one was immune.

After our hour-long lesson, we tracked down Forrest, ate a light lunch, and headed back out on the trail. The only green (aka easy) trail we could get to was the Cold Creek trail, since the lifts up to the upper trails were taken out during a recent avalanche. Including the lesson, we probably skiied about 4km, or 2.5 miles. Not to shabby for our first day, eh?

Not quite true: When I was a kid, my family once went cross-country skiing in the Sierras. But my memories are very dim and mainly involve patches of thin, muddy, half-melted snow. Those memories do not even vaguely resemble the thick, well-groomed trails I skied on today. So I don't think it really counts.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Us: 1, Rats: 0

A couple nights ago, Forrest went into the pantry/laundry room and discovered a rat staring back at him from atop the water heater. So over the weekend we spent the better part of a day moving all the pantry food into the kitchen or throwing it out (Pasta Roni from 2003, I miss you!). As far as we could tell, the rat(s) had only gnawed on a bag of rice.

We bought some nasty-powerful rat traps and baited them with peanut butter (per my dad's suggestion) for a couple of nights without arming the traps, so the rats would be complacent and unsuspecting. Last night, Forrest finally armed the traps for the first time. Around 1 AM, Forrest woke up, saying that he'd though he had heard a commotion and a rat-squeal from the pantry. It being 1 AM, he decided to go back to sleep and check the trap in the morning.

As you can see from the photo, we got the sucker! Please note that both Forrest and I had rats as pets when we were kids, so it's not that we hate rats indiscriminately. We just don't want rats living in our pantry, or worse, infiltrating the rest of the house.

We're hoping it was just this one rat — it's a small female, so maybe it was working on setting up a nest. We're hoping there isn't a colony of rats ready to move in to our pantry. But we'll be setting more traps tonight, just in case.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Songsmith Ad: Must Been Heard to Be Believed

Ahhh, Microsoft. You make such great software, and ads to sell them! I like Videogun's commentary on the terrrrific ad for Songsmith:

[T]his REAL commercial for Microsoft's new Songsmith software (you sing at it and it creates horrible musak to accompany you) is completely insane. Not only is it apparently earnest and not a parody, self- or otherwise, it seems like it comes from a bizarro parallel universe where irony was never discovered.

See for yourself. Don't forget to turn up the speakers! ;)

Update: Forrest points out that this is from Microsoft Research, not the commercial arm of Microsoft. Still, the Cheese Factor is just to much for me. :P


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Almuerzo Español

Fui a un reunión hoy, durante el almuerzo, de hispanohablantes. He sabido sobre este grupo hace algunas meses, pero cada vez que occurió la reunión, me acobardé de ella. Esta vez, fui; ¡me alegré de ir!

Hubo un hombre, Rene, de Cuba, que es el líder del grupo. Él organiza las reuniones, manda los emails al grupo, etc. También hubo una mujer china de Ecuador (que nació en Nueva York) que se llamaba... Celestia? No recuerdo exactamente. Y un poco después, nos acompañó otro hombre, pero no se presentó.

Rene me dijo que mi pronunciación es buena, y (como me habían dicho otros hispanohablantes) mis Ses parecen españolas. :)

Google can translate for you. :)