Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yesterday's walk.

Pictures from my entirely unnecessary walk. It was the first day in awhile that I could go out without being 1)totally bundled up 2)able to walk without navigating through the snow and/or ice.

I like how this house looks like it is striving to be the tallest house ever. It reminds me of when you measure the height of children and they stand up very straight, then stick their necks up as high as they can and then stand on their toes.
This house wants to say hello to you. Do you think it was meant to be this anthropomorphic?
Ducks! Someday I want ducks!

Someone helpfully (hah!) provided a couch so you can watch the traffic go by.
If you sat there, you would get this noisy view.
This is my favorite house on Montana street. I love the house itself, the color, things in the yard and all the little details that make it cool.
Nice decorations are everywhere around the house.
And you can see through the chicken wire gate to the chicken-house like extension. Fabulous!

Guidlines and a Tuesday

This is a time of relaxing, for sure. I don't think I have met any of my goals for work 4 hours of work for awhile now. Today was no different.
  • Up and dressed to the shoes. It was touch and go for awhile there, but I did get up and by skipping the shower, was able to get dressed.
  • 1 hour study. Did this
  • 1 hour blogs. Did this. I can't believe I'm not caught up yet!
  • 1 hour exercise. I took an entirely unnecessary walk to the library to return a movie and then walked to the store for some supplies.
  • 4 hours work. Not really. If you double count the walk as also work, then I think I have two hours. Sports Night wins again.
  • Keep up with dishes and picking up. I did do this!
  • Nap maximum 30 minutes. I actually set the nap timer for an hour as I haven't been sleeping well and was very tired. But 25 minutes in, the phone rang and it woke me up. I felt refreshed so I did meet my napping limitations goal.
  • Eat only when hungry, stop when full. I wasn't hungry at dinner so I didn't eat.
  • Plan food the day before. Did this.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. I actually had a peanut butter coconut honey concoction.
Not bad day. Just no work.

Three sentence movie reviews--Milk

When was the last time I saw Sean Penn playing an impish character instead of a repressed and tortured one? I had forgotten he had it in him. Well acted, very good period piece, good story line, a bit long near the end, and I can't quite square this in my Gus Van Sant world.
poster from:

Books vs. Movies

"The book is always better than the movie."

That statement is what I firmly believed for most of my growing up years. As I got older and saw more movies and let go of the fact that each movie had to be a page-by-page adaptation of my beloved books, I began to enjoy both the book and the movie version. Indeed, at times I prefer the movie to the book. Granted, those times are few and far between but sometimes the movie fleshes out things that don't really come to life on the page, or makes a more coherent narrative. And I loved watching Gone With The Wind, simply to see the dresses, never mind that the filmmakers left out several of Scarlett O'Hara's children.

You can find a list on Goodreads titled "The Movie Was Better Than the Book". I disagree with many of them, but here are some I agree with:
  • Fight Club
  • Forrest Gump
  • Big Fish
  • Eddie and the Cruisers
  • The Hours
  • Starship Troopers
  • The Natural

Sometimes I like both the movie and the book best because they both bring out good qualities in the story:
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • The Orchid Thief/Adaptation
  • Atonement

That said, about 90% of the time the book is at least as good as the movie, but mostly better.

Summary of Resolution 2008

It was long. It was hard. I fell off the wagon more than once, but I am glad I made this resolution. I've made new letter friends (all about 30 years older than me) and have reacquainted myself with some old friends as well as the pen and the paper, rather than the computer and the keyboard. I love the stamps, the paper and envelopes and also pulling a letter out of the mailbox and curling up on the couch to read it. In 2009 I will try to write three letters per week. This was too much fun to give up after only one year.

My resolution for 2009? The infinitely easier and much less time consuming."eat while sitting down."

Highlights of Books read in 2008

I present to you the
Patricia Collins Read This Year Books Award.
These awards are brought to you by me and by Goodreads, who not only gives me an electronic place to store a list of the books I read this year, but also shows me a handy picture of each book’s cover (and so much more.) Without further ado--

Most “literary” novel I loved:
The History of Love: A Novel.

My favorite book of the entire year:
The Monsters of Templeton

Best enchanting plot with a friendship I am jealous of:
The Rope Walk

Best guilty pleasure with long, long paragraphs:
10 Days in the Hills

Best obsession, as well as characters I want to marry:
Dennis Lehane's
Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennario Novels

Best painter of graphic pictures with least amount of words written:
Best book that made me afraid to go to sleep:
The Road

Best trip back to hormone-fueled early love:
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Best chronicle of the thoughts and motivations of the minds of college students:
Best book to get lost in the writing style:
I Am Charlotte Simmons

Best premise:
The Likeness

Best futuristic sci-fi feminist novel:
He, She and It

Best surprise and delightful story, recommendable to your eldest aunt and mother:
I Capture the Castle

Best two books about eating that everyone should read:
In Defense of Food
Real Food

Best “oh wow, cool!” book.
Best, “hmmm, I never knew that” book
Body Drama

Best hope for those of us who were never “wunderkinds”
My Life in France

Best book used to plan my DC trip
Washington in Focus

Best book edited by my radio boyfriend:
New Kings of Nonfiction

Worst book I read:
Series I will most likely read all of, even though it annoys me

You can find my reviews, as well as the names of the authors by clicking on the "books" link in the tag cloud.

Letters written in December

I want to say that I went out with a bang, but here is what happened: I got tired. The first two days of December I wrote two letters to go in my packet to be mailed off to LEX. Then I decided to count my Christmas Cards as part of this project, even though they were more of an assembly line project than actual letter writing. There were 25 cards, so that brought me to December 28-31. Only four more letters were needed to complete the year. I didn't write them.

So the month breakdown looks like this:
December 1. LEX.
December 2. LEX
December 3-27. Christmas Cards.
December 28. No one
December 29. No one
December 30. No one
December 31. No one.


Books read in December

Some good and not-so-good (cough*Twilight*cough) went on this month. Yay for spending more of the month at home rather than at work.


Map of Ireland. Stephanie Grant
Hard to read but lovely (and short) fictional story of a girl (who likes girls) from Southie during the busing crisis of the 1970s.

Twilight. Stephine Meyer.
Wow. Probably the worst writing I've read this year, and I don't consider myself a picky reader. The story line was interesting and kept me reading to the end, but the main characters' real ages (17 year old girl and 90-something man) was a bit pedophilistic for me. That said, I may read the second book to see 1) if the writing improves, 2) if the plot line gets worse or better.

CatSpeak. Bash Dibra with Elizabeth Randoph
How you cat talks to you and you can talk to your cat. Good advice on training and good illustrations.

The Whole Pet Diet: 8 Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats. Andi Brown.
I've been reading a lot about creating your own pet food and I really like this book. In it, you spend eight weeks making small changes that supposedly make for a much healthier and happier cat. Or dog.

In the Woods. Tanya French.
After reading The Likeness I eagerly looked forward to this book which is the first book. There was quite a long queue at the library for it. I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed the main character, to my surprise not the main character from The Likeness but instead her partner. The plot line moved rapidly and I enjoyed not only figuring out whodunit, but also the main character's relationship with his partner. A book I made time to read.

Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane.
After I finished this book I really hated it. I felt manipulated by the plot and annoyed about all the tension I had built up in the process of reading it. It doesn't help that I tend to absorb books while reading and dissect them later so I never saw the plot twist coming. Still, creepy setting, good main characters, clever plot. This is probably an average book but I didn't like it so it gets one star.

New Moon. Stephanie Meyer.
In the second book, I figured out my main problem with this series. I find Meyer's writing style incredibly distracting, but in New Moon I discovered that when Edward is around, her writing style gets worse. Without Edward, her writing style is the annoying drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. But when Edward appears the pipe breaks and bad prose gushes onto the page. I also realized that I DON'T LIKE EDWARD CULLEN! He's moody and arrogant and boring. Yay that he is very smart and incredibly good looking etc. etc. etc. Despite those very surface things, he ultimately bugs. I think Meyers still hasn't fleshed him out as a character unlike Bella or (the vastly superior to Edward) Jacob.

It may have to do with temperature preference, but I would choose a hot-blooded werewolf over a cold-marble vampire any day.

Midway through the book I thought, "Dammit, she's got me again. Her interesting plot line has triumphed over her bad prose." But by the end I was so annoyed with the bad prose I had no interest in the rest of the series.

The Road. Cormac McCarthy.
When your life is pared down to a survival level--shelter, food--what would your days contain? Like other McCarthy books the prose was easy to read, but the story itself was hard. One of those books I will be thinking about for the next week. There is a movie, but I will not see it. Some images were hard enough to view in my head. I don't need to see them in their cinematic glory.

I Capture the Castle. Dodie Smith.
I saw this movie when it came out in 2003 and enjoyed it. As I was buying books this summer for my trip, this was remaindered at Powell's and I grabbed it. However, I only recently picked it up and what a treat! The narration is absolutely sparkling and there are many funny scenes. The plot does an excellent job of chronicling family life--although this family is a bit odder than others--and also falling in love for the first time. The prose does an excellent job of painting pictures of an English village, a manor house, and 1930s London. The characters are well developed and likable through their quirks. Recommended.

Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon. Brad Hudson.
Not really a book for beginning runners, but for people who have some idea what their 3K, 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon pace is. I am not one of those people, but I like his message about not being a slave to your training plan. He also discusses how people are built to run many miles, but not super fast, or are super fast, but don't run many miles as well. The book includes many training plans.

Started but did not finish
Real Food for Cats. Patti Delmonte
Recipes for your cat's food that don't come from a can.

Think Like a Cat. Pam Johnson-Bennett

Lamb in Love. Carrie Brown.
I enjoyed The Rope Walk earlier this year and was sad that yet another of Carrie Brown's novel didn't move me. I couldn't get in to the main characters and set the book down.

Not quite dead. John MacLaughlin Gray.
Normally I like a nice historical fiction about real characters you think wouldn't meet. However, I did not like this, and gave up on it.

The Woman Warrior. Maxine Hong Kingston.
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I haven't read this and even more embarrassed to admit that I started it and put it down early on. I just slogged through the grim landscape of The Road and I wasn't ready for the opening scene. I'll pick it up later.

Did not even start.
The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of Roget's Thesarus. Joshua Kendall
Did you know that, among other things, Roget invented the log-log slide rule? I was researching the slide rule and checked this book out thinking it would have a bit about that, and that is exactly what it had: two paragraphs.

Homecoming. Bernhard Schlink.
Sometimes the sentence "translated from the German" doesn't really pull me in. I never even opened this, though it sat near my chair for three weeks.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Multnomah County Library,

Hi there. I know you are pretty busy being the most utilized library of cities our size and everything, but I have a small wish that I am hoping you will fulfill. I'm sure you probably think it is helpful to package entire TV series as one multi-disk package for people to check out. After all, it is easier to check out and watch an entire season of, say The Office Season Four over a three week period than it is to try and reserve say, disk one of The Office Season Four, watch it, return it, and reserve disk two.

But here is the deal. When handed all four disks of Season Four at the same time, I tend to want to watch all four disks right away. I have no self control. It's like in Old Yeller, when the boy who doesn't like Old Yeller ties the hunk of meat low enough so Old Yeller could eat it, but Old Yeller is Old Yeller and the next morning hasn't touched the meat thus gaining the boy's esteem and further winning our hearts? Except I'm not Old Yeller. Were I the dog in that situation, the morning would find the rope hanging slack and me sleeping off the meat food coma. With an entire season of a DVD that I can have for three weeks I will inevitably finish it before the first week is out.

I've recently checked out the series Sports Night, which I remember reading was good when it was playing on TV (where they only air one episode per week if you are lucky) but I wasn't really watching a lot of TV at that time. It turns out that the buzz I heard lo those 10 years ago was right on. Likable characters, snappy dialog, zany-but-real situations, and every episode some character manages to bring up some random obscure topic to become obsessed with. I'm enjoying it tremendously. And therein lies the problem. The Sports Night DVD is not just one season, but the entire series. Six disks! 40-something episodes! I know my lack of self-control isn't your problem but if only you would just give me one disk at a time I would be so much better off. Netflix operates that way. So do the movie rental stores. But you, oh generous library. You give me everything at once.

So think about it. More packaging, I know, and more checking in and out etc. But if all your various television series were packaged individually, just think of the boost in circulation numbers.

Patricia Collins.
Proud Multnomah County Library Patron.

Whew. Thank goodness for the guidlines.

Okay, these are probably the most boring posts ever, but they are really keeping me in line. This morning, after not sleeping well last night, I really wanted to just go back to bed. But I couldn't do that because I would have to mention it in the guidelines report. Also, as you will see below, I didn't really meet my work requirement or my exercise requirement yesterday so I have already made plans to come closer to meeting both of them today. I'm on day 11 or so of these guidelines and I haven't collapsed in food coma yet, nor have I lost a whole day doing nothing. I'm finding a good balance between work and leisure. So thank goodness for posts about guidelines.
  • Up and dressed to the shoes. Did it.
  • 1 hour study math test. I did
  • 1 hour blogs. I did.
  • 1 hour exercise. It was pouring when I got up and I put it off. Which means I didn't do it.
  • 4 hours work. Hmmm. There was a good half hour or more of picking up. And, if you count doing my laundry I totally met this guideline. However, in doing my laundry what I was really doing was watching multiple episodes of Sports Night. So I didn't really meet this goal.
  • Keep up with dishes and picking up. Yes
  • Nap maximum time 30 minutes. No nap.
  • Eat when hungry stop when full. Yep
  • Plan food the day before. Yes
  • Fruit and vegges watching movies. Yes.
All in all, not a bad day. And Sports Night is a great show.

Three sentence movie reviews--City of Ember.

It has been a very long time since I have watched a science fiction/fantasy movie. Though a little long near the end, this was a delightful, suspenseful, well acted, well designed movie. Perfect for families.
poster from:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday and guidelines.

Watching TV on DVDs = crack. Especially when it is a half-hour sitcom. I sit down to watch two shows and four hours later I'm still sitting there. This was a mildly unmotivated day.
  • Up and dressed to the shoes. Did it.
  • 1 hour study math. Did it.
  • 1 hour blogs. Did it.
  • 1 hour exercise. 45 minutes riding my new bike home. Plus some walking to and from the train. Did it.
  • 4 hours work. I probably got an hour and a half in. It could have been more, but see above for my excuse.
  • Keep up with dishes & picking up. Nope. See above.
  • Nap maximum 30 minutes. I did not nap today. Surprisingly as I went to bed very late last night due to the joy of Contra Dancing.
  • Eat only when hungry, stop when full. Did it.
  • Plan food the day before. Did it.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. I used my virtual "one free popcorn" coupon tonight. Then I had two oranges. We're sort of awash in fruit right now.
Overall, not bad. I get a goodly amount done during the morning. I'd like to say that I am going to limit my TV viewing today, but I would be lying.

Three sentence movie reviews--Tully

An understated story about the sometimes-rough transition from adolescence to adulthood set on a family farm in Nebraska. Sometimes I find a movie and I can't imagine how I and the movie could have existed at the same time for so long and I wasn't aware of it. Excellent acting all around and filled with many tiny moments of joy, I highly recommend this.
poster from:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Find Found.

Hit that link above there and then come back here.

I laughed and laughed at this. Then I read the comments and laughed some more. I've been in that same German class, my friend. That exact same class.

Guidlelines and Saturday

A bit of a weird day...
  • Up and dressed. Did this
  • 1 hour study math. Did this
  • 1 hour blogs. Did this. Mostly prepping pictures for posting. That takes a bit of time.
  • 1 hour exercise. I jogged for 26 minutes and also did two hours of contra dancing.
  • 4 hours work. I had about three hours. I kept fooling around on the computer and also, see Nap.
  • Keep up with dishes/picking up. I unloaded the dishwasher and hand-washed the dishes by the sink. When it is just me and I'm not doing a lot of cooking, it makes more sense to wash them by hand.
  • Nap maximum time 30 minutes. I set out to do this, but failed. I set my timer for 30 minutes and feel asleep on the couch. I awoke an hour later and checked to see how much time was left on the timer. Inexplicably, there were almost 13 minutes left, but the timer was not running. I hit start to see if the batteries were wonky, but it ran just fine. I concluded that during my sleep, I turned the timer off. Having already exceeded my guideline, I rolled over and slept for another hour. That cut into my work time.
  • Eat only when hungry and stop when full. I had a bigger lunch than planned and thus wasn't hungry for dinner. So I fulfilled the first half of this after not fulfilling the second. Not ideal, but better than not fulfilling either.
  • Plan food the day before. Food was planned. Sadly, I did not stick to the plan.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. No movie.
Overall, aside from the nap fiasco, this was a good day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday and the guidelines

Thursday was guideline free, as it was Christmas. Friday I was feeling very unmotivated. Considering that, it was a good day.
  • Got up. I did.
  • 1 hour study math. Yep
  • 1 hour blog. Yes-sir-ee
  • 1 hour exercise. There was running. Or walk/jog/creeping along the ice, rather. There was also picking up the milk delivery.
  • 4 hours work. I spent a half hour cleaning off my desk. I went downtown to pick up my books which probably took an hour and a half. If you add in cooking dinner, I think I made it four hours. It was under mild duress, though. There was a lot of playing the never ending trivia game on Goodreads.
  • Keep up with dishes and picking up. Yes ma'am.
  • Nap. There was none, so that was under 30 minutes.
  • Eat only when hungry, stop when full. Yeah, not so much.
  • Plan food. Did. Did not actually stick to the plan, though.
  • Fruit and Veggies while watching movie. Nope. I had ice cream. Alas.
Well, tomorrow is another day. I will concentrate on meeting my various food goals.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Waking the Dead

This is one of those movies that has me looking for the book it is based on just as soon as the credits roll. The movie was good in both its romantic scenes, political scenes and those tense, "what the heck is going on?" scenes, but a little something was missing from the whole. Sometimes the book provides those missing parts.

ps. Billy Crudup. Yum.
poster from:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday's Guidelines.

To recapitulate:

Monday and Tuesday I was getting ready for various festivities so I was pretty busy, although "pretty busy" on vacation means lots of time for napping and movies etc. Wednesday I got up and did the last of the Christmas baking, cleaned up and that was that for exertion.

Up and dressed to the shoes: Monday Tuesday, Wednesday
1 hour study Math Test: Monday, Tuesday, none on Wednesday
1 hour blogs: Monday, Tuesday, not Wednesday
1 hour exercise: yes on Monday, none on Tuesday (prepping for Christmas Eve Eve), 20 minutes of shoveling snow on Wednesday
4 hours work: Yes on Monday, Tuesday, about three on Wednesday
Keep up with dishes/picking up: Yes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Nap maximum of 30 minutes: I had 30 minute or less naps all three days
Eat only when hungry, stop when full: Yes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I didn't really do this
Plan food the day before: Monday, Tuesday, not Wednesday
Fruit and veggies while watching movies. I watched a movie Monday, and Wednesday, but not Tuesday. I had nothing to eat with any of them.

Three sentence movie reviews--A Christmas Story.

Our across-the-street-neighbor Janet Miller took us to this movie when it came out. We saw it at the Egyptian Theater on a Sunday after church. The setting has never been as nice, but this movie is still as delightful as the first time I saw it.
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Monday, December 22, 2008


Looking out the window at the snow it is as if I have been transported from the rainy green city of Portland to some snow covered hamlet somewhere in Colorado or Montana. It is snowing again today and we have inches on the ground. Having lived with snow in some for for over a week now, I can say the following generalizations about Portlanders are true.

They never go out in the snow.
They are unable to operate a snow shovel.

The people of Portland disappear when it snows. They stay holed up in their houses and emerge for only the most dire needs. They never, thank the lord, drive. The cars I've seen on the roads this week all have chains on them, but cars are few and far between. This is a good thing as Portlanders have little practice driving in the snow and have little to no skills in that area. Unlike any other place I have lived, the equipment to plow the roads is sparse and the roads themselves aren't really sanded and definitely not salted. The (very small) downside of this is that life grinds to a halt when we get measurable snow. The upside is that the snow remains beautiful and white instead of nasty and gritty and brown, even on the major roads.

I would guess that 60% of Portlanders don't own snow shovels. It makes sense. Most of the time when it snows we get a day or so of winter beauty and then everything warms up and it rains. Poof. The snow disappears. Why bother to shovel? This is in stark contrast to Massachusetts, where if you don't clear the snow from your sidewalk it freezes and remains a slippery mess for weeks, if not months.

After shoveling my walk this morning, I took a walk of about three miles to run some errands. After I left my shoveled walk, guess how many shoveled sidewalks I encountered on my round trip? One. I even took a more traveled route in hopes that I would find some clear sidewalks. Not only do residents of the neighborhood not shovel, but businesses don't either. The only exception was the North Star Coffee house, and they did the lazy "make a path one snow shovel wide" method. No one even throws down those things that make ice melt.

So it is a winter wonderland here, but one that has me wishing I owned snow shoes.

Three sentence movie reviews--You Kill Me.

This was a movie to watch if you like any of the main actors or have a lot of time on your hands. The story line was interesting, though I felt that some of the characters (Bill Pullman) and scenes were sort of dropped into the story randomly. Movies about alcoholics are kind of interesting and I felt like the main character's attempts to become sober were accurately depicted, though I have no first-hand experience.
poster from:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Sunday with guidelines.

Okay, we were really snowed in today. The Max line wasn't running due to frozen switches. I did very well with my guidelines.
  • Get up and dress to the shoes. Yep did this. I didn't take a shower, because when you are snowed in and slightly cold all day there isn't a lot of sweating going on. I'll shower tomorrow.
  • 1 hour review for math test. Yep. Took the two hour practice test. It was pretty depressing. I think I might see if I can move that test date.
  • 1 hour work on the blogs. Did it. I got all the photos ready to post and wrote a few things.
  • 1 hour of exercise. Shoveled snow twice. Walked to the store and back across unshoveled sidewalks so even more effort was used. Matt and I went to get dessert at Pizza Fino, also over unshoveled walks.
  • 4 hours work. I rocked the work. Probably more like six hours.
  • Maximum nap time: 30 minutes. No nap today.
  • Keep up with dishes and picking up. Yep.
  • Plan food the day before. I'll do that right after I finish this post.
  • Eat only when hungry and stop when full. Breakfast and lunch very good. I wasn't super hungry for dinner.
  • When watching movies, eat nothing or fruits and vegetables. I'm going to have wine with my movie. For some reason this winter weather has me craving wine.

Three sentence movie reviews--Waitress.

I mostly felt uncomfortable during this supposed "vibrant and uplifiting comedy." I couldn't get over the idea that 5.3 million American women experience abuse such as the main character experienced (and worse), yet we rarely see movies about this topic. This movie was beautifully filmed and I enjoyed the main characters and especially Andy Griffith, but I can't really recommend it.

poster from:

Cul de sac had me snorting with laughter on the train today.

I didn't like this comic at first, but now I love it for the way it perfectly captures the alternate universe preschool aged children live in.

The fall of lice.

The autumn of 2008 has had some big milestones, but for me the end of 2008 will always be the period in which a significant portion of my work life was caught up in the lice infestation that began in September and was still going as of mid-December. I lost track of the number of full school lice inspections that I did with Tara and Maureen. My presence in a classroom eventually became synonymous with those lice inspections. One day in early November, I walked into Allegra's classroom to ask her a question and Mina piped up: "Do we have a lice inspection today?"

I'm hoping that the three-week break will bring an end to this particularly hardy strain, but I'm also worried that without our constant emails about the state of the lice infestation, the lice have been colonizing heads, ready to come back stronger than ever. For the sake of the parents and staff, I hope that isn't the case.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My first day of guidelines.

How did it go? Pretty well.

I did get up, went jogging (4) and got dressed (1). For work (5) I spent from 8:30-3:00 (includes transportation time) decorating the tree at my Aunt Pat's house. I also wrote my Christmas letter and went by the library to see if I could pick up the books on hold. Sadly, they were closed because of the snow. Oh! And I shoveled the walk. I just loaded up the dish washer (7) though have not picked up the house at all today. I actually packaged up the rest of my apple from breakfast this morning because I was full (9) but did get a little full for lunch and dinner.

On the didn't side.
No nap (6) today, so well under my 30 minute limit. There was no studying for the math test (2) though that was on purpose as I want to take a 2 hour practice test tomorrow, so that will count for both days. I made my food plan (8) this morning, instead of last night. I haven't watched a movie today, but if I do, I have my eye on a pomegranate (10) in the fridge.

On the maybe side:
I still have 34 minutes left of blog time (3) I may do the full hour.

Bus tips.

First in an occasional series.
When riding the bus, or any kind of public transportation, take a seat. If you feel like standing, move to the rear of the bus. Do not stand at the front of the bus near the driver. When you do that people have trouble getting onto the bus and everyone's commute takes longer.

One thing that often happens on semi-crowded buses, is that people will "move to the back" but stop at about the point where the woman is wearing the tan coat, instead of walking up the rear steps all the way to the back of the bus. Then other people can't get by them, so the front of the bus becomes quite crowded while often there are still some seats left in the very back. If people would instead walk all the way to the very back of the bus, more people would be transported more comfortably.

Remember, the key to happy public transportation is to not only watch out for yourself, but your fellow travelers too.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Well, this evening begins my two weeks of Winter Break. One of the perks of my job is that I have a lot of vacation. Would that every American had this much vacation, I think we would be a much happier and healthier country.

As much as I love vacation, I sometimes get a bit off track. When free from the normal structures of my life, I sometimes want to be free from all structure and some parts of my vacations have passed in a food coma haze where I also either watch to many movies, read too many books or both.

The problem is that if I keep to my normal routine it doesn't feel like vacation, it just feels like work in a different place. But if I discard all my routines I become a bit too free and that isn't pleasurable either. Sometimes I have a project that keeps me occupied, but I wasn't feeling up to a whole project thing this break. So instead, I decided to have guidelines. Things that aren't quite my normal routine, but are things that will most likely make for a pleasurable vacation. Here they are:
1. Get up and dress to the shoes.
This is a Flylady thing. Flylady is always going on about putting on your shoes so you are prepared for anything. I've found it is true for me, and it is so cold that I need to wear shoes right now anyway.
2. One hour review for math test.
It's coming up right after break is over and I would love to pass it the first time.
3. One hour work on the blogs.
The other one is caught up, but this one is horribly behind. Hopefully, I can chip away at this and get this post up in January or *gasp* December.
4. One hour of exercise.
Although if I jog, then 25 minutes plus stretching will do. I feel so much better if I exercise and it, sadly, is one of the main things that falls apart during vacations.
5. Four hours work.
"Work" means anything I am doing that is not officially leisurely. I've got a lot of little this and that in the project realm that could be finished, I could work on the blogs or do some house cleaning. Running errands counts too.
6. Maximum nap time: 30 minutes.
As vacations go on my naps tend to get longer which messes up my overnight sleep. I know that I can have 30 lovely minutes of napping (one of my favorite parts of vacation) without affecting my sleep, so that is where I will draw the line.
7. Keep up with dishes and picking up.
There is nothing worse then attempting to eat a lovely lunch and finding that there is no clean silverware. Okay, there are worse things, but a lack of silverware is a vacation downer.
8. Plan food the day before.
When at home, I tend to react with excitement to every item I see in the refrigerator. Thus my meals can become quite large. This should keep them normally sized.
9. Eat only when hungry and stop when full.
Yet another challenge while on break. Life is better for me when I can do this, though.
10. When watching movies, eat nothing or fruits and vegetables.
I have stockpiled a bunch of movies to watch over the break. I usually like to have popcorn, but fourteen days of popcorn would not be a pretty thing. However, I can have one bowl of popcorn, as long as I stick to having fruits and veggies the rest of the time.

I'll check in mostly daily and see how I do.

Snow downtown

On the last day of school before winter break, a snow day was called. That was no different for me than the four previous days which were also snow days for west side schools. So I have a three week winter break, instead of the scheduled two week break. I did go into work for a few hours this morning to put together a lunch order for the day we go back to school and then ran some errands downtown. It was snowing Hollywood snow, the kind you always see on TV: big wet flakes floating slowly to the ground, and it looked lovely in Pioneer Square.

You will note that there isn't really a lot of snow on the ground. This is because a reasonably reliable forecast for any amount of snow here is the equivalent of about 18 inches of actual snow in Massachusetts. Schools are canceled, people stay home from work, many, many people avoid driving for any reason. I have a theory that American workers, starved for more time off from work, take any advantage of the weather to have more days off. Here that means a chance of snow causes many things to grind to a halt. Perhaps if we had more vacation, we would be more willing to go out in the snow.

Parking lots and snow

One thing I always remember about snow in Boise, is how a light snow would fall and cover everything, including the parking lots. People would drive to the mall, or the store, or someplace with a parking lot and take their best guess as to where the spaces were. They would then go in a shop, or perhaps work. Meanwhile the temperature would warm up and the snow would melt, exposing the actual parking spaces, many of which were difficult to park in, because the people who guessed would have guessed wrong, yet their cars were still there, parked outside the lines.

With that memory in mind, I was pleased to see this ingenious solution at a parking lot near my work.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--It's a Wonderful Life.

This is my favorite holiday movie even though I find the main character to be whiny, petulant and mostly unlikeable. There are so many good lines where I snort or hoot with laughter--"Mary? You on the nest?" is perhaps my favorite. And every year it kills me when George Bailey finds out that no man is ever poor who has friends.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Before Sunset.

Most of adult life is pretty boring and repetitious: hours, days, month spent doing the same thing over and over again with no real surprises. I can't really convey the pleasure and the anticipation this movie brought letting me join the characters of Before Sunrise nine years later. They are still the same age as me and there is still a lot of walking and talking and well-thunk thoughts.
Crap, I can't do this in three sentences, here are a few more: Never has a walk up a staircase been so full of tension. I'm hoping Linklater will take up Roger Ebert's suggestion to drop in on them every nine years so we can see what has become of their lives.

Also, watching these movies one after another really highlights the aging that can take place in a decade. And I don't mean that in a bad way, just looking at Ethan Hawke, I thought, "Wow! Has my face undergone similar changes?" Which of course it has, as I smoked for seven years and love the sun and tend to shy away from sunscreen.
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Three sentence movie reviews--Before Sunrise

I was the same age as the characters in this movie when it was released and I couldn't imagine anything more exciting then meeting a boy on a train, and accepting his offer to wander the city overnight with him engaging in long conversations about well-thunk thoughts. I fell in love with this movie and the characters and thus, I can never give an impartial review. Watching it now, 11 years later their well-thunk thoughts seem so earnest and young and a bit silly I giggled, but that didn't diminish my love.

Note: I watched this originally with Cindy and Sara at Cindy's house and thanks to her, I will always be distracted by the noise Ethan Hawke's jacket makes. The dress Celene wears always reminds me of Sara. In those ways they both continue to watch it with me, every time.

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Three sentence movie reviews--Zach and Miri Make a Porno

I think that, in between his hugely successful movies, Kevin Smith has a lot of free time on his hands and there is much sitting around thinking thoughts like, "What if I made a romantic comedy about two friends making porn?" Illegal substances may be involved, though Smith strikes me as someone a little too uptight to indulge. This was middle of the road Kevin Smith fare, with a lot of raunch, a few disgusting scenes and more evidence that under all his adolescent humor, he is really a squishy romantic at heart.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Paranoid Park

Filmed in Portland with a lot of scenes near my work! The first twenty minutes of this movie have more dialog than Van Sant's three previous movies combined. Much arty filming of skateborders, who remain youth that I have a soft spot for.

Note: a few years ago I decided to watch all of Gus Van Sant's movies in order. This brings me up to date as of last year, now I have to see Milk. I split Van Sant's movies into three categories: Early Portland, Commercial/Independent fare, and the "No Talking" Trilogy. With Paranoid Park and Milk, I seem to need a new category. In the meantime, my favorites from the current categories:
  • Early Portland: Drugstore Cowboy (probably a top 20 movie for me, beautifully filmed)
  • Commercial/Independent: To Die For (Nicole Kidman is good, but Matt Dillon and Joaquin Pheonix truly sparkle. Also, Illeana Douglas and Allison Foland are fabulous.)
  • No Talking: Gerry. (How could two guys walking around in the desert not talking be so mesmerizing?)

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So far it has turned our Holiday Party/Overnight into just a Holiday Party (for this I am thankful.) It has canceled our church service and Sunday school at 11:15. It has kept people from the Nutcracker, ensuring me the best seat I will probably ever have at the ballet. What will it do next?
It doesn't look like a lot, but for Portlanders, any snow is too much snow. Sometimes even a forecast for snow is too much snow.
The pioneers have even more struggle. They are covered in snow!
City Hall looks picturesque.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

White Elephant Theme: Summer.

Each year for the youth group holiday party we have a white elephant gift exchange. This year we decided to go with a theme: summer. Here Sam models some of the gifts. From the top: A lovely red hat, which now is named Fernando. A fabulous sword. A quite nice swimsuit that Deborah was happy to grab for someone, but first Sam had to model it. And some lovely flip flops, sadly obscured by the couch.

Hmmm. My current interest is naturally fermented foods...

...could my family be getting homemade sauerkraut for Christmas?

Monday, December 8, 2008


From the Goodreads Dennis Lehane interview:

GoodReads: Do you have any plans to return to Kenzie and Gennaro? What's next?

Dennis Lehane: What's next is the sixth Kenzie-Gennaro book. Really.

Okay Dennis. Let's do it. A new Kenzie-Gennaro book in 2010! Or perhaps 2011. Take your time. I want it to be good.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Mala Noche.

I find it remarkable this film was made in 1985, it seems so contemporary and blatantly homosexual. Another of Van Sant's "filmed in Portland where I work" although 20+ years before I started working there. Tim Streeter, who plays the main character is magnetic.

This is the first movie Gus Van Sant made. When I started my Gus Van Sant movie viewing project, it hadn't been released on DVD and wasn't really available, so I skipped it. Now you can see it as part of the Criterion Collection. I, for one, am very glad it is available.

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Here's my problem with Twilight: 17 year old girl falls in love with 17 year old vampire boy. Fine. 17 year old girl falls in love with 110 year old vampire in the body of a 17 year old boy? Kind of icky. There were a lot of lover-as-father/paternalism things within the second half of the book that kind of weirded me out. I might read the second one to see if that goes away, but I might not.

Also, I felt like there was so much undercurrent of denying your primal urges in that book. The whole set up of falling in love with someone who could theoretically kill you if he smells your intoxicating scent too much was very repressed. Almost like a closeted lesbian in a religion that doesn't recognize homosexuality would write. Hmmmm. And! At the end of the first book it is very clear that she wants to become a vampire too so she can be with her beloved. The whole changing yourself completely to be more like your help-mate doesn't square with my independent figures in a relationship world view.

Summary: Twilight not best book to read from a feminist perspective.

On the other hand: I thought about the plot for many days.


I've been watching this work in progress for about six months now and I just have to remark about how very cool it is. First of all, growing things in the front yard is super cool. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Secondly, though I myself have decided that raised beds are not for me, I love how contained this front yard garden is. I think that is the key to success with front yard gardens: make them very aesthetically pleasing. Either that or have a full-on permaculture garden, but avoid that midpoint where things are kind of weedy and unkempt.
Hiding behind that cloche is a lot of kale and collards. I'm a bit jealous.
And look! Soon an espalier fruit tree will grow along the front of the house. I want to espalier fruit trees in my backyard.
And here is that empty lot around the corner from me. It's still waiting for me to plant a huge garden there. If only the generous owners would realize what a better owner I would be and give me the deed...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas in the Pearl District.

The trees are covered in lights, there are huge hanging baskets of holiday greenery and the Brewery Blocks are rosy with the sunset. I love December.

Instant Happiness...

Watching elementary school students ballroom dance. If you don't have access to your own, you can watch Mad, Hot Ballroom.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It is interesting the difference between what the eye sees and what the camera captures. When I looked at the sky, it was a very intense purple, but when the camera took the picture, the intensity was much less than my eye had seen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

GPS devices have me stuck on Existential

I think that navigating through the landscape is a skill that can (and should) be developed. I have a particular talent for it, if I do say so myself. So when the nice-lady-voice keeps telling me I have made an error, I don't really like to hear it. The car, that vestige of freedom in the modern landscape, is the last place I want an inanimate object telling me what to do. Except for the few people with absolutely no sense of direction, I think GPS units are one of those things Americans needlessly spend money on. When you don't have to figure out where you are and where you are going, you lose that skill. Is that something you want?

But this comic made me laugh.