Thursday, May 31, 2007

What does the Loch Ness Monster want?

New footage of the Loch Ness Monster made headlines today. The picture (stolen from cnn.com) isn't much to gawk at but I thought the footage was fairly good.

My question is: what does it want?

fish? entertainment? ...three-fiddy?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

View from the other side

Our friends are house-sitting at a million-dollar home in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. This is not a mansion - in Seattle a million-dollar home means something decent (3-4 bdr) on a small plot of land in a good neighborhood, with a small garden. But since we are of the non-millionaire variety, we have never been into such a place and had no idea what it was like.

We were told it was going to be amazing, so we cleared out our schedules and headed over there yesterday afternoon. Boy, it is amazing. First of all, Magnolia is the most incredible neighborhood I have yet been to in Seattle - it is a very steep hill out on a peninsula that overlooks Puget Sound on one side (with the Olympic Mountains behind) and downtown Seattle on the other (with Mount Rainier behind). All the houses are very pretty and well-kept, and the yards are tidy and blooming. This particular house was no exception, and had a garden that made me gape (these people must spend every spare second in their garden). Since they were right on the hill, their back patio and living room windows opened out to the view of the sound and you could watch the ferries and sailboats go by as you ate your dinner. It was incredible (I don't think I can describe it with words, and I'm not sure if the picture does it justice either, but I'll try).

This is the view from their back porch:
To make things even more surreal, after dinner we walked a few blocks to the newly minted Ella Bailey Park in Magnolia, which also sits on a hill and not only sports state-of-the-art playground equipment of all sorts and sizes, but also overlooks downtown Seattle and Queen Anne Hill (the next neighborhood over). We stood on the edge of the park with our mouths hanging open for a good half-hour, which happened to be during sunset and was even more amazing. As we stood there the lights came on in the Space Needle and was followed by the entire downtown lighting up.
What a night! To top it off, we headed back home afterwards for some Trader Joe's cheesecake (97% of your daily saturated fat per serving...!). Yum!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another BIG Weekend

We had another big weekend full of hiking, touristing, and ice cream with the Studly Hubby's aunt and uncle - pictures and a full report will be slow to come due to a busy week in front of us. The Studly Hubby entered crunch-time at work and is putting forth maximum effort and a few extra hours to help out with the project they're working on. Plus we're having another bout of spectacular weather which makes it very hard to find any motivation to stay inside. Happy spring everybody!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sick as DAWGS!!

Less than 24 hrs before my Studly Hubby's first day of work, we both came down with colds. Fortunately this time around it didn't knock us around as bad (this is the third cold I've had since I moved here!), and my Studly Hubby claims to already be recovered. Not me. I feel worse today than I did on Tuesday.

Despite the cold, my Studly Hubby is having a good time at his new job. He was put right in the thick of crunch-time but it's on a really cool project (fixing up the international webiste for a global-warming concert event hosted at www.liveearth.msn.com). He has good interactions with his co-workers, a decent office to work in, and lots to do.

The only hairy part about it is the @!%# commute. Taking the bus works out ok in the morning (it's only an hour commute in the morning) but at night the buses get all off schedule, so he misses the one that takes the route back to our apartment and instead has to transfer twice and wait around for each one. Fortunately the weather is pretty nice so other than getting home two hours after leaving work (which is only 10 miles away) it's not bad. But hopefully he can figure out alternative bus routes or walk (or bike) part of the way so he doesn't have to get home so late at night. Plus this morning he left an hour earlier so he can get home earlier in general. Here in Seattle it seems everyone starts work around 10 am but that means you don't get home until around 7 or 8 pm, which is unacceptable to our midwest senses.

So tonight we're going to recover from our long week by watching Campbell's soup commercials (a suggestion from our friend KA) and get ready for our big Memorial Day Weekend adventures - the Studly Hubby's aunt and uncle are coming for a visit Saturday! Get ready for more exciting stories and pictures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chocolate Lovers Beware

We have discovered the Best Chocolate in the World, and it happens to be made right here in Seattle (within walking distance of our apartment!). We have been on a chocolate kick lately trying out various local chocolates (of which there seem to be many), and stumbled upon this one, Theo chocolate, and let me tell you, it is sublime.

It turns out there is a local chocolate factory that produces all this fine chocolate, and they have tours! (Are you imagining a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory type scenario?? I am). Plus they have a shop with a large variety of chocolates available for anyone's buying pleasure. I'm almost afraid to go there.

Not only do we think this is good stuff, but the Food Network does too: it was a 2007 award recipient for best chocolate in the US (along with two others - Garrison Confections and Jin Patisserie).

So don't even try to argue, just go get some. Although if you're not cool enough to live in the Pacific Northwest like us you may have to order it off their website, or better yet, come visit and take a tour with us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Baby's got a job!

My Studly Hubby starts work tomorrow. He took on a short (2 month) contract job doing web development for MSN, a division of Microsoft. Here in Seattle, Microsoft is an empire that spans both sides of the highway. Because everyone in the city works for Microsoft they jam up the freeway going out there every morning and every night, so my Studly Hubby is going to try taking the bus and see whether that's any less stressful (he has to watch his blood pressure ya know). He's rather excited to see what the Microsoft Empire is like from the inside, and the project he's working on sounds really neat-o. I'm so excited I've already spent half his first paycheck on booze and hookers (translate: protein bars and running clothes).

Meanwhile we're having a storm of aunts-and-uncles here in the J & D village - it was my aunt and uncle last weekend, then my Studly Hubby's aunt and uncle are coming for a visit this coming weekend (for Memorial Day!). We're going to take them to some sites we haven't seen yet. Hopefully we'll have more good weather - it's been a little off-and-on lately. It's always so much fun to see our friends and family, especially when they come visit us. We feel lucky to have had so many visitors this year.

Do you remember back in childhood when Memorial Day always meant the eventual end of school and the coming glory days of summer? I can remember many such Memorial Day weekends and how excited I was. Nowadays everything flies by so fast I barely even notice. So I think we should all stop for a moment and appreciate spring and the coming summer, and remember that exhilarating feeling of anticipation that's buried deep down somewhere.

Yay!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The adventure-packed weekend


There are only two types of weekends that make me actually look forward to Monday:

1. When I'm totally (completely) bored all weekend - which never happens or
2. When I'm totally (completely) wiped out.

This weekend was a case of #2. Both mornings we were up around 6 am getting ready for Big Adventure.

Saturday we met up with my Aunt L and Uncle T, and our oldtime friend KA, for a trip out to Mount St. Helens - an active volcano about 3 hrs drive away. I'm pretty oblivious, so it didn't occur to me that when it blew its top off in 1980 it may have taken some of the surrounding terrain with it - it turns out it did. It's like the desert out there - things are only beginning to grow back. We were sort of shocked and horrified by the whole thing actually. Particularly when they described to us what happened that day in 1980. It makes a person want to stay close to their car (and indeed we could still see it venting through our binoculars).

Something that freaked us out nearly as much as the volcano itself was a display they had set up at the observatory - a white-faced mannequin with a video image projected onto it of a ranger talking. Freaky! It looked quite real. It was freaky because 1. the video projection was slightly off-center and 2. her eyes were wandering, and when they fell on you it looked like she was looking right at you - it made us all a little jumpy.



We had loads of fun hanging out with T&L and KA and stopping at all the gift shops and observatories that are there for us tourists to take advantage of. There are millions of them (it seems)! I can imagine that once the summer gets rolling it'll become quite a hopping scene.

On Sunday we got up early yet again for the Beat the Bridge 8K here in Seattle, where runners try to get over the Eastlake Bridge before they raise it and block people from getting through (at which point they throw a little party for ten minutes and then put it back down). To beat the bridge, you have to do 10 min/mile for the first two miles AND shove your way through a crowd of 8,000 people.

And guess what! We made it... with 10 seconds to spare. In fact, the countdown started right as we were running over the bridge (whoa!).

Afterwards, I nearly threw up. Then we had to walk for a mile, and jog very slowly for the next mile to recover from the huge effort it took to beat that dang bridge. We ended up averaging only about 11 min/mile but I consider that an improvement over the half-marathon so I was pretty excited.

To celebrate, we went out for breakfast with some of our fellow runners and then headed out to a animal shelter event to look at dogs. We found a few dogs we liked, but as we were hemming and hawing about it they got snatched up right under our very noses. Maybe next time...

Now, after a nice 3 hr nap I am feeling ready for something a little more relaxing... like some tea and a movie. Or maybe I'll skip the movie, it might be too much.

Pleased to Introduce...

My Aunt and Uncle, on their 25th Anniversary Vacation of their Lifetime, has started an official blog documenting their vacation which includes a great couple of posts about all the awesomeness of their fun day with us at Mount St. Helen's yesterday.

Welcome to the Blogosphere T & L!! We all give you a warm and enthusiastic welcome.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Adventures in Olympia



This last weekend we went down to visit our friend from WAAAAAY back, KA, who has been travelling the world and finally settled in Olympia WA (only for a few months though). We took advantage of him living nearby and went for a visit. Actually the real reason why we visited was because he lives on a sailboat. Yes, you read that right - out here on the West Coast where there's water, people own boats. And when a lot of people own boats sometimes they buy nice boats that you can live on. Actually KA said it's more like a "trailer park on water" (it's relatively cheap to live on a sailboat, if you're willing to put up with it). Boy, it's cramped quarters too! Actually the thing that bugged me the most was the lack of internet. Gads! How can anyone put up with that?

KA is now a super-cool journalist who was in Olympia writing on politics for the paper. So his "beat" was the capital, and we got the royal tour while we were there. Actually we happened in on a real tour that we hitched along with for a while, and KA provided additional commentary from the back row, like "I betcha $100 she says "WARSHington... see! she said it! you owe me $100!!!"

The capital building is very pretty, especially on the inside where there's marble, fancy carpeting, and even a spittoon. In the foyer was a giant statue of Warshington's head and I felt compelled to kiss his cheek on my way by.

We didn't just go to the capital, oh no. We also saw Evergreen State College (a city of concrete, quite the opposite of what I was expecting), had some pizza, and learned some things about politics. It was a very fun afternoon!

Fresh Fruit Season

Isn't spring grand? I know buying local has gotten a lot of hype lately but I LOVE when fresh fruit from all over the world appears in our grocery store in the spring. This week my Studly Hubby bought a Maui pineapple and it was SOOOOOO GOOOD.

If you would like to order some fresh fruit for yourself from Hawaii, you can get the above basket for $42.95 from The Fresh Fruit Company.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Li'l Tidbits

My Studly Hubby and I went out to buy some pretty new pillows to go with our new furniture. We rushed home and put it all together and were so excited we took a picture. Isn't it pretty?

The pillows definitely tie the whole room together. Once we got it all set up we realized we had a beautiful afghan that was like frosting on the cake. I was so pleased I clapped my hands! (Sorry Peggy but we never found any celedon green and brown pillows - if you ever find those again tell me exactly where they are and I'll fly right out and buy them).

Our neighbors like to surf, and hung their wetsuits off their deck to dry, so now every time we look out our kitchen window we see this:
It's a little scary.


And my Studly Hubby and I are finally getting (semi) serious about getting a dog. We got an encyclopedia of dog breeds from the library and have been studying it closely. So far my favorite breed is the Poodle and my Studly Hubby's favorite breed is the Puli:

The SH wants to name it "tongue." I'm not sure what we're going to end up getting but I'm pretty sure it'll be scarier than those wetsuits.

Speeding up

In preparation for next weekend's Beat the Bridge race, we tried to speed up on Sunday. Since my Studly Hubby is a boy, he is much faster than I am, so we decided to split up and meet each other at the end. He took the watch and ran 7-8 min/miles for three miles (yay SH, I'm so proud of you!), but when I got to the end point he was nowhere in sight and since he had the watch I have no idea how fast I ran. It turns out he had come back to find me, but we figured out later that right when we passed each other there was a loud and distracting altercation between some dogs (instigated by a ferocious 12 lb terrier) so we passed each other without either of us seeing the other. We tried to figure out my time based on how long I waited around and we think I was running just under 10 min/miles. So I'm still pretty slow (dang). Maybe by next year I will have sped up some. We are considering repeating the deal on Tuesday except each of us taking a watch so I can actually keep track of my time. That might help me figure out a good pace too - I kept running too fast and wearing myself out, which seems would make me slower overall.

It was a good weekend - we hung out Sat with our neighbors and went to Olympia WA (the capital) Sun (more on that later), plus we baby-sat for pig-dog again, who it turns out has redefined the concept of "morning" - it seems 3:15 am is the new 6 am and there's no arguing with him about it. Fortunately he was cuter than ever so we didn't shoot him for it (we almost did though).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

J & D go to the DENTIST!!

After some hedging and reluctance, my Studly Hubby and I finally convinced each other to find a new dentist here in Seattle and actually GO THERE for our dental cleaning. All Seattle dentists must have united together to form a Front of New Customer Deterrence, because they all require TWO initial appointments - one to meet the dentist and have your paperwork filled out (1 hr) and a second to actually get a cleaning (another hr). The appointments cannot be scheduled together. Each must be made at least a month ahead of time. And you have to do it between 9 am and 5 pm (sorry if you are crazy enough to work during those hours).

So I took some time off work, and weaseled my Studly Hubby and I into a cancelled time slot during the day last week. We went in, met our dentist (who was incredibly bland, although friendly enough) and the staff (who were all so friendly they must have been on speed), but the magic happened on our way out the door - they called our former dentists for records, called the insurance company for info and they wrote it all out and explained it to us, and made a super-huge effort to get us both in together the next time. I have never been treated so well by a doctor. The cleaning went very well too, and we were even convinced to floss (what? you can tell we haven't flossed? dang). So if you're ever looking for a good dentist in Seattle, try Roosevelt Dental - they are great!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Speedy Recovery

Thanks to all that walking we did after the half-marathon Sunday (no cabs), I've had a very speedy recovery. In fact, I'm tempted to arrange for myself to have to walk a mile or so after every long run. The problem is, I recovered so fast that my Studly Hubby, who was still totally pumped about the half-marathon, convinced me to go out on our regular route on Tuesday and even charge up the hill in the middle. Tuesday night I was exhausted, and I was still exhausted on Wednesday. It may have been too much. Tonight he wants to go out for five miles. I may let him go without me. We have another race in two weeks, the Beat the Bridge race. They raise a bridge at mile 2 if you don't get there within 20 minutes (so you have to run 10 min/mile for the first ten minutes). I guess if you don't make it they have a little party with a DJ and some dancing, then put the bridge back down after a bit. It's five miles total. I think I could do 10 min/mile for two miles if I really put out some effort but it's a very popular race (8,000 people did it last year) so getting past all those people may be a bit of a challenge. Therefore the Studly Hubby and I will be training over the next week and a half by doing tempo runs and going to crowded concerts where we can practice pushing our way through large crowds. I still have a lot of room for improvement on both those things.

Thanks for all the praise from all my blog readers on my last post - I really appreciated that! You made me very proud of what I did and it was nice to hear from all of you.

Monday, May 07, 2007

J-Funk Does the Vancouver Half-Marathon!!

We did it! We survived! No pictures for a few days (oh yeah, we're going to buy the professional ones for sure) but I'll give a little re-cap of the race:

1) I'm a slow runner. I'm talkin' SLOW. Nobody believes me when I say I'm slow, because I think I look like I would be faster (and I exercise a decent amount, so I really am in pretty good shape) - but my basal athletic abilities are very low and I have to work my way up from there. In addition, I'm one of those people that is really sensitive to the elements - heat, dehydration, even muggy spring air will knock me out flat. With that in mind, let me tell you this:

2) I was FREAKED OUT before the race. I nearly had a full-blown anxiety attack on two separate occasions. I think I was truly afraid of killing myself in the process of this thing.
and
3) Our time was 2:35. This was good for me, especially considering we had to climb a mountain at mile 8 (which we did at a walk). But when you think about it, this was very slow (just under 12 min/mile pace). I'm considering trying to speed up for the next one.
but
4) We still had a great time. It was a very high-energy race, and a beautiful route through the city and a big park off of downtown, and they had chocolate milk and big plastic "Vancouver marathon" capes waiting for us at the end. We enjoyed (almost) every minute.

And a re-cap of the city of Vancouver:

1) Vancouver is ok. It's in a beautiful location, with the mountains very close and even more water everywhere than Seattle, but the traffic was BAD (I mean BAD) and it looked slightly more run-down or something than Seattle - maybe the architecture was just boring.

2) We quickly discovered that the city prevents anyone in a vehicle from making a left turn - either by altogether forbidding it or by not giving left-turners their own light (a more subtle form of forbidding it). We learned very fast that three rights is much faster than a left, in every case except for one, when we actually wanted to turn right and couldn't and ended up on a highway leaving Vancouver with no way to get turned back around for about five miles.

3) The race route took us through the International District and the low-income East Side of downtown - and a highlight of the race was definitely running past the homeless shelter and getting cheered at by a bunch of drunk homeless people with open bottles of booze (at 8 am on a Sunday).

4) The food in Vancouver is FANTASTIC. We had Malaysian food for lunch on Sat, Italian for dinner Sat, an unbelievable mango bubble tea in between, and then a delicious brunch on Sun. Plus we filled up our trunk with Canadian ketchup chips at a grocery store before we left town.

5) Our hotel was not so great. It was near the beach and the park in downtown, which was pretty, but it was a far ways from the finish line, as we discovered when we had to walk back because there were no cabs (it was about a mile and a half). Our room was also in the middle of the Saturday Night Party of the City and we had to go out and buy some earplugs just to hear ourselves think.

6) Watch out crossing the border - it took almost an hour both times through, and I guess that's pretty good. They put a nice park nearby though so you at least have something pleasant to look at while you wait.

So it was an exciting weekend! And now I can brag about running a half-marathon in another country. Plus, we are going to be feasting on ketchup chips for at least another month (or maybe just a few days, my Studly Hubby is a large-volume snacker).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thirsty Thursday

In the early days of graduate school, a crew of people would always go out on Thursdays for what they called 'Thirsty Thursday'. They would pick a bar in Minneapolis, send out an email with some sketchy directions, then head out there around 9 pm or so. I joined in a few times and thought it was a lot of fun - a good crowd, an excuse to get out and explore a new part of the city, and a good time of the week to drink. Unfortunately as I've gotten older I've become less and less able to do stuff like that. Now I can't even imagine going out to a bar on a Thursday night. What has happened to me? Although don't get me wrong, I still go out every once in a while. I just do much better on Saturday nights, at a quiet bar, and prefer to go home before 9 pm instead of heading out at 9 pm.

The bar thing has always been a pretty infrequent interest for me. Most of the time (even in college) I preferred staying in over going out. I think I get over stimulated and wear myself out. I almost have too much fun. So I spread out the fun and give myself lots of recovery time in between outings, and that seems to work out ok.

So here I am on another Thursday, staying in as usual. Usually I at least watch Thursday Night TV (it's back baby! and it's better than ever!) but this week I'm taping it to watch later and instead getting laundry and dishes done in preparation for our weekend trip to Vancouver for the half-marathon. Thursday night in its most extremely boring form. At least I can shake things up with a little blogging.

And tomorrow, it's FRIDAY!! Happy Friday everyone!