Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flowers Blooming in Seattle!!

I can't get over how early spring starts here. It is the third week in February and already there is not one thing blooming but lots of things blooming all over. And I mean all over the neighborhood, not all over the temperature-controlled observatory down at the park (which is where I would be going right now if I were still in Minnesota where they still have eight feet of snow on the ground).

I weeded some of the front garden today. It was much easier this year - I still don't know what's going to be what, but I can sort of tell weeds from flowers (I think).

Can you name any of the flowers I saw today? (I can only name three of them)







Friday, February 22, 2008

No TV Week

We are between TVs this week (our obnoxiously big tv is arriving Sunday). I thought it would be an interesting new experience not to have a tv but actually we've hardly noticed it. During the week, we get home late, eat dinner, sometimes go do something (like go running), and then go to bed. We used to squeeze tv in there somewhere but it's not too different without it. We have a dog this week (we've been calling her Princess Zephyr, because once she stopped being so shy of us her true, very demanding, personality came out), so we've been going on late-night walks around the neighborhood with her and that's been a very good replacement for the tv.

The weather has been grand this week - sunny skies, warm, and the sun is going down later now so we get home with a little window of daylight left before dark. Very unlike the midwest, where our families and many of our friends are shoveling out from under an obscene volume of snow.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total Eclipse of the Moon

When my Studly Hubby and I were wee teenage kids oggling at each other in 12th grade math class, I devised a spectacular scheme where we ended up going to the Homecoming dance together. We weren't dating yet, but we went and I had fun and three months later we were an item and 7 years later we got married. So that was the beginning. Well the point is, the theme song at that dance was "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and even though probably nobody remembers this song I will always think of it whenever anybody mentions any of the words "eclipse," "homecoming" or even "math class."

Well tonight I'm singing that song, because there was a total eclipse of the moon over Seattle, and it was a clear beautiful night and we were out running so we saw the whole spectacular (and very slow) show. It was beautiful!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

FINALLY... Something Interesting!!

I've always scoffed at bloggers that claimed they haven't posted because they haven't had anything interesting to report... but I can finally empathize: since Christmas, all I've had to say is "I'm sick!" and "still sick!" and "got sick again!!"

Well finally I'm getting better and have lots of new stuff to report.

First, we went on a trip this weekend! We drove up to Vancouver, BC (Canada!) for the second time ever and visited some friends that just moved there (first trip: Vancouver half-marathon in March 2007). These friends used to live in Seattle, but they are originally from Brazil and due to some complications with their Visa they needed us to bring them some of their stuff from when they had lived here. It was a lot of stuff. We were worried that we wouldn't be able to fit it all into our car (we did, just barely), and then we were worried they wouldn't let us across the border with all of it (we did, no problem).

Second, we got moving on our Quest for a Giant TV. We initiated the process by giving away our old tv (to the friends in Vancouver).This is our now-empty entertainment center. The new tv will be ordered shortly.

Third, we are dogsitting again, for a new dog named Zeffir. She is the opposite of our old friend the Pig-Dog in every respect. While Pig-Dog was short, snuffy, very outgoing, and constantly hungry, Zeffir is medium-sized, quiet, shy, and more concerned about where her family is and why she isn't with them. In fact, tonight, our first night with her, she is totally depressed and obviously out of sorts. Hopefully she'll come around by the end of the week. Especially since we don't have a TV...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What's the deal?

After being sick almost constantly since Christmas, I finally started feeling better at the beginning of last week and then BAM! got hit again with yet another cold. This one took out almost everyone in my lab, and on Tuesday we actually canceled our usual weekly meeting due to nobody being there.

Wednesday was the worst, but this was the day of a Big Workshop being held at UW for my research interest. I had pulled some serious strings to get into the workshop and several of my collaborators were going to be there. I knew I had to go. Tuesday, when I could feel the thing coming on (and all my other coworkers were calling in sick), I headed home early and jacked myself up on Vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, healing tea, humidified and filtered air, and a nutritious dinner. Despite my efforts, Wednesday morning I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a dump truck. I dragged myself out of bed and went to the workshop. I took a little purse full of cough drops and Kleenex and stayed three feet away from anyone I talked to so I didn't infect anyone. I was surprised that I actually made it through the day without too much drama, but it wasn't fun.

By Thursday I was already feeling better, and I went into the weekend with some residual coughing but not too bad off. To be safe, I canceled our plans to go snowshoeing (again) and spent the weekend taking it easy (again). The Studly Hubby and I have been sick so much over the past few months that our apartment is starting to look like a war zone so we spent some time tidying up (it feels good to launder everything you can see as soon as you start feeling better). Now he's busy baking us a chocolate cake to boost our immune system this week.

Seriously, why have I been so sick this year? I am very academic about these types of questions, and thought up five possibilities:

1. I'm getting old, and I just can't handle the tough stuff like I used to.
2. My friends are getting old, having kids, and the kids are extremely germy.
3. Seattle doesn't agree with my immune system (if this is it, hopefully it's temporary).
4. I've made some significant lifestyle change other than moving to Seattle that doesn't agree with my immune system.
5. This winter is a beast and it's bringing everyone down and there's no fighting it except to just stay inside and complain.

It's probably some combination of the above. With respect to #4, the lifestyle change that is a most likely possibility is exercise - I used to be an aerobics instructor and as such exercised more regularly and intensely (and always indoors) in my previous life. Now I exercise just as much overall (well maybe a little less) but not as regularly or intensely. Could this be it? I looked it up (aka 'google search') and found that yes, it could - I need to try to sweat more, or run faster, or some combination of the two. So next time you see me out there I'll be wearing extra warm clothing and sprinting hard uphill with the hope that it wards off the next cold that comes my way. But stay away, I'll probably be awfully smelly.

My name is J-Funk, and I am a CAUCASER

Caucasing was so much fun! Here in Seattle, multiple precincts meet at one location, and each group crowds around a table and yells over the din of all the other groups. Meanwhile your neighbors surround you and try to sway you to vote for their candidate, and everyone is wearing stickers and shirts and signs and promoting whomever they love (mostly Obama in our district). We were somewhat indecisive, but put down Obama (the polls right now suggest to us he's more electable) - and he won our district by a wide margin. There was cheering and discussing and even community bonding (these are the people that are in the immediate four blocks surrounding us, after all).

Both candidates are good, ground-breaking, and equally controversial. But meanwhile the Democrats are facing an even bigger problem: the Republicans have decided while the Dems continue to battle it out. How will this affect the election? Considerably, according to Howard Dean - if the Republicans start campaigning now while the Dems are still battling it out, the Republicans will have a huge advantage. What to do? Someone needs to bite the bullet and step out. But can you see either of the final two (Hillary or Obama) doing that? Neither can I.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Facing the adult decisions

Now that we both have normal jobs, we have normal incomes. This means we can actually buy some things outside of our normal food-and-rent budget. Neither of us are all that used to it yet. At first we bought some necessary stuff, like a car that can go uphill, and raincoats. That was pretty exciting and proved very useful, so we took it a step further and bought some expensive booze and wardrope updates. Then we realized we could even afford eating out and going to movies and a vacation.

It all worked out really well, so now we're ramping it up a notch.

My Studly Hubby really really wants a new TV. We can afford it, and we've never bought a TV before (thanks to his Studly Parents and their generous TV donation). But here's the problem: he has high standards. And when he explained his reasoning to me, I found out that I have high standards too. We want a really awesome TV. I'm talking totally awesome. My mom was no help. She encouraged it. And so did his co-workers and all our friends. In fact, it turns out that nobody can give me a good reason not to buy this totally freaking awesome TV. Except this little voice in my head that's saying "really? do you really watch that much TV?" We probably don't (if we did, I'd be embarrassed). But what we do watch would be really grand to watch on this totally awesome TV, let me tell you.

Plus, I feel like it's my obligation to my country to put our tax refund this spring right back into the economy, you can't argue with that, right?

And another big decision that comes with having money: where and how much does one donate to charity? We've been festering over this for a while, it's a tough decision! A friend recently helped us out: the National Lung Association is hosting a bike ride fundraiser in the fall - if we do it then we can raise money for their cause AND donate some of our own money AND have a blast biking around the San Juan Islands. But the whole idea blows my mind: raise money for charity? Until recently, I would have laughed at the idea. Now I'm thinking, hm, that's a good idea!

Wow, I feel like we're making such adult decisions!

Who do I vote for?

I have been watching the primaries with great interest, but never in a million years did I think my vote would actually count.

And here we are with the Washington state's primaries coming up on Saturday and it turns out my vote will be very important. Because the two leading Democrats are still neck-and-neck. Has this ever happened? Usually it's decided even way before Super Tuesday.

While I was in Iowa over Christmas I watched the fury and the excitement, and my family had recorded the Iowa debates which we watched with more fury and excitement. I tried to decide what I would do if I were making the choice and couldn't make up my mind.

And the really exciting part is that either way, we will change history.

A woman or a black man, winning the primaries and running for president... it's a moment I have always wanted to be part of.

How exciting!

Oh, I'm not really looking for an answer to the question-title of this post. It is a very personal decision for me. I was just titling this post with a question so you knew what it would be about. But you can tell me who you voted for if you want.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Yoga-At-Home

My Studly Hubby showed some fleeting interest in yoga so I dragged him into doing some with me last weekend. Normally on Sundays I try to go to a yoga class. The Studly Hubby is not into the class - mainly because it's 105F. This is understandable. As I wasn't feeling completely better yet, I was easily convinced that it might be a better situation for us both to just go through all the moves we do in class at home. I used to teach a stretch class, and have been to quite a few yoga classes, so I feel like I'm able to take us through the moves (although I'm not nearly as good at talking us through the poses as they are in my classes, I am very willing to admit). I'm normally pretty unmotivated when it comes to doing it on my own, but with the Studly Hubby there it was more motivating and more fun. He and I were both totally sore the next day and pleased with ourselves so decided to repeat the process again this week. Here are some pros and cons that I've found to doing yoga-at-home.

Pro:
You have no mirrors, no one else looking at you, and plenty of room to fall down.
Con:
No mirrors, no one else looking at you, and plenty of room to fall down means you don't try quite as hard.

Pro:
You can schedule it for whenever you want.
Con:
You may not actually get it scheduled.

Pro:
You can get in extra bonding time with your Studly Hubby.
Con:
Staring at your spouse while doing painful yoga poses may not be a pleasant bonding experience.

Pro:
You save a lot of money that you would have spent on class.
Con:
You immediately spend that money "rewarding" yourself with candy and chocolate (or at least I do, and I'm SURE the rest of you do too).

Pro:
If you feel crappy, hungry, thirsty, or have some injuries, you can modify your routine accordingly (this is a major pro)
Con:
You can easily convince yourself that you feel too crappy, hungry, or thirsty... or might get injured... so shouldn't do the next five things you normally would do in class - and hence, you let yourself slack around a lot more.

So as you can see I still fully understand the merits of a yoga class but there are definitely some good things to be said for our new at-home strategy. I think we're going to keep trying it for now, and maybe we'll even stay motivated and get a little stronger and more flexible while we're at it! I think yoga is a perfect complement to running.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Scotch

My Studly Hubby has always had a weird liquor palate. He doesn't like beer and instead prefers manly hard liquors like whisky and tequila. His favorite drink is the Manhattan. So when he found out that all his coworkers are Scotch drinkers he joined right up and bought some fancy Scotch. Last week he bought Dalwhinnie (15-yr) Scotch and brought it home, and I even enjoyed it a little (but only when it's cut down to half by water). Yesterday he had the best Scotch he's ever tasted and today he ran right out and bought it; Laphroaig (quarter cask). We're going to try it tonight. Apparently Laphroaig tastes like rope, iodine, oak and fire according to a special Scotch reference book that his co-worker has on him at all times. I'm not sure how that could possibly be good but I'm going to remain open-minded.

I hear that Scotch is a classy drink. Like wine, there is a whole set of tasting rules and phrases that the true Scotch enthusiasts use when tasting it. You drink a 'dram' and 'let it breathe' and check if it's 'oily' and all kinds of crazy stuff. My Studly Hubby even claims he's partial to a certain kind of Scotch from a certain region of Scotland (is Scotland even that big?). So even though I'm not a big fan of Scotch, I'm picking up some of the culture through involuntary osmosis.

If this Scotch we're trying tonight is anything like it's supposed to be, I may need to wash it down (immediately) with a beer. And no Uncle Bruce, we're not alcoholics - we're just classy Scotch drinkers!!