Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lights out

It was rather shocking how many lights I turned out Saturday evening in preparation for Earth Hour. Exhausted after a day spent at the Eastside Upside-Down Sale, REI, and the Ballard Market, followed by a couple of hours in the kitchen making a giant batch of vegetable beef soup, I decided to spend Earth Hour in a hot bath with candles and a good book.

Two candles give plenty of light for reading, I discovered (wonder how many watts that is?). But the big surprise was that the science fiction novel I'd grabbed, Simon Clark's The Night of the Triffids, opens with the protagonist in darkness. He wakes up to discover that the sun has failed to rise—but because he's in a village where many of the residents were blinded decades earlier, they are going about their business unaware that it's still dark. Then the blind neighbors fall silent, and things get even stranger...

A good book.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cough suppressant

The cold I got last weekend was mild, but every afternoon a dry little cough starts up and just won't stop! After a sleepless night of coughing, I saw my doctor, who gave me a codeine cough syrup. There's not really that much codeine in the cough syrup, and it's been only slightly effective.

It occurred to me that there must be a folk-remedy cough suppressant. To my utter shock, I discovered that there's plenty of research to show that theobromine, an ingredient in dark chocolate, is more effective than codeine cough syrup in suppressing the cough reflex.

Needless to say, I wasted no time checking this out. The recommended dosage is 50 g (2 ounces). So I melted two squares of unsweetened dark baking chocolate, added a little Grade B maple syrup (long story), and am eating it. Full report tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

John Edwards to speak here in September

A client of mine has signed up Sen. John Edwards to speak at a non-profit's fundraising luncheon here in Seattle September 25. It think it could be fascinating to hear Edwards talk on what should be, at that point, a very hot presidential race.

If you'd like to attend (suggested donation to the non-profit public housing group holding the lunching is $150), please let me know. I'm not sure they've announced it to the public yet, so I'm being a bit obscure here. I'll make a second announcement when it officially goes public.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

OK, I get the hint

I've been trying to tell myself all day that I'm allergic to something that's blooming, but it's becoming evident that I'm coming down with another cold. Perhaps this is a not very funny way of reminding myself that I owe a client an article on what to do about working out while you're sick.

Zorg has gone off to the Ballard Market to fetch lemon sorbet, chicken noodle soup, and saltines. I plan to stay in bed tomorrow; at least I won't be missing any good gardening weather.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Blogging began as journaling, and now that I write for quite a few blogs, this is the one that's really my "home" blog in that traditional journaling sense. Sometimes I'll take a particular incident in my day, or week, and write about that in such as way as to inform or entertain, which is very much new-style blogging. But sometimes I just write about what's been going on in my life. Which is what I'm going to do right now.

At the moment I'm sitting at my desk listening to my email go "ping" every five minutes. You might think this is annoying, but I'll explain why it's pure heaven.

Mac OS X Mail lets you set up sub-mailboxes and then create rules that filter incoming messages to those sub-mailboxes. You can also create rules that can trigger optional sounds and other notifications when mail is routed to any of those sub-mailboxes.

I've set it up so that I hear a "ping" every time an automated ecommerce system registers an order for the ebook I edited that was released this morning. My payment for the editorial work is in royalties, so, along with the author, I'm enjoying listening to the digital cash register.

This is nice because, after working like a madwoman last week, I didn't bill many hours to projects this week. Instead, I dealt with a possible problem with my mom's car (it turned out to be a false alarm), caught up on the belly dance lessons I'd missed, live-blogged (well, Twittered) the Starbucks annual meeting, started my volunteer work at Folklife, coordinated the monthly weblogger meetup downtown, went to the chiropractor (who pronounced my neck pretty much cured); got the electricians to finally fix the sensor on the front porch light; hung out with friends at Jai Thai; went dancing at the Little Red Hen; saw a rare book collection; and got a great massage.

While picking up my mom's car, I ran into a friend from college I hadn't talked with in, oh, 33 years (though I've seen her in Seattle-area theater productions). We had a long chat and I'm going to take one of the fitness classes she teaches in Madrona. I was at the Little Red Hen to hear my friend Geoff play bass with the Bouchards; it turned out to be an extremely friendly place for dancing, and I ran into a fellow I used to dance with 15 years ago at the Tractor Tavern. Dancing is certainly much nicer now that the clubs aren't filled with smoke, and I'm hoping to get back to the Hen soon.

I also found out about a third-Friday SF Trivia night at the Wayward Cafe in Greenwood, sponsored by the Browncoats Meetup. Didn't get there this evening, but Zorg says maybe next month.

Friday, March 14, 2008

SALE! (Herban Pottery is closing)

In the mid 1990s, when I had a bungalow in Wallingford, a small garden pottery story opened nearby on 45th St. Run by a young couple, Herban Pottery had simply the most gorgeous, creative, inspiring selection of terracotta and glazed garden pots, everything from the rustic to the sleek.

I spent huge amounts of money there. And I still have many of those beautiful, durable pots.

Of course, the business grew like mad, moving to SoDo and expanding into a couple of warehouse-sized spaces at 3200 First Ave. South.

We just put in a tiny patio addition to our front brick walkway, and I'm looking for a pair of antique-style wrought iron or cast aluminum chairs with a very small matching table. As Herban Pottery wasn't at the Garden Show, I decided to call them to see if they had the furniture. That's when I discovered they're closing soon, and are selling their current stock, much of it at 25 - 80% off, through the end of March.

See you at the sale?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Play "Mousie" for me

I thought letting the two tabby cats in and out of the house every 15 minutes this week was really annoying—until it started raining. Then the big tabby curled up on the bed and went to sleep. The little tabby started fetching her toy mice and bringing them  to me—in the shower, in the kitchen, at my desk. The arrival of a mouse is followed by a 5-minute grace period during which I can either get up and play "Mousie" with her or have my office bulletin board destroyed.

"Mousie" started a few years ago as a game in which I would throw mice down the basement stairs and she would chase them. It evolved into a game in which I would follow the mice down, she would run up, and I'd toss them up to top of the stairs, where the cat would leap in the air and field them.

At that point, the big tabby got involved. She'd thump halfway down the stairs, sit in the middle, and play infield. She is so good at it that sometimes the little tabby gets disgusted and leaves.

But usually I pitch to both the infield and the outfield. Eventually, all the mice are upstairs again and then I toss them to the little tabby as we gradually make our way down the hall and into the livingroom. Eventually one of us gets bored.

But on a rainy day, the little tabby, who has the metabolism of a hummingbird, is ready to play again 30 minutes later. We have played "Mousie" about six times today. There are white and gray mice scattered all over the house. If I see another mouse, I'm going to scream.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More alarms at night

This week is made up of a series of informal meetings, in person and on the phone. Thus far, at least one of the meeting participants has been late and flustered. Half of the time it's the other person; the other half of the time, it's me. Which makes me want to be very understanding and humble in those instances in which I'm the organized, on-time party.

This reminds me of the advice Ernest Thompson, the marvelous dean of Erza Stiles College, gave us in his retirement speech: "Be kind to one another."

Many of the emails I received today were particularly intense. People were reporting deaths in their families, sending me compliments, asking me out to lunch, and offering me assistance. So I spent more time than usual trying to answer attentively and appropriately. I have some amazing friends!

There was an email from my mom tonight that made my hair stand on end. In it she casually mentioned that she'd gotten an odd phone call from her bank this evening and had given out some of her account information before she began to suspect it wasn't her bank, and hung up on them. She said she was going to call the bank when they opened in the morning to see if there was a problem. Eeek! 

I called her in Florida (fortunately she stays up late) and insisted she call the bank's 24-hour 1-800 number immediately to freeze the account. She just called back to say she'd called them, they didn't have any evidence of usual activity, and they had frozen the account. Whew. Now I think I'll just stop reading email for the evening...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's late

I throw the laundry into the dryer in the basement, then head up the stairs to gargle with hot salted water.

The nightly whisker count: Kaylee is bedded down in the bathtub (the cast iron is still warm from my bath). Zoe is in the basement, looking for Kit Kat (who, sadly, will never appear again). Sheba is in the bathroom, asleep on a towel next to the sink that is designated a cat bed. (Towels for humans hang on the racks.)

A teaspoon of Grade B maple syrup and I'm off to bed. This cold is making me crazy.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fortune favors the prepared mind

The quote in the title of this blog is from Louis Pasteur. I saw it this morning and through how appropriate it was to last night's Democratic primaries.

What I'm about to write is simply a personal record of what I think I saw on television last night; it's not an invitation to a political flame war.

I watched both Clinton's speech in Ohio last night and Obama's speech in Texas. Here's what I saw:

Clinton reminded me of dozens of successful black women I've met, people who have succeed by working three times as hard anyone else while being ignore, discounted and patronized. People who raised kids, scrubbed floors, got dumped by their men, and still managed to stay in school and get their MBAs and start their own businesses. Clinton shone with determination and pride. Like the women I've known, she was plain spoken, short on vision, and a bit scary. (Yes, I said black women.)

Obama reminded me of some of the brilliant young men I worked with in Silicon Valley. He was eloquent, he was sharp, he was poised. But in his eyes I thought I saw glints of puzzlement and annoyance -- just a slight narrowing of the eyes and tightening of the mouth that said, "Hey. I was great. I was more than great. I kept to the high road. I was original. I was passionate. WFT—I should have won!"

In other words, an attitude of entitlement.

Obama's speech, while a little subdued, was inspiring and visionary. He may yet win. But, as Hillary has known all along, it won't be easy...

Monday, March 03, 2008

In Naples, Florida

I have never been to Naples, Italy, but for the past 20 or so years I've made an annual visit to Naples, Florida, where my mother spends the winters.

It might as well be a foreign country.

Downtown Naples is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation, a place where brand-new beachfront mansions worth millions are routinely torn down to be replaced by even newer ones worth slightly more.

Outside of the city core are miles and miles of walled communities with condos, artificial lakes, and golf courses, interspersed with miles and miles of construction sites for even more such walled communities -- even though the low-end condo market is completely gutted and older condos languish on the market for years. Churches are huge, with buildings and parking lots that look more like community colleges. Shopping centers, eerily identical, abound. Cars are predominantly white, American and very, very large.

I worry that the flat landscape will encourage alien space ships to land here and that, if they do, an analysis of the local culture will result in annihilation of our planet on the grounds of total vapidity.