Floral Bounty

Here are two lovely bouquet sent to me at the office! The one on the left is from my dad and the one on the right is from my sister! Aren't they lovely?
I have gotten so many wonderful birthday wishes from friends and family. I forget how many people wish me well, and birthdays are a tear-enducing reminder.
I love getting unexpected birthday wishes and I love everyone!

Feliz Cumpleanos A Mi

Ah, it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

I bought these roses for myself at the grocery store yesterday, and aside from thier amazing color (almost a neon orange), they seem to have been a good buy. When I put them in water, they started opening up almost immediately.

I curled my hair overnight, so not only will I have my curly-do to show off to my family this evening, I also have a leisurely morning, since I showered last night. I bought blueberries and cream for a special brekkie.

I'm going to wear my sassy dark green suit and shimmery purple blouse.

I'm going to have a great day. Hope you do too! :)


My Birthday Present... Yessssss... Precious...

I have the bestest mum ever.
I just got an early birthday present from Amazon:
The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Special Extended DVD Edition)
I had bought all three parts, of course, back when they came out, but they were stolen last summer and I haven't had the funds to replace them. Now I've got them ALL again! Yay! Of course, I'll be watching them this weekend. :)


I Vant to Drink Your Gasoline

My cute little car grew icicle fangs today. I managed to get home without dislodging them so I could take a picture.
(Yes, I blanked out the license plate because, yes, I am paranoid.)


A Long Day

Yesterday was an excruciatingly long day. Granted, much of it was spent with friends, but it was s-o-o-o-o l-o-o-o-ng.

By the way, I have Gladiator on as I am writing this. It reminds me that I used to dislike Joaquin Phoenix. I think it was because he played a bad guy so well that I couldn't get past his repulsive evilness. I didn't realize it was because he's a good actor. (And he just killed his father, the Emperor. Bastard.)

In the morning, I did a bunch of shopping errands, encompassing 4 stores and a couple of hours. I don't know why it took so long. I felt like I was being super efficient, since I was working from a list and didn't dilly dally.
Then, I went home, changed, and drove south to the southern-most part of Denver to help set up for a baby shower for my friend, Ginger. Then, of course, there was the baby shower itself. It was fun. I got to talk to a bunch of my friends. Unfortunately, by the end of the shower, I was getting a headache and my stomach felt unsettled (both very unusual). Regardless, I went to meet some more friends for dinner. Thankfully, I had to the sense to eat lightly and save my indulgence for the delicious Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding. The company was good, as was the movie (see the preceding post), but I was very tired by the end and I was still fighting a headache and stomach ache. It was with relief that I headed for home.

THEN, as I was driving home, another car scraped the side of my car during a turn. It was a double turn lane and though I was certain that I was following the stripes to know which lane to end up in, the other car was not and bumped my car before swerving aside. I heard a distinct crunch. I stopped and they stopped and two guys got out. We tried to inspect my car, while they started to contend that I got into their lane. I decided to call the police for an accident report. While we were waiting, we tried to get a better idea of the damage to the car. Upon reflection, the damage appeared to be a scratch (despite the amount of noise that prompted us both to stop). Also, the guys weren't as belligerent as they first appeared. I was just starting to regret going into it all (and probably coming down from the adrenaline rush) when a police car showed up. The office took a look around, said that the damage wasn't much, so he wouldn't file an accident report. However, he did ask us our names and birthdates (the drivers only, actually). The other guy turned out to be a Mexican import who had been in the state for 5 years, and yet still didn't have a Colorado driver's license. He also gave some conflicting answers. The officer decided to call in support and told me to wait in the car, since it was cold out. I did as he said, since it seemed to be a good idea to warm up and a good idea to get out of the way. A long while later, they (the officer and the three others that showed up) ended up giving the other guy a ticket for driving without a license. I felt bad about the other driver getting into trouble, since he did stop (ok, possibly to see if his own car was damaged) and he and the other guy didn't lie to the police about who was driving (I believe the second guy did have a license). I said the first part of that to the officer and he pointed out that he was still driving without a license. He, the officer, seemed like a by-the-book sort of guy.
THEN, I was about to leave when I discovered that since I had left the lights on (and my battery is old and encrusted with some kind of battery crud), my car was dead. So I had to wait another twenty minutes or so, with the patient officer waiting behind me to deflect traffic and keep marauders away, until a tow truck came with a battery jumper. That whole experience by itself probably added an hour and ten or twenty minutes to my day.

Needless to say, I was glad to get home.

Review: The Libertine

Dictionary.com defines a "libertine" as:
1. One who acts without moral restraint; a dissolute person.
2. One who defies established religious precepts; a freethinker.
Both are apt descriptions of the Earl of Rochester, as played by Johnny Depp, in the 2006 movie The Libertine.
Knowing only this, I knew what to expect of the movie. I also read a little bit about the movie, so you could say I was doubly prepared.
The friends with whom I went to the movie were not.

All in all, it was a well done movie and was very thought provoking. The subject matter was, of course, hard, but Depp proved once again why he is considered a premiere actor. He takes hard roles and does not shrink from showing flaws.
As usual, I agree with Roger Ebert in this. The intellectual in me knows that it would be much cooler to agree with the edgy and cynical (now deceased) Gene Siskel, rather than the easy-going Ebert. Oh, well, I never manage to make the popular decisions. One of my architecture professors asked us to choose an author as a client for one of our projects. I think he preferred those who chose Kerouac or Kant rather than my Jane Austen. Too bad for him.

I digress.

It was a good movie, though the subject matter is hard to watch. It brings up questions about why some people (genius and ordinary alike) choose or are compelled to self-destruction. It questions what is real love.

And if you have friends who want to go, make sure they know what it's about.


Fan Club

I found the oddest thing online today. While looking for the website for the project I'm working on (pictured to the left), I found a website:
SkyscraperPage Forum
A forum in which urban infill aficionados speculate about upcoming projects. This particular thread is talking about my project -- or rather, the project I'm working on. It's fascinating, not only to hear thier speculations -- originally they speculated about the location, currently they've got a pool going about the groundbreaking ceremony -- but also thier opinions of marketing drawings (for example, the picture seen here) and what they've been told by various brokers and salespersons. I feel like an insider, and that feels really wierd! I'm usually the last to know about things!
I am most definitely keeping an eye on this forum.

(Oh, and the official website is: One Lincoln Park.)


Mum & Me

Inspired by John Scalzi's post including photos of his wife and daughter, I dug up this favorite of mine.


Resistance is Futile

Way back in October I had a couple posts, Society's Pull and Collectively Speaking, in which I hemmed and hawwed about social responsibility and the benefit of having a support system.
Earlier today, I was feeling really cranky about the tai chi group's social pull (a meeting request and a request for me to help out with a second class both came today). I don't like joining groups and never really have until recently. Most of the time, that's because they have, in my opinion, a tendency to ask for too much. I take commitment very seriously, so if I say I'm going to do something, I do it. I'm also vulnerable to requests for help. So by staying out of organized groups, I protect myself from excessive requests. Sounds pretty selfish, eh? Well, here's the thing (and if it's a rationalization then so be it). I like being associated with lots of groups. I remember one weekend where I attended five different events because they were each being given by a different group I participate with. If I were to fully invest in all of these groups equally, would there be time left for something I consider essential to my mental health -- time by myself? I don't think so. Thus, the protective stance I have against intrusive groups.
The tai chi group tends to do it more than others, since they actively encourage altruistic participation. I was once pressured to have a tai chi member who was visiting for a conference stay at my house. I guard my privacy pretty strongly and foresaw hosting duties ahead. I waffled long enough that the issue was dropped, and when the time of the event came around, I had my brother staying with me, so had an excuse. They mean well, but some of them tend to trample personal boundaries.
It was in this attitude of resistance that I went to the tai chi place near my house for the monthly meeting (which I have managed to miss for some reason or other until this time). But I had made a mistake. The meeting isn't until *next* Monday. So instead of pressure from people I know, I participated in a regular class full of unpressuring strangers. It was a very odd sensation at first.
On the way home, I tried to see if there was any meaning for me in the mix up. Finally I thought, "well, maybe it's the Universe telling me that I'm taking this pressure thing way too seriously." So I'm trying to relax, not feel pressured, and get comfortable about setting boundaries. I'm not joining the fracking collective!


White Snow, White Knuckles

Let's be clear from the outset: I am safe at home. No animals or children were harmed in the making of this post.

It's been lightly snowing most of the day and I'd been safely ensconced at home, knitting and watching DVDs. Then this evening, I had to go play indoor soccer. So, I nonchalantly went out and found the roads very slick and very dangerous. I nearly didn't make it to the game, since I didn't get over soon enough into the left-hand lane to avoid a stalled car. The cars that were already in the left hand lane could not let me in and I was going slower and slower on the upside of a hill. Finally, I was able to get over, nearly stopped behind the stalled car. I barely made it to the top of the hill, since I had lost all momentum and had little traction. I arrived at game shortly after, and sensibly parked facing downhill.
The game went well, we had most everyone show up and three people who were hanging out between games offer to play with us. We won 5 to 3 and I got two big soccer ball patterned welts on my left leg. That's a good thing - means I was in the way.
I left, praying that I would be able to make it home. Fortunately, some mag-chloride had been put on the road while I was at the game, which improved things a bit. I managed to maintain control of the car and not have to stop too many times (definitely not on an uphill) before getting home. I did strategize a bit at the end, since there are quite a few steep hills in my neighborhood and came in via Lowell, which has only a few gentle slopes.
Yay! I love being home in one piece!

I believe one of the things I will buy with my tax refund is a new set of tires. I've had the ones I own for some 40K miles or so. They should be replaced soon, I think.

I'm not too worried about getting in to work tomorrow. I go in late-ish, so roads have usually been improved by the time I get out there. We'll see, I suppose.

Getting into Character

I never seem to get anything done before noon on the weekends. Perhaps it's my natural cycles, but unless I'm forced to, most effort begins 12:30 or so. It's not that I wake up late. In fact, I only "sleep in" until about 7 or 8 at best. But the rest of the morning is taken up with going online or watching TV or reading a book.

Saturday started out in just this manner. I watched a couple of episodes of Monk (about an obsessive compulsive detective) and having just watched Transporters 1 & 2 (which feature an exacting hero), I decided to use them as a springboard for cleaning up the house. I've been sick on and off for a month now, so the house had gotten into a bit of a mess. Ok, more than a bit. You know that feeling of being "in character" after watching a movie? My sister uses the example of playing tennis better after having just watched tennis pros play on TV. Well, after seeing two methodical characters, I put on thier roles to motivate myself to clean.

And clean I did. For 7 or 8 hours. I vacuumed, cleaned the stove, the oven, the bathtub, the toilet, the counters... the list goes on. I messed up my nails and cramped my hands scrubbing those fracking burner pieces that go on the stove. I played classical music over the internet so I wouldn't get distracted by TV. Afterwards, I decided to stay in character and took a bath and did my nails. This latter I did while watching Battlestar Galactica's season 2 finale (for which I have no words, only a jaw-drop).

A couple things remain. The kitchen sink needs cleaning and the dining room table and my desk need tidying. I think I can manage to do these things today. Right now I think I'm going to try and do some of the work I brought home while watching a movie.

And it's snowing right now, which looks beautiful!

Review: Transporter 1 & 2

Transporter: (3 stars of 5) The plot was pretty straight forward damsel-in-distress sort of stuff. The action was fun, definitely crossing into silly at times. What pulled it a notch above truely mediocre was the unique hero. Jason Statham is both stunningly good at action scenes and manages to act while doing them (which you can't tell from the movie itself, it takes a peek into his real life personality from the DVD extras). He obviously takes his job seriously and enjoys his craft. The fact that he is sexy and intelligent and all kinds of yummy is completely irrelevant. ;)

Transporter 2: (2.5 stars of 5) The problem with this one was that it was a sequel and didn't manage to improve on the formula. They have a much more complicated plot, but at the expense of what made T1 a decent movie. They didn't spend any time on the uniqueness of the hero. Except for one scene with the female star, he really could have been anyone. Most disappointingly, they dropped mid-movie the connection between the boy and the hero. The action scenes were bigger and more complicated, but didn't really add anything interesting. In fact, they recycled ideas from the first one. If Jason Statham wasn't in this movie, I wouldn't watch it at all. In fact, rewatching Transporter 1 is probably a better bet.



While watching the Oscar "In Memoriam" clip reel, I was shocked to see Joe Ranft's name listed. It makes me unreasonably sad to see his career cut short. I haven't been this affected by a celebrity death since Phil Hartman was shot.
Who was this guy? He worked as a story supervisor and animator for Pixar (my *favorite* movie makers). His voice credits include: Heimlich in A Bug's Life; Wheezy in Toy Story 2; and Jacques in Finding Nemo. I thought he was Roz in Monsters, Inc. as well, but now I see it was Bob Peterson, another Pixar story guy. See, they often end up loving how a particular Pixar employee does the voice for the character, so instead of hiring an actor or a voice talent to do the role, they just keep the original voice.
So what happened? August 16th of last year, he was in a car that went off a cliff. Yeah, that's not a typo. Apparently that happens in California sometimes. The driver swerved or lost control of the car in some way and they went off a cliff. Amazingly a third person in the car survived.
So sad. :(
Ok, I'll put away my Pixar-geekery now. RIP.



Last week I went to Costco and I just couldn't help looking at the book table. Since it's usually stocked with the typical popular stuff, my only danger is the cookbooks section and I've even managed to develop a rationale for why I don't need to buy every one that strikes my fancy. However, a book jumped out and grabbed me and, well, it was "only $10" so I bought it.
It was The Collected What If? :Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. ("Collected" because it combines What If and What If 2.) I love that kind of speculation, plus it had several names that I recognize: Stephen Ambrose, author of Band of Brothers, and John Keegan, author of The Mask of Command, both books I enjoyed immensely. Most of them are related to military history, but some are not -- one of the articles is called "Pontius Pilate Spares Jesus" and another "The Chinese Discovery of the New World." It looks well done. I'll have more to add once I get into it.
Then, one of my bosses gave out copies of The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. It's a book on finances and it changed his life when he was young and he wants to give us all the opportunity to be transformed by it. Actually, I'm at a financially transformative point, since I'm a hair's breadth from paying off my credit card debt (yippeee!), so I'm looking forward to reading it.
Then, I get a nice package in the mail from my mum, who sent me some books she had double copies of. All really good looking books: The Ethos Effect by L. E. Modesitt; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (I've been meaning to get this, since it's such a cultural icon for so many and I don't remember reading it, though I know I have.); Alta by Mercedes Lackey (This is a second book in a series, but since I'm a little jaded about Lackey, I think I'll deal.); and The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. This last is a really cool looking book. It's the third of a series, which is irritating, but in looking at blurbs about the other two, it looks like they are set in the same world, but don't focus on the same characters - I hope!
I'm in biblioholic's heaven. I've been so strict about not straying into bookstores or buying things from Amazon lately. There's one book I've been dying to buy - Old Man's War by John Scalzi - but if I buy one, I know I'll buy more. Maybe as a reward for paying off the last of my credit card bills when I get my tax refund. :D