I want

When we were in California, Erik took us and the kids to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.  Cool museum, lots of stuff to play with, good for kids, but I’m mentioning it mostly because I tried a virtual reality painting program and OH MY GOD I WANT IT SO MUCH.  Why I want it has NOTHING to do with the painting part – I am as bad a virtual artist as I am in the real world – although that part was pretty fun.  You can paint AROUND you, like you’re standing in the middle of the room and painting on the air, and then you can move through it or change your perspective and see if from a completely different angle without moving yourself.  Very cool.  I’m not sure of the point of it the 3D aspect of it once it’s finished, though.  It’s not really 3D unless you have a floor or ceiling projector, and there’s no way it looks as cool in 2D.  Anyway, again, the art part is not what I got excited about.

You can choose from a variety of built-in backgrounds or landscapes or environments or whatever.  The one I spent the majority of my time in was the default one, sort of a reddish flat area with mountains in the distance, dark and dusky.  The girl running the demo suggested I try the space environment and how I wish I’d done that sooner.  As soon as I switched over, it was like I was standing on a clear platform in space, stars and blackness above and below and all around me.  I think there was a planet – I can’t tell you for sure now.  I can tell you that I didn’t want to leave it.  It was incredible.  Like, emotionally incredible and I’m getting a little choked up remembering it.  I have no idea if it was remotely realistic, but now I have something I want.  Not necessarily the painting program, although I’ll take it.  I want space.  I want space in virtual reality.  I don’t need the zero gravity part (although I think it would be cool).  I want to sit on the floor and be able to look in any direction and see stars and planets and galaxies and comets and asteroid belts.  I want to be immersed in it, in the comfort of my own home.

In real terms, I can have it.  VR gear is between $600 and $800.  Not easy, but attainable if I really want it.  (I don’t need a new laptop for a while, right?)  That paint program?  $20.  But the gear is necessary.  I googled a bit to see what space VR programs might be out there already, realistic ones, and I found SpaceVR, a company that is about to launch 360-degree cameras into orbit around earth to provide real images of space to anyone who subscribes to their feed.  The subscription is reasonable, but again, you need the gear.

Here’s my quandary: is it good enough now?  Is it too early in the VR technology cycle to be worth it?  I’ve never been an early adopter.  I’m happy to let other people iron out the kinks before I spend a lot of money on something.  VR has been around for a long time, and it used to really suck.  I’m sure it sucks less now, but how much less?  I don’t say “I must have this” about things very often, so this feels odd.  Comforting that I still feel as strongly about it three weeks later, but three weeks isn’t that long.  I’ll probably wait.

But I really want this.

I think they live in paradise

California is a lovely place, with lovely weather, and lovely friends, and GIANT TREES.

It’s kind of funny – we visited Erik and Margaret (and their two adorable, smart, and funny children) for a little more than three days, but the only pictures I have are from the day we went to see the redwoods.

We followed the creek and found a nice picnic spot, and then the kids (and Margaret) played in the creek.  It was all so wholesome and fun, and I mean that – no sarcasm here.

I made this last one big ’cause otherwise you can barely see us.

It was so good to see them again, and it was such a relaxing weekend.  They did a good job of making California seem like the place we want to be.  It’s not, not long-term, but they did such a good job of showing us all the good parts that we temporarily forgot that, and it was really hard to leave.

Whew

Big sigh of relief: Beauchamp Besieged was pretty good!  I don’t think I’ve ever read a Harlequin romance before, but I’m happy to say this one exceeded my expectations.  And there I go, outing myself as a snob.  I guess everyone’s snobby about something, right?  I’m just happy I can honestly tell my friend I enjoyed her book.

White lies are fine, but it’s so much easier to be honest.

Huh.  I don’t know if I actually believe that.  Sometimes honesty is harder, and often it’s unkind.  It depends.  Everything depends.  We live in a morally gray world.  I do, anyway.

From romance to philosophy: it’s a roller coaster around here!

The earlier the start, the longer the weekend

Friday morning we’re getting up at airport-thirty for an 8am flight.  We’ve considered spending Thursday night in Portland, but we’d still have an early start and what’s a couple of hours when it’s already early to begin with?

That might be stupid.

On the plus side, it’s a short flight because for the first time in a year and a half (a little more for John), we aren’t flying ALL THE WAY across the country.

Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure that’s a plus considering what time we’ll be getting up.  A longer flight means a longer nap.  And I think we’ll need it.

Still!  The weather is supposed to be beautiful (sunny and not too hot), and we’ll have gotten an early start (which I usually enjoy), and we’re off to visit dear friends we haven’t seen in YEARS, and coffee is a thing.

Wish me luck

I finished reading The Gate to Women’s Country today.  For the third or fourth time – I don’t remember.  I love this book.  Since I read it this time for my NOW book club, and since it was my pick, I read it more carefully and took notes.  I feel so virtuous.  And I’m excited for book club, but we don’t meet for another week (the other reason notes were important).

Happily, Elaine remembered to bring me my very own personally autographed copy of Beauchamp Besieged, so I’ll start it tonight.  I’m a little nervous.  I want to like it because she’s so nice, but what if I don’t?

Because pie

John and I are slowly eating our way through the largest lemon cream pie I have ever seen, thanks to Amber and Brian who left it with us after the four of us were unable to make much of a dent in it Friday night.  The two of us, classy couple that we are, have been eating it straight out of the pie plate for dessert every night since then, and I think we finally crossed halfway last night (night 3).  This thing is a monster.  A 10-inch, 3-inch deep, creamy, lemony, delicious monster.

I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Now I’ll actually tell you about the flash mob

I realized this morning that while I wrote about the flash mob yesterday, I didn’t actually tell you about the flash mob, and THAT is because I was typing with the debate on in the background and I was trying to keep my head from exploding.  I’m definitely not going to write about the debate (see above re: head exploding), but that explains why I said “oh, we saw a flash mob!” and then didn’t tell you anything about it.  It’s not because I’m mean.

So, this flash mob.  We were at Blairally Vintage Arcade, which doesn’t have a website but does have a Facebook page, and  – yeah, hold on, I have to stop there.  My hate for the name burns with the heat of a thousand suns, and I can’t continue without explaining why (although some of you may have worked it out already because you’re smart like that).  The place is on Blair Blvd, with its door facing an alley that runs through the block.  Blair Alley, right?  So why is it “Blairally”?  WHY?!?

Okay.  We were at the arcade, which is also a bar, which also has a DJ sometimes, and I was kicking ass at 4-player Pacman (which is neither here nor there).  That evening one of the bartenders, a very nice woman named Rio, was talking to me about gin.  She wears a sailor hat like this:

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That is also neither here nor there.

The DJ was playing 80s and 90s music and had already refused to take any requests unless they were Prince songs.  Elena, Kirsten, and I were dancing, and this other woman came over and asked us if we knew the dance to Thriller because they’re doing it at 8:30.  We’d been warned.  Invited, but also warned.  So Thriller started, and the dance floor, which was small to begin with, completely filled up.  There were at least 40 people, all completely into the zombie dance thing.  Very fun to watch.

Maybe that wasn’t really a flash mob, now that I think about it.  I mean, they were people at a bar with music and dancing, who all did the one dance together.  It’s not like they were wandering the neighborhood and broke into a dance randomly.  When they do it for Halloween, maybe it’ll be more flash mob-like.

I have to stop saying flash mob.  It sounds dumber every time.  Flash mob.  You’re a mob.

Girls’ night!

John and Will have a gig tonight, a late one, so I’m going to hang out with Christina, eat Indian food, drink wine, and maybe watch a movie or something.  That is a perfect night out.  Hey, it’s out for me – not my house.

I just have to make sure it’s not a scary movie (I don’t think that’ll be a problem) because the Black Tapes podcast keeps creeping me out.  Just a little.  And John will be out late, so I’ll probably be coming home to a dark, empty house.  Happy movies for me!

I really don’t know why I keep getting this urge to watch scary movies.  I don’t want to watch the gory ones.  I want to watch the scary thrillers, or the ones that are just different enough, like Cabin in the Woods.  But when even Stranger Things can get to me, it seems really stupid to want to watch more things like that.  And seriously, Stranger Things isn’t scary.  It just had that one thing that got stuck in my imagination.

So worst case scenario: I come home, it’s dark, and I’m scared.  Solution: Watch Friends on Netflix downstairs with all the lights on until John comes home.  That’ll do.

Owning it

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The other night, John and I went to Will and Christina’s house (new house – they live in Eugene now YAY!) for a friendly game of DUN DUN DUN….Dungeons and Dragons.  Yes, we are great big grown-up nerds, and we had a really good time.  John DM’d it, and Christina did her best to save our butts.

I chipped in by buying themed wine.  We drank this one, and I will be buying it again.  Good stuff.

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We didn’t get to this one, but it looks promising.  I’ll let you know.

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You know, I just took a closer look at the actual bottle, and there’s a picture of a squid on it.  That makes it decidedly less appetizing.  I’ll take the hit, though.  I’ll do that for you.

Crater Lake is SO freakin’ BLUE

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I usually get annoyed when I skip a day on the ol’ blog here, but I can’t be mad about skipping yesterday.  I didn’t plan to skip – I thought I’d be back home in time to get it done – but it was late because we were out having adventures and doing fun things and taking LOTS of pictures.  I can forgive myself for that.

None of the pictures you’re about to see have been edited, mostly because I don’t really know how to do that, and I’m too lazy to bother with it.  The signs all over Crater Lake National Park say that the water is so blue because it’s all rain and snowmelt and because it’s the deepest freshwater lake in the country. It was incredible.  I didn’t want to look away.  Of course, I did look away because who would believe we were there if we didn’t take pictures?  I love being a tourist.

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I can’t help but like this one, even though we could be ANYwhere since you can’t really see the lake.

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It was hard to leave, even after our hike.  Oh yes – we hiked.  In our infinite wisdom, we chose one of the strenuous hikes, meant to take 2-3 hours and gain over 1000 feet in elevation.  In our defense, there were only two hiking trails within walking distance of where we parked, and the other one was easy and seemed to follow the road we’d just driven down.  BOR-ing.

If you squint, you can see the Crater Lake Lodge in the upper center part of this picture, which is where we started.  I think we were about halfway when I took this one.

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The temperature was in the 70s, and we were working hard, so we were plenty warm, but there was SNOW on the ground.  Not everywhere, certainly, but we had to climb through a slippery melting snowbank to get to the top.  That was the scariest part.  Well, coming back down through the snowbank was the scariest part.

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We did reach the top, though.  Here we are on Garfield Peak, 8000 feet above sea level.  I don’t know how many feet we were above lake level.

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And here’s another terrible selfie (it was really bright out, okay?).

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I think I might have to make that one my profile picture for ALL of my accounts.

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John wants to run down this meadow.  I’m willing to bet it’s steeper than it looks.

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I think I took this next one on the way back down.

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Here we are, tired and happy and soon to be very hungry.

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We left about 6pm (we got there around after noon, close to 1, I think), but it’s 2 and a half hours away, so it was nearly 9 before we got back to Cottage Grove, and after 9 before we ate.  Almost midnight when we got home, still had to shower (covered in sweat and sunscreen – totally gross), and we’re only a little bit sore today.  Our gym has a hot tub.  We may be heading there this afternoon.

Conflicting interests

We went to the library yesterday, and I came home with five books.  My plan for the weekend was/is to get through two of them before work Monday morning.  I’m 80% of the way through the first one, and if we weren’t heading to Cottage Grove tonight for games with Will and Christina, I’d probably get 20% through the second one before bed.  Damn fun times with friends trying to sabotage my reading goals!

Game night

Today was better than yesterday, that’s for sure.  Work was okay, I had a nice relaxing lunch with Christina (pho – delicious), and we’re going to spend the evening at Will and Christina’s for our first (hopefully weekly) Game Night!  It’ll be fun, it’ll be relaxing, and I will be doing my best not to be nervous about Saturday’s Big Event.  Tomorrow is the day I finally FINALLY cut my hair and color it.

If I like it, you can have pictures.  If I’m a crying mess because WHAT HAVE I DONE AND WHY WOULD I DO THIS TO MYSELF, there will be no pictures.  Wish me luck!

But really – what am I going to wear?

I met Jess for dinner tonight at Red Red Wine Bar.  It’s really good, and I’m glad we went, even if it is kind of hard to say.  Try it.  You might get it right the first time, but I bet you say “Red Wed Wine Bar” the second time.  Sober, even.  I had a good zinfandel (well, it was a little too sweet, but I liked the fruit in it, and I have NO idea where it came from), and Jess tried a sparkling wine flight.

I’m a little preoccupied right now, so this will probably be short.  I’m going to the office tomorrow (getting up early), and my brain is busy calculating how much (how little) sleep I’m going to get.  I’m also trying to decide what to wear.

It’s tough being me.

Also, Jess wants to buy someone their first Heinlein book and asked me to recommend one.  I think, for someone who doesn’t read science fiction, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is the place to start.  I think Erik would agree with me.

I should know better

Tip for Future Me: Don’t go out carousing the night Daylight Saving Time starts.  You lose an hour of sleep and it hurts WAY more than it would any other weekend.

Jess and I went out last night.  The plan was to have dinner out, call it an earlyish night, and get up early this morning to meet at her favorite bakery for a light breakfast.  Some of that happened.

We were walking back from dinner (at Level, which was SO good) and it was only 10 something, so we decided to see if anyone was playing the piano at the upstairs piano bar at Middleton’s Tavern.  We didn’t make it upstairs right away, though, because there was a band playing downstairs, and they were really good.  People were dancing, and that’s all the invitation I need, so we joined the crowd and sang and danced.  When the band took a break, the party moved upstairs.  There was a guy on the piano, sort of half-pianist/singer, half-DJ (it was kind of strange), and he was really good and everyone was really happy, so the singing and dancing continued upstairs until he played two songs in a row we didn’t know/didn’t like.  Back downstairs we went, back to the band (who played REALLY good stuff), with more dancing and singing (with the strangers who were following the same upstairs/downstairs patterns as us) right up until the band’s last set ended.  I don’t know if the bar was closing, but it was certainly time for us to close, so we left then and headed home.  It was maybe 1:45 when I walked in the door, and just a few minutes later, it was after 3am because I FORGOT ABOUT THE TIME CHANGE.  Damn it.

Morning came early, but not as early as we’d planned.  I still woke up just before 8am (EDT), feeling better than I had any right to feel, and I decided to suck it up and run over to meet Jess.  She’s right about this bakery – I had a latte (forgot to order decaf) and a sugary delicious bun of some kind.  Yummy.  And then we took a 4-mile walk.

I may not have made great decisions last night, but this morning’s decisions have been okay (and I feel better for them).  And to reward myself (and also get in one last visit before we move), we’re going to Ray’s for dinner.  I am going to have the best steak in the world.  And all the mashed potatoes.  I could demolish some mashed potatoes right now.

Not nostalgic

We spent last weekend in Norfolk visiting Brian and his family (Hi, Brian and family!).  It was really nice to see them and hang out (they make Norfolk FUN!), but I found on the drive in and the way out that I’m REALLY not nostalgic for that area.  We lived and worked there for two years.  We bought our first house there.  We adopted Roxy and Riley into that house.  I got out of the Navy there.  I got my first post-Navy job there.  There’s all that history, but when we drove around and through, my feelings were mostly of the I’m-glad-we-don’t-live-here-anymore variety.  There’s nothing WRONG with it.  It’s a perfectly nice place to live.  But.  I don’t think back on my Navy years with fondness (neither does John), and down there, where nearly EVERYONE is in the Navy or has a tie to it, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore.

The dogs are the one thing I AM nostalgic about, of course.  I miss them terribly, and it was nice to drive by our old house and remember them playing in the yard, but they spent most of their lives in the Ashburn house, so even that is somewhat overshadowed by the Navy presence.

We moved away 10 and a half years ago.  I’ve been out of the Navy officially for nearly 11 years.  My Navy phobia hasn’t waned.  Okay, “phobia” is too strong.  Discomfort.  Not going back there.

But the house – the house was good to us.  It appears to have lost ALL character in the last ten years (along with the bushes that used to be in front and flowered practically year-round), but let’s blame the owners for that.  Also, winter and brown grass and no leaves.

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I hurt all over

Moving sucks.  Even when (especially when?) you’re not moving yourself.  We helped Jess move into her new apartment today, and it feels like everything that could go wrong, did.  I know that’s not true – plenty of things went right – but the percentage of bad things was unusually high.

Bad things:

  • We met Jess at the truck rental place first thing in the morning.  John was going to drive it for her, so we had to be there when she picked it up.  Since he’s the driver, he’s basically renting it, and when they asked if we wanted extra insurance, we said no.  The lady said that’s fine, here, fill out this form with your policy number and the coverage you have for 6-wheeled commercial vehicles.  Um, what?  We’ve rented a lot of trucks in the past year, and no one has asked us that.  I called USAA, and no, we don’t have coverage for that.  (So every time we’ve rented a truck, like, EVER, we’ve been tempting fate with the no extra coverage thing.  Oops.)  Okay, so Jess had to pay an extra amount for it, but hey – it’s refundable.  Except…it’ll be higher than previously mentioned and not ALL of it is refundable because she’s changing an existing rental.  Excuse me?  Still, not that much higher, and we can deal with it.
  • Another family came in, renting a 12′ foot truck (ours was 16′), and they were leaving as we were finalizing the insurance stuff.  As they drove out of the lot, the lady said, “Wait!  They took your truck!”  Yeah, they drove out in the 16′ truck with the ramp we needed.  (They eventually came back and we got our truck.)

The lady joked that all the bad things were happening NOW so we’d be all set the rest of the day.  Way to tempt fate, Rental Truck Lady.

  • We loaded up the truck with all of Jess’s stuff without incident, but I’m including it as a bad thing that happened because her furniture is REALLY HEAVY.  It’s like real grown-up furniture weight.

Good things:

  • We were able to get all of her furniture out of her house and into the truck!  (We’ve had bad luck with couches – couldn’t get Emily’s out of their townhouse last year, so she sold it to the new owners.)
  • By the time John and I (in the truck and our car) caught up with Jess at the new apartment, she’d checked in with the leasing office and gotten her new keys and a parking pass so we could start unloading immediately.

Bad things:

  • She overestimated how much of her stuff could fit in the apartment.  She wanted her big leather couch, loveseat, and chair, but we realized that no matter how we arranged the furniture, the couch wasn’t going to make it.  Or the coffee table.  They stayed on the truck.
  • The really $&%^# heavy leather couch could have been left behind in the house.

Good things:

  • Goodwill was still open, we still had the truck, and they took the couch and the coffee table off our hands!  This is getting to be a habit.
  • We were done with the truck early and could fill it up with gas and return it!

Bad thing:

  • Our credit cards were declined at the gas station pump.

Good thing:

  • Apparently that’s just a really sketchy gas station and Navy Federal locks down cards that get used there.  That seems really weird to me, but I suppose I’m glad they’re looking out for us.  Cards are fine.  Crisis averted.

Bad thing:

  • I’m dirty and tired and achy.

Good thing:

  • I’m home.  I can shower and go to bed.

Extra good thing:

  • Jess lives a mile and a half from us now.  Yippee!

Twitter? I don’t even know her! (I’m sorry)

This is why Twitter is fun.  I do not know Fancy Lady Rae (@imafancylady), and she does not know me, but we connected on Twitter recently while the Bloggess was retweeting everyone’s mortifying moments.  Without the Bloggess, I wouldn’t have enjoyed these few moments before going to bed last night:

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Then I made it awkward by saying good night.  Who does that? I just didn’t know how to say this is really fun, but I’m tired, and I have to work in the morning, so….let’s stop now.  I suppose I could have said that.

Mr. Blue Sky

All it takes is one sunny day.  Yesterday was a gloomy, chilly, rainy day.  Today has been the clearest, sunniest day in the history of clear sunny days.  And even though it’s a bit chilly (I wore a scarf with my jacket and hat to lunch), it is glorious.

Good things that happened today, in no particular order:

  • John had a good phone interview for a great job
  • Jess got very positive news about a potential promotion
  • I had a GREAT run this morning (five miles with perfect music)
  • Lunch was half of a delicious burger, split with a giddy Jess
  • Except for one meeting this morning, I have not wanted to reach through my computer screen and throttle anyone

It’s a banner day!  And it’s Friday!

 

Pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza – man, that looks weird

You know how you can go for months on end without eating fast food, without craving it or even thinking about it, but then you’re on a trip and you go through a drive-thru and then find yourself craving it?  And, probably, eating more of it?

Yeah, I’m doing that with pizza right now.  I love pizza, but I tend to go overboard and eat ALL the pizza when we get it, so I’ve been avoiding pizza.  But I love pizza, and when Jess suggested pizza for our movie night this week, I thought it was a brilliant idea.  (We watched Mean Girls and Bring It On (she had never seen either) and then Victor/Victoria (which I had never seen) and then the first episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend (because I can’t be the only person who loves it) and then we were well into the third bottle of wine and called it a night.  It was great.)  The problem is that now I want pizza.  More pizza.  Pizza again.  It doesn’t even have to be good pizza.  I will eat all pizza.

I could go to the one place in town I know about that sells it by the slice (and only buy one slice), but I am also trying to stop eating out for every meal, so I went to the store. My compromise is pizza muffins (cousin to the pizza buns that became one of my food obsessions growing up, along with hot dogs and then toast).  We have tomato sauce, we have mozzarella, and we have English muffins.  That’ll work, right?

Dance the night away

We went to a Van Halen concert last night with Jess and Chuck (thank you again!), and it was awesome.  John was thrilled.  Of course he knew every word to every song, being the giant fan of theirs that he is, but it seems they played a few songs from earlier albums that aren’t usually heard.  Good ones, but not in the usual line-up.  He (and Chuck, who was right there with him in song recognition) couldn’t have been happier.  I knew maybe a third of the songs, but that’s alright with me.  They played most of my favorites (David Lee Roth era, of course, since Dave wouldn’t be caught dead singing a Sammy song), which was VERY alright with me, and they ended with Panama and Jump.

So what’s in my head this afternoon?  REM’s Shiny Happy People.  It’s not a bad thing, I like the song,  but I had two hours of Van Halen last night, live, loud, and really, really good.  (Seriously, they were really good.)  Where’s my well-deserved earworm?