I bought boots. I think, if I’m not careful, that I could really go overboard with the boots.

I also got my eyes checked for the first time in five years* and everything’s fine, though that air-puff glaucoma test still freaks me right the hell out**. At least the pupil-dilation drops aren’t as bad in a California winter (gray and rainy) as they are in a Saskatchewan winter (sunny and BRIGHT! STABBY! BLINDING! SNOW!). New non-nineties glasses frames are on the way.***

Maybe I’ll get a haircut too, just to complete the transformation. I’m in an experimental, vaguely dissatisfied mood****, and my current “hairstyle” is just the old one grown out and starting to resemble a mullet. Not good. Maybe colour. I kinda miss the dark purple.

Good links:

Waylaka- I thought this was very interesting. I’ve been after my dance instructor to please please please correct me if I’m doing something wrong… that I’m wearing my big girl pants and I can deal with it. I don’t know if it’s her, or dancers, or California, or the US, or the 21st century, or what, but this universal reluctance to criticize is starting to bother me. How else do you learn? I also noticed that this author doesn't mention the Quechua masculine equivalent... interesting if this idea of high expectations is mainly feminine in the Chinchero community, since I see the whole delicate-flower-don't-say-anything-critical thing as associated with women here.

Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting - This is SO COOL!

I Survived my Internet Vacation - Haw!

* And the only reason I even know how long it’s been is that I got my first-ever prescription sunglasses then, and that Christmas we left town to see my folks, and our cars got broken into in our absence, and my almost-brand-new sunglasses got stolen (who the hell steals prescription sunglasses?), and we got the news at my parents’ place after we returned from seeing “The Fellowship of the Ring” and that night R:tAG had dreams about hobbits stealing our stuff. And TFotR came out in 2001. Elementary, my dear Watson!

** From the “It’s a small world” department… the eye doctor was doing the standard “Can you read the letters on the first line?” thing. I read out “D, E, Z…” gave the Canadian pronunciation of “Z” and corrected myself. The doctor said “That’s OK, I’m from Edmonton.”

*** Seems like lenses are getting even smaller. I picture the fashion eventually as being actual contact lenses held with wires in the exact right spot in front of your pupils.

**** Just to be clear, only in the most superficial way. Life is good. It’s more of a general restlessness, which I wish I could channel into something productive like, say, cleaning.

(lyrics courtesy of Kirsty MacColl, one of my favourites and too soon gone from us.)

So it’s actually pretty cold here. I wouldn’t use the hyperbole that some local sources have, but as when I lived in England, many buildings here just aren’t built for cold weather and when you can’t get out of it, even +5C wears you down. Of course, extravagant use of the furnace helps (unlike England, where central heating seemingly never caught on) but I can’t help picturing the heat shimmer that must be appearing above our uninsulated roof.

And of course, a lot of crops here (citrus, strawberries, avocados) have gone kaput, and the situation of homeless people has become pretty worrying. But mostly, hearing people’s reactions is just funny.

And a belated welcome to Steve who has entered the blogging world with his impending move.

Random linkage:

Raglan Pullover Agreement
: Obligatory knitting content. But funny!

Pirates III: On my birthday! EeeeeEEEEEEeeee!!!!!

Banished words for 2007

Food hacks: Hacks in the programming sense, not in the schlock journalism sense. That would be different.

And speaking of cooking, one of the best pieces of advice that I never listen to is to not try new dishes for the first time when you have company over. I know this is good advice, but I got a subscription to a good cooking magazine for my birthday last year (thanks, Mom!) and every issue has stuff I need to try. Not to mention all the good stuff on the Intarweb. So I’ve managed to talk myself into trying a maximum of one new thing per dinner party. And last Sunday, that paid off. You really have to try this Toll House Pie. So. Damn. Good.

OK, this might be TMI but has anyone else suddenly blossomed into a huge case of hives with no apparent provocation? I have ingested nothing I have not many times before, worn nothing new, used no new soap/makeup/moisturizer/any other personal product, am not unusally stressed, have not experienced temperature extremes, have not encountered anything fur-bearing except R:tAG, yet last night at about 9:45 large red ITCHY ITCHY ITCHY welts started appearing on my knees* as I watched in fascinated horror. In the next few hours, welts appeared on my elbows. When I woke up this morning, after liberal application of various unguents so's I could sleep, I had additional welts on, well, areas that my bathing suit covers. Now, sitting (uncomfortably) at work, I am noting that my ears and eyelids seem a bit hot, itchy and swollen.

In the few times I've had hives before, they've appeared within a few minutes of eating something. Clear cause-and-effect. Not the case here; I ate about an hour and fifteen minutes before the eruption and, as I said, it was all stuff I've eaten before.**

The only thing even remotely out of the ordinary is that a house about three blocks away from us had a big termite-fogging circus tent thingy over it two days ago. I can't see myself being that sensitive, though. I'd constantly be one big walking hive, living in such an industrialized place.

So what's keeping me from picking up a couple of plastic forks from the lunchroom and scratching myself raw? Drooling over this:

The iPhone

And I'm not the only one.

* The fronts, not the backs. The backs of my knees are where I get stress-triggered eczema. Y'all know way too much about my personal dermatological issues now, don't you?

** A bacon-wrapped turkey "mignon" from Trader Joe's (we'd already eaten two others from the same package with no ill effects), two small potatoes (mashed), and steamed green beans. The green beans were organic, even.

Last Thursday and Friday was a company "retreat," where all 15 of us went over to the CMO's* house to talk about direction of the product and stuff. Most of the discussion was pretty non-essential to me**, but I got a good chance to gawk at a $4 million dollar house. The other indicator that I was in a whole 'nother world was on Thursday after the last talk, where a co-worker brought out some wineglasses and asked us all to try his wine. Now down our way, that might mean "wine what I saw at Trader Joe's and thought looked good" or, more likely given the emphasis on the pronoun, "wine what I made out of a kit and a plastic bucket." I was cringingly anticipating the latter*** but upon sipping it, it was actually pretty tasty. Then I found out that this wine was actually from the gentleman's own vineyard.

The vinous festival continued at the company Christmas party on Friday night, at an even more expensive house (complete with large climate controlled wine cellar and six-car garage with a turntable to hold a vintage car collection****). The host, our CEO, was very generous with his wine collection and opened several bottles to further the education of us amateurs. I am plotting how to slip a few bottles of Thunderbird into the CEO's wine cellar before the next party, which I think would be very funny. Of course, I best liked what turned out to be the most expensive wine offered,***** which I hope made up for the fact that when the host asked us for opinions on the samples, I offered adjectives like "presumptious" and "Episcopalian." I fear that people thought I wasn't taking the whole thing seriously enough.

Marketing phrases that I am sick of after only two days:

  • "Double-click into" (to mean "focus on")
  • "Very unique" (aargh!)
  • "Leverage"
  • "Literally" (used to mean "especially" or "really")

Marketing phrases that I liked:
  • "Schasm" (to mean a really big divide; seemingly a combination of "schism" and "chasm." I have no idea if this was an intentional portmanteau or a mistake)
  • "We've finally penetrated the bowels of the FDA" (um, pardon?)

And in our far humbler home, we've been doing pretty much nothing but watching Torchwood, the Dr. Who spinoff probably best described as a British X-Files. It doesn't take itself near as seriously as the X-Files did, but it isn't camp or parody (in other words, there's the typical difference between American and British styles). It's good and we like it a lot. We find it's best accompanied by a sparkling young malted barley varietal, with a crisp nose, distinctly foamy legs, and a lingering hoppy finish.

* Chief Marketing Officer

** Though there was an interesting (to me, and relatively) talk by our FDA consultant about the current practices in drug development and the FDA's new approval process, which we might have to incorporate to some extent in our product. I also found out that when you call them "pills" instead of "tablets," chemical engineers get the same little eye-twitch that civil engineers do when you call it "cement" instead of "concrete."

*** Sorry to everyone I've ever politely lied to, but home-made kit wine is awful.

**** Including a Jaguar XS with an inline-8 that might be the most beautiful car I've ever seen.

***** Beringer 1999 Private Reserve Cabernet, as I recall. By the way, the word on the street (well, the private landscaped drive) is that 2005 was a great year in Napa. Stock up!

A new year, a new Blogger, though I hope the content remains untouched. I just tried to change the template and was unpleasantly surprised to find that all my sidebar links disappeared. It took a bit of fancy and panicked footwork to undo the change.

Like last year, we had a very quiet New Year's. A Dr. Who marathon to keep ourselves awake until midnight, a little champagne, a few bites of caviar, and asleep by about 12:07. In our defense, we were still on East Coast time*.

We spent eight days over Christmas with my parents and my youngest sister in Virginia, which was very nice. Time is slipping by at a really alarming rate** and as near as any of us could figure it's been three years since I'd seen my folks. So that was really excellent, despite a four-hour delay in getting there.*** I actually got packages sent off in a timely fashion, and found good gifts for everyone (no complaints so far, at least). The weather in VA was extraordinarily warm, and we trooped around several old favourites (Williamsburg, Jamestown), saw some new stuff (Yorktown, Fort Monroe), ate a lot, knitted,**** played with our Christmas presents,***** visited my grandmother, and generally had a great time. And the flight(s) back were actually early, and quite smooth. Except for the coda of motion-sick children vomiting in the gutter outside the terminal at San Jose airport while we were waiting for our ride home, the return trip was close to perfect. We were relieved, since we connected in Newark which had had trouble before Christmas.

Speaking of knitting (haw! Didn't think you were going to get away, did you?) I managed to get no pictures of any of the things on which I was frantically working before Christmas. The list: a vest, two afghans, a teacosy, a doily, and a Dr. Who scarf. I actually had to finish the vest (for me Mum, and a measure of how much I love her since stranded knitting in cotton is the Devil's work) on Christmas Eve day, since there were about a brazillion ends to weave in. Finishing it in front of the recipient actually worked out well, because she was able to choose the buttons (I couldn't decide and brought both options for her to consider).

I'd never heard of some of these New Year's superstitions, but I'm pleased to say that we're right on board with the whole "don't do dishes" one. Also, the "make a lot of noise" one is ably handled by the neighbourhood as we discovered when fireworks started going off from surrounding lawns. However, we failed with the "first footer" - we left the house before anyone else entered, much less a tall darkhaired man carrying half a dry-goods store - and our pantry isn't well stocked since we just got back from a longish trip and most shops were closed. Oh well.

Note to self: a good New Year's resolution, even though you don't normally make them, would be to start and finish some of the seventeen-odd knitting projects that you've got on deck, maybe starting with that sweater that R:tAG has been so patiently waiting for and that you haven't started since it's miles and miles of boring old dark gray brioche rib that just can't compare with all the lace goodies that make you drool.

Another note to self: Travelling with R:tAG after he's had a large serving of Ben&Jerry's "Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz" is like travelling with a Yorkie on crystal meth. Avoid it.

* And in addition to the offical three hour time difference, there is the fact that my parents are early-to-bed type people (which we are decidedly not). The result was that our natural sleep cycles were almost completely reversed. It was effectively like travelling to England.

** We've been in California for almost two years! How is that possible?

*** Not because of all the snow in Denver, at least not directly. We went via Chicago, which won the Christmas Weather Coin-Toss this year.

**** OK, this was just me.

***** I got a dreidel, that traditional Christmas toy, but I have yet to paint it and until the little letters are on playing with it just leads to arguments. R:tAG and I also got a juicer, though we left that at home. Now that we are back, we are thinking of things to juice. The booklet says it's great for making breakfast, but we find that pancakes don't make hardly any juice and bacon makes way too much (full disclosure: this joke is from Red Meat). We did have Mimosas with fresh squozed juice for New Year's Day brunch though. Yum.


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