Dinah's Adventure in the Midwest 2002
Well, I finally visited the heartland. I just spent a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my boyfriend Chris and his family.
It wasn't as alarming a trip as I expected. For one thing, the weather was not uniformly awful. Several days were ideal - soft breezes, comfortable temperatures, scattered clouds over the lovely big green trees. For another, Minneapolis has freaks. I was very concerned about being away from freaks like me for a whole week, but fortunately I found the city populated by a diverse crowd which did include people in odd clothes, with strange haircolors, practicing unusual beliefs, and expressing alternative viewpoints. I was afraid it would be wall-to-wall white, middle-aged, conservative, Republican Lutherans wearing Eddie Bauer clothing and towing along their 7 children. To forestall any concerns on this point, Chris wisely took me straight from the airport to Pizza Luce where we had some rockin' pizza served to us by black-clad, tattooed, pierced punks. *whew* What a relief. He knows how to make a grrrl feel at ease.
His folks were nice. Easy-going, pleasant people, fond of reading and of good food. We stayed most of the time at his dad's place which has a guest room and only one cat - Simon the skittish kitty - instead of the two black silky devils living over at his mom's. Those cats, Miles and Basie, are absolute beauties, but shed like you wouldn't believe. Simon was much easier on my allergies and has the biggest, oddest-colored eyes I've ever seen in a cat. Turquoise. So eerie. He'd be quite alarming if he wasn't so jumpy as to make you laugh at him.
I had arrived in the evening and was slightly rubbery after my flight, so we ate our pizza, went to Chris's dad's house and had a brief introduction before retiring to bed. In the morning we had brunch and got better acquainted. I got to see the hawks and their fledglings in the backyard and to admire the delightful greenness which is so refreshing coming from brown California summer.
After brunch we went over to Chris's mom's house and she and I hit it off right away as I knew we would. She's a complete sweetheart. We also met his sister Leah, who reminds me in some ways - goofy sense of humor, beauty, physical grace and presence - of my sister Jennifer (well, step-sister, technically, but we keep getting closer over the years, so why get technical?). Leah's fiance Geoff was there and he's a good guy. You get the sense he's just very aware of what's going on around him; he's relaxed, but very present. Plus he can tie bows better than I can - we admired some of the wedding favors which he had assembled.
We all sat around the dining table and worked on finishing off the hand-made, boxed truffles for the wedding reception. Doing a project together was a nice was to get to know each other and I was happy to be able to contribute to the huge amount of work needed for the big wedding. The truffles had been quite the chore due to the high temperatures and Chris's mom's broken air conditioner, but we got them all done and they were a big hit at the reception, so worth the effort.
We had a little getaway together to the air-conditioned mall and to my pleasure the family gathering gravitated immediately towards the bookstore. My kinda folks. Chris went slightly mad with booklust and ended up over the course of our stay getting 12 new books. His bags were quite heavy on the way back even with me carrying his database book and the big fat Japanese novel Musashi which I stole from him and read all week.
Let's see, that was Sunday. I don't remember what happened in the evening. Dinner back at his dad's place, I think, and his wife Ruta made some gorgeous looking pork chops which I didn't eat because I don't like pork, but which were worthy of a gourmet magazine spread. I had delicious green beans, biscuits and salad and was well content. Then there was probably reading all around.
Sometime during the week we had lunch with a herd of old co-workers of Chris's, again at Pizza Luce (which is so good I'm really glad we went twice in one week). They're a bunch of tech geeks and I felt quite at ease with them given all my other engineer pals back here at home. After lunch we went to Sonny's ice cream parlor and had some sublime ice cream. Mmmm.
Chris and I walked around Uptown looking in shops and relaxing. We bumped into his pal Brian and sat with him while he had lunch. The conversation was good & silly, full of many jokes and I was really happy we had the good fortune to run into him. We went to Penzey's Spices after lunch and I bought lots of good stuff. That place is heaven. The quality is amazing.
Things are kind of blurry what with jet lag and having just completed the first day of my new job, but I remember some nice walks around campus and Dinkytown (yes, Dinkytown; no, I couldn't stop laughing about it either). I found a pair of red Chuck Taylor hightops for $11 - score! Chris wore his new utilikilt and made me weak in the knees with his style and sexiness. We went to a great eclectic evening of cabaret, dance & comedy at Bryant Lake Bowl and I particularly enjoyed the performances of dancer Miriam Colvin and comedian Jill Bernard. Watch for them both; they're very good. Bryant Lake Bowl is one of the hippest spots anywhere and should be at the top of your list of Minneapolis attractions.
I know I'm forgetting other fun things that happened, but it's been a busy couple weeks and I'll never get this entry posted if I don't wind it up. Suffice to say, Minneapolis is a decent place to visit, especially with a good guide like Chris, the wedding was very pretty and the reception was big fun, and I appear to have received the stamp of approval from Chris's friends and family. A very worthwhile trip indeed.
I think I can, I think I can... ah... fuck it. 2002
My friends are freaks and I like 'em that way.
A short time back, Chris and I had taken my old pal Keoni (to whom we owe our gratitude for introducing us) out to lunch for his birthday and, as they say, hilarity ensued. Keoni has a knack for making me laugh. We just start riffing off each other's goofy comments and pretty soon we're trying to keep the milk from coming out our noses. My favorite bit from that lunch was Keoni telling us about this new children's book for slackers he wants to write called The Little Engine That Could, But Didn't.
Busy Happy Time (a letter from Dinah) 2002
I'm well and having a lovely birthday. It started early last Saturday with an afternoon trip with my super splendiferous boyfriend Chris to the relaxing hot tub spot Watercourse Way in Palo Alto and then a prolonged and excellent dinner at La Fondue in Saratoga. That restaurant is amazing; during our two hour meal we had a wonderful wine (99 Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon), fancy salad, a delicate cheese fondue, many different meats cooked in a seasoned red wine broth and dipped in 6 different sauces, and a dark chocolate dessert fondue which we were a bit too full to do justice to. We overstuffed ourselves and had to go laze around in the summer evening sun in the grass in Cuesta Park in Mountain View before we could drive back to San Francisco and giggle incoherently in a digestive stupor while watching the second Austin Powers movie (which I'd not seen and which is not as good as the first one but still has some amusing moments).
Sunday and Monday were mostly concerned with various casual activities around the apartment and some small chores. Tuesday I did a lot of tidying up around the house and preparations for my last day of having a company car (I haven't owned a car for years), but I made up for it in the evening when I was treated to dinner and a rock concert at The Fillmore with They Might Be Giants by my friends B.J. and Beverly. Big big fun! One of the best concerts I've ever been to.
Wednesday I woke up slow and then scurried around on various errands - picking up Chris's guitar from the shop, buying things for Edmond at REI and mailing supplies to him on the Pacific Crest Trail (read his exploits at www.meinfelder.com), turning in the car and signing final paperwork re: my departure from SoftDevices. After all that, my dear friend Fil picked me up, drove me back to San Francisco and treated me to dinner at Frjtz, a crepes & Belgian fries place 2 blocks from my apartment. We sat in the window seat eating our dinner while the live dj spun tunes. After dinner we walked a block around the corner to Momi Toby's Coffee House and had after dinner coffee while a violinist performed various classical pieces. Then we we walked to a new bar in the Tenderloin called Julip. Very classy and yet low key and approachable. Soft lighting, interesting decor and a knowledgeable bartender. I had a Mojito - a classic cocktail involving fresh mint, rum & lime juice - and it was absolutely perfect. I'll definitely go there again; I vastly prefer a single perfect drink to an evening of mediocre wine, beer or drab drinks. From Julip we wandered down Larkin street to a bar/independent film screening room called Jezebel's Joint which was populated by only a handful of customers and, apparently, a resident dog named Claire, but which had a friendly atmosphere like a neighborhood pub. Again worthy of another visit with a larger crowd of friends. We walked back to my place through the cool evening air and I was thinking how great it is to live in one of the finest cities in the world. To have all these imprompteau pleasures on a Wednesday night is such a treat!
Today and Friday I'll continue my celebration by doing whatever the heck I feel like - I'm done with the old job and the new one doesn't start until August 1st - which will might involve long wandering walks around San Francisco. I'm still working on my project of walking every street, every block of this fair city and I'm making good progress.
Ah, and soon I begin an adventure: my first real trip to the midwest. I'll be flying to Minneapolis to meet Chris's family and attend his sister's wedding. According to reports from Chris, who went out there a few days ago, the weather has ranged from sweltering to incapacitating. Mm. Well, at least it will be a new experience. Assuming I don't get sucked dry by mosquitos or melt, I'll let you know how it goes. I expect I'll be spending a fair amount of time indoors reading and drinking gallons of cool water.
Oh, the new job. Right. Well, it's just perfect for me. I'll be working for a company [which do to my googlability I'll just refer to as Yi], one of the premier (if not The premier) library automation software companies. That means they make the computer programs which libraries use to manage catalogs, circulation, acquisitions, etc. They've been around over 20 years and have about 260 employees. They're based in Emeryville, which is just a short BART train ride away from me, so I won't need to get a car - a mercy in this city of too little parking! I'll be working as the Product Manager for one of their six products and will be focused on their Web Online Public Access Catalog. In normal English that means the catalog the public uses in the library or via the Web to look things up. It's one of [Yi]'s biggest products, so it's an important position and I'm excited by the challenge. The Product Managers act as the key person for their product, educating and evangelizing about it both inside and outside the company. They also act as a communication conduit between customers and the development team working on future versions. It's very exciting and ties in perfectly with my experience. I'm really looking forward to it. It will be great to have a challenge and to be with a big stable company after this past year of waiting for new projects and taking reduced pay from a struggling little company.
Well, even though it's now technically no longer my birthday, I don't think I'll let that stop me from continuing to celebrate for another few days. There are many interesting walks to have and shops to putter around in, ah, and mornings to sleep in on. That was definitely a good way to start today. :)
Keep enjoying the summer everyone! Don't forget to squeeze in lots of fun! As Grandpa Bob taught me, via Pogo, "Don't take life so serious, it ain't nohow permanent."
Not just fun, it's Monkey Fun! 2002
Hey kiddies, don't forget to visit Dial-A-Song for a dose of tasty tunes and gigantic oddity!
The Best Band In The World 2002
I just got back from having my socks rocked off by They Might Be Giants. They were amazing. The whole band kicks ass. Amazing guitar work. It was one of the best concerts I've been to in my life. They're playing again at the Fillmore tomorrow night and next week in Santa Cruz. Do not miss this tour. Just don't. It's worth dropping everything and finding a ticket somehow. It's worth going by yourself if you can't get someone to go with you. They are in fine fine form. And, in what I consider a perfect tribute for my birthday season, they played "Older": You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older and now you're even older and now you're even older. you're older than you've ever been and now you're even older, and now you're older still. Time!..is marching on and time..is still marching on. This day will soon be at an end and now it's even sooner and now it's even sooner and now it's even sooner this day will soon be at an end and now it's even sooner and now it's sooner still.. You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older and now you're even older and now you're even older. you're older than you've ever been and now you're even older, and now you're older still. I love that song. It makes me feel happy and alive. I think maybe that just sums up the way freaks like me think. (Why, yes, my freak flag is raised higher and higher and, no, I'm not alone).
Well, that's a pretty clear plan. 2002
I recommend reading Ted Rall's column entitled "HOW TO WIN THE WAR ON TERRORISM: Constructive Suggestions Bush Will Surely Ignore". Succinct, intelligent, useful. Unfortunately, yes, probably ignored by the U.S. administration since their standing in the polls and profits for their many corporate connections are much more important to them than the safety of the American people.
[Thanks to Anil for the link and his enduring intelligence and raw sexuality. Yes, Anil, I agree; it's not productive or accurate to label the LAX incident as terrorism. Similarly, Chris and I had a conversation about some gang-related violence in which he convinced me that it it's not useful to consider treating such small-scale (and in that case only vaguely political) acts as terrorism, despite the resultant terror.]
Can't Help Giggling 2002
It's useful to be able to identify at a glance all kinds of goths. Snork.
Most lamentable indeed. 2002
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot we must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.
Personally, I am inclined to place patriotism much farther down the list than peace with the other humans occupying this planet. Would that all the other humans, American and otherwise, felt the same.
Free time AND dogged persistence 2002
This Bizarro cartoon with the bodybuilders makes me giggle.
I really ought to read some of Tolstoy's works... 2002
We must repudiate one of the two, either Christianity with its love of God and one's neighbor, or the state with its armies and wars.
--Leo Tolstoy (1909)
Well. It'd be a start, anyhow.
Sad, but true. 2002
In order to obtain and hold power a man must love it. Thus the effort to get it is not likely to be coupled with goodness, but with the opposite qualities of pride, craft and cruelty.
Oh, that will make it all more convenient 2002
At last, somewhere to get Doomsday Star Satellites and Henchperson cloning kits: www.villainsupply.com. About time, I say.
"Chapter One..." says Neil 2002
I recommend a visit to the website for Neil Gaiman's new book Coraline. It's got lots of fun things but the best part is the audio samples including Neil reading the first chapter. I definitely must get the whole audiobook.
Insert foot... 2002
If a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.
Tip of my tongue 2002
Okay, I know this is based on something else; it's so familiar looking. Can anyone tell me why this company logo is ringing a bell? It's got a fifties flair to it and I dig that funky font. Can't say as I see what the heck it has to do with their business - an odd branding choice more suited to a hipster fusion restaurant than to business consulting - but I kinda like it. I swear I've seen an image like it before. If I had my Mum's records handy I'd check the album covers for those Japan-based musicals...
I got it! 2002
I got the new job! Woohoo! I'll start right after my trip to lovely Minneapolis. Frankly, from what I hear about that place in July, the shock of suddenly working 40 hours a week again, plus the commute, will be mild after coping with heat, humidity and mosquitos.
Fun things to do 2002
Hey, looking for fun things to do in northern California? Check out this kickass calendar of events my Uncle Larry maintains. It's got a definite nature/hiking/birds bias so it's a good complement to all those listings of other forms of entertainment - plus many of the listed events are free!
Expiration Date 2002
According to a forthcoming report from the World Wildlife Fund, Earth will run out of natural resources required to support humans within the next 50 years.
What can you do to prevent this?
- Give up your car or at least drive an extremely fuel-efficient, low-polluting model and use public transit, bikes or your feet whenever possible.
- Elect environmentally-aware politicians and pressure those in office to resist short-sighted and suicidal corporate greed.
- Reduce your impact on the environment by eating lower on the foodchain and by buying organic produce and sustainably-harvested products (particularly sea and forest products such as fish and wood).
- Consume less.
- Promote peace; war and the military-industrial complex which encourages it pollute the environment and humans at deep and dangerous levels.
Thanks to Amy 2002
On the plus side, I wouldn't be a top candidate (they're checkin' my references, woo!) for this job if Amy hadn't told me about it.
On the minus side, I have a rewrite of Dancing Queen in my head due to this crazy story.
On the plus side, I have a new catchphrase in the kitchen stolen from Sharon Osbourne via Amy's latest post today.
Spreading Joy 2002
Do let me know if you see more.
Sir Ian Sunflowers 2002 2002
Sir Ian McKellen throwing sunflowers I gave him into the crowd after riding to the end of the parade route and then getting out and dancing down the street twirling them. Lovely man.
[Found on the web. Shared on Flickr on March 21, 2004.]
Fun, Fun & Some Exhaustion 2002
What a busy week it's been! I've barely been home at all.
At the moment, I'm exhausted from spending the last two days running the operations office at the San Jose Concert for the Homeless and America Festival. I do this every year and have a good time, but it's a long couple days, usually about 13 hours on the 3rd and 17 hours on the glorious 4th. The concert was good - local boys Smash Mouth again - and the fireworks and accompanying soundtrack selected by my friend (& festival organizer) Fil were the best yet. I saw fireworks that were totally new to me and had a great time.
Even though I'm firmly against blurring the line between church and state, I confess I got choked up watching Eagle Scout Andy Mellors holding the flag while 100,000 people sang God Bless America. This is a good country full of basically good people and the folks of San Jose did themselves proud. To my knowledge - and I was running the operations office so I oughta know - there wasn't a single incident. If you're running an event, you can't do better than FilCo to handle your logistics. They run safe, fun festivals and that's all there is to it. I think their next ones will be Music in the Park (Eek-A-Mouse is up first) and the San Jose Jazz Festival. I encourage you to visit their events and, if you're in the south bay, volunteer with them to work booths. You get t-shirts, have a fun time and sometimes can earn tips.
As with Ian McKellen at Gay Pride, once again, if anyone sees any good pictures from the festival online, do send me a link.
What else? Let's see...
I had my second interview with [the company which because of my googlability I will henceforth refer to as Yi] for their Web OPAC Product Manager position. I really like the company, what I know so far of the product, and the folks I've met, so I'm very hopeful. I got the impression that I am a top candidate for the job. Now I just have to wait until next week for an answer. *sigh* I hate waiting.
Chris and I went to Muir Woods and had a pleasant walk on Monday. It made me want to visit Edgewood, where my parents live and sit under trees for hours just breathing.
Tuesday night we went to see Neil Gaiman read his new book Coraline aloud. He read the whole thing and it was absolutely magnificent. Loved the book, loved his reading style. It was just great to sit with hundreds of other people quietly being read to - good to know there are lots of folks who like that. As a compulsive lectrice, I'm relieved to know people aren't just being polite in letting me read to them. Gaiman is a fantastic reader and I recommend you rush right out and get the unabridged audiobook of Coraline.
And now, now I'm home and kind of pudding-like in brain and body. Good thing I have nothing more I need to accomplish today.