Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jolly Ollie Days

Today is the 12th anniversary of the finding of Oliver. Twelve years ago today I went to visit my folks on a noisy, warm summer afternoon. While Dad was mowing the lawn he heard the sound of a cat crying. How he did that over the sound of the mower, the neighborhood rock band practicing, and the planes flying overhead I will never understand. Investigating, he found the Ollie Beast with his head stuck in the chain link fence. His head must have been huge even as a kitten.

I was not a cat person until I found the Big Giant Heed but I knew right away that I was meant to take this cat home. He was clearly freaked out but when I called to him he came right out from under one of the cars in the driveway and came right to me. He wouldn't go to anyone else. I carried him around the neighborhood knocking on doors but no neighbors claimed him and no one ever posted a sign. There were many growing pains over the years as I learned how to be a cat owner and he learned...ummm ...well, he taught me how to be a cat owner. He is a complicated feline but he is my Beast and I am extremely fortunate to have him.

I hope everyone celebrates in proper Ollie style by demanding snuggles and rubs on the belly from loved ones; or let's be honest, really anyone who is around. He isn't a particularly discerning snuggler. Celebrations can also include napping, eating of cat grass or leafy greens, crying forlornly if you can see the bottom of your plate through piles of food, not letting anyone touch your feet and taking a thoroughly unsatisfying poop.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

O' Canada!

Kevin and I got back from a wonderful three-day weekend in Victoria last night. It is such a pretty little city and a nice getaway spot. By the way, is it possible for anyone raised in Seattle to go to Victoria and not have the "Let's go to, Vic-tor-i-a, on Princess Marguerite" song stuck in their mind for at least half a day? I think not.

We had butterflies tickle us with their little feet at the Butterfly Gardens .

We wandered around the amazing Butchart Gardens and gazed at thousands of plants. This place is phenomenal. Even if you aren't into plants you would be amazed at the beauty here. The Sunken Garden here
used to be a limestone quarry that Mrs. Butchart turned into this stunning place around the turn of the century. I want this to be my back yard. I want, I want, I want. Not only are the gardens beautiful but Butchart Gardens has hands-down the prettiest garbage cans you are ever going to see
and the dumbest cashier who ever overcharged anyone ever. Nice to know it isn't just the American school system that is failing. $35 for two hot-dog meals my ass!

On the ride up to Victoria we were lucky to encounter some orcas (L pod they told us) and some Dall's porpoise. Did you know that porpoising is a verb? Me neither. We also took a whale watching tour but sadly didn't find any whales. We did however get to bring sexy back in our survival suits and channel our inner Cousteau by taking a really fun Zodiac ride around the Strait of Juan de Fuca while trying to spot the whales.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lonely, Lazy and Poor Taste in Coffee

I was cleaning out my marketing binder and came across my favorite article from the class. It is from 1950 and talks about projective tests in marketing research. The premise is that people will respond to the question "do you like product X" with a surface answer similar to "no, because it doesn't taste good". In reality, it is their perceptions of what the product means or represents that they are really responding to. No one will come out and say "SPAM is low-class and only the trashy pathetic poor eat it" but that is what a lot of people think of SPAM and this attitude will frequently cloud their judgment. Those people should be pitied for they shall never enjoy the spiced-hammy goodness.

Anyway, in this article 100 people were given one of two shopping lists and they were to read the list and then "characterize the woman who bought the groceries. Then write a brief description of her personality and character." The two lists were identical except for one item. The identical parts were: 1 1/2 lbs of hamburger, 2 loaves of Wonder bread, bunch of carrots, 1 can Rumsford's Baking Powder, 2 cans Del Monte peaches, 5 lbs potatoes. One list had 1 lb. Maxwell House Coffee and one had Nescafe instant coffee. The respondent's attitudes towards the woman who bought the Nescafe are absolutely priceless. Let me share:
"...appears to be either single or living alone. I would guess she had an office job. She likes to sleep late in the morning...she must appear rather sloppy, taking little time to make up in the morning. She is used to eating supper out too. Perhaps alone rather than with an escort. An old maid probably."
"...seems to be lazy. She doesn't seem to think. Probably just got married."
"...the type who never thinks very far ahead - the type who always sends Junior to the store to buy one item at a time. Also she is fundamentally lazy. ...may be an office girl a sort of haphazard sort of life. "

Dear god, this woman just decided to buy Nescafe and suddenly she is (shudder) an OLD MAID who is sloppy and lazy and an unfit mother and should probably be shot. This purchase of Nescafe was her downfall.

After I read this article I got to thinking about what my shopping list or cart would say about me to other people. I think about the times I go to the store and end up with 20 Lean Cuisines (because they are on sale!), a 28 lb pail of cat litter, many yogurt cups and 12 packs of Diet Coke in my cart. I am pretty sure the contents of my cart scream that the purchaser is a lazy, lonely, overweight spinster who stays at home and talks to her six cats while knitting sweaters from their fur for her imaginary children while watching rented romantic comedies, thinks Patrick Dempsey really is dreamy and moons over that man in purchasing but will never get the nerve to talk to him. The only way it could be worse is if there was a shower massager in the basket.

So, what does your shopping cart say about you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Morning Musing

It occurred to me today that there are some aspects of my job that are a little bit unusual. First thing Monday morning for almost the last 10 years I come into the office and check to see who, if anyone, has died over the weekend. I'm pretty sure that isn't normal in most work places.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Furry 5K Race Report

This race is really one of my favorites. Not because of the course but because of the hundreds and hundreds of dogs there to enjoy the day and run or walk with their owners. Dogs of every shape and size are there. Chihuahuas, pugs, golden retrievers, lots and lots of black labs, German shepherds; all enjoying the day and getting along swimmingly. A puppy Utopia really. Normally I am not driven to run races because of the cause but this race is an exception. I get to run a fun race and raise money for the Seattle Animal Shelter. Best of all worlds. You might even get to unsuspectingly share your post race yogurt with a canine passer-by.

The first mile of the race is flat and I somehow managed to average a 9:33 pace which is BLAZING fast for me these days. The first half of the second mile is also flat but the pace started to slow a little bit because I knew the dreaded evil bitch of a hill was coming up at 1.5 and I wanted to conserve a little energy. I ran part of the way up the hill and then had to walk the rest of the way. Note to self: train on hills! My pace for the second mile blossomed to 10:25. The last mile was back to a 9:40 pace. The last fraction of the course was an 8:57 pace. So overall I finished in 31:37 which means a 10:11 pace. I'll take it. I fully expected to run a PW (personal worst) for this race because I just haven't been training at all and certainly not doing anything remotely close to speed work. I really worked for this race though. My legs were even tired later in the day which clearly means I pushed my pace hard.

My brother didn't PR but he did do a course PR. He ran it in 22:37 which is a pace of 7:17. Nice.

Next race: Seafair Torchlight Run (an 8K) in July. There will be improvement. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Headline in the Seattle Times this morning: "Seattle Weather: Colder than Siberia!" Seriously, it was a high of 58 here yesterday. In Tomsk, Siberia it was a high of 61. Fairbanks hit 66. I want to weep.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tater Tots, Solitude and Pooches

That was one of the best weekends I have spent in awhile. Such a nice way to wind up a busy school year.

Friday night my friend Todd and I ate at a place in Ballard called Zayda Buddy's which specializes in something called "Minnesota-style pizza". Minnesotan Todd has no idea what that means but according to Zayda Buddy's it involves thin crust and it is cut into squares. The main reason we went there was for the tater tot casserole and cheap mid-western beer. I drank something called "Blatz" that is supposed to be horrible so you know it was right up my alley. The tater tot casserole was fabulous and the beer was good. The only thing missing was a Jell-o salad and some white cake with Crisco frosting to fulfill my image of a proper mid-western meal. After dinner we went to The Mountain's :20 Funny Festival at the Paramount. Check out Gary Gulman and Greg Behrendt if you ever get the chance. Funny stuff about grapes and uncomfortable bathroom situations.

Saturday, o glorious Saturday! Saturday was "Solitude Saturday" where I did not answer my phone, visit with anyone or have any agenda. I could do whatever I wanted and not feel like there was something hanging over my head that I must do. It was glorious! Did I mention that already? The only words I spoke to another human being the entire day were "hi" and "thank-you" to the woman who rang me up at Target. I recommend a day of blissful solitude like this to everyone on occasion.

Sunday morning brought the annual Furry 5K race at Seward Park with my brother. Matt and I have done this race for the last four years and have a blast every time. It benefits the Seattle Animal Shelter and runners and walkers are encouraged to bring their dogs. The park is crawling with hounds! I will write a separate race report for this; I know you are eagerly awaiting that. Sunday afternoon I helped Kevin put in paving stones and plant ground cover for a path in his backyard. It looks wonderful. Sunday night was off to the ballet with Kevin for the season finale at PNB "Eight Encores". For this performance they take parts of select ballets performed over the course of the season and perform them all in one night. Wonderful to get to see pieces you saw earlier in the season danced by different performers to compare and contrast.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend too!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Evening at the Ballet

We went to see Pacific Northwest Ballet's "All Robbins" program on Thursday and it was amazing. The only thing I really knew about Jerome Robbins' work was his choreography for "West Side Story". I had no idea he was involved in ballet at all. Two of the pieces were more comedic and Broadway influenced and one was more traditional ballet. As usual the dancers were phenomenal. I am continually blown away by how graceful, powerful, and expressive they are. It is a sharp contrast to the ballet we saw last week by Ballet Bellevue. Don't get me wrong; the dancers at Ballet Bellevue are very talented and do things I could never even dream of doing. But it is kind of the difference between watching Double A and major league baseball. You have to be crazy talented to even perform at Double A but the talent gap between that level and the bigs is very noticeable. Same with the ballet. Seeing these two companies perform really brought home the skills of the dancers in PNB. They make everything seem easy and perfect. It is such a beautiful art form and PNB does it so well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stick a Fork in Me...

...I'm done! Well, done for the summer anyway. I am really ready for this break from school. I am beyond burned out. Now, my free time is my own again. I almost cackled in glee at the possibilities of how to spend the rest of the night following my final. I had no studying to do, I could do anything! The world was my oyster! Apparently my oyster involves taking myself out for carne asada pizza at California Pizza Kitchen while reading a great article on Bobby Kennedy in Vanity Fair (he was always my Kennedy of choice) and taking a two hour nap. Party like a rock star.