My Life as a Dog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Might Be Vain (or Maybe Not)

Last Monday I had Family Home Evening at my house. A group of 30 - 40ish singles in my ward get together every other Monday to have our own little FHE. We had a great time although the order was a little messed up. We started with treats thanks to Lindsay, followed by a short story/lesson/thought. Then it was time for a little Wii Sports competition which sadly I did the worst at. That was even with Molly who had broken her right arm and had it in a sling. (I did do okay at tennis but that was from my hours of practice.) Towards the end of the evening as the crowd was dwindling, I was playing a little of my new music on my computer for Lindsay and Molly to check out. I couldn't help notice as we were talking that Lindsay had a puzzled look as she checked out my computer. I immediately knew what was going on. It wasn't too long before she had to ask me about the "makeup" mirror sitting on my computer. She opened with "I know you're well groomed and all. But really?" It's true. I do have a small mirror sitting on my computer but no it is not to gaze upon my face. Rather than explain I thought I would just show Lindsay what it's purpose is. So I had her sit at my desk and move up like she was going to work on the computer. I said "now look in the mirror." Ah ha! I could see the light bulb turn on over her head. You see, when I sit at my computer, my television is directly behind my head. After several weeks of my neck hurting when I constantly turn to see what's on, I finally decided that I need to be creative. Thus the mirror. The funny thing is that Lindsay was not the first to give me this reaction. It's happened several times. You might think that would make me hide the mirror when I have company. Well, apparently, it's just the exact opposite because now I've even blogged about it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is That Bad?

Once upon a time I thought I was a pretty good tennis player. At least I really enjoyed playing. It's been several years now since I've even picked up my tennis racket other than to reach something on the shelf behind it. But now I have a Wii and my tennis skills are as tight as ever! I've been working almost every day to make "pro." Oh and let me tell you, I am really close. Less than 100 points to go! The problem is that playing this much Wii tennis makes me think that I can play the real thing again probably even better than before. My nephew (whose name shall remain anonymous) once told me that after playing Rock Band that he thought he could really play the drums or guitar for that matter. I now understand the phenomenon. They make video games so real any more that I can see how this happens. After all when I play Wii tennis like real tennis, I sweat! It's actually one of the reasons that I bought the system to begin with. But now I find that I justify it as "exercise." Is that bad?! I just know that I haven't been making it to the gym as often as I was in my pre-Wii days. Maybe I will feel better about it once I try wearing my heart rate monitor while playing. Or maybe I just need to buy the Wii Fit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lighting Project - Part 1

Last summer I replaced both of the lighting fixtures in my living room with two brushed nickel ceiling fans. After hanging the new lights, I realized that I didn't really care for the shiny brass fixtures that I had replaced and that I pretty much had through out the house. Since I had just taken two of them down, I thought I'd try painting them to see how they turned out. I didn't have a use for them anyway. So even if it was a failure I'd be fine. Below are the before and after shots. I was really pleased with the results. What do you think? Better before? Or after?
One of the reasons that I'm posting this, is to motivate me to finish painting my other (dining, hallway, and a bedroom) fixtures. The one that makes me nervous, the is the dining room fixture but I think it would make it look so much better. A cheap can of spray paint can go a long way to updating the look of your lights!
Dining Room Fixture
Hallway Sconce
Look for Lighting Project - Part 2 soon. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Wii for Mii

I just ordered myself a Wii gaming system. Last Monday, I went to my singles FHE at Ryan's house. He brought out the Wii and we had a little fun playing tennis, boxing, and bowling. I particularly liked tennis. Maybe it was because I got a few smoking fast serves in. (And I was the only one who could do it!) When it came to boxing, I got knocked out by Carol. I think she might have been taking out her frustrations on me. The next day I found myself a little sore. My serving shoulder is still a little tender and my left leg hasn't quite recovered from all the lunges in bowling.

I just received an e-mail saying that it was now shipping. I just hope my muscles are ready for it when it gets to my house. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spare Change - Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker is one of my favorite authors but I've mostly stuck to reading his Spencer series. In fact I've read all but the newest of the Spenser books. But I do have it on my hold list at the library. While I was waiting for that one I needed something else to take on my San Francisco trip. I thought why try a book from one of his other series. Thus I checked out Spare Change: A Sunny Randall Novel.

I gotta admit that I was a little skeptical as to how much I would like it. But Parker quickly won me over. How did he do that, you ask. (Well pretend you did ask.) Right away, he let's us know that the setting is the same for the Spenser series. Sunny Randall is a private investigator in Boston. Spenser is also a private investigator in Boston. Then we find out that Sunny is seeing a shrink. It's not just any shrink, it's Susan Silverman, Spenser's love interest. Through the course of the novel Sunny interacts with characters (Belson, Quirk, etc.) that we are already familiar with from Spenser books. And of course, Parker's dialogs between the various characters are filled with the quick wit that I love.

Another thing that makes me lover Parker's writing is that he personifies the dogs. Each dog is a regular character with thoughts, emotions, etc. In the Spenser series there is Pearl, Spenser and Susan's dog, who provides many of the humorous moments. Knowing that, Sunny would have to have to have a dog also, right? Parker does not disappoint. While Rosie, Sunny's dog, didn't have as many funny moments, Rosie did become one of the main characters and added her own humorous interactions with the other characters.

So if you are a fan of the Spenser series and love Parker's writing there, don't be afraid to check out the other series. (I've started a Jesse Stone novell by Parker. So I'll let you know how it works out.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Spray Paint Artist - San Francisco

While we were in San Francisco we got to see plenty of street artists along Fisherman's Wharf. None of them quite compare though to the guy doing spray paint art. The guy shown here is not the guy we saw but the painting he makes and the techniques he uses are very similar to the one we did see.

Janet Has No Friends

Often when trying to find old friends on Facebook, I'll search for their names. If they don't have a photo and they do not belong to any network it's often difficult to determine whether they are the person you are looking for or not. So, I will click the View Friends option to see if we share any of the same friends. I find it disconcerting to learn that "Janet has no friends." How sad! :(

Saturday, July 12, 2008

San Francisco - Day 4: July 5, 2008

Our fourth and final day in San Francisco consisted largely of touring Alcatraz. The tour was with Alcatraz Cruises. They launch the ferry from Pier 33 and we didn't realize just how far away it was or how long it would take us to get there. We didn't run, but close.

Once on the island they hand out headsets and audio players so that you can give yourself a tour. It works out really well. The audio is delivered by either guys that used to be in prison on the island or by some of the officers that served there. It certainly made it more interesting. We caught the ferry back to the mainland and glimpsed our first view of the Golden Gate Bridge without it being obstructed by fog. Woo hoo!

Once we got back to the pier we had food on the brain. The group of us walked to Boudins to eat once again. This time it was in the sit down restaurant upstairs. And on the way out I had to pick up a few loaves of sourdough to bring home with me.

Following Boudins it was back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the airport. It was a fun trip. Thanks, Ben, Beth, and the girls for letting me be part of your family vacation. And I'm glad My Sister Who Shall Not Be Named and Nick came along too. I think we all had a good time.
Ferry Ride to Alcatraz Island
Don't Try to Take Any Prisoners!
Alcatraz Island

BriAnne Was Naughty
Waiting for the Ferry Back to San Francisco
San Francisco From the Ferry
Golden Gate Bridge (Finally Without Fog)
Buying Bread for the Road

Getting Around in San Francisco

Who knew there were so many ways to tour San Francisco?!

Friday, July 11, 2008

San Francisco Tour Guide Extraordinaire - BriAnne

BriAnne is my niece. She's 18 and the world is her's! So this story really should come as no surprise to anyone that knows her. This photo was taken shortly after this story.

It was 4th of July just after the sun had gone down, when Nick and I stopped our shopping. As we walked out of the sunglass store, who do we run into? BriAnne. But she was not alone. Accompanying her was a large black guy to whom she had been giving directions. Just as we found her, this guy was trying to give her a hug for helping him find Lou's Bar. Here was our conversation.

Me: Hi Bri. What's going on?

BriAnne: I was just helping him (the large black guy) find Lou's bar.

Me: How did you know where Lou's was? (I had been up and down that street so many times and I had no idea where it was.)

BriAnne: It's just right there. (She pointed. Then she guestured that he wanted to give her a hug.)

Me (Maybe Over Protective Uncle): You really should not be out here after dark alone. Nick and I were just one street over and ran into a woman without her shirt and a drunk santa clause.

To which she pretty much shrugged her shoulders. Oh to be young and fearless!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

San Francisco - Day 3: July 4, 2008

This day was the first day where we didn't have some kind of tour or specific activity scheduled. And it was the day where we got to do something that was high on Ben's wish list. He's a fan of the ethnic food and wanted to check out Chinatown. Since we were without a car we decided to take one of the historic cable cars to Chinatown. Conveniently located next to our hotel is the first stop on the San Francisco Cable Car Powell-Hyde route. The trolley was an experience all by itself. They fill them up as tight as they can. We slid over so that a Dutch father and sons could squeeze on the same car. As we went up and down the hills I tried hard not to squish the little guys.

Chinatown was filled with shops largely selling the same stuff and I do mean stuff. People on the street would try and get us to come into their restaurant by repeating "dim sum" over and over. I assumed that dim sum was a specific dish but now that I Google it, I find out otherwise. Apparently it's like saying brunch. I guess it makes more sense now. Ben & My Sister Who Shall Not Be Named did buy some kind of bun with a meat mixture in it. I had some. It wasn't too bad but nothing to get excited about.

We were also approached by guys going up and down the streets saying "Fireworks?" I don't know but it felt like maybe they were trying to sell some illegal fireworks or something. Otherwise why not just have a store or a stand or something?

As we were walking down the main street it was interesting to observe a wedding party down the street that was having their wedding photos taken on the main street in Chinatown. Not my idea of a great setting for wedding photos but then again, I'm not Chinese. (Surprise!)
ChinatownOur Own China Man, NickBride & Groom Having Wedding Photos Taken in Chinatown
After checking out Chinatown, we decided to start heading in the direction of Union Street because we had lunch reservations at a place called Betelnut. We thought it was a great idea because we were in Chinatown in Grant Street and Betelnut was on Union Street. So we just started walking north. Then we realized that the restaurant was also a lot further to the west. And then we realized that we were going to have a steep climb and then another drop. Just a few blocks from the top of the hill half of the group hailed a taxi. The rest of us made it to the top of the hill and were very ready when the first taxi returned to take us several more blocks. Apparently things are further apart than they look on a map!
The Long Walk Uphill (and Then Downhill) to Betelnut
Betelnut is an Asian restaurant that was recommended to us by my sister's friend who lives in the Bay Area. We ordered a variety of dishes and shared them family style. My favorites were the szechchuan green beans, Indonesian Mee goreng noodles, and the shui jiao pork dumplings.
Betelnut RestaurantBrian on Pier 39
After working our way back to the hotel some of us wandered down to Pier 39 for some more shopping/walking. On the way back we stopped at Boudins for some of their famous sourdough bread. The previous day some of us got their clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. Yum!
Buying Sourdough Bread at Boudins
That evening we just had to step outside our hotel to celebrate Independence Day. They had live music in the park just to the west of the hotel and just north of Ghirardelli Square. It was also there that they lit off fireworks in the bay. Since it was a foggy, the tall fireworks would just make the sky glow in the various colors.
Brooke and Ben in Front of Ghirardelli'sFoggy FireworksBrooke & Nick with Fireworks

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's Just the Circle of Life

While we were at the Aquarium at the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco, I overheard a conversation that I found interesting and a little humorous. I thought that I should share it.

As soon as we gave the attendant our tickets, we turned the corner and there were several exhibits to view before heading to the the under-water tunnels. One of those exhibits was a video about sharks similar to the video shown above. The video had a warning that it was violent. It quickly became apparent as the killer shark created a bloody mess by attacking a seal. The interesting part came from a mother and daughter also viewing the video. Here's how their conversation went:

Daughter: Did that shark just eat a seal?!

Mother: It wasn't a seal. It's not real.

Another Viewer: Yeah, the shark just ate a seal.

Mother: Okay, it was a seal and it's real but it's the circle of life. See even the birds are doing it (eating the left over seal.)

Somehow I don't find it more comforting to know that even the seagulls feed on seals. I don't know what the mother was trying to accomplish but I'm afraid that she probably only further traumatized her daughter. Now her daughter knows that her mother will easily lie about things that don't really matter. But more scary than that, I fear that she might have nightmares of being attacked not only by sharks but also by seagulls. Eeek! But hey if she got attacked wouldn't it really just be "the circle of life?"

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

San Francisco - Day 2: July 3, 2008

We started our day early with a bus tour out to Muir Woods just north and west of the bay. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Muir Woods. As you can see the morning was really foggy. Above is what we saw as we crossed the bridge. The woods were nice and peaceful after being in the city. I was glad I have brought a jacket and long pants for the trip. Who knew it would be so cold?!
Big Trees! Brian, Nick, BriAnne, & Brooke in Muir WoodsBrian at Muir Woods
Following Muir Woods the van dropped us off north east of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. Sausalito is a small artsy community. There was plenty of little shops, restaurants, and art galleries. While we were there I endulged in a little fish and chips. Tasty! We could have taken the van back to San Francisco but it was leaving too early for us. So we decided to ride the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf. During the ferry ride we got a good view of Alcatraz Island.
Brooke on the dock in SausalitoBriAnne on the dock in SausalitoA Pretty Flowering TreeNick was ThirstyBrian & Ben on the Ferry
Once we made it back to the Wharf, we wandered around a bit with all the shops. We also decided to check out the Aquarium at the Bay. This is once of those places where you get to walk through the tanks filled with sea life. They also had some petting pools. The shark tank was the best.
Brian in the Aquarium with StarfishBrooke & a Huge Scary Looking Bass
We also stayed in a nice hotel, The Argonaut. It was right on Bay Street so we were in the middle of all the Wharf action. It used to be the Del Monte Cannery in a former life. The Cannery has since been converted to a hotel, restaurants, bars, etc... Everything in the hotel had a nautical theme going on so it was a little humorous when we opened the closests and found leopard print terry robes and pajamas! Someone didn't think that through.
BriAnne, Brooke, & Nick - Fancy!Brooke in the Hotel Lobby

San Francisco - Day 1: July 2, 2008

After arriving at the airport in the early afternoon, we piled into a minivan and head north to Six Flags Discovery Park in Vallejo just north of Oakland. I was a little worried that we were not going to get our money's worth since we were entering the park mid-afternoon. But we hit all the major rides at least once and some twice. The photo above is from our second ride on Medusa. (If you click the Medusa link you can actually view a video of the ride.) We talked Beth, my sister-in-law, to go with us for the second ride. She doesn't look happy in the photo but she did survive and was a good sport. And in case you are wondering, Bri, is actually pulling faces for the camera. She was apparently the only one to see the camera coming up. Prior to this ride, we got her to go on to go on Tony Hawk's Big Spin, which had a little too much spinning going on for her likes. This Six Flags also has animal attractions. You can feed the dolphins and apparently they have some kind of killer whale / dolphin show, which was not running while we were there. But you could still see into the tank.
My cute nieces Bri & Brooke with the dolphin

V2: Vertical Velocity

Brian resting in Looney Tunes

Tony Hawk's Big Spin

Ben, Beth & the Girls

Medussa & Kong as we were leaving

Nick, Bri, Brooke, & Brian