Friday, October 31, 2008

Basketfuls of energy to spare

Just a quick post. The grandkids showed up at 7 AM this morning and were extremely ready to get on with the day. I love this picture of them getting good use out of the treadmill, even if it is in a way that probably violates its warranty. 

WHM managed to get a pair of nurses scrubs that come pretty close to fitting Darci. She has a bunch of Dora the Explorer band aids that she is going to pass out at preschool today. She is WAY excited. 

I'm talking the day off to help distract the grandkids and to cook up a pumpkin or two and to just basically enjoy a gray, dreary day at home. 

With lots of intermittent noise and hustle and bustle.

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A quick couple of things...

First, this game/test is pretty addictive. I was a little confused at first, mostly because I didn't read the directions. You are presented with several chances to eyeball things like straight lines and right angles and such. You cycle through all of the tests three times and are then given your score.

I've always suspected that I should never rely on my instincts when it comes to judging whether a picture is level and things like that. This confirms it. I don't remember my score exactly, but it was in the double digits.

Second, you need to run out and buy a package of Cascadian Farms broccoli. Go ahead - I'll wait here.

Dum de dum de dum...oh - you're back. Great.

Now look very carefully at the broccoli. See anything odd? Go find a magnifying glass and look harder.

For those of you who don't live next door to a grocery store or who wouldn't be caught dead buying frozen broccoli, look at this.

This is from this blog site.

I love things like that, and think positive thoughts about companies that allow this sort of thing to happen. (Although there is also a pretty good chance the company doesn't know this is happening.)

And now a third thing (I know, the title lied). I just got an email from TiVo explaining how, since I have a TiVo, I don't have anything to worry about with the upcoming transition to digital TV. The email assumes that anyone that has a TiVo has cable or satellite and do not use an antenna. The thing is, I believe almost every TiVo model ever made supports analog TV from an antenna.

The DTV transition is confusing to a lot of people, but a company like TiVo sending out emails that are ridiculously incorrect is very bad form. I sent an email back (not that it was easy to find an email address to send it to) and am curious if there will be a response. My guess is no, but it's fun to dream.

And speaking of the wonders of TiVo, remind me sometime to talk about our week with it and the Heroes TV show. It's enough to make you want to live in a cave and pound rocks for a living.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Toilet-Based Lunch Party

People in the group I work in are allowed to work at home on Fridays. Not surprisingly, most choose to do that. For a variety of reasons (in my case, trying to get work done while the two grandkids do their best to trigger a major earthquake is pretty much impossible), a few of us show up to the office anyway. So we have a Friday Lunch Club where we all go to lunch at some exotic local restaurant. Like Subway.

Yesterday we were all invited to Mik's (not her real name) house to see her new bathroom and eat falafels, gyros, baba-ghannouj, some salad things, and baklava.

First, the bathroom is nothing short of stunning. Mik worked hard and spent an amazing amount of time choosing the tiles, fixtures, and lights. Where I would just go to Home Hardware and Depot Supply and grab a few things, she scoured the Bay Area for exactly the right bits and pieces. (Yes, she's a nut. Although a nut with excellent taste.) I stole the picture up top from her blog since my own pictures did not do this bathroom justice.

Now for some other pictures.

Here we see Esor-Yarm underneath this gorgeous tree thing. The mass of hair off to the left, quietly waiting his turn, is Paco (his real name - it's French for "fierce tangles"), an adorable bundle of energy that was hugely disappointed that we weren't sloppier eaters.

This picture shows Mik (on the left), Xila, and Arual poking around a very entertaining backyard. For the record, the others that were there were Yma and Nosila. (Note: If you have access to a super-computer and are clever with decoding complex coding schemes like the one I use for the names, you will realize that our department has a LOT of people whose first name begins with "A." Yes, the "A Team" lives.)

The very back of Mik's backyard has a huge outdoor fireplace with several random doors built into it. This is an upper door that hides a mummified squirrel and some carefully stacked, well-gnawed logs, implying that a beaver that shares Mik's design sense has called the fireplace home at some point. Note the medieval-themed tiles - this is all pretty old stuff and very cool.

A funny thing - when we pulled up we saw this sign in her front yard. Kram is Mik's husband. As far as we knew, he was not running for anything, and I tend to doubt that a city as large as San Jose has a "Town Council." It turns out that they saw the sign a year or two ago in some small town where they were vacationing, and Kram, ummmm, borrowed it. And now random neighborhood people are dropping off campaign donations and one large oil company has promised to trade "personal favors" involving the city's permit process for special "considerations" should he be elected.

It was a fun lunch and a great break from work-based stuff. I just hope it doesn't give Mrs Notthat any ideas about our bathroom.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Grab Bag - Moms, Burgers, and a Palin

Maybe Your Mom Should Work Here
I noticed yesterday that some idiot co-worker decided to chill their beverage quickly, so they put it in the freezer, then forgot about it. They did eventually remember since it was gone, but the mess it made when it exploded they quietly left behind.

We have some amazing slobs working here. They create a mess in the microwave or spill coffee on the counter or cause trouble any number of ways and just walk off. There are cleaning people that will take care of a lot of this, but it might take a while for them to notice. Especially in the freezer.

By the way, that really is a five gallon container of chocolate frozen yogurt - below it is the same thing in vanilla. These are left over from an event in June. A few of us are bold enough to nibble on these (I love an occasional Coke Float in the afternoon). I'm happy to report that these two containers were not harmed by the exploding mystery beverage.

Jeffrey's Hamburgers and Ketchup
Our favorite burger joint is Jeffrey's Hamburgers in Menlo Park. The only downside is that they are extremely popular, which means long lines and a bit of a competition to find a table. And none of this is done in hushed voices - families come here to have a great burger and enjoy themselves. The grandkids and their extreme rambunctiosness would hardly be noticed.

The thing is, you don't always want all that activity - you just want a burger and fries. Last night Mrs Notthat called in a to go order for the first time, and it worked great. She managed to get us a close parking place and we walked right past the long line waiting to place their orders, picked up our bag of joy, and headed home. We had three fantastic burgers (well, two and half - Mrs ordered a garden burger), and order of fries, and an order of onion rings. We also had all these condiments.

There are 21 packets of ketchup there. We had three (two and a half) burgers, one small order of fries and one small order of onion rings. That's a lot of ketchup. I did not count the salt and pepper packets, but there were at least 20 of each. I spent this morning opening each one and emptying it into our salt and pepper shakers while catching up on blog reading.

Just, wow. This happens with take out Chinese food and pizza as well (we've got containers in the cabinet filled with soy sauce, grated cheese, and red pepper flake packets), but usually not to this extreme. I don't understand why these places don't at least just ask first if you even want the stuff. These things can't be cheap and they are extremely wasteful with all their packaging.

But man, that was a good burger.

Palin as President
There is an awful lot of Palin humor out there, although I think her showing up on Saturday Night Live tonight might be jumping the shark a bit.

Not that that will stop me or anyone else devoted to our favorite little Sno Cone.

Here is a site that is fun for a few minutes. Just move your mouse around and click on various items. Some items, like the door and the globe, do a few different things, so it is worth clicking them several times.

Go nuts!

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beware what lurks in the dark

You will have to use your imagination in the top picture - it shows IDT (Idiot Dog Teddy) sleeping in his favorite spot, completely blocking the hallway. The picture below it is the same thing digitally enhanced to show those of you with little imagination what I'm talking about.

It's a little treacherous getting up in the middle of the night and wandering down the hallway to the bathroom, knowing that somewhere ahead of you lies a mostly black dog (and what's not black is the exact same color as the carpet) with little concern for OSHA standards. There are two night lights in the hallway, but IDT invariably chooses to lay in between them, where it's darkest.

A year ago we rarely had to worry about stepping on him in the middle of the night. IDT rarely spent the night indoors - his passion was protecting our backyard from the constant threat of wild critters. Like raccoons, opossums, bugs, leaves, meteorites - you name it and he has saved us from it. A number of times we had been wakened by him having treed a stick.

But IDT is getting older now. Sleeping indoors is a lot more comfortable than outdoors, and even he is smart enough to know that there really aren't that may threats to protect us from.

I wonder if they make glow-in-the-dark pajamas for dogs?

That's it - move along...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life goes on

There are a variety of ways to mourn the loss of a family member, but they generally involve getting together with or at least talking to family. And we have been doing that. Lots of long phone calls and visits from the only family in the area - the grandkids and their parents.

In The Boy's case, it involved changing a car's oil and air filters.

Here is the cabin air filter from Mrs Notthat's car - maybe we waited a bit long to change this. (This is the filter that all the air that comes out of the interior vents passes through. If you look closely you can actually see the stockyard smells that Mrs fears the most.)

Mrs Nothat chose to go ahead with a long planned neighborhood garage sale.

For her, garage sales, whether as a buyer or seller, are extremely therapeutic. The grandkids and their parents also brought over stuff and hung around.

We all had a nice dinner with chicken cacciatore and pumpkin pie (that I made from a pumpkin Darci picked out of the garden a few weeks ago). Since garage sales (at least as a seller) are the opposite of theraputic for me, I spent the day cooking and baking.

And maybe watching a bit of football.

In any case, this all seems to be helping the mourning process. There will be some tough times to come, but for now everyone seems to be getting on fine.

And now I think I'll go have a slice of pie for breakfast.

That's it - move along...

Friday, October 10, 2008

So it goes...

Diane's mother passed away this morning. She had been in very serious condition for a while and we have been expecting The Call for about a week now. When the phone rang at 4 AM we knew.

Dolores was something else. She could be charming and fun and smart and perky or she could be, I don't know, contrary. She had a fierce desire to be independent, even when there was no way that was possible. Maybe especially when she knew it wasn't possible.

She was my first (and only) mother-in-law. For the most part, we got along fine. For my first Christmas with Diane she got me a library card (I still have no idea how she was able to convince them to give it to her without me needing to sign something) and a marriage license application. See, Diane was a little bit pregnant and we were a little bit not actually married. (Since you are probably dying to know, we were married almost three months before Dani was born. It drove Dolores crazy. I should not have enjoyed that.)

She was a huge Dave Barry fan, and one time I mentioned that I thought I had heard that Dave was in some sort of rock band or other. A couple of weeks later she gave me postcard, hand written by Dave himself, that answered a request she had sent him. She was really good at thinking to do that sort of thing - a bit outside the box.

I broke her heart a year and a half after Dani was born by talking Diane into moving from Rockville Maryland to Redwood City California. At the time, I couldn't really see why this was so hard on her. But now when I think of what it would be like to have Dani, Ryan, and the grandkids move that far away - I can see how devastating that could be.

She made several visits to see us, and for one stretch after Diane's father, Buddy, died about 16 years ago, she even moved out here and lived with us. She never liked it here though - it wasn't even vaguely home - and she decided to move back east. She was determined to drive herself all the way across the country. I could see why this appealed to her, but it was also obvious that she was not really up to it. There was no chance of talking her out of it though, so she set off. I don't remember how far she got that first day - maybe a hundred miles - but that was as far as she drove. She sold the car, bought a plane ticket, and flew back east.

She spent some time back in Maryland, then moved in with her brother in Florida, and finally ended up in Arkansas where her son John lives. I have written about a trip we took in 2006, with the grandkids and their parents, to see them there.

Her health had been bad for some time now. You hope that magically she will turn it around, but too many years of unhealthy living had taken a fatal toll on her body. There is a certain amount of closure and relief now, I guess. But it's still not easy.

John has been dealing with all the arrangements in Arkansas, and Dawn (Diane's sister who still lives in Maryland) is now busy making arrangements to have her buried alongside Buddy in Arlington Cemetery - yes, THAT Arlington Cemetery since Buddy was a WWII vet. These sorts of things take time though, so an official service won't be for a while.

Dolores did get to meet both grandkids and Ryan, so Darci knew who we were talking about this morning. A peculiar thought that had not occurred to me until I heard Dawn and Diane talking about it - the two of them, along with John, are now orphans. Now that's a bit of a depressing thought.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Read the fine print!

In what should have been, by all rights, a nearly fatal accident, I ended up on the McCain website this morning. (Note that I am not providing a link to it just in case you might be eating or driving or doing something else that might not go well with how looking at that particular website might affect your stomach. You are welcome.)

I saw the fine print and decided to investigate.

Honestly, this explains a few things. I think.

That's it - move along...

PS: I thought of this joke a few weeks ago, but it was so obvious I was just sure I would see something like it somewhere. My guess is that the sort of people that might find this sort of thing funny are currently too busy being horrified by what is coming out of the McCain/Palin camp. They certainly would not intentionally go to that website.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dinner and a Movie

A distraction was needed last night so Mrs Notthat, The Boy, and I went to an early dinner and a movie.

For reasons that are a bit complicated, we went to the Olive Garden restaurant in Palo Alto. We got there are 5:20. Yes, it was a Saturday, but 5:20 is an absurdly early time to go to dinner. We were astonished to find the parking lot nearly filled (Mrs alertly noticed a spot that I was able to squeeze into - I have no idea how that SUV that stalked us when we left managed to fit into it, but I'll bet it was entertaining). There were people standing around waiting for tables - we were told it was a 20-30 minute wait.

Keep in mind, this is at 5:20. The only logical conclusion was that the food must be fantastic. The food was fine but not remarkable or particularly a good deal. I'm sure you could have a nicer meal for the same cost at many of the local restaurants - is this place so busy just because it's a chain? When we left about an hour later, the crowd waiting to get in was twice as big. I really don't understand why, unless they all had our same complicated reasons.

In any case we headed from there to see Ghost Town. If you like Ricky Gervais, you will love this movie. Tea Leoni is icing on the cake. It's a peculiar story that makes little sense, but we laughed lots and really enjoyed it.

So we ended up with a nice, distraction-filled evening and a couple of styrofoam containers of leftover pasta. 

See the movie but you can maybe do better than the Olive Garden. (You can also easily do worse though.)

That's it - move along...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday Grab Bag

I'm a bit behind on things, so here goes a bunch of pictures.

From earlier this week, before the torrential rains came in, we see the grandkids and The Boy hanging in the backyard. Darci wants to go higher, Riley sees a bug, and The Boy is thinking of pizza for dinner. And lunch.

This is a picture I took this morning of a pretty bloom on some random shrub we have growing in the backyard. Our "torrential" rain last night (maybe a tenth of an inch) was enough to get things pretty wet, but not enough to do all that much good. But it made it smell nice this morning and the plants seemed perky about it. (Note: It's a little unusual for us to get rain before November. Our last rain was probably back in March or so. This first rain tends to wreak havoc on the roadways since a whole summer's worth of road grime is turned into a slippery mess.)

This is a picture of Riley yesterday. laughing about a joke he just told IDT. (IDT is holding his nose with his paws - it must have been a joke about cats or squirrels.)

And now a couple of items stolen from WHM's blog thing. First, there is this amazing knitted thing.

On top of her classes and keeping the kids from ending up on America's Most Wanted, she knitted this stethoscope cozy. I can't decide if, as a patient, I would find this troubling or soothing if used by the nurse checking me out. Hopefully a patient won't find it convenient when they need to toss their cookies (not a technical medical term, probably).

And then there is this picture.

It always surprises me how terrified most kids are of large fuzzy things. This was from the SF Zoo Members Night Tour. I remember how WHM, as a little girl, wanted nothing to do with these sorts of characters. Darci (who just turned four!) is the same way. Riley is a bit braver though, and was willing to shake hands as long as WHM was there too.

And that gets me sort of caught up.

That's it - move along...