Sunday, May 26, 2013

Monaco 2008


Outside my window it's overcast, cold, and drizzly. On my TV, it's sunny, warm, and full of celebrities. The Monaco Formula1  the cat has decided to sit on my lap and cover up the keyboard and my hands. maybe if I keep typing he will get up... nope.  I will wait.) race runs today.  As the cars zip around the tight corners of the road course, I keep seeing places I remember. So I thought I would post a short account of my trip to Monaco in 2008.  I don't remember everything and won't even bother trying to put things in the right order.  I have come to the realization that I am a bad photographer   I don't know what I should take a picture of and when I do they are usually bad.

For general info about Monaco see its wikipedia page.

How could I afford eight days in one of the most expensive spots in the world?  I couldn't really.  I didn't pay for the trip.  Airfare, the hotel, tours, and even most of the meals were paid for.  My friend got the trip for winning an award at work and had a plus one.  So I went with her.


Cloudy day on the Cote d'Azur
The riviera greeted us overcast and a bit dreary.  The water looked a murky gray to match the clouds above.  Where was the beautiful blue green we had been promised? Clouds and sometimes rain dominated the weather for half the days we were there.  It didn't really bother me I kind of liked the change. Finally when the sun did break through I understood what everybody talked about.  The waters of the Mediterranean became a multitudes of deep blue and green colors and the hills above the city shown in the light.  I understood why so many people paint this area. The light seems filled with magic.


Proof you are in Monaco


One day in which we are mostly free, we wandered around Monaco.  We walked the race course.  Not all of it, and not always in order, and sometimes backward, but I got some pictures of the various places I have been seeing on my tv for years of watching the Monaco Grand Prix.
The tunnel under the Fairmont Hotel
There are a couple statues celebrating the principalities history in racing.


We stayed at he Fairmont Hotel, home of the famous hotel corner.


Another time we wandered up an ancient wide stone stairway to the Rock.  The original and oldest part of Monaco. It's home to the Palace, and a bunch of old beautiful buildings. Up here we found and spent a good amount of time in the famous Monaco oceanographic museum.  The small  country is well known for it's concern for the environmental health of the worlds oceans. From up here we also got good view of Monte Carlo. Personally, I find the clash of all the apartment towers rather unattractive.
Monte Carlo proper

The day that stands out most in my mind is the tour of nice. We got to see the market and wander through the narrow streets of the old town. The colors are what impressed me the most.

Another tour took us to the small ancient mountain town of Eze.
Ez in the Fog
There are many other wonderful snippets of memory.  Catching a gap in the scenery while on the tour bus were if you looked one way you saw deep into the med and if you looked the other way you could see all the way to snow covered alps.  Wandering through a market in Sanremo listening to the crash of many different voices and languages.

We ended the trip by grabbing an overnight train and heading to Rome for two days.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The day my wallet got stolen ?



I may be fairly random and inconsistent, but one thing I do all the time is check my back pocket to make sure my wallet is there. On the flip side I don't like sitting with my wallet in my back pocket.  So every day I get into work and take it out. It starts out just sitting on my desk but I eventually put it in the lockable over desk compartment seen below.

So this morning I rush into the office, late as usual. I haphazardly pull things out of my bag and pockets trying to get ready to start my day. I get my glass of water, take my pills, and settle down to begin work... or more precisely read web comics and catch up on all the twitter I missed overnight. About an hour later it's time to go to a meeting.  As I am heading out of the room I check my back pocket instinctively.  Of course there is no wallet there I already took it out.  We leave the door open during the meeting, so for a second I think I should lock my wallet in the compartment. I reject the idea. I mean who could really get all the way up here in this building and why would they wander into my office.

Some time after the meeting I want something from my wallet.  I realize it doesn't sit on the desk where I thought I had put it.  I probably put it in the compartment and just didn't remember doing so.  I open up the thing and to my horror.. no wallet.  I check through everything. Nope gone.  This can't be.

At lunch time I speed home in hopes that I left it there.  I remember it sat on the kitchen counter.  I open the door sure I will see it sitting there.  Nothing. I scour the apartment, checking every drawer and the pockets of previously worn pants.  

I am fairly calm but the coming horror is beginning to dawn.  All the phone calls I'll be making: new credit cards, having to deal with the DMV to get a new license.  And all the time I'm thinking how did somebody walk in and steal it.  Why would they leave the easily accessible laptop there or other things. 

I get back to the office and begin another search. I still can't believe it has actually been stolen. It then occurs to me, maybe I put the wallet on top of the compartment and when I opened the lid it pushed it off.  Here is what the thing looks like when open.


That's when I notice it.  I had put the wallet on top and when I opened the lid to get it out, the lid hid the wallet beneath it. Crisis averted, lots of time wasted, and yet another reason to be consistent.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Follow Friday: Femme au foyer

I have two interesting connections Liene the author of the blog Femme au foyer.  First off, we both graduated from the same university with the same degree.  Secondly, she is the only person who follows me using the blogger member thingy.  You can see her over there on the left as my one follower. Most people get here through twitter or google+.

The blog begins as an expat blog in France.  Liene has arrived in France with her husband and young son to begin a new life as a femme au foyer, or housewife. She takes great advantage of the time in France.  She fills the years with travel, another son, and lots of good learning opportunities. Recently they've returned to the US where the blog continues to chronicle the growth of the family and travels.

The biggest props I can give this blog is to say it has stayed as interesting and readable after the return to the US.  Many expat blogs either fizzle out or become uninteresting once the return home is made.  Liene tends to give us long, well written posts, filled with beautiful pictures that document the latest travel or educational opportunity.

Head on over to Femme au foyer and give it a read. As a bonus you'll learn a lot about Latvian culture.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A bit of minimalism

About once every couple of years I get the itch to go all minimalist and get rid of loads of things.  I have read a few of the books on the subject but have come up with my own way of going about the process.  It's clearly not the best but works for me.

I pick a small area: a closet, a desk, part of a room. I then take everything out of that area and divide it into two piles.  In the keep pile goes anything useful, or it can be something I just want to keep for say sentimental reasons.  In the go pile goes everything else. The to go pile then gets divided into three piles: trash, donate, sell. 

That is not really the interesting part.  The interesting part to me is what I find that I decided to keep last time.  I always end up wondering, what was I thinking.  The one that really perplexed me this time was the ten your old can of spray paint.  I've moved four times since I bought it and brought it along every time.  It's not even a standard color I would ever use for anything.  Also the box for an electronic I disposed of three years ago was a nice find.

I was happy I got to donate a bag full of my really fat clothes. 
And I never do get around to selling the sell pile.  In a year or so I see the stuff and think, oh yeah... never did sell that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom

It's Mothers Day here in the US and I thought I should write something about the most important woman in my life.  So about Scarlett Johansson :)

Not her. My mom, Mommers. I won't make this too long.  You might not be perfect, but you've always been the perfect Mom for me. Seeing the love and perseverance you've shown over the last several years has made me appreciate what a wonderful person you are.


Love you Mommers


Oh and here are some flowers for you :)


DSCN0033

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Guest Post: Jobu the cat

jobu putting holes in my new sheets
Hello computer people. My human name is Jobu.  I won't tell you my secret cat name. My daddy wants me to tell you some stuff about me and how we met.  So here I am at the computer thing.  I hate the computer thing. Daddy spends too much time on it not paying attention to me.  I like to jump up and sit on the keyboard and try and help him but he doesn't like it.

I don't remember my mommy or if I had any brothers or sisters.  I was found all alone as a small kitteh.  It was probably scary but I don't remember.  The people who found me took me to a place that has a whole bunch of animals, not just cats but also doggies and other things.

The people there were really nice. They took care of me and made me healthy and well fed.  I was there for a long time.  Luckily the nice people let me stay for several months.  It wasn't all bad. I had a nice roommate in my cage and many friends.  Sometimes my friends would pick some person out.  That person would take them to a forever home.  But nobody would take me.  I've heard that people don't like to adopt black cats and dogs.  That's racist.

So one day I was sitting in my cage kinda sad and hoping that someday I could have a real home of my own. That's when my daddy walked in.  I like him instantly.  He was really nice to all the cats.  When he got to me I started licking his hand to mark him as mine. He petted me and I purred like crazy.  He had a nice lady get me out of the cage and we went into a room with lots of toys.  I ignored the toys and just loved all over him. I was not gonna let this one go.  My Daddy then put me back in the cage and went away.  I wasn't sad.  I expected him to come back.

My daddy came back the next day.  He took me out of the cage and put me in a cat carrier.  I was so excited I couldn't stop meowing. I got a little scared on the car ride home but before I knew it he took me out of the car.  He let me out of the carrier.  I went from room to room excitedly sniffing everything.  It was my new home.  It was way bigger than my cage. I was so happy I couldn't stop purring.  I haven't stopped purring in the 8 years since. 


Well I have been awake for almost fifteen minutes so am getting tired. Time for me to go do my favorite thing.
even while sick he cheers me up
Oh and contrary to what you may see on the internet, cats can spell, my daddy not so much.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Being here now

This one sounded way better in my head.  Had trouble finding the right words.

The sky hung low with gray clouds and a soft drizzle soaked the earth below. The weather fit my mood. My heart was heavy with the thoughts of someone I love lying in a hospital.

 Most people who know me know I love walking the rain.  Give me a nice all day shower and I'll walk for miles. Usually when I walk I listen to podcasts with headphones stuffed in my ears.

I walk out into the soft rain with my ears filled with talk of the latest tech news.  As I get to the corner where the path starts, I pause and take out my headphones.  Why don't I just be here now, I think.

I walk along listening to the rain gently falling.  The birds don't seem to mind the rain as a symphony of bird songs fill my ears.

I come across these petals that only days ago hung with life to the trees.
spring flowers

They are now strewn across the path.
petals on the path

I am reminded of a line from the movie The Last Samurai. "Like these blossoms, we are all dying." It was not a lament. It was spoken more in wonder. The realization of death was the realization of life. If we are aware that are days are numbered we should live them more fully.

Watch the clip it makes more sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQooui1eRhw


With my new found philosophical insights I returned home and played a video game.  Somebody has to stop the ice men.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Food Friday: Pasta Salad

home made pasta salad

My style of cooking is more art than science. I view recipes as starting points.  I like to substitute things and just add in whatever is handy or in season. So I appreciate dishes that make it easy to add ingredients. Pasta salad is one of those dishes.

Ingredients:

  • Some pasta(I used the traditional tri color rontini) 
  • Good Olive Oil
  • vinegar 
  • garlic
  • Thyme, basil, oregano
  • add ons
Cook the pasta according to the instructions.

While that cooks we are going to make a standard vinagrette dressing.  I make this a lot.  It is my go to dressing for almost any salad.  A three to one ratio lies at the heart of the vinagrette. You use one part vinegar for each three parts of olive oil.  For this I used six tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of vinegar.  I add one crushed or finely diced garlic clove per three tablespoons olive oil.  So I used two.  Then add the thyme, basil, and oregano to taste.  I sometimes add the optional step of a quarter teaspoon of sugar per three tablespoons of olive oil.  Give it a good whisk to combine everything.

Just dump the done pasta into the bowl with the vinagrette. Now for the add-ons.  I went with sun dried tomatoes and sliced black olives because that is what I had in my pantry.  All sorts of things work in this though. I've used feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, celery, and even some ham.  Just use this as an easy way to deal with some old stuff lying around your kitchen.

Enjoy!

Wonky out.