Thursday, April 24, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Star Wars Toy Collection, circa 1977-1983

When I was a kid in the late 1970s, I collected two very different types of toys: Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, and Star Wars! I know, it's hard to understand how a 7-10 year old little Chinese girl could have a fascination with these two things that seem so very different from the other. I can't explain it. I still love them both!

Most of my Raggedy Ann collection still lives in my old room at my parent's house in Milpitas. (I'm in big trouble when they decide to move!) My Star Wars collection has been boxed and stored in my Mom's closet for at least a couple of decades now. Every great once in a while, I take them out to look at and reminisce. I remember taking it all out in 1999 with my sister and Mykail, when Star Wars, Episode 1 was released. Before that, Terri and I took all my Star Wars toys out in the summer of 1986 and did a hilarious mini-movie with the action figures, using the Story of Star Wars album in the background.

This morning, I called my Mom to ask a favor. My parents are visiting me in Seattle later this week, and I was wondering if she could bring my old die-cast X-Wing fighter with her. My friend, Nicole, needs a small X-Wing model as reference for a piece of art she's working on, and I offered to lend it to her.

I just received these three photos from my Mom - I loved that she displayed them all like this, and sent me the photos. As far as I know, I never took any photos of my collection before. This is mostly all the pieces I have. I know my Droid Factory play set is missing, and assorted comic books and collectors cards live someone in my closet. Oh, and of course, I have two stuffed Ewoks.. :)

It's a good collection - not bad for a 7-year old girl who fell in love with the original Star Wars when it came out. I was obsessed, and saw it multiple times in the theater. I had all of the action figures for the first two films, and some from the third - I started to out-grow it by the time Return of the Jedi came out. (I didn't outgrow the movies - just wasn't into getting all the toys.) I had 3 play sets: The Hoth Play Set, and the Cantina Play Set. These were a big deal to me because of how large they were, and how much space they took up. Generally, my parents only let me buy the smaller-sized items like the action figures and miniature die-cast models of the ships. I did have a full-sized X-Wing Fighter, a sonic control Land Speeder, and a Imperial Transport Machine that had cool sound effects. :) You'll also notice the Dewback and the Tauntaun. Cool stuff.

Thanks for sending the photos, Mom! It's fun to see all these great pieces together again!

Oh, and thanks for letting me collect these in the first place. I still love them!!

The Vehicles - mostly from Episodes IV and V:
X-Wing, large and small, Sonic Contolled Landspeeder, Imperial Transport, and small die-cast versions of the Y-Wing Fighter, Darth Vader's Tie-Fighter, Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon , and the regular Tie Fighter

the Playsets from Hoth and The Cantina
Also shows my Tauntaun, Dewback, and remote controlled R2-D2

The action figures - complete sets from Episode IV and IV, and a few from VI.
Note that the mail-in only Jabba Fett is in there. I also have the original Star Wars Figures Stand that I had to collect 12 proof of purchases and main them in for. It's not pictured here

...and now you know just how geeky my childhood was. :)

Record Store Day! Green Day's Demolicious.... On cassette

Today is Record Store Day! Who knew? I certainly didn't know anything about it until earlier this week.

What is Record Store Day?

(from wikipedia)

Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year. Its purpose is to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store.[1] The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world.

... at stores across the world, with hundreds of recording and other artists participating in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, the holding of art exhibits, and the issuing of special vinyl and CD releases along with other promotional products to mark the occasion.

So, I only heard about it via Green Day's Facebook and Instagram posts. They released LP, CD and yes, even cassette tape versions of "Demolicious".

(from the Green Day Official News Site)

Green Day will release Demolicious - a collection of 18 demos recorded at Jingletown Studios in Oakland, CA, in 2012 during the sessions for the band's Green Day ¡Uno!, Green Day ¡Dos!, Green Day ¡TrĂ©! album trilogy - in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 19th, 2014. The two-disc set will be released on red or clear vinyl, and will also be available on CD and cassette.

In addition to the 18 demos, Demolicious includes a previously unreleased track, "State of Shock," and an acoustic version of "Stay The Night" from Green Day ¡Uno!.

As a good Green Day Groupie, I called my local record store (and was happy to find that we do have one!) around 10:00 this morning, asking if they carried Demolicious.

Good News: Yes, they have them.
Bad News: They only had one more CD left in stock

I really should have checked to see what time they opened this morning (9:00). Honestly, didn't know it would be a big deal, but obviously it is.

I flew over to the store within 10 minutes, but alas, no CDs or LPs were to be found.

BUT, I did manage to snag the last cassette tape

Yes, today, I bought my first cassette tape in well over 20 years. :)

I grabbed it, and was thinking, "Okay, I have it.... now, what do I do with it?"
I mean, I don't even own a cassette player anymore. :-/

It occurred to me that my Mom (Techie-Mom) probably had the necessary equipment to transfer from cassette to digital. I called her when I returned home, explained the situation, and found out that yes, she does! Yay, Mom!!

My parents will be visiting us in Seattle later this week, so I'll give her my cassette then. :)

I'm glad I was able to at least get the cassette - the LPs, CDs, and yes, even the cassette tapes are selling like hot cakes on ebay.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Officially Washington State Residents

Exciting day: Dick and I got our WA State Drivers Licenses, and also got our WA State License Plate for our car. It's official now: we are residents of the State of Washington!

It was actually a pretty amazing experience:

I had done my research online, and found the address of the License Office in Bellevue where we were go get our Drivers Licenses. We do not need to take any tests, because we moved with CA licenses. I did find out that we could fill out a form online before we went, in order to expedite the process once we went into the office. I called the office yesterday to see if we could make an appointment, but was told that they do not take appointments for new WA State Licenses for residents who just moved here from another state. I was a bit perplexed, as it's practically essential in CA to make an appt for the DMV. If you don't make an appointment, especially in San Francisco, you can be waiting in line all day. Even with an appointment, you usually have to wait a bit, as I learned in April, 2011.

The License Office opened at 8:30am. We probably arrived around 8:40. The parking lot was relatively empty. When we walked in, here's what we found.

No lines at the DMV!

We went to the front of the line, told the nice woman what we needed, and she gave each of us a number. She told us our numbers would likely be called before we had a chance to sit, and she was right.

The woman who helped me was really nice, and very efficient. She looked up the info that I had already filled out online, had me take a vision test, and was done with me in under 10 minutes. I was told to go to another window to have my photo taken. A few minutes later, Dick and I each had our temporary WA State Drivers Licenses! The whole process took less than 15 minutes. Amazing!!

PS: our temporary licenses look like actual licenses, with the exception of being black and white, and printed on thick paper. The last time I had a CA temporary license, it was a sheet of paper with info, no photo, and not easy to decipher as a license.

My temporary license
Turns out I can smile in my WA State drivers license picture
(not like in CA!)

Our next step of the morning was to go to The Bel Red Auto License, Inc office to get a WA State License plate for our car. Again, I came prepared with a form that I had printed online. We walked it, took a number, waited less than a minute, and our number was called.

This process took less than 10 minutes - we even got our new license plates, complete with registration stickers right then and there. I'm pretty sure that in CA, the licenses would take another 4 weeks or so to get in the mail.

Our new WA State license plates! Andy is officially a Washington State car!

Once we had finished getting our license plates, I drove Dick to work.

Here's the amazing part: from the time we left our apartment, drove to the LIcense Office, completed the paperwork, took the photo, received our temporary drivers licenses, drove to the Auto License office, completed that paper work, received our car license plate, then drove Dick to work.... We did all of that in under and hour.

Pretty amazing.

Well played, Washington State.
Well played.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pilates Tower on the Go

I've been taking pilates classes from my friend, Blane, for the last 12 years. I started with him when he was first starting his business in pilates, and continued with him after he and his business partner, Liz, opened up their studio Parkside Pilates in 2008.

I only went about once a week (at best, as sometimes I was out of town, or our schedules didn't fit), but once a week for 12 years isn't bad. I really enjoyed our sessions, as they were equal time workout, and equal time of visiting with my friend. :)

When we moved to Bellevue, I wanted to figure out a way that I could continue doing pilates.

I remembered that Blane had worked on a video a few years back for a product called "Tower on the Go". It is basically a pilates apparatus that can be used in almost any location in your home or hotel room. I asked Blane before I moved if he thought this video workout would be a fine substitute for the private lessons that I've been taking from him. He said it was, and I was intrigued....

I've had it set up up for a while now, but only managed to get in my first test drive workout in today. I've realized that it has been since early December since I had my last session with Blane, and I think my core strength is suffering for it.

The biggest obsticle I found with the equipment, is that it needs to go onto a door with the doorjamb - the direction that the soor closes (so that the door doesn't swing open during your workout from the resistance). I think the best option for me is the bathroom door in the guest bedroom. The main problem is that I have to open up my closet door on the opposite wall to get enough space to back into. Not ideal, but it mostly worked.

Once I started the video with Blane's instruction, it as almost like he was here in the room with me. Fun! After taking lessons from him for so long, I was familiar with all of the exercises, but it was helpful to have him speak the directions and counts - just like taking a class with Blane! (without all of the giggling, and discussion of the latest movies, TV shows, and books.)

The video workout was a full 60-minute, full-budy workout consisting of segments centered on core, lower body and upper body. Very well-rounded. I definitely felt like I got a great workout from it - I was sweating early on, and I know my body will be feeling it later.

There's my friend, Blane, on the video!

The video menu listing the different workout segments

Here's a sample video of what the workout video looks like.

My set up at home - the straps with springs on my bathroom door

the pilates mat leading into my closet - almost enough room to do everything I need!

My full set-up

After my first workout, I'm pretty sure that this is going to work very well for me. I'll need to do it at least once a week, as I did in SF, but ideally, should do it at least 3 times a week.

I think it's an outstanding option for someone who is familiar with pilates, and it is safe for all levels.

Thanks, Blane! Nice to be doing pilates workouts with you again!! xo

My new daily walk...

Now that the weather has become less rainy, I've started to go out on more daily walks here in Bellevue. In San Francisco, I had a daily neighborhood walk route that I did a few times a week that was about 2.5 miles. I was wanting to start something similar here. (During the colder/rainy days, I've been utilizing the workout facility in our building - treadmill for 55 minutes while watching Hulu Plus!)

I think I've figured out a nice route that is pretty, and gives me lots of options of distance, safety, and beauty. I'm walking around the Downtown Bellevue area, staying on sidewalks or walking paths, and go through two different parks. The first park is the Bellevue Downtown Park which has a really lovely walking trail that goes the perimeter of the park. Each lap is 1/2 mile. Today I did about 1-1/2 laps both on my way out, and again on my way back. Nice way to get in some additional steps and distance.

A picturesque spot in Bellevue Downtown Park

From there, I walked over to Lake Washington Blvd, which is residential, and go down to Meydenbauer Beach Park. There's a nice set of stairs that go down (and again, up!) and the park goes all the way down to the water. It's very pretty and serene down there. Bonus: restrooms and water fountains if I go out on longer walks.

Pretty and tranquil view from Meydenbauer Beach Park

Another view of the Meydenbauer Beach Park - looking up from the water. So pretty

This is the furthest destination of my daily walk, and I circle back to the Bellevue Downtown Park, do another loop, and head back home.

I really love all of the various types of trees in Bellevue

With the two loops around the park, today's walk was just over 4 miles, in about an hour. My Fitbit also tells me that it's about 30 flights of stairs, and about 8,000 steps. A nice work out! :)

today's stats

Dick's 3-minute Commute (walking)

Dick's first work meeting of the day today happens to be in a building in Downtown Bellevue. It also happens to be in the building across the street (kitty-corner) to our apartment building.

I kissed Dick goodbye at our front door at 8:10, after which, he would have walked down our hall, to the elevator, taken the elevator down to the street level and walked out to the sidewalk of our street. He then had to cross two streets before entering the building of his meeting at 8:13am.

Not a bad commute.

I took a photo of him as he was entering the building. I intentionally did not zoom in with my camera, just to show how close it really is. You can see a person wearing orange exiting the building. Closer to the building is another person, with an orange backpack is Dick.

I just zoomed in on my photo using photoshop, and circled Dick - in case you couldn't find him. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Fitbit Badge: 1,000 Miles!!

I just got an email from Fitbit stating that I've now walked 1,000 miles since I started wearing my Fitbit. I first started using my Fitbit in late July. I really do enjoy tracking my steps and milage, and think it's pretty great that I've walked more than 1,000 miles in under eight months. Kind of cool. :)

This email also states that I'll need to double that number before earning another badge. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Snowqualmie Falls

Today was probably the warmest, most beautiful days that we've had since moving in early January. I look forward to more gorgeous Spring and Summer days like this one.

Dick and I tool a short 30 minute drive this afternoon to Snowqualmie Falls.

The last time we came here together was about 14 years ago, within the first year of our dating. Ironically, Seattle was the first trip that we ever made together.

That was in December, 1999. It was much colder then, and the crowds at Snowqualmie Falls was non-existent. We were a little surprised to see how many people were there today, but it made perfect sense.

It was such a beautiful day for a drive - we were thrilled to drive with the top down on our convertible!

The scenery here is so beautiful. Everything is so green, and there are beautiful trees everywhere. The mountains are still snow-capped, making a day like today all the more scenic.