Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy MINIversary!

Today was my car's 2nd MINIversary!

My how time flies when you're having fun!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is the first day of the Year of the Dog.

It's pretty exciting for me, as I was born in the year of the dog, and it only comes around once every 12 years.

Some Chinese Astrologers warn people to be cautious when their year arrives. and that it may be a difficult year. Others believe that it is a lucky year, and that great things will happen.

Only time will tell...

What are some traits of the dog?

People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people's confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues. Dog people make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up! :)

here's another one:

In the West, the Dog is man's best friend, but in Chinese Astrology this Sign is a little more unpredictable than that. Dogs are loyal, faithful and honest and always stick to their firm codes of ethics. However, this Sign has trouble trusting others. It's generally quite trustworthy itself -- except for the occasional "little white lies" the Dog tells in order to make things go more smoothly. The Dog makes a wonderful, discreet and loyal friend (despite any white lies) and is an excellent listener. This Sign tends to root for the underdog and its keen sense of right and wrong makes it duty-bound to the core. The Dog's mantra seems to be, Live right, look out for the little people and fight injustice whenever possible.

Dogs can also be rather dogmatic, too. They don't go in for light social banter; instead, they go straight for home, expostulating on the topics that are most important to them. At these times the Dog's narrow-minded or stubborn side can become apparent; this Sign has trouble staying light and calm when an important issue is at stake. This Sign can also be very temperamental; mood swings characterize its emotional life and often the Dog needs to run off to be alone in order to recuperate. Part of the problem is the result of this Sign's load of irrational fears that turn into niggling anxieties that turn into hurt feelings and occasional grouchiness. This sensitive Sign needs to warm up to others over time and gradually learn to trust them. Without that trust as a foundation, Dogs can be judgmental and coarse.

The Dog's discerning nature does make it an excellent business person, one who can turn that picky, guarded nature into a keen sense of the truth of another's motives. Where love is concerned, Dogs often have a tough time finding the right match. They can be so anxious and overwrought in the romance dance that they'll stress their partner to the max! In any forum, this Sign is happiest when able to be quite physically active; at home or at work, the Dog will always be constructing something new or cleaning something up in order to make things better. Dogs need to work on controlling their irrational worries and would also be well-served to relax their mile-high standards, which can sometimes wind up alienating the ones they love.

The most compatible match for a Dog is the Tiger or the Horse.

BTW: Dick was born in the Year of the Tiger :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

My life in relevé

While visiting my Grandparents in Stockton a few weeks ago, my Grandmother mentioned that she didn't much care for our Christmas card from last year.

I was pretty surprised, as I had received a lot of compliments on this one.

When I asked her why, she said it was because Dick is so much taller than me, and she didn't like that I had to stand on my toes to reach up to kiss him.

I said, "Grandma, that's my life!"

Tonight I was standing by Dick, and realized that almost anytime that I'm looking at him directly, I tend to go up on my toes.

It's like my default stance now.

It's probably too bad that I don't wear heels very often.

You say Tomato...

Last night I made a yummy Pomodoro sauce from a recipe that I found online.

I went to the grocery store (3 blocks away) for the ingredients in the late afternoon. The recipe calls for 2 lbs of Plum Tomatoes. Hmmmm.... plum tomatoes. What's that?

I know some tomato varieties: heirloom, roma, round, cluster (vine-ripened)... but "plum"? Hmmm..

So I bought the tomato that smelled the best (which happened to be the cluster).

When I came home, I decided to check my source of choice again: the web.

Here's what I found.

It turns out Roma Tomatoes are the same as Plum Tomatoes. Good to know.

Here I was with 2 lbs of round tomatoes that I didn't need, having learned (from the web) that roma tomatoes are generally the type used for sauces.

What was I to do?

I walked back to the grocery store, with my tomatoes and my receipt, and asked if it was possible to exchange my tomatoes for a different variety.

I was actually surprised that they had no issues at all in doing it for me. I guess it was mostly because I had only bought them within an hour or two.

So there you go: it turns out that you can return produce to the grocery store. (at least to mine)

By the way, the pasta was really good! it's a keeper!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dear Kodak, "All is Forgiven"

Does everyone remember my drama with Kodak Easyshare Gallery (a.k.a. ofoto.com) last month?

As a follow-up, they did send my new order within the next few days, but for the record, the quality of the card wasn't much better than the first set that they had processed. Regardless, I was anxious to get my Thank You Cards out by this time, and did use and send out the second set.

In short, I got over it, and all was fine in my little world again.

The doorbell rang this morning, and FedEx had a package from Kodak EasyShare Gallery for me! I had a hunch at what it could be: when I placed my order way back in November, they had a special promotion: purchase over $100 of products from them, and receive a free Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer. The special offer had all kinds of rules and regulations which stated that the photo cards that I ordered were not included in this promotion. Okay, that's cool. I think they outsource for the photo cards, so that would make sense.

So imagine my surprise and delight, when I discovered that it was indeed the Picture Viewer! Pretty cool. I wouldn't pay the $100 price tag to buy one, but for free? Uh, yeah! I'll take it! It'll be nice to have when we travel and want to show photos that aren't stored on our camera.


Thanks, Kodak! You've succeeded in pursuading (bribing?) me to use your services again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The End of an Era - Goodbye to the Web-Safe Color Palette

This is rocking my world

Tonight, I was working on a new client website design. I was pretty happy with it, and asked Dick for his opinion before I sent it out to my client.

I showed Dick my client's new business card which I was basing design elements from. The first thing that Dick noticed was that the color of my design was off. I explained that this is because I'm restricted by the 216 color web-safe color palette.

Like any good little web designer, I have been at the mercy of the 216 web safe color palette for nearly a decade.

When I have my first design meeting with new clients, I show them the color palette, and we choose colors from there. It works well: I know the colors well, keeps us from getting overwhelmed from too many colors to choose from... in short, I was very comfortable in my little web-safe-color-box that I've lived in since 1995.

When I mentioned all of this to Dick, he told me that he was fairly certain that this whole web-safe-color-palette thing was completely archaic now, and that I was silly to be limiting myself to these 216 colors.

This statement completely rocked my world!

Why?! Why! Why would I stop using my faithful color palette?

So we went to the only source that would provide the absolute truth: the web.

Here's what I found:

Though this might seem blasphemous to older readers of my books, or loyal website visitors, I believe it's safe to design without the palette. I believe this because so few computer users view the web in 256 colors anymore.

Keep in mind however, that many companies that hire designers and developers still feel it's a badge of Web design honor to work with these colors, so you might want to know how to use them if you have to.

That first paragraph just kills me. I love that she used the word blasphemous. That's how I felt when Dick suggested that I wouldn't need to limit myself to these colors anymore.

Today starts a new era in web design for me.

It's a day of unlimited color choice.

Here's one more quote from the article:

Today, any consumer with a Gateway or iMac is going to see all the colors you can throw their way. It's progress folks! Those of us who had to learn to design for the Web in the old days developed a skill that is fast becoming obsolete. So much for moving forward -- it's great liberation in my opinion!

hear, hear.

Now I have to listen to Dick tease me about this for the next few days...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Ah, yes....
the joys of organized living.

My Mom and I were "putzing" around Milpitas a few weeks ago, and found these cool little collapsible crates at the local Big Lots (aka MacFrugals, aka Pic 'n Save).

Simply put, these are awesome. They fold down flat, hardly taking up any room at all in my MINI's trunk. But, after a trip to Costco or the grocery store, I just pop these puppies open, and voila: they turn into handy crates, complete with handles! It's a great way to keep things from flying around in the trunk, and it also makes it so much easier to carry everything into the house.

...and for $2.99 each, you can't beat it!

Monday, January 23, 2006

late-night realization

When did I become so pastel, and cute-oriented?

Pink laptop bags?

Bunny slippers?

Pastel backpacks?

What happened to the all-black-wearing, ear-piercing, Doc-Martin-wearing, abstract-art-painting, art-school-going, tights-and-cut-offs-wearing, tye-dye-wearing-girl?

not that I was ever much of a rebel, mind you ;)

Retail Therapy

A little shopping never hurt anyone

Okay - I admit it: I've been on a bit of a computer-accessories spending spree lately.

Remember how I bought the cool Timbuk2 backpack at MacWorld a couple of weeks ago? Well, I was hmming, and hawing whether or not to get the backpack, or to get a cute little tote-bag for around town traveling with my laptop.

Obviously, I got the backpack at MacWorld. It was the more practical of the two options: good for trips, good as a backpack, good for putting my laptop in, as well as other "stuff". Very practical.

Here's the catch: the other bag that I was coveting was just so darn cute, not so practical (because I already have another bag that suits this purpose) but, it was also available at 50% off! Okay - who can resist a half-off sale? The booth was very smart, and had postcards with a discount code for 50% off for a few days following the end of MacWorld. I came home from MacWorld, showed Dick my new backpack, then also showed him the postcard for the cute totebag. My wonderful husband also thought the bag was too cute to pass up, and told me to order it.

So, without further delay, here's my new, cute bag (which was just delivered)!

It's the Envelope Computer Case (Medium) by Casauri.

It's Pink! And Brown! And ever so cute, and chic!

I think that'll do it for a while. I can't see myself needing any more laptop bags anytime soon!

oops, I almost forgot: I also bought this cute little (matching) iPod case. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bunny Slippers

I've been coveting a pair of bunny slippers for a while now, and I just got a pair yesterday! (aren't they adorable?)

Since I work from home, I often tell people that I'm one of "those people" who works all day wearing a robe and bunny slippers. This, of course, was only partially true, because I never actually owned a pair of real-for-sure bunny slippers.

I found a pair online at The Vermont Country Store a couple of months ago, and told my mom about them. She ordered them for me as a Christmas gift, but alas, they were lost in the mail, returned to the sender, and then, they ran out of stock.

Thus began the second quest of the elusive bunny slippers.

I found more bunny slippers online at Oakville Grocery and ordered a pair through them. They arrived yesterday, and I just love them!

But here's the kick: I didn't actually check to see if this company had actual storefronts, and if they did, where they were. My slippers were sent from Napa Valley, but the receipt which came with my slippers also mentioned that they had a store in Palo Alto at the Stanford Shopping Center.


Had I known that, I could have saved myself an arm and a leg in what I paid for shipping and handling! That's what I get for getting all wrapped up in the ease of online shopping!

oh well - these are the lessons that we learn.

..and did I mention how cute my bunny slippers are?

it's the simple things... :)

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Big Country Breakfast"

By the band, "Big Country Breakfast"
From their album titled, "Big Country Breakfast"

and if you remember the band "Big Country" from the 80s, you'll know what I'm talking about...

We made a delicious Big Country Breakfast yesterday complete with scrambled eggs, grits, country ham and homemade biscuits.

We do this on a fairly regular basis, but yesterday was the first time that I've made the biscuits from scratch. (does making biscuits starting with Bisquick count as "by scratch"?

It was really yummy, and a GREAT way to start the day!

This Chinese girl can cook a Southern Breakfast! Dick's family would be proud :)

Friday, January 13, 2006

The day I went to MacWorld, and then met Jimmy Carter

What an exceptionally cool day I've had so far :)

Today was the annual trek to MacWorld for the Chow girls (my mom, my sister and me). My sister's boyfriend, Graham, came along for the ride this year as well.

Our timeline is pretty much the same each year:

11:00am: meet at Mel's Diner (5th & Mission) for breakfast/early lunch.
12:00pm: MacWorld
3:45pm-ish: go eat cake at Just Desserts in The Metreon. (Must have carrot cake! Mmmmmm)

This year, I added a little something to my own timeline for the day:

4:30: Go to Cody's Bookstore to stand in line to meet Jimmy Carter and have him sign my book.

MacWorld was okay this year. Most of my Mac stuff is antiquated (read: two years old) so there wasn't much that I was in the market for technology-wise. There were many, many products geared towards the iPod market these days - possibly more than the computers. There wasn't much I needed to see as far as the new Apple stuff, so I went in knowing the I didn't "need" anything. This does not mean that I left without buying anything, of course.

So, what goodies did I pick up?

I got a cool new Timbuk2 backpack! I have a great Kipling backpack that I got years ago to travel with my laptop, but it's HUGE, and just isn't feasible to carry around day-to-day, or on short trips. This new backpack is very cool. It is specifically designed to fit a woman's body frame, so it fits so much better than my other backpack. Plus, as Dick pointed out, it has "Carolina Blue"!

Dick bought me the coolest set of earphones for Christmas this year. They are the Etymotic 6isolator earphones, and simply put, they rock! I remember testing them out at MacWorld last year, but they were a bit pricey for me. We found the booth again this year (very popular!) and my Mom, and Graham each bought a set. (great prices!) While we were there, I realized that they had a handsfree mobile headset for telephones/cell phones. I never did replace my headset that I kept in my car, which was stolen when my car was broken into last year. Part of the reason why I like these products so much is because the headset fits inside of your ear and doesn't come out. I think I may have unusually small ear-holes (or whatever they are called) because earbuds always fall out of my ears, and it's really quite annoying. Anyhow, they had headsets built with the same noise-reducing technology, and I know that they'll stay in my ear :) They had really great pricing for the show, so I bought a set for myself, and one for Dick. Yay!

After MacWorld, we went to The Metreon and had a piece of cake from Just Desserts.

And of course, one of the highlights of my day was going to Cody's Books where I briefly met Jimmy Carter, and he signed 3 books for me. That was pretty cool. I was very impressed with the efficient system of the bookstore. The signing was scheduled to start at 5:30pm. They started the line at 2:30, but I didn't get there 'til 4:30. They started the signing early, at about 5:00, and by 5:30, I was out the door, with signed books in hand.

We just came home (it's now 11:25pm) after having a wonderful meal at Andrew & Barry's House. They are such amazing hosts, and Barry always cooks the most delicious meals. Thank you, both!

So, yes, a great day.

How was your's?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Princess Noe

I admit it: I've been known to photoshop a hat or two onto our kitties. (santa hats, reindeer antlers, halos, princess hats, top hats, tiaras... I've done it all!)

Yesterday, while my sister and I were driving to Stockton, we took a brief detour to an outlet mall outside of Tracy. We hopped into a Disney Clearance Center, and I found princess hats that are actually meant for pets! Now, I assume that these are really intended for dogs, who are more apt to keep these things on than cats. But, hey, for 50 cents, I figured it was worth a chuckle, and I bought one for Noe.

I had serious doubts that she'd let me put it on her, but she didn't fuss as much as I expected. We didn't actually strap it on, but we did manage to get a few photos of her wearing a real princess hat!

This seriously cracks me up.

I will say that she doesn't look too happy about it. She's kind of giving me that, "I can't believe you just put this thing on my head" look. Perhaps I should just go back to photoshop, where I can continue to put hats on my cats without them really ever knowing about it :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Old Dog, New Tricks

a.k.a. "Old Habits Die Hard"

I went to Stockton today to visit my Grandparents with my sister, Tiffini. We went out to Dim Sum lunch with my Paternal Grandparents. In the middle of lunch, I noticed my Grandfather staring at me for a few seconds. He proceeded to tell me that I don't hold/use my chopsticks correctly! Can you believe that? I've been holding my chopsticks incorrectly for nearly 35 years! He then demonstrated the "correct" way to hold them, and he kept coaching me throughout the rest of our meal.

I told him, "Grandpa! I've been holding them this way for 35 years! This is going to be a hard habit to break!"

Dick will totally laugh at this story. He's been telling me for years that I'm not "really Chinese". This will only add fuel to the fire. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Parental-Unit Withdrawal

I miss my Mom & Dad :(

They've been away on vacation for over three weeks now. They come home this Thursday.

They are on a 3-week cruise through South America and Antarctica! (with a couple of extra days to sight-see on either end of the trip.) I've received a few emails from them so far, and it sounds like they've had a wonderful vacation.

I'm so used to talking with my Mom over the phone almost every day, and seeing them at least once every couple of weeks.
It'll be nice to have them home.

Speaking of home, they have a friend staying at their house this whole time, so that Claude wouldn't have to be "home alone".

Friday, January 06, 2006

Celebrating Benefits with a Blast

One of the benefits of getting married?


I've been insured through Kaiser Permanente for the better part of the last 20 years. First, through my parents, and later as a self-employed business owner. I've been very fortunate with the care that I've received through Kaiser over the years (especially in the Neurology Department), and have been a happy member. My axial myoclonus has seemed to really stabilized over the years, and I haven't had to go to Kaiser for more than routine visits over the past 5-7 years. This is fine, but at about $200.00/month plus a $25.00 copay, this was adding up.

Because of this, I was thrilled when Dick put me on his insurance coverage through work after we got married. His insurance didn't include Kaiser, so it was time for me to go out and find some new doctors.

Today, I had my first doctor's appointment under my new benefits coverage. (yay!) It went very well. The office was conveniently located, they had off-street parking, the doctor was very nice, and they took my insurance information, gave me a prescription, and I left without having to pay anything! (imagine that!)

Today's appointment was with my new OB-GYN. I didn't need anything special - just a routine visit. After getting my annual Poke And Prod (that IS what PAP stands for, right?) I remembered that I had seen a Baskin Robbin's store on the corner!

What better way to celebrate my new insurance coverage, than with a Cappuccino Blast? That makes sense, right?

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.....Cappuccino Blast..........

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

...and speaking of cats, and their craziness...

This cat video is hysterical!

The cat who dialed 911

Did anyone see this article about the cat who saved it's owner's life by dialing 911? Pretty amazing.

I'd be happy if I can get our cats to stop marking in appropriate places ;)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year 2006

How's this for a way to end one year, and start the next?

Yesterday (New Year's Eve) started with the discovery of an ant raid in the sun room/dinette room. Not a huge surprise, since it's been raining and cold, but what I didn't expect was to find hundreds (thousands?) of ants hanging out in the four potted plants that we had on a side table in there. Yep, those plants (complete with ants) got tossed.

This morning (New Year's Day) began with the discovery that the cats have not only pee-ed under the Christmas Tree again, but someone also decided that it would be okay to poop under there, too!

So yeah, I'm pretty peeved at our kitties right now. We decided to take it as our cue to "take down Christmas" and pack everything up.

Dick somehow found this whole episode pretty amusing. He managed to lighten up my mood when he sat down at the piano, and started to sing altered Christmas carols for me:

"Cat poop underneath the Christmas Tree" (sung to the tune of "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."


"O Christmas Pee, O Christmas Pee" (obviously sung to the tune of "O Christmas Tree")

At least he made me laugh :)