Friday, November 30, 2007

Graham playing @ The Red Devil Lounge, SF

Dick and I went out tonight (on a Friday Night?? Shocking!) to see Graham play at The Red Devil Lounge on Polk Street. Graham is the Bass Player for Jonathan Douglas.

The band sounded great! We both really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my regular camera, which would have enabled me to take a quick little video to post. But luckily, I at least had my iPhone with me, which always comes in handy for a quick shot.

Congrats on the great performance, Graham! We're looking forward to seeing the next show!

The Boot Dance, circa 1992

About a month ago, I set up a private social networking site for all of the Alumni of the State Street Review - a color guard from Madison, WI which I was a member of in 1992-1993. (They were around from 1978-1989, then again from 1992-1993)

The site has been a tremendous success so far: we already have 100 members!

People have been posting photos and video footage from our shows, rehearsals, trips, and miscellaneous adventures.

Two of my friends posted this great clip from our 1992 show, which was Country Western themed. We referred to this part of the show as "The Boot Dance". It was a really fun part of the show. And yes, I'm in there somewhere. Just look for the girl with the big hair!

Find more videos like this on The State Street Review Alumni Site

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We now return to our regular scheduled programming

I just returned from bringing my father-in-law, and one of my sister-in-laws to the airport.

This concludes the 3-week visit with my father-in-law, Richard. My two sister-in-laws also came last week (Meg from Thursday through Sunday, and Kathy from Friday 'til this morning) and our niece, Adrianne, who came from (last) Monday through Sunday.

It was certainly a busy few weeks. Richard and I really had a nice time doing day-to-day things together: finding new places for breakfast and lunch (usually soup & salad, running errands together (my personal favorite was the day we went to Costco!) and taking nice walks around the neighborhood.

The last three weeks were not without their fair share of unplanned surprises: both Kathy and Meg were sick before coming out and had to reschedule their flights out. The bathroom remodel still had some work to be completed (really, it's almost done now). We ended up getting a room for everyone at the Palace Hotel for a few nights to ease the congestion of the craziness over at our house.

Adrianne and Dick managed to get out to play a few rounds of golf at Golden Gate Park last week. Meg made it in just in time to join all of us, along with the whole Chow Clan for Thanksgiving at my parent's house. Kathy came in on Friday morning, and we all spent the day in Chinatown and Union Square, and I even had the chance to take them all to my favorite Chinese Restaurant, U-Lee!

There was a lot of walking around the City, great food, and lots of cocktails! (my new joke is that the bathroom remodel has driven me to drink!)

I really enjoyed the visit with Dick's (and now my!) family. We've been really fortunate to have had a chance to spend so much time with each of them this year.

As I write this, I realize that my house is very quiet, and it is one of the first times in the last 3 months that I've been in the house alone - no contractors, and no house guests. It's a bit surreal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taking a moment...

I'm winding down from a really amazing evening - one of those times in life that you stop, and take a moment to appreciate what just happened.

We had a couple of guests over to the house for cocktails tonight. One of them was someone from my father-in-law's past - a former student whom he had not seen in 50 years!

It's times like this that I'm reminded of how the universe works sometimes - how an event can occur that you never dreamed would have been possible, but you always secretly hope that it might.

Life is really pretty amazing, and I'm so happy to be a part of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gotta Go, Gotta Go!

Poor Noe. The bathroom remodel continues to disrupt her little cat life.

This morning, the painters returned to finish up some final touch-ups and last-minute additions. They came at 8:00, which I'm now realizing is before Miss Noe woke up.

When there's activity in the house, Noe will usually stay in our bedroom where it's nice and safe. Throughout the morning, I kept noticing her coming out of the bedroom, and peeking down the hallway where the work was going on. As soon as she saw one of the painters, she would jolt back into the bedroom. This continued for a about an hour.

That's when it occurred to me: Noe hadn't been out and about before the painters came, and she probably really needed to use her little box!

The kitty litter boxes live in the upstairs kitchen, which is just past where the bathroom hub-bub is going on. I brought Noe's litter box into the bedroom, and she hopped in immediately.

Noe's day should be a lot easier now. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

The iPhone doesn't lie.

never question the iPhone

Yesterday afternoon, as we were out and about, I was using my iPhone to check the weather for the week. I was surprised that it had forecasted rain for today (Monday). So Dick and I made plans for me to drive him to the CalTrain station this morning. (I always drives him when it rains, so he won't have to drive his scooter.)

We left the house this morning at 7:30. It was sunny, with clear, blue skies!

I told Dick that perhaps the iPhone had lied to us.

"liePhone", he said.

(editor's note: that's funny!)

Well, here it is, two hours later, and lo and behold: it's raining out.

The iPhone doesn't lie.

I owe my iPhone a public apology.

Listen to your iPhone.
The iPhone is your friend.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Follow up - we're fine, and thank you!

"Uh, everything's under control. Situation normal. Uh, we had a slight malfunction, but uh.... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?"

I just wanted to let everyone know that we're all okay here. I received numerous emails and phone calls today after my last post about our accident in the cab last night.

I realized that since I wrote it minutes after it happened, and I was still a bit shaken up, it probably came across more melodramatic that I had intended.

We're all fine. Richard had a slight scrape on his leg, which fixed right up with a band-aid. Dick is fine, and my head just has a bit of an indentation on it. Go figure.

But we're totally fine. We were more shaken up than anything.

Thanks for all the comments, emails and phone calls.
We really appreciate it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

car accidents and the importance of seat belts

First of all, we all seem to be fine.

With that said, Dick, his father and I were just in a minor car accident.

We went out to dinner at Zuni this evening to celebrate Richard's birthday (which happens to be today).

We took a cab to and from the restaurant we wouldn't have to worry about parking or drinking.

We picked up a cab to the restaurant on Castro seat. I remember thinking that I should put on my seatbelt (because I always do) but that it was a little cramped in the backseat of the cab with the three of us, and the restaurant was only about 2 miles away.

With this in mind, we did the same thing on the way home. We caught a cab outside of the restaurant, and none of us (stupidly) put on our seat belts. Well, within a mile after leaving we were involved in a rear-end accident (our cab rear-ended the car in front of us). It took us all by surprise - none of us really knew what happened.

Luckily, we weren't going too fast (I'd guess around 25MPH) so it nearly as bad as it could have been. We all got a little banged up. Dick hit is head squarely on the passenger side headrest, Richard hit his knees and shins on the middle armrest, and I think I hit my head on the side of the headrest in front of me.

I'm developing a bit of a bump on my noggin' right now, and I'm feeling very stupid.

I always make a habit of wearing a seatbelt, and the fact that I thought about it tonight, chose not to wear one is going to bother me until the bump on my head goes away.

It strikes me at how bad car accidents can be - we weren't going very fast, and were on city streets, and the three of us were in the backseat. Had one of us been in the front seat without a seatbelt would've been much, much worse.

So, lesson learned. Always wear a seatbelt, matter how short the distance, and no matter what the inconvenience.

I'm going to go to bed now, and I hope I'll feel better in the morning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have friends?

I just noticed that I now have 50 friends on Facebook. I know that's not very many at all compared to a lot of people, but it surprises me.

I first joined Facebook in late July, I think. Dick had to pull my arm just a little bit. He kept telling me how much I'd like it. I resisted a little bit, figuring I wouldn't use it much, and that I wouldn't know many people using it anyway. Early on, I figured that the only "Friends" I would have on Facebook would be my cousins ("Hi" to my cousins!) and some of Dick's friends from work.

It didn't take me long to figure out that it was actually pretty cool. Since then, I've reconnected with some friends over-seas (including a long-lost friend from art school who I've been trying to find for years), some of my old color guard friends, and I even got a note from my favorite Science teacher from high school! Pretty cool!

So, now I have 50 friends on Facebook. And, I have to admit: I actually really like Facebook, and I'm on it more than I'd like to admit. (like I needed another internet addiction!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Practically Done!


The Great Bathroom Remodel of 2007 is (just about) Done!

Friday was a busy day here. The glass guys came in to install the mirror and shower doors. The electricians also came to install the sconces, the ceiling lights, and to connect all of the outlets, switches, and the thermostat for the floor heater.

By the time they left (around 3:00pm) the bathroom was functional and usable for the first time!

Woo Hoo!

We still have a few more things that need to be installed (glass shelves in the niches inside the shower, one long glass shelf under the mirror, and the mirror for the medicine cabinet) and a few adjustments and minor finishes to be done, but for all intents and purposes, the bathroom project is complete!

I cleaned it as best as I could on Friday afternoon, but had to wait until Sunday before I could really clean the shower for use. (had to let the epoxy on the shower door dry fully.) We used the shower for the first time yesterday, and let's just say: the experience was amazing! Best showering-experience ever!

here are the latest (and almost final) photos!
(it's kind of hard to capture a 5' x 10' bathroom with a camera.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear Restoration Hardware, WTF?!

Okay, this one's a doozy.

Yesterday, we had the plumbers come in to install all of the fixtures into the bathroom: The new Toto Toilet, the sink and the shower fixtures.

Should be no problem, right? I mean, we had ordered all of these products months ago, and had specked out the the entire remodel based off of the dimensions for everything that we had ordered. The fixtures were all delivered and were sitting in the basement for several weeks before being installed.

You can see where this is going, right?

I *knew* that we'd hit a snaffu or two during the process of the remodel. I even figured we'd have *something* go wrong once we installed the fixtures. When we were putting in the electrical, the plumbing and the framing, we kept double-checking to make sure that our measurements were correct for all of the fixtures.

The toilet was installed with no issues - the center of the toilet was exactly 15" from the shower wall, and 15" from where the edge of the sink will be. Great. That's exactly the minimum amount of space that we must have to meet code.

Next: the sink. It's a porcelain sink with two chrome legs, which a towel bar between the legs. (Restoration Hardware stopped selling this product slightly after we bought it, so I can't link to it.) The sink dimensions, according to the website (which I had printed out when we placed our order) is:

Small Console Sink: 23-3/4"W x 17-3/4"D x 33-3/4"H

The sink was shipped in two boxes, but one shipment. One was the sink itself, from Restoration Hardware, the second was the chrome legs, with another companies name on it. Mildly curious, but okay.

So, the plumbers are working on putting everything together. Their building the legs, and installing the faucets, etc., I went into the room just as they were putting the sink on top of the legs, and immediately saw that it was too tall: the back of the sink was covering the electrical outlets that we had planned to be about 2 inches above the sink.

I asked them to stop immediately, told them it was too tall, and asked if the legs were adjustable. It should be noted here that the two plumbers who were here don't speak English, only Chinese. Unfortunately, much to my Grandparent's dismay, I still don't speak Chinese. (D'oh!) Dick was working from home yesterday, so he came in to check out the problem. It turns out that the legs aren't adjustable at all, and that they are full-on 4" too tall! I asked the plumbers who were here if we could call the head plumber, who has been working on the project throughout, and does speak English. We got a hold of him over the phone, I explained the problem to him, and he came right over.

He and Dick thought over the situation for a long time, trying to figure out a solution. The only thing they could come up with was cutting the bottom of each of the chrome legs by 4". This was risky because there was the cutting of the chrome, there was drilling of holes, and also creating a hole with thread so that a tiny screw could be properly screwed into the newly created hole.

Assuming that this all worked, we also had the issue of the sink legs being out of proportion now. There's a towel bar, which would now be 4" too low, which, I'm sorry, is fairly significant.

Anyhow, the cutting and drilling worked: our plumber was a complete rock star.
The sink looks good, the towel bar is low, but manageable.

This is all fine and good, but, come on! You order something based on it's dimensions, and it comes in 4" taller than it should be?! WebTrina was not going to let this one go.

So I called Restoration Hardware, explained my situation, and was immediately passed along to a Supervisor. She was very understanding of my frustration. It was late afternoon, and she and the vendor of the chrome legs were on East Coast time, so she promised to place some calls first thing Friday morning, and for me to call her when I woke up.

I got up and called her at 7:30.

The first thing she said was that she would refund us our $195 in shipping fees. Okay, that's very nice (really) but I still have a bogus sink. She said she hadn't gotten a hold of the vendor yet, but she was still working on it. cool.

Then, she said that she did talk with a Restoration Hardware Product Specialist, and that woman had said that the product legs could be cut 3" without any damage to the product. WTF? That's the solution? I was very careful to make sure that I didn't yell or get upset with the woman who was helping me, because frankly, she was doing a great job, and was only being the messenger at this point. But I did tell her that that sounded outrageous to me: "Yes, we know that the measurements of the product aren't the same as what we had advertised, but all you need to do is cut the legs by 3", and it will be fine." No, no, no!

My representative was very understanding that this was an unacceptable answer (I mean, really...) and promised to get a hold of the vendor to see what they could do.

10 minutes later, she called back. She'd gotten a hold of the vendor and they offered to ship us another set of legs - hopefully with the correct size. This part gets complicated, as it involves the shipping of new legs, old legs, checking to see if the new legs are the right size, and if they aren't sending them back with the corrected specifications, etc., After a lot of negotiating, I get to keep my (cut) legs on my sink, wait until the new legs arrive, see whether or not they are the right size, if they're not, send back the new legs with written specifications, and wait to get yet another set of new legs. If the new set that I get is right, then I just need to install them and send back my old legs. I expect this will be a little complicated, and go around in circles for a bit, but I'll do what I need to do to make this right.

I am utterly impressed with my Restoration Hardware representative who is helping me out. She's really doing a fantastic job of follow-up and problem solving. Once this is all over, I'll be sure to write her a glowing letter. I'm really unimpressed and disappointed in Restoration Hardware that they would actually sell (or used to sell) a product with the incorrect dimension, and expect the customer to fix it on their end. (Cutting the legs could've easily gone wrong, and cost us more time and money.)

Anyhow, I just needed to vent. I knew something was probably going to be wrong with the fixture installation, but I just didn't think that the sink would come in 4" taller than advertised.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time Machine Rocks

I've been using it to back up my system since Saturday. Today was the first time that I needed to restore a file.

it totally rocks.

this app was worth the price of admission alone.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dick picking his Dad up at the airport

So Close!

Hey, remember that bathroom remodel? I haven't blogged about it for a while, but it's still going on, and nearly complete!

Here are a bunch of pictures and descriptions to get you up to date.

The painter (yes, singular, because the room is too small for two people at once) has been here since Monday. He's planning to finish today.

The plumber will come tomorrow morning to install the shower fixtures, the sink, and the toilet. The electrician comes in after him to install the sconces, and to hook up all of the outlets and switches, then the glass people come to install mirror and the shower door.

I've arranged for my cleaners to come tomorrow afternoon to help me clean the back of the house. It's all kinds of dusty back there!

This is all great timing. Dick's dad comes this evening to stay with us for 3 weeks. (yay!) We've decided to get a hotel room for him for the first couple of nights, so we'll have time to finish the project before he comes to stay.

Almost there!

One Foggy Morning

This morning we woke up around 7:00, and when I looked outside, saw that it is the foggiest morning that I can remember seeing in our neighborhood in a long time. I drove Dick to the CalTrain station, and we went in and out of fog banks along the way.

It's One Foggy Morning, all right.

which is not to be confused with One Froggy Evening!

"hello, my baby, hello, my darling....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Installing Leopard

that was easy...

I woke up this morning at 5:00 for no apparent reason, so I thought I'd get up and install the new Apple OS that I just picked up yesterday afternoon.

I backed up all of my important files to my external drive first (did that on Thursday, actually), just in case any problems occurred during the transition.

The installation took about an hour or so, and went very smoothly. Everything seems to be back up and running just fine.

One of the features that I was most interested in is Time Machine - a utility that will automatically back up your files. I had been using Retrospect for a while, but was very unsatisfied with it. I actually stopped using it all-together a few months ago, and have been looking for a better solution ever since.

Time Machine claims to keep:
-hourly backups for the past 24 hours
-daily backups for the past month
-weekly backups until your backup disk is full

cool. I started running it about 30 minutes ago, and it's chugging along now.

Another feature that I'm interested in is Boot Camp. This utility will allow me to run Windows on my Mac. This will come in very handy - I've had a separate PC set up for years so that I can test my web sites on dual platforms and browsers. I've also been running Quickbooks off of that, but I suppose I should upgrade to a Mac version of that,anyway.

Anyhow, so far, so good. I'm always happy when the upgrade to a new OS goes smoothly. It just seems like so many things could go wrong!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Muppet Matrix

Pete just sent this to me, and I couldn't stop laughing.

This is all kinds of funny.

We have a parking spot in a garage!!!

After living in San Francisco for 12 years, I'm thrilled to report that I am able to park my car in a garage for the first time!

Dick and I have always not-so-secretly hoped that we would someday be able to find a garage in the neighborhood to rent. We've looked into adding a garage to our own house, but that would require physically raising and moving the house, building a new foundation, in addition to lots of time and a ton of money.

Parking on the street for our two cars has been surprisingly not too problematic: we can usually always park somewhere on the block, and even usually even in front of our house (because our two cars fit so perfectly in a spot that most people would use for one car). But nonetheless, we'd always thought it would be really nice to actually have a spot in a garage that we knew we could come home to when the neighborhood is busy, and let's not forget the recent time that both of our cars got keyed in the middle of the night.

We'd been checking craigslist on occasion to see if any spots were available. Honestly, I'd given up at least a couple of years ago. Over the last 6 months, we've received postcards in the mail from new neighbors who had recently moved into the neighborhood, looking for available parking spots. They literally made post cards, sent them out to the neighborhood, and basically said they were willing to pay almost anything. That's when the reality set in that we'd probably never find a spot. Unbeknownst to me, Dick continued to check in craigslist every once-in-a-while for the slight chance that something would open up.

Two weeks ago, it happened: Dick found a garage space that was available just down the block - about 5 houses down. How ideal, and amazing! We'd both left messages over the next couple of days, but figured it must have been taken already.

I received a voice mail message a few days later saying the spot was still available! They had several people who had come by who were interested, but that it's such a tight spot that no one was able to actually get their car in comfortably. (this is starting to sound like Cinderella now) The woman literally said that the spot is very small, and would be ideal for a car like a MINI Cooper!

Imagine her surprise when I called her back and told her that I actually DO have a MINI Cooper. She totally thought I was pulling her leg. Dick and I met with her that evening, and practiced driving my car in, and out, then also tried the same with his car. They both fit!

Now, I realize that this may sound ludicrous to those of you who have never lived in a city before. I've lived in San Francisco for 12 years, and I've never had a spot for my car, let alone a garage to keep it in. I'm thrilled knowing that we'll always have a spot, we can take our car out of busy weekends that we used to stay in for (Castro Street Fair, Gay Pride, Halloween) and our car(s) may even stay more clean now that they won't be exposed to the elements all of the time!

Yesterday was the first day (first of the month) that we started to officially rent the space. I was in Milpitas during the afternoon and evening visiting my Grandparents and my parents. When I came home late last night, I didn't have to worry about finding an open spot, or which side of the street I should park on (Friday morning street cleaning). I was able to drive right into to my newly-rented garage space! My little MINI practically danced a little jig as we drove in (and so did I).