Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I went to Dick's office today to check out the big Halloween Party
that they throw each year for employees and their families. It was
really great and fun to see all of the little kids dressed up. Super
cute! Since we don't get any trick-or-treaters at our house, this was
a real treat for me!

Dick's team took a vote on what costumes Dick and his colleagues would
have to wear today. I think Dick lucked out: they wanted him to be
Batman, which, of course, he loved!!

Have a safe and fun Halloween! (and please... Stay away from the

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Backyard Progress (Day 22)

There's been a lot of great progress in the backyard in the last few days.

We passed our water and gas inspection on Monday, which allowed us to finally move ahead!

The concrete forms were finalized just in time for the concrete pour on Wednesday afternoon. We were so lucky that we were able to do that yesterday, as it rained this afternoon! Lucky for us, the concrete set overnight, and we were able to take all of the forms off of all of the concrete retaining walls, stairs and pads this morning.

The concrete retaining wall, landing and stairs. The conduits in the stairs are for the lights that will be installed later.

The bluestone for the patio was delivered today. The pieces are enormous, and so gorgeous. It's really shaping up, and we can now get a really good idea of what the final product will look like.

Pretty (and huge!) bluestone for the patio

We should see a lot more progress over the next few days. Here's hoping that the rain won't interfere with our schedule too much!

The Boys

Dick and Marcel, hanging out and playing Xbox with Reeves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Generation WE

Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.

I think this is fantastic for so many reasons.

It's a very good video that's based off of a recently released book called Generation We: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America and Changing Our World Forever.

It gives me hope for the future of our country and our world.

On a personal note, one of my nieces (my cousin's daughter) is in it. I'm so proud of her.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The World Premiere of "Milk"

"Milk" - World Premiere at The Castro Theater

Tonight was the World Premiere of the movie "Milk", at the Castro Theater.

Dick and I weren't able to attend (it was a benefit, and sold out quickly) but it looks like it was an amazing evening.

Here's an article, with photos, of the event from

The movie opens on November 26th. I can't wait to see it at The Castro Theater.

Misha Mouse!

Yay! Mykail is in town (on a layover) for a few hours! We're in
Milpitas visiting my parents before heading back to the airport tonight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New water pipes

water pipes - before
You can barely see it, because it's painted to match the back of the house, but it comes from the right side, goes up and around the door frame, then across the concrete, and around a pillar

I am delayed in reporting about the outcome of the burst water pipes from Thursday morning. All things considered, it all went well, and we even managed to find a silver lining amongst the chaos.

The plumber was scheduled to come back Thursday morning anyway to finish up the work on the gas line. While he was here, he did a quick fix on the pipe connection that had slipped of that morning, which caused the leak.

While he was here, I discussed the situation with my contractor. She said that in the future, once we were ready to really tackle that problem, the solution would be to dig out a trench on that side of the patio and put some copper pipes underground. This is something that we knew we'd want to do in the future, but it wasn't on our list of things that we immediately wanted to do.

That's when I came up with a bright idea (I love it when that happens): since we just dug out the trench for the gas line to go out to the yard, why couldn't we use that same trench for the water? After a little more thought, it became obvious that it was a brilliant idea: the water source was already on the same side of the patio as the gas line. The old water pipes had been haphazardly strung along the base of the house, up and around a doorframe, down the concrete patio, around a post, and down to the garden. This solution would alleviate all of the craziness, and would actually make it much more direct.

The even better part was that we only have a very narrow window in which to make this happen. The trench was just dug out on Wednesday, and would be filled again this week after inspection for the gas and water. That's a one week window in which we could take advantage of our situation!

New new copper water pipe and the gas line (yellow) in the trench

So, we made it so: the plumbers came back Friday morning to take out the old pipes (which again, were old, galvanized, and probably ready to burst again any day) and rerouted a new line with copper pipes down the trench, and across the face of the concrete patio.

the copper pipe is strapped across the concrete patio

So yeah, it was an additional expense that we weren't expecting, but a really good thing to do while we had the opportunity. It's nice not having to worry about the old pipes giving us more troubles in the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New monitor!

Poor MacDreamy (15") is getting dwarfed by Big Brother (24")

I am the happy recipient of an adopted (older model) 24" Apple Cinema Display! A friend of mine has a business in graphics/video and buys new equipment every year or so. He bought a new Apple Cinema Display earlier this year, and sold me his old one for a deal.

This thing is enormous! I had just bought a new 22" monitor in April (which is now going to Dick) and I thought that was huge. The screen on my new display is 2" larger, plus the frame around it is another 3". It's gorgeous, though.

The best part is that the screen resolution is 1900 x 1200, where as my old one only let me go as high as 1440 x 900. I can finally utilize the extra desktop space now! That's really important to me, since I usually have multiple applications/windows open simultaneously when I'm working.

I had to completely rearrange my physical desktop workspace. I used to have my laptop in front of me, with the external monitor to the side. Now, I've got this monitor front and center, with MacDreamy hanging out on the right side. I figured that I'd be using this new monitor as my main workspace now. It's going to take a bit of getting used to, but I think it's going to work out really well!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Burst Pipe

if our house were a ship, we'd have sunk...

For the second time this year, we woke up to a strange sound in the house, and eventually found that a water pipe had burst. Luckily (I think), this time it was outside.

I don't think it had anything to do with the landscape project. I know this doesn't sound quite right, but there's a stretch of galvanized pipe coming out from the basement that we thought we'd leave for now, and address at a later date, if we were to remodel that part of the house. Don't know if that's going to happen now. I'm guessing this is something we're going to have to take care of now.

By the looks of it, the thread to the old pipe corroded (no big surprise, given our history with galvanized pipes) and the connection simply slipped out. A little weird.

Luckily, I the contractor had just showed me a few days ago where the shut off valve is for the outside water line, so Dick and I were able to shut it off immediately. It doesn't look like there was any damage done - just a lot of water filling up the trenches.

The plumber is coming back this morning to finish the gas line. Guess we've got another job for him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New electrical panels!

The Electrical Panels - after

After working hard for 10 hours, the electricians finished installing our new electrical panels and meters. It's was a long process, but really interesting to watch. (I'm kind of geeky that way)

It seemed like a really big job, but we're really glad that we had it done. Many thanks to Alex the Electrician, and his team!

The joys of having two kichens

Well, it's dinner time and the electricians aren't quite done yet.

I have some leftovers that I wanted to reheat on our (gas) stove. Our
stove in out main kitchen is a newer model that has a safety lock when
the power goes off.

Luckily, our upstairs kitchen has an older stove with no such safety

...and then there's the gas line

The gas line is also being installed today.

It turns out that when you have a gas line installed, it must be 18" underground. 18 inches! That's deep. For comparison: the trench for the water line has to be 12" deep.

That's all fine and good when it's in the dirt (and when it's not you having to do the digging!) but we have a large concrete pad that's about 20 feet long, between the basement where the main gas line is, to the edge of the yard.

The plumbing team had to bring a concrete saw to score straight lines (so it'll be a clean edge when it's refilled with concrete), and couple of jackhammers, and a shovel (for when they got past the concrete, and needed to continue digging in the dirt). They also had to bring a generator, since the electricians are also here today, so the power to the house has been shut off.

The Electrician

The Electrical Panels - Before

Today's a big day in the "Great Landscape Project, 2008"! We're having the electrical work done, as well as having the gas line installed.

The electrician just came. We've been exchanging emails and phone calls over the past few days, deciding the best solutions for our project.

Long story short, we're installing a new 3-meter combo panel - one for each of the condos, and one for the backyard. Pretty big job.

When I met with him just now, I told him how nice it was to meet him in person. He started to explain to my contractor and I what the final plan was, and I realized that I wanted to take a picture of the existing electrical panels now, before it all changes. My contractor told him that I've been doing such a great job of documenting the entire project.

That's when the electrician (named Alex) told me that he had seen my website, and read my blog! He said that he'd seen pictures of the backyard, knew that my parents just celebrated their anniversary, and also that I recommended the Swedish Meatballs at IKEA.


Crack me up!

So, here's a big shout-out going to to "Alex the Electrician"!

I'll post more photos at the end of the day.

My power is going to be cut off for most of the day now, so I'll be relying on the battery life of my laptop, then will take advantage of having a great Internet Cafe just a block away from the house.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where's the Birdie?

The velociraptors are still here. We've actually had a really nice visit so far.

These birds are really funny. Every morning, I take them out of their houses, and let them out to play on the bed (which is covered with a sheet to avoid, um, bird-stuff). My sister placed on opened paper bag in the center of the bed filled with paper, cardboard and tissues. The birds both LOVE this bag. They spend hours in there. Literally. They usually hang out in there for upwards of 8 hours before I insist that it's time for them to go back home.

What do they do in there? Mostly sleep - they are well over 20 years old, after all. But, once in a while, they'll come out to walk around the bed, eat some crackers, and other times they'll just sit in the bag and sing or whistle. It's pretty funny.

This afternoon, I went in the room to check on them. I peeked in the bag, and only saw one bird. Where's the other one? I looked around the room, and didn't see the other one anywhere. I checked the bag again, and realized that Crissy was hiding her head underneath a tissue, and I could only see her body. I also realize that Bonsai was standing behind her in the bag, and I could only see his head!

Funny birdies!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Scarecrow

Spooky! Scary!

For those of you who don't know, Halloween is Dick's favorite holiday. He loves decorating the house every year with all kinds of spooky, creepy things.

Each year, we manage to find even more things to add to his collection. Someday, our basement will be overrun with Halloween madness.

Yesterday, we went to Target to check out their Halloween section. It turns out that Target has GREAT stuff, and their prices are so much more reasonable than the typical Halloween Super Stores! Who Knew?! (well, actually, a lot of people know, this. It turns out that we're just a little slow in learning....)

The creepiest thing that we bought yesterday has to be (hands down) this ghoulish, creepy Scarecrow! Yikes! He seriously gives me the creeps!

We're eventually going to hang him down our light well, but for now, he's hanging out on the dinette table in the sun room with all the other Halloween decorations.

But this is what it looks like when I look through the window from the kitchen to the sun room.

Dude. You're totally creeping me out!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Klutzy Idiot


I was just in the backyard, trying to make my way to the back to talk with our main contractor. I was attempting to decipher which section of a retaining wall would be best to hop over when I stepped a little too far to the left, and ended up falling (one leg only) into a post trench hole. (they are about 2-1/2 feet deep.)

I'm fine. I'm just a little scraped, and possibly bruised - my body as well as my ego. ;)

I hate it when I'm stupid.

...and my poor Birks may never recover from stepping into the few inches of water/mud at the bottom of the hole.


The Culprit Hole

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm addicted

One of the great things about living in San Francisco, and living the Castro for that matter, is that we have so many wonderful food options. We are in walking distance of so many great restaurants that range in price as well as diversity.

Our newest discovery is Kasa, an "Indian Taqueria".

The menu is very simple - you select from 6 menu items (Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Curry, Aloo Jeera, etc.,) which is rolled in a yummy Roti (thin, flaky, buttery bread). It is also served with raita (a yogurt-cucumber dish) and a nice salad of jicama, cabbage, and red pepper. Yum!

All this for $5.50. You can't beat that.

So, yeah, I'm pretty addicted. It's only about 5 blocks away, and it's cheap and yummy. Between lunch and dinner, I've already been 3 times in the last week! egads.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mural on 19th Street

I walk past this mural on the corner of 19th Street and Noe whenever I take my daily walk. It's been fun watching it progress over time.

Today, they were putting the final touches on it. I really like it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Goodbye, Opus.

Opus is leaving the building.

This time, it's for good.

Berkeley Breathed, the cartoonist who brought us Bloom County, Outland, and Opus is retiring again. He plans to pursue other interests, such as writing books and screenplays.

I was a huge fan of Bloom County, although I admit that once Outland and especially Opus came out, I had stopped reading the Sunday Comics. (because I stopped getting the Sunday paper. Not because I wanted to stop reading comics!)

here's an article about Breathed's retirement on

Goodbye, dear Opus. Thanks for all the laughs!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 3rd Anniversary to my hubby!

Dick and Trina, 2005

...and Happy 41st Anniversary to my parents!

Barb and Henry, 1967

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Backyard: Day 7

Moving right along...

The backyard project is coming along!

Monday morning, a whole bunch of lumber was delivered, and the crew started to work on the forms. They also started to set some of the beams in concrete. So far, they have the beams set for the top deck, as well as forms for the two large retaining walls. They also set the posts for the planter in concrete and the built that smaller retaining wall.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lunch at IKEA

When in Rome.....

When at IKEA, one should always get the Swedish Meatballs! ;)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Natural Instinct

Oh, this is very funny.

My Mom took this photo last week from the sliding glass door of her house, looking out to the backyard.

Her initial reason for taking this photo was that there was a hawk (yes, a HAWK) visiting her backyard.

Sure, that's interesting enough. We don't see many hawks in our backyards here.

But, the best part is that she captured the reaction of a squirrel upon seeing the hawk.

The poor squirrel instinctively flattened itself as close to the ground as possible, and froze there, hoping that the hawk wouldn't notice it.

Can't you just hear that poor squirrel thinking, "CRAP!"?

Don't worry - this story has a happy ending. The squirrel managed to get away by doing a slow army crawl across the patio without the hawk ever noticing.

apologies to any PG-13 and under readers for using the word "crap" twice in this post. I hope your parents will forgive me. ;)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

5 Friends

This is really well done.

It asks that you send this along to at least 5 friends.
I'm pretty sure that I have at least 5 people reading my blog, so I think this will suffice.

Please be sure that you're registered to vote.

The Velociraptors

It's like having miniature dinosaurs in the house..

I'm taking care of my sister's two birds for the next couple of weeks.

That's Bonsai on the left, and Crissy on the right.

We've had Crissy since she was a mere 6 weeks old. We got her in February, 1980, which, yes, means that she is 28 years old! (average life expectancy for cockatiels is around 15 years). We adopted Bonsai from a friend of a friend over 20 years ago, so she's probably in her early 20s.

When my family first saw Jurassic Park years ago, and we saw the scenes with the Velociraptors, we all agreed that our birds must be distant cousins of these dinosaurs. The way the walk, look around, and especially attack.

The birds, especially Crissy, have always been especially attached to my sister. Neither of them, especially Crissy, has ever been very fond of me. Seriously, she used to chase me out of my own room by pecking at my feet!

But here we are, years later, attempting to cohabitate peacefully for at least a couple of weeks.

Two weeks: two birds, two cats, two people.

We are truly redundant here at His 'n Her Condos. ;)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Backyard: Day 4

Well, it's a little messy out there, but a lot of progress has been made in the past 4 days!

The trenches were dug for all of the retaining walls, stone/cement seat, and for all of the posts for the deck, stairs, arbor, and planter box. They have also leveled out the ground for most of the tiers.

It amazes me just how much dirt they dug up! The trenches, and especially the holes for the posts are VERY deep! We'll be utilizing the extra dirt in various places, but for now, we're just trying to keep it out of the way.

It's supposed to rain tonight/tomorrow, so the crew covered the large dirt piles with tarp so that it'll be easier to move later.

New Glasses

the time has come...

It was inevitable.

I've worn prescription glasses for more than 15 years, but only need to wear them for driving at night. The last I got a new prescription and frames was at about 6 years ago or so.

I had my eyes checked a couple of years ago, and they told me that the prescription had increased just a notch from my current prescription, so I decided not to invest in new frames or lenses.

But, I knew this was coming...

I finally had my eyes checked again last week, and it seems my prescription needs have increased a couple of notches: it was time to invest in some new lenses, and just to make it more fun, new frames, too.

I went to the place on Castro street where Dick and Pete have both bought their glasses from many, many years. They see the same person there, who has an uncanny ability to select frames that are perfectly suited for the individual.

Par for course, the first pair she showed me was the pair we went with. (I tried another 8-10, just for good measure.)

My new frames and lenses came in today. I just picked them up!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I came to visit my Mom and Dad this evening, and when I walked through
the door, my Mom and I immediately noticed that we unintentionally
wore matching outfits: orange, short-sleeved tops (of which we each
own exactly one of) and longish, light beige shorts!

Can't remember the last time this has happened, but it's very funny!