Sep 20, 2010

Monday Roundup

Perhaps I will feel totally fulfilled if I can actually enumerate the things I got done each week and reflect on how much is actually happening even when it seems nothing is happening.

Last week, as I noted in some updates of previous posts, I did set a few balls in motion. I made appointments regarding our finances. I did a bunch of laundry on Monday. I have some landscaping in the works with SV.

Also, I am sort of proud that I made 35 copies of a flyer promoting my google group for our block here in Davis, and went around with Sammy and D putting them in people's mailboxes. This was something I'd been meaning to do all year, and I did it. People started emailing me, slowly but surely, and now I have about 20 people signed up representing 14 households out of 34. We missed having a block listserve like we had on Hazel, so if I can continue to promote this one, we can get down to the serious business of discussing the ridiculous crime rate here (sarcasm), the new Trader Joe's opening next month (awesome), and other items on our Keep Davis Boring Agenda.

House-wise, my bed is still unmade. And I did spend time this week cleaning up after Carmen's barfathon and Sam's pee-in-panties-athons that could have been better used straightening up.

Finally, I spent some time working with lil'Dubin on a project of hers that may bear fruit. Dubin, talk to me. I don't understand your cryptic communications. Fruit? Definitely fruit? Maybe fruit? Strange fruit?

Now, it's 1:30. On to project laundry and perhaps to straighten up in general. Need to consider rearrangement of drawers/clothing. Also want to continue sending out feelers for people to help me understand the Internet and how to Make a Website without starting from scratch as usual. iWeb may be good, but I'm also interested in hearing more about what abh has to say about CMS and whatnot.

Also this week, want to make Karen's honey label even if it might be too late. Work on Noah's calling card. Think about Teacher Naomi's business card needs. Attend Yoga by riding bike to Kaya tonight. Continue with epic CD-burning project.

Baby D is awake in there and babbling, so I bid my reader(s) adieu.

Notes on Fall in Davis

Hello, my friends. I've been noticing the undergrads are starting to appear around Davis, as classes for the fall quarter are starting soon. I have to admit that I automatically look down my nose at almost all of them except the ones that I know personally, the girls that babysit my kids, for example. (Sidebar: Dang, these hippie Coop whole wheat hempy graham crackers taste hecka like molasses. Feh.)

So, yesterday, for example, I was out and about thinking bad thoughts about the undergrads in Target, the ones buying torch lamps and mini-fridges and "storage solutions." I realize that I am projecting a bit - I am unforgiving to them because I am still pretty ruthless when it comes to my estimation of my former self. You know, that collegiate self who'd make me shrivel to see a video tape of her, the way you cringe when you hear your own voice on an answering machine. That self who was really, really trying to figure out how to Be an Adult and Have Fun simultaneously. Maybe I'm jealous of College Me because that girl got to sit around in the Music Library until lunchtime and then go eat on the grass while watching attractive young people walk around campus. Or I'm jealous of how College Me got challenged more often to step outside her social comfort zone by going to weird artsy parties instead of chatting endlessly one-on-one with friends. College Me also got to live in the Coops and with friends in cool shared housing, which was really very fun; however, I'm way too far past that now -- past my ability to live in a kitchen that smells like cumin and Simple Green at all times, past my ability to sit on a couch that has major cooties (other than Carmen's) and beyond the me who could have face-time with all those people at 9 in the morning.

So, in the name of fairness, I'm going to also articulate some awesome things about College Me. I think CM took full advantage of what Cal had to offer. I'm proud of her for sticking around in African Drumming class for several semesters even though frankly she found the crowd there intimidating. She took Indonesian Gamelan, Tennis, Printmaking, French, Music Theory, Welsh Mythology, Math, Russian, Physics, Modern Dance (shout out to abh), Ballet (shout out to May), Italian, Victorian Children's Literature, Ceramic Sculpture, Tae Kwon Do, and all kinds of other stuff. I'm proud that she kept auditioning for various a Capella groups even though it never really panned out (sorry, Anna), and that she sang choral stuff for two years with no prior experience. Oh, and the whole Architecture curriculum, too; I almost forgot about that.

Now, this may just prove that CM was a privileged, soft dilettante. True. But she totally carpediemed those college years. And you know what else? This came up in a conversation with Sara the other day -- she was able to really use that time to learn for learning's sake. That concept had its downside, too, given how much trouble she had channeling her collegiate energy into a fulfilling job after college. But being excited simply to learn new things is a gift. I think a lot of her friends had that gift, too, even the ones who didn't have the luxury of messing around so much with things outside their majors.

So, basically, rock on you silly Davis undergrads! Go study basket weaving. Carry on with your Contact Improv. Cruise around on your bikes with no helmet while texting (no, wait, stop doing that, please). I may still look down my nose at you, but it's only 'cause I'm jealous..

Update 8:40pm -- How did I forget about yoga? Tomorrow, then.

Sep 15, 2010

Emotional Furniture

Well, hello darlings. It's nice that a few of you are there so I'm not just having cawfee and talking to myself.

So, back to the tawpic at hand: can I use this blog to help me with my mental/emotional/ organizational furniture rearrangement?

I was thinking about the way things get done in my life. I like to make lists and I can definitely see categories amongst the items -- long-term goals, short-term goals, tedious maintenance, etc. But what causes me to wake up in the morning and choose a particular item to attack? Happenstance.

I'm just like anyone else in that I tend to put off things that are either difficult, scary, or seem like they're going to be long and involved processes. If something seems like a really epic time commitment, I'm inclined to put it aside until some future date when "I have time to sit down and really think about it" or "I've finished all these other maintenance tasks" like clearing off my desk, hanging up these framed pictures, sorted through all this junk, or reorganized my underwear drawer.

If I keep going like this, it's going to take a long time to get to the items on my list that involve any adventure requiring more than one day to complete, i.e. the website making and the crafting of some business schemes.

Also, I do have a focus problem. Not the kind that steals my attention to detail; as y'all know, I have Attention Surplus Disorder and will spend six hours pushing six pixels around the page until I am satisfied. I mean more that I'm such a dilettante and that I enjoy so many things that I can't seem to pick one to go deeper into. For example, right now I want to take this guitar-making class and the calligraphy class and the screen-printing class. If I could just focus all my energies on one thing, like developing my photography website, I could really get somewhere with that.

All that said, I do enjoy being me -- a multi-armed Deity of Dabbling. It's who I am. So the real challenge will be to find a balance between doing a bit of everything and achieving satisfaction out of going deeper into at least one or two things.

And that's a challenge that will require a more concentrated attempt to organize my time instead of doing the least complex items first and saving the rest for never. What about the idea of putting things into some of the aforementioned categories and then doing one of each each day? Like one small task, one household maintenance thing, one short-term goal related task, and one piece of a long-term puzzle? Each day, hell, how about one of each per week?

Or putting all my items into a literal hat and picking one each morning to accomplish?

Thoughts? Or are you all shaking your heads, like, "Dubin, chillax. Life is about the journey..."

Sep 13, 2010

Macher Time!

Usually, the word "macher" is used to evoke a "mover-and-shaker" type person. An ambitious person. A person with goals and the power to reach them. Perhaps a manipulator and/or a shmoozer, but a definite Doer of Things.

Still, the word itself just means "maker." I like to make things, therefore I am a macher and maybe even a Macher.

1. Professional Ambitions: Architecture. Pending.

2. Professional Ambitions: Non-Architecture. These are activities that I am considering parlaying into serious work/income. The thought is that I could do one or more of these temporarily while my children are young and then return to full-time architecture firming when my schedule frees up. The single greatest thing I need to start is a website. A website for each one of these things separately, even though I could do more than one of them in practice.

UPDATE 9/20/10: Have done some poking around and questioning of friends regarding ways of building a professional but simply website without a lot of delay or outlay. Also, trying to understand my options re: CSS, CMS, etc. Trying to learn the meanings of acronyms in general.

a. Photography. Primarily children's event photography, and secondarily non-children events. Step one - cut a hole in the box. Step two - Talk to Kyle Cassidy for advice, and choose my thirty or so BEST portraits and pull them aside to make a website. Step three - figure out how to make the website. In the past, I've made my websites through total hackery, and this time I shoudl do a little research so I don't have to invent the wheel again and again. Any thoughts, anyone? TJ says that people do whole websites on WordPress now. Step four - after website is live, gain publicity through the wiki, word of mouth, post at the Coop and Craft Center, the Davis Facebook page, etc. Step five - gain more technical chops. Consider learning more about the Nikon D80 by, for example, reading the manual. What additional equipment do I need to be (or just look) like a pro? Lens-flare preventor? Monopod? Umbrella-style lighting?

b. Graphic Design - Custom Ketubot. Need website, similar to above. This is a labor of love, since I like words and I like lettering and I like images. I don't, however, like most "Judaica." Why is Judaica always so dated-looking, and never sophisticated? Judaica! I question your taste level. Now that I've made my own ketubah and my sister's, I could make a few more samples - say, a total of four or five - and put them on a website, describing how I am interested in collaborating with couples on custom ketubot. My Israeli friends have been helping me with the Hebrew texts and translations. After the website is live, provide the links to as many Jewish giftshops and synagogue stores as possible, including museums and cultural centers. Agree to send paper samples to these stores along with business cards or paper flyers to hand out.

c. Graphic Design - Wedding invites, business cards. To letterpress or not to letterpress? That is the question. Is it really worth getting involved in letterpress? An alternative would be to design invitations and outsource the printing to offset or letterpress. I could also take the screen-printing classes at the UCD Craft Center and focus on screen-printables. Calligraphy (for envelope addressing and other hand work) could be offered if I take the Calligraphy class. This idea requires culling and photographing my previous design work (my invitation, lil'dub's invitation suite, and hil'o'beans' invitation) and creating a website for starters. There is also a studio-lighting class at the CC.

d. Veils, the Ethical Dilemma. Making wedding veils is fun and very easy. There is a huge profit to be made here. I mean, there's a big profit margin available on each veil because people pay silly amounts of money for things like these. I believe this is so because brides don't want to admit that a veil is not much more than a bunch of tulle or french netting, and that its hard to make a veil look really bad. Yes, you can DIY it. I have had requests, particularly after the younger Dub's wedding, to make veils similar to the birdcage I fashioned for her. But I feel like it's too fruity, too shee-shee, to actively pursue this line of business. And it almost seems predatory to me. Hmm... thoughts?


3. Gifts and Household Items.

a. Finish Laurel's Blouse! How can I not have finished the blouse?

b. Quilt. I like the idea of making modern (read: contemporary, but not too West-Elmy) quilts. Should I make a really ambitious quilt where I put a lot of thought into the design? Or a bunch of smaller ones as gifts to maximize the number of people exposed to my quiltetude?

c. Knitted toys. I do like to knit me some stuffed creatures. I could also revisit Jess Hutchinson's Unusual Toys to Knit and Enjoy and give those to the new babies of the world.

Lifestyle Maintenance (TM)

Perhaps attaching a schedule to boring household tasks will help them to complete themselves. After I flesh it out here, I may consider putting these things on my google calendar for some depressing reminders weekly.

1. Laundry. It is now clear to me that laundry day should be Monday. This will be better than simply waiting until no one has any underwear left and declaring that day "Floating Laundry Day."

2. Plants. How could I be so duuuumb? Plants need water! Plants should be watered every Friday. Don't forget plants in pots outside front door. This is somehow related in my mind to the idea of Shabbat. Tikun Olam! Speaking of Shabbat, we should consider Doing It. But that goes into another potential post about Increasing Spiritual/Traditional Rituals.

3. Exercise. Why do I always stumble over how to spell "exercise"? I need to establish a routine. Here's a start:

a. Yoga. My knee injury from February of this year has set me back, so I'm a little afraid of regular (sweat-breaking) yoga classes. Need to consider Level 1 or the All Levels class. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday at 7:15 at Kaya. Also, Thursdays for Restorative if all else fails. Sunday at 7 is Bollywood Dancing at Kaya (following yoga from 4:00-6:30). Sunday at 10am at the Bo Tree.

b. Pilates. Can do Pilates either at home on Netflix, every morning? Tuesdays and Thursdays at the DAC, but need to sign Baby D up for the childcare.

c. Dance. At FDF, Belly Dance Technique 7:30 on Mondays, BalleTone at 6:30 on Wednesdays, Macumba at 6:30 on Sundays followed by HipHop at 7:30. Also, after Oct. 4 - Drumming followed by Iranian (8:30 and 10 pm) on Tuesdays, BellyDance at 8:30 on Wednesdays, Fiesta AfroLatina at 8:30 on Thursdays, BalleTone moves to 7:30 on Thursday.

d. Swimming. Screw it. It's getting too cold for non-heated pools.

Shopping List:

- buy short length of hose and timer for mindless front door plant irrigation.

The Davis Homestead

Wow, I already forgot how to tag my posts in Delicious.

Anyway. This section is devoted to non-housework related business.

1. Masterplan. We could be better at checking off small design problems if we could fit them into a bigger design ideal. For example, the guest bathroom is gross and not very functional, but I don't want to improve it because I want to change it wholesale. Also, we could replace a lot of windows, but I'd hate to do that before deciding if the walls they are in will even be there in the future. So, I intend to work on a design for the house renovation, this time using Sketchup and possibly Revit. This will slow me down, but will help me keep up with those softwares. Sketchup is useful for doing 3D models including building orientation, sun exposure, etc.

2. Landscape. It's hard to consider the landscaping issues separately from the Masterplan, see part 1. We're wasting a lot of water on stuff that I don't care about, and not using enough water on the things I do want to thrive. The pool area is a broken-down mess. How do we maintain some of the Secret-Gardenesque characteristics of our backyard while improving the beauty and overall awesomeness (and safety) of our space?

UPDATE 9/20/10: Talked to SV about options for rezoning the irrigation and killing some of the sprinkler heads that are overwatering the shaded areas! Yes! Continue with SV for irrigation and the various smaller zones so that new plantings can go in in October. This is by no means a holistic approach to figuring out the backyard, but it will be nice to see some improvements for next year in spite of a lack of Big Overarching Design.

3. Organize. Right now the guest room is basically storage. I've saved the hardest-to-classify goods for last in there. Also, scattered throughout the house are other items to be trashed or filed away, but they've become invisible now. Here in Davis, we get frequent mailings telling us that the Salvation Army Truck will be coming by, or the Veterans want our used goods, or the CP Awareness people need our old clothing. Then, trucks come by and pick up anything you put out for them. The good side is that you don't need to drive your purged goods anywhere. The bad news is that sometimes they don't see your items and pass you by. In any case, I should use these bi-weekly visits to purge and make it a goal to put out at least one box every time. Right? That way I won't put off organizing with the excuse that I need to get everything all ready at once to go to GoodWill. As soon as the storage, er, I mean Guest Room is empty of stuff, I will let you know and then you can come sleep over.


Big Picture - the Heavy Lifting

Hi again.

Here are some long-term issues I need to address.

1. Money. Wells Fargo has our money and I need to figure out a way that Schwab should have it. This involves picking investments, which is why it is easy to lag on doing anything about it because picking investments can be daunting. I think the way to divide this up into reasonable chunks is to start with letting Charlie know our intentions. Then we can talk to Paul. Perhaps TJ should be the one to let Charlie know we are moving. Tell TJ to call Charlie (step one). After that, I can deal with Paul.

DEADLINE: Schedule conference call with Charlie for this week.
UPDATE, 9/20/10: Call is scheduled! Even better, Charlie has been forewarned of our intentions. Also, we have an appointment tomorrow to talk to the Schwab guy. I think the ball is rolling. Yeh.

2. Legal Documents. Last year, we decided we should have a will and pick people to be our financial executors and decide who should raise our kids if we die and whatnot. I was very proud that we went to see a lawyer about this, but as it turns out, just going to see a lawyer is not enough. You have to actually review the documents he prepares, and then insert the appropriate names into the slots, and then sign everything. I think there are a hundred pages to review, an obvious reason why we never did anything. We ran into the lawyer at the Farmers' Market one day, and of course I was all bashful. He warned us against continuing to "sit on the docs." We need to choose who we want in these roles (step one, involving a powwow with TJ) and then ask them if they are interested, like, "Hello. Are you interested in raising our children if we should both die?" (the asking is step two). Finally, reviewing and signing the docs (step three) and then filing them (final step).

DEADLINE: Schedule the powwow for one night this week (week of 9/12). Ask people before Thanksgiving. Be done with docs before year's end.
UPDATE 9/20/10: Didn't do anything this week. Duh.



I'm considering repurposing this blog for my own mental organization.

Anyone still getting my updates via feed may glaze over and lose interest, but that's ok. I just need a place to organize my thoughts and figure out what I'm doing in general. Now that my job is no longer 9-5, and I work at home on household, kid-related and personal project stuff, I need to get a grip on my goals and try to establish some structure.

SO. It's Monday. What am I trying to do this today? This week? In the long run?

Let's start with big picture items that I can list and then prioritize. Maybe I can put in an entry called "Big Picture" and then edit it as I check these things off. I can also have entries labeled by month or category, like, "Household Crap" or "Professional Development" or "Stuff I want/need to make."

If anyone out there is actually reading this, I can also try to occasionally (assuming this catches on with myself) do a song-and-dance or tell some jokes.

Hello (hellooo... helloo... hello...), is this thing on?


May 28, 2009

CTRL-F will work in the future.

12:12 PM

me: you may or may not find this amusing, but I just saw a cartoon picture of a giraffe on the internets

TJ: ok

me: and my immediate reaction was to email it to sam because he would like it
then i was like, um

TJ: hehehe

me: kid doesn't check email

TJ: that's funny

me: that's like when i impulsively try to search things that aren't digital
like my own brain
or a paper book
find, replace
it doesn't really work that way

TJ: just wait until we're all disembodied heads in glass jars
ctrl-F will work

May 23, 2008

Lil'Dub tagged me

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Locate the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged me.


New designs result. Mary Eleanor Spear's "range bar" and John Tukey's "box plot" can be mostly erased without loss of information. The revised design, a quartile plot, shows the same five numbers.

I tag every single one of you who is right now reading this. If you have a blog, you must comply!

Apr 14, 2008

More of the same Jibba Jabba

I have been really lazy here. You probably think I'm busy, right? Oh, she has a kid and a job and a house that needs work and all kinds of fascinating extracurricular activities, so she must be busy. Nah. If I spent the time making up nice blog stories that I do playing stupid Scrabulous on Facebook, then I would still have a few readers out there.

So I just came back from rehearsal for Carmina Burana, which I'm singing with a group at out neighborhood Universitas. It's a weirdly mixed group - plenty of undergrads, but a lot of older people as well that must be faculty, staff, and local alumni. I sat down on the first day next to a girl who cheerfully asked me what year I was. I said, "I'm an alumna..." and she said, "Oh. I'm a freshman." Then she proceeded to tell me how she was freaking out because her friend just got "promised" to a guy, and they had only been going out for five months. I was like, "What's promised? Is that a religious thing?" and she said, "No, like, promised to be engaged later. This is terrible! She's only a freshman! Pardon me while I freak out, I mean, this is big..." Then she went back to texting madly on her phone.

It's a little tricky to describe the average choral singer. There are about 40-50% normal-looking people. The rest fit into various other categories.

1. math grad student, probably goes to Renn Faire a lot

2. classic band geek girl or girl who did a lot of musical theater in high school; laughs a lot and makes gestures

3. some geeky combination of both of the above, except, strangely, a student of the humanities; can be overheard talking about "Model Congress"

4. frizzy-haired middle-aged ladies who would probably wear a boxy blazer with a cat brooch on it, or perhaps a sweatshirt that says, "Too Many Books, Too Little Time!"

5. that one person with the facial piercing

6. serious musicians who coincidently happen to be really attractive - these are the minority

I have also noticed that more sopranos than altos are blond. Also, more are tall. If I seem to be leaving out stereotyping the men, it's because they sit behind me so I don't get to give them the once-over as much.

While I'm reducing everyone to categories as usual, I'll add some more categories based on actual singing:

a. awesome singer, nothing wrong with them

b. nice voice, but sings way too loud and doesn't even seem to notice it

c. person who is sitting right next to you and you can't even tell she's singing - this is either because she sings really softly, she blends beautifully, or because she's surreptitiously studying some psychology textbook under her score and not singing at all

d. nice voice, but is pronouncing all the Latin, Italian, German or French wrong... this is the WORST kind, because the director usually reviews all the pronunciation so there's no excuse other than having NO EAR for language, which is weird, right, because you have an ear for music...

Today this girl was sitting next to me and I was staring at her toes the whole time because she was wearing flipflops and it's still like 45 degrees outside at night. She has bright fuchsia toenail polish and an unfortunate Disney sweatshirt on. She's not rolling any of the 'r's and keeps pronouncing all the 'o's and 'u's with a Philly (or Valley?) accent, making all the pure vowels sound like diphthongs. This is a disaster, but what can I do? Club her?

Now's the point where you tell me to relax and that I am an overly-critical crazyperson who would enjoy life more if I wasn't so intolerant. Well, you'd be right but it's my dag blog.

I'm going to bed now. Night night!

Mar 13, 2008

What to eat?

I'm sitting in the living room in Topanga, in my vacay with the baby, and my mom comes up to me and says, "What should I make tomorrow night?" She's holding a book called A Collection of the VERY FINEST RECIPES ever assembled into one Cookbook. This book is softcover, with a strawberry shortcake on the front. Under the title, it says "see back cover." On the back, the editors tell a story about how these recipes really are the truly best-ever recipes for cooking and eating that were ever created and compiled. The date on this thing is 1979.

Sample recipe titles inside:

Connecticut Supper for 6
Workperson's Roast
Polynesian Meat Loaf (this was when everything was Polynesian)
Beef Birds with Olive Gravy
$25,000 California Casserole
Pheasant - All Drunk & Spunky
Avocados on the Half Shell
How Danes Roll Cabbage
Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Patties
An Infallible Recipe for Preserving Children

The purpose of this blog entry is to suggest that maybe housewives in the seventies had pretty decent senses of humor.