Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quotes of the Day

Some andecotes to amuse you...

I drink peppermint tea every day during lunch at work. (I used to switch teas, but I'm not sure which ones are safe during pregnancy, so I stick to peppermint. It was recommended by, so I figure it should be OK. So far, Baby A seems to like it.) The particular brand that I like best prints quotes on the paper tag of each tea bag. Today I saw a quote I hadn't seen before: "A great man is always willing to be little," by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I wondered right away how I as a short woman should take this. If I'm involuntarily little, does that make me great? (Ha! I wish.)

On the way home from work, I saw a car with this bumper sticker: "Christopher Columbus didn't need directions...and neither do I!" Silly driver, I thought, don't you know Columbus was trying to reach the West Indies? I hope that's not where the driver wanted to go, as he/she will probably be as successful as Columbus.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Snowy Day

Today, the farthest I ventured was to the exercise room at the center of our apartment complex. With both snow and rain, I didn't want to go anywhere. Eugene did run a few errands, but we decided not to visit his parents as we'd planned. Perhaps next week. In the meantime, I baked a dozen rolls and CROWW (Cinnamon Raisin Oat Walnut Whole wheat bread), posted two crits on the workshop when it came back online, and finished going over the third draft of Lennon's Line. Oh, and I also ordered the crib and some more maternity clothes. So it was a productive day, but I'm still not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Guess I need more luck the next time we go to Vegas. (grin)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Life List

Since I visited two states for the first time on this trip, I thought it would be a good time to update my state life list. I'm told I visited Arkansas when I was a toddler, but I don't remember it. I counted it anyway.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Vegas Vacation, Part Two

OK, where did I leave off? I don't think I finished Day Three. Eugene and I had dinner at a nice restaurant in our hotel. Then we walked around the Strip for a bit. We wound up at the Belliago again so Eugene could view the Ansel Adams exhibit for himself. I wandered around and played video games while I was waiting for him. We finished the night by playing The Simpsons and eating sorbet.

Day Four

Wouldn't you know I'd wake up feeling sick again? I've heard of some women having morning sickness throughout their pregnancies, but I'm still inclined to think it was too much food. It wasn't as bad as before, but I skipped breakfast with Eugene and spent the morning resting. By afternoon, however, I was feeling better and decided to go around a bit. The weather was gorgeous, so I'm glad I was able to get out. I took the monorail to the Mirage to see their dolphin/big cat exhibit created by Siegfried and Roy. The trainers there interact with the dolphins, but they don't put on a scheduled show the way zoos or aquariums do. I watched them for a bit, both above and below water, before checking out the other animals. They were quite active for the middle of the day; in particular, there were two beautiful white lions, both male, that scratched trees and played with each other. I'm not the photographer Eugene is (and my camera has significant shutter lag), but I still got some shots I was happy with. There were also white tigers, black panthers, and leopards. I picked up some stuffed animals and gradually made my way back to our hotel to meet up with Eugene.

We took the monorail over to the Hilton (I think it was the Hilton) for dinner and the Star Trek exhibit. By the time we found a place to eat, it was a bit late, but we were still able to see the exhibit. Mostly it was a timeline of Star Trek's future history and artifacts from the show. There were also exhibits devoted to the aliens. The experience ended with a simulated shuttle ride; the premise was that the Klingons had kidnapped us from the 21st century in an effort to seize one of Picard's ancestors, and the Next Generation crew had to return us to our time. They had some neat effects; the ride started with us lined up in front of some doors, then the lights went out. When they came back on, the doors were gone. Unfortunately, due to my pregnancy, I had to skip the actual shuttle ride, since the motion was too violent. That just meant I went down to the gift shop right away. I picked up something for the baby and an autographed of Nimoy; Eugene bought a tribble to add to our stuffed animal collection. We then went to Quark's for chocolate fondue. An Andorian was wandering around, but he left before we could take a picture of him. Eugene still found ways to take pictures of Oscar with aliens.

Day Five

Today was the highlight of our trip: a visit to the Grand Canyon. Eugene skipped the last day of lectures for this. We set this up through a tour group that picked us up from our hotel. (Unfortunately, Eugene forgot his jacket on the bench; we weren't able to recover it later.) We met up with others at another hotel before boarding a bus to take us to an airport outside of Vegas. From there, we flew in a puddlejumper to the Grand Canyon. En route, we passed over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. In setting up this excursion, I'd tried to take my condition into account and find a trip that wouldn't strain me too much. One thing I hadn't thought of, however, was that small planes are more subject to bumpiness than bigger ones. The flight was a bit rough; I was holding onto the seat with one hand and my belly with the other. Baby A didn't seem to have any problems, however.

When we finally landed at another small airport, we picked up lunchboxes and boarded another bus. It took us to a spot on the South Rim. We had about 45 minutes to walk around, take pictures, and visit the gift shop. It was colder than I expected; there was still snow on the ground. I felt bad for Eugene, but he wouldn't have fit into my windbreakers. The views were amazing, however. After we were done at that spot, the bus took us to a second stop at Bright Angel Lodge. We took a few more pictures and bought more things at the gift shop. Eugene replaced his jacket; I bought some Native American crafts. By this time, the sun was setting, and we had to go back. We did see an elk, but I wasn't able to get a good photo from the moving bus. The flight back was much smoother.

We arrived back at our hotel after 8:00. We didn't finish with dinner until about 9:20, so afterward we hoofed it over to a restaurant we'd noticed earlier in another hotel. This restaurant, the Chocolate Swan, has been featured on the Food Network, so of course we were determined to sample its wares before leaving Vegas. The treats were well worth it!

This was our last night in Vegas, so after our chocolate, it was time to pack. I'm amazed we got all of our stuffed animals into our suitcases!

Day Six

We had a mid-afternoon flight back to Chicago, but we got to the airport well ahead of schedule. Given how busy security was, that was probably a good idea. I did get my first pregnancy comment from a stranger, so I'm definitely showing. (At least no unwelcome belly rubs were involved.) Other than that, the flight was uneventful. We arrived in Chicago before the storm, luckily. It's not the best welcome back, but at least we weren't stranded anywhere.

We're poorer in cash but richer in memories. I doubt we'll be taking any more vacations like this for a while, so it's good we were able to take one now.

I have too many pictures to post on the blog, so you can view some of them here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Vegas Vacation, Part One

Eugene and I are in Las Vegas this week. He's doing continuing education; I'm on vacation. I have to pay for Internet access at the hotel, so I won't be on much until Saturday. But here's the trip so far:

Day One:

Eugene and I left the apartment at 8:30 a.m. to go to the airport. He’d checked us in over the Internet the day before, so check-in and security were a breeze. The flight itself was pretty uneventful too. I did manage to finish one book and nearly finish another by the time we landed.

I could tell the difference immediately. Even before getting off the plane, it was much warmer. And the bank of slot machines in front of our gate was a bit of a clue too that we were in Las Vegas. When we went outside to catch a cab to the hotel, there were palm trees and other unfamiliar plants.

All of the hotels here on the strip are huge. The whole first floor is dominated by row upon row of slot machines, ranging from penny slots to high-roller ones. Other areas are set aside for blackjack and poker, but I don’t know those games well enough to attempt them. Each hotel also has lots of shops and restaurants, the latter ranging from fast food to gourmet. The smoke wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be, but it’s still noticeable. By the end of my first night, I already had a sore throat.

After we managed to check into our room, Eugene left to sign in for his conference and attend lecture. I took off my long underwear, called my parents, explored the hotel, and relaxed until Eugene returned. We had dinner at one of the buffets in our hotel, then we explored two other hotels connected to ours by walkways. They were pretty similar to ours regarding the gambling, but the theme of each hotel was different. They also had different attractions. We ended up going through a shark reef exhibit in one of the hotels, The gift shop had a big stuffed orca, so we bought him as a friend for Oscar. After having tea at one of the Starbucks, we headed back.

Day Two

We both got up early; Eugene had lectures starting at 8:00, and I couldn’t stay asleep. We had breakfast together at the buffet before splitting up for the morning. I gambled five bucks while waiting for the hair salon to open, but my money was gone in less than five minutes. Video games give me more fun for the buck. When the salon opened, I made an appointment for a manicure in the afternoon. Then I set off to explore some of the other hotels. While the weather was much better than it had been in Chicago, it was still a bit cool for me. It was also overcast with some slight rain.

I stopped briefly in the New York hotel, but I was primarily interested in the Belliago and their fine art exhibit. That hotel had some of the pricier shops I’ve seen so far—not that there’s much point in me buying any clothes or shoes while I’m pregnant. The gallery had a special exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs. I was a little disappointed in not being able to see some of the old masters, but it was still interesting to see the photographs and learn more about Adams. Of course I had to tell Eugene about the exhibit so he can see it for himself. I had some sorbet before walking back to the hotel to meet Eugene for lunch, stopping along the way to pick up bottled water at a drugstore and check out another hotel. By the time I finally found Eugene, I was exhausted from all the walking. We had lunch with two of his godparents and our wedding sponsors; they were also there for the convention.

After my manicure, I relaxed the rest of the afternoon, too tired to explore. Eugene and I took a cab over to the Mirage to see the Beatles show “Love.” We had dinner at that hotel’s buffet. It was good; they had din sum, sushi (which I couldn’t have), and other seafood. My stomach was so tight I couldn’t even finish my salad, though. After dinner, we went straight to the theater and got seated.

“Love” was quite a show. I’d never seen a Cirque du Soleli show before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The theater was divided into quadrants with gauzy translucent curtains. Some of the cast members wandered around before the show started, offering entertainment. The show itself was showcased around the Beatle’s songs. It was vaguely biographical in the beginning, showing Liverpool in the aftermath of WWII and early Beatlemania. The Beatles’ voices could be heard occasionally, and clippings and movies were shown on two sceens. But most of the show was devoted to interpreting the Beatles’ songs. There were some recurring characters, such as a young girl trapped in a window and other woman in a long red dress. My favorite character was a guy who reminded me of Kramer from Seinfeld (which is more unusual because I didn’t watch the show very much). He appeared from time to time with a bouquet of yellow flowers, attempting to offer them to female characters but getting rejected each time. I felt sorry for him.

Some of my favorite parts of the show included “Something,” which featured women on trapezes swinging through the air while a man tried to woo all of them at once, and “Octopus’s Garden.” The costumes for that part of the show made the performers look like jellyfish. “Blackbird” was comical, as a man kept urging a group of four birds to fly. Every time they tried, they crashed. At other times, the show passed over the audience or even came into the audience. During one song, a bed rose into the air, and the sheets from it spread out over the audience. Unfortunately, they stopped a couple of rows shy from our seats; Eugene whispered to me he wanted a partial refund. It’s not a show that can be captured on DVD; there’s just too much going on all at once. Some of the interpretations were a bit abstract; I think it’s the kind of show you’d need to see a couple of times to get all of it. Still, it was great, the kind of thing I know John in particular would have loved.

We had talked about going around a bit more after the show, but while I was waiting in line to purchase a couple of souvenirs, I started to feel sick. We took another cab back to our hotel. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we did, as shortly afterwards I had to make use of a wastebasket. It must have been something I ate; I suspect perhaps it was the shrimp cocktail. The good thing is that it seemed to pass pretty quickly. Still, I crashed very early that night.

Day Three

The morning was similar to the day before, except that I decided to stay in and rest to make sure the baby and I were both OK. It’s always reassuring to feel the baby kicking, though the kicks are still on the “soft” side. I met Eugene for lunch. Afterwards, I walked to the Tropicana to see two of their exhibits. Unfortunately, both of them were closed until further notice. So I went next door to the MGM Grand to see the lions on display. (They’re in a zoo-like exhibit behind glass.) They have two males less than a year old. I watched them for a little while, took a picture, and then walked to the Bellagio. The weather was sunnier today, but it was still a bit cool (for my taste) in the shade. Of course, it still beats Chicago this time of year! I checked out the conservatory, which was decorated for the Chinese New Year, and took some pictures. Then I sat in the lobby and rested for a while, closing my eyes and bobbing my head every few minutes. When I returned to our hotel, I treated myself (and the baby) to ice cream. Then I relaxed in the room until Eugene returned. We plan to go around some more tonight. I think if I go anywhere tomorrow, however, it will be by monorail. This is more walking than I do on the treadmill at home.

That’s all for now. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog again before we get back. I do have pictures, but I’ll upload them later.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Missed Turns and Good Friends

Our friends Adam and Natalie came into town this weekend, so we planned to have dinner together and meet at the restaurant. Unfortunately, the directions from the Internet were flawed; a turn was left out. (And no, a "right out" wouldn't have helped either.) We realized we were lost about the time we were supposed to meet our friends. We called them to explain the situation, then luckily managed to find an alternate route on a folded map Eugene had in the car. We were nearly an hour late, which was quite aggravating. But our friends understood, and we had a good time talking to them.

I'd go into more detail, but we have to catch a flight later this morning. Time to turn int.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Stolen from Sara

You Are Bert
Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Rose Day!

I found a big box at my desk when I came into work this morning. (The roads were much better today, BTW.) It had arrived last night after I'd left. Eugene sent me two dozen red roses and a box of chocolates. Of course I had to take a picture of the flowers after I put them in the vase:
I had to work late tonight, plus I had to stop for gas on the way home. However, since Eugene was also running late, it wasn't a problem. We had dinner at home: shrimp and steak, potatoes, carrots, and salad. The baby ate well tonight! Plus, Eugene also made a chocolate tart topped with raspberries, and we also have chocolate-covered strawberries. We'll be having those soon.

As for gifts, Eugene spoiled me with a diamond necklace. (It has a pendant of dangling diamonds that are supposed to represent love growing over the years. There's a special name for it, but I don't remember what it is.) Unfortunately, my gifts to him didn't work out quite as well. I bought him three history books and a CD, but he already had two of the books. At least he laughed about it. I've already ordered a couple of different books (photography ones he wanted) for him through Amazon.

Need I say how lucky I am to have a husband who treats me so well? Happy Valentine's Day, my sweetie. I love you so much.

(Ok, better sign off before I get too mushy....)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Driving and Dogs

I hate to talk about the weather, but it was certainly blog-worthy today. I'm not sure how much snow we received, but with that and the winds, I was a Nervous Nellie on the roads today. It took me about forty minutes (instead of my normal fifteen-twenty, depending on the route I take) each way. Of course, I was going much slower than normal. My boss was kind enough to let us leave early, so that helped. I'm wondering if I should go in at the normal time tomorrow or not. It'll depend on how much snow we get overnight. I really should go in at my regular time to start an experiment, though.

I spent some time with Eugene tonight watching the Westminster Dog Show. There are some beautiful dogs out there, and some of the breeds were new to me. It's also amazing how the judges can evaluate so many breeds, holding each one up to its standard, without taking notes. I wasn't sure which dog to pick for Best in Show, but Eugene correctly predicted the winner. He may not be a judge, but he knows more about dogs than I do!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Baby Shopping

Eugene suggested the title of this post to make people wonder what we meant. No, we didn't find any babies for sale this weekend. Guess it's a good thing we did it ourselves. ;)

We went to Babies-R-Us this weekend to look at cribs. I've heard they can take months to come in, so it might not be too soon to order one. That is, if we can decide on one. There were several models set up in the store; through trial and error, we realized that we need to get one with a drop-down side. Given my lack of height, it's the only way I can reach into the crib. We did see a couple of models we liked, but since I forgot the Baby Bargains book at home, we held off on ordering. The book did say that this manufacturer makes good cribs but not-so-great furniture. I asked about that on a forum I belong to, and the moms there were satisfied. But then I looked at the reviews on the BRU website, and they were decidedly mixed. Several people even said their children were able to climb out of the cribs--not a good sign at all! All cribs sold in the U.S. are supposed to meet certain safety standards no matter what the price is. I'd like to think this model really will be safe, as we will probably end up buying a crib from BRU. We haven't found another place close to us where we can look and feel the cribs before choosing one.

Travel systems are also tough. We've definitely decided on the car seat, but the Baby Bargains book says the matching stroller isn't very durable. We did see another possible stroller at the store. It's more expensive, but it's lighter and has a higher rating. But will we be able to use it with the car seat? There's the rub.

At least I don't have to worry about clothing, as my mom seems to be taking care of that all by herself. But I think the baby registry is going to be much harder to create than the wedding ones.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Links

I added a couple of new links to some more blogs.

The first one is called "From Me to You," and it's written by a local Beatle fan. We belong to the same Beatles forum. I'm not sure if we've met, but I'm sure we've been at the same "Fest for Beatles Fans." Maybe we'll get to meet this year; it'll depend on how things are going with the baby by then.

The second one is "Stuck Inside a Cloud," another blog of mine on LiveJournal. (The name comes from a George Harrison song.) Yes, I know; the last thing I need is another journal to maintain. As I discussed in a previous entry, it seems that most of the bloggers on my writing workshop use LiveJournal. The plan therefore is to move some of the writing-related posts to LiveJournal so I can network with them. (Ironically, one of my writing friends will be moving her blog to Blogger soon.) I don't know if I'll use it as much as this blog, but of course all of you are welcome to check it out.

I'm finally caught up on crits for the moment, though I'm sure that will change tomorrow. ;) For now, while I do have a couple of things to take care of before bed, I finally may have a chance to work on my own stuff. When will I stop being bass-ackwards about critting and writing?

Monday, February 05, 2007

More Hair-Raising Comments

Normally, I'm not surprised if people fail to notice when I have my hair cut. When my hair was below my shoulders, it's not so obvious if it's an inch or two shorter. But chopping off as much as I did is definitely drew some comments at work today. Most of them were complimentary, but my boss apparently is going to need some time to adjust to my new style. He keeps thinking I'm someone else. His wife, our company president, asked if I'd donated my hair. That's a noble thought, but since I hadn't planned to go so short, I didn't arrange to save my shorn locks. I'm not sure if they would have been suitable anyway--I think the hair has to be a certain length and unprocessed. I haven't had my hair highlighted since the wedding, but I'm sure there were still traces of that present.

With that, I think I'll have to find some new subject material tomorrow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Well, here's the new hairdo. Yes, we just took this, so I'm tired.

Not much for me to say about the Super Bowl; I don't even understand the game. Personally, I preferred the Puppy Bowl. But I did get some crocheting done. Now, it's time for me to get some sleep.

The Horsemen Are Coming!

Remember how I announced I was pregnant?

Horsemen Two and Three of the Apocalypse are on their way.

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at my hair and decided it was so long it was losing body. Plus, I have to admit I was getting tired of having to pull it back from my face every day. So, yesterday I went to the salon and got something completely different.

Just how much did I chop off? Well, I don't think my hair has been this short since undergrad, or even high school. I'm still getting used to it, though I have to admit it took me much less time to take care of my hair this morning.

No, I don't have any pictures yet. We should have taken some yesterday, but we didn't. I'm still in sweats and sans makeup, so I'll do everyone a favor and not post pictures until I'm more presentable. You'll probably have to wait until tonight, or even tomorrow.

This brings me to the second shocking thing I'm doing this weekend: I'm actually going to watch the Super Bowl. We were invited to a party by some friends of ours, and that's the only reason I'd spend that much time in front of the tube when I'm four crits behind on the OWW. At least it will be nice to get together with people; hopefully we'll also get to see our tango instructors again. I'm planning to bring my latest crocheting project along and work on that while I watch. I won't understand the game, but I've heard Apple has a big Beatles-related announcement to make. Now, if only Paul was performing again....

Friday, February 02, 2007

Double Crash

We hired a new scientist at work last month. We're not only sharing an office but also a printer, and my computer has been acting as the server. That means instead of turning it off every night, I need to leave it on standby. For some reason, it doesn't "come back to life" as quickly as my laptop at home, so I foolishly end up pressing the on/off switch several times. I say "foolishly" because when I did that yesterday, I wound up summoning an image I thought I'd never see again--The Blue Screen of Death. Even rebooting the computer didn't help. We were worried at first that I'd fried the hard drive completely and that I'd lost everything. (Well, not everything; I do back up my files. Unfortunately, I'd been remiss and hadn't backed up for three weeks.) By some miracle, our IT person was able to get my computer up and running again, files and all. And yes, I did immediately back up to a flash drive. I'm backing up my laptop to an external hard drive as I blog; at least that promptes me to back up every week.

I would have posted about this last night, but I was so tired I wound up crashing myself. It was probably a combination of several nights of "sleepus interruptus" and a hectic day at work. So no writing for me last night, but I doubt I would have been happy with it anyway. So I went to bed around 8:30-9:00. I guess I needed to do it; Eugene said he came in at one point to check on me and found me snoring! Hopefully today I'll be a little more wide awake.

Site Meter