Monday, December 29, 2008

Garden Humor

Originally uploaded by prismglass

I spotted this sign hanging from this historic plant in a Kew Garden greenhouse the first time I was in London. I then had to find it again on my second trip, both to show B and to get a photo of it. The language joke is a bit juvenile, but come on, that plant is older than our country!

(Yes, this post is nowhere near topical or timely - I'm just poking through some of my Flickr data and it jumped out as something I'd like to share with all of you. Don't you feel special?)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Snow

Originally uploaded by prismglass

Here's our front walkway, shoveled this morning by B. The snow was coming down in huge flakes today, but I was grateful the temperatures were much higher than earlier this week.

Merry Christmas to everyone, if you are so inclined.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Easy Turkey Gravy


Here's how I made the gravy for Thanksgiving this year.
1) B cooked Alton Brown's Roast Turkey, it turned out like this:

It is Turkey Time!  Happy Thanksgiving  Internet Americans. on TwitPic

2) After that was lifted out of the roasting pan and the rack removed, I set the pan over two burners on medium and added one of these mini bottles of wine:


3) Using a flat whisk, I deglazed all the stuff from the bottom of the pan (wasn't much - the turkey retained most of its fat and juices) and stirred until it had mostly melted. B then helped pour everything out of the roasting pan into a medium size sauce pot.


4) The sauce pot went on another burner, also on medium. I had two measuring cups nearby: one had two Tbsp of flour dissolved into half a cup of water, the other was just a cup of water. Nowhere near all of either of these went into the gravy. Stirring constantly, after the solids had almost all dissolved (I got impatient) I started by drizzling a bit of the flour mixture into the pot. Since it was near boiling, this thickened the mixture immediately. I kept alternating between the water to add volume and the flour mixture to thicken until it "seemed like enough".

This makes an empathetically flavored gravy. Let me give you an analogy here >>>>
diner gravy : this stuff :: "pancake syrup" : 100% pure maple syrup

You don't need much. And the turkey doesn't need it for moisture because Alton's method turns out so well. OF COURSE THIS IS GOOD GRAVY - IT IS MOSTLY WINE AND FOND.


The Hoarse Whisperer

I lost my voice last night because of the cold I've been fighting this week. I CAN talk normally, if I don't mind coughing up a tonsil after each sentence. Today at work I managed to communicate verbally by whispering. It worked fairly well over the phone, because I could be very quiet and the other person heard me just fine. Face-to-face was interesting because everyone tended to whisper back as a trained reaction when someone whispers to them. But, my ears are also clogged from the cold, so I couldn't understand what they were saying. So, I had to let each individual I talked to know that they needed to talk back to me at a normal volume. (Apparently this is difficult.) I got a lot more funny looks than normal today.

(Dad, are you proud of the pun in the title? I'm sure it is well aged.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pretending to be an iPhone

I don't have any mobile devices that can see the Internet. My phone is so old you can't even send it photos. (Well, you can try and send me a wad of data, which it will not display.) BUT, I am loving the "mobile" versions of websites. Several sites that I try to use regularly take up so much bandwidth (*cough* my bank *cough*) or have slightly broken widgets (*cough* Weight Watchers *cough*) that I can't get reliable operation out of them.

Ah, but the Mobile versions are OPTIMIZED for tiny bandwidth and "just the basics" functionality. So, say it is lunch time at work so the network may as well be dial-up: in this case I can still check transactions at the bank or enter my meal into the online WW planner. Since I'm using a regular browser, this only works for sites that let you "force" mobile, rather than asking the browser if I am really an iPhone before giving me the goods.

If you want to try this out, usually the link to the mobile version of a site is on the main page. And, of course, there's always Google if the Flash-based broken-Java ad-strewn regular website is *gasp* hiding information.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Hiding, You're Doing it Wrong.
(Modeled by Nigel, who is just happy to have found a sunbeam.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Post About Time

First, thanks to everyone who responded to my post about vacation time. It reminded me how valuable it is to have flexibility, not just quantity, in work arrangements.

So, my watch stopped working this week. I went to put it on Tuesday morning, and realized the date display still thought it was Monday evening. The hands were not moving, either. I even pulled the knob out and pushed it back in, just in case that had been stuck again. I had just had the battery replaced not two months ago, so I was concerned something else was wrong. I took it in to the Fossil store in the mall, where they replaced the battery to see if that was the problem. No luck, it must be a mechanical problem. So, I get to dig up the warranty booklet (ha!) and send it in for repairs.

In the meantime, I'm reminded that I have no natural sense of time. I just can't tell how much time has passed without looking at a clock. I burnt two hours in the mall, when I thought only about 45 minutes had gone by. When I stepped away from my desk at work, (therefore away from my computer and its time display) I felt like I had gone "off the grid" - it was so disorienting to not know how long I was talking with someone or how long I had to get to a meeting. I finally bought a cheap watch at Sears, so it would stop driving me nuts. (To those of you asking, "why doesn't she just look at her phone?" it is because my phone is not attached to me.)

Only after I get home and have been wearing the new ($13.99) watch for a few hours, I remember that I have a nickel allergy. I have NO idea what the band is made out of. The watch back tells me that it is made from stainless steel, but no clues for the expandable metal band. Ugh. Well, if it starts irritating my skin, then I'll take that as a good excuse to just buy another watch. Of known metallurgical origins.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Poll: Vacation Days

We only get 12 vacation days per year. It increases to 15 days after 10 years of service, then 20 days after 15 years of service. Is this good, normal, or poor? It doesn't seem like enough, especially to both take a see-new-places trip and do a family visit in the same year.

We do get 12 holidays as days off with pay, mostly clumped at the end of the year for Christmas shutdown. Also, sick days aren't levied against us, so that is fair. Comp-time is an option, but that doesn't really count in my mind as time off (we can get paid for any overtime instead).

So, a quick poll: is your vacation policy better or worse than mine is? Do you feel like you get enough time off? Do you even get to use your vacation time?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Harvest Festival

Somehow I totally missed this last year, though it seems to be an age-old tradition at my new church. Harvest Festival, also called Harvest Days, is November 7th and 8th (Friday and Saturday) 2008, at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church. Hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

It is a combination craft fair and bake sale, with ALL of the stuff made by members of the congregation. Lunch is also a big deal, with BBQ and "Apple Slices" made from scratch at the church. (From how they have been described, Apple Slices are like apple pies the size of sheet pans.) Craft items include: jewelry, floral arrangements, woodcrafts, holiday decorations, fabric art, ornaments, greeting cards, quilts, and even a White Elephant table. (I don't think the White Elephant stuff is made by the congregation, more like DISCARDED by the congregation...) Bake sale items include bread, cookies, pies, and cakes.

St. John is located at 1800 S Rodenburg Rd. Schaumburg, IL 60193. They are at the intersection of Irving Park Rd. and Rodenburg Rd. If you exit the Elgin OHare Expressway westbound at Irving Park, turn left at the bottom of the off ramp. The church is on the south side of Irving Park Rd, with the main parking lot across the street. They belong to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

I finally went to a meeting for the Service Guild at church after someone clued me in that it existed. All women members of the church are default members of the Service Guild, and from what I could tell from one meeting, they appear to keep the church running. This is their major fund-raiser for the year. I declined to volunteer to work at Harvest Days, but I did say I would blog about it. If I'm in a cooking mood on Friday night I may make something for the bake sale. It is nice to feel more incorporated into the church. At St. Peter's I never moved beyond "Choir Alto #4" and I'm not sure why. Maybe because no one asked?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Six Flags Season Wrap-Up

We went to Six Flags Great America one last time for the season on Saturday, their last long open day. Apparently, the draw of being the last Saturday in Fright Fest trumped the weather. Lines were 2X longer (time-wise) than any of the other days we went this year. So, not only did we wait an hour and a half for Raging Bull, our toes and fingers were going numb. Still, it was worth it for a day outside and riding 5 coasters. (Viper, Batman, Raging Bull, Batman, Viper) That last Viper ride, we got in line 15 minutes before close, and got on the LAST car of the LAST train of the night.

Here are my opinions of the significant roller coasters in the park:

1) Raging Bull: BEST ride at Six Flags Great America. Smooth ride the whole way, you aren't distracted by physical pain from noticing the height and speed. Designed to trick your mind a bit, there aren't really loops, but it does tilt the track to one side and another at the top of the tallest sections. Rather than being strapped in over the shoulders or secured by a safety-belt, you just get a molded lap bar that sits on top of your thighs. K observed you can hook your feet under the seat for extra security if you want. I am more likely to hold my legs out straight and my arms up in the air. If you don't remember what is coming next, there are three places in the ride where it suddenly drops. I suggest taking the last row of seats, with the braver people sitting to the outside. There are two places, one for each side, where you are sure that the outside person is going to slam into the safety railing flying at you. Overall really great, and not too short to enjoy.

2) Batman (the older, suspended one): Now that it isn't "new" the lines are shorter than previous years. We feel that it is worth the extra wait time to get in the front row, otherwise all you see if the back of the row in front of you. The front row is crazy as you fly too close (not really) to landscaping and support beams. Keep your eyes open or you miss the best parts of the ride. K's father has me on his "list" now for making us take the front row of this ride! Which seat you get in the row doesn't seem to make as much of a difference in this one. If the line for the front is ridiculous, the back row makes it feel like your shoes are getting pulled off of your feet. The seats and shoulder restraints feel VERY secure, you aren't going to move at all in relation to your bucket during the ride. Fast, loopy, and spinny, even throws you at the ground a few times. It is over too quickly, however, to be completely satisfying.

3) Viper: Wooden, fast, pulled out of your seat at the top of the hills. Take the last car for the most free-fall events. The weekdays never had a line, even on Saturday it was only about a half an hour wait. Everyone forgets to take off the seatbelt before standing up at the end - watch for this, it is pretty funny.

4) Eagle: Wooden "racers" aren't always running both the red and blue sides. Classic coaster, less comfortable than the Viper, loud, jarring, but still fun.

5) Superman: New, flying coaster. Very long line for a very short ride. Do it at night if you can for a more intense experience. You are strapped in so tightly (even at the ankles!) you can't hold your arms out straight in the classic Superman pose. Which row you get doesn't seem to matter at all. Each row has a good view since you are facing away from the track. Sensations are totally different than other rides. I found myself not making any noise at all because I NEEDED THAT OXYGEN TO BREATHE!

6) Demon: 80's looping coaster. Short line, short ride, from back when the number of loops and corkscrews was all that mattered. Unfortunately the shoulder restraints look like they still carry the evidence of all the riders since the 80's. Ewwwww. I saw a lot of smaller children in line for this one, which is cool. Get them hooked early!

I didn't ride Iron Wolf at all this year because it HURTS, or V2 because it FREAKS ME THE HELL OUT. Great if you like those, I'll just go do Batman again instead. Or Viper twice.

7) The Dark Knight: They really should call this a fun-house ride instead of a coaster. Nothing like Space Mountain, other than it is indoors. The line is better than the ride, seriously, because of the nifty Gotham city maps. Worth it for serious coaster riders only if it is raining. Suitable for all ages, if not afraid of clowns.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Report

I think I got home too late (but still before 6pm) and missed most of the Trick-or-Treaters walking past our house. They are still showing up, but only one group every 10 to 15 minutes or so. Costumes aren't fancy this year, but everyone is at least wearing something resembling a costume so far. Age range is mixed, including small children carried by parents and teenagers helping take their younger siblings around the neighborhood. We give out toys, which I love doing because none of the kids are expecting it and I get great reactions. I can get a gross of bouncy balls for cheap from Oriental Trading company, plus activity books, glow-in-the-dark stickers, and other fun items. Any leftovers get stored for next year.

I had my Halloween dress-up fun last night by pretending to be a rock star at Live Band Karaoke. Yes, I've been there every week for the past four weeks, and it is still fun. There are only two more weeks for the band to make a good impression on the nightclub and not get canceled!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fight Poverty by Donating Light

A while back I got a link from a friend to the website of the Freeplay Foundation, and today is Blog Action Day 2008 so it seemed like a good time to write about it. This charity fights poverty by designing and delivering electronic equipment to communities in need. But, nothing as glamorous as a laptop. They make radios and lights. There are still places in the world where artificial light is rare and dangerous! I'll be donating a $30 Lifelight in a few minutes here, and I encourage you to think about giving the gift of Blinky Lights as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Multi-Generational Photo

Thanks to the gaming equipment museum that exists behind the TV at pikafoop's apartment, I was able to get this classic multi-generational photo. Nintendo Power Glove holding Nintendo Wiimote. (Power Glove modeled by pikafoop.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lessons from the Past Few Weeks

Mini-golf = fun. Mini-golf at dusk = mosquitoes = less fun.

There is a wind farm in Indiana. If you take 41 between Kentland and Boswell you will drive through it. Those windmills are enormous!

Live Band Karaoke is now happening every Thursday night at Heat Nightclub in Schaumburg. October 9th was the first night, and we went early enough that they let us in free. Despite what the marketing material says, you don't need to call anyone or register ahead of time. Almost no one else was there to sing, so I got to do five songs in about one and a half hours. Having a live band, rather than an unforgiving recording, to sing along with, made it a better experience. The Karaoke Dokies are fun and supportive.

Not-fun things happened too. Our prayers and thoughts are with Amanda, Tony, and Olivia.

I showed Hannah, the three-year-old daughter of friends, how to use my point-and-shoot digital camera while she was visiting our house for a cookout. It made me think about how much benefit we are getting from photos now being, basically, "free". Rechargeable batteries, unlimited exposures on giant memory cards, and inexpensive high-quality compact cameras are a major change from when we were younger. I used a lot of my family's money on film developing and equipment as a budding photographer. Hannah will always be able to take as many pictures as she wants. Eventually, she may learn that she does not need to tell all of her subjects to "say cheese".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yarn and Pictures

I've gotten more into crochet recently, especially since finding projects that are shorter-term and wearable. Learning the foundation-extended crochet stitch so I no longer work into the dreaded chain is a big help, too. If you care about this paragraph, my Ravelry user name is prismglass, find me and friend me!

Realizing that the only content I'd be sorry to lose on my laptop hard drive (in case of loss or damage) is my thousands of photos, I now have a pro account on Flickr. Unlimited uploads and storage for 2 years for $48, plus I got three months free. Most of the photos I've uploaded are viewable by "friends and family" only. (Not everything is online yet.) You can get a free account to view the pictures, then let me know so I can add you as a contact. Again, my user name is prismglass.

Sense a pattern? I came up with the name in High School to play Yahoo! games. It seemed both professional (optics) and feminine at the same time. There are a few places where I couldn't use prismglass, because it was already taken. Amusingly, the LEGO forum rejected it because it contained the word "ass." Ooops.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One of Those Weeks

It was one of those weeks this week at work, and now we have a rainy weekend. Puddles have formed in the front yard already, which usually has good drainage. At least the pressure is off to get anything done outside. And, I don't feel as bad for not signing up to run the Dundee Road Race 5k this year, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning - so is a 90% chance of getting an inch of rain. Still, I'm very glad it is not a hurricane, or any other form of weather that is trying to kill us.

Maybe I'll finish that crochet project I haven't worked on all summer. Or one of the books I'm theoretically reading. My minimum goal is to re-hang the sliding doors and track in front of the washer/dryer, to clear the last of the bathroom stuff from my sewing room. Oh, and to recover from work enough that I can face next week a bit less grumpy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Anyone Need a Photographer?

I have seriously got to get back into finding photography gigs, so I can justify buying the Sony A900. Anyone need a wedding photographer? I did three weddings as the official photographer in 2006, and it is something I could see myself doing in the future as a more serious side business. At this point, we just call it "hobby income" on the tax forms.

But, you say, "I was going to invite you as a guest to the wedding, will you only take photos if we pay you?" No, of course not, but if you pay me I will bring the big cameras, haul around a tripod and lighting equipment, and not drink at the reception. I also do not feel right taking pictures of all of the other guests unless I'm official. Your "real" photographer would start glaring at me. So, when I'm just a guest I concentrate on getting fun photos of people I know already.

Here are some pointers for wedding photographers and the wedding party, no matter who is taking the pictures:

1) Do not let the lights in the reception hall get really dim. Cameras can't focus quickly and reliably if there isn't enough ambient light. My flash would do auto-focus assist, but not when I'm using it in bounce flash mode, which is the most flattering way to light your guests.

2) Do tell the photographer if one of his or her main subjects smiles without showing teeth. All of our wedding photos look funny because I didn't realize the photographer was forcing B to show his teeth.

3) There are many good reasons to not allow others to photograph during the formal portraits, that have nothing to do with greed. Some wireless lighting setups are disturbed by other flashes. Time is tight, and waiting for people to put away cameras, or "just take one" picture can waste that time. But most of all, other lenses draw the eyes and attention of the portrait subjects. Ever see a group photo where one or two people are looking off to the side? Yeah, that was cause Aunt Ethel just waved at them to take a quick picture with her disposable camera.

4) Don't bother with disposable cameras on the tables. It is so common for people to have point-and-shoot digital cameras now, these may not even be picked up. If they are, they may be handed to small children, and you will end up with a lot of pictures of food. Inside of mouths.

5) If you get digital files of your wedding photos, use an online printing service rather than an inkjet for your album prints. The results will be more archival, less expensive, and the colors will be properly balanced. I like because they take DVDs in the mail, so I do not need to waste hours uploading data.

6) Photographers appreciate cake.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Non-Standard Use Case

Okay, most of the time, I am glad that my washing machine does not move around easily. Even when it gets imbalanced it will only move about an inch. But whatever makes it difficult to move on-accident is also making it difficult to move on-purpose. Lifting up the front edge from the bottom and dragging backwards works well enough for moving it away from the wall. But putting it back was much more involved, and I found myself needing to brace my feet against the opposite cabinet to get enough leverage. And that was just for the washing and masking step, I have to do that two more times for the primer then the paint. If only there were a switch to flip between "high friction" and "low friction" modes? (If you are an appliance designer, maybe you could drop this into the feature suggestion box?) At least the dryer is much easier to deal with by comparison.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Problem with Exercise

Why do I have such a hard time getting myself to the gym on a regular basis, when I always end up feeling so great while I'm working out? Lifting weights demands so much concentration that I am forced to not think or worry about anything else. Just movement, form, and counting for 45 minutes to an hour, a nice vacation for my brain while my body gets a challenge. Because, for the rest of the day, my body is sitting still in a chair while my brain runs laps on the computer.

But I let myself forget this, too often.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quality of Life

I love travel, but I just do not get enough vacation time from work to leave town as often as I would like. Rather than wait until retirement, I figured out a way to go on more trips more often. A month or two ago, I let my manager know that I loved to travel, and would love to go on more business trips. It worked!

At the beginning of August, I was sent to Israel for a three-day meeting. We (one program manager was on the trip with me)
left on Sunday afternoon, got there on Monday, and had meetings on Tuesday (which ended early) and Wednesday. Since the meetings were so successful, we took Thursday off. Flight home left early Friday, and I was back home Friday afternoon.

The hotel we stayed in is on the hill in Haifa. Here is a view out my window:

On Tuesday after the meeting was over we drove to Akko, which is an old city on the Mediterranean Sea. Here I am, in front of the sea, the ruins of an old sea wall, and a random tour bus:

This is the most foreign place I have ever visited, and the most ancient. Humans have been here for at least 5000 years, building and destroying and building again. So there are incredibly historic places and structures with modern buildings alongside, sometimes integrated into the old walls and foundations. Not quite preservation, and not quite "urban renewal" demolition, just human history visible everywhere.

On Thursday we drove to Tiberius, on western side of the Sea of Galilee. Not having enough energy to do an extensive tour of all the historic sites in the area, we just walked for a while on the sidewalk that runs next to the shore. Unlike the Mediterranean Sea, or even Lake Michigan, you can see the other side of the Sea of Galilee from the shore. And, it has litter and graffiti and a water-park alongside the Roman ruins and sacred graveyards. People live here, and this is the lake in their "front yard."

Bonus: when traveling overseas, company policy is to buy Business Class tickets!

Note: comment moderation is turned on. I will not publish politicized, hateful, or spam comments. If this post attracts too many trolls, I will edit it to remove the names of countries and cities.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Amusing San Fran Photos

Here are some pictures from the trip. First, this gas station in San Francisco has solar panels on its roof.
Next, I love the text on the side of this building. Unfortunately, the attraction was closed.
Of course, I took plenty of pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the guidebook, the bridge is orange because people liked the color of the primer so much the builder decided to stick with it.

And I'll leave you with this warning sign from the Botanical Garden in the Golden Gate Park. Think they covered everything?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

San Francisco Vacation

We returned late last night from our vacation in San Francisco. I've never done so little planning for a trip before, but it worked out really well. Thanks to Travelocity's Last Minute Packages, we got a four-night stay plus airfare for two for a total of $1070. And this time I didn't need to spend a whole Saturday researching hotels and B&Bs like I have for the last few trips.

We stayed at the Executive Hotel Vintage Court. Their location is convenient to cable cars and buses, and not too far a walk from the Powell street BART station. Front desk staff were friendly (but not that fake-smile friendly) and helpful. The room was a decent size, pleasantly decorated, and well maintained. Bonus: free wine in the lobby between 5 and 6 pm, free coffee and danishes in the lobby between 7 and 9 am.

Instead of renting a car and attempting to drive in the city, we were all about the public transit. We used BART for rides to and from the airport for $10.70 round trip. Then, $24 each for a 7-day MUNI passport, which worked on all cable cars, buses, streetcars, and underground light rail. We used each of these options at least once during our trip. I thought the cable cars were fun, a cross between a tow rope and a really small roller coaster. Downsides include being slow and cold.

Ah, yes, cold. I packed wrong. It was windy and cold in the daytime, mostly cloudy, and often trying to rain. It was windier and colder at night. So, a jacket and sweatshirt was required over every outfit for the trip. The sun did come out during the day on Monday, so I have a sunburn on my face with a pale patch in the shape of my sunglasses.

Armed with a single guidebook, the Time Out San Francisco, we walked and ate our way through a good cross-section of the city. Chinatown, North Beach, the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, Richmond, Castro, the Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean Beach, Union Square, and so on. In a departure from previous vacation patterns, we only went to three museums. First, there was the Musee Mechanique, with old video games, pinball machines, and other antique amusements. We dropped a few quarters there - everything was in working condition! Next to that, floating in the water, was the USS Pampanito. It was larger on the inside than I expected, but crammed just as full of equipment as the Titan missile silo that we toured in Arizona. On our last day, we went to the Cartoon Art Museum, where I read every word of every cartoon on the walls.

Other highlights include: walking along the beach beside the Pacific ocean, staying Internet-free for the whole trip, never getting lost, the best pot-stickers ever, sourdough bread, walking to the top of Buena Vista park, DS Tetris battles, great music stores and bookstores, historic bars, the view from The Bridge, and catching ourselves forgetting that we were still in the United States. San Francisco is a crazy city. It was fun to be a part of it for a few days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gourmet Popcorn Ideas

Start with a bowl of plain popped popcorn. Spray your popcorn with PAM to help the spices stick. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt, sparsely sprinkle with granulated sugar, sparsely sprinkle with red (cayenne) pepper, and generously sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Shake the bowl a little to let the spices settle and distribute more evenly.


Try these combos on plain popped popcorn:
  • PAM, salt, an even amount of Chinese five-spice powder and garlic powder.
  • PAM, salt, Italian seasoning, with extra garlic powder if you like.
  • PAM, salt, cocoa powder, chili powder, and cinnamon. (I like a bit of heat with my sweeter choices.)
Popcorn is so accepting of any other flavor, you could probably steal the seasoning mixture from any favorite recipe and come out with a good result. What is the worst that happens? You pop more popcorn and try again?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shopping: a Good Hunt

It is so nice when the exact item you are shopping for is on Clearance or Deep Discount in several stores. I got five short-sleeved polo shirts for an average of $15 each. And these are nice brands: Liz Golf, Martin & Osa, and Eddie Bauer. So, they should last a few seasons longer than shirts that are usually at this price point. It was a Good Hunt.

(I've been using that phrase for a successful shopping trip since I was much younger. Arriving at home with my Mom after an outing to the Bridgewater Commons, Dad would ask us how it went. If we found what we were looking for a good prices, the answer was, "It was a Good Hunt." If you think this implies that shopping would often be frustrating, with us unable to find anything that fit, you'd be correct.)

A piece of information that I had not realized until I read it on a blog, possibly this bra blog, is that all ready-to-wear women's clothing is sized for a B cup. It makes everything make sense now: why have I NEVER been able to find a blouse or button-down woven shirt that fits, no matter what store or what size I try? Because none of them are meant to fit! If I buy large enough for my chest, it fits the rest of me like a tent. So, I do not bother trying these styles on anymore. If I ever really need to buy another one, I'll get a larger size and have it altered. For me, knit is the way to go.

I do sew, and I have sewn my own clothes, but this is not an easy way out. They decided that if you are not a B cup, you do not deserve an easy time of anything. All easy-to-find patterns for home sewing are standardized to - you guessed it - a B cup as well. You need to do an "FBA", or Full Bust Alteration, manually to each pattern. There are a few patterns they put out occasionally that include pieces for the other cup sizes, and I buy them when I notice them. And there is software around that will take your measurements and custom-draft simple patterns. But, really, how much more effort would it be to provide cup-size grading for all patterns?

To end on a higher note, and bring the male readers back into the conversation, here is more LEGO stuff. You know those beautiful modular house kits? They are built on a standardized set of dimensions, so we can design our own houses and interchangeable floors and roofs. I do like having the guidelines to work from, sort of like a building code for the mini-fig scale world.

Friday, July 11, 2008

LEGOLAND Chicago details

Thanks to some correspondence with people involved in the new LEGOLAND, here are a bunch of details that are not yet on their website.

"Soft" opening will be on July 25th, for press only in the morning and general public in the afternoon. The Grand Opening, with ribbon cutting, will be on July 31st. They will be open at 10 am each day.

Tickets cost $15 children, $19 adults, $17 seniors.
Year Passes for weekdays are $38 children, $48 adults.
Year Passes for all days are $53 children, $67 adults.
(I am considering the weekday year pass. I do not want to think about how insane this place is going to be on weekends!)

The literature says "Children 2-12 and their families". Well, I don't meet that criteria, so I asked, "are adults without children allowed to attend and participate? I am 29 years old, with no kids, and many of my friends (also with no children) are big LEGO fans. Which of the exhibits and attractions would we be allowed to work with, and which ones are off limits?" The response is, "Our attraction is focusing to give children from age 2 to 12 a great experience, but we will not deny any person access to our center because of age or no children." So, that's good.

The list of attractions does have a few things that I wouldn't be excited about. (Despite being in love with LEGO, I am not still eight years old.) Here are the things I am excited about:

(from the press release)
# Miniland – Wander through a LEGO-style Chicago skyline, built to scale
# Hall of Fame – Get up close & personal with LEGO versions of top superheroes
# Build & Test – Have fun with mountains of LEGOs, speed ramp & earthquake table
# Model Workshop - Work with a LEGO Master to build a masterpiece

I've never been to a LEGOLAND before, and as I understand it this is going to be less like an amusement park, and more like a museum. Cameras are allowed, so I will be geeking out on many different levels when I finally get to spend some time there.

Oh, and it turns out that Nigel, our cat, will try to eat the LEGOs that I have spread out on the floor. Not the smartest of his species, is he?

Monday, July 7, 2008

LEGO Discoveries Over the Weekend

"Want to see what happens when an Architect and two Mechanical Engineers go to the LEGO store?" - me, on Sunday

I bought the first LEGO set for myself, with my own money, that I have in a very long time. (I'm not counting the boxes of simple bricks or the grab-bag of random LEGO parts that I have bought a few times.) I got the Scuderia Ferrari Truck set, number 8654, which includes a semi trailer that holds an F1 car and a whole pit crew (with tools!) for $40, marked down from $80.

Slightly more exciting, I discovered that LEGO now offers the LEGO Digital Designer software for FREE download. They were even considerate enough to let it run on my computer, which is an iBook G4 from 2004 with Mac OS 10.3.9 running on it. I feel more comfortable designing in 3D CAD systems than I do on paper, and much more comfortable than just winging it. Once you have a model designed, you can upload it to the LEGO Factory and actually buy the pieces as a set. Apparently, it arrives in a customized box, with instructions. Sweet.

Most exciting, I found out that there is a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre opening at Streets of Woodfield. Date of arrival is uncertain, the sign is up but there is not much evidence of actual construction activity inside of the mall. The guys at the Woodfield LEGO store said they had heard July 31st would be the day. This mall is only about 10 minutes from where I work, on my way home. Certainly close enough to go to for lunch (LEGOLAND cafe, anyone?) and possibly worth getting a season pass for. No pricing information online yet either. It is wait and see for now...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Opposite of Lite

As a relaxing activity for after lunch, I decided to bake a pan of brownies from a "lite" dessert cookbook. I dutifully separated the egg whites, used a small snack-size container of applesauce, and even swapped Splenda in for the white sugar. Not until AFTER putting the pan into the oven did I realize that I had microwaved and used the entire stick of butter, rather than the 3 tablespoons called for by the recipe. Ooops - auto pilot. Well, the texture will probably be wrong. But at least this screw-up can only make them taste better.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Room That Prime(r) Forgot

I've had a lot of time to think up a bad pun for the title of this post. A significant amount of the past week has been spent with a scraper in hand, attacking our bathroom walls. As far as I can tell, 20 years ago, whoever first laid paint on the fresh drywall of our bathroom did not use any primer. The paint is coming off of the walls in sheets up to a square foot in size, with very little coaxing.

Everything was fine until last Friday. I thought that a three-day weekend with nice weather would be great to finally repaint the bathroom. It needed it, because almost a year and a half ago, Brian and his father re-did the tile in the shower area. They primed the new drywall they put up above the tile, and also the ceiling above the tub. So, the walls in the bathroom didn't match. I volunteered to finish the paint job, then proceeded to stall. Eventually I bought the ceiling and wall paint, then proceeded to stall. Last Thursday I went to the library and chose some books on painting interiors. On Friday I was so hyped about the project that when the cat woke me up at 4 am I couldn't get back to sleep. So, I went downstairs and started planning on a pad of green engineering paper. What needed to be moved out of the room? What needed to be cleaned first? What steps would I need to go through to accomplish my goals? What were my goals? What were the hours and phone numbers of all of the local hardware stores? And so on.

Fast-forward through a hard day of cleaning and organizing, to about 5 pm when I start on the step called "repair wall defects". I started to scrape away at a terrible patch job that one of the previous owners had done over a spot where window hardware once hung. I got the lump of misshapen compound removed, and continued to remove all of the loose paint surrounding the patch. A few minutes later I was wondering if something might be wrong. All of the paint was coming off, easily. I could slide the plastic scraper between the paint and the drywall, and lift it right off.


The drywall is PRISTINE. There is no water damage at all. There is evidence of adhesion on maybe 1% of the surface, the rest is clean paper like it has never been painted. The sheets of paint are sturdy, thick due to many layers over time, and have an imprint of the drywall paper on the wall side. The room side of the flexible paint sheets is glossy, the wall side is dusty. I put a few samples in a zip-top bag and took them to Menards, then to our local ICI paint store. No-one has seen this before.

What caused it? Obviously, in 1988 they did something really wrong, like not using primer, not cleaning the wall after sanding, and/or using really cheap paint. Then, I disturbed it. I mean, obviously this bathroom has been painted many times before, and the 1% adhesion is enough to keep the paint up. (Jessie says it is like a floating floor, but on our walls.) It wasn't naturally peeling yet. But, the walls are in bad shape (lumpy) even without the paint adhesion problem. Some former owners appear to not believe in sandpaper.

So, I'm putting in the work to do it the right way. At the moment, that is:
a) remove as much of the paint that comes off easily, sand the gloss finish off of the remaining paint, clean the walls
b) use Peel Stop on any remaining paint so it never comes off
c) use Gripper primer on the whole wall
d) repair the drywall divots, in one extra-bad place putting in a square of fresh drywall as a patch
e) sand the patched areas, clean all the dust off again, prime over the patched areas
f) paint the ceiling
g) paint the walls

Progress so far: still on step "a". I did accomplish one goal for the project as I originally wrote down at 4am: "Decide if you would like to paint any other rooms in this house." My decision, if you haven't already guessed it, is "DO NOT WANT."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Annual Purchase Limit

I hadn't noticed this one until the Bureau of Public Debt sent a reminder email. They've reduced the limit on annual purchasing of savings bonds to $5,000 per person. It used to be $30,000. The last time the limit was $5,000 was in 1973.

I'm not even going to try to guess the real reason they did this. But what it means is that one of the best places to keep cash without losing purchasing power to inflation, the I Series bond, is not as useful as it was.

I like I Bonds. The rates are continually adjusted to keep ahead of inflation. Right now, they are at 4.84%. They are sold at face value, have a minimum ownership time of 1 year, and only a 3 month interest penalty if sold before 5 years. You can buy directly from the Treasury Direct website for free, so there are no account fees or transaction fees to reduce the return. The interest income is even exempt from State income taxes.

Of course, I'm being a bit silly, because I've never bought $5,000 worth of I Bonds in one year. But I had planned to use them as the major cash component of my portfolio. They'd certainly be doing better than the stock I bought last year.

Friday, May 2, 2008

More Optics Gaming

I am now the proud owner of a board game with a Class II laser warning. We can blame Karen, because she said that when I was first talking about PRISM (the DS game) she thought I was talking about Khet. She also mentioned that they were selling it at Gamer's Paradise in Woodfield Mall. The sales dude there introduced it as "laser chess" because of how the pieces can be moved. I'm terrible at chess, but I do have an affinity for bouncing light around with mirrors.

He also mentioned that one can purchase a pair of beam-splitting pieces as an expansion. Then, he started to explain what those would do. At that point, I did let him know I was an optical engineer. (Flashbacks to engagement-ring diamond shopping, I do already know what an index of refraction is...) He then said that there are rumors of a second level that can be added on. I assume it will really start looking like that funky chess from Star Trek.
But now that I think on it more, that could have safety issues because it brings the beam level closer to eye-level.

So, who's up for a game? With Blinky Lights AND Shiny Objects?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fun Fun Fun

Why has it been so difficult for me to learn to let go a little and have fun, or even to take control and make fun happen? It would seem that fun is what other people have while we are getting work done. I'm in the last year of my twenties, which is, I think it has been said, when we are supposed to be having all of the craziest fun of our lives. I started my twenties at Rose (party central, if you count Denny's runs at 2 am on Tuesdays). Then, when that was over, I got a real job, got married, and we bought a house in the suburbs. Work Work Work.

In an attempt to shove a decade worth of fun into the remaining two-in-the-tens-place time I have left, I have a proposal. Let's get together and do something fun! I'll still put in my hours at work, and I'll still get the laundry and the dishes done, eventually. But, I want to GET OUT. To DO MORE. But not BY MYSELF all the time!

Example 1: last Friday at lunch, a coworker mentioned she would be going to a party at a local nightclub. I indicated interest and she said I should go with her and her friends. So, I bought my ticket online, then went to the mall between work and home. (I had no appropriate shoes, or dress, or purse, or...) We got to the club (heat) at midnight and danced until they closed at 3 am. I have never done anything close to that before. Fun Fun Fun.

Example 2: Karen and I have season passes for Six Flags this year. Woo Hoo roller coasters!

Other ideas, please let me know if you are interested: cookouts, bowling, bicycling, camping, zoos, botanical gardens, concerts, fancy parties, dancing, road trips, canoe-ing, volunteering, 5k races, museums, photography trips, walks, shopping, Rocky Horror (I drove to Ft. Wayne to see my first "live" show, thanks to Carrie and Lucas), improv, downtown, pick-your-own, cooking club, karaoke, spa day, video games, picnics, hiking, scotch tasting, and just hanging out. Maybe even at Denny's at 2 am.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Adopt a Hymnal

Fun surprise at church today: we could each take home a hymnal. They were dedicating the new hymnals (brown cover) to use from now on. The pastor announced that if we wanted, we could take one of the old ones (blue cover) with us, and give it a good home. I got one out of the choir loft, so it is in really great shape. Because of the occasion, and that it was Cantate Sunday, all of the songs today were about singing. Brian declared it meta-singing.

Yesterday I tried adapting a cookie recipe to use all-Core ingredients. See, flour isn't Core, so there are no official Core baked goods. I did have luck the other week making pumpkin pie Core. (Start with the recipe from the can of pumpkin. Bake in a casserole dish with no crust, Splenda instead of Sugar, and fat-free evaporated milk.) But now I've discovered why the WW message boards all repeat the same thing: yes, you could bake a cookie with Core ingredients, but you aren't going to like it.

I took a very simple cookie recipe that didn't have any added fats (unless you count eggs) to begin with, and switched out oat bran for the flour. It got really dry, so I added a serving of applesauce to moisten it enough to spoon out. The first two sheets, the cookies didn't spread out at all while baking. I had used a cookie scoop to portion them out, so they are all spheres. For the next two sheets, I tried flattening them with a fork, which failed, because they WANTED to be spheres, I guess.

We all know the shape doesn't matter, it is all about the taste and texture. The finished product is a really pathetic cookie. But, it works well as a giant granola-style cereal puff. So I added some spheres to my plain, fat free yogurt this morning and called it breakfast.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Minor Political Involvement

[Edited post title on 7/9/08]

Here's the text of the automatic letter that you can send to your representatives through the website above:

Support America's new tanker - Northrop Grumman's KC-45
Required text:
(This text will be included in your message)
As your constituent, I'm writing today to let you know of my support for the United States Air Force (USAF) decision to award Northrop Grumman a contract to build the KC-45 Tanker. The facts behind the USAF decision are straightforward and compelling.

Northrop Grumman is an American company headquartered in Los Angeles with over 120,000 employees across the United States.

The tanker decision was based on an open and transparent process and the best team won. The USAF ranked each bid on five criteria and Northrop Grumman won on four out of the five and tied in one category. Both sides praised the USAF for the fairness of the competition before the award was announced. Both sides agreed that this was the most rigorous acquisition process in the Department of Defense's history.

The men and women of our military deserve the most modern technology to perform their mission. The existing fleet of U.S. military tankers is over 45 years old. It is critical to begin construction of the new tankers as soon as possible. The first aircraft for the United States Air Force is already built and flying. Northrop Grumman's tanker is proven and ready for production and deployment.

Northrop Grumman's KC-45 tanker will support 48,000 jobs in the United States and includes over 230 companies in 49 states that will economically prosper. There will be no jobs sent abroad.

I am requesting that you support the United States Air Force decision to award this contract to Northrop Grumman.
Your Closing:
Your Name:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Worldwide Inconvenience

Ugh. I just got off the phone with Discover Card. I had logged in to my account to pay my bill online, and was greeted with the message that my account number had been changed. Curious, I called their customer service line.

They have actually changed the account number for EVERYONE with a Discover Card. EVERYONE. Now I, and everyone else, have to call all the places I have automatic billing through the Discover card, and tell them my new account number. And I've got to log in to all the websites that know my credit card number, and update it. IF I can remember all of them. Now Discover Card does say that they have "made an attempt" to contact all of the automatic billing places to update the numbers. But they still say that we need to "call to verify" that merchants have the corrected numbers. And since EVERYONE is calling to do the same thing, good luck getting through.

Also, the rep said they only did this for MONTHLY billing places. So those yearly subscription renewals, or occasional purchases (IPASS, for one), haven't been contacted at all. I'm planning to go through my last two years' yearly summary report to catch all possible merchants.

Look for your new card in the mail, I guess. Yeesh.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What's Going On

Multi-Topic Post!

1) Diagnosis: ITB tendonitis in my right knee. The massive dose of Ibuprofen gave me a headache for two days (how is that even possible?) then heartburn that felt like painful hunger. So, on to the next anti-inflammatory drug. It was also a lot of trouble to find someone with a Cho-Pat strap in my size - they were all out of mediums at the doctor and the home-health pharmacy. I had to drive to Elk Grove Village today after my physical therapy session to go to the other doctor's office and pick one up there. Oh well, at least I have a name for the pain now. And thank God for health insurance.

2) Take Jessie's survey on blog use. It is for her graduate class in market research, and it is about why people read blogs. Help us skew her data set!

3) My bike is in the shop for a tune-up. This is the first tune-up since I bought the bike, like, oh, seven years ago. I do intend to ride it this year, I promise! We've got such nice paved trails in the forest preserves around here, I really shouldn't be making any excuses not to ride.

4) USGS has a website where you can download, for free, their topographical maps. You can also order printed versions. I've got one of the White Rock, AZ area, from when I did that summer internship in Los Alamos. If you think maps are nifty, you should play around with this website for a while.

5) My aunt and uncle got me a Nintendo DS for my birthday! Red, of course. My favorite game so far is PRISM. (Not a surprise.) All Optics nerds should be required to get this game. It also has an interesting cooperative two player mode for download play.

6) Many people spend winter pouring over seed catalogs and planning gardens for the coming spring. I was online ordering more car-care products. On Saturday, the weather was warm enough to wash and wax both cars. I used Zaino Z-7 Show Car Wash and Z-AIO to start with. Results are nice, but once I get the Z-6 and Z-2 on my car it will really start to look as good as it did four years ago when I first used the stuff.

7) My brother had an amazing senior recital. I didn't know clarinets could make such expressive sounds. I wish him the best of luck with his upcoming auditions for "real" jobs.

8) It's all who you know. My manager's wife was chosen to be interviewed in "W" magazine because she had done the hair for the wedding of the sister of the assistant to the beauty editor. Or something like that.

9) I'm glad it's acting like spring now. I was even glad to see mud again - that means the ground isn't frozen anymore.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Four Webcomics Worth Reading

For your online entertainment, here are four webcomics worth reading. All four are strong in writing, artwork, characterization, and timely uploading. I'm giving four links for each: an example strip that lets you see the "tone" of the comic without giving any plot away, the base of the archives, the main page, and the facebook fan group. Let me know what you think in the comments - if you are reading this through facebook, you will need to go to the main blog to leave comments.

1. Suburban Tribe by John Lee: example, archives, main, facebook. Based in an advertising agency in Louisville, KY, this strip is nominally about having a normal job. But it also has adventure and fantasy, from an intelligent cat who uses the internet to the Halloween horror stories. I happened upon the strip nearly by accident, while I was shopping on Cafe Press. It has been on hiatus recently, but is supposed to start up again in April. Mr. Lee could use some more readers, so check this one out first.

2. Scary Go Round by John Allison: example, archives, main, facebook.
Based in the United Kingdom, this strip is about hip young adults having scary and supernatural adventures. I originally found Mr. Allison's work on Keenspot, when he was doing Bobbins. Scary Go Round is a fun, relatively clean, smart, and VERY British, so be prepared to have to look up words sometimes.

3. Questionable Content by J. Jacques: example, archives, main, facebook.
Based in a downtown of an American city, this strip is about indie chicks who work in a coffee shop and their friends. I think I found QC through a link from another webcomic. Also fun, also clean, and VERY Indie, so be prepared to have to look up band names sometimes. (I bought my Dad the "Math is Delicious" shirt for father's day.)

4. something positive by R. K. Milholland: example, archives, main, facebook.
Based in Boston and Texas, this strip is about all the crap that happens to Davan and his friends and family. I can't remember how I found this one. Depressing, dark, shocking, offensive, smart, real, snarky, funny, and thoughtful, this will not be for everyone. (Mom, don't bother, you'll hate it.) Oh, and there is a pink, shape-shifting cat.

In other news, we found out that it is pretty easy to replace the the battery in the Mazda3. Just remove the plastic covers, take off two easy to reach nuts, and lift off the top clamp. The only strange thing was not being able to shift out of park when the old battery was down to 6.5 V, so we had to jump it in the garage.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DVD Release

They finished producing a DVD of that play I directed at work back in December. And guess what, I'm allowed to show it to family and friends! So I'll definitely be taking it home when I go back to NJ for the weekend of March 29th for my brother's senior recital.

My iPod has been very nice to have at work, to help keep me focused while churning out piles of drawings. But just putting it on shuffle was a little too, um, random. So I put together a smart playlist called "Unheard of" which has these criteria:
-Play Count < 1
-Rating is not 1 star (this is how I flag songs I never want to hear again and will eventually delete)
-Genre is not 9 Books/Spoken/Language (I've narrowed genres down to 9 broad categories. This one is the "not music" flag.)
-Limit to 500 most recently added

I then listen to this playlist on shuffle, and have fun hearing all the unfamiliar music.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Peer Pressure

Here is a pile of random items that have been banging around in my head:

1) Herb says "everyone is doing it" so I joined Facebook.

2) I think I want an Amazon Kindle, but I'm not sure if that is just because what I REALLY want is more time to read books.

3) The Mazda3 is now four years old, paid off, and has 40022 miles on it.

4) I'm more bothered by the sirens in GTA than any of the other offensive noises.

5) If you have to "do" your eyebrows, I recommend trying threading. The pain level varies, depending on who is wielding the thread. But it is cheap, $6 where I get it done, quick, and the results are very nice.

6) The stock market can stop going down now. Please.

7) I've resurrected my Palm IIIc from 1996. It works fine.

8) It can stop being winter now. Please.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I attended a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator training today, where they handed out the results of our personality tests. It even went to Step II, so now I can identify myself as an "Accepting, Open-Ended ENTJ". Those first two descriptors represent where I tested "out of preference" by not completely fitting into the classic description of the ENTJ. But some points made in the provided literature are SO true. For example, I "readily see illogical and inefficient procedures and feel a strong urge to correct them." Yup.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Day

I made my own snow day today. We are on a 9-80 schedule at work, and this Friday would have been an off day. The weather forecast was very scary last night and this morning, so I decided to stay home today and go into work on Friday instead. I've been able to get a bunch of stuff crossed off my giant to-do list, so that is nice. Plus, I just got a call from the choir director: they've canceled the church service for the evening because of the snow. It has been rescheduled, so we will be having an Ash Thursday service tomorrow instead.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering why suddenly there were so many more Democratic ballots cast in Illinois for the primary election yesterday, I've got your answer. Illinois lets you choose whatever ballot you want to use for the primary. Heck, they even had a Green party ballot this year! I know a LOT of Republican-leaning people who decided that their vote was worth more to help a certain Democratic candidate get more delegates than a certain other Democratic candidate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


In a bit of amazing luck, I'm typing this right now from a hotel guest computer in Edinburgh, Scotland. I've always wanted to visit Scotland, especially after seeing London. Work is paying for this trip, so I could attend a design review by one of our subcontractors here. The meetings are over as of today, but I'm staying a few extra days on my own dime to do sightseeing.

The city has hills and old stone buildings everywhere. It seems like there are dozens of "small" cathedrals scattered around. I saw Rembrandts and Van Gohs in the National Gallery a few hours ago. The scotch whisky selection at the pubs is encyclopedic - one coworker who grew up in this area helped me choose a few to try the last two nights. I'm taking notes of which ones I've got to get from Binny's once I'm back home.

Yes, the exchange rate sucks. (It is pretty close to 2, so at least the math is easy.) The weather has been rainy, but at least my eyeballs aren't freezing like they were in Chicagoland this past weekend. I don't have the giant camera with me, but I did buy a new Nikon S200 for the trip last week so I'd be able to take snapshots. I'll even be here for Burn's night on Friday, so I'll let you know what I think of real haggis. (I've had the Aramark riff on haggis in Terre Haute. This WILL be better than that.)

My flight back is Saturday morning. I'm avoiding reality until then.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Road ID

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a gift card from my parents to They sell laser-engraved ID products that you can wear in several different ways. I bought the ankle ID, and since there was some money left on the gift card I also got a wrist strap and a shoe pouch. The stainless steel ID token can be switched between the different products.

It came in the mail this week, and I'm very happy with the quality of the items. I haven't actually used it yet, considering I'm not addicted enough to running to be outside in this weather. But I know I'll use it all the time when spring gets here.

I've got my name, birth date, town, state, zip, country, two phone numbers for Brian, one phone number for Jessie, contact lens warning, and NKA listed on the tag. I decided to get the regular rather than the online version. My main reasoning there was that I sometimes run or walk in places without cell phone coverage, and it would defeat the purpose of the ID if the emergency responders can't get to the information.

Oh, and there are super-reflective strips on the band, so this actually counts as a shiny object. It only took me a year to get around to mentioning one...


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