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Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.

 

Speaker Speaker on tour

My boys Speaker Speaker are going on a month-long tour and I'm doing my part to help promote it. Tired of hearing me blab on about Speaker Speaker without having seen them for yourself? You can rectify that situation now. Towns and dates have been posted on their MySpace page, though most of the venues aren't yet listed. They'll be out there for a month, America, so be good to them. They'll rock a show of 20 people as earnestly as they'd rock a show of 200 so go see them if you have the chance. (I'm looking at you Lawrence, KS; you Minneapolis, MN; you Madison, Chicago, Boston, New York, DC, Atlanta, Austin, San Diego, Eugene...) Tell 'em Nikchick sent you.

Oct 5 2007 at 8PM at Neurolux in Boise, Idaho
Oct 6 2007 at 8PM at Kilby Court in Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct 7 2007 at 8PM at The Hi-Dive in Denver, Colorado
Oct 8 2007 8:00P TBA Omaha, Nebraska
Oct 9 2007 8:00P TBA Lawrence, Kansas
Oct 10 2007 8:00P TBA Iowa City, Iowa
Oct 11 2007 8:00P TBA Minneapolis, Minnesota
Oct 12 2007 8:00P TBA Madison, Wisconsin
Oct 13 2007 8:00P TBA Chicago, Illinois
Oct 14 2007 8:00P TBA Detroit, Michigan
Oct 15 2007 8:00P TBA Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oct 16 2007 8:00P TBA Boston, Massachusetts
Oct 17 2007 8:00P TBA Providence, Rhode Island
Oct 18 2007 8:00P TBA Trenton, New Jersey
Oct 19 2007 8:00P TBA Brooklyn, New York
Oct 20 2007 8:00P TBA New York, New York
Oct 21 2007 8:00P TBA New York, New York
Oct 22 2007 8:00P TBA Baltimore, Maryland
Oct 23 2007 8:00P TBA Washington DC, Washington DC
Oct 24 2007 8:00P TBA Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Oct 25 2007 8:00P TBA Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 26 2007 8:00P TBA Memphis, Tennessee
Oct 27 2007 8:00P TBA St Louis, Missouri
Oct 28 2007 8:00P TBA Little Rock, Arkansas
Oct 29 2007 8:00P TBA Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oct 30 2007 8:00P TBA Austin, Texas
Oct 31 2007 8:00P TBA Las Cruces, New Mexico
Nov 1 2007 8:00P TBA Phoenix, Arizona
Nov 2 2007 8:00P TBA San Diego, California
Nov 3 2007 8:00P TBA Los Angeles, California
Nov 4 2007 8:00P TBA Los Angeles, California
Nov 5 2007 8:00P TBA San Francisco, California
Nov 6 2007 8:00P TBA Reno, Nevada
Nov 7 2007 8:00P TBA Sacramento, California
Nov 8 2007 8:00P TBA Eugene, Oregon
Nov 9 2007 8:00P TBA Portland, Oregon
Nov 10 2007 8:00P TBA Seattle, Washington

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How Minnesotan

As people may have heard, my home state has garnered a bit of attention for being the place where Senator Larry Craig was arrested and plead guilty to disorderly conduct in an airport bathroom. Senator Craig has denied that he was in the restroom trolling for sexual encounters between flights but he's not the first to be caught in a "wide stance" in that particular restroom.

My position on the whole thing is that I don't care about Larry Craig's sexuality. Not a bit. But I do care about risky behaviors like clandestine meet-ups in public places, especially public restrooms that are open to children. Get a room, you know? In the same way that I object to the kids "hooking up" in the park right under my kitchen window, I would ask the Senator and his friends to find somewhere more appropriate to do whatever it is they want to do.

It's been reported that the airport is changing the design of some of the barrier between stalls in the restrooms where the most of this "disorderly conduct" is taking place, at substantial cost. I laughed when I read the summation from the airport spokesman because it's so Minnesotan:

"It is unfortunate to look at having to spend $1 million on something that wouldn't be necessary if people simply behaved themselves," he said.

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Jury Duty Observations

Spent two days in a room at the courthouse waiting for anything at all to happen. Nothing did. I was not called for anything.

I sat for the entire time in what I dubbed "the outlet corner" which had two outlets easily accessible by four chairs, a little away from everything. I sat in that corner with three other laptop wielding would-be jurors. For the first four hours of our ordeal there was free wifi access in the jury room and I was happily clicking away. After lunch on the first day my anti-technology field caught up with me and internet access (and cell phone service for me, though not for everyone) was knocked out for the duration. I spent the rest of my jury duty cleaning up my AOL address book. Woo fun.

Here's a little something I don't think I've shared before: I hate the sound of my own voice. I hate the way I talk, hate the inflections, my accent, my pronunciations, the way I phrase things. I hate to hear myself on tape (and I feel the same way about appearing on video, where seeing my gestures and cartoonish eye rolls make me feel like crawling under a rock) and some part of my infamous reluctance to talk on the phone is related to this. I can't wonder that people sometimes underestimate me or think that I'm dumb because when I hear myself even I think I sound like an idiot.... Yes, I do talk a lot for someone who hates the sound of her own voice but when I'm with my friends or, more likely, when my brain is spinning and drowning out the echos of what I've just said with new thoughts that area begging to be formed into something, I don't have the same reaction. Usually.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because I ended up spending two days sitting near some strange alternate universe doppleganger of me. In a hoodie and black Chuck Taylor hightops, toting a Hello Kitty bowling bag purse, she sounded like me when she talked. And she talked a lot, as she took several phone calls and chatted with people around her. She punctuated her speech with little ums, laughs, and so on exactly where I would. She talked to her daughter on the phone the way I would talk to Kate, and talked to her friend about her daughter's trouble with the bus driver the way I would talk to my friends about Kate's troubles. We actually probably had a lot in common but I didn't want to strike up a conversation because I couldn't stand to listen to her because it was like listening to myself. There was a point where I actually had to put in some earplugs because it was distracting me so badly.

A bonus of the lack of need for jurors was that we were released for two hour lunch breaks on both days. I took advantage of this and bought lunch at Salumi yesterday (only open 11am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday). I bought a salami and cheese plate with olives and bread and washed it down with some Limonata. Mmm, that's good stuff. I should call in an order of sliced meat for us (minus Rev. Dr. Evil) to enjoy during the upcoming Green Ronin summit. Today I rode the free downtown buses over to Lola where I had some butternut squash soup topped with a splash of curry oil (outstanding!) and a drop dead gorgeous shawarma heaped with goodness and too much for me to finish. I spent more on my two lunches than I'll be compensated for my time (Seattle's jury pool earns a whopping $10 a day for their trouble) but it was totally worth it.

Not being picked for a jury means that I've completed my service and I'm off the hook until the next time I'm called up. It also means that my plan to get away with my husband for our anniversary can proceed tomorrow without further interference. The trip has already been modified to accommodate Kate being with us (since her dad isn't taking her for the weekend after all) and the weak and shitty United States dollar making the expensive hotels and restaurants all that much more expensive.

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Jury duty

Yep, it's jury duty day. Up at 6:00am to shower, eat, caffeinate, and catch the bus in the dark. Woo! Let's all hear it for civic duty.

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A Tribute

New just reached me that a charming gentleman of my acquaintance from my years in Northfield died earlier this month. His obituary in the Star-Tribune is online, and coverage of his memorial service is in the online version of the Northfield News.

Bob Jacobsen was a hardcore, old school small town champion. I met him through his family store. To my everlasting shame, I met the man because I'd bounced a check at his store and was coming to the store to make it right. It was a stupid mistake on my part, nothing but a nineteen-year-old's sloppy bookkeeping, and I was deeply embarrassed over the incident. This was small town Minnesota and Jacobsen's was an institution. I did not want Mr. Jacobsen to think that I was irresponsible (even though I was), that I was trying to rip him off (because I surely wasn't!) and I did not want to be one of "those people" who had their bad checks photocopied and hung over the register with a warning to cashiers "Do NOT Accept!" as I'd seen in other parts of town. I made my apologies, paid my debt, and that seemed to be that. Not only did I never get a sideways glance from the Jacobsens but they treated me like a valued customer and I did my best to live up to that gracious treatment. As he got to know me, Bob loved to kid me that my dad was "making trouble" in his role as Superintendent the wastewater department for the city, though I never was clear what kind of "trouble" precisely he saw.

The gift registry for my first wedding was at Jacobsen's. Over the years, I bought countless, towels, umbrellas, mukluks, floor pillows, Minnesota Twins Championship sweatshirts... Even after I moved away, I would come back and shop Jacobsen's my first opportunity. When Kate was a baby she became attached to the queen-sized blanket on my bed and would repeatedly try to drag it off my bed and around our tiny apartment with her. I couldn't find that style of blanket anywhere but I knew Jacobsen's would get it for me if there were still blankets to be gotten. I bought the smallest size I could get (Twin) which was still too big, and they offered to cut it down to "crib-size" for us. Going above and beyond the call of duty, the baby blankets arrived; not the one I was expecting, but two and not just cut down to size but edged in satin! It's kind of a cheat that I'm telling this story in relation to Bob because by that time it was largely Bob's son Rollie and his wife Shar (who, as the fabric and sundries mistress, I suspect was the one to stitch that satin edging) that I dealt with on my visits. They were gently encouraging Bob to ease out of working the store but he was dragging his heels and resisting retirement, even semi-retirement. Bob and the store were so entwined and his example that the whole family followed.

There are plenty of people who also felt moved to remember Bob and his small town, get-to-know-you, activism. Bob was a community builder. He was an example of our best impulses. He was a rare fellow and a fine person and I'm sad to know we've lost him.

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TMJ

I'm beginning to think that riding the bus is aggravating my TMJ, which is then triggering headaches. Again last night, after a fine and relaxing evening, I rode the bus home and after my bus ride started to feel a headache creeping up on me. By the time I went to bed, I definitely had a headache but hoped that I could sleep it off. (No such luck: was awake tossing and turning in pain between 3:00am and 4:00am.) When it came time to get up for the day I was in full headache mode, moving in slow motion to avoid jostling myself, hyper-aware of noise and light and just generally miserable. I could definitely feel the tension in my neck and jaw this time, now that I was trying to be aware. Finally around 2:00 everything had subsided, but that was over 12 hours of lifestyle disrupting headache pain, and that's just no good.

I'm looking at replacing my pillows to see if I can get some relief that way. I'm also going to start tracking my headache-to-bus ratio to see if that's just my imagination or what. My current theory is that the bouncing and jostling of the bus (especially the drivers that start and stop so abruptly and really jerk the passengers around) might be enough to push me over the edge at those times when I'm already on the verge: not sleeping soundly, clenching my teeth in my sleep, spending a lot of time sitting in front of the computer (or even driving), etc.

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Sticky

The Harvest Festival was kind of a bust. Kate and I went to Enumclaw, got lost, drove around and purely by chance and a vague recollection of where the orchard was supposed to be, we stumbled across it and spent about 15 or 20 minutes there. I bought some cider, some raspberry wine, but I'd hoped there was going to be more actual produce to choose from. End of the season and all, there just wasn't a lot. I got a couple of small bags of a couple of kinds of Asian pears and that was that. Did some grocery shopping, stopped at Tim's to pick Chris up and tried to find a decent option to go out to the movies or something. No go.

We left Kate home alone for an hour while we went to get dinner. She didn't want to come with us so we went down to Smartypants in Georgetown, which I'd been wanting to do all summer. If I had a car or a scooter, I'd be down in that area all the time, it's so close to our house! It's even close enough to walk in nice weather but the route is along busy access roads and freeway ramps where there are no sidewalks or minimal pedestrian safeguards and I'm just not inclined to make that walk if I don't have to.

I got a couple of batches of plum preserves. The ginger-plum jam exploded out of its container in the microwave and I scalded myself multiple times. Sticky mess and I lost at least a half-pint of jam to clean-up. Boo. Then I tried some spiced plum butter on the stovetop but that caramelized and started to burn a little before it got to what I would have considered the "very thick" stage called for in the recipe, so I put it in jars anyway but I'm dubious about the results. I still haven't used all the plums RH brought over, though I'm getting close. Not sure what I'm going to do with the Asian pears, either. Decisions, decisions.

Tonight we're going to see a show at the Triple Door, wish SassyRonin a happy birthday, and then it's back to work.

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Flexcar Tax Update

As I'm sure most who read this blog know already, I'm an opinionated woman. I have a bit of a knack for complaint letters in particular, to the point that some of my friends will refer to "pulling a Nicole" or ask for my advice when writing such letters for themselves. (And, to be fair, I do try to share positive experiences and send a little love around when things go right...it's not all complaints!) I do not hesitate to write my representatives about issues of law and governance, I'm not shy about communicating with companies I'm going business with about my experiences and expectations. I hadn't known about the Washington state tax on Flexcar for a day before I'd written to my state representatives, the Seattle Mayor's office, and the Office of Sustainability and Environment.

Last week I heard back from the OSE:
Thanks for your email about this. We appreciate all you're doing to protect the environment.

This is definitely an important issue, but one that is governed at the state level. We understand that the Governor is planning to work with the department implementing this tax (which says it has to by law) to see what can be done to change it. If that is unsuccessful, then there are plans to introduce legislation that would change the law to accommodate programs such as FlexCar.

We have passed your message on to staff in the Office of Intergovermental Relations, which works closely with state-level policymakers.

Thanks again for letting us know about this.

Sincerely,

Jeanie Boawn, Admin. Staff Analyst


Tonight I heard back from my state senator, Margarita Prentice:
Dear Nicole:

Just a quick note to thank you for your e-mail message. I'm pleased to report the Governor's office, the Department of Revenue and others are working on language that will address the differences between a rental car company and a "flexcar" program. It's very tedious and technical but my hands-on source expressed optimism this will be concluded before the implementation date.

Thanks, again, for taking the time to write. I appreciate your information and the opportunity to provide an update.

Sincerely,
Margarita Prentice
State Senator ~ 11th Legislative District
Chair, Ways and Means Committee


I have no gut feeling for how many other people may have called or written these same people looking for answers to the Flexcar problem, or any number of other issues, or where a Flexcar tax lands in the scale of things they're trying to juggle. I am very glad that there seems to be enough political will to make the changes necessary to reverse a short-sighted policy that undermines the good progressive programs like Flexcar offer our region. I hope Senator Prentice is correct that the changes can be in place before the tax would be applied.

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Argh!

Pirate Attack


That's both a tribute to yesterday's Talk Like a Pirate Day and an expression of dismay at how much I have going on right now.

I'm swamped at work. Still trying to catch up on things. We've had a particularly heavy release schedule since GenCon, with products staggered out every two weeks, so I've been up to my eyeballs in invoicing and whatnot. I had a slew of mail orders backed up after GenCon and my week of vacation, had to wait for restocks on items we ran out of, blew through and needed to reorder shipping supplies, plus I'm trying to put together materials for in prep for our summit (the first weekend in October). It's not helping that I've been called for jury duty again this year (which is going to blow at least a couple of days out from under me next week). It's also my anniversary next weekend and Chris and I had a special trip to Vancouver planned (just in time for the worst exchange rates against the Canadian dollar in 30 years!) but Kate's dad has to skip that weekend's visitation so it looks like it's going to be me, Chris, and Kate in the fancy hotel. Oh, and my in-laws arriving the week after the summit, and Kate's school trip to OPI the week after that. Tiny bit busy.
Kate's Pirate Look

On the personal side, I'm really trying not to spend nights and weekends working on GR stuff, even with everything I'm trying to juggle. I have friends and family who deserve my attention as well. Tuesday I invaded R&C's house and whipped up some beef bourguignon in honor of Ray's birthday and managed to wash, dry, and fold six loads of laundry (because I still haven't had time to deal with finding someone to fix my machine). Last night we attended the Flying Lab Software Talk Like a Pirate Day gala at the Seattle Aquarium. Kate and I rode the streets with the Seattle SeaFair Pirates, yelling out "Avast!' and "Yarr!" at random people as we passed. While stopped at a light in front of a Pioneer Square bar where the members of Tripnine were unloading their gear in preparation of playing a set. They started cheering and beating on their drums and just as the Moby Duck was pulling away ran up to thrust a CD into Kate's hand. They're a little too hard for Kate but maybe Rev. Dr. Evil will take it off her hands when he's in town for the summit. All in all, it was great fun but we got home late for the second night in a row which made us tired and not particularly eager to get up this morning.

Tonight I really want to just declare "Bed Day" once Kate gets home, order some pizzas, and lay around watching TiVo. Unfortunately, there's a PTA meeting and I have too many questions about the new school and what's happening this year to skip it. Then there's the plums. I have just enough amaretto to make Plum Amaretto Jam, but it's making me crazy to think of all those plums still at RH's going to waste, so I've got to get myself over there to make more. This weekend: Rock Ridge Orchards Harvest Festival if Kate and I aren't too tired out to handle it.

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Plums!

The highlight of my day was when we got a call from RH (who lives a couple of blocks over) asking if we might be able to help put his bumper crop of plums to some use. He brought over a nice, fat ziplock bag of ripe juicy plums and gave me a free invitation to come over to his house and help myself to as many as I think I can use. Woohoo! I'm going to dig into my preserving and baking books and see what I can put together. Simply recipes has a plum cobbler recipe that I've wanted to try (and after the stupendous success of the Spicy Fig Orange Microwave Jam the other day, I'm quite eager to give a couple more of these recipes (like this plum compote a shot.

While RH and I were still working out the details of my potential plum raid, Ms. BBCAddict and Mr. Lemuriapress stopped by and made good on the proffered exchange of chocolate-orange madelines for fig jam. We sampled the goods and they were yummy.

Drove up to get Kate and while I was gone Jeremy Crawford (he of Book of Fiends, Blue Rose, and WFRP fame, not to mention all around nice fellow) stopped by to throw down with Pramas in a game of Battlelore. Jeremy recently moved to town to take a job with Wizards and we are very happy to have him in our neck of the woods. I brought back a little something for supper from Tutta Bella and watched some Meerkat Manor and The Closer with Kate while the boys played games in the kitchen.

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Let's just say

"Windows Easy Transfer" isn't.

Burned the program to a thumb drive. Wouldn't autoplay, hangs if started manually.
Burned the program to a CD. Wouldn't woudn't autoplay, hangs if started manually.
Tried running from a command line, got farther that time, but hangs once it "loads".
Downloaded directly from Microsoft site. Got an installer window to show up, then the program "had to quit."

Dinner Dash 2, on the other hand, was easy (until level 20).

Made creamy chicken and wild rice soup for dinner now that the weather is cool again. Homemade chicken stock and everything.

 
 

Speaker Speaker!

Kate's with her dad tonight (only weekend this month) and my sweetie is taking me to see Speaker Speaker. Rock out!

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Headache Day

I've been off and on useless today. Headaches, though not full-on nausea-inducing migraine headaches, thankfully. I fear I may be clenching my teeth in my sleep again and that I'm having TMJ related headaches. Probably time for me to go in and get checked out medically again either way. Bleh, I hate that. Why must my feeble body betray me?

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Screwy

Everyone was too tired (and full of mango-chicken curry and frozen key lime pie) to game last night. We only had half the group together anyway, so we called it an early "game" night and then Evan and I consulted about what to do about my Microsoft Sharepoint dreams. Working with as many remote employees and freelancers for art, writing, and editing, I've been bashing my head against a wall trying to figure out a way to make Microsoft Sharepoint work for us.

Sharepoint. I want it. I can get it... just not in a form that would be useful for us. I've had numerous offers pass before my eyes. My own personal hosting service, where I host Nikchick.com, sent me an offer to set me up with Sharepoint! Everyone and their brother has some sort of Sharepoint server offer... and they all COMPLETELY SUCK. If I want to use this for the numerous projects Green Ronin has going at any one time, to track and share art files, InDesign files, PDFs, manuscripts and what have you, 500MB of storage is not going to cut it. Even 1GB, 2BG, or 3GB is not going to do it. I can get hosting with massive space, Terabytes of space, but NOT that I can run Sharepoint on... Fore the kind of space I want, I'm expected to pay $1500-$3000 PER MONTH. Holy crap.

Sharepoint seems like a really nifty tool. It's like Basecamp on steroids (Basecamp is a pretty fine little tool but it lacks or makes difficult too many of the features that Sharepoint teases me with; we've been using Basecamp for almost a year but even on the paid program with that are limited in the number of active projects and GBs of space we have access to) and Community Server has been bandied about as a possible alternative but I'm not sure. I've already dragged the guys across both dotProject and Basecamp before now and I don't want to make a jump to anything less than the functional sexiness of Sharepoint. (There are few products from Microsoft that I'm even a tepid fan of but the combined e-mail/calendar/task list of Outlook and now Sharepoint are two products that I've looked to others to provide and come crawling back to MS for.)

I even looked into having our own server housed here at GRHQ but in order to do it right and make sure we had proper back-ups and firewalls and other such things (not to mention my inevitable anti-technology aura) makes it just as expensive and not nearly as secure as a remote hosting option with actual professionals.

I've been banging my head on the wall of this problem for weeks now, since before GenCon. I resign myself that it's not going to happen and then a new hope springs up and leads me along for a while. Today was another one of those distracting, frustrating days. It's screwy that an application that is supposedly scalable to small businesses like mine, that is priced reasonably affordably for what it offers, is still outrageously out of price range once we find hosting for it!

 
 

Nine Eleven

2001 was a year of stress, soul-searching, and transition for me. I'd been a homeowner for less than a year and was planning my second wedding to take place across the country at a place I'd never even visited. I'd made two heart-wrenching and somewhat emotionally traumatic job shifts between February and September. The Hasbro buyout of Wizards of the Coast had caused a lot of upheaval in Chris's office where there had been a large layoff right before Christmas 2000 and another in May 2001. Morale was so bad the Hasbro home office was having teleconferences to put the company "on fun alert" in an effort to reassure demoralized employees who worried (rightly, it turned out) that more waves of layoffs were going to hit. We'd had an earthquake in February but it was the emotional aftershocks that reverberated through my life that year.

By the second week of September my little girl had started Kindergarten and my Massachusetts wedding was two weeks away. My job stresses were behind me and I was delving into full-time work on Green Ronin, done with summer convention travel and with plenty of time before Christmas season releases. I woke up the morning of September 11 between 6:30am and 6:45am Seattle time and went into the office to check my e-mail for last minute wedding-related communications from my mother-in-law to be. AOL's splash page was a photograph of the burning towers. I remember running into the other room and saying "Oh my god, Chris, turn on the tv. New York's been bombed!" I choke up even thinking of it now, the fear for our New York friends, the fear of everything then unknown, the disbelief, the futile hope, the sorrow for the victims.

I do not pretend that my west coast fear and grief is at all comparable to anyone more directly affected by the events of the day. Even so, I can no longer separate my feelings about the tragedy from the rest of the stress and anxiety and general upheaval of that year. My wedding was overshadowed by the resulting national feeling of anxiety, underscored by having to travel through the very airport that the hijackers departed from. My memories of my daughter's Kindergarten days are intertwined with memories of school district evacuation plan memos and anthrax scares.

Six years gone, approaching my happy sixth anniversary, sending my contented daughter off to start middle school, I still dread the anniversary of 9/11. I dread it now for the perversion it's become. I dread it for the relentless way it's tied to the debacle in Iraq, right down to the entirely non-coincidental timing of Gen. Petraeus' political theater before Congress today. I dread it because it breaks my heart to remember all worldwide goodwill we squandered, because it marks the moment our country lost so much more than we thought we did.

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Bunny House side view


Bunny House side view
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
This is what I spent all day doing yesterday. Well, excavating Kate's room so that everything could be moved around, moving the bed and the desk and the computer set-up and all that...that took a while. But the bunnies now have a new bunny enclosure and they seem pretty pleased with it. I made sure they could still look out the window, too.

The new cage has two panels on the front that open into a pair of doors that swing out. It's big enough that Kate can crawl all the way inside. The first shelf is an L shape and really just a way for them to get up to the other bigger shelves. The second shelf is a C shape with just one hole in the middle to serve as entrance/exit. It's lined with auto floor mats which work great to provide stability to the floors and cover the holes in the wire squares. I've supplemented the flooring with towels, too. The top shelf is just along the back side a long shelf that they can lay on to gaze out the window, which they love.



Bunny House front view
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.

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Bunny Habitat

I'm pretty beat. I spent several hours moving crap around Kate's room, taking things apart, putting them back together, etc. I've removed the original bunny cage I bought for Bonnie and built a new four-level condo out of wire storage cubes and confined the bunnies to the area under Kate's loft bed. I moved the bed so it's partially overlapping the window so the bunnies can maintain the view of the outdoors which they'd come to like in the other, smaller cube condo I'd built for them earlier this year. The are under the bed is now condo/fenced area to hop around. Prior to this they were taking up more than half Kate's room, leaving the space under the bed for a cramped "study area" that was in fact too packed with stuff to function well. Plus the other run was blocking access to half Kate's closet space.

It's probably going to take another 2-3 days to get everything really sorted and set up. I have to remove the old pre-fab cage (I'll probably offer it on Craigslist or Freecycle or something) plus I'm getting rid of this old coffee table that's been in her room for years. That should free up some space for the girl, I hope.

I also made a batch of Spicy Fig Orange Microwave Jamfrom a recipe that Elise over at Simply Recipes posted recently. It smelled SO GOOD while it was cooking. It reminded me of this concoction that my mom used to keep in a Tupperware container when I was a kid: Russian Tea. I don't know why it's called "Russian" as it's instant tea mix, Tang, instant lemonade powder, and cloves. Adored the stuff when I was a kid, though, and the orange-clove smell of the fig jam brought my nostalgia for it roaring to life.

Must find something to eat now, I hear Kate rummaging around in the freezer.

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Chicken


Chicken
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Kate was invited to a sleepover last night, leaving me unexpectedly free. Inspired, I decided to make a nice dinner for me and my sweetie.

roasted chicken with garlic, lemon and rosemary
rosemary bread (from The Essential Baking Co.)
saffron roasted potatoes (from Whole Foods deli counter)
broccoli salad (also from Whole Foods)
a Caprese salad with fresh heirloom tomatoes
and a nice bottle of Spanish rose wine

You can see photos of the whole spread by clicking on the photo above.

It was glorious.

 
 

Flex-SCREWED

Flexcar is being forced by the Washington Department of Revenue to charge its members "rental car tax" beginning October 1. Upon hearing this yesterday I immediately wrote to my state senator, my state representatives (although Zack Hudgins should be ashamed to represent residents of Seattle without providing an e-mail contact or a phone number where constituents can leave voice mail for him! Join the 21st century, Rep. Hudgins!), and appealed to the City of Seattle through their Office of Sustainability and Environment to apply the necessary political pressure and exempt Flexcar from this tax.

My view is that Flexcar and other car-sharing services are not "car rental" businesses in the traditional sense. Car sharing programs are overwhelmingly used by local residents. Flexcar provides a community service and should be encouraged by state and local government that proports to be interested in conservation, reducing traffic congestion, or making Seattle "a model of healthy, ecologically sustainable urban living." Back in April, King County Executive Ron Sims said "...we believe itís important that people take public transportation, and as neighborhoods densify, that there actually be at times cars available for those unique times, when you canít take the bus to a doctor appointment, or a dental appointment...". Instead, car sharing participants are disincentivized from participating by the application of an 18.7% tax! Outrageous and completely wrongheaded.

This tax will add $75 a month to my typical Flexcar bill. The result will be that I will be less likely to use Flexcar and more and more tempted to just go back to car ownership. How many of the other 20,000 Flexcar users in the Seattle area are going to face a similar decision? This is not the direction the State and local politicians claim they want things to be moving and should be vigorously opposed.

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Feels Like Autumn

I'm still shaking off the last of my late summer cold and overslept hard this morning. I am accustomed to being the first awake in the house, even if it's only by a few minutes. The house was quiet and still. Kate had packed her lunch and gotten herself off to school without waking me. Chris was not in bed or in his office. It's cloudy today, cool and very much like fall though we have a few weeks before autumn officially begins. I make this switch every year, it's fall now and all that fall brings with it.

With summer's conventions off my shoulders I find myself pining to do some cooking, preserving in particular. My recipe buddies are sharing recipes for preserves, pickles, and jams. My mouth waters at the prospect but I fear I've missed the peak of the season for most things. I hope to feel energetic enough to enlist Kate's help this weekend and go on a preserving kick. The farmer's markets are still claiming to have strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, pluots, apples, melons, cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines as well as honey, cider, and ready made preserves. There's a lot to work with right now and I haven't dug my hands into some serious cooking in far too long.

It's fall. It's time.

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First Day of Sixth Grade


6th Grader Close-up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
And she's off...

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Liberalism

Drove to Portland and back today. On the way home, right around Centralia, this pick up truck blew past me going over 80 (while the driver talked on his cell phone) and ruthlessly tailgated the car in front of him for 10 or 20 miles. The entire rear window of his pick up was take up by lettering that read:

Liberalism is
Self-indulgent Bigoted Racist
Illogical TREASON Intolerant
Socialist Fascist Spiritual deception
DOMESTIC TERRORISM


I've heard the "Liberals are racists" thing (for believing that minorities need "help" overcoming bigotry and injustices perpetrated by the majority), I've seen the "Liberals aren't good Christians" thing (which I'm guessing is the root of the 'spiritual deception' line) and there are certainly liberals who are Socialists (which seems to be code for 'Commie pinko', which these guys can't throw around anymore). But Liberalism is TREASON? Liberalism is FASCIST? Liberalism is DOMESTIC TERRORISM? Please.

I drove along behind this guy for a while after he got stuck in traffic and dangerously tailgated the people in front of him. I wondered what kind of person is driven to use his free speech in such a way. I wondered if he really believes Liberalism is treason? Would he look at me on the street and think I should die for being a "domestic terrorist" because I believe in things like socialized medicine? I wondered what I would do if his tailgating, speeding and distracted cell-phone-enabled driving caused a freeway accident... would the innocent liberals he'd blown past (like the angry guy in the Prius who rolled down his window to flip Mr. Pick Up off) stop to help him in spite of his loudly proclaimed hatred of them? I supposed I would help him as much as I would help anyone but I did entertain a small fantasy of pulling him out from the self-inflicted wreckage, making sure he was cared for and waving him off in his ambulance with "By the way, I'm a liberal!"

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Lazy, Sickly Long Weekend

Yesterday we headed over to R&C's for a planned evening of kibitzing and some quality time with them and 4/5ths of the Gitel-family. On the way I started developing a migraine. It was a wacky, slow-developing one, triggered by I don't know what. I actually got the nausea first, before any pain. The first "pain" wasn't even really painful, more uncomfortable, like a phantom headache centered around the eye and temple where my migraines usually manifest. It wasn't until we were well into the bus ride that I realized that I wasn't having some weird motion-sickness episode but developing a freaky migraine. Then I spent the last half of the bus trip covering my eyes from the bright sun and trying not to moan too loudly or puke every time the bus driver slammed on the brakes (which seemed to be every block or so... these guys just don't believe in easing up to a stop, I swear). By the time I showed up at R&C's I was in poor shape and they hustled me up to a dark room with some meds, ice water and a cold compress.

Thankfully, the meds worked wonders and I was feeling entirely better within a couple of hours, so I wasn't sick and knocked out for the whole evening.

Home this afternoon and have finally fallen to a late-summer cold. I've been lucky so far this year, considering all of our travel, that I haven't picked up more diseases or "con crud" but I thnk the two weeks of travel, hotels, and mingling with strangers has finally taken its toll. Thankfully, I don't have to drive down to get Kate from my mom's until Tuesday, so I'm planning to lay around in bed, watch TiVo and do some logic puzzles tomorrow while drinking lots of liquids and generally being lazy and recuperative. Hopefully I can roll into next week feeling a little better than I do now. Not exactly an exciting holiday weekend but after the last few weeks I'm just pretty happy to see the inside of my own house and sleep in my own bed. Oh, and pet bunnies (even bad, cord-chewing ones).

Kate officially becomes a middle schooler on Wednesday.

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Noooooo!

Why, oh why didn't they make the Guitar Hero II guitar for the 360 wireless?

Damn rabbit.

sob

 
 

Naming

A friend recently asked How do you feel about your name? Do you think it suits you? Do you think of yourself by some other name, or as the one you tell other people? She sparked the following answer from me:

Nicoles were a dime a dozen in the 70s and I always had many in my classes in school. My best friend for the first 6 or so years of my life was another Nicole. My family all called me "Nikki" but my mom gave me the goofy spelling of "Nici" which was constantly mispronounced by people seeing it in writing as "Nicey" or Niece-y". For years I demanded that people call me Nici and learn it, never Nicole. Halfway through school (in yet another new school with yet more Nicoles) I changed to Nicole to avoid confusion (much as Kate has converted to Katherine outside of the house) but never really saw it as "me".

I dubbed myself "Nikchick" to my high school pen pals and took it as my online handle over 15 years ago. Most people don't call me Nicole outside of formally introducing me at a convention or something. I'm most often "Nik" to friends and co-workers. Chris calls me "Finn" (for my Finnish heritage) or "Chick" as often as he calls me "Nik" I think. Nik suits me fine. Being known online as Nikchick is also comfortable. I'm never Nici and it even looks odd to me to see it anymore, though I did sign my grandpa's birthday card that way.

Lindroos, on the other hand, is part of me. I became Nicole Frein in my first marriage and regretted it immediately. I tried billing myself as Nicole Lindroos Frein but that never felt right either. The first thing I did in my divorce was reclaim my last name, which I love. As a kid I wished for a name that was easier to pronounce, as once the substitute teacher had mangled Nici she inevitably moved on to mangle Lindroos as well with its two Os and one S. I wished for a name that was more recognizably Finnish like Heikkinen or Makela or better yet, Finnish but simple like Lahti or Maki. Even the officials in Ely who agreed to name the road to my grandpa's lake house Lindroos Road misspelled the name on the sign as Lindross the first time around. Lindroos is my name, given and in my blood. After almost 40 years, Nicole has settled around me, familiar if not well-loved, but it's Lindroos that gets to the heart of me.

How would you answer my friend's question?

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