Monday, April 28, 2008

Quiet times

This is my last week of being home alone all day. I feel panicked and lazy at the same time. I still have lots of projects to do, but none of them have a deadline. A couple projects for the Retina Center, some sewing, some knitting, some cleaning and organizing, etc. But I just want to read my latest book, The Know-It-All. I feel very blah. Starting school will be a very good thing for me.

With my Everyday Food magazine I have a tasty menu planned, with fresh ingredients in my fridge from Sunflower Markets. We're going to eat:
  • BBQ pork giant baked sandwich (finished off leftovers from last week)
  • Feta and Israeli couscous salad
  • Two pea pasta
  • Chicken paella
  • Artichoke and parsley linguini
  • Thai chicken with noodles.
Hmm. A lot of pasta in there. So much for cutting back on carbs this week.

We had a quiet weekend. We watched Grosse Point Blank on Friday after I had dance class. Saturday Ben went to a pinball expo while I knit and watched episodes of The Office on (I realized that the Office is MUCH funnier now that I don't work IN an office. It was too close to home.) After lunch (grilled cheese and tomato soup, tuna for Ben) we went to Sur La Table to spend a gift card (I finally have a garlic peeler!). A quick jaunt though Whole Foods provided a nice snack what with all their free samples. For dinner we went to Virgilio's with Brian. We finished off the evening watching Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who.

More of the same this week. I'm going to trivia tonight and dance class tomorrow. Wednesday is orientation day for school. I get to meet my classmates and teachers, tour the campus, buy some more supplies, and hopefully get all my lingering questions answered. I can't wait to start!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


After spending an hour trying to rearrange my living room I decided I truly hate the computer desk we bought when we moved here. The corner shape is an inefficient use of space and it limits placement to two spots in the room, the only other option being where the dining table currently resides. And I don't want to move the table across the room.

Want. Darn Ikea.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Resisting Revolution

I came across a design blog post about pointe shoes integrating a hot new design material, d30 (whatever that is). I checked out the shoes and my oh my are they fancy. I'm impressed with all the detail and thought they put into the design. But I doubt they will catch on. Pointe shoes are a fascinating form of athletic gear that hasn't changed much in over a century. I have a theory that dancers like the fact that they have to bang and cut and generally beat up a new pair of shoes before they are wearable. It's the same masochism that draws them to ballet. What other "sport" combines ruthless auditions and rehearsals, intense competition, the ego of celebrity, the body image disorders of modeling, the social hierarchy of old European cultures, and yet is unpopular with the public and thus underfunded? You almost have to be a masochist to be a ballerina.

They like the old. They love to show off how little padding they wear in their shoes. The professional dancers sometimes depend on a single cobbler to make all their shoes, panicking when he retires. Here are some examples:

"Though she says the shoes fit so well they feel like slippers, Ribeiro modifies them slightly. "I bang them on the floor, squeeze the front and side, three-quarter the shank [cut the heel portion of the shank off to make it softer and more supple] and cut the tip of the satin," she says. Depending on her schedule, Ribeiro goes through up to four pairs a week, each one getting a pre-performance kiss. "I love them," she says. Artur Fuchs [her cobbler] is delighted to help. "I'm proud to be part of such a wonderful event," he says."

"New York City Ballet soloist Pascale van Kipnis switched to her 5 1/2 D Capezio "Special Make-Ups" midway through her career. Now, eight years later, van Kipnis says, "I'm sticking with these." Van Kipnis' shoes are handmade by Maker #7, Tony Sousa, a cobbler with 20 years' experience. Capezio makes lasts (plastic models of the foot) for dancers who order customized shoes. The result is a shoe that fits every time. "And they last," says van Kipnis. "I can use them for a performance and then for rehearsals the next day." Though she could request the shank be shortened, van Kipnis three-quarters them herself. "I don't need much support," she says. "My feet go on pointe and stay there."

"Grateful for her Grishko "Maya I" models, Lunkina thanked Alexander Shemenyov, her cobbler of five years, face-to-face and invited him to see her perform. Though he has several clients at companies worldwide, Shemenyov knows Lunkina's order (size 4, width X) by heart. Once, noticing a lapse in orders, Shemenyov said he was afraid Lunkina found a new cobbler. "I felt so relieved to find out she was on maternity leave!" says Shemenyov. Soaring through 250 to 300 pairs of shoes each year, often 2 per performance, Lunkina's only special request is to specify different shank strengths. "For Giselle I prefer a very soft shoe, for Don Quixote, a stronger shoe," says Lunkina. "My shoes fit perfectly, I don't need to think about my feet, I simply melt in my role.""

" After the retirement of her longtime cobbler, Royal Ballet principal Leanne Benjamin "was in a terrible state," she says."

There is incredible variety among traditional pointe shoes models. Students may switch models each time they get a new pair. Basically they are all constructed the same with different sizing around the different parts of the foot. There is just one other "revolutionary" new model shoe, the Gaynor Minden (on the left, standard Capezio on the right). I remember when I was on pointe and they were introduced.

I was sure it was the wave of the future. Customizable! More durable! Quieter! More comfortable! What else could any dancer ask for? Yet I was the only one in my class who tried them, and I didn't like them as much as my old moldable, low-tech shoes. In my classes at the Arvada Center I have only seen one other girl try them. From what I hear most professionals still prefer Freeds, if they can get them (their cobblers are dying out faster than they can train new ones).

So I think these new Capulet shoes won't make more that a little splash in the pointe shoe scene. Ballerinas are too romantic, too superstitious, and too stubborn to adapt.

(As a side note, while the shoe itself has not changed, pointe shoe accessories have evolved and flourished since I was in pointe. Everyone still used lamb's wool for padding when I started. In the mid 1990s they introduced a gel-filled plastic pouch for you toes. This quickly changed to silicone pads, and the line expanded to all sorts of accessories: individual toe gels, capped and uncapped, various sizes, trimmable toe pouches, toes spacers, etc. After I stopped dancing they added something I always wanted - ribbons with elastic cut in where they cross behind the achilles tendon. I hear they actually don't work that well. Now I see they invented a false arch, a beauty enhancement not far from padded push-up bras. That cracks me up.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I'm kind of missing doing transcription this week, if you can believe it. I like the easy, mindless working at home. It's a perfect part time job. Reading my medical terminology book reminds me of it. For fun, I re-transcribed a recent (short) letter below. It shows my shortcuts for typing before Word translates them into their proper form. For example, "ctw" is "continues to do well." Even my capitalization will be fixed. See if you can make sense of it :-) I bet Mom and Dad can easily break my code (maybe Dad can even tell which patient it is).

jhn xx mar 2008


Name dob ctw with bt avt for bt cnv. The most recent ttm for the le was 1 feb 2008. He wbt for ev and ttm of the re. He describes no wor.

Ac od is 20/40. iop 13. Asg is quiet with ns. Df exm reveals mce and srf with fibrous ped. disc and pery are stable.

Ac os is 20/100. iop 18. The le wndt.

octi. Iaa deming mild mce, srf, and fibrous PED.

With his ic today I placed another avs ttm od. Ewp. He unimp if he has wor including sinf. He h24. He akai ou. His nxv here will be 17 mar for ev and ttm of his le or sooner prn. asa ikp.

And that's how you type 570 characters and charge for 1,478 characters. Most of these shortcuts I made up in high school when I first started transcribing. I have many more shortcuts than shown here. Probably hundreds. Even when it's been years since I last did dictation (like most recently when I picked it up again), my fingers remember the code. Our brains are like magic.

I Hate Drake

This is a great little internet gem I came across years ago. Waxy posted it again recently, and so I will share it with you. It takes me back to being a kid, where events are so dramatic, emotions are intense, and adults just don't understand. You MUST watch this.

(I should take a cue from my sister and warn you that there is some bad language.)

This is what $800 looks like

Monday, April 21, 2008

Geeks Who Drink (diet coke)

Hey look, I'm on the internet again.

We did poorly last week, but tonight we took third place out of sixteen! Yeaaaaaaaa. We left before posing for a picture. I was pleased to figure out that 80s cartoon villain Phyllis Pizazz Gabor is from . . . . . . . Jem! It would have been a shame to miss that one.

New Curtains

That's funny, after posting my skirt (below) I noticed that I never put up my curtain pictures! Voila.


How do you like the skirt I made out of my Ikea curtain fabric? It was a great three hour project. Last Friday Miranda called me up to accompany her on some shopping. Afterwards we had leftover chili at my house and got Zaley to show off her laugh.

Here are the new decals we got for our gadgets. I love my purple dots! I finally got my old ringtone running and got an ebook reader for the scriptures.

I made these peanut butter and chocolate oat crumbles last week. They deserve 7/10. Easy to make, fairly tasty, healthy oats...but they were not spectacular. Sort of blah. And they are super crumbly, leaving messes all over. I might make them again, but I would not reserve the base crumble for the topping - I'd put it all on the base. Then I'd put more chocolate on the peanut butter-condensed milk layer and smear the melted chocolate around, like on my mom's peanut butter bars. Here's the recipe if you want to give them a try.

Things are going to be boring this week. My folks are out of the country so there isn't any dictation for me to transcribe. I'm slowly reading a book on how to create websites. I might work on theirs a bit. I have my second hepatitis shot tomorrow and I made a dentist appointment for Wednesday. Tuesday we're going to see Ben's cousin's jazz band perform. I'm excited to see his family again - it's been months, maybe more than a year since we all got together.

On the school front, I'm down to two weeks. That's also the estimated time when Regis said they would be sending us our schedules. Nothing so far today. I need to go to campus to get a medical terminology book to take their pre-requisite quiz (that they just sent out Friday. Gargh. Why can't they give us more warning for anything??). This morning I matched codes on my tuition invoice to the bookstore book search and I think I have a list of the books for my first term. Before tax the estimated total is $889. Criminy. And that doesn't include lab tools, scrubs, shoes, the required PDA software, or my stethoscope. I'm so glad I have supportive parents who are willing to help me get all the education I want.

ghost dogs

ghost dogs, originally uploaded by Ben Mason.

We hiked up Green Mountain at dusk on Friday to take long exposure pictures. I really like how this one turned out. Click the links above to see more of Ben's photos from the night safari.

10K Game Day

Brian playing tennis, originally uploaded by Ben Mason.

Ben organized a Game Day for Saturday to celebrate his 10,000 gamer score on xbox. Costumes were encouraged, but we took them off for most of the day so we could play outdoors. We had tennis, frisbee with the dogs, and a rousing game of kickball! I'm sore in all kinds of places :-) In the late afternoon we ate and played indoor games. I barbecued burgers and brats, and served carrot sticks, chips, and angelfood cake with strawberries. More pictures from the day are on Ben's site.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Youngme Nowme

What a cool idea! People post pictures of themselves imitating old pictures of themselves. I hate to repost something that boingboing linked to, but this is really fun to look at.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I love the whole world

Kind of makes me wish I had cable.

I love to watch the snow.
I love knitting turtles.
I love peanut butter.
I love ranunculus.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A good Saturday

I ordered a vinyl decal from this site for my BB today. Choutte, non? I had to restrain myself from getting ipod and laptop decals too. I also got a clear acrylic case for my phone. I dropped it the other day and the back panel came off. No harm done, but it made me realize that I need some protection.

I ate at Jack in the Box for the second time. Once again I got an upset stomach. It was tasty during the moment. Isn't that true for a lot of life?

This afternoon we unearthed the tennis rackets from my trunk and played a few games at Morse Park with Brian. My skills are severely lacking. Frequently I outright miss the ball, whiffing my racket 10 inches above or below while it whizzes by. Traditionally I've blamed this on my missing depth perception (I have good vision in just one eye, so without glasses I rely on that one. This renders the world in 2D). But I shouldn't be THAT bad. Today I came up with a new reason - I never played ball sports growing up. No softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, or anything. A little volleyball during one semester of gym in middle school, and a little four-square in elementary school at recess. Do you think that missing out on those sports left me with terrible hand-eye coordination? It was very pleasant playing, even if I only won 1 game.

We tried a new restaurant in the hip Highlands neighborhood (where the party in front of you are wearing leather and cashmere and has a Louis Vuitton diaper bag for their toddler). Big Hoss BBQ totally hit the spot for Ben, Brian, and myself. Warm, spicy pork and beef with delicious baked beans, potatoes, and rolls. We will definitely be returning the next time we want barbeque. We even bought a bottle of their "balanced but aggressive" sauce to slather on our home grilled dinners this week.

I finished my sweater vest a while ago but haven't taken a picture yet. Did I already mention this? I can't remember. I'm pleased with how it turned out. It's not perfect, there are definitely changes I would make if I were doing this again. But it taught me some skills for determining fit and construction of larger garments. I'm excited to try another big project. Alas, the weather is turning warm. I'm knitting washcloths right now, and I have a couple sewing projects. Knitting with wool will have to wait for the fall.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Getting the broken fixed

I don't want to sound negative all the time, but often I forget to post when things are going well. Remember that long list of things that were broken I wrote in January?
  • upstairs toilet - My repair job is holding, although the flush is a bit weak.
  • Ben's watchband - Fixed
  • my engagement ring prongs - Will fix when we get the economic stimulus rebate.
  • my macbook keyboard - Spontaneously fixed. It hasn't acted up since January.
  • sewing machine - Fixed. Sounds like a dream.
  • Ben's uvula - Shrunk back to normal within a couple days.
  • my ipod - Never fixed, but now I have a Nano!!
  • Jem's eyes - She occasionally has eye boogers, but the redness and itchy irritation has been gone for weeks.
Also I took Molly to the vet today. She was examined and is perfectly healthy, except for a pulse of 240(!) because she was so scared. She got her vaccines for rabies and distemper so we don't have to go back for three years.

Last night I figured out how to sync my blackberry with my mac. Like all the forums say, pocketmac (the free software for linking them) is pretty terrible. It stalled repeatedly. After noodling around for a good hour I figured out that if I sync each application one by one it will work. Good enough for me! Next I need to find a good ringtone or acquire my old Mario tone again. Then maybe transfer some photos and look for free third party apps.

I'm 3/3 for exercising in the morning this week! I registered for the Adult Ballet class at the Arvada Center again and attended last night. I'm not sure I'll be able to attend all 12 weeks, what with school starting in May. But Ben pointed out that I did dance last spring when I was working AND taking classes in Microbiology and Anatomy. So I can probably find time. Just to be sure, I'm going to try to go twice/week this month so if I miss some in May and June they will already be made-up. If I don't miss and run out of classes I can pay the drop-in rate.

I made a delicious fritatta for dinner last night. It has beer brats (casing removed), red peppers, and onions. I love eating it with cold ketchup. Tonight I'm going to try making home made mayonnaise to accompany artichokes. I'm also going to make a lovely marinara with red wine and basil and meatballs. Mmmm.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Robot Test

Name That Robot
Created by OnePlusYou

So sad :-( Obviously I need to watch more sci-fi action thrillers from the 80s and 90s.

Monday, April 07, 2008

*Sigh* Back to Lakewood

My cat did NOT want to leave. She was so so happy to be in a huge house all to herself. I don't think I've every seen her so content. So when I drove home she was extra annoying. She meowed constantly, used the litterbox 4 times before we got to Parachute, barfed her breakfast down between the seats, and wandered into the back window, panting in terror at the 360-degree view of cars and wide open spaces. She completely freaked out and was too scared to come down. After ten minutes of coaxing I pulled off the road and she got down.

But I'm pleased to report that all the cuddling she exhibited at the house in the country is lingering still. She actually jumped in my lap while I was transcribing today - and she just wanted scratching! No food requests! I let her purr away until my legs fell asleep.

Whenever I leave my parents house they pack up some groceries from their pantry. It's a good deal: I get some nifty food items and they get to clean out their overflowing cabinets. This time my dad packed up three bags and a cooler while I was packing my suitcase. What a strange array Ben and I found when I unpacked them four hours later. Let me give you an idea of the vastness and variety included in these bags:
  • canned lychees
  • lingonberry bread mix
  • tuna in foil packets
  • roasted pepper bruschetta spread
  • Power Rangers kinder eggs
  • water chestnuts
  • two dozen eggs
  • Swedish sour jelly stars
  • fresh herbs from Mom's garden
  • roasted cashews
  • japanese rice cracker snack mix
  • dehydrated mushrooms
  • dried mango strips
  • coconut milk
  • tabouli and gumbo boxed mixes
  • creamed honey
  • 3 pounds of short pasta
  • a bottle of sauvignon
  • fritos
  • 4 boxes of pocky
  • marinara sauce
  • cat food treats
  • marinated artichokes
  • various canned beans
  • and the strangest of all - rye bread mix in a milk-carton like jug.
I love it. It was pretty hilarious sorting through all of it :-) So now I have a well stocked and diverse pantry. Ben was especially happy to see the tuna, since I don't eat any seafood whatsoever. (Really. Nothing from the sea. Period.)

I get two questions asked almost every day since Febuary (which is quite an accomplishment since I don't get out much).

1) When does school start? (May 5th May 5th May 5th)
2) What do you do all day?

What DO I do all day? Well, for starters, it's very hard to wake up when you have no schedule. I set my alarm for 7:30 and fully intend to obey it when I go to sleep each night. But then I sleep until 8, that becomes 8:30, that becomes 9. On good days I get up then and on bad days I stretch it to 10.

I try to do my Denise Austin aerobics video for 30 minutes each morning, but my hit rate is about 50%. I have some cheerios and read a magazine or book. I shower and dress. By then it could be anywhere from 10:00 to 11:30, so my day is almost half over!

I do medical transcription for a couple hours, taking a break for lunch and to walk the dog. I work slowly, usually chatting with friends and checking my rss feeds between letters.

By 2 things are pretty slow. I may tackle a to-do item, like today I cleaned out my basement storage room. Tomorrow I might deep clean my carpet. Then I'll usually watch TV or a movie while working on a craft project. Around 4:30 I start thinking about making dinner and we eat around 6 pm.

At night I hang out near Ben, usually reading or crafting. I might play games with friends or go out on shopping errands (like tonight we got groceries). We go to bed between 10:30 and 11:30.

Wow. That's pretty boring. I don't know why I bothered writing all of that out. I guess because when people ask me I say "oh, I'm working from home and I do this and that." But that answer doesn't make sense to me because I know I only work for a couple hours. So maybe I needed to see for myself how I pass each day. Somehow something usually comes up that I can spend time on, whether for school or my parents' work or household chores. On the days when nothing comes up I get a bit depressed. It's hard to enjoy free time when there's a lot of it. People say to enjoy it because I'll be so busy once school starts that I'll miss it. But you always want what you can't have.

Four weeks left.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sticking needles

After working on art projects at my parents' office, we ran some errands. I settled on a Blackberry Curve for the requisite nursing software. It seemed like a better value for the money, compared to Palm PDAs. T-Mobile says I can use the browser in preexisting WiFi spots without paying for their monthly internet. I think I correctly hooked up to the home internet and checked my gmail. I'm still a little unsure how to block it from switching to the paid internet, that would cost 1.99 per minute. Yuck! I need to decide whether to hook it to my desktop pc, or download intermediary software to hook it to this mac. Hmmm. Then I can explore all the functions it offers.

Then a jaunt into target led to sundries like eyeglass cleaning kits, infomercial wall hanging products, girl scout cookie ice cream, and a ipod nano. :-D Yea! I know, I'm totally spoiled. Thank you thank you thank you Mom and Dad. After it finished syncing all my music, I'm going to swipe some Spanish lesson's from Dad's ipod using Senuti and add it to mine.

But the funnest was yet to come! We went back into the office and Dad taught me how to put in an IV, use a vacutainer, and put in a butterfly line. It was great, he's so encouraging and consoling. I wasn't nervous at all about sticking him. It definitely boosted my confidence for doing it in school.

And we did all of that AFTER dinner :-)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jem's first year

My dear dad put together this CUTE video of our dog prancing about like a silly puppy. I absolutely love it.

Best Friends from Rachel Mason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008