April 26, 2008

Ow, I Got Some Cute In My Eye

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

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April 24, 2008

Kunstler Impressions

Tacomamama invited me to attend the James Howard Kunstler event this evening with her and I happily accepted. However, unlike some who have bathed in the words of Kunstler recently, I have avoided all books, YouTube videos, blogs and podcasts, preferring to go to the event with virgin ears. This paid off, as he apparently reused a lot of his jokes this evening.

I found Kunstler to be interesting, especially when speaking about architecture. The second part of his presentation was better than the first part. I really wish he had spoken more in specifics about Tacoma since he had spent the day in the city. At times he came off more like a grumpy old man with a, says Tacomamama, "very us-against-them" mentality. He appears very confrontational and not someone very approachable or adaptable to change.

Mr. Kunstler started off his speaking engagement this evening by addressing the energy crisis, or what he calls "The Long Emergency". Focusing on the depletion and hoarding of oil in various world sites, he notes that a day of reckoning is coming where we will no longer have the resources available to fuel the systems we currently have in place (tonight he specifically focused on our transportation systems, especially cars and planes).

When confronted with the argument that technology may provide us with alternate energy sources (or "save" us), Kunstler is very adamant that TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT EQUAL ENERGY. One cannot fill a gas tank with technology; which is a completely illogical argument, but who is going to jump up and argue with the man while he's on stage? At this point he told an anecdote about speaking at Google's headquarters. Harping on their "kindergarten like" atmosphere and making fun of their executives stating that they dressed like "skate rats", he laughed off the fact that these "children" told him, "but we have technology!" I would have liked to ask him if would conceed the fact that technology can lead to innovations that may provide alternate energy sources that we have not discovered yet...

I believe at this point Kunstler began the second half of his presentation, focusing on where and how we live. He had several points:

- The age of suburbia is over. Going forward we will have only urban and rural. Cities will be more compact and rural areas will begin to be used for agriculture again out of necessity.

- We must get out of our cars and choose public transportation. Trains are the most logical choice (but we are not ready for anything more plain old regular rail transport - nothing fancy).

- Architecture should be purposeful, functional, and interesting. Use historical buildings as a guide and you won't need to hide ugly buildings in strip malls, in spaces that have been "greened up" and the like.

- Parks should be away from freeways, busy intersections, etc. People want to get AWAY from these things when they are in parks.

- In order to get people to use outdoor spaces, the space must be clearly defined. Building create walls, businesses create services (edges) and a reason for being.

Many of these are so obvious, you wouldn't think these would be wild and outrageous suggestions, but they are! Looking at his slides of the hideous schools (prison-like), public space (perpetually empty Boston amphetheater bearing a striking resemblance to Tollefson Plaza), and blank walls (I believe it was Boston City Hall with a block's length of blank wall) you start to despair of good design.

I know there has been discussion locally regarding the Proctor Safeway redesign. Currently Tacoma requires that any buildings along Proctor have windows along the street, however Safeway has requested a variance allowing them to have a solid wall along the West side of the building, among other things. I'm not sure what the progress of their request is at this point in time.

There were examples of beautiful and intricate architecture this evening as well. In addition to historical examples Kunstler had shots of windows and rooflines from his hometown, and he talked quite a bit about The Congress for the New Urbanism. The CNU appears to be working to create a new type of infrastrustructure that encompases neighborhoods, wildlife habitat, and farmland. You can check out their work on their website.

I'm sure there are plenty of things I'm forgetting from tonight, but these are the things that stuck this evening.

Posted by Ensie at 12:30 AM | Comments (58) | TrackBack

April 21, 2008

Princess Sadie Thumbs

Today I received an e-mail direct from Sadie, our former kitty who it appears now has her own e-mail address (!) at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital. Princess Sadie Thumbs (as she is known for her attitude and extra toes) is now living at the vet's office while she waits for a new home. They graciously offered to house her there as they do for a certain number of Tacoma Humane Society kitties that are up for adoption.

Dear Ensie, Frinklin & the crew,

Life is good here at Met Vet. My food bowl is right next to my bed -- I don't even have to stand up to eat. My litter box is two steps away, so I use it always. I feel like a princess here.

Sometimes the staff makes me walk around for exercise, but I discovered if I try to eat their plants, they let me go right back to napping in my room.

I could live like this forever!

Princess Sadie Thumbs


As you can see, Sadie has happily taken over their office.

You can e-mail Sadie at Sadie(at)metvetpets(dot)com, especially if you're interested in adopting her.

Posted by Ensie at 11:49 AM | Comments (145) | TrackBack

April 20, 2008

Gilbert 1985 - 2007

This morning while in a hurry to get out the door to meet the usual group for Sunday breakfast I noticed a suspicious lack of noise coming from one corner of the dining room. Normally this spot is home to Gilbert, my fussy grey cockatiel I've owned since I was nine (if you're doing the math that's 22 years). His large cage appeared to be empty, until I saw his small, motionless body lying on his side on the floor. I sucked in my breath quickly, alerting Frinklin that something was wrong, and rushed to open the cage.

I bought Gilbert from the now-defunct Ramona Bird Farm with the earnings I made my first year of 4-H. I was going through an Anne of Green Gables phase at the time and named him after Gilbert Blythe. He kept a series of parakeets company over the years. Gil never backed down from cats and was fascinated by dogs and loved to ride around on Matchbox's back. Although he never learned to talk he could wolf-whistle like nobody's business.

Frinklin and I have joked for a long time that Gilbert would never die. Guessing life spans for cockatiels is just that - a guessing game. Could be 5 years, could be 20 years. A bird vet once told me that feeding him birdseed was like feeding him cheeseburgers and fries and that I should be giving him pellets. We switched him to pellets and he responded by throwing the pellets at me every time I walked by. He was back to burgers and fries after a couple of weeks. I figured making him happy was more important than making him healthy at his age (18 at the time).

Gilbert's been around so long I can't remember a time that I didn't have him. It's literally been 2/3 of my life. In the next few days I'll need to clean out his cage (once I finally recover from the virus that has sapped my will to live) and decide what to do with it.

Bird people are unique people. Over the last few years I've gone from owning several birds to now owning none. I'm not sure if I'm ready to be a regular person.

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April 17, 2008

Hub's Head Chef, Bar Manager Quit

Tonight I had my first bad experience at The Hub. Which is really unfortunate, considering the fact that I've had really great experiences there previously. I wouldn't normally write about one bad time at a restaurant, except that not only was the food not good, but the service was bad too.

First - let me say that I was there the week The Hub opened in a group of 8 people and our waiter was fantastic and the food was delicious. Then was back last week and the waiter was almost oppressive he was so attentive. Kevin declared his steak "possibly the best in Tacoma" which is saying a lot considering what quality steaks there are to be had. I had pizzas both time and both were good.

So tonight I sat in the bar side of The Hub for the first time with Frinklin, Cassioposa, and Angela. Cassioposa got there first and ordered a glass of wine, only to be told five minutes after ordering that her chosen red was not available. After choosing another the waitress returned again and told her, again, that they were out. Cassie finally asked, "What is available?" and was told, "Oh, pretty much everything..." Not helpful. Fortunately her third choice actually was in stock.

Once we were all seated and ordered drinks it took a good 15 minutes to flag down our server. Granted, the restaurant was busy, but not frantic. We placed an order of fries as an appetizer and proceeded to order our entrees. A ceasar sald for Cassie, a pizza for Frinklin, chicken picatta for Angela, and the flat-iron steak for myself, asking that the fries be substituted with mashed potatoes. I sensed trouble as our waitress didn't bother to ask how I preferred my steak.

Our fries never came. When our food showed and I asked I was told it was a side order. I love it when servers tell you what you ordered. It's not that there can't be a misunderstanding - it's just that I know what I wanted, so I'm not the one that's wrong. The order for fries finally went in at that point.

My steak came, as did Angela's chicken picatta - with fries. When I stated that I wanted mashed potatoes my steak was sent back, only to be returned shortly with word from the kitchen that the restaurant was out of regular potatoes. It was just that no one had informed the wait staff. There was no opportunity for them to warn any patrons that their meal may need substitutions or the like.

At this point we were all starving. I ate my steak (tasty, but cooked more than I would like) with sweet potato frites and three of the saddest asperagus you have ever seen. As Angela said, "I would have been embarrased to plate those!" She half-heartedly picked through her over-peppered, tomato covered, so-so chicken picatta. Frinklin's pizza and Cassie's salad were pretty good, although Frinklin noted his pizza was a good couple inches smaller in diameter than it had been in the past. Our french fry appetizer (made from yams, lest you believe they had received a shipment of regular potatoes) showed up half way through our meal.

When our checks arrived our sever was kind enough to discount my steak and remove the cost of the appetizer completely. It was explained to us that the Head Chef walked out earlier today and that the Bar Manager had also quit. That could definitely explain the irregularity in our meals. While we sat and discussed this development and our meal our drinks were collected and table began to be bussed as though we were not sitting and chatting. There was no reason to throw us out, as there were plenty of empty tables, but we took this as our cue to leave.

I don't know exactly how much the Head Chef and/or the Bar Manager have an effect on the Serving Staff at a restaurant, but it seemed as though our waitress had no idea what was going on this evening. I don't think I'll be sitting in the bar section again. I hope it was just a fluke and that The Hub find a new Head Chef and Bar Manager soon.

Posted by Ensie at 09:18 PM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Job Search, Updated

There's been a lot going on and I've steadfastly refused to blog about it. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it's the fact that it has to do with money and the lack thereof. Or the fact that some of it's job related, or again, the lack thereof. I can tell you that I've felt overwhelmed and exhausted when it comes to dealing with life and have spent far too much time curled up in bed as of late. Then again - at least I'm not out spending any money.

Frinklin's job search is on it's eighth or ninth week now. He's sent out a couple of hundred resumes and has had something like four interviews, which s a little disheartening. It's not that his job skills are lacking or resume is poor, it's that for one reason or another he hasn't been a perfect fit for the jobs available (Interviewer: "I see you live in Tacoma, how do you plan to get to Seattle each day?" Frinklin: "Actually I worked in Seattle for two years previously and loved taking the commuter train. I also own a car, so commuting is no problem." Interviewer: "Interesting. We're still concerned about your ability to get to work each day." Frinklin: "??") or there have been a gazillion candidates. The Seattle/Tacoma job market is extremely tough at the moment. See Richard Florida's new book for confirmation.

On the upside, Frinklin picked up some freelance work this week (thank you company who smiled on us!) and the State of Washington concluded their investigation into his unemployment claim last week, so a check finally arrived. Yay!

I can say, it you've ever been in this position, it's all about having funds available to shift around. I'm having to move money from my 401K to other places, and was using a credit card to cover something for a time...until one of my credit card companies decided that they would be halving my available credit without any notice. Gee! Thanks! I completely understand that there is huge credit issue occurring currently, but freaking out and cutting off one of my liquid sources of monies - not cool.

In other news I went on a week-long Conference to the Homeland of Bob's Hogs and Weiner Pigs. It was great fun to hang out with all the fellow Bob's Hoggers. We had "pajama parties" each night hosted by my roomie and myself where we "networked" for a couple of hours with drinks. It was the best part of the entire week. Beet was in fine form. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we spent an hour "learning" how to color code an Excel spreadsheet. Actually, I spent that hour chatting online with Cassioposa and Kevin while Beet droned on about color coding Excel cells.

The trip home from the coference was an adventure. I'll leave that to my next post, hopefully tomorrow, from my new laptop (hint, hint).

Posted by Ensie at 09:24 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 06, 2008

Climate Change

It is currently only raining on the Eastern half of my house. The Western side is completely dry. And when I say raning, I mean pouring - wind blowing, rain slanting down, etc. But looking out the Westside window - nothing.


Posted by Ensie at 04:42 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 04, 2008

Craig Ferguson's Murder She Wrote

I've gotten into the habit of staying up far to late in the last few weeks. Frinklin still isn't working and I'm working from home, so schedules have gotten lax, hours are flexible, and late night television has been aplenty.

Folks, I give you that which has inspired a fresh round of quotes inspiring inappropriate, near-constant, inside-joke giggling:

Has there been a murdah?

Posted by Ensie at 10:54 PM | Comments (838) | TrackBack