Monday, April 30, 2007

Vacation wrap-up

The problem with not blogging daily is that you get out of the habit of doing so. And then, when it comes time to update, you either don't want to, or have so much to say that you don't know where to begin. And/or, you certainly don't remember everything.

So, now that the vacation is over - I go back to work tomorrow - I find myself in the position of having a LOT to talk about, but very little desire to actually take the time to type it all out. The lesson is that when we go on our next trip (be it vacation, or when we leave Las Vegas for good) that we certainly need a lap top. Or I should write things down as we go, so that I can remember things better.

Anyway. List time. Because listing things (in no particular order) seems to be how my brain works best, and because it's one of the laziest ways of blogging and getting information out. The trip was overall a great one, but it wasn't all liquid sunshine and Pepsi. I'll start with the bad, to get it out of the way, and also so that I can end with the positive.

The Bad

- Harper was killed.
During the conference, there was a game of "Assassin" being played. Assassin is played pretty much like this:
Everyone who is playing puts their names on a slip of paper, and the names go into a hat. Draw a name. Whoever you picked, is who you have to "kill" sometime during the conference. To kill a person, you simply have to touch them on the shoulder and say, "You are dead." or "Gotcha" or "I just killed you", or something to that effect.
The catch is - there can be no witnesses.
So, traveling in groups is a safe way to avoid being murdered. However, if you are constantly in a group, it means that you can't do any killing either.
Once you kill a person, they have to give you their target, and that becomes your next person to assassinate.
Harper ended up being killed by a teenage girl who was, apparently, quite good at the game (she had already taken out 10 other people before getting Harper). But the fact that she got "killed" was highly disturbing to Harper. She was inconsolable for at least 45 minutes, until eventually, she was "brought back to life" by the girl who had killed her, and they agreed that they would work together to get Harper's target.
Assassin was fun, though, and I think if Harper plays again, she'll be better prepared for it.

- We got sick
Harper, Irina and I started getting runny noses and sore throats around Wednesday (the 25th). Steph didn't start feeling bad until yesterday. For the most part, I'm over my illness, although I still have occasional bouts of coughing. Being sick is never fun, even when you're in Oregon.

- My boss was in a car accident
On Wednesday the 25th, I got a call from work, informing me that my supervisor had been in a pretty bad accident, and would be out "for a while". The initial call was pretty much right after it happened, and a lot of the information was inaccurate. (I was first told that he had broken his back. I was told later that he has a fractured vertebrae, which is marginally better, but still pretty scary.)
The rest of the week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) I received calls from work, either giving me updates, or asking me work related questions that only I - or my supervisor - would be able to handle.

- We got pulled over for speeding
In Tonopah on the way home. I was doing 51 in a 25. Because 25 is a ridiculously low speed to drive. And also, it didn't feel like we were moving that fast.

- Steph's camera broke
On Thursday night, as we were going into our hotel, Steph's camera was accidentally dropped.
On Friday, when we went to our last fun spot before beginning the boring drive back, we discovered that due to the drop, it was not going to operate anymore. :(

The Good!

- The pictures were still retrievable
If you check out Steph's blog, you can see many of the photos from the trip. Even though the camera won't be taking any new pictures, the ones that were on the card were still able to be put on the computer. Yay technology!

- We were let go with a warning
Thankfully, the cop in Tonopah didn't give us a ticket. (Even though I was going double the posted limit!) A ticket would be the last thing we need. To my credit, I drove the speed limit the entire way home. (Even 25 in all the small towns in Nevada)

- Powell's book city
Portland is a very interesting city (although I don't know 100% how I feel about it, and whether I would want to actually live there) but one of the most amazing parts of it was Powell's. Powell's City of Books is pretty much what it says. It's about 4 city blocks worth of used and new books, located in downtown Portland.
Going to Portland for that alone would be worth it. We really needed more time to actually walk through that place - it's huge! - but at least we've now seen it.

- The Oregon Vortex
This was where we discovered that Steph's camera was not working, so we had to buy a disposable. (For 12 bucks!) I just wikied up the Oregon Vortex, and the short article there kinda dampened some of the enthusiasm from the visit, but even if it was just optical illusions, it was still kinda cool to see a golf ball roll uphill, and to witness Steph grow several inches just by moving a few feet.

-Abby's Legendary Pizza

- The Talent Show
Steph got video of the girls doing their hula-hooping at the talent show this time around. Both of them have improved their abilities quite a bit - and they were already really good at the previous conference. Saren even worked in doing some jumps and hula-hooping on her knees.

- Barefoot Boogie
The last night of the conference, there was an all-ages, 3 hour dance. Irina was hilarious, and the girls all had an amazing time. I even let go of my reservations and danced with the crowd.

- Portland Zoo
The San Diego Zoo gets all the press, but I think the Portland Zoo is the better of the two. It's smaller - which means less walking! And maybe it was because it was cooler, or because it was Portland, or because it was a school day, or I don't know - but it was also much less crowded, so that was another plus.

Best radio station I found during the trip.

- Newport Aquarium
Even though I was sick, and completely energyless during our visit to the Newport Aquarium, it was still fun.

- Done blogging
I know I'm forgetting/leaving out a LOT of the experience, but that's what Steph's blog is for. ;)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The trip so far (continued)

Where did I leave off?

Oh, right. Thursday.

Like I said, that day we did not have a gigantic drive ahead of us, so we opted to do a little sight-seeing in Jacksonville (fee non ay! [I really cant stop doing that, Im sorry]) first.

Jacksonville (fee non ay!) is this little town that has maybe 1000 people living in it. (Maybe more, we didnt see the entire town, but i cant imagine that its population is more than 5000.) The entire downtown area is all walking distance, and many of the buildings [and homes] were built in the 1850s - 1880s, so its quite the historic little town. And the fact that it is located in lush green forests only adds to its charm.
While walking around, we saw many many cats just roaming free. The weird thing is, they were all orange. Or had some orange fur on them. It mightve even been the same cat, stalking us. We also saw several ginormous squirrels. I think in another 500 million years or so, those squirrels are going to be running that place. So, you know, be prepared.

We had lunch in The Mustard Seed Cafe, which had some awesome food, and everyone that came in knew each other, and they were all nice and they had Pepsi, of course. After that, we walked up to the town cemetary, because cemetaries are interesting, and because we are morbid. :)
The cemetary probably has more inhabitants than the town.

But thats okay, because that place was really cool. While we were there, we ran into a woman that worked there, and she filled us in on some of the projects that the city has going on with regard to the cemetary - fixing up some of the old plots, completely doing a census of sorts regarding who is buried in what graves, warding off zombies, that sort of stuff.

By around 2pm, we decided to head toward Corvallis. While on the way we drove through Eugene, which.... wasnt all that fab, sadly. Granted, we only drove through one little bit of it, and there could be many other parts of Eugene that are lovely, but we certainly didnt see them that day. Springfield was slightly better, but overall, I think if I had my druthers, Id pick Jacksonville (fee non ay) or Medford as a place in Oregon to live over Eugene or Springfield.

Got to the hotel (the Salbasgeon, which for the first couple of days I refered to as Sebastian, until I learned that it derived its name from 3 types of fish - salmon/bass/sturgeon) around 6ish. Walked across the street to KFC for dinner, came back, and watched the most entertaining episode of Survivor in a LONG time, then took the girls swwimiing for a little while before finally settling back in for the night.


This was the first official day of the conference, although registration didnt begin until noon.

This is going to sound bad, especially since it was just two days ago, but ...I dont remember what we did on Friday. We did the welcome speech thing...and I know the girls ran around, but I cant remember what the mass majority of the day consisted of, until the pajama party at 8pm. In the morning, Harper, Irina and I had the free breakfast (which was quite deliciious, actually) and Saren adn Steph drove down to Sunnyside Up - a local restaurant where many of the conference attendees were having a pre-conference get together.
The pj party was fun. And wild. It started off with a giant duck duck goose game (although it seemed that adults either werent invited, or simply werent joinng in by choice. I shouldve broken out of my comfort zone and sat in with them, but didnt.) and it morphed into a game of Simon Says, and balloon sword fights, and Dance Dance Revolution and Connect 4 and Blink and knock knock jokes and screaming and running around and fun...


This isnt going to be in order, just a list of things that happened, as they come back to me:

- Had dinner at Sunnyside Up. That was really cool. They have this brilliant idea of putting trivial pursuit cards on the tables. hee! Awesome way to kill time while waiting for your food. Plus, lots of local art on the walls, and a very funny sign on the outside door (Steph took a picture of it, so I wont ruin the surprise) Themenu was a little too... new age? hippy? whole foods?...something... for my comfort zone, but i enjoyed the turkey sandwich, and they had Pepsi, so it was all good.

....and again, im gonna cut this short and finish up later...

The trip so far

(Or, what I can remember, and what I can type while everyone else is still sleeping. Letś just call it the highlights, shall we? [also, note to myself - avoid the apostrophe key!])


we left the house around 9;11 in the morning. Although we needed to fill up the gas tank, and turn back home for a few forgotten items before really hitting the road around 945. (And we still ended up not bringing eveerything. Some of the Nintendo DS games, for example, and I had wanted to bring some of ooour board games to share/play, and we forgot those as well. Also, Harpers notebook/journal.)
Anyway. Tuesday was a mostly-driving day. Got to Tonopah for lunch, and while it was slightlly interesting with its historic background of having been a mining town, Tonopah [and most of the Nevada desert] is just ugly. Certainly wouldnt want to live there.
Kept driving -for whaaat seemed like days - and we finnally got to Reno (911!) neaar supertime.
I suppose I should note now that this keyboard, in addition to having the apostroophe phobia (apostrophobia?) also has a tendency to go overboard on leeetters if you hold it down for more than a milisecond. I had been correcting the additional letters and spaces (for the most part) but it is just too difficult to keep doing it, so, there ya go.

Anyway. The first thing we noticed about Reno (911!) was how cold it was! The wind was blowing as wwwe got into our hotel room, and it was damn chilly. Uh-oh, we thought, hopefully the rest of the trip wont be this cold because wwwwwe are really not prepared for it.
Aftr setting up in the hotel room, wwe were getting hungry, so Steph sent me (and Saren) out to get food. On the drive began to snow.
In April.
Half my wardrobe is shorts. The girls also wwwere not winterweather equpped. But, as the blizzzzzzaard continued to pour down - and it began to truly stick to the ground - we let them go out and play in the flakes.
When we woke up the next morning, ultimaately about an inch had fallen and remained on the ground.


Another long driving day. Mostly going through mountains. Or, more accurately, snow covered mountains.The snow flurries hit us off and on through most of the drive, as well. Eventually it started to die down, and warm up, but for a while it looked like it was going to be a white christmas um..Earth Day.
Wednesssdays stoopping location was Medford, Oregon, which is a nice midsized town that I think would really not be a bad place to live. Steph likes neighboring Jacksonville (fee non ay!) better, and I agree that either city could be ideal.
We drove around Medford for a while, and had dinner at Abbeys (Legendary) Pizza. Which was a pizza place we had visited on our first trip to Oregon. Yummy stuff. Also, Oregon seems to be a Pepsi loving state. Most eveeerywhere you go, you see signs for Pepsi. Awesome.
Wednesday night, after the superlong drive, the girls needed to unwind, so we all walked over the river (and through the woods, ironically enough) that was right next to our motel, and into what had to be the most incredible playground I have eveer seen. This thing was HUGE! It was alll wood, and had hundreds of hideyholes and a gigantic maze and slides (which the girls didnnt go on because it had rained and they were wet. Vegas slides cant go on because of the heat, Oregon slides cant go on because of the rain) and sliding floors and all kinds of fun stuff. As it started togeet dark, we headed back to the hotel, waatched Lost, and went to sleep.


nce Thursdays drive was not a long one, we decided to investigate Jacksonville (fee non ay!) for a while first.
This is getting a bit long, and its now 8am, and we still need to have breakfast, and everyone is waking up, so I guess I will wrap it up for now. More later.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Water water everywhere

So, Oregon is wet.

But, you know, it really isnt that bad.(We are at the hotel in Corvallis where the Life Is Good Conference is going on, and the hotel has a computer in it with free internet access. [although for some reason hitting the apostrophe key causes the computer to beep extremely loudly])

A full update will be forthcoming, I just wanted to get in a blog entry from a different state. :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Harry Potter and the Big Fat Spoilers

A while back - maybe as far back as July of 2006, I can't recall the exact time, and I'm too lazy to google it up -JK Rowling gave some interviews about the upcoming final Harry Potter book.

In the interview, she said [begin spoiler for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - highlight to view]
There will be two deaths in the book.
She did not say who, or how, or why, or when. [/end spoiler]
Now, maybe it's just me, but I don't want to know that. Having that information put out there is going to taint the way that I read the book, because I'll be expecting it.

Granted, I was expecting it anyway*, but to have it confirmed by the author is just...slightly diminishes the power of surprise one gets when going into the novel completely unaware, ya know?
Fortunately, I excel at forgetting things, and I am sure that there will be plenty of other twists and turns that Book 7 is going to take, so I'm confident that I will still be able to enjoy the book.

Unfortunately, I know that the Internet does love spoilers. And as the release date approaches, it is going to become increasingly difficult to avoid them. I really hope that I can go into Book 7 as unspoiled as I possibly can. It's the way that such things are meant to be experienced, in my opinion.

*[spoilers for what was previously mentioned about HP&tDH]Actually, I was expecting the death toll to be much higher than just two. I mean, the final battle between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter and only two characters bite it? Maybe it *will* be higher, and the 2 characters was just a minimum, but even so, I really wish she hadn't let *any* information slip out like that.[/spoiler]

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut has died. So it goes.

It's extremely rare for me to be impacted by the passing of a celebrity. I mean, if anything, Vonnegut was simply a member of my granfalloon. I did not know him personally, I never met him, I have not, in fact, even read everything that he has written.

Nevertheless, I have found this news quite upsetting. Vonnegut was a unique and amazing voice, and I feel a deep sense of loss at his passing.

I can take solace in the fact that he is, of course, still alive and writing, and always will be. (Or, more seriously, that his works will always remain with us. I think I'm going to start working my way through Vonnegut's novels.)

Kurt provided us with a lot of meaningful, witty, cynical passages. His impact on me, and, from looking around the internet, obviously plenty of other people, was profound.

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait...
To find out for certain what my wampeter was...
And who was in my karass...
And all the good things our karass did for you.

Kurt is up in Heaven now.