Monthly Archives: June 2009

stupid diet

I’m doing the Fat Flush Diet this week. This is actually day 7. It’s my way of competing in the office Fat Loss Competition – whoever loses the biggest % of their body fat, wins. Most of my colleagues are using the P90x Beach Body Workout for this. I’m using the EA Wii Fitness Challenge and the Only Diet That Has Ever Worked For Me.

Of course, I’m struggling tonight. I’m exhausted, so I want nothing more than a handful of any of the starchy snacks that are lying around the house. But I invested a lot of time and a not-insignificant amount of cash into this diet to date. So, instead of said starchy snacks, my big cheat was an avocado half. IT’S GOOD FAT! I do actually feel better for having eaten it.

Now, I hear that Ben is nearing the end of his bathtime, so I must go prepare to rock him to sleep. At least that will keep me out of the crackers.

a small benefit to all this traveling

Alaska AirPlane

Alaska AirPlane

I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere…since about February. So far, in 2009, I have been on business trips to:

– NYC (three times)
– Philadelphia
– Atlanta (well, the suburbs, anyways)
– San Francisco
– Sarasota/Jensen Beach (the “Tour de Florida”)
– Charlotte, NC (technically Statesville)
– Chicagoland (Schaumburg, IL)

I THINK that’s all of them. I could be missing one. I have been on the road so much that I HONESTLY DON’T REMEMBER, which is a little scary.

Then, for personal travel, I’ve gone to:

– Victoria, BC
– Savannah, GA
– Philadelphia/Toronto (Ben’s East Coast Tour)
– Pittsburgh

And for the vast majority of that travel, I flew Alaska’s partner airlines: American, Delta/Northwest and Continental. I flew USAir a couple times (ugh) and Virgin America for the San Francisco trip, as well as from NYC twice (makes the long flight more bearable), but mostly, I’ve been funneling a lot of miles into the Alaska Airlines frequent flyer account I’ve had for thirteen years.

Today, I received an MVP status card from Alaska, because I have logged over 29,000 miles with them, YTD, in qualifying partner miles alone. Somewhere in there are a couple thousand hotel and rental car miles, but still – that’s a lot of flying. And it’s also the first time I’ve ever received priority status on an airline. Unfortunately, free upgrades aren’t very useful to me, since I only travel on Alaska for personal travel, and I have Paul with me in that case, and it may not be possible to upgrade him without a hefty ticket charge. But it DOES get me closer to Gold status, which I will get to after three more round trips this year. At THAT point, both of us get free upgrades to first class, AND free access to the Board Room executive lounges.

Let me also explain why this even matters. It isn’t just that I like having preferred status in travel, to make the journey easier. The big reason this is a real benefit to me is because I travel with a baby when I’m on personal time. Ben can be an infant in arms for another year, but the space afforded to two coach seats just isn’t enough for me, Paul and Ben to all be comfortable for more than two hours. Therefore, we were planning to start buying him his own seat…unless we have the added room of First Class. Additionally, Board Room access gives us a quiet, clean place to hang out during layovers. Priority boarding means getting on a plane, with all our baby gear, before everyone else does. This isn’t just about me having a better travel experience, but about having a better travel experience for me, Paul and Ben. If I have to travel for work, then I may as well get a benefit from it that I can apply to traveling with my tiny family.

Also, I’ve realized, travel points programs are my coupon clipping/green stamps. We just saved almost a thousand dollars by using Starwood points to pay for a hotel suite in Savannah for three nights in August for my cousin’s wedding. We saved another couple hundred dollars by using a companion fare ticket that came with our Alaska Airlines credit card for part of the plane fare to Victoria this summer. If I can get free upgrades for both Paul and I to the roomier First Class, we won’t have to buy Ben his own seat to have more space in coach. Some of this stuff, when you keep at it, does start to pay off…and when you’re far away from all of your extended family, it definitely helps to get a little break on the costs of going to see them.

i am offended by this movie’s existence

Hrmph. My identity is compromised by Sandra Bullock’s character in “The Proposal”. Not only is she a high-powered career woman from Canada, but she also has the last name of Tate. I feel this depiction of Canadian women working in the US, with the last name of Tate, is insulting!

goodreads update (new books read & added)


in the land of lincoln

I’m in Illinois today. I’m about 40 minutes west of downtown Chicago, in Schaumburg, at a Staybridge Suites. It’s so quiet here – there’s no freeway nearby – and the complex actually has a sort of timeless family vacation quality to it. Right now, in summer, seeing families on vacation coming through here, it’s actually kind of heartwarming, and makes me look forward to when I’ll be doing this with my own family.

Also, did I mention that its quiet? I forget, in L.A., how much I miss sheer quiet, without cars, without freeways. My last trip out of L.A. was to NYC last week – even noisier and more crowded – and the trip before that, I was staying at a Holiday Inn practically ON THE FREEWAY in North Carolina. Stepping outside and having just that early morning quiet…it’s blissful. Despite the far-suburban sprawl surrounding this area (miles of malls, chain restaurants, inexpensive hotels and office parks), it feels almost isolated, like it is in the middle of America.

I’m also wondering about the historical context of this area. I can only imagine that it was farms before the sprawl covered it – what I call “rural sprawl”. But for how long was it farms, and is there some sort of original settlement around here? I always wonder why these places exist where they do – now, it’s as bedroom communities, but why are these small towns where they are? And it’s different on the East Coast, where each small town was clearly a farming community. Like in North Carolina two weeks ago, I know that this used to be frontier, so what was it like before the farms became sprawl?

Sprawl or no sprawl, the soft quiet outside this morning was a gift. The clean air is a miracle to me. It does remind me how exhausted I am, living in a big city like L.A. I remember early June mornings like this in Oak Bay, how it is full daylight outside by seven in the morning, how the ocean, at low tide, is dead flat, how even one boat, miles away, is the only man-made noise. Solstice is my favorite time of year, and summer mornings, in sunshine, in that early day quiet, bring me so much joy and reverence. It makes me think, I need to go home sooner during this season. I will need to show the wonder of early summer mornings to Ben.

cougars and hookers and blow, oh my!

Last night, I went to Bar Bar Nineteen 12 for one of my co-workers birthday party. This is the first time in months I’ve been out someplace that isn’t:

a) Bootie
b) a Venice dive bar
c) on the Los Angeles goth circuit.

Regardless of having to go out into “normal” Los Angeles, I was delighted to be invited. This was a celebration for a co-worker I actually like quite a bit, and who I am currently trying to recruit for my Emerging Technologies department. Her roommate and best friend is also one of my work buddies, a girl I chat with during the day. And I knew it would be fun to see socially the other colleagues from my team who were planning to go.

Nineteen 12 is the bar at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which was chosen because bottle service had been offered as a present to the birthday girl. The Beverly Hills Hotel is one of those few places actually left over from a glamorous time in the past, a time when movie stars started making Beverly Hills their home and their community. Being there always makes me feel like I’m in a Judith Krantz novel. Unfortunately, Scruples took place over thirty years ago, and is now quaint and outdated and classy in comparison to the reality of what happens in those elite bars today. First of all, the music was genuinely dreadful – remixes of songs that were already two, three, five years old. Second of all, even I can spot the difference between designer club tacky and Fashion District knockoffs, and this was the latter. And third, it was FULL OF HOOKERS. And not the high-end, post-Pretty Woman makeover escorts, but actual GLARINGLY OBVIOUS escort types, girls with lots of plastic surgery attached to older, tacky men.

Oh, and also, the bar was full of cougars. Ridiculously so. So much that I would have been afraid to take my friend Graham in there, because he was always a cougar magnet back in Vancouver. As it was, I feared for my male co-workers, who are in their mid-20s. I half-expected to see one of the Forever 21 clad cougars leap and pounce on one of the boys. As it was, when we left, there were four of them happily dancing to “Jump” on the dance floor, and one of them was actually doing a little Jazzercise type move when the chorus told her to jump. (I imitated this afterwards in the lobby of the hotel to great laughter.)

And did I mention the music was ridiculous? I heard such cutting edge tracks as “In Da Club”, “California Love”, and “Crazy In Love”. The most modern thing played was Beyonce’s “Single Girls (Put A Ring On It). Now, I KNOW I am out of it when it comes to what the kids are listening to – I can tell you the latest tracks at Bar Sinister, or about some new indie-rock, but I’m usually a year behind when it comes to dance and R&B. I didn’t even know who Rihanna was until I heard “Umbrella” mixed up at Bootie, which is my major exposure to mainstream music. But even I considered these tracks hopelessly out of date. And Journey is absolutely NOT ACCEPTABLE unless it is the Mysterious D mash-up. You know you’re in a cougar bar when all the tracks date back to an era when you were still young enough to be hearing the music for the first time in a trendy club.

Despite these factors, I had a wonderful time. I do genuinely like the individuals that I was out with. And it was just so nice to be out, at a bar, having my one drink and hanging out and chatting and generally being sociable. I was so excited to be out as a NORMAL PERSON, and not as on a Mom’s Night Out. I’m still struggling with the idea of being a mom on a night out now, as opposed to being just on a night out, as a normal course of action.

Oh, and we didn’t actually SEE any blow, but there’s just no way you can have that many hookers in a venue without someone doing coke in a bathroom. There’s a throwback to the Judith Krantz era right there as well.

Day in the Cloud entry

OMG. I did the practice game for Day in the Cloud (get it? cloud computing?) just now, and it is HARD. There’s five very difficult questions, plus a creative round using Google Apps. The creative challenge is to make a slide that underscores the key points of your favorite song – here’s mine.

I can tell this may require some studying before the actual game on the 24th.

51 weeks later

Often, a co-worker will ask me, “How old is Ben now? Eight months?”

“One year,” I reply.


Yes, one year ago, I was waddling around the office, ready to go on leave. I left on Friday the 13th, and Ben was born the next Tuesday.

Now Ben is 51 weeks old (as of today) and almost toddling. He walked around our apartment today holding on to me with only ONE hand. His gait is a little unsteady, but he is basically a tiny toddler…and I am so proud of him.

And me? I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which is still 20lbs heavier than I was in 2004, but feels SO much better. Most of the clothes I put away during pregnancy are back out and in rotation.

51 weeks feels like a lifetime, looking back.

the trials of getting home from NYC

I came home last night from NYC. Usually, this is easy – I marvel at the way L.A. and NYC are so interconnected. Nonstop flights, all these personal business ties between the citizens of both cities, constant influxes of people going both ways…it’s amazing. Which is why, on most of the trips I’ve taken back from our Manhattan office, I’ve had no problem getting home.

But there was WEATHER in New York yesterday. I woke up at 2am Monday morning to a lightning storm in Manhattan. I had my glasses off, so I could only see the flash of the lightning, and the crash of the thunder a second or two later. I’m not sure if it was the sound or the light that woke me, because the lightning was that close, and so encompassing of the sky that it took up the entire window of my hotel room. This was followed by a day of rain, mostly of the Instant Downpour variety. The rain yesterday in New York City was the kind it takes an hour for the Pacific Northwest to build up to, and it was sweeping over the boroughs in sheets.

The weather still hadn’t subsided by last night, although it was no longer raining as much. I think that’s why American Airlines canceled all the flights back to L.A. from JFK, two hours before departure. Our in-office travel coordinator re-booked my group (three of us total) on a Virgin America flight. I actually *heart* Virgin America, for their wi-fi on all planes, power outlets, and on-board TV. But no amount of on-board amusement could distract me from being afraid. After the Air France disaster two weeks ago, I’m a little edgy about flying in extreme weather.

Despite my fear though, I still knew the odds of a plane crash were extremely low, and not enough to keep me from getting home to Mr. Ben last night. I didn’t want one more morning without Mommy to go by. I wanted to get home to my baby, dammit. So I checked in, ate pizza for dinner, and waited for my flight until it boarded – an hour late. And then I fell asleep while the plane waited patiently in line to fly out of JFK. Despite cancellations, air traffic was backed up for departures, and the plane didn’t take off until two hours later than scheduled.

It was about half an hour into the flight when the turbulence started. And kept going. And kept going. And this wasn’t a little shaking. It was side to side and up and down and it didn’t stop for half an hour. It wasn’t extreme turbulence to the point where things start flying around the cabin, but it was enough for the flight attendants to have to buckle themselves in. And after thirty minutes, my body couldn’t take it anymore. Thankfully, I was in the very back row, and the turbulence had subsided a bit, because I had to run for a restroom and expel the contents of my stomach quickly. I’ve had an upset stomach for days – a physical consequence of work stress and misery at being separated from Ben – and the turbulence was just too much for it. Especially since I don’t usually eat things like pizza, and it wasn’t sitting right, and let’s just say it was ugly. Add in the plane continuing to shake through the whole process, and it was messy to boot.

We had a few more extended bad patches throughout the flight. I hoped once we got over the Midwest it would calm down, but it didn’t. By then though, I was able to drink a couple glasses of ginger ale, and nibble on the items in a “Food Cube” snack pack, and watch cable TV reality shows on my in-seat TV…and doze off for the last hour and change.

Now, here’s the princess complaint: when we got to LAX, it was two hours later than the flight was originally scheduled for, and the driver who was supposed to pick up my group had gone to bed. I called him, and he was at home, 30 minutes from LAX. I found a taxi quickly enough, so it didn’t make much difference in getting me home before 1am, PST…it was just one last thing in a very long trip.

Father’s Day marketing

Its a bit like a slap in the face everytime I see a Father’s Day promo.