Wednesday, January 19, 2011


"In the case of the Department of Pharmaceutics vs. the Boy, in the crime of being qualified to graduate, would the defendant please rise?"

The defendant rises.

"State your case."

"I submit the following as evidence: The role of the nucleoside transporters in the absorption and distribution of the nucleoside drugs ribavirin and gemcitabine." The defendant drops bound book of research on the table in front of the panel of judges.

The defendant walks to the front of the room and begins to speak.

"...and in summary..." He finally concludes.

The judges confer. Question the defendant. They retire to deliberate. After interminable time, they return, somber faced and stern, entering in single file, one by one.

The verdict: "GUILTY as charged!" They proclaim.

"Case closed. The defendant is free to go. Collect your declaration of parole at the door. Bailiff, release the defendant from his shackles."

The defendant rises, feeling his shackles fall away, stands taller than he ever has as the weight of the world slides off his shoulders. He collects his belongings and walks out the door into the bright sunshine of the rest of his life - the future is indeed bright.

Boy - you are a graduate.
That's DOCTOR Boy to you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Various memories of my mother’s birthday creep into my mind: of wrapping Windham Hill instrumental CDs in aluminum foil and decorating with Sharpie pens for creative wrapping paper, to surreptitiously stalking the perfect fake fish aquarium at the teeny-bopper store in the mall to surprise her with. I would sneak off on my bike to the nearby store to buy her flowers and a card, trying to think of something nice for her birthday and trying not to raise suspicions by being gone too long. When we lived in Spokane, Grandma would cook her dinner – for some reason I am remembering pork chops but cannot confer with anyone to confirm, now that Grandma is gone too.

Always a maraschino cherry cake – that was always her favorite. Grandma always made them for her, except one year after she had moved over here and I entertained in my condo and had to make the maraschino cherry cake for the first time. I remember being incredulous at the recipe, for some reason. I don’t know why I didn’t believe that what she was telling me was accurate, and I remember remarking at the cost of the extra ingredients and more complex process. And the 7 minute icing, or was it called Dream Whip?

So Mom, wherever you are, happy 65th – or, happy anniversary of your appearance here on this plant 65 years ago. I do wish that I had the opportunity to have made you that cake again this year. I think you would have really appreciated that your birthday was on the eve of the Boy’s defense, and even now, I think you’d appreciate that you are still part of our lives, how we celebrate, how we remember and how we honor.

Monday, January 17, 2011



I loved you. I really did. You had weather alerts, and would send them to my phone to let me know when snow was in the forecast so that I didn't have to watch the weather all the time, and knew when to bring my computer home to work from home. I was in love! You were so helpful!

Something happened though, and I don't know what it was. It started this fall, and at first it was only mildly annoying, but it has grown, like an enormous hangnail causing a canker sore: your weather alerts come ALL the time!

I understand that alerts could come more often when severe weather is in queue, and with a severe winter, there could be multiple alerts. But you've gone beyond merely alerting me. You're stalking me; you're assaulting me with the battery of your incessant alerting.

One alert that there is a flood warning - fine. Two, one to differentiate between the immediate warning and the overall "watch", I can understand that too. Even sending them periodically once per day as a reminder - this makes logical sense to me.

But you have sent me 36 text messages about the same warning within the last 24 hours (between 4:43 pm 1/16/11 and 4:50 1/17/11). That is more than one per hour, and I will tell you that the worst part of it is not one to two messages per hour. No, it is the 5 in a row at 12:21 am, followed by 10 in a row at 3:57 am, followed by another at 4:09 am...

Yes, I am still aware it may be flooding, but these conditions do not change significantly once they start, and I do not need momentary updates, on par with 10 per minute. Mind you, you are also sending me messages through my phone weather app as well....

You have assaulted my sleep for the last time, annoyed my co-workers who are used to my system downtime text message barrage for the last time. It's time we parted ways, and because I suspect you won't understand the meaning behind my simple "unsubscribe" request, I wanted to take some extra time to make it clear just how much your actions have bothered me, and those sleeping in the same home.

Please. Don't call. Don't write.

For god's sake, don't fucking text me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." --Lao Tzu

Or for me, with a single click of the shutter.

Another translation of the quote is that, "even the longest journey must begin where you stand."

I stand here, holding few photography skills, four cameras I know little about how to use, a robust but inscrutable photo processing application I have yet to tackle learning, and a wealth of information at my fingertips on the vast expanse of the interwebs. It seems I have everything I need for this journey.

Just a moment ago, I felt I had nothing with which to start this journey, looking into my viewfinder and seeing naught but the bleakness of my skill - or is that the vision of what I'd like to create if only I had mastered my tools?

Suffice it to say, I realize I have the tools, but not the skills. And that is what this journey is about - the long road to acquiring those skills. I've been wishing for them for years now, and never dedicated the time to really work on them, always wishing that it were easier. Jim Rohn says, "don't wish it were easier, wish you were better," and I do. At the same time, wishing doesn't amount to much progress.

I have dutifully clicked my way through 16 days of my 365 project, and like most things, probably like most people, already I'm looking to see some sort of miraculous growth. I don't see it. All I see is yet more areas where I could be better, things that would make my images better if I only knew how. So once again, I'm back on the internet, searching for things like "photo workflow in aperture", and once again, most of the time I'm completely overwhelmed with what I find and read. But I read it, and I know that as I keep doing this, more and more will make sense to me.

I wish I had a mentor at this point - someone who could tell me what I should be investing my time in the most, someone who could help me overcome by biggest frustrations and move on, rather than stewing along, not knowing how to solve the problem I'm looking to solve. Why, for god's sake, can I not seem to make aperture priority work on my Nikon dSLR? Do I not understand the basic purpose of it? Is that why I can't seem to get the dials to move the numbers in the way I think they should go? (Lower, in case you're wondering - that's the way I want them to go.) Or is it that my premise of framing the shot is so wrong that the strategy won't work and that's why I can't get the camera to make the numbers do what I think I want them to?

I am a member on Flickr now, and I've looked through the meet up seems easy - join the group, go meet up, talk photography...I just have to get over this intimidation factor. I imagine myself sitting with capable photographers, deer in the headlights, as rapid-fire discussions of various numbers go flying right over my head. So I sit, with my 365 photostream, and no friends. No conversation for fear of being completely stupid, completely clueless. Well, I am that; nothing to fear.

You know what I need? I need a private photography teacher - like a piano teacher, but for photography - for $30 or $45 an hour or something, have someone who will teach me something, give me an assignment, and then review/critique it and help me get better. It would be everything from technicals, to composition, to godforsaken processing which so overwhelms me. Someone I could sit down with, over a beer or a cup of coffee or a sandwich, laptop on the table, camera in hand and show me what to do with the equipment to make it work. Someone who could take me out and determine the actual root cause of my frustration.

I wonder if I could find something like that? Just thinking about it made it feel so much more possible. I bet I could - either the couple of people I know who are decent photographers to start, or even hitting up some of the pros at the camera shop down the street. I bet I could drum up something.

Sometimes, the next step of the journey becomes obvious by just talking it out.

Thanks for listening.


Saturday, January 15, 2011


We just won the lottery.

No, not Powerball or MegaMillions or whatever those lottery games are all called, but really, it's like winning the lottery.

It is NOT like winning the lottery in that someone, a certain Boy, had to work really hard and slave away and be miserable for almost 7 years and I had to do my best not to become frustrated and let my head explode for those same almost 7 years to get here. It's definitely earned.

Maybe I should have started it off with "we just earned the lottery," but that really doesn't make much sense, or speak to the concept I've been thinking about, which is how often people really do ever get that big surge of money that they can use to put fuel behind their dreams, and the fact that we are about to be able to do just that, and how rare that really is.

Most people, I tend to think, work jobs (either for themselves or for someone else) and slowly make incremental improvements in their salary - 5% here, 10-15% there for a promotion or move to a new company. People dream of the day they can get enough money together to go on that dream vacation, buy that dream car, figure out how to remodel the house or upgrade the flooring/appliances. And it's sad, but I think what happens mostly is those dreams never get the fuel they need to happen - the money never quite accrues like that.

Throughout this grad school experience, I kept my job despite wanting to leave it several times, paid most of the bills, and we have lived nicely. We have a nice nest egg in savings and retirement, and have been able to do much of what we wanted. There are, however, those same dreams for our lives that we have thought up in the last 7 years - the dream vacation at the end of school, some electronics, an upgrade to my laptop, a new TV, maybe even cable, the hardwood floors we put off when my job quit paying bonuses. There were times, when the bleakness of the undefined graduate school timeline stretches off past the horizon, that I wondered if it would ever happen - was graduation really even possible? And if it was, would it somehow be less than we were dreaming in terms of making the future we wanted possible?

I tend to not believe in crazy changes; life has a way of evening things out so that there are few instances where you really do fall off a cliff (metaphorically speaking), or say, suddenly win the lottery. And when they do happen, they come with enough strings and red tape that they wind up not being as wild as you would have thought them to be originally ("I won a million dollars in the lottery!" for example becomes, "oh, I get paid out $20,000 a year for the next 10 years and owe half of it in taxes...").

Now, though, standing at the precipice of the end of grad school, the Boy will actually graduate (in 4 days, no less!!) and within a month, we will essentially win the lottery and be able to enjoy making those things possible.

I'm not saying this to brag about how great we're doing - not at all. I'm saying that I realize not many people get to do what we get to do, and I'm immensely awed by it, now that it is becoming real. I feel that I need to recognize it, and be mindful of what a rare opportunity we have. While we worked hard for it (him in particular), I am spending some time reflecting on it because it certainly should not pass unnoticed or be taken for granted.

I am also immensely glad I've always taken time to think through what I would do if I won a million dollars. I already have a plan....

Monday, January 10, 2011


It is time to get back to it - life, the real world, real expectations.

The holidays are over and slammed right into January. It's a rude awakening, and I'm trying not to be rude while dealing with others and dealing with myself.

It's tough - having thoroughly enjoyed my 3 weeks without work, into a holiday week and then an in between holiday week where no one in their right mind expected any work to be done. The training season was over and I found myself opening a beer at 2 pm just because I could and enjoying consecutive bottles clear through whenever I decided I wanted to go to bed. I reminded myself to enjoy, rather than succumb to the guilt I feel at neglecting my routine, of going soft and losing what athletic edge I labored so hard for over the prior months.

I am getting better. I have experienced the ability to get back on the horse, to come back from time off. I've learned to lose the weight and to get back to self discipline. And, more than that, I'm realizing this year that I have learned to start to enjoy that too. Getting my legs pumping is fueling me to get them pumping more, rather than comparing to what I "lost". I've learned enough to know that by taking this time, mentally and physically, I'll be more ready to go - and I'll go farther (faster).

The most wonderful thing, as I have discovered over and over, is the exponential effect of my training. All of the things I do, when done "together", become so much more than they are independently. Taking the time off dedicated to doing these other things and enjoying beer at 2 pm actually helps me enjoy the things I'm taking the time off for. Maybe that sounded obvious, or redundant, but the experience is anything but.

I'm still a bit grouchy with demands - particularly at work where there is more external pressure than internal - but I'm getting better at that too.


Sunday, January 9, 2011


I have never made a pork chop. I have never stuffed meat, save a series of turkeys annually beginning in 2004. I have never used a dutch oven. I only recently realized I in fact HAVE a dutch oven.

What better way to handle that than by tackling them all at once?

"Perhaps you should start with one new thing at a time," you might be thinking. But this is not my style. No, I decided I should conquer all of them in a quest to make a recipe a friend of ours related to us at about 10:30 pm one night after 2 six-packs of beers and what amounted to the most delicious midnight snack ever: stuffed pork chops, and three desserts.

"Well, at least you have a recipe," you might be saying. But you'd be wrong. Take note of the time of day, as well as the beer supply. Some of you might add in the fact that my memory is tantamount to the rumored memory of a goldfish...

I jotted a quick shopping list of what I'd need to make the recipe in my mind. The Boy and I went to the store. He asked me what was on my list.

"Pork chops, an onion, golden mushroom soup and rice," I answered. He looked at me funny. I looked back at him funny.

"Why all that stuff?" He asked. Clearly there was a disconnect.

"Well, pork chops obviously, and the onion and rice for the stuffing, and the soup because that was Big Bad Bode's secret ingredient we'd never heard of. We already have mushrooms and garlic for the stuffing." I answered.

"Bode bought the pork chops stuffed." The Boy answered. I had not remembered this. I had a rock solid idea of exactly what the stuffing should be like. And it was not "pre stuffed"...

It was then that I realized my rock solid recipe was not so solid. In fact, what WAS in the stuffing? Suddenly neither of us could remember. Nor could we remember how many cans of soup he used, or how hot he cooked it and for how long...and was there celery in the stuffing?

A reasonable person might have consulted with the internet recipe lore, but by now, I was well on my way to an adventure in cooking.

We bought our supplies and headed home.

Upon arriving home, I glanced over at my computer, sitting idly on the couch, ready for a quick recipe consult, but in abject defiance I refused and began cooking. Here are the results:

My version of Big Bad Bode's stuffed chops:
3 thick pork chops
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 TBS olive oil (I like extra virgin)
1 TBS sage
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 carton of sliced mushrooms
1 pouch of "cook in bag" brown rice
1 can of golden mushroom soup (condensed)

Slice garlic; dice onion. Saute in a small amount of olive oil in the dutch oven until translucent; add a tablespoon of sage and salt to onion/garlic mix.
Add carton of sliced mushrooms; cook until lightly brown and reduced in size.
Nuke pouch of rice (I usually would make the rice myself, but didn't have time)
Preheat oven to 350
Transfer about 3/4 of the onion/mushroom mix to mixing bowl, combine with rice.
Slice pork chops (butterfly style) to create pocket. Cram full of as much rice/mushroom mix as possible. Smoosh it more, try to pack more in, attempt to seal shut with toothpick (probably didn't really need this)
Place pork chops in dutch oven
Dump can of golden mushroom soup on chops. Add one can of water, per instructions. (I did not mix this - it seemed to mix while cooking.)
Cover with dutch oven lid and put in oven for 60 minutes.

I added the leftover mushroom/onion mix to the remaining unused stuffing, and used that as a serving base for the pork chops when they were done. It absorbed the delicious soupy gravy at the end, and there's no such thing as enough stuffing in the tiny little chop anyway.

This was one of the easiest recipes I've made, and I didn't even make a mess in the kitchen!

I also made sauteed asparagus with it, which is really simple: snap ends off asparagus, rinse. Heat skillet with EVOO, throw asparagus in it, saute until brown streaks appear on the pan side of asparagus. Rotate. Cook to taste, add salt/pepper.

Needless to say, my completely made up recipe turned out awesome, and I also snapped my first ever awesome food picture for my 365 project!

2011 Goals

365 – the concept: take a photo every day. Why? Because the best way to learn is to do it every day. Get in the habit of looking for photo ops, practice and improve workflow ideas, learn my cameras, deal with crappy lighting, no ideas, etc. Learn my tools – Aperture, Flickr, Picasa, social support, file organization and strategy. Be more committed. This is the ultimate in commitment. You will see these in my 365 Project photostream (more to come on that)
Keep blogging. Keep adding drawings to the blog. Write more creatively – styles, topics, stories, poems. Friday Fiction? There’s an idea. Maybe add some readers, re-engage some others.
Do some house redecorating. Imagine what we want. Go find it. Make it so.
Try new places, new beers, new vacations, new parties, new concerts, cook new recipes, learn new techniques. Discover.
Be courageous.
Save, save, save! And get around to investing what we save. That’s not very measurable. Let’s say “overdouble what we did last year”. That should cover it.
This is it! The year I do a half Ironman. 70.3 miles, all in one shot: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon. Yikes and YAY!
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. Run faster. Reach that next target, PR some races.
Home related
Hardwoods – we’ve been dreaming about this for years. We were about to do it just before the economy tanked and my company quit paying bonuses. Now, we can!
Closet clean-out – why? Because closets can always be cleaned out and improved. We’ll improve the Boy’s closet for sure, clean out stuff from the other ones, too.
Kitchen upgrades – sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher…
Garage revamp – I never thought we’d be a 3 car family, but here we are. The least we can do is get all the cars in our allotted parking spots: 2 in the garage and one in the driveway. It means cleaning out the garage, reorganizing, maybe painting and treating the floor, and getting another car in there.
Redecorate – yeah yeah, I know I’m double dipping on this one, but it does count under both, and for valid reasons!
There are some goals I’m neglecting…you may notice (if you’ve been reading a while) that I don’t have my “reading” goal and that I’m a lot less specific. I’ll say – I’m focusing on a few areas. I feel almost obligated to have some of these, but even now, as I write this, my heart’s not in it. My heart is in my dreaming goals, my 365, my creativity. I think this will breathe life into everything and force me to keep that focus, even when breathing is hard, as we all know it can be at certain times.
My 3 weeks of time off really gave me that opportunity to unwind, and be left to my own devices. They went creative on me, and I have to take a hint from that. Sure enough, back to work, and I start doubting all my urges, all my passion (especially since it was the “off season” for racing). I can’t live this way. That is what these goals are about this year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Books 2010

  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again, do re-reads count?)
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (do re-reads count?)
  • Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
  • Catfish & Mandala, Andrew Pham
  • SuperFreakonomics, Stephen Leavitt
  • Over the Edge, Michael Bane
  • The Piano Teacher, Janice Y. K. Lee
  • The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Acquitaine, Pamela Kaufman
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
  • Born To Run, Christopher McDougall
  • Freakonomics, Stephen Leavitt
  • Passage to Juneau, Jonathan Raban

By far, the best fiction books were Jane Eyre, Anansi Boys, Catfish and Mandala and American Gods. Anansi Boys renewed my love of reading, Jane Eyre had me waking up expecting to be in a field of heather, disoriented to find myself in my own bed. Catfish and Mandala made me see the world differently, through slanty eyes, from a bicycle, where one race more racist toward themselves than those of other colors...and yet find a beauty one can only find through introspection and being utterly alone to reflect on everything a person could live through.
I have to give a huge credit also to Born to Run, which brought my running together and helped me figure out how to DO all the things I knew I should be doing, and finally, how to find the love in running that I have been chasing all these years I dreamed of running.
I shouldn’t be shocked at the magic of books, but listing them out that way...books change lives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011



Moving - money - job - opportunity - lifestyle - housing - biking - socializing

The choice would get hard, and then sometimes it was easier but we were waiting on more information from somewhere and then it would all change. I would be excited about moving - excited about warm weather and sunshine and then read the relo package  and feel like I wanted to throw up. Were we really doing this?

Irvine - it was coming down to Irvine. The weather, the job was great, and they would be paying more of the associated moving costs in a significant "housing differential" bonus paid on signing. We could go surfing. It was 85 degrees and sunny. Everywhere has it's drawbacks - even if traffic was sucky, the sun would make up for it. We were on the verge.

Looking at the options, we were still torn. The people at the company in Boston had held the position, kept from interviewing other candidates while we waited to decide. It was a great opportunity. It eventually also became the lowest paying one. The job in Philly would eventually come through, but the timing wasn't working out. Gaithersburg had just turned out to be weird and fell off the list as quickly as it had come by it's placing in the first place. The team in Irvine was cool - the Boy was excited to work with them. He was practically already part of it...on the verge.

All we had to do was sign.

And then Seattle happened.

He had been having ongoing discussions with a company close to our house - one he'd been following even before going back to grad school. It was small, it was amazing, and they were insanely selective. Getting a job there is difficult to say the least, and with their reputation, their product pipeline, and the supply of available jobs (hardly any) in their company, they can have their pick of the best of the best of the best. The combination of a job becoming available at the right time for him, as well as them needing someone with his skills, and then picking him right out of school over someone with a lot more experience doing what he all seemed like such a long shot. 

We had decided to make the decision by Christmas, and it was now the week of Christmas. He was in Gaithersburg, and we were preparing to take the Irvine offer.

"I haven't heard from the Seattle company," he said, as we weighed our options.

"Can you talk to them again?" I asked, feeling like it was worth another ask, as long as it didn't put him in the "stalker" category with them.

"Yeah," said the Boy, "but I don't think they can meet my timeline, even if the job did work out." With a stack of offers arriving, he had to tell these companies something other than "just keep waiting."

When he got back from Gaithersburg, he contacted the Seattle company. They had finally gotten approval for the position they were interested in him for, but it hadn't been approved to start until July. We couldn't wait that long. 

They called him back that day. They had gotten the VP to approve the position for January. We still didn't think it would meet our timeline, since they'd only start interviewing in January, and that takes a while, and the offers would need to be answered by then. They called him back again. "Could you come in for an interview tomorrow?" they asked. It was Wednesday, December 22.

He spent all day Thursday interviewing him. On Friday, Christmas Eve, they called him. The CEO had to approve any hiring decisions. They had not had time to interview anyone else. Apparently, they had pestered the CEO into the evening, and he granted his approval. They were calling to offer him a job. Here, in Seattle. Through a quick negotiation, they matched the other salaries. There would be no moving costs.

On the table: 3 awesome job offers. All paying about the same. All with great opportunities, unique and compelling attributes, small tradeoffs. One in Irvine, one in Boston, and one right here at home.

He signed the Seattle offer.

We are going to stay.