Thursday, November 20, 2008

MAJOR Disappointment . . . but a little bright spot

As posted earlier, I am headed to San Diego on Tuesday to see one of my favorite performers- Celine. I have even been listening to her music all week as I worked out. I have seen her perform twice before and it has been AMAZING. So I was SO DISAPPOINTED, (DEVASTATED is probably a better word) when I found out that the concert had been CANCELED. Yes, you heard me- CANCELED. It turns out that Celine has been sick and is on vocal rest for a few weeks now and has canceled her shows in San Jose, Salt Lake, a few other places, and San Diego. I feel sorry for her that she has been sick and it is really a big deal when your vocal cords are inflamed- you definitely have to take care of them so that your voice isn't permanently damaged. My vocal performance major sister, Cynthia, knows this first hand and has had to be on vocal rest many a time. But, she still has her great voice. The redeeming thing is that Celine rescheduled her tour to San Jose to be on Feb 20th, but that's William's birthday. He is such a good husband that he told me he would let me go to the concert, on his birthday, if I bought him a video game. DONE DEAL. And I will make sure that we spend the rest of the weekend celebrating his birthday for my few hours at the concert. I thought that my trip down San Diego was going to be somewhat of a bust, because all of the cool attractions- like the zoo, legoland, wild animal park, etc- close at 5 pm or 6. BUT, me being the Internet travel adventure fanatic finder, stumbled upon a little gem of something to do in the evening. Its no where near as good as Celine, but it will be quite entertaining and very reminiscent of my elementary and junior high school days . . . . its the New Kids on the Block concert! Its performing that night at the arena right next to my sister Sarah's dorm. And they even still have cheap tickets left ($20). I admit that I had several of their music videos on VHS (though sadly they were donated to DI a few years ago) and so the three of us would watch, sing, and dance to their classic songs like "Hangin' Tough" and "Step by Step". It will be funny and interesting to do. I'm also going to try to fit in a few museums or other little events while there so that the trip isn't "wasted". So admidst my major disappointment lies a little bright spot of fun (hopefully :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Weekend . . . .

was much less eventful than normal in that William had to spend most of it working :-( But at least he was able to be home :-) We were able to go out to Pluto's for linner on Saturday- it's this create your own salad place in Palo Alto, but I think that the location at Santana Row in San Jose is better. But they do have these amazing garlic curly fries (yeah, to balance out all of the healthy stuff :-) We also went on a long walk outside on Sunday because it was nearly 80 degrees! My old roomie from Boston said that they were currently having an "Indian summer" because it was 50 degrees- it totally made me laugh because I used to think the same thing when I lived there. Now I REALLY know what an Indian summer is like. The weather here is hard to beat in that it is the middle of November and I have still been wearing short sleeved shirts. It is sad though that my great coats are being neglected . . . but I will get some wear out of them in Utah over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forever Tango

I went and saw the show "Forever Tango" tonight in San Francisco. It was INCREDIBLE from start to finish. This show has been touring for like 14 years and was on Broadway. I went by myself because William wasn't interested enough to warrant the price of the ticket. I sat on the 3rd row off to the right hand side of the stage. It was a very intense, emotional performance. They interspersed the dancing numbers with the live orchestra numbers. The amazing thing is that the orchestra pieces were just as good and emotional as the Tango dances. They had two accordion players and I have never really been a big fan of them before, but these guys were incredible. And the violinist and pianist were so talented as well. There were a range of dances- a few that were comedic, some more angry, and then the more romantic ones. Each number was very powerful and well executed- I was impressed by all of the complex footwork because they are kicking their legs all around, yet never hitting their partner. It was truly an enjoyable and memorable event.

The only sad part is that parking near that area is a NIGHTMARE. I drove around for 20 minutes trying to find a space and finally gave up with 10 minutes before showtime and parked at a close parking garage where the price was RIDICULOUS- half of my ticket. I later found out that a few blocks farther down the street was a parking garage where they do validate at the theater- but it was too late. Still, the performance was worth it even with the added hassle and parking expense.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

San Jose Museum of Art

Today was my first time visiting the San Jose Museum of Art. They had a special exhibit of photographs of Frida Kahlo and after having gone to her exhibit at the SFMOMA, I just had to see it. The fascinating thing about her photographs are that her face never reveals all of the pain and turmoil that she experienced throughout her life.

They had another exhibit about the Art of Cardboard- I thought this one was clever.
But this was my absolute favorite by Frank Geary- so amazing that is all from cardboard. I'd actually love to have this!
The final exhibit was about Road Trips- it was actually really interesting because there were random photographs from all across the U.S., a cut out map of the major interstates in the U.S., old fashioned carousel slide show, and even a makeshift travel pod. But my favorite was the suitcases made out of SHOES. Yes, all SHOES.
One of the fun things was that they had little craft projects for the kids. Since it wasn't crowded, Dyan and I made the paper butterflies (mine just looked weird) and also postcards to send to others. It was a great idea to involve the kids and have a more handson approach to art.

The lobby had these great monkeys made out of cardboard- Nora absolutely LOVED them. She kept staring and pointing at them.
The lobby also had 3 Chihuly chandeliers
And the art also extended outside the museum
I thought it was well worth the $5 student entry fee :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

John Adams

I absolutely LOVED the biography of John Adams written by David McCullough. No wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize- it was incredibly well written and fascinating. Its not a "quick read", being nearly 650 pages, but it is completely fascinating. It made me laugh, cry, and truly develop a new found admiration for this individual who was instrumental in founding our country. My timing of reading this book was powerful in that it was the same time as the current election. What amazed me about John Adams was his unwavering devotion to this great country. He devoted his whole life to serving the country, doing what he felt was best for the country and not to elevate himself. He was the first president to live in the White House and he placed a blessing upon the house that is carved into the mantle piece of the state dining room: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof" (John Adams). I now very much want to see the John Adams biography and also visit his homestead in Qunicy, MA since it was something I failed to get to. It will now be even more meaningful after reading this book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"I Like to Move It Move It"

I had never seen Madagascar 1 and sadly, all of the video stores had it rented out :-( So I wasn't able to see it before we went to see Madagascar 2 on our favorite $6 Saturday morning show. William loved the first one so of course I trust his judgment- and he was right! It was hilarious- enough visual gag jokes for little kids to enjoy and then the more subtle humor for the adults. Although, going to the 11:30 am show meant that we were the only adults there without kids- but we're kids at heart so we tried not to mind the crying/whining too much :-) The theme song- "I like to move it, move it" is so catchy that I had it in my head all day and would periodically share the song with William, who now isn't such a big fan of the song anymore. And following this animal movie, what better way to continue the theme with an "animal" style cheeseburger from In and Out to satisfy our hunger.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Inside Intel

Ok, so while we were able to go inside the Intel building, it was just through their museum.
The museum is FREE which is great and it was interesting but of course very much about the history of Intel.

My favorite part of the museum was ARTI- a robot that you could ask specific questions (on a list) and he would answer you. He was quite entertaining with his "serious" answers.
I was sure glad that William was with me to explain how computers- particularly the Intel processor-worked. This demonstration shows how a transistor works, with opening and closing gates and by manipulating which gates are open, you can actually spell words (Like "Hi Cheryl" as William did).
Their videos and computer interactive stations were great- very insightful, especially showing how there is like 50 steps in making a chip. Intel has kept up Moore's law, that they can double the number of transistors on a chip every two years. They had maxed out the impact of silicone and so they have used other combinations to make the processor more effective. They also had a sample of their clean room where they have to wear the bunny suits that take about 15 minutes the first time you put them on (we didn't since they weren't so "clean" with everyone else putting them on). All in all, it was a good way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baking Disaster

Every week, except fast Sunday, we bring a treat for our 12-13 year old Sunday School class that we teach. We used to just bring pre-packaged candy, but they respond better to homemade treats. I have made things like caramel corn, white chocolate chip cookies (with ground oatmeal and flour), butterscotch spiders (with chowmein noodles), and they were eaten, but the treat that they consistently request are my CAKE MIX cookies. The class is split between the two kinds I make- yellow cake with chocolate chips and homemade oreos. They are THE EASIEST cookies to make and taste incredible. All you do is mix a cake mix, 1/2 c. margarine, and 2 eggs. For the yellow cookies, add 1 c. chocolate chips. For oreos, don't add anything else. Spoon onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack. For the oreos, take a jar of vanilla frosting and frost each side and then sandwich together.

Earlier this week, I made homemade oreos for the Elders, but they were so full that they only had 1 or 2. So that meant that I got to eat them for the rest of the week (YUM). But, that meant that I didn't want to make them again for Sunday. So, I decided to take a gamble and make a new dessert- one that looked super good. I saw it on this blog for smore bars. It took a bit of time to make, not much, but it failed miserably. I put it on the top rack- which was the biggest mistake- because it quickly browned the marshmellows. So, I transfered it to the bottom rack, but it was getting even browner so I took it out about 5 minutes early. Thus, the crust is totally crumbly- I think that the sweetened condensed milk didn't fully set in. So, it is still edible- just with a spoon. Thus, we can't take it to our kids tomorrow :-( At least we have some packaged pixie sticks to give them :-) But that is so sad that it was a disaster because I was looking forward to having a new recipe in my arsenal. Or maybe its just that my baking skills are lacking .. . . It is slightly reassuring that many people also had problems with the recipe- so mabye its just not me.

God Bless America

What a great country where you can get this deliciousness for FREE just for doing your civic duty. YUM- thanks Krispy Kreme! Seriously though, after this past week, I am so grateful for this country. Last year, I had a voting fiasco where the DMV didn't register me when I received my drivers license and I found out when it was too late. We registered this year and then moved and changed our registration. However, I had done vote by mail, but unfortunately, they mailed my ballot to my old address. BUT, I could still vote on Tuesday at my local center. William waited in line at 6:40 and was 2nd at the place to vote when they opened at 7. I waited until 10:30 and then went with NO LINE. I was so impressed by the voter turnout and that so many people felt so passionately about the future of our country that they made the time to express it. I know that not everyone feels the same politically, but I hope that we can all unite over the fact that we love and care about our country. I have been reading the John Adams biography and have seen that political differences have existed since the beginning of our country. Yet, for the most part, they were able to coorporate enough to make it not paralyze them. After seeing this, I know that our country will be able to work through these differences.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

5 Things

My sweet sweet friend Nini (Caranine) tagged me to find out more about me in groups of fives

Ten years ago I...
1. Lived in Deseret Towers, U Hall, 2nd floor
2. part of Freshman Academy
3. at BYU for college
4. thought that I really like math (one calculus class that semester taught me that I really don't like theorems and the conceptual parts of math)
5. was a sociology major (yup, my declared major I actually graduated with)

Five things on today's to-do list:
2. revising a paper for publication
3. fixing meal for missionaries (I do occasionally cook- more than making sweets :-)
4. practice piano
5. work on post-doc applications

Five snacks I enjoy:
2. Gummies
3. cinnamon rolls
4. basically, most sugary sweet items
5. Chips (thought I at least should put in something non-sugar)

Five places I have lived:
1. Salt Lake City, Utah (and Provo)
2. Madrid, Spain
3. London, England
4. Boston, Massachusetts (and surrounding area)
5. Mountain View, CA (Bay area)

Five jobs I have had:
1. Babysitter
2. Research Assistant
3. Teaching Assistant
4. University Instructor
5. Statistical Analysis

Five pet peeves:
1. shopping carts left in the parking lot
2. not using a turn signal
3. mean people
4. ???
5. ???
sorry- couldn't think of any

Five things that bring me joy:
1. William
2. Family- my immediate, in-laws, and extended
3. My religious beliefs (click here for more information)
4. Friends- like those who read our blog :-)
5. having cultural adventures

And a virtual High Five for making it through these lists!

Monday, November 3, 2008


It was a very rainy Saturday so we thought it would be a great day to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at the Tech Museum. It is its first appearance in the U.S. after being organized in Europe and so of course we had to go :-) But, I think that EVERYONE else had the same idea. We waited in a 15 minute line to even get tickets, but were able to do everything we wanted. We first saw the IMAX movie called "Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk". This film was about extreme risk takers like skydiving and basejumping. Even after seeing this movie, I don't think I will ever do either of these because I was so nervous even just watching the movie. William said that "he would go if I wanted him to", but he still hasn't given me a clear answer on if he actually wants to do it. I think its safe to say that that is one adventure we won't be having any time soon. The film also showed them making a copy of one of Leonardo's parachutes that he detailed in his Codice. Up until this event, no one had ever actually made one to see if it would work. Amazingly, it did and the "experiement was a success" but we thought it was only a partial experiement of its efficacy because they just elevated it with a hot air balloon and then dropped it where it coasted for several thousand feet before the rider cut himself loose and used a modern parachute to make it back to the ground. If Leonardo's parachute was so great, they why didn't he land with it? It was neat though that he was able to conceptualize it.

We then went to the basement where we thought the start of the exhibit was. We went in and saw 2 paintings, neither of which are for certain that of Leonardo. I mean, they were nice paintings from Italy but they had their own giant room. We walked through and then existed and were shocked that was "all there was" to the exhibit since the entry fee was fairly large. The guard saw our confused faces and said that the main exhibit was actually up one floor. And it was enormous. We spent nearly 3 hours exploring it. I loved this model they have of the Duomo in Florence. We had both been there but it was incredible to see just how much detail went into the construction of. Here is an inside view (sorry for the poor quality- no flash allowed) and they even sketched the murals on the top of the dome
And the completed outside
The exhibit provided models of the tools used to assemble the dome, as well as the sketches of it. Now, Leonardo didn't build the dome, but he studied the techniques and made his own designs/drawings of them. The exhibit had this great computer program that animated the machines and demonstrated how they built the Duomo.

Several other rooms contained even more studies, designs, and models of Leonardo's machines. He felt that machines had a few key "organs" similar in concept to those of the body. And he studied every possible way they could be organized, modified, arranged to be more efficient and workable. But, Leonardo also had an eye of looking towards the future like looking for possibilties of human flight. I loved this replica of the human flight machine that tried to mimic the wing movements of birds
William was fascinated by the designs and spent much more time with them than I did. I am definitely not a physics/machine person- I get the basic ideas but overall, just really don't get the specifics. Chemisty and biology always made much more sense to me. William was so patient and would explain things to me when I didn't get them. I mainly watched several of the movies that they had explaining about different restoration projects of his artwork.

The thing I had never realized about Leonardo is that his painting was all about math and geometry. Everything needed to be in perspective and with "golden proportions" like the Vitruvian man. As they analyzed and highlighted these features in his work (that I sadly hadn't really noticed before), I now have an even deeper admiration for this artist, whose work not only looks good, but it amazingly calculated and planned.

Another film that we both saw explained how Leonardo came up with this unique way to make a giant horse from only 1 casting. He spent years on the project, yet then a war occurred taking away his funding and so he was never able to actually cast it. They created what it would have look like. For size comparison, I've included William as perspective- they could only fit half the horse in the exhibit
But outside, they had a complete replica- it was pouring rain so I didn't get a closer photo of it
This is a must see exhibit that increases your appreciation for this true renaissance man, who LOVED learning and trying to understand the world.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Fests!!!

My Halloween started on a sweet note with Krispy Kremes Halloween specials. The pumpkin ones at the store looked better than these ones- I didn't realize that one was crying until I got home. But they sure tasted great. And the "pumpkin spice" ones were good- but it didn't taste at all like "pumpkin" just "spice".
I had been working all week long on my dissertation and other research and so I got together with Dyan, Nicole, and Sarah and accompanied them to the downtown Los Altos trick-or-treating in the afternoon. We walked up and down the shops and some owners were outside dressed up handing out candy and others just left a bucket near the entry way.
My favorite was one restaurant had a special trick or treat for the parents- SAMPLES of their food. I had this delicious pumpkin soup and then some pita bread. It was a great marketing technique.

These mom's have trained their kids well- they don't even need to eat the candy, just put it in their mouths!

Later on that day was GOOGLEWEEN. It was "scaled back" from last year, but still fun to see everyone in their creative costumes. The most popular were Sarah Palin and the Joker, but we also saw a Joe Plumber. A few of our favorites were a G1 Android phone, nearly the whole Sesame Street crew
the pumpkin puppy
What about our costumes? William had a 1980s party the day before with his group at PSO and we truly came up with a "rockin" costume for him- RICK ASTLEY, otherwise known as RICKROLLED. The guy singing in the viral video shown all around the world this year going "Never gonna give you up". William looks just like the guy. So we dressed him up in one of the outfits from the video- he looked classic, and even pumped up the hair
However, his fellow co-workers really "didn't get it" until he explained it. So, on Friday, he didn't dress up in it again. But, we felt great vindication when we saw another co-worker wearing the same outfit. Sadly you can't see the "Never Gonna Give You Up" sign on his back so we know that was who he was dressed up as.
I was the ball and chain again- but this year, with these great socks that I really can only wear at Halloween
The funny story about my "costume" was that we were sitting outside and William introduced me to some of his co-workers as his "ball and chain". A few minutes later, one of these co-workers came back and asked me if I was in the same group as William at Google. I said that I am literally his wife, symbolic of the "ball and chain" :-) I guess maybe we should have worn matchy matchy outfits so that we would actually look like husband and wife :-)

This was our trick-or-treating for the night- and was definitely my favorite- GUMMIES!!!! And we also received a few Halloween knicknacks like a couple of rubber duckies and these squish toys that you make the eyes bulge out.
And, our Halloween fun continued that night (we did manage to get some work done in-between) as we went to Great America's HALLOWEEN HAUNT. They spooked up the amusement park- even placing cat eyes on the tower
and lots of smoky mist
Most of the fun rides were open, and they also had 5 haunted houses within the park. They had one called the "Slaughterhouse" that they managed to make the decor really scary and disgusting. I also liked the cornmaze one, but my favorite was that they turned the log ride into a spook alley and had people jumping out and scaring you while you rode around. I was definitely surprised/scared multiple times that night . . . and several by my own husband (a few people managed to make him jump too :-)

They also had some Halloween themed shows- like a hypnotist. William had NEVER seen one before so we had to watch a little of it. I know that some people truly can be hypnotized as I witnessed my friend Clint in high school, but I think that the majority of people just pretend that they are to be up on stage. That's how I felt this show was. William with his studious mind watched to see what exactly it was that the hypnotist did to have these people under his command. William thought that it is the bass line of the background music that was the acting force. I really have no idea and was quickly bored so we moved on. The other show was one done by Comedy Sportz, the group we had gone to seen a few months before. It was so funny and the best part is we received a coupon for $5 another showing!!! We'll definitely be going again.

The only sad part of the day is that the rides at Great America really don't agree with me. Last time we went, the ride "the demon" left me with one for nearly a week with severe neck pain. I refused to ride on it this year, but another ride called "vertigo" literally gave me vertigo by jarring my head around so much. My neck is still sore a few days afterwards, but no where nearly as bad as the demon. We had been thinking about maybe getting season passes to the park earlier this year and I think it was a wise move that we didn't.

Definitely a SPOOKTACULAR Halloween