Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Girlification is now completely evident…

Make-up: High school I did, but nothing major. College I didn’t wear any (make up, that is!). And for a while in college, my typical outfit was jeans, flannel shirt, and my brown leather hiking boots with red shoe laces (b/c I saw a J Crew catalog that had hiking boots with red shoe laces that I loved, and so I tried to do a low-budget version of that – which resulted as me being known around campus as the “girl with the red shoe laces”). I was so crunchy that Will actually had to ask me to dress like a girl every once in a while.

So, since living in Texas, I now dress like a girl on a regular basis and wear makeup. MAC, Too Faced, or Urban Decay, to be specific. And I like girly things now too*. I didn’t realize how girly I am until coming out to MA for work this week. Especially at that women’s lunch thingy yesterday. I think I was the ONLY one in the room (of about 40) wearing both mascara and eyeshadow. And not beige boring eyeshadow – PURPLE SHIMMERY eyeshadow! And don’t even get me started on how many people are in dire need of an eyebrow waxing or plucking hairs out of facial moles (I was just in a meeting with a lady who had to have at least 5 black ½” hairs growing out of a mole in her cheek – eee! Don’t most people want to take care of things like that?)

And in this lunch meeting yesterday, I was the ONLY person to be wearing high heels (stylish black leather boots w/heels).

And now, I’m here, after observing how crunchy these people are, and I’m wondering if they’re referring to me as “that girl from the Houston office with the heels and a LOT of makeup?” eeks! That’s Texas exemplified! Not that I’m going to go to work tomorrow w/out makeup (scary!) but damn, Texas has really girlified me. Damn.

*yeah, so I really do have a serious addiction to Lush. To the point where I’m now having packages shipped to my office b/c I don’t want Will to realize just how much I’ve purchased. Since Feb – I’ve placed 6 (!!) orders. But to my credit – with every order, I got at least $10 of free stuff (sometimes upwards of $60 in freebies). In fact, I have one box containing 10 freebies and 1 L of shower gel in my office under my desk waiting for me to get back and take it home and I should have one more box delivered to the house Friday. And then I go and lurk on the Lush web forum and see a posting about a party at the Lush store in Boston and how if you RSVP, you’ll get a FREE goodie bag! Free! Goodies! How can I say no?!?! And if the store won’t take my 2-for-1 promo code (I don’t have paper coupons) for some lotion (that I’m getting for my friend for her b’day next month – but I’ll keep the free one, even though I just ordered 2 for myself and got them last week…..) then I’ll most likely place ANOTHER order for that lotion online. I. have. a. problem! But at least I smell good!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday night in Boston

I was very lame last night after work. Went to the grocery store for snacks. Then I took the world's worst pilates class at the gym at the hotel (its actually a health club for people who aren't guests). It was this older (50's maybe?) lady who popped in a Prince CD, and instead of providing directions or telling what to focus on, she mouthed the lyrics of the Prince songs. And I don't particularly care for Prince, so this feature wasn't appreciated to me. And peppy musich during pilates? Anyways, it was horrible on many levels. At some point during the "workout" she went into cat pose (you're on your hands and knees with your back arched or flat). Now, most instructors face sideways to the class so you can see how they're positioned and doing the moves. This lady was "facing" us ass first. So, I got to look at her bony tight-fitting yoga pant covered ass - complete with wear marks where her ass-bones are. Lovely! And you couldn't see what the hell poses she was doing. Another fun series of poses was where you are lying on your back, then lift your feet/legs straight up in the air above your head and do random (to me) leg movements while in that position. Which really, what purpose does this serve except to put a lot of pressure on your neck as your entire body weight presses down on it. I left halfway into it b/c I was getting nothing out of it and her poses was really random and awful.

I then ate dinner at the hotel bar/lounge. Had a Concord Pale Ale (eh) and listened to some lady bitch about how she was a "high powered executive" in Orange County, CA and got a DUI and lost her license b/c the cops in OC are on the hunt for DUI offenders to raise the tax base. Or some crap like that. It was annoying but funny at the same time.

See - LAME! Tonight should be better. My friend from back home that now lives in Baltimore is in Boston for work so we're having dinner/drinks tonight! Woo!

Musings from Bawston

Work sent me to the Boston area for the week to help out with my OKC project (only with our Boston engineering staff). I’ve never been to MA before, so this is a nice little adventure for me. It got off to a bad start – Delta and the black hole of Atlanta (yes I know, I should have expected this) lost my luggage. Or rather severely delayed its arrival. I blamed this, of course, on the fact that I was one state over from my friend who always loses her luggage (unless she’s going on a trip with me). Hey, I passed on my freak magnet-ism to her. She lost my luggage. Ok?

Hotel is ok – its some local conference/inn kinda place. Found a pool to swim at. There haven’t been any sightings of freaky people swimming in street clothes or with full-on snorkel gear, so that’s cool. I’ve had frost on my windshield both mornings, which makes me happy.

So, today at lunch, there was an organized “Women’s Leadership [Something or other]” meeting. I suppose some people have realized that there’s not a whole lot of women in upper management company wide and some women at HQ have decided to have monthly meetings about women’s issues. And since this was going on during my visit, I got to sit in. They did talk about some interesting things. Such as how most women have a hard time saying “I want” when it comes to career objectives (like I want this project/role/promotion). And many women don’t get the recognition they deserve b/c they don’t have an advocate. So there was talk of a mentoring network, monthly meetings for this group, etc etc. It was actually not as cheesy as it sounds. And you know, they had really good points. I really would love to have a mentor and someone to be my role model. I think I would work a lot harder and have a much better attitude at work if I had a mentor. And if I worked in this office, that would definitely be possible. But I don’t – with the exception of one Sr Mgr (who is clueless and I really don’t consider her a role model in anything except panicking or ass-kissing) I am the most senior female technical person in our office. And besides me, we have 4 other technical women – all of which are younger than me. And I’ve asked for a mentor and was told by my supervisor that I wouldn’t get any one person as a mentor, that everyone on staff could be my mentor. Which I suppose is true to an extent, except for the fact that I work with a bunch of anti-social freaks who wouldn’t know how to mentor a hole in the wall. And the lady I’m working here in MA with made some comment on how Houston is a hot-bed of opportunity. And here I am getting ready to quit that hot-bed. I suppose that if I stick around another year, things would be better (maybe?). And I wish that maybe I’d met these people a year ago instead of a day ago – because then maybe my situation would be different. I really get along with these people and they make me feel like I’m smart and capable and valuable. Unlike my Houston coworkers. But that’s why I’m looking at moving on – to a place that’s going out of their way to hire me and make me feel like an asset.

Anyways, some interesting things came out of that lunch. A lot of companies out there are trying to grow. And lets face it, half of the work force out there is comprised of women. And most companies in my line of business are mostly men. And one of the things my generation specifically takes into account when shopping for a job is how many women work at the company and what positions are they in. Its something I definitely look for – and have yet to find. To the point where if I find a place that has a LOT of women, I think it’s a freakish place and want to run. But if companies want to grow, they have to at least put front a “women friendly” face. But I can’t help but think to myself that these women friendly places are weaker next to their tougher more manly counterparts. Like where I am now in MA, someone put their Avon catalog in the women’s bathroom. Avon! Blech! At my Houston office, we’re lucky if the bathroom works!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

TAR, Season 9, Episodes 3 and 4

Because I didn't manage to blog about this last week. And also: I hate non-elimination episodes!

Episode 3
And I really don't remember much about last week's episode (or last week, for that matter, damn St Patricks day.....), so here's the high/low-lights.

They're in Brazil, and then they all hop on the same plane to go to Russia - home of vodka and people that smoke a lot (according to MoJo). Then they do some stuff that's not very exciting and then they meet up with Phil in Red Square, and Phil does not eliminate them. See? Three sentences for one whole hour!

If 3T Was on the Show
Roadblock - ok, this is a no brainer, as I am the swimmer of the team. And we really, really don't need Will in a speedo on Nat'l tv thankyouverymuch. And we would have selected the bus washing detour, b/c all those damn dolls would lead to an on-camera session of "Watch Erin be a huge bitch and watch Will just stand there." Not so much fun.

My main gripe is having people who are NOT GOOD SWIMMERS do a SWIMMING roadblock. Idiots. And its not like they even had to swim all that much (although, I'll admit that the high dive would have freaked me out too).

Teams that annoyed me
Team Nipple Ring and all this hookup crap needs to shut up or die. Fran and Barry are officially on my "dead to me" list for all the bemoaning about how they're soooo veerrryyy unnnfoooootunate and theeeey'reee goinnnng to looooosssseeee". So shut up and come in last already. Just quit bitching on my tv, please

Episode 4
Still not a whole lot of action. And yet, more people annoyed me. Lovely! This episode was the "Product Placement" portion of our season - Travelocity gnome and Mercedes. I think the Mercedes wall o' doom would have been much cooler if they'd have to actually drive it themselves, though. So, they're in Russia and have to fly back to Germany. And that's about it. Oh, and the teams were instructed to bring their gnome with them to the mat - but only a few teams did this..... I think there should have been a time penalty involved... Not to mention making the teams learn and perform the dance correctly. But I digress.....

If 3T Was on the Show
Gnome hunt... really do we care? This was so lame that I don't care. So, rock-paper-scissors. Loser has to find the gnome. And Bottles vs Dancing for the Detour.... I'd say bottles. Will was convinced the glass was really sugar, but I don't know.... But I also know that Will has NO dance skill what-so-ever past the "circle slow dance", so it really would be less painful for me if he bashed a bottle over my head repeatedly than to watch him try to slap his legs and hop around with some semblance of coordination and grace.

Team Commentary
I liked the hippies until this episode. Then (as Miss Alli from TWOP pointed out), it seems like every time they're on camera, they feel the need to do or say something wacky. Every time! Can't they just stand there and be normal? And wear underwear? I really think they spent time pre-race coming up with their little wacky sayings and doings just to use on the show. Its annoying.

I should just put the TV on mute each time Team Nipple Ring is on, they are *that* idiotic. I can't even see their schtick working.

Loved the random drunk guy Lake and Michelle picked up. Go Germany! Beer! Woo!

Inability to find and use a map: see Desiree and Wanda. And doing so twice.

Stupidity for not getting and using a map, and then following someone who also doesn't have/use a map, who gets lost once, and then STILL follows the once-already-lost team again and gets lost a SECOND time at the exact spot: see the Pink Girls. Dumb.

And that's about it - not much else noteworthy happened....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March Madness Meet Results

Here's my latest results, along with my entry seed times*

Event Seed Time Actual Time
100 breaststroke 1:44 1:38.08
100 backstroke 1:27 1:27.63
100 IM 1:36 1:31.68
200 free 3:10** 2:51.86 (!!)
100 free 1:23*** 1:18.48

*Keep in mind that I was never that fast of a swimmer.
** First entry in this event since high school. This time was based on swimming 200's on a fast pace, then taking 5 add'l seconds off for it to be "challenging".
*** Fastest time for me in Masters using proper technique. My "improper" technique time was 1:19 in Dec 2004. Since fixing my technique, I've consistently been 5-8 seconds slower.

I am so amazingly happy with myself. First of all, this was a short meet. We're talking like 10 heats of the 50 free and the rest of the events were more like 4 heats tops. Then I entered fairly long events (ie no 50's) and had 2-3 events to rest up before I had to swim again (equates to 15-20 minutes). Not much time to rest. And honestly, for the 200 I really wasn't even going all that fast. I was so tired and my hypoglycemia was kicking in - my only goal was to get a time down. Imagine my suprise when I looked at my time. Craziness! I really thought I'd be hard pressed to make 3:10 - the day before I was working hard to swim this on a 3:30. And my splits were so good - 41.27; 42.98; 44.42; 43.91. Very consistent. Sure I need to work on negative splitting that, but I'll take consistency any day! And finally, after swimming 4 events, to cut 5 seconds off my 100 free using "proper" technique.... So awesome. Yay me!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Case study: why suburban mothers in Texas should never become costume designers

I soooo wish my husband's camera phone worked better to capture this image properly.

Got free tickets to see the Houston Rockets last night. Ridiculously good seats - 9th row behind the visitors bench.

The half-time entertainment:

(again, apologizing for the craptastic picture quality...)

What you see in this very blurry picture is some high school dance troupe doing some sort of african interpretive dance. As they walked out, all four of us had a "the hell?" moment then broke out in giggles. These poor girls. Their costumes were easily the most horrific thing I've seen for something like this. Even Santino wouldn't have come close. I felt really, really bad for them.

The costumes consisted of a black leotard, but with the mid-section as black mesh. Then it had a bias skirt in fake tiger print and a big floofy collar and headbands made of brown feathers and gold sequins. And one ankle band of feathers, and perhaps wrist bands of feathers too. Fake tiger print AND feathers? Pick and animal and stick with it please. Unless you're trying to depict what a tiger looks like while he's eating a bird covered in sequins.

The dance moves were pretty funny too. Plenty of unflattering poses, and a couple where the girls paired up, and one girl had to hold another girl in an unflattering way then crawl overhere (it was complicated and bizarre and very hard to describe.)

This ranks as really one of the most bizarre halftime performances I've witnessed. Just really, really strange.... and funny!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Random updates

Sooo....updates on me.

Turned 30 on Monday. Day really didn't go all that well. It wasn't that I was upset over turning 30. I just was hoping to have a good day, and well, it wasn't a good day. At all.

Swift kitty ate something in my b'day flowers and has been acting really mopey and quiet since Monday night. She's eating (but not her usual voracious inhaltion of food) and not puking, so I'm not worried enough to call the vet, but its enough to make me still worry.

Have a swim meet this Saturday. Entered myself in some pretty ambitious events.... 100 breast, 100 back 100 IM, 200 free, and 100 free. And there's only 2-3 events separating my events, and I don't expect this to be a big meet, so I probably won't get much rest. I figure I can deck-scratch if need be. This is kind-of a test-run for events for Nationals in May. eeps!

Swim practice is pretty good lately. I have this tempo trainer gizmo that I stick under my cap and it beeps at me on a time interval that I set. It basically serves as a cue for my stroke timing. I got it to help me coordinate my kick, core rotation, and stroke for the 6 beat rotation freestyle technique. Back in January, I talked to the coach about getting faster, and he suggested I use the tempo trainer on a regular basis to train myself into swimming faster. The idea is that with each practice, I bump the tempo a hair faster. So I'll be going faster, but only fractionally, so it won't really feel like I'm putting a ton of effort into actually going faster. Then over time, say weeks of bumping the time interval faster, I'll actually be going noticably faster. I started this in Mid-Jan, and 1.5 months later, I've cut ~3-5 seconds off of my medium paced 50 free.

A swim friend is trying to recruit me to do the swim leg of the Austin Danskin Trathalon. Open water (which I've never done before...) but its only a 1/2 mile. Couldn't be all that painful. So, we'll see. Apparently, someone is trying to put together "relays" for this, but they're really short on swimmers. And seeing as how I have no business running ever again, this would be a good way for me to experience triathalons.

Work is still eh. At least I'm busy. And the current opinon of me is postive around here, so I guess that will do for now.

Having my b'day party this weekend. Nothing too crazy (I hope). We made 2 batches of homebrew - a scotch ale and a vanilla stout and kegged it (5 gal each). Should be fun. Will post pictures and stories if there's anything fun to report.

TAR, Season 9, Episode 2

Episode 1 recap

So, for this episode, we're still in Brazil. Not a whole lot of excitement this episode, but there is some character development, and the fatal driving of a non-automatic-transmission vehicle.

So, we've got some taxis to a bus terminal, to bunching (I'm pretty irritated b/c we had senate primary results blocking out the starting times for all the teams. I *need* to see how spread out the teams are. And I really don't want to know if Tom Delay was selected to run for senate.) Then a boring bus ride. Then VW beetles! But I have to wonder - are these the same as the old-styled beetles that are produced as "new" in Mexico, or are these really 30 yr old hunks of rusting metal. For everyone's sake (and the fact that the seats looked slightly newer) I'm hoping they were newer than 1971.

If 3T was on the show
We would so rock this leg with the VW beetles, as I have 6 years experience driving one. A 1971 beetle, bright yellow, that most of the time only ran on 3 cylinders. One road trip I made, from Gillette, WY (summer job at a coal mine) back to college (Butte, MT) was sheer hell. Mountain bike on top of the car, creating massive drag. Two very vocal and inadequately tranquilized kitties in the front seat. 3 of 4 cylinders functional. Top speed of 50 mph. And complete this experience with a kitty accident of the liquid variety which required me to stop at a gas station around Billings to wash Swift off. Fun! Oh, and 10 hrs of this for ~400 miles. Not cool. Anyways, the race! First of all, I had to laugh at the "hippies" physically walking their VW backwards. Doncha know that for all VWs, to shift it into reverse, you have to push the stickshift vertically down and then shift back to reverse? Silly guys. And those ladies abusing the hell out of their clutch. Its not like VWs are particularly hard to shift.

And as we saw team members climb into the backseat, Will mentioned that he hoped that none of their feet punctured the floor of the vehicle. The floor of mine was so badly rusted that when Will sat in the back of mine (he was being nice and letting my roommate sit up front) his foot went all they way thru the floor of my car. Think Flintstones style. And it was winter, and in Butte, they don't plow the side streets, so you end up basically driving your car in 2 parallel ice ruts the whole winter. And the hole (with scrap metal bent outwards from the car) was in the center of the car, so the entire winter, I had to listen to rusted metal scraping against ice ruts. Yeah, I hate that car and don't really miss it. Why my mom wanted to keep it and restore it is beyond me.

Road Block - ethane or climbing. 3T's choice was decided by me. My knee is still tweaky from training for our backpacking trip in 2004 (I had cartlidge tear or something horrible and while my knee didn't require surgery or hurt, it grinds horribly when I do stairs, but it is getting better, so there's hope). Seeing as how those stupid climber things involve much leg/knee action, and combine that with the fact that in elementary school I could never manage to climb that damn rope to the required height, I chose the sugar cane/ethane option.

Team commentary
Well, my opinions of the other teams pretty much held from Episode 1. Team Nipple Ring are bigger idiots that I thought they were. Glamazons need to go away. The pink girls seem to be ok. Older couple needs to suck it up and start playing. Team Nerd Love is still adoreable. Basically status quo.

I was very satisfied with the ending. I did not like the meltdown between the sisters and how they basically gave up. Considering how many thousands of people applied for the show and would kill to be on it, I think its tremendously rude to just go and give up b/c you can't manage to drive a standard transmission VW beetle in Brazil. Go home, you suck.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

TAR, Season 9, Episode 1

Looks promising, with the glaring exception that producers elected not to include myself and Will in the cast (from here on out we will be known as Team Trailer Trash* [3T for short]). I’m going to attempt to do my own version of a recap of the show each week. Don’t plan on me recapping the episode event by event, like TWOP does. But rather, I’ll just comment on how, if 3T was on the show, which choices we would have made on the detours/roadblocks, and commentary on my love/hate for any or all teams (and Phil) on the show.

If Team Trailer Trash were on the show
Yay, DENVER and what’s more RED ROCKS!!! Wooooo! Needless to say, 3T would have rocked this initial part of the show, as I’m very familiar with the area and the airport. We would have avoided at all costs taking the Continental flight, because I hate Continental.

Brazil! Now, if 3T would have made the show, we would have invested in some Spanish lessons. So, please play along and pretend that we speak Spanish, which should help a tiny bit, even though Brazil’s language is Portuguese. (In hindsight, 4 yrs of latin in high school wasn’t the most practical idea. But my main reasons for taking it were a)it looked good on transcripts b)the teacher was cool and the class was a cakewalk b/c of her and c)the retreat every spring to Estes Park where I would ditch most of the scheduled activities and go hiking with hot mountain boys from other schools. Now though, latin doesn’t do me a whole hell of a lot of good.)

Roadblock: re-build a motorcycle or ride a helicopter to some building (or as I call it – “chopper or chopper?” Will didn’t think this was all that clever….). Now, at this point in the show, we pause it, and discuss the merits of each task and figure out which one we would chose. Now, being that we are both engineers and Will is somewhat of an engine repair enthusiast, we decided to choose the motorcycle option. However, after seeing how cool the helicopter ride was, I know I would regret that decision…. But I would hope that we’d perform better than the other teams in rebuilding the motorcycle.

General commentary on each team
Lake & Michelle – well, lets just say that this is one dental practitioner I would never visit. Could you imagine, sitting in the chair as Michelle works on you, and Lake yelling all the time? And you just having to sit there with your mouth open, feeling very uncomfortable?

Dani & Danielle – really don’t have much of an opinion on these 2. They lost major points with their matching pink outfits, although they seemed to accept the fact that getting dirty was a component of the motorcycle detour. They did win points by thinking the Frat Boys were tools, though, so there is hope for them.

BY & Tyler – first thing out of Will’s mouth (Cartman Voice) “Goddamn Hippies” (from the South Park “Die Hippy, Die” episode [we have this permanently saved on our TiVo, its that funny]). Apart from the hippyness, they did make me laugh a few times and generally have their game on.

Ray & Yolanda – no real opinion here about these two. I suspect they will be headed for dating-disaster by the end of the show though, as they are the typecast “long distance dating” couple. I was impressed by the restraint Ray showed for not beating the hell out of the guys commenting on Yolanda’s mechanical prowess.

John & Scott – the typecast gay guys, although supposedly they are “life long friends” friends, rather than a couple. Sadly, they didn’t have the chops to stick around. I did find them mildly amusing and I would have rather preferred the Houston Frosties to be Philiminated instead.

Dave & Lori – ok, say it with me now! Neeerrrrddds! Until reading their bio on CBS, I loved them. Perhaps I should have ignored the bio just now. Musician and Pizza Hut asst mgr? Oh good lord. But I guess there aren’t too many opportunities for high falutin’ jobs in Manhattan….Kansas. Anyways, last night, they were my top team in terms of like-ability. Just love that nerd love.

Eric & Jeremy – annnnd here are the “pretty boys” typecast team. But really, they’re not all that pretty. Or really all that fun to listen to. And they have nipple rings. Enough said.

Fran & Barry – ok, on the show last night, they were listed as being from Littleton, CO (woo! Go Littleton!), but the CBS bio says they’re from Silverthorne…… Hmmm. Anyways, based on the Littleton connection, I loved them right away (and no, I did not know them). But then the roadblock on the bridge lost major points….. Please perform better so I can like you again. K?

Lisa & Joni – wow, reality tv producers sure know how to pick winners from Houston, don’t they? Ok, so Joyce and Uchenna were great. But lets see…. The girls from the Bachelor, Brandy (with her red weave fro’), that Cat woman chickie, and Cassandra from America’s Next Top Model were all equally horrible. And this made me think, if 3T did make it on the show, I guess we’d be “from Houston” which I am just not prepared to actually have “Erin” and “from Houston” in the same sentence. So, based on this alone, I suppose its good 3T was not selected for the cast. Anyways, Lisa and Joni…. Yeah, don’t like them. One bit. The yelling, the spazzing, the Jesus prayers, the makeup. All horrible. Wish they’d been Philimated instead of John & Scott.

Team MoJo – ok, they’re growing on me. I for one like the t-shirts. I thought they were cute. Mo did lose points by crying in the lobby of DIA over not catching the first flight, though. But overall, they’re not too annoying so far.

Wanda & Desiree – at first, I found them annoying. But they really played well, mainly due to Wanda’s knowledge of Portuguese. To date, I feel pretty neutral about them.

“Baby” count. Will and I refer to TAR as the “baby, how bout we watch that ‘baby show’ baby?” Because it seems that there is no other term of endearment allowed on the show. And sure enough, as they left the parking lot of Red Rocks, I heard my first “baby”. Although, later on, I did hear a “sweetie”, and it was nice to hear something else for a change. Will claims if 3T was on, he’d be dropping the nicknames of “muffin” or “pumpkin” on me. And I told him that if he were to do that, I would basically ignore him the entire team and hit on some of the hottie single guys in the race instead.

Overally, TAR 9 shows significant improvement over the suckfest that was the family edition. I look forward to seeing how this season progresses.

*Long story from college. Will's nickname was "Third Wheel (Will) Trailer", given to him by his advisor - how nice of him! He soon became known as "trailer", which then went screaming downhill into "Trailer Trash".