Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm moving

I've been hesitant to say the words "I'm moving" just yet for fear it would change (I think I specialize in complicated lately) but I'm feeling more confident about it today. Hopefully, Loki will let this one slide.

This is going to be my kitchen. I painted it brown once upon a time but I think something new is in order. We're considering a buttery yellow where it's currently brown and a green for the areas that are white (both in the kitchen and into the family room behind). It would be something like the last image below (courtesy of the Sherwin Williams visualizer) What'dya think? Any suggestions?

This is the family room that would be green:


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Loki's back

Haha! Now I KNOW Loki is messing with me and my coffee! But I have outsmarted him this time because I have no less than 3 coffee cups at work.

(in a mad-scientist voice) Not this time Loki... not this time...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

That's sad...

Isn't it ironic that the time you forget to put the cup under the spout before pushing the brew button is when you actually needed the coffee? Sigh...

If you could be a superhero...

I love that she looks like she's flying!

I have a ton of work to get done, both in my personal and professional lives, in the next couple of weeks. So, I'm channeling superhero now as I seem to get the most done that way. An old boss once said I must have an "S" on my chest and I wonder if I can get that "get it done" attitude going now. I'm thinking "DIY Girl" or "Get 'er Done Diva".

What would be your superhero name?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rock hunting

We spent yesterday out at Crystal Peak. It used to be a quartz crystal mine for the US military (quartz crystal vibrates at a good frequency for radio communication) beginning in 1940 and mined off and on until the early 70s but the area is now maintained by the Forest Service as a recreational site. It's a fun place to go crystal hunting and I found 3 or 4 pinky sized crystals yesterday in addition to all of the lovely crystals and other rocks pictured above (I LOVE the heart shaped quartz!). There are also beautiful views in every direction which makes it a lovely place to sit and read.

Jerry from Peru

In high school I worked with a man from Peru. Jerry waited tables in the restaraunt where I was a busser. As a very headstrong female I often butted heads with Jerry (who felt it was my place to be docile and quiet) but despite this we still worked together very well. He called me Sarita (little Sara, he said). Because I did mostly like him I shall not repeat the things, other than Jerry, that I called him.

Sometime during the year and a half that we worked together he gave me this necklace. He said that he had made it and that the beads it was made with and it's design were supposed to ward off bad dreams. I'm not sure that any of it was true but I always loved the idea and it has hung from my headboards and the lamps on my nightstands ever since. And, mostly, I don't have bad dreams.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A discovery

Have you ever lived in a place for a long time and found out there was something really cool there that you didn't even know about? I have lived in Reno for more than 6 years now. This morning I went to the Galena State Park (about 15 minutes from home) and was blown away. I live in a desert, so basically in sage brush and dirt. And yet just a few miles from my home here is a pine forest with streams and a pond and hiking trails that is absolutely beautiful! It felt more like I was back in Bend, Oregon. I can already tell I will be spending a lot more time in this forest over the summer.

After hiking around in Galena we drove up to Lake Tahoe and wandered around there for a while (and got coffee!). I can't believe there's still a little snow up there. I would have thought it would have melted by now. Anyway, all of the pictures below are from Galena expect the lake (of course).

Thursday, May 21, 2009


So here are my views on the subject and I'd love to hear yours.

I'm thrilled every time I see a new follower. I get a little feeling like a "gee, someone actually likes my blog?" feeling which I think is pretty cool. So for those of you who have shared that thrill with me, Thank you! You made my day.

I've heard a couple people say they were a little sad when someone stopped following their blog. I think it's inevitable that this happens since some people will be offended one way or another and some people just lose interest. Or maybe they started following and then realized the blog wasn't quite what they were looking for. So to not give that feeling to anyone, I always start off following a blog anonymously for the first 2 weeks to a month. Once I've been reading the blog for a while, I'll make it public. Or, if I decide I don't like it, I can stop following and no harm done since they never knew I was there anyway.

What do you think about it? Do you have any self imposed rules for how you follow blogs? And do you get that same thrill from someone following your blog? Or do you even notice who's following you?

Geek, nerd, dork. That's me!

I'm a geek. I know that, accept it, and embrace it even. Actually, I've learned to take it as a compliment. When I was little I just assumed everybody had the love affair with books that I did. I'd find an author I liked and then read everything they'd ever written. It started in second grade with Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and James Howe (Bunnicula series). There wasn't a book in the kids section of the school library I hadn't sat enthralled with. I imagined myself kind of like Matilda (a Dahl book). Not in the neglectful parent way but in the loving books and learning and, admittedly, trying to move objects with my mind. That last part never quite worked but, Oh!, did I try!

I didn't actually realize that other students didn't read as much as me until the 11th grade. I guess I'd had my nose in my books so much I wasn't paying attention.** I moved cities, and therefore schools, half way into the term that year. My teacher had assigned Stranger in a Strange Land to the class and, very apologetically, explained that I would have to get caught up to the rest of the class and would have a lot of reading to do in the next two weeks. I took the book home on Friday and started with my "required reading". On Monday the teacher, before starting the discussion, told me it was okay if I wasn't caught up yet but how far had I gotten? I told him "I'm done". "Oh", he said, "You're caught up already?" "No, I'm done. I finished the book this weekend". Most of the kids in the class looked a little stunned and, being mostly the popular kids, wrote me off as a geek on the spot. I guess I was the only one to do that. Seriously?!? By the end of the term I had read 6 more books by Heinlein, one of them to be included in my top 3 favorites permanently. Instead of feeling left out by the popular kids who'd written me off I felt bad for them, knowing what they were being left out of without books. I think this is part of why I like blogs so much. Some of you are readers, some not, but all of you write, and think. I feel like I'm not alone here in my love affair. Thank you all for that!

** On a side note, yes, you can read a book and ride a bike at the same time. You just have to pay attention with your peripheral vision over the top of the book. And no, I was not reading a book during either of the two times I was hit by a car. Well, either the time I was hit by a car or by the time one pulled in front of me and I hit it. And before my little sister starts laughing at me for hitting a car with my bike let me please remind you that you hit a BARN. Ok, enough of that. (You know I love you, Little-Little!)

** On another side note, that picture is a Bergsma bookmark. She has a ton of other great ones, too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memories of little consequence

This morning I was reading a blog where the writer was contemplating what pictures of the thousands she has to keep and archive and what to just delete. This got me to thinking: I wonder what the capacity of our brain is? A hard drive on your computer has a limited capacity for storage and I can only imagine that the brain, having a set size, has a set limit, too.

I had to google this (yes, I'm that big of a dork) and found this answer on answerbag:

"I'm not smart enough to know this off hand but this should help:

Any answer to this question should be taken with several grains of salt. Digital computers and brains don't work the same way. For one thing, every memory location in a computer is created equal. You can move stuff from one location to another without losing any information. In the brain, on the other hand, certain cells specialize in certain jobs. While there is considerable plasticity (the ability to change what some part of the brain does, enabling the brain to recover from injury), there's nothing like the uniformity seen in a computer.

Secondly, processing and memory are completely separated in a computer; not so in the brain.

Finally, data in computers is digital, and not really susceptible to "noise". In the brain, there are continuous voltages.

With those caveats, let's look at numbers. The brain contains 10^11neurons -- in other words, 100 giganeurons. Each one has synapsesconnecting it to up to 1000 other neurons. Many researchers believe thatmemories are stored as patterns of synapse strengths. If we suppose that the strength of each synapse can take on any of 256 values, then each synapse corresponds to a byte of memory. This gives a total of (very roughly) 100 terabytes for the brain.

For more info, see the book "Mind and Brain: Readings from ScientificAmerican".

Note: Please note that 1 byte = 28 bits = 256 bits with each bit
corresponding to one value for the strength of the synapse."

Only 100 terabytes in a lifetime? Thinking of all of the things that happen in your lifetime this means that your brain is obviously doing memory purging on the background process. But since we aren't actively involved in selecting memories for deletion then how are the "keepers" selected? I would think emotions or something significant would help but I have a ton of random, seemingly pointless, memories. Like splitting up the Legos with my sister, standing in a playhouse, stray moments of walking down countless streets, picking flowers at several points in my life, etc. And for that matter, how will that totally useless bit of trivia I learned at the water cooler change my other memories? Did I just forget about a flower some kid gave me in 2nd grade in order to learn that? Sad.

Any ideas on what the selection process is? What is your most pointless memory that seems to have "stuck"? Or is there something other people think you should remember that you don't?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Um, that's not my neighbor

So on Friday the 8th I was on my way to work and there were wildlife wardens and dogs and lots of men with tranquilizers and guns in the wetlands by my house. Our first thought was maybe there was a mountain lion in town or something (coyotes are too small for that kind of attention). Nope, a bear. A 350 pound black bear and apparently it was caught 1 block from my house in someone's back yard. Wouldn't you just freak!? You're having a slow morning, having a cup of coffee with the paper, you open the curtains and BEAR! I don't know about you but I think I might pee myself right there if it were my house. It's not like I live in the mountains or a forest or something. I live in Reno, population 220,000+ (not including adjoining Sparks with population 90,000-ish). I expect birds, neighborhood cats, and even the coyote or two (though that last one not in my actual yard). But a bear?

Oh, don't worry about the bear, though. As a first time offender with no injuries to people it can be tagged and released back into the wild, hopefully with a lesson learned.

This photo is from the Reno Gazette Journal, not me. Tranquilized or not I'm not getting that close to a bear!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How do you say it?

This, while actually taken in northern California last week, reminds me of my grandfather's farm in Oregon. He lived on Camp Creek Road. To locals this was pronounced Camp Crick and you could easily tell who was from the area or not by how they said it (Several Nevadans have jokingly called me a hick for saying crick). In Oregon you could tell an east coaster when they pronounced it Or-EE-gone instead of Or-a-gun and the tourists called the Willamette river Will-uh-met in instead of Will-am-et. In Nevada tourists do this too (Nuh-vah-dah vs Nuv-aa-duh).

I am of course not immune to doing this myself when traveling. I was corrected a lot in Copenhagen, Denmark. The local family I stayed with was insistent that it's not Denmark but rather Danmark. And I never did manage to get Copenhagen quite right, or even close really, to how it's said there.

How are your hometowns or places you live supposed to be pronounced instead of how they are? And how do you tell who the tourists are where you live?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wait. I said What!?!

As my son and I got into the car today he found a piece of paper garbage on his seat that he had left there yesterday. Not wanting it, he threw it. Right at me. So I threw it back over to his side of the car.

He said "I don't want it!" and threw it to me again.

I threw it back one last time and said "Then throw it out! Who do I look like!? Your mother?..."

Um... Did I really just say that?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Yes, I am totally biased but this is my definition of "Stinkin' Cute".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life By Mom's Rules: A Survival Guide

This woman and I go way back. A little more than 30 years. This is my mother. Growing up I had some serious hero worship going on here. Not because she was perfect (she's not) but because even though she wasn't she *tried*. My parents divorced when I was 7 and I was mostly raised by mom, mostly as a single mom, so you can imagine that things were a little fly by the seat of our pants at times. But we always landed on our feet. She taught me to adapt. She taught me to stand back up. She taught me to try again and go on.

Many of the lessons my mother taught me I didn't even realize I'd learned until I had my own kids. Some of them were lessons in what not to do (that part about not being perfect, remember?). But all of them were valuable. So I will share these morsels of life with the rest of you. Every now and then I'll add a lesson or two from The Survival Guide as I learned it.

Life By Mom's Rules: A Survival Guide

Always mark the easter eggs. That way you know when the kids find one of LAST years eggs that was missed the first time around.

I was so proud of all of my eggs and I was very angry that my mother took the pretty blue one away that I found on the trailer hitch. Even though she really saved me from something bad I found it incredibly unfair.

Style is relative. Are you happy? Then that's what matters and don't let anyone tell you different. Of course, you may have to develop a thick skin to be happy. This applies to more than clothes but the lesson started there.

When in second grade I decided to dress myself. I had a plaid shirt, a pink fluffy skirt with white polka dots, snow boots, etc. I was Stylin'! So I went out to the kitchen where mom and Mackey (my mom's best friend, also known as Other Mother) were having their morning coffee. I said "How do I look?" And without missing a beat my mother replied "Fine. If you're going to a blind school." Thanks mom. Thanks for that...

Don't wake up Middle-Middle. She'll punch you in her sleep. So will Big-Big for that matter. And me too... You know what? Don't wake up any female in our family prematurely unless you are bleeding or dying... Otherwise you will be if you know what I mean. In fact, that was pretty much my mom's rule verbatim. I recall voluntarily waking my mother up twice. After being bitten by a bat in second grade and after being hit by a car in the tenth. In both cases the first words out of my mouth were "Mom, I'm bleeding..." It had to be that extreme because nobody likes to wake dragons.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Something pretty

Rhododendrons in Oregon

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A little visitor

This little bird was hanging out in my backyard when I got home from work tonight. He wasn't injured but I think he's still learning how to fly. At first he'd fly a few feet further away if I got within 10 feet but after about 10 minutes I guess he decided I'm not too big of a threat. At the end I could get my camera within about 6 inches of him (as long as I held it at arm's length from me). The kids were very excited and wanted to try and touch it (don't worry, he was safe from them).

Ow! My butt!

I've spent the weekend in Oregon getting my dose of sister time. This weekend in particular was Little-Little's 29th birthday (remember, the one I swallowed pennies with? She's the hottie all the way on the right side of the picture) so Sunday was mostly all about her. We went roller skating and to bingo and then we talked her into seeing the new Star Trek movie.

Let me just say that the last time I went roller skating was this same sister's 10th or 11th birthday. So, no, I'm not good at it. In fact, ouch! I have muscles hurting that I didn't know I had but do you know what's even worse? Where it hurts. My butt from falling and my upper arms from windmilling while trying not to fall. Ah well... still fun.

The rest of the weekend was spent shopping at the Saturday Market and walking in the park and sitting around the counter in the kitchen talking. Now I'm home and I can't wait for them to come visit in July!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Today Shutter Sisters is asking "What makes your day?". These photos, other than a little cropping, are SOOC (Straight out of camera).

I'm going to have to say that it's the funny expressions my children make that make my day. It's the face that when you look at the picture later you just have to wonder "what were they thinking at THAT moment?". Hmmm.

Cameras and harvest festivals

When I was little my parents were both scenic photographers. We had a house in Oregon but we spent a lot of time at Harvest Festivals and other shows where my parents sold their photographs and even more time on the road while they were taking those photographs. By the time I was 6 I'd been to half of the states in the US. When I was around 5 years old my parents gave me my first camera. It was made by Fisher-Price and Kodak and used 110 film. Of course I was always begging for more film and for them to have my film processed. And for more flashes since it had a top flash that plugged in (right below where it says Fisher-Price) that was good for about 10 flashes. I'm so glad I'll be able to give my kids digital cameras as it will probably save me hundreds.

I think they gave me the camera so I'd stop complaining about how long they took while they were photographing. Places like the Grand Canyon get boring pretty quick when you stand in one spot for hours "waiting for the right light".

Harvest Festivals were fun, though. My parents had a booth for their photos and they couldn't have all 6 kids hanging around since there had to be room for the customers so we were usually kicked out. My little sister Lee and I were often sent off together with instructions not to seperate. I remember doing this when we were as young as 4 and 5. If we were lucky we might even get sent off with a dollar or two to spend on popcorn or something. If we were less lucky we might get 10 pennies each which didn't buy anything, though penny swallowing contests were pretty entertaining. As in, which one of us could swallow more. Yup, we really did that. My personal best was 6. Did you know that stomach acid makes very shiny pennies?

Lee and I would wander around for hours at look at booths and watch the entertainers. This was especially fun at Christmas with singers like Elmo and Patsy (Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer) performing. Sometimes we'd find odd jobs at another booth and earn a dollar to spend elsewhere. A lot of people at the shows became like extended family that we saw over and over at all of the shows. At the end of the shows when the booths were being broken up and taken down the kids ran all over trying to find treasures (discards and broken stuff) left behind before the other kids found it.

Another artist that spent a lot of time at the craft shows was Judy Bergsma. We had a print of hers hanging in my mother's house that said "There are two things we can give our children. One is roots, the other wings." Everyday of my childhood, at least once a day, I read that phrase and I believe it became ingrained in my subconcious. My other favorite is a refrigerator magnet I have by her that says "Some days the dragon wins."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

PVC pipe fort/playhouse

I wanted to build my kids a fort but because I'm in a rental right now it couldn't be a permanent installation. Also, if they were going to have it indoors it had to be able to store somehow when we weren't using it. So I decided to make it out of PVC pipe and fabric. This ended up costing me under $75 since I used $1.50/yard fabric. And the kids LOVE it. Though they were a little upset that I wouldn't let them sleep in there tonight (hey, it's a school night!)

You need 8 1" side out joints (see pictures below). There is such thing as a joint that is 1" in all 3 directions but my local Home Depot doesn't carry them. So I used a 1" with a 1/2" side out and then bought 1/2" to 3/4" converters. If you also have to use the two pieces remember to buy 8 of each. You will also need one straight join piece (1") and 2 T shaped pieces (also 1") to make the doorway.

In addition you will need to buy the actual PVC pipe. If you have to do the modification that I did you will need 2 10' pipes in 3/4" and 4 10' pipes in 1". If you are lucky enough to find the joint with all 1" openings then you will need 6 10' pipes in 1" (in which case treat the red and black lines in the color chart below as all 1").

The picture below is color coded by pipe length and width.

The black lines are 4' in 1" pipe (6 total).
The red lines are 4' in 3/4" pipe (4 total).
The green lines are 1.5' in 1" pipe (2 total).
The blue lines are 2.5' in 1" pipe (2 total).
The yellow lines are 2' in 1" pipe (2 total).

The 8 side out joints go at each corner of the cube. The 2 T pieces go at the top and bottom of the door and the 1 straight join goes in the middle of the 2 2' pieces (yellow) of the door. You can use a 4' piece for the door instead and omit the straight join but this will require you to buy another length of pipe instead of using left over pieces.

You will need 6 colors of 45" fabric (if you want the walls to be different colors). I bought 2 yards each of 5 of them and one yard for the color in the door way. This gives me a little extra fabric left over that I'm going to sew into a bag to hold the pieces when it's broken down for storage. Of each color you need 12 tabs (3 for each edge) except for the door color which will only need 4 tabs at the top. Cut the main piece to fit the width, minus a couple inches on each side, so about 45-ish inches wide. This doesn't have to be exactly any width since the tabs can be adjusted to add or take up slack. Use some of the remaining fabric to make the 12 strips of each color about 2" wide (only 4 for the door color) for the tabs. Hem the edges of the walls and tabs.

Assemble the PVC cube and pin the tabs onto the fabric around each wall. By putting it on the frame as you pin this will ensure that your walls are a close fit. Once the 4 walls, the door and the roof are all pinned you can pull apart the PVC frame a piece at a time to remove it from the fabric tabs. After you've sewn the tabs into place on the walls you can put the frame back together with the fabric. *Tip* On the upright pieces, where tabs from different walls will be interspersed, note what order they're in. This will make reassembly easier later.

The finished playhouse quite comfortably fits my 3 munchkins.

Computer games

I'm a software engineer by trade. Last week, while going through CDs of old homework, I found some games I had created many years ago. Our class assignment was to write a number guessing program (pick a number between 1 and 100) that would say "To Low", "To High", or "You Win". After I finished that I wanted to keep going so I started writing other games.

Today my son Joseph (8 years old) discovered them on my computer and he's obsessively playing Concentration. When I wrote the games several years ago it hadn't occured to me that someday my children would play them. I'm so pleased that someone (other than me) wants to play these games. Yeah!

*update* while annoyed that they're fighting I'm also tickled that all of my kids want to play.