Zoo trip!


Ben, Lisa, Jake and I went to the zoo today. Well, Max, too, but he wasn't really aware of the adventure as much. We left fairly early (for me anyway), to catch the ferry over to Seattle. Even with a two year old (maybe even because of the two year old), ferry crossings are wonderful events.

Although the day was pleasant (with SUN!), I can't say it wasn't cold. Very much what I expected, actually, temperature-wise. Very much surprised water-falling-from-the-sky-wise, actually. So, into the zoo we went, with Ben handing me the map, and leading the way. The family has a season pass, so my $6 ticket was the only additional expense on the trip.

We saw hippos ...

... who have pretty big feet.

We saw the giraffes, but they managed to take too long to actually come out of their shed, so we of a two-year-old's attention span didn't see much of them.

We saw elephants ...

... no really, I was there ...

... and komodos ...

... and owls ...

.. and gorillas ...

... and a lot of really ugly children. What is it with small children that there are just so many ugly ones?

I ask you.


The creatures who live in the zoo and stay at night. So, there was this one monkey, simian biped HOWLing near the gorillas. We had heard one of the women talking about the gorillas in a way that clearly indicated she knew what the heck was going on with the gorilla, so we asked her about the howling when she walked by us.

Turns out, this particular monkey was born and raised in captivity. When he was old enough, a female was introduced to him, and put in his area. The female was mature enough to reproduce and, according to the zoo woman we had stopped, making all the right moves to start the courtship. The howling monkey, however, DIDN'T KNOW how to DO IT, so managed to miss completely.

In an effort to continue this particular line, the female was moved to a different zoo with a male who knows what to do, and another female, who is past her prime and had her mate die recently, was moved in. The female and the howling male were howling to each other, presumably to start the mating ritual.

Not that the boy monkey would know what to do.

We continued our zoo journey after learning about the monkeys, and saw a big cat...

And somewhere around here, my bladder started calling out to me. I had to dash off to the nearest building with a toilet.

Now, I recall getting lost as a child, maybe 8 years old, at the Marriott's Great America (probably a Six Flags now). The experience was traumatic enough to remember a couple decades later. When I stepped out of the building with the restroom, and couldn't find Ben and Lisa and Jake, the desperation feelings of an eight year old me washed over me.

Fortunately, the adult me was fine. I went off on my own to visit the pink flamingos ...

... before finding the family again.

They had wandered fully into the big cat exhibit, not just the one cat we saw earlier. Ben managed some amazing pictures of the cats.

We together next wandered into a kids playland, a building where adults are allowed in only if accompanied by a child. I'm not sure about the three to one for Jake, but no one seemed to mind.

Lisa pointed out that the building was fairly empty at this point, but that when it was raining, the place was PACKED with kids playing and parents standing around bored. How about that for a switch?

Jake enjoyed the slide.

About this time, Jake was getting tired. The attention span of a two year old? Yeah, not so long. So, we started our journey out of the zoo, but not before seeing one a Southern Pudu, which is a full grown deer smaller than Bella.

I wanted to take one home with me.

Not that Bella wouldn't have tried to eat if I had.

All in all, a good trip.

Relearning the lesson


When Kris and I first starting spending time with Ben and Lisa, way way way back when (10 years ago!), I thought Lisa didn't like me. I couldn't quite figure out why I felt this way. Kris told me I was mistaken, that the two of them liked the two of us, and, well, okay, Kris said I was crazy for thinking that. Still, I couldn't quite shake the feeling.

Until I figured out why, and the source was completely my fault.

My fault in that I interrupt people who are speaking, and Lisa doesn't let people interrupt her when she's speaking. If you attempt to interrupt Lisa, she will continue to talk until she's completed her sentence, then pause to allow you to talk. Really, it's how conversations should be: rather than interrupt the other person, listen to what she's saying, then answer that.

With Lisa around, I learned to stop interrupting people when they are talking, listen to them, and, hey, what do you know, Lisa likes me. Fancy that.

In the three years since Ben and Lisa have been gone, I've fallen back into my rude ways. Honestly, I'm pretty embarrassed by it, too. I've spent most of today trying to undo the interruptting habit I have, to listen to whoever is talking to me, and start talking only when he's done.

I'm not sure I'll be able to fix this habit in a weekend, but, once again, Lisa makes me a better person by reminding me of how to one of my faults.

She's good like that.

Journey north to Seattle


The project I'm working on with Doyle's company was supposed to launch yesterday. When I was told this a month ago, I made arrangements to head up to Seattle to visit Ben and Lisa. That trip happened today, even though the project I'm working on didn't actually launch yesterday. Ben commented that he had some work to do tomorrow, so, even though he took tomorrow off from work to spend the day with me, he'd let me work. A little.

My flight was at an inconvenient time, so Kris dropped me off early at the airport and left. I was glad for the slow, casual pace in getting to the gate, as well as the extra time at the gate to work. In particular, I set up my system for working on the above mentioned project on the plane. Good thing, too, as I managed to complete a number of tasks.

When I arrived in Seattle, I had hoped that the shuttles would be inexpensive when compared to a taxi, to get me downtown. The cost of a taxi was estimated to be $35. The shuttle? $32.75. Yeah, taxi time.

As always, the ferry was an enjoyable experience. Boarding with the commuters, I stood out as I took pictures of the skyline, then of myself standing in front of the skyline. The ferry trip is fun, a fact that I fear most of the people on the ferry have forgotten. The ferry has no magic left for them.

Which is sad, really. I still have the magical feeling when I train up or down the Peninsula. It's a fun adventure, away from the need to concentrate on driving, away from the worry of injuring someone with a ton of metal, away from the stress of other people's annoying driving habits. Yeah, the train is fun. The ferry is fun. Too bad most people forget that.

When I arrived on the island, I called Lisa. I had forgotten to take down her work number, so called her cell phone. Unfortunately for me, but not really, she wasn't answering. I decided, eh, I think I know where I'm going, but not really, so I started walking in the direction I thought downtown was, not really knowing how far away Lisa's work was.

Less than half a mile, I'd say. With a much needed bank on the way.

When I arrived at Lisa's work and asked for Lisa, a coworker walked me to the back where Lisa was. "I have a surprise for you!" she sang to Lisa, who was standing in an office, looking puzzled. "Surprise!" I called out, and the three of us laughed. I was very happy I had walked over. Not only did I manage to exercise, if only a little bit, but the surprise on Lisa's face was wonderful.

Lisa wasn't quite done for the day, so I decided to satisfy a hot chocolate craving I'd been having since the early morning when I walked past the airport Starbucks. The Starbucks Premium Hot Chocolate is amazing, and I was craving that.

Instead, the local coffee shop mixed me an unsweetened, mild hot chocolate that didn't have the overwhelming chocolate flavor I had been seeking.

And yet, the drink was still fabulously delicious, with its unsweetened whipped cream on top.

Until the bottom of the cup. Where all the sugar was.

Two swirls near the end of the cup and it went from pleasantly unsweetened to unbearably sweetened and undrinkable.

Teach me to stir my chocolate.

I worked for a half hour or so during the chocolate drinking, then wandered back to Lisa's work. We went to pick up Jake (who had put his shoes on opposite, and was wary of me in a Stranger-Danger sort of way) from school, and went back to meet up with Ben, who had just finished his workout at the gym.

The four of us then proceeded slowly, which is to say, at Jake's pace, to a local eatery where Lisa brilliantly sat us down at the corner, low table with comfy couch seats and HEY look! a box of children's books! YAY! Jake read all about the bus and the ocean during dinner.

I asked to work for the rest of the evening after dinner, sorta tuning out from the family so that I could finish up the work I was doing on the project for Doyle's work. My chest is still incredibly sore from yesterday's workout, which is great (unless you're Kris). Hopefully tomorrow will be less work focused and more play time. We'll see.

Friending up


Kris asked me recently if I had ever friended up. The term originally took me by surprise, but I figured out what he meant fairly quickly.

When two people are in a relationship, for the relationship to work both people need to be on relatively the same level. The "same level" doesn't need to be financial (but could be for some people, I guess), but is usually the same level in terms of looks, personality, and intelligence. I guess education could be in that list, too, but I suspect being able to converse at the same level is more important than highest education level achieved.

Most people gravitate to their level. The couples where one person is higher than the other (or, sure, lower than the other), you have the situation where you think, "What is he doing with HER?" (or maybe, "What is she doing with HER?" or "What is he doing with HIM?" those could (do) happen, too). Of course, the next sentence in the conversation is usually, "Wow, is s/he dating up!" or trading up, or marrying up, or whatever.

I think what makes Kris' and my relationship work is that we both think, "Heh, sucker, I'm totally marrying up." I'm not sure why he thinks he's marrying up (must be my wit, charm and brilliantly brilliant brilliance), but I know that I'm marrying up. He's a good person, in ways that I can't even imagine being, as much as I strive to be. I want him to be proud of me, much the way I want my parents to be proud of me. I want to impress him, make him laugh, have him say, "That's MY wife!" with joy.

This makes him happy, because everyone knows, when the girl is happy, the boy is happy.

So, yeah, I married up. Had I ever friended up?

Kris continued his question when I didn't answer immediately. "You know, been friends with people that you have no idea why they are friends with you?" He went on to tell me about Weasel, a friend from college whom I had met a couple times, and how Weasel as a senior had befriended Kris who was a freshman, and spent a lot of time throwing at the beginning of his ultimate career. Weasel was Kris' first friending up.

I thought about Kris' question for a bit, and said I didn't think so. He thought for a moment or so, then asked, "How about Andy?"




Yeah, Andy is definitely a friending up. Sometimes I wonder why he's friends with me (us?). He's smart. He's accomplished. He smells good (have to put that in there). He's good at ultimate (such an understatement). He intimidates the hell out of me. He's attractive. He's active. Did I mention that he smells good? He tinkers. He's incredibly curious and willing to put forth the effort to figure things out.

Intimidates. Me.

So, yeah, totally friending up on Andy. No idea why he's friends with me.

I thought about how I felt with Andy, and realized that I felt the same way when Kris and I first started spending time with Lisa and Ben. There's an ease we have with Ben and Lisa that came with time. When we first started hanging out, I totally thought Lisa didn't like me. Kris thought I was nuts (clearly, I was). In retrospect, I totally friended up on them, too.

That's four people I friended up with. I'd have to say that makes me pretty lucky.

Could be anywhere


Lisa and I dropped Jake off at his school this morning on the way to having breakfast. I'm starting to realize just how hard avoiding wheat and meat is, given how difficult choosing something to eat was this morning. Practically every item on the list had wheat in it, making breakfast limiting, yet entertaining in a way: how can I build a breakfast big enough to satisfy me but without bread, muffins, biscuits or cookies?

After breakfast, Lisa asked me if I wanted to stock up on tournament food for tomorrow. I enthusiastically said yes, and off we went to the island's Safeway. My entire experience on the island has been ferry to backroads to Hogwarts, back to the quaint downtown area, around to the ferry. I had no idea there was actually a highway that shuffled people away from the ferry to the other side of the island.

I learned about the highway today.

When we arrived at the Safeway, I looked around and commented, "Gee, I feel like I could be anywhere with a strip mall, overcast skies and a few trees." Lisa chuckled, and agreed: the shopping center was a strip mall, just like every other one you've ever been to.

Worse was when we went into the Safeway itself. I walked in maybe 5 steps, looked around, and wondered if I had teleported back to the Bay Area. The Safeway was exactly the same.

BLJ in town!


Megan organized communal dinner as Ben and Lisa came into town for a near-week visit. Ben and Lisa are planning on staying with us for most of their trip, and we are waaaaay excited about their stay.

Lisa once made a comment when we visited them a while ago, about how, even after the long absense, we were able to just slide back into the comfort zone of our friendships when we were together again.

Lisa said it far more eloquently and succinctly than I just did.

This evening, I was totally overwhelmed with the same feeling Lisa expressed as we arranged for dinner with Megan and Lisa. Lisa and I talked about topics that are so personal for me, ones that I hold so close to my chest. Yet, talking to her about them made them less worrisome, less shameful in some cases, more bearable in others.

I miss greatly having someone I could talk to this way, knowing there isn't any judgement, only a desire to listen and help.

Much too short


"Do you want to go to Seattle?"

Kris asked me over IM when I was still in Boston. He was heading up to Washington for work, and was going to have dinner with Ben and Lisa. Since the trip was for work, if I also went, we would need to pay for only my ticket. I asked if we could stay overnight, would work still pay for his ticket. When he said yes, I said yes, too.

The plan was to drop me off at the ferry on the drive from the airport to Redmond, and for Kris to continue on for work. I'd spend the day with Ben and Lisa and Jake, with Kris meeting us for dinner and the evening.

Well, our flight was thirty minutes late in departing, which was the buffer needed to divert from the airport to downtown to drop me off at the ferry. I ended up driving with Kris to Redmond so that he could make his meeting on time.

Me. Redmond.

As in Microsoft.

As in, the belly of the beast.

Everyone who knows me and my computer ways knows I hate Microsoft Windows. Mostly, I hate that I can't be productive keeping my fingers on the keyboard. With Windows, everything is mouse, click-based. Pretty much the only way to be semi-productive on a Windows box is to install Cygwin on it, which gives you, well, a Unix interface on a Windows box. There are other annoyances (rebooting to install software or change settings, the BSoD, crappy error reporting interfaces, hidden settings, case insensitive file systems, etc.). I recognize its dominance in the marketplace, but I completely disagree the best technology won that fight.

So, my going to Microsoft is sorta, well, wrong.

Kris mocked me for a while about my heading there, but it's not like I did more than ask the receptionist where the nearest Starbucks was.

"Next building over."

"Can I get wireless there?"

"Oh, we can assign you a wireless account right here."

"Um, I'm not actually in any meeting. I'm here with him. He's going into a meeting here."

"Oh... well... uh... I can't... wireless..."

"That's fine. Where's the second closest Starbucks?"

I spent a few hours in the next closest Starbucks, working, surfing, and relaxing. Although I've spent a lot alone as of late, this trip was more relaxing than I expected it to be.

Kris' meeting, of course, went much longer than expected, and we were late heading over to the ferry. We missed the 5:30 ferry by about 10 cars, having to wait until the 6:30 ferry. Ben and Lisa had food ready for us when we arrived around 7:15.

The evening was wonderful. I love Ben and Lisa and Jake. They're such amazing, wonderful people. It's been months since we've seen them, but the visit was as if no time had past. We had more stories to tell, but it was still as comfortable as if we were still neighbors over for dinner one night.

Ah, how much I still miss them.

Jake's a chubby little boy, terribly adorable.

The trip was much too short, with Kris and I leaving the next morning at 7:00 am to return home by noon to feed the dogs.

The End of an Era


Today, we received the announcement of the end of an era. Ben and Lisa told us they are moving to Seattle Washington. Ben landed his dream job and it happens to be 850 miles away from where they currently live. Sigh.

I'm unable to express how happy I am that Ben found his dream job. As I'm currently on my way to creating my dream job, I would never begrudge a good friend the same enjoyment of life a great job can create.

Ben will be running a camp. Well, not really. He'll be leading a great group of people that make up

"IslandWood is a unique 255-acre outdoor learning center that provides kids, adults and families with hands-on learning experiences that combine science, technology and the arts."
Damn, I wish I had a chance to go to such a place when I was young. And I almost wish I had kids to send there. (Only almost, because anything more would require actually having such kids all the rest of the time.)

Though I'm really happy for Ben and Lisa, I'll admit to crying when I found out. I'll miss them both so much.