Monday, September 22, 2008

We're in a maxi-house now.

The day before yesterday, she packed us into the car and took us for a drive. I thought we were going to yet another mini-house, but this place is much bigger.

This maxi-house is a lot like a mini-house. We're in a small part of the building. There are other humans (and a few other cats) in the building too. I can hear the humans next to the kitchen, everywhere above us, and thundering up and down the stairs by the bedroom. Mostly, the cats just respond when Jasper or I call out. There's one upstairs somewhere, and another one who gets to go outside. I ignore the dogs.

Also like the mini-houses, the car storage is nearby. I can see it sideways out the bedroom window, when I'm not watching squirrels and birds and humans on the path outside the window. The window is almost on the ground, but I like this view. We can see a lot. Jasper is very jealous of the cat that gets to go outside. He was chasing squirrels yesterday.

Unlike the mini-houses, however, our stuff is here. The little bit of it that was still at home when we left, anyway. Most of it is still in boxes, but I can walk around and sniff the boxes. Yesterday, I slept on the boxes for a while. It's good to be surrounded by my stuff again, even if I can't actually touch it.

I don't know where he is. He left a few days ago and hasn't been back. Hopefully, he's gone off to fetch the rest of our stuff. I'm not hopeful, though. Other humans came and took it all away before we left on our tour of mini-houses. In my experience, whenever humans took stuff from our house, they never brought it back again.

Of all the stuff I've missed, I've missed my bed the most. But the bed here is my bed. I recognized it immediately, even if it was on top of some unfamiliar carpet, was missing the privacy dropcloth, and has different sheets. I've spent years sleeping under and on top of this bed. When I'm not exploring the maxi-house, eating, or sleeping on a box of my stuff, I'm enjoying my bed. It's good to have it back.

It's also good to see that she keeps going out and bringing back new stuff. Each time she does this, she puts away a little bit of our old stuff too. I've seen this behavior in humans before. It means that they plan to stay for a while.

Finally. I want my home back. This maxi-house isn't home yet, but if we stay here long enough, it will be.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Almost Paradise

So here I am on Martha's Vineyard, waiting for Viable Paradise to officially begin. I met most of our instructors very informally last night, at an ostensible birthday party for staff member Kate's husband Ernie. I missed the guitar- and harmonica-playing because I was out on a grocery run (no Coke==cranky me), but I did later sit on the balcony and listen to the pros swap stories until after midnight.

I've still got four hours until the official meet-and-greet, and I'm debating whether I want to walk out to a beach while the sun's out. There's supposed to be some kind of nighttime jellyfish-viewing outing later in the week, but it might be nice to also see the scenery in daylight.

View Larger Map

Astute readers will note that I'm here by myself, and have left D and the cats in our new apartment a mere three days after moving in. (VP did graciously invite them along--and others have brought their families to the island--but we weren't about to schlep the cats across the country again, and we couldn't leave them all alone so soon after moving in.) She's always been very supportive of my crazy ideas.

If you thought she was cool for mocking up our new apartment in The Sims, check out the menu and shopping list she created for my VP trip. I love my wife.


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Saturday, September 20, 2008


Our friends did a lot of the packing when we moved out, so we didn't actually see these markings until months later. We have great friends. And a lot of DVDs.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A New Home

Tired. Should go to sleep, but instead am wasting time on Facebook and, now, blogging. There's running on adrenaline, and then there's running on fatigue. It's kind of like antimatter, a negative energy source, unpredictable.

Yesterday, signed the lease on our new apartment, lots of paperwork, walked through inspection, made a big checklist of move-in to-do items, researched local broadband options. If we can actually get 12Mbps DSL from Qwest, I'll be a happy camper. Fingers crossed, waiting for CSR to reply to my email and confirm pricing.

This morning, hired a U-Haul truck and movers to get our stuff out of storage. No visible damage in transit, yay. Finished moving all stuff in less than two hours--thanks Jeff and Justin! Had lunch at Thai Terrace, a great restaurant within walking distance, then measured things and headed off to the sensory-overload rat-maze that is Ikea. (Meatballs tasty, though.) Found some stuff we liked, but realized we didn't have all the needed measurements. Drove back to apartment--only ten minutes away, w00t--and measured some more.

Returned to Ikea and bought $520 worth of bookshelves that would have been too big to fit into the Prius. (We have a lot of books.) Unloaded boxes at apartment. Dropped off U-Haul truck after the place had closed; D's going to get up early tomorrow and officially return it. I'm going to sleep in so I don't go off to Viable Paradise with an excessive sleep debt.

Returned to hotel to find that maids had tidied our room despite "no service please" sign on door. Fortunately, cats do not seem traumatized.


We won't be fully unpacked and settled for at least another couple of weeks, but we've gotten off to a good start. I think I'm going to like it here.


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Monday, September 15, 2008

Almost There

(If you read the title of this post and said to yourself, "Stay on target," go ahead and award yourself 31 geek points. You've earned it.)

We got the call tonight. Our application to rent an apartment, which we submitted on Saturday, has been approved! (Not that there was ever much doubt.) We're going in tomorrow morning to sign the lease and pick up our keys. D's already called U-Haul to rent a truck and movers to do the heavy lifting, so by Wednesday night we'll be well on our way to being fully moved in.

We gave away most of our furniture before leaving the bay area, so we'll be hitting thrift stores, garage sales, and Ikea over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, D made a mockup of the apartment in The Sims to try out some furnishing options. Because she's just that cool:

Yes, we do have a lot of books. And no, there isn't a fireplace; the chimney in the model is for the second floor, where she reproduced our current hotel room for size comparison. She's very thorough.


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

End of the Road

Well, here we are, in Portland. (Actually Vancouver, Washington, but close enough.) Our first day of apartment-hunting went pretty well; we found two good places near the local Trader Joe's, which is one of our main criteria. They're not perfect, but we're not expecting that anyway. When you can get a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment in a nice part of town for less than $900 a month, how much can you really complain?

Tomorrow, we're going to run down some more of the listings we found on craigslist, and then see if we can find other sources that list places near downtown Vancouver. We will, at some point, actually make it to Portland proper, but so far it's looking like we can find bigger apartments at lower prices here in Vancouver--which is also in the state without income tax.

View Larger Map

We'd like to make a decision quickly, but not hastily. In the ideal situation, we would find a place that meets all our needs and most of our wants within the next few days, and get all our stuff moved in before I leave for Viable Paradise, so D and the cats can unpack at their leisure while I'm off writing and learning.

The more likely scenario is that we'll spend the next week gathering data, then make a decision after I get back from VP and be moved in by mid-October. That'll be good too. Sooner is better, because rent is cheaper than hotel, and we want to be well settled in our new home before the holidays.


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Our last two car trips have been horrible!

They weren't as long as some of the others, but Bayla was pretty upset about not going home when we were back in the bay area, and has recently decided that she's going to be carsick.

She threw up on me. TWICE! The first time I yelled and yelled, but the humans just ignored me.

I suppose you're going to say it's my own fault for crying wolf.

Well I wasn't crying wolf! I was crying VOMIT! It's a totally different meow. I can't help it if humans are completely tone-deaf. The second time, at least, they stopped the car and cleaned me up a little.

I've forgiven Bayla. She's old. Oooooooollllldddd. Like three times as old as me. I hope I don't get all crotchety and pukey when I'm that old.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

For Future Reference

Since D started blogging about her cooking adventures on the road, the response from our readers has been tremendous. As a result of all their prodding and praise, she has decided that her first writing project will be a cookbook. (It will not be titled To Serve Man. Sorry, I tried.)

Anyway, one of the ideas we bounced off our friend Carol was including a "quick start guide" with the cookbook, like all those pamphlets that come with consumer electronics so you can start using the damn thing without wading through a 200-page manual. During that conversation, the subject of dice also came up. D isn't convinced, but I believe there is an untapped market for, shall we say, procedural meal generation, and not just for fad diets. As shown here:

Seriously, though. Some of our friends approach cooking as if it were some arcane alchemical ritual, whose actual mechanism is shrouded in impenetrable mystery, and which might conjure forth some hideous demon if you dare to vary a given recipe. But they're all geeks, so here's what I propose: hammer home the Food + Heat = Cooking thing, so they're down with the science, and then tweak the terminology so they're using "ingredient classes" and "flavor modifiers." Now we can build an MMO! <Colbert>VENTURE CAPITAL, PLEASE.</Colbert>

Did I mention that, while at PAX, I saw an Iron Chef America game for the DS? It appears to be a rebranded ripoff of Cooking Mama, and Alton's hair looks terrible. I hope his agent gave someone an earful.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

Photos Galore: The Other Bay Area

Okay, I know it's technically a sound, but in many ways, Seattle feels an awful lot like San Francisco. You've got the water, the bridges, overcast weather, hideous freeway traffic at all hours, and urban sprawl. (We're staying in Renton, right next to the Wizards of the Coast offices. Really! I'm tempted to walk in just to get a look at their lobby dragon.) And we've had a ton of fun with our friends Karin and Bryan, just like the good ol' days when they lived next door to me in Menlo Park:


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Photos: Oregon Trail

From last month...


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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

PAX08 Photos

My own scant collection:

Others were much more thorough--just search for the "pax08" tag on Flickr or YouTube.


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