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YIMBY [Sep. 11th, 2019|09:28 pm]
Monday night I went to a zoning hearing and argued in favor of an affordable housing development near my house. Which sounds pretty dull, but was a thing what needed doing.

I had been to one a few months ago and I knew that a bunch of my neighbors would be there being all gross and NIMBYish and saying "ew, poor people," and I felt it was important to counter that to the extent that I could.

(I am pretty disappointed this swath of my neighbors. Also in my HOA, which has been sending out lots of email encouraging people to show up to the hearing. Oh, but they "have NO opinion or position" on it. Really? Liars. If you really had no opinion, you wouldn't have brought it up...)

I also knew that there would be a huge number of people who wanted to make public comments. So I left work in the middle of the afternoon so that I could get to City Hall and be there waiting at 5 when the sign up sheets came out and be first on the list. I was hoping that I might set the tone a little, and also maybe take the wind out of some of the complainers' sails. (Also, I knew that if I had to sit through a bunch of people being awful, I would end up thinking about nothing but how much I wanted to set them all on fire when it was my turn to speak, and would not make a good impression.)

What I said:Collapse )

The second speaker was a lady who works with the homeless, and the third speaker was a lady in a wheelchair who talked about how she lost her home after the car crash that disabled her, and how important affordable housing was to her. (The fourth speaker was a lawyer for some third party who started droning on about some point of procedure, and I didn't stick around after that.) So I think maybe we did set some tone.

I had my advisory board meeting this evening, and I found out that after three and a half hours of public commentary (until 11:30 pm, ugh), the council did indeed vote yes. Hooray! And the councilor who comes to our meetings said that my comments did have some influence, so that felt good.

I mean, it's a drop in the bucket when you think about the big picture, but it's not nothing. You gotta do good where you can.
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Annibersary Pewpumes [Aug. 31st, 2019|12:46 am]
We didn't do anything for our anniversary on Monday. Honestly, we kinda forgot, because we've been celebrating it in April for a decade and a half and we only got married two years ago. I only remembered when my Mom mentioned it on the phone.

But Jerry got Friday off, so he met me at work at lunchtime and we went off to DSH Perfumes and bought more stink-pretty and that was our belated celebration.

He got drams of December (conifer and spice with a little citrus), Become The Shaman (woody, spicy, smoky), and Arabian Sandalwood (woody and sweet) (which we both wear). I got one of Shimotsuki ("frosty moon" - hawthorn and orris) and then I wanted to get something green-smelling. (My skin scent is green, woody, and sweet, IIRC, while his is sweet and fruity.) I couldn't decide between Le Jardin Vert and Vert et Noir (green and mineral vs green and vetiver), so I ended up getting both.

You get three free samples with every purchase; he got Prophecy, Tunisian Amber, and Black Coconut. I got Viridian, Aquamarine, and Iridum. Basically, the stuff he wears is all mystical and exotic, and my stuff is all "I'm a plant!" (Or a color.)

Afterwards we had lunch at Garbanzo, which is not super-exciting, but it's tasty and we knew he could get dairy-free and I could get low-carb, so that was an easy decision.

And then I spent the rest of the day redoing (yet again) the final stages of the data processing I've been beating on all week long, because I had a typo that made the 25-km and 11-km versions copies of the 44-km version instead, but I finally got it all finished and next week I can move on to other things, hooray!

(I am way behind on posting and have some catch-up to do, but I wanted to say something quick to stop putting it off.)
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So Much Adulting [Aug. 4th, 2019|08:44 pm]
I wasn't really aiming to be productive this weekend, but I managed to get a lot done, so that felt good.

Saturday morning I bought vegetables at the farmer's market, then got a haircut. (Making note of it because I keep losing track of how long I go between haircuts.) I got rice vinegar and some more little bowls for kitty wet food at POM (they were small but deep and had fishies on them, how could I not?), then hit a couple thrift stores looking for shirts to dye next weekend. (No luck, alas.) I then remembered that I needed to put air in the tires and actually did it, which was a bit of an achievement, to be honest. Dropped everything off at home, recovered for a bit, then went grocery shopping.

I wanted to make something to bring to the bonfire. Friday night I had made some ramen eggs (ajitsuke tamago) for snacking on (I made the first batch last weekend and needed more because they are AMAZING), and I was thinking I'd take those, but I didn't have very many and they don't halve well, so I decided to make deviled eggs instead. I tweaked some recipes I found online and ended up making Japanese deviled eggs with J-mayo, miso, mirin, wasabi, sesame oil, and crunchy chili garlic, and was very pleased with the outcome. I wrote down the recipe to make again, definitely.

Then that evening Jerry and I went off to Brighton for a bonfire at Bob's, which was very pleasant. Got some good hangout time with Geoff and Mitch and Brandon & Matt and Craig & Joe, and managed to get enough DEET on me that I wasn't eaten by mosquitoes.

Today we got going relatively early and went off to get some shirts for Jerry to dye and a new stunt ring (inexpensive and easily replaceable silver wedding band), since his previous one served its purpose by getting lost while we were in Japan. We stopped at the Goodwill on 120th, and not only did we find a half dozen shirts for him (plus a long-sleeved one for me that wasn't there yesterday), we also found some nice low shelves that we could use to clean up and organize a bunch of clutter in the living room (like all the board games). So we bought two sets of them.

There's no jewelry counter at the Walmart on 120th anymore, so after some lunch we found one at the one on Sheridan, got the ring, came home and put together shelves. Put lots of things away and rearranged the living room a bit, and then I spent the evening cooking.

Well, mostly chopping vegetables, since I made ratatouille. I made two batches, one traditional and one Indian. (Indian ratatouille: mostly the same, use cardamom, cumin, garam masala, and coriander instead of thyme and basil.) I used the bag of frozen tomatoes my mom gave us last fall, so I didn't have to spend much time cooking the tomatoes until they fell apart, just a long time simmering away all the water. I did both batches at the same time, and that worked well except for a bit where I got a little behind prepping the tomatoes (because I'd forgotten to do them in advance like all the other veggies) and the time when I spattered hot oil on my naked belly because while I had remembered to wear a shirt while I was cooking, I forgot that you have to actually button it to get any protection, yes, even when it's all hot and gross right next to the stove. (No actual damage, happily, just some ouch.) Anyway, both version turned out pretty well, I think, so that'll be nice for dinner all week.

Oh! And! I finally summoned up the gumption to call Dave & Michelle (who does carpentry & home improvement), and they're going to come over some evening this week and look at the various things around the house that need fixing, so we'll get that in motion finally, hooray!
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Small Triumphs [Jul. 28th, 2019|04:54 pm]
Small triumphs:

On Thursday, I stopped working when I had planned to, went down to the basement of the building, and got a workout, just like I said I would.

Yesterday, after shopping at the farmer's market, two different grocery stores, and two thrift shops, I made four different dishes, and for one of them I used the mandoline to julienne three daikon and a half-dozen carrots and sustained zero injuries. That includes using needlenose pliers to straighten some bent teeth on the julienne blade beforehand and cleaning it afterwards.

And today, I successfully changed our Comcast plan to drop cable TV entirely and switch to internet-only. (People online reported that it was easier to do it in person than over the phone, and I realized that I would need to go by the Comcast store anyway to drop off the unused, still in its original shrinkwrap cable box, so that's what I did. In and out, no waiting, helpful salesperson, no argument, and she gave me a sign-up discount without me even asking.)

We also had a check-in meeting at work on Thursday, and going through the page-long list of all the little tasks that came up over the last six weeks always makes me feel better about not having made more progress on the big tasks lingering on my to-do list. I also have an entire category now for time spent talking to people about things that I am an expert on, so take that, part of my brain that things nothing counts unless I took a class in it and got an A.

Other stuff:

Had a nice double dose of boardgaming last weekend, at Chris's on Saturday and Eaton Street on Sunday. Jerry got the "Channel A" card game, where one player puts down two premise cards and then you have to pitch a new anime series that fits that premise with a title composed from cards in your hand (e.g., "Infinite Sword Gate" or "City Agent Noir X"). The rules say just vote on the best title, but we grafted on the rules from Cheapass Games' Big Idea, and that worked really well. Oh, and I also did a Barbie Tarot reading for Matt, which was fun.

My sister Mollie is in town for her high school reunion, so we met her and her family for breakfast at Olive & Finch this morning. We're meeting Van for dinner at Wishbone this evening. Nick came over to hang out on a couple Friday evenings, which was lovely and delightful. Things are generally good on the home front.
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Spectacles: O, the Strip, Fireworks [Jul. 9th, 2019|07:39 am]
Wer'e home! We came home on the 4th.

'O' was AMAZING, nay, astonishing. It's a Cirque du Soleil show, so of course it's all about mind-blowing feats of athleticism, but 'O' is also about water. They built a gigantic pool, and the stage rises up out of and sinks down into the water, so one minute people are diving into it from 60 feet up and the next performers are walking across the stage a quarter inch below the surface. People and things vanish into the water and never reappear. Pretty much the whole show, the entirety of my thought process was "what even just happened?!" A wonderful, wonderful experience. Highly recommended, and definitely worth spending extra on good seats.

(Tickets are ~$100, there are 1800 seats in the theater, they do two shows a night, five nights a week, and it was mostly sold out on a Wednesday. It's been open since 1998, and sales passed a billion dollars sometime in 2012. And it deserves every penny.)

After the show, we wandered outside and watched the fountains at the Bellagio, which dance to music every 15 minutes or so. If you ever wonder how lucrative gambling is, just consider that, in a city in the middle of a freakin' desert, someone was able to spend enough money to build a gigantic building with a lake out front the size of a city block, and every 15 minutes hundreds of motorized air cannons spout giant streams of water into the dry, dry air, and nobody charges admission; it's all completely free for anyone passing by to enjoy, because it's advertising, basically. (Advertising that costs, reportedly, a few hundred thousand dollars a month to operate.) And it works! Because the fountains are pretty darn nifty. There's also a whole ceiling of Chihuly glass in the lobby.

And then there's this weird garden area, which has all this decorative Italian stuff, like fake lemon trees and a giant sun sculpture and great big motorized swans and mosaics made of beans. Except it's all bad; the art is clumsy and the signs are poorly translated and the statues are creepy, and it's just weird because it's badly faked classiness, but it has to be intentional because the place makes so much money that they could very easily do actually classy if they wanted to; just take a look at the lobby not fifty feet away. So that was very perplexing.

We took in the Strip a little, wandering down to where we could cross the street, then back up the other side, and through a little indoor mall along the way. The amount of sensory overload was awful; I think working in a kiosk in that mall would be one of the worst things in the world. Anyway, after that we decided that was enough, and concluded that, yeah, neither of us really likes Vegas.

We flew home the next day, Thursday, with was the 4th. Got back to the house mid-afternoon. Jerry was wiped out and oversocialized after the week, but I was undersocialized, so I went off to Broomfield to hang out with Floyds et al (and see Marty, who's in town for several weeks, yay!) and watch fireworks. We got rained out; the fireworks were due to start shortly but the clouds were looking very threatening and there was a LOT of lightning, so we all decided that maybe it would be better to get indoors. I pulled over and watched fireworks from my car on the drive home.
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Vegas [Jul. 2nd, 2019|09:27 pm]
[Current Music |tempresulttempresult <-]

We're in Las Vegas!

Jerry is here for a martial arts expo for work and I'm tagging along -- usually it's the other way around.

We are staying at my brother's house, although we aren't getting to see him and his family because they're away on an Alaskan cruise. But that means we get to stay all by ourselves in their large and swanky house, which is much nicer than a hotel room. Plus it doesn't cost anything!

I have learned something new about geography on this trip. Going westCollapse )

It's very hot here; highs above 100 every day. There are plenty of nice vistas, so long as you don't mind the landscape shouting "HUBRIS!" at you everywhere you look. (Like really, this city should not exist; this is not a hospitable locale.) But the house has a swimming pool and AC, so that's nice.

The trip here on Sunday was unremarkable. We had a nice dinner out at a nearby Thai place last night, and we have tickets to go see Cirque du Soleil's "O" tomorrow night. Otherwise, we aren't doing much touristy stuff. I'm mostly hanging out on the couch, working remotely a bit, and having downtime. Jerry's having a good conference. We head home Thursday morning.
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Bargains, Socialization, YIMBY [Jun. 29th, 2019|11:32 pm]
I did a bunch of errands today, and I found a pair of lounging shorts at Old Navy for $1.87 and eleven volumes of Blade of the Immortal at ARC for $2.50 each. Since the cover prices are $15-20, that felt like a pretty significant score. Also a third white shirt to ice-dye sometime.

Socialization catch-upCollapse )

YIMBYCollapse ) So I think I've discovered a corollary to Hanlon's Razor: never ascribe to a philosophical/political stance that which is sufficiently explained by somebody wanting you to not bother them.
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Recipe: Mushroom Pork Chops [Jun. 17th, 2019|10:04 pm]
Mushroom Pork Chops

A recipe I improvised based on some internet suggestions and was very pleased with. My planned order of operations changed while I was doing it and there are a number of steps that take a while, but it ended up very tasty.


bacon fat
buncha pork chops (pack of 3 medium, 3 large)
2 tubs sliced mushrooms
steamer UFO full of dried mushrooms
white wine
lemon juice
heavy cream
salt, pepper, sugar
1+ lb green beans, topped, tailed, and chopped bite-size
lemon pepper, garlic powder


The night before, fill the UFO with dried mushrooms. Rinse them quickly and gently, then flip it upside down in a small bowl. Cover (barely) with warm water and leave overnight. When starting the recipe, remove the UFO and squeeze out as much liquid as you can into the bowl. Save all the liquid (there will be a lot of it). Cut the reconstituted mushrooms into smaller pieces with a pair of scissors during various waiting steps.

Scoop a couple spoonfuls of bacon fat into a large cast-iron skillet and heat on 4 or 5.

Fry pork chops in the usual way: pat dry, sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper, place in skillet for 3 minutes, turn over, and repeat. (3 minutes each side, 6 minutes total). These were sized to fit 2 chops in 3 batches.

As the pork chops finish, set them aside on the plate to collect the juices.

After the last batch of pork chops, pour some mushroom liquid and a hefty splash of white wine into the pan and deglaze it. (Might have to be quick about this if it looks like things want to start burning.) Pour the resulting liquid back into the bowl.

If cooking green beans, add some more bacon fat and fry them in two batches. Pour them into the skillet and spread out into a single layer. Let sit for about 1 minute, then stir for another minute or so, until bright green, then remove. Finish to taste with some salt, garlic powder, and lemon pepper.

Add a knob of butter to the skillet and let it come up to temperature. Add the sliced mushrooms and let sit unmolested for a couple minutes, until they have browned on one side and start to give off liquid.

Stir the mushrooms up a bit, then add the dried mushrooms and a big spoonful of chopped garlic. Mix well and continue cooking until the sliced mushrooms are pretty well cooked. Add more butter if needed.

Meanwhile, add the collected pork chop juices to the mushroom liquid. Taste it and add a few squirts of lemon juice to balance the flavor.

When the mushrooms are mostly done, add the bowl full of liquid to the pan and stir it through. (Pour it slowly so you don't get any grit at the bottom.) Sprinkle some thyme over the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced a fair bit.

Add a little cream (not too much) and stir until well-combined. The result will be many pieces of mushroom in a thinnish sauce. Serve over the pork chops with green beans to the side.
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Home [May. 18th, 2019|10:22 pm]
Saturday was the end of the trip and time to come home.

We decided not to try to squeeze anything in at the last minute, but just to take it easy packing up and making our way to the airport.

But we did get one last visit in: Momoko and Madoka Yamamoto (and Momoko's new baby Sakura-ko) came to meet us for lunch! We found a place without too long a wait, and had a nice lunch of yakosoba for me, okonomiyaki for the others. (Madoka picked up the check and was an absolute ninja about it.)

After that, we got all checked in and spent a few hours hanging out at the gate. My main thought was, wow, all these people are so noisy. Also, a plug splitter remains the best object to have in your bag in an airport.

The flight back was pretty uneventful. The dinner they served after we took off was really good and not just for airplane food; I actually would have been pleased with it in a restaurant. I managed to get probably a half-night's worth of sleep; poor Jerry didn't get any. I re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 after breakfast, and we landed around 1-ish, I think?

Going through Customs & Immigration at LAX was remarkable. It took all of 15 minutes and most of that was walking from point A to point B. They had automated scanners for passport control (with no line), and we didn't even use the declaration form we'd filled out on the plane; customs was just a guy asking if we had any fruit or vegetables in our bags.

We were both pretty wiped out by the time we landed in Denver; we took off at 6:30 pm in Osaka and landed 15 and a half hours later at 7 pm in Denver, so it was a 39-hour day. But soon enough we were pulling into our garage and saying hello to very clingy kitties and sleeping in our own beds, hooray!

All in all, it was the best honeymoon ever.
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Osaka [May. 17th, 2019|10:22 pm]
The last full day of our honeymoon we spent in and around Osaka. We had originally planned to do some sightseeing kinds of things, but we changed them in favor of seeing people.

A couple months ago, a fellow named Azasa showed up at Jerry's school looking for a place to practice martial arts while he was visiting from Japan for the Conference on World Affairs at CU. He only speaks a little English, but between that and Jerry's Japanese, they were able to communicate enough for him to successfully sit in on a few classes. Since he lives in the Osaka region, we made plans to meet up while we were there.

Well, it turns out that the place we were meeting for lunch is only a couple train stops away from Hirakata, which is where Jerry attended Kansai Gaidai for two semesters. And if we were that close, he really wanted to see if he could reconnect with Hiroshi Yamamoto and his family, who kind of took Jerry in when he was feeling very lonesome.

So after breakfast (it turns out that every place we stayed at on the trip had breakfast as an option, and it was 100% worth it; not needing to go through our entire morning routine before we'd had breakfast made us both happy) we hopped on the train and took it a couple stops past Hirakata-shi to Negayamachi, then set out on bus and on foot to find the Yamamotos' liquor store.

And lo and behold, success! Hiroshi wasn't there, but his son was working that day, and he let us know that he would be there in about an hour. So we got ourselves some drinks and snacks at the grocery store a couple blocks down, and wandered around the neighborhood a little bit, and then we went back and we had a happy reunion. Hooray! Jerry also got contact info for Madoka (Hiroshi's wife) and Momoko (his daughter), and we got a picture, and it was lovely.

Rather than try to catch the bus back to the train station, we just took a taxi to Hirakata-shi station, which took us past the school and a bunch of other familiar places from his semesters abroad. At the station, we looked for the photo booth in the arcade that used to be there, but alas, it appears they are a thing of the past now that everyone carries around smartphones. But we got some good nostalgia time in.

A couple stops back towards Osaka got us to Kuzuha, where we were meeting Azasa for lunch. We realized when we got to the restaurant that it was the first time the entire trip we'd had sushi! Had a nice visit and a tasty meal and got some more pictures and it was great.

And then we went to a baseball game!

It's not something that I would have put on the itinerary, but he was enthused and one of my wedding vows was to let him drag me into new things, so sure! And boy howdy, was he right. Japanese baseball is great!

We saw the Hanshin Tigers (the home team) play the Hiroshima Carp at Hanshin stadium. The first thing is, Japanese baseball is a much brisker game than American baseball. We arrived 45 minutes after the start and they were already in the bottom of the 3rd inning. There's no waiting around for relief pitchers to take the mound; they get driven out in a little car so as not to waste time, and of course the lady who drives the car has her own fan club.

There are cheerleaders. And a band. There's a different cheer for each player, and everybody knows them, and when it's the other team's turn to cheer, everyone politely lets them take their turn. And in the 7th inning, you blow up balloons and then let them fly up into the air.

The crowd was very mixed in age and gender, and I think it's more of a family thing and less of a guy thing than it is in the U.S. Everyone was enthusiastic, and there was this really great atmosphere of... camaraderie, I guess.

And as a result, I found myself getting pretty into the game. Like, oh man, there are two outs and two men on base, and suddenly there's tension about whether or not the next batter gets a hit! It was a pretty close game for most of it; the score was 3 to 2 going into the 9th inning... and then the visitors got 7 runs and won by 8 points. Ouch!

But the other thing that was really fun is that the two of us colored our beards. I brought some watercolor pastels, so we both did yellow and black stripes - the team colors. And all the Japanese fans thought this was AMAZING. We had no less than SIX groups of people ask for pictures with us at the end of the game! So that was neat.

We went through the team store and picked up some t-shirts, then took the train home, getting late dinner from 7-11. It was a long and successful day.
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