don't smack and drive

I've been thinking about all the dangers of multi-tasking while driving and came up with an invention (patent pending) to address one of the ongoing tasks that pose a risk: Mothers who need to reach into the back seat to smack their child on the back of the head. Now, mothers can purchase my devise, which can be factory installed with a button on the steering wheel that will smack for you - so you and your passengers can be safe.


paid holiday

I scrapped, napped, chick-flicked, read-for-pleasure, and beached until I honestly ran out of ideas. I've never had a paid holiday before.

I made up and cut that font out by Xacto and then painted the edges with craft paint. Helps me save my money for the KNK Elements (computer cutter).

I think we are going to make a run to the beach a regular thing. Even when we are just chillin' in our cot-chairs talking and watching the waves come in, it feels like time slows down, and like we have actually spent hours and hours interacting.

This relaxing thing is cool. I could get used to it. I better not though. At some point, I'm going to have to kick back in to study for the next exam before the lazy embeds itself too deep.



So, thanks to Evan's talk of Pumpkin Choc-Chip cookies, I had to make up a batch (recipe in archive nov 2006) of these marvelous wonders. I left one on the table for Mark. He came in and said, "Did the cat throw up on the table?" So I ask, "Where?" And he points to the cookie. And he has a point. These cookies look an awful lot like cat throw up. Not a big advertising point, I realize. However, I am still going to urge you to make them. And you are still not going to.


no tests = time for relaxing

Both of these Arizona venues are worth the admission, by the way.

Also, lately I have become obsessive about naps. At lunchtime, I go nap in my car. I even found out that there is a nap-room on the first floor of my building (that no one else knows about - and everyone finds it odd that they are learning these things from the new girl.)

So... that said: it is no small thing that on Sunday, I took a cot chair and a good book and took a nice nap in the sun in a park by the ocean. It was my idea of a perfect afternoon. (I finished the book, "Alice" and it was wonderland.)

hollywood is hot

Mark took this when the Hollywood hills were on fire while I was at the conference in Seattle. The smear is a helicopter fighting the fire. I heard about the fire at the conference when my friend said, "Is your house near the fire that is burning in Los Angeles?" Of course, I had flashbacks.

an update of the kids

Is 10-years old this fall! He is a lot milder ever since the fire, but he still can go crazy and chase Kira all over the place. He makes non-cat-lovers reconsider. Mark recently discovered that he has become ticklish under his armpits. Now Mark tickles him non-stop and Kazi hates it, but loves his pets, so he gets really torn about whether to put an end to it. Watching them reminds me of when McKay used to tickle me until I thought I would pee my pants.

Just turned five but she thinks she is still a kitten. In both of these photos she is playing in a shopping tote that makes her insanely happy. Mark picked it up and swung it like the carnival zipper while she was in it and I flipped out and he said, "No, no, she likes it, see." -- and put the bag down. She jumped out and jumped back in and meowed like, "Do it again!"


i guess i'm a girl afterall

I just love this dress; I need a reason for leaving the house in such a cute dress.

And this one, too. (Only make mine calf-length, because I am not daring anymore.)


we love peanut butter

chicken satay peanut sauce
melt in a saucepan for 3-5 minutes the following:
2 t creamy peanut butter
2 t soy sauce
1-2 minced or chopped garlic cloves
1/4 c water
1 t brown sugar
We drizzle it on herbed chicken kabobs and serve with rice, but you can put it on anything if you like it.

PB & Life Bars
(i made this up)
toast some nuts. I used 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/3 c sliced almonds in butter flavored spray in a saute pan. Toss with
5 cups Life Cereal
1/2 cup broken preztels

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt:
1/8 c Light corn syrup
1 T honey
1/4 c fim packed brown sugar
4 T creamy peanut butter
1 t vanilla
1 package large marshmallows

Then mix the melted goo with the dry stuff and pressed into a well greased pan to set up overnight. A bar the size of a deck of cards is better for you than 1/3 of a candy bar.

If I had any chocolate in the house, I would have drizzled some on the top. But chocolate at my house is always a shortlived thing. I did have a snickers bar and thought heavily about chopping it into the recipe - and it would have been REALLY good, but I bought the candybar for Mark. So I ate half of it, and gave him the rest instead. That's how nice I am.

This is how domesticated I was today: I made a scrapbooking page, made dinner, did 9 loads of laundry, made marshmallow treats, washed the dishes, read 1/2 of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and grocery shopped. Plus, I bought and ate half of the candybar. Okay. I'm feeling guilty.

As you can see... Mona does not know what to do with herself when she doesn't have to study. This is new. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I will pick up my messes all over the house.



Here is the scrapbooking layout I made to commemorate today... one of the most gratifying days of my life: today, on my third attempt, I (preliminary result) passed exam P of the SOA certification series and am officially on the Actuary track.

This is huge for me. Not only does it qualify me to work in my field, but it also qualifies me for study programs which pay me to leave early for the day to study for the next exam, pays for my supplies and expenses, puts me on a program to "tour" every department in my company for a year at a time, gives me a one-time bonus, gives me a raise, and just in general lets me know that yes, I can do this.
This exam was harder than the first two attempts that I took (the questions are sampled at random from a large pool) and I thought I did terrible. I spent the full last 15 minutes randomly selecting answers to over half of the test that I either couldn't attempt or had not the time to try. I was ready to cry in defeat when I hit "end test" and the notice "Congratulations, you passed." popped up. I do not have anything in life to compare the emotions of that moment to. So much of my life went in to this that it was such an enormous thing... I completely broke down (I saved most of it for when I got to the car...) in wonderful, exhilarating tears of gratitude, relief, disbelief, freedom, self-determination, and many other emotions I can't describe.
Afterward, I had to go to the DMV and those people have probably never dealt with anyone of my today-cheerfulness in all of their lives.


Deep Thoughts by Marvin Minsky

Minsky has been a driver of research in Artificial Intelligence since the fifties. In an interview for the Jan 2007 issue of Discover magazine, this exchange really struck me as interesting:

Q: Usually AI refers to an exploration of the utilitarian uses of the brain, like understanding speech or solving problems. Yet so much of what humans do isn't clearly utilitarian, like watching TV, fantasizing, or joking. Why is all this behavior necessary?

Minsky: Watching sports is my favorite. Pleasure, like pain, is though of as being a sort of simple, absolute, innate, basic thing, but as far as I can see, pleasure is a piece of machinery for turning off various parts of the brain. It's like sleep. I suspect that pleasure is mainly used to turn off parts of the brain so you can keep fresh the memories of things you're trying to learn. It protects the short-term memory buffers. That's one theory of pleasure. However, it has a bug, which is, if you gain control of it, you'll keep doing it: If you can control your pleasure center, then you can turn off your brain. That's a very serious bug, and it causes addiction. That's what I think the football fans are doing - and the pop music fans and television watchers and so forth. They're supressing their regular goals and doing something else. It can be a very serious bug, as we're starting to see in the young people who play computer games until they get fat.

I think that there is some truth to that. I know that when I am really wrestling with learning new math, I feel very compelled to take frequent breaks to do things I really enjoy (like read Discover magazine and post to my blog.) And oddly, even though I spend more time in leisure than I do in study, it tends to be more productive than trying to sit still and just chug through study without breaks for long durations.

Important note #1: anything that brings with it pleasure has the potential of taking over the whole of your brain if it is endulged more than necessary to temporarily restore the mind.

Important note #2: the purpose of the brain is to learn.


too much

I kind of feel like throwing up for a number of reasons.

Reason #1: Conferences are catered and there is a big pile of food you never let yourself have available every hour. Tarts, brownies, chocolate chip walnut bread, muffins... and the meals are over the top, too. Oh, and I never thought you could have too much coffee. But, I changed my position on that. If it is stout Seattle coffee and you are mixing it with real cream, chocolate milk, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings, you really should stop at one. Don't, I repeat don't, have six.

Reason #2: Conferences are so... I feel like I am being constantly schmoozed and marketed to by slick networking individuals. This is normal to everyone else, but it feels very slimy to me and I am way outside my comfort zone.

Reason #3: I miss Mark and feeling like everything is going to be okay and all the comfort and security that has been missing since we made this big move to Los Angeles... and being away by myself has really brought home how instable and scary everything really is. I feel like the child in the back seat screaming, "I wanna go home." Only, we don't have a home yet.


mister, got any change?

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

~Andy Warhol


This city is tough and the stakes are high. We're starting out with big hopes and taking big risks. It is very scary, but we're here and we're doing it. Right now, we are sort of asking ourselfs why, but that's another matter... and so it is what it is.

I got to have dinner with Dale and family from Utah last night. What a pleasant surprise to have them nearby. It makes me wish we were close enough to do that sort of thing all the time. One of the few things I really get homesick for is family dinner.

Off tomorrow to Seattle. First business trip ever. I'd be excited, but I can't take The Man, so walking around the city by myself doesn't hold the same allure as it would if we could afford to fly him up with me. I think I only like to travel because we have so much fun together. I guess I'll find out tomorrow if it is fun to do by yourself. (I guess if I found a cool scrapbooking store...)