Wednesday, December 28, 2005

You're At The Right Blog

don't leave! this is "obsessed in oakland". i just grew tired of struggling with trying to modify the old template design and the style sheet and decided to try this one out.

i really should be ashamed of myself for not designing my own. wasn't i once a creative director in a "previous life"? frankly i don't want to try to squeeze in another project to my ever increasing list of things to do. plus, i don't have photoshop or illustrator installed on my computer any more (long story). i'm also not CSS guru. so i'll have to be okay with the template designs that blogger has until i find some free time.

what do you think?

UPDATE: 12/29 @ 11:35 a.m. (PT)

the darn new template forces the right-hand column with my profile information, links, etc. below the actual entries when using Internet Explorer for Windows version 6.0. the same template using different colors acts the same way. i may have to revert back to the older look if i can't figure it out. FRUSTRATING!!!!

UPDATE: 12/30 @ 8:02 a.m. (PT)

how embarrassing, it was user error that caused the problem. the images in the "Left Out" entry were too wide which caused the right-hand column to display below the main content area. well at least i figured it out.

Our Other "Daughter"

i realized that i haven't written any entries that feature our beautiful bearded dragon, ripley. we wanted to think of a name that would work for a male or female since it's difficult to tell the sex of a lizard when they are young. so being the good nerds that we are she was named after one the best movie heroines of all times, ripley from the alien franchise. we found out after about a year that she was in fact a sexy female dragon.

so here she is in all her thorniness.

Ripley Under Arrest

she gets into the funniest poses. i think she looks like she is about to be frisked by a police officer.

since i'm already gushing over our little dragon i thought i would share this next photo of her when we first brought her home.

Young Ripley

doesn’t it look like she’s in a yoga pose?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Chanukah!

Trixie - Chanukah 2005

trixie loved the chanukah present that she got from the George pet store in berkeley.

Trixie - Chanukah 2005

trixie, 'oy look at that great ballie caroline gave me!'

it lasted a good hour before it was completely destroyed.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays To All!!

Keith, Trixie & David Holidays 2005

yup, yup, yup, i made the scarves that david and i are wearing. david's was my very first knitting project. unfortunately the idea of wearing the scarves came too late for me to make the one that trixie is wearing. can you believe that someone thought of manufacturing scarves for dogs? the cleaver entrepreneur owns the Red Hound pet store in rockridge, ca.

p.s. nope, nope, nope, i didn't knit the sweaters.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Left Out

i know, i know you all have been waiting for me to post something more about david's birthday weekend. well okay maybe hearing david, "when are you going to write about the weekend on your blog?" a few times finally got my fingers typing.

here's the back story that led up to the weekend.

about 1 year ago ...
i really wanted to find a way to surprise david. what could i get him that would be perfect for a 40th birthday present. you see david is a collector of all things Kaiju (Kaiju is Monster in Japanese, i think). he has tons of godzilla, ultraman, and other Kaiju-like models and toys.

here's a picture of some of the toys.
Kaiju Group Shot

our garage is filled with lots more (lots is truly an understatement).

i honestly wanted to get him something other than another Kaiju toy. “perhaps i'll get him an iPod?”

about 6 months ago ...
david, "i really want to get an iPod." keith, "great you ruined my surprise. i was going to get you an iPod for your birthday." david, "sorry honey. i'll wait so that you can still get it for me." i was actually shocked that he thought of getting one on his own. david is a bit of a technophobe.

less than 6 months ago ...
could i possibily pull off a surprise party? i really wanted to take david to vegas to see "O". maybe i could organize a bunch of friends from nj/ny to meet us there without david knowing? ken knew someone in vegas that could get us into "O" and maybe free tickets to another show with seats in the production area. well that fell through too. it wound up being to costly.

about a month before the party weekend ...
ken, eugene, david and i thought a weekend trip to the russian river would be a great idea. it would definitely be more economical and people could join us for a day or the weekend since it was close. would it still be possible to throw in some element of surprise? i tried to get a close Kaiju-collecting-friend from ny to come as a surprise but he had plans that he couldn't change. so i finally gave up on trying to surprise david.

after lots of research (because i wouldn't be me without beating the research to a fine pulp) i landed on a nice weekend rental in guerneville that allowed dogs, wine tasting and dinner on saturday at the river's end restaurant that overlooks the ocean. some friends were going to spend the weekend and others would meet us on saturday for winery hoping and dinner.

a week before david's birthday
i order david's nano iPod from the apple site and have it engraved with "Your Very Own uPod! Happy 40th! xo ... Keith". nope "uPod" was not a typo. you see i have had an iPod for a few years. it was supposed to be for both of us. it was clear after a few months that it was really mine based on the music collection. lots of female singers that to david all sound like tori amos. david wisely called it a uPod!

november 28th - david's birthday
david's nano hadn't arrived in time. so the day before i cut out a picture of a nano with the engraving on the back and put it in his birthday card. he was surprised and laughed when he saw the engraving. hurray finally a successful surprise!

the finale - the party weekend ...
we spent the morning having brunch and shopping at trader joes and brand new safeway in alameda (we love alameda). david, trixie, and i hit the road (sans soft crate) around 1:00 p.m. and after lots of traffic arrived in guerenville around 4:30 p.m. i prepared dinner using the easiest pasta casarole recipe we got from trader joes. and then david and i relaxed in the hot tub before brian, ken, eugene, haley (ken and eugene's dog), and dan (our good friend from nj/ny) arrived.

we drank lots of wine and stayed up until 3:30 a.m., which if you know me was quite a miracle since i usually hit the hay no later than 11:00 (11:00 is unusual even). oh, and i had a breakthrough. i was in the hot tub with others and i was 'au natural'. mind you it was pitch dark except for the blue glow of the hot tub light. it will probably take wild horses to drag me in naked in daylight.

we all go up around 9:00 (eugene and i were up earlier). i made scrambled eggs, bacon and english muffins. at around 11:00 lisel arrived and we headed out to meet max and desiree at ferrari-carano in healdsburg. what a beautiful vineyard! what a pretentious wine tasting. at least it started out that way. it turned out that the guy that was pouring had a very, very dry sense of humor.

we then headed out for lunch at a place i can't remember that had fabulous sandwiches made with good italian deli meats.

it was getting late and we had to be sure to be back at the house to let the dogs have some play time out of their crates. so we decided to go to hop kiln winery and then head home. the atmosphere at was a lot more inviting. so much so that the tasting room forgot to uninvite the fruit flies; they were everywhere. it turned out to be fruit fly season. we had to keep cards on top of our glasses in order to keep them from swimming in wine. it makes sense that there were so many:

winter in wine country + vineyards + rotting grapes = fruit fly heaven

David's 40th - Outside Hop Kiln
the group in front of hop kiln.

all good so far.

fast forward back at the house. david decided to relax in the hot tub before dressing for dinner. keep in mind that there had been wine tasting.

fast forward a bit more to our arrival at the river's end restaurant.

david excuses himself to the bathroom after we are sat in our nice little private room. he comes back to the table peruses the special menu and then excuses himself again. when he returned he looked like a ghost with beads of sweat on his forehead. here's another equation for you:

late night on friday + wine tasting on saturday + soaking in a hot tub + long winding road to the restaurant = you guessed it, car sickness.

max’s hypothesis was that david actually got light-headed and overwhelmed after reading the menu title, "David's 40th Birthday". there it was in print, confirmation that he was over the hill.

David's 40th - River's End Restaurant
david is the stunned looking one next to me (i'm wearing the red shirt) in the dark gray shirt. you can't miss his unnatural pallor.

david insisted that he lay down in the car without company. he tried to come back in after about 20 minutes. but he was still feeling unsteady. our waitress, lichee (yup that was her name), was wonderful and very maternal. she made david a special ginger tea. unfortunately, david came back too soon and the smell of the tea made him nauseous. so back to the car he went.

we felt terrible that david was missing his party and reluctantly ate our appetizers and soup.

some how david managed to pull himself together and came back. his skin looked normal and he was able to have soup, his main course and dessert.

David's 40th - River's End Restaurant
david looking much better.

so we left the restaurant with david in the front seat this time, we hung out back at the house, i went in the hot tub (naked again ... i'm so proud of myself. david passed on the tub), and we all retired relatively early (12:30 a.m.).

we packed up and a few of us went for brunch in guerenville. a group came in as we were ordering to sing christmas carols which was the icing on david's birthday weekend.

so all in all it was a very successful and memorable weekend. now david's 40th is forever immortalized in blogland.

happy 40th honey!

David's 40th - Trixie & David in Guerneville
david and trixie in guerenville.

Friday, December 16, 2005


i finished the back of my sweater on monday (i won't show a picture since it looks pretty much like the front) and was getting pretty excited that i could start the task of blocking and sewing. alright maybe not excited about the actual task more the fact that i’ll be all that much closer to a finished sweater.

in a true obsessive fashion, i've been hemming (pun really not intended) and hawing about the "right" way to block the pieces of the sweater practically since i started the project. i've been researching like a madman on blocking techniques and whether or not to buy, make or not use a blocking board. i finally came to the conclusion that i would buy a board. i mean i know that we are trying very hard to save money and that making a board would maybe save a few dollars. but i still haven't fixed the running toilet and our 2nd bedroom has been in the drywall state for more than a year. do you really think that i would find the time to make a blocking board? i'll answer that rhetoric question for you, hell no!

so with the blocking board dilemma finally resolved let’s move on to my frustration with this sweater.

the mf’n sleeves.

one would think that knitting sleeves for a sweater would be easy. and perhaps, in theory, they should be, but i am having a heck of a time getting momentum. i read that it's a good idea to knit the 2 at the one time to ensure they are the same. well, after 3 attempts with one sleeve winding up with an extra row or two, i figured that maybe "the universe" is telling me to knit the sleeves separately. another dilemma solved.

but wait there is more.

the sleeves in this pattern call for a particular increase called "Make 1" (M1). M1s are considered a basic technique. so one would think it was easy. again, in theory, i'm sure it is. as a self-taught knitter and someone who wants to be sure that i’m technically doing the right thing i have literally been driving myself crazy trying to figure out how to do this type of increase correctly. i don’t want to bore the non-knitters out there with every little detail. suffice it to say that the pattern calls for the increase to be done 1 stitch in from either edge. knitting for dummies says it’s best to do the increase 2 stitches in; a detail i didn’t read until after the fact.

so i ripped.

and this after ripping a gazillion times already due to the row count issues. as the sleeves were getting longer the increases that were supposed to be “practically invisible”, were pretty detectable, which was of course bugging the hell out me (i’m a professed perfectionist).

so i ripped again.

by this point my patience level was a bit fragile, and it was getting late. it finally dawned on me that i should see what knitting for dummies had to say about M1s. of course it was all clearly written how to do a left and right slanting M1 increase. the lovely technique videos on the fabulous website confirmed what knitting for dummies had instructed.

so i ripped one more time and will keep my fingers crossed that the sleeves will not give me any more problems.

ahhhh, I feel better now. who would have thought that writing in a blog could be so cathartic.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Friends of Elizabeth*

you know that you may need a 12-step program for the knitting obsessed when:

  • the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up is, "maybe i can squeeze in a few rows on my latest knitting project before taking a shower."
  • your ass and legs fall asleep because you've sat too long on the "throne" reading knitting for dummies and other knitting books
  • you wish you had time during your lunch break to go to your local yarn store that is about an hour one way from work
  • your frozen pizza burns because you lost track of time (and sense of smell) when writing and/or catching up on other knitters' blogs
  • you're late for work because you had to read one more knitting blog entry, search for a knitting technique or pattern on the web, wish shop for yarn or knitting books, perfect your new blog entry, and/or were too busy adding more blogs to your RSS web client
  • you dream about knitting
  • you dream about opening a yarn store**
  • you wish you could find a way to get a refund on the soft crate your dog destroyed so that you can use that money to buy the "perfect" blocking board
  • you've neglected your housekeeping to the point that the cobwebs are like mistletoe hanging from the ceiling and the bathroom hair bunnies come chasing after you as you leave the bathroom limping because your legs have fallen asleep (see the 2nd bullet point in this list)
  • you find yourself deconstructing in your mind friends, co-workers and complete strangers' knitted garments to figure out the stitches and patterns
  • you're mesmerized by the decrease shoulder pattern on your bosses sweater to the point that you can't hear the words she is speaking
  • you wish the next BART train stop isn't yours so you can keep knitting
  • on monday you can't wait for friday's stitch n' eat at work
  • you start thinking that it's a good idea to start raising angora rabbits so that you can spin your own yarn
  • you*** want to start working at the local yarn store on one of your free weekend days so that you can be around yarn, knitters, and perhaps feed your addiction by getting paid in yarn

* Elizabeth Zimmerman was a well-known knitting designer that developed a formula for knitting seamless sweaters in the round and other knitting techniques.
** as if we can figure out a way to open up a yarn store in the san francisco bay area and pay our mortgage.
*** i should probably replace "you" with "i". the first step is admitting you (i mean i) have a problem. i guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Houdini Reincarnated

we've been wanting to buy a soft crate for trixie for some time now. the one we've been using was nicely loaned to us. aesthetically though it was quite ugly. grover, the previous occupant, chewed on the corners, and frankly, the plastic crates just don't look nice.

pretty ugly, huh?

we got a bee in our bonnet to buy a soft crate because we needed a portable crate for a trip up to the russian river this past weekend to celebrate david's 40th birthday (more on the weekend up at the russian river in another entry). fitting 2 adults, 1 dog, a hard crate, groceries, and overnight bags could be a tight fit in a little honda civic. it just made sense to expedite the purchase. so we bit the bullet and ordered the soft crate.

Trixie's Soft Crate
a big improvement over the plastic crate, no?

trixie has been known to tear up the bedding that we put in her crate. we tried several different kinds of bedding but trixie just ripped them to shreads. we thought that perhaps trixie wouldn't decide to destroy the bed that came with the crate because it wasn't made of the plush material she’s so fond of.

who were we fooling. this is what we came home to after leaving her in the crate for about an hour:

Trixie's Crate Bedding
trixie disemboweled the bed.

and, to add insult to injury, the smart little monster must have channeled the great houdini. she managed to paw through the zipper and escape from the crate. we tried one more time and this time attached a karabiner to the two zippers but she still managed to break through.

where was tangina barrons when we needed her to rid trixie of the nasty poltergeist?

the good news is that we were able to fit the hard crate in the car with all the bags. unfortunately though it looks like we're going to have to see if we can sell the crate on craigslist.