Merry Christmas

December 26th, 2005

Christmas was a little quieter this year than normal. Just me and Amos… i got a few presents, he got nothing. Well, he did get a really long walk, so that was my gift to him. Maybe I’ll get him a rawhide bone as well, who knows… he definitely doesn’t know, since he’s a dog! Last night (Christmas Eve) I got the fireplace going, the tree lit and Christmas music playing through the ceiling speakers. It felt so traditional, like it was something the typical American family in the 1960’s would have done. Time spent just together with family without the TV of Internet or anything else of our modern era. Although I could have used either more presents under the tree or people here to share it with, Amos and I still had a good time :)

I’ve been on a kick of old movies recently… with the holidays, cable channels run all their archived movies and I love it. Recently, I’ve watched Roman Holiday, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, The Shop Around the Corner, The Green Berets, and Miracle on 34th St. I get hooked on these classics and some I’ve seen 5 times. I’d recommend The Shop Around the Corner if you can only see one of them, since it was the inspiration to the Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail but with so much more of a storyline and a great cast of Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Lots of good TV out there, you just gotta turn it on. And if you have a weekend spent indoors during a rain-filled holiday weekend, even better.

Sneaky dog

December 21st, 2005

Amos has the run of the house when I’m at work…. and in the past, we always knew he would do things he was not supposed to, like sitting on the couches. When I’m home, he never gets on the couch, unless I tell him to jump up. He knows his place is on his doggy-bed, but the couch i’m sure is oh-so-much-more comfortable than his bed. Often times we would come home and the couch would be warm…. showing he was just laying on it. He likes to think that he’s fooling me when I’m not there, but now that I’ve installed a webcam in the living room, I can now get a live shot of what he’s up to and his normal behaviors when I’m not home. So today, I kept a small window of the webcam in the corner of the my laptop screen while at work so I could see what Amos was doing. Turns out, he sleeps almost all day. It was interesting that by the time I got to work, he was already snoozing on the couch. He didn’t get off the couch till almost 2pm, which he only did because he probably heard the mailman come to the door. Then at 5pm when the dog-walker came in, Amos went for his walk, then came back and correctly layed down in his doggy-bed. The moment the dog-walker left the house, Amos got up, walked to the front door to make sure she had left and then made a beeline to the couch again. Seriously…. this dog has two personalities, one that obeys the rules when I’m around, and the other that says “if nobody is around I can do anything I want”. He thinks he’s soooo smart. Too bad he doesn’t know what a gadget-techie I am. Now I’m trying to install speakers so I can talk to him while I’m not here and freak him out. What other gadgets or gizmos can I add???? Maybe this calls for another trip to BestBuy?

Living room is wired for the world

December 19th, 2005

Now that Lee and Sachi are gone and traveling for the next year, they will definitely miss Amos, the black lab of the house. To help ease the missing, I’ve now made the living room accessible to the world… well, not really, but i’ve set up a doggy-cam that will show amos in his bed, or if he’s on one of the couches in the room. Lee should be able to access it anytime he wants, from anywhere in the world. I just have to make sure that i know when the camera turns on, since i’m often on said couches too, so i like to know when i’m being watched :)

And the other cool thing installed in the house is the slingbox. In case you’re wondering what a slingbox is, it’s a device that transmits your TV across the Internet, so Lee & Sachi can watch TV from anywhere. Now, it’s not just a TV signal, it’s the actual signal from my TV… so whatever i’m watching is what they’re watching. Since we’re sharing the signal, they also have control over the TV. They have the ability to change the station, change the volume, or hunt through the Tivo box to find things in the archive. Needlesstosay, it’s going to be a feud trying to watch different things at the same time. Between watching their TV, seeing their living room with Amos, it’ll be just like they’re here.

Besides the electronic toys, the rest of the weekend was spent catching up with Amos and making him feel like he’s not by himself (which he is during weekdays when i’m at work). A long walk around Seward Park on Saturday tired him out, so he’ll be sleeping till Tuesday. And tonight was the Christmas parade of ships off the Madrona beach area. They had upwards of 30 boats all decked out with lights idling in Lake Washington playing Christmas music and driving around haphazardly like a demolition derby without any of the contact. The 25 degree wind-chill made the evening ship parade quite frigid, but still a nice time…. and Amos enjoyed getting out and stretching his legs. I always like having a reason to get out of the house on a Sunday… otherwise it’s a long day of football on the couch. And speaking of football, i’ve made it to the championship game in my fantasy football league, so i’m guaranteed some $$, since the top 2 positions get some money. If I win next weekend, it’ll be a nice Christmas. With my Philly Eagles in the toilet, it’s nice to still have a reason to watch the NFL.

mmmm, El Gaucho

December 14th, 2005

Quite possibly one of the best steakhouses in Seattle… and last night was a treat going there. To celebrate Christmas-Kwanza-Hanukkah-Ramadan-Festivus, my team went to this great Belltown establishment for a very nice dinner. Anytime they create a ceaser salad tableside, you know it’s going to be good. But it was definitely a meat affair. Vegetarians be damned, carnivores only please. Our 13-person table was easily the most lively bunch in the place. Maybe it was the comraderie outside the office or the post-5pm conversations that would not be allowed in the workplace….. whatever it was, we dined for 3 hours and had a blast. This was a nice team reward for lots of hard work by everyone. Our team is still trying to figure out a way to have a team outing next year someplace outside of Seattle…. since a fine meal is great, but a weekend retreat, say to Whistler or Vegas, that would be just off the hook!

All by myself……

December 11th, 2005

Lee and Sachi left this morning on their 12 month trip around the world. I took them to the airport and after giving them both a hug, they said their goodbyes to Amos, our black lab. Saying goodbye to a dog is tough, since they couldn’t tell Amos that they were leaving for a year-long trip and not just abandoning him. Also, Amos just thinks they’re getting out of the car and will be home later that day, so it’ll hit him in the next few days that they’re not coming back for awhile. I’ll try to spend more time with him this week so he’s not feeling all by himself, but after the last few months of having someone usually at home during the day with him, he’s going to have to learn to be by himself during the workday.

This house is now seemingly too big for just me. 3 couches? 2 offices? What to do with all this space? I feel like I should just close the door on a few rooms, since I basically just use the tv room and the kitchen most of the time. The other rooms will be opened only for the “occasional” party… and I say occasional just because I know Lee and Sachi reads my blog :) I will probably only have 1 or 2 get togethers…. each month. Otherwise Amos will not have anyone visiting him. And that’s my main concern, having enough people come and visit Amos so he’s not stuck with only me and Madeline. Madeline, by the way, is a sweet girl down the street that walks Amos every afternoon since I can’t make it home from work before his bladder explodes. She’ll be his best friend every afternoon when he is antsy to go for a walk.

Now going forward, communication with Lee and Sachi will be important, both for me & Amos and for them. I am going to get a webcam and hook up Skype or some Internet program that allows me to talk and send video images over the web. This way, they can see how clean i’m keeping the house, and how well Amos is doing. I hope to have somewhat regular web-calls with Lee & Sachi, so if anyone else wants to have video-chats with Amos, let me know. Amos would like that.

The week in review

December 8th, 2005

Haven’t written in awhile…. sorry ’bout that. I spent most of the past week visiting relatives and getting away from Seattle. Nothing like visiting distant relatives and catching up on years of what’s been going on with each other’s families. December makes everyone think of family and visiting, so I just got some of my visiting done prior to Lee & Sachi leaving…. which is coming up on Sunday. Wow, this is coming up fast. With only 2+ days left, i’m getting them to be nostalgic and convincing them to do chores around the house that they will “miss” while being away for 12 months. Amos is going to get a B-A-T-H (can’t say it, since he knows that word and knows what it means) from Sachi and the kitchen will get a good once over cleaning before they leave. All things I don’t like doing, so one last time for good measure.

Lots of things to do before Lee & Sachi leave…. say goodbye to their friends, paint the town red one last time, and relish the warmth of home, since a hotel will never feel as comfortable. This weekend will be crazy busy, with all these Bon Voyage activities, along with another Seahawks game on Sunday. Seahawks vs. 49ers isn’t a good game, it should be a walk for the sea-chickens, but always a fun time watching NFL live. I’ll definitely let you know how that game turns out, since I have 50 yard line tickets (club seats!!!). WOOHOO!

Snow just won’t stick

December 2nd, 2005

On two different days this week, the weatherman predicted snow in the Seattle forecast. However, on both occasions, it was a lot of hype with no substance. We got all psyched and ready for a snowday and a “work from home” day…. but as soon as each flake hit the 38 degree surface temp, it melted. Then the second time, the snow actually fell in huge flakes, large enough to make us run to the office window and say, “oooh, maybe we should leave early so we don’t get snowed in at work”. But it turned to slush and our prediction of not being able to drive to work the next day became a myth even before we went to sleep that night. Luckily many schools were closed or delayed (just in case), so traffic was non-existent.

They’re predicting more snow flurries tonight but i’m not even going to bother. It’ll probably be rain or something harmless like that. Seattle freaks out with any dusting or white-stuff to the point where they prematurely shut down things before the salt trucks even roll out. Just 3 years ago, I was shoveling 2 feet of snow off my driveway in suburban Washington D.C. and still expected to be at work the next day… so Seattle comparably seems to have the sissy approach when it comes to handling snow. With all the 4-wheel drive Subarus and other so-called adventure vehicles adopted by the camping-hiking-outdoorsy Seattle-ites, you’d think they would know how to drive in snow, let alone wet snow/rain that we had this week. But apparently REI doesn’t sell a “how to drive in inclement weather” product, so seattle-folks never learned. One winter out on the east coast and these Seattle-ites would either be stranded on the side of the road or too scared to leave their homes. Now is it too much to ask for a good 6 to 9 inches of snow by Christmas? I’m putting that on my Christmas list……