09 December 2011
28 November 2011
- If the recipient will be flying, avoid giving large gifts. No microwaves, no cases of wine, no bulky sports equipment. If you want to give something that’s sizable, consider giving them a photograph to open in person and ship the gift to wherever they live.
- Unless you see your giftees often, don’t assume that you know their tastes. Do some research. Look at Facebook photos, talk to their spouses, significant others, friends. Ask the recipients for a wish list (amazon.com has a great wishlist feature). I have a friend who gets clothing from his in-laws every year. He has never worn any of the clothes; they’re not his style. He always ends up returning them or donating them to charity. Which brings me to:
- Unless you are absolutely sure of the recipient’s taste and size, make sure you give gifts that the recipient can return in THEIR hometown, not yours. National chains (Macy’s, Target, etc.) allow you to buy at one store and return at another. IF you prefer to support the local economy, perhaps there are local boutiques in your recipient’s hometown that you can shop via the internet?
- Even if the recipient is visiting you, restrain from buying from local boutique in your hometown. If the gift doesn’t work out, your recipient will need to spend time during their visit returning the gifts instead of spending time with you.
- Are you shipping a gift? Confirm the shipping address with the recipient. Many people have different addresses for receiving letters and packages, and if you send packages to a mailbox, they can often end up disappearing.
- Are you buying for children (grandkids, neices, nephews, etc.)? Avoid the desire to buy every cute outfit and stuffed animal you see, and instead, focus on gifts that are meaningful. Ask the child’s parents for great gift ideas. Says pal Lael Logan: “Many of us are trying to give our kids the joy and excitement of presents while also balancing it with teaching the "true" meaning of this time. Perhaps you could take the kids on a special holiday outing instead - to see Santa, or ride a train - creating traditions and memories is how we'd like to teach our kids about this season.”
- Can’t think of a good gift for someone? Consider making a donation. It’s a terrific way to give something with meaning for more than just your recipient, and it’s very convenient for weary travelers. Says friend Katherine Resch: “We're doing that for the adults on my side of the family this year, and we're having a lot of fun choosing a charity that will be personal to each family unit.”
- Don’t give crap. Are you sending your loved one a candy-cane filled with M&Ms? A bobblehead Santa? If so, consider just abandoning the gift altogether. Maybe just send a card, or a gift certificate, which brings me to my last guideline:
- Gift cards, gift certificates, and cash are always welcome, though they’re admittedly impersonal. You can make them less impersonal by buying a gift card for a specific store that’s local to the recipient. Was there a boutique that you discovered the last time you visited your sister? Buy her a gift card for that place, and when she calls to thank you for the gift, you can have a nice time remembering your trip. See! Much nicer than a boring sweater from Macy’s.
26 November 2011
24 November 2011
The pan, waiting for the turkey. In the pan: apples, onion, celery, carrot, fennel, olive oil, salt, pepper. On the bird: a bacon & herb-infused butter.
Mom dresses some flowers, D does some tidying, and I check our status on an elaborately color-coded spreadsheet of cooking madness.
C, R, N, Dad, Mom, D, and S all wait for me to stop taking photos so they can start eating. Dinner included applesauce, yams with streusel, herb-bacon turkey, herb-onion dressing, pumpkin-ricotta ravioli, green beans with pecans & dijon vinaigrette, cranberry sauce, sauerkraut. Oh, and manhattans and wine. Everything turned out well except for the gravy, which was very time-consuming and got rushed at the very end of the prep. Instead, we called it turkey 'au jus.'
The pear-blueberry cobbler with corn biscuit topping. This turned out remarkably. We also had a yummy farmer's-market-bought pumpkin pie.
21 November 2011
03 October 2011
Over the course of the night, we had lots of visitors come into our room. The population cycled between 5 and 35 people, each of whom got a chance to use the iDevices to control the sonic environment.
We got a lot of great feedback during the event, including more than one person who called us 'geniuses' (which, of course, we won't let to go our head). Plus, this installation was the first time we had children take part in the exhibition, and we found that kids as young as 2 REALLY got into the way that they could control the sounds with their fingers. Here's a couple older kids (younger adults) pushing the buttons.
19 September 2011
14 September 2011
- The audio does NOT stream from one device to another. The audio files themselves live on the 'prop' device. This cuts way down on lag.
- Currently, you can only choose the sound file from the 'prop' phone, not from the 'controller' phone.
- This is the very first version of the app, so expect big changes to happen as the developer gets feedback.
13 September 2011
06 September 2011
30 August 2011
15 August 2011
08 August 2011
06 August 2011
27 July 2011
26 July 2011
23 July 2011
Eli teaches clowning at UC-Irvine, and many of his clowning students end up in a troupe that he calls Clownzilla. Clownzilla has four or five shows in their repertoire, most of which I've designed. Some, I've written music for. Some, I've toured to foreign countries to put up. One, Clown MacBeth, is only a Clownzilla show in as much as Eli and I worked on it; the performers were members of a Korean theater troupe. As Eli and I have worked on these shows, we've both learned a lot about this new style of clowning that he teaches and how it can be used to tell story. We're both looking forward to going to Romania next summer to put this piece together.
Recently, we've been doing a lot of research into structure and themes for the show. We've got a rough plot outline of the show, and we're tapping a lot of resources for inspiration. Here are some of the avenues of research that I've been exploring:
* Beach Boys music
* The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss:
* Lord of the Flies
* Hogan's Heroes:
And some other avenues of research that I still need to explore:
* The Green Table
* Johnny Got His Gun
* Rory Stewart - The Prince of the Marshes
* Ken Burns' The War miniseries
We're looking specifically for macabre humor to help keep the clowns dark and funny while exploring the themes of war, so as I sift through the research, I'm looking for examples of humor or dark levity or silliness in war. I'm particularly looking forward to re-reading Catch-22 again!
20 July 2011
That's all! Just a small update!
16 July 2011
At the top of the trail, the path opened up into an alpine meadow, and the lake sat, mostly frozen, in the cradle of the mountain. We stopped for lunch, then headed back down. The week of hiking has worn many of us out, and combined with the fact that there were some previous injuries, most of us were cranky and/or hurting and/or fatigued on the hike down. Once at the bottom, we jumped back into the car and sped off back to the car for a quick clean-up.
We got showered in record time (6 showers, 2 bathrooms, 35 minutes between turning the car off and turning it back on), and zipped down to the St. Mary's section of GNP for a boat cruise.
The boat cruise was terrific. We did a circuit around the lake, snapping photos the whole time. The captain told a lot of stories about mysterious mansions on the hill, donors who never visited the park, and cheetos-stained rock. After the cruise, we went back to The Two Sisters Cafe, then home for a night of packing and relaxing. Home tomorrow!
15 July 2011
After the hike, we headed to Babb, where we'll be sleeping for the next few nights. The house in Babb is a doublewide trailer, but it's lovely and suits us just fine. C, B, and I sat out on the deck in the afternoon and shot photos of a bird that was hunting nearby. We're not sure if it was a bald eagle or an osprey. Ornithologists we are not.
Dinner was at a place called the Two Sisters' Cafe, a little road stop decorated with license plates and a roof with a big sign that says 'ALIENS WELCOME.' Not sure if they mean Martians or Mexicans. The dinner was awesome. The owner (?) came over and told us that if we liked fish and didn't order the trout, 'BAD YOU!' naturally, we ordered three trouts. And other food. And pie. And milkshakes. And beer. And cocktails.
When we got back from dinner, eagle-eye S saw a bear in the meadow behind our house! We safely got inside, but have been trying to get some shots of it before it gets too dark. Speaking of which, time to go!
One last day of hiking tomorrow!
14 July 2011
B, C, and I got up this morning to head into the park to shoot the sunrise. We found a nice perch on the shore of the lake, and we got some terrific shots. There were dense clouds over the mountain, but we got great shots as the sun rose behind the clouds. Wow! Afterwards: breakfast at a diner, where B had Huckleberry pancakes (yum!).
Later in the morning, the six of us took a helicopter ride through the park! All six of us fit in the chopper quite snugly, but we all had great views. The pilot took us over much of the terrain that we had been covering on the ground (Lake MacDonald, Hidden Lake, Logan Pass, Avalanche Lake, Going-To-The-Sun Road, etc.), and then he took us past a couple of sites and glaciers that we hadn't seen yet. The pilot said that while there were over a hundred glaciers in GNP in the 1850s, there are about 25 now. By 2030, the anticipated number of glaciers is 0. ZERO.
At any rate, the chopper ride (my first) was amazing (thanks again, C&D!), and we were exhilarated when we landed. So exhilarated, in fact, that A and I decided to increase our hike distance today. We decided last night that we wanted to do a tough hike today, and after the chopper ride, we switched from the Huckleberry Mountain Hike to the Lincoln Lake Hike. The LLH is a 16-mile roundtrip hike that starts with a steep climb and ends at a glacial lake. The lake itself is quite small, but the waterfall feeding the lake is huge (HUGE!), and the hike is so far that there were very few people (four) on the trail (contrasted with the dozens and hundreds that were on the trails over the last few days). The trail started sunny, got cloudy, and then got sunny by the time we got back to the car. Also, we were mauled by mosquitos. Still, we had a great time, and we did the 16-mile hike in just under 7 hours.
Our feets are sore and have blisters.
B took the day off from hiking to repair his knee and work. C took the day off from hiking to relax, and S & D took the day off to shop in a nearby town. We've all reassembled, S&D have prepared a yummy dinner (with C at the grill), and we're gonna eat soon.
Tomorrow, we leave our great house in West Glacier and head to Babb, on the other side of the park, for a few more days of hiking and fun!
13 July 2011
The Hidden Lake trail was a bust. It was beautiful, but very snowy, and we only did about 1/4 of the trail out before we decided to bail and eat lunch. The walking was tough indeed. Lunch was on a rocky oasis in the middle of a snowfield, and there was plenty of wildlife to see and shoot (with a camera, natch).
After lunch, we headed to St. Mary's falls, a shortish hike that led us to a number of beautiful waterfalls. The hike was pretty easy, and there were some beautiful photography spots along the way.
Going back to the house took a long time. Even though GTSR is open, there's still a lot of construction. Took us an hour just to get through the construction. I slept. C drove. Thanks, C!
Dinner was at the Lake McDonald Lodge, one of the oldest structures in the park. The lodge itself was built in 1913/4, and it's beautiful! Rustic, dark, with high ceilings and lots of dead animals on the wall.
12 July 2011
The internet is VERY slow here, so I'll be emailing the photos to the blog, one at a time. You'll have to scroll through like good little children to see them all.
Also, we saw bears!
09 July 2011
07 July 2011
05 July 2011
Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday. I like the history, the significance, the idealism, the food, and the proximity to my birthday (Mom has a theory that for most of us, our favorite holiday is the one closest to our birthday). in recent years, I've started making a tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence. Usually, I read it to myself (S thinks it's silly), but on occasion, I read it out loud.
This year, S and I are in Independence, Iowa, at a family reunion. We spent yesterday visiting with lots of distant family and eating lots of yummy food. Today, after breakfast and goodbyes, we'll be headed home to California. With any luck, we'll be sleeping in our own bed tonight!
After breakfast and a long drive from Iowa back to St. Louis with B and A (and a lunch at Steak'n'Shake), we headed to the airport to catch our 6.17 flight through Houston. Which was overbooked. Fortunately, the gate agent saw that we might be able to catch an earlier flight through Phoenix that would get us home an hour early. We zipped through security (S drank her entire water bottle because she forgot to empty it) and ran to the gate for the flight to Houston. As we headed to the gate, we were paged. The page was to put us on the flight to Phoenix. We managed to get onto the Phoenix flight as they were closing the doors. We think our bags made it. We sat down in our seats, and S texted her brother while I texted our ride back in LA. Then, the doors shut and we zipped away. As I write this, we are en route from St. Louis to Phoenix.
Got to Phoenix. Flight delayed an hour. Finally home, with luggage, just shy of midnight. The long ordeal is over. Thanks to everyone who hauled us around. Thanks to everyone who let us vent over twitter, Facebook, irl. Thanks to the occasional kind and sympathetic airline agent. No thanks to the airlines themselves, particularly USAir, a truly terrible organization of sadistic beings.