owlmoose: (california - freeway)
I've actually been back from Dubai since Sunday afternoon, but I was so out of it yesterday that I didn't communicate much -- I had about enough brain power to veg out on Leverage (about which more in another entry), and that was about it. I'm still pretty zoned today, but I figure I ought to at least check in while the trip is still fairly fresh in my mind.

So, the trip was fun, and really interesting. I think Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are probably more culturally different from here than any other country I've visited. On the surface, I suppose it's not so different: Dubai is still a big city, with a very international population (something like 15% of the population of the UAE is Emirati; there are some Arabs from other nations, but the vast majority are immigrants), but I kept being startled by things -- I don't say surprised, because it makes sense when I think about it. Like how most mosques are closed to non-Muslims (unlike churches in European countries, and temples in Japan, which in my experience are usually open to the public, if sometimes with limited hours). Or how no restaurants sell pork products (you don't realize how much you'll miss bacon until it's gone), and water is only available for sale in bottles -- no glass of tap water on the table. Or the way that public displays of affection between couples are frowned upon, including married couples (T and I aren't super snuggly in public, but we are in the habit of touching each other on the arm or the back, and we kept forgetting ourselves). Or -- on the plus side -- the plentiful clean public restrooms (I have never been so content to use a toilet in a train station). Little things, for the most part, but they often struck me.

But we saw lots of cool stuff. I posted many pictures to my Tumblr along the way, and once T has his photos up, I'll share those as well. Some highlights were our two trips to the Burj Khalifa, which is not only the tallest building but the tallest human-made structure in the world, the beautiful Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the aquarium at Atlantis, Jumeirah Mosque -- that was less about seeing the mosque, which is unremarkable from a design perspective, and more about the Islam 101 lecture from the tour guide, which was quite interesting -- and going out to the desert for dinner and a show, complete with a dervish and sword fights on horseback.

I'm glad we finally got it together to make this trip. Unlike some of the places I've been (Paris, Italy, Japan), I don't feel a strong tug to return any time soon (if nothing else because the trip is so long -- 15 hours on a plane each way! If it were half the distance, it might be a different story). But I can definitely say it was good to go at least this once.
owlmoose: (tea - tea cup)
Not much to say about today. I went to two panels -- the Guest of Honor "reading" with Seanan McGuire and Tim Powers, which ended up being a fairly loose and fun Q&A because neither of them like to do readings, and another panel on secret worlds in fiction, which despite covering a lot of the same ground as Friday's panel ended up feeling quite different. Then I decided I needed a real lunch, so I skipped out on the wrap-up session and headed home, where I have been alternately relaxing and trip planning. Soooo much to do in the upcoming not-quite-a week, yikes.

I do plan to write up and share my to-read list, per [personal profile] renay's request on Tumblr, but since some of my notes are a little vague, I have to do a little research first. Hopefully in the next few days.

Vacation!

Feb. 24th, 2014 10:36 am
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
T and I are going to Dubai in the third week of March! To visit my friend M, who's been teaching there for a couple of years, and also to see the mega-architecture and experience a very different kind of place. We've been trying to get this together for awhile, so to suddenly have it happening at almost the last minute is a bit daunting, but I'm more excited than not.

Any suggestions for surviving a sixteen hour plane flight, possibly in sub-optimal seats, are very welcome.

Holidays

Dec. 29th, 2013 02:15 pm
owlmoose: (cats - teacup)
Last full day in DC. We had a quiet Christmas day. Then we went out the next three days, visiting the Pentagon Memorial (mostly because the architect was a classmate of mine at Bryn Mawr), the Library of Congress (at last!), the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum (which is the home of the Space Shuttle Discovery), and Eastern Market in Capitol Hill.

Today was brunch and now football -- my sister-in-law's boyfriend is a big Packers fan, and they have a shot at the playoffs, so no way he is going to miss this game. So we are all in the TV room, hanging out by the fireplace and the Christmas tree, the early games on TV, nice and cozy against the rain outside. It's been a good visit. But I'm definitely glad to be getting home tomorrow.
owlmoose: (california - freeway)
Posting to DW/LJ from an airplane. Living in the future is pretty sweet, if more expensive than I thought it would be (Virgin America had the wrong prices posted on their website) and also much slower (I had to turn off image loading on Tumblr).

Currently enroute to Washington DC, where we will spend the holiday with T's family. I can't actually remember if I mentioned it here, but T's mom moved from San Diego to live with his sister in July. She can't really live on her own anymore, and although moving cross-country might not have been the ideal solution, it was the compromise everyone could best live with. It's a little different, making a cross-country trek for the holiday rather than just bopping down to Southern California, but we do what we must. At least it's not supposed to be terribly cold this week. And I hear that DC is beautiful at Christmastime. So I hope it will be a nice trip. It's been pretty smooth so far.

We'll be in DC for a week, and I'm not sure how online I'll be. Probably at least some, given that T and I have four Internet devices between us (two iPhones, an iPad, and my computer). But if I don't see you, I hope those of you celebrating have a lovely Christmas, and that everyone has a good week. :)
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
I know there are some of you out there. I'm going to be down your way soon, on September 22nd and maybe a few days before that. Anyone around? Anyone want to get together? I don't know my exact schedule yet, but I'm probably driving, and I have to leave the morning of Monday, 9/23. Drop me a line if you're interested.
owlmoose: (quote - bucket)
I keep promising to update my journal more often and then not doing it. Well, no time like the present. Five things make a post?

1. The Winter quarter concert is over, and it went well. Now we're on a brief break until April, when we start rehearsals for Beethoven's Ninth. That's such an awe-inspiring piece, and I'm really looking forward to it.

2. DOINK! sign-ups are open through Friday!



It's no exaggeration to say that DOINK is my favorite event on the fandom calendar, except maybe the Kiss Battles. I've been participating in DOINK since the very beginning, and I've gotten and produced some of my very favorite stories in the process. If you are at all interested, check it out. Even if you can't make the official schedule work, the mods are always in need of betas and pinch-hitters (I find writing pinch-hits to be especially satisfying).

3. I just realized that I never posted anything about my latest cat drama. Cut for pet health issues. )

4. Is anyone surprised that I started playing FFX-2 right after finishing FFX? No? I didn't think so. In other fandomy things, I am still doing the 30 Day Grey Warden Challenge, but I've decided to post my answers only on Tumblr. If you're interested, you can follow along on this tag, and I'll probably also do a master post when I'm finished. Speaking of master posts, I really need to make one for the DA Kiss Battle, and I'll plan on doing that this week. Hold me to that, Internets.

5. Although it might be a challenge with cat care, I'm planning an overnight trip to Napa with some friends next month, as part of my extended birthday celebration. Hey, I turned 40. That rates a birthday month, doesn't it? Despite living in the SF Bay Area since 1986, I've almost never been to Napa, so I'm looking forward to that, too.

LA Weekend

Jan. 31st, 2013 10:23 am
owlmoose: (california - freeway)
So I never did report on my weekend in Los Angeles! The reason for the trip: my friend A currently has a student membership to The Magic Castle, which is a magician's club in Hollywood. She's been talking the place up for years, so I jumped on this chance to go, roadtripping down with a few other friends (S, E, and DK) for the weekend, and we did some other stuff while we were there, including a Warner Brothers studio tour (highly recommended if you have even the slightest interest in television or film-making -- look, Stars' Hollow! and Central Perk! ) and Disneyland, where I hadn't been for over a decade.

The Castle was pretty awesome -- we watched four shows, including two in the Close-up Gallery, which were the best since it only seats 30 and so no one is more than a few feet from the stage. So you get a great view of what's happening, but both magicians were so good that the closer view didn't give the game away. Also awesome: two magicians were in line with us for a show, and they did a bunch of card tricks while we waited. A says that kind of thing happens a lot.

Then Disneyland, which I love. Non-ironically, even. Yeah, it's all fake, but so what? It's still brilliantly designed, and the rides are fun, and it's neat to see all the kids -- big and small alike -- walking around with a bit of wonder on their faces. Maybe I'd burn out if I went more often, but I go rarely enough that I can still get excited, every time. I hope I get back sooner than 10 years from now.
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
We returned from our annual Christmas trip to San Diego today. It was a pretty good visit -- uneventful flights there and back, a quiet Christmas at home with curry chicken and Scrabble and pie, then took a drive up to Orange County the next day for the big holiday dinner with all the aunts and uncles and cousins. It was a good trip, although not without its stresses. Minor family drama under the cut. )

I'm not getting together with my parents until mid-January, so we get this weekend free of family obligations. On the agenda: relaxing, more Mass Effect, and a fondue party on New Year's Eve for which I'm coordinating the food. Should be fun.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a great holiday, and I wish you all the happiest of New Years!
owlmoose: (hepburn)
After a drive, some errands, and a booze run, we are now settle in for the night with food, games, and delicious adult beverages (I have a lemon drop in hand as I type this (not literally)). Considering how much hilarity we had just driving around town, I predict that this is going to be an awesome, awesome weekend. :D

I might get my monthly wrap-up post done today, or I might not. Given that I'm experience typing fail already, it might be a terrible idea, or it might be highly entertaining....
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro jump)
Today, I flew to Memphis, TN, where I ate a BBQ pork sandwich at a restaurant within a mile of Graceland. I had no idea Graceland was just in town like that. It was closed, of course (we drove by at like 9:30pm), but all lit up for the holidays.

Tomorrow, I meet up with [personal profile] seventhe and [personal profile] justira to drive over to [personal profile] renay's place for a weekend of mayhem and shenanigans. At least, I hope there are shenanigans. I have been promised some, after all. And if the world ends from the sheer confluence of awesome that will commence, I guess the Mayans were just a few days off.

Fish story

Nov. 21st, 2012 12:33 am
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
Today, we went to Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the fishies.

Selected fishies beneath the cut. )

Sadly, the sea otter exhibit is under renovation until March, although we did get a look at some furry little heads swimming around in the kelp beds, plus I also saw a sea lion. They were pretty far away, but aquarium staff were handing out binoculars on the outside deck, so instead of just squinting and asking ourselves if that was really an otter or just our imagination, we could tell that they were actual real sea otters, swimming around on their backs and diving underwater. Still, it's not the same as seeing them right there, up close and personal. Guess we'll have to go back sometime, oh dear.
owlmoose: Picture of Tim Lincecum admiring the World Series trophy with the text "Shiny" (baseball - shiny)
1. THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES OHHHHH YEAH. After two of the most stressful and exciting playoff series I can possibly imagine -- you should have seen me jumping up and down on the couch when they came back from 0-2 to beat the Reds in the NLDS, and Barry Zito's start in Game 5 of the NLCS to shift the momentum against the Cardinals was a thing of beauty -- the sweep of Detroit was almost anti-climactic, but I will take it. :D :D :D The parade is tomorrow and I am really excited to go.

2. My road trip was awesome, even though I did get rained on for most of it. The California and Oregon coasts are outrageously beautiful, the drive went well, and I really enjoyed getting to sit down with fandom people and college friends and hang out. Pictures and daily check-ins can be found on Tumblr; unfortunately I didn't get many nature photographs because it was too cold and rainy to stop much along the drive. Still worth it, though.

3. November is coming! After some hemming and hawing, and encouragement from [personal profile] seimaisin, I've decided to do NaBloWriMo yet again, because anything that gets me writing in my journal is a good thing. Also on her suggestion, I've signed up for [livejournal.com profile] wrisomifu, which commits me to writing at least 10 minutes every day next month. Good encouragement both for the journaling and for [livejournal.com profile] dragonagebb, for which I have a rough draft due at the beginning of December, eek!

That's about it for me. How are you?
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
Thank you for being a place that I can reliably connect to the Internet. *clings to sweet, sweet Internet*

My hotel last night was nice, but it was far enough outside of town that I had no cell phone reception -- no service at all, much less data -- and it didn't have wireless. At least, I don't think it had wireless; there was a network that I could connect to, but it was terribly flaky and I gave up on it after about an hour. I suspect that I was actually sneaking wireless from someone else who brought their own. Thank you, whoever you are. I can do without checking the 'Net during the day, but if I don't have it at night or in the morning, I feel cut off, especially

Yesterday's drive was gorgeous. Perfect sunny day, not too much traffic, and the coast up here is so beautiful. I took some phone snaps, which I will post to Tumblr soon. Now I am in Fort Bragg, which is hands-down the biggest city on my trip since I left the freeway in San Rafael. Today is supposed to be rainy, and it rained last night, so I'll probably take this next leg a little more slowly. Next stop: Gold Beach, OR.
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
On Sunday, I'm going to be hopping in my car and heading for points north, driving up the California and Oregon coasts to spend a few days in Portland and Seattle, mostly to meet some Tumblr buds who either live up there or are visiting next week, but also to have a bit of a vacation and take on my real road trip for the first time in many, many years.

I've already been in contact with some of you (and owe some of you email!!), but if you live up that-a-way and want to get together, let me know! :D
owlmoose: (BMC - juno)
The beach was fantastic. Beautiful, relaxing. Once I got past the rocky shore, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea was lovely, lovely, lovely. Not swimming-pool warm, but easy to get used to, and the salinity made it easy to just gently bob around. We also walked around the cute town, had good food -- focaccia is a specialty of the region -- and met my friend M's family, including the aunt whose apartment we're using.

On the way up, it was noted that our train went through the city of Pisa, so yesterday we decided to make a stopover on the trip back to check out its most famous monument. The cathedral is actually really lovely, and I'll try to post more pictures of that detour when I get home.

Today was a tourist day. We visited several churches, including Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which is nestled within the ruins of an ancient Roman bathhouse, and San Clemente, a 12th century church built on the site of a 4th century church, which was itself built on the ruins of a 1st century temple to the Roman god Mithras. This kind of repurposing of land is not at all unusual in Rome -- it's almost harder to build without disturbing some sort of ancient ruin -- but what's different here is that both levels of ruins beneath have been excavated while the church above was left intact. Sadly, no photographs are allowed, or I'd have a thousand, but the ruins are too fragile and flash photography would certainly destroy them. There are some at the link above. If you're ever in Rome, it's totally worth a visit -- even if you don't have a friend along who is an archaeologist by profession.

Also today we went back to the Pantheon, where I have been before, but I'll always go back again. Then dinner, and now I'm sitting on the balcony of the apartment, typing this up before bedtime. Have I mentioned before how much I love warm evenings?

I have two more days here. Tomorrow will be fairly low-key during the day -- we'll see a crypt and the Spanish steps, then spend the afternoon relaxing before heading to the northern part of the city for a new dinner venue that M wants to check out. Then Wednesday is Pompeii, where A and I expect to spend all day. I fly home Thursday at noon, by which time I'm sure I'll be both ready to go and never wanting to leave.
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro jump)
This post coming to you from the train we are taking up to Sestri Levante, where we plan to spend much of the weekend lying on a beach. (The train doesn't have wifi, but one of my friends has a mobile hot spot. Pretty sweet.) Still sitting in the train station for the moment, but we should be underway soon.

I don't have much more to say; I'm mostly posting for the novelty factor. :) But I also wanted to mention that I'm putting quick posts and photos on Tumblr, under the tag kj in rome. Check out photos from the cat sanctuary! Watch for cute beach town pictures soon!

Roma!

Jun. 22nd, 2012 10:04 am
owlmoose: (BMC - juno)
I am here! Got in yesterday afternoon, actually, completely zonked from no sleep on the plane, but my friends kept me up late enough for dinner and gelato, and I crashed around 10:30. Slept, with a couple of wakings, for almost 12 hours, so I think the worst of the jet lag is done, once there's enough hot water for a shower.

The apartment where we're staying is nice, very classic: marble floors, books and knickknacks and artwork everywhere. It belongs to the aunt of my friend M, who is here working for a month. It's in a residential neighborhood, north of the Villa Borghese -- and this church is just up the street, which is one of the things I love about Rome: the continual reminders of just how old the place is. We'll be here all day today, then tomorrow morning we're going up to the family beach house in Sestri Levanti, which promises to be a cute town with lots of shops right on the Mediterranean.

There's been a heatwave, which is supposedly cooling down to the high 80s today. Fortunately, I will rarely complain about high 80s. Off to get ready for the day!
owlmoose: (rickman)
Finally, finally this quarter is over -- Saturday was the last day of classes, Monday I had a presentation to faculty, and today was our all-school meeting, which pretty much rounds things out. I guess I never did write that epic post about why it was such a stressful time, but I promise you aren't missing much besides lots of complaining. I don't expect anything much to change next quarter, sadly. But I think we have a better handle now on how to do what we can within the staff and financial limitations the corporate overlords have imposed on us, so it should go more easily. At least until they pull the rug out from under us again.

In today's meeting, and also in his announcements to the faculty yesterday, the dean mentioned me and the other librarian, and gave us kudos for keeping everything together in the face of changes and cutbacks. It was a surprise, and a nice one. I think a lot of us in academic administration are so used to the idea that we will bend over backwards to shield the students and faculty from financial constraints and bad decisions by upper management that it just becomes expected. So it felt good to be acknowledged, to hear that they know it's not an easy thing to do and that our efforts are appreciated.

Anyway. Now I can start putting the last three months behind me and start looking forward to tomorrow, when I will get on a plane and then be in Rome. So excited, you have no idea. Can I just close my eyes and be there now?

My computer is coming with me, and I do have wireless where I'm staying, but I don't expect to be online much, so this is me, mostly signing off for now. Ciao! See you in a week. :)
owlmoose: (cats - silver kitty)
Whenever I go a week without posting, it feels wrong, like somehow I might cease to exist in this corner of the Internet if I don't interact with it often enough. I'm still around, I still comment -- I doubt anyone starts wondering if I have disappeared off the face of the earth. (Especially as it remains obvious to anyone within 50 miles of Tumblr that I have not.)

Anyway, still here. Still working the Saturday work schedule. Vegas was a great time. The highlight of the trip was probably the tour of the Neon Boneyard, which is where many of the city's old signage lives. I posted a selection of my favorite pictures on Tumblr, here. They're opening a full-blown museum later this summer, which I would love to go see. We also saw the Cirque de Soleil show 'O', which was pretty much as amazing as billed, wandered around town, hung out in a very crowded pool, and ate. Good time with good friends. Next up, I am going back to Rome. For a week. Less than two weeks from now. So, so, so excited.

The less said about work, the better, although at least I feel like I've finally adjusted to the new schedule (just in time for me to stop working in for break). The other thing of note that's happened lately is that one of my cats, Tori, has started having unexplained seizures. Not very often -- four that we know of, over the time period of a month -- and the vet can't find anything else wrong with her, so it's probably just some sort of epilepsy. It's scary, but as long as it stays within certain tolerances, it's not likely to cause her any long-term harm, so for now we watch and wait, and maybe if they get more severe we put her on medication. Between times she seems totally fine, to the point where I was hoping that the first couple of attacks were a fluke, but alas, no. Not fun times for kitty. :(

Fandomwise, I got my Doink! story submitted a whole day early, got a great Al-Cid/Ashe/Balthier story as my gift, and have continued to work on my Hawke Alphabet with the hopes of maybe getting it done this month. No other Avengers fic so far, although an Idea continues to brew. Right now my Avengers fannishness seems to be more about meta, and keymashing over how much I love the characters. Which is easy to do on Tumblr, the land of pretty pictures and quick-fire meta conversations. My Dragon Age replay is approaching endgame -- just reached Denerim -- and I should write more about that, because it's been a really interesting experience.

So that's things by me. How are all of you, out there in Journal-land?

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