Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Considering A Dog, Seriously

One of Tiff's co-workers has a 10-month old dog that they can no longer keep at home for two reasons: 1) new jerkish neighbors called animal control the day they moved in when he barked continuously (supposedly) for 20 minutes. Evidently, one more call to animal control by the neighbors and the dog goes to the pound. 2) the kids haven't taken to the dog very much (he smells like a dog, they complain!).

The dog is a black or chocolate lab mixed with something else. I haven't met him yet, but Tiff describes him as tall, black, and lanky. His name is Sirius. I think he's secretly an Animagus. Anyway, it sounds like a really good situation for us, because the current owner has offered to take care of him any time we are out of town on trips and such. She doesn't want to give Sirius up, but she has no choice because of the neighbors and her kids.

We're still trying to sort out exactly how we feel. Do we have enough time and money to take care of him? Probably yes on both counts, but are we ready to commit that much of our time to him? Hard to say. I think we'll at least take him for a weekend (maybe this one, maybe the next) and see how it goes. I think we should also have him for a full week too, since part of the deal will be seeing how we can work our schedules so that he isn't home alone too often.

Any serious Sirius-related comments are welcomed!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Meeting Bill

I had a dream last night that Tiffany and I got to meet President Clinton somehow. He and I had a nice conversation where I asked him what he liked to do when he wasn't shaking hands and meeting with new people doing political stuff. I think he said he liked to run, but his lungs weren't as good as they used to be. Then I said, my lungs are pretty good, but they're nothing compared to Tiffany's. She's a real big-time runner, you know. I think that's all I can remember...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

I turned 27 this morning. Whee. So far I've celebrated by fixing a flat tire on my bike! Yeah!

Monday, September 22, 2008

SUWA Roundup

I went with Tiffany to the SUWA roundup, their annual get-together for all their members who want to show up for a weekend of camping, hiking, and pot-lucking. It was a cool event in a beautiful place (San Rafael Swells, south of I-70 and a bit west of Moab). We just got back a few hours ago and I posted pictures from Tiffany's camera tonight.

I think I had some other interesting things to say... Oh well. I'm not sure why I'm still awake, since it's almost 12:40am. Maybe I should go to bed....

Indeed, good night!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Apparently, I've never gotten a visa before

It turns out that a visa is nothing more than a stamp on your passport! So the consulate kept my passport because they need to put a stamp on it! So I haven't lost it after all! Yeah!

I had been pretty stressed about it the past couple days. I even started looking at flights to LA to spend a day there before going to China, so I could apply for a new visa with my new passport. Wow.

In other news, as Jessica pointed out, CERN is about to start up the Large Hadronic Collider and end the universe. The thing I haven't been hearing people talk about, is how all the little black holes the LHC creates are going to run back to the center of our galaxy and wake up the (currently dormant!) super-massive black hole residing there. Naturally, it's going to be outraged at being awoken, so it's going to come hunting us down. And believe me, there's no escaping a super-massive black hole. Oh well, it's been nice knowing everyone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Nightmare Continues

Yesterday I spent six hours trying and failing to get a Chinese visa at the Consulate General of the PRC. I showed up at 12:30, right in the middle of the lunch break. Not wanting to wait a half-hour without any sign of a line, I walked around for a bit and talked to Tiff. Then I came back around 12:45, and all of a sudden a big line had formed. And then a huge throng of people all waving tickets in the air showed up and moved straight ahead of the line I was in. They opened the doors at 1 and started letting all the people with tickets in, and nobody had a clue what was going on.

Our line didn't move for a solid hour, which we eventually realized was because they had a hundred people left over from the morning session (9am-noon) that hadn't been served yet. I started to think things were looking bleak. Finally around 2pm I got inside the room and got my ticket, which was number 281. I looked up at the board and saw they were on... 200. Yikes, another hour to kill. I went outside and re-parked the car in another 2 hour spot, then made it back inside (now having a ticket I didn't have to wait in the outer line again, thank goodness).

The only decent thing about the entire disaster was I was able to use that time to read some Harry Potter. That made the hour inside pass a lot faster. So, around 3pm, I get my number called and walk up with all my papers. I hand them to the woman behind the window, and the first thing she says is, "This is red ink, you cannot use red ink." Me: There was zero indication that red ink was not acceptable. "Sucks for you, jackass! Go back and fill out the application in black ink, then come back to this window. Use this [cheap, easily replaceable] pen, but make sure to bring it back!"

So I go back and copy my application over in black ink, then go back to the window. But there's one person already at the window, and another person in line at the window who must have been like me and missed something on the application. So finally the first dude finishes, and then the next guy goes up. I kind of look over his shoulder and overhear the conversation, and it sounds like the guy is trying to do a study-abroad in China, but didn't buy a return ticket yet. After a few minutes of talking, the poor guy has to leave because they won't give him a visa.

So then I get up to the line, and once again hand over my papers. This time she looks them over and says, "This picture is unacceptable. It must be printed on photo paper, not ordinary paper." Me: But there was no indication on the form that photo paper was necessary! "Doesn't matter! Go to the information desk to get your photo taken." So I walk over to the information desk, where I wait in line behind a few other people. Then I finally get to talk to her, and she says, sure, I'll take your picture. Ten bucks please! Obviously I have no choice, so I fork over the cash.

Five minutes later, my shiny new, printed-on-photo-paper visa picture is in my hands. I walk back to the window and wait again behind someone, and then finally I hand everything over and miracle of miracles, there are no problems. She hands me the slip of paper and says, "Come back and pick it up on the 16th." I'm about to walk away until I realize, "hey wait, I want that thing mailed to me!" So I remind her that I want it mailed to me. And she's like, "Oh yes, right. In that case, you will need to pay the $130 in cash, in person, immediately." Fuck! I don't have that much cash on me! So that ends that!! No hope of getting the damn thing mailed to me. I'm totally, completely livid at this point, but there's nothing I can do. I grab the slip and walk away from the window, not having anything to do but pace around the stupid consulate general until they open the door (which they do every five minutes since it's after 3pm). What a horrible experience.

And now, oday, I discovered I don't have my passport. I had it right up till the very end, when the woman told me I would be able to have my visa mailed to me unless I paid in cash (this fact was NOT made clear on the website!!). Naturally, I did not have $130 on me, so I was left to walk out of there dumbfounded. After all the other crap I went through, I was completely livid. I don't remember picking up my passport, but I really thought I did. Then there was about a five minute wait to get out of the building, since it was after 3pm and they only opened the doors every five minutes or so. Then I walked straight to the car and got in. I didn't have anything in my hands, I remember, so I must have lost it before then. Maybe somebody pick-pocketed me in the five minutes before I left the building? It was only a block or so from the consulate general to my car, so it's hard to believe I could have lost it then. I was just so upset at the whole thing I wasn't thinking about anything.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I'm at home in SJ at my parents' house for the weekend. Yesterday was my Mom's birthday and Tiff's friend Katie's wedding up in Livermore. It was a nice reception (we unfortunately missed the wedding because it started 7 hours earlier than the reception and we wanted to spend some time in SJ with my Mom on her birthday), but we had a lot of wine and needed to spend a bit of time sobering up before heading back home, so we accepted an offer from someone to drive us over to their hotel room where we could hang out until we were ready to drive. The only problem was that their hotel was quite a ways from the wedding, and we didn't know where to go once we were ready to leave. Plus it was past midnight and we were already getting really tired. So we somehow ended up on 580 east until we got on I-5. We should have turned around immediately at that point, but I figured we could go south then east instead of east then south. Unfortunately, that's not the way it worked! I-5 goes more southeast than straight south, and there's no turnoff until you're as far south as Gilroy. About 2am we were still on I-5, and so we decided to pull off at a gas stop and take a nap for an hour or so. We woke up around 3am, still exhausted, and got back on the road. We ended up getting home around 4am. If we hadn't gotten lost we would have made it home at 1am instead of 4am. It was pretty crappy. But at least we survived.

And Serena Williams just won the US Open! Cool. It was a great match, and I'm glad I got to see the end of it.

Tiffany is probably at a layover in Las Vegas right now, on her way to SLC for work tomorrow morning. Hopefully she's winning lots of money at the slots. I'm heading to Tucson in a couple days to stay there for a week and work on observing proposals, then I finally get back to SLC on Sept. 18th.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Almost got myself run over

Biking back from work there's this busy intersection where the cars fly by at 40 mph and don't have to stop. I made a stupid decision to try and cross when there was a brief break in the traffic, but I failed to check for traffic on the right (for the previous minute there had been nothing but a steady stream of traffic from the left). Naturally there's some old lady zooming down the road from the right who has to break really hard so she doesn't hit me. It wasn't actually THAT close, but her breaks sure did make a lot of noise. I decided I'm not crossing that intersection anymore. At least not at rush hour...

Tomorrow we are headed back to the bay area for a friend's wedding and my Mom's birthday. Should be a fun weekend!

Tiff is still working on protest stuff for SUWA, and it's 12:30am!! There's this crazy push from the Bush administration to force the BLM to open up practically all of their land to off-road-vehicle use and other really environmentally-unfriendly activities before Bush is outta there. So SUWA has to work like crazy to protect the Utah wilderness. Gotta fight the good fight!