Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tucson Women's March

Saturday morning, I had the pleasure in taking part of the Tucson leg of the Women's March on Washington. It was a last-minute decision between my sister and I. We were both getting over illnesses and the weather was supposed to be terrible, but we rallied anyway. We both agreed that our conscious' would haunt us if we didn't try.

It was raining, actually hailing at one point, and remarkably cold for Tucson, but that didn't seem to hinder turn-out. My sister lives relatively close to the route, so we parked at her place and walked over. It was amazing getting closer and closer to the beginning of the march path and realizing everyone around us was heading to the same place. At the starting point, we slowly gathered the rest of our party of six. It ended up being me, my sister, my sister's friend, my sister's friend's male coworker, my sister's friend's mom, and one of my sister's high school teachers. We were a motley crew but it turned out to be a great, little bunch.

In the grand scheme of things, we were unprepared. We were cold and wet, but more importantly, we weren't wearing any pink or had any knit hats.

I don't know what the projected attendance number was, but the estimation of final count was above 15,000. It must have been much larger than expected because everything happened much slower than scheduled. And that was ok. The march was a slow crawl through downtown, but fortunately the route was fairly short. It gave us plenty of time to chant with strangers and read punny signs.

Going in, I really didn't know what to expect. Honestly, I had no clue. And in hindsight, that was the right way to go. It ended up being thousands of people who were tired and fed up, but positive and proactive. I saw old classmates from high school. I saw a coworker. I saw young children and their parents and their parents' parents. I saw a troop of girl scouts who sang their little song as they walked. We followed behind a woman probably in her sixties wearing a sandwich board of protest signs, a Viking helmet, banging on a tambourine. There was such a sense of comradery. After the walk, three of us grabbed lunch in a cafe downtown filled with other marchers. Even though we were done at that point, many people were still checking in on the other marches across the country. Update after update of how almost every march in the country was underestimated. That they couldn't even march in Washington D.C. because there were too many people.  

I don't know what I expected to get out of attending the march, but I feel like I got so much out of it. A purely peaceful protest demonstrating that there was still a large section of the population who wasn't just going to sit back and let the bullies win. In spite of being called 'sore losers' or being told to 'be hopeful' that things might still be ok, we were still ready for action. We would be vigilant. We would be watching.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fan of Friday: Week of 1/20/2017

Just like nonograms before, I've become obsessed with another little internet puzzle game. Whether you call it 'Slither Link' or 'Puzzle Loop', it's an addicting brain exercise.

The point of the game is pretty simple: you are trying to create one continuous line throughout the space that doesn't violate any of the constraints given to you. The space contains a grid of dots and some blank and numbered squares. The numbered squares tell you how many line segments surround the numbered space. With reason and deduction (and usually a crap-ton of time), you can determine the path of the loop.

It does take a while to get the feel of it, so if it's something you are interested in, start by reading the tutorial page, slowly increasing the size and difficulty, and making notes of tricks and patterns.

Now that I've gotten the trick of them, I race myself. My goal this week was to complete one of the 20 by 20s in under 15 minutes. This was my first success.

On the gargantuan weekly puzzle, like the one below, sometimes the easiest way to solve it is to step back and do something else for a while. Fresh eyes can really help when you are stuck. And I get stuck a lot.

I mean, these puzzles aren't anything special, but they are fun, they are free, and they make me feel like my brain isn't turning into complete mush.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Project House Update: Blinds Leading the Blind

One of the things I love most about my house is the ridiculous amounts of natural light. However, a side effect of that is a lack of privacy. It's hard to feel like people aren't watching you when you've got several big windows facing the street.

The room that made Dan feel the most insecure about being on display was the workout room. When we moved in, it had some horrible vertical blinds. Those survived until we replaced the window with more energy-efficient ones, yet never replaced the blinds. For years, the window had no covering and caused so much debate in our household.

Dan didn't like using the equipment in the workout room because he felt like people could spy on him, especially at night. We talked about hanging curtains to cover the window, but I was concerned that with the treadmill so close to it, the curtains could potentially get sucked up into its mechanism. That left us with some sort of blinds being our only option.

We both agreed that we weren't as concerned with light-blocking as privacy so it wasn't critical to us to block the arched portion of the window. All we really wanted was some way to cover the lower portion of the window. We weighed all the different kinds of blinds we could think of. I didn't want to go back to vertical blinds. We agreed the cats would probably destroy horizontal blinds. I wanted to try a cordless Roman shade, but Dan didn't trust the mechanism, but did like not having to worry about future children hanging themselves on cords.

Dan got so fed up at one point that I told him just to go to Home Depot and get anything that works, preferably cheap, as a temporary solution. If he could find something for under $50 that would solve the problem in the short-term, that was fine by me. He picked some out, brought them home, and quickly discovered how hard it would be to find ones that would work for us.

Because the window is arched, we cannot mount the blinds at the top of the window, on the underside of the window casing. Instead, we needed blinds that mounted on the sides, at the ends of the blinds mechanism. We upped our budget and scoured the internet. However, it is nearly impossible to determine in the details of blinds descriptions how blinds mount. It wasn't a searchable term and most of the time, unless there was a video showing the installation, there was no way to tell. Instead, we got a little fed-up and went back to our local Home Depot. There was no one in the 'Blinds' section to help us, so we basically deconstructed every set of display blinds. Dan walked around and popped the display blinds off their mechanisms to see how they attached. We expect to be able to find a lot of types that side-installed, but we only found one that would work for us. They are Artisan No Tools Light Filtering Cellular Shade by Redi Shade. They mount to the side with adhesive and a spring-loaded plunger. It blew our budget out of the water, but we decided it was worth it to have a good solution.

They are custom-order only and we had to first wait on color samples to arrive in the mail. I wanted white to match the casing of the window to hide them when in the up position, so we went with 'Snow'. Another week later, our blinds showed up and we managed to install them without catastrophe. Trust me, there was a lot of opportunity for it, but we managed. Level and everything.

I love how hidden they are in the up position. You almost have to look for them to notice them.

They still let in a great amount of light, but give us a nice sense of privacy. Our neighbors would have to walk directly up to the house and peer in to see anything now. And that's just creepy.

Since this is one of the cats' favorite views, I like to leave them up a smidge so they can still survey the front yard.

This comparison really shows off how the blinds just disappear into the casing. Yes, they were way more expensive than we wanted, but they are perfect. When we need to pretend we are productive people, we'll order the matching ones for the den.

Seriously, it's like magic. They are invisible or something. I LOVE IT!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goals for 2017

Well guys, we somehow survived 2016. Traditionally, 2016 should have been a good year for me. I love these odd fourth years with their summer Olympics and the leap years and all the intelligent political discussion. To quote myself, "It's gonna be a good one guys. Leap years always are."


But we came out the other side! Before going on to my feelings about the weird trip that 2017 will be, let's reflect a bit back on 2016: how did I do on my resolutions?

  • Find two doctors: general and ob/gyn. Technically, complete success! I've found two doctors, but I haven't booked appointments yet, so I don't fail on a technicality! Any progress is something when this resolution has lived on my lists for years now. C
  • Take a vacation. Utter success! Kauai was beautiful and we needed that trip. And one of these days, I'll finish writing about it (Parts 1 & 2 here)! A+
  • Be more proactive on home projects. Well, given that the demolition of the blue bathroom was my doing, I stepped up my game. I ripped out the old carpet and started the ball rolling on the renovation. My hands more dirty this year than any before, but it could have been more. I could have completed more, so points off for that. B
  • Blog a new recipe once a month. I was hoping that this goal would get me baking and cooking more and make me more adventurous. It did, slightly, but the problem arose that the only things new I wanted to make were terrible for me. So, while this was a complete success, I may need to find a different way to keep this up if I want to keep wearing my pants. (You can visit my recipe blog here). A+
  • Get a promotion. Well, there are posts upon posts that I could write about this, but short answer: it didn't happen. However, the lack of promotion is not due to any failure on my part. This year made me better at what I do and we'll see in the upcoming months how that shakes out. This will be an interesting year for me career-wise...C
  • Disconnect from technology more. I failed. If anything, I'm more connected now than I was a year ago. I've fallen victim to too many good computer games. It's still a valid goal, but I don't know the proactive way to create lastly change. F
  • Make grocery shopping a priority/routine. This one was an accident that's work out well. I've started taking an early Saturday morning Zumba class and I hit the grocery store afterwards on my way home. The store is quiet, the house is stocked up for all the weekend cooking, and it is no longer an after-work stress point. A
And now, for the future! 2017!

  • Finally, successfully, learn how to drive stick shift. I've got two failed attempts under my belt from my father, so maybe it's time I find another teacher.
  • Write four blog posts a month. I've let my writing slide over the last 12 months and I neeeeeeed to get back into it. I've gotten caught up in whether something is worthy of a write-up and I just need to write anything and everything.
  • Hang out with Dan more. We've gotten into a bad habit of not dating each other and we need to break it. He's a good egg, my husband, and it would be nice to spend some more quality time together. 
  • Read more. In 2016, I stopped caring about what my reading choices said about me. I read good books, trash books, old books, new books, complete series, teen books, anything. I'd like to try to read more books that challenge me, but I don't want reading to become work. This goal will stay ambiguous intentionally. 
  • Find more ways to give back. My life is great. I really have nothing to complain about, but here I am, finding ways to pick at it. I can give back, so I should. I started being conscious of it over the last year, but I want to more. I have the power to give back so it's really my obligation.
A good combination of concrete and fluid goals. 

This will be a weird year. The year I turn 30. Either it will be the year I finally start to get my shit together or the year I throw it all at the fan.