Thursday, December 29, 2011

520 Toll Bridge Haiku

The day has finally arrived.

Today tolling begins on the 520 bridge between Seattle and Bellevue. I believe that a lot of people will avoid the toll and re-route through Kenmore - that's not a good thing for me.

So before the tolling began I took my last couple of free trips over the bridge...just because I could...and both times on the way from Seattle to Bellevue I spied a grand bald eagle perched on a lamppost right at the beginning of the bridge. It was so close I could see its face. I think it was looking for fish in Lake Washington.

From these thoughts came these Haiku -

520 bridges the gap
520 toll begins -
Kenmore will suffer!

Eagle soars low in blue sky
Fish jumps in the lake
Huge hunger is avoided

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cooking With Teresa in Nagoya, Japan

My friend, Teresa, and her husband, Steve, packed up about four months ago and moved to Nagoya, Japan where Steve has a two-year assignment with his employer. Teresa regularly sends an email update on her latest Japanese adventures and I’d like to share a part of her email from December 6.

last week in preparation for our party, i decided to make some banana bread. well, low and behold it burned, and to make matters worse, about 10 minutes later, the oven broke. this was last thurs. and they finally fixed the oven this morning/by the way, i couldn't use the stove either.

i had to turn off the fuse because if it was on the oven made a noise that was deafening!!! so, today after the repairman left, i tried to make the pumpkin bread that i had tried making on sat. but couldn't because of the horrible sound, and guess what! it burned again!

i am discovering that this oven does not like anything baked with sugar on top-i do that for a nice crunchy crust. the house smelled so bad from the smoke that i had to open the windows and doors and go for a walk. i'm wondering if maybe i shouldn't have preheated the oven like the recipes call for. my flan, lasagne and porkchops have turned out fine so i don't know what happens with these breads.

i talked to 2 other women in the complex and turned the oven on to the setting they told me to use. if you'll recall from an earlier e-mail the darn oven has 6 different settings-no such thing as just turning the temp. on to 350. i just don't understand why these german appliances are so darn hard to use. i finally learned that in order to make the washer and dryer work, i have to slam the doors shut. no such thing as just pushing them gently. oh well, life goes on.

That really got me laughing! And Mike and I shared the same frustration with our oven in Guaymas. It had no temperature settings, in fact, no settings at all. We just turned the oven’s knob to the right and hoped for the best. Needless to say, we didn’t use our oven much. Ahhh…the joys of living in another country!

Thanks for sharing Teresa!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Festivities

December is always a good month for us.

It starts on the first. That’s the day I share my birthday with Cheryl. This year Cheryl came and met me at Nintendo for lunch on December first. That evening Mike and I went out for dinner to the Purple Café in Woodinville. I love that place! I had a three-course meal with a three-course wine flight – a chance to pair wine with food and try wine I would never think to order. It was wonderful.

Saturday morning Cheryl, with husband Pat, and I, met Cheryl's parents for breakfast in Bothell. Her parents are like second parents to me (heck they let me live in their motorhome for a spell way back in 1976 after my year living in Florida). It is good to spend time with them.

December fourth is our wedding anniversary. Last Sunday Mike and I celebrated 13 years together. We began with an early dinner at Prelude (inside McCall Hall at the Seattle Center) which was followed by a night at the Nutcracker Ballet. Everything was so festive and all the little girls wore their finest velvet holiday dresses!

Plus, this Saturday a new December tradition begins for us. It will be the evening of the Nintendo Holiday Party. They have already begun decorating the first floor of our building. It will be a gala affair with music, friends, and food prepared by local celebrity chef, Mr. Tom Douglas. I can’t wait!

And then winding up the month will be time out of the office. You see, Nintendo Headquarters closes early the afternoon of December 23 and doesn’t open up again until January 3. Yippee!! A winter vacation right here in Seattle!

Our apartment is adorned with our holiday décor and we even have stockings hanging over the fireplace this year. Rock keeps trying to get into the candy dish and Squeak is curious about all of the candles. All we need is a tree – which we’ll get sometime this week.

Life is good. And December is especially good…


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Sunday morning Mike and I got up and were ready to catch the bus to downtown Seattle for the Seattle Seahawks v. Washington Redskins football game.

We grabbed our bus passes and umbrellas and headed out. We were so excited…sitting in the Nintendo suite for any game is a treat! It was raining so hard we were laughing and wondering how we’d stay dry on the walk from the bus to the stadium.

And then it happened.

The rain and wind was strong, Mike’s walk became unsteady, our umbrellas flipped inside out, and I could see it coming. But it happened so quickly that there was nothing I could do. The poor guy looked at me and then he went down. Thank goodness his head hit bark in a flower bed and not the paved street. But there was blood everywhere, including his Seahawk cap.

We hobbled back to our apartment and cleaned up Mike’s face and his bloodied hand that broke his fall. He was shaken and unsteady, but alert and coherent. I felt so bad for him. We got him situated on the couch with the heating pad and blankets because Mike was in no shape to go to the game.

Our neighbor, Mark, went to the game with me and we made it to the suite in time for the national anthem. The game was exciting - very close - however, the Redskins ended up winning.

We got home and Mike was still resting his achy, ole body on the couch so we hung out and eventually made a pizza to share. Yesterday he was doing better even though his body thoroughly ached. Hopefully today the pain will lessen. Get better soon Mike!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Haiku

Friends gather at my table
Dog looks for a treat
One chair is empty this year

Fire burns low in the morning
Wood fuels the hot flame
By nightfall – it is all is gone

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Nintendo Suite at the Clink

One of the great benefits of working at Nintendo includes all the amenities available…


Mike and I will be enjoying the luxury of the suite as we watch the Seattle Seahawks National Football League team take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Searching for Mr. Scott Vanderpool

I’ve been listening to KZOK FM radio for years and years – it’s Seattle’s best rock. It’s a classic rock station and I never get tired of listening to the Doors, Beatles, Who, Stones, Jimi...the greats.

For the past year I have been commuting from Kenmore to Redmond in a grueling freeway/highway/arterial route that takes about 45 minutes each way. The commute is bearable because I listen to KZOK and I particularly enjoy the antics of morning DJ, Scott Vanderpool.

Scott is a local musician, a drummer, and he loves his rock and roll. His radio selections are excellent. He walks the talk and shares personal stories of days gone by in the rock world. He’s well known – and liked – and he has many guest appearances from local celebrities. He is the king of music trivia and it is interesting! He knows the Seattle area and he references local activities. He supports good works like “The Schools of the Rock - Battle of the Bands” in which local high school bands compete for cash prizes for use in their school’s music programs. (Did you know many school districts have eliminated music programs due to budget cuts?? How are we ever going to have more great musicians without great music programs?)

So imagine my surprise Monday morning when I started up the truck and heard a most annoying, gravelly, scratchy voice on my radio – and then I realized who it was. It was Danny Bonaduce. He’s the red-haired, trouble-making kid from the old Partridge Family show from the 1970s. Ugh.

Quick research found that Mr. B replaced Scott Vanderpool on the morning KZOK show! Yet I can find nothing about what happened with Scott. However, I did notice that ownership of the station changed hands November 1 and I suspect that has something to do with it. I sent an email to the station manager – venting gently.

Tuesday morning I listened again. Ugh. I don’t like Mr. B or his sidekick, Sarah. They just moved to Seattle so they don’t know anything about anything local. AND they don’t know music. They never even talk about music. They talk about weird stuff like buying a car. Who cares. Ugh.

Wednesday morning I listened and began to think I need to write a post about Scott Vanderpool. Mr. B and Sarah talked about more weird stuff – so weird I forgot what it was.

Thursday morning I heard that knarly, irritating voice and I hit my radio’s scan button. Adios Mr. B and Sarah…I’m looking for a new station.

Scott Vanderpool – if you’re reading this tell us where you are!!! And what happened over at KZOK??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dad's Birthday

My dad's name was John. John Johnson. I remember growing up and everyone called him Johnny. And he was from the South where they called him Buddy. I called him Dad. And I recently learned that my brother called him Johnny Danger. I'm not sure what that means, but Mike and I chuckle about it.

Today Dad would have been 82 years old. But he died when he was just 49.

Here is a picture I took of Dad back in 1976. I had been living in Florida and I was driving home to Seattle when I stopped in Mississippi for a week to visit Dad and my grandparents. Of all places, Dad and I visited Vicksburg National Military Park.

And we climbed, and posed, on the horses. We probably weren't supposed to, but that's just how Dad rolled.

I wish he was here today so we could climb on some more horses and maybe we could find out why my brother called him Johnny Danger...RIP,Dad.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Haiku Time

Dead leaves falling from the trees
Wipers - can't keep up
Mounds build along the way home

Cat ready to pounce on it
Life is near the end
Cat eats very well tonight!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran’s Day at Applebee’s Restaurant

Today we want to say THANK YOU to all of the men and women that serve/or have served our country!! And a special shout to to Dad and Mike.

And once again Applebee’s Restaurant honors our veterans and active duty military by offering a free meal today. Check it out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Earn$t Money

The original cashier’s check was returned to us on Monday. It is now resting in our bank account...waiting for the next house!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Inspection #1

We found a house. Last month. But it’s been an uphill battle.

It’s a foreclosed house. Little did I know what that entails. But I am learning.

I learned that when a bank owns a house they don’t know how to be a “seller.” They are not in the real estate business and it shows. And even though the bank uses a real estate agency that focuses on foreclosures it doesn’t mean that that agency is going to play by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) rules that were drilled into me when I was a real estate agent.

I contacted my former Coldwell Banker Bain broker/mentor and asked him to be our agent. We put in our offer on a Wednesday morning, with a response requested by Thursday at 5:00pm. It wasn’t until TEN DAYS later that we learned they had gone with a “cash buyer” and we were knocked out of the competition. Hmpff!

But I kept watching the MLS listing and never saw it change from Active to Pending. I thought that was weird, however, considering my short-lived experience with the bank’s agent I wasn’t that surprised. So every day I watched it and then – out of the blue – our agent contacted us and told us the cash buyer backed out. Whoo-hoo!!! We were back in the game.

We had additional documents to sign (plus, we had to magically turn our earne$t money check into a cashier’s check) and those went back and forth until last Thursday when we were told the offer was accepted – even though TO THIS DAY we have not received a copy of the signed around Purchase and Sale Agreement which documents mutual acceptance! Nevertheless, I noticed last Thursday evening that the MLS listing had changed from Active to Pending Inspection so we presumed our deal was on the table. Whewww…

So we had our agent set up an inspection and we crossed our fingers.

The inspection was Wednesday afternoon. Mike and our agent met the inspector at the house and the plan was to have me meet them at the house to hear the “results” when the inspector was done. My heart sinks when I think about the next paragraph I am going to write.

First off, it appears that someone used a water pressure cleaner to “clean” the roof – multiple times – and they ended up damaging numerous shingles and actually causing enough damage to see the plywood under the shingles in places. Cost #1 – a new roof NOW.

Secondly, since the house was vacant the water had been turned off. So the inspector turned it on and heard a leak behind a wall in the bathroom. Cost #2 – tear out the wall, find the leak and fix it.

Third, the gas water heater is old and near the end of its lifespan. Cost #3 – a new water heater and quick before it quits working.

Fourth, someone somehow made a "new" laundry area in the kitchen, but the dryer they have cannot fit into the laundry area so that the laundry door can shut! And in order to open the dryer door you actually have to "unhook" the laundry door to give it enough room! Cost #4 - re-engineer the whole laundry area.

And I could go on and on with the other issues. But I won’t. The bank stipulated in the Purchase and Sales Agreement that they would not pay for any repairs and that the house was sold “as it.” So much for negotiating. (As an aside, our agent offered to go back to the other agent and request concessions, but we have our doubts that that would ever happen.)

The drive home with Mike was quiet. We both knew in our heart of hearts that we didn’t want to buy a “fixer” and sink extra money into it just to make it livable. When we got home the floodgates opened and we debated the issues until we came to a resolution.

Not this house. Nope. Too many issues.

So yesterday morning we talked to our agent and said we were ready to walk away from the deal. He posed some good questions for us to think about, but could not change our minds. We explained that we’d rather keep looking. And we will. And I have no doubt that we will find the perfect, little house for us – one day.

Now the question at hand is – how long will it take for that lame seller’s agent to return our earne$t money???

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where in the World are Mike and Cynthia?

We’re right here in Kenmore, Washington. And we’re living the good life.

Mike’s health is excellent – even with all of the pills he has to take and the numerous doctor visits.

Cynthia loves her job and all that goes with full-time, permanent employment again!

Cynthia’s brother is doing pretty well…he had a bad few months in the hospital, but he’s recovering and almost back to par.

Our doggie, Rock, is eating well. He does, however, run off down our street every now and then – causing me to chase after him!

Our kitty, Squeak, is also eating well and sleeping quite well.

Everything is going so darn well that we’re moving forward with another goal in mind. We want to buy a house. Our “nomadic” life is drawing to an end…and while it was fun to pack up and sell everything and travel - we long for putting down roots again.

There is something about pride of ownership that we miss. We’ll never have the perfect garden, but we can grow tall sunflowers! We’ll never have the newest car on the block, but we can keep ours washed and shiny. We’ll never have the biggest house, but we can keep the gutters cleaned and the windows washed. We'll never have the biggest party at our house, but we can get to know our neighbors and be there when someone needs a hand.

Just the idea of settling in to our own place again makes me smile...stay tuned...there is more to come…

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nintendo Orientation

As a newly appointed permanent employee (oxymoron for 2011) of Nintendo America Inc., I recently participated in a two-day orientation. All the other newbies come to Redmond from NYC, San Francisco, North Bend and Kirkland and together we all go through a comprehensive ramp-up to hit the ground running as new Nintendo recruits.

The conference room we used was huge, the large conference tables were beautifully set, and there was a breakfast awaiting us on the side of the room. We were a group of nine and we were divided into teams of three with three of us at each of the large conference tables. Executives and managers took turns addressing us and providing information about their department or the company structure.

We even took a field trip to the North Bend facility where games and consoles are sent out round the globe. We had lunch with North Bend executives and managers and had the chance to ask them about North Bend activities.

We returned to headquarters in Redmond and heard more about some of the fabulously robust employee benefits and opportunities to win all kinds of prizes throughout the year.

We shared stories with our table-mates and we collaborated when competing against the other two teams – yes – we had contests that tested how much we’d been paying attention during the presentations. At the end of day one my team won the Jeopardy competition and we each received a shopping bag full of Nintendo goodies.

Upon our return to the same conference room on Tuesday morning we were greeted with a nice, red and black athletic bag that had been tucked onto each of our chairs. Our nametags had also been rearranged so that we sat with new people on the second day of our orientation.

We began with a complete tour of Redmond and I had my first glimpse of the Contact Center (reps responding to Nintendo calls, email, and correspondence) in the building next to mine. It was also my first time to see the underground parking in my building and the state-of-the-art Nintendo workout facilities. WOW.

We had a catered lunch and were joined by high-profile people that work at the Redmond campus. Again, it was an opportunity to have a 1:1 with someone that was open to questions from new employees. The person who sat at my table is someone I have seen around the building for months and months and it was so nice to finally be introduced.

The afternoon included a competition with a crossword puzzle. Each team went to a private conference room and went to work. We found that calling Nintendo employees and asking for the answer was the way to go! We didn’t win, but we had great teamwork!

We finished the day with another Jeopardy competition and we fought hard, but, alas, no win for my team.

Prior to this week, I had heard lots about the orientation and I was looking forward to it. I was not at all disappointed. It was fun and it was a fulfilling two days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

News from Nagoya, Japan

My friend, Teresa from Lake Stevens, Washington, recently sent more pictures that describe the life she is now experiencing in Japan.

My favorite: A two-car garage!

Teresa explains that this globe-like building is the Nagoya Planetarium, the largest one in the world!

A ferris wheel!

I had asked Teresa about challenges in using her washer and dryer and in a recent email Teresa wrote:

Now, what you've all been waiting for, washers and dryers and recycling, oh my! said to the tune of lions, and tigers and i said a while back, our washer and dryer are from Germany. l am most grateful to have them, but they really try my patience. For some strange reason, they almost never work on the first try, especially the washing machine, so I have to keep pushing the buttons which can get frustrating after several tries-I swear between the washing machine and stove, I am going to have arthritic fingers by the time we go back home. The dryer takes at least 2 hours to get everything dry, even though I do very small loads, therefore if I want to keep up with the dirty laundry, I have to take care of it just about every other day or so. Unfortunately I often get behind then I spend hours doing it. Oh well.

I was also curious about recycling in Japan and Teresa said this:

As for recycling, which my friend Cynthia asked about, things have to
be sorted into 6 different bags-burnables, which is basically food refuse, paper, plastic, bottles, cans and non-burnables. We have 3 large containers into which we put different colored plastic bags and that is how we sort things. The non-burnables get picked up once a month, things like pots, glass, electronics, etc. and everything else gets picked up twice a week. I refuse to keep the stinky garbage inside, so it sits outside our door in its own container. I hide it under a tarp when we have company ;-) On pick-up day we have to put the burnable trash under crow nets. I wondered what those were when I first heard about them. Well, the garbage goes out in bags, not in their containers, and if it does not get put under the nets, the crows come and make a big mess. They have managed to make holes in the net so they still sometimes get into bags. They are determined, they are huge and they seem to know the value of teamwork!!!

Teresa and Steve ate at a teppanyaki restaurant that was pricey and short on the food portions.

Teresa gets around Nagoya and comments:

I went to feed the cats in Meijo Park this morning. Saw more than ever but Poco, the one that was injured, was nowhere to be found. He was improving a lot the last 2 times I saw him so hopefully he was asleep or maybe someone took him home. Last week when I was coming home from teaching in Sakae, I saw a family of beautiful kittens with their mama near our subway station. There was a huge crow hanging around trying to attack one of the kitties so I hung around and chased it away until the kittens went for cover. Dang crows!
The little red bike that takes Teresa on sight-seeing trips.

Teresa in a cooking class.

A farmer in her field.

Rice drying.

Thank you for sharing, Teresa!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seattle Sounders Fan Appreciation Night

I love Nintendo! Back in June Mike and I were lucky enough to watch a Seattle Sounders professional soccer match with the New England Revolution from the deluxe Nintendo suite at Century Link field.

Oh, la, la…we were spoiled with high-end snacks and beverages – not to mention the view.

The stadium view from the entry onto the suite level.

Our view from the suite.

And it was in August that I saw a Nintendo announcement offering Sounders tickets for Fan Appreciation Night – and only $10 a ticket. I ended up getting 5 tickets – for Mike, me and 3 friends. The game was Saturday night and traffic into Seattle was predicted to be a mess with the 520 bridge closed. Mike and I decided to take the bus and enjoy the ride into the city.

We got to Pioneer Square just after 5:00 and went to the Central Saloon for a beer. It was nice and crowded, but we found two bar stools at the bar. We had some French fries and then wandered over to the stadium.

Our seats were on the three-hundred level – which mean we’re covered – but it’s also a long climb up to our seats! Unfortunately, Mike took a bad fall on the steps and I doubted he could sit in that seat the whole match. We found Cheryl, Pat and Kevin and we all sat down.

We watched the “pageantry” although we weren’t always sure what was happening. The game was really loud with all the fans in a packed stadium - lots of fans cheering their hearts out.

By half-time Mike’s fall was taking a toll and he was in a lot of pain. We packed up and headed for the bus. Luckily, we waited a very short time and the bus whizzed us home.

The Sounders ended up beating San Jose 2-1, and Mike was better on Sunday and hopefully he’ll continue to improve!

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Laptop & Old Wireless Connection

For my new old job at Nintendo of America Inc. I got a brand-new laptop! Yep, my IT guy took away my workstation and left me with a pretty Dell laptop. That was over a week ago.

The first day I got my brand-new laptop I took it home with me. I wanted to test the wireless connection and VPN account to make sure I could connect to the internet and to Nintendo’s network from home.

At home Mike has a laptop and I have a laptop and we share a wireless connection through Comcast with a dual modem/router. We’ve had this set-up for more than a year and a half. And it always worked fine. Until I brought the brand-new laptop home from work…and I had to remember the Network Key (password). I dug out my old notes from when we originally set up our network a year and a half ago. And I saw the password that I had written down. So I tried using the password to hook up my brand-new laptop from work into my home wireless network.

Ahhh…but just to make life interesting, the password didn’t work. Subsequently, over the next few hours I tried various passwords and made numerous attempts to simply change my password. (I set up the network – why can’t I change the password??)

Oh and did I mention that I no longer have an IP address on my personal laptop? How in the world did that happen?


Since that time I have tried novel ideas like trying to ping my personal laptop for the IP address or disabling my network and then attempting to re-install the wireless network software. And poor Mike got on a call with Motorola (manufacturer of our modem/router) for hours…they suggested he call back when he was ready to shell out $30/hr to talk to a Tier II rep who would not be allowed to “run” to our laptops to do the troubleshooting. That could get pricey.

So I plan to sit down Saturday morning and take a fresh shot at figuring it out on my own. OR if that doesn’t work out in the first hour I think I’ll call Moto…wish me luck.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mike's Birthday Adventure #2

Last week I wrote about Mike’s birthday present tickets to the Seahawks football game. Today I want to tell you about our second little adventure – a jet boat tour at Deception Pass.

Deception Pass is about 95 miles north and west of Seattle. The Deception Pass Bridge (actually two twin bridges) hooks Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island and is host to Deception Pass State Park. The Deception Pass Jet Boat Tour takes off from the little marina on Cornet Bay Road and provides a one-hour tour through the salt waters of Deception Pass.

So Saturday morning we jumped in the truck – with gloves, hoodies and umbrellas – the forecast was rain, but heck we live in Seattle – and off we went. In about an hour and a half we got to Deception Pass and found the marina.

Here is our boat coming into the marina.

It’s an unusual boat with several seats in the front, the captain’s wheel in a funky wheelhouse and the jet in the back.

It was a small cruise and the other family even brought their little doggies bundled up in doggie coats!

Our gloves came in handy, but it didn't rain on our boat tour - not even a drop.

Here is the view of the twin bridges from our seats on the boat.

These folks climbed into a prohibited area and were sitting on a precarious ledge.

I thought it was weird how the trees grew right out of the rock.

Here’s a view of the bridge from below – a view I’d never seen before.

One out of the Pass area, the Captain turned it up and we headed west at a fast clip! We saw great blue heron perched on tall, green trees. We also saw harbor porpoise breaching the surface in their playful way. Although we didn’t see any bald eagles, the Captain did point out a huge eagle nest in one of the trees. He explained that the eagles mate for life and keep the same nest year after year. We also saw a harbor seal poking his head out of the water and checking us out. But alas – once again - no orca whale sightings. Maybe next year…

All too soon our hour was up and we headed up to the park to check out the vista from the bridge. And that’s when I discovered I have a bit of acrophobia (height aversion). It really made me feel weird as I was walking across the bridge trying to get the perfect picture of Deception Pass.

I couldn’t even make it to the middle of the bridge – which was about where these tiny people are in this picture.

But here are two fairly good shots of the Pass. The water is an intense emerald green that is not reflected well in my pictures.

We finished the adventure with a late lunch at The Corner Bar and Grill, on Highway 20, not too far from the state park.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Stay the Course

Five years and four months ago I was laid off from Cingular Wireless - after the merge with AT&T Wireless. I cried. I loved my job and I loved the corporate world. But I tried some new things...real estate agent, English teacher in Mexico, government worker in Oregon...and then I came home to Seattle, looking for another job in the corporate world.

That was one year, four months, and two weeks ago - May 15, 2010.

And today I am soooo happy to report that my eight-month contract job at Nintendo's headquarters that morphed into a nine-month contract job that then morphed into a ten-month contract job has now turned into a PERMANENT corporate position – effective today! I am now an official employee in the Legal Department at Nintendo of America...and I am so glad my job search is over.

The moral of this story is: stay the course. Nothing worth having comes easily.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seattle Seahawks v. Arizona Cardinals

This past Sunday the Seattle Seahawks played a National Football League game with the Arizona Cardinals in the Century Link football stadium (warmly referred to as the Clink) right here in Seattle. And we won! The game tickets were part of my birthday gift package to Mike last week. We had never been to a Seahawks game together – it was the home opener and we were stoked about going.

We beat the traffic into the city by taking a bus and that was fast, cheap and easy. We went directly to the Central Saloon, Seattle’s oldest bar, for breakfast. We stopped to chat with the owner – someone I originally knew over 25 years ago when I tended bar in Pioneer Square – and then we made the walk over to the Clink.

We saw this festive truck - all decked out in the blue and green.

Seattle's finest - and longest police vehicle!

The restaurants and bars had a good morning, the lines were full of fans, and the atmosphere was lively.

The forecast was rain, but it was only cloudy as we made our way through the growing crowd.

We stopped to watch this amazing band – not only were they playing music and revving up the crowd – but they were doing gymnastics while playing their instruments! Very cool. A short video is at The blue and green was everywhere.

We worked our way up to the 300 level and found our seats. Not bad for $50 each through a Nintendo offer! I slipped away to buy Mike a Seahawks cap and a jersey.

I got him a jersey with the #12 and the name “Fan.” He loved it and put them both on. He looked so cute!

The pre-game festivities began and the flag waved in all her glory.

They raised the "twelfth man flag" and the crowd roared!!!

Soon enough the players hit the field. And so did the rain. I was very happy to be sitting in the nosebleed section – that was covered – as sheets of rain pummeled the field and uncovered fans. It was so intense that clouds blocked the view of Puget Sound and we couldn’t even see the water! Unbelievably, that lasted only about five minutes and it ended up being a nice, sunny day.

This guy was two seats down from me...his head hung low the entire game!!! TOO MUCH TAILGATING!!!

The game was fast and exciting. And we yelled and cheered and clapped for our Seahawks! It was close at the end, but we came away with a 13-10 victory and our first win of the season. We walked with the other 66,199 fans out of the stadium with huge smiles on our faces and made our way to our bus stop. Before we knew it we were home. What a fantastic day – GO SEAHAWKS!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Sound of a Woman Facing Death

I’ve made a decision. If you read my posts last week about the testing I completed for a 911 Operator position, you read that during the testing process I listened to four real-life recordings of calls to 911.

All of the calls were tragic. Heck, one call was from a mother whose two little daughters had just had their throats slit – by their father – and they were hanging on for dear life. But the call that got to me was the one that included the Sound of a Woman Facing Death.

At the very beginning of the call, the woman identified herself and tried to provide her address to the 911 Operator. But the operator interrupted the woman and asked for other information. The woman explained that someone was trying to break into her home. The woman explained that she was elderly. The woman explained that she lived alone. But the operator did not ask the woman for her address. (And this call occurred years ago - before calls made from a landline phone automatically provided the 911 Operator with the address from where the call was placed.) The operator had no idea where the woman lived.

The next thing I heard was the Sound of a Woman Facing Death. I cannot describe it and I will never forget it. The HR Manager had warned us – if we found the calls still bothering us days after hearing them, we most likely were not cut out for the job.

That’s me. Not cut out for the job. Not able to work through that Sound. Not comfortable knowing the woman was attacked and died while on the 911 call.

And there is more to my decision than just that Sound. There is the fact that the job is para-military, with a defined chain of command, and there are aspects that are similar to military service – not something I am crazy about. There is even a 12-week academy! There is the fact that the 911 Operators work varied shifts (depending on seniority) and they are basically on call 24/7. There is the fact that I already have a life and I’m not willing to give that up for a job.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I gave it a shot. And it sure makes me appreciate those people who are 911 Operators. Next time you dial 911 be nice to the operator…he/she may have just heard the Sound of a Woman Facing Death.

Friday, September 23, 2011

After the Tests…

…continued from Wednesday’s post.

Once the three tests were completed, and I knew I had passed, I was eager to learn about the next steps in becoming a 911 Operator. Little did I know that I was just about to be affected in a way I had never imagined.

The greeter left the room with tests in hand and returned with nametags for the three of us that had successfully “made the grade” thus far. She explained that the Human Resources Manager would soon be joining us and indeed she did. The HR Manager set up a CD on a boom box, hit the run button, and left the room. For the next 8-10 minutes we listened to four real-life recordings of 911 calls.

We got a true sense of what we might deal with on any given call. One call was particularly disturbing – one I will never forget. We actually heard the sound of a woman facing death and, in fact, she did die.


The HR Manager returned and explained that she plays these calls to all 911 Operator candidates. And she advised that if any of us found the calls troubling us over the next few days then we may want to reconsider our decision to go forward in the selection process. We may have the necessary fortitude for the job.

We learned about the next steps in the process – and there are many. The fourth and final test includes watching a videotape with an operator at a console taking calls. The operator plays through 38 scenarios and provides four responses to each call. Our job would be to select the operator’s best, and most appropriate, response to each scenario.

Also, while watching the video we would be taking notes about such things as phone numbers, descriptions of suspects, details about cars – and the second part of the test would be depend upon those notes we took. Could we correctly identify a phone number or describe the height of a suspect and so on.

If we passed that test, we would be invited in for a first interview with the HR Manager and two other managers who would use behavioral interviewing questions. Passing that would mean that a comprehensive background check would be completed on each of us. And if we had a clean record we would then go to the Kirkland Police Department for a Computerized Voice Stress Analysis – a polygraph-like test that determines by our voice whether we are lying or not. It was stressed that the goal was to measure our integrity and that we should not lie. We were also told that the questions would be very probing and probably make us feel very uncomfortable.

A group psychological evaluation was next on the list and we learned that sometimes the whole group failed at this point. Several short tests are given and a one-on-one interview is held with the forensic scientist that runs the psychological evaluation. The scientist rates each candidate on a scale of “very suitable,” “highly suitable,” “fairly suitable,” and so on and the HR Manager uses this information to make her cuts.

If, after all of that, a candidate is still in the running, they have a second interview with the Executive Director and the Operations Manager. Following that would be a physical exam – their interest is in getting a baseline audiogram to determine if they need to provide an amplification device and to have a defense for any future Labor & Industry claims if an operator claims their hearing has been damaged by their work. Lastly, and it probably goes without saying, a drug test would also be performed.

And there’s more. More about the job that I’ll share next time. Right now I’m still thinking about those real-life calls I heard…

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

911 – What is Your Emergency?

Recently I applied for a position as a 911 Operator for Eastside King County. I had to submit an application, resume, cover letter and typing test. Shortly thereafter, I was notified that I qualified to move on to the next step – a day of testing. I accepted and yesterday was the day of testing.

There were eight of us. All women and they were all younger than me. We met in the lobby of Bellevue City Hall and waited for our greeter to take us upstairs at 10:00am. Our greeter explained that there would be three timed tests and that we would need to get a certain percentage of the questions correct in order to move on to the next test. I like tests. I test well.

The first test was a multi-task/split ear evaluation. We listened to a CD of a woman’s voice calling out 1) colors 2) three digits and 3) three words from a phonetic alphabet (she’d say alpha for A, bravo for B, etc.) Our task was to write out what we heard – the colors (using three character abbreviations such as blu, gre, pnk), the three digits (256, 731, 095) and the three letters (nvt, soe, vlm). Sometimes there was more than one voice and it was really hard to hear what they were saying. This test was 2.5 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer. The tests were scored and six out of eight of us passed. You needed 80% or higher and I got 89%.

The next test was a 100-question, multiple choice exam and we had one and half hours to complete it. It began with lists of addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, alpha/number strings and there were two sets of each set of information. Our task was to determine which sets were exactly alike and which sets had slight deviations. This was harder than it sounds! There were also lists of words and we had to identify which ones were spelled incorrectly. Plus, there were sets of four sentences that we had to put in order to make a sensible paragraph. At the end of the test were customer service questions with scenarios in which we had to pick the answer that would suggest the most appropriate customer service. Not so hard. When we completed this test we were let go for a half-hour lunch break.

When we returned to the lobby at 12:45 our greeter told us that three out of six had passed. You needed 80% or higher and I got 85%.

The greeter took the three of us back upstairs for the final test. It was another 100-question, multiple choice exam and we had two hours to complete it. It had the same lists of addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, alpha/number strings in which we had to identify the sets that were exactly alike – and again this was harder than you might expect. And it also had customer service questions. But additionally this test had scenarios that an operator might actually face and one in which we would need to determine how many fire engines or police officers to send to any given emergency. We were provided plenty of information in order to make the correct determination and I found it to be sixty questions that were solved by using logic. It was challenging, but satisfying at the same time.

The three of us finished with 15 minutes to spare. The tests were scored and we all passed. You needed 70% or higher and I got 91%.

There was more to the day and I’ll fill in the gaps. But for now I need to get to Nintendo!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As I noted yesterday, for Mike’s birthday we went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was a lot better than I had expected! Plus, it really got me thinking about the possibilities when we start messing around with human/animal chemistry and the possibilities…WATCH OUT!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Yep – today is Mike’s 55th birthday!!!

We started the celebration last night with best friends, Cheryl and Pat, who joined us at Outback Steakhouse for dinner. And this morning Rock, Squeak and I gave Mike his presents.

We gave him tickets to some fun activities. First is a one-hour Segway tour of West Seattle. Mike is fascinated with Segways – the unique personal transportation device – and West Seattle (on a sunny day, but not today) will be a great venue. And I’ll be going too!

Secondly, we have tickets for a boat tour of Deception Pass – up north, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Maybe we’ll finally spot some orcas! But we’ll wait until the sun returns before make the trip north.

Lastly, Mike and I are going to a Seattle Seahawks football game! It’s next Sunday and it’ll be the Seahawks v. the Arizona Cardinals – from Mike’s hometown. We’ve never been to a National Football League game together. It should be a blast.

So for today’s somewhat wet and windy day we’re planning to go see a movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I know it’s sci-fi and probably pretty corny, but we have been dying to see it and a blustery day like today is perfect for a movie and popcorn.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Teresa at Home in Nagoya, Japan

The last time we checked in with Teresa who recently relocated from Lake Stevens, Washington to Nagoya, Japan she and husband Steve were hotelling it at the Nagoya Hilton while Boeing was processing their “housing papers.” They have since settled into their modern, Western-style home – albeit not without a few kinks and funny stories.

Following are pieces from Teresa’s September 11, 2011 email - beginning with bidets and bathing:

our move went very smoothly with only a few garage sale items breaking, so no big deal. we love our house and yard and i have so many plants i've already lost count. a few interesting things about the house: we have bidets in both bathrooms, or washlets as they call them here. not only do they wash your privates, but they blow dry them as well. then again, maybe my friend was just pulling my leg when she told me about the blow drying because i haven't seen a sign for that, i'm so gullible ;-) they actually have those in a lot of public bathrooms as well-only in japan. taking a bath was a bit of a challenge at first. the controls are all digital, and there are 5 buttons to push. even though our realtor wrote little notes in english, they were very hard to read and of course when i put on my glasses, they got all fogged up!

This next tidbit had me rolling on the floor…the visual of Teresa trying to cook:

the stove is also digital. you have to push one button to turn it on, another to pick which burner you want to use and yet another to pick the desired temp. which ranges from 0-10. the first night i cooked i couldn't get the front burners to work. we'd totally forgotten that our realtor told us we needed special pots for those 2 burners. it's due to some type of safety precaution. when you remove your pot or pan, it immediately turns off and cools off, therefore keeping curious little children from burning themselves. last night as i was finishing dinner all the burners automatically shut off. i kept trying to figure out what had happened and the only thing i could think of is that i put a lid on one of the burners, it wasn't even turned on and i had immediately removed it. hearing how frustrated i was getting, steve came to help and after a few minutes he noticed a key emblem on the surface of the stove. it had turned red which made him realize it had turned, or locked off the burners. once he pushed it we were able to get the burners back on and i was able to finish cooking.

Coming from the Great Pacific Northwest recycling is not new to Teresa, however, I found this comment interesting and I’d like to hear more detail:

last but not least is the recycling. to make a long story short, things have to be sorted into 6 different groups.

(Cynthia: I’ve also heard that if you don’t sort your recyclables correctly and tie them in the preferred fashion, you will be scolded and they may not be accepted!)

In closing, Teresa advises that she is still feeding the feral cats and that two friends have recently had babies so she has the opportunity to “play grandma" in Nagoya. Additionally, Teresa and Steve live close to the professional soccer team's Brazillian coach and they have been invited to a game and BBQ. It sounds like she’s settling right in…Sayonara for now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

25 Minutes to Go

It was written by Shel Silverstein and originally recorded by the Brothers Four (Seattle band!) in 1963. Johnny Cash performed it on two of his albums, one in 1965 and the 1968 live album, At Folsom Prison. I didn’t hear it until 2003 when Pearl Jam played it at their Benaroya Hall acoustic show. Eddie Vedder's voice in the first line is so very deep...I love this song. It reminds me of something Señor Zapata would write...

Wiki says: It is sung by a man waiting his own execution by hanging. Each verse consists of two lines, of which the first line is anything from humorous to poignant, and the second line is a minute-by-minute countdown.

Well they're building a gallows outside my cell I've got 25 minutes to go

And the whole town's waitin' just to hear me yell I've got 24 minutes to go

Well they gave me some beans for my last meal I've got 23 minutes to go

But nobody asked me how I feel I've got 22 minutes to go

Well I sent for the governor and the whole dern bunch with 21 minutes to go

And I sent for the mayor but he's out to lunch I've got 20 more minutes to go

Then the sheriff said boy I gonna watch you die got 19 minutes to go

So I laughed in his face and I spit in his eye got 18 minutes to go

Well I call out to the Warden to hear my plea I’ve got 17 minutes to go

He says, "Call me back in a week or three...You've got 16 minutes to go"

Well, my lawyer says he's sorry he missed my case I’ve got 15 minutes to go

Yeah, well if you're so sorry, come up and take my place I got 14 minutes to go

Now hear comes the padre for to save my soul with 13 minutes to go

And he's talking bout' burnin' but I'm so cold I've 12 more minutes to go

Now they're testin' the trap and it chills my spine 11 more minutes to go

And the trap and the rope aw they work just fine got 10 more minutes to go

Well I'm waitin' on the pardon that'll set me free with 9 more minutes to go

But this is for real so forget about me got 8 more minutes to go

With my feet on the trap and my head on the noose got 5 more minutes to go

Won't somebody come and cut me loose with 4 more minutes to go

I can see the mountains I can see the skies with 3 more minutes to go

And it's to dern pretty for a man that don't wanna die 2 more minutes to go

I can see the buzzards I can hear the crows 1 more minute to go And now I'm swingin' and here I go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Ten years – 3,652 days – yet the heartbreaking memories of that morning so long ago remain fresh in my mind. Today I’ll be especially thankful for the freedoms I enjoy and the pride I take in being an American.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Lot on My Mind

I have a lot to contemplate right now. It is almost overwhelming. But I stopped to practice my Haiku. What do you think?

Dry cracked leaves fly by
Stacks grow quickly with the wind…
Happy cat pounces

Snow is all around
Silence is all I can hear;
White is white on white

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Matthew Epstein

That’s the name of the guy I wrote about two weeks ago. He is a product marketer and he was bent on working for Google – it was his dream job. So he created a website that included the words “google please hire me" and a link to a blog about his journey.

And he wore a crazy fake moustache and made funny videos. His efforts paid off as his site went viral. Not only that, but he ended up meeting with NINE companies in his 1.5 month quest. And at the end of the day, he got a job offer that he accepted. He has yet to announce the name of his new employer, but I’m dying to learn if it is Google – or not.

These are difficult times to look for a job. There are highs and there are lows. Mr. Epstein included a video clip from Rocky Balboa and the following quote:

"You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

I have to remember: keep moving forward...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Horoscope: August 28, 2011

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day in Seattle. Mike and I stayed home and enjoyed our back yard with Rock and Squeak. I also had the pleasure of reading the Seattle Sunday Times newspaper without interruption.

One thing I found interesting was my horoscope:

SAGITTARIUS (NOV. 22-DEC. 21): What do you want to do when you grow up? Keep questioning your role in society. What would be the most fun? Go for reality over fantasy, including dream elements for spice.

With my Nintendo contract drawing to an end and the commencement of yet another full-force job search, I am faced with the same question I have asked myself over the years…what do I want to do when I grow up?

If it was only that easy...

Friday, August 26, 2011


I like blankets. Especially soft, plush, snuggly blankets that keep me warm. When we downsized in preparation for our move to Mexico we gave away some of our blankets. But there were a few that we just had to keep. And in fact we’ve added a couple of new blankets since our return to the US.

This is my kitty cat blanket.

My friend Cheryl gave it to me many, many years ago. It is fun because it has all the different kitty cats on it. It lives on our loveseat and it is Mike’s favorite. He wraps it around himself when he’s watching TV and it keeps him very happy.

These are our twin AT&T Wireless blankets.

Both Mike and I worked for AT&T Wireless – before it merged with Cingular Wireless. :( And one year AT&T Wireless gave these soft, fuzzy blankets to employees as part of a promotion. They also had handy straps that wrapped around the blanket, transforming it into a nice, easy-to-carry package. (The handy straps were lost long ago.) These are perfect blankets to take to early spring Mariners' baseball games to keep us warm in the chilly innings of the game. They fit into a backpack and they’re just big enough to cover us. Plus, the traditional Mariners' peanut shells fall right off with just a shake of the blanket!

This is our Puerto Vallarta blanket.

It was year 2000 when Mike and I made our first trip to Mexico together. We went to Puerto Vallarta and stayed at the Sheraton Buganvilia. I remember that trip like it was yesterday. The swim-up bar. The room with the bright blue chairs and fuchia pillows. The view of Banderas Bay. Room service! And the short walk from the hotel into town. But I also remember buying this fiesta-colored blanket on the beach. We schlepped it home to Seattle and I sent it to my mom in Alaska. When she passed, it was one of the few treasures I brought back home. I always think of my mom when I see this blanket. It’s been good for picnics from here to Mexico to Salem and back.

This is our gray wool blanket.

I’d call this a utilitarian blanket. No frills. No snuggleability factor. Not even a cool color. But it’s handy. I used to carry it in the trunk of my car – you never know when you might have an emergency and need to get down on the ground. And who wants to get their pretty, little knees dirty when kneeling on pavement? I don’t know why it’s not in the truck. Maybe I’ll move it there. (And the funny thing is I couldn't find it right off the bat for the pic - it was in my cedar wardrobe in the office...what a weird place for it!)

This is our giant electric blanket.

Mike is always cold. I am always hot. So we found a solution for nippy winter nights. We got this monster in Salem for our king size bed. It’s a little big for the queen size bed we have now, but it is still a good answer because it has dual controls. Yes. Mike can have his half of the blanket cranked up so that he breaks a sweat. And I can have my half of the blanket not turned on at all (see how my electrical cord has never even been unraveled!) Our giant electric blanket keeps the peace in our family.

And this is Mike’s Harley Davidson birthday blanket.

Betty and Ron gave this to Mike for his birthday in 2009 when we were living in their house in Salem. It is bright and bold, soft and fluffy, warm and cuddly. And funny enough, it has become my TV blanket. It lives on the arm of our couch and it has lulled me to sleep many a time when my eyes could not longer fixate on the TV. I love Mike’s Harley blanket!

What's your favorite blanket??