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??

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Haiku 2

I recently “re-discovered” Haiku. And lately I have taken the time to study and practice writing my own Haiku. It is so simple, yet so difficult. There is the syllable counting and the search for the perfect cutting – not to mention the craving for yugen. Yes, Haiku is difficult.

I think I found yugen in the second Haiku below…

Mist over water
Loud croaking breaks the silence
Webbed digits spring

Grey feathers in flight
Death waits with the killing gas –
No more geese fly low

Monday, August 22, 2011

ProLango Career Search Optimization

Last November, just a week before I started my contract job with Nintendo, Mike and I went to a “mixer” sponsored by ProLango, an employment consulting service. I wrote a post about it and I was disappointed in this idea of building my work-related network with drinks in Seattle’s Hard Rock Café.

Subsequently, I started to receive emails from ProLango with information about how to gain employment. So I began to make it a habit to go to the links within the emails and read the informative articles. And guess what? I liked what I was reading. I used some of the information to re-work my resume and to target some of the employers I’d like to work with on a permanent basis.

Recently ProLango advertised an upcoming seminar addressing online job applications. It hinted about how dismal it is to apply for jobs online – dismal in that hundreds of people apply for one position; dismal in that resumes are scanned by special software that looks for key terms, resulting in the “grading” of resumes; and dismal in that applicants can be blacklisted by a company simply by applying to the company too many times.

So Saturday morning Mike and I headed to the Bellevue Hyatt for an hour and a half seminar that turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and helpful presentations I have ever attended!

ProLango is led by Paul Anderson, a former Microsoft and Expedia employee, who writes a newspaper column, hosts a TV show, and speaks nationwide on career transformation. Paul is a very engaging speaker. Paul is not loud and pushy. Paul is genuine. Paul tells stories and backs them up with names and numbers.

I learned a lot and I feel rejuvenated. I’m ready to develop a new marketing strategy for my job hunt and then put it into play. I highly recommend tuning into ProLango and Paul and learning as much as you can!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our (Pathetic) Garden

We planted seeds May 1 this year. (And that was a lot earlier than last year’s planting in July.) We tilled the earth and added fresh soil. (Last year we went with the dirt that was already there.) We've dilligently watered and pulled weeds. (We did that last year…) We talk to the plants and ask them to please grow. (They wink back at us.)

I had such high hopes for this year. Remember all the seeds I bought in early spring?

Unfortunately, the sun has not been cooperative and our garden is, yet again, less than bountiful. We did have a few radishes early on…the lettuces became salads…the pear and cherry tomatoes are tasty…the cilantro and chives have added a kick to the salads…and Squeak has thoroughly enjoyed the fresh catnip!

But overall it’s been dismal. A lot of my seeds didn’t even come up – or they made a showing, but with stunted growth (peppers, corn, long radishes, even the zucchini!)

The tomato plants are tall, but not bearing much fruit.

The sunflowers are going strong, but the nasturtiums are getting weaker by the day.

On a good note - the pumpkin patch is full and robust, but will we have enough sun to turn them (all FOUR of them) orange?!

It's a good thing we're not farmers...maybe next year...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parallel Parking at Warp Speed

Last week I saw one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It is a Guinness World Record video of a German guy parking his car in a tiny spot – just 10.24 inches!

And the funniest thing about it is the speed at which the guy does the parking. Watch it. I think you’ll laugh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


When viewing the site referenced in yesterday's post, don't neglect to go to the "Follow My Journey" link at the bottom, left-hand side of the page...that's where you'll find his blog with the fascinating stats/details. Now go read it!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Extended Stay at Nintendo

It is with mixed emotion that I report to say my contract at Nintendo has been extended once again. My manager recently asked me if I could stay on through the end of September. Of course, I said, “Yes!”

How could I respond in any other way? While I have submitted resumes to other companies recently and I have gone through a few interviews, there have been no offers of employment extended to me.

Knowing that I have a known income for another six weeks is wonderful. Not knowing what will happen at the end of those six weeks is not so wonderful.

I recently read about a guy on a mission to be hired by Google. And I have been reading his Google Please Hire Me site.

Dude is clever and I admire him for having the huevos to create a site and go out there, taking a stab at it. He had a phone interview with Google last Wednesday and I hope Google hires him! And I hope you enjoy his site. I'm still laughing...

Friday, August 12, 2011


I have been reading about Haiku and I think I may start a book of Haiku for myself.

Here are my first two -

Pussywillow gone
Birds with no food at their water
Fish gasping with air

Too gloomy? How about this...

Violin stings plucked
A quiet cymbal waiting
Music on the way

Now this one feels good!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Love Cynthia Day

Last week on Tuesday I had a wonderful surprise.

I was sitting at my Nintendo desk and I got a call from the Receptionist. She told me that I had FLOWERS waiting for me.

Flowers? I thought, it's not my birthday, it's not my wedding anniversary, it's not Valentine's Day...why would I have flowers delivered at work?

They were from Mike and the card read:

Thinking about you
Still in love

I called Mike and he told me it was "I Love Cynthia Day." THANK YOU MIKE!!! xoxo

Monday, August 8, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I like to walk. It slows down my senses and I take in a lot more than when I am zipping by on my bike or going even faster in my truck. Something I’ve noticed lately is the different styles of houses in my neighborhood. So one morning I took my camera with me and took some pictures. And then I gave the houses names.

The Ranch

I love this place. But I have to climb a steep hill to get to it. It is a large spread - a farmhouse with a barn, out buildings and big, black bovines (probably Black Angus) although they are not in this picture.

The Final Home

In the same area is this adult family home, a place for a family member that needs assisted care in the waning years of their life. The place is grand! I wonder what it looks like inside. I hope I get to live in a place like that when, and if, the time comes that I require assisted care.

The Castle

Back down the hill, tucked away in an older neighborhood, is this monster. It has been for sale for at least the whole year + that Mike and I have lived in Kenmore. In fact, it is not fully completed and the signage advises that the buyer can make decisions on final details. Ugh. It is so out of place. Kenmore is really not suited for a castle! Notice the small rambler next door? How would you like to live in the rambler and look out your window and see that?

The Three Stooges

Sometimes a developer buys a chunk of land and attempts to make the most of it. These three houses are identical (with a slight change in color) and they sit on cramped lots, packed tighter than sardines, right next to each other. What was the developer thinking? And how about the people that bought the homes? I wonder if they ever pull into the wrong driveway and try to go into the wrong house. I hope their keys are unique.

The House with Too Many Windows

Seriously, why so many windows on such a flat wall? Why not break them up so they are not in the same pattern? Why not add a deck or shutters or something to provide some contrast? When I first saw this house I thought it might be a multi-family dwelling so I walked up around to the front of it. And there I confirmed that it is indeed a single-family home. And their view? The fenced basketball court with a kid’s play set to the far right. Another ugh.

The House with the Big, Brown, Wooden Door

What else can I say? It doesn’t “match” the rest of the house. Maybe it has some special meaning to the owners – maybe they brought it from their old house.

The Tired House

I think this house has been condemned. And foreclosed. But I also think it was recently purchased because I noticed that the bushes in front of the house have been trimmed. It has potential. And with a lot of love it could be turned around. I’ll keep my eye on this one.

The Free (and Ugly) Boat

No, this isn’t a house. But it is on the property of The Tired House. I guess it’s a tired sailboat. I better not tell Mike about it or he’ll somehow manage to haul it home…

Those are the houses and that is my House Tour.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Teresa in Nagoya, Japan

If you’ve ever noticed my “Cool International Blogs” blogroll to the right, you’ve probably guessed that I like learning about different cultures. I am curious to hear about everyday experiences people have outside of the US.

Recently I wrote about our friend, Teresa, who was moving to Nagoya, Japan with her husband, Steve. I took Japanese in high school and I have always been fascinated with Japan. Plus, I am working a contract assignment at Nintendo and our parent company is in Kyoto, which results in a lot of interaction with our Japanese teammates. Now with Teresa in Nagoya I can get first-hand knowledge about life in the land of the rising sun.

Following are snippets of three emails from Teresa that I thought were very interesting about her new life in Nagoya.

In a July 31, 2011 email to friends and family Teresa wrote:

last night marked the end of our first full week here. funny, it seems like we`ve been here much longer, probably because i have been constantly on the go. i have been exploring new areas every day. i start out each morning with a long power walk-with all the great food here, i really need to keep up my exercise routine.

Nagoya from the 24th Floor of the Hilton Hotel

one day i ended up lost, or temporarily misplaced as i like to call it. after 2 1/2 hours i ended up back in the place i had headed out to find. luckily i had used the subway system when we were here on our house hunting trip so i just hopped on a train and came back to the hotel.

The Maneki Neko or Lucky Cat

later that day i went back to kimble, the place i`d found in the morning. it is a huge thrift store (they call them recycle centers or reuse shops) that has a great variety of dishes and pottery. i bought some planters, tea mugs and bowls. i was really weighed down with all the heavy bags and as i was heading towards a set of steps to go down to the subway, one of the attendants chased me down and directed me to an elevator. i find that japanese people are very helpful and kind and although i only know a few words and phrases, we somehow manage to communicate. i can`t wait to start learning the language so i can actually talk to people. boeing provides us with 40 hours of lessons and i plan to continue studying after that as well.

Katsudon - Fried Pork Cutlets

the food here is great however the one thing steve and i miss is salad. the japanese do not eat big salads like we are used to in the states. imagine my disappointment when i ordered a caesar here at the hotel and it only had about 3leaves of lettuce, 1 large crouton, wedge of tomato and small piece of broccoli-i`m not exaggerating. steve ordered a steak which was so minuscule that we ended up going out in town and buying potato croquets, very popular here, and some cake. the bakeries here are amazing! i could probably gain weight just getting a whiff of the bread. by the way, bread bakeries, and pastry shops are 2 different things all together-and they all look soooo delicious-i`m getting hungry just thinking about them.

OSU Kannon Shrine

yesterday was the most interesting day i`ve had! the hotel provides bikes free of charge for up to 4 hours. instead of walking, i enjoyed going out for a 3 hour ride and seeing some new areas i had not made it to on foot. the best part of the day however was when i walked to osu kannon shrine and shopping arcade.

Teresa in the Covered Shopping Arcade

as i wandered around i heard some brazilian music. ilooked up and saw police controlling the crowds and before i knew it a bunch of dancing girls in their tangas thongs) came dancing through the arcade. the musicians were in the back playing great music. i felt like i was at carnival in rio or mardi gras. after that i headed back to the shrine area and spent about an hour listening to some japanese drummers. there were about 4 different groups and they were great! their arms were all so well toned. i envisioned myself becoming a drummer so i could have such nicely defined arms, however the next performance was by a group of kids so it appears this is something they start at a young age.

steve is enjoying his job and is getting to know the people at the office. as some of you know, his work week is from sat.-wed. for the summer, so he was not able to join me for the fun activities yesterday. however, we did go to a bar and grill last night that was highly recommended as having big salads. we both had one of the best chicken salads ever! now we know where to go for our salad fix.

our shipment is due to arrive tomorrow but it has to go through customs and due to some change in procedure, boeing has not paid our rent yet. hopefully that will all be taken care of this week and we will be able to move in soon. we`ve been living in hotels for 4 out of the past 5 weeks, so it will be great to move into our new home. in the meantime however, i will continue to enjoy life at the hilton.

In one email I had asked Teresa 1) if many people spoke English 2) how money was used (cash v. credit cards) and 3) if she had been back inside her rental house yet. Her July 31, 2011 response follows:

there is very little english spoken here that is why i am so eager to learn the language.

just like mexico, it is pretty much a cash society. there is a hefty fee charged on cards issued out of country, so no more racking up freq. flier miles for us. like you, we used our cc for just about everything and paid the bill at the end of the month.

Teresa and Steve in Front of Their New House

we`ve only been back to the house once but it was at night after we went out there to meet a couple for dinner. we did not have a key so only looked at the outside. there`s a good italian restaurant not too far from the house.

This week I asked Teresa if I could post about her and her Nagoya experience. She replied on August 2, 2011 that she’d be happy with that idea and she added this info:

we had a 6.1 earthquake on monday night, about 75 mi. away or maybe that was km, and i slept right through it. shows you how tired i was. i`ve been in several small earthquakes during our overseas tours and lake stevens, but i`d always felt them. one in japan and one in sicily woke me up. i have been constantly on the go for the 9 full days we`ve been here so today i am just going to chill, read and sleep.

So there you have it - a taste of Nagoya - with more to come!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Edmonds, Washington

Check out the map. In the bottom left-hand corner, at the north end of Lake Washington, is Kenmore, the town we call home. To the west, on the brisk waters of Puget Sound, is Edmonds. Edmonds has about 40,000 residents and it is a fairly affluent little city.

The forecast for this past Saturday was sun, and more sun, so Mike and I decided to make the short drive to Edmonds to wander around. The waterfront is home to a couple of fresh seafood restaurants and there is a great view of the Olympic Mountains to the west.

Fish-art embedded into the rocks at the pier.

Edmonds is also a port to the Washington State Ferries system with a run to Kingston, the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula. Plus, there is a good-sized marina with all types of boats and a sandy beach for those brave souls who dare get into the water.

But the most activity on the water happens on the Edmonds pier. We were surprised to see all of the fishing poles dangling in the water. And we were even more surprised to see the numerous crab nets continuously tossed from the pier into the water by the crabbers looking for dinner. We didn’t see any fish hauled in, but we did see one guy with a good-size red crab – although one of its large claws was missing.

Here's Mike!

We strolled along the marina and watched crabs swiftly moving on the sea floor and I even caught a quick glimpse of an eel! There were small fish swimming in the kelp and lots of little translucent jellyfish floating by.

We relaxed on a park bench and took in the activities of the playful children splashing in the water and digging in the sand.

We stopped to say hello to some people and even spotted a small seal!

We searched and searched the marine vista for a whale sighting, but none was to be had. Eventually we ambled back to the truck and headed home to Kenmore.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The MV Kalakala

It was early morning, mid-August several years ago. The sun was shining, but the air was cool. Both Mike and I wore thick, cotton sweatshirts over our tank tops. We stopped for hot, black coffee to warm our bellies before launching our nine-foot, inflatable Sevylor boat onto Lake Union – at the edge of downtown Seattle. It was a sporty boat that we pitched onto the top of our truck, strapped down with bungee cords and put in water every chance we got.

Mike had installed a wooden motor mount and a little electric motor on that Sevylor and we cruised different lakes with two batteries sitting on the sturdy, wooden floor of the boat – yes, the sturdy, wooden floor – we had a hardwood floor in the nine-foot inflatable Sevylor. He also made a little “house” for the two batteries. We would hook up one battery and putt, putt, putt until the battery went dead. Then we would change to battery number two and turn the boat around because we knew we had one battery’s worth of power left to get us back to the launch.

We would also pack a lunch in a small cooler with cold drinks. Sometimes lemonade and sometimes beer. We set the cooler on top of the battery house to leave leg room for the both of us. I would bring the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times, sunglasses, and huggies to keep our drinks cold. It was perfect!

So on that early morning in mid-August several years ago we set out to investigate Lake Union. And our major objective was to see the Kalakala up close and personal. If you don’t know about her, the Kalakala is a retired Washington State ferry once known for her “unique streamlined superstructure, art deco styling and luxurious amenities.” We never saw her in her prime. We saw her in her retirement – years after her luxurious amenities had been put to bed. In fact, she didn’t look very good at all. But she had quite a history and Wiki provides a good recap.

The Kalakala featured in National Geographic Magazine, 1938.

I cannot explain the intense desire we had to putter around her for at least an hour, looking at the rust and corrosion, and wondering what she looked like “in her day.” I remember thinking she was reminiscent of an aged movie star who had seen better days, but still attracted devoted fans. When we had our fill of poking around and taking pictures of the ole gal, we tied up to the her and ate our lunch. Soon enough we pulled off our thick, cotton sweatshirts, stretched out, and took a nap.

When we awoke we said farewell to the Kalakala and went on our way…