Month: August 2007

Weekly Update: Back online, mostly

No work, fitness, branding, etc. goal progress to report. However, this has definitely been a week to work on some of my character goals, like patience and communication! There have been a few frustrating situations this week related with moving and miscommunication that I still need to process. Just as a quick example, I drove out 40 minutes to drop off the harp, but the harp teacher wasn’t home. I waited around, then finally turned around and came home. It turns out that although she said “tomorrow” on the phone when she called on Wednesday evening, she really meant “Friday.” Other situations have involved feelings of loss or lack of control, which make me wonder if I’m becoming a control freak.In other news:

  • Rocket is fully back into the fold. We shut him up with just the other kittens for a night, and Nutmeg stopped trying to eat him.
  • In our new place, we built a plywood cat pen in the fireplace room to house the kittens.
  • Nutmeg and the other kittens all got spayed/neutered on Wednesday. Nutmeg has pretty much been sleeping all the time since then, except when she yowls at cats that she sees out the window.
  • We’re officially all moved out; as I type, Steve is returning the keys to our apartment! However, we’re only partially moved in — probably about 80% unpacked. We’re putting a lot of things into storage in the garage as we combine two households and try to simplify our stuff to fit into the space we have. So far we’re pleased with the way things are shaping up although it is a bit overwhelming. Photos to come, of course.
  • I desperately need a GTD review time today, as I can feel the pressure of many things that I’ve been trying to hold in my head while we were unsettled and I couldn’t find anything to write on. Thankfully I just put together my half of the office last night and got my files into the filing cabinet so I can fully process everything today!

Meanwhile, thanks to this week’s vocal readers: Penny, Marcia (Organizing Queen), Doodah, Mike Rohde, diysara, Shoeb Ahmed, vmzare, melanie, Kristine, Matt, James, and Eric!

This weekend, we are going camping! I have a couple of phone meetings and some work I need to do, but then it’s last-minute prep to get all of our stuff together before we take off this afternoon!

Old-fashioned samlet

I’m long overdue for another food post, considering how much I enjoy to cook and eat. Today, I’ll introduce you to an invention by one of Steve’s former roommates: The Samlet. I think that’s a mix between “sandwich” and “omelet.”


Similar to a sandwich and an omelet, the samlet can take many various forms, but the basic premise is the same:

  • two pieces of toast
  • a sweet spread (jam, marmalade, jelly, etc.)
  • an optional salty spread (butter, mayonnaise, ketchup, etc.)
  • a fried egg
  • a form of processed meat (salami, sliced deli meat, bologna, etc.)

I have to admit that the first time I watched Steve eat one of these things, I was a bit grossed out. But the combination of sweet and salty is pretty intriguing and something I’ve come to enjoy. It’s also great for using up whatever you have in the fridge, which I think is what originally inspired its creation (or maybe Brian just ran out of mayo and mustard). We’ve heard it said that McDonalds got the inspiration for the McGriddle sandwich from his forward-thinking invention. 😉

The samlet version I have in the photo above consists of whole wheat bread, lightly toasted, spread with plum preserves, with a slice of bologna and a fried egg. Delicious.

Rocket, the satellite-head kitten

One of the stressful things that happened last week was Rocket’s surgery. Rocket had always had a bit of a lumpy, bulgy tummy, which we thought was at first due to his huge umbilical cord scab but which never seemed to get better. I took him to the vet last Monday and they said that he had a hernia — his abdominal muscles were ripped and those lumpy bumps were his intestines! They recommended surgery, which we went ahead and approved.

It turns out that poor Rocket actually has a birth defect where the middle part of his abdominal muscles never fused together. So he actually had three hernias. The vet tried to add some extra sutures to see if that would promote the muscles to heal and grow together, but warned that he could have problems the rest of his life. In the meantime, he was sent home with a huge incision on his belly, a funnel collar, pain relieving medicine, antibiotics, and strict instructions to not let him climb, run, play, or be around the other kittens.

We set up a temporary Rocket-home in one of the large storage bins we had purchased for our move, complete with small bin inside for cat litter, a towel, and a small water and food bowl that would fit inside the funnel collar. A completely unrelated under-the-bed bin that holds gift wrap sits angled on top to keep him from trying to jump out. (Don’t worry — there are cracks that allow air to get through!)

Rocket's bin.

I like that you can barely see Rocket eating in the right corner of the bin.

I had a pretty rough time getting the collar on Rocket the first couple of times (as he managed to untie the bow or slip out of the collar a few times before he gave up). The poor kitten yowled and thrashed about (despite a firm grip on the scruff of his neck) and I was sure we were ripping up his internal stitches. I’m happy to report, however, that he’s finally “used” to it, and we haven’t had any problems with the collar staying on since the first rough day.

Rocket laying down.

Poor Rocket nearly got killed by his mother when I happened to let Nutmeg into the room. Hopefully it was just the funny collar that set her off (and we won’t have problems after it comes out…), but she whacked him upside down with her paw and then pounced on him roughly, maybe to tear out his throat or something. I had to toss her out of the room, where she spent a lot of time growling and howling outside the door while Rocket trembled with his tail puffed up. We are now very careful to keep him separated from all the others! It’s a good thing that he just started eating solid food before the surgery. He’s been doing well at eating and drinking water, although he looks pretty gaunt compared to the other fat kittens.

During the day, I let Rocket out of his bin and shut us up both in the office. Maybe because he nearly got eaten by his mom, Rocket is pretty clingy and really likes to sit in my lap, which I tolerate when he is less energetic. The best part is when he falls asleep or when he begs to come up into the chair to take a nap. This picture shows Rocket relaxing in my lap and trying to play with his foot (on a towel, for my protection). You can see the many stitches on his belly.

Rocket laying on a towel in my lap.

And here he is, asleep:

Rocket asleep in my lap.

As you can see, I’m completely delighted to have a kitten sleeping in my lap. Never mind that he nearly clawed my legs to ribbons trying to get up onto the chair.

Corrie and Rocket.

Steve is all for changing his name to “Satellite” or “Dish,” but I think the poor guy has had enough upheaval in his little life so far!

Theoretical Moving Tips

Today is the day of our move, and since I’m pre-posting this, I won’t be able to tell you how it really went until we settle in. However, here are some things that we’ve tried to do to make moving a little easier for ourselves — but most importantly, for the people who are helping us. While we have implemented some of these moving tips in the past, I think that I should wait until AFTER our move to claim any usefulness or practicalities, so these remain “theoretical” for now:

  • Similar-sized boxes: We’ve packed most of our stuff into cheap cardboard file boxes or into these big plastic bins that we got from Costco. Very few items are in random-shaped boxes. This should theoretically make it very easy to load stacks of boxes up on hand trucks to move them into the truck and out into the house. (On the flip side, we have A LOT of boxes because they’re relatively small boxes compared to moving boxes that you can purchase.)
  • Well-labeled boxes: (At least, an attempt at well-labeled boxes.) We’ve labeled the top and at least one side of the file boxes with not only the contents of the box, but where the box should go — the kitchen, the living room, a bedroom, etc.
  • Signs on the doors: Conversely, we’re putting signs up in the house to label clearly which room is what. That way our helpers can quickly see “this is the office” or “this is Steve and Corrie’s room” without having to ask one of us.
  • Purging: We’ve tried to purge as we’ve packed, which will hopefully please our volunteers to know that they aren’t moving things that are going to be trashed anyway. And it means they’re moving less stuff than they could be — even if it doesn’t seem like it!
  • Total readiness: Our goal was to be completely ready for volunteers to come in and start moving. This meant that big furniture like our bed and desk would be broken down, drawers emptied, boxes stacked and labeled. Anything loose or unlabeled, our volunteers have the freedom of leaving in our apartment and we’ll deal with it later. Knowing our volunteers, they’ll be kind enough to bring it over anyway, so we’ll tell them to put everything “miscellaneous” in a corner of the living room or garage so that they don’t have to ask one of us.

Check back later to see how the reality of moving was for us!

Weekly Update: Add chaos. Stir. Repeat.

Just in case I happened to pick up some new readers from the flurry of lifehacker and digg traffic, every Friday is my “weekly update” post, mostly for the purpose of keeping track of my goals. Today, however, I’ll deviate slightly to share some more personal things about my crazy week to give you some insight as to why Not Much got accomplished this week.

  • Saturday: Steve worked, and Liz and I went to pick up 14 gallons of paint for the new house that we’re all moving into* (tomorrow!!). Thanks to a bevy of wonderful volunteers, we managed to tape/prep the whole place and start on a first coat in the main living areas. Steve called on his way home to say that the car broke down on the freeway. I drove out to hang out with him to wait the hour and a half for the tow truck. It was blazing hot; luckily, a few minutes after standing in the sun, I remembered that we had camping chairs in the trunk of the car! We set them up (they’re the posh kind with footrests) and lots of people stared at us as they drove by. Eventually the tow truck arrived, and the 4.67 miles to the car dealership just off the next exit (near our house) meant that our insurance covered it for free. The service center was closed, so we just left the car in the lot.
  • Sunday: More painting after church. Service center of the car dealership still closed. Our good friends invited us over for dinner so I didn’t have to cook.
  • Monday: An alarm setting mishap meant that Steve woke up late for work. Now carless, I biked down to the car dealership to fill out paperwork and have them look at our car. Exit $350 odd dollars. Then I found that our bathroom (current kitten-pen**) was smeared all over with cat feces. I don’t know if one of the cats had an accident or if they thought cat poop was a fun toy. So I had to clean that up. The next major task of the day was taking one of our kittens, Rocket, to the vet, as he has had a lumpy, bulgy stomach and it seemed to be getting worse. Note that I am still carless at this point, so I carried the cardboard cat carrier on my bike, eliciting some very strange looks from pedestrians as I whizzed by with a meowing box (I am getting used to strange looks from people). It turns out that Rocket has a birth defect where his abdominal muscles never fused in the middle, which means that he had some serious hernias (i.e., his intestines were poking out). Exit another $370 for 20 minutes of surgery, a funnel collar, antibiotics, pain meds, and strict instructions to not let him climb, run, jump, or play, which is about as easy as telling someone not to breathe. I picked up the car, went to a doctor’s appointment, then picked up the kitten from the vet. Then came a very stressful time where I tried to put the funnel collar on Rocket. Much yowling, thrashing, and I’m surprised he didn’t rip all his sutures at this point. I was very much near tears. The day ended with both Steve and I very stressed. A very memorable day. One of the best parts of the day was that the same good friends who invited us over for dinner on Sunday invited us again, so I didn’t have to cook again!
  • Tuesday: Went a lot better than Monday! I spent most of the day making sure Rocket was quiet and separated from the others — particularly after the mom, Nutmeg, freaked out and tried to kill him when she saw the collar on him. Oh, and I also tried to get work done. In the evening, our church small group came over to the house to help us paint. They are superstars.
  • Wednesday: About the same as Tuesday, with an extra flurry of effort to paint in the evening because the carpet/linoleum was going to get replaced the next day.
  • Thursday: My weight training post got linked from lifehacker and then got dugg (thanks to Dave for putting it “out there”), which I certainly didn’t expect. Lots of comment-approving, filtering through spam comments***, and the PDF form’s server went down from all the traffic. This, of course, conveniently happened right in the middle of trying to impress a potential client! How embarrassing. (“Ummmm… sorry you can’t view my web site right now. Too many people are trying to download this, um, weight training form that I made.”) In the middle of a phone conversation with aforementioned potential client, Rocket also decided he wanted to climb up and sleep in my lap. Unfortunately he did so by climbing up my legs. The evening ended with much painting and packing.

So. How has this week affected my goals?

  • Fitness: NO visits to the gym, which I’m a tiny bit sad about since I just made that pretty weight training form for myself. But as you can see we really have a bit too much going on to make that a priority for now.
  • Routines: I’m keeping track of my food quite well still, which is amazing, but most of my other routines are on hold until after we move and get settled in.
  • Custom Shadow Box****: I didn’t do anything this week. However, my business cards did come in (pictures to come)! A little sad because I didn’t plan well; I didn’t check to make sure whether “glossy” cardstock was glossy on both sides, so the photos were printed on a matte surface. Oh well. They still look cool, I guess.
  • Branding: Tweaked the background image slightly on to use the vertical fading stripes that I had made for the blog, which I think helps it look a little less messy. Still have so many things I want to tweak on that site and this blog, but will have to wait until after the move!
  • Work: Hung on and did what I needed to do. Amazed how many things got checked off considering my lack of focus this week.

In summary, this has definitely been a pretty challenging week (although I’ve had worse*****). I’m hoping to get a good morning of work in today before I run many moving-errands and then spend the rest of the day packing up the office and the rest of our apartment. Tomorrow, we have many friends and family converging on our two apartments to help us move, and then comes a few days of trying to figure out how to best combine households. I’m optimistically hoping to be back online by next Wednesday, but have purposefully scheduled most of my project milestones to happen AFTER Labor Day weekend.

So this is the last “live post” that I’ll be making for a few days. I have some different posts that I’m scheduling to publish over the next couple of days while I’m offline, but don’t expect much interaction from me in the comments! Hope you have a great weekend and first part of next week.

Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented: Penny, @Stephen, Kate Davis, Angela Yee, Matt, David, James Hamilton, Kevin Barnes, Mcbeev, Jen, Ankur, Britt, John Gerbino, Ryan, ddrdancer, Katy, Björgvin, Gdog, Matt Wolfe, Marilyn, Jon, Jason Nelms, LightningCrash, Emma, Mark, Piers, Scott Wright, Sophie, Albert, and Dave Seah (double-thanks for all the traffic)!

* Steve and I are moving into a four-bedroom rental with another couple. Both of us are trying to save money so that we can eventually own our own homes. The rental is owned by Rich’s parents, so we had a lot of free reign with choosing interior paint colors!

** We were adopted by a cat who then had five kittens. Right now the kittens live in our hallway bathroom.

*** I’m really surprised by how anonymity allows some people to make really inappropriate comments that they probably wouldn’t say to your face. There were two non-spam comments that I didn’t approve because my niece reads my blog. If you commented appropriately, and I didn’t approve it, sorry — it may have looked like spam! Please try something less generic next time.

**** Custom Shadow Box is a new side business I just started. You can read all about it here.

***** I would say the MOST challenging weeks of my life — so far — were two weeks in June 2002. My dad passed away one weekend, the memorial service was the next weekend, we found that Steve’s bike was stolen when we came home from the memorial service, and our wedding was the next weekend. You can fill in the blanks of what our time was spent on during the weekdays. Luckily, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event for me, so I doubt I’ll have an exact repeat of that sequence of events!

Gear Desk Logo Design

A project I’ve wrapped up recently also has the distinction of being the first job I’ve gotten from a blog reader, P.K. I was asked to design a logo for Gear Desk, a (beta) directory for high-end build-it-yourself audio gear (updated 8/24 – sorry, P.K.!).

P.K. had some specific ideas initially and asked for some sketches involving either a dial/knob or a power button. My first round of sketches stayed within the boundaries he had defined. In our first conversation, he had also mentioned that a bonus would be to have a business card that looked like audio equipment with the logo, so I sketched a few possibilities for how the logo shape might integrate on a business card.

Gear Desk logo design, round 1

After round 1, the power button idea was thrown out altogether and I was asked to play more with the dial/knob shape.

Gear Desk logo design, round 2

P.K. tended to like minimalistic, clean shapes. While he liked 6a and 6b, he was afraid that it was too abstract and didn’t really say “gear.” This was true of most of the knob shapes – taken without any context, it could be difficult to figure out what the shape was. P.K. gave me carte blanche to find a new direction for the logo, agreeing to an extra round of sketches.

I went back to the original photos of high-end gear and audio equipment that P.K. had originally provided, doing some sketches of the ones that looked nice and trying to distill elements that would really speak “gear.” Some of the notes I made below: “Rounded corners look more high-class (like ipod)” “Feet really help make it look like ‘gear'” “Dials by themselves do not communicate ‘gear'” I sketched out a few more ideas, basing them on actual pieces of equipment but simplifying the shapes.

Gear Desk logo design, round 3

After looking at this round of sketches, P.K. felt comfortable letting me run with three options and creating digital versions.

Gear Desk logo design, round 4

P.K. really liked the simplicity of #1, but thought a “dimple” would make the knob look more like a knob, and less like a projector lens. I did one more round of digital sketches, along with some color samples so that he could see what it looked like with color.

Gear Desk logo design, round 5

Gear Desk Logo

After a few more screenshots with different fonts and colors, we finally ended up with a logo that we were both happy with. The final logo used a “tick” instead of a dimple, which we thought helped to make it look more like a knob (and less like a projector lens highlight), incorporated the rounded corners and feet to make the box look more like equipment, and used a clean serif font for a more “expensive” feel.

P.K. was great to work with. It was a new experience for me as he was the first of my clients to use IM and was able to give me instant feedback. I appreciated that he was very open throughout the whole process, willing to scrap our original ideas and go in a totally different direction — which thankfully worked out!

Now I just need to take the time to update my portfolio…

Creativity tools

Two creativity tools have come across my way recently that I’m excited to start using.

Wreck This Journal – This book – journal – grown-up coloring book – creative tool by Keri Smith recently arrived at my home after I read about it at Each page has instructions that you can interpret and follow, such as “fill this page with circles” or “drip something here.” If you’ve ever had a pristine Moleskine that you didn’t touch for years, this is a book that gives you free license to ruin it, scribble in it, and actually use it to stimulate creativity. The blog (linked above) has a gallery of photos from people who have used this book and more information about the book itself, which you can find at any major bookseller.

The Majency Oracle, Deck 1 – James Bickers sent me an email to let me know about this free deck of creative prompts (and I see that Dave has already plugged it, but I’ll jump on the bandwagon). Each card has a short phrase, meant to jog your mind into creating a story or image around it that you can then run with in your creative medium of your choice. The zip download comes with a PDF of ready-to-print 3×5 cards; they look pretty, and did I mention that they’re free? (Of course — if you do find these useful, I’m sure James would appreciate a small donation!)

If you’ve used any cool creativity tools, please share them in the comments!

My favorite web sites

Marcia (a.k.a Organising Queen) tagged me to share my five favorite web sites. Here they are, for today, at least (they may change tomorrow), but not in any particular order:

  • Davis Wiki – A community wiki for my town. Anytime I want to look up hours for a restaurant or store, read some restaurant reviews, or look up a phone number, the Davis Wiki usually has an answer for me.
  • CSS Remix – I love checking out the new designs featured at CSS Remix.
  • Craigslist (Sacramento) – I admit it — I’m a Craigslist junkie. It’s my virtual form of window shopping for cheap deals.
  • Levenger – Visiting Levenger is my virtual form of window shopping for expensive, luxurious items. Although I must admit I like looking at the catalogs more than the web site.
  • Notcot – I used to visit daily until I felt overwhelmed, but recently rediscovered how much I love seeing cool examples of unique design.

I’m curious to know what Britt, Penny, Doodah, and @Stephen’s favorite sites are.

Weight Training Workout Sheet

Steve and I have been consistently going to the gym three times a week to work out, which consists of biking to the gym (nice warmup), lifting weights, playing basketball (Steve) or shooting around/watching (me), and biking home (nice cooldown, and sometimes we stop off somewhere to go out to dinner). Last time, we played ping pong instead of basketball, which was very fun as well.

We’ve gotten into a nice weekly routine:

  • Mondays: Arm and shoulder exercises
  • Thursdays: Chest and back exercises
  • Saturday: Legs

Although I’m not strong enough to spot Steve, we enjoy working out together (and Steve just does safer, lower weights at more reps), taking turns on various pieces of equipment and chatting.

At one of our old gyms, they offered free ugly forms that you could use to track your weight training routine, which were useful to track your progress as well as remember how much weight you were using on various exercises. Since I am now an officially acclaimed “form productivista” (thanks, Dave!), Steve asked me to make a form for us to use at our new gym. Here is what part of it looks like, filled-in:

Weight Training Workout Sheet example

This is actually version 4, after many various tweaks. 🙂 I originally had blank columns, and Steve asked for labels, so I added faint letters that you can write over: “S R W” for “sets, repetitions, and weight.” Then I realized I had to change it to “W / W / W” because sometimes Steve changes the weight he uses. Then I got rid of the “S” because it was repetitious. Then I changed the spacing of the letters. Thank goodness for Illustrator’s Transform and Distort feature, which made most of those changes painless!


Weight Training Workout Sheets

My personal version has the exercises listed out, but I’ve created a blank fill-out version for public consumption.

  • Weight Training Workout Sheetweight-training-worksheet.pdf (doh! ran out of bandwidth so back to my original server link. Anyone interested in helping to mirror this link, please contact me!)
    The PDF is editable in Illustrator, if you’re the kind of person that likes to customize things.
  • Update 9/26/07: See v2!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Usage example and notes

Take a look at my sample screenshot above.

The PDF has two pages — one with boy-friendly colors and one with girl-friendly colors. I print this onto a two-sided sheet of paper for an ultimate couples’ workout tracking sheet — one piece of paper for two people, and instead of having our names at the top, we can quickly tell by looking at the colors which side we should be filling out. Of course, if you’re single (and care about having gender-appropriate colors), you can print out just one of the pages onto a two-sided sheet to help conserve paper.

Since Steve and I split out the various body groups into different workout days, each column represents a week’s worth of workouts, so I put the three dates in the top tab. If you’re into circuit training instead, each column might represent a day’s worth of workouts. It’s up to you.

We purposefully don’t have abs listed on this sheet, because we do situps and various abdominal exercises every time. If that really bothers you, you can add it yourself!

If you find this useful, or if you have suggestions, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment!

Update 8/23: Several people have suggested customizations that might be useful to a larger audience. I’m taking these all under consideration and will look seriously into putting out some different versions after I move this weekend (and get unpacked, etc.). If you are more of a personal-customization type of person, but don’t have Adobe Illustrator, let me know. You can hire me to make some quick customizations or we can work out some kind of trade. Maybe something that involves yummy food. 😉

Another slowish reading week

Finished reading:

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George – My sister and her kids read this book and loved it, and I did, too! This “young adult” book is definitely a great read for anyone who has previously enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede’s Dragon Chronicles or Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. With dragons who have shoe, dog, and stained-glass-window fetishes, spoiled princesses, and a gutsy heroine who ultimately wants to be a small business owner, what is there not to love? There is a tiny bit of room for a sequel, so I’m hoping this author puts more out.

The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski – Steve bought this one from Borders because our library didn’t have it. Being relatively new to the sport genre of books, I don’t have too much to compare this book to. The book covers one season with the legendary Bob Hurley who many would claim to be one of the best basketball coaches in existence. Hurley calls the seniors on his varsity team the worst class he’s ever seen, yet under his leadership and discipline, they manage to achieve amazing things. While catching snippets of the lives of the individual players, the book provides glimpses of Hurley’s family (including Bobby Hurley, his son, who played for the Sacramento Kings before a devastating accident), staff, and the struggles of the Catholic prep school to keep tuition low while remaining open in the crumbling environment of Jersey City. While saddened by some of the choices that the students make, I ultimately found this a very inspirational book as it shows how one man’s sacrifices and dedication can make a huge impact on people’s lives while achieving great things.

Also, I swear that I read the first half of this book before, but I couldn’t tell you when, where, or why!

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

In the library box:

  • The Really, Truly, Honest-to-Goodness One-Pot Cookbook by Jesse Ziff Cool