May 29, 2009

San Mateo Here We Come!

Maker FaireImage by Laughing Squid via Flickr

DS and I are leaving for Maker Faire in the morning. So exciting!! We'll be with our friends D&J of Morro Bay fame. Hopefully, I'll be able to blog while I'm there. I'm taking a million or so back up batteries for my camera, and a notebook to jot things down.

This could be one of the coolest weekends ever!!

That photo is something Zemanta found for me when I searched for Maker Faire, and I do spy their logo on this little gadget there!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

May 27, 2009


I just got into the Art of Jewelry Making: Level 1 class for the summer at the local community college:

Students are invited to come and learn how to make silver rings, earrings pins, pendants and gemstone settings in this fun beginning-level jewelry class. No experience necessary! We have all of the tools, metal and stones you will need for your projects ready for you. All are welcome to come and ENJOY!
So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 25, 2009


Yesterday morning I was woken up by what I was sure was my first earthquake. The whole apartment shook. The windows were rattling. My bed was vibrating. It sort of sounded like a tree had fallen on the apartment, or a car had hit the building.

DS, as usual, had been up for some time.
Me, yelling from the bedroom: Was that an earthquake??
DS: I don't know. I think something fell on the roof.
Me: No way. Nothing could have fallen on the roof that hard. There's nothing above us.
DS: I don't think it was an earthquake.
Me: Well, it didn't sound like something hit the roof to me.
DS, pointing to the ceiling now that I'm in the living room: I think it hit right there.
Me: I don't believe you. I'm looking it up.

As it turns out, we were both wrong, though it was surprisingly hard to pinpoint the cause. It was actually the sonic boom of the space shuttle landing at the Edwards Air Force Base, which is roughly a 3 hour drive from here.

A sonic boom that big from an object that had been in space?! That's almost cooler than an earthquake*. Awesome. :)

*I have always been very fascinated by natural phenomenon and disasters, and was very close to choosing meteorology as my major in college so I could be a storm chaser. So unless dying is involved, an earthquake would be sweet. I swear I'm not crazy.

May 22, 2009

Found Treasures

I don't know why I never knew about this, probably my general lack of awareness of the world at large.. but the person I bought the tiles from for my table around a year ago posted a photo of it on their flickr account. That was nice! But more to the point, people commented, and I am touched. They say I have talent!!

I should think about doing mosaics more.. I really enjoyed it, and I still get compliments on the table. *le sigh*

If you want to try your own mosaic work, but don't like those boring squares at the craft store, then I highly recommend CoCoMo.

May 20, 2009

Laser Tag

During our trip to Morro Bay, our friend David kept the cats entertained in the little hotel room with his laser pointer. DS and I enjoyed watching them so much that I decided to purchase one of my own. This way I can laugh at them whenever I want!

Aside from the good workout it seems to give them, we've discovered two tricks we can make Winston perform. The first, which you can see a little of in the video, is this crazy, arms spread wide, side to side walk thing he does when we jerk the beam quickly from right to left in a zig zag motion. DS and I laugh so. hard. Really. He's moving a little too fast in the video to get the full effect.

The second, more easily photographed trick is climbing the wall. A flat wall. It's pretty impressive. We've gotten him to jump nearly 5 feet in the air so far. Of course, now there are little black cat feet up and down my white wall.... perhaps I should have cleaned the ash out of the apartment better before playing this game....

Felix jumps sometimes, but not as often as Winston.

I love this one. It looks like she's giving him a boost.

You can really see the red dot in this one.

You can hear Winston wheezing at the end of this video. He's not use to moving his pudge that fast...

May 18, 2009

Morro Bay, Part 1

(The following events took place May 8-10)

To escape the smoke, ash and encroaching fire, DS and I packed up the cats and went 2 hours north to Morro Bay for the weekend. We went with our friends D&J, who I may have mentioned from our "game nights" with them. They were very cool about us bringing the cats. DS and I weren't too worried that they would die in a fire, but just in case, we didn't want to be 2 hours away if things went bad.

We chose Morro Bay just by searching for hotels that took cats in a place far enough that it would be completely booked with evacuees, but close enough that we wouldn't regret driving there. It was perfect. We saw amazing things, including what I feel was my first real experience with the Pacific Ocean.*

Below are images and two movies. The sound on the movies is not great, just a warning. This is an abbreviated showing of the images. For the whole, humongous set, see my Morro Bay flickr set.

*Our beach faces south with a view of the Channel Islands National Park, which is a string of, well, islands. This combination of things, in my opinion, makes our view of the ocean seem very different than other parts of the west coast. I'm told it also has something to do with our crazy weather.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

May 16, 2009

Fire Updates

The view of the fire the night before we left (5/7).

The sun through the smoke.

Our carport the day we left, covered in ash.

The hood of the car after being home for one night.

View of the fire from our home as we were leaving.

154 - the road we take to Lizard's Mouth, where DS climbs. Ash covers the hillside. Taken 5/13.

Scorched hillside on the way to Lizard's Mouth.

Taken from Lizard's Mouth, beyond the reach of the fire.

The fire is still burning the last time I checked the news this afternoon. Not that we can see it anymore. At this point it is 95% contained, and we're no longer under evacuation warning. DS and I drove up to Skofield Park today, because there are boulders there you can climb. This park is in Mission Canyon, which is where the fire started. It was awful. I was thoroughly surprised we could even go in the park, but it had been pretty well preserved. That didn't mean there weren't three fire vehicles inside the park though.

Driving through the ignition point area, you could really see the amazing job the firefighters have done. The entire hillside would be burned, right up to someone's front door, but the house was untouched. 80 homes have been destroyed, which sounds like such a huge number. But driving through that neighborhood, it is really clear that without those 4500 firefighters that were working around the clock, it would have been so many more.

We both forgot our cameras today, but since DS wants to go climbing in that park soon, I imagine I'll have some photos soon.

May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Memory

I am not what most people would consider a morning person. This has been true as far back as I can remember. For example, there were days when my step-dad would wake me up for school somewhere around 3rd grade, and I would blatantly ignore him. He'd tell me to get up, and I'd either lie as still as possible, trying to stay asleep, or just say "okay" and go back to sleep as soon as he left.

It rarely matters when I go to bed. Morning always comes as a harsh surprise. At some point, both of my parents ended up working at Toyota, which meant that neither of them were around to make sure I was awake for school in the mornings. This posed a particular problem for me, having relied for years on someone continuously checking on me as my mind kept sliding back down the slippery slope of my dreams each morning.

To combat this, my mother bought me an alarm clock that would play a cassette tape instead of music or buzzing. She recorded herself yelling at me to get. It started off mildly, with her simply telling me that it was time to wake up. But it lasted probably 10 minutes, and by the end she was definitely getting upset. So even though I woke up each morning with my little brother gone to school, and my parents gone to work, I woke to my mother's voice.

Perhaps, considering my continual reliance on the snooze button, and DS for getting up at a decent hour, this was not my mother's best decision ever. Regardless, I remember this fondly, and will be forever grateful for this and all the other things she's ever done for me.

I love you Mom!

May 08, 2009


The fires have been appearing mild during the day, when the winds die down. By evening, the fire explodes with amazing speed. We drove back to Ventura today to pick up the improved car. By the time we got back, the fire had spread west. It's insane. The photo above is of the newest boundaries. It's far enough west now to include us, but not far enough south. The air at home smells strongly of smoke, and my eyes are burning like when my allergies are bad. It's raining ash.

Jesusita FireImage by penner42 via Flickr

As of right now, we're supposed to be safe. Here's a photo from the tubes, because mine aren't great. Too much smoke.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

May 06, 2009

Welcome to Santa Barbara

That's what I've been told by everyone I know the last two days. In fact, my friend Samantha made a point of calling me last night just to say that. The reason? We're having our first wildfire since our arrival. This is Samantha's third, and she's only been here a year. There aren't any wildfires to speak of where I grew up, so I did some research*.

For starters, the fire started on May 5 somewhere around 1:30 in the afternoon. The cause is under investigation still. From what I understand, wildfire "season" (I can't believe there's a season for this crap) starts a little later in the year. This is due in large part to the utter lack of rain that this area gets after March. See the graph I grabbed from for reference.

Of course, that won't mean much without a comparison, so here is the same graph for the town in Kentucky where I grew up.

The fire began in the Cathedral Peak area. To DS and I watching the news, the fire seemed more or less contained last night. We went to Japanese class, no one seemed panicked. On the way home, we could see flames for the first time in the dark. I went to work this morning thinking the fire was probably almost over.

A term we kept hearing on the news as a point of concern was "sundowner winds". We had no idea what that meant, so I looked it up. Here is an excerpt from a report by Gary Ryan of the Santa Maria Weather Service Office.

"Sundowners" [are] Santa Barbara's special version of the Santa Ana regime. Sundowners frequently occur in the late afternoon or evening hours - hence the name. Light sundowners create irregular rises in temperature downtown with gentle offshore breezes. Stronger sundowners, occurring two or three times a year, can create sharp temperature rises, local gale force winds, and significant weather-related problems. Rarely, probably about a half dozen times in a century, an "explosive" sundowner occurs. These extremely strong and hot winds present a dangerous weather situation. In these events, super heated air from the Santa Ynez Valley bursts across the Santa Ynez Mountains and onto the coastal plain, reaching gale force or higher speeds within the city. Dust storms occur, fires can race down the mountain slopes, and great stress is felt by the human population, by animals, and by plants.
I can tell you that last night, walking to Japanese, the dust in the wind was actually scratching my legs. Though I don't know that this is an "explosive" sundowner.

So as I said, I went to work this morning. At 1:45 this afternoon, I left work to drive 35 min south to Ventura to drop the car off for some work. I still didn't see anything too scary. Between 3 and 3:30, I started back north in my loaner car, and could see the smoke the moment I was on the highway.

I kept taking photos as I got closer, just clicking the shutter button without really looking since I was driving. Right as I was coming into Santa Barbara, I got this.

I drove through that mess. It was very creepy. With the sun shining down through the smoke, it reminded me of the lit tunnels that go under mountains back home. Not really what I want to feel like when it's actually sunny and cloudless out.

I missed my exit coming home because of the traffic and my fears of hurting the loaner car. So I went one exit down and then came back. While I was waiting on the overpass, I got this shot.

If you expand that photo, you should be able to see the insane traffic. It took me 10 minutes to go the 1 mile back to my exit.

In the time since I've been writing this, the mandatory evacuation area has expanded a few times. The fire has jumped its perimeter, and has now burned down its first actual structures. I'm a little freaked out, though everyone is telling me there is a very very low chance the fire would come here. This is based on the wind direction and the interstate being between us. However, the office where I work is now under evacuation warning (not yet in mandatory evacuation) and the winds are expected to pick up again tonight, as much as 70mph at times.

If you want to follow the fire, here are the two sites I've been checking:
County of Santa Barbara
Also, the CofSB site has a Google Map link that they've been updating periodically with the evacuation areas.

That map is also available for Google Earth, and I took the liberty of taking a screenshot for you. That yellow house is where we live. The darker shading is mandatory evacuation, and the lighter shading is the evacuation warning. We're 2.25 miles from the evacuation warning right now.

*Please note: all information included here was found via internet searches and world of mouth. I do not claim to know what I'm talking about. Please visit the links I have provided for sources that do.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

May 05, 2009


Things I've been up to:

  1. learning to quilt with my sewing machine (thanks again mom!!)
  2. reading the chabon book i got from the library
  3. experimenting with needle felting wool roving into decorated coffee cup sleeves
  4. making a bunch of jewelry for various birthday presents
  5. finishing a plaid scarf on my loom
  6. sketching the beginnings of my first painting in years
  7. making mother's day gifts
  8. seeing the new wolverine movie at the matinee (pretty good!)
  9. watching LOTS of streaming netflix while doing 1-7
  10. game nights with friends (photos of my catan cookies if i ever get around to it)
  11. exploring ventura (photos from that too.. again, if i get around to it)
1-8 have all been within the last 4 days.  i've been inspired, and it's wonderful.  i wish i felt this productive all the time.

also, we've had 3 japanese classes now.  the 4th is tomorrow.  i can count to 99 in japanese!!  it's pretty sweet.  ds can tell you all about it.  because i demonstrated for him.  out loud.  while walking back from class.  he loved it.