Monday, July 26, 2010

This has 10 things and I didn't even plan it that way

I don’t have any more photos of the apartment Bert and I are moving into in September, but here’s a little bit more about it. It’s a two bedroom place on the first floor. It has a very open plan so the living room flows into the dining room into kitchen (all of which are big rooms) and then the two bedrooms are off the dining room and the kitchen. One of the bedrooms will be a LEGO studio/computer room, though we haven’t decided which one yet. There is central air and heat and a dishwasher in the unit and free laundry in the basement. It’s only a couple blocks away from the Paulina Brown Line stop, there’s a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s just around the corner and a bunch of restaurants in walking distance. I can’t wait until we move in!

Of course, the other side of moving is the packing. I’ve already begun to pack up my LEGO collection. The Star Destroyer has been dismantled and several shelves have come down off my wall. I packed up a good deal of my books. Still a lot of stuff left to do, but I feel good about the process since I’m starting so early.

This Saturday was another book club where we read a book I chose. This time it was “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.” (Yet another great book recommended to me from Stephanie.) The book is a collection of short non-fiction stories about people who have non-typical brain function. This ranges the gamut from amnesia to agnosia, Tourette's to neurosyphilis, temporal lobe seizures to autism. While the book, like the previous sentence, is littered with a lot of precise medical terminology and often goes into details that would only be of use to a trained specialist, there is a powerful emotional core to the book that is accessible to anyone willing to look for it.
The story that struck me the most was “The Disembodied Woman.” She goes in to the hospital for routine surgery and ends up losing her ability to sense where her limbs are. Most of us never even think about this automatic feedback we get from our muscles that lets us know how our bodies are oriented. She describes herself as “pithed,” as though something vital has been scooped out of her. She feels like a stranger in her own body. This is absolutely terrifying – a modern nightmare.
In the chapter on Tourette’s he recounts a scene where a woman walking down a busy NYC street compulsively imitates everyone she passes in rapid, exaggerated gestures and expressions. One gets the impression of her as a living funhouse mirror. As people grimace at gape at her bizarre pantomime, she amplifies and reprojects these right back leading to a grotesque feedback loop. The woman ducks into an alley where she spasms out the remaining imitations and catches her breath to recollect herself. One wonders what her inner life is like, how difficult is it to maintain a sense of self when the barrier between self and other is so flimsy? While “The Disembodied Woman” is an exile in her own body, this woman has the opposite problem, her body is home to anyone and everyone.
Not all the stories are so macabre, some are actually quite touching and uplifting, but all of them convey the incredible fragility of the self.

The meeting itself was good too. There was a much better turnout than for my last book (twice as many) and there was at least one other person who loved the book as much as I did. It generated some of the most interesting conversation of any meeting I’ve been to so far, so I’m pleased. I made the Ithaca Artichoke Medley and it was a big hit (thanks for that recipe Jenny&Leo!) and I had enough left over to take to Tiffany and Seth’s apartment warming the next day. Then there was lots of wine and laughter and brownies and ice cream and we went to bed feeling very content.

As I just mentioned, Tiffany & Seth had an apartment warming brunch the next day. This is the first place that they aren’t sharing with roommates and it’s clear how excited they are to have their own place. It was a gorgeous day with a nice breeze, so it was perfect weather to eat quiche and waffles, drink juice, sit in their big living room, crowd into their less spacious kitchen, stand on their balcony and covet their neighbor’s pool and listen to their collection of vinyl jazz records. I look forward to many future visits to their new place which is a stone’s throw from our new place.

Sunday night, mom and dad were back in town. Bert treated us to dinner at Quartinos where we looked at pictures from their trip as they regaled us with tales. They got us some awesome Yellowstone T-Shirts and a magnet from Glacier National Park. Quartino’s was good, we each got a small plate or two and since the portions were relatively small we also each got a dessert and then were taken aback when ENORMOUS DESSERTS were laid in front of each of us. We did our best to soldier through though. It was another nice evening. Here’s a picture of Bert and I my mom took the previous time we had dinner with them.

Last night Bert took me out for Korean BBQ for the first time. This picture only shows the meat cooking, but there were also a dozen small dishes full of various foods that ranged from weird to delicious. I tried everything but didn’t ask what anything was. Overall it was very yummy.

Stephanie and I have finished the last regular world in Mario Galaxy and moved on to the special world. Craziness ensues. I should note that I really do mean Stephanie and I, because her contributions as player 2 are invaluable, and often more important than mine. It really is a cooperative game when played this way.

I have a new internet addiction - StumbleUpon. Basically you tell it the kind of things you like and then you press stumble and it takes you to a random webpage that other people have said is awesome and stumble worthy. It’s just a way of finding new cool stuff on the internet. I like it so much, I installed the toolbar. Here are some of the random awesome things I’ve discovered in the past week or so because of StumbleUpon.
NPR story about a high school school without teachers or classes
Adorable baby animals
Inkblot Art
25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips
Wikipedia Article that perfectly describes something Tiffany and I were talking about the week before
A demonstration of how music is hard-wired in our brains

You might have already seen this animation when I posted it here a couple months back, but last week I was finally able to post Metamorphosis on youTube. It got blogged by the Brothers Brick so it got a (relatively) massive amount of views in the first week. Also, it was blogged about in at least three other languages (Italian - French - Portugese). Crazy, right? If you want to know more about the behind the scenes stuff for the video I posted a write up on my animation blog.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bert and I got a place

This evening we signed the lease on this 2 Bedroom, 1st floor walk up. We move in Aug 31st. Woohoo!

Monday, July 5, 2010

500th post

Hello Dear Readers!

This is my 500th post on this blog. Have you read them all? Remember the early days when this was a “daily” blog and every entry was packed full of minutia and descriptions of my meals? Then last year I went down to weekly and this year I can’t even keep up with that. That’s life for you (or me at least).

Stephanie and I have been blazing through Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’s really fantastic, lots of different power-ups (I love Cloud Mario) and gravity puzzles. Yoshi is quite fun, but only shows up once every few levels. Bowser is gigantic and the Toad Brigade is ineffectual – all is as it should be. Stephanie is weirded out by the bread people.

We’ve also been moving through Season 5 of Doctor Who with Paul at a decent clip. We just finished Amy’s choice, which was awesome. Vampires of Venice was not as great, but it did have some ridiculous costumes.

Stephanie introduced me to this hilarious blog where they pretend to be the people who live in the ridiculous rooms from catalogs.

Stephanie and I had a great recording session for all of Sherry Tiles’s lines for Chapter 2, so I’m almost ready to get animating the next installment of NNN!

I hung out with JJ for the first time in a few months, he came over and we watched TransAmerica until the disc stopped working. Then we watched Fargo and got a couple drinks at Sidetrack. It was a nice evening.

Bert got a part-time temporary job! It’s doing marketing work for a hotel company, so it’s exactly in his field. It’s only 4 hours a day for 4 weeks, but there’s a possibility they may offer him a regular position after that is over. We’ll have to see. If nothing else, he’s keeping busy and earning some money. Yay!

We spent most of the long holiday weekend together. On Saturday we went up and checked out the Baha'i Temple, which was pretty. Then we got some really good BBQ at a place in Evanston and saw Winter’s Bone. Winter’s Bone was really good, but not really a feel good film.

On Sunday we got brunch at Tweet. Then we spent the afternoon inside in the A/C and purchased tickets for two trips in September and spent some time looking at apartment listings. We had a simple dinner courtesy of Bert’s freezer (salmon, green beans and garlic naan) and watched Sex in the City. On Monday we did a little shopping at Banana Republic and the Container Store and had lunch at a Thai place by Bert. All in all a very nice weekend.

Then I had three days of work (though I had class for two of them) and then I had a four day weekend! I took Friday and Monday off because mom and dad were in town. On Friday I cleaned my apartment (my landlady is starting to show it), got my very first manicure/pedicure. Bert and I had leftovers at my place and watched Dexter (we finished season 1 this weekend).

On Saturday we drove down to Hyde Park and attempted to retrieve my wounded bike, that didn’t work out, but we ended up bringing back my (newly fixed) laptop. We went to Staples and got some bubblewrap envelopes so I could ship out some NNN DVDs and the first purchases from our new Bricklink store. Then we went over to West Lakeview by the Addison and Paulina Brown Line stops to search for an apartment for me. After walking around for a couple hours we had lunch at Frasca ??and decided we should move in together. We’d talked about it before, but as we both started to look for separate places and weren’t thrilled by the options we realized we’d both be much happier if we moved in together. Also, we ate pizza. Back at my place Bert watched The Lightning Thief while I addressed packages. That evening he went to book club while I stayed home and cleaned/packed up some LEGO/ recorded Robert Vylan’s voices for the Chapter 2/built some robots.

Then on Sunday my parents came in to town. Bert let me use his car to pick them up from the airport. I drove them to their hotel and we got lunch at the food court in Northbridge (the Jaffa Bakery turkey sandwich I got was awesome). Then dad took a nap while mom and I walked to Water Tower to get a new battery for her watch. When we got back to their hotel room I took a nap. Then I drove them up to my place and we met Bert at Leona’s for dinner. This was the first time they got to meet and it went off very nicely. We all were stuffed and happy and then we hung out at my place for a bit before I drove mom and dad back to their hotel.

On Monday I made a trip to the post office to mail a big stack of packages. Then I met mom and dad at the hotel and we had lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern. After that we took an architectural boat tour that went down the river and out on the lakefront. I’d never done the combined tour before and I’ve got to say it was really great. The river portion was packed with interesting facts and the lakefront part had some amazing views of the skyline and it was very calming to be out on the water. Bert met us for an early dinner at Flatwater grill. We picked Flatwater because after the boat tour mom decided she wanted to eat “somewhere outside next to the water”. It was very nice, perfect weather for it. We laughed and ate and had a great time. Mom has some great photos from the boat tour and from dinner. Once I get them from her I’ll definitely post them here. On Tuesday they left Chicago by train for a 12 tour of the mountain time zone, including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier national parks. We're all very jealous.

Of course, the most wonderful thing was seeing Bert and my parents laughing and having a good time together.