My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Saturday, May 23, 2009

Graduation Day

Though all of the milestones have already been passed for Alycia to gracefully shimmy into the land of professordom, there was still the actual graduation ceremony at San Diego State to attend. It wasn't necessary for her to attend in order to attain the ranks of professor, but it was a great opportunity to get a picture of her in her cool robe. Graduation was this Friday, and though we had to leave Yosemite a day early, it was a fun event to attend, and probably gave Alycia some closure on her long seven year ordeal as a grad student.

On our way to graduation!!!!

We hopped on the San Diego trolley for all of one stop (parking would have been an issue) and made our way through the masses of undulating undergrads to Cox Arena. Alycia got to sit up on the stage with the other newly minted PhD folk, and since my vantage point was far away, I got up and moved so I could sit right behind her and try to snap some photos.

At Alycia's request I brought along a book to read, and am glad I did, it was a fairly boring ceremony. After the speeches from the various dignitaries, they presented degrees to the PhD folks first, then spent the next ninety minutes reading off the names of all the master and undergrad degree recipients. As you can imagine, I spent this time reading my book. After the ceremony, we had picture time in several locations and then ran on campus errands - return the gown to the bookstore and drop off a form at her department building. And that was probably our last time to visit campus.....another chapter in the life of the itinerant learner comes to a close.

Alycia in her full gown regalia - all hail!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Carrotmob - A New Approach to Boycotts




I read about the Carrotmob a few weeks and have been intrigued with the group ever since then. They have a unique take on boycotts and have engineered a "reverse boycott" program which has been implemented a few times in various cities, most notably, their first big event in San Francisco some time ago. It's a pretty cool idea.

Read the full blog entry HERE.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Off to Yosemite

Note to all you thousands of readers - we'll be off to Yosemite for the better part of next week, so there will be no posts for several days. But I'll make amends for that by a) posting a slew of entries now and b) having some really cool pictures once we get back later next week. Sadly 2/3 of my regular readership (my Dad and Alycia) will also be on the trip so my Google Analytics numbers should really suffer.

Even though the trip comes in the midst of a busy stretch for us, and the fact that we have to come back a day early to make Alycia's graduation ceremony, we need to make time for the trip now. Why now? Well Alycia has lived in California now for 12 years and has never been to Yosemite!?!?!? Never? Yes, never. I find this fact to be a travesty, so we schedule a trip before we left California for the savage frozenness of North Dakota.

Maybe it's my love of National Parks (instilled by my Dad) or the fact that I've been to Yosemite so many times it's so familiar, but I think it's sacreligious that she hasn't yet visited. So think of this less as a vacation and more as the final educational step for an otherwise smart, educated, worldly PhD - Alycia "Haven't Been to Yosemite Yet". We're here to help, and help we shall.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A New Climate Zone

Probably no more peaches in North Dakota - unless.......

Part of the fun of our upcoming move to the bustling metropolis of Grand Forks, North Dakota will be learning all about the nuances of what trees, plants, and veggies will be able to grow in our new home. Don't get me wrong, this won't be an easy task. I've spent 20 years in Southern California and take my plant knowledge somewhat for granted. All my previous knowledge and experience may have to get tossed out the window as we move from USDA Hardiness Zone 10 (warm) to Zone 4 (very, very cold).

Suffice to say the plants that can barely withstand a hard frost here in San Diego aren't going to cut it in North Dakota where the wind chill aided temps can regularly get to -40 or -50 Fahrenheit in the winter.

Luckily a bit in Internet research has helped my realize I can grow citrus indoors (RAD!!!!) without the need for pollination, and a few other fruit trees (pear, cherry, and apple) should to OK in the frigid Dakotas, but all this is conjecture at this point we'll have to see what pans out. I may also wind up constructing a greenhouse on the property, since there's certainly enough room, and Alycia seems to enjoy the prospect of having some fresh, organic, home grown veggies through the winter.

Monday, May 11, 2009

House Hunting Success

We returned from our house hunting expedition in Grand Forks exhausted but excited at the same time. After a whirlwind four days of house viewing, mortgage broker meetings, form signing, and Dairy Queen cakes with Alycia's parents we came back triumphantly to San Diego having bought a house in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Our real estate agent, Darren Thompson from Greenberg Realty did a fantastic job showing us every possible house that fit our criteria, and exhausting every option in finding us the perfect house. Darren was also a last minute replacement for our regular agent who wass on vacation for the time that we were out there, which made his steallr assistance all the more impressive.

Despite the fact that we reviewed houses that we had found online, and that had been on the market for months, we ended up snatching a house that was on the market for only four days. The irony of this was not lost on us as we fondly recounted the hours and hours of Internet research.
Here's a picture of our new house in Grand Forks. After a bit or research, I actually found that our house is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was built in 1915, and has some phenomenal craft work, built ins, and woodwork throughout the main floor. It's a three bedroom, one and a half bathroom house with a full length sun porch on the front of the house, and a very serviceable mudroom on the back porch.

The great part is that there is a ton of space in the yard for not only dogs to scamper around and conduct their doggie business, but also for me to plant some fruit trees and have an awesome garden. On the south side of the house are two garages, a double (newer) and a single which would be great for work space, some storage, or whatever uses I can think of for it.

At the very least it's nice to have a mental picture of our destination, and we don't have to busy ourselves anymore with the hassle of searching for a house. Now, we just have to think about the whole moving thing.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

604 Consecutive Games....and counting

So I operate my computer in a glorious orgy of multi-tasking splendor. I typically have 3-4 Internet windows open with a handful of tabs in each window, allowing for fast simultaneous reading, typing, editing, and research. Taking all these open tabs and combining them with the couple of Word and Excel documents that I'm working on, I have a very busy computer desktop. This may sound like a combination of short attention span, OCD, and manic computing behavior rolled into one, but somehow it works for me. Don't try to change me, I like who I am.

For some reason, my brain works well when I can spend 20 minutes on a work related spreadsheet then give my brain a quick rest by checking my g-mail, refreshing stock quotes, and reading another three paragraphs of an article on subversive educational techniques. This mental respite takes only a couple of minutes and since it keeps my brain thinking and processing (all be it on a different topic), the efficacy upon my return to that work related spreadsheet seems very high.

Luckily my computer screen faces away from Alycia, I think she might find that the manic switching and Alt-Tabbing would drive her nuts.

Anyways, so the moral of the story is that I find the Freecell game to be very helpful in keeping my mind engaged and sharp during a quick break from work related stuff. At one point I had some scientific evidence to back me up in the form of an article that studied people who played simple problem games or word puzzles for five minutes during every hour of focused mental tasks. The researchers found that keeping your brain thinking and engaged, but on a different task helped lateral thinking and problem solving. Sadly, I can't remember the location of this article, so uhhhh....you'll just have to take my word for it that it was real.

So suffice to say that I frequently play Freecell in small bouts between work to keep my mind stimulated, to the tune of 601 consecutive games won. Certainly this is no world record, merely an impressive feat of an otherwise distracted and work deterred individual. I shall keep you all informed and let you know when we pass 1,000 consecutive wins.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Party Aftermath

Alycia's graduation party was this weekend. This party is also sort of doubling as our going away party, though we'll likely put together a more informal "come help us drink our leftover alcohol so we don't have to lug it across country" event as we get closer to our actual moving date. For all you thousands of eager readers (Hi Dad and Alycia!!) out there, don't worry, we'll fill you in on the precise date of this event as soon as we know the details.

The party was a raging success and Alycia's out of town friends - Sue, Kauyer, and Micheal and Terry from the Bay Area, and Anna and Steve from Los Angeles all represented well and continued drinking and festivitying (not actually a word) long after everyone else had gone home. True blue friends they were indeed.

Big thanks to Alycia's Mom for arranging with the local Whole Foods to send a huge cheese plate, fruit plate, skewers of roasted mushrooms, and a lovely bouquet of flowers. They truly made the party and the food was tasty, especially the cheese. Also a big thanks to my Pop who rolled to one of his favorite food haunts El Cuervo (all you get is a map since unsurprisingly they don't have a website) to pick up rolled tacos, enchiladas, and rice & beans for dinner. All the Mexican food went well with the pitchers of margaritas, call it an early Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Being the early bird, I was up and getting grub ready the next morning, with the help of my good friend Coffee & Bailey's that is.....hair of the dog that bit ya' peeps. Fresh baked scones, coffee cake from scratch, tasty bacon, taters, and eggs and the previous nights cheese were happily devoured around the table as we recounted our tales of bravery from the previous evening. After our rockin' Sunday brunch that I can take credit for making awesome, our out of town friends went on their merry way and Alycia and I turned the golf tournament on low volume and let the soothing monotones of the golf announceers lull us into a much needed nap.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Drugs for R-Dog


After a week or so of constant itching and chewing by Shaak Ti, despite her wearing her happy Comfy Cone (a fantastic product that I would highly recommend), we took her to the vet who prescribed a new antihistamine for her to take twice a day. We'll see how this new drug works. I have my doubts, especially since she's already been on Benadryl twice a day for the last 6 months or so.

It's actually gotten to the point that she's wearing the cone so often that I have a hard time picturing her in my mind NOT wearing the cone. It's all good though since she seems to like the cone well enough, and she looks forward to wearing it since she knows it means getting a treat. When it's cone time, she actually cranes her neck out and sticks her head into the cone as soon as it gets near her, mostly cause she knows that cone = treat.

We're trying to decide if this is a case of seasonal allergies, my allergies are bad as well, or food allergies as the vet has suggested. We're going to try the new antihistamine for its course of two weeks and see how she's doing. In the meantime, she itching so much that it's cone time for the near future.

Please note in the picture that she is indeed very much alive, she just likes sleeping upside down with her neck at alarmingly awkward angles.