Monday, December 29, 2008

Cracker Van Beethoven

Last night Krista and I went to see Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven down in Petaluma. That was my Christmas present for Krista. It was CVB's 25th anniversary. We shared the experience with Krista's high school buddies Molly and Georgia. We staked out a spot right in front of the stage and stuck there for both shows.
The sound level was too high, even with ear plugs, but seeing the bands up so close was a fantastic experience.
When Krista and I first got together she had a cassette tape with about 6 CVB songs. We loved them. So this was a bit of a nostalgia trip.
Sorry the sound quality is absolute crap. My poor little camera was overwhelmed. Actually, so were my ears.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Inching Up on 50,000 Flickr Views

Our messy new home, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This was the first photograph I put up on Flickr, March 5 2005. Just days before we left for Thailand and three months of travel. I had just discovered Flickr, and blogging.
Today I have 2,771 photos up and I'm just shy of 50,000 views of my photostream.

Woo Hoo!! Just made it. 100,000 here I come.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Brief History of Human Innovation

Medical Tourism

I need some dental work. I'm rooting for Obama and the dems to pass Universal Health Care so the United States can join the rest of the first world nations. But in the meantime, I need some dental work and it's looking pricey.
I had planned to slip down to Tijuana for three days. The dentist puts you up for free at a luxury hotel on the beach and it's only $125 roundtrip down to San Diego and quick trolley ride to the border (my dad was the general manager for the trolley project, btw). But Krista says no. There are just too many headless bodies turning up down there, on an almost daily basis. Save a few bucks by maybe losing my head? Maybe not.
So then there's Costa Rica. Really excellant dental care there. And you can trot off to see the rain forrest and/or the beaches while you wait for those crowns. Not too many people getting decapitated by drug cartells--just a few robberies here and there. The ticket jumps up to $600 or so. I'm not sure how much it costs to stay--haven't looked into it yet.
But off in the distance I see Thailand beckoning. The airfare jumps up to $950 and it's a much longer flight. But much much cheaper to stay and eat and really wonderful food. More interesting culturally than Costa Rica and much much better shopping (the night market in Chiang Mai!!). It's also very safe there. Buddhist country.
Strangely enough, from what I can make out, the cost of the dental work is pretty much the same in all three places. A third or less than my local dentist, and all with very good reputations.
Traveling to either country will save me from one to two thousand dollars, including the price of the trip!
Do you have an opinion? Please leave a comment!

ps I just wrote the Thailand tourism board proposing that they pay for my airfare and in return I'll write a new blog on my experience. Good investment for them!

Santa's Helper

Santa's Helper, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.


India, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

India is the soul of generosity. She stayed up all night, Christmas Eve, working on presents.


Eden, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This was a rocky Christmas for Eden. A few nights before, she got some sort of stomach flu. Lots of throwing up, a fever with delirium, and not much sleep for us.
We also had trouble finding presents for her. She's outgrown the groovy girls and ugly dolls and ended up with a lot of books. Poor Krista went out again and again only to come back empty handed.
Fortunately, Eden was more focused on the giving part of the xmas equation and seemed perfectly content.

Well Received

Well Received, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Krista scored. Somehow on ebay she found a set of six ice cream dishes in the obscure pattern that Jerry and Joyce had when they were first married. Joyce told us she'd put it on their wedding registry. Almost 40 years ago!
The moment of nostalgia when they opened this gift was priceless.

Secular Caroling

Secular Caroling, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

My lovely girls drag me into such interesting things.
Eden and Aja decided they wanted to go caroling and somehow got Meredith to agree. Of course India wanted in. Somehow Thalia and I got roped into it and her son Tyjal drug along.
We never practiced and were pretty bad. At one house we sang White Christmas--that was our most horrible attempt and we didn't try it again!
Our best was a paganized version of Silent Night.
Our song list was sans Jesus and leaned heavily on Irving Berlin. I quickly realized that if I didn't start the song, I was hopelessly lost! The girls would sing way to high for me to join in.
As bad as we were, people were delighted to be caroled. And we scored some fresh baked cookies at one house. At another we hit a party of enthusiastic 20 somethings. They passed plates of treats out to us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Routine Maintenance

Our toaster stopped working a few days ago. It just sort of jammed up (no pun intended). You could hold the lever down and it would turn on, but you had to just stand there holding it and guess when the toast was ready. How inconvenient!
So this morning I had some time and decided to take it apart.
Turned out that no one had ever emptied out the crumb tray (okay, I admit I didn't realize there was a crumb tray). It's been three years since we set it down on the kitchen counter. How embarrassing!
So the toaster was totally full of bread crumbs. Like about a pound and a half! I should have taken a picture. It was also full of moth webbies. We never could figure out where those suckers were coming from. After dumping all that crap out, I took it apart and cleaned it up inside and out. Now we can toast again and our lovely toaster stayed out of the landfill.
There's a moral here somewhere. I'm sure of it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Little Bay Nut Project

At the Goddess Festival I saw a little bowl of roasted bay laurel nuts on one of the tables. Three for a quarter. I tried them and liked them--they are slightly bitter and are a mild stimulant. The woman who roasted them, Tamara Wilder, an amazing naturalist, told me about her website with instructions.
So a few days ago I was out for a walk with Eden and Zoe and just down the street a big bay tree had dropped all these nuts on the lawn. I got permission to pick them up and took home this bag full. I popped the nuts out of their mushy outer coating and let them dry overnight.
Turned out that really wasn't enough drying time, because some of them exploded in the oven! BANG!!
The website said to roast them in the shell, but didn't mention explosions. Or the thick cloud of acrid smoke that would set our smoke detector shrieking. Ugh.
I had to open doors and windows and fan the air with a towel. And the nuts still weren't roasted! I decided to shell them and try roasting them again the next morning.

Shelled Bay Nuts

Shelled Bay Nuts, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

It was very easy to shell the nuts after roasting them whole. Except that it was just too tempting to use my thumbnail to pop them open and today I have that awful tender feeling you get when the nail has been pulled away from the skin underneath. Ugh.
Eventually I got out the nutcracker.

Roasting Bay Laurel Nuts

Roasting Bay Laurel Nuts, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Here they are before I put them in the oven. Unlike the first go, with the nuts in the shells, this batch actually smelled good roasting, and it was pretty easy to see the change in color.

The Finished Product

Dark Roast, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Here they are, after another 25 minutes of roasting at 350 degrees. They are definitely bitter tasting, but not in a bad way--if that makes sense. I ate at least 15 today and didn't think they were all that strong a stimulant. I never felt a distinct buzz.
All in all, it was a very satisfying project. I'd do it again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Caught a Nasty Virus!

Well, actually my computer caught one. A trojan thingy called trojan.zlob.g I'm not sure how it slipped in, but I was looking at this beautiful photography site with gorgeous areal photos. It was taking a very long time to load and acting a bit jumpy. I also noticed that most of the photos were from Russia or the Ukraine.
That's where the bug is from. It's a scam where they infect your computer and a pop up window says you've been infected and directs you to a website to purchase protection. It's essentially extortion. The bug makes your computer start doing scary things, like shutting down randomly and closing internet connections (except to their site). Ironically, if you actually purchase and download their 'spyware' it does no good and may actually load even more crap onto your machine! Or so I'm told. The longer you leave it the more damage it does. You really have to shut down right away.
Fortunately for me, Krista's laptop was uninfected and I was able to get good advice on cleaning it from various forums. But I entered into a world of paranoia, since some of the google links may also have been scams and done no good or worse.
I finally chose an automatic removal software (which was free) and got it onto my machine, but it didn't work! I ended up following a series of fairly complicated instructions to get rid of it manually. Which really took me out of my knowledge/comfort zone!
But it worked. So I'm here to tell you--don't fall for this scam. If it happens to you, shut down and get help from a trusted internet forum.
I'm so happy and grateful to have my machine back!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Goddess Fair

Ugh. We're super busy tonight, about to leave for Sebastopol to set up for this weekend's Goddess Fair. It's been four years since we did it. Krista will have a very nice set up and has actually painted four or five new little paintings.
They ask for a $5 donation to come in, which I think is absurd. It's not that big an event. But you can always just walk in the back door!
We'd love to see y'all. Eden has a dance performance at 3:00 on Sunday with her Bollywood class.
It's hard work doing fairs. It takes a lot of set up. When we used to do ten or more a year (back in the old Honey Moon days) we'd get in the swing of it. I don't feel very swingy right now.
Anyway, off we go.....