Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A little bit sick.

Jeremy and I are now a little bit sick. Ugh. Time to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moving and little treasures.

Vince and Jeremy have been spending a lot of the time in the basement packing up.

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They found Edda's favorite toy, Peter. She loved this toy, she used to cling to it and chew it and hold it in her teeth when she crawled around on the floor. My mom patched it up 17 million times until Edda couldn't pick up Peter anymore.

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Stupidly Standing in Line



Well, I am a new owner of an iPhone 3G. Fun. :) I thought it was about time that I just up and went to the store to stand in line and get on of the darn things. I had been wasting my regular hours anyways, looking at availiblity chart, perusing apple forums, driving my apple stores to look see as to the length of the line.

Fine. Done. Erg.

I got up this morning at 6am, and took the 7:14 express train down to PA, and promptly got in line at 7:50 - ten minutes before open. I was about 15-20 deep into the line, and the apple employee handed me a card with my phone choice on it, mentioning that this part of the line would be 1.5 hours into the store. Fun.

I did a prequalify, but I had a business marker on my AT&T account, and had to call AT&T to remove that.

I walked into the store at around 9:40. The employee, wanted to chat, but I barely had time, since I had to go to a meeting at 10am. I think he wanted me to oogle the phone a bit more when he opened it, but whatever. I had no time. Just ripped the plastic coating right off. Didn't really glance at it at all...

Am I stupid? yes. Did I need it? Probably not. But it's fast...

Doris, did you still want my old iPhone?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Van Hollen visit.

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I can not believe this happened today, but I met with Congressman Van Hollen today and asked for his support on the Rett Syndrome earmark.

His legislative aide, Ray Thorn, carved out about 20 minutes of his day to talk about the IRSF earmark and about the way earmarks get approved. I was impressed that Ray had spent some time researching the earmark and when it will be voted on and then the Congressman came in for a minute and said hello and shook my hand, which is when I delivered my "ask" and he said that he would support it! I wasn't expecting such a definitive statement right then and there, but there you go.

I'm flabbergasted that I got any time with these people - that Chris Van Hollen (the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - the 5th highest ranking position among House Democrats, the money man) basically made a detour in his extremely busy day to see me. I am amazed. It never occurred to me that a little guy like me could send some emails and end up meeting with the Congressman.

So there it is. Call your Congressman and make an appointment to talk about stuff that is important to you.

I did not get a chance to take a photo with the Congressman (I was too chicken to ask, but I'm sure he would have done it), but I have a fascinating photo of the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office building where I ate a cheeseburger before my meeting.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vince is sick.

Vince has been busy this summer, he's now attending a science camp run by the county at a nearby elementary school. I'm not sure how much science they are learning, but at least he is getting a deep dark tan by going to the pool twice a week.

Yesterday, his camp had a field trip to the local bowling alley (what science was that about? I guess it must be physics) and Vince whined and whined that he did not want to go bowling. He hates doing things in which there is a distinct possibility and an quantifiable way that he is going to lose and he, like the rest of the human race, hates to lose.

Grumbling the whole way (I'm sure), he was pleased to discover that the bowling alley basically converts to a disco-night-club-type thing and no bowling was required. This is how he explained it, "They turned off the real lights and then turned on the funny lights, then everyone screamed like crazy, then the music played and we all danced around." It all sounds very scientific to me.

Anyways, after all this crazy screaming dancing bowling trip, he came home and promptly got a fever of 40C. (Somehow after our trip to Singapore, I've converted over to Celsius body temperature. 36 - good. 37 - a little high but nothing to worry about. 38 - for sure a fever. 39 - for sure a high fever. 40 - for sure into a cool bath, cold compresses, call the doctor if it doesn't go down with Motrin fever - I can't believe I just referred to our 2 years in Singapore as a trip, sheez).

Anyways he stayed home from camp today and will again tomorrow, Jeremy stayed home today and I'll be home half day tomorrow. Hopefully he'll perk up before one of us goes down, because there is nothing worse than taking care of a sick kid than perhaps taking care of 2 sick kids while you are sick yourself!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Albert Einstein - patent examiner!

I left work early to head to Jeremy's office down on K street. His office is filled with people who manage to get things done in Washington DC and I met with one of them today for advice.

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I think I have an appointment on Thursday to meet with Van Hollen's folks about the Rett Syndrome earmark and I wanted to know what I should say in my 5-8 minute meeting. I got some advice on the lingo - apparently the word I should use for appropriations is "approps" and I should ask something about the "CR" which now I've forgotten what that means already, maybe congressional report? continuation reform? celery root?

Anyways, the good news is that my adviser looked at the earmark request application and said that it was very impressive that IRSF got such strong support from both Hoyer and Kennedy and that it shouldn't be a problem getting the earmark.

Did you take a close look at Jeremy's desk?

Who is that at the edge of his table?

Why, it's an Albert Einstein action figure! Although Einstein is known for his contributions to physics, he was also a patent examiner!

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Jeremy got him for helping out on cogito, I'm taking him to work as my wingman.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Long week.

I can't believe that it's only Monday. It's going to be a long week. Here's a cheerful weekend moment to keep me going until Friday afternoon!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fundraising for Rett Syndrome.

I spent some time this weekend editing a letter I'm going to send out in a few weeks asking for silent auction items for this October's Fairfax Strollathon. I did help organize last year's silent auction in the sense that I printed up the bid sheets and coordinated the sale that day, the silent auction raised about $5,000 out of the $100,000 total funds raised last year. Joanne, the chair of the fundraiser, did a fantastic job of getting great items for the auction, but I'm a little nervous this year, with the downturn in the economy - I suspect there will be fewer folks donating items and Joanne mentioned that there were no new families in the area to grow the strollathon (which in many respects besides fundraising, is a good thing, it means that this year, perhaps fewer families in the area got diagnosed).

Vincent had his last playdate this weekend with his best friend from kindergarden - they are moving next week to upstate NY. When I picked Vince up from the playdate, they said a quick goodbye as if they were going to see each other next week, even though they both knew that the move is going to happen in 4 days. I stood there with Vince's friend's mom and we gave each other a tender look and a firm hug. Perhaps Vincent won't even remember his friend when he grows up, but I will.

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Passage

"People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no mater how hard they work their efforts will yeild nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else."

- Life of Pi, Chapter 29

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Birthday gift.

Finally, almost 4 months late, we finally purchased Edda's 4th birthday gift - a touchscreen laptop. It has an AMD chip (Jeremy's still loyal to his previous employer) and the screen swivels to turn into a tablet. It's actually scarily fragile (the twisty part especially) which is why we spend a quarter of the purchase price on a full warranty which will replace a broken computer - no questions asked for the next 2 years. Now we have 4 computers in the house, Vince and Edda have the fastest computers and us old folks have the "so virus laden that it takes 3 minutes to open a broswer" or the "so old that you can't unplug the laptop from the wall because the battery lasts for 30 seconds" computer.

Regarding the laptop you can't unplug from the wall, it's Donald's old Viao computer that Vince peed on when he was 3 weeks old and knocked it out of commission for a few days while we waited for the urine to dry up. I remember being totally exhausted as a new parent - Vincent was (what it seemed like to me at the time) a 23 hour a day nurser - watching that golden arc fly through the air across the changing table straight to the precious, new and sexy Viao that was sitting on the red armchair right next to it.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

National Museum of the American Indian

This afternoon, I was sitting at work at 2 pm when I realized that I had finished all my work for the week, I had already put in the necessary hours and that the office was emptying out quickly and I was the last person still thinking about patents on a Friday afternoon. I made an executive decision to leave early and spend some time to do some touristy summer stuff! Woo hoo!

I went straight to the Smithsonian to the National Museum of the American Indian which I believe is the newest museum of the Smithsonian, I had never been inside the building before. I stumbled upon a tour led by a college-aged Cherokee, and I learned about the building and how it's a solar calendar, the symbolism of elk's teeth on traditional dresses and that the folks who were the iron workers that built NYC's skyscrapers were Native Americans. What a treat to not have to run by a museum exhibit and say - look some dolls/pottery/paintings/dresses! - and continue running by with kids in strollers, crying, with sticky fingers and unhappy.

(Note: I did not take this beautiful photo. )

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Charlotte!

Charlotte, a dear family friend - the person who officiated at our wedding (ten years ago!), was in town for a talk/conference/ and her own Chinese-buffet retirement party. We were invited to her talk at the Library of Congress and then to the dinner/party at the Hunan Palace.

Jeremy and I rarely venture out after dark, so this was a mid-week date night which I think hasn't happened in many, many years.

I got flowers for the guest of honor:

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I oogled this cream/blue duplex in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, not exactly ADA accessible, but that is a whole 'nuther issue.

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And here's Jeremy reading our tribute limericks. For those who know Charlotte, the other two people in the photo are Charlotte's son and grandson. I don't have a very good photo of Charlotte, I was sitting in the back far away an my flash could not go so far....

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There once was a scholar of China
A native of North Carolina
She married a Furth
For love and for mirth
And their children just couldn't be fina.


When Doris and Jeremy wed
The priestess was dressed all in red
She gave them advice
On how to be nice
And how to get ready for bed.


Charlotte said much depends upon Dinner
this makes us happy, if not any thinner
mind your manners, said she
and sheng sheng bu shi
Good advice to connubial beginners

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This Is What We Are Doing ...

















This is what we are doing in office - piping systems in Nuclear, Fossil or PetroChemical plants. The color indicates different operating temperatures, numbers represent node point in finite element computer analysis and arrow-shape graphic is pipe supports together with its supporting direction.
Fun? Not really. Working for living, definitely it is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yvonne.

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Yvonne, our au pair from Germany, has been with us now about 7 weeks and I don't yet have a good picture of her. She went to the beach with us this weekend and all I have is a picture of her back!

Being matched with an au pair is a tricky business, you get to look at each other's application, talk on the phone for about an hour and that's pretty much it! Talk about blind dating. We spoke with our local coordinator who warned us that about a third of the family/au pair matches work out really well, about a third are tolerable and about a third don't work out at all.

So I went in with muted expectations and hoped for the best. Well, I'm happy to report that it's been wonderful having Yvonne around, she's good with the kids and remembers schedules better than we do and is fun to be around. We are having a good time together (and we have a lot more Nutella around the house)!

Book Suggestions.

I'm looking for new book suggestions. Some guidelines.

Non-fiction:
- I like issues dealing with modern life themes.
- don't want biographies.
- don't want sheer history books.

fiction:
- Again, I relate a bit better to a modern themed book.
- not really looking for classics, more popular stuff.

Any suggestions?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Public transit

Bus stop.

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Subway stop.

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iPhone.

Sadly Ronnie has told me that the iPhone 3G is not going to be availible at the Apple Employee Store, so it's looking like I'll be standing in line sometime this week to get one. I've got $100 Apple Store credit to burn thru. Doris, did you want my original iPhone?

Also, This seems like a bad idea.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mayo beach.

We went to the annual Maryland gathering of Rett Syndrome families. This was our first time attending, last year, we had just moved and didn't get in touch with the local families until too late.

Beautiful day to fly a kite.

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Edda had a great time.

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So did Vince.

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Edda's mutation, 806delG, is quite unusual. But we met another little girl who has the same mutation and we had a nice time chatting with her family.

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Eleven families showed up, we all got together for a group photo.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Allowance.

Vince and Edda each get $3 a week for allowance. Edda is a pretty good saver, but once Vince cobbles together a few weeks worth of allowance, he gets antsy-in-the-pantsy to go to Target to buy something.

When we do make it to Target, he's usually clutching 10 sweaty, crumpled dollar bills and pointing to a Lego item and asking, "How much is that one?" and I say, well it's a bit out of your price range because it's $29.99, $49.99 or $69.99. And he sighs and I tell him that if he saves a few more weeks, he may be able to afford the $29.99 one and he sighs again and finds a small Lego for $9.99 for which I tell him I will chip in the tax.

So he's been negotiating for months about how to get the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull set, and we've been pretty firm, you have to wait for Christmas or your birthday and he sighs and says OK, please put it on my Christmas/birthday list because I really, really, really, really want it.

And then the grandparents show up for the weekend, and look! A surprise:

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Not to be left out, Edda got a much appreciated video or two:

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Anyone got any biofuels questions?

Jeremy's been enlisted by Cogito, a website for "academically talented youth", to answer questions about biofuels. So go ahead and ask away!

On a side note, I have been blue about blogging. I have been having soul seaching issues with my camera equipment and I have had some terrible issues coming up with stuff to say because the things that are taking up most of my time and energy are subtle patenting issues, subtle parenting issues and subtle purchacing issues of which are all not very interesting to anyone except me. I must remind myself that this means that life is good and to be not in turmoil is a good thing, as our friend Martha always says.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Algae.

An article from the International Herald Tribune where Jeremy talks about algae. Can we turn the slimy green stuff into an energy source? Beijing would like to know, since apparently the whole boating area is covered by a huge algae bloom.

Gelli Baff.

Did you notice a strange dog in our house? That's Magic, our neighbor's doggie who stayed with us for 3 weeks while his parent's were on vacation in jolly old England.

As a "thanks for taking care of the dog" gift, the kids got this:

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Which I am thankful is hard to find in the States. Because, although it is a lot of fun, creates a large, slippery, gooey mess.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Harry Potter.

Jeremy hasn't read it before, so we are all having fun working through the first book.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge, SF, Amazing Flowers & Cell Phone


















Mom & Dad went to the west coast for a week. We flew to Portland, OR then drove to Washougal, WA and to SF and then back to Washougal, WA again.
In SF, we spent a couple of days with Donald. It was fun. We walked together on the Golden Gate Bridge. We spent some time together at this famous SF landscape. We even went to the movie theater together.
Before we drove down to SF, Mom watered a house plant which had not received a drop of water for the past 8 months - this was the first time we visited our house since October of last year. When we came back several days later, it blossomed fully with beautiful flowers. It is our amazing flowers, really it is.
Btw, I washed my cell phone by accident for the second time. After drying it with hair dryer, with a lot of sun shine for several days, it came back to life today. It is my amazing cell phone. I love it and it is clean :)

BMX bike.

I'm thinking that in a month or so, I'm going to bike to the Metro. But where to find a bike? I need a bike that can be rained on and perhaps stolen, so I didn't want to spend more than $20 - $50 on it.

I had heard in that in hipper places like NYC and SF, there is a cool bike called a fixed gear bike, it's a bike with one gear and no brakes. I figured now that's gotta be a $50 bike because it doesn't even come with brakes, but noooo, it's like $800! People, come on, that is just silly, it doesn't even have brakes!

And then I remembered in the basement, Donald's old BMX bike. Dusty and forgotten, it needs to be loved again!

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OK, Donald, so what do I do now? Both the tires are flat, I guess I'm going to have to find the bike pump. And it's missing the front brakes...

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy birthday America!

As America celebrated its 232nd birthday, I spent the day working. Since Jeremy's been out of town, I've been shortening my hours to not make Yvonne watch the kids for 13 hours straight which is how long I'm away from the house each day on a "normal" day. So I'm making up the hours today and tomorrow.

Since I work for the Department of Commerce, I thought it was fitting that I spent the day working, chugging along and doing my own part to make America great. OK, kind of silly, but I had to give myself a little pep talk, I was at work while the rest of the country took the day off to BBQ and go for a swim.

I'm still liking my job, which is incredible because I have never really liked a job before. Can you see that I have the periodic table tacked to the wall? I get to refer to it every other day or so.

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I also took this opportunity to to hunt down office supplies; today I found this filing rack for my folders (pink - first actions, red - amendments, blue - restrictions, black - abandonments, grey - advisory actions!). I work for a self-funded agency, we get no taxpayer money, my salary is paid from the fees collected when a company files/maintains a patent and I think because of this, there are very few office supplies to go around. I basically get some pens and pencils. I don't even get a pencil sharpener or a three hole punch, so I go find office supplies in forgotten, dusty bins in the Xerox room.

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Jeremy packed me a sandwich which I ate at 9:45 am.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer and motivation wanes.

Jeremy's out of town this week. Lucky guy, he gets to go to San Francisco and eat good cheese. I will not deny that I was a bit miffed on Sunday when he was scheduled to leave from Dulles - Jeremy really stabilizes the house routines - without him, I'm content to serve peanut butter, a bag of chips and some flat Coke for dinner. I'm not an inspired homebody.

At Port Discovery last weekend, I got my face painted:

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