Archive for July, 2008

Shoe shopping by flashlight

Posted in sales, shopping on July 22, 2008 by poojaland

I walked over to Northgate Mall Saturday afternoon with the intention of swinging through Nordstrom to pick up some shoes (part of the Anniversary Sale). Once I got inside the mall, though, I got sidetracked by the “70% OFF SALE!” sign outside Ann Taylor Loft. I ended up picking out a few items to try on. Went into a fitting room, took off my T-shirt, and then whoooosh! The lights went out! Some back-up lights popped on right away, but it was definitely dim. (Nobody screamed, for those who’re wondering. There were just a lot of “Whoa!”s and laughter.) I decided to go ahead and try on a couple of the tanks, and then wandered out. Turned out power had gone out across the whole mall, and stores were asking people to leave and pulling down their security fence things as customers exited.

I was of course bummed that I hadn’t gone directly to Nordstrom (the sale shoes tend to go quickly during the sale, and I have an average shoe size), but I decided to wander on by there just in case they weren’t kicking people out. Well, Nordstrom employees and customers sure are a hardy bunch! The lighting was even worse in the shoe area, but it was business as usual — though everyone was using either flashlights or cell phones for light. The store was unfortunately out of the color of shoe I wanted (burgandy), but had my second choice (black), so I tried those on, using the helpful employee’s flashlight to check myself out in the mirror. I ended up buying that pair; they had to ring me up using an old-school carbon-copy receipt thing. (Of course, I was still obsessing over those red shoes [the color is much better in person], so the next day I called the Alderwood store and had them try to order a pair from another store for me. Fingers crossed! They’re so classic and classy, I know I’ll get my money’s worth.)

As I left the mall around 2:30, I heard that power had also gone out at the Target/Best Buy complex across the street. The traffic light at the busy intersection of 5th and Northgate was also out, leading to lots of honking and bad driving (i.e., three drivers going one behind the other, rather than treating it as a four-way stop as you’re supposed to). I read later that some City Light workers had inadvertently caused the outage; not totally surprising with all the construction going on in the area. Apparently the power finally came back up around 5:30 p.m. By then, I’d long since left the mall and headed to the U District for some medicinal bubble tea ;o)

I can be your (Guitar) Hero, baby

Posted in ipod, wii on July 20, 2008 by poojaland

So I finally played Nintendo Wii for the first time on Friday night, and now I’m completely obsessed with the idea of getting a console. The scene was my friends L&I’s house (they’re married). They got their Wii only about a month ago, and were already pretty enamored with it, so part of the tease of the dinner invite was the promise of some Wii action afterwards. It was kinda late by the time we finally got around to firing it up — 11:30 — but they were game to let my friend Lara and me give it a try. First up was Wii tennis. So great! Especially since I play in real life. Though, I lost all of the four or so games I played, two of which were against Lara (who also plays tennis). Then we played some other random games.. one where you’re on a cow knocking down stuff on a raceway, a shooting game (which I won vs. Lara — handily) and laser air hockey. But then….we busted out Guitar Hero. Now that was SO much fun. I played two songs on the Easy level (which has you using three of the six [?] keys), and I hit 96% of the notes on the second one! Yeah, it’s only three keys, but I still felt a great sense of accomplishment. I also loved the parts when I got to rock out and pull the neck of the guitar up. Ha, and my sense of accomplishment was increased when Lara tried a couple songs and got booed off the stage within about 20 seconds!! (Sorry Lara, but it was only right after my having lost at many other games earlier that night ;o)). I think what I love about the Wii is that it’s so simple and easy — you don’t have to worry about what eight buttons mean, or remember how many bullets or grenades you have left, or keep track of some intricate backstory. It’s just unadulterated, straightforward fun.

Anyway, I was at Costco this afternoon with my mom and talked up one of the employees about the Wii. Apparently they sell out of the consoles amazingly fast after stock up (they were of course out today). If I were to get one, though, I’d almost certainly get it there, just because of the great warranty and return policy, and apparently, according to the dude, for the ~$300 you plonk down, you get two controllers instead of one, and an extra game or two. Unfortunately, Guitar Hero isn’t one of those games; L&I said it was about $100 for the GH game and guitar thing. Ouch! So we’ll see. At the very least, I’m hoping I’ll be getting more frequent dinner invites from L&I so I can periodically get a Wii fix!

I should mention also that for the tail end of last week, up until my Wii-velation, my obsession was the idea of getting an iPod Touch, mainly because a co-worker brought in his iPhone to show Eric and me and we were just enthralled. But then we did the math on how much more a month we’d be shelling for our cell-phone plan, and we just couldn’t justify it. I mentioned that my dad has an iPod Touch that has a lot of the features that the iPhone has, it just needs free WiFi to use them. So we were all fired up about getting one of those. Problem is, they’re mucho expensive — even at Costco, around $389 for the 16G, and $489 for the 32G.

Though.. my iPod Touch obsession was revived a bit this evening when I was at my parents’ for dinner and my dad gave me a little tour of his iPod Touch. It’s super slick! So now I have to let my obsessions simmer and we’ll see if and when I end up buying one of the two. Hm…maybe I’ll buy one now, and the other when bonus time rolls around at work in early September…

Emerging from a wedding daze

Posted in weddings on July 8, 2008 by poojaland
Julie and I show off our henna (photo stolen from Julie)

Well, it’s been a non-stop week! Early last week, I was busily getting work done in anticipation of taking some time off and the July 4th holiday. Half of the week had been set aside for festivities related to my good friend R’s wedding (I’ve decided to censor unique names here and there, just for my friends’ privacy). Wednesday afternoon was the mehndi, or henna. R got elaborate designs on her hands and feet, and most of the rest of us ladies got a simple design on the back of our right hand.

Here’s a shot of a bunch of us (who all went to high school together) and the bride (in red) (photo also stolen from Julie):

Thursday night was the sangeet at a waterfront hotel on the East side. There was drinking and eating, and then some singing and a LOT of dancing. There were three choreographed dances (one with little kids, one with a handful of R’s girlfriends, and one with about five adult couples), and then the guests were turned loose on the dance floor.

M and I took advantage of the open bar (photo stolen from M)..

Oh, and on the right is a shot of me with one of the groom’s cousins from London (thanks M, for snapping it). He had, of course, the great British accent, along with a really deep voice. Plus he was very good looking, and seemed to have a good sense of style the one time I saw him in Western-style clothes. We chatted a couple times at various events, but sadly, that was the extent of our romance.

Thursday afternoon was a relatives/wedding-party July 4th BBQ up in Everett (I guess since I staffed the gift table, I was an outlying member of the wedding party). It was a beautiful backyard, and beautiful weather, though the sporadic winds kept sending paper plates and napkins flying across the lawn. I cruised out of the BBQ in the early evening to give a tried friend a ride home (she’d flown in from New York in the wee hours of that morning) and then stopped by my parents’ for a quick dinner. Then it was off to Julie’s for a mellow evening in — snacks and “The Hunting Party” (which I never really got into).

Finally…Saturday was the day of the wedding, which was held downtown. We got there a little early, and since we weren’t going to be getting any food or drink until 6:30 (it was 4:10 when we arrived), we stopped at a Starbucks to get some snacks to tide us over. We headed across the street to the hotel right at 4:30, assuming we’d be in time to see the groom arrive on the traditional white steed, in all its finery, but we unfortunately just missed him. We did see the horse being led off, though. I bet all the tourists and shoppers were quite confused!

The wedding itself was very elegant. It was a bit overwhelming in sheer size — 400 guests!! — and the ceremony went a bit long at nearly an hour and a half. But the alcohol was a-flowin’ (several open bars), and I had a great time reconnecting with high school friends and some out-of-towners I hadn’t seen in some time. At the end of the night, there was, of course, yet more dancing!

I was supposed to go on a long (11 mile) hike with Chrissy the next morning, but it was about 12:30 a.m. by the time we finally saw the newly marrieds off, so I told Chrissy, who was also at the wedding, that I was going to pass. Good thing, too — I didn’t pull myself out of bed until 11 the next morning! But I think some four-odd hours of dancing the week prior will make up for having bailed..

Taming Tiger Mountain

Posted in hiking on July 1, 2008 by poojaland

So we had nearly record-breaking temps here in Seattle this past weekend — topping 90 both days. I’m a true Seattleite in that I prefer all weather types in moderation, so normally I’d be staying out of the sun as much as possible. But this time around, I got in more fun in the sun than I’d expected.

Saturday morning, I had plans to meet up for some tennis with Anuja and her co-worker Jeff for some tennis by my place. Due to a time constraint on Jeff’s end, we couldn’t meet until 11 a.m. Since our recent “sunny” days start out overcast and then clear up by mid-afternoon, we figured it would be great tennis weather at 11 on Saturday, though they were predicting high temps. Wrong! It was quite steamy. We all slathered on the sunblock, but I think we only stayed out there for barely an hour. Afterward, we lounged around in the partial shade on the side of the court and chatted, waiting for our energy levels to rise. I was invited to a couple barbecue parties Saturday afternoon, but I was still feeling drained even after eating lunch, so I was in no mood to stand around outside in the hot sun and make conversation. So I bailed on both events.

Sunday, I got up at 6:20 (ouch!) to get ready for a hiking outing to Tiger Mountain with some girlfriends. The bridge I’d usually take to get to Chrissy’s (we were going to carpool) was closed for the Seafair Marathon, so I gave myself 30 minutes to take the alternate route around Lake Washington. Due to barely any traffic, I made it to Chrissy’s 10 minutes early, only to find out that she’d slept in and had sprung out of bed just a few minutes prior. So I played with her cats and dog while she got ready. We made it to the mountain around 8:10 and met up with the other three girls in the dusty parking lot.

Stacey (top), Jill and Jax (sp?), Jill’s dog

The hike up was more strenuous than any of us (including Chrissy, who mapped our route) had anticipated.. to avoid the crowds, we steered clear of the main trail, which I think is the West Tiger 3 trail, and instead went up the Nook/Section Line trail(part of which is marked “unmaintained”) to the top. The last half or so of the hike was really steep, so the three of us in the “slow” group (we were also a bit back from Chrissy to keep her dog Maggie away from Jill’s dog) were stopping every five-10 minutes through the worst of the worst sections to catch our breath. At one of our stops, these two older (early ’60s?) men passed by with a quick “hello,” then after they were about 50 feet past us, they turned around and said, “You ladies are all Obama supporters, right?” Talk about the REAL campaign “trail.”

Chrissy, Maggie (dog) and me on the summit

Once we finally stumbled up to the top, the view was a little anticlimactic — in the sense that there really wasn’t a view to speak of, as it’s mostly blocked by trees. (Though, I should admit I didn’t wander around the entire summit area.) To continue to keep the dogs apart, we squatted in two sections of the summit to rest and eat some snacks. After about 15 minutes, we headed back down. Due to Stacey’s and Jill’s bad knees, we went down via the busy West Tiger 3 trail, because it’s much wider and softer and has less of a grade. En route, I saw a co-worker of mine walking up the trail with his girlfriend (I think) and some kids. I waved and said hello; he waved back, but I don’t think he recognized me, as I was in sunglasses and had my hair pulled back into a ponytail. So I did my Clark Kent move and raised my sunglasses to reveal my eyes, and he said, “Oh! Hi!” and we had a quick chat. Also on the way down, we encountered a man in a hiking outfit I’ll never forget: a gray polo T-shirt tucked into neon green, tight running shorts with a funky black-splatter design. Yikes!! We were all holding back our snickers as he passed by us.

I had been madly drinking water through my hydration backpack the entire hike, so by the time we were about halfway down, I was getting really twitchy to relieve myself. Luckily, though, I was able to make it to the bottom where they had toilets. Then we all copped a squat in the shade by our cars in the parking lot to have some chilled drinks and fruits that Stacey had thoughtfully brought along. Turned out on our hike up, we’d gained about 2,000 feet in elevation over two miles, which is quite a respectable (and difficult) hike. On the way down, our alternate trail was longer at three miles.

So all in all, a difficult but ultimately rewarding outing. Two days later, I still feel some stiffness in my quads when I stand and walk after having sat for a while, and I’m still occasionally scratching the six mosquito bites I had the misfortune of getting — one on my left ankle, one behind my left knee, three on the back of my right shoulder and one on the back of my right hand. I’m just really glad I didn’t get one on my face!