Monthly Archives: May 2013

Portland and Our Slightly Wacky Clocks

I seem to surround myself with unique and interesting things and people. Some are downright wacky. I think that’s why I love Portland, Oregon so much. It’s a pretty wacky place. Austin needs a sticker to point out how weird it is (Keep Austin Weird)…Portland just is weird; a sticker would be redundant.

Janet is spending a few days working down the road in Portland and she decided Roxy and I should drive down and visit. Since I love to travel, and Roxy just wants to be with her pack, we said sure! Road trip! Roxy was a little nervous at first, when I was packing the car, but once she realized she was coming too she relaxed and snored the whole trip down (did I mention most Boston Terriers snore a little? Roxy, on the other hand, snores a lot).

I drive pretty close to the speed limit but we still made great time to Portland; seems like a lot of people do work during the week. Traffic was light and I made it to the halfway potty pit stop in about an hour. I wasn’t there very long because when I opened the back door for Roxy, she took one look at the cold, wet weather and said, ‘no, thanks, I’m good right here in bed tucked in with my own personal leopard printed blankie.’ Life is hard for little Roxy now.

When Roxy and I finally arrived at the Aloft (very pet friendly and an all around great place to stay), I went to check in and was informed my name wasn’t on the reservation. When the very nice lady at the front desk asked what my dog’s name was I said ‘Roxy’. The even friendlier guy said, ‘oh, Roxy’s name is on the reservation.’

Really? Janet made sure to mention Roxy and didn’t bother to put her human companion’s name in the computer?  (Insert by Janet: I did put Jenn’s name on the reservation; they must have lost it somehow.) Hmmm…that sounds a little wacky to me. Roxy has a free pass…I have to get my own room. Wait a minute…my own room.

After calling Janet to confirm I wasn’t a thief with an adorable dog in tow, I was allowed access to the room to drop off all my things. As you can imagine, since I drove, I brought just about everything with me. I brought enough books and magazines for a month because you just never know what you’ll be in the mood to read, I believe. My mood changes from moment to moment.

Yesterday, when I reminded Jessie about my upcoming trip to Portland she was upset she couldn’t go. I had to explain about the importance of school and responsibilities and she replied, “Mom, school is really holding me back. Imagine how much I could learn out in the real world.” To which I replied, “Be quiet and get ready for school. Don’t try tricking me with your logic.”

We went upstairs and Jessie said, “Mom, I thought you said it was 8:20.”

“It is 8:20.”

“Then why does our bathroom clock say 8:29?”

For the past few months, our ‘precise’ satellite clocks have occasionally malfunctioned a tiny bit. We have two: one downstairs above the fireplace, for all to see, and one in the upstairs shared bath for Jessie to watch in the mornings while she’s getting ready for that life stunting thing we call school.

They won’t be off by much, and it usually only lasts for a day, but it’s enough to throw you off if you’re not careful.  Take this morning, for example. It was running nine minutes fast and it insisted it was Sunday instead of Thursday. I’m glad Jessie didn’t notice it said Sunday! Instead of annoying me, I find it endearing and quirky.  I have days like that too, those days where I’m feeling not quite right but a good night sleep usually does the trick.

“Mom, are you having a conversation with yourself?”

“Oh! Sorry! What was your question?”

“Why is the clock off?”

“I don’t know. It’s just something it does now, every once in a while, so just know you have an extra ten minutes.”

“That’s weird.”

“Yes, it is.”

Jessie shook her head and focused her attention back to the mirror with ten more minutes to vogue. I turned to go and she said, “I guess the clock fits in with this family, right, Mom?”

“Yes. Yes it does.”

jenn

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Celebrating Our Anniversary in Dog Years

Janet and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary next month. That’s right; we’re a handful now. I can’t believe we’ve been together for that long. It seems like just yesterday I met her at Gueros, in Austin, for our first date. What a wild ride it’s been. We’re not even in the same state!

Janet does not work in Washington, she works out of state so she flies out at the buttcrack of dawn on Monday mornings and flies back home late on Thursday nights (in theory). She occasionally gets to work remote some weeks but normally we only see each other on the weekends.

So, I told Janet yesterday, really we’ve only been together a total of about a year, if you add up all the weekends. Exactly, Janet replied, I was just telling everyone at work we can only celebrate about every seven years. We celebrate our anniversary in dog years! Brilliant, Janet, brilliant!

Janet said, ‘celebrate’ but I heard, “let’s spend a lot of money going somewhere exotic and expensive. Don’t worry about the cost. You are worth every penny and credit card charge!” I’m so glad she told me this with two years to spare because now I have time to organize a doozy of a trip. I’m thinking Greece or New Zealand, personally. Maybe a week long train ride in Canada, eh?

We’ll probably postpone our trip until September or October when families stop traveling and are back at home. That way we can have all of Paris to ourselves! I’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu and I’m not getting any younger. The world is my oyster. Hmmm…what was that noise? Was that Janet hitting the floor?

Anyhoo, since I enjoy working on our budget so much (retch) I’ll try and find some extra money to put aside for our dog year anniversary celebrations. I don’t have long to save, this time, because time sure does fly by, the older I get. The past five years have been wonderful: full of laughter, excitement and the normal roller coaster ride of a truly great relationship. I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.

jenn

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Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting 2013

Janet and I spent this past weekend in Omaha Nebraska at the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders meeting. We’d talked about going for a few years now and decided to quit talking about it and just go already. We went to see Warren Buffett and, now we realize, Charlie Munger. Not that we’re worried about Warren or Charlie (those two are so sweet, I’m sure they won’t mind me using their first names), but after Boston, you never know when your time is up.

I bought a share of Berkshire B stock (I really, really wish I could say Berkshire A) just to be able to go and it was well worth the money. As a matter of fact, I want to rush out and buy more shares; I was so inspired by the two leaders. For billionaires, they seemed pretty down to earth. Not that I know a lot of billionaires. Janet wishes she were one…does that count?

Janet and I both arrived on Friday night, ready for whatever the meeting may bring. We woke up bright and early Saturday morning at six A.M. (four in the morning to our bodies) and tried to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the meeting. After learning there were roughly forty thousand attendees in town and just two shuttles from our hotel, we decided to drive ourselves to the stadium. Well worth the $8 for parking. I think we’d still be there, waiting for the shuttle, had we not driven ourselves.

We were first shown a movie which was a little long but funny in parts. It ended with a Berkshire rendition of YMCA with Warren leading the cheerleading. He’s pretty spry for eighty-something-or-other. For the bulk of the meeting, Warren and Charlie were alone on their stage with a panel of three people from the media on their right and a panel of three lucky-a$$ people on their left. I’m not sure who they were…I was mostly asleep until after lunch.

From about 9:30 until 3:30 (with an hour for lunch), Warren and Charlie answered questions from the panels and from various attendees from different zones in the crowd. Warren talked first, after each question, with Charlie talking after, if he had anything to add. Sometimes he had nothing to say. I loved the way the two men interacted: like an old married couple who had seen and done a lot together over their fifty years.

They do have their fundamental differences: Warren is a Democrat and Charlie is a Republican but neither is the stick wielding absolutists you usually see when people show their politics. I loved their banter and they were slinging one liners like line cooks at our new favorite breakfast spot: Jimmy’s Egg.

Whenever Warren was talking, Charlie spent his time munching on Peanut Brittle and drinking Coke Zero. When the coin flipped, Warren dug into a box of fudge and drank his beloved Cherry Coke. I can so see sharing a burger and fries with either or both men. I can tell you Janet has a huge crush on Charlie. I’m not sure what that means but I’ll be taking a wait and see attitude with this situation. I don’t think I have anything to worry about: I don’t think Janet can keep up with Charlie!

I have no worries about Warren and Charlie as they were sharp, witty and passionate about Berkshire. I wish I were as sharp as they are at my age let alone when I hit my eighties. They reinvigorated my desires to be a businesswoman, reignited my passions lying dormant and stoked the flames for my vision to get Janet off the road. I would love to limit our travels to fun destinations and shareholder meetings. I think Coke (Atlanta) is coming up soon.

jenn

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Beware of the Dormant Sun Worshipping Virus About to Hit Seattle

It’s been lovely in Seattle the last couple of days: sunny, slightly warm and a nice soft breeze. My dog, Roxy, loves it! She demands to go outside and then will lie on her back in the middle of the parking lot, little legs stuck up in the air, soaking up as many rays as I will allow.

I noticed today, when I was buying stamps (someone has to keep the post office afloat), a lot of people are out and about. Doesn’t anyone work during the day anymore? Then I remembered a story, a scary story my mom told me when I was a little kid.

It was an exceptionally bad winter, around 197…well, it doesn’t matter what year, and when the temperature finally crawled back into the 60s I was shocked at the amount of people outside. I don’t think I had ever seen so many people. So I did what any normal kid would do: I asked my mom what on earth was going on.

She told me about these vitamin D deficient creatures, basement dwellers in the little city of Seattle, who only came out in temperatures above sixty. Cold-blooded, lily-white people who tentatively step outside at the first hint of flip flop season. Normally during the dark season, these sun worshiping people ran from their homes to their work and occasionally to the taverns or the mall, barely setting a foot outside on the mildew-y sidewalks. They were so well hidden, in bad weather, you never truly realized how many people lived in the greater Seattle area.

These creatures, zombies really, write letters and call anyone in the media, anyone who will listen, about the horrible weather conditions in this God-forsaken part of the country. You can spot them easily because they say things like, “why can’t it just rain already? What’s with this drizzle? I can’t use my windshield wipers! It wouldn’t be so cold if it wasn’t so moist all the time. If you would have warned me about the weather, during that long ago visit in August, I never would have left California!”

My mom talked in hushed tones so as not to draw their attention to her. She didn’t want one of them getting close to her, blinding her with their uncovered, not quite completely freckled skin. She warned me to watch myself around them as they are usually drunk and crazy on the unexpected deluge of sun and warmth. Usually these zombies are happy hanging out in their dark caves, reading books and watching TV. But when the sun comes out, they come out.

My mom explained this viral disease, here in the Northwest, this Sun Worshiping Virus, which stays dormant until the following things occur: 1. At least three months of cold/wet/miserable weather. 2. A sudden rain stoppage and a clearing of the atheist-creating cloud cover. 3. An increase in temperature: above 60 degrees F will cause a minor outbreak; 70 will cause a full blown epidemic; 80…well…we won’t talk about that.

A couple of days after this incident, the temperature reached seventy for the first time in ages and we had an epidemic on our hands. Churches, schools and most local businesses were deserted, the Virus causing a zombie like state in usually normal people. These zombies left their respectable lives to be cured at Alki Beach, Greenlake, Lake Washington and anywhere else you’re allowed to wear as few clothes as possible no matter how inappropriate. You will never see so many people.

Many of us native Washingtonians, when seeing the weather on the news and understanding the implications of the first truly warm day, will avoid these areas like the plague. You will find us at work, trying to keep businesses open. You will also find us at the library, inhaling the potential for hours of reading, or at the museum…anywhere we know the zombies won’t go during an amazingly beautiful explosion of light.

This weekend, the weather is supposed to be wonderful. It’s supposed to reach 80 degrees on Sunday and Monday. Now, I don’t want to alarm you…just warn you about the possibilities for the apocalypse which might happen this weekend. Just know the throngs of staggering, sunglasses and bikini-wearing people who are going to appear, all at the same time, on the streets and waterways of Seattle.

There will be traffic gridlock, much worse than our normal variety. There will be arguments, perhaps coming to blows, over that last parking spot available in the Seattle Metro Area. The desperate Worshipers finally stripping away the last of the decades old idea of what a friendly place Seattle can be. Someone may get hit with a fish, while elbowing a little old lady out of the way, at the Pike Place Market; there will be too many people for a safe throwing lane.

I am lucky: I have plans to be out of town this weekend. I probably won’t venture out to Greenlake or Alki again until September or so, after the finally sated, vitamin D overloaded creatures make it back to school and back underground. I wish you Seattleites luck this weekend but, please, if you don’t have to be out and about…stay inside with the doors and windows locked! At least use public transportation.

jenn

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