Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Click for free Mammograms

When I was 35 Kaiser told me the first age the recommended women have a "baseline" mammogram was 40.  By the time I turned 40, my Dr. told me they had changed their recommendation to age 35.  Sometime between those years, you think someone could have updated me?  

So today I had my first ever, baseline mammogram. Wasn't such a big deal.  No agonizing pain or anything.  Disconcerting, but not uncomfortable.  

So in honor of this day, I'm asking you to support The Breast Cancer Site - whose sponsors fund mammograms for low income women, based on how many people click their site. 

So click away in honor of good breast health!  

In other news: 

After my mammogram I stopped by the local Democratic Party office and picked up my Obama/Biden bumper sticker and my Vote NO on Prop 8 bumper sticker.  I promptly put them both on my car.  When I had a "Hilary for President" sticker on my car it got egged AND I had my window broken.  I'm hoping (strongly) that it was a coincidence since I just washed my car. We put a No on 8 sign in the yard too.  Last summer our Hilary for Prez sign was stolen, so this time we wired it to the fence.  Crossing fingers.  If it gets stolen, I'll just put another one up! 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Halloween Project # 1 (aka...I want to be a werewolf)

Not just a regular werewolf mind you.  Not the werewolves for sale at the Spirt Store, or Target, or any of our past favorite online costume shops.... NO.  Those werewolves are wearing clothes.  Sophie wants to be a werewolf with no clothes.  So, a regular wolf then?  NO Mama. A regular wolf doesn't stand up, or talk, right?  Oh, how silly of me, of course. So a standing, talking, werewolf with no clothes.  Don't go looking for one online, cause let me tell you, those costumes don't exist.  

So, we (meaning I) set out to make a werewolf costume. First, we need a pattern, right? No again - no wolf costume patterns to be found.  Lions and tigers and bears, oh yes.  Wolves - not so much.  So, I convinced Sophie we could make one like this.   I don't sew much, but I figured I could manage the slight alterations required to turn a cat into a wolf.  Right? 

The tail is Sophie's design.  So, next was picking out the fabric.  That was not easy, but Soph picked a soft, slightly curly, and fuzzy brown cloth that pretty much looked like my old springer spaniel's ears...

Anyway, I borrowed a sewing machine and began. (I had to borrow a machine because I received my sewing machine from Mom.  She received it as a high school graduation present. I won't say how old that is, but I was surprised to find out they make sewing machines that plug in now.  KIDDING Mom, kidding!)

Things started off well...I began with the tail.
Coming together nicely.
Right side out.  Next up, elastic in the sleeves and cuffs. 

And then....Sophie started to get a little bored waiting for me to finish up, and there was this half full bag of stuffing left over from the tail, and it was really hot this weekend, and she'd been trying on the hot costume, and so was only wearing her underwear, and... and.... and..... well, this happened.  I have nothing more to say about it.  It's not my fault. 

Oh my.  BELIEVE me that I fully intend to resurface this photo (and the 2 dozen others that I took....) when she is sixteen.  

So...after a bit of distraction, I finished up.  And the fearsome werewolf was complete. (Minus face paint to be added later...when it's not so hot...)  I did offer to make mittens and shoe covers, but she didn't want them.  Just for the record. 
Especially fearsome with the missing front tooth, don't you think? 

Some sort of werewolf dance move. 

But now, you have to make the call:  frightening werewolf?

Or cuddly Ewok?  

Ah well. Sophie is happy, and that's all that matters.  

Next up: Tough-Ninja-Fairy-Princess!  I'm hopeful that I can purchase most of the elements required for that costume. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Letterman on McCain & Palin

OK - I didn't catch this live (who could stay up that late?), but thanks to YouTube, I didn't miss it.  

We'll see what happens tonight, whether the debates actually take place or not, but Dave's main point is key - if the president has a crisis, such as the economy tanking, you take care of it, and you put your 2nd string quarterback / VP in for you, while you take care of business. 

Instead of "suspending" his campaign - WHY doesn't McCain put Palin in charge of campaigning in the the interim??  Or does he know that's really not such a good thing to do...

So then, what happens if / when he needs to put her in charge for real, and of something more critical than a campaign??

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caribou Barbie Speaks

I'm dumb founded.  I minored in Women's Studies.  I did.  I'm a liberal Californian, feminist, lesbian, democrat, graduate of UC Berkeley, who minored in Women's Studies, no less.   I was disappointed I was too young to vote for Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, just because she was a woman.  I would LOVE to see a woman in the white house, and long for the day when I can vote one in.  (Preferably as President though.)

But NOT Sarah Palin. LORDY.....  I used to respect John McCain too (not that I was considering voting for him, but of the Republican candidates...I hated him the least).  But how could he have picked HER?  

And the really shocking thing is that she's been coached by the best of the best political machines on her answers, and this...this is what she comes up with in response to a question regarding her foreign policy credentials?? "Oy vey" is all I can muster. 
Katie Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundry that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state.
Or you can watch it live, here: 

What does she mean??? That when Putin gets in a plane, the first place he flies OVER is Alaska????  And when she cites "trade missions" does she mean when the Americans drive over the border to Canada to get cheaper drugs???  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Tooth Fairy came again

This actually happened before I left for India, but I've been distracted. Observe...

Sophie Before:

Did you know teeth could go horizontal?

And Sophie After:
After. Gross.

It was a Cheez-It that finally did the tooth in...as evidenced by the considerable Cheez-it residue in the remaining teeth....
After, again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And now for something not related to India

Lots, and lots, and lots, then a few more, pictures from the girls' soccer game last weekend. The Jaguars defeated the Bone Crushers 4-1.  It was a sweet victory because the Bone Crusher's coach was the girls' coach last year & she was a total b!*&h.  Yelled at the kids (yet didn't know their names) and just in general did not teach them anything about the game.  This great kid, Jordan, was also on their team, as well as in their Kindergarten class.  

Zoe, Sophie & Jordan became great friends, and this year, Jordan's mom, Janeen, is the girls' coach - and she's awesome!  Runs them through drills, teaches them the game, is supportive, and you know, remembers their names, little stuff like that.  Janeen said she didn't care if we won any games this year, except this one, against last year's coach.  And the girls came through for her.

Zoe was in there like a champ during the whole game - see how many times she got the ball? See that look of determination on her face?  Didn't score a goal, but she sure played her heart out.  


Sophie....well, Sophie says soccer is not her game.  I think Sophie may be right; she spent a lot of time spinning in circles near Jordan in the goalie box.    


Clearly NOT identical twins. Now sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the following 4,215 soccer photos. It's almost like you were there, isn't it? (Zoe is #5, Sophie is #7.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Photos from India

Ganesha Festival Photos

Hyderabad Photos

En Route To / From India

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Indian Bathrooms (brought to you by the makers of Purell)

I know you are all curious. So I took pictures. At least I made sure no one else was in the bathroom first. 

This was the most common set up (taken at the office).  The sprayer was a common fixture, especially in bathrooms that had not only no TP, but not even a TP dispenser. (But rest assured, my offices did have TP.)
"European" toilet

This is the last stall at the office.  I never saw anyone go into it, or come out of it.
Indian toilet

Finally, taken at the Chennai Airport.  And can I just preface this photo by saying "EWWW." This set up was pretty common actually. I'm still confused by the cup and the faucet.  This stall was marked "EWC."  Others were marked "IWC."  The IWC stall was similar to the photo above (0nly with less marble and more germs).  I'm guessing they stood for European Water Closet and Indian Water Closet?
What's the cup for?

So, how did I, ah....manage, you wonder?  All I have to say is "Thanks, Charmin!"

Home at last & not sleeping well

Ahhhhhh home.  :) I'm so happy to be here.  And I haven't slept soundly since I've been back.  I'm tired all day, and then can't sleep at night.  It's 2:00 a.m. & I'm NOT tired.  So....trying to get some pictures posted.  Here's me and the girls the day I came back.  We were all so happy to see each other.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday in India

Today was my one & only day to myself here. I slept in & got enough sleep for the first time on this whole trip. I promised Laura that I wouldn't leave the hotel today because of the bombings in Delhi yesterday, so planned my day at the hotel. The hotel's got a world class spa here, and I made an appointment for a massage & facial at 6:00 p.m ( 2 hours of services for $70)

I called Karim at eleven to see if he wanted to go down for brunch, and woke him up. Sooooo I had lunch by myself in one of the hotel's restaurants, Collage. The food was great! After lunch, I wandered around the hotel grounds with my camera & video camera. I could hear drums from the road that leads to the hotel & could see a Ganesha procession coming down the road. I managed to see the procession & the Ganesha idol close up, without ever leaving the hotel. The procession was made up of about 20 men, dancing, drumming, and throwing pink powder on each other. They were really excited for me to take their photo, they posed, and wanted to be sure I got a picture of the Ganesha idol on their truck.

The weather's warm & muggy, overcast, but not uncomfortable. After my photo tour of the grounds I got a really bad headache & spent the rest of the day in my room, watching TV, alternating between American movies (The Firm, Jurrasic Park), Bollywood music videos, and local news. The commercials are great! There's an ad for men's underwear, called "Big Boss," a million ads for cell phone services (ring tones, cell service companies, cell phones that are also MP3 players, cell phones that are also GPS devices....), lots of singing & dancing. I ended up canceling my spa apointment.

I finally felt better & went down for dinner around 9:00 p.m. This time I tried the other hotel restaurant, Deodori. For 1400 Rupees ($33 US) I ordered the "Kebab" meal ...which included seemingly endless courses of food AND unlimited wine or beer. I sat outside, and ate the best food I've EVER had! The first course was small pieces of chicken, fish, lamb and vegetable "kebabs". Each was flavored with different spices, and all of them were excellent, especially the fish. The second course included chicken, barbequed prawn (huge), lamb on a piece of Indian bread, and a vegetable kebab that tasted very similar to falafel. This was all served with mint chutney. To accompany it was a sweet, tomato based sauce, and a "dal machtee" (totally guessing at the spelling there...). Dal means lentil, and machtee means butter, it was a stewed sauce made of black lentils, cooked overnight with lots of butter in a copper pot, and had a tomato base to it. It was so rich & flavorful, absolutely outstanding! THEN came the chicken biryani course, served with "saleem" (guessing again...) a sauce made from peanuts & chili powder and also outstanding, and "raita" a yogurt accompaniment. This wole meal was so good! I asked for the check and they tried to serve me the desert courses, but I told them I could not possibly eat any more!

I'm back in my room now, ready for bed. Throughout the day I've heard trucks rumbling down the street, and sounds of construction. There is so much construction going on, round the clock, every day of the week.

One and a half days left...looking forward to going home. I'm going to have to find a restaurant to get this food again though...yummmm.

Love to all,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crazy day in India

I went shopping today with my boss, Karim, and my collegue, Hema who kindly drove us all over downtown Hyderabad. Traffic is NUTS. I saw a family of 5 on a Vespa: Dad driving, 2 kids behind him, mom riding in back with a 3 year old asleep in her arms. I shopped next to women wearing Burkas. The crowds are incredible, I can't even describe the way they drive. Everyone was very interested in me, lots of staring, but overall very polite. We had dinner at Hema's house, his wife cooked for us, it was a really nice time.

While we were on our way to Hema's house, we learned that there were bombings in Dehli, and were happy we were heading out of the market area.

Tomorrow is the Ganesha Festival when thousands of people will take to the streets to submerge the Ganesha idols in the lakes. In light of the blasts, we've decided to stay inside the hotel tomorrow & not go out. The TV news is full of the story. For reference, New Delhi is 1,500 miles away from where I am. Monday I will only be going between the hotel & office (half a mile distance, and 30 minutes from the crowded city center/market areas). Tuesday, I'll be in the office until around 2:00 and then on the way to the airport.

Here's a picture of a Ganesha idol I saw on the way home. I'll be glad to get home next week.

Love to you all!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Team Photo & Happy Birthday Lord Ganesha

Here's a picture of me & most of my team outside my the restaurant at my hotel (where I had breakfast with my boss, lunch with my team, and dinner with my boss & 5 Indian managers...dinner that started at 9 & ended at midnight). The food is good, but I'm looking forward to trying somewhere else.

The dinner service was somewhat of a comedy. One manager ordered for all of us and took care of all the interactions with the waiter. The dishes were brought out one at a time, and served to us individually, like a buffet that came to us. For every course, they always served me first, then my boss, as if we were the honored guests, then around the table, ending with the guy who did the ordering. And EVERY time they gave him the biggest piece or serving of whatever they were serving.
In the team picture we're missing the one other woman on the team, who's back in California right now, one guy who's fasting for Ramadan and choose not to sit and watch the rest of us eat, and another who was working from home in order to be able to prepare for a big Hindu festival on Sunday, Ganesha Chaturthi.

Turns out all those makeshift shrines I saw on Wednesday were erected this week as part of the festival. Hindus celebrate Lord Ganesha's (elephant headed god) birthday by putting up these temporary shines and worshiping at them for a week, and on Sunday they carry them all to the nearest body of water (there are a lot of lakes in Hyderabad) and submerge the statues. There's singing, dancing, food, etc...and lots of parades to the water. My colleagues tell me this causes a huge pollution problem because the clay & toxic paint from the statues completely pollutes the lakes and rivers.


Here's a picture that's pretty representative of these shrines. It's not my picture, I found it on Flickr.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sooooo yesterday was an 18 hour marathon day, and today I'm exhausted, hence no posts yesterday. I woke at 6, before the wake-up call, had a swim at the hotel, then a pedicure in the spa (about $10 for an hour pedicure!) then breakfast, and we headed to work at 10:30. Met up with the team, passed out 4 lbs of Jelly Bellys & 3 lbs of Ghiridelli chocolate I brought with me (my suitcase should be MUCH lighter on the way home), more meetings. Then lunch with the President of our Indian operations and my boss. Lunch was fabulous, and at a neighboring hotel which is much nicer than ours. The President just verbally bashed a waiter who brought him grape juice that wasn't freshly squeezed (as in just that moment, squeezed just for him), but sitting around in the refrigerator). Wow, that was a weird moment. We discussed the hotels & decided to move to that one today (it's called the Ista).

More meetings back in the office, time flew by quickly, until 3 of us had to participate in a call that was starting at 8 p.m. It was an all day meeting in the US (7-4) and we were to participate in the first few hours. Well that turned into finally shutting down our computers at midnight, and getting back to the hotel at 1 a.m.

It's 9:00 a.m. now, I'm barely functional from the minimal sleep, we're meeting for breakfast in 30 minutes, checking out of this hotel, and into the Ista, then off to work again. Whew.

Between the hotels & the office is more construction than you can even imagine. 20 story building going up here, 16 story over there, a 3 story one right next door to our building that my company is building to expand. It's incredible. And the workers - all wearing hard hats, and sandals. I couldn't take any pictures yesterday, hope to today. That's it for now. Missing everyone!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm here!

I've landed in Hyderabad and am all checked into my hotel. The room is big, and nice. I can't get the A/C cranked up high enough to make the room actually cool though. I tried to video tape on the way in from the airport, but don't think it will come out well since it's night time.

I saw men driving motorcycles & scooters with 3 people on them. Skinny wild dogs roaming around. Makeshift shrines / places of worship set up along the side of the road. You drive by blocks and blocks of dark, cinderblock, deserted nothing...and then you spot a raised platform, surrounded by multicolored lights (we would call them "christmas" lights) hung in front of beautiful colorful sheets, protecting the platform from the street. At the back of the platform is a large (6-7 feet tall) statue of Ganush(?) the Hindu God that looks like an elephant, all lit up and brightly colored. And there were 3-4 men sitting on the platform. I saw at least a dozen of these impromptu worship sites in a 40 minute ride.

Anyway, it's after midnight here and I'm hoping to get some sleep so I can be on the right time zone tomorrow. (12 and a half hours ahead of California). More tomorrow!

Here's a picture from the Singapore Airport:




Arrived in Singapore. Checked in to the complimentary hotel the airline set me up with. Took a super fast shower and then hustled back across the airport to try to catch the 1:00 PM. free bus tour, but I missed it by ten minutes. Next one isn't until 3:00, so I'm killing time in the airport.

I walked through the most amazing butterfly garden of all things. Hundreds and hundreds of butterflies!

This airport is HUGE and full of the top luxury designer shops: Gucci, Fendi, Tiffany, Mont Blanc, Sony, and Apple stores too. And of course there's also a Hard Rock Cafe and a Burger King.

I'm having a beer and a sparkling water at a tapas place. I picked this place to spend my airline voucher for "lunch" because, even though I'm not hungry, I felt reassured that I recognized the food in the pictures on the menu. Hey, at least I'm not at Burger King!

More later after the tour.

Love, Stace

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Back on the plane now, soon to be on our way to singapore. There was a cavier restaurant in the hong kong terminal.

En Route

Sitting here on the plane to Singapore; we’re going to land in Hong Kong in less than an hour I think.  It’s 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday (back home it is anyway), and when we touch down in Hong Kong it will be 6:00 a.m. there.  The flight was non-eventful. Business class ROCKS. I have 2 inches of space on either side of me in my seat, which, by the way, reclines to a nearly flat bed. It’s unbelievable how much of a difference it makes to be able to recline, and move around, and shift your weight, etc…. I’m not sore & cramped, even after being on a plane for 14 hours.


Each seat has its own video screen with on demand movies. I watched the new Indiana Jones movie, and Sex in the City.  Both were good by the way. 


The food is great.  Dinner last night around 3 a.m., then breakfast this morning around 11. I’ve had champagne out of a glass (not plastic) and coffee from china cups. Chocolate croissant, spinach omelet, fresh fruit for breakfast….not too shabby. 


Feels like the plane is starting to descend, time to put the laptop away I think.  Hopefully I can get a wifi connection in HK and send this….


Love to everybody!




On the plane - UPSTAIRS

Waiting for the first plane

In the Singapore airlines business class lounge where they have a completely self service open bar with premium liquor. Impressive. Oh and tell the girls they have free ice cream too. :-)

30 minutes till they board our flight.

I'm earing miles on united for all this travel - better get a couple of free flights out of this.

Business class definitely doesn't suck.

Love and kisses!



Sent using BlackBerry - please excuse my typos!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weather Report - packing an umbrella

Weather for Hyderabad,  India








91° F | 73° F
33° C | 23° C


86° F | 71° F
30° C | 22° C


89° F | 73° F
32° C | 23° C


86° F | 71° F
30° C | 22° C

Chance of a Thunderstorm

86° F | 69° F
30° C | 21° C


100% chance of precipitation


80% chance of precipitation


100% chance of precipitation


100% chance of precipitation

Chance of T-storms

20% chance of precipitation

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mobile Blogging

This is a test post from my blackberry. I'm testing for when I travel. Cool, huh?

Would you like to be emailed whenever I post something to this blog? That way you'll know when there is an update to check. Let me know, and I can set that up for you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin is no Hilary Clinton

Did anybody watch or listen to Sarah Palin's speech? Here's what the AP has to say about it.  I thought she sounded like a sarcastic high school student delivering a scripted speech.  John McCain thinks this woman will lure former Hilary backers to his side?  Woo hoo, ha ha ha, LOL, that's rich.  

Map of Hyderabad

So you have a visual, sort of, of where I'm headed...  Our office & the hotel are out in the deep 'burbs of the city.  I'm told there is no where to eat within 30 minutes of the campus, except the company cafeteria and hotel restaurants. I expect we'll be eating mostly in the hotel restaurants. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Countdown to Hyderabad: 5 days

I leave on  Monday at 1:20 a.m. (technically then I guess that's Tuesday) and will be in transit for 36 hours. I'll make a stop in Hong Kong (1.5 hours only) to fuel & clean the plane, then on to Singapore. I have a 9 hour layover in Singapore. Because we're flying Business Class and have a long layover, Singapore Airlines is providing free rooms at a hotel IN the airport for us. So I hope to call home, nap, shower, change clothes AND take a free cab tour of the city. Oh and probably work too in the lounge. Then, another 4-5 hour flight to Hyderabad. That will put me in Hyderabad at noon Pacific time on Wednesday, but midnight India Standard Time (IST). I'll call home again from the hotel. In between, when I can't call, I plan to "twitter" my updates, so you'll see them on the right side of this blog.

There will be a driver from the hotel to meet us at the airport, and take us to the hotel. I'm staying at the Ella Suites, check it out.  And yes, I do plan to use that pool. :) 

Here's a video of Hyderabad I found on uTube. With only 8 days in the country I won't get to see half of this stuff, but I will take a LOT of pictures.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day Weekend? What Labor Day Weekend?

How about some sick, with a side of sneezing, and some extra coughs thrown in for good measure? On the 4th day of the 1st grade, Zoe got sick. She made it to school, barely, with the help of some cold medicine. On Saturday she was really sick. Sunday Sophie got it, and on Monday, it was my turn. Laura's had it all along too. So we spent our last 3 day weekend of summer indoors, doing not much of anything. A few movies, some video games (Lego Star Wars - that is a brilliant game! When the characters die, the crumble into a pile of lego blocks, no blood, no gore. Sophie, Zoe and I L.O.V.E. that game. We're saving up all of our lego studs (money) to buy "Yoda Ghost" because he's invisible and invincible! Woo Hoo!). Anyway. So as I was saying, we were all sick.

We watched Nightmare before Christmas, which is probably Sophie's favorite movie. And that has prompted a non-stop Halloween obsession. How many days is it to Halloween? How many days is it now? Is that long? When can we decorate? Does Grandma Nancy have Halloween decorations? Can we see them? Ahhhhhhh. 50 odd days to Halloween and Sophie is carrying around a rubber bat and a snake.

So another thing the girls did over the weekend was dress up a LOT. And wiggle Sophie's incredibly wiggly front tooth. Here are two pictures to illustrate our weekend. Enjoy.