So just as soon as I fixed my blog on 8/24 I promptly broke it again. And it’s taken me over a week to figure out how to hack into the guts of the webpage code and fix the problem I caused. Oops! At least now I know what NOT to do. Phew. Now bear with me while I work on the page layout, theme, etc. (You know, all the unimportant stuff that bugs me when I don’t like it.) And then we’ll get back to my usual witty written repartee!


Testing. I screwed something up royal and I’ve been trying to fix it for three days! Numerous code problems, database problems, theme problems, and plugin problems. Issues just keep cropping up! It’s still a work in progress.

2015 Resolution #5 revisited

As of 8/13 I have visited 35 states. I had an amazing vacation in Alaska with my family last week. We visited Denali National Park and it was really beautiful. (Doesn’t that map look great with the giant state of Alaska colored in? I’m so proud.) We saw as much of the park as we could in five days, but I have already decided that I want to go back. Maybe next September. What better place to go during the dog days of summer (especially when you don’t have an air conditioner at home) but a place where the temperature peaks in the low 60’s, if you’re lucky. It was spectacular! My jackets haven’t gotten that much use in six months! As with so many other experiences I’ve had lately, I intend to write a much longer post about my Alaska vacation. I have a feeling that won’t happen anytime soon, though, based on the fact that I still haven’t finished writing about my trip to Hawaii in June. I am a terrible blogger! But I got sick on Wednesday when I flew back from Fairbanks so I’ll be spending a relaxing weekend at home (probably going through a whole box of Kleenex thanks to this miserable head cold) letting my body heal. Maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. Or not. But I digress. Barring a miracle, I probably won’t have a chance to visit any more new states in 2015. Adding two to my list this year isn’t bad, though! I’m happy with that. In the event that I get to go to DC for work sometime next year I have some preliminary plans for side trips. And I’ve also started dreaming up locations for next summer’s family vacation. It’s still going to take me a while for me to get to all 50 states, but now I only have 15 to go!

Additional sunscreen successes and failures

I’m on a plane headed to Alaska on vacation. So exciting! I have a lot of flight hours ahead of me, though, so I am going to take advantage of this time to compose some webpage posts. Sunscreen might not be the most obvious subject for me to write about when I’m headed for a less than tropical destination (I’m looking forward to some cooler weather now that summer has arrived in LA), but I wanted to share my recent experiences before too much time passes. (Speaking of which, I still need to finish a post I’ve been working on about my amazing trip to Hawaii in June, but that might have to wait until I get back from my current vacation. I’m just traveling all over the country this summer!) I’ve combined my latest two sunscreen experiments into a single post for brevity and to avoid boring my faithful readers (all two of you) too much!

Sunscreen experiment #14: Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
After my overwhelming success with the Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 I was eager to try the “sport” version of this sunscreen. Usually when brands market different varieties for face vs. body they are extremely similar products, so I was expecting something light and comfortable when I slathered the sport sunscreen on my arms and legs for a trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was thick, sticky, and hard to apply. Not greasy like some other sunscreens, but not as pleasant as the face variety. What a disappointment. However, since it’s a mineral sunscreen my skin was very well protected all morning at Disneyland. At least it was effective in that respect. But despite that point in its favor, I’m adding this one to the growing list of sunscreens that have failed to meet my high expectations!

Sunscreen experiment #15: Coola Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish
After exhausting the cheaper Coola sunscreen options (Bare Naturals) I turned back to the original brand for inspiration. If the “cheaper” face sunscreen was so amazing, might the more expensive alternative be just as good? Way back in sunscreen experiment #8 I tried one of Coola’s mineral sport sunscreens with mixed results. It definitely provided superior sun protection, but it felt sticky on my skin. Not ideal. This time around I ordered a tube of the mineral face sunscreen from the Coola website. Once again, I used this stuff on my face, arms, and legs for a trip to Disneyland. The cucumber scent smelled pretty good which was a major plus, and it felt light and powdery on my skin during application. So far, so good! However I noticed something funny when I used it on my face. If I rubbed the same area too much I started to see white flakes forming. Very annoying. It didn’t look very good, but I just shrugged my shoulders hoped not to see anyone I knew at Disneyland that day. Luckily I didn’t notice the same problem with flaking on my arms and legs, even later in the day. As another test I also used this sunscreen at the OC Fair 5K last weekend and it worked great (since I wasn’t exactly concerned with my appearance during the race!). So this sunscreen isn’t a complete loss! I will definitely continue using it, especially on my arms and legs.

Ant-Man on my day off

When I decided to take today off work (I have a lot of extra work hours built up from my business trip last week) I knew I wanted to go see a movie. So after I got home from Disneyland this afternoon I immediately drove to the theater (got there just in time for the previews to start), bought a ticket for “Ant-Man,” and really enjoyed it! However, my first movie choice was “Terminator Genisys,” but it’s not playing at anywhere nearby. It’s probably for the best. This latest installment in the Terminator franchise got terrible reviews, which is disappointing because I love Terminator movies. But I might have regretted paying the ridiculous ticket price to see “Terminator Genisys.” Luckily “Ant-Man” was great. It’s no secret that I have a deep seated love for Marvel movies, and this one only reaffirmed my feelings. And it set up “Captain America: Civil War” (which I’ve read is going to be more like Avengers 2.5) in the post credits scene so I loved that. I’ll just have to wait until next summer to see it! For now I’ll have to be satisfied with “Fantastic Four” which comes out this week. It’s a great summer for superhero movies!

Hello new friend

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about saying good bye to my old suitcase that I bought in 1997. Well, a few days later I replaced it with a brand new carry on size suitcase, just in time for my business trip to DC this week. I wasn’t really in the mood to shop around all over the place for a suitcase so I went to Macy’s because they were having a sale. My first thought was to get a Victorinox since I love my larger suitcase from that line, but the cost blew me away! Even at half price they were way too expensive. The same thing turned out to be true of the other brands I was initially considering. It’s not that I couldn’t afford it, but I had no intention of breaking the bank for one little piece of luggage. This frugal stance led me to browsing through the Samsonites instead of the higher end brands. My old carry on was a Samsonite and it served me well for 18 years, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with another one. Unfortunately I wasn’t that crazy about the aesthetics of the latest models. Why are there so many weird pockets on the outside? Who needs those? But anyway, after mulling over my options for about half an hour I settled on a 21″ Samsonite with spinner wheels. Take a look at it in the above photo, hanging out in my “fashion forward” hotel room. (The polka dot chair matches exactly nothing else in the room.) It was a little funkier than I really wanted, but there weren’t exactly an abundance of choices in my price range. Besides the price, the main selling point was the color. It’s dark red and I love it. My biggest requirement for a suitcase is that it can’t be black. Seems like everyone has a black suitcase and I want mine to stand out from the crowd at baggage claim. Especially at the zoo that is LAX. It’s a little easier when I’m flying somewhere like Tallahassee that has a grand total of two baggage claim carousels! But I digress. I didn’t really have high expectations for my new little suitcase, but it has already overperformed on this trip. It easily held a week’s worth of clothes (work clothes and workout clothes), three pairs of shoes, all the necessary toiletries, and a large container of cookies that I brought for my DC co-workers. Not bad! And even though I was opposed to the spinner wheels at first, they made it easy to maneuver on most surfaces (although the Budget rental car parking lot is a challenge for any suitcase wheels). What a pleasant surprise! This could be the beginning of a beautiful travel-based friendship.

Goodbye old friend

“This is my little Samsonite suitcase that I bought back in 1997 to take to Europe. It’s not readily identifiable as a Samsonite anymore because the badge got ripped off on one trip or another in the last couple of years so you’ll just have to trust me on the brand. … I took this picture on my way home from a business trip last August because I thought it might be my last trip with that suitcase and I wanted something to remember it by. Not that I have any reason to replace it at the moment, but I don’t think it will be too long before I do.”
01/21/14 webpage post

Well, one year after I posted this ode to my trusty little suitcase, I finally had to say goodbye. I bought it to go to Europe back in 1997 and it has served me well over the last eighteen years. After the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend in May I discovered that one of the wheels had completely fallen off which made it difficult to maneuver. And noisy! However, I still tucked it back in my closet when I got home and forgot about its shortcomings. Then at the last minute I decided to take a carry-on size suitcase rather than my larger one to Hawaii last month. I had completely forgotten about the missing wheel. Oops. When I arrived at LAX for my flight it was far too late to pick a different piece of luggage for my trip, though. Luckily it held up just fine and I got back to Los Angeles without any additional pieces falling off. I decided that trip to Maui was my old suitcase’s swan song, though. And what better way to go out? I’ve taken that little guy all over the world! But now it’s time to find a new travel companion for future adventures (and not-so-exciting business trips). I hope I can find something that will last just as long!

Happy shoe accident

As I mentioned in a previous post, on my second day in Hawaii I drove the Road to Hana with some girlfriends. The above photo was taken during a rare rain-free moment that day. It seriously rained every time we pulled over to see any of the sights! Thanks to the rain and the inevitable mud that followed, my sneakers were filthy by the end of the day. I should have cleaned them off before I left Maui, but we were far too busy the whole time to do such mundane things! (Of course I did get up early every morning to clean up from the night before, unload and reload the dishwashers, and get everything ready for breakfast. There was no time for stuff like shoe cleaning!) So when I packed my suitcase to fly home that Sunday I threw my dirty sneakers into my suitcase (into a plastic bag) and didn’t give them a second thought. However, when I woke up in Los Angeles the next day I realized that I hadn’t packed my gym bag for spinning class that evening. And guess which shoes I usually wear for spinning? Yep, the muddy sneakers. In order to minimize the stress of my first day back from vacation I decided to skip my usual gym class and just go running that night. Crisis averted…for a week at least. Fast forward to this morning when I remembered that I still hadn’t done anything the soiled state of my sneakers. Since I didn’t want to skip another spin class (especially not for such a ridiculous reason) I put engineering brain to work to find another solution. After giving it some thought, I dragged out an old pair of my Nike Zoom Structure shoes that I no longer wear for running and threw them into my gym bag. I figured they wouldn’t be ideal for spinning, but they would work in a pinch. How did they do, you ask? Much to my surprise, they were perfect! It was a happy accident indeed that I decided to wear them to my class today. If I’d just cleaned off my other sneakers sometime this week I never would have discovered the superiority of the Nikes. Laziness wins for a change!

2015 Resolution #5?

New Year’s Resolution #5: Visit more states

My 2015 New Year’s resolutions haven’t been going too well. I’ve had varying degrees of success with the four resolutions I’ve posted so far, but there are several others that I’ve written down but done nothing else with. Kinda defeats the purpose of resolutions, huh? There’s still time to accomplish some of my goals this year, though! Let’s get started.

Last year I made a resolution to visit as many new states as possible. And after setting foot in a grand total of six new states (West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho) in 2014, I think I did pretty well! When I sat down to write my 2015 resolutions I knew I wanted to keep this trend going, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to do so during the first half of the year. Not that I haven’t tried! Last month I was supposed to go to Oregon to meet my parents and brother, and also to visit my brother’s girlfriend who lives there. It turned out that May was an inopportune time for me work-wise, though. Way too much going on. I’ve wanted to visit Oregon for a long time and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t go when my family was there. Maybe I’ll find an excuse to make it up there before the end of the year. Another setback so far is a lack of business trips to the East Coast. The last time I was out there was in September, and that was only for two days. Originally I was supposed to go to DC this week, but it ended up not happening. My plan was to take a little road trip to New Jersey to mark it off my list while I was out there. Luckily there’s still a lot of time left in the year and I’ll probably get sent to DC either next month or in the fall. Happily, an extremely exciting travel opportunity is happening in August. Last year when we had such a great time in Yellowstone my family decided to go someplace else amazing in 2015. Our consensus on the ideal destination was Alaska, so we’re planning a trip in August. Nothing concrete yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I might not make it to as many new states in 2015 as I did last year, but I’m going to enjoy the ones I do visit!