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Nov. 19th, 2015

We live on the 5th floor.

Crickets appear under our refrigerator on a bi-weekly basis. And they are LOUD.

Where the heck do they come from? Does someone in our building have a snake and these escape from the feeder pen???

Can you spare a dime for MOVEmber?

You may have heard of MOvember, in which men grow moustaches and other facial hair as part of raising money for men's health.

There's a sister program called MOVEmber, in which women work out every day to raise money for the same cause. And I'm participating.

I'm nervous. As some of you know, I busted up my knee about a year ago and then did so again in April - so badly that I had to use a cane well into July. I have been working on getting my fitness mojo back, but I've had a constant lingering fear that I will injure myself again in the midst of this.

I can't give in to that fear. My physical condition has been negatively affecting my emotional state. Through working out I've been getting back to being who I once was, and I want to continue it with this challenge.

My Sydney colleagues have put out the call and I've joined their fundraising team. This is great for you if you're in the US and care to donate; a $50 donation on that website will only set you back $37 and change in US dollars. All the warm fuzzy feelings at a 35% discount!

I'm already halfway to my goal; if just a few people can help I'll be all the way there. All you have to do to give me a donation is click here.

Thank you for supporting me and supporting a good cause!

Stylish plus-size clothing stores

Plus size clothing has gotten much cooler and edgier recently, especially if you're willing to shop online. New retailers keep popping up. The Curvy Fashionista is the best blog for keeping up on the latest new lines and fashion trends; I read it religiously.

As plus size women we are often trained not to spend much on clothes on the basis that we will someday soon lose weight so the plus-size clothes are temporary. There's a huge body-shaming element to this, an underlying message that if you're not thin you don't deserve well-made clothes that cost what they're worth. I've discovered that price really does make a difference, and many times that $150 dress will fit a lot better than that $50 dress. Also, the $150 dress will last longer, as a couple of dresses in my closet will attest.

A few shops that have caught my eye:

Mei Smith: When I think of the urban, minimalist, edgy me of my fantasies, she is wearing the clothes right here. I want everything. However, I'm also aware that I am unfortunately not built for everything here to suit me. Maybe you're luckier than I am.

Carmakoma: There are some great items here especially if you're into minimalist lines. Well-made stuff that is priced accordingly. There's a lot of items on my love list from this store. That red and blue striped shirt and dress...gimme! Their Lab27 sub-line is full of great basics.

Elvi: When I envision the version of myself that looks like something out of Vanity Fair or WSJ Magazine, that version is wearing a lot of this clothing.

Navabi is a European plus-size clothing store that recently opened a US website. They sell their own clothes and also bring together fashion from a number of lines like Manon Baptiste and Carmakoma. There's an emphasis on clothes that look interesting and a number of clothes suited for the office (business or business-casual). Lots more tunics; not a lot of defined waists. A number of the items seem like they would suit my taller friends better than my paltry 5'5".

Zelie for She is a local Los Angeles designer that has fabulous body-con clothing. You can't buy your whole wardrobe here but if you're looking for a piece that just pops, it's worth your time.

For something that is a bit more budget-friendly, City Chic is an Australian line that has recently expanded to the US. They have brick and mortar stores as well as the online store. Several of my more dramatic pieces come from here. In general I've found that clothes in Oceana are not cut for as generous a bootie as clothes in the US; their dresses work for me and so do their leggings but jeans and pants are problematic. However, for a lot of women I expect this would be a benefit rather than a drawback.

Igigi was my go-to when I lived in Monterey and needed professional clothes. If you like a defined waist, this is your place. They have their clothes categorized not just by size but also by body shape. I've gone against their body shape recommendations once or twice and it was always a bad idea; they've got a very good eye for what fits which type of person.

Eloquii is a great shop for budget-friendly workplace and casual staples that don't shirk style. The Kady pant is a staple among plus-size fashionistas and deservedly so. Their clothes are the anchor of my wardrobe.

Those are a few of my favorites - do you have any fab stores that I missed?

Back from the desert

That was certainly the dustiest Burning Man I've been to, and many old-timers said it was the dustiest one they'd been to. Good to see our Springbar tent can stand up to 65mph gusts and remain just about dust-free. I don't think the 35-degree low temperature is the lowest I've experienced out there but it was pretty close.

It's 1:40am and I'm still awake

Thought I'd readjusted to the LA timezone. Guess not!!!

Swimming and meditation

I've often been advised to take up meditation, but I find it challenging. In fact, it kind of stresses me out. While I recognize intellectually that one element of meditation is that you have to keep pulling your focus back to mindfulness/nothingness, in practice once my brain has wandered off once or twice I get intensely frustrated and give up. (This is why I don't have kids - either they wouldn't have survived the Terrible Twos or I wouldn't've.)

I find swimming to be very meditative. I'm getting back into it again and today I swam 1000 meters. "Oh, you must be really good at it!" people say.

In fact, I find it to be meditative because I'm really bad at it. When I swim, most of my attention is focused on not drowning. It's amazing how concentrating on not drowning will clear your head of all other thoughts.

When I'm swimming, I'm focusing on three things:

  1. Breathe out when your face is in the water

  2. Breathe in when your face is out of the water

  3. Remember what lap you're on

And that is all I think about. If something else enters my mind, such as, "Huh, those are panes of glass at the bottom of the pool that look out onto the shopping mall below. If the glass collapsed, would I be sucked down in a whirlpool and crash through a table in the Malaysian restaurant?" I will definitely fail at #3, and I'll probably cock up either #2 or #1. As evidence: my sinuses are currently full of chlorine.

I have a lap counter courtesy of mzrowan, which you'd think would solve for #3, but it involves me having to hit the little button, which just adds a #4 for a little while until it becomes reflexive. (In the current pool situation it also involves a #5: "is there a spot in this pool lit brightly enough that I can see the readout?" I've been in more brightly-lit nightclubs. Great ambience, terrible for seeing the little unlit LCD readout. But I digress.)

It appears the only way I can truly clear my head is if I'm doing something that has a small risk of death involved if I don't maintain focus. But boy, those people who talk about meditation are right! I feel relaxed and my mind is clear. And everything smells like chlorine.

Aug. 3rd, 2015

Wow, I slept 11 hours last night. And it's been very hard to get going this morning. Perhaps I'm fighting something off...

Jul. 21st, 2015

Last night I was awoken by the sound of our refrigerator doing a perfect imitation of a cricket. "Oh, crap," I thought to myself, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

Tonight after dinner, I heard the same noise. "It's the fridge, isn't it?" I asked Mike, full of dread.

He tilted his head like a Malamute puppy. "No, I think it's an actual cricket," he said.

He was right!

The cricket has been evicted to the planter area outside our building, with the in-various-conditions bamboo. All is right with the world.
In the past three days:
drivers outside of LA have had to flee their cars as a fire consumed the highway
a rainstorm washed away a bridge on Highway 10 (and also helped put out the aforementioned fire along highway 15)

When we have weather out here, things get...extreme.

DTLA skyline in a glass

Skyline (skywine) #Dtla photo taken by @rednikki

A photo posted by Mike Rainey (@raineymike) on

I didn't have my mobile phone on hand so I took this one with Mike's and he posted it. This is one of my favorite photos that I've ever taken.


Every year on our anniversary, we open a bottle of our anniversary wine. (Here are our comments from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010; we neglected to write it up before that.) We opened it a couple of days ago but I didn't get a chance to write up our notes until now.

For the past couple of years I've been wondering if the wine has turned the corner, but I think some bottles have held up better than others given this year.

The cork began to crumble as I took it out, which gave me no confidence that the wine inside was going to be good. But as soon as the seal was broken on the bottle, an intense scent filled the room, reminding both of us why we loved this wine so much. It was full and ripe, like new leather, tobacco and raisin.

We took a sip right out of the bottle. "The spirit of a blackberry just floats over it," Mike said.

My impression was somewhat more metaphorical; to me, it tasted like reading leather-bound books in an easy chair by a crackling fire. It also evoked a scene for Mike. "It feels like the holidays in my mouth," he said. "Very nostalgic."

The flavors were thick and intense on the tongue. It was very full-bodied. The wine itself was almost opaque, and the kitchen light shining through it cast a ruby-red stain on the counter.

The tannins at the end were a little astringent, a surprise in a wine that's over 10 years old. Mike said, "I can still taste some of the grape peel on the end of that."

We let the wine breathe for several hours before we drank the rest with friends. The rough edges of the tannins rounded out, although there was still an astringency to it. We all agreed that it didn't taste like a wine that had been waiting for 11 years to be drunk.

I'm glad to have this reminder of what it tastes like at full power, as well as the reminder of the bottle-to-bottle differences in wine. I'm looking forward to what next year brings.
I am really a wash and go person, but now that I've decided to grow my hair out for a bit*, wash-and-go isn't an option. Due to strange cowlicks and other issues, my hair does unflattering things at this length when I wash and go.

So today, fortified with videos like the below, I blow-dried my own hair, salon style. Given that I don't wash my hair often (not like I leave it filthy! just that it's gotten much less oily over the years) it seemed worth investing 20 minutes of my time in order to make myself look better.

Things I learned:

  1. I have hairclips kicking around the drawer next to my blow dryer!

  2. They aren't kidding about the hair clips. Seriously. That may be the best tip I learned from this.

  3. As if I needed any more confirmation that my proprioception is awful, this gave it to me. I'd look in the mirror, see that the blow dryer was too far back to actually hit any of my hair...and then find myself moving it back further rather than forward. This made the process take about 50% longer than it should have.

  4. If you are looking for an upper arm workout, look no further. My biceps, triceps and shoulders are now quite sore. Gee, I wonder why holding a four-pound hairdryer at head height with precision for 20 minutes would do that?

  5. Following on to point 4, I now understand why "ligthweight" is such a selling point for blow dryers.

  6. I have a lot of hair. Like, a lot of hair. And this is even with a substantial undercut. I look like I've got two other people's hair on my head in addition to my own. Pictorial evidence to follow.



The first earthquake I experienced in California was quite alarming. I haven't been so freaked out since and I thought it was because I'd become LA-Story-ized.

No! It turns out the first earthquake I experienced was a 4.9. Since then, the worst I've experienced is round about a 4.

For the layperson:
3: "Gee, that was a nice little shake!"
3.5: "Did a bus hit my house?" (it's LA, it's a valid question)
4: "This building sounds like the whales in Star Trek IV. Shoud I hide under a table?"

I am not sure what a 5+ feels like and I would prefer to remain ignorant.

My building's been here since the 1920s and it's withstood a number of earthquakes. That means it will be fine next time, right? RIGHT?


Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is even better than you were told it would be. It is relentless and flawless. Tom Hardy made Mel Gibson a distant memory; Charlize Theron was unbelievable. It's loaded with complex female characters and non-stop action.

AND, for the Farscape fans - it's littered with people you may recognize!

This film deserves to be seen in a theater. Run don't walk!

No comment

I can read everyone's posts, but I can't comment on anything. I'd ask if you're having the same problem, but if you are you won't be able to comment here either.

ETA: Just checked: I get an unhandled error exception when I try to comment on MY OWN JOURNAL!!!

Two quakes don't make a pattern, I hope

The two earthquakes this week have both taken place along the Newport-Inglewood fault, the second one taking place a couple of miles north of the first one.

If a third one takes place that is a bit further north, it will be right under my office where the Newport-Inglewood fault meets the Santa Monica and Hollywood faults.

While it would certainly be an exciting new experience to have an earthquake epicenter right under my building while I'm sitting on the 31st floor, I think all in all it's an experience I can live without!


English has alternating stress patterns that indicate whether related words are nouns (first syllable stressed) or verbs (second syllable stressed):

Noun: récord
Verb: recórd

Places I slept 2014

Do planes count? Gosh, I hope so.

  1. Los Angeles, CA

  2. Austin, TX

  3. In the air over Central America (LAN 2605)

  4. Sao Paulo, Brazil

  5. Lima, Peru

  6. Carmel, CA

  7. Monterey, CA

  8. Santa Rosa, CA

  9. El Dorado Hills, CA

  10. San Francisco, CA

  11. Seattle, WA

  12. Mashpee, MA

  13. Boston, MA

  14. Miami, FL

  15. Washington, DC

  16. McLean, VA

  17. In the air over the US and Atlantic (DL 89)

  18. Budapest, Hungary

  19. On a train from Budapest to Prague

  20. Prague, Czech Republic

  21. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  22. On a plane over Russia/China (KLM 861)

  23. Tokyo, Japan

  24. On a plane over the Pacific (SQ12)

  25. On a plane over the Pacific (VA2) ETA: Just to be clear, this and the above were my back-to-back sleeps.

  26. The Rocks, Sydney, Australia

  27. Brisbane, Australia

  28. Wooloomooloo, Sydney, Australia

  29. Lower Hutt, New Zealand

  30. Wellington, New Zealand

  31. (ETA) On a plane over the Pacific (VA1)


Los Angeles has reached peak craft fair

Back in the '90s on the DC goth/industrial scene, there was a point where nearly everyone wanted to be a DJ. The problem is, when everyone is DJing, there's no one left to be the audience.

As I look at the schedule of craft fairs in Los Angeles, I wonder if that's happening here.

Last weekend had Artisinal LA, Remodelista and Unique LA. This weekend there was the Renegade Craft Fair, the Echo Park Craft Fair, the Angel City Brewing Craft Fair, and something that looked craft-fair-like at Pershing Square (but we didn't stop). Many of these are large scale craft fair which have anywhere from one hundred to two hundred makers appearing.

I am THE target market for these things, and yet the only one of these I went to was the Angel City Brewing Craft Far - and that was just because we had some growlers to fill before Mike had people over to watch the Seahawks. On our walk to the car we saw signs leading to a parking lot that had...yes, a combo craft fair/flea market.

I'm the target market, and yet I'm not shopping there anymore. I have al the laser-cut bamboo earrings, hand-made tote bags, sort-of-unique necklaces, artisanal pot holders and what-have-you that I need. Surprisingly, I even have all the handmade soaps that I need. I would be a prime market for clothes, but the clothes at craft fairs never come near my size. (Interestingly, in NZ and Australia the clothes at craft fairs did come up to my size - and it's not like there are fewer fat peple who are fans of craft markets in the US, so I'm not sure how the logic works.) If I am crafted out, I wonder if the general audience is starting to burn out as well.

Or perhaps Los Angeles will soon become The Craft Fair Singularity, lined with nothing but booths selling small-batch kombucha, hand-crafted underwear woven from the fur of ethically farmed alley cats, artisanal wooden iPhone holders hewn from the last remaining redwoods, laser-cut wooden toast presses, woven organic biodynamic palm-frond handbags, terrariums of succulents whose roots grow on a form to create a bespoke onesie for your yet-unborn child, fake mustaches on a stick made from real (sustainable!) hipster mustaches and fair-trade hand-blown artisanal fluorescent lightbulbs.

Dec. 11th, 2014

I'm so glad to be with a partner who cried as much at the ending of The Lego Movie as I did!

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