photography hunt

I’m finally getting a chance to truly indulge my interest in photography. A couple other people who work at GD (other divisions from mine, though) sent out an email looking for people interested in photography. I replied. Two weeks later, I found myself tromping through the Desert Botanical Gardens having a blast taking pictures with other photographers. Five rolls of film later (I swear I’m going to get a digital SLR here soon) and only a few hours, here are some of the first pictures I’ve gotten around to cropping and such. Enjoy.

slight change of plans

So there was a slight change of plans this weekend. Originally, we were going to wake up Saturday morning, be lazy for a bit, go run errands, and then go out to eat before heading to the Jimmy Eat World/ The Killers concert. Instead…

Saturday morning we woke up, fixed breakfast and curled up on the couch, as is our usual tradition, to read the newspaper and drink tea. While reading the newspaper, we remembered that we needed to check on how to get into this concert (it’s not really a limited seating area; it’s just beside the lake in Tempe). Sean scours the internet and can not find any explanation on how to get into the concert. Great. The only phone number we can find only gives us details about the golf tournament earlier in the day. We were prepared to go down to Tempe and hunt down more details, but wanted to establish a backup plan if that didn’t work. I present to you the backup plan…

Grape squishing. Yes, you read that right. There’s a local winery called Kokopelli Wines. Every autumn, right around harvest time, they have a big celebration called Kokopelli Krush. It’s a much smaller but similar celebration to what the French do at grape harvesting time. One of the parts of this celebration are grape stomping contests. Two-person teams competing against the clock to see how many grapes they can squish. We’d never done it before, so we thought we’d go down and give it a try. We never were able to get more information about the concert, so we went for the grape squishing option. That evening, around 6pm, we showed up at the Krush and gave our names as contestants. There were about 15 other couples competing against us. The prize? A case of wine and $100 gift certificate at one of their winery/bistros. We had an hour to kill before the actual competition, so we mingled around, tasted some wines and relaxed. Our estimation of the wines is that their decent, but there’s nothing outstanding about them except for the Royal Kir and the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

7pm rolled around and everyone wandered out back to watch and cheer on the grape squishing teams. There were three barrels. Teams competed three at a time. You squished a set amount of grapes for 2 minutes. They then filtered out the juice and weighed the juice. Most weight wins. We were in the third set of teams competing so we watched and cheered and considered our strategy. Sean was the squisher, I was the runner (brought the grapes to the barrel). Finally, it was our turn. Sean and I took our shoes off, rolled up our pants and got prepared. The next two minutes of our lives were chaotic but hysterical. I ran grapes to the barrel as fast as possible. Once all the grapes were in, I helped him squish by reaching my hands in and squishing grapes by hand. I have never had so much messy fun in my life. My arms were incredibly sticky by the end of it, but it was a blast. Out of 15 teams, we placed 4th. Not bad for this being our first year and never having seen this done in our lives.

Afterwards, we wandered down the street to a cozy little Italian restaurant and had a great meal, even if my arms were still a little sticky (they did have a place for us to wash off, but let me tell you, grape juice is really hard to rinse off). Full and still a little giggly from the contest, we drove back home with the wind in our hair. I took a shower before curling up with a warm mug of chai and a quiet, late night. It wasn’t by any means a great concert (we’ll see those two bands another time), but it was still an absolute blast. Besides, how many people can say that they squished grapes?


Rational. According to, the word “rational” means “having or exercising the ability to reason.” I have a small problem with this word.

Well, okay, it’s not the word that I have a problem with. It’s the software company that goes by this name (well, they formerly went by this name, before they recently got bought by IBM, but that’s another story). Rational. This is a suite of products that are supposed to make my life as a designer and programmer, as well as my boss’ life as a program manager, easier. At work we use mainly ClearCase, ClearQuest, RoseRT, RequisitePro and SoDA. I’ll let you guys look all of those up.

Needless to say, when I got moved onto the new system, I got to be the test subject (aka guinea pig) for seeing how Rational Enterprise Suite 2003 works with the rest of our software. Heh. Right. The operative word in that sentence is “works.” It doesn’t. It’s that simple. The sad thing is is that there is nothing rational about the problems. Nobody has any clue why the software on my computer doesn’t want to play nicely. Grrr.

If anyone wants to know what I do from 7:00am – 4:00pm, well, this is it for the past 3 weeks. I have fought with my computer and opened way too many tickets with our HelpDesk to stay sane. I think tomorrow night before we head to the concert (Jimmy Eats World and The Killers), I am going to get happily drunk just to forget this week so that I can enjoy the concert. Growl. Rational, my bottom. *grumble*

the day the mountains disappeared

It rained today. I’m not talking about a quick desert rainshower that is preceded by a dust storm and leaves the desert looking like a lake with saguaros poking out of it. I’m talking the clouds rolling in quietly and blanketing the valley and then gently pouring rain on the entire area all day long, bringing with it cool temperatures and a chilly wind. The mountains disappeared today. The clouds hung so low that I couldn’t see the mountains that surround our valley. It was creepy to me.

I realized this morning that as we drive in to work every morning, I look out over the horizon at the mountains. There’s the Superstitions that form a chain to the east. There’s Four Peaks that’s sits a little higher than the other mountains as well as having it’s distinguishing four peaks. There are the Pinals that surround off to the north. More mountains, ones I don’ t know the names of yet, circle around the west and south of the valley. They’re always there, beckoning the sun to rise behind, painting the valley in bold strokes of color that make going into work at 6:15am well worth the drive.

They weren’t there today, though. Instead, a blanket of clouds hung over the valley, holding in the cool temperatures that embrace us at night. My sunglasses sat on top of my head, forgotten. It hadn’t started to rain yet when I walked onto the campus this morning. This afternoon, though, when I left work, the ground was pleasantly quenched with water and there was still a slight drizzle. When I left my doctor’s appointment, it was raining a little harder and as Sean and I ran our errands this evening, we moved quickly between the car and indoors.

I had almost forgotten what it was like to experience rain like this. This is the rain that you open up your windows just to listen to it patter on the roof. Instead, we had only gotten the hard rains that left the ground oversaturated and unable to drink in the water fast enough. The rains that last only 5 minutes, but dump a good 1-2 inches in that 5 minutes. Today reminded me of being back in Alabama during the winter. I realized that as much as I got tired of that weather very quickly, it was nice to have it every once in a while. I guess today is my once in a while. I think I can handle that. For now, though, I’ll look for the mountains in the morning and hopefully they’ll be there.