This morning as I arrived at work I discovered that we were the victims of a hit-and-run on our civic hybrid.  We’re approaching seven years of having the car and this is the first “accident” it’s been in.  Through basic reasoning, we know it happened last night while parked outside the tae kwon do school that my husband goes to.  We just didn’t discover it until this morning since it was dark when my hubby came home from tae kwon do and it was dark when I got in the car to drive to work.  (And it was parked in the driveway last night, so we know it didn’t happen at home.)

What a way to start the day!  It was a classic parking lot accident with the damage to the side rear fender and bumper, but it’s not just a little scrape so this isn’t something that someone distracted by kids or a cell phone could have missed doing.  The driver knew and still drove away without leaving any note to apologize or acknowledge the accident.

The sad part is, it’s very likely we know the people who did it since our car is fairly distinctive and everyone at that school knows it.  I’m assuming that the guilty party was a parent of one of my husband’s students and too embarrassed to say anything.  I don’t care if you can’t pay for the damage you caused, at least show some responsibility and own up to it!

I’ve been a bit distracted today in debating whether or not it’s even worth reporting to our insurance for fear that they may raise our rates and it won’t cost too much more than our deductible.  Darn insurance – what do I pay you for if I’m too cheap to make a claim with you?!  Hence the title of this entry: Blog and Run.  Any topic I may have thought I was going to ponder today went out the window and now I’m ranting about my car.  Since rants are rather one-sided, I’m going to keep this one short.

Have you ever been the victim of a hit-and-run?  How did it get resolved?

 
 
Sunday marked a turning point for our little family: my oldest daughter got her first cell phone.  We’d been debating the issue for quite some time, but finally gave in after she spent the summer in our good graces and got a job helping out with a friend’s dogs everyday that gave her enough income to chip in for the monthly phone costs.  Since we already had a family plan for my husband and I, it was only another $10 per month to add her.  We also decided to add texting which we never had before, so she’s chipping in $10 of the $30 for that monthly cost.  Luckily she was desperate enough that she immediately agreed to the terms: parental controls that turn it off during school and after 8:30p, spot checks on texts just like emails, and notice to any friend that she gives the number out to that they can and will be blocked if they send her inappropriate material.  We’ll see how that last item goes since I know full well that she’ll be deleting a lot before I get to it, but she’s on the honor system for now.

Of course, it didn’t hurt her cause to have her mother really needing a new phone and lusting after a smart phone.  I’m ready to chuck my old flip phone out the window for how many times it’s decided to not be a phone for a little while until I can pull the battery and get it restarted again.  I still haven’t gotten a new phone yet, but now that I’ve taken The Kid in to get hers, I can just order mine online and save some money and time.

How’s the experiment going so far?  Well, she’s averaging about 65 texts per day which occur in the one hour before school starts and the 6 hours after school gets out that she’s not doing homework, riding her bike to her “job”, playing soccer, or going to tae kwon do.  She pumped out almost 35 texts this morning just while waiting at the bus stop.  Not the ideal scenario, but I’m hoping she calms down a little next week.  And so far other than her parents and other relatives, she’s really only texting with 3 or 4 of her classmates, most of which we know and are nice kids.  Phew!  Good start.

And what of my search for a new phone?  I still want that iPhone 4, but may go with a cheaper android phone that doesn’t require a data plan.  The whole reason we got cell phones in the first place back in 2001 was because we’d gotten jobs and were commuting across Lake Washington to work.  Now I’m not commuting across the Lake, but I am driving almost 45 minutes each way now – about 10 times longer than I’d prefer my commute to be.  This morning there was a tanker that fell over and blocked all lanes of the major highway I take to get to work – it certainly would have been nice to have a smart phone with traffic maps, but at the same time, it wouldn’t have been safe for me to use the phone while I was driving to find the best alternate route since speeds never got slow enough for me to pull out my phone.  Plus, I can check traffic before I leave home or the office on the way to the other.

I titled this blog post the technology in my family’s life because I was also going to mention that my desktop computer finally dinosaured out and will be used no more.  We’re down to one laptop and one netbook for the family.  I’m tempted to get a docking station so I can hook up the netbook to the bigger monitor that we had been using on the desktop computer, but we’ll see when I can find the time to research that!

Also of note is the fact that my husband and I might finally be caving in on getting a gaming console in the house.  I’ve been wanting a Wii since they were first released a few years ago and now we’re thinking it might be a good “family” gift for Christmas this year – much like the digital piano we got last year has been fun for everyone.  We’ll see if that one actually happens, but it’s in motion.

Anyone have any great words of wisdom for me in my quest to find just enough phone for my needs and not go over my (small) budget?  And where’s the best place to get a Wii when I know I’ve got months before I need it to actually arrive on my doorstep?

 
 
I'm starting to get more excited for the fall premieres of TV shows and it totally got me thinking about things that I enjoy that are out of the typical range of geeky engineer types.  I really try not to get into TV shows since I don’t have a lot of free time that I want to spend in front of a screen, but I’ve always gotten into one or two shows and stuck with them.  West Wing was big for me for a long time, then Grey’s Anatomy, and now Glee has joined the list (and thank goodness West Wing “retired” or I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all of them!).  My mom wants me to watch Modern Family since she knows I’ll like it, but I’m trying really hard to resist.

But Glee, oh Glee, how you are my guilty pleasure.  How do I know this?  Because my husband won’t watch it with me.  He watches a lot of things that I don’t and even submits himself to silly romantic comedies that I borrow from the library, but he generally draws the line at musicals.  My sister-in-law gave me the Glee soundtracks from the first half of the season and I’ve gotten the rest from the library.  I love listening to them in the car on my way to work since it’s much lighter fare than the rude guy trying to cut across three lanes at the same time and almost side swiping me. 

I think if I didn’t follow the cast on twitter I’d have enough time to watch another show, but they are so much fun!  The set pics are always good for a giggle.  I think at this point I’m also rooting for my home-town guy: Harry Shum, Jr.  Turns out he went to my rival high school – which I found out when he mentioned via Twitter that he went to the same HS as Zac Efron.  Now I’m cheering for “the dancing Asian guy” to get a bigger role in the show because he’s from SLO County!  And as much as there are serious moments in Glee – and oh my goodness how much do I love the scenes with Mike O’Malley as Kurt’s dad – it’s really a fun show and the musical numbers are great.

I also think I need to watch Glee to balance out the fact that I can probably count on one hand the number of Grey’s Anatomy episodes that I’ve made it through without crying.  And yet I can’t stop watching it!  Grey’s I started watching because I enjoy Sandra Oh and gave it a try.  The fact that it takes place in Seattle didn’t hurt, either.  Six seasons later and I’m still looking forward to the season premiere coming up next week.  Grey’s was the one show that I had to watch when I had newborn twins.  Don’t ask me why since the writers love to have crazy-sad birthing stories, but it was my way of trying to feel human again: If I could stay awake long enough to watch one hour of TV a week, I was still my own person and not just a stressed-out new mom.  (They were 3 weeks old when the season premiered back in the fall of 2006).

Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t seem as “guilty” of a pleasure as Glee even though they are both highly-rated shows.  I think it’s because it hits a different aspect of my geeky side, and not one that has to do with math or computers.  What’s your guilty pleasure and how did you “discover” it?
 
 
Just over a year ago on my dad's birthday in August I decided it was time to get over my hang-ups and donate blood.  What in the world does my dad's birthday have to do with blood donation?  For those who don’t know me in real life, my dad was a major blood donor until he was diagnosed with cancer.  After he passed away he has been remembered in the community – through a local race being named in his honor or the scholarship awarded at the high school he taught at.  But neither of those things were a personal tribute from me regarding my dad.

Before he passed away I weaseled out of blood donation by reasoning that he gave for the both of us – my dad and I have the same (semi-rare) blood type of A-negative.  He was in the blood center every 8 weeks doing his donation, modifying his running workouts around his donation schedule.  But me?  I couldn’t find my arm veins and knew that it would be hard for the needles to find their mark if the veins were hiding like that.  I knew for a few years after his passing that I should go in and continue his legacy, but I wasn’t ready yet.  Apparently parenthood changed more than my mentality, as my veins are easier to find now!  With the resolve coming from my dad’s birthday passing, I made my appointment to go in and donate at a Puget Sound Blood Center last year just before Labor Day.  It was super easy and fast, everyone was really nice (not that I thought they wouldn’t be, but it was good to experience all the same), and I ended up going back 8 weeks later to do it all over again. 

For my third donation, I was recruited to try double red blood cell donation where they separate out the red cells from the rest of the blood and returned the “unused” portion back into my arm.  I think if it wasn’t all done with a single needle I would have said “no,” but it was just as easy as whole blood donation.  It takes longer, but I only need to go half as often, so it’s a good trade-off for me as a busy working mom.  I’m a month away from being able to go in for my third double red donation and you can be sure I’ll be there.

Ultimately, my dad was never able to donate his organs due to the melanoma, but he did donate many, many “gifts of life” over the years and now I can continue the blood donations and be registered as an organ and tissue donor as well.  I can’t think of a more appropriate way to honor my dad than continue giving as he did.  I make sure to post on Twitter or Facebook every time I donate to raise awareness that anyone can do it, but I also note that it was done in honor of my dad.  Without his being a blood hero, I would have never had the courage to become one myself – and that is the true legacy of my dad.
 
 
As a quick aside before I get to today's post, I wanted to say that I am now a "regular employee" at my current job rather than just a temporary one.  The biggest thing that changes is my benefits package, so that's a good thing.  Now I just have to get my commute shorter.  Also in household news: my oldest started 7th grade this week and the twins are about to turn FOUR YEARS OLD.  Um, for as long as each day can be, those years really are flying by quickly.  And now onto today's post...

Today was the day that NASA announced the 150 people who won the lottery to attend the November 1st launch of STS-133.  Sadly, I was in the majority of the 2,700 entrants to not get a pass to witness this event in VIP style.  I had another blog topic chosen for posting today, but couldn't bring myself to finish it today - it seemed like I kept thinking about how large of a role NASA has played in my life considering I've never worked for them.  I was almost 2-1/2 years old when STS-1 launched in 1981, so I've never known a life without space shuttles.  I certainly remember the day of the Challenger explosion, if not the exact moment it happened.  I loved the movie "Space Camp" growing up because it was so cool and the character Tish always made me laugh (good old Kelly Preston!).  Even "Flight of the Navigator" was awesome in my book.  I grew up near Vandenberg Air Force Base where they launch rockets from time to time.  I wanted to be the first woman on the moon!  By the time Columbia didn't make it home in 2003 I was already resigned to the fact that I would never get a ride.

Even through college I typically had one wall of my room dedicated to NASA posters and my collection of mission patches is embarrassingly large.  So why did I go into structural engineering instead of astronautics?  I'm not sure, really.  Maybe it was my high school physics teacher being an idiot and my drafting teacher guiding me more towards structures.  Maybe it was my lack of desire to get a master's degree.  Maybe it was my husband voicing his nervousness over ever seeing me out on the launch platform and having to watch.  Either way, I realized a while ago that even if I had taken the proper track to become an astronaut, the shuttle program was going to end before I would have a chance to ride it.  I used to joke that I could still get into the space program as a structural engineer because someone needed to build the structures on the moon, but the moon seems to be out of reach as well.

My last hope?  The entry on my bucket list to watch a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center.  I got to go there in the summer of 1986, but due to the tragedy in January of that year, the possibility of seeing a launch wasn't even on the radar.  There are only two launches left on the schedule before the shuttles are retired and the next generation of American space travel isn't ready yet.  I didn't make the #NASATweetUp list for STS-133 in November, but I still have one last hope to be in a position to watch STS-134 in February of 2011.  A girl can dream.