Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thinking of quitting?

This is post number 200! Woohoo!

Today in the canteen/cafeteria I saw a bulletin board with the typical workplace propaganda on it. One thing caught my eye that said "Thinking of quitting?" I thought... well, that's pretty bold. Across campus there are all these posters saying "Are you leaving us?" with a picture of a penguin (for what reason I'm not sure... maybe for the image of waddling away). They advertise the CSIRO alumni association for people who have departed from service. I can understand wanting to retain staff, but I didn't know we had a "quitting" problem that required an agency campaign.

They also had these small colorful business cards that said "Remember the 4Ds". Presumably it was a card to put in your wallet to refer to now and then.

"Delay - for at least five minutes, the urge will pass." There's been times I've been tempted to quit, but I can't say five minutes really helped. Usually I have to go home and cry myself to sleep and then I feel better in the morning.

"Deep breathe - breathe slowly and deeply" I was expecting the next D to be "Don't bring a shotgun to work on your last day"

"Do something else - keep your hands busy" Working harder will set you free.

"Drink water - take time out, sip slowly" That really helps? It has to be slow sips to regain my will to go on?

Below the this there was a "Quitline" phone number. Did this mean people were standing by, ready to talk you out of quitting work? What does the Union have to say about this!

I was at a loss for words. But then at the very bottom I saw this stick looking thing with a burning ember at the end, with a buster symbol drawn through it and realized what was going on. Dawn shone on Marblehead.

Refer to my last post if you still don't get it.

smoking odds

Australia has some pretty gruesome warning labels on packs of cigarettes (although not nearly as graphic as what you'd find on a pack in Brazil). I've always wanted to know just how bad smoking is for you, by the numbers. Does it raise your chance of dying from 1-2% or 1 to 50%?

Well, I have a favorite new webpage, the book of odds, where you can look up the chances of pretty much anything. So for example, in the US in recent years

Percent of people who smoke: 20%
Percent of married women who smoke: 15.2%
Percent of women with advanced degrees who smoke: 6.6%

I'm just sayin'!

So then this article talks about the deadliest cancers and your chances of dying from what. With a little help from some Bayesian Statistics:

P(S) = probability of anyone being a smoker = 20% (nevermind married women with advanced degrees)
P(C) = probability of anyone dying from lung cancer = 6%
P(S|C) = probability that, if you died from lung cancer, you were a smoker = 90%


P(C|S) = P(S|C)*P(C)/P(S) = 0.90 * 0.06 / 0.20 = 0.27

This means, if you smoke, your chance of dying from lung cancer : 27%

Conversely, if you don't smoke, your chance of dying from lung cancer: = 0.1 * 0.06 / 0.80 = 0.75%

To sum up, you are 36 times more likely to die from lung cancer if you smoke than if you don't smoke.

Savor the flavor while you can I guess!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Roach Coach

So we finally broke down and got one of these:

It's only been a few days of transportational freedom. So far, I've noticed:
  1. It's easy to get to awesome places that we otherwise didn't go to because (in spite of not being that far away) too many tram transfers tended to be St. Kilda, for pizza to eat on the shore, or the South Melbourne Market, for tasty antipasti, meats and dips.
  2. Everywhere we've been so far has these:

I can't tell you how much I hate cockroaches. Strange, that we just went through 15 months of hoofing it...we get a car, and suddenly, everywhere we go is teaming with them.

What could it mean? Why? Why?!!!


You may have heard of a category 5 hurricane... There's also a scale (category 1, 2, 3...) scale for tornadoes called the Fujita scale. F5 is the strongest tornado possible (although there's a mythical F6 "inconceivable tornado" category that starts above ~512 km/h (318 mph) but has never been used).

From what I've read, Ted Fujita, who developed the scale, was a neat guy. I could imagine him being mentioned in a Bill Bryson book, for example. I once read that on his days off he loved to do little experiments like measure and plot how his weight changed throughout the day. I saw one of these charts and it was annotated with bits like "mowed lawn", "afternoon snack". Years ago, when googling, I also saw a daily chart of weight on Robert Balling's webpage (he was a climatologist in Arizona) and thought it was fascinating.

Now, I also vaguely remember that my dad did something similar, that he'd weigh himself daily and write it up on a calendar. He had had a series of heart attacks so keeping his weight down was a serious issue. I've since read that they discourage you from weighing yourself every day, just so it doesn't become an obsession, or put you in a foul mood when there's some random fluctuation.

But I say "bah!" to all that. Why not collect the data and know and understand? So this below is my weight, measured first thing in the morning, since moving to Australia. On the left is pounds, on the right kg, with a 10 day moving average.

A wee bit of time series analysis showed that the daily standard deviation is somewhere between 1-1.5 pounds. Even more interesting, there's a negative autocorrelation, so that any rise or fall in weight sticks around on average for 2-3 days but then 10-13 days later rebounds in the opposite direction. The most I've ever gained in a day was 4.2 lbs at the end of October, followed by a record loss of 3.8 lbs the next day, so likely just water weight. It was no doubt due to beer. I can starve myself all day, but have one beer and I inevitably skyrocket the next day.

As for why it goes up and down over the long term, hard to say for sure. Looking back on the calendar, the rise in July might have been during a very busy and stressful time at work and when my mom visited. The slump in October happened when Kitty went to southeast Asia. I reckon there were fewer collateral calories during that period, as evidenced by a total absence of chocolate bar wrappers in the bed. Then new years' rise was because of a 1 week non-stop meal. More recently I've tried to cut ramen soup and crackers out of my diet.

Knowing all this, it's hard for me to say what the best weighing strategy is. I'd probably say every two weeks is fine, keeping in mind that changes of less than 3% of your body weight are within the limits of noise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Affordability of housing II

I think what Tom is saying, in the next post, is that, hooray....before we met or got married, we both bought in the bottom of the market in US. Then, when we immigrated, we were very fortunate to both sell near the the top.

If we're very lucky, we can afford to buy a new house, in the very far out suburbs, in something that looks much like this?

We do have our health though. :) -Kitty


The median price of a home in Portland oregon is $265,000 usd, which is about $289,000 Australian dollars. The value of a Portland house, in US dollars, went down about 12% since we sold last year. The value in the equivalent Australian dollars, when you include how the dollar's sunk, has gone down 38%.

$289k AUD about the cost of a house in "regional victoria", i.e. the far suburbs and country outside the cities. Inside the metro area, median price is more like $440,000aud and that went up almost 18% (in Australian dollars... up 66% in equivalent US dollars) this year. Apparently, Melbourne-proper houses haven't been under $290,000 since 2002.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Good Paddling

Still needing those "sun gloves"...I've given up on sunscreen and just stay plain covered. Me in the polka dot hat, Tom in the driver's seat, behind, in our blue canoe. All our gear for the weekend in small barrels. We packed, and ate, light, for once!

This weekend we went on a canoe paddling trip with 16 other people from Tom's hiking group on the the Goulburn river, from Seymour to Nagambie. It was only about an hour from Melbourne where we met picked up our canoes. We paddled down river for about 6 hours on Saturday, stopping briefly for lunch and to wring out a few folks who capsized. They weren't worried about their wet clothes and we pitched in extra sleeping gear and food, but the ruined phones and cameras were a bit sad. Today we paddled only three hours and landed at a winery/cafe, just in time...we were tired and ready to be done...It only took half an hour by bus to get back to our cars at Seymour, though it took us 9 hours of paddling the other way! Guess there were a lot of winding bends in the river!

We reckon we made it at least as twice as far by tacking back and forth across the river with our novice canoeing skills. Being the boating genius I am (I used to be big into sailing in Portland), I kept "whinging" (whining) to Tom for not steering us properly. Being the kind teacher he is, he offered to let me sit in the driver's seat (though he does have a whole 30 pounds on me and the "bigger of the two is supposed to sit in back"). It was less than five minutes of us spinning in crazy, undirected circles before I conceded. He asked if I might now give him "5% less guff" about his steering, which (hopefully he realized), I was glad to give up. Nothing like a little perspective to sush up a complainer, really. :)

If anyone ever wants to write a metaphor about teamwork, timing, working together, etc. as it relates to canoeing, it's all there for the taking ... not as easy as it looks, for sure. I think I also did a mild amount of nagging about sunscreen, which fell on deaf (and now somewhat red) ears. But did you know that sunscreen is really pretty carcinogenic itself?

The views were gorgeous. We spotted several koala's in the trees along the way. Some might even say my koala watching distracted me from my paddling and it could be true! :)
Last week, Tom went on a 20 kilometer hike with some of the same folks. He says canoeing is like "hiking, but with your hands" and also wondered a few times if we could "swim there any faster than we're rowing". You reckon?

We're soaking in baths now, layering ourselves in bug bite cream and Aloe Vera, and trying to get re-hydrated. Even simple pleasures like a soft bed and a hot meal are more treasured than ever.

I saw two lizards, a snake whizzed right past our tent, and a new friend, Bree, said she was covered in poisonous huntsman spiders and cockroaches all night, and I didn't really freak out at all. I do want to buy a 4" deep princess-and-the-pea-style sleeping mat and blister-preventing gloves for the next trip though. That, and maybe get the kind of canoe that has a professional rower / tour guide on it, where I can sit back and just take in the scenery.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Phoenix leaving

Speaking of poetry... In colorado there's a Judge named Justice Greg Hobbs, who is an authority on water law. He's also published books of poems on water and nature and so on. He's a nice guy too.

Around the time that I started reading his work, I wrote the below, describing my experience of taking off in an airplane at sunset out of Phoenix, flying over the Salt/Verde River, the farmlands and city blocks and over some of their water supply reservoirs. Tom

Phoenix leaving
presses me into the seat
a small fire in an empty riverbed
lifts a lazy cursive plume
over postage stamp blocks
single cell vehicles
course through square veins
a cigarette tip sunset
reflects on a lake
behind a dam
waiting to exhale

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Go SWIFTly into that good night

I'm in Canberra this week for a research planning meeting. Each of about 12 research leaders have to say something about their progress and plans on work to support the Bureau of Meteorology. I gave a talk about my work with developing better short-term (hours ahead to days ahead) river flow forecasts. The organizers encouraged everyone to bring a prop to support their talk. I wrote this poem, "Go SWIFTly into that good night"

The rivers rose throughout the night
the users woke in such a fright
The rain came down like cats and dogs
the channels choked with fallen logs
“What should we do?” they cried aghast
“Lets hope this night is not our last”
It all begins with NWP
to say what future rain will be.
Not knowing that will leave you sunk
too bad the results always stunk.

NWP is Numerical Weather Prediction, weather models. In most cases, you can say very little about future floods without a good weather forecast. Unfortunately, these models are not good about predicting rain (as opposed to temperature).

If by now you aren’t defeated
find out if the soils’ depleted.
Simulate a little bit and
find parameters with good fit

We use hydrology models to track how dry the soils are and what effect it'll have on streamflow production. These models have parameters that need to be calibrated.

But don’t catch bad habits like
helping models breed like rabbits.
Existing structures are just fine
unless you need to say “all mine!”

Most hydrology models were developed in the 1960-1970s. Over the years, everyone and his sister has made their own minor variant of these models and gave it their own name. It's a bit cynical to call these "vanity models" but often times only the developer ends up using their own model. This didn't get nearly the laughs I was expecting, probably because many of the people in the room were guilty of this.
GR4J seems fine to me
but demonstrating skill is key.
Is there an incremental gain?
Or are the results just the same?
GR4J is a great french model that is simple and works well.
We must say how uncertain we are
especially in leadtimes far
If the forecasts are off kilter
I recommend a kalman filter
Or maybe try your best and let
error correction clean the mess.
A Kalman filter is useful for looking at how well your forecasts are tracking the recent observed, and if there are differences, it'll say how to fix the model states. I couldn't think of a rhyme with 4 Dimensional Variational Assimilation.

We present wrapped like in a gift
as some software we now call SWIFT
SWIFT makes forecasts to be trusted
SWIFT won’t leave you feeling busted
SWIFT is the acronym of the software we're developing.

There’s one block to this thing
that keeps us from our researching
Others sure do have it easy
The whole ordeal makes me queasy
My wife slaves away very late
Squadrons of Anzac cookies she must bake
I beg for sub-daily data
and the Bureau says “uh… see you later!”
Lots of projects use daily rainfall data, but good sub-daily (i.e. hourly) data is hard to come by. Kitty bakes cookies for me to give away at work in exchange for data, but progress has been slow.... Notice how only an american could rhyme data ("day-tor") with later ("lay-tor"), as opposed to "dah-tah" and "lah-tah".

Well, if you agree to our demands
I ask now to join your hands
Give it up and cheer like fools
For Short-term Water Information Forecasting Tools!

Believe it or not I won a bottle of wine for best prop!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Girls' Weekend Getaway

Back: Holly, Debbie, Kate, Alexis, Me (Kitty), Peta
Front: Sara (birthday girl), Huibee, Jen, Sherron, Aimee

Over the weekend, I went with a bunch of girls to Anglesea, a small town on the Great Ocean Road, about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne. We were celebrating Sara's birthday at her dad's beach house. I had another handful of great moments of realizing what wonderful friends I've made here. That, followed by other moments, like at 2 am, trying to sleep, wondering just how I came to have so many friends who love to sing George Michael songs at the top of their lungs on a home karaoke machine? There was lots of eating and drinking, dancing and singing, spa visits and pedicures, a music festival and gorgeous walk on the beach.

The washed-up seaweed didn't smell so good, but it was fun to poke around in the tide pools and find little creatures.

When we were packing the car, Aimee (shown above), who is on our pub quiz team, and one of the first friends we made in Melbourne, got hurt. She jambed her little finger on some luggage and it stayed bent, something like this:

She said it didn't hurt but it was pretty freaky to look at. We discussed her medical care options on the ride home and agreed that the emergency room at the public hospital would be crowded and that they'd treat every single other person but her first. She eventually called a nurses-on-call hotline and they said it was important that she get treated right away, so she did go to the ER. "Mallet finger" is apparently very common. It's caused by the tendon slipping off its place on the bone. If the splint doesn't get it back in place by tomorrow, she will have to have a minor surgery to repair it.

We also had a giant stick stuck under Debbie's car on the way made a terrible noise and we were guessing it was a fan belt, that would surely lead to engine overheating and, quickly after that, explosion, then death. What a relief to find it was only a stick. All that great relaxing and then a stressful last few hours.

Next weekend, we're going on a canoe trip through wine country. Summer is winding down and we can only hope for great weather like we had this past weekend. I have to buy camping gear for this trip, which makes me want to buy a car to use to buy camping gear. Stay tuned for mammoth purchase updates.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Photo Update

For you PFDF's (Peacock Feather Dance Followers) who prefer photos to my occasionally pedantic's what's new...

Our accountant can do both American and Australian taxes. We invited Susan and her three dogs for dinner and a good visit about tax law. We'll have to file in both countries unless we become citizens here and renounce the US, which seems a little extreme. Australia's financial year ends in June, so it seems like it's always tax time.

We reckon we'll buy a house in a few months. You can't write off the mortgage interest here and yet you also get hit with sales tax, called stamp duty, as soon as you close. If we really save up, we may be able to afford a refrigerator crate in the outer suburbs. Really, the big advantage to owning here is that you can have pets. And drive holes into the walls if you want. We miss both.

Oreo, shown below, went and got his leash and waited in front of the mirror for his reflection to take him for a walk. It's much like how I often wait for my reflection to take me to the gym. He is 10 months old and a guide dog in training. Apparently he has to be on much better standard of behavior when he wears his official "Don't pet me, I'm working" vest; Susan gave him the evening off. He peed on the carpet quite a bit but we didn't care. Call him inspiration for getting out of a rental and back into our own place with hardwood floors.

One of the Golden Retrievers was just as emotionally needy as our Abbie used to be. They left enough hair behind that we can knit a scale model of them. We didn't mind that either.
I went with some girlfriends to a Picnic at Hanging Rock. There is a classic movie by the same title about some school girls that went missing in 1900. I suggested we all wear white dresses, like the girls in the movie but it was a little chilly out when I was getting ready for the train. I'm the one down front, rocking the jeans and hoodie. Boy, were Debbie and Holly (um, white dresses) mad.

We've been doing a lot of board game parties...usually combined with having other couples over and eating my Thai cooking. Ironic it's already called Tom Yum Soup, huh?
Tom is a genius at Monopoly. Here we are playing the Australian version. When he hits me with multi million dollar rents, it's a good reminder that we're on the same team in "for-reals" time. Please note the background laundry drying on the balcony; I have not cracked and bought a drier yet. I am a friend to the environment. Note I do own a white dress though.
We'll miss this view when we go back to the pet-loving / home owning world.
Our friend Glenn took all these last 5 images. Here's a link to his awesome photography blog. We were supposed to go a concert at the zoo (he specializes in wildlife photos) with Glenn and his wife, Vanessa, last night, but it was cancelled due to the massive rain and hail storms we've experienced this weekend. Instead, we had an impromptu potluck with some of their other friends and family. We were moved to tears that they even drove us home in the storm afterwards - we feel so fortunate to have such great friends here.

Speaking of which, Sara, one of my ladies pack alpha dogs, turned 33. We think this was the first time we've closed down a nightclub since college...that's 3:30 am, folks! I was destroyed the next day. We aren't cut out for this kind of thing anymore. Here's Tom and Birthday Girl Sara.
I think this photo really captures the beauty and grace this is us, dancing.
And this is why I don't do Facebook anymore. Does my future employer really need to see me doing my famous Bingo Wings Dance ....

... or Jersey Shore Fist Pump? I think not.

Stay tuned...I sense many more good things are to come. - Kitty

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Whirling hail

John McBride of the Bureau of Meteorology took this video of a massive hail storm/flooding in Melbourne today. The airport registered a 100 km/hour wind gust. There's been two reports of 10 cm (4 inch) hail in Ferntree gully. Parts of the ceiling collapsed in two of the railway stations downtown. Here's a picture of the rain rushing in the roof. More at this gallery.

It was just straight up daffy. We thought our skylight was going to crash in. Water leaked in the windows in about 4 places. The rain was bouncing off the tall buildings nearby and creating this whirlwind of a wall of water in the sky. Before the event was the eeriest deep green blue sky. When it broke, the sound of the hail was deafening, we couldn't hear eachother talk inside the apartment.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flood forecasting

I was in Brisbane because Queensland had recently been in floods and it was anticipating that floods might be coming up. I do research on how to make better short-term (less than 10 day ahead) streamflow forecasts. So the Bureau of Meteorology invited me up to see the flood warning office in full swing.

Here's their building on at 69 Ann St:

It's a professional and modern building, with stunning views from the 21st floor. The flood warning center shares office space with the weather forecasters. Here's one of the meteorologists at work.

I had monitor envy. The guy who does data quality control and monitoring of the rainfall systems gets to work at a station with 6 screens:

Inland queensland had been flooding on and off since Christmas. During the visit there was a weather briefing from the meteorologists, saying that there was near uniform agreement from the weather models that a major storm was going to cross down from the north coast into the interior. About 5 days ahead, the forecast was that it would drop more than 100 mm in a day, which is about 4 inches.

In addition to output from models run on some of the world's most powerful computers, there's still a lot of work that happens drawing weather patterns on paper maps with colored pencils:

Yearly average rainfall for the interior is about 200-300 mm. So, yeah, 100 mm's a huge deal, especially since the ground was already saturated!

On the left is Peter Baddiley, the head of the Queensland flood forecasting group. When the rainfall scenarios were run through the river models, the response was epic floods. However, 5 days ahead there's so much uncertainty, you try and be very cautious to avoid false alarms. Although a general alert wasn't sent out that day, high level government authorities (including an emergency management representative who had a jacket with the agency's acronym on the back) were brought in and briefed on the situation while I was there.

It brought me right back to when I was an operational forecasting in the US. Is it going to happen, is it not going to happen? Can you trust your models? Could it be even worse than the models suggest? The thrill, the drama, the anticipation. At the same time, you have to not let your emotions get in the way; Pardon the gruesome imagery, but it reminds me of this quote from the movie Jaws

"Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'."

Nature doesn't care about you. Doesn't care what you think is going to happen. You may fear this or that, or maybe last night you saw a movie about something that plants the seed in your mind of a big drought or flood. But the important thing is to be level headed and objective, pay attention to what the evidence is telling you and always be aware of self-delusion.
In the end, the rainfall was ginormous, widespread areas of heavy rainfall.

The flood response has been big too, large areas in the Major Flood category.

It reminded me that the favorite part of my last job as an operational forecaster was being in that situation of knowing that the tools I had at the time were functional but could be improved. I'd go off and do a bit of tinkering and development and then next time around we'd be better armed to know what was really going to happen. When the event finally unfolded like we thought it would, there was a mix of disbelief and ecstasy that it actually worked and we had been able to discover Truth before it happened. So rarely in life do you discover with certainty that your belief is right or wrong, often you can get by with just arguing for a convincing position. I'd like to think having that experience built character.

My father loved gambling but my mother hated it, so at the very least I got to satisfy that betting urge without losing any money!

Brisbane visit

Last week I had a chance to go to Brisbane for the first time. It's the capital of Queensland, the northeast state of the nation. As cities go, it's a real looker, downtown has a mix of modern and old architecture. From the airport it was a very easy train ride to the center of town.

Queen Street is a pedestrian mall in the center of the business district, which has all the standard chain stores that Melbourne has, JB Hi Fi, Rebel Sports, Coles, etc. There's few things I enjoy more than people watching in cities. Perhaps its the professional nature of downtown, but most everyone I saw was very well put together, heels, hair, ties and so on.

That said, there was an ACDC concert and the line to get on the buses stretched for 3 city blocks- it took about a minute and a half to walk from one end to the other end, I made a video along the length of the line. ACDC's one of Australia's most famous exports and I reckon you could see 3 generations of rockers standing next to eachother.

Surprisingly tasteful public art pieces are all over.

even some impromptu pieces like this wall covered with dozens of mounds of chewing gum... all in brazen view of this guy:

Really, a "gum removal vehicle?" It was a little electric golf cart with a pressure washer and perhaps a chiller. In all seriousness, it's a clean pleasant city. Downtown was full of interesting places to eat and shop.

I almost lost it when I saw cafe Neko, which had the same name as my old cat.

This place claimed "best coffee in the city", which made me think that Brisbane was ringed by suburbs and townships with better coffee and the qualifier was the result of a court case.

But no limits to the hyperbole on this place. "Best steaks in the world"! I think I would regret going to the grave having walked by the best steaks in the world and not taken them up on their offer. Originally I was going to get the fish and chips, but I said, what the hell, lets pull out all the stops and get the eye fillet (the equivalent of filet mignon). So I ate alone, finishing off the last few pages of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Country, a travelogue about england where he mostly wanders around in the rain, doing nothing. I read the passage about how something clicks over in your brain when travelling alone for a long time where you start talking to yourself aloud and anyone else who'll listen.

As steaks go, I probably would've rated it as a 7 out of 10. Believe it or not, but the best steak I've ever eaten was during the lunch of the annual Malpai Borderlands Group in 1999. This is a group of environmentally sustainable cattle ranchers in far southeast Arizona/southwest New Mexico. I was giving a guest talk about El Nino and Arizona climate during my Master's research in Tucson. That summer we went around to about 15 different groups, giving similar talks all over the state, but the Malpai group was unforgettable. Literally, the meeting was in a cavernous metal-sheeting walled fairgrounds building with a sea of folding chairs full of the whole spectrum of rural society, mostly leather-skinned ranchers with weathered hands like brick layers'. I had my overhead slides (yes, in the days before powerpoint) and the comically small screen provided for ~300 people was about the size of a card table. However, the positive and enthusiastic response from the crowd and the conversations I had later one-on-one were imprinting. (There were equally imprinting encounters in other cities where a native american elder closed down our meeting, declaring El Nino forecasting to be "bad medicine"... or when I incited a group of ranchers to nearly tossing folding chairs in revolt when I mentioned "global warming")

But I digress... At lunch they had a cowboy lunch with beef and corn and beans and bread on paper plates with plastic forks. I felt that I was tasting the beef equivalent of eating the freshest sashimi vs "fishy" frozen fish. I had been a vegetarian for years at that point and it was the culinary equivalent of the conversion of st paul. That was the best steak I ever had.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ferris Wheel

You're supposed to do one thing a day that you're afraid least according to a quote on the trendy shopping bag my yoga pants came in. Unrelated, but want to guess how often I've worn them for yoga?

I'm slightly afraid of heights ... falling from heights, specifically. Actually, being pushed off high things, mostly. Or made to voluntarily leap from them...that would be the worst.

Our Kiwi expat friend, Laura, suggested we go on the ferris wheel downtown after a free symphony concert in the park the other night. Last time we went on a ferris wheel, it didn't go so well. I clung to the post in the middle of our cage and sobbed.

I made Tom promise not to rock the cage, thus fanning the spark of his desire to rock the cage. He was brilliant at finding ways to rock the cage while feigning innocence. It was quite inspiring and I couldn't help but forget my own terror while I tried to scare Laura by also rocking the cage, all the while claiming I wasn't. Another unmarketable skill.