Monday, November 5, 2018

Scooters are Going Places

Here's something everyone knows about Los Angeles: our traffic is terrible.

It's so terrible it's a big joke.

 Lots of advertisements here make references to how bad the freeways are.

So how do you combat the traffic?

The simple answer is, have less traffic.  Most rides are short trips, and if people used, say, a bicycle instead of a car, there would literally be half as many cars on the road.

In Los Angeles in particular, there's a sudden boom in pushing people to where they need to do by "non-traditional" methods, such as bike- and scooter-shares.  (Uber, the ride-share company, now owns Jump bike-share.)

You probably already know about electric scooters.  (At least, if you live in a major city you do.)  The two most popular brands here in Los Angeles seem to be Bird and Lime, both of which were founded last year, in 2017.

Full disclosure: I hate electric scooters.

They sprang up in major metro areas overnight like mushrooms after a rainstorm.  Because they are short-term rentals, they are not being taken very good care of by the people who use them.  They are an urban eyesore and collect in tangled heaps on the sidewalk, blocking walkways for people. 

Aside from being an unsightly nuisance, they are also dangerous.  (In the last year there has already been one fatality, in Dallas.)  Scooter riders zip out in front of cars, creating obstacles for drivers, and endanger pedestrians if they go onto the sidewalk.  There are already a few class-action lawsuits regarding electric scooters; people have complained that they make traffic worse, and some places have banned them until they figure out how to permit and regulate them properly.

They're fighting a losing battle, though.  60-70% of people are in favor of electric scooters because they are efficient, convenient and.  Plus, between Bird and Lime, there's three billion dollars on the line; these start-ups are doing remarkably well and have already created a micro-economy of people who use them, charge them, and take them to work.

Electric scooters are here to stay.

And for all of people's complaints, the funny thing is, alternatives to cars aren't new.

Did we all forget about the Segway craze of 2002?  (I hope not, because Segway ended with a fantastically hilarious punchline: the owner of the company died after accidentally riding one off of a cliff.)

Scooters have been around since 1915, when Autoped created the first stand-up scooter.  But it wasn't until around 2014 that scooters became practical, because that's when someone started stuffing lithium batteries into them.

That's not to say that we didn't have scooters before the 21st century, though.  Here's a picture of the 1965 Centaur, a gas-power scooter that could hit up to 40 miles per hour and ran on less than a penny per mile of gasoline.

And before the scooter, there were smaller, more efficient alternatives to cars.  Bicycles have been around since 1817.  (And, adorably, were originally called Dandy Horses.)  But humans are lazy and we hate pedaling, so within a century, we were trying to create horseless carts that ran on gas and required no pedaling.

Beyond the Buckboard!  Released in 1920, the Briggs and Stratton "D" Flyer Buckboard was a one-cylinder go-kart that could go up to 25 miles an hour and got eighty miles on a single gallon of gasoline.

Unfortunately, you looked like a huge dork riding on it and they didn't sell well.

In 1923, Briggs and Stratton sold their Buckboard design to the Automotive Electric Service Company, who immediately replaced the gasoline engine with 12-volt batteries.

Behold the 1928 Auto Red Bug.

The Auto Red Bug could chug along at about ten miles an hour and drive for 20 to 30 miles on a single charge.  Unfortunately, making it more expensive ($325, versus the "D" Flyer's pricetag of $225) and slower did not make consumers more willing to buy it, and it went off the market in 1928.

The concept of a smaller, more cost-efficient ride continued getting kicked around, with such bizarre concepts such as the Fink Mobile occasionally poking their heads out of the ground.

The 1992 Fink Mobile used a 150 cc water-cooled engine stolen from a 1989 Honda motorcycle, demonstrating once and for all that there is a way to make motorcycles uncool.

It seems like scooters may have finally accomplished what the glorious Fink Mobile couldn't: scooters are actually popular.  People use them

Electric scooters annoy the hell out of me, but here's my secret.  It's not the scooters I have a problem with.  Not really.

The issue isn't scooters, and never was.  The issue is our infrastructure.  We need streets designed for scooters. Traffic congestion won't get better on its own, and neither will the over-consumption of fossil fuels.  We need a solution.  The solution is to find a way to move people in a manner that is cost-efficient and space-efficient, and at the end of the day, a scooter is better than a car (at least for short rides).

We can either embrace the scooter craze now, or dig our heels in and draw out this battle which we know we'll lose.  I may hate scooters, but it's nothing that can't be fixed.  Offer helmets; create bike and scooter lanes; set up docking stations for scooter storage to keep them off the sidewalks.  Scooters are going to keep popping up in metro areas; we need to stop fighting them and start cooperating to make them a safe, sustainable alternative to cars.  After all, if there's one thing we know about scooters, it's that they're designed to move forward.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Reno/Tahoe Vacation Photo Dump

I just got back from a three-day turn-and-burn vacation in Reno, so this post will largely be pictures, not jokes.  Sorry, folks.

Why Reno, you ask?

Back in February, Andrew and I went to an annual convention in Las Vegas, where, every year, we have taught a class or two on roleplay.  Roleplay, character acting, and writing are things I am passionate about and would humbly argue that I excel at.  These classes have given me and Andrew an excuse to go to Vegas; we were depressed last year when the convention refused to comp us for our room, considering that we are long-standing contributors.  (We were also not asked back this year, which we were surprised by; we hope it's only because the convention wants some new blood.  Our classes have always been favorably reviewed.)

This year, we had someone attend a class and come to us afterwards to ask us to attend a similar convention in Reno and teach the class there.  I agreed because I've never been to Reno.  My only real knowledge of it is what I've gleaned from Reno 911 and from the terrible Reno ads on the radio here in Los Angeles.

Reno's economy seems largely driven by a tourist economy, which is weird because Reno is basically a tinier Vegas.  Trying to compete with Vegas (which is more or less equidistant from Los Angeles) is like Miracle Whip trying to compete with Hellman's mayo, and like Miracle Whip, Reno ads are desperately trying to appeal to millenials.  (Actual Reno ad quote: "This is not your basic vacation destination. Reno Tahoe is a collision of contrasts. This is where majestic mountains converge on high desert. Where wildlife meets urban grit. You can snowboard all day and crowd surf all night. Support a start-up and down a craft brew.  Sleep 'til dusk and hustle 'til dawn.  Reno: we're just as good as Vegas.")  (I made up the last sentence.)

Anywho, we went to Reno, mostly so I could get a photo op in front of the humorously named Dog Town memorial.

Reno earned its moniker "The Biggest Little City" because it really is a strangely small town but with all the staples of a much bigger one.  Like Vegas, there's a central strip, covered with casinos.  We stayed at Circus Circus, which was another reason I had agreed to go, because I love Circus Circus, which includes a fairway with carnival games and free circus acts in the middle of it.

I won a frog!

Because it was the end of October, everyone was in costume, which added to the surreal, timeless feel of being in a casino.  (This was also nice because I spent a large portion of the conference dressed as the Winter Soldier, and with Halloween festivities happening all around us, no one even blinked an eye.)  Zombies, superheroes, and the ubiquitous sexy black cat wandered around in drunken, smoky crowds while bells went off periodically, signalling that somewhere, someone was Winning Big, and hey, maybe you could be next!

We spent our off time in Reno wandering through the Silver Mine casino, trying out restaurants and bars, eyeing all the colors and lights, every element of the environment, which was designed to part tourists with their money.

The convention was a mild disappointment.  The keynote speaker was magnificent.  However, there were no printed programs and the app for scheduling was down.  Andrew and I were teaching classes scheduled for 9 am and let me tell you something about casinos on the weekend: no one there is awake at 9 am.  I stayed up late and woke up early, only to end up in a classroom with less than five people.

Most of our positive experiences occurred outside of the casino.  Andrew asked to choose an activity and chose the National Auto Museum, which I can honestly say was one of the best curated museums I've ever been to and served as a hell of a source of inspiration for some of my writing.

Appropriately, within walking distance was See See Motor Coffee Co., a small motorcycle-themed coffee shop.  Casino restaurants and coffee shops have notoriously bad service, because they are catering to a transient clientele.  People are only visiting and there's no expectations for "loyal" customers.  See See Motor Coffee was a real business that was actively trying to build up a customer base and therefore had outstanding food and service.

By the time the weekend was over, I was exhausted from the convention, disoriented and stressed; the casino environment had taken its toll, as had the inevitable drinking.

I felt a little sick but Andrew asked to go to see Lake Tahoe. 

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Like the National Auto Museum, Andrew's suggestion to go to the lake turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip.  It was a breath of fresh air.

I left Reno with a mild sense of disappointment.  It had been more or less what I expected: a sadder version of Vegas.  Reno emphasized the casinos, a frantic get-up-and-go energy that left me wrung out and unsettled.  But what Reno should have emphasized was their lake, their museum, and their small businesses.  Reno has a lot to offer, but it's all off of the beaten path.  Ironically, the ads do emphasize this, but the city itself doesn't.  It's not Vegas, and it should stop trying to be.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Misson Accomplished!

I have some good news, blog!

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been dieting with a lot of positive benefits and results.  That was back in March.  I'm happy to say that, nine months later, I'm proud to announce that I've reached my goal weight!

I lost 40 pounds!

I have been fit and athletic my whole life.  The weight crept up on me following my car accident in 2016; I was in a wheelchair for a long time and unable to walk on my broken leg.  Weight gain and weight loss is often gradual, so it wasn't until I saw a picture of myself onstage at a bar contest that I went, "oh my God, I got chubby."

This is the picture that made me decide it was time for a change.

I made a commitment to get back to my previous body type, which was no easy feat since my knee still has issues and I can no longer do any high-impact, strenuous exercise.

Over the course of nine months, I went from a BMI of 27.3 to 19.7.

Here was my system: not the keto diet.

 I got abs now.

 And a thigh gap, unfortunately.  I am not a fan of the thigh gap.

Seriously, though, I did not use any specific diet or system.  That's because I firmly believe that there is no magic diet or system. I used the TDEE calculator to calculate how many calories a day I needed.  Then, I eliminated 200 calories a day.  I tracked calories and weight change using My Fitness App.  (This app can calculate for you how many calories you need to scratch per day in order to lose a pound a week.)  (A pound a week is considered the safest amount of weight to lose, assuming you are normally overweight person in generally good health.)

Here's what my weight loss graph looks like on MyFitnessApp.

Here's some fun facts: a pound equals about 3,500 calories, so you'll need to be in a deficit of about 500 a day to lose a pound a week.  This sounds like a lot but it really isn't.  I didn't even do any exercise until the last month or so.  (During the last 2 months, I joined LA Fitness.)

One of the easiest things to cut out was alcohol, which has a lot of discretionary calories.

Protein & Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram. 
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram.  
Fat = 9 calories per gram.  

I'm feeling a lot better and happier with myself now.

With regards to the keto diet, the current hot diet of the day, I want to take a moment to examine its effectiveness.  Is it effective?  The short answer is, yes.  Like most fad diets (Atkins, Mediterranean, gluten free, etc.) it forces people to examine the food they are eating and second-guess what they put into their bodies, which naturally tends to make people focus on their calories even if they aren't strictly tracking them.  It also eliminates a lot of crap from one's diet.  A person on keto won't be eating cake... nor will a person on Atkins or a person who is gluten-free.  Creating barriers to eating junk typically results in weight loss because, well, you're suddenly not eating junk.

Note that I'm not talking out of my ass when I talk about the keto diet.  I studied the keto diet and its efficacy in treating epilepsy for two years, so I've got a pretty goddamn good idea of how it works and what it does.

Personally I don't recommend the keto diet for weight loss because I do believe it's sustainable in the long-term, and every diet should be a sustainable one.

The basis of the keto diet is this: your body typically converts carbs into glucose, a simple sugar, for energy.  If there are no carbs in the diet, the body shifts its metabolism into a state known as ketosis, in which the liver converts fats into fatty acids and uses those for energy instead.  The best indication that a body is in ketosis is the presence of ketones in the blood.  Note that ketones are a byproduct of ketosis, so that ketone weight loss coffee is total bullshit.  The ketones don't make you lose weight; the ketones are an indication that you're losing weight.  I goddamn hate keto coffee, the largest supplier of whom is ItWorks!, a multi-level marketing pyramind scheme best known for selling people weight loss cling wrap.

Here's the income disclosure statement for those thinking of slingin' the cling.
The top one is what's on their website.  
The bottom one is a corrected graph that isn't trying to deceive you.

(Side note: ketosis is a "sliding scale" metabolism measured by ketones in the blood.  Too few ketones means you're not in ketosis, and too many puts you into ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition.  The "sweet spot" for people attempting to achieve dietary ketosis is 1 - 3 millimolar.  Ketosis can also be induced rapidly through starvation but this can put you into ketoacidosis and is not recommended.)

The thing about ketosis is, it's a very delicate metabolic state that takes time to achieve, and it's very easily disrupted.  It can takes weeks to establish real long-term ketosis and can be undone with a single cookie.  The diet was originally created for epileptic patients who were resistant to treatment and it has some potential drawbacks.  For me, thought, the primary drawback is simply that the idea of eliminating carbs (bread and fruit) from your diet entirely simply isn't that realistic in our society.  And like any diet that requires broad-stroke diet eliminations, it can be a lot harder to get the right balance of nutrients.

This isn't to say I'm necessarily against the keto diet.  I have friends who are doing it and love it.  But my question is, are they going to do it for the rest of their lives... or are they eventually going to go off it and gain back the weight?  Personally, I think that the ideal diet is one that teaches you how to identify good foods, gauge your own health accurately, and learn not to overeat.  The ideal diet is one that becomes a permanent lifestyle change that keeps the weight off.  And honestly, the amount of work you'll put into managing a ketogenic diet is probably more than trying to maintain a caloric deficit the old-fashioned way: by counting calories.

There are, of course, plenty of people out there who claim that diets aren't effective and that no one keeps the weight off.  These people are wrong.  The myth that "95% of people gain back the weight" is based on a single study in 1959 that had only 100 participants... and those participants were being treated for their weight at a nutrition clinic, and gained the weight because they left the program and reverted to their old eating habits that had caused them to be obese in the first place.

One of the things I've become hyper-aware of during the last nine months is that "body positivity" posts are almost always aimed toward overweight people that put down slender body types, discourage diet and exercise, and mock those who lack "curves." (These include posts that say things like "overweight men are better in bed!" and "only dogs like bones!")

REAL body positivity means BUILDING UP people, not breaking them down. Real "body positivity" shouldn't make people feel bad about their bodies. Full stop. Everyone deserves to love themselves, and no one deserves to feel like less of a person because of their weight... whether that weight is high OR low.

That being said, losing all of that extra weight has made me more mobile, more energized, and has given me more confidence in my appearance.  I consider myself body positive, and it was out of love for my body that I decided to start feeding it better and exercising it more.  Here's to a lifetime of fitness and health!

Remember, we're all just ghosts driving meat skeletons around.
...but why wouldn't you want to drive the Cadillac of meat skeletons?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Women Are From Venus

Today's post is about Venus.  No, not the goddess.  The planet, which was named after the goddess.  Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty; Venus has long been considered Earth's "sister planet" because it's right next door to us (261 million kilometers), about the same size as Earth, and, like us, covered in a dense layer of clouds.

Those clouds made people assume that Venus was a swampy, marsh-like planet; it was thought of as a swamp planet up until the 1950s, and plenty of science fiction writers suggested humans could go and live there.

In fact, the inspiration for this post was a short movie I remember seeing in high school, called All Summer in a Day.  The short film, based on a short story, is about a group of kids who live on the planet Venus, and mercilessly bully a girl who moved there from Earth.  Venus is so cloudy that the sun only comes out once a day, and on the day that the sun comes out, they lock the Earth girl into a closet and she misses it.  That's... that's the whole thing.  Yeah, it's really weirdly depressing.

Anywho, we all figured Venus was a world rich with life.  We've been sending probes to other planets since the '60s but we only learned in '78 that Venus wasn't what we expected at all.  The Pioneer Probes of NASA (along with the USSR's 23-year-long Venera program) revealed that Venus turned out to have a totally uninhabitable, hostile, acrid environment.

That picture was taken on Venus's surface, revealing a desolate wasteland domed with a stormy sky of sulfuric acid rain.  The probe crumpled quickly under Venus's atmospheric pressure, which is 92 times greater than Earth's.  With a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide, Venus's surface is actually hotter than Mercury's.  And it's humid heat, not dry heat.  A weak magnetosphere means that Venus is constantly buffeted by cosmic radiation and solar winds.

In short, Venus, the "women's planet," is a hostile environment.  Which, considering the events here in America recently... well, you see where I'm going here.

But I don't want to talk about the very upsetting decisions made by the current administration.  No, I want to talk about Venus.  We've been poking around up there a lot.  Russia, then the USSR, sent over twenty probes to Venus in the 1970s and 1980s, most of which failed hilariously.  Their biggest problem was getting the lens caps to come off of the probes.  They failed to separate multiple times, and when they finally did, the lens cap landed directly beneath the probe's soil sampler, causing the craft to measure the compressibility of the titanium lens cap instead of the dirt. You can actually see the offending lens cap in the Venus picture above; it's the little pie tin thing in front of the probe.

One of the most interesting things about Venus is that it is the only planet that rotates clockwise.  A single Venusian day is 243 Earth days... making a "day" on Venus longer even that a year.  (It takes Venus 224.7 Earth days to make an orbit around the sun.)  Why does Venus rotate differently?  One idea is that its a fluke caused by the attraction of Venus's loco tidal atmosphere combined with the sun's gravitational pull.  Another is that it was at some point flipped upside-down.

 Presumably while shooting b-ball outside the school.

But the most appealing idea to me is that it used to rotate counter-clockwise, and took a severe enough impact from a meteor to turn it around.  This idea is supported by the fact that Venus's rotation appears to be slowing down... and may, perhaps, one day reverse back to the "correct" counter-clockwise rotation.

I guess this idea appeals to me because I like the idea of the universe fixing itself.  I like the idea that, despite taking catastrophic hits, the damage done is reversible.  Which, considering the events here in America recently... well, you see where I'm going here.

Emmeline Pankhurst is one of my personal heroes.
Here she is getting carried away from a protest by the fuzz.

Venus, our "sister planet," the place where women are from, is a resilient little ball of unsympathetic maliciousness.  It takes a hell of a lot to withstand, and it withstands a hell of a lot.  Well, isn't that the plight of women in a nutshell?

Venus was the goddess of beauty, of sex and love and womanly seduction.  We named Venus, the planet, after her, because we thought it, too, might be a fertile place.  But Venus did not take the USSR probes kindly.  Oh, no.  Venus crushed 'em up and spit 'em out.  Venus is not to be trifled with.  Perhaps a better name for Venus, and a better patronness for women, would be Freya, aka Frig, the Nordic goddess of love... and war.  Freya, goddess of beauty... and death.

 Freya is most often depicted with some battle gear, usually a spear, hanging out with her cats and holding her own boobs, presumably because of her refusal to wear a bra.

I do not like to comment too readily on current political affairs.  They depress me, and they should depress you, too.  Women's rights are humanity's rights.  If women are from Venus, then women must surely be stronger than they are given credit for.  I mean, you'd have to be, to withstand the 90 atmospheres of pressure and the temperature hot enough to melt lead and the volcanic activity.  (About 2/3rds of the surface of Venus is made up of lava plains.)

If Venus, the planet, has taught us anything, it's that even the biggest hits can be absorbed and eventually, over a long time, corrected.  Venus is a strong, independent planet who don't need no moon.  (Did I mention Venus is one of only two planets in our solar system without a moon?  The other is Mercury.)  (Side note: Yes, Pluto has a moon.  Its name is Charon and it's so big compared to Pluto that it makes Pluto wobble.)

The lesson we take from our humble little sister planet is that we can overcome any devastation, no matter how bad it seems, if it goes against the natural order of things.  We can overcome a meteor hitting us so hard that it flips our orbit around.  We can overcome the trials and tribulations of heat and pressure and crappy USSR lens caps.  Yes, if Venus has taught us anything, it's that, given enough time, things will turn out okay.

But if Freya has taught us anything, it's that we don't have to wait.  We can choose to ride a chariot pulled by cats into battle and take what's owed to us.  We do not have to wait for years or, in Venus's case, days, which, please remember, are longer than the years over there.

Now is better than later.  Now is the time to act.

 Do your civic duty, and vote this November. 
Take your cat-chariot if necessary.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Anniversary Update!

So, remember in 2017, everyone was all excited about Queen Elizabeth II's "Sapphire Jubilee?"  The Queen was crowned in 1953; now 92 years old, she is the longest-reigning British monarch, and her Sapphire Jubilee marked 65 years of rule.

But what the hell is a "sapphire jubilee," anyway?

Those earrings must be insanely heavy.  
If you tear out the Queen's ears, do they send you to the Tower of London or what?
Is THIS why the Crown Jewels are stored there?  Because of queenly injuries??

The reason for calling the jubilee (aka celebration) "sapphire" has to do with 65 years being associated with sapphire anniversaries.

(The 75th anniversary is the original diamond anniversary, which might confuse you, as Queen Victoria, the second-longest reigning British monarch after Elizabeth II, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on her 60th anniversary in 1897.  Nice try, Queen Victoria.  Can't get that shit past me.)

I'm a big fan of etymology so let me diverge just a little to talk about the word "anniversary," which is a portmanteau of the Latin "annus" (year) and "versus" (turning) (as in "versatile," something that can turn).  Also, "coronate" is not a verb; it's incorrectly assumed that you "coronate" a queen at her coronation, but actually, you crown her.  Coronate is used colloquially as a verb but is more correctly an adjective.  A crown is coronated, meaning it has coronets, referring to the little cross-like ornamentations on the band around the crown, which themselves have various meanings.

If you are a viscount, the meaning is, "Look at how stupid my crown looks."

Anywho, sapphire is the "traditional" present for a 65 year anniversary.  (If you were paying attention in the last paragraph, the phrase "x year anniversary" should bother you in its redundancy, since anniversary already includes the inherent implication that it's an annual thing.)

For the last 1,000 years, and perhaps even longer, people recognized milestone anniversaries with traditional gifts.  Twenty-five years of marriage got you a silver wreath in Germanic nations and gold on the fiftieth, leading the 50th anniversary to be dubbed the "golden" anniversary.  (And, in many nations, the gold anniversary can be formally recognized by a president / prime minister / other head of state.)

But why stop with silver and gold?  At some point, everyone decided that you ought to have a celebration every five years, and so they padded out the wedding anniversary list.  The fifth anniversary became wood, and the tenth tin, with the associated materials getting better and better every five years.  Then, in 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association introduced an expanded list of gifts, one for each year up to the 25th, and then for every fifth anniversary after that.  You might think the jewelers were somehow benefiting from this, but I can't for the life of me determine how, since the first 25 years include such things as "linen" and "pottery," which few jewelry stores carry.  Maybe they were just trying to get people more conscientious of wedding anniversary years.  Who knows?

Previously, people had to enjoy each other's company without an associated material display of affection.  
Poor souls.

In any case, since I am a sucker, I love the idea of "themed" anniversaries and have whole-heartedly embraced the concept.

"CONSUME."  - Santa

Andrew and I celebrated our first anniversary, the paper anniversary, with cards and tickets to Disneyland.

Our second was Saturday, the 22nd, and it was the "cotton" year.  I found myself thoroughly stumped on what would be a good gift.  Andrew likes practical things, and cotton, while perfect for stuffing bears, is not an especially practical gift.

Fortunately I managed to slap something together: I got two cotton blankets and a cotton picnic basket and, after going to Il Cielo for dinner, surprised Andrew with a picnic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  This sounds less creepy when you know that the Hollywood Forever Cematery has frequent concerts and movie screenings.  (Side note: if I were buried in a cemetery I would love for people to go live their lives there, watch movies, have picnics, enjoy themselves.)  (Side side note: the reason I say "if" is because I would most like for my body to be disposed of via jhator, or "sky-burial.")

 Il Cielo is considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Los Angeles.

The food is excellent if not very heavy and very expensive.

This table behind us was later occupied by a couple with, by my estimate, a 30 to 40-year age gap.
Ahh, Los Angeles.

We watched The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," which tied in nicely to everything because a) the picnic basket had a nautical themed, and b) "All You Need Is Love" is the song we walked down the aisle to at our wedding.  I have never packed a picnic basket before and had to Google it, but I did a fine job (in my opinions) with dates, pistachios, red wine, goat cheese, crackers, and black licorice.  Following the movie (which is mostly an excuse to watch colorful music videos interspersed with Ringo delivering deadpan one-liners in the most delightful way imaginable) there was a firework show, which Andrew said was one of the best he'd ever seen.  He took pictures but, as usual, pictures don't do firework shows justice.

 Andrew hates that I shoot pictures in portrait mode.

After two years of marriage, I'm happy to say I not only have zero regrets but feel more confident in my decision to tie my life to another person's.  Andrew is my best friend and he builds me up, and in the end, I think these are two of the keys to a successful relationship.  I'm a better person because of him, and he is (I hope) a better person because of me.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect on what you mean to each other, ways to strengthen the relationship going forward, and an opportunity to give aggressively over-the-top themed gifts, which is one of my hobbies.

Here's to another amazing year of us... and in case you were wondering, leather.  The third year is leather.