Cirque du Soleil – It’s French Canadian Eh

A long time ago, in a country far to the north of where I grew up, a man had a vision: to bring art, the circus acts and wonder to the masses by including elements of technology and folklore. The show transcended taming lions or showcasing freaks, it focused on the struggle of the human spirit and skipped the animal cruelty portion, introducing a concept that was new and novel to the Western world. (Check the Wikipedia link for more info.) In this magical and colorful world of Cirque du Soleil you become a part of the show as they break the theatrical “fourth wall” to address and entertain the audience. Each individual character is designed to provoke a reaction and convey an element of the theatrical performance. Their gift for costume design is legendary and a must see during your lifetime which is an easy thing to do because they are a worldwide traveling circus. Woop woop!


My first show under the Grand Chapiteau or Big Top was Varekai. This was one of their traveling shows, years after they had established permanent venues in Las Vegas and other locations in North America. The top was bright red and the spectacle of Icarus’ rise and fall was colorful and full of soulful music. The acts ranged from jugglers, magicians and gymnastics to flying couples using silk ropes and harnesses to delight us with aerobatics. It was one of the most captivating experiences I had had until we saw the show Ka at the MGM Grand. Their ability to create a moving, floating 3k ton+ stage was a true feat of science and engineering only matched by the beauty and myth of the story it helped elevate. There wasn’t a person I talked to that didn’t feel cajoled to see a show after meeting me. It’s that good!


The show itself is more music and pantomime than worded script so it is very good for kids and introverts like me who can let their imaginations run wild. Even though the last show I watched didn’t captivate me, the engineering behind it did impress me almost as much as Ka’s. Sitting inside the climate controlled tent with my refreshments at hand, I had to wonder what the future held for this production of Luzia (it was a bit hard to follow because the stage was too busy to be enjoyed from close range) and how it would influence the performances that will follow it.


Recalling how much more we enjoyed the simpler and not as technical Cirque at the Symphony, I think this franchise is very well cemented and timeless so it won’t need incredible feats of engineering to continue to shock, awe and inspire the next generation. You just have to peruse their offerings and there’s sure to be a show that flies your fancy. Check out the Cirque website for tickets and showings. Do not miss an opportunity to experience the modern circus, Canadian style!


The Bucket List Update

I published a bucket list a while back in the hopes to track down high level goals but I noticed some of the inner milestones to check each item are missing. Walking Wrigley Field is a part of going to all the MLB parks yet I wouldn’t be giving myself credit for this milestone. On the road to fulfilling your dreams there are many stops and we have to celebrate each small victory. Here are some of the milestones I have completed on the journey to cross off items from the bucket list:

1. Visiting Wrigley Field, the second oldest MLB park in the league.

Wrigley Field. Copyright MrsEnginerd

2. Ride the London Eye.

View coming down. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

3. Continent #4 – Asia (Kusadasi, Turkey)

Ephesus, Turkey. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

4. Flying in an A340.

Virgin Atlantic Business Class. A340-600. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

5. Paying off a home before retirement.

House #2. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

6. On my way to Million Miler.


7. Meet a racecar legend.

MBNA 500 Sept 1996. Copyright

8.Visited the set of a TV or movie.

War of the Worlds set. Universal Studios Hollywood. Copyright

Stay tuned for more adventures!

My New Bucket List

For a long time now I haven’t had a decent bucket list that covers the rest of my life. The original document I drafted in high school is nearly completed and some items were obsolete; age and career moves placed me far away from some of the goals delineated in my to do list. Although I am not sure when I will kick the bucket, the proverbial metaphor for dying and passing into the great beyond, the idea of having my goals written down helps me deliver on all the promises I made myself. Paying yourself first is the wisest thing you can do, especially since there is no guarantee we will make it to our golden years.

Why make it public? To inspire others to follow their dreams and to name the subjects that future readers will find under this category. Life is too short to not share the good ideas so feel free to share yours too!

  1. Attend a F1 Grand Prix in Monaco.
  2. Visit all 7 continents of the world.
  3. Meet a famous author. See The Day I Met Isabel Allende
  4. Meet another race car driving legend. (Jeff Gordon would be ideal, Petty and Schumacher a dream. I was 10 ft away from Dale Earnhardt once and he waved at me!)
  5. Visit Athens, Greece.
  6. Walk the Hoover Dam or any dam for that matter.
  7. Ride the Shinkansen (bullet train).
  8. Visit Cannon Beach from The Goonies. (It’s in Portland, Oregon.) July 2017
  9. See the Taj Mahal.
  10. Walk the Great Wall of China.
  11. Take a Mediterranean Cruise. (Completed August 2015)
  12. Visit the set of a popular movie or TV series. (Universal Studios Hollywood, April 2016.)
  13. Attend a World Cup, Olympics or World Wide Sports event.
  14. Apply for or earn a patent.
  15. Start my own company or LLC.
  16. Fund a scholarship.
  17. Own or drive a Nissan GTR or Skyline.
  18. See the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
  19. Go to a concert as a VIP.
  20. Fly First Class on Emirates.
  21. Ring in the New Year in a place other than the USA.
  22. Pay off my house before retiring.
  23. Retire at 60 or earlier.
  24. Own a billiard table.
  25. Write a book.
  26. Win a professional award.
  27. Visit all basketball, baseball and football professional sports stadiums and arenas.
  28. Go to Cedar Point (amusement park) and/or ride the tallest, fastest and meanest rollercoaster in the world.
  29. Fly on a 787, A340, A380 and 777X.
  30. See a Broadway musical or a London musical.
  31. Get more than 1,000 hits on a blog post. (See I Lost A Friend On New Year’s Day (2011))
  32. Ride the London Eye. (Feb 2016)
  33. Become a million miler.

My original list included items like graduating from high school without having children and getting a B.S. and Masters. I also had learning to drive and making a million by age 30 (got close but didn’t make it prior to the deadline). The last item I crossed off my original bucket list was seating courtside at an NBA game (saw Portland play OKC). As we grow, our dreams and goals change, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t update the list or start over. Everything can be achieved if we save, plan well and persevere.


For ideas on how to save check out my posts The Lost Art of the Xmas Club and The Best Layoff Advice I Never Got.

The Day I Met Isabel Allende

For those of you who don’t know her, Isabel Allende is a pint sized power house Latin American writer credited with works in magical realism featuring strong female characters, so uniquely executed that the late Gabriel García Marquez recognized her body of work as excellent representations of the genre. (He should know because he invented the concept.) Born to Chilean parents in Peru, Isabel lived through the rise and government of Dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who killed her uncle (second cousin once removed) and democratically elected President Salvador Allende to take over the country. Her family fled to Venezuela where they lived for thirteen years in exile.

Her break out hit “La casa de los espíritus, 1982”, was written during the convalescence of her grandfather, a time of introspection and strife that prompter her to chronicle her life’s experiences in honor of her heritage, embedding in her story supernatural elements that permeate Latin American culture. The book appealed to millions of Hispanic readers and launched her career during a period of her life where she thought no one would care about her musings, or at least they wouldn’t provide for her and her loved ones. Boy, was she wrong! It is the earnings from those books that enable her to operate her foundation, changing the world of millions of people through her printed and social work. Who knew?

I had the pleasure of meeting Allende, and by meeting her I mean seeing her from a second story balcony, when a friend invited me to Elliot Bay Book’s one-on-one event in downtown Seattle. My friend is a fan of her writing, and having read a few of her books, I couldn’t resist the chance to hear Isabel talk about her latest creation “The Japanese Lover”. Going in, I had very little knowledge about the book and even less insight into who the author was and how she operated, but I had an inclination that the experience was going to blow me away, and that it did. Isabel is the quintessential feminist, a woman rebelling against a patriarchal hegemony by writing about female characters who like sex and independence and not ashamed of it. She is a role model for all the women in the Americas fighting to make it on their own terms; a relentless spirit with an affable and optimistic attitude. Even after the loss of her daughter Paula she remained hopeful and inspiring, letting the readers in on her journey just like she had done during the passing of her grandfather.

Her storytelling is very compelling, a gift she credits to her journalism experience which taught her how to redact an article and to research the subject matter to fill in the gaps that her imagination can’t tame. She creates stories imbued with historical relevance, romance and human connections in a way no one has been able to do in Spanish and with no qualms or regrets. Holding nothing back, she pours her heart and soul into her narrative creating a sensual experience that is not only provocative but passionate. The love she showcases has a purpose and profound meaning, a very intellectually seductive entity that entices all the senses. Her prose makes people blush, especially her mother who to this day emails and writes to her daughter everyday to tell her to be more prudent with her work. (A classic conservative Latina mom move by the way.)

In person, Isabel knows what to say and how to say it, stringing together beautiful sentences that were sassy yet powerful, beautiful, elegant, but delivered with raw emotion and assertiveness. Her inner peace and calm demeanor is truly alluring, and comes from a place in her soul filled with extreme confidence. She made a statement every time she opened her mouth to speak, commanding the room with her charismatic persona, joking and getting very serious fluently and flawlessly. When someone was passed over to ask her a question, she would make sure the hosts got a microphone to the overlooked attendee. She answered each concern and addressed each compliment with enviable grace and charm. I could tell and feel she saw her readers as friends, a familiarity that allows her to intimately share her thoughts without hesitation, making her accessible, and enabling her to be upfront about her fears and points of view unapologetically. Her demeanor and need to be the center of attention makes you want to become one of the many interesting people she has sat down with and has gotten to know; one of the people who have inspired her latest characters.

Allende, at 73 years of age, is still finding her own place in the universe, using love as a torch to blaze her path through the darkness. She faces every day with a smile, challenging herself to write about those things that help her cope with the realities of life and the demands of being a grandma. Her best seller trilogy “La ciudad de las bestias” was a tribute to her grand kids and according to her they were the most difficult books to write because they had no sex in them. He-he. Once her work is finished and her characters embark on a journey that entices and enthralls her readers, she puts the pen aside and begins to look for the next tome, the next chapters. The process starts on January 8th each year, and to this date has resulted in a beautiful collection of fiction and non fiction books that spans over three decades.

This session taught me a few things about writing that I wasn’t expecting to learn; to accept that good prose comes from thin air and that sometimes a piece of work is finished when we decide to give up on it. Perfection to a writer is impossible to achieve, as the story would change daily if we allowed ourselves to continue to add and delete pages to our masterpiece. Becoming frustrated with the blog or the latest email draft is only natural since I have to decide when to quit, when to move on to the next writing task. Until you reach a certain level of comfort and have found out not only your voice but how to replicate it and evolve into a more sophisticated and enlightened human being, you will never be content with the thoughts you have put down on paper. Like life, our writing style constantly matures and improves; we need to embrace the suffering and pain of that growth process and find subjects that we can not only relate to but can also present to others in a meaningful and thoughtful manner.

Although I was a full story up and a few feet to her right, I felt like that day I had met the real Isabel Allende, my long lost friend. I recognized that in her I had found a missing member of my tribe. She made me realize life is too short to not live it, to eloquently write our own story. Some of us will do it in paper, some of us will do it through the stories we tell our own children. In essence, the best chapters of our lives are ahead of us; don’t edit your story to make it look better. Turn the page and type in a new story. Become the person you want to read about. 🙂

November 7th, 2015 @ Seattle’s First Baptist Church

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