Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
In 2007 I was able to lose weight, heal my injured shoulder without surgery, and get into better all around physical shape, dropping my cholesterol to acceptable levels and getting rid of the fatty liver disease. Amazing what exercise and diet will do for you. At work I was moving forward in a positive mode, making a difference with our customers and helping the management team make decisions. All of the good things in 2007 happened to me prior to Sept. 7th and then it all went to hell. Mitel and Inter-tel merged and life as myself and my co-workers knew it was literally decimated.
I'm going to spend 2008 re-focusing my efforts on creating a new niche at work and not allowing people to control my destiny. I will control my own financial, physical and emotional destiny. So look out world, there will be no more sulking over the things that were, the things that have changed and the losses that have happened. Only forward thinking and moving.
Dena and I had a wonderful road trip over the Labor Day weekend, exploring route 66 from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was so much fun allowing us to re-connect to each other and re-connect with our adventurous spirits. In 2008 we'll spend the month of February in Antarctica, Chile and Argentina. Let the exploring never end.
Monday, December 24, 2007
For example, yesterday I went to the Grove wearing my new $ 5.99 Santa hat that is totally cool and fairly unique. I got comments from probably 30 people, smiles from about 50 more and one woman even came up and jingled my bells. Who could ask for more. It's a good feeling to put a smile on people's faces. Speaking of good feelings, Dena and I stopped by my "little sister's" foster care house yesterday and dropped off a present for her and for the house mother. I was wearing my Santa hat of course. We chatted for awhile and all of a sudden she ran down the stairs and hugged me. Well, I was surprised, pleasantly. It seems that her older sister also just received a Big Sister and she didn't bother to show up for her first meeting. Isn't that shitty. It's shitty that she would do that at all and even more shitty that she would do that on the first meeting when developing trust is vital and even more shitty that she'd do it the weekend before Christmas.
Readers, this holiday season, keep believing! I'm hanging a stocking tonight and you never know, Santa may fill it. Oh, and by the way, my mom still signs the gifts she sends, "from Santa". I love that.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Dena and I saw 2 movies this weekend, I am Legend and No Country for Old Men. Both were "edge of your seat" types with I am Legend just being an incredibly tense movie. I needed a martini after that flick, my heart was pumping hard in my chest for the entire 2nd half. They spend the first half of the movie lulling you into complacency then turn on the after burners for the 2nd half. Both movies were well written, very well acted and thought provoking. In No Country for Old Men, the movie ended and the theatre was dead silent as the credits rolled. No one got up to leave, no one spoke, everyone just sat there. It was quite something.
I'll be off the air for a few days, we're off to Big Bear to do a Christmas thing with Dena's Jewish family. hehe I love diversity. The stockings will be hung by the hide-a-bed with care; in hopes that some Jewish saint would soon be there.....
By the way, want to spruce up your Christmas stocking? Try this website....
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have been approved both criminally and personally for mentoring a foster care child. I met her for the first time on Tuesday and Saturday will be our first day together without the "foster care mother". We'll see how it goes, stay tuned.
I've been taking Vitamin B complex, Omega 3 fish oil, and some other herbs from Dr. Lippman and seem to be feeling much better even though this would normally be the time of month where I'm severely depressed. I forgot one day and started to feel crappy again, amazing what vitamins and herbs do, eh?
I HATE WORK. I hate all the up in the air crap, I hate that I was so positive about this company merger and it's turning out to be shit, I hate the disparate benefits between the two "new" divisions, I hate everything about it. I was embracing change, I was being positive, all things I normally am not. I was the merger cheerleader and then the proverbial straw broke this camel's back and now I've seen the light, and it's a train coming!
So that's the update......all wine and roses, eh
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
So, I've been to the gyno and I am not in peri-menopause despite what Oprah seems to think. I've done copious research on the Internet and it seems I have classic symptoms of severe PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder). There are multiple forms of treatment for this, but basically it's one of 2 ways, prescription anti-depressants or natural herbs and vitamins. So, I'm going to experiment on myself. I like doing that. I'm going to introduce Omega-3 supplements and vitamin B6 into my daily regimen and we'll see what happens. Now, this will have to be a long experiment as this lovely depression only occurs for 7 days before menses, and goes away as a day or so after bleeding ensues.
Wish me luck, and for my friends at Dr. Lippman's office---what do you think?
Monday, December 10, 2007
Well, I don't take December 10th lightly, for sure. I raise my glass of Orange Juice this morning and toast myself for the patience that it took to get here and I toast my old boss and current friend Charlie Gentile who backed me up the entire way, paying for the adventure in bureaucratic red tape through his department. Something I'll never forget. My deepest heartfelt gratitude, thank you.
I know some of you were looking for a different kind of blog entry today but I have to tell you that sometimes life gets in the way. You'll just have to wait and you know who you are.....
Friday, December 07, 2007
n 1. A person who thinks globally and eats locally -- usually within a 100 mile radius n. 2. A gastronomical movement that shuns supermarket shopping in favor of farmer's markets or backyard gardens and argues that fresh and local produce packs more nutritional punch, tastes better and has less of an environmental impact. n. 3. The New Oxford American Dictionary's pick for word of the year.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Well, first of all, he probably has a point, if you draw a line straight down from the backyard fence to the front parkway our front yard juts out approximately 12". I've not measured it however, I've committed to running a string line with him this weekend. Can't wait for that.....she says with deep sarcasm. It's extremely frustrating to be constantly bombarded with issues from him. Neighbors should be seen and not heard as far as I'm concerned. We've spent enough time and energy on this neighbor to last a lifetime. I suppose the old adage rings true: The grass is always greener.......
As an aside, if we really wanted to be snotty (and Dena does) the rule of "adverse possession" states that if we occupied disputed land that turned out to be on someone else's property for > 5 years then by adverse possession it becomes ours. That comes with all sorts of caveats of course, like we would have to pay the property taxes for that square footage, etc. I'm not sure that 12" of our side lawn that our neighbors for the past 12 years have driven over really matters that much. Our sprinkler headss are there and would have to move, of which I'm not to keen on paying for, so that's another battle.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Now, on a daily basis the dogs come outside, walk straight over to my lawn, piss and shit all over it and then go back inside. Normally he picks it up (sometimes right then, sometimes 24 hours later) but this leaves "shit scrapes" all over the lawn. Also, one dog has bad diarrhea so he misses most of that. So for 2 weeks, my lawn has smelled like shit. In early October my sister and her husband Ian were here visiting, Ian, witnessing the Frisbee affair with 3 labs running and tearing up my lawn he offered to go over and talk to the guy. Now Ian is a great guy, diplomatic and a true salesman and in hindsight I should have taken him up on it. But I didn't.
Throwing the shit in the guys lawn hasn't phased him and I'm not really the sort to put it in a paper bag, light it on fire and well, you know the story. That's just silly. And frankly, I just haven't been able to walk up to him and tell him to keep his dogs off my lawn. I guess I feel that nothing will change and that I probably couldn't keep my temper. So this weekend, Dena and I put a 3' high wire fence around the front yard. It's actually not too bad, only cost $ 100 and took about an hour to install. This morning, I'm proud to report that the 4 labs shit on their own lawn. I woke up to this news and I feel calm and happy. Amazing what $100 and a little passive aggressive behaviour will do for you.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But the other night there was a 20/20 special on regarding Camden, New Jersey, the poverty there and the affect it's had on children. The episode was a follow on to a previous one and it discussed the changes that people have made in these kids lives and it got me to thinking. By the way, if you're interested in that 20/20 episode, there is much on the web about it, start here.
So I contacted this kid mentoring program. It focuses on kids in the Los Angeles foster care system, not the ones in trouble but before they get in trouble. Which is good because I don't think I'm ready to handle some kid who has already been in Juvenile Hall. But I do know that I could benefit a kid needing some confidence building, homework help, fun time and someone cool to talk to. I think I'm cool. So, I've already taken the first 2 steps, I've applied and been pre-screened and have been passed up to the next phase. You have to go through training, a criminal background check, etc. Makes sense, can't have a child molester mentoring kids, that would be bad.
Stay tuned, I'll let you know how it goes.....
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Speaking of freaking out, in my mind's eye I have several images of horror films etched in there. There is one in particular that is so ingrained in my pysche I think about it every week. I'm pretty sure it's from the original Friday the 13th where Jason Voorhees and the gang of soon to be murdered high schoolers are at some camp and he chases them around. The movie was released in 1980 and if I remember correctly, my cousin Robin and I snuck into the film, he convinced me to go, it was rated R of course, and we were both under 18, me just barely. I remember being scared out of my wits and scenes from that movie are with me today, 27 years later......ooooo I hated typing that number. Let me set up the scene for you......
The scene is the bathroom scene. So I walk into the bathroom at 10:00 at night at the UCLA campus after my class, and I walk into the stall and for some reason look up and around. There it is again, that feeling that someone is in the next stall, with a big ice pick and when I sit down to pee they are going to reach over the stall and stick that looped ice pick into my chin and drag me up to the top of the stall screaming, the blood catching in my throat, the breath leaving through the wrong hole........ah the horror of it all. How'd you like to have that scene play in your head everytime you went to a public bathroom at night?
Another scene from a movie that pops into my head at random moments is that scene from Aliens (I think it's the original Aliens wtih Sigourney Weaver) where the alien pops out of someones mouth or stomache. It's the alien baby from the momma's mouth. AAAARRRRGGGHHHHHHHHH!!! That movie freaks me out, too!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Almost every morning (except when I go to the gym) I'm walking the neighborhood and I usually take the same route. Usually I see this older woman (I'm hoping she's older than me) power walking the same route. Picture this: she's about 5' nothing, with short little legs and I'm hoping about 10 - 15 years older than me. Well, maybe I shouldn't hope that. One morning she was behind me, and in my true competitive spirit I silently vowed not to let her catch up. She did, in no distance at all and smoked me. The next week, I found myself behind her as I turned the corner, I silently vowed I wouldn't let her get any further away, but off she went, smoking me again. It's kind of depressing really. I was walking as fast as humanly possible in my world.....
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
We walked in and made our way through this gorgeous house with the biggest kitchen I've ever seen and out into the back yard. The backyard consisted of a beautiful pool with a nice little waterfall and an incredible view of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Spectacular. The whole thing was awesome. What I felt when I was there was that this is where I belong....hobnobbing with Jane Lynch (of Two and a Half Men + and other fame ) and MSNBC pundit Hilary Rosen and the two minister ladies from Amazing Race. Who unfortunately got booted recently, but we didn't know that at the time, and of course, chatting with them, they are forbidden by contract from telling you anything. Must have been hard for them to sit there while everyone congratulated them and wished them good luck, meanwhile they didn't even make it thru the 2nd show.
As I stood at the railing watching as the fog rolled in from the west to blanket downtown Los Angeles, I thought to myself, this is where I'm supposed to be. Hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Why aren't I rich? What did I miss? What opportunity knocked that I didn't hear?
Monday, November 05, 2007
Hollywood payment schedules and policies have not kept pace with technology and the Internet. That's understandable, technology moves very quickly and why would the studios want to give up $$ they don't have to. This is why unions are important. Also, writer's have suffered on their bottom line due to the proliferation of reality TV. Dancing with the Stars doesn't really need a team of writer's does it? It probably just needs one writer (and a crappy one at that) to write basic copy for the judges. But, it's hard to empathize with a group of people that can make a living working from a Starbucks for 5 hours a day.....
As far as what the viewers at home will be seeing, the impact will likely immediately affect some of the nighttime talk shows, like "The Tonight Show" and "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. Those are shows that rely on writers for everyday producing of programming.
The movie studios have stockpiled films in anticipation of a strike. Television networks have a lot of prime time programming ready, and should be okay for a little while -- but it depends on how long the strike lasts.
The strike will have a broad reaching effect if it lasts very long. I wonder how traffic will be today?
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Anyways, back to me....so this dentist uses nitrous oxide or laughing gas to chill you out as well as the usual Novocaine. I was pretty happy to find that out as anything to lesson my anxiety is a good thing. I cautioned her as to my mom's previous reaction and she set it on low. Nowadays, you can't screw up the mixture as its all regulated for safety reasons ensuring you get sufficient oxygen into your lungs as well as the nitrous. I was breathing in the nitrous and was feeling pretty good, laughing, making jokes, etc until I started to feel dizzy. It came about rather quickly and I told her that we should turn it down. So she turned the mixture down from a low 2.5 to a lower 1.5.
I continued to breathe in the gas, enjoying the lessening of the anxiety and the feeling of "I just don't care how much drilling you do" until all of a sudden I felt a little dizzy again, then really dizzy, then I started drifting away, my mouth felt like it wasn't a part of my face and I got very confused. As I started to black out I think a little panic set in and I pulled off the nitrous mask. I couldn't understand where my mouth was and I was about a breath away from passing out. The passing out feeling dissipated but I was very dizzy, bordering on nauseous. I thought to myself, it would be bad to throw up in a dental dam right? Fortunately, she took all the crap off my face that I don't remember her putting on. I guess I had a bite guard in and I totally don't remember that going on. It took about 15 minutes for me to get back to feeling normal again. We left the gas off for the rest of the procedure. This was a very frightening experience and frankly, I have no idea how I will make it through any more procedures.
Hours later: my jaw hurts like a son of a bitch and now my teeth are starting to ache. Oh joy. I love when the Novocaine wears off........
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday I spent 2 hours teaching Ruby the concepts of dividing or multiplying to get the missing denominator or numerator in a fraction. The concept is called Equivalent Fractions. The concept is that if you have 8/10 = n/5 where n is some number that you have to figure out. In this case, the answer is 4.
8/10 = 4/5 <-- These are equivalent fractions
Seems simple, eh, just wait until you have to explain it to a 10 year old. Thank god we only had to do the even numbered problems. After all that was over Ruby informed me that she had another section of homework, she proceeded to read the first question and said "I know how to do this" and shooed me off. I sighed in relief and left the room. She presented me with the homework later for me to check, it was all wrong. I hated to deliver that news as I knew she'd blow up. She ended up crying in the bedroom. Before she went to sleep I explained to her that sometimes we just have to practice things and try and try until we get things right and then I promised her we'd work on the wrong section tomorrow. This stopped the tears and she went to sleep.
Sunday we spent another 90 minutes on the concept of Greatest Common Factor (GCF) and Simplest Form. I have to admit, I had to look up GCF on the internet in order to understand how and why they are teaching it. Simplest Form is easy, I cannot remember what they called it in my day but it's basically just reducing a fraction to its lowest.
Example: 4/8 reduces to 1/4.
1/4 is it's simplest form.
Greatest Common Factor is doing a factor tree and finding the common factor between the numerator and the denominator and figuring out which is the greatest. You then use the GCF to divide and get the simplest form of the fraction. Example, 30/50 -- it's greatest common factor is 10. You divide the numerator and the denominator by 10 and you get 3/5. 3/5 is equivalent to 30/50 but it is in its simplest form as 3/5. These are examples are simple and I'm putting in that way so that the 30 somethings, 40 somethings, etc will understand what I'm talking about. It's been a loooonnnnnnggggg time since we learned this stuff.
We managed to struggle through all of this and during this process I learned how important the foundation of math is. This would have been so much easier for Ruby had she known her multiplication tables. Even 2 x anything was a challenge. When I asked her repeatedly what the common factors of 14 are, it was a 5 minute process to figure it out, even when she was asked over multiple days. If she had the basic foundation of the multiplication tables down then it would be a simple process to determine that the common factors of 14 are 2 and 7. Simple, 2 x 7 = 14.
Well, I have to go now as I have to quiz Jack on Chapters 1 through 3 in his history book for his midterm. First, I have to learn it myself because you can't really ask questions about something you know nothing about. What is culture change? Shit, I don't know, I mean I know, but I don't. Explain the local and global effects of deforestation. I have to make sure I don't miss anything or tell him the wrong thing as I would be doing him a disservice and teaching him wrong. The pressure!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sunday night and Monday morning it was incredibly dry with a relative humidity of about 5 %. Now that's dry. Today it's hovering around 15 % in the city and 10 - 12% out by the fires. I'm thirsty all the time. There's a layer of ash on the car as well but certainly not to the extent of co-workers and friends that live in and near the burn areas. Check out this blog for promised pictures tomorrow.
I accompanied Dena to Rudy's for a haircut. Dena has been going to this garage style buzz and trim place for awhile now as its $ 21 for a "style", and I use that term loosely. Originally I had just wanted to accompany her and hang out but since we had to wait an hour and I needed a trim anyway I decided to get one. The stylist that Dena uses was booked but she suggested Natasha. Natasha, a tall, skinny, pink haired, harsh looking woman comes out from the back and she looks pissed. Apparently she was eating dinner and not in the mood to cut my hair. As I settled into the chair my mind screamed, "Get up!!! Get up and leave now!!" I ignored my intuition as I do most of the time and stayed put. A woman's intuition is a foolish thing to ignore and a vital piece of our existance. Why I continue to ignore mine I'll never know, but my logical side talks me out of listening to it more times than not.
I'm very used to having someone cut my hair with some sort of style in mind. I knew it was going to be bad when she said she was going to take about half an inch off. Then after I had very little hair left she said she was going to texture it. Then it was like she was taking another half an inch off. So I have no style and very little hair. Nice.......I'm never, ever going back to Rudy's. There is a reason why a real hair stylist charges $ 75! I've now taken to calling myself "cue ball".
Friday, October 19, 2007
Of 7 women 3 are "green" where they only use 5 squares, one using 7 squares. The other 4 are between 8 and 11 squares with the average being 9.
Some basic history of Toilet Paper
The first known use of toilet paper per se (as opposed to leaves, etc) is 6th century AD in China.
I love this quote below:
The 16th century French satirical writer François Rabelais in his series of novels Gargantua and Pantagruel, discussing the various ways of cleansing oneself at the toilet, wrote that: "He who uses paper on his filthy bum, will always find his ballocks lined with scum", proposing that the soft feathers on the back of a live goose provide an optimum cleansing medium.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The stress is caused by this company merger, new boss, doing multiple jobs, changing everything to do with my job (i.e. health plan, dental, 401k, etc) all the unknowns of this merger. Almost everyday I have stomach issues, often I'm angry and irritable, and I'm definitely not sleeping well and I'm definitely drinking more alcohol. I go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted. And the aniety dreams! Wow. What am I going to do about it? Who knows? I find that going to the gym helps quite a bit however, I'm working so hard and long that there is often no time for the gym. It seems like an endless cycle that I'm becoming concerned about. For now, I'll just hang in there and hope. We have to have hope right?
Symptoms & Warning Signs of Job Stress
While the causes can be something other than job stress, here are the most common symptoms and early warning signs of job stress and burnout:
Physical problems (headaches, stomach problems)
hmmm, I have 99% of those things......perhaps I should try the last one -- absenteeism......
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Unix/Linux class is Intermediate and it's taught by a JPL rocket scientist who I'm pretty sure is on about 10 cups of high test Starbucks by the time he comes to teach. He talks very fast, gives us very complicated Linux commands and I am finding it incredibly stimulating. The other night I went to class exhausted and came out wired, excited and wide awake. Nothing like a little brain candy to wake up all the synapses, eh. I'm hoping this class will help me prepare for my Linux certification but who knows if I'll have any time to study to prepare as we are so busy that I'm already working 12 hours a day. Thank god I had some vacations planned or I'd be hosed and burnt out already. The stress of the merger alone is really affecting me. There is so much going on, we're splitting off, getting new benefits, changing benefits, changing bosses, it's just way too much change to happen all at once.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
You know what's cool -- losing 20 pounds lets you fit into the small 737 seats a whole lot better. Flying is actually sort of comfortable, well, as comfortable as flying nowadays can be.
Also, my sister was at LAX flying home with her family last Sunday and she told me about this TSA agent making a mother take a baby's bib off. I thought, hmmm, must have been some snotty TSA agent. Well, last Tuesday I went thru Burbank airport, I was wearing a t-shirt with a nice collared shirt over it, open, aka not buttoned. They searched me after I went thru security because I had lose fitting clothing. What a bunch of bullshit.
I'm exhausted, want to know what I did this week? Monday, worked like a dog, about 14 hours. Tuesday, took a 7:00a Southwest flight out of Burbank airport for PHX, worked 14 hours a day while I was there and flew home tonight in time for my Linux computer class at UCLA. Where I'm sitting now, until 10:00pm. Great. Think I'm tired yet? Well, how about Friday's agenda? Early morning flight from Burbank to PHX, work all day, fly home on 6:30p flight, and then....pass out.
Sounds like fun eh
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wait a second, where was I going with this? Oh, right --- so at the cash register there was a stack of Melissa Etheridge's new release "Awakenings" with a big sign over the POS machine for donating to breast cancer. I thought, hmmm, this is novel, a lesbian, white woman's CD in a predominately black supermarket with top billing. How life continues to amaze me........by the way, I donated.
Next random thought, 6:00 am. I usually get up at 6 and go to the gym or for a walk. What happened? It's still dark when I go out there! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that the earth rotates and moves in it's orbit around the sun and fall is coming so the days are shorter, but still. It sucks. It feels like I should be in bed. Getting motivated is quite difficult when you get up and it's dark. When is daylight savings time anyways? Well this year, it's the first Sunday in November instead of somewhere in October. I think it's 2 weeks later.
Well, there are more random thoughts, but I'll get to those later.......
Thursday, September 20, 2007
My job now is Customer Relations Manager. What does that mean really? The official explanation is that I provide a liaison between the customer and sales and the customer and our technical services people. You may even call me a customer advocate. I'm required to be technical in nature, salesy in nature but most of all, have excellent customer facing skills. I think I fit that bill. The job in theory is supposed to strengthen the customer relationship between the "company" and the customer. This should head off situations where all of a sudden the customer buys $ 1,000,000 worth of widgets from your competitor and tells you to hit the road because x, y and z sucks about your company, but you had no idea the customer was having that experience. I think it's a vital position and my company focuses it on higher $ value customers, as it should be.
So for these next 2 days, I have no customer interaction, I have only to talk to inanimate objects via my computer and make them do my bidding. A nice change for sure. I'm sure Monday I'll be happy to be doing my real job :-)
Addendum: well as I left the site at 9:00pm I'm wondering if I miss it all that much, my back aches from sitting hunched over a cardboard box as a table from my seat, another cardboard box.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
We stopped in Sedona for a quick pee and couldn't really recognize the town. We had been to Sedona ~ 14 years ago and we were doubting ourselves that it was the same place. The highway was surrounded by what basically was a .25 mile long mini-mall on both sides. Crazy touristy for sure, the shops 2 stories high and blocking the fantastic vistas and views that made Sedona famous in the first place. I walked into a shop and asked when this whole complex of shops appeared. The shopkeeper told me it was about 10 years ago and where we were standing used to be highway, just highway. That's what we remembered, highway and not this whole commercialized, touristy shopping area. We were appalled and glad we had come 14 years ago when it was more real. I suppose that's why we're going to Antarctica, the road (or ocean) less travelled.
From Sedona we continued south thru the back country of Arizona to a small little town of Jerome, pop. 400 souls. This is an old 1880's copper mining ghost town turned eclectic artists community now. We had a fantastic lunch at the Flat Iron Cafe. A small cafe with only 3 tables right at the point of a hairpin turn, run by 2 gay guys, transplants from Seattle. The town is very hilly and the little streets wind up the hill in sharp switchbacks. Stairs serve as pedestrian walkways and you can get quite a workout walking around. We bummed around, looked in galleries and shops and Dena reminisced about her visit here when she was a teenager. This really was the reason we stopped as Dena and her family had been here before. She admitted that they didn't stay long as someone was in a bad mood. I wonder who that was?
From there we continued our South Westerly drive over Mingus Mountain, then into Prescott Valley, then up into another mountain range, then down into another valley, and on and on that went for hours, up and down, up and down. I was getting a little tired of all this hanging on for dear life while we went careening around hairpin corners and hung off the side of cliffs but Dena had fun. She drove all day as she loves this type of mountain driving. I would have pulled over long ago for a glass of wine as I get too tired and stressed driving these kinds of roads.
After our over hill and dale trek we hit Highway 71 that marches through some of the most desolate land I've ever seen. Beautiful saguaro cacti all over though, but desolate. Finally we hit Interstate 10 and headed for Palm Springs, CA. We overnighted at our friends Al and Michael's having a nice swim and a couple glasses of wine. What a day.....
Sunday, September 09, 2007
After that tough morning we were off to the Ten Thousand Waves for an afternoon of hot pools, sauna's and a massage. We were there for about 4 hours. We felt rejuventated after all that, I had thought we'd feel really tired. Good thing, as it was time for the Zozobra festival.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, is located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico (near Cochiti), is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed site that was established as a U.S. National Monument by President Bill Clinton in January 2001 shortly before leaving office. Thanks Bill.
After a snack we had to have a power nap after all that scenery and hiking. We then strolled to the plaza and shopped a little. But our heart wasn't in it. Dinner was at a restaurant called The Compound/ where we had a fantastic margarita called a Prickly Pear Margarita. We had a great dinner and spent the evening listening to the thunder and rain while watching A Fish Called Wanda. Great background soundtrack to a classic movie.
In regards to the Direct Services re-organization I heard yesterday that my job is safe and still the same but different.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The day was full of gallery hopping and the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. We had a great time, had a little nap in the afternoon and then went to see Death at a Funeral. Not as funny a movie as the trailers led you to believe, but entertaining.
My nerves jangle with anticipation of the announcement tomorrow of our company's division merger. I find out what my new position is, assuming there is one, and what changes in the organization will take place. Perhaps the anxiety dreams will stop after tonight.......
Monday, September 03, 2007
Madrid is a great artist's community with wonderful shops and galleries. Apparently the area around Cerrillos is only able to be mined by 5 different people/claims. Cerrillos turquoise is quite a bit different from other turquoise found throughout the SouthWest. These miners can no longer use heavy equipment but must mine by hand, pick axe, shovel type equipment only. I don't really care for turquoise normally but actually found a gorgeous pendant that I had to have. Then as we walked around I found the artist in another shop. She mines it herself with one of the 5 claims which she inherited from her father Whalen. He taught her the mining techniques, jewellry making and the art of inlay. We enjoyed talking with her.
Our easy 60 mile side trip landed us in Santa Fe in time to check into our new digs, the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. A gorgeous B&B made in the old adobe tradition with 6" thick walls and ultra quiet rooms. We had a lovely wine and cheese reception, met people from all over the US and then went out to Los Mayos for a traditional New Mexician dinner complete with sangria. YUMMM!
Sunday, September 02, 2007
We cruised through Flagstaff and decided to stop at the famous Meteor Crater . You can read all about it via the link however, it was huge, only 6 miles off I40 and well worth the stop. They trained the Apollo astronauts there as it was so moonlike. You drive up to it and you can see the impact (literally hehe) it had on the landscape. Miles upon miles upon miles of flat high desert and then the ground rises up to this. Amazing.
Next we cruised through Winslow, AZ and played the Eagles song, "Take it easy" in honor of that one horse town. We again veered off the main interstate, opting for the road less travelled and headed up SR 191 for the Hubbell Trading Post. This is the last still operating trading post in the United States and lies on Navajo land. The Navajo exhibit their rugs, jewellery and still trade for foodstuffs here. Dena purchased a beautiful ring whose turquoise reminded me of 2 flowers coming out of a vase. I decided her Indian name was going to be "two flowers".
From there we blew thru the Navajo reservation coming into Gallup and patted ourselves on the back as our timing was going to be perfect. We were going to arrive in Albuquerque around 7:30 - 8:00p in time to check in and then go to a late dinner. Apparently old town ABQ rolls up at 9:00. This was not to be as we hit a tremendous thunder and lightning storm, construction and bad traffic. We rolled into Albuquerque at 9:00p hardly able to see the street signs and struggled to find our B&B the Bottger Mansion. We found it and the rain was just raging. The inn was closed and I ran up to the door found our letter with how to get in, meanwhile shivering in the rain, soaked to the bone and cringing from the thunder and lightning bolts. We made it in the house both soaked and pissed off. All the restaurants were closed and we ended up going to bed with a protein bar. A bad end to an awesome day.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
We stopped in the little shithole of a town near the Arizona border called Needles at 6:30p and it was a balmy 113 degrees. Can you imagine what the damn temperature was in the heat of the afternoon? We gassed up and were on our way. We found out later from friends that Needles is the highest priced gas in the nation. Thank you very much. As we drove across the Colorado River into Arizona we started to see lightning strikes that made the ones over Cajon pass pale in comparison. That constant lightning show went on for an hour making us cry out over in over in awe and surprise. We drove into Kingman, AZ and visited some old work friends of mine. They showed us a good time, made Margaritas with a killer mix that involves 1/2 bottle of beer and shared there star filled backyard with us.
For Saturday September 1st, who knows what adventures we'll have. Perhaps we'll touch on the famous Route 66.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Let's dream for a moment here. Let's start small...... If the California lottery gave me $1,000,000 what would I do? Well, the feds would take $420,000 so I'd be left with $ 580,000. I certainly wouldn't quit my job. That's not enough cash to quit. I think I would take $80,000 of it and pay off a few loans and take the $ 500,000 and buy a condo on Kauai, probably in Princeville. Or maybe, a house in Hanalei Bay. Regardless, 500k is only a down payment on either. Hopefully, and I would have to do the math, this would bring the mortgage down to such a level that renting it out would pay for homeowner's dues, taxes, the remaining mortgage and make me a little cash every month. I'm talking about renting it out to tourists, not to locals. More money in vacation rentals in Hawaii than on local rentals.
That brings up a good point. If I bought a 4 or 6 unit apartment building on Kauai or even the mainland perhaps, then that could be good income. hmmmmm.......but then if I bought a condo in Princeville for vacation rentals then we could use it to vacation.........hmmmmm, but then friends and family would want to use if for free. That would be inconvenient. If you're giving it away all the time then you're not making any money. AAACCCCKKKK!!!! Obviously, I have to win more money than 1 million dollars! Isn't it amazing, with money comes problems. I have lots of problems with this $ 1 million and I haven't even won it yet. Dena would say that's my pessimistic self shining through, but frankly, I'm just a realist.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
But what if I won? How does all that lottery stuff work? Cash value, 26 annual payments, etc? Well, basically, if you choose 26 annual payments of your 26,000,000 (let's use that as an easy example) then the State of California graciously sets you up an annuity guaranteeing an interest rate of ~ 6.68 %. All lotteries are annuities. The total jackpot you see advertised is bogus. That money is not available. In a typical state lottery, the cash value is roughly half the face value. Modern lotteries, you see, involve a bit of financial sleight of hand. You've "won" $X million only in the sense that you'll receive that much if you're willing to wait 20 (or 26 in some states) years to collect it. What you've actually won is the cash value plus the interest that accumulates. So what should you take, the cash value or the annual payments? Well, can you and your trusted financial adviser make better than 6.68% on that money if you took it all at once? Then you'd be better ahead taking the cash value.
Regardless, the IRS will take its share as well. You will be taxed based on the tax bracket you're in. Well, you've just won $26,000,000 so regardless of whether you collect now or over 26 years, you'll probably still be in the highest bracket (42%) unless you're a tax magician.
So this blog started out as going to be what I would do with the money, but perhaps I'll dwell on that tomorrow. I got down a rat hole counting my cash.........and how California and the feds were going to screw me out of a bunch of it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
- When you're short, buying capri pants is not really an option. They just look like you bought regular pants that are floods.
- It doesn't matter how much lotion, face creme, etc nor how much many you spend on said cremes, you still get wrinkles. Getting old sucks.
- Aleve is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.......it is definitely helping with my shoulder pain.
- There is a family of vegetables called "nightshade" and they include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes(minus yams) -- the superstition is that they all contain a toxin that is poisonous to humans. Nightshade vegetables are the single most common staple in the middle eastern diet. Hmmmm......perhaps this explains why they are all insane.
- Since when did mom's start buying their kids lunches at 7-11? I see this more and more. What good can come of that? So they get a lunchables, a gatorade and a candy bar for lunch. Wow, that's healthy. No wonder American children are suffering such a high rate of obesity.
- Men are dogs. At the gym I see men leering at women half their age. Not even trying to hide it, just leering openly. I mean, get real. Do you think she'd even remotely give you the time of day?
- 90% of people at the gym have some sort of MP3 player, and of that 90% -- 75% of those are Apple Ipods........YAY! My stock appreciates your patronage.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I am happy to report that this doctor -- Dr. Robert Wilson (such a benign name, eh) is a very nice, attentive surgeon whose first inclination is not to cut you open. What a novel concept. He said that 80% of people with my injury (severe rotator cuff impingement due to AC hypertrophy i.e. inflamed) recover with specific exercise and avoidance. So I have some very specific exercises I must do and I think the key is to avoid specific motions. Like golf :-( Actually, any movement > 80% high for my arm is not allowed. So, anything over shoulder height I cannot do. 80 is apparently the magic number. The second injury, the partial tear of the labral whatever it is, is "partial" therefore in time, with exercise and care, it should naturally heal. Now I personally noticed that the tear seemed partial when reading my own MRI but no one else mentioned it until this guy. See, those internet MRI reading lessons have come in handy.........
This news and doctor's visit certainly buoyed my spirits especially since I've found out that arthroscopic shoulder surgery means a sling for 6 weeks, then physical therapy. I'm not really thrilled with that......
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
She sang all her old standbys, her voice and range spectacular as always. She is probably the worst dresser on tour and has become a little chunky. Someone needs to help her dress for concerts. I think you can be unique and eclectic and still look good. She did sing one song from her new upcoming album in February 2008 which I thought was awesome and made me anxious for its release. This album is a collection of her own recently written love songs. I look forward to an original release from her. We haven't had any of her own written songs since 2000's "Invincible Summer." The new 2008 album is currently untitled.
Lyle Lovett was definitely the standout. His billing is Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. Large it is. With 4 backup singers, a trumpet, trombone, sax, mandolin, electric standup bass, cello, regular standup bass, slide guitar, grand piano, conga drums, regular drums, lead guitar, etc etc etc etc etc the band is monstrous. What a lively, fun, touchy performance. They first performed songs from their new album, "It's not big, it's large". Well, it's so new its not released yet. Set for release 8/28/07. I enjoy his music and WOW what a performance! Another standout here was Francine Reed, a gospel? singer from Atlanta. She sang one song on her own and had the crowd on their feet.
KD Lang and Lyle Lovett's styles are different yet similar in their uniqueness. That's deep, eh. They both write, perform and explore whatever music styles suit them at the time and that makes it very fun for all of us. I was surprised they didn't sing together.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I managed to sneak into the ortho doctor this morning on a cancellation. I couldn't really see the need to wait another week to put off the inevitable. It was an interesting and long visit. He reviewed the MRI and decided that the main problem was my AC Joint. I've not really mentioned that to anyone before this as I was hoping it was just a genetic abnormality in me personally and not a problem. Apparently it is not genetic, but it is a major problem. I was bouyed by the fact that Dr. Kreitenberg wanted to perform one additional treatment prior to deciding on arthroscopic surgery. It makes you feel good about a surgeon who is not just a cut and sew man. Basically the AC joint is huge. He stuck a needle with cortisone and some sort of numbing stuff into the AC Joint,that was fun, left the needle there while they took an x-ray to ensure that it was in the right place. Just picture me laying on the x-ray slab with a god knows how big needle sticking out of my shoulder while they go develop the pictures and look at them. I was chanting to myself, "let the needle be in the right spot...." Fortunately, it was and then the fun really began. He then injected the cortisone and I just about lept off the table. The range of motion was almost immediately better and now I have 2 weeks of limited physical activity to see what will come of this. I thought I'd give you a pix of the AC joint for your perusal, that is actually from my MRI, not Internet downloaded.
The Labral tear is confirmed and will require arthroscopic surgery to repair but if this cortisone shot doesn't do any magic then they'll also shave a sliver off my collar bone to relieve the pain in the AC joint during certain movements. Sounds like loads of fun eh.
Here's the details of the "Mumford procedure"
The simplest type of surgery for AC joint injury involves resection or removal of the end of the clavicle using arthroscopic (mini-surgical) techniques (called a Mumford procedure). If the joint becomes painful because of DCO (weightlifter's shoulder) or arthritis, or the separation is only minor, this technique can be very satisfactory.
Official diagnosis is Hypertrophy of the AC joint and there is a pretty clear pic of it in this link. You can see on the Left a normal MRI (not mine) and you can see in the middle a MRI image almost identical to mine. Fortunately, it has not progressed to the image on the right. Definitely feel the pressing on the rotator cuff in terms of muscle pain in the front center soft tissue area of my shoulder. I think based on my internet research I'm destined for the Mumford.....
Monday, July 23, 2007
I was surprised to learn that the plastic grocery store bags (from the Ellen show the other day) don't really decompose in landfills, that they just get smaller and smaller. The plastic kind of shrinks. And eventually an animal or bird will eat it or it gets into our water supply. It was a bummer to hear that. Also, we use like a million of these bags every minute. Just crazy.
Now I just have to convince Dena to change the AC powered lights in the backyard with solar and maybe I'll move up on the personal green curve a little. I don't like to be so close to average.....I prefer WAY above average.
A message to all that read this: Educate your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews, no matter how young. They will change the world and hopefully begin to right the wrongs that us and previous generations have done to mother Earth. We must give them the beginning seeds of knowledge to motivate them and equip them to affect change.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
First of all, my apologies for not blogging all week. Not only was it a busy week business wise but I just haven't felt like it. Personally, I have to be in the groove/mood to blog. So, I feel for all of you looking at my toes for a week.
On to my favorite gas station. BP -- British Petroleum has opened what I hope is a trend in gas stations. It's a green - eco friendly station. Certainly a dichotomy in terms - gas station - eco-friendly, but in BP's case I think it works and is very admirable. Let me tell you about the this station.
BP has created a working labratory in gas stations. They've taken an old, polluting station and used many, many different concepts to create something move environmentally friendly. E.G.
--> Solar panels on the roof, while this doesn't provide all the electricity the station needs it certainly helps. Gas stations need a lot of electricity due to pumps, valves and stuff under the covers we don't really see.
--> Recycles all the water it uses, and filters all drain water. Clean ocean. All the rainwater that falls on the big canopy above the pumps is collected and used to water the plants and flowers around the station. It keeps them nice and wet while it keeps you dry. It's about as low tech as tech can get, but it saves energy that would be used to pump water. And the plants seem to like it a lot. We’ve finally gotten smart enough to discover an idea that the Spanish settlers were using here 400 years ago.
--> Recycled glass in the concrete -- Certain kinds of glass can’t be recycled to make new glass containers. These include clear window glass and fluorescent light bulbs. But that doesn’t mean they have to end up in a landfill. The concrete in this station is made with crushed waste glass instead of sand. So the glass stays out of the landfill and the environment isn’t disturbed to get new sand. Also, the glass reflects the sun from the concrete instead of absorbing it. Concrete in cities stays hot/warm well into the night, contributing to global warming and micro climate changes in urban areas.
Check out the info on the station here.
A picture of the station will be up in the Part 2 of this segment.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Recently we've purchased a new diamond cut shredder for the huge stack of boxes full of receipts and old bills, etc that I've collected. They went back all the way through 1985. Yes, I know you only have to keep 3 years. I was paranoid frankly that some group who remain nameless was going to audit me. I'm pretty much over that and over the course of several weekends we've shredded to our hearts content. We've oiled that poor shredder, it's over heated more times than I can count but we've got three 40 gallon trash bags full of shredded stuff. I feel cleansed.
Throughout all this shredding you come upon all the memories from the past 22 years. Dena and I's first major appliance purchase together (from Sears of course), the 3 accidents all in one year to my Black 4Runner. The Visa card theft, the purchase of our home, the refinancing of my condo, 3 times, our first joint checking account, my 6 months of working on my own in 1996 (where I worked like a dog and made a ton of $$ ), and on and on the memories rolled.
We still have a long way to go to turning that guest house into a usable space instead of a storage locker, but we're getting there. Along the way we're reminded of the past with every box top we crack. Some need to be remembered and treasured and some need to be just thrown away.