Thursday, December 01, 2011

What a Week

I don't even know where to start - it's Thursday and I've had a whirlwind of a week.  Maybe I'll start with today.  The day started after midnight with ferocious Santa Ana winds kicking up throughout our city.  The banging and crashing and creaking of the house was nerve wracking culminating with a huge crash at 5am.  We discovered a large 10' branch from our neighbors Redwood tree across our back door and spanning the bathroom bay window.  Dena and I pushed it off but it was just complete luck that it didn't go through any of the windows.  The gazebo is a total loss, I'm sorry to say.  It stood no chance against 80 MPH gusts.

Today was also my first day of work in 6 weeks.  After about 4 hours I hit a wall - exhausted to such a point that I could barely keep my eyes open.  I trundled home on the way calling the next door neighbor asking him to get his six huge tree branches out of my back yard.  Thankfully by the time I got home they were gone and during the surveying of the back yard a freaky gust picked up the gazebo canopy and lifted it 6' off the ground. I lunged across the yard grabbing one of the poles and pulling it back down to earth.  After surveying the many rips I decided the best thing was to take the canopy off for now.  After all this excitement it was time for a nap as we had a special event tonight.

But of course, home maintenance never ends.  The solar company called, our solar panels were not reporting production.  I checked the panel and it says :ground fault, check fuse".  Well, how could I resist fixing that?! They told me they'd send someone out but I just had to tear the unit apart and troubleshoot it.  I found the fuse and tested it with my ohm meter and my fuse tester.  Both reported it blown and I told the solar company to just mail me one.  They said they'd send someone out.  Sure, send a man to do a woman's job that is already done....

I bought the National Geographic speaker series probably six months ago and tonight was opening night.  I had to be awake so the nap was good.  Tonight was Ocean Soul - opening night. It was breathtaking, eye opening, inspiring and touching.  I felt alive.  I felt fortunate.

What a day....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In the Hospital with Lots of Machines

The green machine is the most important - that's the pain medication! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where Are You Shopping This Year?

For Christmas and/or Chanukah where will you be doing your shopping for your loved ones, co-workers and other gift giving necessities?  Gift cards?  Something nice from one of the big box stores?  This year, consider an alternative - consider shopping at local businesses, buying from local artisans, buying only Made in America products, giving your time on behalf of a charity or giving financially to a charity.  What about tickets to a play, concert or other event - this is supporting the local economy.  These are all alternatives to the usual gift giving ideas and just a few I dreamed up in the writing of this blog - I'm sure you can all add your ideas to the comments page!

With the US economy stalled at the bottom of a big (OK, humongous) dip, wouldn't it be powerful if the majority of Americans shopped for locally made products?  Think of the economic boost that would provide to their community and their country.  Below are some ideas.

An American product only website -
New Balance - Many of their running shoes are made in America, they also have lots of other products.
Cool Building blocks for kids
Dog and Cat products
Made in California Products
Online Store - Every item made in New England
If you just put a little effort into it, it's a piece of cake to buy your gifts, American Made.

Donate your time and volunteer - here is the Los Angeles website for all opportunities
Want to give to the needy - donate a couple chickens with Heifer International
Top 25 rated children's charities
Putting homeless to work in Hollywood  -- donate time, money or clothes!
People helping people - in Los Angeles

Yes, charities are always iffy as you never really know how much money is given to their actual programs versus to their administrative costs.  Well, wait - you can know - check out the Charity Navigator - this rates all charities - I find any charity with 3 stars and above is great.  It's hard to find a charity with over a 70% program rate but they are out there.  3 stars is usually in the 60's. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day Before Surgery

This was a busy, busy day.  My surgeon, being a Canuck himself, was very sympathetic to my plight that my immigration interview for citizenship at UCSIS in downtown LA was on October 18th, so he kindly scheduled my surgery for the 19th.  Apparently, completely escaping his memory and much to my dismay, the pre-op instructions required a clear liquid only fast starting 24 hours before surgery with nothing by mouth after midnight.  Also required was a laxative and an enema.  My first thought was of how functional was my brain going to be at the 2:00 pm interview?  My second thought was regarding my patience.  With a lack of food I tend to be on quite a short fuse so I was a little nervous for the health and safety of the interviewing officer.

Dena and my Mom made Jello and made me "eat" every 2 hours or so.  I actually felt pretty good going in to the federal building but as my wait time extended past an hour my energy began to wane.  Finally, I was called - I was asked five questions, here's a sampling:

  1. How many US Senators are there?
  2. What ocean borders the East coast of the United States?
  3. Name one state bordering Canada.
  4. What year was the US Constitution written in?  (1787....that's a trick question)

I cannot remember the 5th question but I got all 5 correct (you would hope so!) and the interview moved on.  At the end I received a check box on my application that I was recommended for citizenship.  Now, we wait, again - approximately 30 to 60 days for the final verdict and hopefully the swearing in date.

Now, back to the enema.  I hate to even comment on this but I'm sure you're all wondering why an enema would be required.  When they are working "down there" they want you clean of "debris" so that in case they nick something there will be no contamination.  That fact alone makes you stick strictly to your clear liquid diet let me tell you.  And have you ever tried giving yourself an enema?  I hadn't even ever bought an enema at the drug store!  There was no way in hell I was going to have my mother help me as I'm an adult's been a long time since she looked at my behind, especially that personally.  And there was no way I was going to ask Dena to give it to me.  I mean we are married but let's face it, the romance really goes out of a relationship when you venture into this territory!  I don't want any bodily function cleanup coming until we're well into our 80's or 90's.

So, with that said, I studied the instructions and pictures on the box and laid some towels on the floor of the bathroom and twisted and contorted myself to try to make it happen.  Finally, I did get it in but I had forgotten to take the cardboard stopper off the bottle so nothing came out, so I had to uncork it and try again.  By the end of all this frustrating ridiculousness I was exhausted.  I decided that I'd just risk it.....and hopefully the laxative would do the job.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Post Bone Biopsy

Finding out the pathology results for the bone biopsy took longer than normal due to the Jewish holiday - Rosh Shoshana.  It appears that a large percentage of the professional staff at Cedars is Jewish so the lab took longer.  It's also apparently a difficult test and requires great skill.  When I heard that I was thinking that I would rather wait than have somebody screw it up.  We didn't hear the results until the following Monday.  This delay caused quite the anxiety ridden weekend I can assure you but again, I counted it as a blessing as in the recent past - all the bad news had been on Fridays.

Monday morning around 7am the doctor called and left a VM stating that all was clear and I was on for the October 19th surgery.  You can imagine the gambit of questions and emotions that flooded my mind in those brief nanoseconds.  First was Thank God!, the second was "well what the hell is it then?", followed by, "what do you mean we're on now? Does that mean if it was bone cancer you wouldn't have done the surgery?"  I never did get to speak to the doctor about the actual results until a couple weeks later at my last pre-op check in.  He said, "Oh, it was nothing, probably a thickening of the bone.  We both saw it there and the radiologist is the best but we had to check it out."   I was a little miffed by his sort of cavalier attitude since it was hell for us but I suppose this is routine for them.

Did I tell you what his secretary told me on two different occasions when I was looking for results on the bone biopsy?  She said, You need to not think about it, just drink more....  That was a prescription I could take, so I did.

Friday, November 04, 2011

2 Week Update

I interrupt this chronological history for an update.  It's been two weeks since the surgery and people are continually asking me, "how are you feeling?"  I know they are asking because they care and don't know what else to say, I tell people, "A little better every day" because that is true, but when I say a little better, I mean a tiny bit.  It's quite amazing really how slow this recovery is.  The incision still pains me and I suppose that makes sense since there are multiple sutures involved.  There are dissoluble sutures inside and the staple locations for the outside skin.  The 29 staples were removed last week and now I have tape there, very sticky tape with everything scabbing up nicely underneath.

I am pleased to report that I am walking fully upright most times.  This is important as when you have this large of an incision (mine is ~ 9") and you are in pain you have a tendency to walk a little hunched over.  I am afraid this will shorten my abdominal muscles in the healing process so I try to be very cognizant of walking perfectly straight.  I made it six blocks yesterday in my walk.  I'm very proud of myself.  I was able to do a pretty good speed as well.  I've been walking everyday making a full block circle (3 actual blocks) after about 7 - 8 days.  Of course, those were very slow walks but now I'm walking more normal speed.

I need to go to the drug store and find something to take off the sticky residual glue from all these bandages that were on my stomach.  No matter how much I scrub it does not come off.  I need some sort of goo off for skin.

So all in all, I'm doing fairly well.  I feel I'm healing a little faster than most and I am grateful there are no issues with my incision.  I'm also thrilled my urinary tract infection (antibiotic resistant) that I got in the hospital is pretty much gone.  I still get tired very quickly and cannot really bend over to pick things up but all this will come.  I will be glad when I can stop taking all these drugs.  I'm on a stool softener (let me tell you how important that one is!), a very strong antibiotic for the urinary thing, and a Hepren like shot that I have to give myself every day to make sure I don't get blood clots.  I hate that shot.  It burns like a son of a bitch after I inject it.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Bone Biopsy

Finding out about the abnormality in my hip bone on September 23rd, we were unable to get a surgery appointment for the biopsy until September 27th.  That's probably pretty fast but when you're stressing and reading the Internet about what an "abnormality" in that area could mean, it's an eternity.  Let me just tell you now, bone cancer in the hip is not something you want to have.  It's a 50% survival rate even if caught early.  There is no radiation or chemotherapy treatment as those treatments are not effective on bone.  The treatment is to cut it out.  Yes, cut it out.  I didn't tell Dena any of this as it would completely freak her out.  I also made the decision not to tell anyone about the bone cancer scare.  I figured, why does anyone else need to go through this torture of waiting besides us.

The day of the "surgery" and I call it that now as I now know it is surgery, we arrived at Cedar's South Tower at 6:30am.  We were checked in and led through the gambit of pit stops until we reached pre-op.  There it became quite real.  My clothes were taken and put in one of those bags with your name on it.  That freaked me out for some reason.  It's like you see on shows where someone is dead and they put their clothes in that bag to  give to loved ones.  After being wheeled into the CT Scan area I met my two anesthesiologists, my surgical nurse and a host of others.  This was surgery and don't bother counting backwards from 100 as you're already out.  

I woke up and my ass was sore.  It appears that while I was sleeping they flipped me over and went in via my butt.  The doctor informed me they drilled three core samples across the 4 inch area for testing.  Thoughts were racing through my Propofol (marketed as Diprivan)  filled mind - drilled?  4 inches?  What??  

Now we wait.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Uterine Cancer - The Work Up

We were scared - I'll admit it.  My first appointment with Dr. Ron Leuchter was in the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center at Cedar's Sinai in Los Angeles.  Just walking through the door was like getting slapped in the face.  Don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous facility, beautiful marble floors, fish tanks, huge easy chairs with DVD players for treatments and snacks for patients and their care givers.  Regardless of how nice it is, it's still a cancer treatment center and seeing all those people there was unnerving.

After meeting with Dr. Leuchter and his team it was re-affirmed that a laparascopic hysterectomy would be done and the date would be tentatively set at October 19th, barring any issues with the pre-operative workups.  The first of those workups was a CT Scan but with contrast.  I didn't go with Dena to this appointment, I didn't think I needed the support.  I'm Dawn, I need no one.  To drink the lovely liquid I had to sit in the chemotherapy area with the big easy chairs and fish tanks.  I thought I was going to break down right there.  This could be me in a couple months.

Despite the awful tasting drink before the scan, the scan was fairly easy except the emotional part of waiting.  The waiting for the results now begins.  We wait and see if there is cancer elsewhere in my torso - aka that the uterine cancer has spread.   The scan was from my shoulders to my thighs - quite thorough.

Seven days later - the results are in - all good except an abnormality in the iliac crest, I'd have to have a CT Scan guided bone biopsy.  I found this news out while in Anaheim.  Trying to hold it in I drove home to tell Dena.  I didn't want to tell her that I could have bone cancer over the phone.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I've Decided to Blog About It

On August 5th, 2011 our world changed.  I struggled with the question of whether to blog about it or not.  On one hand I felt it would be cathartic to write it all down but on the other hand, writing it all down would make it real and I didn’t want it to be real.

Blogging about it or not; it is and was real.  I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  Only by the thoroughness of my gynecologist and the fact that I actually listened to what my body was telling me was the diagnosis made so early.  The statistics are clear – most uterine cancer appears in post menopausal women – 95%.  It is often diagnosed with Stage 1 as they tend to catch it early.  5% of pre menopausal women contract uterine cancer and it is often not found very early as the first symptom is spotting. Pre menopausal women tend to ignore that.  I’m not particularly happy about being relatively unique and in the small percentile.  The good news is that Stage 1 uterine cancer has a 95% survival rate.

Did you know that 1 in 3 women will have a hysterectomy in their lives?  Those are high odds.  

The cure for Uterine Cancer is a complete hysterectomy.  Quite drastic but true.  I was referred to Dr. Leuchter, a transplanted Canadian who is one of the top gynecological cancer surgeons in California.  He's also top in his field in robotic surgery - a laparoscopic hysterectomy - my goal - as it is a shorter recovery time.

So the next few blogs may be mixed up in their timeline but bear with me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dog on the Run

I decided that since Geppetto is such high energy, he wants to play or walk all the time, I'd take him for a bike ride and give him a good run.  Got the bike fixed up and away we went.  At first, it was really hard.  He's not a good walker, he's like a zig zag walker, likes to walk all over the place and smell everything, that's not a bad thing when you're on foot, it's not very good on a bike.

He's mostly looking for squirrels.  And sometimes he just stops mid stride and does a full body shake.  About 1/2 block into our ride he did that shake thing.  I almost ran him over.  Disaster averted, we tried again.  Then we kind of got in a groove, he was getting used to staying on one side of the sidewalk, me on the other, then a goddamn squirrel ran across the sidewalk right in front of us.  Geppetto went after it, the leash jerked the handlebars and flew out of my hand and the bike and I went flying the other way.  As I was falling I was freaking out  about Geppetto running across the road.  Fortunately, the squirrel went up the parkway tree and Geppetto was only interested in that.  I picked myself up and snagged the leash.  Geppetto was none the worse for wear but I was a little flummoxed.  I walked the bike home from there!

Even though we only made it about 4 blocks we were both exhausted after our ordeal.  I suppose I accomplished what I set out to do - wear him out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I've written before about the JVS WoMentoring program and that I'm in the middle of a six month mentoring stint with my mentee.  She has been through quite a bit in the last 10 years and I think we've made incredible progress in getting her where she needs to be to employable.

Just over a month ago she lost her 14 month old cat due to illness/old age or something like that.  Last Sunday I took her to a kitty adoption event and this gorgeous tiger stripes little kitten picked her.   They say the animal picks you, not visa versa.  She fell in love with the kitty and an hour and $ 50 later they were family.  The organization that we adopted from is called the Kitty Bungalow and they called her Val, a snowshoed tabby. We/I was promised that even though Val was too young to be spayed, she would be taken back in a couple weeks to have the procedure done, no cost.

Since then it's been all down hill.  The kitten has a cold and is violently sneezing with green stuff coming out of her eyes.  The Kitty Bungalow first admitted she had a cold prior to adoption and said they would drop off her meds but now are stating she never had a cold and there are no refunds/no returns.

My mentee is not in a financial position to take the kitten to the vet and apparently I'm just a big soft marshmallow and told her to take her today and I'd meet her there.  I mean, seriously, what I am supposed to do?  Let the kitten go back to a trailer full of other kittens and maybe not get better?  If they had medication and didn't drop it off, what kind of people are they?

So, just remember - No good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


  • Craigs list price from ad - $ 75
  • Crate, 2 beds, food, flea stuff, toys, bowls, etc - $ 300
  • Grooming @ the doggie Spa - $ 55
  • Prescriptions for allergies, scratch testing - $ 0 - but very painful
  • First vet visit for full check up and de-worming - $300
  • Coming home to a dog completely excited to see me - Priceless

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Pecking Order

The hierarchical order in our house as we each see it:

How Dawn sees things:
  1. Dawn & Dena
  2. Dog & Bird
How Dena sees things:
  1. Dena 
  2. Dawn 
  3. Dog
  4. the bird - but only because I have to feed it
How the bird sees things:
  1. Dawn is the love of my life
  2. Who is this damn four legged thing?
  3. And last - the bitch that feeds me.
How the dog sees things:
  1. Dena is a god
  2. Dawn is almost a god but takes me for lots of walkies
  3. What is this damn green thing that makes too much noise?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Another Day, Another Break In

Woke up Sunday morning, another beautiful day in Los Angeles.  Went and walked the dog and when I came back to the house the Auto Club had called saying the police had my AAA card and could I call them.  Immediately I went out the my truck and found the drivers side front and rear doors unlocked and softly closed and the thing ransacked.  How frustrating.

Fortunately, I had learned my lesson from the February break in and no longer keep anything of any real value in there.  I do however have building access cards, building keys, a stack of frequent shopper cards, about 30 actually, but nothing too exciting.  I called the police and Officer Rivera informed me that they had the suspect in custody and could I come down at 11am and meet with the detectives.

Wow, a suspect in custody?  Amazing.....Officer Rivera proceeded to tell me that he had caught three BEMV (Breaking, Entering Moving vehicle) last week himself.  He says they are not too bright.....that's obvious.  The last guy he got was syphoning gas from a vehicle because he ran out of gas 2 blocks from his last break in.

After filing the police report and learning that detectives don't work on holidays we went home.  A little while later an Officer Armstrong (yes, strange but true, same last name, no relation) called and stated that he had my property and could I describe it.  After describing the stolen items he stated that him and his partner would have to go back down to the central jail and get the rest of the items.  Slow day?  What service this was.  Around 3 that afternoon Office Armstrong and his partner showed up at the house with all my stuff.

Simply amazing.  And what service.  Damn shame this didn't happen in February but I am grateful nonetheless to the LAPD for their service.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More on Goal Setting

I need to remind myself that goals need to be set in all areas of our lives.  Family, Cultural, Health, Financial, Professional, Educational   - these are just a few examples of goal areas.  If we only set goals in the Financial and Professional areas of our lives then we will move toward an imbalanced life, focused on money and work.  That makes us unhappy in the long run.

It is also important to state our goals in the positive rather than negative when we write them down.  As I stated in the previous blog - our subconscious chews on our written goals and it always like to do as it is asked so if you write a goal in the negative you will probably get negative results.  Examples of  negative goals - stop eating foods containing sugar.  I will lose weight.  Try to quit smoking.  I will not eat chocolate this week. The words "stop", "lose", "not" and "quit" are all negative words.  These must be changed into positive words - e.g. I will be a size 10 by October.  This goal is positive and sets a target date.

The goal - "try to quit smoking" has many issues with it.  First it is negative, it is also too vague and lastly, it lacks commitment - try is not a committed word.  I will have healthy lungs would be a better statement.  Remember to break the major goal down into achievable steps.

Not only do goals move you forward and motivate you but they build self confidence.  As you achieve each step your self confidence climbs making the next step that much easier.

"A goal properly set is halfway reached." - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Doers versus Dreamers

I am a goal oriented person.  Those that know me can attest to that.  I admit that I am not as good at writing down the map of my goals as I should but I do have short term, mid term and long term goals.  I also am quite terrible at setting personal health and self care goals but am very good at setting goals to move my professional life forward.

I try to practice the age old goal mantra of S - M - A - R - T
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

I have a to do list - I have a bunch of them actually.  One at home, one at work, even one in the garage.  I LOVE crossing things off my lists.  But - what's on the list?  Are any of the items on the list moving your goals forward or are they just fillers?  Yes, of course, it's important to pay that bill, make that doctor's appointment, get that report out, etc., but you must also add to your list(s) items that move your goals forward.  Each day you should make a step forward - it can be a baby step, but a step nonetheless.

All your goals should have a due date - the M in SMART.  After all - a goal without a due date is just a dream.  I'm not about dreams - I'm about results and the only way to get results is to set goals and break them down into steps.  Some steps may require multiple baby steps to complete, but that's the purpose of writing them down.  When you write a goal down not only do you make it real but you activate an area of your subconscious that will now "chew" on that goal and break it down.  You need to help your subconscious by acting on those steps and again, writing those steps down.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This summer I signed up for a mentoring program called WoMentoring. This program is sponsored and run by JVS Los Angeles. The goal is to match women to help women who are transitioning in their lives from one career to the next. A very poignant goal in this economy where many jobs and industries have disappeared and many middle aged workers are faced with long term unemployment and the scary thought of leaving behind one career and starting over again.

The program is funded by the WoMentoring Leadership Network (WLN), a group of inspiring women focused on helping other women through their philanthropy.  Not only do they provide the means necessary to fund the program but they also sponsor several events throughout the year that feature powerful motivational speakers.  Our last speaker was Victoria Halsey who re-energized me into reexamining and re-stating my goals.  Every once in a while we lose focus and stray from our intended path.  It's never a bad idea to get a kick in the ass to straighten you out.

Your first steps in joining the program remind a long term employed person such as myself the importance of keeping an up to date resume.  It was an excellent exercise for me to update it as it made me reflect on past successes and skill set holes that I feel need filling.  Once you've passed your background check the program matches mentors with mentees in the same job field.  This summer I'm mentoring a woman who has been out of the work force for over five years and it is rewarding to see the progress she is making towards re-igniting her career.

I hope this blog reminds you that giving back to your community is important and rewarding.  Rewarding in many facets as not only is it cool to see the progress in my mentee but I have met many, many successful women in quite the range of fields.  I feel my personal network is stronger for it.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

I've Fallen For A Mutt....

Here are two pictures - one is the day after we got him. You can see he's shaggy and looks quite big. The second is today's picture after a doggie spa day of pampering and grooming. I'm not sure who this dog is we brought home from Eco Wash on Pico but apparently he is ours. Meet Geppetto.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Want.....

This is a list of things I want to buy but won't because my personal consumer confidence is not there. Perhaps if the Republicans would stop spending so much time and money trying to make President Obama look bad things would be different, but they are not. Between the Tea Party and the Republican hard liners the market will probably take a huge nose dive and panic will set in driving the American economy further into the toilet. So....why would I buy any of these things or spend any money on anything that I don't deem necessary?

Stuff I want....and not in any priority order

  • 40" LCD for the back house so I don't get bored while on the elliptical

  • DVD player for above

  • 50" LCD for the guest room so I can set up a game room

  • Sonos music system - allowing wireless music of different genre's/playlists in different rooms

  • Cricut Impressions machine with a gypsy for scrapbooking

  • Another pair of New Balance 965's - Made in the USA and the best runner ever

  • Microsoft's Kinect gaming system
  • An Ipad 2 because, well, it's an Ipad and it's the latest....but in all truth, I would probably just wait until September for the new iPad HD.
  • Hawaiian vacation....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Changed my Mind

Dena had a brilliant idea - look in the scrapbooks for dates for entries/exits into the USA, after all, pictures were taken - scrapbooks made.... So we did. Between that and my passports (past and present) and I compiled quite a comprehensive list. This required a seperate piece of paper attached to the N400 form. So off my form went with my $795 check ($180 for biometrics) on June 13th.

On June 15th I received notification of receipt of the form via email. If you send your N400 with your email address to one of the three "lockbox" receiving centers in the US then you will receive update notifications via email for the duration of your application for citizenship. Seven days later I received my official snail mail letter stating that they are in receipt of the application. Then I received a notice of my fingerprint appointment for July 14th. I'm so excited. Ironically on the 13th I was pulled in to the Customs & Border Patrol office in International Falls, MN for a document check. Where is International Falls you ask? Just see the next blog post with the picture, its on the Canadian/US border to the East of the purple line. They took my picture and my fingerprints....then on the 14th, again. You just have to shrug and laugh.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Freedom of Information Act

I've been dragging my feet in filing my American citizenship for the sole reason that one question is incredibly difficult to answer on the form. The question is - "since you received your permanent residence card, itemize your travel outside the Unitied States". This section of the form included exit and re-entry dates, where and duration. I would think with the exit and re-entry dates you could figure out the duration without me having to fill it in, but hey, it's the government so ours not to question why.

I received my permanent resident alien card (you didn't know I was an alien did you) in December of 2001. I was thrilled. Little did I know that I should have been keeping track of every time I left the country? Throughout the past 10 years I've gone in and out countless times sometimes more than once a day. This was simply a matter of geography as most of my relatives live just over the border from the US (see map insert).

As you can see by the picture the shortest path from Winnipeg (Canada) to my Gramma's house in the little rural hamlet of Morson, NW Ontario is through an area close to the NorthWest Angle - the US. Don't get me started on this geographic abomination....

So how was I to determine the ins and outs to/from the US? After contacting United Airlines whom I was a high status frequent flyer for many years and fruitlessly asking for my statistics an epiphany hit me - The Freedom of Information Act would save me! Herein called the FOIA. I wrote away and filed a request - 2 months later I received a note back that it was filed incorrectly. Now since the form was simple and my request straightforward I couldn't figure out how I screwed it up. I called them. That was a waste of time. You get a different group that basically tells you that your only contact with the FOIA people is by mail or email. Naturally I had emailed them first. After about a week of frustration I received an email from someone stating that they had re-submitted my request and here was the new tracking number. Two months later I received an envelope in the mail. I was so excited - finally! The envelope contained one completely illegible copy of my passport (I think). Useless. This all was somewhere around October 2010.

Last week I received a CD in the mail from the FOIA. Shocked I ripped it open and popped it in to the drive only to discover 2 documents on it. One from the FOIA people telling me that they forwarded my request to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the other from CBP stating that they felt the request was answered with the original response from FOIA. Confused and hopeless I surrendered. Fine, I'll just renew my green card.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow - Part 2

This is a picture of one my watermelon radishes. Quite pretty inside but incredibly spicy on the finish. I had no idea a radish could hold such a wallop.

So I am a complete idiot - I am growing them in the beginning of the heat of summer here. I've been wondering why my second batch went "woody" very quickly. "woody" is a term I just learned from my mom that means the radish is hard inside and tastes like wood. I've just discovered in researching for this blog that these are a winter radish that is normally planted in the fall. So....I guess out they come. I suppose I should research what grows well in hot summer besides tomatoes!

Friday, July 01, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow - Part 1

I have a number of cucumber plants growing in my garden - three lemon cucumbers, a couple bush cucumbers and a couple english cucumbers. Each variety is having its success stories and its failures. I have one particular english cucumber plant that has been just taking over one of my entire plot areas. I've had to put 3 tomatoe cages up for it to climb on. It's quite bushy and since there are a bunch of flowers on it I hadn't really done any peaking. I did just the other day and Oh my - those are monstrous english cucumbers! Who knew these were hiding under here! They are about 14" long now. I'm not sure when they are supposed to be ready.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Century Plant - Update

As you can see it's quite tall. I went out and measured it this morning - just over 10' tall, straight as an arrow. The jacaranda tree is in total bloom now as well.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Anatomy of Post Tech Bubble Stock Options

Live and learn people. My experience with stock options and employee stock purchase programs within tech companies has not been good. Let me recount to you the tale of my most recent experience. I won't mention the companies name as web crawlers will bring it to their attention that I wrote about them but those of you who know me know which company I'm speaking of.

Over the years of working for said company I had been granted countless stock options, 10's of 1000's actually. Throughout the course of said employment those stock options took on many strange forms with a 6 to 1 trade in, a revaluation program and several others - all which I can assure you were of no benefit to the actual employee. As a few examples I had about 10,000 options which were about to vest @ $1.00 per share and they were re-valued down to 1,500 valued at $3.50 per share. I know I'm not a math genius but it's pretty easy to see that I was screwed. The vesting date was also changed - extended outward. The reasoning is that the company was going to go public soon and in order to keep the company value the number of outstanding shares had to be decreased. (4 years later the company still had not gone public) Shortly thereafter I was granted another large set of options @ $3.50 per share with a new four year vesting program. Bend over baby.....they are driving.

In order to raise money for G-D knows what as I cannot remember they announced an employee stock purchase program. These were for "common" stocks at you could purchase through payroll contributions @ $2.58 per share. For those of you not comfortable with stock terms, common stock is the lowliest; aka for the little guys, not the C level execs, or the board of director level people.

Shortly before the company went public in 2010 they sent a letter to all common stock shareholders that they were doing a reverse stock split of 1 to 18. Yes, I said reverse....and 1 to 18, not 18 to 1. I had 656 shares from the employee purchase, thank goodness I didn't buy anymore, and I magically ended up with 44 shares. The company went public at an IPO price of $14 per share. The stock fell in the first second to $12.75 - an indicator that it IPO'd at too high of a price. That was in April 2010 - today the stock is worth $5.01. A sad showing.

The reason for this blog post? My broker decided to sell my whopping 44 shares on May 31st at $5.01. I suppose he figured it was a losing proposition. To tell you the truth - in May of 2010 when I walked in the SMB offices with my actual stock certificates I was proud to deposit them. I was still hopeful that it was a great company with a great product and management would pull their heads out of their ass and make some money. That's embarrassing to write frankly.... So for that $1,693.00 I paid for 656 shares I ended up with 44 shares sold at a value of $195.95. The only up side of this is that I can take a loss on my 2011 taxes....and thank goodness I never actually purchased any of the stock options!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Ear Stretching

What is with those ridiculous looking ear plug things that make the lobes of your ears get bigger? The technique is called "stretching" or "gauging". I think it's ridiculous in the modern Western world. How in the world is this guy going to get a job?

Ear stretching has been practiced by people all over the world from ancient times. Bone , Horn , Wood and Stone were generally carved for ear stretching, but other organic materials that had the right shape naturally, from shells to teeth and claws, were also used.

Mummified bodies with stretched earlobes have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date, that of

Ötzi the Iceman, (3300BC) which was found in an Italian glacier. This mummy had a stretch of somewhere between 7 - 11mm (1 to 000 gauge) in diameter. He also had tattoos. Notice the picture to the right - see how practical this is. The guy has a cup wherever he goes....very convenient. Does this mean that because people did it 1000's of years ago that we still need to do it? Uh, no....

In case you were curious as to how it's done = Stretching is usually done in small increments to minimize the potential for damaging the healed fistula or creating scar tissue. Normally you start with your typical 20 AWG piercing and go up (which is gauge or AWG sizes is actually reverse), so 18AWG is the next size up. If you stretch like this apparently you can go back when you realize how stupid you look and you can't get a job. The elasticity of your skin will allow it to spring back, not in a day though. It is also said that the 0 AWG (0.4 inches) is the point of no return. So if you get your hole big enough for a 0 gauge ring then you're stuck with that forever. Nice.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Our Birdie.....Picasso

Here's a picture of Picasso just hanging out with Dena in the front yard on the gate. He's pretty proud of himself as you can see. Typical male.... He is a white fronted Amazon (also known as spectacled amazon for obvious reasons) - the smallest of the Amazon parrots.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Century Plant Update

It's starting to bloom up top now. As you can see it's quite tall. Taller than our cactus that is beside it to be sure. Remember, Just click on the image to make it bigger. This picture was taken in the early morning as you can see by the light - about 6:30am

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Century Plant Update

So much for my promise of photographing it every day.....but I suppose this is a little more dramatic. We went out last night and we both swore when we came home a few hours later that it had grown 6" since. In the wee hours it also rained so G-D only knows what it's going to do now. As you can see it is quite a bit taller in the 7 days since the last shot. I tried to take the picture from the exact same spot.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Century Plant is at it Again!

Our black tipped agave is at it again. Another one of the plants is flowering. This is quite an amazing process as it grows by leaps every day. I usually measure it in feet, not inches. So I'm going to catalog this one as well and take a picture of it every day or two from the exact same spot and see how big it gets. I think I tried this last time but had to move back after it got too high. We shall see.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ballona Wetlands and Earth Day 2011

I've never particpated in Earth Day before but this year I came up with a challenge idea for our wellness program at work that was to do clean up at the Ballona Wetlands. For those of you who don't know the Ballona Wetlands are the last 100 acres of wetlands in the greater Los Angeles area. They are located here. Click on any picture to make it larger.

They are currently in a legal battle to save it from the Playa Vista 2 development project which includes a shopping center and 2,600 homes. More concrete, less greenspace, more traffic, just what Los Angeles needs.

We started with a brief talk on conservation, recycling, history of the wetlands and the importance of it continuing to exist. It was quite interesting and we were reminded of the Katrina disaster and how preserving the wetlands in Louisiana could have saved them. Wetlands absorbs incoming sea water from tides and out going flood waters. They act like a sponge and clean the water passing through them. Wetlands are also an important bird and animal habitat.

After our chat we continued to our work site, for us this involved removing Acacia trees, an invasive non-native plant species from Africa. Very hard work pushing a wheelbarrow through sand and lopping off and hand sawing branches. But well worth it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A few Grand Canyon Pictures

The elk were so close I had to use a wide angle lens and they just walked down the path like we weren't there, so we moved or else. These are all mom's pictures. Yes, we are literally sitting on the edge. It took a lot to get mom out there. It was a big rock...lots of room. Click each picture to make them bigger.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Road Trip Day 3 - Eastern side of the park

Today we drove east on desert view road with our first stop at the Watchtower - a 70' tower built out of stone under the watchful eye of Mary Colter. The tower is pretty cool and mimics towers found throughout the southwest thought to be used for defense and food storage. This one was just a convenient stop for Grand Canyon visitors in 1932. After our climb to the top (7,522 feet above sea level) and some serious gift shop shopping we drove back west.

As we made our way the 25 miles back to the village center we stopped along the way visiting an Indian museum, some ruins, and numerous viewpoints. You certainly would never get tired of looking at the Grand Canyon in my opinion whatever the view.

We hurried up, ate lunch and ran off to our 2:00 pm ranger nature hike. We walked with the ranger for about 3/4 of a mile and then went off for another mile or two with the canyon in view all the time. What a way to hike.

Dinner? Off to the El Tovar lodge for a swanky meal. Mom and were fortunate enough by luck I suppose to get a table overlooking the rim. WOW!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The canyon

View from the restaurant

Note the canyon in the background

Road Trip Day 2 - continued

After checking in to our room we had 15 minutes of downtime before it was off to catch the shuttle bus for Hopi Point. This is the most popular place to view the sunset. I figured, why not go to the most popular spot even though I hate crowds. on the way west we were compelled to jump off before our stop to view a herd of elk. They were just off the road, about nine of them, all females. As we moved toward this viewpoint we discovered two right in the trees beside us, so close that I had to use a wide angle to get one in. Beautiful animals.

Back on the shuttle and on to Hopi point. Mom and I supped on a rock 2' from the rim with the expanse of the canyon and the cathedrals of the mountains as a view. After supper we staked out our camera spots and waited for an hour and a half. Those of you that know me know that I am not a patient person but with scenery like this the time flew.

We were not disappointed, ten minutes before sunset the colors changed all through the canyon to pinks, oranges and shadows. It was awesome and frankly words cannot describe it. Shortly it became too dark to shoot the canyon without a tripod so we turned to the actual sunset. With the poofy clouds in front of the sun and the rays shining through it was magnificent.

Sunset over we took our frozen bodies (it was sooooo cold!) and headed into the village for a ranger talk on ravens. There are a lot of ravens here and the ranger told stories of how intelligent they are and how well they adapt, unlike the condor which is having trouble adapting and will probably always need protection.

Another incredible day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, April 11, 2011

Road Trip - Day 2 - THE Grand Canyon

Mom and I left Kingman this morning and drove a short three hours to the south rim grand canyon national park. We promptly got a little lost in the park and ended up at Mather Point at the rim. WOW! It makes the west canyon look puny. The vastness of it is mind boggling. We still haven't seen the Colorado river from here yet because we haven't gone to the right view point.

We are currently in the Yavapai cafeteria waiting for our room to be ready. 20 minutes. We have an ambitious evening planned with grabbing a to go sandwich and taking a shuttle then hiking to the furthest vista point for the sunset. We're both a little tired already of the hoards of asian tourists, so a little solitude would be welcome.

Someone told me last week that one day in the park is plenty. I cannot fathom that. There is so much to do and so many things to see. I suppose if you are of the mind that if you've seen one canyon you've seen it all....I am not. More later.

Location:South rim

Day 1 on our road trip

Today was an amazing day. Starting early we drove across the great state of California through the high desert and the lava fields crossing into Arizona. Then we headed north to the western rim of the grand canyon. The skywalk is not an easy place to get to - one lane highways and then 21 miles of dirt, washboard roads. As we hit the dirt the landscape really changed with forests of Joshua trees and free range cattle accompanying us through the dust.

As we turned each corner huge mesas and large snow covered mountains greeted us. Finally that final turn and mom and I both gasped. There it was - words cannot describe the vastness of the expanse of canyons before us. We were still too far away to see the edge and bottom but our excitement was palpable.

After the formalities we boarded our bus for the skywalk. There are no rails or ropes at the edge so you can get as close as you dare. Mom kept freaking out that I was too close. We took lots of pictures and oohed and awed at the vastness and the 4000' sheer drop. I could sit on the edge and gaze forever.

Our time came for the skywalk - we donned our protective booties and ventured out onto the glass. We loved it. We just couldn't look down and walk at the same time, it made both of us queezy but we could stand still and look down. At one point we walked from the end back out as the cliff dropped away and you feel a whoosh as your subconscious freaks out that you are falling. What a great time.

Then it was off to Eagle point for a little hike, some rock climbing and more pictures. What a day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Western Arizona

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 8

I open the door and there you are, gazing back at me with the same longing I have. Slowly I wrap my hand around you and feel your icy cold body. It shocks me but invigorates me just the same. I nestle my thumb under your tab and firmly yet gently pop your top. The snap, rip, pop is such a distinct sound I smile. Then I feel it, those little bubbles tickling my wrist. As I lift you to my mouth I feel such a rush of anticipation. You hit my tongue and I close my eyes in Ecstasy.
I gulp you in, your bubbles almost burning my mouth. Ahhhh, sweet heaven.

I quit caffeinated soda pop on Monday March 7th - today is day 8

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pacioretty and Chara - March 8th, 2011 Hit

It's not often that I write to an organization and complain about something someone said, did or what have you. It has to be pretty heinous for it raise that kind of ire in me especially in today's violence numbed society but this one really pissed me off. So much so that I wrote Sportsnet about it. On March 8th in Montreal there was a violent hit on one of the players (Pacioretty) by a Boston defenseman (Chara). Chara basically rammed Pacioretty into the glass partition otherwise known as the turnbuckle. His neck is broken.

I am appalled at Spector's comments regarding the March 8th hit on the Hab's player, see below. I bet Mark believes that a woman asks to be raped too. This is just the kind of Neanderthal behavior that turns women off to Sportsnet.

Below is the excerpt from Spector's commentary:
Mark Spector of Sportsnet wrote about the hazards of that part of the rink … but felt it was Pacioretty that shared the personal responsibility for being there:
In Pacioretty's case, the smaller Canadiens forward had a running grudge going with Chara. He knew it was there, after opening the feud with an ill-advised shove after his overtime winner by Montreal on Jan. 8. Pacioretty never backed down from Chara, yapping and sparring with the giant Bruins d-man over the course of the next two games.
Now Pacioretty is coming down the wing. The score is 4-0 Montreal, with seconds left in Period 2. He knows Chara wants to crank him. He can see the partition coming.
Pacioretty had every reason to believe he was entering a very dangerous spot, yet he went in there like a defenceman turning his back to the ice, counting on the rulebook to protect him.

Give me a fucking break. You cannot tell me that this 22 year old young gun of Montreal's thought that by squeezing by Chara on the boards when the puck was no where near him that he was taking his livelihood and possibly his life in his own hands. He'll be lucky if he ever gets on skates again. Spector, you are the biggest arse in Canada, bar none.

Where I originally read Spector's comments --> here

If you feel that you are offended, here is Sportnet's phone # --> 888-451-6363
Here is where you can email them --> here
Here's Chara's apology....if you can call it that.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

10 Reasons for Not Being in Information Technology

Some of this was shamelessly stolen from a TechRepublic Blog with my own twist but it is nonetheless poignant.

1: Stress

It is very stressful job. No one calls you to tell you everything is wonderful, they only call you when something doesn't work and usually it's an emergency (perceived or real). The farther up the food chain in IT you go the more critical and huge the emergency is. Also adding to the stress is solving your friends/relatives/neighbors computer issues. If you recommend, fix, or even touch any of their computer/audio/video items then you are forever 100% responsible for them.

2: Hours

If you want a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 job, look elsewhere — IT is a job you carry around with you 24/7. Again, the farther up the food chain you go the more this becomes a reality. One doesn't do major upgrades during the day, forget that, they are only done at night when no one else needs the network. And the people who aren’t your clients or users (friends and family, for example) will want to take advantage of your knowledge and keep their computers running smoothly for free, when you get home at night. Also, you must keep abreast of all the latest technology so you can keep your job and your friends happy - read and study at night, in your spare time.

3: Getting paid

If you are an independent contractor, one of the most stressful issues you face is getting paid. I can’t tell you how many consultants I know who have had to make threats or use an attorney to get paid. And when you’re freelancing, if they don’t pay you, you don’t eat. If you're not independant you always feel you're underpaid because of item 2.

4: People
(in general)This one I hate to mention. That is not to say that people, in general, are bad. It’s just that when you have your IT hat on, people seem to look at you in a different light. You are both savior and sinner in one stressed-out package.

5: The chain of command
Let’s face it. Not many higher-ups understand your job. They think you should be able to get everything done on a shoestring budget, with no help, and you should treat end users as if they were better humans than yourself. And to make matters worse, the higher-ups want you to magically make those PCs last for more than a decade. This misunderstanding of both duty and technology does one thing: It makes your job impossible. Not all companies are created equal of course, my current one actually is not like this at all. The one before that was the epitome of it.

6: Technology
Have you ever had those days when it seems like the the technology GODs hate you? I have those days more often than not. There are the occasional days when you are the winner but especially in the Windows and Microsoft world the losers far outweigh the the winning days. There are days when even an entire bottle of wine cannot erase the pain of having a piece of silicon, sodder and plastic beat you.

7: Competition
One thing you can count on — there will always be someone better than you, especially in the IT industry and especially if you are one of the few women. The longer you remain in IT the more it becomes apparent that it's a young person's game. Being mentally and physically agile to work long hours, keep sharp, take classes on weekends, read technical manuals, keep abreast of everything new, renew your certifications is exhausting. Not that us older people can't hang as frankly, experience accounts for a lot, but we tend to have a different take on life, like family, downtime, relaxing..... You know, having a life. Another thing is the constant oneupmanship. IT people, especially men, just need to be right. After awhile I just get tired of putting them in their place and showing them they aren't - I am..... Yes - competition, it is as fierce in IT as it is in basketball and the egos are about as big.

8: The cloud
Every time I get an email about some cloud seminar or read an article about how putting software, hardware, data and everything else into the cloud is the way to go and the demise of the American IT worker I just want to scream. Part of me is wondering what I'm missing and what I don't know, part of me is wondering if I should be in the cloud and if the cloud is safe and the other part of me is laughing as it's all in the bloody cloud already. I'd like to pound the marketing idiot who dreamed up the catch phrase "the cloud". From techrepublic, "Clients and end users want the cloud to be some magical experience that will make all their work easier, better, and faster. If only they knew the truth."

9: Lack of standards
There are none, let's face it. We have the IETF, the IEEE, the RFC's, the OSI model, the ISO standards and on and on it goes. But still - their are mountains of proprietary hardware/software vendors that want to keep their product closed up and non-compliant, otherwise, how would they differentiate themselves and make money? This means that I need to know way too much information.....and run in to compatibility issues at every turn.

10: Respect
The general public has a bad taste in its mouth for IT professionals. Why? Many reasons, consumers have been burned by the Geek Squad, home users cannot figure out why they have to pay for Microsoft Office every couple years, call centers in India, you name it, IT companies who don't deliver on promises or companies that think they were promised one thing and got something different.... Oh sure, when you walk in the door you are their best friend but the moment their issues is resolved and they get the bill they wonder why it costs so much. Jeesh, I don't know - it if was easy then why didn't you do it? And why is it my fault that you should buy a new computer every couple years? And why is it my fault that your five year old computer is running slow?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Farmville on the Bleeding Edge?

Have you ever played Farmville on Facebook? Or Frontierville? Or Mafia Wars? These type of games require the game hoster to capture and relate everyone's actions in the game to each others.
This produces a database approaching a petabyte in size. How much is a petabyte? One petabyte is equal to 13.3 years of Hi Def video or 20 million 4 drawer file cabinets filled with single spaced pieces of paper. One petabyte = 1000 terabytes. Basically, more than you can imagine.

Some background on Zynga, the creator of Farmville, Mafia Wars and a few other very successful facebook games. Zynga hosts 250 million active visitors a month to it's games. How in the world does Zynga make money you ask? Well, let's take Farmville for example. There are about 31 million players a day on Farmville. Zynga sells in game coins - these coins allow players to differentiate their farms from the masses with special items, flamingo-shaped topiaries are especially popular. These coins are sold either direcly online through the game (just give me your visa card or Paypal account), or via game cards (available all over including even grocery stores). 7-11 even had a promotion for awhile on their slurpee cups. Redeem the sticker on the cup for special items. You can imagine how much revenue Zynga made just from the royalties on the cup!

I know - you're asking yourself, seriously, do people really pay for in game virtual items? Yes, they do. This has been going on for years now. I remember paying about $20 on ebay for a set of very cool virtual armor for a good friends birthday for her to use in the online role playing game, Asheron's Call. Back to Farmville - let's say that Zynga manages to get a penny a day from those 31 million people. 3.65 x 31 million people = $113 million a year. That's a lot of revenue. Multiply that by the number of games they have and they are making some cash.

These games are using some very state of the art technology for managing all that data. Farmville uses a new data management system based on open source called CouchOne. Stupid name..... So yes, Zynga and other game makers have overhead. Servers, datacenter costs, maintenance, large Internet pipe charges, and a team of designers to keep their cash cows (pun intended) interested in the game by constantly updating the game with new challenges, items, and what have you.

Solar Update

It's weird I know, but I like going into my backyard and watching my electric meter run backwards. I get such satisfaction out of it. We have yet to figure out if our electric bill has gone down because the DWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) didn't officially put the meter on the grid until early January and they bill in 2 month increments so my satisfaction could be misplaced. You'll note that I was feeding electricity back in to DWP's grid and they were getting it for free.... Here is a picture of our energy production for the month of February. Keep in mind, February is a short month and it rained quite a bit during that time. Interesting to note that even while cloudy we are generating electricity.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Anatomy of Today's Job Market

Dena started work this past Tuesday for the first time in 18 months. Thankfully, due to the Obama and democratic moves to extend COBRA supplemental coverage (health care for the unemployed) and extend unemployment benefits for 99 weeks we managed to survive this relatively unscathed. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't without hardship, adjustments and anxiety but we didn't lose our house, or our car and the only thing we gained was a stronger relationship.

How did she get this new job? Dena applied for jobs every day. She would sit on the computer and search, sometimes even applying for jobs that pop up Friday nights and Saturday mornings. Not sure who posts jobs then but ? At one point she even applied for a Starbucks store manager. She was over qualified and probably too old, but of course, they cannot say that.

Finally in January of 2011 something happened. Not sure if the economy is really starting to turn the corner or if all the planets started to align but really good, interesting jobs in her field started to pop up on a daily basis. She applied and actually got calls back. In the previous 17 months she had a total of 3 interviews. In the first two weeks of January she had had ten. At the beginning of February she was past the first interview stage of three good looking jobs. For those of you who haven't had to hunt lately, the first stage is a phone interview. I suppose you could say the first stage is actually getting an email or phone call acknowledging that you exist, but I digress.

She then proceeded over the next three weeks to move through interviews two, three and four. These were all face to face. Only the final contestant went to interview four. The first two ended at interview three and haven't been heard from since. Both of those interviews had great vibes and no reason not to get an offer or some kind of courtesy call. I think it's unprofessional but it's not uncommon.

On January 22nd she started with contestant number three. We couldn't be happier.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Beauty of Living in Los Angeles

more knocking, more pounding on our front door.
We run to the front door, Dena is looking out the curtain screaming, what is it? What is it?
She thought our house was on fire, again.
Our neighbor Joe is standing outside saying that someone has broken into my truck. He's spotted the guy and spews out a license plate number. I dash into the kitchen for a piece of paper while Joe continues to spew the license plate #
5:10 am - call 911, give dispatcher plate #
5:11 am - dispatcher calls back, that plate # is a neighbor
5:12 am - another moment of panic.....
5:20 am - one cop car arrives As I proceed to be interviewed, a report taken, Joe is interviewed, another report taken
5:35 am - 3 more cop cars arrive
5:45 am - 6 cops walk across the street and bang on another neighbors door. The owner of the reported plate. Sleepy, frightened neighbor walks out of house to 4 cop cars with flashing lights.
Here's the full story - Joe hears breaking glass. Peers out his window and sees a 6' black guy grabbing stuff out of my truck and then using a flashlight to look into other vehicles on the street. Joe comes out of house and yells. Guy drives away in silver Honda Accord with the lights off.
Why did the cops bang on the other neighbor's door? It turns out that the bad guy switched plates from his stolen Honda to this neighbors Honda.He actually had the time to take the plates off the stolen car, unscrew the neighbors plates, screw on the stolen plates and then rob me.
Then the pounding started....and you're up to date. The guy got my tool bag, about $2,000 worth of tools.

6:30 am - Another neighbor comes out of her house to drive her kid to school and is met by a cop car in her driveway.
6:35 am - finally the cops drive away, after I've given my solar panel spiel, lent them a screwdriver and got my report #.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Duct Tape Man

At least I think it's a guy....not too sure. This guy was walking back and forth down the street while I was pumping gas. As you can see he's taped all of his pant rips with duct tape and he's made himself shoe soles out of duct tape as well. It is a phenomenally versatile tape isn't it. He made a dragging kind of sound not unlike a zombie. I've been watching a lot of undead shows lately. Of course, this is quite sad, I'm sure the guy is not quite all there but it was quite a sight none the less.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Do you watch that ABC show Castle? I really like it as it's witty and there is good chemistry between Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic). Kind of funny that both these actors are Canadians....We are taking over North America, one TV show at a time. They do a tremendous amount of filming on our little dead end section of Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles. So much so that there are probably fewer days of no filming than there are the opposite. Sometimes it's very irritating and sometimes it's fascinating. This was one of those fascinating days. Here are pictures of Beckett consulting with the director on a scene and of Castle shooting the breeze with some crew as obviously he is not in the scene.

Remember to click on any picture to enlarge it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Wasted Conversation

I was at a banquet last night regarding some new treatments for alzheimer's. I thought you would find this conversation interesting. It was between a couple seated beside me that I did not know.

Wife: Where do you work?
Me: I work for a construction company
wife: How's business?
Me: Not very good in the private sector as you can imagine, but the federal government and schools have lots of money
Wife: schools?
Me: yes, there is a big push to upgrade, renovate and rebuild aging schools @ LAUSD and colleges
Wife: Oh the poor children they always get short changed, the money should be spent teaching them.
Me: Why do you say that? They are replacing these portable classrooms that have been there from the 1940's and 50's, they need asbestos remediation and are actually sinking into the ground.
Wife: oh yes, I was a teacher and taught for years in a portable.
Husband: I almost bought her a portable air conditioner for her classroom.
Wife: It was so hot in there for months on end, in the low 100's. The kids were just limp. I'd take them outside under a tree to teach.
Me: I would imagine that it would be difficult to learn if you were just trying to stop yourself from passing out from heat.

At this point we were thankfully interrupted. A good thing as since we just went in a big circle I would have had to whack her on the side of the head. Did I convince her that her initial opinion was wrong or was I just wasting my breath?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Southwest Airlines

In the beginning of Southwest's early expansion days in the 1990's and early 2000's I heard of this upstart airline with odd and what I felt were Neanderthal practices. I was a seasoned business traveller and never would I submit to the cattle call that was Southwest. I loved my assigned seating, my always reserved aisle seat, my first class upgrades, my frequent flier mile Hawaii trips and my beautiful Gold airline status card. I was a veteran and only families, cheapie corporate travellers and Vegas gamblers flew Southwest.

Fast forward to the last 5 years or so and my eyes have been opened. I now prefer Southwest on short hops. I'm not sure I would fly them across country as they often stop once or twice but I now always look. I love it when they sing or joke when we land and the flight attendants always make things a little better. I can handle the cattle call seating as now you get a number, line up in numerical order and there is no front stage like rush through the gate. You can have 10 bags of peanuts if you want and the flight attendants aren't surly like several other airlines that will remain nameless.

I suppose this last Southwest event has just solidified their corporate philosophy and how it works. I'm sure you've all heard of this as it's now a viral blog. The story is where a man was trying to get from one place to another to see his grandson before he was pulled off of life support. He was delayed by baggage, the TSA and every other manner of airport stresses that we all incur every time. Somehow, Southwest became aware of his plight, whether it was from the sobbing phone agent he booked through or from his previous flight or some other means, his connecting flight was held at the gate by the pilot and probably the gate agent as well for 12 minutes while he ran the gauntlet of airport security. I can tell you right now, no other airline in the US would have the forethought, balls and communication it must have required between their staff for that kind of information to move from one plane, to somewhere else to ticket agent to gate to pilot to affect this miracle.

The full story is here

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Dentist.....

I am thrilled to report that I'm done at the dentist! Am I done because my "treatment plan" is fully done? No way, I'm done because I cannot take anymore! This last tooth was the last straw. Just after Christmas I went in to get one last tooth finalized to take advantage of insurance - tooth #30 - back right molar.

The problem was the pain. I don't know if the dentist just couldn't get the area numb or if the root/nerve is super sensitive or if it's a paper thickness away from seeing my tongue. Regardless, every step of the way was a new experience in pain. Today was the last piece which is supposed to be easy, they test fit it, apply cement, then stick it in there. When she started the cement application I almost hit her. The cement was cold! Thank goodness I stopped myself - there I was, fist raised just above my chest, my eyes wide with terror and her eyes wide with surprise. As you can imagine the rest of the cement application came with her assistant guarding my left side and me gripping the armrests in a white knuckled death hold.

The picture to the right is the prep work (and is really my tooth, they were nice enough to email me the pic) - the metal filling is removed and is waiting for it's new inlay. It's like a puzzle piece and fits in nicely. I think it is much better than a crown because more of the tooth structure is left. I could never have lived through a crown prep. I barely made it through the inlay prep.

Perhaps we humans were not meant to outlive our teeth? Our perhaps we should just stop eating sugar.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

2011 Begins

As I drove to work my first day back of 2011 (Monday) this thought hit me like a ton of bricks. If I could survive the last 30 days then I can do anything. I felt strong, uplifted and positive. Perhaps this is a new leaf for me in 2011. Perhaps.

The first week of 2011 has brought me around to a different way of thinking. I feel like there is so much I want to do in my life and that I have the strength to do it. I've started researching college courses on some new technologies that I want/need to learn and I've also signed up to be a LifeWorks mentor at the Gay/Lesbian center. It is time to start living my life the way I want to live it. So get out of my way because here I come!

Repeat after me:
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman! oh, wait, that's a song...