Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can you write an autobiography in 5 short chapters?

A friend of mine sent this to me ( We've been discussing various personal issues that we've either worked through or are working on now.

Almost like haiku ...short and to the point... I like it.


by Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

traveling solo...wish I would

Many people extol the benefits of traveling solo. There's a certain amount of freedom it can go where you want, when you want arguments or compromises.

Wish I was more extroverted and felt comfortable with that. I have no problem with taking day trips on my own. Or business trips, for that matter (although, I'm no longer in a job that presents such an opportunity). But, I get stuck on the idea of what do you do for dinner and evening entertainment? And how do you not feel lonely, with no one to share your experiences or thoughts?

It's limiting. I had great plans to travel to Prague on my December vacation. But, first one person bailed and the next person ended up injured during a recent hike. So, no traveling partner. I'm tempted to book a flight, find a hotel, and just go. But, I'm quite intimidated at the idea of traveling alone to a foreign country where they are unlikely to speak a lot of English. Actually, I'm quite intimidated about traveling alone to any foreign country where I don't know any one.

And yet, I want to be SOMEWHERE else during that last week in December. It's late to start making plans with other people...that last week in December gets filled with all sorts of plans for most people. But, now that I think the Prague adventure is finally decided as a "no go" for this year, I can start contacting people on the off chance that one them has a free enough schedule to entertain an unexpected guest.

And, I'd like to come up with some ways of getting myself acclimated to solo travel. So many places that I want to go. It would be a shame if I end up not going simply because I don't have a traveling partner.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What to do on my Winter vacation?

The last week in December is my vacation week. It all started years ago, when I worked for Nortel. At that time, they had a company shutdown between Christmas and New Year's Day. I loved having that time off (of course, now Nortel is in bankruptcy, who knows what the employees get now, if anything), so since that time, I take the last week in December as vacation.

I was hoping to go to Prague this year but it looks like the plans have fallen through. I need a new plan. It's been a couple of years since I've taken an overseas trip and I really feel the need to get away. I want to go someplace interesting, someplace completely different. I only have a few weeks to get some type of last-minute trip planned. Some options include: trip to California to visit cousins, or a trip to Sante Fe to visit an old friend. Or maybe, a trip to the UK where I know a couple of people. The possible glitch with both of these ideas is that the people involved are very likely, by now, to have plans (hey, it's a popular week for parties and such -- people make plans).

So, I need to make the vacation planning a priority. I'll be quite disappointed with myself if I end up spending the entire week at home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of the nicest of holidays. There's no religion involved, there's no gift giving, just gatherings of friends and family. (well, OK, the holiday does have an ominous beginning...honoring the coming of the white folks to the US is not exactly a happy moment for Native Americans. Sigh).

It's all too easy to focus on what we don't have and easy to forget what we do have. Thanksgiving is a good moment to think about the good stuff. Here's my Giving Thanks list for this year:

- I'm thankful for my current job. It's taken a few months, but I'm now starting to feel like I have a clue. I'm getting over the feeling of being new and stupid and moving into a place of knowledge. From a technical learning standpoint -- this week was a very good one. Now that I'm feeling a bit more secure from a knowledge point of view, I can move on to the interpersonal part of the experience.

- I'm thankful for all the people who were very supportive when I went through some tough times at the beginning of the year. Although I am no longer in touch with some of these people, I appreciate that they were there when I needed them. Some of us have moved on, but the memories are comforting.

- I'm thankful for the glass studio that I can go to for artistic endeavors. OK, I don't consider myself an's a hobby. But, during the tough times, spending time at the glass studio was a form of salvation. Although there are times when I get frustrated at my lack of progress, when I have a good night there (like this week), I smile about it for the rest of the week.

- I'm thankful that, even though I won't be with family this year, several people invited me to join in their gatherings. Nice to know that people care enough to be concerned about where I would be on this day.

- I'm thankful that, at the moment, I'm financially secure. My heart goes out to family members who are struggling with unemployment and the fear of running out of funds. I've been there and know how horrible that feels. I've been more conscious of my own spending and trying hard to be less wasteful.

- I'm thankful that I still have a few, loyal readers for this blog :-) You know who you are. Thank you. It's nice to know that my words are not just echoing in the great Interweb abyss.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

LEGOs -- at work!

It all started with a tweet from a work colleague who mentioned that he was at a LEGO fest with his kids. I followed up with a comment that it would be nice to have LEGOs at work that we could play with, instead of playing Wii after our weekly meeting (yes, we have a Wii at work. I rarely play because I'm horrible at Wii tennis and hate to be the one to drag down my teammate).

From there, the product manager took the idea, expanded it, and now, we're having a LEGO building contest at work. Woo Hoo!

It takes an entire office to build a LEGO village...

I like LEGOs although I never had a set of my own or built anything of significance with them. But, I'm really psyched about this event. I've found a few castle gatehouse plans. I'm not sure I'll have enough bricks (we're each getting 300 bricks but we can purchase our own additions), but I'm hoping I can make it work.

The winner gets to select a charity and the company will donate $25.oo for each completed building in the village. So, it's all for a good cause. I think it will be fun and I'm hoping a lot of the people at work get into the act.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not going "home" for Thanksgiving...hmmm

Usually, I visit my parents in Florida for Thanksgiving. This year is the first time in many, many years that I'm not taking the trip south for Turkey Day. And, 4 days before the day, the guilt is starting to set in.

My parents moved to Florida 17 years ago. For some strange reason, when they first migrated south, we stopped having family gatherings for Thanksgiving. I have no idea why. There is a weird thing where my parents don't like to ask me to come down. They have a curious idea that if I came to visit in response to a request from them and something happened, they would feel responsible. So they never ask me, outright, to come for a visit. They hint, they ask "when are you coming to visit" but they never ask me to come down at a specific time. So, maybe that's why they didn't ask me to come down for Thanksgiving those first few years after they flew South.

After a couple of years of NOT being with family and hating it, I initiated my annual Thanksgiving visit. Ever since then, we've had a nice family gathering, with my sister, my aunt (while she was still alive) and my cousins. Due to mom's health issues, we stopped having a cooked dinner at home and found a restaurant that we go to every year. It became a regular tradition for us.

This year, we had our family gathering two weeks before Thanksgiving. It was a great gathering, in honor of Mom's birthday. But, it was just two weeks before Thanksgiving and I decided to not make a second trip down. At the time, it just seemed to be a hard thing to do...come home, unpack, repack, and travel back down. I told Dad, when the birthday party was first planned, that I would come down for that and not Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, I accepted a friend's invitation to join her Thanksgiving dinner (surprisingly enough, I had 4 different invitations --- kind of nice. I accepted the first one that came along). While, I'm happy that I don't have to spend the day on my own, I'm starting to regret my decision to not spend it with my parents. Dad seems quite sad about not having our usual gathering. I'm starting to wonder if I should cancel my plans for the T-Day weekend and get a last-minute flight down.

My parents are up there in years. What if this could be the last Thanksgiving and I'm not there? My sister will be there (she lives near them) so they won't be alone. And yet, I I making a mistake by staying home this year?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Facebook is kind of ...stupid

Either that, or I really have to wonder about the "friends" that I have.

Lately, I've been staying away from Facebook. I just don't get much out of it. I'm more or less bored with it. In fact, I think I prefer to use Facebook as a way of keeping up with family who are not local rather than people in my local area. (really, why use Facebook for local people when I can call, email, or text? Or Tweet, for that matter).

Periodically, I get a message that tells me that I have to reply to a text message to keep the feature alive. Today, I thought I received such a message, and typed Reply, as instructed. Turns out, it was a way to get me to update my status (which I hadn't done in quite a long time). And, of all the things I've posted as my status, the one word "Reply" received more responses than my more intelligent posts.

Really...what does that say about the people I know? Or, the types of things that I post? Or the way people react to me? A cryptic, meaningless word was more intriguing than a real sentence of substance. I just don't know what to think.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

lunch habits

Bringing lunch to work has never been a favorite habit of mine. However, now that I work in a place that does not have a cafeteria (and is unlikely to ever get one) and with cold weather coming on (no, I'm sure I'm not going to want to walk over to the local strip mall in the middle of winter to buy a lunch which is too expensive), I'm trying to train myself to get into a lunch habit.

On the plus side, I've discovered that Trader Joe's has soups that I just adore. What surprises me is that I find I can eat the same lunch, over and over again, and so far, it's not boring. Typical lunch is now: soup with melted cheese, bread and butter, and a piece of fruit. Soup is either creamy tomato or sweet potato bisque. I seem to have no problem eating this day after day after day. I look forward to it, in fact.

I do wish TJs had other soups that worked as well. The other types either have ingredients that I don't like (bell peppers, to be exact) or the sodium count is just way, way too high.

Cooking my own food is the real answer, isn't it? I'm toying with the idea of setting aside Sunday afternoons for cooking lunch-type things for the week. Best intentions, though...we'll see if I can really be disciplined enough to make that happen. It's certainly a lot less expensive than buying the food at some lunch place. And I find that most of the food at these places just doesn't appeal to me anymore.

And yet...I can eat the same soups over and over again. Odd.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Let's revisit this business of losing things

I've talked about this several times. The way I lose things. Most times, what I lose turns up again. Like, last week. Went out to lunch with a friend of mine and as we got up to leave, I couldn't find my main set of keys (yes, I do carry two set of keys...but the main set has keys that I can't copy, so losing the main set of keys is an issue). I knew I had the keys when I came into the restaurant and couldn't figure out where they went. We asked the hostess and she said no one had turned in any keys. We kept searching and eventually, the hostess said she'd check with the manager. Sure 'nuff. My keys were there. Whew.

I misplace my office badge all the time. But I always seem to find it in time to leave for work. It's been decades since I lost a badge, so it's nice to know I can still hold onto one (well, except for the time, I accidentally flushed the new one down the toilet. :-) So embarrassing!)

And then there was the time I couldn't find my glasses (again at a restaurant) and I didn't have my backup pair of glasses with me (and I can't read a thing without them). Turned out, they had fallen on the floor and I saw them before we left. Whew again.

But then, there are the things that seem to disappear into another dimension. Lost an earring some months back. Expensive earring. But I have no idea where it was lost. Lost a watch the other day. I knew it had a bad clasp, but previously, I always noticed when it fell off. Again, I have no idea where it was lost.

On and off, during the last few months, I've been looking for my passport. I had taken it out when I was working at my last job for some citizen verification thing we had to do. And then, I didn't put it back in it's usual place. I *know* it's in the house, but I've looked and looked. Can't find it, so now I have to spend way more than I like to get a new one. For 20 years, I didn't loose my passport. All of a sudden, it's gone into some mysterious place that I can't locate.

I can't find my iPod. I used it to listen to a collection of podcasts that I had. Then, I put it away. In a safe place. That's so safe, I can't find it. I suppose I could use my phone as an iPod...plenty of storage there. Or, I'll buy a new one.

I've become a lot better at putting important things back in places that are ingrained in my mind. It will be interesting when I finally move. I wonder if I'll finally discover all those "safe places" that are hiding all my lost items. Sigh...

Actually, I wish I could put an RFID chip into all my prized possessions so that I can always track them. In the long run, it would save me the money I have to spend replacing lost things.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Secret Question is just like putting something away in a "Safe" place

Lots of web sites use a "secret question" as part of their security methodology. So, you sign up for an account and along with a password, you're prompted to select a secret question and answer. Some websites even let you create your own security question -- the theory being that you'll remember a security question that you create, in case the default questions don't appeal to you.

I hate the Security questions/answers. Nine times out of ten, I forget what question I selected (or created). Even if I do remember the question, sometimes, I try to be clever and not provide an obvious answer. And I forget that as well.

I tried to log into a work website today and had to reset my password (yes, because I forgot it). I had to pick my security question. I sat there for 10 minutes, just staring at the question. I had absolutely no conscious memory of which question I had chosen, originally. Finally, I made wild guess. Oddly enough, I guess correctly. Or, the authentication doesn't really work and anything would have worked.

I so wish the age of username/password/security question would evolve into something else. I just cannot remember all the different usernames, passwords, questions, blah, blah, blah. I either have to write them down (which is a security issue in itself), or use variations of the same username/passwords -- again, not very secure. Biometrics, please? Or something else, please? Surely,with all the advances in technology, we can move beyond username/password/questions which are decades old.

It's just like me putting something away in a "safe" place. Nine times out of ten, I don't recall where that safe place exists and either I never find the object again, or it turns up way later than when I needed it.

Maybe I just need a personal assistant to take care of these details. Heavens knows, I am not managing well on my own.

Another sweater ruined...

(If you read Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series, you'll get the reference).

Apparently, moths or something have attacked the closet where my wool sweaters live. For the second time in as many weeks, I arrived at work only to discover that my wool sweater has a large hole in the right sleeve.

Only the right sleeve. Does the right sleeve taste better than the left? Or, does the right sleeve wear out faster (I AM right handed) and thus become an easier location for rip?

The last I recall, the sweaters where intact when I stopped wearing them earlier on in the year. So, I'm guessing moths. Or maybe, I just didn't notice the large, gaping holes when the sweaters were off on their summer vacation.

Bleah. One of the sweaters is my very, very favorite one. 100% wool, closely woven. Maybe I should get some nice leather patches and put one on each elbow. (does any one actually wear sweaters that way?)

I do hope no one is noticing that I'm coming to work with ripped clothes. And now I have to go shopping for replacements. Finding 100% wool sweaters is hard work, these days.