Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, May 30, 2008

At Least There's A Ball

I told Mi-Mi yesterday in the car that tomorrow (Friday) we were doing something really exciting. I could see her face in my rearview mirror - a very curious expression.

I said "We are going to see a baseball game!", to which her face contorted to an almost rolling of the eyes, with the head...roll head and eyes together...very effective at displaying nausea without a vomit motion.

I ignored her dismayed response and continued "We can hang out, eat hot dogs, all kinds of stuff..." when she interrupts and says "You mean in real life?!?" I said "Of course, in real life!" And with this, she was extremely excited about - the nausea disappeared quickly and she said "Oh, I thought you meant on TV!"

She's not overly thrilled with mom turning on the Tennis Channel at every moment she can to see who's playing... Although I am fierce about keeping up with the French Open (and btw, Serena is out :(), I can see where the appeal of Spongebob wins over watching a ball bounce back-and-forth.

So today (Friday morning), I said "What are we doing tonight???!!!" and Mi-Mi excitedly and confidently screams "We're watching FOOTBALL!!"

I smiled and laughed _with_ her and gently correct her with 'no, it's _baseball_'. And she giggles and says "oh."

About 15 minutes later, Tim comes into the room and I look at Mi-Mi and say "Tell Daddy what we are doing tonight!!" to what she replies, again, excitedly and a bit more quizzical, "BASKETBALL!"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tickled Pink

I was so psyched when I saw this...

I wasn't quite sure if what I was seeing was what I wanted.

I caught this mattress sighting around 11:30 AM, coming back from Durham and heading toward Cary. I40 East, approaching Miami Blvd. What a sight it was -- the first mattress was just blowing in the wind, in a futon like position.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My New Tattoo: Session 14

Today was a drawing session, although there was some ink work at the end...much to my dismay. I thought I was going to have all drawing at this session.

The "drawing" portion consists of placing previous drawings, on saran warp, over my back and existing tattoo. Kat uses this to analyze what she will draw next and then I'm left alone while she draws the next piece.

Once the next piece is drawn, she places it over my back and again, eyeballs it to make sure it's where it needs to be. She tweaks the drawing and then makes it into a stencil, then places the stencil on me.

This process takes about two hours.

I'm okay waiting because, well, there are a lot of interesting conversations that go on in a tattoo parlor. And good music (and no, it's not alway heavy metal...where do you think I picked up Black Rebel Motorcycle Club from?) and I had a book to read.

And for me, the more time she spends drawing, the less time she spends on inking.

And it's a weird situation: I'm ready for the tattoo to be complete but I also don't want to sit through anymore pain. But, there's no turning back...the only way to move is forward...because the pain is always going to be there.

As far as lasering the old tattoo, well, that's still in the plan but that can wait until she gets most of this particular area done, so that only the part that needs to be lasered will be lasered. And that won't be entirely known until she gets done with this part!

We are close to the end. There is still much work that will happen on my upper left shoulder, but it is pretty darn close.

This time, the drawing consisted of clouds, so this time, it was just a cloud outline. And yes, it was still painful. Each session I think, man, this is more painful than last time. Note to anyone who wants a big tattoo: really, really consider how patient your pain threshold is. I've lost it and all I have left is to endure the inevitable.

But again, if you can believe it, there are sections that feel GOOD. I'm a sick puppy.

At this point of the back area, I do not have to take anything off except my shirt. The bra and pants stay on, although, I have to scoot the drawers down a bit.

Nathan is used to be, or just doesn't give two shits about me, because he just comes in whenever. I hope its because he knows I don't care...since he's the only other man than Tim (in the past 20 years) who has seen me nekkid. But sometimes I think he doesn't even know who I am... But he came in to talk about some artwork he was working on, right while I was standing there, semi-topless. I didn't mind and again, I only hoped it was a good rapport and not 1) i don't know who the hell she is and worse, B) i've seen it all and it ain't much...

Jason, the apprentice, did ask to come in to see and that he didn't want to offend. So everyone in the shop has seen my skin.

And Rachael, who I adore, comes in all the time. That girl rocks.

As I left, I wanted so badly to get a picture of my minivan parked right, directly, in front of the tattoo shop. Just seemed so...illicit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

French Open Musings...Day One

Oh how I love to watch these games...watching men slide across the clay, well, it's rather sexy, IMO. So athletic with a tad bit of 'grace' that sliding can give to one's appearance.

* Serena looks amazing and I so love her confidence with a hint of humbleness. She looked a little rough in the beginning, then she tore up the court and just creamed her opponent, Ashley Harkleroad...who will be appearing, BTW, in a Fall playboy issue. Harkleroad, that is...not Serena. Oh and Serena bought herself an apartment in Paris. Lucky gal.

* Novak Djokovic is hot. Tall, with all of that black head of hair and those light (blue or green) eyes. This is what was so sexy about Nikki Sixx -- black hair, blue eyes. Loved watching him play...he slides really well on the clay. :-) He is apparently having a strong year after beating Nadal in the Australian Open. He'll be fun to watch, but if he plays Federer, I'm afraid I'll have to keep rooting for my man Roger.

* James Blake -- I don't get him. I don't much care for watching him play. I usually catch him when he sucks and only see highlights on the news of anything good that he does. He's so up-and-down. I don't like the way he walks either...

* Sports commentators still suck big time. I am sick of the Henin talk. I am SO glad Henin retired. I could not stand her. And to hear commentators go on and on about how great she is and how they wish she would have played through Wimbledon. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. Good riddance.

Next up: Federer and the other Williams sister, Venus. Both favorites of mine too.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beaufort County Gives Humanity a Bad Name

Well, I hate to put all of the county into this, but unless they do something about it, especially in November, they'll have my ire, disdain, disrespect and I won't give them a single penny of my money. And I will make sure to share my ire, disdain, disrespect and ask no one else to give them their penny to anyone who will listen.

Why?

Well, Tim so kindly read a story to me from the N&O this morning about "Bob". "Bob" is Hood Richardson, a Beaufort commissioner who will only be referred to "Bob"...as he has no worth for any name except "Bob".

Bob has decided that he wants Beaufort County to be known as an anti-immigrant place. He has helped remove all signs that were in Spanish and is now planning to remove any type of medical care to immigrants. He is spending money hiring lawyers to decide if he can do this legally and if he can't, well by golly, he'll just have funding cut to programs that help the poor (and illegal immigrants) and then no one will be able to have any medical care.

You can read more about Bob and the stupid seven member fuck-ups here:
read more | digg story

I don't get it...this is the bleeding heart in me? Or is it just being a human being? Why does it come down to dollars and all that stupid stuff when it's about life and liberty?

Where is empathy? Do these people ever think about what these immigrants are leaving? A country full of ill, with no freedom and sticks with a mud floor for a home.

And medical assurances? Forget it.

Immigrants are looking to America, or other places in the world, to escape despair, poverty, illness. There is a hope and a dream. And us mother-fucking assholes, who have lived a pretty decent life, get elected into office and decide that they're pests, leeching off of our programs.

I honestly have no idea why anyone would even _want_ to enter this pompous, obese, dramatic, disobedient society that we call America. We are just the worst of the worse.

We elected a fucked up president and we sit here, this memorial weekend, weeping and memorializing the men and women who die for the stupid war...and in the same breath, hawk down burgers and hot dogs, grateful for a three-day weekend.

I really don't know why anyone would choose this country for liberty. We suck.

Roland Garros

This is my favorite time of the year. This is really when it all starts for me: The French Open. Then, Wimbledon and we wrap up summer with the US Open.

Quite honestly, I usually miss the French Open. But not this year...I am prepared. My non-HDTV DVR is recording whatever ESPN2 shows (my HDTV DVR quickly runs out of room...so there's no way I can grab 5+hours worth of tennis on that thing). Of course, when I can, I will be watching "live".

I LOVE tennis. There is absolutely no other televised sport that I can watch and get that excited about. I have always watched tennis. I still recall being a very young middle-schooler living in the Philippines, setting on my mom & dad's bed, watching reruns of past tournaments with: John McEnroe and my favorite, Tracy Austin.

I have played tennis, although not as feverishly as I play wallyball (the best game ever). One day, when I can absolutely make the time, I will get lessons. I love the game -- it was my fitness class in college -- and I would like to have more time to play it. I'm envious of my fellow acquaintances who make the time to play -- just as I do with running and wallyball. But I'm not there yet...I have too many commitments and I know, if I start on tennis, it will consume me...because I love it SO MUCH.

So instead, I become similar to football-die-hards and just count the days, minutes, hours, until I can watch Serena Williams play...Rafael Nadal...Roger Federer. And I don't have to see just the big names: nobodies get my attention and I can very easily pick one to root for. More times than not, in the men's division, it's whoever is the most good-looking ;-). Another great reason to watch tennis -- there are a lot of beautiful people who play.

Cheese Plate

Tim and I met up with my Saucy Aussie for drinks at Bogarts last evening. I thought it was a very odd coincidence that she was drinking Lady from Shanghai martinis when that's _all_ Tim ever orders at Bogarts. It is THE reason why Bogarts is usually on our date night roster.

We had a fun evening there, drinking shanghais (me: wine...fittingly, the Menage a Trois) and throwing the "f" word in every other sentence. We later noticed our neighbor of guys at the bar also, and a bit suddenly, throwing the f bomb out there too. We thought we passed the virus on to them...because, you know, everyone wants to be like us. :-)

Had a few apps there too. Not bad but not great. Typical bar food and nothing really stood out. We had the crab dip, which to me seemed very 'fishy'. The coconut shrimp I did enjoy the most. The homemade potato chips were good too -- accompanied with a blue cheese sauce. I would say that Wild Wings has the best homemade chips, but one can't really go wrong with homemade potato chips.

After about three shanghais for Tim and Sam, we headed to Enoteca Vin. I was pretty excited since it sounded like Sam had not been there, so I like to be the one to introduce someone to new places.

We hit the bar again and Sam flirted with our very good-looking waiter. He was awesome as he really gave us a good review of the wine list for recommendations, without just pointing to the most expensive wines on the list. I think Sam was actually leaning towards a pricier wine and he brought her back down to a modest wine...which was outstanding.

BTW, the waiter looked very much like David Bromstad, the winner of Season 1 of HGTV's Design Star. He is absolutely hot, but is absolutely gay. I loved watching our waiter as he was soooo, soooo cute, but I swear, I thought he must be gay too. Afterwards, Tim burst my bubble and said he thought the guy was paying him more attention than Sam and I.

For yet another snack, we decided on the cheese plate...rather, we pushed Sam on the cheese plate. As I've written many times before, the cheese plate is something we always get at Enoteca Vin.

I told Sam: watch them -- they'll weigh it to precision. And the next thing I know, she's hanging over the counter, watching our David-Bromstad-lookalike weigh each sliver of cheese. She's practically yelling at him "I can't believe you're doing that!" "Get out of here!", just laughing at the whole ordeal. Nonetheless, we get six amazing cheeses for the cheese plate. It's not the same every time we go...so Tim "stole" the cheese menu and I'm reprinting it here for your lore. If you imagine cubed cheeses of orange and white, some with holes in them, you are so off target. This is no cheese plate that a mere mortal has ever experienced:

Clawson Blue Stilton (England)
A traditional pasteurized cow's milk cheese with a strong blue taste and crumbly texture. Aged eight weeks, this cheese has greenish blue veining radiating from its center and a wrinkled grayish brown rind.

Manchego (Spain)
Spain's most popular sheep's milk cheese. Pressed with a distinctive woven pattern on the rind and aged three months to a year, cheese remains smooth and rich but has a distinctive bite and a lingering finish.

Comté le Fort (France)
After WWII, Marcel Petite bought an unused munitions fort from the French Government because he felt that it would be the best environment for agin the 70lb wheels of French Gruyere known as Comté. This Comté is aged from 16 to 24 months. Exquisitely refined with small crunchy protein crystals and a dense, sweet flavor with hints of fennel, onion and sometimes cocoa butter.

Raviola 3 Latti (Italy)
A much admired cheese from the Italian Piedmont that aims to cover all of the bases by using equal parts cow, sheep and goat milk. Creamy and rich with a delicate flavor.

Manouri (Greece)
Manouri is essentially a sheep's milk ricotta salata that has been aged to a firm texture and chalky texture. As a ricotta, it is made by boiling whey from feta production and adding fresh sheep's milk cream. The cheese maker forms each Manouri log by scooping the curds in a special cotton sack and squeezing out the excess whey by hand. The sacks are then hung in a temperature-controlled room for several days as the excess whey drains.

Tomme de Savoie (France)
A classic French cheese, made from raw cow's milk in the Savoie region of France. It has a semi-soft texture and a nutty, deep flavor. The milk used for Tommes is skimmed, with the richer cream going to butter making, resulting in a relatively low-fat (20-40%) cheese.


My favorite this evening was the Raviola 3 Latti from Italy. It was a soft cheese that was very salty (but not too salty) to the taste and just went exquisitely well with the French wine we had.

Enoteca Vin was the first place that introduced me to such a cheese plate, many, many years ago. And it has become a mainstay in my home. I have at least, on hand on any given day, three (but usually much, much more) exotic cheeses. My favorite 'snack' is to cut about three different cheeses, add them to a plate with some olives, bread & olive oil, and dried cherries. Oooh-la-la! La Vida de Loca!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This Week's Runs...

I had a decent week of running events.

Monday, I did my first set of strides...intended strides. I ran 100m at a nearby track in about :22 secs each (four of them). I thought "not bad...these are pretty fun and 'easy', relative to running fast for a short pace. The next day...boy, did my adductors and abductors hurt. Now I know why I have these included in my training plan.

Wednesday was a 5K 'race' at my workplace, to help promote National Health and Fitness Day. I've done this 5K before and well, it isn't an easy course. This year, the course was changed and even though it was difficult too, the older course is prettier.

My goal was to do at least one mile at 8:45. I didn't think that would be too much of a problem, although, not easy either. But I was up for the challenge and fortunately, I had help: $Bill was going to pace me. He was a reluctant pacer, as I guess I have a reputation for getting pissy while racing. :-)

And it's somewhat true, although I generally get pissy with the strangers around me vs. friends. But there is a case (or two or three) where I have gotten pissed off at my running buddies...but hey, that's not what this post is about...

It's about how I was FORTUNATE enough to have someone on my side, who could pace me, since $Bill has gotten much faster the past year and a half.

And he did push me because he was pounding the pavement at a much quicker pace than I anticipated and I knew he wasn't going to push me to go faster than 8:45. So my thought was that, well, I guess that pace is going to be harder than I thought! Wasn't there a time that I could do 8:45 without much complaint? I mean, complaints abound...but not as much as I was thinking on Wednesday...

But the course is not a friendly one. Very hilly...like loopy hills.

It felt like EVERYONE passed us in the beginning, which was a descent. I knew they were silly because most of my running crowd knows this particular course VERY WELL. It is the bane of my courses throughout work. I have had to psych myself so many times to prepare for this part of the course...and during race time, I don't want to even bother, since I have so much disdain.

And well, in the end, it did work out that me and $Bill passed quite a few (although not all) of the folks who passed us in the beginning.

The last mile did get me below 8:45...my oomph was dwindling but I had enough to finish running.

Friday is my wallyball day. I love this game. It is the most fun I have had in a sport in forever. I have a great partner for my mixed doubles league, Carlos. I look forward to these days and this past Friday...Carlos stood me up. :-( Not on purpose...damn work meeting got in the way. So we had to forfeit our game but I feel relatively confident we'll make up for it in the end. ;-)

So I needed a workout...WANTED to work out because wallyball is extremely rigorous...what else could I do? I noticed a step aerobics class right at a time I was there, so I decided to do that.

Well, the smiling-aerobics-teacher-from-hell taught it (it's a compliment...she is HARD no matter what class she teaches and while you are dying, barely able to move, just kind of swinging slightly to appear to be moving, she is still giddy, be-bopping around in full mode). It was an awesome workout. One of the hardest I've ever done since, well, a hard track workout. I could barely walk back to my car to get back to work...

So Saturday comes along and I think, I have only a four mile run today. No problem. Walk to the nearby lake, run four miles, then probably have enough to walk back home (enough distance).

I did it and I did it in a decent amount of time (~10 mn mile) but man, oh man, my legs...MY LEGS...did I run a marathon? What the hell? Oh, it's the damn step aerobics...on top of my recovering legs from those damn hills on Wednesday. I was punishing my legs!! But oh, who cares. I burned some calories and I made my head get bigger with the thought that "Man, I am kick ass."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Creedmoor Sighting

Yup, another mattress sighting - on a Monday, for goodness sake!

This one: the intersection of Lynn and Creedmoor.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

ABC News: Oil: Exxon Chairman's $400 Million Parachute

Seriously, why do we allow this to happen? What can we do to stop the insanity? Why do we allow people to continue to stick it up our ass? And we do nothing? We just get irate at the unfairness of it all.Seriously...what do we do to stop this bullshit?

read more | digg story

Creedmoor Sighting

First off, I'm not done with my mattress-tranported-in-a-vehicle obsession.
I have passed a half a dozen or more of these but because I'm not prepared with a camera, they go on by.

BUT THEY ARE OUT THERE! Have you noticed? It's incredible, to me, the number of mattresses transported by car, truck, whatever, every day.

I was able to catch this one off of Creedmoor, near I540. Tim was driving so I had plenty of time, and control. to get the shot.



Absolutely No Pets Allowed!

Why on earth would anyone put that in an ad to rent a vacation place out? It is the most rude thing anyone can place in an ad. It's purposely THROWING A NEGATIVE OPINION and implying that YOU ARE AN UNFIT PET OWNER and don't DESERVE TO RENT THEIR AMAZING VACATION VILLA. And quite honestly, those villas sometime look like they did little to make it a 'vacation home'.

Seriously. Does it take an MBA to understand that this is not the type of notation you include for SELLING something?

There are kinder ways to say this. Perhaps something like, "sorry, no pets allowed". You know, just adding that "sorry" makes a world of difference. And dropping "absolutley" and those damn exclamation points.

Yes, I have a pet and Yes, I like to take her with us on vacation. She's part of the family. So when I look for rentals and see the above, I am offended. And by golly, I lost all respect for whoever wrote that up...which may not even be the homeowners, but they fall into my "pieces of shit" category.

And often, we actually go on vacation _without_ our pet. Sometimes it's just not efficient to take our beloved doggie with us. And guess what happens? I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT, AND WILL NOT, rent from the assholes that have no freaking genius bone in their body to write a better "for rent" ad. Nor will they get recommended by me... And will only be spat on by me!!!

BWA-HA-HA-HA.

Where?

I love my nav system in my car. I got it for Mother's Day, or maybe my birthday, last year. It's part of my satellite system, which I also love...if only I can listen to it more often. Usually, I'm listening to the ear-splitting, ill-singing, teeny-boppers on the Disney Channel.

What I do for my Princess Diva.

But the nav system comes in handy. Although, it is a literal device.

So yesterday, to head out to Monkey Joe's, I mapped the address into the system.

There is one slight problem, which is, I haven't updated it since I got it. You'd think with satellite, it could do it automatically, but hey! I'm not a hardware genius.

So the new route in Cary, to Walnut Street, which is where Monkey Joe's is located, is not 'really' in the system. But, if it gets me in the general area, I can navigate from there.

But yesterday, as I approached the new exit to Walnut Street, my nav system had me on Cary Parkway. So my dilemma was: do I turn left or right? My nav system was not helping me...so I took a guess and turned right.

It takes a few seconds for the system to figure out where its at and it refreshes to let you know which way to go. So as I waited for it to do that, right after I turned right, I heard it tell me "You have arrived at your destination".

What? Where? I see a gas station!

Fortunately, I assumed correctly that my destination must be the shopping center _across_ from the gas station.

So it can only get you so far, and then you are on your own...but for the most part, it gets me where I need to be.

Push the Baby

That's what I did today...and my youngest is not a baby. She is five and a big girl...and I ran five miles, pushing her in a stroller for well over four miles.

And it felt good.

It felt hard, but it felt good.

Which is unusual for me as I normally don't want to have anything on me that will interrupt the flow of my run...the flow of it and it being an easy run.

And I used to push CJ when she was a baby...and I hated it. It was just too hard.

And what was even more surprising for me is that I was dog-tired by the time I was ready to run.

Mi-Mi had a birthday party at Monkey Joe's, which is a warehouse of bouncy things. You know, you get in and bounce and bounce and bounce? Well, picture those apparatuses (or apparati?) throughout a fairly large space, that do more than bounce...but one can slide down steep slides, climb up rope and blocks to get to the top, crawl through tunnels, etc. It was fun!

So yes, I indulged in my inner child and purchased socks for my sandaled feet and took off. Let me tell you, those things are a lot of fun. I followed Mi-Mi, who grinned from ear-to-ear, seeing me climb up, slide down, and bounce around with her. She took me to everyone of them.

And I just bitch-slapped the kid who said to me "Aren't you a little old to be up here".

So after just a few of those, I was sweating like a dog and my legs felt like noodles. I was whipped and thinking about running five miles? I was going to run but it was going to be a slow five...or a slow, less than five.

Mi-Mi did great and enjoyed the ride. Keith and the Girl did great and kept my mind occupied to their ranting and raving. And my feet did great to keep pit-pattering away to get me to the end.

It's times like this...that reinforces...this is why I love to run.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Left or Right

Who knew that these two choices - whether we go left or right on our run - would become significant in our afternoon 'hilly, steady run'.

So $Bill had two routes for running today: one was 3.75 miles, the other 4 miles. Insignificant differentials here... But the three (me, $Bill and MT) of us were 'neutral' so when "Frank" appears, we proposed the question "Left or Right?" Since one route was going left, the other route was right, when we reached a T in the road.

"Frank" didn't really make it any easier since he said "left" then said "right" so we went with his first choice.

MT pointed out that we were really taking the "left" choice to heart. Every turn in our route was a "left" Well, there are two points where we go right, but generally, this particular route is counter-clockwise, so left, left, and more lefts.

But at some point at a crosswalk, "right" would become a very important choice. The choice by a driver to look left and right, before making a right turn. This choice was not taken as he 'gothisclose' to pancaking "Frank" to the asphalt.

That's right: look left, no cars, pull out and make a right and BAM! almost hit a runner in the crosswalk.

Luckily for "Frank", he wasn't harmed in the "look right" fiasco. But the look on that driver's face, one of shock and the other of "Oops" and slightly, "sorry" was priceless.

The other priceless moment is when "Frank" hit the car. Well, because he was propelled forward by our running - no anti-lock brakes in those feet of his - he had no choice by hit the car with his arms in order to stop himself from moving forward. But I believe - and since my brain has no DVR, I can't say for sure - he hit it again.

But the oddest thing of all? We kept running! I'm not talking about barely missing the guy by a foot. I mean - he almost hit the guy by a millimeter!! And "Frank" and the rest of us just move on.

I told "Frank" he should go back to that guy and tell him he mucked up his time. That's what I would do...after I stopped crying.

Puzzle Me This

I love love puzzles.

I have puzzles all over: crossword puzzle books across the house (Kaplan brand; Dell and Penny Press are too easy). Sudoku and the most aggravating, Kakuro.

Then there's jigsaw puzzles.

I grew up doing jigsaw puzzles with my family. We'd cover the dining room table with thousands of pieces. A minimum of 1000 piece puzzles - no easy 500 piece would enter our home. Once finished, the last piece would be given to someone special (wasn't always me, can you believe that?) and it would be somewhat a ceremonial act to place that one last piece.

And then for some reason, my mom and dad would get the darn thing framed and hang it up somewhere.

I can cut that part off. Once I'm done with a jigsaw puzzle, I'm done. I can very well crumble it all back into the box and pass it on to someone else...because I don't do puzzles more than once.

For the past several years, the only jigsaw puzzles I care for are the mystery puzzles, only produced by BePuzzled. There are other brands but I don't want those. Only BePuzzled. Ebay is my friend as I can find numerous BePuzzled for less than $10, including shipping. One takes a chance as one year, I had two puzzles that had missing pieces...oh well.

Tim is not into any of these and just can't quite understand how I can sit and stare at pieces for long minutes at a time. I literally can spend a good couple of hours just concentrating on putting pieces together. I love it. In fact, it's time for me to pull out another puzzle and get started on it.

Currently, I'm addicted to a couple of games on Facebook "Who Has The Biggest Brain" and "Word Challenge".

"Who Has The Biggest Brain" tests one on four different parts. I can't remember what they are, but the ones that involve counting and math are the most difficult for me. You'd think, with a strong math background it would be but ah, the trick is that I am no good at counting. 'Back in the day', calculus, theorems, and differential equations were my challenge. But basic addition and subtraction? Actually, the subtraction is what kills me in the math games. I almost always take too much time trying to subtract big numbers with my fingers and toes and 8 out of 10 times, I end up with the wrong answer anyway. And these games are against the clock.

The Word challenge is similar to scrabble, where seven letters are provided and one is supposed to come up with so many three-plus letter words out of them, again, against the close. This one KILLS me. I work hard, can't figure out any, and come up with a score around 2500 (average). A friend of mine, the only other one who has THE GUTS to take the word challenge ends up with over 10,000 points. HOW THE HELL DID SHE DO THAT? Over the past week, I have not come close. My high score is now 37xx and rarely, do I even get close to that. To be fair, some of the words don't appear to be 'real' words...they are, but they are so obtuse that only my other challenger knows them. So at some point, when I run out of words, I just start plugging letters together and see if they end up making a word...

There is another great word-type puzzle on the net, that is charitable. I love this because it's a quiz - what does the word mean? For each correct answer, 20 grains of rice is donated to the United Nations World Food Program. How's that for even more fun? The more you get right, the harder it gets and well, I like that. I don't want to do puzzles that are too easy...I want a challenge, to learn and TO EARN my geniusness. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Give it a try:
Free Rice: http://www.freerice.com/index.php.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Last Lecture

Remember this? Randy Pausch's last lecture that gained warranted media coverage. I watched it and it is truly an amazing, amazing speech. It's hard to believe that a techie guy could have so much depth. :-)

Just in case you want to see it again:

Well, this video circulated in late 2007. Now, I have heard very little about him and wondered, the other day, what was going on with Mr Pausch. I felt that the next time the media would decide to pick up on him is when, tragically, he would die. The media thrives on that...

So I did a little search. It wasn't hard, but I found Pausch's 'blog'-like-updates. I read through them all. And wow, what a roller-coaster. The last one I read, which was the very first one I read, was dated May 2nd and it stated that the "cancer spread". Since it was the first one I read, as I read backwards in time, I found that this is the worst thing that could happen.

It's since been updated but to read the last entry of May 2nd, knowing the worst news was given to him and his family, then checking back for updates on 5/14 and not seeing any, well, it makes you think -- what are they going through as I flip through my stupid facebook games?

It has since been updated with two other posts. But to read this, is pretty sad and amazing. It really puts my life into perspective. Do I need to be given a death sentence to start living life? I mean, I feel pretty happy but, well, what would I do different if I knew I had three-to-six months to live?

Randy Pausch's Update page: http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html

Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I wasn't really interested in reading this book. Sure, it's on all these "recommended" lists...bestsellers, etc. I tend to try to enjoy the _other_ books that don't get all this attention...although even reading the 'jacket', it doesn't flow into my typical genre.

But a friend suggested it for book club and I thought I'd give it a try. And even though it didn't turn into a book club choice, this is the type of book I exactly need from book clubs.

Water for Elephants is a wonderful story. Sara Gruen is amazing story-teller. And just to clarify, since I felt like the title was just grammatically poor...and confusing with the story "Water for Chocolate"...it means exactly what it says: bringing 'water for elephants', at a circus...

And the setting starts during the old era of circus', traveling from town-to-town by train, with their freaks and menagerie of animals. It is vivid and if you have ever seen the amazing HBO series, Carnivale, this eat, lived and breathed the same tones. In fact, most of the characters in the book I related to the characters in the TV show, so I was able to get pretty realistic visuals as I read through this novel.

We're introduced to the main character, Jakob Jankowski, a young man who is fleeing his life of normalcy...after losing his parents...and just before he takes his exams to become a veterinarian. He lands himself within a mediocre circus, shadowed by the Ringling Brothers...and he's welcomed excitedly because they need a vet.

Soon, we meet others: Marlena, Rosie, Camel, August, Queenie...the list goes on. Sara shows the caste system between the workers and the performers...the business of entertaining, which can include keeping less than savory people with the circus, and the abuse of animals.

But it's Jacob that we follow throughout the story...and the morality of dealing with the people he works with...and the woman he falls for.

But if that story wasn't intriguing enough, there's the story of Jacob as a 90-something year old man, 'stuck' in a nursing home. He is recounting his past but also realizing that, well, his body and mental state is getting frail. This strikes at the heart of me, reading the turmoil of the realization that he cannot walk well, no matter how hard he struggles. How his memory fades and yet he can pretend to know things. And how alone he is...he awaits his family -- anyone -- to take him to the circus (which brings back his young memories of the circus)...and no one shows up.

Heartbreaking, as we read the fight to gain his love and freedom to live a good life, with his children, to the end of his life, without a soul near him.

And as sadly profound that sounds, it is still a good book...probably a new classic. I did read that UNC-CH had it as part of the required reading...so I felt pretty good about myself for reading it on my own and _liking_ it...had I been told, in college or high school to read it, I would've fought the desire.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

High Tech At Its Best

This is the e-mail I receive, after selecting the link at the bottom of a newsletter that states
"If you do not wish to receive marketing and promotional offers from the unnamed newsletter unsubscribe from this list by sending a blank email to: this-e-mail-address."


Instead, I promptly receive an e-mail that states:
Re: your unsubscribe request
> unsubscribe an-email-address message_id=14961457
> confirm

Sorry, but because an-email-address' is a list administrator of the-unnamed-newsletter you cannot unsubscribe by email.

This is a security precaution, to prevent others from unsubscribing you.

To unsubscribe, you can either use the Lyris ListManager Web interface, or you can send the following command to another-email-address

login (enter your password here)
delete dmreview-m an-email-address


Oh my god - it's just a freaking newsletter from a typical technical review site! I don't _buy_ anything from them. I don't have secured interactions with them, outside of the typical account set-ups with any news or information sites. On top of that, my profile on this site has me unsubscribed from everything they offer.

Bad, bad customer experience. There is no logical reason why unsubscribing should be this hard. I don't know my freaking password because I don't use this site...and my cookie is saved so I'm automatically "in" when I go there. And I go there so I can freaking unsubscribe!

This is so ass-backwards. I get the same feeling when I unsubscribe from dumb recreational things, like cooking, recipe-type newsletters...shopping...etc. and I see a message that it will take 4-6 weeks for the usubscribe to take effect. This isn't snail mail...so what is the deal?

So I try again, following the second e-mail and yet again, I receive an e-mail stating I can't be removed for yet another error.

REALLY? WTF?

So finally, I break down and send an e-mail to the only name that shows up in all of these un-subscription e-mails and I send this:

Hi,

I have been trying several times to unsubscribe from a DMReview
newsletter. It feels like I am tied to a national security program,
where simply selecting the link at the bottom of the newsletter will not
suffice:


(c) 2008 SourceMedia and DM Review. All rights reserved.

If you do not wish to receive marketing and promotional offers from DM
Review unsubscribe from this list by sending a blank email to:
leave-14961457-57255416C@list.sourcemedia.com5416C@list.sourcemedia.com>

To unsubscribe from other SourceMedia lists, contact our Customer
Service department at the phone number or email address provided below.

[http://63.240.127.142/promoart/6734_DMRadioEmail/sm_logo.gif]
SourceMedia
One State Street Plaza, 27th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (800) 221-1809
Email: custserv@sourcemedia.com


If I select the link from the above piece of the newsletter, I then
receive this reply:

Re: your unsubscribe request
> unsubscribe dmreview-m
> Karen.Cole@sourcemedia.com
> message_id=14961457 confirm

Sorry, but because 'karen.cole@sourcemedia.com' is a list administrator
of dmreview-m you cannot unsubscribe by email.

This is a security precaution, to prevent others from unsubscribing you.

To unsubscribe, you can either use the Lyris ListManager Web interface,
or you can send the following command to
lyris@list.sourcemedia.com

login (enter your password here)
delete dmreview-m
karen.cole@sourcemedia.com



I tried the latter - though pretty cryptic in this day and age of more
descriptive instructions - after going back to the DMReview website to
figure out what my password was (guessed it right the second time) only
to find this reply to my SECOND request (today) for unsubscribing:



Your email address or password did not refer to an administrator.
> login XXXXX

Your entire message is reproduced below:

---

login XXXXX
delete dmreview-m
karen.cole@sourcemedia.com

----------------------------------------------------------

The following lines in your email message did not appear to be Lyris
ListManager commands and were skipped:

> login XXXXX
> -> Your email address or password did not refer to an administrator.
> -> Processing of your message was stopped.

This email message is simply a notification of how Lyris ListManager
understood your email message. If you want to resend your commands,
send them to
lyris@list.sourcemedia.com



This is quite comical, but not a very good user experience. There
really is no reason, especially to a DM Radio newsletter that I
voluntarily signed up for, that it should be this difficult to remove
myself from an newsletter subscription.

I appreciate any insight on how to get this resolved.

Thank you,


Her reply was to simply "Hi, I will remove you."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bike to Work Week

I can't believe the promotion of "Bike to Work Week" here in my big little city. And the promotion of it is so misleading. I sense balloons, smiley faces, and candy all around this notion of biking to work.

But it's stupid. Not the idea of biking to work -- no, that would be smart. But we are a stupid city because we don't integrate bikes into our 'world'.

We have no bike lanes. Okay, there are a few but they do not connect to anything relevant.

For instance, the bike land on Edwards Mill Road...to get to it, you have to traverse major roads that DO NOT have bike lanes...then suddenly, bike lanes on both sides of the road. And just as suddenly, and generously as they are given, they are abruptly taken back as you approach Wade Avenue. There's even a sign that explicitly states END OF BIKE LANE.

And let's not forget the morons who use the bike lane as a turn lane...recall my post Well, Under These Circumstances.... They still do it. My road rage comes back seeing those buttholes take up the bike lane.

And I DON'T EVEN BIKE TO WORK. The only biking I will do is on the greenway. Or better yet, my vacation in Hilton Head -- where there ARE BIKE PATHS and bikes are a common mode of transportation...and also, a boom for their tourism dollars.

So what the hell is Raleigh, and "biker friendly" Cary thinking? Promoting this crap? It's not safe. There is no easy way for anyone to bike to work unless they live AT work.

In the past month, just here in the area, there was a bicyclist killed near NC State in broad daylight. Another woman was hit and suffered head injuries on May 4th. And according to news reports, there were well over 900 bicycle-car crashes in 2005 in North Carolina alone.

On top of that, the attitudes of non-bikers is just ignorant. They don't know the regulations and retort with "a car wins between a bike and a car". What kind of thinking is that? Well, apparently, NO THINKING is involved because if they had any sense, they would know the rules about sharing the road and if they had any moral bone to their body, they would actually think more about sharing the fucking road.

How do you educate idiots?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

My day went pretty well, despite the fact that I have a head cold. And with a head cold, the morning is one of the shittiest parts of the day. Nothing but extreme head pain in my sinus cavities.

But my youngest climbed into bed with me...Tim had already been up...and gave me her Happy Mother's Day sentiment. I gave her a big hug and kiss then mentioned that my head hurt and I was going to take some medicine. She asked if I would wait because she wanted to snuggle. :-)

She proceeded to tell me how she LOVES Saturdays and Sundays because we don't have to get up and get ready for school. She said it would be nice if we could do this everyday...and YES, I totally agreed.

Later, CJ gave me her greeting cards. The best thing about her greeting cards are that they are homemade. I really despise store bought cards...very trite. Nothing means the world to me than a homemade card...and even when CJ was much younger, and all she could do was write "I you"...or even chicken-scratch...there was more worth to that than spending $4 on a card.

But today she gave me a slew of cards she had made the past week, including a 'pocketful of kisses' which were pink lips, with pictures of little lips on them.

Tim made me a wonderful egg, cheese, tomato and arugula panini for breakfast. Then my girls gave me my gifts: a new, pink yoga mat and a homemade hat ring, with little green/white checkered hats glued to a cardboard ring.

CJ also helped me with my laundry. And Tim cleared out the dishes, cleaned more, then made dinner.

At the dinner table, I told everyone that what I mentioned above was the best Mother's Day gifts I could ever hope for. And although I loved the yoga mat, everything else was far more special because, well, I can get a yoga mat any day, but everything else, well, it only comes along once in a lifetime.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Cary Cafe

This would be the "breakfast nazi" place I've mentioned in a previous post.

I love this place. I credit my friend Erin for turning me on to this place, which was several years ago. Then I have to credit $Bill for choosing this as our place after our long Saturday runs.

This place has some of the best breakfast dishes in town. Cooked-to-order, with piles of delightful food. I am a traditional egg breakfast person, so I tend to stick with the omelets: spinach, mushroom and swiss, or spinach, roasted tomatoes and swiss.

My usual is accompanied by stone-ground grits (these don't come 'instantly'), bacon or fruit (depending on how health-conscious I want to be that day) and a homemade biscuit.

Tim usually opts for the Belgian waffle drenched in fresh berries, that is also accompanied with eggs (any choice).

$Bill goes for the belgian waffle on the lemon pancakes. And a mocha, which again, is created by the breakfast nazi himself...and it is quite delicious. Although not quite the barista you may see at Starbucks, his mochas taste quite good for a much better price.

Why do I call him the breakfast nazi? Because he doesn't tolerate the bullshit from stupid patrons. And as many Saturdays that I've eaten there, there is always a complaint.

Several weeks ago, a woman comes up with her eggs and asks for them to be cooked "with the yolks runny but the whites cooked" (her complaint was that the yolks were not runny). He kind of blows her off and addresses the cooks with what she said and one cook (i think his wife) states, 'she asked for them over-medium'...so the breakfast nazi shouts to the patron, who is now at her table "You asked for over-medium, that's why they're like that!" To which she debates him that other restaurants cook it the way she described it. Where he does the blow off "Yeah Yeah, okay. We will cook them again."

He's told children to stop crying before.

Today, someone came with a chocolate chip cookie and I have no idea what he said was wrong with it but the b'nazi wasn't hearing a thing...he just took the cookie from the man, ignoring him, threw it in the trash and grabbed another one and gave it to him.

It's funny to watch him because he's just like, whatever! Although, a hint of attitude but as long as you go in, order your food, and sit down and comply, he leaves you alone.

And that is why I love this place...the food, and the breakfast nazi.

Oh, but the unfortunate thing is that it is in Cary...they just don't deserve this place.

The "I'm At Home" People

I am annoyed by these folks, the ones who forget that they are NOT at home, in public places?

For instance, Tim and I ate at the breakfast nazi place (best breakfast in town). There were a couple of goober dads, in their khaki shorts with their polo shirts, who just thought they were at home.

What I mean by that: they pay for their food and just barrel around to their table -- not seeing that there are actually people behind, or near them. When their food order is called, they jump right up, without regard for other patrons who happen to be walking by their chair. They just traipse around as though they are the only one in the facility and act all surprise when "poof!" someone just happens to be in the way.

Fucking goobers.

My New Tattoo: Session 11, 12 and 13

So I'm a little behind in my tattoo tales. Well, actually, I've been slacking on the ole' blog posts. I blame Facebook, as I have been glued to that evil networking site for a couple of weeks. Let's see if I can start getting my priorities straight...

Session 11 occurred April 11th. This particular session was to put the finishing touches on the work that had been done up to then. There were parts that needed to be retouched and connecting the dragon to parts of the clouds and lava rock. This was particularly cool in the sense that what I _had_ was complete.

Session 12 (April 25th) was adding new stuff. The new stuff would be the cover-up of my existing dragon: my first "real" tattoo. Katherine drew on me for about half an hour. I think I've mentioned before that this feels great. My back is her canvas with sharpies as her artist's tool of choice. It's also awesome, in every sense of that word -- that someone could just 'randomly' draw what they are visioning.

After the sharpies, she wipes is off and starts with the ink. This 12th session consisted entirely of outlines, which typically is the most painful. And indeed it was. The first needle she used was the mack-daddy and I would say intolerable, but I did tolerate it. I akin it to the feeling of sticking a phillips head into your skin and just dragging it around. She switched to another needle, which probably would have been just as painful had I not endured the phillips head pain.

The outlines hit my upper right shoulder and now, there is no hiding this tattoo from everyday clothing. Of course, to the non-tattoo-appreciator, it looks like a bunch of heavy black lines. They have no vision and thus, I care little for their words.

But it's pretty cool to just kind of look across my shoulder and see this thing.

Session 13 was yesterday (May 7th). And as I have said to a few people, I do not anticipate these sessions as much as I used to. It's not that I am done with the tattoo, but the time I devote to these sessions interferes with the rest of my day. And most of all, I am not looking forward to the pain. Over the past (almost) year, the pain threshold is decreasing. Most of my time is spent concentrating on Yoga breathing, to deal with the extreme, burning, stabbing sensation or rating the particular pain at the moment: "that's not bad" to "holy fucking shit, i'm going to freak out". The latter is most common. The other tactic is to count to four...but it's more like ONETWOTHREEFOURONETWOTHREEFOURONETWOTHREEFOUR in my head. Screaming and shouting, as though the numbers were one word. Hey, all three of these tactics work within seconds of each other. It's how I make it to the 13th session.

But believe it or not, there are moments where the pain is very tolerable and I actually zone into day-dreaming mode -- which I can quickly be jarred from by one of those "holy shit" moments. And other times? I actually feel like I will fall asleep.

But yesterday's session left me a little bummed. Yesterday was actually shading in the outlines and the beginning of the cover-up on my beloved, faded, first dragon...the inspiration for _this_ dragon. Apparently, the first dragon does not want to go away. Katherine was beating herself up about it but her take was that I may have to get some of the original dragon lasered off. This dragon has green in it and the green is still showing through the black. But she also does not want to create a big black blob...her artistry, of course, needs not be flawed.

So she mentioned a place in Fayetteville that does laser and it was fairly cheap. She mentioned that Nathan, Rachael and William (the other tattoo artist at her place) had gone there to have their tattoos lasered.

And as a sidenote, I found it ironic that I would laser a tattoo to put a tattoo on top. It is exactly what the three above people have done. They want something different, so they endure the laser treatment to add MORE ink to their bodies.

We will wait to see how this session heals and how much of the old comes through. I asked Rachael about her laser work and she showed me a faded bluish band around her lower arm, in which she plans to cover up. I asked her if it was painful and she said OH YES. IT'S THE WORST PAIN I'VE EVER HAD. This coming from a girl who is pretty covered with tattoos, especially her left arm that is painted black.

Great, I think. More pain. Especially, as Rachael described, pain that is like snapping a rubber band against your skin, while pouring hot bacon grease on it that's full of hatred.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Yes, Frances, I Do Have Feelings

Saturday was a baby shower for a long-time friend. I was pretty excited about seeing her, as she has lived in Memphis, TN for the past two years, I think...and well, she's having a baby! I've known this girl since 1995 and well, she wasn't totally _interested_ in having kids. I think I was pretty outspoken about not having kids, but she was just kind of like, eh, whatever.

So when I received an e-mail a few months back that she was expecting, I about fainted. I know my mouth dropped and stayed that way...I think even today, when I think about it.

So she was "in town" for a baby shower. Her family live in Morehead City and she just has a bundle of friends still in the area, so I was excited that she was in town, for all of us to see.

Gravel RoadThe baby shower was at one of her good friend's house in New Hill. It wasn't even 30 miles away, so not far. The road the house address was at ended up being a gravel road. It was beautiful and I was sick that I left my camera at home (so I had to resort to the ole camera phone).

As I drove down this road, I passed by a picture-perfect woman on a horse, coming the other way in the field next to the gravel road. It was something like you would see in Life magazine - just serene and beautiful.

Pasture with View of the Back PorchDrivewayI arrive at the house, which sets nicely on several green acres of land. Its road was also gravel-y,with a beautiful barn and beautiful green pastures.

BarnPastureMost of the activity took place on the back porches: one is screened, where all the food was (and there was a lot) and the other spot was the covered and roomy porch.

When I first walked in, I walked into a room full of "who are yous". I didn't know anyone. Then I saw my friend's mom, who used to work at the same place that I (and friend) worked at. I greeted her and asked where her daughter was. Immediately, my friend walked in, beautiful with her baby belly, and what did I do?

I cried. I gave her a big hug and it felt like I had really missed her, without even realizing I did. I had no plans of crying or even acting anything other than really happy to see her and yet, I shed some tears involuntarily. It was surprisingly emotional for me and I guess I just have some deep emotional bond for my friend.

But she did look lovely and just seeing her, and knowing the struggles she's had, how she put aside stability and security for a dream, and now, carrying a baby that we both thought wouldn't happen (well, not just us two...), it was really a beautiful thing.

And I'm glad that I can be around to see it happen...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Best Sports Drink

A great thing about finishing a run at the end of the afternoon is the fabulous cold Corona Light I can drink afterwards...