Saturday, September 30, 2006

Feeling Old Yet? 1974: Long hair 2004: Longing for hair 1974: KEG 2004: EKG 1974: Acid rock 2004: Acid reflux 1974: Moving to California because it's cool 2004: Moving to California because it's warm 1974: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor 2004: Trying NOT to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor 1974: Seeds and stems 2004: Roughage 1974: Hoping for a BMW 2004: Hoping for a BM 1974: The Grateful Dead 2004: Dr. Kevorkian 1974: Going to a hip, new joint 2004: Receiving a new hip joint 1974: Rolling Stones 2004: Kidney Stones 1974: Being called into the principal's office 2004: Calling the principal's office 1974: Screw the system 2004: Upgrade the system 1974: Disco 2004: Costco 1974: Parents begging you to get your hair cut 2004: Children begging you to get their heads shaved 1974: Passing the drivers' test 2004: Passing the vision test 1974: Whatever 2004: Depends Just in case you weren't feeling too old today, this will certainly change things: *The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1990. *Their lifetime has always included AIDS. *Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic. *They have always had an answering machine. *They have always had cable. *They cannot fathom not having a remote control. *Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show. *Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave. *They never took a swim and thought about Jaws. *They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are. *They don't know who Mork was or where he was from. *They never heard: "Where's the Beef?" , "I'd walk a mile for a Camel," or "de plane, de plane." *They do not care who shot J. R. and have no idea who J. R. even is. *McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers. *They don't have a clue how to use a typewriter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Namaste I did a few yoga poses and relaxed for about 10 minutes. It felt really good. I did not realize that I missed it so much. I used to practice on a regular basis, but the joy went out of it for me about a year ago. I was teaching four classes a week while working a full time job. To be a good yoga instructor you have to be committed, maintain a personal practice, and attend training regularly. I just couldn’t do it, so I had to give up the teaching…I was not ready to commit full time to yoga and give up the benefits to which I had become accustomed…you know a regular paycheck and benefits. Some would say that is not the true path for a guru, but you make it your own. Teaching also took away from my personal practice. Yoga is more physical than people think and I just did not have the time or the energy to practice. I need to get back to it; my personal practice. Find a good yoga instructor and take some classes. My body and mind need the peace that yoga brings. In the long run it will help with my work and personal life too. I also began to study the Yoga Sutras. I was finding my way and taking a look at my life. Maybe that is the real reason I stopped my practice. I was beginning to see who I really was and I was not meeting my expectations. I know that sounds like a lot of hoo haa, but there comes a point in your life when you have to take a good look at who you. Maybe you like yourself, but maybe you realize that you have to make some changes. I have never been a spiritual person and the Sutras began to make sense to me. They began to bring some meaning to me, of who I was, and who I could be. You are probably thinking that I am getting all introspective because I am away from home and lonely. But that is not the case. I have never minded being by myself. I always find something to do, even if sometimes the behavior was destructive. I want to improve me. Make my life better. And by making my life better, I can make it better for my family. I will have to give this some more thought. Pull out the Yoga Sutras and give them some more study. I want to continue my journey to maturity and adulthood, but I want to have a good life and have some fun along the way…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Adventures in Picture Framing I purchased a really great poster in NY to hang in the red room. Also known as the travel room. I purchased a frame (can't afford to have it professionally framed) and enlisted 'the old man', in future to be referred to as Tom, to help with the trimming and framing of the poster. Now, first you need to know that Tom draws blood during the easiest of tasks. Maybe he likes the color red. Anyway, whether he is working on the car, building a shelf, or doing yard work Tom always comes in the house bleeding. Suffice it to say, we can add framing posters to the list of dangerous things to do around the house. Luckily, Tom just changed the blade in the utility knife so it was a nice, clean cut. The cut probably needed some stitches, but being Tom he said "nah, let's just get it cleaned up and bandaged". Which is what we did. Amazingly, Tom did not get a drop of blood on the frame, poster, or in the work area. I told you, he was an expert. He did wake up with a throbbing member during the middle of the night. No, not that member. Tom elevated the finger and the pain went away. This morning we cleaned, added bacitacin and re-bandaged the wound to help with healing. Then Tom was on his way to work, planning I am sure, the stories he would tell about his newest injury and the daring adventure in which it occurred.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Day 5, September 14: Our last day in NYC. The desk clerk knocked on my door at 6:45. My business credit card was declined again. I spent the next two hours trying to get a limit increase on my card so I would not have to pay on my personal card. One of my colleagues went to the front desk to get an apple and when she returned she was locked out of her room. I convinced them to let her back in and paid for the difference in the room charges on my personal card. What a way to end our trip. It would have been worse. I was so happy to get picked up for the airport. As interesting as NYC is I was ready to go home. Breakfast: Apple from the front desk Lunch: Sausage with onions and water from a street vendor Dinner: Hamburger happy mean in Ladonia, AL with my husband at 11:00 Entertainment: Convincing the desk clerks that we were not going to run out on our bill Shopping: None
Day 4, September 13: Today was a work day and our last full day in the city. We were going to try to catch the 6:00 ferry cruise. We had to be on the subway by five. I also got the name of a sushi restaurant in the Village. We could stop and eat on the way back. The ferry was great. The weather was cooler, but not cold. The ride was about an hour and we could finally say that we made it to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. Of course, we only took photos and we never got off the boat, but that was ok by me. By this time, my blisters had blisters. It was windy enough that there were several sailboats in the harbor and river. Quite picturesque. I recommend the ferry. It is just enough to give you a view of NY from the water and get some great skyline shots. We enjoyed the trip. We headed to the subway. We had dinner plans in the Village and needed to get going. On the train, we didn’t recognize any of the street names so we got off at the first stop…in Brooklyn. We were going the wrong direction! We got back on the train, heading in the right direction. We were hungry and tired. I had the address of the restaurant and we began walking…again. I could lose a lot of weight if I lived in this city. I am not sure how far we walked, but we were unable to find Samba Sushi…We hailed a cab and headed to Times Square. We knew there was a sushi joint next to the pizza place where we ate the night before. Taxi’s are slow, but faster than walking. We finally made it to the restaurant and they actually had a table. Of course I order teriyaki chicken. I was not ready to order a complete sushi meal when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat it. I also ordered a Philadelphia roll. The chicken was great and the roll was too. I tried a small piece of eel, the texture was interesting, but it tasted like smoked fish. The real surprise came after the meal when my business card was declined. It was good preparation for what was to come. Breakfast: Apple Lunch: Great turkey sandwich with brie at Green Beans Dinner: Sushi, it tastes like chicken...oh, that was the chicken Shopping: 3 bars of Olive Oil facial soap from a local market Entertainment: Reaction on my face when my business credit card was declined
Day 3, September 12: Second attempt to purchase theatre tickets; Wicked, Sweeney Tod, or Spamalot. We did not have to be to work until 2:00 so we had plenty of time. Having learned our lesson on Sunday, we headed to Times Square. We stopped at Starbucks for coffee and a roll…great breakfast. Right next door was a theatre store where you could buy souvenirs…so we did. And on to the TKTS booth…but they did not open until 2:00 today. We were not yet on city time. We had three hours before we had to be at work and we headed to the Empire State Building (ESB). We worried that the lines would be long and we would not be able to make it, but we would give it our best shot. We agreed to purchase the trip to then top…the 102nd floor. It was $14 more, but worth every penny. (Total $30). We went to 102 first. It was clear as a bell that day and we could see for miles. I told my husband that I would call him from the top and I did. It was great. We did not want to go down, we had to descend eventually. We almost had it to ourselves. Very few pay the extra money to come up. I signed the guest book “Simply amazing,” because it was. 86 was really a let down after that. It was so crowded you could not get a decent photo. You could hardly walk around the deck. I did buy a poster of the NY skyline to hang in the adventure room. It will look great when I get it framed. We checked with the concierge at the hotel for show tickets, but they were going to be very expensive. We skipped the idea of a show and went for pizza and beer. Then we spent a few hours at a local tavern and relaxed…the deep dive was more stressful than we thought it would be. What happens in NY stays in NY! Breakfast: Hot Chai Latte and Blueberry Scone, apple Lunch: A cool shower Dinner: Bella Vita for pizza and beer Entertainment: 1 Strawberry Mojito, 1 tequila on the rocks, 1 corona Shopping: 5 I {heart} NY Teddy Bears for the DS team, 1 New York Apple Bell Christmas ornament, Skyline poster from the ESB
Day 2, September 11: Today was a work day, so we did not get to do any exploring until after work. We did decide that we were going to Central Park, the Rose Center, and Serendipity 3 for dinner. We took the subway to Central Park West.We stopped at the Dakota and Strawberry Fields to pay homage to John Lennon. Of course we got the requisite photos. I sent my poem to John via a burning candle. Quite corny actually, but it made me feel good. I hope he liked it. Then we headed to the Rose Center. You know how when you look at things on the map they don’t really look that far…? When in NY the blocks are short one way and long the other way…it seems we were always walking the long way. I had a blister the size of a quarter on my heel and it was giving me a lot of trouble. But I kept moving forward. After the Rose Center, we decided it was time to eat some dinner, so we started our trek to Serendipity. Of course the walk was longer than we anticipated. We had to walk from the west side to the east side. My dogs were howling. My compadres suggested another restaurant, but I was not going to let my sore feet be the reason we did not make it to a restaurant in which they wanted to eat. Now Serendipity has been around for a long time and is famous for desserts. The rich and famous bring their children here; however on this day we saw neither the rich nor the famous. We finally got the timing right and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. What we did get was the best sandwich north of the Mason-Dixon line. I had A Summer Bries. Rye bread, turkey, and melted brie. I have never had brie before and I am now a fan. It is wonderful. If you have never tried you really must. There was some kind of sauce on it also, but I can’t remember. Food always tastes so good when you have earned it. But what we really came here for was the Frozen Hot Chocolate. And it really was worth every penny we paid for it. I highly recommend both the sandwich and the dessert. We decided to hail a cab back to the hotel because I refused to walk back to the subway station. It may have taken a little longer, but the price would have been about the same and I was finally sitting down. Breakfast: Green Beans, apple from the front desk Lunch: In the Office Dinner: Serendipity Dessert: Frozen Hot Chocolate Shopping: None Entertainment: Pooping the blisters on my feet
Manhattan . . . brings a different image to mind for everyone. Me, I think of crowded streets, smells (some good and some not so good), horns honking, hot subways, tall buildings (and small), ESB, Lady Liberty, WTC and ground zero, crazy taxi drivers, and street performers. It also brings to mind good food with good friends, a few beers in the local pub, walking almost everywhere, sensory overload, culture shock, and street vendors selling everything from hot dogs to designer handbags. I managed it to make to most of the places on my “to do” list. Our hotel was in midtown Manhattan…just two blocks from Times Square, more restaurants and bars in two blocks than the whole of Columbus, GA, and Broadway. Day One, September 10: We arrived around 11:00; plenty of time to get to the room and see some of the sights. Our first stop would be the TKTS booth to get theatre tickets. We assumed it was ten blocks from our hotel (we were informed that the Times Square booth was a long wait and more expensive…) so we walked…and walked…and walked. We walked thru the garment district, the flower district, the flatiron district, Union Square, Greenwich Village, NoHo, Soho, and into the financial district. There were protestors at Ground Zero and blisters on my feet. 30 blocks and we were at least 10 blocks from our destination. We spent some time at Ground Zero. I was in the middle of a protest that I knew nothing about before my arrival. But it was exciting. I wanted to be a part of it. I did not want to walk another step (and not just because my feet were sore). I wanted to sit down and talk to the people and feel what they were feeling, be part of something bigger than myself. The pulse of the crowd was palpable, as was their passion. They brought their voices together for the greater good, expressing their ideas in a peaceful and respectful manner…this is, after all, a place of memorial. My companions were ready to move on… When we finally found the TKTS booth, it was closed. We were deflated, tired, and hungry. It’s about 2:30 and we got an outdoor table at Red, a Mexican restaurant on Fulton Street. The food was ok. We could have got the same thing for half the price at Taco Bell, but it was a beautiful day and my feet were finally at rest. The streets were filled with people: a young bride and her groom walking to their reception; a young Jewish girl dressed for her Bat Mitzvah, her father, brother, and photographer trailing behind her, Elvis singing his greatest hits in gold lame shorts. After lunch, we headed over to the pier 17 to take a look around. We bought tickets for the ferry. We were going to say hello to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. The ferry would be leaving in about 45 minutes so we took some photos of the Brooklyn Bridge and checked out some of the local entertainment. At the appropriate time, we headed over to the ferry loading area. Our timing on this day continued to work against us as the harbor was being closed by the Coast Guard for the arrival of Bushy and his entourage. We had had enough. We got a refund and headed for the subway. 20 minutes later I was back in my hotel room, ready to take a nap before dinner. After resting for a couple of hours, we decided to eat at an Irish Pub just off of Times Square. The food was stick to your ribs good. After a beer we headed back to the hotel to prepare for work the next day. Lunch: Red Dinner: Irish pub Shopping: 7 t-shirts for $15… Entertainment: Elvis, street performers of all types, the local citizenry

Friday, September 08, 2006

Whale Watch Five years ago, I had an opportunity to take a whale watching cruise in Alaska. We were looking for a pod of humpback whales and before too long the the call went out, "there she blows". There were more cameras than people on the boat that day; still and video, digital and 35mm. And we were all trying to get the perfect fluke shot. As I think back on it now, I should have just spent the time watching the whales. You have to stay at least 50 feet away from them. We did get to watch the whales fish. They dive down and release bubbles that trap their prey in a "bubble net". Then they swim toward the surface and eat dinner. Pretty cool. It really is amazing. As we cruised thru the Inside Passage, I kept my eyes open for orca sightings. Didn't have any luck. I did have an opportunity to see orcas (I hate to admit) at Sea World a few years earlier. They are so intelligent and beautiful, they brought tears to my eyes. It would have been great to see them in their natural habitat. Which leads me to the reason for this post today. I was read an article in the NY Times about a group that is trying to preserve the habitat of three pods of resident orcas in Puget Sound. Resident orcas stay in one area and live in extended family groups. If you have time, give it a read. I added a link to the article. You may have to register for the Times to read it but it's free. Namaste...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

To John: This haiku is for you. I plan to visit the Dakota and Strawberry Fields when I travel to NY next week. See you then.
From London you came Your guitar on your shoulder And peace in your heart.
(Photo by Richard Avedon)
Other things to do in NY: Empire State Building Statue of Liberty Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate Times Square Good Morning America Central Park Shopping
Grand Central Station
See a Show
China Town
Ride the Subway
Photograph Everything so I can share it with Al!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Office Ping-Pong (Is it Really Burnout?) This is my second reference to office ping-pong and maybe you are asking yourself “is this some new version of the traditional table tennis game?” In one word, the answer is no. Office ping-pong is that moment in time, or maybe even an entire day, in which everyone person you come in contact with wants something from you, every phone call, every email, and every face-to-face meeting requires an immediate response from you. You try to do ten things at once and you have to be conscious of what you are doing. You are running into a concrete wall at mach 1 and you can’t stop. You just keep moving forward because you know you have to get the ball over the net and win the game. You are highly productive during the ping-pong session, or so you think. But what details are you missing in your attempt to keep your eye on the ball? Did you forget your kids at school? Leave the dog outside and you are leaving for a three day business trip? Miscalculate a column of numbers that means millions of dollars in lost revenue for your company? You have highly developed organizational skills, but in all the excitement that comes with this frenetic energy, did you throw something away that you needed in a misguided attempt to clear your desk? Or did you put something into a folder that won’t be rediscovered until three years from now. Not much use to you then. Garbage. By the time you finally slow down, you are so jazzed that you can’t. And you had only one cup of coffee! And nothing to eat! This leads me to believe that the combination of caffeine, adrenaline, and an empty stomach can drive us to great professional heights and deep emotional lows. Your opponent just scored a point. The ball bounces past you. You are weak and exhausted. You stare at your desk in a daze and wonder where the time went. It is 1:00 in the afternoon and you’ve been in the game for five hours. Bed sounds good, but you still have three hours left. You know you need to eat lunch, but the adrenaline high that kept you going all morning is telling you “you don’t need food, your stomach is full”. Ahhh, endorphins. You take lunch anyway, but it is a less than satisfying experience. You eat too quickly and get heartburn. You did not relax. You spent your time thinking about what you should have done differently in one situation or another. You wonder if when you get back to your desk it will be more of the same. Or not. You can’t find the ball. You can’t get it started? Or finished? The rest of the day is a bust. You might as well go home, but your office does not believe in “flex time”. You’ve done eight hours of work in five, but you still have to hit the clock. And it is likely that you did more work in those five hours than 50% of the people that work in your office. So what’s the trade-off, professional success or personal suicide? Do you thrive on the excitement of the game or is the pressure too much to bear? When do you say “I have had enough”? You are too young to retire, but too old to change professions. Do you want to? You need a break but you just got back from vacation! You can still win the match but at what cost? Are you willing to pay it? Is there a compromise or do you become complacent and maintain the status quo? Finally, it’s time to go home. As you walk to your car you begin to relax. It feels good to be outside, the smell of the river, the warm breeze against your face, the sound of the fountain. You stop to smell the flowers and you get stung in the ass by a bee. It’s always something isn’t it?