Standing naked before you

Ok, so I have a confession to make.  For the last several months I’ve been pretty doggone sick.  It started back in October right after the fires, but I’ve been through a number of seemingly unrelated phases.  Breathing problems, high blood pressure, severe loss of appetite…the list goes on.  As public as I tend to be with my life, there are certain kinds of vulnerabilities that I’d rather not disclose.  But now that I’m one follow-up appointment away from being pretty sure that I’m ok, I’m more comfortable telling this part of my story.  Plus it makes my recent twitter messages come less out of left field.

Continue reading “Standing naked before you”

Themeword for 2008: Release

(Thanks to Ted for giving me the idea for this.)

I’ve toyed with the idea of making a State of the Lisa post to explore where I’ve been in 2007 and where I want to go in 2008, but I’ve been putting it off because I really haven’t wanted to drudge around in my 2007 thoughts more than absolutely necessary.  Not that it was a particularly bad year, mind you.  I got involved with some really great organizations, exciting projects, and have generally learned a whole heck of a lot about myself.  But I think now in 2008 I need to focus on taking all this stored up energy and take it to the next level.  It’s time to release.

I feel like I’m growing more in this regard every day, but I still need to release myself from the past.  I catch myself in moments where I’m either stunned with resentment or reminiscing about the Earth-that-was, but I’m learning to let these moments of emotion flow through to completion rather than dwell or shut them out.  Utmost thanks to those who have taught me to fully experience and appreciate the joys and sorrows that compose the human condition.  You know who you are.

In the software world, release also has a different connotation…to get a product out the damn door.  I have a moleskine that has pages of midnight inspirations covering a surprisingly eclectic spread of verticals, and I just now have a release candidate waiting on my desktop that’s only the tip of Technarium’s iceberg.  No offence meant to Dave…he’s a saint for making sense of my visions and putting up with an encroaching managerial thought process ("I don’t know what, I don’t know how, but I want it to work with Facebook."), but I want a more active role in what I see actually implemented.  Maybe it means getting Dave a minion, maybe it means developing more myself, (Dave, if you say it means "finding an icon" I swear to your god I will stab you in the face), but I will be a part of some great apps to be released in 2008.

Cheers to a new year.

A rant about soup

Right now I need to bitch about soup.  Well…stew.  When I was but a wee child, I used to think Dinty Moore brand beef stew was one of the best things to come in a can.  There were big chunks of potatoes and giant yet quite tender chunks of meat swimming in a succulent brown gravy.  I haven’t been able to find any Dinty Moore brand beef stew in San Diego until recently, but I do assure you that I would lie awake many nights longing for what I considered to be the perfect stew.

So when I found a can of Dinty Moore brand beef stew in the short but sweet grocery isle of the neighborhood drugstore a few days ago, I was sure I had found a feast worthy of being my Christmas dinner.  I took my treasured can home and left it under the Christmas tree until it was time for my holiday feast.

I cranked off the lid to find not a can swimming with luxurious gravy, but a similarly colored yet not entirely appetizing brown gel.  I was still greeted with the same carrots and smaller yet appropriately textured potatoes, but no visible meat.  Worrying now about the quality of my dinner to be, I dug out a familiar brown chunk and tested it.  While not particularly bad flavored, the meat reminded me more of a wad of wet sawdust that someone had briefly explained the role of stew meat to, but had not experienced it first hand.

What real Dinty Moore brand beef stew should look like.

This last atrocity being too much for me to bear, I put the opened can on the floor for the cats and ate a bowl of cereal.

I wish I didn’t have to admit it, but this is not the first time such events have taken place.  I used to LOVE macaroni and cheese, but boxes I’ve bought over the past 9 years just don’t have the cheesy tanginess that I’m used to (which has caused more than one poor box of macaroni to be hurled across my kitchen in frustration).  I’ve been similarly disappointed with Healthy Choice dinners.  I used to think that was pretty damn quality food (for a tv dinner), and now I won’t even buy them on clearance.

Has packaged food quality really taken such a drastic turn for the worse, or am I so acclimated to the typical California Organic Everything ™ movement that now I see these foods for what they really are?  This starving hippy geek would love to know.

Tao Te Ching: Effectiveness

The passage I was hunting in the Tao Te Ching. Still not about boxes.

Thirty spokes around the hub:
In their nothingness consists the carriage’s effectiveness.
One hollows the clay and shapes it into pots:
In its nothingness consists the pot’s effectiveness.
One cuts out doors and windows to make the chamber:
In their nothingness consists the chamber’s effectiveness.

Therefore: what exists serves for possession.
What does not exist serves for effectiveness.

By any other name

I’ve been noticing as of late that I am increasingly shunning sweet foods. But my vendetta isn’t against your typical cakes and cookies…I decided this week that I absolutely despise all fruit juices, and few days go by where I don’t have a bowl of what I’ve fondly nicknamed Sticks and Cardboard(tm)…an organic bran and flax seed cereal that does distinctly resemble the color and texture of twigs and shredded cardboard. Best combined with a measure of unsweetened almond milk.

Appetizing, huh? I can’t get enough of it, and I can’t figure out why. Am I turning into a health food nut, or am I preferring boring foods in general because of some sub-conscious decision that I don’t deserve to gluttonously enjoy meals? Perhaps more importantly…Why am I so comforted by this blander diet?

Stress is a funny, funny thing. In some ways I’m just happy that I’m able to eat at all.

June 18, 2007 @ 11:00 PM – Come up to the library, we’ll have a wild time

Tonight I left my mother in the casino so I could try to actually write from the deck, but the latter part of this plan failed for a number of reasons. One, this really isn’t a laptop-friendly ship and I couldn’t find anywhere to set up that wasn’t stuck in a corner and freezing. Two, the night sky over the ocean wasn’t nearly as inspirational as I expected it would be. No stars, no lights on the horizon, just infinite pitch black. I stared into it for a few minutes and was eerily both drawn to and repulsed by it in that “œif you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you” sort of way, so I decided I’d be safer to write from the library. Several of the passageways have cozy nooks and crannies where I’d like to set up sometime, but at night the bars there are overflowing with loud people and louder music. Tomorrow is another day at sea, so maybe I can slip off a bit then.

Speaking of slipping off, after leaving mom to nap after our Cabo excursion I found a semi-quiet place to read my prescribed book for the trip, Franny and Zooey. My honest first reaction…Salinger uses commas like crack cocaine. I got the shorter first section finished, but I doubt I’ll have a chance to read any more of it before disembarking Thursday.

I discovered today how really useless I am without technology. Well, not quite useless…I’m just so used to having something electronic handy to record thoughts and ideas as they pop into my head before I forget them or at least forget how I originally wanted to phrase them. I’ve been asking the staff for a pen and paper all afternoon to record bits and pieces so I can recall them now when I have time to flesh those ideas out a bit.
Continue reading “June 18, 2007 @ 11:00 PM – Come up to the library, we’ll have a wild time”

June 18, 2007 @ 4:30 PM – Cabo San Lucas and the story of the hat

Woke up in Cabo and had to reboot my computer to get the GPS stuff working again, but then I actually started getting a fix. YAY! No time to celebrate, though, because today is the first day to see something besides what’s on this ship. After being ferried ashore by a little boat, I quickly realized I might as well have been in Tijuana…typical shitty tourist trap. Blocks full of bars and people on the street haggling you to buy a necklace (“For you, almost free!”) every ten feet. And even though the shops sold all the same crap, Mom and I decided to browse through anyway.

The sun was fairly bright, and I was just slightly sweltering in my regulation black pants and jacket. I tried on a random hat off a table and asked the guy if he had a mirror. He dug around and found one, and I swear this hat was the most perfect hat ever. We united spirits in such a way as previously believed to be impossible between a human and a haberdash. The guy said the hat was $10, which was a completely fair price to pay for my hat equivalent of a soulmate. I handed the guy my credit card, but he frowned and said he only takes cash. I didn’t have a slip of paper money on me, so I decided to let it go. It’s just a hat, I thought. And besides, I never wear them anyway. I went on to buy a little black dress with yellow flowers and some fancy vanilla for Dan from some of the other vendors (one of which, I should note, also didn’t accept cards. But he had a friend who would charge it for a few extra bucks).

Continue reading “June 18, 2007 @ 4:30 PM – Cabo San Lucas and the story of the hat”

June 17 – Second day at sea

Today was really less exciting as yesterday, unless you call “lounging on the sun deck with a martini watching the wake of the ship all afternoon” exciting.

I still have no idea if I’m pulling any valuable GPS data. I’m recording whatever I’m getting, but there are still gaps in even that. There’s only ONE electrical outlet in the whole room, so twice now I’ve forgotten to plug my laptop back in after doing my hair and the battery has ended up dead for several hours. And once I came back to find that Dave’s GPS uploading app had frozen up…but in his defense, another GPS utility I’m using was acting strangely, too (a reboot fixed everything). I unfortunately just don’t have time to be constantly troubleshooting my setup. Important lounging to be done and all that.

Tonight was the Captain’s Party where everyone gets all dressed up. I bought a long wrap in one of the shops to go with my dress, but I quickly learned it is impossible to carry a camera and clutch and try to manage one of those things. I eventually figured out that it’s much easier for me to just throw the wrap over my shoulder instead of draped over my arms, but at least I was able to get it right for the photos.


After the Captain’s Party and dinner (lobster, and to be honest an uneventful lobster at that), we were headed back to our room to freshen up a bit when mom saw a club that she wanted to check out. I like to dance, but I really shouldn’t do it in heels (else I’ll screw up the nerves in my feet even more to the point where I’d need surgery one day). Well…a couple songs won’t hurt, I thought. So I danced a bit, but the numbness in my toes quickly put me in my place and I had to sit down. Mom didn’t want me to sit alone, so she sat down with me and we were just watching people party like they’re 1000 miles away from home.

Cute girl in a cocktail dress sitting in a club with her mom…Maybe I left myself ripe for the picking? The first boy who came up was actually trying to get both of us to dance, but my mom said I didn’t want to because my feet hurt. Which…was true, but dammit, I wish she wouldn’t have said that. But this insistent little fucker kept trying to get us up and completely ignoring my constant “I can’t, but thank you” until I finally made up an excuse of having a medical condition and I promised I really, really couldn’t. Dammit, I guess it’s not even really made up, but I wish I didn’t have to go that far to get him to quit pestering us. He was really nice about it, though. And apparently he didn’t let it phase him, because 5 minutes later he was all over some skinny blonde girl on the dance floor.

Anyway, a few minutes later one of his friends comes and has a go at actually trying to chat me up a bit. I had been taking a few pictures of people dancing, and he came and sat next to me and mentioned he had the exact same camera.

“Oh really? You have a D80?” I was rather bored, so he definitely had my attention.

“No, it’s a D70.”

Hmm, the previous model. That’s ok, I suppose…beggars can’t be choosers. Until he continued…

“Hey, did you know you have to format your camera?”

Wait, what? Blank stare.

“Yeah, you have to format it or the memory gets corrupted or something.”

I continued to stare at him with obvious incredulousness, wondering if he was trying to see how gullible I was and erase all my pictures to get me back for not dancing with his friend, or if he was just plain ignorant.

Crap, how should I respond?

“I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on my camera.” Cue snotty grin. I’m apparently good at those, because he stammered for a second and bid me a good night. I threw a thank you back at him as he walked away.

I felt really out of place being in the club after that. I mean, I was bitchy to him, but I think I did a lot better than the other reply I was considering which was “you’re full of shit”. I was tired and ready to head back to our stateroom anyway, so I guess it was no big loss.

Tomorrow starts with an early breakfast in bed before exploring Cabo San Lucas. We tried to buy a shore excursion to see “Cabo by Land and Sea”, but it was sold out before we even had a chance to ask about it. We’ve pre-ordered room service so we don’t have to get around just to eat breakfast, and I guess after that we’ll be playing it by ear.

I really wish I could get out tonight with my tripod after most people have gone to bed so I can get some extended exposure shots of one of the restaurants and the atrium that I haven’t been able to get without camera shake, but mom’s griping at me to go to bed like she used to when I still lived at home.

June 16 – First night at sea

[Ed. note: The next several entries I’ll be posting were actually from my cruise journal from last week.]

June 16, 2007 @ 10:26 PM
Ok, so…first night at sea. My initial impression is that all people do on cruises is eat and play bingo. None of the events scheduled really interest me, but laying on the deck with the cool ocean breeze is divine, so I’m ok with that. The evening shows were highly recommended by some of my co-workers, but considering that the last show for the day starts in four minutes and my mother and I are snuggly curled in bed, I’ll have to take Scott’s word for it for now.

Speaking of snuggly curled in bed (kindofish), my mother made it in this morning with plenty of time to spare, but she boldly decided to sleep in the terminal in Houston instead of getting a room. She hung out with another woman who was in a similar situation, and said woman coerced Continental to give her a stack of pillows and blankets, so I’d say that my mother lucked out considering the situation.

Tangent…this side of my blog is weird. I’m so unused to actually fleshing out thoughts instead of condensing them into 140 characters via twitter. I think I’m much better at the latter, but I’ll bravely forge through blogging about the rest of the day anyway.

The actual process of getting on the ship was uneventful, although quite different than I expected (based on movies and whatnot). There wasn’t a crowd of people bidding us bon voyage from the dock, and nobody on the boat was waving scarves and blowing kisses. (for the record, I think we were all trying to find the buffet). One think I did find interesting though is that there’s some crazy law that states everyone has to go through a life vest drill before the ship can disembark. This involves the pleasant British cruise director coming over the intercom (there’s an intercom in all rooms and public areas) and announcing that when the siren sounds, we’ve all gotta grab our life vests and gather in one of the 5 lounges to verify that we were all successfully able to grab our life vests. Life vests are itchy and make me quite claustrophobic and I hope I never have to use one (aside from the obvious reasons), but the photos I got of herds of people looking like they’ve been told to abandon ship almost makes up for the inconvenience.

So after all that got settled and we got back to the room, I pulled out my laptop and Dave’s GPS receiver and started working on getting my geotracking setup situated. I’m not able to get a GPS fix even though our room has a decently sized window, so I’m pretty disappointed. Dave’s uploader app says it was able to get a position though, so I’m going to trust it over the angrily blinking red light on the GPS device because it will help me sleep better at night. This whole geocasting plan kinda went to shit after I learned Internet access would cost .75/minute, so I’m honestly not surprised I’ve run into more problems. I’m hoping for the best, though.

Or when all else fails, you can always fudge the data. ^_^

After giving up on the GPS signal, we went to the main sundeck for a while. My mom’s just now past the point of being uncomfortable getting drunk around me, which is definitely interesting. Drunk Lisa’s mom giggles a lot and has an even worse sense of direction than usual (I swear she’d be lost on this damn boat without me), and also has a penchant for buying the $8.95 photographs that are constantly being taken of the guests. There’s a photographer for every 10 passengers, I swear.

Another tangent…my teeth grind more and in synchronization with my fingers when I type.

Nothing else has happened that I’ve found stupendously interesting. VERY relaxing, but “I laid out in the sun and had the best nap ever” doesn’t exactly make a great blog entry. I’m taking a TON of photos with the new Nikon D80 Dan got me. I’d really like to review them before tomorrow to make sure I’m not royally screwing something up, but the ship’s engines are so convincing at trying to lull me to sleep…

$5000 crash course in BMW transmissions

Last Monday morning I got in my car to drive to work same as any morning, only to discover that my car wouldn’t go in reverse. I could feel it catch, but it wouldn’t actually go anywhere. I called my regular shop and told them I would be towing it in. They called me the next day and said the transmission was shot and would have to be replaced, and quoted me $6000 to do it. Continue reading “$5000 crash course in BMW transmissions”