Monday, December 8, 2008

P.S. (To the answer to life, the universe and everything)

....Cim gave birth to a healthy, 4 mm stone that night at about 6:30. Yay! Both hostess and stone are doing well, though the hostess is much happier (and less drugged) now that the parasite is out of her body!

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

If you've ever read Douglas Adams, then the blog title will tell you how old I am as of last Saturday. If you haven't, then you can just go ahead thinking that I'm 27. Goodness knows I still do!

We were originally going to go horseback riding, but the pressure/kidney cooker that is Cim was working on another kidney stone. Needless to say, galloping about on an equine was out of the question for her, so we went with plan B instead -- mini golf and video arcade. Oh, and the batting cages too, but I was the only one who participated in that event. Linda and Lisa don't deal well with objects hurtling towards their faces, and on any other non-stone day, Cim would have joined me.

I'm not sure if I'm experienced, but I know I'm difficult, so I figured this was the right place for me!

Oh, yeah! Outta the park!

She doesn't look half bad for being on vicodin and fighting a kidney stone, does she?

Serious golfing in progress. Shhh! Don't disturb!

It's always easier to concentrate when the tongue is sticking out of the mouth. A 45* angle is best.

Lisa showing off that she got a HOLE IN ONE! Wooo! You go, girl!

Then she just thinks she's all that and a birdie too!

We were having issues with this one hole (only one!), and thought that a little cooperative golfing might help out.

Some unexpected visitors on the fairway.

More cooperative golfing. Just a little insurance policy.

When Cim grows up she wants to be a really big head!

Another hole in one, another show-off.

A little drift racing to finish off the day.

Even if I wasn't one of the "skilled" ones to get a hole in one, at least I did something good!

Linda was the only loser of the day. No hole in one, no high score, just a bruised cheek when she turned too suddenly into the solid concrete post. Whoops!

Thanks for a great birthday celebration, girls! Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Running at the Speed of Jog

I started running a few years ago. I didn't start it for fun or because I was running from anything. I was inspired by a woman I met on the Disneyland tram who said she had lost a bunch of weight by just getting up and...running. I figured if she could do it, so could I. So I got up one morning and ... ran. "Ran" is maybe a generous overstatement. It wasn't fast or even graceful, but it was putting one foot in front of another faster than a walk.

As the days went by, my form improved, I wasn't huffing and puffing for breath as quickly, and I could go further each time. I always felt great when I was done -- mostly because I was done. But also because it was a huge accomplishment for the day. If I could get up that day and run I was already ahead of the game.

I eventually mapped out a route in my neighborhood, working up from a one mile jog to a three-mile run. I refined it to work perfectly with my (then) favorite playlist so that I would have the right song to warm up and stretch to after a brief three block jog, then some nice flat roads, a perfect beat and length of time song for the last huge incline, and a high energy song to get me through the last half mile.

It's nice to run, but it's not fun. At least, it's not fun until after I'm done. Then, dripping sweat and panting, I feel a certain pride at having run my three miles in less than 35 minutes and got my exercise in for the day.

I've seen some nice things on my early morning runs. It's nice having the road (mostly) to myself. I can run on the asphalt instead of the cement, see the sun rise or the moon set, say hello to my buddy Orion, and just have some quality alone time and do some meditation.

My least favorite part of it is going past the old lady's house who obviously owns too many pets and doesn't believe in proper canine or feline hygiene. Depending on which way the wind is blowing that day I can either hold my breath as I run directly past her house, or catch it on the flip side when I'm on the street opposite hers. The fact that I can smell it literally a block away gives you an idea of the strength of the stench.

There were two awesome things about today's run. I saw a coyote on Brighton Street. Not only saw, but got within 10 yards of it as he turned around to head back up to the hills. Pretty cool.

The second thing was that I got caught on radar. Not as breaking any laws certainly, but more than a blip too, I think. There's a "Your Speed" sign with a digital readout attached to a radar machine right in front of an elementary school. It's a recent addition to the neighborhood. Today as I "ran" past it, It flashed a big digital SIX on its readout. I looked around, and I was the only moving object on the street, so there you have it. Pretty cool, huh?

So turn off your TV, get off the couch and go for a run! You never know what you're going to discover in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Could Maybe Learn to Love This Lens After All

A couple of years ago I treated myself to a new lens for my camera and almost immediately hated it. I couldn't seem to get the exposure right, I didn't realize that the zoom feature was purely manual (if I wanted to get close to something, I have to physically move closer to it -- same thing if I need to get a long shot. This sounds okay in theory, but in practice, getting a quick shot is not always feasible since it requires more set up and thinking than a standard lens.), and the reason I got it was to do portraits, but it's not like I'm any sort of established photographer or anything, and people weren't exactly clamoring for me to take their picture with my nifty new lens.

Anyway, I got my camera out the other day for the first time in awhile, determined to prove (to myself) that I still know how to take pictures, and just to up the challenge even more, decided to use the new (hated) lens. And you know what? I did okay! I took the time to think about the camera settings in relationship to the lens, I checked the exposure after a couple of test photos, then started clicking away on a couple of unsuspecting subjects. Willing, yes, but the low expectations on all our parts really helped. Anyway, I came up with a few nice shots, and a couple that I'm particularly proud of. Here they are, just for bragging rights.

So I've got this nifty new lens that I'm learning to love. And the photographer taking the pics isn't too shabby either. Anyone want me to practice on them?

Woody's Day at the Park

I went to the park the other day with a friend and her kids. It had been an industrious to-do weekend at home, but it was time to get the kids outside and let them run around and get all the ants out of their pants. Besides being able to take some fun pictures of them playing on the tire swing, there was an unexpected photo op of a very famous character. (My apologies for the graininess - the light was low and I was using a telephoto lens.) I've been trying to think of a witty essay to write around this picture, but there are too many directions for me to go. So if anyone wants to write a good caption or story for it, I'm open to suggestions.

Meanwhile, here's the photo:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Going to the County Fair

10. The wide range of people -- I can always feel better about myself by the mere act of people watching. I don't mean that to sound petty, but honestly -- the diversity of characters there are both awesome and frightening.

9. Different forms of entertainment -- Saturday's entertainment event for us featured a hypnotist. Cinnamon and Linda got me "volunteered" to be one of the victims *ahem* participants. However, I've seen one of these guys at Six Flags before, so I wasn't thrilled about the possibility of being made (more of a) fool of in front of a bunch of strangers. I couldn't ever fully relax enough to be "put under," so he dismissed me after a few minutes, where I rejoined Cim and Linda and laughed heartily at the people who did remain on stage. The good thing was he didn't make any of them do anything too foolish or outlandish, so it would've been okay for me to stay up there, I suppose, except for when he made them dance to the "Big Butts" song.

8. Fair Food. This year's new deep-fried-on-a-stick menu item was pop-tarts. We were too full to try one, but it looked good, along with deep fried Oreos, Snickers, frog legs and Twinkies. The most obnoxious thing I ate was a Texas Sausage Sandwich. It lived up to its name since it was, indeed, roughly the size of Texas.

7. The animals. All sorts of farm animals that we city kids don't get to see that often are on display at the fair, including chickens, sheep with little baby sheeplings, cows, horses and other cows with HUGE horns. Cute, but all very smelly. The best thing about wandering around looking at the animals is that you can totally toot all you want and no one will know it came from you. I'm just sayin'. If you wanted to help contribute to the earth's methane layer, that's the place to do it.

6. The many wonderful purchasing opportunities of items that you can only find at the fair. Of course, they only WORK at the fair at the time of demonstration, but they're so fabulous and the sales people are so compelling, who can resist items such as:

5. The Turbie Twist Towel. . My hair's fine enough that it doesn't actually need the turbie, but it came with a great partnering product -- a towel with elastic and buttons that's GUARANTEED to not fall down! This is good news for neighbors (Cim) and roommates (Linda) so they don't have to be subjected to any sort of wandering towel mishaps in the future.

4. All sorts of smelly (good smelly) soapy and lotiony things, like a huge jar of pure shea butter for only $10. Good news for my cuticles!

3. This fantastic hair removal product: . Sure, I've already got little pricklies on my legs, but who cares? I bought it at THE FAIR.

2. There was some sort of detoxifying ionic foot bath that people were paying $30-$40 (depending on if you brought a friend) for. You soak your feet in this solution while you get charged with ions through your wrist (I don't know, okay?) for 30 minutes, and then the water turns all sorts of different colors, and depending on what color it turns tells you what's wrong with you. Tempting though it was, I didn't want to part with thirty bucks (even with Cim throwing in two) just so they could look at my nasty foot water and tell me there's something wrong with my intestines and get me to spend who knows how much more on their product to do your own nasty ionic foot baths at home. We passed on that one.

1. Bungee jumping. ! Ack! Yes, I went bungee jumping at the fair. It was so thrillifying that it deserves its own entry, complete with video as proof, so another entry is forthcoming. For now, back to work!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That Thing You Do

Remember that great TV show, "Third Rock from the Sun"? One of the funniest moments was was when Dick and Mary were in bed together lamenting the fact that the excitement was gone from their sex life. Dick thought maybe they should just move on since they knew everything there was to know about each other. Just then, Mary pooted in bed, and Dick got very excited.

"Mary, did you just...FART? Why, that's marvelous!" and their romance continued because they realized there was still lots of things they didn't know about each other.

The other day I was teasing my BFF about the fact that she's never tooted in front of me. She's very proper (some may even say prim, but I know her better than that), so that's pretty much an unthinkable thing to do in her book. It took her years before she could even do that in front of her husband! She's also a clogger. Dancer. That will actually play into th estory a little later.

I was laughing telling her about being at work the other day and grateful that no one else was in the restroom since, well, nature called and the bear had to go in the woods. Or something like that. At any rate, I was in the restroom and it was a little...well, the smell was evidence of what I had just done. As I was flushing the toilet, I was making plans to go grab the spray off the counter and try to cover up the smell so the next person didn't have to deal with it. I had just grabbed the spray and spritzed it in the stall, when in walked someone from my team.

Now there's no disguising what I've been doing. I can't even pretend innocence by wrinkling my nose and waving my hand in front of my face in a "Can you believe what the person before just did? Sheesh!" sort of a way. She's on my TEAM, for crying in the night, and I've been caught red, er, spray-handed. So I just smiled weakly and said, "Hi, Liz," before walking out.

My BFF was totally cracking up, because honestly, who doesn't love a good story where the embarassing thing has happened to someone else?

Then, between giggles so it made it a little hard to understand, she said something along the lines of, "Oh this one time (somethinggigglesnortgiggle) clogging..." And I nodded emphatically in agreement and said, "Oh, I KNOW! Isn't that the WORST? It's all clogged and you have to call building maintenance because even though you don't want to admit it was YOU you can't really leave it there for the next person and it won't flush and go down and you're just praying it WILL eventually so it doesn't overflow..." then tapered off because I realized she was laughing again, only this time more AT me than in agreement.

And she said, "Well, yeah, that's never quite happened to me. What I was trying to say was, this one time when I was CLOGGING, I had to go to the bathroom...."

"Oh, yeah, I totally knew that's where you were going with that. That other thing I was just talking about? I've only ever heard about it from other people -- it's never actually happened to ME."

...Yeah right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


You've heard of that postcards confessional thing, right? The one where (supposably) real people write their real confessions on a postcard then snail mail it where somebody else scans the postcard and posts the (supposably) real confessions written on the real postcard and post it on a website for all the world to see.

My manager attended a management training seminar last week that took four different approaches to it, one of those aspects being "spiritual," or as "spiritual" as you can get in a corporate setting without crossing into the "religious" territory. One of the last activities they did was to cleanse or purge their "spiritual selves" (souls?) by confessing their deepest, darkest secret. All the participants wrote their confessions on a piece of paper, anonymously of course, then they were read out loud by the facilitator. My manager said there was some pretty intense, deep secrets that were shared.

I started thinking about what I would write (anonymously, of course) on a piece of paper to be shared with a group of strangers. Ouch. Scary. No way am I saying that!

So instead, here are other deep, dark secrets of mine for you, world wide intraweb.

I like hot dogs. I know. Gross, huh? Sometimes I even crave them. Sometimes, I even stop at 7-11 and get a Big Gulp (Diet Coke, of course!) with a hot dog. With some ketchup, mustard and a dollop of relish, it's almost the perfect dog. It could only be made more perfect with onions topping it, but those dang onions will witness against me every time that I just ate a 7-11 hot dog -- either by the smell left in the car or the smell left on my breath. I indulge in the onions at a Dodger game (no better hot dog than a Dodger Dog!), but rarely elsewhere.

I can't subtract from zero. I know. Weird, huh? I mean, I *can,* -- I know the principle of subtracting from a number that's less than the one you're subtracting -- you just borrow from its neighbor. But when there's two zeros in a row, it gets confusing and I need a calculator. It's like life -- you can't keep borrowing from the neighbors before they start expecting something in return, and I don't know how to do that in math.

On Wednesdays when I work from home, I get more work accomplished in a shorter amount of time, which is a math-y way of saying there's more time to play, which I do. Frequently. Sue me. It means more peace and joy in my life because I'm not having to deal with the noisiness of work....of which there is much.

I turn my Blackberry off at 7 p.m. on weekdays and on Fridays, it stays off until Monday morning at seven. I don't ever feel guilty about not doing work during those hours. There's an off switch for a reason!

That's enough for now, I think, if only because going to the bathroom sounds like a better offer than writing more. Yes, world wide intraweb, I'm trading you in for a trip to the potty. Should I put that on a postcard?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Oil Outta Your Lamp

Okay, maybe not oil out of YOUR lamp, but it's definitely sucking mine dry. A friend of mine from church taught me this phrase, and it not only was enlightening, it was hilarious. I made a comment -- not altogether disparaging -- about a stooped-over gentleman in our ward. My friend said, "Oil outta your lamp, Laura. Oil outta your lamp."

I loved that she was that up front with me. I also loved getting a new perspective to an old principle. I've always thought about needing to add oil to my lamp, but have never had occasion to think about oil coming out of it. It makes sense though that oil would come out of it correspondingly, or else I'd have the world's largest lamp. Which I don't. At all. So it's a good way, a nice quick reminder way to remind myself that I'm not always on my best behavior.

I told my bff about my new perspective and catch phrase, and she laughed and laughed -- simply because it's one of the things she and I excel at together -- taking oil out of our respective lamps while making observations (e.g. gossiping, etc.) about people. The best occasion we had to use this phrase with each other was when we went to the Mormon Prom. There were some *ahem* interesting outfits there. We didn't even have to comment specifically, we just looked at each other, smiled, and she said, "Slow leak. Dripping everywhere."

I know this is a weakness of mine -- that of verbalizing my observations-- epsecially the not-so-flattering (probably especially to me), ones but dang it! Sometimes it just feels good to do it. Sometimes my lamp's gonna be oily, sometimes it's gonna be dry.

Happy Independence Day

I am grateful to live in this wonderful country. I love the freedoms and privileges we enjoy. I am thankful for those who have fought and given their lives freely so that we might enjoy freedoms we might not otherwise. I am grateful for our founding fathers (should that be Founding Fathers?) who forged pathways and made it possible for our new little country to stand on its own. I love that we have a day where we can celebrate the birth of our nation.

What I am not grateful for is Porta-potties. How it possible that 227 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence we still have to do our business over a hole in the ground? And not a hole of our own choosing, either, but one already polluted by those who came before us with no care or regard for those to follow. Yuck.

That was my least favorite part of the day.

Other than bodily functions having to be performed in less than desirable places, the day was fantastic. I love celebrating in Ojai, a small town just inland from Ventura. We didn't follow our usual traditions this year, and it was still a great day with friends and family of choice. We did see part of the parade in Ojai, then went to the street fair in Ventura, visited with Tammy there, then back up to Ojai for a small nap and then fireworks and live music in the high school stadium.

There was a baby moon setting just behind the sun, and the smoke from the recent fires in Santa Barbara and Goleta provided some smog for a beautiful sunset backdrop.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Tax season. Some people dread it, which I can completely understand. But my life is fairly simple -- no real estate, stocks or bonds to speak of -- just the occasional deduction that needs itemizing. Up until two years ago for every year of my adult life, I did my own income taxes. Starting on February 1, I got all the forms from the post office, then spread everything out on the table making a mess of papers, and struggled through reading and re-reading each line of legalease to squeeze every last dollar out that I conceivably could. It would take the better part of a long evening to complete both state and federal returns. That's how my mom did it, and that's how I assumed it needed to be done since I'm too cheap to pay an accountant to do it for me.

A couple of years ago I figured there had to be a better way and started using TurboTax. Best thing ever. Instead of laboring through small print trying to figure out which lines I could use to my benefit, this lovely invention cuts my tax prep time by about 75%. And it's most satisfying to be able to breeze through it on a slow day at work, which is what I did today. Unusually delinquent on my part, but e-filing takes the guilt away for postponing it for a few weeks.

Anyway, now that I'm filed and just waiting for the money to automagically appear in my checking account, my mental plans for how to spend the money are underway. Last year the bulk of it (no pun intended) went to a weight loss clinic -- a very worthwhile investment. This year, I think a bit more frivolity is in order.

Two things on my list are virtual skydiving and hang gliding with my sister at Point of the Mountain. I don't have any big-ticket items for purchasing in mind yet -- I usually do, but can't think of any fun toys I feel are missing in my life. So maybe for the time being I'll just save the rest of it. Couldn't hurt, that's for sure. But the idea of a little extra cash -- so FUN to think about! It leaves my wallet salivating -- for what, I don't know yet, but I'll figure it out.

Meanwhile, Happy Tax Season! Many happy returns to you and yours. (Hee -- I crack myself up! )