Saturday May 01, 2004

Can't Sleep?

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

From the Late Night Edition of the Back Porch
::Insomnia, the Cure for Sleep::

Onesome: Insomnia--
Ever have it? Some do and some don't, but have you ever been hounded awake for that endless hour after hour with no hope of sleep? ...or does the very act of touching head to pillow put you out for the count?

Twosome: the cure--
Hey, if you do have the occasional bout or chronic insomnia, what do you do about it? Work? Read? Try cures? Hmmm... Did you ever find one that worked?

Threesome: for sleep--
Female/male, young/not so young, we all need varying amounts of sleep. What's your personal sleep cycle? Five hours? Ten hours? ...and if you had a choice, what would be your personal sleep cycle? ...and yes, "All day long" is a valid answer

Onesome: Insomnia-- Ever Have it?

Spouse is a head to the pillow and sleeping kind of guy. Not me. Sometimes I sleep. Sometimes I lie there, staring at the ceiling (or the inside of my eyelids).

When Spouse wakes up in the night, he often has trouble going back to sleep. It's rare that I wake in the night and can't go back to sleep. I'm usually able to go back to sleep at any time of day. It's the falling asleep in the first place that sometimes eludes me.

Twosome: the cure-- What do you do?

If Spouse has trouble sleeping, he'll get up and make notes about whatever is running through his mind. Or, he'll read a book, or email, or Slashdot. Sometimes he'll try sleeping in the living room for a change of venue. If I wake up in the night, I usually go right back to sleep. Even if I'm having trouble falling asleep, it's rare that I'll get up and do anything. Sometimes I'll get up and read for an hour or two.

When I was going through a period of having difficulty falling asleep, I tried a few of the over-the-counter non-prescription sleep aids. It turns out that most supposed sleep aids, e.g. Sominex, are just Benedryl! That's an antihistamine! The manufacturer is trying to take advantage of the side effect of antihistamines to make (some) people drowsy. Most antihistamines do nothing for me and none of them make me drowsy, so all that haappened that time was that I lay awake with a really dry mouth. Yugh!

I tried "Calms Forte", an herbal "remedy... it gave me much more active, colorful, busy dreams than even I get usually. When I made the connection, I stopped taking it! My dreams are busy enough (and sufficiently exhausting) without help.

Alluna (valerian-based) seems to help some. I have a bottle of melatonin but haven't tried it.

My best and favorite sleep aid is a cat. If a kitty comes and lies on my chest or snuggles into my cheek or shoulder, I will usually fall asleep easily and fairly soon. Feline sleep molecules (FURomones) — the natural sleep aid.

Threesome: for sleep-- Sleep cycle

My personal sleep cycle seems to be roughly 5 or 6 hours. If I go to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 and get up at 7:00 I actually feel rested. If I go to sleep at 11, I'm either very tired when I get up at 7 or I wake at daybreak, snuggle back in, and wake again at 9 or 10 (presuming it's a day when I can do that).

Most of the time, I don't do well at all if I have to wake to an alarm (duh). I'm much more rested if I wake naaturally.

I love afternoon naps. I almost never have trouble falling asleep when I take a nap (unless the cats don't come). It's nighttime that gives me trouble. I think my problem is psychological. When I wake from a nap, there's still part of today left. but at night, anything I haven't done today is left undone.

Finally, in answer to the last part of the question, yes, I would be happy to sleep all day long if I could. On rare occasions, when I have nothing else to do and am feeling especially tired (or the kitties are being especially snuggly) , I've come pretty close to sleeping all day long.

Can't Sleep? - posted by Vicki at Sat, 01 May, 13:27 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday April 18, 2004

Home Improvement Shows

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

Home Improvement Shows:

Onesome: --Home
What's the one thing your dream home must have?

Twosome: --Improvement
What's the one thing you would change about your current home? New bed, couch? New carpet or wallpaper? Or something major like an addition?

Threesome: --Shows
Do you ever watch home improvement shows?

Onesome: --Home

My dream home must have space — a room for everything and everything in its room. We mostly have that now; we each have an office, we have a guest room, we have a sunroom, we have a nice-sized dining room. I could wish we had a dedicated "library" (the guest room is also the library). I could wish the kitchen was bigger (but then, for the amount of cooking we do, it's probably perfect. I could wish the floorplan was different, but re-making it would take a lot of work (and wreck our nice new floor).

Twosome: --Improvement

If we had the money (and the city would give us the permit) I would love to add a third story above our living room. I'd like it to be one big room with windows on three sides — North, East, and South — and built-in book cases under all of the windows (as well as on the West wall). I'd also like to enlarge the bedroom with an addition on the back of the house so we would have more closet space. And I'd love to be able to change the ceiling in the bedroom to an open-beam design (but think of the mess and upheaval involved! Yuck!)

Threesome: --Shows Because we never watch television, we never watch home improvement shows. So I will answer this question by taking a different part of speech for the word "Shows", the past-tense verb meaning "to exhibit or manifest one's self; to reveal".

Given that we don't have the money for huge changes (and the city would probably not grant the permits) we've made smaller improvements over the 16 years we've lived here. However, we have made some substantial improvements — and they show!

The very first thing we did, shortly after moving in, was to remove the ugly flowered foil wallpaper on the south wall of the living room. The former owners didn't like it either (they told us) but they had never done anything about it. Not long after that, we tore out the back lawn and turned the backyard into a garden with flowers, trees and bushes (but no grass). A few years later we re-built the terraced area as well and added a redwood deck. We also enclosed the back concrete patio as a sunroom; it gets foggy here and the sunroom is a real treat on cool days (i.e., most days!)

In the following years, we have torn out the pea-soup-green carpet in the living room to expose the hard wood floor underneath. We enclosed the back upper deck as a screen porch (now we can have breakfast, or even dinner, on the porch). We had new, noise-abating, vinyl windows installed upstairs. And, most recently, we re-covered the kitchen and dining room (linoleum) floors in snap-lock laminate flooring.

Ours is a simple, 2-story, cookie-cutter tract house. But it's a nice design, we have a good lot, our neighbors aren't too close, and we like the location aand the neighborhood. We like the house too. Bit by bit, year by year, we make it better.

Home Improvement Shows - posted by Vicki at Sun, 18 Apr, 23:43 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 13, 2004

Computer Meme

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

Computer Anti-Virus Software:

Onesome: --Computer
What was/is your first computer? A clunky old Commodore or something a touch more modern?

Twosome: --Anti-Virus
Have you ever had a computer virus? How bad was it? Or are you one of the lucky ones who have managed to avoid them?

Threesome: --Software
What piece of software really made you more productive on your computer?

Onesome: --Computer

I used an IBM mainframe (via a card reader) in my High School computer class and another IBM mainframe (again via card reader from the sattellite computer centers) in College I also took a College class that used a Radio Shack TRS 80 (I wrote a version of MasterMind in BASIC). My University got its first CRT terminals the year after I graduated.

In Grad school, I used a Univac and yet another IBM mainframe, both via remote terminals with line-editors (progress :-). I wanted a Commodore Vic-20 or an Apple II but I could never quite convince myself what I wanted a "personal computer" for. I certainly didn't want it for storing recipes or balancing my checkbook and I certainly couldn't use it for class projects.

Then I started seeing my to-be-hubby, Rich. Rich had recently ordered one of the earliest Sun Microsystems workstations (serial number 285). It didn't even have a graphical interface yet! This was a year before the first Macintosh was announced.

Rich and I learned Unix together on that Sun 1. I discovered how much fun programming could be with a terminal and full-screen text editor instead of cards or a line editor. I also discovered all the many things that could be done with a "personal" desktop computer. I never looked back.

Today we each have a blue&white PowerMac G3 (we're a bit behind the hardware curve :) running Mac OS X. We each have a G3 Powerbook as well. I spend most of my waking hours working with my Mac (and the Net) and I love it. Professionally, I'm a programmer, web weaver, and documentation specialist. I do all kinds of things with my computer — things I could never have foreseen back in 1979. (I even, occasionally, balance my checkbook on the computer... and I have perhaps 4 or 5 recipes stored in text files and posted on my Web pages :-)

Twosome: --Anti-Virus

I may have found a virus once, back sometime in 1986. I haven't had one since then, certainly. Macs may not be immune to viruses (although many of the current crop, e.g. email viruses, couldn't get a foothold in the Mac OS X design) but besides that, Mac OS just doesn't seem to be as interesting a target for the virus designer kiddies. Windoze, by comparison, sees one or six new viruses a day.

Threesome: --Software

My favorite productivity enhancing applications are BBEdit (my favorite text editor), Eudora (the world's best email program), my Web browser (I use Safari), my terminal program (these days, that's Apple's, included in Mac OS X), and DragThing (so much more than a simple "dock replacement"). I also run Circus Ponies NoteBook (for storing all sorts of notes, journal entries, etc.) and iChat (instant messaging), as well as PathFinder (a "Finder-like file manager") and Palm Desktop (calendar and alarms; I still prefer this over iCal).

Computer Meme - posted by Vicki at Tue, 13 Apr, 23:37 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday April 10, 2004

Summer Fun Toy

This week's Saturday Slant
Summer’s coming. If you had to pick just one summer fun toy, what would it be? Would you cruise around the South West in an RV? Does the convenient refreshment of a backyard pool entice you? Looking to steam up the summer nights in your very own hot tub? Up for wave-skimming excitement with a jet ski? Or are you more of a home-body, opting for an ice-cold air conditioner to keep movie nights comfortable? What is your summer fun activity toy?

What is "Summer"? We live in the air-conditioning duct of the SF Bay Area - the fog and wind come from the ocean, over the ridge, past our house, heading to the Bay. We have 4 seasons: Autumn, Wet, Spring, and Sere. We get perhaps 4 or 5 really warm (meaning, there's no wind to compensate) days a year, not necessarily juxtaposed.

The best thing we've bought to take advantage of Spring and Summer is new windows; the old windows were sticky alumnum casement windows, many of which we couldn't open (because then they didn't close properly). Now we can open the windows at the front of the house. We get a breeze and the cats love it. We also have ceiling fans in many rooms.

Our barbeque grill (a great portable one, the Thermos 225sq in tabletop model) lives in our fireplace. Except for those 4 or 5 days a year we have sufficient draw to safely cook there year-round. This is good, because we don't have a back porch or patio; we've enclosed those to make them more useable when it's cold, windy, or foggy (i.e. year round).

CAUTION: if you don't have a constant 10mph or better breeze over your chimney
DO NOT try fireplace grilling at home!
We have a hot tub. Hubby was raised in Southern California — a hot tub isn't a toy; it's a necessity. I agree; there is nothing better to get the kinks out of back and neck or to relax a person before bed. We use the hot tub year round; it's even nicer in the Wet season. A 108 degree F tub does a great job on a 40 degree F night with a 20 mph stiff breeze. We continue to make minor fixes to our tub. We can't upgrade to a new one (current guvmint regulations put a max temperature of 104 on hot tub regulators. To Spouse and Self that's unacceptable (to me, that's too cold; it's amazing how much heat dissipates under that 20mph breeze!)

That's about it. We don't bike, swim, boat, or camp. No RV. We go for walks; if it's not raining, our "Summer" and "Winter" aren't very different.

Summer Fun Toy - posted by Vicki at Sat, 10 Apr, 10:19 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday March 21, 2004

Tax Time

It's that time of year. The days are getting longer and warmer (although some localities still have snow on the ground!) Still, in many places, the trees are budding, the grass is greening, the birds are singing. All across America, papers are being collected, pencils are being sharpened, and from many homes you hear the weeping, wailing and, most of all, groans... it's Tax Time.

i'm doing my taxes this weekend. could it be possible to say that that's what inspired me for this week's wL? haha, but it has.

  • yay or nay for math?

  • who gets your taxes done?

  • have you ever *gasp* cheated?

  • do you usually make plans for your refund or do you save it?
[ questions courtesy of the weeklyLeak ]
I have never liked doing my taxes (Duh). It's not "just" the fact that the government takes so much money every year; they take most of it during the course of the year anyway. It's the forms.

Subtract the lesser of lines 65 and 57 from line 16.
If the result is more than 20% of line 32, enter it on line 5.


One year, many years ago now, I discovered MacInTax. It's a truly delightful program. It has saved me hours of agony, frustration, tears, and emotional upset. Now renamed TurboTax (and owned by Intuit, makers of Quicken and QuickBooks), TurboTax is the Number One home/online tax preparation program.

We spring for the TurboTax Premier Home and Business version, with "all the power of Premier and ... extra guidance for the self employed". It's worth every penny. I'm even willing (and able!) to do Rich's taxes as well as my own!

I can't say I enjoy doing my taxes every year; that wouldn't be true. I still put it off as long as possible, although some of that isn't entirely my fault; we usually don;t have all of the supporting paperwork until the end of February.

But the tax preparation process is no longer tedious, scary, arduous, painful, frustrating, or even hateful. TurboTax asks me questions, guides me through the process, even makes suggestions, e.g. "This isn't a common item but if you aren't sure, click Yes and we'll guide you."

As I said, it's worth every penny. Even better, the price hasn't gone up in several years, the first State is free, and there's a rebate on e-filing your Federal taxes.

E-filing! That's almost as wonderful as using TurboTax! Both the IRS and the California Tax Board accept electronically filed returns (and have done so for several years now). No more thick envelopes! No more lines! No more extra postage, Return Receipt Requested, or Certified Mail! I'm even notified by email when the taxing authorities have accepted my return.

It's almost enough to make me enjoy tax time. Almost. I'm not quite off the deep end. But if only two things are sure in life (death and taxes), at least one is a lot less painful that it used to be.

Getting back to this week's meme questions from the weeklyLeak:

  • yay or nay for math?

    Math was never my favorite subject in school, although things improved dramatically after 8th grade. In our school system, the more math-savvy kids took Algebra I in 8th grade; the others took an additional year of "Math". Although I was one of the smart kids, my math skills were behind. That extra year of "Math" was just what I needed. It opened everything up for me. After that, math homework wasn't a cause for tears anymore. (Except later, around tax time. But I don't have that problem anymore, either.)

  • who gets your taxes done?

    Amazingly, I get my taxes done. For the past several years, I have done Rich's taxes too. I keep trying to tell him that this program is so easy even he could use it (he's paperwork-phobic and form-challenged) but he doesn't believe me.

  • have you ever *gasp* cheated? If I had, do you think I would tell you?! But the answer is no, I haven't. I'm in too much fear of the IRS. It would be like cheating the Mob! (I've read the books; I've seen the movies; I know that's a bad idea.)

  • do you usually make plans for your refund or do you save it? The only plans I make for any refund I might get are to put it into the bank. With e-filing, you even get to choose auto-deposit. Is that cool or what?

    This year, I'm happy to say, I got everything back. Of course, I only worked 5 weeks last year, not including getting unemployment, but the Feds, in their infinite stupidity, withhold taxes from unemployment payments. So I didn't get much back, but I didn't pay any taxes on my unemployment insurance, and every little bit helps.

If you haven't done your taxes yet, consider TurboTax this year (available in three versions each for Mac OS or Windoze). However you get your taxes done, good luck to you in the yearly 'tax game'. I hope you get a refund.
Tax Time - posted by Vicki at Sun, 21 Mar, 11:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday March 18, 2004

Thursday Threesome - Blog Design Exchange

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

::Blog Design Exchange::

Onesome: Blog-- How long have you been a member of the blogosphere? ...and from a different angle: how long have you been on the Net?

Twosome: Design-- Do you do your own design work for your site? ...and if not, where are you finding templates you like?

Threesome: Exchange-- ...and while we're on the Net, have you ever participated in any of the Net "exchanges" such as recipes, Christmas ornaments, site exchanges, guest blogging or related things?

Onesome: Blog--

I've been on the Net since 1984, long before most of the people on the Net today knew there was a Net (our first email address didn't have an @ in it :-). I've been on the Web since 1994. But I'm relatively new to the Blogosphere, having only discovered it in the late spring of 2002... and I wasn't an active participant until nearly a year later! (I'm making up for lost time.)

Twosome: Design-- I do my own design work. I handcode HTML and CSS in BBEdit and play with the look until I get what I want. I also design, by request, for friends and family.

Threesome: Exchange-- I haven't participated in any exchanges of physical stuff (e.g. postcards). I do forward fun email that I get, to a list of friends who have agreed to being on my forwards list.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "site exchanges"... I post a list of the weblogs and sites that I like.

I'd like to play more with guest blogging. I've got a couple of weblogs I created or helped to create where I'm a guest author or author/owner. I'm also fairly active in 8 or 10 mailing lists (I know, that's sooo 20th century ;-)

Thursday Threesome - Blog Design Exchange - posted by Vicki at Thu, 18 Mar, 12:31 Pacific | Comments (1)

Sunday March 14, 2004

Catching A Leprechaun

This week's Saturday Slant

Legend has it if you catch a leprechaun he is honor bound to grant you a single wish, even as far as to give up his pot of gold. A single wish. The Jin of Aladdin’s tales grant three—room enough to correct mistakes. With a single wish, however, there is no going back. You hold in your grip a spry little man with beard and curls of amber. Annoyed at being caught he glares up at you demanding: “Aye. What shall ye be wishing then, hey?” A single wish. Think carefully before you answer.
I've read all of those stories... everything comes with a price. I've got an annoyed leprechaun in my hand and I'm wondering "Why did I do this?". Did I have a wish in mind and lie in wait for the little man in green? Was it sheer luck? What can I ask for, that's in his power to grant, that won't make him irritable and annoyed (i.e. a wish that he won't twist just to prove who's the wiser?)

I'm not sure it's in a leprechaun's power to grant me or mine health and long life, although that would be my first wish of any Power that could grant such. And endless purse would be interesting, but it would likely be faery gold and faery gold tends to vanish after 24 hours; it wouldn't be fair to patronize local establishments with faery gold!

As others have pointed out, many "big" wishes are easily twisted - peace on earth (achieved at the cost of simply removing most of the warring peoples); an end to drought (could cause a flood; alternatively, irrigating the Sahara would drain an ocean).

To take the pot of gold would be "fair" ... but would also make me an enemy and besides, how do you spend real gold coins these days?

My initial thought was "safe passage" but after all, I did catch a leprechaun. So, how about modifying that just a little as "safe passage and a friend". It would be rather interesting to make a friend of a leprechaun. He could come and go as he pleased and all I'd ask is safe passage (no tricks on me or mine) and an occasional visit for an evening of pleasant conversation. He could smoke his meershaum; I'd offer him a wee dram and perhaps a bite of cake, and we'd just talk, tell stories, stargaze. The cats would get a kick out of a visiting leprechaun and think of the stories he could tell!

Catching A Leprechaun - posted by Vicki at Sun, 14 Mar, 10:11 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday March 12, 2004

Dinner and a Movie

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."
~ Alfred Hitchcock

Onesome: -- The dinner: What's your favourite meal? Is it something you get out or can you get it at home?

Twosome: -- the theatre Admission: What's your favourite movie and/or play and why?

Threesome: -- and the babysitter: We've all been left with a babysitter at one point or another. Did you have a favourite childhood babysitter? What made that person special?

Onesome: -- The dinner:

Oh, I love food! I love Eggs Florentine for breakfast (we get that out). I love Japanese 3-way Bento boxes (teriyaki chicken and beef w/ Californiz roll; out). I love pork and saeurkraut or chicken pot pie (both at home), roast turkey with all the trimmings (home), a good steak (out or at home). Hubby makes the World's Best Split Pea soup (and has taken over the pork and sauerkraaut too). I do a really good hollandaise sauce for "Eggs American Cafe" (like Eggs Benedict but substitute a grilled croissant for the English muffin and add tomato and frsh steamed asparagus). I don't have "a" favorite meal.

Twosome: -- the theatre Admission:

I think "Fantasia" is my alltime favorite movie; I can't hear "The Nutcracker Suite" without visualizing dancing mushrooms. I also love all of the Pixar films for their great effects. And I've watched the "Star Wars" Trilogy many many times (I've watched the first one over a dozen times).

I'm always up for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I like a lot of the Hitchcock films too... most musicals... or plays done as movies. I love "The Great Race"... Errol Flynn in "Robin Hood"... almost anything with Harrison Ford... or Jackie Chan... I could go on and on.

I've enjoyed most of the plays I've been to (or worked backstage on), over the years. I think "1776" is my most favorite (play and movie) because I saw that in 1972 on a very special trip to NYC with my Aunt and Uncle and cousin. I really enjoyed "They're Playin' Our Song" which I saw in Hartford, CT in 1982. There are so many good plays out there — "Light Up The Sky", "You Can't Take it With You", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Mame", anything by Henrik Ibsen, anything by Neil Simon, anything by Wm. Shakespeare or G. B. Shaw ...

Threesome: -- and the babysitter:

Our favorite babysitters (and the only ones whose names I remember) were Ginger and Genie Homan, daughters of the people from whom our parents rented their first apartment after they were married and before they bought our house. They were nice girls; they sat for us when our folks went out to dinner and also during the day in the summer when both parents were off at work (our Mom worked in the summer but not during the school year).

Dinner and a Movie - posted by Vicki at Fri, 12 Mar, 19:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday March 05, 2004

A Night on the Town

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]
Onesome: Night: -- Nights can be difficult if you need something from somewhere: what time do the stores shut down where you are? I mean, if you needed something more than a loaf of bread, is there any hope late at night?

Twosome: on the: -- River? Hey, are there any rivers near you? ...or are you located out in the wilderness somewhere?

Threesome: Town! -- If you could have any "Night on the Town" you wanted, what would you like to do? ...and would you like some company or would you go it alone?

Onesome: Night: --

We are "blessed" with both worlds. We have the really good favorite grocery store with the specatcular produce department and the excellent service that closes at 8 pm weekdays, 7:30 on Sundays. We have several 7-11s for the occasional late-night loaf of bread, carton of milk, or pint of ice cream, provided you aren't tooo picky about brand. We also have a couple of all-night large chain grocery stores. The latter will sell you milk, bread and ice cream, as well as cereal, meat, real baked goods, canned goods, beer, vitamins, paper products or almost anything else on your weekly list at any hour of the day or night. You can even buy something that they will call a "tomato" but I wouldn't advise doing so.

Twosome: on the: --

I can't think where our nearest river is... the Russian River up in Sonoma County? We have various creeks that occasionally get to (small) river sized during a major storm, though none are very near us. However, we are only a couple of miles (as the seagull flies) over the ridge from the ocean; several more miles by road and car. And we're one mile north of the upper end of a lovely chain of real and artificial lakes with a nice walking trail and that wilderness you mentioned.

Threesome: Town! --

Our idea of a "night on the town" is a good dinner out with friends, followed by returning home and reading for a bit before a leisurely soak in the hot tub and then to bed. We're not party people.

A Night on the Town - posted by Vicki at Fri, 05 Mar, 00:21 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday February 27, 2004

House Ordinary

Housework has never been my strong suit. I grew up in a family of packrats; my parents believed in taking a laissez faire approach to housework. The dining room table tended to accumulate mail, craft projects, and general piles of whatever; it was cleared on occasions when we had two or more guests for dinner (otherwise, the family ate in the kitchen). We'd vacuum when company was coming or whenever the rug seemed to need it.

As a child, I was never required to clean my room. My room varied between an average, fairly disorganized, child's room and the result of one of my periodic spontaneous outbursts of organization. (To my credit, those cleaning bursts never uncovered a half sandwich or anything of that nature!)

My first (and last) College room mate (actually grad school) was, to my mind, a neat freak. In a flat rented by 3 adult women who were usually in class or in the lab and thus rarely home, she decided that the flat needed to be vacuumed every Saturday morning. Once a week I would be awakened by the vrooooom of the vacuum outside my door, well before 10 am. When she suggested I take a turn some week, I reminded her that I owned the vacuum cleaner and closed the door again. After that experience, I rented one-bedroom apartments until I met my Spouse.

I'm no Martha Stewart and Spouse isn't Mr. Clean. While our house isn't exactly ... messy... you wouldn't want to eat off the floor. We try to straighten up the public areas, but if you can't deal with cat hair, I wouldn't advise you to visit.

Nevertheless, bit by bit, we've been working at becoming somewhat more organized, a tad neater and cleaner, especially in the public areas. I have found, for example, that it's much easier to maintain a certain level of cleanliness and lack of clutter than to reach that level to begin with. Thus, I've become rather compulsive, in my own way, at wiping down the kitchen counters and at washing pots and pans as soon as possible (dishes go into the dishwasher).

One thing I have noticed recently — re-doing your kitchen and dining room flooring provides an amazing degree of motivation to keep that floor (and the surrounding cabinets and countertops) clean and spot-free!

On this theme, I recently discovered a new journalling meme. Surprisingly, I discovered this one within a few days of its inception. This was decidedly novel, as I was beginning to think that I discover most memes within a few weeks of their closing down!

The meme, yclept "Homework: a household Meme" is a domestic / housework meme. Questions to date have covered such topics as "How often do you clean your bedroom?", "How often do you mop the kitchen floor?", "What's your biggest cleaning neurosis?", and "How do you divide the housework?" The most recent entry asked readers to "Tell the story of the biggest "train-wreck"-caliber mess you've ever witnessed." (Yipes; some of those stories... you're glad you weren't there!)

Carrie, the author of Homework, provides this reason for having started the meme:

Yesterday, on the phone with Alysia, I started laughing about something I'd found in my housework manual, Home Comforts. Apparently, I chuckled to her, I'm supposed to be sanitizing my trashcans every night before bed. Then I suffered the mortification of having Alysia agree with the book! Apparently, this was something I should have known.

The more I think about this, the more I wonder, and the more questions I have. Since becoming a full-time Domestic Goddess (no laughing, you in the corner), I've been curious about what habits I should have and what techniques "should be" ingrained in me already. How does the other half live, or clean?

Thus, I present HomeWork, the domestic meme. Really, I'm not expecting it to be huge or anything; this is really for my own curiosity as much as anything else. So, Wednesdays, I'll have a question; you can answer in the comments or on your own blog and leave a link. Ready?

Whether you're the type who wipes down the counters after every use, the type who sanitizes the trashcans, or the type who lets the dog lick the plates, you might like Homework. Check it out.

House Ordinary - posted by Vicki at Fri, 27 Feb, 14:35 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday February 26, 2004


[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ] :Choreography: The art of symbolically representing dancing::
Onesome: -- Choreography: What do you choreograph in your life? Your morning routine? The dinner ritual? How you study?

Twosome: -- The art of symbolically: Art? Hmmmm... Sure, what do you like to have? ...or do you? ...but how about that little symbol you keep on your desk or headboard? The one you keep because??? I mean, if you can share that...

Threesome: -- representing dancing: No, not 'do you dance?' (although that's fine too!); rather, which type(s) of dancing will you stop and watch for a moment? Ballroom? Swing? Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey?

Onesome: -- Choreography:

I choreograph everything having to do with the cats - their meals, cleaning the box, giving them snacks, play time, nap time. Cats are creatures of habit and ritual. Cats are highly choreographed animals.

Twosome: -- The art of symbolically:

We have a lot of art. We're conflicted people; we love to read (hence we have linear miles of bookcases :-), we love to look out of our windows (we have a great view), and we have art to hang. It's difficut to optomize wall space!

We have a couple of framed Escher prints, a B. Kliban Cat print, a Chinese piece with embroidered birds, a few of my needlework projects, various pieces purchased at crafts fairs over the years, and works by J. S. Perry and Delight Prescott. We've got more of the latter two, especially, than we have space to display.

I also consider my ruby glass collection to be art, along with our crystal animal figurines, our glass paper weights, and various small sculptures. I collect small cat scuplptures and figurines in many materials. I've got a lot of figurines of cats, dragons, wizrds, unicorns, and others in a display cabinet in my office.

I'm also a big fan of soft-sculpture art, better known to most people as "stuffed animals" :-) I have a large collection of beanie babies, teddy bears, stuffy "dog toys" and more (also living in my office).

Threesome: -- representing dancing:

I don't dance, but I'll watch ice dancing any time, any where.

Other than that — Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! My sister and I grew up in Central Pennsylvania in a town that got several of its cable stations from New York City; they showed lots of old movies weeknights at 11 pm and on Sunday afternoons. If a movie was on that my mom liked, we watched. One week we all stayed up late all week because the 11 pm movies were all Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! It didn't matter that it was "a school night"; we stayed up and watched Fred & Ginger.

Choreography - posted by Vicki at Thu, 26 Feb, 15:18 Pacific | Comments (2)

Thursday February 19, 2004

Thursday Threesome: Serendipity

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]
::Serendipity: Making fortunate discoveries by accident::

Onesome: Serendipity:-- Do you believe in destiny?

Twosome: Making fortunate discoveries-- What is your greatest "find"? Is it an antique you discovered tucked away at a garage sale? Or maybe something as simple as the great sale on khakis or lawn mowers at your favorite store?

Threesome: by accident-- Have you ever discovered a place entirely by accident and it's become a favourite place to go now? A hidden grove in the city park, a wonderful little coffee shop or restaurant, a treasure trove of a shop?

Onesome: -- Destiny

Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt
(The Fates guide those who go willingly; all others, they drag)

I don't believe in Destiny (at least, not for most people). I do believe in Fate. How's that for a conundrum?

As many an unwilling fantasy hero has discovered to his dismay, Destiny leaves no out, provides no options, presents no choices. Destiny simply IS.

Fate is (somewhat) more flexible. Fate provides constant choices. Fate plants things in your path; if you choose to go around them, avoid them, or pick them up and use them, that's your decision. The choice may change your life. The choice will always redefine your path.

Twosome: -- Your greatest "find"
My greatest "find" would, of course, be my spouse, Richard :-)

After Richard, each of our cats was a greatest "find". Did we "find" them? Or did they "find" us? Or was it Fate taking a hand?

As for inanimate objects, one great find was a book I bought at a yard sale. It's called "The Belgian Traveller" and it was published in 1807.

Threesome: -- By Accident...
Our favorite diner was discovered by accident. It's "downtown" but we'd never found it. Then someone we knew was renting office space down the hill and he'd come to San Bruno by train and then walk to the bus stop and ride the bus to our neighborhood. He was looking for a place to buy coffee and discovered this diner, which he recommended to us and the rest is history. We probably eat there 5 times a week (or more :).

We recently "discovered" an excellent Japanese restaurant just down the street from the diner because I was walking up and down the street while Rich got a haircut. We simply never walkeddown that part of the street and the restaurant is very unassuming when one drives past.

Many of our favorite restaurants have been "accidental" discoveries... which should indicate to me that I ought to be more adventurous in trying new places. However, I'm conservative for a reason. Once we find a great place, I want to go back again and again before it disappears like one of those magical shops in a fairy tale!

Thursday Threesome: Serendipity - posted by Vicki at Thu, 19 Feb, 10:29 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday February 15, 2004

I've Been to Georgia and California...

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 52. This is the last round for this meme; however, as I didn't start until round 41 or 42, I'll probably go back and pick up some that I missed. ]
PAST: Where have you been?

PRESENT: Where are you now?

FUTURE: Where are you going?

I grew up in central Pennsylvania, in a reasonably functional and fairly happy nuclear family, with my parents, sister (3.5 years younger), three (sequential) dogs and a cat. I lived in the same house from shortly after I was born until I moved to Connecticut for Grad School (coming back briefly for 5 months in between Grad School programs). My parents continued to live in that house for several more years; eventually, they sold it and bought another, smaller and newer, house on the northern side of town.

My sister and I both went to Penn State. Our father was a professor in the Architectural Engineering department; neither my sister nor I ever really considered going anywhere else to College. Nevertheless, after College we both left Pennsylvania. I went first to Connecticut, then to Maryland, then to California. My sister went first to Maryland, then to Oklahoma (then to several cities in several states!). We both met our spouses in Grad School.

Following my successful release from Grad School, Spouse and self packed everything we owned (including a 6-foot diameter redwood hot tub :-) into a 24-foot rental truck and a VW minibus and drove across the country to California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. After a brief (4 month) stay in the East Bay, we settled on the Peninsula, renting a house in Pacifica for 3 years, then buying a home in San Bruno. We'll celebrate our 16th anniversary in this house on Memorial Day.

Growing up, in elementary school and High School, I was fascinated by all things technical and scientific. I subscribed to a perfectly-named monthly kit called "Things of Science" that included such wonders as experiments in smell, light, growing beans, mirros, magnetism, and so much more. I looked forward to those little blue boxes arriving in the mail!

I also recall my delight at discovering a large indigo blue salamander with yellow spots once, when we stopped off at a state picnic area on the way to my grandmother's house. I sketched it in a notebook. (I never seem to have a camera handy.)

I always expected to become a scientist and enrolled in every science course offered through Jr. High and High School. In my junior year of High School, one of the courses I took was a 1-semester course called "Computer Math" (actually FORTRAN programming in disguise). When I was choosing a major at Penn State, I had a difficult time deciding between Biochemistry and Computer Science. I picked Biochemistry but soon applied for a double major in Comp. Sci.

In my third year of College, I realized that Biochem was not my future field (the 5-hour nucleic acids lab told me that, as did my difficulties in a required Biochem course). I was unsure about finishing the Comp. Sci. degree as well, after meeting a senior one night with four or five boxes (of 400 cards each) of punch cards. (In the years that followed, I learned that programming is ever so much more fun when you don't have to punch the cards! ;-)

I transferred into Microbiology, as much to get a degree in 4 years as anything else. Strange as it may seem, Micro was an easy switch (the Biochem program was intense). Then, well educated but needing something to do for a living, I tried a Forensic Science Masters program (realizing in less than 1 month that it was Not To Be). I left the program, returned to central PA, and enrolled in a Microbiology PhD program in Maryland for the following fall.

In Maryland, I met Richard, the man who became my spouse (and who, coincidentally, helped me to realize that working with computers is the most fun job in the world). I dumped my (loathed) Micro advisor, researched possibilities in "computer applications to microbiology", was supremely lucky in being "adopted" by the best and brightest Micro professor in the UMD Department, wrote a bunch of programs, learned Unix, wrote and defended my thesis, ported my programs to my advisor's CalComp plotter (!), and graduated with a Masters Degree in Science and a plan to find a job in scientific programming.

Then we moved to California and I got a job at Genentech.

We've been in California for 19 and a half years now. I've done scientific programming, "regular" Unix programming (specializing in shell scripting), Quality Assurance, and Technical Documentation. I've stayed with Unix, moved into Mac OS and acquired excellent reasons to explain why I dislike Windoze. I've co-authored a book on MacPerl and published a large number of technical articles. Along the way, the Web sprang into existence, creating fascinating new fields of endeavor for people like me.

Looking forward, I don't see any voluntary changes ahead. I'm happy in my career choice, happy in my living situation, and happy in my home life. I'm unemployed at present, but hopeful and content with life as it currently is. At least there are more jobs to apply for, even when I don't get interviews or offers. Besides, I like working at home! I'm on the right path, headed in a good (and right) direction.

The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science and learning...

    — David Hume (1711 - 1776), Scottish philosopher.

[ The title of this piece is taken from the song "Never Been to Me", sung by Charlene. While I like the song (I find it pretty) it has no relationship to my life, other than the fact that I have also been to Georgia (once) and to California (I live here). The rest of the song describes a life very different from my own... and I have been to me. ]

I've Been to Georgia and California... - posted by Vicki at Sun, 15 Feb, 12:36 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday February 09, 2004

Circle of Words - #6

Circle of Words is a weekly set of questions that are somewhat personal, spiritual, and will explore your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these questions will provide you with a little bit of personal therapy and allow your readers a little peek inside your soul.

Rendezvous with the Authentic Archaeologist

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides
The spirit bloweth and is still
In mystery our soul abides.

-Matthew Arnold

Pretend you are an archaeologist and you are going back examining your own life. How many layers would there be? Meaning how many different people would you say you were... sure all of us were once a baby..then toddler...and so on...but at what point can you remember being a certain "someone" and than someday that certain "someone" evolved into another "someone". Different stages in our lives directly cause us to develop into a certain person that may not have been the same as the one before? How many layers do you have...and describe them the best you can.

Making Your Own Imprint

God is in the details.
-Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe

All of us have our own personal style that is seen as we make our own imprint on life. Let's consider the following just for fun! You are moving into a new house that is completely empty! You get to start all over-from scratch!

  • What are some of the specifics for your ideal terms of architectural features to furnishings that you must have?
  • Are there any items from your childhood that you would love to have in your new home?
  • Your closet and drawers are empty...what would you buy...what style, colors...etc. Would you actually want anything from your present wardrobe?
  • Your kitchen cupboards are bare...what would you want? What type/design of dishes...linens...etc.?
  • What other kinds of things do you picture in your perfect home?

My thoughts

Rendezvous with the Authentic Archaeologist

I changed "me" every time I started a new school. I don't suppose I did this (at least not consciously) between kindergarten and first grade, but I did it consciously between 6th and 7th (Junior High), 9th and 10th, 10th and 11th, HS and College, College and Grad School, 1st and 2nd grad schools.

I don't recall making any particular changes between Grad school and my first job although I may have done so. I have been making minor tweaks with every job but they're very minor.

Each transition is one in which the people at the next location don't really know me. I can start with fresh first impressions.

Making Your Own Imprint

The thought of having to create and furnish a home from scratch gives me the screaming meemies. However, this is only hypothetical. Perhaps I could hypothesize winning a lot of money and doing a makeove. :-)

Any house of mine needs plenty of space and plenty of rooms. It needs, at minimum, a large master bedroom w/ en suite bath, a guest room, an office for each of us (Rich and myself), a large living room, and a library. It needs a sunroom and one or more screen porches. The front and back porches should both be enclosed — screens in the summer, windows in the winter. Except for the enclosed front porch, we have this now :-)

I have things from my childhood in my current house - books, a few stuffed toys. I'd keep them with me. I like my current house and its contents very much. I'd probably just keep most of it.

Furnishings would be mostly a combination of Danish modern wooden tables and La-Z-Boy recliners. All side tables should have two levels. The dining room table should be extendable for at least 12 people (I don't have this now). I'd probably choose much of the same furniture we have now, only newer. I like our dishes (Corell). I like my clothes too!

What other kinds of things do you picture in your perfect home?

I've thought about style and design quite often. If I had land to build on and could build my own home... Privacy and space would be my primary considerations.

I'd like a house with a central courtyard, at least 20 feet on a side, preferably more, entirely surrounded by house and open to the sky. I'd like plenty of windows facing into the courtyard and only a few facing out to neighbors and the street. Window-less walls should all have built-in book cases! Perhaps a top story done like a sunroom, with all walls glass to 3 feet above the floor (bookcases below :-) and a glass ceiling.

I'd like plenty of room and plenty of rooms - office, computer lab, workshop, laundry, library (a large 2-story library with floor to ceiling bookshelves on four walls and a second-level catwalk). I'd like a kitchen in which two people could walk around without bumping each other. I'd like a guest suite with a small sitting area and its own bath as well as a master suite with sitting area, walk-in closets, and large bath.

As long as we're doing a blue-sky wish list, I want at least 5 acres and I'll take a small orchard out back with fruit trees and perhaps almonds. And a duck pond :-)

Circle of Words - #6 - posted by Vicki at Mon, 09 Feb, 11:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sense of Self

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Saturday Senses ]

This week, I would like to make you all think about specific abilities we have through our senses, that we usually take for granted. The reason I want to do this is because since I started this meme, I had in mind that not everyone in the world can see and hear, etc, so I thought I´d call your attention to the subtleties that our senses allow us to perceive in our everyday life that we wouldn´t be able to perceive if part of our senses (or one sense completelly) was taken away from us. I hope you enjoy thinking about this.
[taste]:: If you could no longer taste any liquids/drinks, which liquid/drink would you miss and which would you be happy not to taste anymore?

[touch]:: If you could no longer feel physical pain, which kind of pain would you be happy to never feel again (I know all sorts of pain are bad, but choose one that is specifically the worst for you).

[sight]:: If you could no longer read, which part of your life would be most affected? Additionally, look around you and try to imagine how many things you wouldn´t be able to do in the room you´re in if that ever happened.

[smell]:: Which food´s smell is so much "part of the food" that you´d miss smelling if you could no longer smell anything you eat?

[hearing]:: If you could no longer hear people´s voices, whose voice would you be glad not to hear and whose voice would you miss hearing?

[taste]:: ...which liquid/drink would you miss and which would you be happy not to taste anymore?
I would miss a good deep-red strawberry daiquiri. I don't drink them for the alchohol; I drink them for the taste. (We always ask for extra strawberry. I want them red). Another beverage I drink mostly for the taste is iced coffee.

I'd be happy not to taste sour milk again (though I do try to remember to sniff before I pour) and of course, anything nasty sour / gone bad / mediciney. Then again, the bad taste is a good thing - it causes you to spit the stuff back out before you swallow!

It's not a drink, but if I couldn't taste mushrooms they probably wouldn't bother me. It's the musty flavor that makes me feel slightly naseous.

[touch]:: ...which kind of physical pain would you be happy to never feel again
This is a dangerous question... the ability to feel physical pain is, of course, a safety feature. However, I can think of one I'd gladly do without that probably wouldn't harm me much in the long run. I have an unfortunate habit of swinging my hand and smacking my knuckles into door frames as I walk around the house. I think I'd willingly give up feeling the sharp pain of that. The cracking sound would be sufficient to alert me that I've done something stupid. :/

[sight]:: ...which part of your life would be most affected?
Everything I do would be affected. I am amazingly sight-oriented. My favorite indoor activities are reading and using the computer. My favorite outdoor activity is going for walks and looking at everything around me. My profession is as a computer programmer, web weaver, and technical writer. I know where the keys are on the keyboard but I don't touch type. Sight is the major sense for me. I would be lost.

[smell]:: Which food´s smell is so much "part of the food"...
Pork and sauerkraut. Home made soup. Garlic. Most especially, fried onions. Without the smell, what are they? (Besides which, physiologically, a great part of what we think of as "taste" is actually smell... which is why everything tastes bland and flavorless when you have a cold.)

[hearing]:: ...whose voice would you be glad not to hear and whose voice would you miss hearing?
I would be glad not to hear the TV, the people in the next cubicle at work, the screaming children with poorly trained parents, the conversation at the next table in the restaurant. But I would so miss being able to hear Bebop's blooping burbles, Mezzaluna's "Eek!" and trills, Squirrel's requests for crunchies and soft sleepy snurrs, Raven's "Mwrp" and Richard's puns.

Sense of Self - posted by Vicki at Mon, 09 Feb, 10:38 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday February 07, 2004

Catch a Phrase

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 51 ]
PAST: Pick a memorable catchprase or classic utterance from your youth. And, of course, share it with the class.

PRESENT: What's a catchphrase that you probably use just a bit too often nowadays?

FUTURE: Give us a bit of something for the ages. Give us a saying, catchphrase or silly bit of verbage that you'd love to see enter the cultural lexicon.

When I was in High School, the Classic (original) Star Trek was in re-runs at 4:30 every afternoon and I was rather, ahem, obsessed. I found myself saying "FAScinating" a lot. Quite a lot. Too much. It was getting to me. I worked diligently to break myself of the habit.

Probably because of that High School experience, I try to watch my speech patterns and excise any phrases I use "a bit too often". That said, I probably overuse "cool" as a generic exclamatory adjective. I need to work harder on finding original responses.

As for the lexicon... the cultural lexicon really doesn't need any help from me. If I could, I'd remove a few phrases, starting with "I'm like..." and "he was all...". Other than that, there are a few phrases I personally have a predilection for; I'd love to see more people use them, if only because at least two of them are meant to engender some thought.

Spouse and self are rather fond of a French phrase, esprit d'escalier, literally "the spirit of the staircase". It describes that witty rejoinder you think of on the way down the stairs and away. The meaning of the phrase incorporates the perfection of the response with the regret at having thought of it too late to utter it.

One of my favorite catchphrases for use at work is "Exactly what are you trying to accomplish?" This isn't meant to be rude, but rather to cause the other persn to think a little more and thus define (and focus) his or her requirements and scope more narrowly.

Third is a phrase my sister used quite a bit on one of her previous visits. This was "...and you're teling me this because...?" I rather liked it. It's pithy and to the point. And it does rather make the other person think "why am I telling you this?"

So, get your thoughts in order. Decide esxactly what it is you wish to accomplish. Understand why you're telling me this. And, if all else fails, perhaps you'll think of the perfect response on your way out. If not, that's cool.

Catch a Phrase - posted by Vicki at Sat, 07 Feb, 22:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday February 06, 2004

Anyone Can Miss a Day

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]
::Anyone can miss a Day:: (from a comment from one of dan's readers)

Onesome: Anyone-- Has anyone made an impression on you lately? No, not on the national level, but at work or school or just 'around'. ...or even here on the web?

Twosome: can Miss-- Speaking of webbish things (and of course we are !), what types of things do you take a miss on at your place and chose not to post about? Just curious...

Threesome: -- On a similar note: do you post every day? ...or just whenever? ...or is every session at the computer a spur to work up a little something?

Onesome: Anyone--
Hmmmm... I've been home a lot lately. Long time out of school, too long out of work. Here on the web...? I've discovered a few new weblogs. I found a link to Wil Wheaton's Blog and I really like his writing style. So he impressed me.

I've been reading Barbara D'Amato's Cat Marsala series. Speaking of writing style, she blows me away.

Rob and Barbara Dicely of Leopards Etc impress me with their work with big cats — and with their ability to do 150 outreach / educational programs a year!

Spouse impresses me with his ability (and willingness!) to get up at 7am, commute to his current job, and put in 10 or 12 hour days, 5 days a week! And he's been doing this since October!

And, come to think about it, I've been impressing myself lately with my ability to think a little longer about a question and get beyond my first answer (e.g. "No, not really") to something else entirely. ;-)

Twosome: can Miss--
I choose not to post about things Spouse refers to as nunya (short for "Noneaya bizness"). I don't post deeply personal things about myself, my friends, or my family. I don't post anything that would embarrass or upset the person under discussion. If I quote a friend with attribution, I ask first.

I don't post anything I wouldn't want my mother to read! And I particularly don't answer the types of questions and prompts that ask me to look back at times or events in my life that I would prefer not to remember too clearly or examine too closely...

Threesome: a Day--

Lately, I've been posting every day, sometimes more than once a day. I've found a lot of memes and writing prompts and I'm really enjoying those. They add to my entry volume enormously and they also help hone my writing skills. The prompts also give me ideas of additional directions I could go in, other things to write about.

I think that's awesome (in the older meaning of the word). I realized yesterday, however, when I almost missed a day, that it would be much too easy to get caught up in being compulsive about keeping a "perfect" record! It's my weblog; I don't have to be perfect. I only need to say what I want to say when I have something to say.

Even if I seem to skip a day, I may not actually have done so. I've actually got three weblogs of my own, plus I'm a secondary author on my sister's weblog and a primary author on our private family-only weblog. Wheew!

Anyone Can Miss a Day - posted by Vicki at Fri, 06 Feb, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday February 04, 2004

Circle of Words - #5

Circle of Words is a weekly set of questions that are somewhat personal, spiritual, and will explore your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these questions will provide you with a little bit of personal therapy and allow your readers a little peek inside your soul.

Creating an Authentic Lifestyle for Yourself and Those You Love

It's a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
-Somerset Maugham

1. Most people can learn to live without certain things in life. Patience allows you to wait gracefully and gratefully for the best to arrive and you know it will. Can you think back to any moment in your life where you thought something in particular would never come...and finally it did? If you think about it, whatever that thing was that finally did happen (or you did receive) was all because of choices that you made. What if you would have made a different choice than what you did...where do you think you would be today?

Buried Dreams

Where there is great love there are always miracles.
-Willa Cather

2. Everyone can think back to a time when they said to a friend or parent....I'm going to be an astronaut when I grow up...or I nurse...or doctor. And many of us even as adults have said by next year we will be in a different house...I will have a different job...etc. What about your dreams? Do you have any memories of something that you wanted to do with your life but the timing was failed...there were unforeseen circumstances that just caused this dream to be buried so deeply it never came true. And now that you are where you are today...does part of you still wish that dream would have been a reality?

Meeting the Inner Explorer

There is only one journey. Going inside yourself.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

3. You have just received the ultimate ticket to your first-class fantasy. On this journey you get to go anywhere you want to go....all expenses paid..full-time baby worries, everything will be taken care of for you! Where would you go? Who would go with you? How long would you stay there? And what would you do once you were there? (Describe it in detail if you would like!)

My thoughts

Creating an Authentic Lifestyle for Yourself and Those You Love

If you think about it, whatever ... was all because of choices that you made. What if you would have made a different choice than what you did...where do you think you would be today?

I can think of two things:

  1. Figuring out what to "do" after College, then getting out of School and finding a job
  2. Buying a house
As for the first, the answer is easy. I made all of the right choices (although some of them certainly seemed wrong at the time! :-) Had I not tried a Forensic Science grad school program, I might not have decided to fall back on Microbiology. Had I not chosen Microbiology, I might not have gone to the University of Maryland, where I met Richard, was introduced to Unix, figured out what I really did want to do, and proceeded to work toward that goal. Had I not met Richard, I would not have had the necessary support and assistance to make the goal a reality.

Had I not been miserably unhappy at UMD, with an advisor I couldn't stand and a project I didn't care for (and had I not been the kind of a person who will do practically anything to get out of a miserable situation!), I wouldn't have dumped my advisor, causing the department to drop my TA-ship, which led to Dr. Colwell "adopting" me as one of her students aand providing me with a thesis project, giving her support to my plan to do computer analysis of biological data (something that "wasn't being done yet" at that time in Maryland).

Things do have a way of working out... sometimes.

As for the house — we planned, we saved, and we were very lucky in renting a house from terrific owners who had a policy of never raising the rent on tenants they liked! The Satos were very proud of the fact that so many of their tenants moved out only because they had bought their own homes. It was Mr. and Mrs. Sato's hope that all of their "good" tenants be able to become home owners, so they held the rent steady to give those tenants a better opportunity to save toward their own houses.

Buried Dreams

...And now that you are where you are today...does part of you still wish that dream would have been a reality?

Actually, no. I really like where I am today. When I was in grade school and Junior High, I expected to become a scientist one day. But frankly, when I got to College I realized I dont much care for "bench science". I'm not particularly interested in research or long experiments. (Plus, I really didn't like holding my breath near the incubator or washing my hands so many times during the day!).

So I noodled around, tried out a couple of grad programs (see previous question) and then I met Richard. I had taken a computer programming class in High School and also half of a double major in C. Sci. in College; I already knew I liked programming. I just didn't know how much I liked programming until I didn't have to punch cards to do it! And that was it. I found my dream career. Then "all" I had to do was find an advisor to help me get a thesis project so I could achieve the first step in that career.

I know what my dream is, and I've been holding constant to that dream (with a few minor teaks here and there) for over 20 years now! The hard part at the moment isn't the dream, it's the reality. The job market is slow and competition is fierce. I know what I want to be doing; finding someone to pay me to do it is not so easy.

Meeting the Inner Explorer

Where would you go? Who would go with you? How long would you stay there? And what would you do once you were there?

Where would I go? Don't take this personally but... I would go Home! I'd take my Hubby with me and we'd stay home until the money ran out. We'd read, work on personal projects, finish the back deck, redo the dining room floor. We'd enjoy ourselves and our cats and our projects without having to spend our time performing tasks for other people.

I've never understood how the phrase "get away from it all" came to include gettng away from home. A baby sitter for the kids?! Our kids are feline and I don't want to leave them with a sitter. I want to be with them. Home and family is where I belong.

Circle of Words - #5 - posted by Vicki at Wed, 04 Feb, 15:27 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday February 02, 2004

180 Degrees of Separation

There's an interesting meme making the rounds. It (usually) has 100 questions (although I found a spur with 50). It starts with a list of statements about the person whose blog it's on. The rules are:
  1. Copy the whole list into your journal/diary/blog.
  2. Bold only the things that you have in common with the original poster.
  3. Whatever you didn't bold, replace with things about you.
It's an interesting meme in that it can morph at an incredibly rapid rate. I tried to track it to its source; it was easier to find the source of the Nile! I think the meme must have started spontaneously from a few people who created "100 Things About me" lists... and other people used those as starter sets, creating a meme.

So, since I couldn't find the source, I decided to start my own source and begin a new tree. In a way, I'm breaking the rules. In another way, I'm following them to a greater length.

First, I googled for people that I was already similar to in one important way. Specifically, I googled for the first line of the rules plus the phrase "I love cats" or "I'm a cat person". I chose four (very different) lists, which I have posted. I then chose a 5th list from a woman who has a fair amount in common with me but wasn't playing the meme game; her list seems to be an original "100 Things" list.

Finally, I created my own list of 100 things about me by mixing and matching from those five lists. The result is all about me, and also shows how much I have in common with the original 5.

I enjoyed the exercise. If you decide to play, please leave a comment or send me a note to let me know so I can come visit and see how much we have in common.

180 Degrees of Separation - posted by Vicki at Mon, 02 Feb, 17:03 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday January 31, 2004

Interview NewSenses

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Saturday Senses ]


You go to a job interview and they have you seated in a waiting room for over an hour. In this room there's a water cooler, a coffee machine, some magazines, candies, crackers, 5 other candidates and the receptionist. It's the end of the day, you're tired, really hungry and you have a headache.

[taste]:: You're so hungry you can actually hear your stomach. There are the crackers and the candies, the coffee machine and the water cooler. All this across the room and the place is really silent. You don't know how longer you'll have to wait. Do you prefer being very hungry with a headache or go grab some crackers and candies, maybe coffee and water?

[touch]:: Let's say you decided to go for the crackers and candies, because you were really starving. How many do you grab? How much is just enough in a situation like this?

[sight]:: After an hour, you have already looked at all magazines from 1995, your eyes have scanned the room a hundred times and you're having trouble keeping them open, being as tired as you are. All the other candidates are already gone. What do you do to avoid falling asleep?

[smell]:: You are finally called in to your interview. The interviewer hasn't said a word yet and instead is looking at some papers, maybe your resume. You're just sitting there and a secretary comes in, puts some papers on the desk, says something quick to the interviewer and leaves. The second she's gone, you smell something funny and, boy, it stinks big time... It wasn't you, but you're sure the interviewer can smell it too and if it wasn't him, he might be thinking it was you or the secretary. What do you do? Do you say anything?

[hearing]:: The interviewer finally opens his mouth. This guy looks really scary and intimidating, but the second he starts talking, you feel an uncontrollable urge to laugh: he talks very fast and has a funny voice that contrasts with his physical appearance. You know you shouldn't laugh, but you can't help it and a giggle slips out. How do you handle this?

[taste]:: Do you prefer being very hungry with a headache or go grab some crackers and candies, maybe coffee and water?
I'd definitely get some water. I always carry aspirin with me and I'd take those. Water from the water cooler would also quell my stomach. If things were desperate, I'd probably go for a cup of coffee with sugar and cream to settle both the headache and the stomach.

[touch]:: How much is just enough in a situation like this?
One is "just enough" (with the coffee and/or the water).

[sight]:: What do you do to avoid falling asleep?
"Meditate". Sit up straight, stare into the middle distance and plan next week's grocery list. Get out a pad and pen (this is an interview, right? You definitely have brought a pad and pen) and make notes. Even if you're actually doing a character study of the receptionist, or writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper, you'll look professional and you'll stay awake.

[smell]:: What do you do? Do you say anything?
Keep your mouth shut and breathe shallowly. Remain professional (you're the only one here who has a hope of remaining professional; everyone else has already lost that contest). If the interviewer says anything about it, you smile and shake your head. Unless you believe there's a gas leak, there's nothing out of the ordinary.

[hearing]:: You know you shouldn't laugh, but you can't help it and a giggle slips out. How do you handle this?
Cough. If necessary, get a small coughing fit and excuse yourself for more water. Then apologize (for coughing).

By the way, just how badly do you really want this job, anyway?
Interview NewSenses - posted by Vicki at Sat, 31 Jan, 14:55 Pacific | Comments (0)

Money Makes the World Go 'Round

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 50 ]
"Fifty," I thought to myself. "Fifty what? Fifty-cent piece? Hmm... money!"

PAST: I remember those pre-teen days when having a pocketful of change gave me a sense of financial independence. What did you first do for money?

PRESENT: Understanding the current (lousy) state of the economy, I won't assume you're employed right now. So. What did you last do for money?

FUTURE: If you suddenly came into a situation where you didn't need the income, would you still work some sort of job?

Another week older, another week richer in wisdom. Or some-such.

PAST: I remember those pre-teen days when having a pocketful of change gave me a sense of financial independence. What did you first do for money?

I asked :-)

No, seriously, neither my sister nor I ever got an "allowance'. If there was something we wanted, we asked. if Mom or Dad thought it was worth having, they'd buy it. Or maybe it would show up at the next birthday or at Christmas. Or, maybe they'd say no.

I got my first job the summer after I graduated from High School. I wanted a camera (specifically a 35mm SLR Pentax K1000 camera; I still have it). In those days, if I recall correctly, that camera cost $500. That wasn't something I could just ask for. So, that summer I worked as a cashier at one of the municipal swimming pools, taking money from small half-naked children, taking photos and making up summer pool passes, bantering with the (now dripping wet) small half-naked children.

PRESENT:Understanding the current (lousy) state of the economy, I won't assume you're employed right now. So. What did you last do for money?

Thanks, that's awfully considerate of you! (I'm not employed at present and haven't been, really, for approaching 2 years now.)

I am, by preference and practice, a professional programmer (how's that for alliteration?). I'm also a technical writer and web spinner.

The last paid job I had was a 5-week contract writing Perl and VBScript code for Windoze2000. Yuck. Did I enjoy it? No (it was a Survival Job). But I kept pounding away at it for 5 weeks, until it finally blew up on me. Sigh.

FUTURE:If you suddenly came into a situation where you didn't need the income, would you still work some sort of job?

You mean, would I work on someone else's project, with my time and tasks dictated by someone else? Outside of my home? Away from my cats, my well-configured computer, my large, comfy, and private home office, not to mention my personal projects? Would I still do that if I were financially independent?


Next question?
Money Makes the World Go 'Round - posted by Vicki at Sat, 31 Jan, 01:04 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday January 29, 2004

The happiest mine eyes shall see

[ Today's meme is courtesy of this week's Thursday Threesome at The Back Porch. Quote is by Edgar Allan Poe, The Happiest Day ]

Onesome- The happiest day: Tell us about the happiest day of your life.

Twosome- The happiest hour: What’s your favourite time of the day, and why?

Threesome- Mine eyes shall see: What’s the one thing/place you would really like to see in your life?

Onesome- The happiest day:

Miss Manners (Judith Martin) has this comment on what is often called "The Happiest Day of Your Life" (the wedding day):

Few of those who prattle about that "happiest day" seem to consider the dour expectations this suggests about the marriage from its second day on. . . At any rate, someone whose idea of ultimate happiness is a day spent at a big party, even spent being the center of attention at a marvelous big party, is too young to get married.
(There are adults who go through life expecting other people to make their birthdays perfect for them, and if you ever meet one of these people, watch out. Nothing will ever be enough for them.)

What Miss Manners wishes all brides is not the happiest day of their lives, but jolly gatherings of family and friends, in which they are the object of general admiration, but everyone has a good time. They will then have some happiness left over with which to live happily ever after.

Today is my birthday. If I'm lucky enough to live as long as my maternal grandmother, I have not yet reached the midpoint of my life. I have had quite a few happy days in the past 44 years (as well as more than my share of really bad days). I sincerely hope that the "happiest" day of my life is still ahead of me, something to look forward to. Otherwise, life is, overall, sad indeed.

May many days each be the happiest day of your life up until now, with many more ahead.

Twosome- The happiest hour:
I'm at my best in the evening. After work, well before bedtime, between 7pm and midnight. The workday is over; it's just me, hubby, and the cats. It's a time to rest, relax, talk and spend time with those who matter most.

Threesome- Mine eyes shall see:
Paraphrasing Sandra Bullock in the movie "Miss Congeniality", I'd like to see

Harsher sentences for violent offenders ...and world peace!

Perhaps the way to achieve the latter is to have more of the former. I'm still not sure how exactly I feel about the recent (and ongoing) "unpleasantness" in raq and the Middle East... I have mixed thoughts. However, I found one commentator's views on the subject to be most thought provoking:

Gracie [Sandra Bullock's character] learned that neither the judges nor the audience wanted to hear about anything practical, like locking up parole violators. They wanted popcorn, to participate in a moment of morality. Who doesn't want world peace?

As for places I would like to see, the list includes Scotland, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Greece, the Yucatan and more of Denmark. However, as I get older, my priorities continue to shift further in the direction of hearth and home. I really don't like to travel. I don't like to be away from home for very long. I'm also increasingly less willing to get into an airplane for a trip of any distance.

The happiest mine eyes shall see - posted by Vicki at Thu, 29 Jan, 21:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 27, 2004

Circle of Words - #4

Circle of Words is a weekly set of questions that are somewhat personal, spiritual, and will explore your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these questions will provide you with a little bit of  personal therapy and allow your readers a little peek inside your soul.

An Artist Is Someone Who Creates

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how...The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
-Agnes De Mille

1. Are you a leader or a follower? Do you ever wear that wild and crazy shirt out to dinner even though it's too young or too not you? Or do you stick with the styles for your appropriate age and such? What if you received a handmade beaded necklace from your daughter or friend that was just a little over the top...would you wear it with pride or tuck it away in a drawer? Do you wear your hair like the latest trend..or do you just wear it as it is what works for you?

You Are an Artist

Inside, you there's an artist you don't know about...Say yes quickly, if you know, if you've known it from before the beginning of the universe.
-Jalai Ud-Din Rumi

2. Most of us think of artists as someone who paints, sculpts, writes, acts, and so on. But this is untrue. Each one of us is an artist. We all create a unique work of art every day of our lives. We each do something unlike anyone else, which in turn makes us unique. Every choice you make creates some type of art. In what ways do you see yourself as an artist? And is there anything you would like to do to show your creative side that you are not doing already?

Discovering Your Authentic Self

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
-Oscar Wilde

3. What is required for you to have a great day..the kind of day where you love yourself and everything about your life? Is it something as simple as a long bubble bath, play time with your children, or the fact that you are having a good hair day? Or does it take much more than a raise at work, a new home, a new car? And then the other extreme...what things make you not so in love with yourself? And which would you say you are more of - in love with yourself -or- not?

My thoughts

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, I only recently purchased and have begun to read a book called "Creating a Life Worth Living" by Carol Lloyd.

You are actively searching for two things: the creative life you want to lead and the way to create and maintain that life so you are as sane and as happy and as financially solvent as you want to be...
The only thing this book does assume is that you are an artist.

"Hey, wait a minute, I'm not an artist."

Well, maybe not in the limited sense. I define artist in the broadest possible terms—not only the literary, visual, and performing arts, but all those careers and personalities that demand that you create your own life.

[cf. "Creating a Life Worth Living", Carol Lloyd, 1997. Introduction

An Artist Is Someone Who Creates

Neither a leader nor a follower be.

I'm fiercely independent. I always have been. I would wear the shirt without thinking that it was wild and crazy, without considering where I was wearing it, simply because it's my shirt and I like it. Spouse and self do make small concessions - when we're employed, we each wear collared polo shirts (and jeans) instead of t-shirts. But I've never followed the crowd particularly. I don't go out of my way to stand out, either. I wear my hair the way I want to, I don't wear makeup, I would either wear the necklace with pride or not wear it because I'm not a jewelry person, but the decision would have nothing to do with what "other people think".

Some years ago, an acquaintance informed me that his 17-year-old daughter "admired" me. Yech. No, please. I don't want to be "admired". Respected, perhaps; admired, looked up to, "followed" - no! I'm me; you're you. Make your own life.

You Are an Artist

Actually, I do write. I write technical documentation and expository essays. I try to be creative in my writing (friends have told me I succeed at this :-). I create programs and web pages. I used to do crafts; I'm still crafty although I don't work in those media anymore. I have a fine sense of humor; I'm a good problem solver; I have many creative ideas (most of which involve my computer). I fit Carol Lloyd's definition of an artist (it's the primary reason I bought her book, although I hadn't read that part in advance).

And is there anything you would like to do to show your creative side that you are not doing already? — I'd like to get paid for what I do.

Discovering Your Authentic Self

All that is required for me to have a great day is a lot of time at home. Time with the kitties, preferably including a nap in the afternoon. Time with Rich, preferably including reading and relaxing in the evening. Time with friends over dinner. Time to read and respond to email, write in my journal, write for my weblog (and read other people's weblogs). Time to think about projects I want to think about. Time to do projects for myself.

I'm not so in love with myself when things aren't going as planned, when the stress of multiple things that have to be done gets to me, when I'm frustrated by some problem I don't seem to be able to solve, when I get trapped into an argument I didn't want to have.

These days, the former me is in control more often than the latter. Vicki Hyde rarely makes an appearance. I'm unemployed; that actually accounts for a great lowering of stress in my life and a correspondingly large increase in the time I have available to devote to my own projects. (The only down side to unemployment is the money thing :(

Circle of Words - #4 - posted by Vicki at Tue, 27 Jan, 09:12 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday January 26, 2004

Words, Words, Words

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 49 ]
PAST: The quality of our thoughts can only be as good as the quality of our language, for words are the very core of thought. How diligent were you at building your vocabulary, when you were a youngster?

PRESENT:What's the most recent addition to your vocabulary?

FUTURE:What word would you like to see added to the general lexicon... and what word would you like to see removed?


PAST: ...How diligent were you at building your vocabulary, when you were a youngster?

Acutely, exceedingly, exceptionally, extraordinarily, hugely, immensely, intensely, markedly, notably, quite, remarkably, surpassingly, totally, ultra, unusually, utterly, very, vitally.

I loved vocabulary as a kid; my Mom helped me build my weekly vocabulary list for school by quizzing me from Reader's Digest's Word Power column.

PRESENT:What's the most recent addition to your vocabulary?

con-spec-tus n.

  1. A general survey of a subject.
  2. 2. A synopsis.
I wanted a word that meant something like summery but not quite, so I went on a word hunt :-) This is what I chose.

FUTURE:What word would you like to see added to the general lexicon...?

English is such a marvelously flexible language. Words spring into existence or fade into obscurity with equal ease. Words bend, twist, morph, and invert their meanings; they bud, spawn, and split iinto myriad new words at the twist of a tongue. It's no wonder English is called a living language.

English is a sticky language. Use a word once, share it with one other person, and that word is forever real. We need no formal lexicon to give credence to a word; we only have to use it. Laser, modem, blog. Glom, gallumph, grok. Only speak it thus and it shall be.

I make up words all the time. One of my favorites is sprizzle (a form of rain somewhere between a sprinkling and a drizzle). Feel free to use it. We'll see how far it goes.

...and what word would you like to see removed?

Would taking a word out of the lexicon remove it from people's brains as well? (Unlikely, but this is, after all, an exercise in imagination.) If 'twere so, I might ask the genie to remove some of the most over-used old Anglo Saxon 4-letter expletives such as F*ck and Sh*t. Maybe, if 80% of their vocabulary list magically disappeared, more people would be forced to come up with new words to express themselves. But, then again, do I really want to know what such people would choose as substitutes?

Words, Words, Words - posted by Vicki at Mon, 26 Jan, 16:21 Pacific | Comments (2)

Saturday January 24, 2004

Naughty Little Impulse

[ The following question comes courtesy of Saturday Slant ]
What is your naughty little impulse never acted upon? Ever wanted to kiss your boss? Do you often feel like telling your mother-in-law that she’s a self-centered, controlling witch—over Thanksgiving Dinner? Do you sometimes feel the compulsion to pick up your man’s dirty socks, which are constantly strewn about the floor irresponsibly, and ball it into his sleeping, snore-opened mouth? Ever wanted to steal something just for the thrill of it? Or is your impulse more along the lines of seducing that hunk from the mail room? Tell us about some naughty impulse you’ve had—or have frequently—and the circumstances surrounding it.
None of the above, certainly.

My first thought was, I can't think of anything.
My second thought was, if I could think of anything, it's none of your business (not for publication).

Then I read eris's post (good answers there) and I thought, hmmmmm, there is something.

Last night Hubby and I were in a restaurant with a friend. There was a large party (6 or 8 people) at the next table, talking, eating appetizers, taking flash photos (where the flash bounced off the plate glass mirrors on both walls as well as the windows at the front of the place). There didn't seem to be a "responsible adult" at the table; no one was over 25; the 2-year old kid kept squealing. It was bad, but it wasn't that bad...

Until, half-way through our meal, their friends joined them. The other half of the party. Now we are 16. Including two additional two- or three-year old kids that no one paid much attention to. The average age of the party members didn't change; still no "responsible adult" among them. The noise level got louder. All three children (seated next to each other) squealed. And then...

Another person arrived! When he came in, one of the girls at the back of the big table leaped up, squealed louder than any of the two-year olds, and bounded across the people along the back of the table to give the new arrival a big hug (and another shriek).

My Naughty Little Impulse? Have you guessed?

Let's start with taking the camera away, suggesting that the "adults" begin to act like adults, and telling the small children to shut up or they'd have something to squeal about...

Instead, we finished (more quickly than we otherwise might have done), paid quickly (with a comment to the management that we had to leave immediately because we were no longer happy customers, and got the H* out of there. We went home (our guest followed and joined us at our house) where we had quiet conversation and desert.

Naughty Little Impulse - posted by Vicki at Sat, 24 Jan, 16:41 Pacific | Comments (1)

Out of the Loop

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]
Onesome: Out-- Are you getting out and about lately? ...or is school/the weather/work/illness keeping you cooped up inside?

Twosome: of the-- Blue? Does the Winter season 'get to you'? ...or do you handle it as well as you do Summer?

Threesome: Loop-- Hey, Spring is coming (and Winter is still here for some); do you have a loop you drive or walk to check out the scenery? What do you see when you're out and about?

Onesome: Out--   I don't get out and about much and certainly not neaar as much as I could (and should). I blame sheer sloth and lassitude (not to mention lethargy and donwanna). I try to go out during the day - to the store, to the bank. But I should get out more, even though Rich isn't here to go with me. It's chilly but compared to the frozen Eqast, it's balmy here. (OK, some people will retort that it's always balmy in CA. Perhaps I should say "tepid"?).

Rich is working 10-12 hour days and gets home utterly slagged so we don't tend to do much that's active in the evenings.

Twosome: of the--   Winter gets to me big time. I never realized how much until a few years back. Now I use a lot of light all winter long.

The other day Rich pointed out that it was after 5:30 pm and not yet full dark. Ya hoo!.

Threesome: Loop--   Yup; we've got a loop; in fact, we have several intersecting loops, depending how far we want to go and what time of day it is. We usually head across the street, through the park, and down the hill on the far side. Then we either turn left and walk around the block the long way back to the house or turn right and head out to the Community College. In another two blocks we have another left or right decision — left to the County jail, then past it to the College and around that loop or right through the Eucalyptus grove, out into a little neighborhood up on Skyline, and around that loop and back?

Once we're back, we head toward the park again and either go the long way 'round or back up the hill the way we came down.

Out of the Loop - posted by Vicki at Sat, 24 Jan, 16:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Surf Sense

[ Today's meme is coutresy of Saturday Senses ]
[sight]:: What is the most visually stunning website you know?

[taste]:: Can you order any kind of food through the web from where you live? Have you ever ordered?

[smell]:: With the digital scent technology developing, what would you like to smell over the internet and how do you think this will affect how we interact with the web?

[touch]:: How fast do you type and what kind of mouse do you use?

[hearing]:: Have you ever paid for downloading music from the internet? Do you usually hear music while you surf the net? What kind? Streaming or local?

[sight]:: What is the most visually stunning website you know?
I'm certainly stunned by the ones that use lime or red letters on a yellow or black background, but I don't think that's what you had in mind :-) I presume by "visually stunning" you mean "drop dead gorgeous graphically"? Gosh. Probably one of the photo sites. My preference is usually for clean and navigable.

[taste]:: Can you order any kind of food through the web from where you live? Have you ever ordered?
Can't everybody? Let's see. I've ordered chocolate mint lentils (candy) from Sugar Plum Chocolates, Perugina Caffe hard candies (yummm) DItalia Foods, teas from Stash Tea, Clodhoppers from Krave's, Lebanon bologna and scrapple from Seltzer's Meats, and (most recently) Cinnamon Nutrageous granola from Castus Low Carb Superstore.

I could order Penn State University Creamery ice cream (yuuummm) but so far it's seemed prohibitively expensive. Maybe if I win the sweepstakes.

[smell]:: With the digital scent technology developing, what would you like to smell over the internet and how do you think this will affect how we interact with the web?
Great Zot! Why would I want such a thing?!

[touch]:: How fast do you type and what kind of mouse do you use?
Pretty fast and fairly accurately. When I'm writing an article, I do about 1000-1200 words an hour. I'm not a touch typist but I use both hands (and 6 fingers) and I can keep up with my thoughts. I can't quite keep up with someone dictating at a talking rate.

I use a Kensington Turbomouse, the latest in a long line of Kensington Turbomice. I got "mouse wrist" (inflamation of the gangial, rather than the carpel, tunnel) from using a regular mouse, somewhere around 1990/91. At that time, the department where I worked was testing a dozen different trackballs with the OS we were building. I borrowed them all, tried them all, and hated most of them. I loved the Kensington. It's all I've used since; if I get a new job or contract, I ask them to buy me a Turbomouse. It's a small investment to pay to avoid skyrocketing medical bills and disability costs ;-)

[hearing]:: Have you ever paid for downloading music from the internet? Do you usually hear music while you surf the net? What kind? Streaming or local?
I found a box of 45rpm records the other day; 78 (ironic number, that) records dating from the early 70's to the mid-80's. I looked through them, then sent all but one to

Going through the 45s convinced me to go out looking for some music on the net and I bought a couple of singles at the iTunes Music store. I was still missing a couple of singles, so I did a web search and found and Limewire. Wow. Now I have more of the singles I loved and I don't have to worry about scratches.

I don't usually listen to music when I surf, but many sites play it when I arrive. I'm sorry to say that this is when the "mute" key on my keyboard comes in very handy.

Surf Sense - posted by Vicki at Sat, 24 Jan, 00:15 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 20, 2004 other words.... We Have a Player!

As I mentioned back on January 6, I decided to start my own meme about quotes, called other words.... It's been added to the Memes List and today I have my first (official) player (she signed the guest book and left her link with a nicely phrased, well thought-out discussion of the quote:
There are two types of people--those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are.'

-- Frederick L Collins

(I was woefully late posting today's quote; with yesterday a holiday, it slipped my mind that today was Tuesday!) other words.... We Have a Player! - posted by Vicki at Tue, 20 Jan, 17:13 Pacific | Comments (0)

Circle of Words - #3

Circle of Words is a weekly set of questions that are somewhat personal, spiritual, and will explore your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these questions will provide you with a little bit of  personal therapy and allow your readers a little peek inside your soul.

Each question will first start off with a quote from someone famous, or not so famous, which relates to the topic of the question. There may be one or several questions afterwards.

[ I did not join Circle of Words until it was in week #48. The year is now new questions will be posted. I am continuing with the meme, starting from week #1, in 2004. ]

Your Personal Treasure Map

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
-Matthew 6:21

1. What if someone told you that all you needed to do to make your dreams come true is to create a personal treasure map. In this map would be all of the things you want in your life. These things can be people, things, a certain job, a location...etc. Well I can't tell you that the things on your map will come true, but I can tell you that everything in your outer world is created in your mind first. With that said...what would be on your personal treasure map for say...10 years from now?

Embracing Joyful Simplicities

Year by year the complexities of this spinning world grow more bewildering and so each year we need all the more to seek peace and comfort in the joyful simplicities.
-Woman's Home Companion, December 1935

2. We all have great moments in our lives that are marked by events such as the day we got married, the day we finally got our dream job, our baby was born...etc. The days that we will never forget. But what about all the little things? These are the joyful simplicities the engage our senses...that nourish our body and soul. Such as the smell of your favorite homemade soup filling your kitchen. The joy of the sun shining through your living room window on a summers day. The warmth that fills your heart as you peek at your rearview mirror and see your children playing in the back seat of your car. What types of joyful simplicities do you have in your life? Try to name at least 3 things...or more!!

Creative Excursions;The Gift of Time

I celebrate myself, and sing myself
I loafe and invite my soal...

Walt Whitman

3. When is the last time you went on a creative excursion? What this means is something that you do by yourself... for yourself. This is where we take away the title of wife... mother... student... teacher... etc... and look inside ourselves. When is the last time you did something that made you feel good. Something that celebrated yourself... that showed your creative side... or your energetic side, or even your really needed a break from life's daily routine side? And don't feel bad if you can't think of something, this is very hard to do. But maybe this will give you the extra push to not feel guilty the next time you really want to do something for yourself.

My Personal Treasure Map

Just draw the map and find the treasure. What a wonderful dream.

X marks the spot for Home and Family. I'm there, with Richard and the furkids. I'd like to adopt another kitty (or two) over the next decade. They come when it's time.

Health is on the map, somewhere over the river. There is a rope bridge to cross and crocodiles in the river, of course. Health, reduced physical weight, good test results for the usual annual tests, decent rates for medical insurance... (that last is drawn as a treasure chest).

A job is on the map, with the requisite dotted line path between here and there. The destination is marked with a skull and crossbones; there's a patch of quicksand and a nest of serpents marked on the map between that job and where I am, as well as an area marked "Watch for Falling Rock". Jobs are necessary to have but difficult to get (especially good ones). Once caught, they can be slippery, often hard to enjoy, frustrating to keep and do well at.

There are trees and parks drawn on the map and pleasant paths beside a lake and through the woods. There's an ocean marked at the far edge. There's a small village of "friendly natives" (friends and family) we can visit for meals and storytelling. A larger village is just over the crest of the hill; we can go there for supplies.

It's not a very large map; it doesn't need to be. For most of what I need, X marks the spot. I'm already there, with Richard and the furkids.

Joyful Simplicities

I call these Treasures. I started recording mine in mid-December 2003 after discovering Participation Positives on the web. I also discovered Heart's Gladness and have been recording some of my larger and more expanded (expansive) treasures under this heading.

Some of my greatest Treasures, my "Joyful Simplicities" are these:

    My hubby and the cats, first, last, and in-between-times
    A hug from my sweetie
    A joke and a laugh shared
    An invitation for a walk
    Head butts and requests for attention from one of the furkids
    A kitty on my lap while I read
    Sitting with my sweetie in the evening, both of us reading, sharing silence and an occasional read-aloud passage
    Cats snuggled with me in bed, at night or during naps
    The view from our eastern windows
    The grey squirrels and birds at the feeder

Creative Excursions

Ah. I go on these a lot. Ever since I discovered weblogs, I've been writing more. I write for me. I write for my friends and my family. I write for you, the unknown reader. I enjoy the memes and the writing prompts. I enjoy thinking of what parts of my life to record. I enjoy sharing my discoveries on these pages.

Throough the weblogs, I've met new net friends. I've started a personal journal again (after more than a 20-year hiatus). I've joined a pair of journaling mailing lists. I've started a Yahoo group called InsPURRation. I've posted more creative messages to the mailing lists I belong to.

It's very likely that a large part of the reason I can do this is because I'm currently unemployed. I have the time; I have the energy. I'm not being pulled in many directions at once. I hope I'll be able to find the resources to continue when (note that I optimisticly say when) I find a job.

Circle of Words - #3 - posted by Vicki at Tue, 20 Jan, 11:17 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday January 19, 2004


[ Today's questions are courtesy of Saturday Senses ]

(N.B. In the paragraph below, "I" is the founder of Saturday Senses.)

I had a hard time coming up with questions this week. Then I remembered those psychological tests where you're prompted to imagine a scene and your answers say a lot about what's in your subconscious. So, although I cannot analyze the results ;-) I thought it would be fun to see what's deep inside your minds, or at least, how creative you can get using your senses. I opened an exception to make things more interesting, so instead of having one question to each of the five senses, I added questions as they were needed, and I also added the 6th sense :-). As a rule, go with the first thing you think of. Remember, this is not to test your fiction writing abilities, but to symbolically reveal your deepest feelings. Have fun!!!
Here's the scene: you start walking from nowhere and it's completely dark.

[6th sense]:: How do you feel about being in the dark? As you walk, do you feel that there's something good or bad ahead?

[smell]:: First you smell something. What is it?

[hearing]:: Then you hear something. Can you identify what it is? Where does it come from? Is it loud? Is it pleasing, scary, irritating?

[touch]:: Is it cold or hot? What are you wearing? What do you feel beneath your feet as you walk in the dark?

[sight]:: Things start to clear up. What do you see? Where are you? What's around you? Describe your environment. It could be anything, realistic or not.

[taste]:: Is there something in this place that you can drink or eat? What is it? Do you eat/drink it?

[touch]:: Now that you can see what´s around you, do you touch anything? How do you interact with this environment?

[sight]:: You now realize there's an exit. Do you want to get out or would you rather stay? Why? Describe the exit. Do you leave?

First impressions. Words and images that come to mind as I read the prompt.

a cave
smell: piney woods, plants, light breeze
hear; water waterfall, running water
touch: cool, warmer warm, light breeze, rock underfoot
sight: heading toward entrance of cave, sunshine filtered through trees, pool, waterfall,
taste: spring water
touch: moss underfoot, rocks, trees, sit on a log, dablle feet in the pool
sight: I'll stay for a while, till it's time to go home

Putting it all together

I'm comfortable. This doesn't feel like a bad place. Just dark... getting lighter as I walk. Something good is up ahead; I sense nothing bad about this place.

I begin to smell dust and a faint smell of pine. There's a breeze. I can smell plants on the breeze, as well as water. It's getting lighter.

I hear water; it sounds like a waterfall! That might be pleasant.

It's neither hot nor cold; a pleasant temparature. I'm wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, boots. (Odd, I never wear boots :-) I feel rock under my feet and the occasional pebble. I seem to be in a cave. As I reach the entrance to the cave, there's more light and I look out into a wooded glen.

Sunshine filters through the trees. The smell of pine and plants is stronger. There's a waterfall (as I thought!) and a pool. There's a spring as well, off to the side. The water looks clear. A deer is drinking from the spring so I wait, then try the water. It's fresh and cold.

There are rocks and logs around the pool, with soft moss and some sandy patches. This is nice. I sit on the bank and dabble my toes while the sunlight plays on the water.

Off to the left I see another cave with a red Exit sign above it. That's convenient. I'll be able to go home when I decide to. However, for now I'll just sit here by the pool. Perhaps the deer will return.

Imagine-a-sense - posted by Vicki at Mon, 19 Jan, 11:46 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday January 18, 2004

I want to be a kitty

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Saturday Slant, week 42 ]

Reincarnation has brought you back as a family's pet.
Given a choice, what common pet animal would you be? Would you prefer to be an indoor pet, an outdoor pet, or one who splits her time? What kind of owner(s) would you prefer? Write your Saturday Slant blog entry as if you were the animal, a family pet with a blog written for other family pets. Document a day in the life of you, family pet.

Well, Duh! This one's a no-brainer. I would want to come back as a Maine Coon cat, specifically a purebred, healthy, happy, loving and loved, indoor feline family member (just like ours :-). I would want hooman parents just like myself and my spouse.

A Day in the Life? That's easy.

felicia-100 I wake at dawn and stretch. The hoomans are still asleep, so I hop out of bed and pad to the kitchen to see if there are any crunchies. I'm in luck; I won't starve. After a small snack to boost my energy level, I head out to the screen porch to see if that grey-furred critter is out there. It is! And there are birds too! My brofur is already awake and watching. We briefly touch noses, then I join him.

Ooooooh. I crouch, ears perked, tail flipping gently side to side and watch. The grey critter moves a little bit. I wish I could get closer. Then, suddenly, it runs across the front of the screenporch. My brofur and I run too, to the other end to look out the window. It jumps into a bush and is gone. I'll look for it again later; it will probably come back.

I wonder if mom is up yet? With a brief stop by the crunchy bowl, just to fortify myself for later, I head back to the bedroom and hop up on the bed. Mom's seems to still asleep, but I walk up her, stop on her pillow and peer into her face, just to make sure. She opens one eye and reaches out a hand to stroke my head.Ah, that's more like it. I'll wait for a bit before I mention breakfast. There. Scratch right there, behind my ear.

After some cuddling, Mom gets up and puts on her "clothes". Silly hoomans. If they had fur like sensible creatures, they wouldn't have to do all of this "dressing" and 'undressing'. As we (finally!) head out to the kitchen for breakfast, I start thinking abut my day.

I think today I will sit in the front window for a while and watch the birds. Then I'll take a nap at the top of the cat tree. After my nap, I'll find my brofur and have a wrestle with him; that's always fun. If he nips me I'll squeak and Mom will say "Now, you two, be careful". After we wrestle, we'll find a place near Mom and curl up for another nap. After all, one cannot have too many naps! If we're lucky, Mom will even nap with us. We'll sleep till supper and then - food time again!

I want to be a kitty - posted by Vicki at Sun, 18 Jan, 12:31 Pacific | Comments (1)

Saturday January 17, 2004

Gone Crazy. Back Soon!

[ this question courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 48 ]
PAST: Been crazy once?

PRESENT: What drives you absolutely crazy?

FUTURE: Figure you'll go crazy someday?

cra·zy  (n.)   adj. cra·zi·er, cra·zi·est
  1. Affected with madness; insane.
  2. Informal. Departing from proportion or moderation, especially:
    1. Possessed by enthusiasm or excitement: The crowd at the game went crazy.
    2. Immoderately fond; infatuated: was crazy about boys.
    3. Intensely involved or preoccupied: is crazy about cars and racing.
    4. Foolish or impractical; senseless: a crazy scheme for making quick money.
PAST: Been crazy once?
Once or twice ;-)

PRESENT: What drives you absolutely crazy?
Frustration; the inability to solve a problem or explain something satsfactorily. The inability to affect change. Losing something! (such as my keys, a book I had just a moment ago, my shoes, where is that pencil?! When I can't find one of the cats...

FUTURE: Figure you'll go crazy someday?
Doesn't everybody?

Gone Crazy. Back Soon! - posted by Vicki at Sat, 17 Jan, 21:25 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 16, 2004


The Friday Five The Friday 5 for this week is about personalization.

  1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
  2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?
  3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?
  4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?
  5. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?

  1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
    Vicki Brown ZZZ Journeyman Sourceror: San Bruno, CA zz |\ _,,,---,,_ Scripts & Philtres zz /,`.-'`' -. ;-;;,_ Perl, Unix, MacOS |,4- ) )-,_. ,\ ( `'-' ____________________ '---''(_/--' `-'\_) ____________________________
    Journeyman: more than an apprentice, less than a Master
    Sourceror: pun on Sorcerer (I'm a computer programmer, hence "source code"; computer programming is a sort of modern magic)
    Scripts: a kind of programming
    Philtres: a pun on Filters, i.e. data filters, a type of programming
    Philtres is a wizardy term for potions; philtres are stored in phials (files :-)

  2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook?
    No. We didn't really do that. There were a few quotes scattered throughout the book...

  3. If you have vanity plates on your car, what do they say?
    My first vanity plate read BIOCOMP (because I got my degree in Biology and was working with computers. I had those for 10 years.
    When I got a QA job, I switched the plates to QALITY (shouldn't it be spelled with a "U"?). But so few people got the joke... sigh. Those lasted less than a year.
    Today we have a set on each car. One is HTRCATS aand the other is HTRCATZ. Both are pronouced "heatercats".

  4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them?

  5. What would you like your epitaph to be?
    I haven't a clue. Who can compete with the masters, anyway? Here are some good ones.

Personalized - posted by Vicki at Fri, 16 Jan, 10:04 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday January 15, 2004

I do ... and I understand

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

::Confucius say::

Onesome- I hear and I forget. What’s the one thing you’ve had explained to you over and over, but it still goes in one ear and out the other?

Twosome- I see and I remember. Is there anything you’ve learned how to do just by watching someone else do it first?

Threesome- I do and I understand. Is there anything you excel at that you taught yourself to do?

Onesome- I hear and I forget.
Electric :-/ Single-pole double-throw switches and whatnot.

Also, explained repeatedly to me by me (which is infinitely worse): Do not accept any job simply because it has been offered to you and you think "Oh, I should be able to do that."

Twosome- I see and I remember.
This is how I learned to do most things when I was growing up. It's how I learned to write, to read for pleasure, to enjoy crafts; it's how I learned to handle a car; it's how I learned to appreciate architectural details. This is how I learned to sew and mend (although my knowledge far exceeds my abilities) and how I learned to cook (I still cook by "feel", although we do write down the best solutions we discover). This is how I learned to teach.

This is the way I learned how to use a checkbook, to buy groceries, to order in a restaurant. This is the way I learned to be a "functional adult" — mostly by observing my parents.

(And... it's how I learned to use chopsticks — but in that case, it wasn't my parents I was observing :-)

Threesome- I do and I understand.
Many years ago, I taught myself counted cross stitch (on linen, no less) after I saw a woman cross-stitching in a park. I taught myself American Sign Language (from a book) and did well enough to get myself moved into the "Advanced" beginners section when I took my first class. I also taught myself basic German vocabulary (from the book my Dad used in College) which made my College German class go much easier.

Now that we are both "functional adults", Spouse and self prefer the "learn by doing" method. This is the way we've both learned many of our programming skills, from Unix to Perl to HTML. We also share what we've learned, so there can be a bit of "I see and I remember" involved as well.

I do ... and I understand - posted by Vicki at Thu, 15 Jan, 14:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday January 14, 2004

Living a Faery Tale Life

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Saturday Slant, week 41 ]
If you were banished from reality into a faery tale of your choice, which would it be, which character would you choose to become, and why? This is a classic Saturday Slant revisited. Would you be Snow White, destined to be rescued by, and live happily ever after with, Prince Charming? Or would you choose someone who’s entire fate is not yet written, one of the Seven Dwarves, for example, so that you might reap the benefits of choosing your own path? There are easy, glib answers; and then there are deeper, more meaningful answers waiting within your heart and mind. Which will you choose?

I rather like one woman's response to this question. She said she would choose the role of Princess Fiona in Shrek. I liked her reasoning. But that's her story, not mine.

In Lost in a Good Book, Jasper Fforde describes an alternate universe in which fictional characters occasionally enter the "real" world (and some "real" people can enter the world of fiction).

I've never wanted to be a "star". I would have no interest in taking on the role of Sleeping Beauty (covered in dust for 100 years?), Snow White (talk about claustrophobia), or Cinderella (all that soot and grit). And how do we know they lived happily ever after?.

My choice, would be The Elves and the Shoemaker. First of all, because there are two people in the story; I could take my hubby along to play the part of the Shoemaker, while I would play the part of the Shoemaker's Wife. We could take the cats along too; they'd enjoy it (they would have a lot of fun watching the elves!). I'm not going anywhere without Spouse and Furkids!

Second, I like the basic elements of this story. There are no princes or fairy godmothers. No one gets a great reward just by the sheer luck of having a fairy godmother. No one gets hurt. No one gets their come-uppance either. The shoemaker and his wife are good, hardworking people. They need some help and they get it. In thanks, they do a good deed in return. The shoemaker and his wife end up happy (and reasonably prosperous). The elves are happy (and their good will was returned). Everyone comes out well in the end. And the magic works ;-)

Living a Faery Tale Life - posted by Vicki at Wed, 14 Jan, 11:41 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 13, 2004

Second Empire Garage Sale Modern

[ These questions are courtesy of the Saturday 8 for Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 ]
  1. When was the last time you purchased a piece of furniture for your home/apartment/room?
  2. What was it?
  3. In the past 8 years, i've not had to buy any furniture myself ... relatives have died or moved and i've acquired pieces for birthdays. do you have a lot of 'other people's furniture' at your place?
  4. When looking at furniture, do you go for the look, or for the deal?
  5. do you have a bad furniture shopping experience to relate? if not, do you have a good one?
  6. If money was no object, what decorating style would you put up?
  7. Are you naturally a decorator, or would you rather pay someone to come in and decide everything for you (given you have the cash on hand to hire them)?
  8. Do you watch any redecorating shows ... surprise by design, trading spaces/family, changing rooms, while you were out, clean sweep? why or why not?

  1. When was the last time you purchased a piece of furniture for your home/apartment/room?
    Gosh, it must be 8 or 10 years now...

  2. What was it?
    A La-Z-Boy recliner (specifically a swivel rocker recliner).

  3. Do you have a lot of 'other people's furniture' at your place?
    I have a cabinet that my mother built and finished from a kit before I was born. I have the gate-leg table that my mom and Dad had when they were first married. Our guest bed and Rich's desk and file cabinet were 'inherited" from a friend who, um, was no longer able to use them (yes, he's still alive). The recliner in the bedroom came to us from a friend of a friend, when she replaced it with a new one (it works; it's just shabby).

    We also have two dressers that were rescued from dumpsters and refinished (one in maple, one in some dark wood), a dresser from my grandmother (would you believe matched-grain mahogany veneer under the original nasty green paint?), a teak coffee table from Rich's parents (many years ago) which is now the headboard for our bed...

    Beyond that, we've got lots of stuff we bought used from individuals, or the Goodwill store, or used office furnture places, including two swivel rockers, several cabinets, four(!) desks, and tables of various sorts.

  4. When looking at furniture, do you go for the look, or for the deal?
    Both. First the look; if we don't like the look, it's no deal. After that, inexpensive is good. We have no problem with used furniture.

  5. Do you have a bad furniture shopping experience to relate? if not, do you have a good one?
    I recall that the purrchase of our recliner couch went very smoothly; the salesman wasn't pushy. When we went back later for a recliner rocker, the salesman helped us choose a style we could both use. Apparently men and women use different muscles to raise and lower the recliner. Men use their legs more; women their arms and backs. So women have a more difficult time getting out of a recliner chair that doesn't have a release handle!

  6. If money was no object, what decorating style would you put up?
    La-Z-Boy recliners and Danish modern (teak, rosewood or cherry).

  7. Are you naturally a decorator, or would you rather pay someone to come in and decide everything for you (given you have the cash on hand to hire them)?
    Neither. We have a comfortable "look" which we manage to maintain with little or no effort and which we both like.

  8. Do you watch any redecorating shows ... surprise by design, trading spaces/family, changing rooms, while you were out, clean sweep? why or why not?
    Nope. We don't watch television.
Second Empire Garage Sale Modern - posted by Vicki at Tue, 13 Jan, 15:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday January 12, 2004

Circle of Words - #2

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy.
- Louise Bogan

1.   Do you ever sit back and just smell the flowers? Do you ever lay in the sun and appreciate just life in general? Do you look at the good in things...or are you always searching for the bad? Do you spend minutes and hours worrying what might happen, instead of realizing you control your own can make it happen....or not?

Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.
- Russell H. Cornwell

2.   We all have within us dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled. "Diamonds to be Discovered" so to speak. But how many of us really take our dreams and turn them into reality? If you could do anything right now, what would you do? What would you be? How would you do it? And why haven't you done it already?

If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

3.   Procrastination. Procrastination is our worst enemy. It is what makes us tell ourselves that we will start the diet tomorrow. We will clean the kitchen floor tomorrow. We will tell our husbands that we love them....tomorrow. You get the idea. We are all guilty of some type of procrastination. What types are you guilty of? And don't you think it's about time you stop thinking about what you should be doing and plain old just start doing it!? Every time you procrastinate you are robbing yourself of an opportunity. Even that clean kitchen floor will make you enjoy the evenings dinner more knowing that it is done and you don't have to do it tomorrow.

[ I did not join Circle of Words until it was in week #48. I am continuing with the meme, starting from week #1, in 2004. ]

My thoughts

Appreciation: I sit back and appreciate as much as I can (possibly more than I should sometimes!) I also try to look for the good if possible.

I've seen the bad. It comes whether you prepare for it and worry about it or not — and all the worrying and preparation in the world won't protect you. So hold onto the good and don't let go. Hug the spouse, pet the kitties, thump the dog, spend time with your friends. Appreciate today, it won't come again.

Dreams: Do we? Do we all "have within us dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled"? What do I dream of...? I dream of an independently-wealthy life. I dream of not having to commute to a job. I've had that once or twice. I dream of making it permanent. I dream of being able to take (or not take) contracts based solely on my interest.

With the current lousy job market, this dream is further out of reach than it appeared to be 5 years ago. I dream of noth needing to work for a living, for some manager type on some project not of my choosing. If I could do anythng right now? I'd work at home, on projects I enjoy (and only on those). Ah, that would be the life!

Procrastination: I've gotten better at handling household maintenance. I know that if I decide to clean the counter "later" it will only get worse. And I've been practicing complimenting people now instead of "sometime" for years. I tell hubby I love him today, too, as well as tomorrow (I love you, sweetie).

The thing I put off most often is starting new projects; once I get into them I'm usually fine, but starting is always very difficult. Oh, and getting up in the morning. I try to postpone that for as long as possible (even though I know, intellectually, that I should get up and start working).

Circle of Words - #2 - posted by Vicki at Mon, 12 Jan, 18:59 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday January 10, 2004


[ Today's meme is courtesy of Saturday Senses, week 20 ]
How about some whining and complaining this week?

[sight]:: Name 2 things that annoy you on/about television.

[taste]:: Name 2 of the worst tasting foods or drinks you ever had.

[smell]:: Name 2 smells that you can´t stand and why:

[touch]:: Name 2 things (objects, body parts, etc...) that you don´t like other people to touch and why.

[hearing]:: What are the 2 sounds/noises that most irritate you and why?

[sight]:: Name 2 things that annoy you on/about television.
Practically everything annoys me about television. I could say the laugh track, but that's a sound thing. Then again I almost never have a TV near me with the sound running (unless it's playing a movie)... but there's a TV at our favorite diner that tends to be on (with the sound muted) all the time, every time we're there. So, to answer the question in an inSIGHTful manner...

  1. The mere fact that it's there, and it moves, draws my attention to it. That annoys me. I'm attracted and I don't want to be attracted.
  2. People on television "mug" for the camera a lot. There are too many broad gestures, too much jumping up and down, too much emoting with overdone facial expressions. That's a TV thing, not something I see in movies.

[taste]:: Name 2 of the worst tasting foods or drinks you ever had.
Ewww. Yuck!

  1. We got some "wrong" frozen yogurt once. It was actually funny. One person tasted it and said "Ick". Then someone else, then me. Meanwhile, one guy is sitting at the end of the table, smirking. He says, in a supercilious tone, "You cretins just don't understand what frozen yogurt is supposed to taste like." So he takes a bite. We all watch... His face went through the most amazing contortions. It was a priceless moment ;-)

    (We threw out the container. I think somehow the dairy missed putting any sweetener in it at all... or something!)

  2. Sour milk (by accident). Now I always smell the milk before I drink it!

[smell]:: Name 2 smells that you can´t stand and why:

  1. Hot roofing tar. I simply (literally) cannot breathe when it's nearby.
  2. Pyradine. If you have ever smelled this you won't ask why! (If you have never smelled it, thank Fate.) Pyradine produces an odor that defines nasty.

[touch]:: Name 2 things (objects, body parts, etc...) that you don´t like other people to touch and why.

  1. The front of my neck. It tickles? (That's not really the right word.) I get a "turtle" reaction.
  2. Unless it's a close friend or family member doing the touching — don't touch me. I am not a touchy feely person. I'm the one wearing a Nicht Huggen button at a conference.

[hearing]:: What are the 2 sounds/noises that most irritate you and why?

  1. Screaming babies. I read once that for decibel level and sheer nerve rattling effect, screaming babies beat jackhammers. Especially if it's someone else's screaming baby in a restaurant!
  2. Any sound I can't define or pinpoint. It drives me nuts till I figure out what it is and/or where it's coming from.
Annoyansenses - posted by Vicki at Sat, 10 Jan, 09:02 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 09, 2004

Eat your veggies

[ this question courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 47 ]
PAST: Did you, or did you not, eat your vegetables as a youngster?

PRESENT: What sorts of veggies will and won't you eat nowadays?

FUTURE: Which would you rather end up: Vegetable or mineral? (We're assuming you're currently an animal, here. If otherwise, you should really let us know.)

A bit silly, yes, but at least it's not directly topical for a change!

[Hey, every question can't be deep and insightful!]

PAST: Did you, or did you not, eat your vegetables as a youngster?
I must have. I certainly didn't suddenly decide to eat veggies as an adult. Perhaps when I was very young there were things I occasionally didn't eat. I can remember sharing peas, corn on the cob (and off) and broccoli with my cat (she dearly loved veggies). I have no idea when my preferences were set, although my parents have told me that up until the age of 5, I did eat mushrooms (I have no memories at all of this). Obviously my taste buds underwent a radical change at age 5 :-)

PRESENT: What sorts of veggies will and won't you eat nowadays? I don't eat mushrooms if I can taste them (or see them; why wait for the taste :-). Mushrooms make me nauseous. I don't eat raw (or "rare" carrots) but if they are thoroughly cooked I don't mind them; that bitter taste is gone. Ditto for green bell peppers. I don't eat eggplant (except in baba ganoush) or zucchini (except in zucchini bread or very small pieces and well-cooked, e.g. in soup). I love broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, corn, acorn squash, fresh green beans (or canned, oddly enough), peas (frozen or fresh, never canned), brussels sprouts, red bell peppers and edamame (soybeans).

FUTURE: Which would you rather end up: Vegetable or mineral?
You mean like, do I want to turn into a slime mold or petrify like petrified wood? You mean if I get reincarnated as something "unusual"?
Mineral: Fire Agate


Eat your veggies - posted by Vicki at Fri, 09 Jan, 15:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday January 08, 2004

Top Dead Center

[ Today's meme courtesy of The Thursday Threesome at The Back Porch ]

Whew! Are you done with the holiday thing yet? Let's start things off for the new year in the proper position...

Onesome: Top-- Now that things have calmed down, what's at the top of your list to take care of? School? The garden? Shoveling the snow?

Twosome: Dead-- ...and then again, what got so dead and buried in the holiday fluff that you may not be able to get get it restarted? That weight loss thing? Reading? Relaxing???

Threesome: Center-- Yeah, relaxing! What are you doing to try to keep yourself centered this year? Some serious down time? Yoga? Long walks in the country?

My thoughts:

Onesome: Top--
Job. Always job. I actually have a small temporary contract that I need to start work on immediately.

Twosome: Dead--
Actually, we're pretty solid in this regard. I don't think anything really came unglued. (Of course, we avoided the holiday fluff almost entirely ;-) The weight loss thing didn't exactly pick up speed, but I didn't roll back either. No cookies; one piece of pumpkin cheesecakes, a few shared deserts, very little bread or potatoes... I don't think there's anything that was already moving along that I won't be able to get restarted (including the job hunting thing).

Threesome: Center--
As always - walks with Rich, naps with the kitties, journal/weblog writing, reading...

Top Dead Center - posted by Vicki at Thu, 08 Jan, 10:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 06, 2004

New Year, New Meme ( other words...)

Not only do I enjoy collecting quotes, but I am also a great fan of weblog memes and writing prompts (in case you hadn't noticed ;-) I've decided to put my interest in collecting quotes together with my interest in writing prompts and memes and have started my own meme which I call other words...

The idea:

    Copy the current quotation to your weblog or paper journal, then use it as a writing prompt.

    Do you agree with the statement in the quote? Do you disagree? Would you have phrased this thought differently? What does this quote remind you of? What does it make you think of?

    Get your creativity flowing... what does this quote inspire you to write?

Look for a new quote three days a week at the other words... home page

If you have a favorite quote that you would like to see featured other words..., please email it to me. If you don't like the quotes I pick, pick one of your own from any of the various published sources (physically available at the bookstore or virtually online (several links on the other words... home page).

There is a guestbook link on that page as well that will allow you to leave feedback. If you play, please leave a link there.

New Year, New Meme ( other words...) - posted by Vicki at Tue, 06 Jan, 09:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday January 05, 2004

Circle of Words - #1

[I did not join Circle of Words until it was in week #48. I am continuing with the meme, starting from week #1, in 2004.]

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
-Zora Neale Hurston

The New Year brings upon us many resolutions that will go unmet. Instead of a about an aspiration. What are your hopes for this new year?

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides
The spirit bloweth and is still
In mystery our soul abides.

My hopes for this year include:

    ...for Rich's job to continue and for him to continue to be happy with it

    ...for me to find paid employment that I like, especially and most preferably paid employment that doesn't take me out of the house 5 days a week

    ...continued health for me and mine

    ...contentment; satisfaction; a sense of accomplishment

    ...positive results from the low-carb program

    ...time with family and friends

Circle of Words - #1 - posted by Vicki at Mon, 05 Jan, 00:39 Pacific | Comments (1)

Sunday January 04, 2004

The Party's Over

[Today's questions come courtesy of Sunday Brunch for January 4, 2004 ]

Now that the holidays are over... it's time to reflect...

  1. Which part of the holiday season are you most happy to see over?

  2. What is the biggest/best present or surprise you received during the holidays?

  3. How did you ring in the New Year?

  4. New Year's resolutions... do you make & break them, make them & stick to your guns or don't even bother?

  5. Has life returned to normal now that the holidays are over?

My thoughts...

  1. Which part of the holiday season are you most happy to see over?
    The traffic! We always tell each other "Drive more carefully; it's the Xmas season."

  2. What is the biggest/best present or surprise you received during the holidays?
    Our friend Gene surprised us each with a cranberry red chamois shirt from Eddie Bauer (just like his, which we had bth admired). And my parents gave us a very nice check!

  3. How did you ring in the New Year?
    First we had a great meal at Pasta Pomodoro! Then we came home and watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Pirates of the Carribbean on video with cats nearby. Starting at about 11:15 pm we also had periodic fireworks displays going off all over the neighborhood. A typical celebration for us.

  4. New Year's resolutions... do you make & break them, make them & stick to your guns or don't even bother?
    Any resolutions I make are only coincidentally tied to the New Year. I try to keep the ones I make, with varied success.

  5. Has life returned to normal now that the holidays are over?
    That would be tomorrow, when Rich returns to work at SLAC.
The Party's Over - posted by Vicki at Sun, 04 Jan, 15:02 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 02, 2004

Two Steps Forward, One Look Back

[ this question courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 46 ]

PAST: Share with us one good and one bad thing about this past year.

PRESENT: Which direction are you headed as the new year begins?

FUTURE: What will you have accomplished by this time next year?

[You'll notice I didn't ask for a list of resolutions. That would be hypocritical... I haven't made resolutions in years.]

Works for me (the part about resolutions too. So, on to the questions. If you've been reading here recently, you're going to notice a trend...

PAST: Share with us one good and one bad thing about this past year.
Good: I got a job
Bad: It only lasted 5 weeks, and that was the only one.

PRESENT: Which direction are you headed as the new year begins?
Forward? Around the sun? Eastward? (Does the earth's rotation move us eastward? That seems correct.)
Still looking for work. I may have a small, temporary telecommute contract... when the person who needs to give me access gets back from vacation.

FUTURE: What will you have accomplished by this time next year?
Boring answer: paid employment? (That would be nice)
Other answers: a year of personal (offline) journalling; another year of weblogging. A large number of books read; several movies watched. A year of kitty snuggling and walks and naps and time with friends and time with Rich.

Two Steps Forward, One Look Back - posted by Vicki at Fri, 02 Jan, 10:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday December 29, 2003


[This question comes courtesy of "Past, Present, Future" for Friday Dec. 19. I'm out of sync]
PAST: Who, or what, were you in your past life?

PRESENT: What are you in this life, really?

FUTURE: What would you like to come back as, next time around?

My thoughts...

PAST: Who, or what, were you in your past life?
I have no idea. A person. Nobody famous. I wonder. I imagine someone of scientific leanings...

PRESENT: What are you in this life, really?
A kittymom. A spouse. A technofile. An information gatherer. I try to look forward more often than backward.
Someone who is working to improve.

FUTURE: What would you like to come back as, next time around?
That's a toss-up between being another person with sufficient wealth and position that I can enjoy whatever is possible in the future... and being a well-cared for Maine Coon cat.

Reincarnation? - posted by Vicki at Mon, 29 Dec, 20:04 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday December 27, 2003

Circle of Words - #50

Circle of Words was inspired by Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. The book is in journal format; the book (and the original meme) end with this set of questions. From the meme's founder:
This is the last week of the Circle of Words questions. I will leave them available so you may start back at the beginning if you joined later in the year. Or you may purchase the book (check info at the COW webpage) and begin your own journal entries/questions.

I had much fun writing the questions and hope you have enjoyed them.
- Candi, Circle of Words

I did not join Circle of Words until it was in week #48. I will be continuing with the meme, starting from week #1, in the new year.

It's a Wonderful Life

Instead of the usual "Why can't we make movies more like real life?"  I think a more pertinent question is "Why can't real life be more like the movies?"
- Ernie Pyle
1.   Are there any movies or actors in a particular movie that you think closely resemble your life? If you could choose a movie or actor to be your real life, which one would you choose?

Two Lives

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
- Joseph Campbell
2.   Do you ever feel as though you would like something in your life to be different, but you would have to give up something in order to get there? Do you think you will ever be able to give up this thing to get what it is you want? Do you think your life is better now or would it be better if you made this change?

Pray the Journey is Long

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may only be the beginning.
- Ivy Baker Priest
3.   Life is a journey. We try to live each day to its fullest and pray that we will be here again tomorrow.  What do you see in your future?  If you could peek ahead into your life what would you hope to see in 10 years? In 20?

The Movie — Boring answer #1: I can't think of a movie (or actors) or even a book that resembles my life. If I could choose, I wouldn't. I like my real life just fine, most of the time. Besides, most movies have too much action and not nearly enough cats!

Second LifeDo you ever feel as though you would like something in your life to be different, but you would have to give up something in order to get there? Boring answer #2: No. There are things I wish were different but nothing I might give up would change that.
Way way back when I was starting College, I expected to get a BS, then a Masters, then a PhD and become a Biochemist. So, in many ways, my life has already changed from what I had "planned". I think it changed considerably for the better.

The Journey — In 10 years or 20, I hope to see myself still with Richard, here in this house. If all goes well, I'll have had one or two decades of work behind me in at least one or two jobs I enjoyed! I hope for a healthy journey for all of us, a long happy life for each member of our current kitty tribe, sufficient wealth to get us thorough without stumbling, a sense of satisfaction, contentment, and a reasonable dose of happiness.

Circle of Words - #50 - posted by Vicki at Sat, 27 Dec, 12:06 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 26, 2003

Christmas: Past, Present, Future

[ this question courtesy of Past, Present, Future Round 45 ]

PAST: Best. Christmas. Ever.

PRESENT: How'd you spend the day, yesterday?

FUTURE: What do you really want to find under your tree next year?

My thoughts... PAST: Best. Christmas. Ever.
Probably the first one spent with Richard. :-) Otherwise, next year, as the best is left to come.

PRESENT: How'd you spend the day, yesterday?
I woke up before dawn to a thunderstorm, then lay in bed listening to the rain till I fell asleep again. Rich woke up next and started the bacon about 9ish, then came to ask me to "take over" while he took a shower and got dressed. We had scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast out on the screen porch listening to the rain. Most of the day was quiet. We went for a walk. I took a nap. We had friends in for dinner: steaks, rainbow pasta, broccoli. Everyone had a good time. Then we all had eggnog, our friends went home, we read for a while and went to bed. A nice quiet holiday.

FUTURE: What do you really want to find under your tree next year?
We usually don't have a tree but I get the point :-)

Health. A good year. Time to spend with friends and family. Work I enjoy. An income (I didn't get it this year, might as well ask again).Barnes & Noble gift certificates.

Christmas: Past, Present, Future - posted by Vicki at Fri, 26 Dec, 10:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday December 22, 2003

Three Shopping Days till...

[Today's meme questions courtesy of Sunday Brunch]

It's Almost Christmas

  1. Is your Christmas shopping complete? If no, how much is left to do?
  2. If someone not on your Christmas shopping list buys you a present, do you feel like you have to buy one for them?
  3. What is your favorite Christmas special or holiday movie?
  4. Tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories.
  5. Tell us about a holiday mishap. (i.e.: tree falling over, dog eating presents, etc.)
  1. Is your Christmas shopping complete? If no, how much is left to do?
    Yes, because I don't Christmas shop anymore. I do my gift buying (and giving) throughout the year.

  2. If someone not on your Christmas shopping list buys you a present, do you feel like you have to buy one for them?
    No... although I will certainly thank them! I don't send cards, either, but I do thank everyone who sends me a card. I appreciate the thought. It should be an appreciated thought, a gift, not a "deal".

  3. What is your favorite Christmas special or holiday movie?
    I've always loved A Charlie Brown Christmas. I'm also fond of several variations on A Christmas Carol including the one with Mr. Magoo, the one with the Muppets, and Scrooged.

  4. Tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories.
    I guess it would be... the trees! Going to sleep with the tree lights sparkling from my earliest memories. My sister Keri and had a shared tree for a few years when we were quite young. When we were very little, my mom wouldn't let us help decorate her tree! So my Dad brought home the department tree when Christmas break began. Keri and I set our tree up in Keri's room and we made homemade decorations by coloring animal cookies with egg-dye paint!

    Each year, Keri and I would make (or receive as gifts) more decorations of our own. One year, when I was 8 or so, Dad found another tree and that year Keri and I each had a tree. After that, of course, precedence and tradition demanded we each have a tree every year and we did!

    Many people, when they "leave home" and go out "on their own" do so with perhaps a handful of special Christmas ornaments. My sister and I each started our own households with enough ornaments and lights to decorate a 6-foot tree.

  5. Tell us about a holiday mishap. (i.e.: tree falling over, dog eating presents, etc.)
    I can't recall ever having one! Of course, the cats would remove ornaments, or the dog's tail would hit something. We'd always have one or two things break, usually a ball or two, nothing special. But either my memory recalls only the good things or my family has been lucky. There have been no mishaps that I can remember.
Three Shopping Days till... - posted by Vicki at Mon, 22 Dec, 14:15 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 19, 2003

Accomplishments, Past, Present & Future

[This question comes courtesy of "Past, Present, Future", a blog meme on the web at Sadly, I only recently discovered PPF; it's already in its 42nd week and the founder plans to stop after one year. Sigh; well, that's what archives are for.]

I posted this question to my new Yahoo group, InsPURRation.

PAST: What would you consider your first real accomplishment in life? We're talking about something you put real, conscious effort into, here.

PRESENT: What are you working on now that you're hoping to have accomplished soon?

FUTURE: What accomplishment would you like to be remembered for? (Hint: This is where you could get away with making up something delightfully improbable.)

My thoughts...

PAST: What would you consider your first real accomplishment in life?

That would be my Masters Thesis — it was a lot of effort, but worth it. Working on the thesis taught me a lot about the Unix Operating System and many of its tools and languages. The thesis project (plus everything I learned in doing it) got me my first job, which got me my second job, and so on.

PRESENT: What are you working on now that you're hoping to have accomplished soon?

Most of what I'm working on is open ended but the "accomplishment" I would like to have realized soon would be — finding paid employment (preferably something I will enjoy!)

FUTURE: What accomplishment would you like to be remembered for?

I'd like to be remembered for being a capable, precise, and careful programmer; for being a person other people liked to be around; for being a good friend. I'd like to be remembered for living to 100 like my grandmother did :-)

Accomplishments, Past, Present & Future - posted by Vicki at Fri, 19 Dec, 11:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

100 Years of Technology

[This question comes courtesy of The Listening Post, a blog meme inspired by scifi & fantasy.]

This week's question was inspired by something many of us dread — a fatal hard disk crash and the loss of most of the data thereon. Ouch!

How dependent are you on technology? If all of the technology invented in the past 100 years disappeared tomorrow, how would you react? What do you think your life would be like without technology?

I am very dependent on technology. Professionally, I am a programmer, webspinner, and technical writer. Much of what I do every day wouldn't exist without technology created in the past 40 years, let alone the past century!

In my day-to-day activities I use (and depend upon) not only my computer but Caller ID, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), timed and metered traffic lights, the 911 emergency system, satellite weather forecasting, and the wide-spread availability of electricity. Without much thinking about them, I use Velcro, Post-It notes, rollerball pens, an ergonomic desk chair, home refrigeration, forced-air household heating, ice cubes, dimmer switches, and atomic clocks. I expect to be able to buy tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables in December. I depend upon my home telephone as well as my cellular phone connecting me whenever and wherever I desire. I depend upon advances in pharmaceutical technology to discover new drugs and bring them to market, affordably and in sufficient quantity.

100 years is a long time. In 1903 we had telephones - but not to the extent we have them today. Wireless, but no radio. No television. No "talking pictures" (certainly no "home movies or DVD). No Interstate highway system. I had a flu shot this year as I have had one most years; the Great Influenza Epidemic was in 1918 (only 85 years ago).

At least, if all the technology of the past 100 years suddenly disappeared tomorrow, I would still be able to see... to some extent. Eyeglasses, even bifocals, were available more than 100 years ago. Optical lenses are one of the the most important inventions for my life.

100 Years of Technology - posted by Vicki at Fri, 19 Dec, 10:40 Pacific | Comments (2)

Wednesday December 17, 2003

Circle of Words - #49

Circle of Words was inspired by Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy currently on the "Bargain Books" list at Barnes& (hardcover for only $4.98 while supplies last). Here are this week's entries.

Legacy of Love

All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- Leo Tolstoy

1.  Not all Christmas celebrations are filled with happiness. Some are difficult to handle due to a recent loss of a loved one, divorce, or other painful event.  Have you had a Christmas like this? What do you remember about this particular Christmas?

Meditation for Women Who Read Too Much

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.
- Louisa May Alcott

2.  Do you enjoy reading? What sort of things do you read - books, magazines, etc?  What do you feel you get out of reading?  Does your joy of reading helps you in your own life experiences, how?

A Birthday Ritual

The birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

- Christina Georgina Rossetti

3.  Today is probably not your birthday, but it does come every year. How do you usually celebrate your special day? Do you enjoy the day or do you dread the idea of being one year older?  Happy Birthday to you on your special day!! May each and every year be better than the one before!

Celebrations — Yes, I have had a Christmas like this. It was... difficult... not something I care to remember. In the past 5 years I've been working on reducing stress. I have "given myself permission" to opt out of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season.

Reading — Do I enjoy reading? Do cats enjoy naps?

I read everything — books, technical books, magazines, newspapers (when I see them), and the backs of cereal boxes :-) I read for pleasure, for knowledge, and because there's something in front of me with words on it. Mostly, I read fiction. I get many things out of reading, including information, entertainment, and travel. Through books I can travel to other worlds and meet people I would never have met otherwise. I'm sure my reading has an effect on my "everyday life experiences", but I'm not sure I could enumerate how; reading is simply an integral, necessary part of my life, like breathing or cats.

Birthdays — A very merry un-birthday to you (to me!)

My birthday falls at the end of January, precisely 5 weeks after Christmas. When I was little, I would always ask for special presents "For Christmas or My Birthday". I love my birthday; it's my day. I have more of an affinity for birthdays than for Christmas. I don't think about age (I have never given much thought to age, not to mine or to anyone else's). I often celebrate by taking a day off from work (when, that is, I have a job!)

Circle of Words - #49 - posted by Vicki at Wed, 17 Dec, 00:50 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday December 16, 2003

Caroling, caroling

[One more meme, this time from Sunday Brunch]
It's either the most loved or most loathed ritual of the Christmas season: the Christmas carol. (Inspired by Bonnie having "ding dinga ding, ding dinga ding, ding dinga ding" or also known as "Carol of the Bells" stuck in her head.)
(And now, so do I. Gee, thanks Bonnie! :-)
  1. Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? If so, what is it and why is it your favorite?
  2. What is the one Christmas carol you absolutely can't stand to hear?
  3. Have you ever gone out caroling?
  4. If you had to pick a character from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", which character would you be?
  5. How many Christmas recordings do you own?

  1. Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? If so, what is it and why is it your favorite?
    I'm partial to Silent Night. It's pretty and I like the story behind the writing of the song.

  2. What is the one Christmas carol you absolutely can't stand to hear?
    Only One? Probably Jingle Bell Rock although there are many of its ilk that I cannot stand. But these aren't "carols"; they're just songs played at Christmastime.

  3. Have you ever gone out caroling?
    Not that I can recall; perhaps when I was in elementary school / Sunday School...

  4. If you had to pick a character from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", which character would you be?
    If I had to pick? Say to play the role? The Ghost of Christmas Past appeals to me somehow. Or Mrs. Cratchett, perhaps. In the Muppet Christmas Carol my favorite character is the little boy (played by Bean Bunny) Scrooge accosts from his window on Christmas morning.

  5. How many Christmas recordings do you own?
    Several dozen, nearly all instrumentals. A few years ago my sister bought both of us Percy Faith's Music for Chsirtmas on CD; we'd both grown up listening to this on LP vinyl for many Christmases!

I'm almost afraid to mention that one of my favorite Christmas songs is by Tom Lehrer...

Caroling, caroling - posted by Vicki at Tue, 16 Dec, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday December 14, 2003

Where is home?

(Yet another meme, this one from the Saturday Slant.)
They say home is where the heart is. So where is your heart? Are you lucky enough to be living in the place that you've also wanted to, or is your heart beckoned to somewhere else? Perhaps your soulmate lives elsewhere, and home is with him or her. Maybe the mysteries of Shri Lanka or the romance of Tuscany hold for you the promise of home. Where is your home? Why is it home? How did you get there, or how do you intend to get there? Where will you hang that "Home Sweet Home" plaque, and why that place?

Home is where Rich and the cats are. Wherever we are together, that is home.

For the past 19 years, home has been the San Francisco Bay Area. For 15+ years, home has been our current location in San Bruno, a smallish town/suburb on the SF Peninsula. Home is due west of SFO, on one edge of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The weather is perfect; we're close to both Nature and Civilization. We're close to enough shopping areas for our needs, the kinds of restaurants we like. We get raccoons in our back yard at night.

This isn't a perfect house but it's a good house, well-made, well-insulated, large enough for our needs, on a nice lot with a back garden and trees behind us. We're just far enough from the neighbors; we're private enough. Location, location, and location are all nearly perfect.

We've talked about were we would go if we went somewhere else. Maybe the North Coast. But we always come back to agreeing that where we are is pretty darn nice. If it's not perfect, it's the next best thing.

Where is home? - posted by Vicki at Sun, 14 Dec, 12:51 Pacific | Comments (0)

Animal Senses

Yes, it's another meme! :-) Ever since I found the Memes List I've been exploring. This one is from Saturday Senses, a weekly meme that posts triggers to each of the five senses to bring up your memories. This week's subject is pets / animals.
[sight]:: Which was the most amazing animal you have ever seen live? Describe the experience.
[taste]:: If you eat meat, do you ever think about the animal you are eating?
[smell]:: Does it bother you or have you ever refrained from getting a pet because of smell (its own or its 'subproducts')?
[touch]:: Which animal did you most enjoy peting, holding or touching for whatever reason?
[hearing]:: If you have pets do they make any sounds? Does it bother you?


[sight]:: Which was the most amazing animal you have ever seen live? Describe the experience.
We met a monitor lizard at a reptile shop. Huge thing, scaly, didn't mind being petted. Weird.

[taste]:: If you eat meat, do you ever think about the animal you are eating?
On rare occasions. I simply can't eat rabbit anymore, for this reason. Cows, chickens, and sheep are "farmed" and I tend not to let that bother me. But if I had to "bring down my own food"? I might go veg, then.

[smell]:: Does it bother you or have you ever refrained from getting a pet because of smell (its own or its 'subproducts')?
It doesn't bother me and no, I only refrain from certain types of pet because they aren't my kind of thing. We keep the litter box clean enough that it doesn't smell at all. Personally, I think kitty fur smells like cinnamon and other exotic spices.

[touch]:: Which animal did you most enjoy petting, holding or touching for whatever reason?
I got to touch a Chinchilla once. They have the softest fur imaginable. Cats, of course, are my all time favorite for "petting, holding or touching for whatever reason" (which I do, frequently).

[hearing]:: If you have pets do they make any sounds? Does it bother you?

Our cats talk. They purr, chirp, yodel, mew, Mwrp, yell, and Beep. It doesn't bother me. We have a good relationship. I think cats should talk; I love for my cats to talk to me.
Animal Senses - posted by Vicki at Sun, 14 Dec, 10:40 Pacific | Comments (1)

Tuesday December 09, 2003

Circle of Words - #48

I'm trying something new. Circle of Words is one of several "memes" on the web right now. It's been ongoing for almost a year now; this is week 48 and I've only just found it!

Circle of Words is

...a weekly set of questions that are somewhat personal, spiritual, and will explore your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these questions will provide you with a little bit of  personal therapy and allow your readers a little peek inside your soul.

Each question will first start off with a quote from someone famous, or not so famous, which relates to the topic of the question. There may be one or several questions afterwards.

This week's questions are (surprise :-) about Christmas.

Only Seventeen Shopping Days Till Christmas

Giving presents is a talent; to know what a person wants, to know when and how to get it, to give it lovingly and well.
- Pamela Glenconner
1.   Do you enjoy Christmas shopping? Who do you enjoy shopping for? Do you find it frustrating to shop for certain people? Who and Why?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

There is only one deprivation. . . and that is not to be able to give one's gifts to those one loves most.
- May Sarton
2.  The holidays sometimes cause us to try to do too many things at once. Our loved ones may go without because we offer our time to others. Do you tend to spread yourself too thin at the holidays? What types of things do you commit to that you wish you wouldn't?

There is a Santa Claus

Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

- Francis P. Church

3.  Do you remember how you found out that your parents were actually Santa Claus? How old were you? If you have children, do they still believe? If so, what sort of traditions do you carry on in regards to Santa. Do they write a letter, leave cookies, etc?

Giving Presents — I answered a similar question last Friday.

I don't much enjoy shopping in general and over the past decade I have become less and less enamored of Christmas shopping - the rush, the pressure, the counting (dollars and people), the crowds, the traffic, the requirement. So, a few years ago... we stopped. We don't do this anymore. Our relatives and friends are free to buy/make/give us presents or not, as they choose, and we are free to do the same.

That said, I do enjoy buying and giving gifts, once the pressure is off to do so for a specific number of people on a particular day of the year. I find it much easier now that we discover, buy, and give gifts when the mood strikes, when we see something that would be perfect for a special person.

Time — Again, we've "given ourselves permission" to opt out of the stress of the holidays and we've told our relatives that they may feel they may do the same in respect to us. The holidays are a pleasant time now, a time to rest and relax.

Santa Claus — What?!?! My parents were Santa Claus?

I think I always knew that my parents were Santa's helpers. And sometime around the time I was 12 or so, I became a helper too, sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to hang a special ball on the Christmas tree, then coming back upstairs to fill stockings for Mom & Dad. After all, why should only us kids get all the fun.

When I was a child we always hung stockings but we never left milk & cookies. Maybe, if we'd had a fireplace and chimney, things would have been different ;-) Rich and I don't have human kids and our furkids don't much care if Sandy Claws brings them a special treat or not (although 4 cat children in the house does rather limit our decorating possibilities).

I find I prefer to believe Francis Church's 1897 response to Virginia O'Hanlon.

No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Circle of Words - #48 - posted by Vicki at Tue, 09 Dec, 15:38 Pacific | Comments (1)