Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's really not about me, but...


So, when all around you are experiencing sad, life-changing events, how do you shake it off and remember that it's NOT about you? I sure could use some tips. The ongoing saga of my sister, added to a week of sad news from folks around me have left me feeling sad, tired, and depressed. My daughter even suggested that I get my doctor to prescribe a larger dose of Zoloft! Here's what the recent weeks have brought:

  • Christine, who after checking herself out of one skilled nursing facility, called 9-1-1 a mere 36 hours later to return to the hospital because of excessive pain. Two days later she was released to a different skilled nursing facility, and without any input from me, it is less than a mile from my office! She was there a week, getting some rehab, but it was slow because she can't put any weight on the right hip with the rod in it. Then, last Tuesday, they transferred her back to the hospital because she has an infection in her wound. They opened her hip back up and debrided the wound, left it open with a wound vac, and began administering mega doses of antibiotics through a port. Yesterday evening they moved her back to the SNF near my office. The infection is localized, but tough to kill (or so the doctor told me). Hers is an ongoing story...

  • My dear brother, Bob, who has Hepatitis C, has had numerous problems with his liver and is now participating in tests for a new drug that has left him sick and tired and angry. If the drug works, his liver will stop deteriorating and will have a chance to regenerate. Meanwhile, he has to get through the tests, which are scheduled to last a year or so! Yesterday, while visiting my sister, I asked if she has spoken to Bob. She said yes, and mentioned to me that he had been fired! When I showed my surprise, she got all worried that maybe she shouldn't have said anything--Bob probably didn't want to worry me. (ha!) I still haven't spoken directly to him about this, but he had been working at this particular printshop for at least 8 years!

  • Yesterday morning, I spoke to my friend Frazier. She and I have a mutual friend, Beryl, who lost her long battle with breast cancer Friday (and I have always poo-poohed stories of Friday the 13th). She was 57 and leaves behind a loving husband and a bright, and loving 12-year-old daughter. Beryl used to work for me in the late 80s in my pre-Texas days. I had only seen her a couple of times since returning to San Diego--once at Frazier's wedding 2 years ago. Beryl, Joe, and little Frazier (their daughter was named after Frazier) came to celebrate the event. Beryl was in chemo and pushed through her exhaustion and pain to share the day with her friend.

  • On Sunday the 15th, my employee & friend, Rosemary, called me to tell me her significant other of 10+ years had been critically injured in a bicycle accident. He was riding through La Jolla, his bike hit a rock or something that stopped it--he was thrown off and hit his head. He was not wearing a helmet! He was brain dead by the time they got him to the hospital. They harvested his organs on Sunday. He was healthy, vibrant, brilliant (truly a genius), and 44 years old. A celebration of his life will be held at the beach he loved on Sunday afternoon. (The picture above is not of La Jolla, but of an area of Big Sur that I took on my recent drive--it IS of the same ocean.) Here's a little info about Alan: http://www-cse.ucsd.edu/cse-people/alumni/alan-nash.html

  • Yesterday, another of my employees, Vaughn, received a call from his aunt who lives in Texas. Vaughn's mom had had a cerebral aneurysm and had been brought to the hospital. Her prognosis is good, but guarded. Vaughn is on his way home (Houston). His mom's surgery was planned for this morning. She did talk to him on the phone yesterday, so we're all hopeful that this event will not mark the end of her life. She's at St. Lukes in the Medical Center in Houston, so I'm pretty sure she's getting good care.

So, I'm ready for this to all be done. As you can see, it's not about me. But even when I know that, it sticks to me and makes me sad. Life is precious. Life is good. But it's not always easy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My favorite sisters aren't related to me

Many of you know that I have a disabled sister whose life is nothing but drama. I won't bore you with the details of her mental state, but I will share with you the last few days.

Friday was her birthday. She turned 49. I have been distant with her lately (that's another long story), but I had arranged to take her for a birthday lunch on Saturday. However, Friday morning, at about 6:30 a.m., she called me from her local hospital (she goes so often they all know her by sight) to tell me that she had fallen and broken her hip. Just like her: not only the fall, but on her birthday!

Later in the day she calls me to tell me that she needs surgery right away because of all the pain she is in. By the time I can leave work, she is scheduled for the surgery. There's not much I can do that evening, so I decide to check in by phone and visit her the next day. I wish her well before she goes in and I call the hospital often to check on her. She's in surgery for a couple of hours and all is well.

The next day, I visit her around lunchtime. She is in high spirits: Everyone is WONDERFUL! Everyone treats her well, and the nurses even come in with a cake for her at lunch and sing her Happy Birthday. She is ebullient and manic in a good way and talks nonstop for 45 minutes about how her world is perfect and her life is grand and she is planning to lose weight, get a job, and make something of her life now that this has happened. This is THE thing that has finally set her on the path of success, blah, blah, blah. (Do you get the idea that I've heard all this before?)

So, I stay for a little while and it really isn't a bad visit except that when I tell the nurse that I am her sister and need to be put on her chart as being able to get reports (HIPPA and all that, you know), my sister hems and haws and doesn't agree. (That's a warning sign immediately. She always suspects that I might put her in a home so she avoids letting me be her health advocate. Sometimes, I have come close!)

The plan is to have her spend a couple of days there and then go to a rehab center to help her get back on her feet (pun intended). So, Sunday comes and goes. I don't visit, but I call her a few times. She is in Heaven. She is waited on and catered to and she's in a single room. (All rooms in this hospital are singles--it's a new place and quite nice as hospitals go.) My plan is to go to her home on Monday and get some things she needs (glasses, cellphone, robe) and then visit her after work.

Monday comes. We speak on the phone a few times in the morning. She tells me she is being transferred to the rehab/nursing center that afternoon and that I should visit her there. My Monday becomes busy and I don't get a chance to check my cell voice mail all afternoon. At about 5, when I am ready to leave work, I see that I have FOUR URGENT calls from her.

I listen to the voice mails...they begin with concern. "Linda, I don't like this place. Please come and get me." Then, the next two become more rambling...she is panicking and she talks and talks, repeating that I must come and get her right now! She is in HELL. She has a roommate that she cannot stand. Her nurses are too busy to take care of her. Her bed wasn't ready (no sheets?). They don't have a walker (she left one at the hospital and she has two at her apartment). Someone is leering at her through a window and a man is walking up and down the halls groaning at the top of his lungs. Someone even told her that they do cavity searches on all new patients! (Now, I admit, that would have prompted me to leave, too.) And the stories go on...(I thought I had a limit on how long voice mails could be, but apparently not.)

As I listen to each successively more manic call, my own brain is leaping ahead. Should I go straight there? Is she hallucinating? Is it really that bad? Is she exaggerating? Did they put her on a mental ward? Will I need to force her to stay? My guilt quotient is rising unchecked and I am already envisioning the scene we'll have when I get there....

Then the final voice mail begins. "Lin, never mind. I've taken care of it. I'm going home. I'll see you there." Oh my!

So I drive to her apartment. Sure enough, in those 4 hours that I was unavailable, she had been transferred, thrown a fit, demanded transpotation home, checked herself out (against doctor's orders), and gone home.

What a gift! No scene. No decisions to make. No actions to take. I just drove to her house and helped her get situated on her bed. Of course, the drama isn't over. She needs rehab and physical therapy and who knows how she'll get it. But, it's not my problem. She didn't get an immediate response from me and she took care of herself. She really is self-sufficient when she wants to be. And, that's what I have always prayed for. To not have to take care of her. And, not feel guilty that I don't.


I'm sure this tale isn't over. She may have complications from the surgery. Who will change her bandages? Who will see that she gets the proper post-surgical care? Nonetheless, she did so well yesterday that I will save my own sanity and let her take care of herself.

It's her life, her decisions, and her sickness. It's a full time job to not make them mine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Words don't do it justice...

So, I'll post some pix of my drive down Hwy 1 along the California coast and let them speak for themselves. (BTW: Those are elephant seals hauled up on the beach at Piedras Blancas. See the Friends of the Elephant Seals site for more info about these incredible creatures.) It was a perfect day.






Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acceptance


I was just doing a huge pile of dishes that had accumulated this week (that's right, I'm one of the 47 people in the U.S. who does NOT have an automatic dishwasher) while listening to Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion. I spent a lifetime in Duluth, MN, one winter, and still have tons of ex-inlaws who live there (check my Facebook relatives!), so I really appreciate the jokes about Minnesotans.

ANYWAY, during one of his monologues, he said "when I was young, we accepted the world as it was given to us." Something about that statement hit home with me. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and I considered myself lucky most of the time, even though, in retrospect, I lived in a semiconstant state of fear and unpredictability. .

Like many others who were raised by WWII vets, I had an alcoholic dad who could vacillate from caring and supportive to cruel and abusive. I took it as my lot in life and managed to find ways to live and thrive in spite of it. I knew that events in and around school and church would be approved, but regular socializing wouldn't. So, I made church my social outlet.

I had perfect attendance at the local Friends church for more than 7 years (and I have the pins to prove it!). I wasn't really a Quaker, but it was the only church that was within walking distance of my home. That way, I could get there on my own. So, Wednesday evenings, Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings, I had permission to leave the house and do something that I didn't get in trouble for doing.

I don't remember the names of any of those lovely people, I just remember that they were loving and kind and that we had the best hymns ever! Somehow, the hymns we sang in the Episcopal church my mom would occasionally bring me to were never the type I could take home and play on my accordion (another secret revealed--thought you'd like the cartoon).

As I got older, I became less accepting. I wanted what I thought others had. To me, my friends seemed to be happy; their families were more like the families I saw on TV. Of course, now with the wisdom of 60+ years I know that no home was perfect. No parents were infallible. Even children who had seemingly functional families grew up to have problems, do drugs, and maybe even spend time in jail. And, many of us from dysfunctional families thrived as adults, succeeded in education and work, and did all we could to give our children a steady, loving, "normal" life.

I don't know if today's children "accept" their lot as we did. They've been taught to report anyone who disciplines them, uses inappropriate language, or sells products that are subpar. We wear helmets and seat belts and everything we use has warning labels telling us to do the most obvious things (my favorite is the label on the windshield sun reflector telling you to remove it before driving). .

I have a hard time remembering the really bad stuff that happened to me when I was young. But I do remember the times of fun and light. I remember that life is given to us, and what really matters is how we react to what is given. I don't advocate complete acceptance of what life brings, too much is still harmful or abusive. Rather, I believe that we must learn to have aspirations that rise us above mere acceptance of what's given. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for "accepting the world as it is given to us." For in the long run, every moment is a gift. It's up to us to determine the best way to use it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My new favorite place

A few pix of my new, improved home office!


















Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's ME time (part one)


As many of you know, I've been cleaning up my act. My backyard no longer has the unused, difficult-to-use hot tub that came with the house; the stack of old wood, empty plastic plant holders, and broken patio furniture has been moved to the local dump and no longer attracts spiders and termites at the side of my garage; and my home office has had a transformation from a dumping ground to a relatively organized, pleasant library/workroom.


I think I'm working up to something. I no longer have any STC duties and although work responsibilities are growing and taking more time (my work weeks are closer to 50 hours than 40 these days), I still have a desire to do something more. Yesterday, my dear friend Jean-Marie Cercley (he calls himself J.M. these days) called me to say that he was "stuck" in San Diego (poor boy). He was finishing up a road trip to Sturgis on his Vulcan and decided to stop to see his daughter Emily (who lives about 8 miles from me). Anyway, he managed to drop his bike in a move that he's quite embarrassed and pissed at himself about, and had to wait for it to be repaired before he could return home to Santa Rosa. I took it as a blessing! If he hadn't done that, he would have come and gone without time to call me for a visit. So, even though I had planned to do something practical at home last night, instead I left work a little early, picked up J.M., and brought him over here to look at some pix of our parents from their days in Morocco in the 50s.

Then, the two of us went to Lido's, the local Italian joint, for dinner and chianti. In the above picture, his parents are at the left, mine are at the right (his aunt and uncle are the couple in the middle). He is the little boy at the very left front, and, of course, I am the only little girl in the picture. His twin, Claude, has his head down, and his older brother, Guy is in the middle. Some of you might remember that I stayed with Guy and Noelle, his wife, when I visited Paris in 2007.
ANYWAY, our conversation was all over the place. We spoke of our parents, our siblings, our children, and our work. We discussed the amazing fact that we were still friends after more than 50 years and across continents. And we discussed the future. J.M. asked me what I had planned. And, at first, I had nothing. I have toyed with returning to teaching or with once again taking music lessons. I've considered going back to school and completing a master's in something.
But, after tossing around a few ideas, I realized that I know exactly what I want.
I want ME time. I want to quit complaining about my weight and my inactivity and do something about it. I want, basically, to focus on me. I want to put me first in a way that will actually do me good. And, if it takes me another year of saying it before I do it, so be it. All I know for sure is that I am my new project. Not my siblings, not STC, not my friends, not my kid, and not my job. All of those things are important to me in varying amounts. All of them will continue to be in my life in some manner and will require varying levels of attention. And, all of them are part of what make me me, so I will certainly continue to interact and share life with them. BUT, they will not bubble up to consume me. Nothing will consume me but me. And, maybe, if I say it often enough and write about it long enough, I'll actually take action and DO something about it!
It's ME time. J.M. and I toasted to it often last night. He to his; me to mine. What better way to christen a new journey?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Almost sorted!



The project of organizing began yesterday. From 1 pm until 5:30 pm, Tracy (AKA Miss Organized and some of my mess in the picture) and I sorted. We went through drawers and cabinets and closets and I have a couple dozen boxes of sorted stuff to prove it.

No, we're not quite done with that portion of the project, but I ran out of steam! Tracy says my mess wasn't as bad as some she sees...at least much of it was categorized. That means I had a drawer filled with electronic stuff, but you could also find a few bits of electronic stuff elsewhere. It's the finding it elsewhere we fixed yesterday.

Now, all my electronics-related items are in one or two boxes. It's the paper- and pen-related "stuff" that filled seven or eight boxes. In addition to those, I now have boxes for awards, memorabilia, travel, office supplies, and computer-related. I have a huge, contractor-sized black plastic bag filled with recycling, another box for shredding, and two boxes to be donated or sold. In addition, I sent Tracy home with several outfits suitable for business wear that she's bringing to a drop-off place for "Dress for Success" (http://www.dressforsuccess.org/whatwedo.aspx). And, I still have the two 7-ft-tall bookcases, the 4-drawer file cabinet, and the 3-tiered-canvas inbox system to sort.

Tracy uses a specific system to guide her work of providing space for her customers (http://www.singledad.com/home-and-cooking/how-to/Easily_Organize_Any_Space_1231526260.php) Sort, Purge, Assign, Contain, and Equalize (SPACE!), and in 5.5 hours, we didn't quite get through step one. I can't afford to have her help me through it all, but I do intend to hire her for another session or two. She was WONDERFUL. I could never have gotten through as much as fast without her help. I am hoping to use her system to complete the sorting and do much of the purging either alone or with friends' help over the next few days.

My friend, Tessa (pix shows her with her Bichon, Jack), is arriving from Houston on Friday (31 July) to help finalize emptying the room and preparing it for the build-out scheduled for 10 August! At the moment, I'm still convincing myself that we'll make the deadline!
So, I heartily endorse Tracy and her work. She's in the San Diego area right now, but I have a feeling that will expand in time. She is connected to the energetic aspects of the universe and she and I found that we were immediate co-conspirators in moving me into a place of peace, piece by piece!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Organizing the organization project

It's coming together...the final frontier...the bane of my existence...MY...HOME OFFICE! I tend to be a hoarder, and I'm sick of it! Nevertheless, it's my albatross and although the messes throughout the rest of the house are hidden in drawers and behind doors, in my office it seeps onto the floor, chokes the walls, and upchucks on all flat, floor-parallel surfaces. My love affair with books has extended to uncontrolled passion for paper and a criminal craziness for pens and pencils.

NO MORE. Or at least that's my intent. In addition to signing that contract with Closet Factory to get the whole room built out into workspace, storage areas, and bookcases (lots and lots of bookcases!), I have a professional organizer arriving on Saturday (
http://www.miss-organized.com/). I am serious about this and am determined to get it right. I hope that once I get the purging and sorting and rearranging done, it will take the clutter a long, long time to creep back into anything like it is now. I think I'm safe...although I've only been in this house 5 years (YEP, next month!), I've been collecting some of the junk in here for most of my three score summers, and that's probably a bit longer than I have left! :-)

The real reward is this: when all the clutter and confusion leaves, some fantastically wonderful energetically enhancing goodness will arrive! And when all that good shows up, I'll be able to find it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Five from Mary

My favorite blogger, Mary Wise, used five words given to her by a friend to guide the writing of a recent blog. I took Mary up on her offer to give out five words to other bloggers. I figured her help would help me get through the blog block I've been having...so, here's the result:

My biological family is a small one. I have a brother, a sister, a daughter, and a nephew. I had another brother who died in 1996 (that was the year my nephew was born). I have always had mixed feelings about family. Yet, I admire and envy other families who are close and supportive of one another. My mom was an only child and my father, although the third of four children in his family, was never close to any of his siblings. Whatever the reason for the estrangement, he might as well have been an only child. I have a cousin somewhere whose name is Gary Garland. But I haven't heard from him since I was eight. My dear friend from STC, Suzanna Laurent, told me that her mother died on Tuesday. Her mom was in her 90s and had 81 grandchildren! Now, that's some family.

No wonder Suzanna is a natural leader. Leadership is something one can't read about and then become one. I think some folks have a natural tendency to be leaders, even when they don't try. Others work at it, and through a series of connected events and mindsets, get good at it over time. But the majority of folks, no matter how much they read or practice, just don't have the magnetism or special formula it takes to have others follow them. I bet Suzanna's leadership skills were a combination of born to it and practiced. I don't know if she would have thought of herself as a leader in her years as a young mother, but by the time I met her she certainly was exhibiting leadership...and she has only gotten stronger and better over the years.

Being a good leader can be fun. Walter Cronkite, a leader to so many in so many different ways, died last week. I watched a few shows that chronicled his life and work. I must say that despite his having to report on some of the most challenging and interesting years of the 20th century, it looked like he had fun. He had many friends and enjoyed people. He knew when to work and he knew that it was important to balance that work with play. I know my own memories of the major events of the 60s were all bookended by Uncle Walter. At only 92, he was probably considered a kid by Suzanna's mom. I imagine that they are both on the other size of the horizon doing whatever comes next, and I bet they're both still having fun.

Something about mentioning the horizon made me think of the Rainbow Bridge and how some of those great things we'll meet in our next manifestation will be our pets. I recently saw an old family slide and my mom was walking on the dunes near the coast of Maroc (Morocco) with a dog we had then--Blackie. (Yes, I was quite original in naming him.) Until I saw that slide, I could only remember one dog from our Maroc days--Neige. Neige means snow in French (uh-huh, he was a white dog--I had a theme, and it was in two languages!).

Pets have always been important to me, although having them can bring grief, they more often bring joy. I have pets and they make my home so much more fun than it would be otherwise. With them around, I know someone will look to me for leadership...even if it's leadership to their food bowls or to their leash for a walk. And, that's OK with me, too. They're part of my family.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A month of activities

Well, it turns out that I do Twitter more than I blog...but I don't do either very often!

So, what have I been up to over the past month? Here's a list of the stuff that's kept me busy:

  1. Inherited a new group of 3 writers (& the product they support) at work; they came with a new culture, including a new set of developers, managers, product managers, QA engineers, and doc practices.Of course, none of that is new to them, only to me. So, I'm making an attempt to learn how to support them, take a bit of pressure off them, and yet guide them when they need guiding. (Hmmm...isn't all that the same thing?)
  2. Spent much of my work time attending meetings and fielding crises for both the San Diego product and the Cupertino product, because both of them are shipping this coming week. (Did I mention the new team is a remote one?)
  3. Took a free junket to Reno with Cheryl Smith to gamble and tour around northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe. (See my facebook account for pix.)
  4. Met with four designers (a couple of them multiple times) to have them give me estimates on building a home office in one of my bedrooms (the one I use as an office/catchall now). Just about ready to make a decision
  5. Saw my therapist twice--once for a nice chat; once for a gut-wrenching "aha" moment that left me drained and wiser. I hate it when that happens...yet it's why I go. Sigh.
  6. Fired and hired yard maintenance folks...the one I hired had a lot of "clean up" to do before he could even begin normal maintenance because the one I fired just wasn't doing what should be done. I'm pretty sure the new one will do well because his mother-in-law is my housekeeper and I think she'll be pickier about my yard than I am!
  7. Went to a local casino Friday night because I got a wild hair to drive to Viejas (only about 25 miles from my house...much too close!) all by my lonesome. (Is gambling alone as problematic as drinking alone?) Anyway, as luck would have it, I started out great (won $200 on my first $20 at Wheel of Fortune); kept at it far too long on one hand (lost the $200 and close to another $100), but was rewarded for my obsession because I was randomly chosen to be a contestant in a money-grabbing contest! I was the last person of the night (did my stint at midnight!) to stand in one of those wind-tunnel glass boxes for 30 seconds and catch and hold as much cash as I could in 30 seconds. Wound up with $316 and a gold lamee helium-filled balloon. Had sense enough to go home immediately after! Unfortunately, these kinds of exciting times only feed my desire to go again! Still, it was pretty much a rush!
  8. Glad to say my sister is doing much better this month. She's still my "hermana loca" as Rosita (my housekeeper) says...but the "loca" is quite mild relative to some past times. And that's good. For her. And for me.
  9. Three lovely Houston friends of mine are July birthday girls: Deborah, Connie R, and Tessa. I wish all of them the very best and I treasure the parts they play in my life.
  10. I'm hooked on season two of HBO's True Blood
  11. I blogged.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hope I Tweet more than I Blog!

OK. I've just spent the last 2 hours on the Web checking out Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. I've become a Webhead. Actually, because a friend of mine (#nematome) shared Paula Poundstone's Twitter account with me, I'm now following her. When I got to her site, I followed a link to YouTube, and there I was Cooking with Rhonda, and hiking with Paula. I find her humor so dry and funny that I can't stop clicking on link after link. I finally started hearing the same jokes over and over and realized that I'd better stop and let her get some new material.

Then, I did figure how to get Twitter and Facebook to chat to one another. I can update my Twitter account, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. It's easier that direction because of the 140-character limit on Twitter. If I let my Facebook updates go to Twitter, I'd always be truncated...and you know how that hurts!

As you can see, I'm trying to make up for my LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG silence on this blog by writing in it two days in a row! Are you impressed?

It's almost tomorrow. Connie is staying with me for a few days while they work on her apartment. Her car wouldn't start and she got stranded at a 7/11. She called a friend from work to help her out and after they jumped her battery, the car started. I'm still waiting up to be sure she gets here safely before I head to bed.

Dentist in the AM. Got to get a crown completed. Can't forget to take the antibiotics! Do you know that after knee replacements, one must mega-dose on antibiotics before all dentist appointments for 5 years! Weird, but true.

Bought my ticket for the Del Mar Fair at Albertson's this evening. On Friday (the 19th), Cher, Connie (the elder), and I are going to watch Corrine Stith drive her American Saddlebred Horse in a Charity Horse show. I think she has a 3-gaiter. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, but I'm trying to remember what I read earlier today. So, for all you folks in the horsey set, if I've completely goofed, I'm sorry. This is all new to me. Nonetheless, I'm excited about going and giving myself a chance to learn about something new! Plus, I haven't been to the Del Mar Fair since before I went to Houston! So, I'm due.

OK. I'm ready to call it a night. Maybe I'll be in bed before tomorrow. I think I hear Connie driving up now. Cat's in, dog's in, and the kid is in. I'm happy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another edition of dis 'n dat.

Poor, poor, pitiful blog! It's been neglected too long! So, just to let everyone know I'm well, here's a little bit of whatever comes to mind...

Twitter!
I'm lloriter to anyone who wants to know. Follow me! I'm still learning what's what, but so far it's fun. Saw presentation by Scott Abel at STC-SD meeting last week. Decided to dust off my account and see if I can make it live!

Dreamin'
Gotta quit drinking those Diet Cokes late in the evening... Dreams have been interesting...old flames, driving through water, losing my way in school (a repeating theme)--but this time as a teacher rather than as a student. Many more snippets, but none with any real detail, so I'll let it go.

Home office/library
Decided to get some ideas and estimates on what it would cost to build out my 3rd bedroom into a home office and library combo. So far, only have looked at LOTS of pix on the web. Two favorite sites: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/home-office and http://www.closetfactory.com/homeorg/home_office.php . Oh, but if I only had unlimited money to spend!

Money and Gambling
So, most of you know about my closet gambling tendencies...went to Viejas with Connie V (aka Big Connie) a Friday or two ago. Came home with half the money I went in with...but I sure had fun. On Saturday, June 27, Cher & I will fly to Reno (The Biggest Little City in the World!) and stay at Harrah's for 4 nights (hotel & flight paid for by Harrah's!). I'll just visualize me winning big enough to pay for my new office! Actually, we plan to do little gambling. We're renting a car and doing day trips in and around the city...Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, Virginia City & its famous cemetery, Carson City, and casinos everywhere!

Anniversary of sorts
BTW: the trip to Reno has a backstory reason for happening! Cher and I met in June 1979. Thirty years ago this month!!! A pretty good reason to go out and raise a little H#LL!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weird Dream

Well, I have to record last night's sleep adventures because they were so weird. My mom's birthday is today so maybe I had her on my mind...(I usually don't need her birthday to do that!). I used to write dreams I remembered in a journal, but it's getting harder to write longhand for very long (my fingers & hand fall asleep or get pins & needles), and I figured this might be a long entry, so I decided to share it with all you lovely folks. You're welcome to try to translate it, but I'm usually good at doing that and this one leaves me stumped.

Anyway, there were two distinct parts of it:

In the first, I was living in mega-surburbia. Big house filled with family (yes, even Mom) and lots of neighbors who kept dropping by! One of the neighbors brought some very large (desk pad sized) black & white photos to me--they were all pictures of my father and the ships he was stationed on in the 40s and 50s. There were group shots and shots of him on the quay next to the ship. These neighbors were all dropping in unexpectedly, bringing food, drinks, gifts, and setting up events. In one scene, I remember going into my great room and finding a stray game table (you know, the octagonal, leather-topped ones). I thought, "oh! Mom must be having a card party later today and someone brought this by in preparation." In another, someone came over with some kind of drink they wanted us to try. It was sticky red and yellow in layers! I also remember walking from one house to another. Karma (my dog) was with me cavorting around my legs as we walked through a muddy lane.

In the second part, I was in the hospital having some type of procedure done. And (here's the kicker!), Tom Cruise was my boyfriend! He was also in the hospital...lying on the gurney next to me in a hospital gown with his butt hanging out! Now, if that isn't weird enough, I figured out that my mom (!) had set up the procedure for me and that after they did one fairly inocuous treatment, they had me waiting around for something else that would help my "arthritis medicine do a better job" of working. I kept asking questions about what it was...and finally found out that it was a hysterectomy! So, I gave them all a piece of my mind and told them they were going to do no such thing and got off the gurney and was trying to find my clothes so I could go home. Somehow during this phase, I lost Tom. He was going through something that made him sad, and I was trying to fix it (no surprise there) by talking to him, but then when I figured out the thing about me, he just faded away (maybe has something to do with me taking care of myself?). I remember thinking about the health insurance and wondering who, if anyone had gotten approval from the insurance company. At any rate, I certainly wasn't going to allow any such thing, and somehow that's about all I remember. It was a very busy place...people walking by, my family in and out, tons of nurses. I remember one who came in and clipped her mini Ipod to the side of the bed so she could listen to her music while she worked on me.

Wow. It's always nice to see Mom in dreams. Tom Cruise was a surprise. I'm not especially fond of him, I usually lust after the Tom Selleck types. Of course, an added very sick piece of this is that my dad's name was Tom...but I'm not about to go there!


Whew. I feel better now.
(BTW: Happy Birthday, Mom!!! [and to my very much alive-and-kicking friend, and soul sister, Donna!])

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools, CPAs, FICO scores, Shanghai, slot machines, and roses

April Fools Day. Boy, I must be old. Not one person even attempted to fool me...worse, I didn't try to fool anyone either!

Had to send a certified letter today to a small company that says I owe them money! They sent me a letter telling me I owe for a service (aerating my lawn) that was done in Feb 2008, and that my account is in "serious default." I have a cancelled check showing that I paid the bill. I have called and emailed them for the last 3 or 4 days, and they haven't bothered to call me back. So, today, I sent the certified letter. It's stuff like this that can ruin a girl's
FICO scores!

I also sent some signed forms back to my CPA (
Ahlers & Stoll, a great firm in Houston) so that they could send in my e-file to the IRS and to AH-NOLD. I'm getting a bit of green back from both. Good thing. I've managed to deplete my savings this year and I think I'll be able to put a little back into the bank. No, I'm not talking about my mutual funds in my IRAs and 401Ks...my story is just like yours...depressing!

If I'm careful, maybe I can gift myself with a few of those greenbacks to gamble! Yup. When I retire (probably when I'm 80 if the economy doesn't turn around soon), I plan to be one of those old women in gaudy polyester sitting at a slot machine putting in my pennies! Of course, I won't be smoking and the machines don't take pennies these days, but you get the idea. It's definitely something I can strive for! :-)

I'm here at my HP cube killing time because I have a conference call scheduled with my little team in Shanghai at 6:30 pm. 6:30 pm Wednesday my time is 9:30 am Thursday for them. When we set up the meetings, it was only 5:30 pm for me, but when we started DST, the call changed to an hour later. Did you know that all of China is on the same time??? Their country is about as wide as the U.S., yet they all live on Beijing time. The rest of the country just deals with sunrise and sunset at weird times. Can you imagine that for us? If we set our clocks on Washington D.C. time, those of us in California would have sunrise at 3 am! Nuff said.

It's definitely spring here and I have the roses to prove it! I'm not sure if it's the food I gave them or the additional rain we've had, but I'm getting some killer roses! A couple are as big as my head! (not really, but almost!) Anyway, I've decided that this year, I'm going to cut them and bring them inside more often than I usually do. Someone told me that they bloom more when you cut them. I enjoy seeing them out in my yard, but maybe, if I plan it right, I can have both! If you're a rose fiend, check out this place online or in Texas:
The Antique Rose Emporium . They're wonderful!

And with that bit of potpourri, I bid you au revoir!



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New Earth

If you're like me, you have obligations that keep you from watching Oprah. Somehow, though, perhaps when I was home after my knee replacement surgery last year, I did watch a few shows. I happened to catch one of the episodes when she was talking to Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. A New Earth was one of the selections for the Oprah Book Club. I don't purposely follow Oprah's book choices (although I often find after I've read a book that it was one she recommended), but this time I went out and bought A New Earth. I even checked out her online exercises that you can do while reading the book. And then I moved on.

I had the book on my bookshelf for several months. Didn't read it; didn't even think about it. Then, a few months ago, I saw the CD collection for the book at my local county library's used book store and I bought it. Put it in the map pocket of my car and didn't listen to it. A couple of weeks ago, however, after talking with a good friend of mine who was reading the book and raving about it, I thought I'd give the audio version a try during my daily commute.

It has become one of the most incredible books I've ever ingested. In fact, I have begun reading the paper book to reinforce what I hear in the audio version. I'm a firm believer that things come into your life when you need them to show up. The time finally must have been right for me to read this book. It wasn't right when I saw the program. It wasn't right when I bought the book or found the CD collection. But it sure is right now. I'm finding it thought-provoking at minimum and mind-bogglingly awesome at maximum.

It gives me things to think about and it explains some things I've often wondered about. It is the kind of book that will affect each person uniquely. My experience has been one of wonder and enlightenment, provocation and self-evaluation. I can't exactly share the personal journey that I'm having, but I can say that I recommend it to everyone who ever wondered about who we are and what our being is about. Tolle's explanation of why different cultures and different parts of the world have more pain of existence than others was the first that I ever found to make sense. And that's only one of the many premises he makes that rang true for me.

I once had a wonderful friend who was very religious. He understood his relationship to God in a much different way than I understood my relationship with God. We would often have deep discussions about the Bible and what it meant to be a "good" person. He would always seem to win those discussions because he could reference scripture chapter and verse. Me, I was usually only supported by a deep knowing that what I believe is right for me. He would be exceedingly frustrated by my inability and lack of desire to debate. I would merely say, "I understand what you're saying, but my relationship with God works for me. I know this because it FEELS right." To me, this book feels right. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you get it and put it on your bookshelf. I bet it will call you when the time is right.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A new Meme from Mary

I just finished reading a recent RedNose blog (http://bozoette.typepad.com/red_nose/) from Mary and she had this great meme about names...I just had to take it on for myself. The two that came out best in my opinion are my Witness Protection and my Goth Names! (This was fun!!!)

1. REAL NAME: Linda Louise Garland Oestreich
2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME:(mother's and father's middle names) Jessie Tennant (I love this! If I ever need a nom de plume, this will be it!)
3. NASCAR NAME:(first name of your mother's dad, father's dad) Harrison William
4. STAR WARS NAME:(the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name) Oes Li
5. DETECTIVE NAME:(favorite color, favorite animal) Golden Wolf
6. SOAP OPERA NAME:(middle name, town where you were born) Louise Brooklyn

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav car, add "THE" to the beginning) the Yellow Bug
8. FLY NAME:(first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name) Lich (what the heck is a fly name???)
9.STREET NAME:(fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie) Pralines n Cream Snickerdoodle

10. SKANK NAME: (1st pet's name, street you grew up on) Neige Frisbie (moved a lot, had to pick from many streets: Clark, Hancock, Rue de la Mamora, and Frisbie)
11. GANGSTA NAME:(first 3 letters of last name plus 'izzle') Ichizzle

12. YOUR GOTH NAME:(black, and the name of one of your pets) Black Karma (Ominous, yes?)
13. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy) Obsession Truffle (pretty classy for a stripper!)

A month's worth of stuff

I am embarrassed at how long it's been since my last posting! This past month has been filled with lots of things...most of them challenging and energy-sapping. So, even though I've considered several blog post topics, none of them actually became real. Today, I'm home sick because I'm still getting over a bad case of bronchitis. I feel well enough to shower and dress and check my long-overdue home email (funny how I always keep up with work, but my home duties suffer). And, of course, I am making time to blog.

Here are a few things that have been happening:
  • My sister, who according to the State of California, is disabled, has been having a tough time and when she has a tough time, I do, too. I am still finding how much support is appropriate to give and how much is too much. She's got a lot of problems...almost all of them mental, yet she can be a highly functioning, sane person from time to time. Right now, those times are few, short, and far between. Even when I don't make time to see her, I seem to get caught up in her drama just by talking to her on the phone. And these past weeks have been filled with her drama. Guess that's the price of being close to family.
  • Work has also been stressful. I had to layoff one of my team and it was extremely tough. Lucky for me, I didn't have to choose the candidate, I was told who it would be. I keep thinking, like so many of us at this time, I'm lucky to have a job. And I am. But along with most of the world right now, it's hard to keep the positive flow going. I have found a really cool, upbeat person on the web who sends out positive advice for our times. If you're interested, I suggest you check out her site: http://www.svahaconcepts.com/ . I signed up for her newsletter and am pleased that I did.
  • My health has been less than perfect. I'm one of those people who take mental health days off occasionally, but who is seldom actually sick. Well, that's changed this past month. I had a low-grade cough/headcold for about 2 weeks, but pushed through it. Would go to work and leave early when my energy ran out. Took one or two full days, but treated myself with Nyquil and Dayquil and other over-the-counter meds. Then, I felt really good for about 4 days. Thought it was all gone and I was ready to get back into my routine. Nope. Got hit with a much worse rendition of the first...got so I couldn't breathe, had some athsma-like problems, and was coughing so hard it hurt my ribs...so I bit the bullet, paid the $100 copay and went to urgent care (my own doc took Friday off and that was the day I decided I needed doctoring). Anyway, they did a breathing treatment to open up my lungs, gave me antibiotics, some codeine cough syrup, and sent me home to sleep. I did. Yesterday and today, I'm finally feeling humanish. I hope that by tomorrow, I'll be ready to tackle work. I am blessed to have a great team that works well even without me. (Hmmm. That might not be so good these days!)
  • My taxes have yet to be done. I've collected most of the stuff, but now I need to fill in the paperwork and mail it to my CPA. I don't know why I'm procrastinating..I'm sure I'm getting a refund. And, I am definitely ready to pay off some bills with it. Of course, the new advice from Suze Orman (http://www.suzeorman.com/) is to only pay minimums and put the extra into a savings account in case you need it when/if you lose your job. I think I'll do some more budgeting to figure out what the best move is for me.
  • My occasional roomie and co-owner of my house is arriving tonite from Virginia. She hasn't visited since June of last year when she helped me celebrate my big 6-0 birthday. I'm looking forward to it, but I also had to be sure that the stuff I'd hidden in her closet and put on her shelf in the medicine cabinet were moved elsewhere so she could use her own space while she's here. Not a big issue at all, but one more thing to do. Believe me the payback is great. She's quite the handywoman, and my list of things to do around the house is usually much shorter after one of her visits. We do well together and are great friends. Here's a picture of her from a couple years ago.
    I really must get some pix of the two of us together! Without her, I never would have been able to afford to buy a home in San Diego when I moved back here. So, Thanks, Jeanne! I'm glad you're in my life.

  • Oh, another work-related item: HP reduced everyone's salary a little. Mark Hurd, our CEO, who made $1.45 million last year is giving up 20%. Every exempt employee on the HP payroll is only giving up 5%. I wonder how the ratio of all that works... Nonetheless, I'm still paid well, I just have to readjust a few luxuries...

OK. I think I'm caught up. This may be one of my more boring posts, but it is what it is. I'm in a rather boring state of mind. Stay tuned. It will get better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Give me an "H"--make that Ten of 'em




One of the blogs I follow is written by a lovely friend/colleague/peer/clown named Mary. As she explained, "See, there's this alphabet meme going around, where you get a letter from a previous meme-er. Then you write about 10 things that begin with that letter that mean something to you." So, Mary gave me an "H." And here are my ten things:
  1. Hair: I love my hair. God may have made my body a challenge in my life, but He definitely gave me good hair genes. Thank you, God!


  2. 2. House: I love my house. It's cute and small and in San Diego! Everything about it, even the things that aren't wonderful are wonderful.

3. Hot water heater: One of the things about my house that isn't wonderful. In fact, it's leaking...plumber is scheduled to come tomorrow.


4. Home warranty: Good thing I have one so that the new water heater won't be so expensive!


5. Hybrid SUV: My Mercury Mariner hybrid is named Cosmo. Do you name your cars? Cosmo's predecessor was Blanca. Sometimes they're male; sometimes they're female. Talk about anthropomorphism! (the picture in the link looks just like mine!)


6. Hunt: The last name of my best guy friend. He's Handsome, huh?


7. HoJos: A memory from my childhood. Driving along turnpikes in the East with my family and stopping at Howard Johnson's for lunch and ice cream. I never see them anymore.


8. Hugs: I like 'em. I wish I got more of them. I hug my friends, my dog, and sometimes, my trees.

9. Harold and Maude: One of my all-time favorite weird movies.

10. Huntingdon. The name of the town in PA where Bill and Donna live. It's strange that it ends in "don" rather than "ton" but it does. It's a small town, but it's a lot more interesting these days because D & B are there.


Dang! H was Hard!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday blues

Ever have one of those days when you just can't get out of the fog? That's how this Monday is going. It's been raining in San Diego for about 4 days...and for us down here in the world of sun, that's a bit much. I think my mood is starting to be affected! It's about as wet and chilly as the weather. I've been running from meeting to meeting all day and some of the information isn't fun. I'm ready to go home and do something to make me feel better. Which will it be? Macaroni and cheese or a glass of wine?

So, to help put my mood in perspective, you have to know what happened this weekend:

Went to Harrah's Rincon with Connie V and had a fun time, got a free room, and a little bit of money for the slots on them. Of course, I LOST money I really shouldn't have. I started to say "couldn't" but that wasn't true. I could and I did even though I don't like it. I've decided I'm a closet gambler. Good thing I can manage some willpower.

Here's why: Somehow, on one of my trips to the casino's ATM, although I'm POSITIVE I asked for $100, the stupid machine gave me $1000! Now, if I had had $1000 in the account, I wouldn't have been as freaked...but I didn't. I'm sure it must have been rigged (the ATM). Besides that, I thought I had a withdrawal limit...so, not only did I have to deal with my concern about what might bounce and how high, I was frustrated that the bank had allowed the transaction. AND, I had to pretend I didn't have all that cash in my wallet after I got it out! That was the real test of my ability to NOT gamble.

So, I called my bank from home when I got home yesterday. Of course, since it was Sunday, no response. I sent them an email (promised response = 3 days), and then realized that I would just call the bank as soon as I could on Monday morning. The bank's corporate offices were on eastern time; I'm on Pacific time. So, at 6:30 am, I was on the phone. Luckily for me, nothing had posted and if I got the cash back to my bank early on Monday, all would be well.

I was at my branch office at 9:05 a.m. and I deposited enough to cover the negative $600 pending balance I had and then some. None of it was from my winnings because I didn't have any of those to deposit. And, when I questioned their policies, they told me I had a $1000 withdrawal limit and that my overdraft protection let them give me more than my balance! Go figure. I guess this is one of the side effects of having a good credit rating. I NEVER before had such a high withdrawal limit! The system sure didn't check the savings account that's supposed to kick in for overdrafts. I know I don't have $600 in there...

Nonetheless, crisis was averted. But, I'm still in a rotten mood, I might need BOTH my comfort crutches tonight. The macaronis and sauvignon blanc are calling me...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lights Out, Matey!

It's 7 pm and I'm still at work, and they just blinked the lights to let us know that they really don't want to keep paying for electricity all night long. I wonder if they ever really turn them out completely? I hope I'm never here long enough to find out.

I have wanted to blog for a few days and haven't made the time. Then, yesterday, something happened that I knew I wanted to share.


On February 4, 2008, Captain Robert Gautier died. I think he was 85. He was a great man, a retired Navy submariner, a pretty good vintner, and someone I will always honor for helping me shape my life.

It was about 1972. I was working as a civil servant at the Naval Undersea Research and Development Center (soon to be renamed the Naval Undersea Center) as a clerk to about 15 physicist-systems analysts-engineer types. The work they did was highly classified and as their secretary, one of my jobs was to check their offices every night to be sure all classified materials were locked up. Of course, sometimes they stayed later than I did, and if they didn't put something away, I would be blamed for a security breach. The Navy had strict rules, and they only allowed a certain number of breaches before they hauled you up for a CAPTAIN'S MAST!

Well, I hit the magic number of breaches and was summoned to visit the captain of our lab. This visit was akin to the lowliest of the low being summoned to speak directly to God. I was terrified. I knew I was going to lose my job or be suspended without pay. Either of those two outcomes would have been catastrophic to anyone, but I was a single mom and had bills to pay!

As I entered Capt. Gautier's office, he asked my supervisor to wait outside (yep, my boss had to accompany me!) and he proceeded to have a major "Come to Jesus" meeting with me. He spoke a lot about responsibility and honor and the importance of the work our lab was doing for the country, the world, and the Navy. Of course, through most of it, I was either crying or thinking petulant thoughts about how it really wasn't my fault, blah, blah blah. At the end of the lecture, he told me that he wasn't going to fire me, but he insisted that I find another job at the lab that had limited high-security information. I had to keep my nose clean for two years to erase the previous breaches, and he wanted to be sure that I had a good chance of doing that. And, when the Captain wanted something to happen, it happened fast!

So, I transferred. My new boss was a senior manager over several other smaller departments: photography, graphics, video, library, and TECHNICAL INFORMATION! As it turned out, Captain Gautier (and God) put me in the exact right place for me to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Because of the horrible experience of screwing up, I began to work for someone who realized my communication skills and in time, he helped me get the training and the contacts I needed to become a technical writer.

Without Capt. Gautier, I know my life would have been very different. My disgrace turned into my salvation. And, as luck would have it, years later Capt. Gautier's daughter became one of my best friends (I didn't realize who she was for a long time!). So, I continued to have Capt. Gautier in my life. No matter how old he and I got, or how many years after his retirement it was, I always called him "Captain." I will always be grateful to him for seeing something in me that was worth a second chance.

Bob Gautier was a great man who will be missed by many friends and family. So, lights out, my friend. I know you're already sailing the high seas of heaven.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quick update for my readers

I need to update my blog, but I don't have much time right now...so rather than let it slide, I'll just put in some quick bullets to let you know what's going on!
  • Trip to Houston was wonderful. Thanks to Connie R and Tessa W for the cozy room & board!
  • Fell in love with Tessa's puppy, Monsieur Bichon Jacques (his real name is Jack)!
  • Enjoyed beyond words the Obama Inauguration ceremonies. I watched it with four lovely liberal women and three happy canines who were all thrilled to witness the event, even if it was through a television. (The canines are all liberals, too!)
  • Work is. And that's good.
  • My therapy sessions are getting pretty powerful. More on that some other time. Just know that it's a good thing, too!
  • It was delightful to see so many of my buddies in TX: Veronica, Liz D, Tessa, Connie R, Carmen E, Bruce E, Erin Z, Lin R, Deanna W, Verna D, Janis H, Sherri S, Cindy P, and Jim H. Not bad in 4 days. Sorry to have missed Barbara B, Corrine S, Deb S, and David B. Love to you all!
  • Loved the quick foray into Coldwater Creek! The Sugar Land, TX, mall is really upscale and quite lovely. Much different than it was when I left. I even drove by my old house to take a look. New folks (Waggoners) are taking good care of it!
  • It's been 4 years, going on 5, since I lived in Sugar Land
  • My dear friend Rick Martin, Cher's S.O. is having a tough time...please keep him in your prayers.
  • STC Spotlight Awards were held at the San Juan Capistrano train depot restaurant, Sarducci's, Saturday nite. I was keynoter, and it was great FUN! If you know anyone who does technical communication, please tell them to join the Society for Technical Communication. It really is worth the time, money, and effort. And, I know from many years of experience.
  • 2009 marks my 30th year as a member of STC.
  • The angel trumpets in my yard are blooming--even with the almost-frosty night-time temps! The evening brings out their scent and it is divine!
  • My kid turned 41 and my brother turned 50 this month. I'm still 60, but don't feel a day over 40!

Adieu and Adios for now,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Headed for Houston


FNSC Christmas Photo 2008

FNSC photo at Chinese restaurant in Sept 07

FNSC at Linda's Sugar Land house, March 2003

Well, I'm headed for Houston in the morning. I'm taking advantage of the 3-day weekend and cashing in a travel voucher that was about to expire. I miss my friends in Houston, so I hope to connect with several of them in the 4 days I'll be there. One of the things I miss most is Friday Night Supper Club (FNSC). Three good friends, back in the late 80s, began the tradition of meeting every Friday evening at various local restaurants for supper with their spouses (if one was available!). When I moved to Houston in 1990, I joined them. Today, the group still has two or three longtime, almost original members, but the other members are relatively new and one couple joined them after I moved to San Diego!


We jokingly talk about FNSC West when one of the members shows up in San Diego and we go to dinner together on Friday...another member has moved to the East Coast, and yep! They're FNSC East. One of the couples who began the tradition now lives in Wisconsin...so we have the North covered! And since the original group is still in the South, we are represented in all four directions of the country.

It's a great tradition and one that I've been threatening to begin here with a whole new group of folks. While I lived in Houston, I always looked forward to Friday nights. The folks in FNSC were my surrogate family and became close friends. And, although tonight is Friday, partially for me, and partially because one of the current members is having a birthday, we're having FNSC on Saturday. Tomorrow at 7 pm CST, I'll be sharing laughs and stories with dear friends.

It is a wonderful thing to do, and once you're part of FNSC, you're always part of FNSC. There are no dues, and the group is always interested in what and how you're doing. Each Christmas or special event, we gather for a group photo, and it's always a little bittersweet for me to get the photo these days and find myself not in the picture. The picture I've added to this entry is of all of us in 2003, the year before I moved back to San Diego. We were in my house and I had just completed having my house redecorated. The contingent that's now in Wisconsin was missing, but they were there in spirit, just as I usually am.

Tomorrow night, though, my spirit will have me for company.


Note: I happened upon a copy of Wired magazine today and was disappointed to find out that blogs are a thing of the past. Apparently, I'm about 5 years too late. Because blogs have been adopted by everyone from the White House to the club house and are being used by journalists and pundits, they've lost their ability to be fresh. Sigh. And, I was so pleased with myself for getting on the bandwagon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Two in one day!

Yesterday, I was tagged by my daughter to write 25 random things on my Facebook page (I'd share the URL, but I don't know what it is. Guess you can search for me if you're a member.) So, in case you aren't a Facebook friend, here's my list of 25 random things:
  1. My first real job was typing deeds for the plots of land that folks were buried in!
  2. I lived in Morocco for 2.5 years when I was a kid.
  3. I was born in Brooklyn, NY.
  4. I was married for 9 years, but together with him for less than 3.
  5. Everyone thinks I'm German because of my last name; I'm Scottish.
  6. I once was part of a 2-person pit crew for a friend who was driving in the Baja 250.
  7. I bar-maided at "That Place Across the Street from the Sports Arena"; I even danced on the bar in those days. (a much skinnier me!)
  8. I graduated college when I was 31.
  9. I once thought I wanted to be a Unity minister.
  10. I was a docent at the Houston zoo.
  11. I was a ticket-seller and prop-master for the Old Town Theater.
  12. I used to hate my middle name, but now I like it:
  13. My middle name is Louise.
  14. I used to play the accordion--I still own two of them! (guess I haven't given up)
  15. I can speak French well enough to get by in France.
  16. I was president of a nonprofit international professional organization of 14,000 members.
  17. I was a Federal civil servant for 23 years.
  18. I was vice-president of a small consulting company for 3 years.
  19. I love critters and since I've been an adult, have always had a cat or dog or both.
  20. I got my first and only gun when I was 8: a 22 Winchester rifle.
  21. I was a pretty good shot.
  22. I can't swim.
  23. I hate olives.
  24. I lived in Houston for 14 years.
  25. Living in San Diego makes my heart sing.

RSS feeds, Wikis, and me

As a practicing (yup, still haven't perfected it!) technical communicator and a board member for the Society for Technical Communication (STC) , I sometimes fool myself into thinking that I have all the tools and tricks I need for my trade. NOT. The reason? I am majorly technologically challenged. Oh, I CAN learn, and when I'm interested, I DO learn, but I have to be interested.

This afternoon, I opened an email from the Society's Technical Editing SIG (special interest group), and saw that they are now publishing their newsletter and various other wonderful informational tidbits to a Wiki. Now, I know what a Wiki is, and I have used them, but I don't consider myself at ease with them.

Within one of the many excitingly INTERESTING and informative pages of the STC TE SIG's Wiki are two videos. One explains Wikis (Presto! I'm more comfy already.) and the other explains the details of and gives directions for using RSS feeds. What a find! It interested me enough to try it and I'm now subscribing to RSS feeds all over the place. I'm thrilled. (Of course, it takes a little moxie to admit in this blog that I didn't understand them before now.)

For those of you who might be as confused as I was, here's the link to the video prepared by Common Craft: RSS Feeds in Plain English. (I also recommend you look at their site for other really cool videos that explain new-fangled techni-gizmos: Common Craftshow. )

I knew that RSS feeds had been around for years, but I'm just now realizing how cool they are! (I liken it to my knowledge of Twitter. I've signed up, and I've used it once or twice, but only while being supervised by a technologically astute person. I haven't used it since! Heck, I don't even use text messages...OK, ok...I'm wandering off the path again... But I did see another video by Common Craft explaining Twitter! My ignorance may soon be a thing of the past!)

I now have a Google Reader account and am subscribing to RSS feeds. I am becoming more techo-agile every nanosecond...as a result, my life will be richer, my hair will be blonder, my house will be cleaner, my dog will be smarter, and so on. Right? Unfortunately, no. It's likely that I will only scratch the surface of the tool. Basically, I'm the poster girl for using 20% of something and never understanding the wonders of the other 80%. Yet, I seem to be getting along just fine in my 20% technological world.

For instance, I have myriad features on my phone and digital camera that are wasting away from neglect. I learn what I need, and never learn the fun stuff that I might enjoy, but don't need. I guess I'm still of the generation that would rather watch an old movie or curl up with a mystery novel than play with technogadgets. However, no matter how I try to ignore it, this techno-wondrous world is part of my world. Believe it or not, except when I'm at work or with my 12-year old nephew, I fake it pretty well. In fact, I'm considered a technowhiz amongst my friends and neighbors! Pretty scary, huh? As Einstein once must have said, "it's all relative."

May you and your relatives Twitter, Wiki, and Wii with wonder.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Limerick for Linda

Happy and Healthy 2009!

So...what's my "theme" for 2009...drink more wine in '09? Perfect my whine in '09? Fill my stein in '09? shop at Hine (a local car seller) in '09?

Nope...none of the above work quite right. I finally got myself to a WeightWatchers meeting yesterday--after a 6-month hiatus. I had gained quite a bit of the weight I'd taken off when I was there last year, but not all of it! So, that in itself was a pleasant surprise...WW says that we don't "diet" we "live." And, that's the thing I must learn to do...live and eat and move as though I want to live a long time (and I do) without pain and with unrestricted mobility. So, my decision (I refuse to say "resolution") is to use this year to find ME under all this excess mental and physical baggage. For '09, I will do all I can to be "fine" and focus on making the year "mine." So, I've created a personal limerick for the new year:

There once was a girl called L-O.
Who found her mind always on "go"
But she slowed in '09
So she could find peace of mind,
And make all that she could of L-O.

OK...you heard it here! I'm on a mission to "just do it," "have it my way," "be all I can be," and "stop dieting and start living." Now, let's hope that my resolve lasts long enough for me to get some results... (My apologies to all the branded slogans I've used without citation!)

Happy New Life, everyone! I wish you all good things and may the prayers you have answered be the ones that will truly benefit you and your world. (And, it might not hurt to write yourself a personal limerick for the new year--this could be the next big craze! (pet rock, anyone?))

Love strong, laugh loud, and live long,
Linda