Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nail Polish

I love the way nail polish looks on your fingers or toes. I started really enjoying the aesthetic look of nail polish from seeing the French film The Dreamlife of Angels. The lead actress wore dark black or brown nail polish on her fingers and it was half way coming off, but it really added to the tone of the film for me. It just looked really cool. I know I'm a bit of a strange one, but there are aesthetic details that I sometimes really enjoy visually.

I shot a Halloween party and wore a conglomerate of a few different things I had in my closet and said I was a fashionista (or a Norwegian Supermodel, I could not decide). I put dark red nail polish on and it's starting to come up which of course is when I like it most. I will always love small visual details in life and in film.

The Prospect of a New Phone

My cell phone is rapidly deteriorating. The phone crashes occasionally, has enough paint chipped away that you can see the interior guts in places, and, worst of all, gets a screwy keyboard issue where the second row of buttons turns into the first (press S, get a W, get a W.) It makes doing most anything nearly impossible. But my contract has finally expired, and I can't wait to exercise my right as an American to lock myself into another two-year contract in exchange for a moderate discount on a new cell phone.

Unfortunately it's not going to be an iPhone. It's still tethered to AT&T, and I can't wait long enough for its emancipation. So I'm going for either some flavor of Google Android phone, or a Palm Pre (leaning toward the Android phones now.) Both options are pretty strong contenders against Apple's offerings, so I won't feel too deprived.

I can't wait. My "need a phone that works" and my "want a fun, new gadget" itches both need scratching. The biennial ritual of getting a new cell phone is a great excuse to spend money on a slick new gadget even when there isn't a good reason to upgrade. I'm just glad I can still afford it, because I just can't live without a good cell anymore. That's one of the reasons I never bought an iPod.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fast Friendly Connections

I'm really starting to notice that I give off good friendly energy in even a short amount of time. I just worked my last day at GBMC and a few of the nurses said they were really going to miss me. They said I was their favorite photographer. It felt really good and it was so sweet. I gave them my card and hope to hear from them soon.

I think the thing I'll miss most from this gig is the interaction I had with adults. I'm strictly going to be conversing and playing with kids in my new job and I won't have a real adult connection to many folks, except for my co-workers. I also really enjoyed working in the hospital environment. We'll see, maybe I'll be there again one day.

I also worked with three great families today. There babies were adorable and they all gave me high reviews for my photos. Overall it was a really great last day. Another chapter in my life is about to close. Tomorrow and Sunday morning I work at St. Joe's for the final time.

Slick File Service

I've been looking for a good way to send large digital files to people, i.e. music to my sister, and I think I found a good, reliable, free service. let's you email as many 100Mb or less files to as many people as you want, as often as you want. It's easy to use, seamless and quick. I'm a big fan, now.

I discovered it a few days ago when I got a email from one of our vendors at work. He's a composer, and he uses Yousendit to email his large audio files to clients. It worked well, so I filed it away in case I needed it. Tonight was the perfect test opportunity. Kate took a bunch of pictures of the house for our real estate agent to use in advertisements, and the final file size for the bunch was 120 megs. Far too big to send via standard email unless I tediously sent each of the 35 photos in their own individual email. So I split the photos into two ZIP files, each smaller than the 100Mb limit and set them through Yousendit. Worked like a charm. The upload from my system to the Yousendit server was fast, and I already know from my experience with our composer that downloading is pretty quick.

Overall it's a good service for a freebie, and if you need to you can upgrade your account to a payed tier, which lets you email up to 2GB files! Nicely played,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well Deserved Comfort

After a long day of hard labor there's nothing better than a hot shower and a cozy bed to lie in. Jason and I just finished getting the house ready for potential buyers. We put it on the market tomorrow.

I worked for Our365 this morning and then went over to the house to start working right afterwards. I worked at the house from 2pm to 10pm. I don't think I've ever worked that hard before. I'm finding bruises and scratches all over me and my feet and hands are raw and sore. But really all that truly matters is that it's complete. We of course may have to do a few touch-ups here and there, but the hard strenuous labor is over. When I got home I went straight into the bathroom and took a hot shower. It was probably my most well deserved shower and it felt amazing. I wish there was a way to take a shower sitting down. I guess you could have a bigger shower with a sit built in, that would be perfect. Now I'm laying in bed and ready to pass out, Jason won't stop talking. Sometimes all I need is quit and comfort. Good night!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The New Yankee Workshop

The world of professional woodworking doesn't have rock stars. "I want to sand and plane all night....and turn some wood on the lathe" isn't a lyric that drips with excitement. But if building a coffee table inspired by a Parisian sheep-shearing table did pull 75,000 screaming fans into stadiums across the country the man most likely to be the featured act would be Norm Abram, the Oak Zeppelin of furniture builders. He makes other master carpenters look like awkward, pimply-faced teenagers, and the "wood guys" that work at Home Depot like crippled, three-toed marmosets.

Norm got started in television as the head carpenter on This Old House, opposite Bob Vila. In 1989 the producer of that show, interested in expanding into new programming created a spin-off show with Norm as the host, The New Yankee Workshop, which is where I first discovered him.

The show's not exciting. Not at all. In fact it often lapses into boring and mildly repetitive. But it's old school PBS programming, so glitz and flash is not what you watch for. But it is fascinating television. What Norm can do with wood never ceases to amaze me. The formula is pat. Most episodes start with him visiting some historic location and examining a piece of vintage, antique wood furniture. Then he goes back to his shop and builds a similar piece from scratch. Imagine that...being so familiar with the physical language of woodworking that you can easily translate objects without needing to disassemble them. He simply looks at a piece of furniture and quickly decodes the necessary construction steps, steps that generally aren't simple or intuitive (at least not to novices like me.)

I've written previous entries on my desire to give real woodworking a try. Norm Abram is the reason and the inspiration. I love watching him work. He makes it all seem so easy even when it's clearly not. And his collection of woodworking tools is enough to give John Holmes penis envy. At the end of each episode, when he's showing off his finished piece I'm always left wishing I could have the same experience, creating something useful and beautiful completely from scratch, using just my hands (and power tools, of course.)

Norm Abram, Wood Star Extraordinaire.

Note: As I filled in the labels for this post I found that both Norm Abram and The New Yankee Workshop had already been used before. I went back and, sure enough I'd already written an entry on the show. A much better entry than this one, in fact. Here's a link. But it didn't feature the rock star metaphor, and since I can't throw away an entry I spent 20 minutes writing in good faith that it was the first time I'd focused on the topic, I'm letting the new entry stay. Norm, you're only person that's not family that's been written about twice in this blog. Please have me as a guest on your show to return the favor. Thanks.*

* That's apparently impossible now. I just read that, as of earlier this month Norm has elected to cease taping The New Yankee Workshop. Such a bummer.

Light is Approaching

The Stevenson House is not done yet. We've over shot two of our previous deadlines. But we're trying to keep positive the best we can. I can honestly finally say that I see a light at the end of this dark and stormy tunnel (especially stormy since it has practically been raining since we started this project). We only have cleaning and some painting to do and the house will be viewable. We have a new goal of having a perfect home by this Friday and I do see us finally making the set deadline. It's been a tough road, but Jason and I kept our heads up and soon our lives will go back to some form of normalcy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

False Alarm

DB's fine. He started eating again in earnest this afternoon, and all his tests came back normal. Why'd he stop in the first place? Anybody's guess. But he had lost weight, was behaving sluggishly and was slightly more than moderately dehydrated. So something was out of kilter, but not dangerously so.

I think DB's body is a system in flux, always teetering on the edge of extremes. He has so many minor issues that can sometimes add up in unexpected ways. I think in this case he somehow wound up more dehydrated than normal, which may have caused more gastro-intestinal distress than he normally finds himself in and made swallowing difficult or painful. He stopped eating which led to listlessness and a lack of motivation. Once we got him drinking again, which took a few hours to really take hold, everything seemed to start turning around.

Or maybe he's just experimenting on us. I wouldn't put it past those befuddled masking keenly aware eyes to rattle the cage every so often, just to see who's paying attention.

We are, you schmuck. Now cut it out.

Day to Day

Day Planners were one of the best organizational tools ever created, I used to use them all the time when I was busy in school with a part-time job and then when I was a free-lance production assistant in NY. The four years I was at Renegade I didn't use a personal one only one for work that I kept there. I now am using a personal one again, it's needed badly for things like photography gigs, my Our365 schedule, Dr. Apts, family and friend affairs, birthdays, vacations, and unemployment and school deadlines. I'm just a busy girl with a lot on my plate. Unfortunately I misplaced my day planner a few days ago and I'm hoping I can remember all my upcoming engagements. I did not realized how important that book was to me until it was gone. Time to start a new one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hunter Gatherers Had a Few Things Right

Clearly not too many of us are interested in living in thatched huts, cooking over open fires and depending on the random bounty (or lack thereof) of nature for our survival. Mankind invented agriculture and domesticated animals for very good reasons. But our hunter gatherer forbears, and other early tribal cultures can teach us a lot about how society, even large industrialized civilizations, should treat its members.

First and foremost, every member of a tribal community is directly responsible for every other member of the tribe. If a member falls ill, the rest of the community cares for them. If they cannot participate in the hunt, or go out gathering fruits and vegetables, they are provided for. Those that have at any given moment care for those that don't. It's understood because in a small community, there are no superfluous parts. Each person has a function, a meaningful place in society, and that society's health is determined by the optimum functioning of each member.

Industrialized societies have forgotten that level of care. We've managed to create a very large community that can function even if not every member is participating. People have become marginalized, and there is a substrata of society that is, for all practical purposes, unnecessary. At least that's the perception. And while it's incorrect, the perception has dire consequences.

Take health care for example. From my perspective every human being on the face of the earth has the right to reasonable, affordable heath care. Is not one of the most basic functions of society to protect its own members? In tribal, hunter gatherer societies, affordable and available health care (even if it was witch doctors and herbal medicine) was a given. A blight on one member was a blight on the entire group. How are we any different? How can we consider ourselves to be an enlightened, humane society if we systematically deny and overcharge for live-saving care? It's absurd.

Humanity strives for meaning. Purpose. Everyone on the planet yearns for a "reason to be". Take that away from them and they can decay from the inside, and take society down with them. The old parable, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime," has a secondary benefit. Teach a man to fish and he'll have something meaningful and useful to do with his life. And not only can he then catch fish for himself, he can catch fish for others.

I think if we tried to think of ourselves in tribal terms, life for all of us would benefit. Each member of a society is valuable. Each one has a unique perspective. A unique skill set which can, if given the chance, be brought to bear on problems. The more each member of our modern societies feels cared for, valued and respected the less problems overall we'll have to face. If we look at each other as tribesman instead of just neighbors, or worse, strangers, we'd see better the intrinsic value innate in each of us, value as measured by service to others. To our fellow tribesman, in the tribe called humanity.

It's not stupid. Drop five people in the middle of the forest, and watch how desperately each member depends upon the other four for survival. Increase the number to 50 and while the desperation subsides, the need for support remains intense. At 500 some people begin flying under the radar, mooching off of the work of others. At 5,000 the problem grows. At 50,000 you begin to delineate those with power and those without. People become cogs instead of family. At 500,000 and beyond you begin to fall into society as we know it today. Add technological advances and major labor-saving devices, and you've created a civilization stratified into the haves, the have-a-bits, and the have-nots.

I'd argue that people are most satisfied with their lives during the early numbers of the above demonstration, when each person is needed, sometime desperately. Life makes sense when it's lived in service to the survival of others as well as yourself. Otherwise selfishness and greed sets in. If we could work out a way to live in the 5,000,000 or 5,000,000,000 and above rungs as if we were still only 50, desperately working to claw out happy, meaningful existences for each other, societal problems would evaporate.

Seriously. They would just go away. Isn't that worth reevaluating modern thinking?

Dr. T

Our vet is the best, we go to Dr. T at the Light Street Animal Hospital. He is always so kind and has a great ability to truly empathize with his clients. You can really tell he's a true animal lover too. He presents complete knowledge in his field of expertise. I am so glad our friend Matt recommended him to us a year and a half ago, we changed vets and never looked back.

Today I took DB there to check out what's going on with him. He had some blood work done and the results won't be in till tomorrow. Overall he seems to be feeling a lot better.

I'm very pleased to have such a wonderful vet. Thanks Dr. T for everything you are amazing!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dishwashing Machines

(I'm not writing an entry about DB today. This cat has managed to fight through so many physical and health related issues and thrive that I'm not about to write him off yet. I'll wait for the vet to tell me he has Feline Ebola and Flesh-Eating Whisker Herpes before I'll begin to worry.)

There are certain labor-saving devices with questionable labor-saving properties. Take those infomercial vegetable slicer jobbers for instance. Any negligible time they save you slicing vegetables, you lose (and more) cleaning them up. Or take all of the other very good examples I don't feel like taking the time to think of. There are many of them, I assure you.

Dishwashers aren't part of that class. The time saved by dishwashers is vast and easily measurable. I lived at my old house for over ten years without a dishwasher (I installed one for our tenants only after we moved) and hence doing dishes was the chore I looked forward to least. A double-sink full of dishes, washed manually, could easily take an hour to an hour and a half to clean (to be fair, I'm a bit anal about my dish cleanliness). We have a dishwasher finally in our new house and now 1), there generally isn't an accumulated sink full of dishes anymore as washing them is easy, and 2) when there is an accumulation of dishes it only take 10 to 15 minutes to load them.

That's a time savings worth dropping a few hundred dollars for. And clothes washers and dryers? They're probably even more useful than the dishwasher. Who has a stream running back behind their house, or the desire to hang their clothes outside in the back yard? That might have been fine when people had no choice in the matter, but in practice it's a ridiculous premise.

So dishwashers, good. Buying a new set of dinnerware each month to avoid having to wash your sink full of dirty dishes, bad.

Caring Unconditionally

I like the feeling I get when I'm caring for someone. I like being needed by another person or animal. I've noticed lately that I take care of Jason in many ways, doing his laundry, cleaning up after them. I know it's all part of growing up and being in a relationship. But I'm realizing now that I really enjoy being needed and caring for another person. Jason this does not mean I don't need you to help around the house anymore. We are in this together and it feels just as good when you help and care for me too. And if you don't do something to my liking I have no problem redoing it. The effort is there and that's all that matters.

DB, our Siamese cat, has been acting strange lately. He seems to not be eating and he's very frail and not being his loud attention-needing self. It saddens us knowing that his days are numbered. We've been watching him carefully and putting water and wet food around the house to see if he'll eat or drink them. He has started drinking liquids, but he only ate a little bit of the tuna we gave him, and since that's his favorite thing in the world we know now that he must be feeling really badly. He is our baby and we might lose him soon. I will be there for him every step of the way and care for him unconditionally because that is what keeps us strong

Vintage Games

I always forget how interesting the Nearly New Sale sounds, and then how quickly it gets boring in reality. But it is fun for a little while, and you can score some cool stuff. Kate always does well in the clothing arena, and this year I have my nephew to shop for, and the NNS always has it's share of cheap used toys. I found one in particular that I'm really excited about because it's a toy I remember having as a kid, as does Kate, as did the two other people standing near us when I said, "I remember having this toy when I had a kid!"

The coolest thing I scored was a vintage Avalon Hill board game "TV Wars". It's so cheesy, but it takes itself so seriously. And it is SO dated now. Released in 1987, TV Wars pits players against each other as rival network TV programming executives. Your job is to create a programming schedule for your network during primetime that beats out all the other networks in ratings. It's a cool premise, actually, and one that I want to try. It's the rest of the game that's so funny. You bid on network shows like Nuts Landing, The Ed Sillyvan Show, and The Newly Divorced Game. You vie for the rights to broadcast such movies as Star Warts and Rambozo, and sign lucrative deals with stars like Lucille Bawl, Mary Smiler More, and...wait for it... Flirt Reynolds. Not exactly timely references. And not funny. Not even a little. Not even twenty years ago.

But that's makes this game such a gem. The cheesy artwork, the goofy, laughably unfunny references to pop culture icons long since expired, and the completely outdated four network competitive environment modeled in the game to create something potentially more fun than was ever intended. And the event cards...god some of them are funny! There's a card calling players to lobby congress for a VCR tax...a VCR TAX! Remember when the broadcast networks thought the home taping of television programs was going to kill their ad-supported business model? TV Wars remembers.

Even if I never play it, and based on Kate's reaction I likely never will, I'm happy it's sitting on our game shelf. Plus it was only a dollar.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bargain Shopping

The Nearly New Sale today, that Jason talked about in his blog yesterday, was slamming when we arrived there at 10:30 this morning. I thought I'd be too overwhelmed by the crowd to find anything, but I was wrong. I just took my time and found some great finds, like three new skirts that actually fit me, a green vase, nice comfy dressy shoes, a green glass food container, 5 or so new fiction books, a vintage sweater, and a wallet. Jason found books and toys for our nephews and a bunch of books and board games for himself to add to his collection. It was perfect we both ended up spending less than $40 a piece for all of that. I just love those kind of sales.

I think I'm going to go back on Thursday after work. Every goes to 1/2 price and it's held where a work at GBMC.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nearly New Sale

Twice a year, for one week at a time GBMC hospital holds their Nearly New Sale, a flea market to support, something...I have no idea. They've been doing it for as long as I've lived in the area, but it wasn't until recently that I start attending. I'd meant to year after year, but then missed it each time, even though GBMC posts a huge sign on Charles St. advertising the dates for at least a month ahead of time, one that I'd pass each day on the way to work.

Ah well. Kate got my butt in gear, and this sale is exciting because we're planning on going opening day, a first for us. What is the Nearly New Sale? Exactly what it sounds like. A lot of good, used stuff for cheap, cheap, cheap. We usually go late in the week and pick through the dregs. And we still manage to get some good deals. This year we hope to dominate, and yet still spend less the $50.

Papa wants a $10 bread maker.

And a buttload of books.

Underlying Beauty in Us All

Beauty has such a deep meaning to me. Beauty is not just a person's exterior, it's how compassionate and loving you are on the inside that really signifies how beautiful you truly are. I feel there is some sense of beauty in everyone, not just from their appearance, but from the kind of person they are in front of others. Opening the door for someone is beautiful. Helping your neighbor with her groceries is beautiful. Having patience with children or the elderly is beautiful. I want to feel good about my next career and I want to do this by being helpful and kind to people for a living. I really wish there was more beauty in the world.

Today I was driving around running errands and I noticed how awfully selfish people are to other driver's, it's like they are the only one's that matter. Most of the time it takes seconds to be kinder to people, such as allowing someone to turn in front of you or letting someone in front of you if they're trying to turn. Seconds is all it takes, why people can't spare seconds is beyond me. I hope and wish for humankind to become more compassionate and patient, leading to a beautifully striving nation.

Mildly Blah is Fine As Long As It's Not Getting Any Worse

Monday I started feeling a tad under the weather. Just a sore throat. Then Tuesday I came home feeling mildly feverish. I was. I had a temp of a 100. Not very high, but just enough to make me a little achy, dry out my eyes and run me down. I was nervous because the next day I'd worked out with Renegade to work a night shift so that I could spend all morning and afternoon at Stevenson Ln. I took two Excedrin and the fever broke. The next day I was fine.

Two days later I still have the mild sore throat, but that's it, and things don't show any signs of worsening. For me, this is generally as sick as I ever get. Sometimes a runny nose, sometimes a cough, and always the sore throat, but that's it.

So I count my blessings. I could have Ebola.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Give Life

Giving blood is a great way to give back. I got into giving blood more often since Jason's been in my life. He's been a persistent giver for a long time since he has a rare blood type. I just scheduled us for our next appointment, the phone call was long but all worth it. If it means we are helping to save lives than that's wonderful. Thanks Jason for getting me into this habit, we are two people giving hope to others. Give blood, give life.

Oh, and by the way Jason will have an appointment on Monday, November 2nd at 6:45 at the White Marsh location (8114 Sandpiper), I figured we could have dinner and catch a movie while we are in the area. Sound good?

Post It

Given that I'm currently surround by ten of them, some stuck to the monitor, some to the desk and one still on the pad, Kate and I obviously find sticky notes very useful. And they are. They're a brilliantly simple concept with a myriad of uses.

And I'm a day behind on entry's so that's all I'm going to say on that.

Note: While short, I do think it's fitting that my entry on sticky notes could fit on a sticky note. That's got to count for something.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Divine Pork Chops

I love when I cook a recipe perfectly. Yesterday I concurred Alton Brown's Molasses-and-Coffee Pork Chops, you can check out the recipe on Every bite was amazing, I have never made a sauce so delicious. I totally recommend it, the only thing I had to change was instead of cooking the pork on the grill I just fried them on the stove top. Jason was loving it too, while he was eating it he looked at me and said "I'm so glad you can cook." It was so sweet and what's also great is that I enjoy to cook. Thanks again Alton, your recipes are always divine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chunky Monkey Junkie

Chunky Monkey is the greatest ice cream flavor ever, opposable-thumbed hands down. If it's proof that I'm be further down the evolutionary ladder than some of my brethren, so be it, but I share a strong affinity with monkeydom for the humble banana. Bananas make just about everything better (except for Banana Laffy Taffy...I'm not sure where they went wrong, but I remember it tasting like six month old bananas injected with embalming fluid*), including ice cream and all ice cream derivatives (whatever those are.)

Oh sweet flavors of the jungle. Your subtle banana, your boisterous chocolate, your nutty...nuts. It's as if all three of you grew on one single, magnificent plant, the Chalmana Tree, ancient Bearer of Dessert to the native peoples of Brazil, celebrated for centuries as both god and snackshop.

We thank you for your blessings, Chalmana. May your monkey be chunky, your cream ever-icey, and your calories easily burned.

*I don't remember that specific flavor, to be honest. I just remember it was bad, as bad as I'd imagine a rancid, embalmed banana would taste.**

**Can something be both embalmed and rancid? The first is supposed to prevent the second. Then imagine how bad that taffy was, a flavor that created logical impossibilities and broke physical laws.

Funny Little Boy

The other TV character that cracks Jason and I up is the youngest kid from the new show, The Middle. He does this hilarious repeating of words like he's talking to himself in a dark low voice. It's hard to explain, but it doesn't matter what he says it's funny every time. Jason and I started doing the same voice to each other. Yes, sounds crazy, but for us it's so freaking funny we can't help but crack up. Also his name is Brick (which his mom thought would make him cool) and he's a funny looking kid who just loves his weird funny little life. You have to check the show out to understand the attraction.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sweet Relief

It's priceless, that feeling you get when a potential tragedy turns out to be an innocuous nothing. When you start down the path of fear, tension rising in your gut, scenarios and their likely damages playing out like smothering narratives in your head, and then...relief. Whatever you were getting worked up about turns out to be wrong, misguided, or just infinitely smaller in scale than you'd imagined. It's cliche, but it's truly like a weight is lifted off of you, like the person stepping on your chest wandered off to find something more interesting to stand on. It's a warm feeling, but one impossible without the initial fright to console.

Which begs the question, which is better...feeling the relief from an imagined but unjustified scare, or never feeling that fear in the first place? I'd argue neither is better. It's the end that's important. In both cases you're happy, either because your happiness was never temporarily compromised by fear, or because you're relieved to have narrowly escaped whatever it is you imagined you almost didn't narrowly escape. In both cases life has worked out for you.

So whatever. Sometimes people get scared, and when they do it's fine to enjoy the relief that hopefully follows. And generally, given enough time, that relief will come.

Kids Full Time

Alright, so I was offered the daycare job and just got done accepting it. November 3rd I start my new journey. I'm very excited, it only took 8 months to finally find a full time job that fits exactly what I'm looking for. The director of childcare seems like such a great lady. I will continue to pursue photography and try to get as many weekend or evening gigs as I can, I'll need the extra funds. I am a full time worker once again and this time I get to play with kids all day instead of stressing out to make deadlines, Yay!!

Much To My Neighbors' Unknowing Relief

It's an extremely positive situation for our neighbor, or neighbor's real estate agent or the home owner's association representative or whoever it was that reported us to the county that there is no cosmic system for retribution, no karmic spider waiting around the corner. If there was, he or she would be in for a doozy of a payback, having pulled their pendulum far into the deficit region. And right now I'd wish it on them, so I'm glad that the universe didn't notice our stupid little transaction.

I'm glad that there won't be any cosmic comeuppance because ultimately I know that people are often narrow-minded, and do stupid things to each other without considering the full consequences of their actions. That doesn't make them bad people. Just people. And we all do it, some more often than others, I'm sure, but still we all take a share of the guilt occasionally.

And one day some other person will do something short-sighted and mildly-vindictive to them, and make their lives more difficult than they really should be. And it won't be because of some metaphysical balance sheet. Crappy things just happen sometimes. To me. To you.

And to know who you are.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ted is Back

There are two characters from recently released TV shows that just have Jason and I rolling with laughter every week. I have to go to bed soon so I'm only going to talk about one of them tongiht.

It's Ted Danson's character in HBO's Bored to Death, since Cheers I've always been a fan of his work. He is so smooth in his new role and his new white doe really suits him. I don't actually know what his character does for a living, but the main character, writer Jonathan Ames, played by Jason Shwartzman, works for him somehow. He's a pot smoking womenizer, with a real heart and soul. I think I have a little old man crush on him. He just shines as this character and I can't help but laugh uncontrollably when he's on screen. I love seeing Ted shine again.

That's What Family is For

Most of you are probably aware that, due to an unfortunate run-in with the bureaucratic machine that is Baltimore County, our tenants at our old house are being forced to move out, which is therefore forcing us to put it on the market. Not the greatest time to be entering the fray, but when you're faced with limited options, you still have to choose.

Anyway, the point is we were crushing to get the house ready for an open house this Sunday. And my Dad came up today and spent the entire day, in the nasty cold rain, helping try and make our deadline. We didn't make it, but only because rain slowed us down, and ruined our tenants plans to be out of the house all day for Towson's Homecoming. So next Sunday will now be our first open house, and Kate and I will head back a few evenings this week coming up to try and finish the last few things. But deadline or not, it was really nice getting to spend the day with my Dad.

I'm really happy that my family is local, and that we're all close enough to help each other out in a pinch. My cousin James offered his help, too, completely out of the blue (thanks, James...even though we didn't take you up on it, I appreciate it). It's all a testament to family and connectedness, and miserable drenching power of cold, constant rain.

Growing Pallet

Let me first note that this is not an entry on how I love Chinese food, it's about growing to like new foods. We got Chinese food at Jason's favorite place near our Towson home and I'm actually enjoying it, which is different for me because usually when we get the cheaper Chinese take-out I can eat it for a couple days and then I'm done with it. This time I'm actually looking forward to eating it for the third time today. I used to suffer through it and now I like it, not love Jason like. He's probably more excited about my new found interest than I am, he of course is a lover of Chinese food. I've also been occasionally trying out mushrooms and don't mind them now either. It's great when your food pallet grows up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Work is Only Work If You Fear It

Kate made a good point today. People put off work, they think, because they don't want to do it. Because it might be uncomfortable or difficult. There's the fear of the unknown to contend with when you're doing something new. But ultimately you procrastinate because there are many other things you'd rather be doing instead.

However, once you give in and get to work, it's never as bad as you thought it would be. Once you're working, that is what you're spending your time doing. You could be doing any number of things, and that is what you've chosen. And it's fine. And sometimes you end up actually enjoying it.

It feels good to feel good..

I feel like my personality is really shining more and more these days. It's getting me sales for Our 365 and it just gave me a new job opportunity. I've been hired at a daycare and I need to make my decision to take it or not by Monday. I would love being able to just play with babies and kids all day. It might be stressful at times, but you have to feel good doing that job and the kids have to make you laugh throughout the day. I do like my job at Our 365, so decisions..decisions... I would be working one on one with children and really learn if working with kids is what I want to do with my life at this point. I went into the interview with a very easy going attitude and I feel I answered the interview questions very well. It helped that the girl interviewing me was my age and her co-worker was also very young. I see potential for growing friendships and working in a less stressful environment. I will let you all know what I decide of course. Work is really coming in for me and I really think it has a lot to do with my new confidence and my profound self-assurance.

The Only Thing Better Than Good Chinese Food

The only thing better than good Chinese food is good bad chinese food. You know the kind of chow (mein) I'm talking about. That greasy, over-salted, Americanized bastardization of Chinese cuisine you only get from spartanly-decorated, linoleum clad carry-out joints where English is generally spoken unidirectionally and the open areas of the lobby are filled with spill-over soda pallets. It's the kind of food that, due to its high MSG and fat content, must be eaten quickly and voraciously, for fear that someone may steal it from you. And the faster you eat it, the less likely your arteries will notice the blockages quickly piling up.

It is so good, or as the say on the mainland, "You want sauce?"

P.S. This is post 601 for the year. Crazy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snuggly Days to Come

All I want to do when it's cold and rainy outside is snuggle up in bed with a bunch of warm yummy blankets and watch a good movie or read a good book. Today was one of those days, of course I was too busy to actually do this, but one day I will be able to and that day will be wonderful. Here's to more rainy cold snuggly days, where I'll actually get to stay in bed all day, preferably with my sweetie beside me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All Hallows’ Eve

I love Halloween. We always seem to be real busy around this holiday, so we rarely do a lot to celebrate.

The last four years I would dress up for work with the rest of my co-workers and enter to win the costume contest. This year that is over since my job at Renegade is no longer. One year Jason and I both won the contest going as our old selves (see pic).

I know we're busy this year, really busy, but I hope we at least get to watch a few scary movies with our friends. That's all I hope for, we don't have the money to buy costumes, but putting a little something together with what I already have at home is feasible. One day our life will be in order and Halloween fun will be back in our life.

Sometimes it's Hard to Do This

Somedays it's hard to come up with something positive. Right now we're embroiled in a mess brought on by nosy neighbors and sour grapes, and it's hard to see any light in the tunnel. Writing an entry about something positive is very hard to do right now.

But in the midst of all the crap, if you pause and reflect you realize that even this won't last forever. Things may suck right now, but eventually they won't. You just have to do whatever it is you can do in the moment to push things forward knowing that eventually you'll come out the other end.

And in those brief moments some of the negative drops away and the churning in your stomach subsides and you feel a little more peaceful. They may not last long, but they are a reminder that you're not going to feel overwhelmed forever.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Can Do It!

I love how Jason and I feel we can now handle any stressful situation you throw at us. We prefer to work under pressure, we always do a great job and get the job done in just the right amount of time. Long story short, Jason has to put his Towson house on the market immediately. We have an open house this Sunday. We have a lot of work to do, but we both feel positive we're going to get it done. The bad, but good thing is that I have photo gigs Thursday evening and Saturday morning, but we hope to have some additional help, like J's dad. If anyone else out there would like to lend a hand that would be awesome, but don't feel obligated, we'll finish what we can in the time we have. We can do this Jason, we've achieved many goals throughout our relationship and this one's easier than some. Let's get this house sold, so we can focus on our businesses and finishing our city home.

Top Ten Basics Still Not Completely Understood: Number Seven*

Gravity. We get it, but we don't really get it. I think it's a wonderful testament to the complexity of the physical universe that even today our picture of something so intimately involved in our daily lives is incomplete. We've eked out its rules and can predict how it will behave, true. We have theories that hold up well to experimental evidence. Einstein united space and time in a single concept, Spacetime, and theorized that gravity was caused by mass bodies creating "wells", or four-dimensional troughs in Spacetime into which other massive bodies are drawn.

But our theories don't work perfectly. A basic particle involved in gravitation has been predicted, the Graviton, but it's never been found experimentally. It exists solely, as of yet, in mathematical models. And another mind-bender is the prediction that two massive bodies will attract each other no matter the distance between them, assuming there are no other bodies closer to counteract the pull. So two planets 100,000,000,000 light years apart will be drawn into each other's gravity, assuming they are the closest massive bodies to each other, regardless of their size.

There is still a part of the puzzle we're missing. Theorists have attempted to unite gravity and quantum theory, so far with only limited success. It's remarkable to me that, even on its most basic levels the universe manages to keep its cards hidden. It gives us a taste, but it never shows its whole hand. But one day, I suspect in the next 100 years we'll work it all out. We'll find a "theory of everything" that unites all scientific disciplines in a total picture of the universe. One that's testable, verifiable, and wholly consistent.

Because the current incompleteness of our understanding of gravity is also a testament to the tenacity of science. If we were to call our limited and flawed understanding "complete" we would be doing ourselves a disservice. But we aren't willing to settle for partial explanations, or theories that are "close enough". We, meaning humanity, strive for perfect clarity, elegance of solution and an understanding where all explanations in a given system agree with on another.

I have faith that we'll get there.

*As determined by choosing the first number that came into my head.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Relax Kate

I am having a much needed day of relaxation today. Of course since I've been so busy and still have so much to do it's difficult to actually allow myself to relax. I think I'm going to go watch a girly movie and veg out in front of the TV for a bit. Sorry for these short, lame entries these days, I promise I'll redeem myself with a deep thinking one soon.

The Clock Seems to Know I'm Looking

I've always had a mild fascination for strange time coincidences. There was a time back in high school when it seemed like at least once a week, sometime more, I'd look up randomly at a clock or my watch and the time would read, 12:34. Not that any particular minute in any given day is more significant than any other, but 12:34 only comes around twice, for two minutes out of the 1,440 in a day. At that rate, I should only see 12:34 when I randomly look at a clock 1.3 percent of the time. I was seeing it at a far higher rate.

Or was I? It could be that I assigned significance the the 12:34 viewing event and remembered it, forgetting every other time I glanced up, even absentmindedly, and saw some other time on the clock. In a given week I must glance at a clock or my watch at least 100 times. If one of those times lands me at 12:34, I'm safely inside the 1.3 percent window.

Or maybe I was conscious, however deeply, of the time when I looked. Since high school I almost never see 12:34 anymore, and it's been a long time. I think my mind, for one reason or another was looking for that time then. I had a running narrative which said, "I catch 12:34 on clocks all the time lately", and so, unconsciously I was looking for it. We have an internal clock which has been demonstrated to keep pretty accurate time. On some level I was probably aware of the fact that 12:34 was imminent, and, in an effort to keep my experience of reality in line with my expectations, by brain had me look up at just the right time often enough to render my narrative true.

But what prompted this entry if I don't catch 12:34 anymore? I was sitting here at the computer, waiting for inspiration when I noticed that my old, green Swingline stapler has the number 747 imprinted into the metal on it's front. I thought it was funny, the parallel of tiny metal stapler to huge metal airplane when I looked up at the clock on the computer. It read 7:47.

Sounds like the beginning of a bad Jim Carrey movie.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Short But Saucy

What do you get when you combine onion, yellow bell pepper, yellow squash, portabello mushrooms and broccoli, sauteed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until nicely carmelized, with spinach thrown in at the last minute (and a splash of the spiced water the spinach wilted in), added to ground turkey and fresh sweet Italian sausage, carbernet marinara and vodka sauce, with a handful of chopped walnuts?

A very long run-on sentence and a fly-by-the-seat-your-pants, kick-your-tongue-in-the-ass good pasta sauce. It's why pasta was created, and far be it from us to deny the pasta.

It's meals like this that make eating leftovers four nights straight a pleasure.

Good Exhaustion

Work, Work, Work, it's a good thing. I'm exhausted, Renegade hired me to take photos around Baltimore City today. I literally drove in from NY this afternoon from doing the 9 hour party shoot last night and went straight to local bars and restaurants to shoot shots for Renegade. I'm exhausted and happy it's all done with. Now time to eat a meal made be my wonderful man and pass out.

The End...of Everything

I was having a really interesting conversation with my sister earlier this evening. We were talking about what it is to "be". She said that she often, at unpredictable moments, finds herself trying to work out what existence is. I's a heady question, and one that doesn't have any easy answers. But it's a question I concern myself with pretty frequently, too.

I like how Steph phrased it. She said (and I paraphrase), "Sometimes I find myself thinking about what it is to be by considering what it would be like not to be." Can an existent being fathom not existing? And has there ever been a time you and I didn't exist?

From your perspective, you'd say no. You've always been here, as far as you can remember. In a very real sense you could say that the entire universe effectively came into existence the moment you were born and were conscious enough to understand your surroundings. Because, at least for you, nothing existed before you did. You, and the world around you has always existed. For you there has never been a time that you weren't here and that the world wasn't as it is for you.

But of course that's an illusion. We cannot experience the universe without being here to do the experiencing, so it appears that we've always been here. But of course before each of us is born, we don't exist. In fact, for the entirety of human existence, really for the entire lifespan of the universe, from the Big Bang up until the moment you were conceived, you didn't exist. That's about thirteen and a half billion years that didn't include you. You don't remember any of that time because you weren't there. But it happened. That much is clear.

So if we perceive the world as having always existed as it does, with us as the central player in existence, and that's clearly an illusion, where are we left? Our lives are, at a maximum, about 100 years. The universe existed for 13,000,000,000 years before us. Whether we care to believe it or not, the universe will carry on for billions of years more after we die. But will it carry on for us? If we don't exist than our experience of that time will be just like our experience of the time before we were born. We won't experience it. Again, in a very real sense, when we die the entire universe ends. Period. We are the only observers watching the universe from behind our eyes. When that observer is gone, as far as each of us is concerned, the entirety of existence disappears along with us.

So do I fear non-existence? No. What's to fear? I already handled non-existence just fine for thirteen billion years. It's even silly to say that "I" handled it, because there was no "I" to handle anything. And once non-existence is thrust on me again I won't be there to realize it happened. Am I looking forward to it? No. I can't even conceive of it. But I know it's inevitable. One day me and my universe will cease to exist, just like for everyone else on any planet in any galaxy at any point in the cosmos.

Why fight it? Acceptance is the first step.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trust and Confidence

It's so sweet when someone uses one of my photos to present as their profile pic on Facebook. Both my friends Kate and Libby both did that this week. It's a true compliment. I feel I might really be becoming a good photographer, not great, but good. Which is wonderful. I love feeling confident about something and feeling that my client's can trust me to get the job done. I think I'm doing this entry to pump myself up for the party in NY tonight. Here are the pictures of Kate and Libby that they used.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Paid Adventures

People travel for work all the time and I once had to travel to different states every month for weeks at a time when I was working on Wife Swap. Tomorrow I am traveling to New Rochelle, NY for a photography gig. I'm really looking forward to it and I'm not nervous at all about it. Especially since this will be my third event I've done for this family. They are paying me good money to come to three ladies 45th Birthday Party, what an awesome gig. I will be staying with Lauren in Harlem tomorrow night, so I get to hang out with my dear friend once again and see her NY apartment. Here's to a Paid NY Adventure!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lucid Dreaming: The Most Fully-Conscious Adventure You Can Have Inside Your Own Head Without Being Schizophrenic

Wow. I haven't thought about this topic in a long time. Ten or twelve years ago though I was really serious about it. I kept a dream journal, tracked recurring symbolism and cultivated a habit of checking my waking / dreaming state. To what end?

Becoming lucid in a dream. Becoming aware of the dream state while in the dream, generally with the aim of taking conscious control of the dream world. I'd done it before, I thought. I remembered dreams where I said to myself, "I'm dreaming." But until I actually went lucid for the first time I had no way of knowing that my previous "lucid" periods weren't real. Prior to that, my exclamations of lucidity were just lines in the script of my dream. I may have said the words, but they weren't true.

But when it happened for real, it was mind-blowing.

Training yourself to lucid dream is simple in practice, but takes a strong commitment. To start, you keep a dream journal. This helps your remember your dreams and familiarize you with your unique dreaming vocabulary. And the more you write your dreams down, the more dreams you remember. It's like exercising a muscle...or biting your lip. The more you bite it, the more you bite it.

As you keep up with your dream journal you need to start developing a habit of testing reality. What I did, and I got this from a book I read, was to, whenever I thought about it, and as often as I could, look at my watch and try to get the second hand to run backwards. I mean really try. Truly believe that it might actually happen if you work at it hard enough. If the watch refuses to cooperate, which it usually does you think or say to yourself, "I'm awake." Sounds a little ridiculous, right? But here's the rub. You train yourself to perform these reality checks habitually because eventually waking habit will make its way into your dreams. One day you'll perform a reality check and, against all expectations the second hand will run backwards. And then you'll know.

That's exactly what happened for me. After months of diligent reality checking I one day found myself in an office building. I don't remember any more what I was doing there but I knew I'd been there many times before. As I was walking down a hallway of cubicles I thought to conduct a reality check. As always I earnestly tried to more my second hand backwards. I was flabbergasted when, after a few seconds, it did! And then it dawned on me, for real this time. "I'm dreaming!" "None of this is real." As much as I'd believed, as we all do, in the authenticity of our dream worlds I suddenly knew without a shadow of doubt that it was all an illusion.

It was the closest thing I think I've come to an epiphany. The entire world around me at that moment; the people, the cubicles, my memories of the office building. None of it was real. The best way to imagine what it was like if you've never experienced it is to imagine what it would feel like if, sitting (or standing) where you are right now, with your waking world all around you and your life's worth of memories, you suddenly discovered without reservation that it was all just a product of your own mind. That none of it existed apart from you. That every item you've ever come into contact with, every conversation you've had, every friend you've ever made was just a fragment of your own consciousness.

I was ecstatic! After months of trying and being disappointed I'd truly done it. I remember I ran down the hallway toward a rear window and leaped out, without any fear. I knew I was in complete control of the universe at that moment, and I flew. It was really amazing.

I went lucid a number of times after that, but was never able to stay in the dream for very long. It's a common stumbling block, I learned. When your conscious mind invades your dreaming mind your brain seems to have difficult time resolving the two and you often wake up. That's the next step in training. Learning, over time, to maintain conscious control of your dream and stay asleep. I didn't have it in me, I guess. I enjoyed it when it happened, but I made little progress. Eventually I fell out of the habit and haven't picked it up since.

I think one day I'll get back into it. Taking conscious control of your dream can be a powerful tool. Plus it's just fun. Again, imagine suddenly realizing, right now, where you are, that the entire universe is yours to do with as you see fit. You can do literally anything your heart desires. It's a pretty potent experience. Here's something I always wanted to try. I found this exercise in a lucid dreaming book a few years book. Once lucid, you allow the dream to unfold as it normally would, without interfering and then, at pivotal points, freeze the action, approach the characters (who are ultimately just manifestations of you) and ask them to tell you, in their words, what they represent. I would make, I'd think, for some pretty interesting conversations.

I'd be curious to know if any of you have had any similar experiences. Let me know in a comment or an email or something.

Unlikely Pair

It's remarkable when you witness an unlikely friendship between two different animal species. I just saw this video of an orangutan and a dog that I had to share with everyone. It brings tears to my eyes to view such a bond between the two of them. It shows that even animals who rarely share habitats with other species can even feel a strong connection with another kind of animal. The bond was immediate, like they were meant to meet one day. It's just uncanny and absolutely amazing. That's all I can say, now view the beautiful relationship for yourself.

I Just Saw a Face

So I'm racking my brain for an entry topic today, unsuccessfully, when I absentmindedly look off to my right and see one of Kate's hair clips sitting alone on a small white table. At the angle it's sitting it looks very much like a fairly unattractive human face.

Entry idea.

Our brains are wired to look for patterns, and one of the most iconic images our minds scan our environments for is the human face. I, and probably most of you, tend to see faces everywhere. In scribbles, the backs of cars, and dirty blotches on the sidewalk. Anywhere there is a random assemblage of shapes or patterns, my eye sees a face.

And that's positive because it shows that not only are we wired to recognize the human face, which you'd expect, but we also have a strong tendency to seek that pattern out. Meaning we have a strong, innate desire to find others of our own kind. To be social creatures.

Try paying attention to the patterns you recognize in random assemblages. I'd be willing to bet more often than not you'll see a face.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shout it Out Ellen!!

Alright, I finally did it! I sent a letter to the Ellen Degeneres Show about our blog. It feels good to get it out there, how wonderful it would be if she talks about it on air. Even though a lot of my entries are boring I still think we both have accomplished an amazing feat by keeping this going so long. I feel more positive and confident and would love to see others try this out. It's a great way to get each day going on a positive note.

Here's the letter. I wish I had cracked more jokes, like "check out my awesome entry on cheese" or 80s music for some deep thinking.

Dear Ellen,
Hi my name is Kate and like many I am a huge admirer of yours and your show puts a smile on my face everyday.

I wanted to share with you something my boyfriend, Jason and I have been doing for the past 9 1/2 months that has really changed our perspective on life. Jason had the idea of starting a blog that we would begin the beginning of 2009 where everyday each of us would write an entry about any positive aspect in our life. The entries can be any length. We've now written over 500 entries and it's really remarkable to us that we've kept this going so long. We've both really grown through this experiment. Jason has really grown as a writer and even through my writing isn't up to par with his I do feel I've grown into a much more happier person. Our subjects range from our entertainment loves (you've definitely been mentioned in a few of mine), to our food cravings, to how grateful we are for our wonderful family and friends, to overcoming life challenges (such as losing my job six months ago). Jason's entries can be crazy scientific sometimes, but that's what he loves and why I love him. It would be amazing to see Jason's entries published one day, his writing is very profound.

I wanted to share this life experiment with you and with as many others as I can. It's been a challenge to think of a new topic everyday, but we somehow find positivity in something everyday. I feel if life's getting you down, this is a great way to test yourself in becoming a more positive thinker.

Thanks so much,

The address is:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One Half of a Paperback Swap, Successful

Some of you will remember about six months ago when I blogged about Well, up until about a week ago that was as far as I got with the service. I opened an account and wrote about how great it seemed like the service would be if I ever moved further into the process...and I didn't.

I have SO many books, most of which I know I'll never read, and yet I couldn't bring myself to part with even one of them. So I never listed anything. Months later I hatched a plan. Instead of trading the books I currently have, I'd keep an eye out for terribly cheap or free books that I had no interest in, and swap those instead. I got my first chance to pick up a few books in that category at the annual Abell Avenue festival that happens just down the street from us. Each year some organization sets out a table full of free books. Perfect for my purposes. I picked up eight or nine that I had no interest in but thought other people might, and posted five of them on Paperback Swap, which gives you one free credit.

I've recently taken a strong shine to a new author (new to me, at least), Robert Charles Wilson. I just finished Darwinia, an excellent book featuring an alternate history of the 20th Century in which most of Europe, people, structures and all is, in an unexplainable instant, replaced by an untamed wilderness of unknown origin. Wilson's writing style is exactly what I look for in an author; fluid, descriptive, detailed, and deeply imaginative. I used my free credit to request another novel of his, Spin, which I started tonight. I'm a chapter and a half in and I'm already hooked.

So far my experience with Paperback Swap is all positive. It seems to work flawlessly. You enter your books using the ISBN number printed on the spine. Very simple. And the book I requested was mailed to me by its owner within a few days, arriving soon after in perfect condition (obviously used, but in no worse condition for having been sent through the mail.) It cost the sender $2.38 in postage, and I imagine I can assume whatever book I send out now (when one of them is requested) will be about the same. Less than $2.50 to swap a book you don't want for a book you very much do is a great deal. It's a win-win, because each member of the swap spends the same and gets exactly the book they want.


Bottle of Change

I'm about to do something that I haven't had to do in a while and that's dye my own hair. I never started dying my hair until I had to for a short-film I was in and producing in college. I was always fascinated with the idea of drastically changing your look with a bottle and once I did it that one time in college I was hooked. Recently I haven't been doing it myself since I had a nice job and could pay someone to do it for me, but now that I've been out of full-time work so long doing it myself has become my new reality. I'm excited to do it again, it kind of feels empowering when you decide to make a big change. Of course I can't afford dye right now, so I'm using a box I've had on the shelf for a while, I hope it doesn't make my hair fall out. Dark brown here I come!!

My Sister, The Mother

We got to spend time with my Dad, Stepmom, Sister and Nephew this weekend, which was a really nice break from...not spending time with them. Watching my sister with my nephew Jackson I'm so impressed at how successfully she's transitioned into motherhood. It just seems natural for her. Jackson hasn't made things easy for her and John but they've handled everything in stride and probably come out as stronger, better parents for it.

Jackson is a lucky kid to have two such devoted parents, and a mom that obviously loves him more than this blog entry could ever capture. Keep up the good work, Bloom.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Food

I love the food of Fall season. I just got finished putting my chili ingredients into the crock pot. I can't wait for the smells to consume the house. A couple weeks ago I made a kick ass pot roast. Then there's the soups I want to try out like butter nut squash and cabbage soup. The weather is perfect right now for this type of cooking, it's about 65 to 70 degrees these days. There's nothing better than cooking up delicious comfort food to fit the Fall season. Yummm!

Baltimore Rock Opera Society

The Citypaper just wrote a feature article on a group that neither Kate nor I knew existed, but are now pretty jazzed about. The Baltimore Rock Opera Society is a group of musicians, artists and theater people that have banded together to create great, if not tongue-in-cheek rock opera masterpieces in the vein of Tommy, Quadraphenia, Jesus Christ Superstar and more.

The opening presentation of their debut piece, Gründlehämmer was this weekend. Unfortunately we only learned about it this week, and already had plans for the weekend. We'd have been there in a heartbeat, otherwise. It turns out their performance space is a church about eight blocks from us. If and when they put on more performances we'll be sure to buy tickets. Here's the description of Gründlehämmer from the BROS website.

Gründlehämmer takes place in the mythical land of Brotopia, a once prosperous agrarian Kingdom where the melody of an electric guitar wields power enough to tend a field of crops, to heal the sick, or to smite an enemy. The great farming musicians of Brotopia have become disgraced under leadership of the tyrannical Dark King, Lothario. With the aid of the Royal Guard, Lothario has oppressed his citizens, confiscated the powerful instruments that gave voice to their music, and formed an alliance with an immortal cave-dwelling monster, the Gründle. While most Brojans live their lives in fear, an innocent young boy of great talent is coming of age in a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of the Kingdom. His tremendous skills on the guitar bring hope to the tiny farming village and spark the flames of resistance in those that can still remember TRUE ROCK. Will this young boy cast off his innocence to claim the Gründlehämmer? Will the Dark King release his iron grip on the lifeblood of Brotopia? Join the Brojans in their struggle to reclaim the power of Rock and Roll. GRÜNDLEHÄMMER!!!!

If you're interested you can find the BROS site at

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Jewelry

I got the best jewelry for my birthday. Jason's family really understand what I like especially since we've been together so long. Karin got me four beautiful necklaces, all of them very different from the last. Jan got me two beautiful earrings from her trip to Alaska. They are made from local craftsmen. My friend Kate, got me earrings while we were at the Ren Fest, which I just adore. I love when I suddenly go from having nothing new to having a bunch of new things all at once, all that I really enjoy. Last night we went to a friend's birthday party and I wore one of Karin's necklaces with Jan's earrings, they went great together. Thanks all for the best gifts.

Throw Another Anything on the Barbie

This is going to be a short entry today. I didn't get much sleep last night and I feel like I've nearly exceeded my writing threshold before I've started.

I am a big fan of cooking on the grill. We haven't had a grill since we moved into this house, which has been a real bummer. I'm afraid it will be stolen in this neighborhood, and I can't work out a good solution to chain the thing up. When we finally put a new, larger deck on the back of the house I'm allotting a spot for the grill, designed with security in mind.

Until then I can only fantasize about corn grilled in the husk, burgers, dogs and steaks charred the way that only grilling can deliver, and fish, cooked fast but flaky and tender.

I like grilling not only because of the flavor it imparts to food, but also the process itself. I like sitting outside, beer in one hand, spatula in the other, relaxing as the scented smoke billows out from the side of the grill. I like the public solitude, if that makes any sense. Being outside, in your community, doing your own thing. But I like the potential for socialization that grilling promises, too.

It's an all-around great way to cook what generally comes out a great meal.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Autumn, AKA Fall, AKA The Best Season Going

I wrote an entry back in March about the change of the seasons. About how nice it was to have the drastic shifts we do here on the East Coast because they always give you something to look forward to. I'll add to that by saying that the season I look forward to the most is Fall.

I love nearly everything about it. The shifting colors of the leaves. The perfect, temperate daytime temperatures and the slightly brisk evenings (and the resultant relief from hot summer days.) The coming promise of another holiday season. The perceived slowdown in the pace of life. The end to garden work, yard work, weeding and mowing. The start of the new television season. The ability to sit outside and read a book during the day on the weekend and not sweat or freeze your giblets off.

There's a lot to love, and I list it all in my upcoming best-seller, All the Things I Love, Why I Love Them, and Why You Should Care, chapter 276.

Winning a Prize

Everyone loves winning prizes and I so rarely do. Yesterday I went to my friend Melanie's Holiday Arbonne Happy Hour Party. We drink wine, ate delicious apps, and laughed our butts off. Melanie even gave us a hand massage using Arbonne Shea Butter products. My skin is still soft this morning. It was a great time. At the end we had a drawing for an Arbonne prize and I won. I got a cute product carrying case filled with Arbonne's new Intelligence line. This morning I used the shampoo, conditioner, cleansing gel, and the day face cream. I'm loving all the products. It's so much fun to win something and actually truly love the prize.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Let it Out!

I kind of appreciate having a mental/emotional breakdown every so often, because it reminds me how powerful your emotions can be and it makes you feel really alive. With all the medications people are on these days you rarely see people in true form, instead everyone lives on an even keel with no big high or low moments.

It's just like how having a good cry every so often is a great way to release stress and anxiety. I don't understand sometimes how guys seem to never express their emotions. I couldn't live like that. When I have something to express I need to get it out and I'm not waiting for a more appropriate time.

Thoughts on Power

What's more important, sheer power, or complexity of use? I'd argue the latter almost every time. It's brute force versus planned attack. Consider a bolt of lightning and the human brain. In sheer voltage, wattage, size and destructive power the lightning seems the clear winner. And in the first three I think you'd be right (considering the last, look at the nuclear weapons.) But lightning, while a massive expression of electrical power, is brief. The human brain lasts much longer. It's a slow burn expression of electrical complexity.

An average bolt of lightning delivers 65 million volts of power and roughly one terawatt (1012 W), or one trillion watts of energy in a scorching 30 microsecond burst. The human brain consumes roughly 20 watts of power every second, or 1,728,000 watts a day. At that rate, the wattage contained in bolt of lightning could power a human brain for 1,585 years, far more than any of us will ever get the chance to use.

But look at what a human being can accomplish in under 100 years. Einstein. Gandhi. Darwin. Mozart. Etc, etc. The list is almost limitless. So less physical power is far more powerful when funneled into complex systems. One lightning bolt has the potential to change very little. 1,585 years worth of human generations can literally remake the world.

You also end up with the comedy stylings of Carrot Top, but you have to take the good with the bad.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Life is Good

I've learned in the past couple of weeks that I like working in the hospital environment. Everyone is focused with helping others and every one's mostly friendly regardless of how busy they all are. It's nice to feel comfortable so fast in a new workplace. I also like working on my own and not having a boss looking over your shoulder all day or at least feeling like they are. I'm really content at the moment working part-time at as a photographer for Our365 and managing my own photography business. Content is a nice relaxing position to be in at the moment. I also finished my application for the Baltimore City Teacher Residency Program this past weekend. So all I need to do is await they're decision. No stress, no worries, feeling good.

Basil at the Door

When we planted our front yard, Kate had the idea to plant a bunch of herbs right in the front. It seemed strange to me, but I went along with it. Man, what a good idea it turned out to be.

The herbs have done spectacularly well (along with everything else) in the garden, especially the basil plants. They're easily ten times the size they were when we planted them. They're beautiful plants, which is reason enough to feature them up front. But then, each day when I get home from work I'm greeted by the nicest scent of basil and cinnamon as I come up the front walk.

We live on a major street, so we get a lot of foot traffic past the house. On many, many occasions now I've seen people stop dead to look at the yard or smell the basil plants. It makes you feel good because you know they're admiring and enjoying something you helped foster into existence.

And of course having plenty of fresh cinnamon basil and lemon basil to cook with is no small benefit either.