Thursday, March 30, 2006

Photo meme (part 1)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's my least the first draft. ;-) Astute readers will notice missing numbers...I had a hard time coming up with photos for some of the questions, so stay tuned for part 2. Also, I tried to use only photos I took, but #5 and #14 were pilfered shamelessly from the web.

1. Who am I?

2. The person who knows me best:

5. I always carry:

9. My favorite mode of transport:

10. My eyes are:

12. To relax, I like to:

13. The town I live in is:

14. My worst habit:

(I can be quite judgmental and critical, and I don't want to be...I'm working on it.)

15. My guilty pleasure:

17. I think ___ is beautiful.

(My dear Comet)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Index of My North Carolina Relocation Experience

[index updated 6/15/06]

To my fellow and potential relocators: I hope this bit of organization makes it easier to find what you might be looking for. Choose a category:

Preparing to move

And so it begins
Isn't it ironic?
Techno update
Down to the wire
I have way too much stuff!
POD people
Purging via Craigslist
My stuff is here!

Cross-country travel

On the road!
Flagstaff to Albuquerque
Albuquerque to Amarillo
Amarillo to Oklahoma City
Catching up to the present

Finding an apartment or house

Why I'm moving to NC
Apartment and house hunting
A new apartment and a new house!
Traffic and suburbs

Finding a job

Job hunt
Various and sundry
Job search continues
When it rains, it pours
I got an interview!
Scarves and jobs
Quick update
I got a job!!
First day at work
One in four

Making friends

Making friends
Goings on
Phooey on resolutions
Dolls and movies
When it rains it pours

Driving and traffic

City of Brotherly Love
Deer v. Auto
DMV and library
Traffic and suburbs
Getting the heck out of Dodge
I'm official!
Not the trees!
Life goes on


My first scarf
Getting in the Christmas spirit
Job hunt

Various and sundry
Goings on the past few days
Glories of 8 am and rental cars
Getting the heck out of Dodge
100th post
Holy Thunderstorms, Batman!
Some like it hot
California, here I come
Good ol' weekend recap
Severe weather
Lightning squared
Where's the ark?

Culture shock?

More deer but innocuous this time
Triangle: Where North and South (and West) Collide
Getting the heck out of Dodge
There must be something in the water
One in four


A Trader ventures Southeast!
The latest on Trader Joe's
Raleigh Farmers' Market

Things to do/Places to eat

Goin' to the State Fair
My stuff is here!
Hiking in the Hemlock Bluffs
City of Brotherly Love

Big Three-oh
Goings on
Weekend adventures
Weekend update
DMV and library
Umstead Park hike

Quick update
Big kitties
Long time no post
Apple Chill and flowers
California, here I come
Busy Saturday

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Big Kitties

This afternoon my parents and I visited Carnivore Preservation Trust (CPT) for a tour of the compound. It's out in Pittsboro, about a 20 minute drive from where I live. CPT is a sanctuary mostly for large cats but they have binturongs and kinkajous as well. Naturally I took a zillion photos, which you can see at my Flickr site. I'll post just a few of them here.

I must admit I did not find our tour guide to be particularly knowledgeable or engaging, however most would probably say I'm being too hard on her. She said that baby tigers are 2-3 ounces at birth, when it's actually 2-3 pounds, and she kept saying that the tigers were "chuffling," when the correct term is "chuffing." Granted, I used to volunteer at the Wildlife Waystation in Southern California, which could explain some of my superciliousness. I will say that overall I was satisfied, because of course the main attraction was the cats and they did not disappoint. We saw servals, ocelots, caracals, leopards, and tigers. The snow leopard was hiding up on a platform in his enclosure and the binturong was in his little house, so we didn't get a good view of them. Also, the white tiger was not in the mood for visitors so we only saw him from afar. But with the others we got to be pretty close.

Great new restaurant. For dinner tonight we went to Carrabas here in Apex and I was thorougly impressed. Both the food and the service were excellent. I had the Chicken Bryan, which came with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and a lemon basil sauce. To. Die. For. I was literally giddy after my first bite, it tasted so good. The garlic mashed potatoes were also deelish, and the bread was perfection. Two thumbs way, way up. To top it all off, on our way out, an elderly gentleman shook each of our hands and bid us "Arrivederci!"

Postcard swap update. So my postcard swap is pretty much complete. I sent my cards out Thursday, and I've received cards from four of the six other participants. None of them arrived on the same day so it's been fun to check the mail and have my treats spread out. Most people forgot to take pictures before they mailed the cards, so I decided to just post photos of the ones I receive and the ones I sent. Mine were all slightly different but using the same materials and motif.



Thank you to all the kind and crafty souls who participated. It is amazing to me how differently the theme of "Transitions" or "Spring" was manifested in everyone's creations. If you enjoyed yourself, I hope you'll consider participating in my next postcard swap, which will come around in July. The theme will probably something like "Old Glory." (Thanks for the suggestion, Nicole!) I'm also considering doing a store-bought postcard swap, for the non-crafty folks, which could be seen as a travel-by-mail and/or geography project. Any interest out there?

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Sorry updates are not as regular as they used to be. Also, forgive me for taking a little help from the meme world for tonight's edition. It had to be a quickie; it's already way past my bedtime! I did finish my postcards though--finally! More on the swap later. And just because this post needs a little color, here's a pretty picture I took while waiting at a stoplight the other day. I enjoy a landscaped median.

And now, me from A to Z.

A - Accent: none (although I suppose I have one according to my new Southern neighbors)

B - Breakfast Item: Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, or Cinnamon Life

C - Chore you hate: vacuuming cat hair off the sofa

D - Destination of choice: Paris

E - Essential everyday item: Burt's Bees lemon butter cuticle cream

F - Flavor ice cream: Chocolate

G - Gold or Silver?: Silver

H - Hometown: Santa Clarita, CA

I - Insomnia: Nope

J - Job: Trainer

K - Kids: None

L - Living arrangements: apartment with cat

M - Mum's birthplace: Connecticut

N - Number of books you read a month: 1 or 2

O - Overnight hospital stays: one spell as a youngin' (~age 4)

P - Phobia: None really, but if I had to pick, I'd say tight spaces

Q - Quiet time activity: knitting

R - Religious Affiliation: None

S - Siblings: One brother (4 years younger)

T - Time you wake up: 6:20 am

U - Unnatural hair colors you've worn: lighter blond

V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: I'll try anything once

W - Worst Habit: laziness

X - X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, right foot

Y - Yummy: Cadbury mini eggs (dangerous!)

Z - Zodiac sign: Scorpio to the core

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Considering I'm female and drive a relatively nondescript domestic sedan, I talk an awful lot about my car. I mean, there was the whole deer incident, with the subsequent repairs. Then there was the license and registration saga. And today I'm going to write about my car yet again. First of all, my personalized plate arrived and I must admit that since I put it on the car, every time I see it, I do a double-take, and I get a little rush of excitement.

You gotta love the sun glistening on the chrome. I swear I did not stage that!

And the even bigger news--my car has reached a rather significant milestone (ha ha, no pun intended): 100,000 miles!

If you know me, you know that I'm freakishly obsessed with my odometer reading. I've been looking forward to this momentous event for months now. Pathetic, I know. It is not a recent affliction. I've taken pictures of it at 10,000 miles (I remember it clearly: I had just driven up to my friend Marcy's house in Valencia, California, during some sort of break from college. I think it was Christmas. I took the photo with a disposable camera. This was back in 1999 and digital photography was still budding technology and very expensive.) I also have a picture from when it read 77,777, just because.

I mean, how cool is that? (You can even see the Check Engine light in the lower right-hand corner...that blasted thing mocked me for over a year. No one could figure out what problem was causing it to go on. I finally got it taken care of last June. Had to leave the car with the mechanic for a week...luckily, I timed it so it was the week I was here in NC visiting my new niece!) But I digress...

So clearly you can see I take my odometer reading way too seriously. In addition to the 100k shot, I actually took a pic at 99,999 as well. And a video of it turning over to 100,000. It happened just as I was pulling up to my apartment after having gone out shopping. I could not believe my luck, because I had seriously fretted that I would be speeding down the highway when it rolled over and I wouldn't be able to take a picture. Even worse, I was afraid I'd get lost in thought and miss it altogether (shudder at the horror!). I even contemplated--if it read 99,999 when I got home today--driving around the complex until it turned over. I am not kidding! Seeing the odometer at an even 100,000 makes me not want to drive the car and "mess it up." Yes, I am aware that all this makes me very weird. So be it. I'm letting my freak flag fly, as they say!

So what was I shopping for, you ask? Why, some sweet new speakers for my 'puter! I've been wanting a set with a subwoofer for quite some time, and it was one of those things I told myself I could buy when I got a job. Well, now's that time! They sound awesome!!

It kind of feels like my birthday or something, because I also treated myself yesterday to some new cookware. I was still using the same set I got when I moved into my first apartment in 1998. They were a'ight, as Randy from American Idol would say, but the lids were starting to look scuzzy and the teflon was scratching a little. So I got some new pots and pans from Sears. They're not chef quality or anything, but they're nice. My theory is, you either buy one top-of-the-line set and forget about it for 20 years, or you buy bargain sets every five or six years. I don't cook that much, so I've never been able to justify getting the expensive stuff.

So last night I ate with my parents at the Cheesecake Factory in Raleigh. I adore that restaurant. This was our first visit to one in NC, but I'd eaten at California CF's in Pasadena, Woodland Hills, Redondo Beach, and Marina del Rey. I've also been to the one at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. I would eat at CF all the time except that the wait is always ridiculously long. But the food is sooo delicious. At the risk of reavealing all my lunacy in this single post, I will confess that I'd actually had a dream about their Avocado Egg Rolls the night before. Nothing absurd, just that I was at CF and I ordered them. So when my parents called and suggested I meet them at the restaurant for dinner, I jumped at the chance. And you bet I ordered the eggrolls. Yummo, as Rachael Ray would say.

So tonight I'm looking forward to my ABC block: Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy. At some point I need to finish my postcards for the swap. I can't wait to see what everyone sends!

P.S. What is UP with the birds here? Lately they've been chirping and singing full-bore at like midnight! I'm not talking about a tweet-tweet here and a tweet-tweet there. It's a veritable birdsong master chorale, and it's wacky. They're supposed to shut up at sundown and not peep until sunrise! Or at least that's how it was in CA. I suppose and extra helping of chirps is not all that whine-worthy in the grand scheme of things, but it's just a little odd to hear it so loud so late. But really, who am I to be critical of weirdness? I just rambled for 350 words about my car's odometer!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new

Something fresh for Spring. Do you like?

Rest in peace, template of yore. For posterity's sake:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Here's something you don't see everyday.

I took this picture at work today. My boss peeked into the office I share with two other ladies, and calmly asked if anyone had a camera on their cell phone. I replied yes, and that I had a real camera too, because I always carry it with me. He said, "Come on!" and we proceeded to walk briskly, then run, outside and over to the edge of our parking lot. He wouldn't tell me what we were running to see. I couldn't imagine what it might be. I looked over the fence into the neighboring office's lot and saw this:


Seems it was just one of those days for this rookie Raleigh cop. Apparently she was making a right-hand turn out of our office building's driveway when a clipboard slid over and somehow caused the steering wheel to get stuck. For some reason she didn't or couldn't brake, and she went over the embankment. I wince with sympathy when I think of the mortification she will no doubt endure when this story gets back to the station. Luckily no one was injured.

You can click on the photos to see larger versions. Notice there are no air bags in the vehicle. Hmm. I guess they would hinder an officer's ability to hop out and chase a suspect after a wreck.

There was a news helicopter flying overhead within minutes, and one local news website has a small writeup about the incident. (I'm not sure how long the link will work.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Last day

Today is the last day to sign up for my inaugural Postcard Swap. I've got seven participants so far, including myself. I only need four more to meet my goal! Please sign up by sending an email to blogpostcards[at]yahoo[dot]com. I will be sending out the snail mail addresses to all the participants on Monday at noon Eastern time so you have until then to get in on the fun!

Here's a sneak peek at what I've been working on:

Friday, March 10, 2006

No, not the trees!

Route 1 is the main artery here that takes me from Apex, where I live, north into Cary and Raleigh. Ever since I arrived, and probably for the next year or more, there has been construction on Route 1 in order to widen it to eight lanes total. Currently there are only two lanes in each direction, which does cause some congestion during rush hour--although I suspect some of it is due to the construction itself, a case of the cure making the illness worse before it gets better. Anyway, I have often wondered how they would possibly fit eight lanes of traffic, since there only seemed to be room for six at most. Today I got my answer. They are massacring the trees!

This isn't the greatest shot, but it's the best I could do while speeding by, and it gives you some idea of the tractors just clearing everything away as if it is so much detritus. It's really heartbreaking as you drive along to keep seeing more and more piles of felled trees just stacked up on top of each other waiting to be hauled away to who knows where, for who knows what purpose. I know trees get chopped down all the time to make way for roads and homes, and every day entire forests are consumed to manufacture paper and two-by-fours and tables. But a) I don't see it, which makes it easier to pretend it doesn't happen, and b) one of the neatest things about North Carolina is that when you're driving on the highways, it always feels like you're in the middle of nowhere because the sides of the highways are solid trees. In the winter when most of them are bare, civilization peeks through, but in the spring and summer, you can't tell there are grocery stores and office buildings and subdivisions behind the lush greenery. Now there are dozens, if not hundreds of fewer trees along the 1, and that makes me sad.

On top of that, I am irate on behalf of the poor folks whose houses back right up to the highway. They used to have trees to block the unsightly traffic and at least partially deaden the noise, but now the houses are in plain sight with only a couple trees here and there. If I lived in one of those houses, I would be livid. Of course, I wouldn't live in one of them in the first place, because I would never buy property with a busy surface street--let alone a freeway--in my backyard, regardless of how many trees serve to buffer. So it's sympathy ire. Which will fade, I'm sure, when my commute time is halved after the widening is complete and the piles of trees are gone. As they say, out of sight.... This is why I'd make such a lousy activist.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

One in four

A whopping 25% of the American Idol top twelve finalists are from North Carolina: Kellie Pickler (gives dumb blonde a whole new meaning), Bucky Covington (thinks he's "pretty" but his twin is better looking), and Chris Daughtry (hot rocker). But if I had to pick the winner right now, I'd have to say Mandisa. The girl can sing (understatement) and she is very well spoken. Also, her confidence is enviable. Anyone who feels comfortable admitting she sucked her thumb until age 24 is pretty secure.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On my way to work this morning I was listening to Sugarland's song "Something More." It was my anthem when I quit my job in L.A., but it's funny how the lyrics have lost some of their poignancy to me. The song talks about being burnt out and wanting more out of life, and refers to the daily grind of working. Well guess what? Working life is GOOD. Hard to wake up? Go to bed earlier. Traffic a pain? Leave a little earlier. I am so thrilled and grateful to be a contributing member of the workforce again. I haven't done much at my new job yet--I'm still learning--but I am just rarin' to go. I'm practically begging them to let me start doing something useful. I feel like I've been wasting away these past few months and now I feel energized. Inertia is a powerful thing. It's easier for a body at rest to stay at rest, while it's easier for a body in motion to stay in motion. That law of physics is so true for life in general.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Weekend and first day at work

In case you were wondering, I am still alive. Took a short break from blogging because I simply didn't feel moved to write. But some people have insisted that I hurry up already and write about my weekend. I went with my parents up to Ennice to visit my brother and his family. My older niece and my nephew have very close birthdays in February and March, so there was a combined birthday bash at the Burger King playland in nearby Sparta. It's a good thing they are only turning 3 and 4 because if they were any older they might have been disappointed in the turnout. Upwards of a dozen RSVP'd saying they would come, and only a handful actually showed. But at their age, they were oblivious. They got cupcakes

and presents

and a big plastic tube-y maze thing to climb around in,

so they were content. We should all take a page from their book, I say. One upside to the lower attendance was the leftover party favor bags. Later that night my parents and I had a little silly fun with the toys.

We were going to get a family portrait taken in nearby Galax, VA, with all eight of us, but with the party and all it turned out to be too hectic. One munchkin was sick, one was sleepy, and the other is eternally cranky (will the terrible two's ever end?!) so it just wasn't meant to be. Instead we ordered Chinese takeout and watched movies on HBO. I snapped limitless photos, as usual. If I'd been using a film camera, I'd have gone through 10 rolls of film. Of course, I always took less when I had a film camera. But that's part of why I love digital--you can take as many as you want (well, as many as your memory card will fit). It frees you up to take many more, increasing the likelihood that you'll get that perfect shot.

I finally gave Cassidy the baby blanket I knitted for her. She seemed to like it.

It turned out really huge.

I cast on 100 stitches and used four skeins of Baby Clouds yarn, switching colors when the skeins ran out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So today was my first day at my new job. It went fine. Everyone is very friendly. My supervisor is really on the ball, which is something I appreciate. And my boss is very reasonable, which I also appreciate. For instance, if you want to take a longer lunch, just stay late. If you don't get to take a lunch because it's too busy, leave early. As for learning my duties, naturally it's overwhelming at first, but I think I'll be able to handle it. I get to observe an on-site training tomorrow at a school here in Raleigh. And then Friday I get to observe a couple phone trainings. The system is pretty simple. Of course, by the time I learn this one, the new one will be ready to launch and I'll have to learn everything all over. But the new one is supposed to be ten times better, to help reduce the amount of time-consuming data shuffling. Actually, there are two systems, one that our clients use (the one I'll be training them on and the one that will be upgraded soon) and then the system that we use internally to keep track of all our clients and trainings and the like. The internal system looks pretty powerful but also user-friendly, so that's good.

I sat in the conference room all day because they don't have a desk for me yet. Due to the un-ergonomic setup, my shoulder is killing me. I hope they get me a desk soon! I think I will be sharing an office with the one lady who comprises the customer service department. She was showing me how to do a few things today and we were chatting about this and that.

I got a sense today of how fast this company is growing. Everything is kind of in flux, and up for grabs in terms of changing it to make it better. On one hand it's a scary environment, but on the other it's exhilarating. It will be interesting to see where this new job takes me....

Friday, March 03, 2006


I got a job offer!!! Yippeeeeeee! I so have been wanting to blog about the interviews I've been on (three total for this company), but felt I should stick with the self-imposed moratorium to avoid the chance of further mortification. I was told they would have a decision by today, so I carried my phone with me everywhere! Not just in my purse, but on my person, to make sure I wouldn't miss any calls. The wait was torture. The minutes ticked by soooo slowly!

I was very productive, though, trying to distract myself. I got up relatively early and took the car to get an oil change. While I was there I also got the radiator flushed, the tires rotated, and my inspection certificate (required within 10 days of registering your vehicle). I was very impressed with the guy who greeted me--he was a super friendly Southern gentleman--but the guy who checked me out (on the register, not like "How you doin'?"), who I think was the owner, was kind of brisk. I stopped off at H & R Block to get the low-down on my taxes, and they were very friendly as well, giving me enough free advice that I was able to go home and file them on my own, online. So I got that taken care of. Refunds are on their way--yay! I ate some lunch and then checked email. I got two more sign-ups for the postcard swap, which cheered me up. Then a little after three o'clock I settled in to watched Ellen from a couple days ago.

Just as she was showing a clip of Dennis Quaid in costume on a Mardi Gras float, the phone rang. I would give anything to have a photo of my face when it happened. They asked if I was still interested in the position (ha!) and when I said absolutely, they said they will be sending me an offer letter via email by the end of the day. Woo hoo! They said to look it over and email back my response on Monday. I'm to start Wednesday.

I cannot describe to you the weight that has been lifted off my shoulders. Yesterday was my six-month anniversary of being unemployed, and the self-doubt demons were running amok. Amok, I tell you. Every interview I had with this company went very, very well, and I really felt I had it in the bag, so to speak, but I was so afraid to get my hopes up just to have them dashed, especially since this time I felt really good about the fit. I feel very qualified for this job, but not overqualified. It's a small but growing company and I get the sense that I will be able to use a wide range of my skills in that type of environment. Plus, it's not a long commute (about 30 minutes), it offers benefits, and there's travel involved but not too much.

So what does this company do? They offer "rapid notification systems" for school districts. For instance, say there's a snowstorm and school is cancelled. Usually parents find out by watching the local news or listening to the radio. But this system can place up to 6000 phone calls per minute, and can also send notifications via email or text message. The system is not only good for emergencies, but also for routine reminders about upcoming parent conferences, Open House, etc., or even daily tasks such as reporting attendance to parents of absent children. The system is entirely web-based and that's where I come in. They need another trainer to teach customers (e.g., school administrators) how to use the system. Apparently their clients are scattered all over the country, from Oregon to Florida and everywhere in between.

I found this job on I literally submitted my resume on a Monday night, got a call on Tuesday, had an interview on Friday, another on Tuesday, and then got an offer today. Whirlwind! When 3:00 had rolled around today and I still hadn't gotten the call, I tried to calm myself down by saying they're probably just really busy and haven't had time to make a decision yet. But part of me was bracing for an email that said, "We decided to offer the position to a different candidate." Like I said, ever since my first interview with this company, I've had a really good feeling about the job. But I've had experiences in life where I've been blindsided with failure (e.g., my first driving test) so I'm always more than a little insecure about things like this. But the call DID come, they DID offer me the job, and I WILL be employed as of March 8! In a job I feel good about! Imagine the most enormous sigh of relief, coupled with the most ebullient cheer you've ever heard, and that's how I'm feeling right now!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

100th post!

Hitting 100 episodes is a major milestone for a sitcom, so why not celebrate 100 blog posts?

The Odyssey is almost six months old and except for one major sticking point (someone hire me!) I'm pretty much settled into my new state. I will continue writing, however, on whatever topics move me until I have nothing left to say--or no time to say it!

But even if my life becomes boring and ceases to provide blogging material, the internet will continue to overflow with cool things that I want to share. For instance, check out this map of states I've visited:

And then there's always the occasional amazing video. Like this news clip. (The video module is on the right side of the screen--just click play.) I am not prone to weepiness, and even I needed a Kleenex! Almost makes me miss being around kids. They can surprise you sometimes. (Thanks to Gabrielle for bringing the video to my attention.)

Another thing I miss is In-n-Out burger. Apparently I'm not alone, since even Spongebob characters have referred to its secret menu. Mmm, grilled cheese...

We're up to four participants on the postcard swap. I posted about it on the Craigslist crafts discussion forum so hopefully that will help.

And lastly, comments on the weather. Just when I was growing somewhat fond of the chill in the air, today was 76 degrees. Too perfect. Driving around I noticed tons of spring flowers on the trees. Only one type of tree, though--not sure what it's called. The rest were still bare. But the buds are a welcome sight.

I'm having flashbacks to those summer nights when I was on vacation from teaching. All the windows are open (it's after 7 pm, people, this is amazing!), I'm wearing only one layer (a t-shirt at that!) and I'm in front of the computer, surfing away with no obligations hanging over my head. Nice.