Sunday, December 31, 2006
Oh the drama that can arise over the spectre of self-improvement--the struggle, the cautious optimism, the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of the unknown world which awaits, if only.
I think we are witnessing the tragic and yet perversely hilarious gradual decline of yours truly's mental capacity.
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.
(By the way, I got hired two days later!!)
I'd say the peak of the storm lasted no more than 10 minutes, but what a thrilling 10 minutes it was.
*Chosen from the 2nd post of the month; the first post was "100 Things."
I think I might actually be getting too much sleep.
When it comes to electronics I usually spring for all the bells and whistles, because, well, they're my sprinkles.
I would say that the highlight of my trip was Helen, GA.
I just drove four and a half hours to Alleghany County, Virginia, so his [James Lileks'] observations are ringing especially true for me.
We've entered the -Ber months, which means that Christmas is right around the corner and then 2007 and before you know it it'll be 2008 and the state quarters program will be over and there will be no reason to pay with cash ever again!
My parents and I made the five-hour trek not to gaze upon the seat of our nation's government, but rather to gaze upon a 2005 Honda Accord coupe.
This weekend is all about cleaning up and cleaning out (even though it's not spring), but hopefully by Sunday I'll have a chance to put a few words and pics together and share them with y'all.
It was somewhat surreal to be walking up and down the aisles, because TJ's is so closely associated with California in my mind, that I had to keep reminding myself I was in Cary.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
When I finally got home, I worked on a PowerPoint presentation for my boss. I worked with PowerPoint a LOT in my last job and in a weird way I kind of like it, so I offered to help jazz up his slides. Oh, who am I kidding? My competitive nature compelled me to volunteer. Here's a little background: My office is having its annual kick-off meeting in a week (I'll be in the Bahamas, boo hoo), and somehow my boss and I have been pitted against the director of sales and his new admin assistant. Our task: to create the most kick-butt PowerPoint ever, one that will entertain and amuse and leave you wanting more. Observing this all from above is Taylor, my co-trainer. He of quick wit and stinging sarcasm claimed that the other team's presentation is so astounding that it made him want to trade his long-sought-after and finally-procured Nintendo Wii, just to see it again. I swear, you could write a very funny episode of The Office with this material.
I finished the presentation and emailed it to my boss, and then had to read my blogs and check the news. Then it was dinner time, so I fixed myself a sub sandwich and settled in to watch a couple episodes of House. It's a good show, but it feels kind of lacking compared to the more serialized dramas that I've become accustomed to watching (e.g., Lost). Then I found myself back on the computer browsing pretty much aimlessly, and I ended up here. My intention was to finish telling the news that I had from the other day, but here I've gone and written a few hundred words about a completely different topic ("What I did today" by Melissa Mertz). The news from before was that I got a raise at work (not enough to run out and buy a BMW, but enough to make a difference), AND a spiffy bonus! The CEO took me and Taylor into his office and said out of everyone, he selected us to get bonuses this year. Woo hoo! Oh, and the last bit of news is that the mean girl from work got fired. Of course the rumors are flying about the details of why, but basically she just was very unprofessional, screaming on the phone regarding personal matters and such.
What a lovely way to end a post! Let's discuss something else so we can end on a better note. Um, I booked hotels for the road trip part of my upcoming trip. On the way down to Miami, we're staying in Savannah, and on the way back, we're staying on Hilton Head Island. Of course, we won't be getting in until the evening both nights, so I doubt we'll be doing much sightseeing, but hopefully we'll get to see a little. The best part: both hotel rooms are FREE! I had enough reward points to cover both, which is such an awesome perk of traveling for business. I think I only need four more flights (two trips) on Southwest to earn a free roundtrip ticket. That'll come in quite handy, I'm sure!
Oh, and one more thing: Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad. Thirty-two years and counting. Wow!!!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I went home and immediately went back to bed, and did not rise until the next morning. Of course, spending nearly 24 hours lying down (most of it on my right side to help the tummy feel better) led to quite a backache, which was my main complaint on Friday, although my stomach was still not 100%. I barely ate--I tried some chicken soup but after a few bites it was just yucky. Around dinner time, the only thing that sounded good was a Jersey Mike's turkey sub, so I schlepped down the street in the rain to pick one up. Yummy! I felt much better the next morning (Saturday) but stayed home all day and took it easy. My biggest accomplishment was wrapping all the presents I'd accumulated over a few weeks' worth of shopping.
Christmas Eve I went to my parents' house where my brother and his family had already arrived. The commotion was the usual, with three little kids in various states of obedience and cheer, and a growing shepherd-mix puppy that wants nothing more than to play with my parents' three chihuahuas, who want nothing more than to be left alone. That evening we watched Little Miss Sunshine, which I still think is a funny movie, but which both my dad and my brother thought was lame. Bah humbug. Speaking of which, we also watched Scrooged, a modern classic.
Christmas morning I think I was the first to awaken, to the sound of a whimpering puppy who I thought would surely pee on the floor if she was not let outside. But of course, once she was downstairs, the other dogs woke up, and there was clashing, which woke others up, and then before you know it we're having breakfast and getting ready to open presents. Even though we tried to be a little more judicious this year in the volume department, there were still enough presents to open that we had to take three breaks.
Of course, everyone made out. I got a new external hard drive for my computer, as well as some super plush bath towels, a proof set, a car vac, memory cards for my camera, a Paris calendar, some Bath & Body Works stuff, and a couple things for Comet. The kids got toys and clothes galore, most of which they were not allowed to open because of all the tiny pieces that could get lost before they even get home. A couple things they did enjoy were the Aquadoodle mat, and the Speed Stackers cups.
For lunch we had a yummy casserole that had eggs, hash browns, cheese, and sausage. My version was made with southwestern Egg Beaters and textured vegetable protein, and some said it tasted even better than the "real" stuff. For dinner the carnivores feasted on giant slabs of prime rib,
while I had some mighty tasty turkey breast. Even hours later, we were too full to partake of the pie!
On my way out to the car, in the pitch black darkness, I stepped off the edge of my parents' driveway and twisted my ankle. Yowzers! I couldn't elevate it or ice it becuase I was driving home, and by the time I got home, I just wanted to go to bed. The next day I ended up wearing slippers to work because all I could do was hobble. I went to the doctor and she sent me for an xray, which thankfully came back negative. She recommended ice and elevation, of course, and a pull-on Ace bandage. I followed all three orders, and the best one of all was the Ace bandage. Man, with that thing on, I felt no pain! It was so cool. Today I was almost walking normal, which is such a huge relief, because my cruise is coming up very soon and the last thing you want when you're on vacation is to be hindered in some way.
There's more to tell, but I must be off to bed for my beauty rest. More soon, I promise.
Friday, December 22, 2006
but when you think about what actually happened there all those years ago, it is quite chilling. On a single day in the fall of 1862, almost 23,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded, or missing. Here are a couple of the photos I took (along with some comparable views of what it looked like back then):
This is my favorite one:
I was racing against sunset as it was, but could not bear to pull myself away. I kept looking at the clock, thinking about how far away the airport was, and then looking out at where I was, and, well, I ended up missing my flight. That's a first for me. It turned out fine, though, because I just got on the next one. Gotta love Southwest.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
2. Popping my gum
3. Picture taking (er...photography)
4. Petting Comet
5. Picking out yarn for a new knitting project
7. Peeling the wrapper off a piece of chocolate
8. Phoning friends and family
9. Playing Natalie Merchant songs
10. Posting on my blog!
If you’d like to play, leave a comment and I’ll assign you a letter. :)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Last night I got to go to my first ever hockey game. It was the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs (do not get me started on Canada's blatantly unorthodox grammar). Alas, we lost, 4 to 3. I went with my brother, Matthew--I took him for his birthday. My company has season tickets in the fancy-schmancy "Championship Club," and I was lucky enough to snag a pair for this game.
We had quite a time getting to the RBC Center. My boss drew me a map of a back way to get there in order to avoid traffic, but I left it on my desk at work. Duh. I had redrawn it right after he drew it (because his handwriting is worse than a doctor's) so I actually was able remember most of it. But "most" was not good enough. We made it all the way to the arena. It was right there. But I made a left-hand turn too soon, when I should have gone through the light and turned left at the first driveway. Needless to say, this resulted in about a 30-minute delay, because I couldn't just "whip a U-y" with cops everywhere directing traffic, not to mention solid lines of cars coming from the other direction. So we got back on the freeway, but going the wrong way (Garmins don't come in handy when you're trying to go a back way and not the most direct way) and backtracking on the freeway was not an option since that was exactly the traffic we had wanted to avoid in the first place
Anyway, we finally got there and turned at the right place, and were directed to awesome parking spots right by the door. We asked someone where the VIP entrance was and got to avoid the long lines at the metal detectors. After asking yet another RBC employee how to get to our section, we finally found it. It was like entering a restaurant, with a maitre'd at a podium, except this guy hands out wristbands and drink tickets. Once we entered the Championship Club area, Matthew said, "You gotta get more tickets so we can come back!" Not only did we have posh leather seats, but there was a big buffet and plenty of chairs and tables where you can eat and watch the game on giant plasma TV's. I had some pizza, salad, half a panini, and some macaroni and cheese. Fountain drinks are unlimited. Matthew enjoyed a burger, pulled pork, and pasta salad with huge chunks of salami.
After we ate, we went to our seats and started to watch the game. From what I hear, 4-3 is a high scoring game for hockey. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to watch a game that is 1-0. The Canes were playing awfully. This was the fifth game in a row that they've lost, and it was obvious why. They can't keep the puck, and when they do get it, they can't hit it. Seriously, it was like (as my brother said) they allowed the first six spectators who arrived to suit up and hop into the rink. It was still exciting, though, when they did score, and they played that ridiculously loud horn thing that could wake the dead. I was surprised that I could actually follow where the puck was without having the benefit of a camera panning its course.
Speaking of cameras, I got to test mine out a little bit. The zoom rocks!!!
Unfortunately, since I'm still limited by the 32 MB card that came with the camera, I had to take pix at lower resolution with a higher compression rate. But I was very pleased with the speed--hardly any shutter lag. And I think the image stabilization is fantastic.
Naturally, the zambonis were of interest, providing something new to photograph.
Here's one of me and my brother (taken by the owner of my company, who was sitting in the other two company seats with his wife).
When the game ended, we thanked my boss for sharing his tickets with us, and left. I was anticipating gridlock getting out, but apparently the VIP's also have their own exit lane, which made things super easy. It had been a relatively quick game and it was only about quarter after 10, so my brother and I decided to catch a showing of Borat. It is definitely not for the thin-skinned, but it was hilarious with a capital H. I nearly peed my pants during the scene where he's just learned how to talk like a gangsta and he's trying to get a hotel room. On the way home, my brother and I kept doing "remember whens" (the bear!, the family photos!) and we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. Good times.
Never cut what you can untie.If you haven't read my spiel on quotes before, please do so here.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I am a one of those people that read your blog and love the insight you have on living in North Carolina. I live in socal and plan on moving to nc next year.Thanks for letting me know! I set out writing this blog for people just like you, so I'm glad it's reaching its intended audience!
And my "fan," the one who recognized me at Qdoba, said,
It's Kim from MA. It was so much fun meeting you! North Carolina is definitely a friendlier place. I don't think I would have surprised someone like that back home.I hear you, Kim! If I'd been in L.A., I probably would have not walked up to some strangers who were calling my name. I would have run the other way! But it really was such a delightful surprise to meet a blog reader in that way. It's one of those stories you never forget.
Like the time my boyfriend discovered that our house keys matched. He lived in Lancaster; I was living in Canyon Country (these are suburbs of L.A. about 45 minutes apart). A spare house key of mine was sitting on my mantel. He happened to see it and said it looked just like his. Now, I think all keys look alike (well, you know what I mean) but somehow he recognized the actual shape of the grooves and when we held up mine next to his, sure enough, they were the same! We immediately went to the front door, and he used his house key to unlock my door. That was a Twilight Zone moment if there ever was one! I understand the odds are not all that phenomenal, because when you're talking about common doorknobs, there are only so many groove combinations. BUT, this was still mind boggling to me, that of all the keys to match, it would be mine and his. Of course I wanted to see this as some sort of sign that we were meant to be together--ha!--we're not--but it is still "one of those stories."
I'm becoming somewhat of a story enthusiast. I got back from a trip to South Carolina this afternoon, and one thing I've found that makes the driving go by more quickly is listening to podcasts. My favorites are from NPR, especially "Driveway Moment," "Story of the Day," and "Morning Stories." There is something so precious about a well-told story. If you have iTunes (and if you don't, go download it now!), you should check them out. They're free and usually pretty short, and leave you feeling just a tad bit enriched.
I'll leave you with a lovely cloud formation captured yesterday on my way to South Carolina.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Both set on auto, no flash.
Me (Sony T1)
Me (Canon G7)
Flower (Sony T1)
Flower (Canon G7)
Both set on macro.
Quarter (Sony T1)
Quarter (Canon G7)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Remember making paper snowflakes as a kid? A simple sheet of white paper, a pair of scissors, and even the least artistic could produce a thing of beauty.
Relive your childhood without having to clean up the floor. But only click if you have at least ten minutes to play, because you won't be able to drag yourself away.
Thanks to Ali for sharing where to find this fun web page!
Monday, December 04, 2006
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. Preferably minty.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Wrapped, of course.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White lights on both.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
5. When do you put up your decorations?
It’s different every year. I don’t put much up, ever since the Tree Incident of ’99. But the office is done, and my parents’ house is mostly done.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)
My mom loved the Dr. Seuss cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and it was a tradition to watch it every year. And of course, there’s a whole “roast beast” story that we won’t go into right now.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I have no idea.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We never did growing up, but I think we have the past few Christmases.
10. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas tree?
I don’t have one, so I’ll describe my parents’ tree (I did help decorate it, after all). It’s got white lights, some of which twinkle, and it has a ton of Hallmark ornaments collected over the years. It has a few that my brother and I made as children, and a few that I received as gifts over the years. My favorites are the Lion King ornaments and the embroidered ornament that my third grade teacher made for me. She made one for everyone with their initials on it.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Pretty to look at, but what a mess. And this is coming from someone who’s never shoveled a driveway in her life.
12. Can you ice skate?
I did go ice skating once or twice, but who knows if I could do it now.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I get great stuff every year, but for some reason my first thought when reading this question was the year I got a Cabbage Patch Kid AND a giant teddy bear (both of which I still have, by the way). I was on Cloud 9. I have a Polaroid of me posing with those two toys and I just went to go find it. Yeah, right. I really need to organize all my photos (I’m talking physical photos, here.) New Year’s Resolution?
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
How can I answer this without sounding trite? See “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Well, it’s not a dessert per se, but my favorite treat is the mint chocolate M&M’s and the mint chocolate Hershey’s Kisses.
16 What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Well, in addition to the Grinch, I always liked going to pick out the Christmas tree. Alas, we’ve gone artificial now. But they ARE much easier to decorate!
17. What tops your tree?
There’s an angel on top of my parents’ tree.
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
I love giving, when I have a good gift idea. But when I don’t, it’s not as fun.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
For some reason, I always liked “What Child is This?” And I remember learning “Do You Hear What I Hear?” in third grade; I was shocked that there was a Christmas carol I’d never heard before! My favorite Christmas CD is Amy Grant’s “Home for Christmas.”
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or yummy?
They’re tasty, but I’d rather spend my calories on M&M’s, thanks.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I've appointed myself to be the Sunshine Club for my office (minus the donations). I put a list together of everyone's birthdays, and I bring in cupcakes to celebrate those special days. Also, I'm going to coordinate the holiday gift exchange. And I decided we should have some wintry decorations to make our surroundings a little more festive. I wasn't given much of a budget ($20) but thanks to Walmart and the Dollar Store, I was able to pull together some pretty decent stuff. I ultimately kicked in $20 of my own, and brought some stuff from home to round it all out. Monday night I stayed late to deck the halls. Here are the fruits of my labor:
Before I left, I had to unplug everything, and since I don't get in until after everyone else in the morning, I was wondering if anyone would plug the lights in before I got there. They did!! That made me so happy. Everyone said that everything looked great, and was very happy about it. I kind of just did it, and didn't tell anyone about it beforehand, so I wasn't sure how people would react. But it was very positive.
One thing that bummed me out was I had bought a string of garland with lights already in it, and after I hung it iup and put on the red bows, I went to plug it in and it didn't work. So disappointing.
So it really warmed my heart when when my boss went through the strand, bulb by bulb, to find the one that was loose. He found it, and now it lights up, and it is just lovely! I also got a rush when the owner of the company came in later that morning and asked, "Who put up all these fantastic decorations?!" and I got to raise my hand with a big grin and say, "I did!" He was really, really pleased with it, which made my day.
At the end of the day, my boss handed me $20 to pay me back for the decorations I had bought out of my own pocket. He said thanks for doing it, it looks great, no one else would have done it, but he's glad I did. This was a big deal, because he'd been kind of Scroogey when I'd asked him for some decoration money.
I really love the people I work with; they are all so great, and I feel so fortunate to have found this job. Happy December everyone!!
Trader Joe’sIf only I had actually mailed that letter, I could be shouting "I told you so!" from the mountaintops. Trader Joe's opened in Cary on Monday, and the only way to describe the response is "overwhelming." As planned, I was there the morning it opened. Normal hours are 9-9, so I got there at 8:45, but people were already exiting with bags of delicious goods.
117 Kendrick Street, Suite 700
Needham, MA 02494
October 26, 2005
Greetings from North Carolina! I just moved here two weeks ago from Los Angeles, and I’m still settling in. I have to admit one thing that I miss most from L.A. is Trader Joe’s. I’ve been shopping there for years, and I wish there was one out here. At my last trip to my local Trader Joe’s, the friendly checker suggested I write in and let you know that I’d like you to open a store here in my new city. She said you are constantly expanding, and I saw on your website that you’ve recently opened several stores here in the east. So let me tell you why the Raleigh, NC area would be a good choice for your next expansion site.
First, Raleigh is part of a larger metropolis known as the Triangle, which includes Durham and Chapel Hill. You put in one store, and people will come from all around. Second, another nearby city that is growing by leaps and bounds is Cary--which very well may be the ideal site for your store because the demographics indicate there is a large pool of potential Trader Joe’s customers. Education and income levels are high, and everyone here is from somewhere else...with many from California and other areas where Trader Joe’s already exists, so they are probably familiar with your stores and would jump at the chance to shop there again. Chapel Hill would be another good location for a store--with that population being a little more liberal, I predict the vegetarian and organic lines would be popular. Third, both in Cary and in the surrounding areas, there is a vast and growing contingency of suburban families as well as single professionals who would be drawn to the value, variety, and convenience of your unique products. Lastly, while I personally don’t drink wine, it seems everyone else here does, so that aspect of the store would also do well.
If you are considering opening a store in the Triangle area any time soon, I would really love to hear about it. And let me suggest that it be a large store, or at least in a location where expansion is possible, because I predict the place will be packed. If your current plans do not include the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or Cary areas, I implore you to reconsider, because I firmly believe a store here would do a booming business and the customer base would be able to support several more stores in the future. I, for one, would be an instantaneously loyal customer, thrilled to help promote you through the best advertising around, word of mouth.
Here are a few shots of the new, very large store:
It was somewhat surreal to be walking up and down the aisles, because TJ's is so closely associated with California in my mind, that I had to keep reminding myself I was in Cary. They didn't carry a few of my favorites, but that could be due to a) the fact that it's their first store in NC and until they gauge what sells and what doesn't, they're just taking guesses at what the people here will want; or b) those items are no longer available (which can sometimes happen at TJ's). When I checked out the cashier said they are very interested in feedback and requests, so we'll see how that pans out.
After I loaded up my cart with abundant TJ goodness,
I went to work and shared my bounty. Everyone was gracious enough to humor my slightly fantatical enthusiasm. And no one turned down the offer of a free lunch. And today, vindication. My coworker Josh said he and his wife went to TJ's last night, and they loved it! He described it as "Fresh Market style products, cheaper than Harris Teeter." You betcha! They loaded up on lots of goodies. Josh said that outside the store on their little dry-erase board TJ staff had written the following:
Okay, we get it. You like us. So we're hiring. And for those of you who asked the first day if we were hiring, and we said no, we're sorry.Dude, what did I tell you? Within a year they will have at least one additional location here in the Triangle. I would suggest North Raleigh. Are you listening, location scouts??