April 30, 2006

Weird Coincidences

At exercise class yesterday, a condolence card was being passed around; one of the regular women had a brother who died suddenly. Last night, my friend K2 called up in between a wake and a small get-together for a long time friend from back in her high school and college days who had died suddenly. Same guy. Weird.

Sunday morning here, a few minutes blogging before yoga. Gonna be a busy-ish day - after yoga, I need to get ready and go fetch MYA, will take her to a social space where she can connect with some of her old friends, and I will simultaneously go to a community meeting. At 5, we boogie out of there, I take her home, and scurry over to New Britain to the opera. No rest for the weary (or the wicked).

I am still pondering the woman who asked if I'd be at yoga this morning. It's hard to describe the feeling of community and warmth that little, innocent question has engendered. "Will be be coming Sunday morning?". The meaning intertwined - you are part of the sunday morning community. You have been noticed. Your presence is part of the experience. You would be missed.

It reminds me of something I did once - I gave a person my card in a support group space. It was a meaningless act to me - a small kindness, call me if you have questions. Yet to her - it was much more meaningful - a lifeline she could call if she needed to. Evidence that our malady could be overcome. And though she never took advantage, perhaps her journey was easier knowing that the net was there....

I shall keep that in mind as I practice today - how meaningful small words, small gestures, small kindnesses can be. And how I can open my life and heart to make more of these.....

April 29, 2006

That Which Does Not Kill Us.....

I am 3/4 of the way through the yoga marathon. I've been on the mat the past 3 days (Power / Hot / Power) on top of Kirtan last night (dancish jumping around and chanting) and Jazzercise this morning. And cut the grass today. Just a wee bit over extended.

No special reason - I had to bag yoga on Tuesday and Wednesday morning (although I snuck in on Tuesday night) and so I was feeling a little deprived (hence Thursday / Friday) and today I was not planning to go but I did have the afternoon free, and needed to go down to the studio anyway to buy a discounted class card, and it was a free power class with Barbara who I never seem to mesh up with, schedule wise. So....

And then some young punk - i.e. a very nice younger (than me) woman - who must see me on Sunday mornings asked "so you still gonne be here tomorrow?". Yeah, probably. Next week is going to be somewhat busy, so I doubt I will get to practice all that much. I'll probably need a break....

For what its worth I am investing my retirement savings into yoga class cards.

April 28, 2006

Social Butterflies

Got a bunch of stuff going on this weekend and into next week.

Tonight, its kirtan at the yoga studio. I've done this a couple of times, its usually quite wonderful. Tonight, a friend MP is coming along, Zipster is not up for it. I'm caffeinating a bit; hot yoga today and I am a bit tired.

Not much on Saturday, really; although I bet we end up pushing the lawn mower around a bit. And Jazzercise. And maybe something at night - folk music or whatnot, to be determined. This weekend the Meriden Daffodil Festival, and it looks like a great weekend for it.

Sunday, we're going to see Don Giovanni in New Britain; featuring Zipster's friend Laurentiu Rotaru as Leporello.

Tuesday is a May Day gathering with a client. Womyn space, wicca space. Should be interesting. Wednesday, down to Mohegun Sun for prep work for the Connecticut Sun - the first home preseason game is Sunday, May 7th vs. the Detroit Shock.

This American Life - Fake ID

In last week's episode, Fake ID, now online.

A short story, This Blessed House, by Jhumpa Lahiri, from her book of short stories The Interpreter of Maladies.

What an incredible story. Beautifully told by Mira Nair.

This episode is an A++ episode for TAL - with David Sedaris, and someone (Buckley? Wainwright?) doing Cohen's Hallelujah. Perfect Friday afternoon, finishing up my workweek kind of stuff.....

April 27, 2006

Expensive Dogs

We've taken two of the critters to the vets twice for routine check-ups and shots this month, and the total bill has been over $500. We're kvetching about that. We really like the vet a lot (she's really nice and good with the dogs), but there has been a lot of subtle selling of vaccinations that are maybe not critical, (especially for Melina, who is 14 and may not last the summer) - and when we went for a follow-up booster (quick appointment) got charged for a full office visit / check-up for each of them. (despite them having been in there two weeks ago)

Oh, and we brought in a stool sample - the vet said to just bring one since if one of them has something, they all probably do. I fetched a fresh pile o' poop, but Zippy went and got a bunch of samples to add to that. So on the bill, we are getting $19 for each dog for stool analysis. Grumble. Should have just stuck to one sample.

I think we need to become more educated about what is really needed (or not) and be a little smarter and firmer about trying to keep the costs down.

Stupid dogs.

Fumbling Around

Just been an unfocused week. I did get some stuff up on my website re: freelancing but need to do a bit more, and I am stalled out there. I have, however, joined MediaBistro and another site (trial). I'm at an ice-breaking point, I need to figure out how to pitch and start to do that, and I need to start to get some recent and referable work. I've never been the type to dive in head first without checking the depth and the water temperature and the like....so it will take some deliberate energy to get me to the next step.

I'm actually thinking of writing some spec pieces for the site - just to give potential clients an idea of my style. Off the top of my head: getting into yoga - jazzercise - crewing for a hot air balloonist - the death of fax machines. A good goal for the week....

I have a couple of reports to finish up today, and some special apps notes for a client by tomorrow. But all in all it's been fits and starts. April has been a really slow month - not bad in that I got my taxes done and have had some reasonable reserves to fall back on, but methinks its time for things to perk up a bit. The WNBA gig starts in May, so that's good. I have some long simmering site visits out there that might someday come to fruition.

April 25, 2006

Coffee and Me

JAMA Study: Drinking lots of coffee doesn't harm heart

It does, however, limit your ability to do balancing postures.

Freelance Fever

All hepped up from the Writers Workshop, I spent a few hours yesterday adding a Freelance Writing section to my work website. It's a start. I also joined mediabistro.com and went looking at freelancesuccess.com (recommended by others in workshops). No serious opportunities or explorations yet, but I feel like I am doing prep work.

I also linked this blog in from the Freelance Section - which may or may not be a good thing.

I may or may not be spending two days learning about the Chyron Lyric with Duet MicroX, for my WNBA freelance gig. At this point I do not have the software; the course commences at 10:00 am, and I can envision a dozen ways (cannot get at all, cannot get in time, too large to download in time, will not install on my machines, etc) the software will not get installed in time for me to participate. We shall see.

My web host Lunarpages was having kittens yesterday - not sure if it was a server issue or an internet issue - but my domain, and those of a few of my clients, was down for a few minutes yesterday. Annoying. One client noticed and called; another was trying to update some blogs and having difficulty, but that might have just been newbie issues. Although truthfully, that never happens - which is why it was noteworthy.

April 23, 2006

What's a Blog?

At the NWW Conference Day #2 (secret confession, I left at lunchtime). So many of the participants were confused about blogging and online and clips and web sites....amazing really to be writing in 2006 and not have those basics.

I've been online in various stripes since the mid 90's; the wayback machine has an image of my work website circa 1998. I've been blogging since 2002, and have a wide range of digital geekery skills.

Then again, what I do not know about freelance writing could fill several volumes. I need to get my butt in gear if I want to seriously freelance....

Creativity & Journalism: Can They Mix?

A little free write exercise entitled Resonant Energy from Angie Chuang's workshop - to get a bit more personal / creative / emotional with something that was reported on. Not being a working member of the media, I did not have any covered stories to based this on, but I did put together a newsletter piece on this interaction, so I figure it was something.

It was hot and noisy, chaos, lots of energy. I was in the darkness of a tent, in shade and shadow, and she was coming in out of brightness. I was inside, belonging, a member of the tribe, while she was outisde, a visitor, and a stranger. My confidence and bravado was written on my shirt; she seemed less sure. Wiser maybe, or perhaps just beaten down by life, too grateful for simple existence.

Thre was so little time - no opportunity to plan a response or to feel out a vibe. Time just to transact the business at hand, the commerce of the situation: buying a shirt, choosing color and size, asking the price. Hurry, hurry, something drags me away, and when I return to our table, she is gone.

I'm hungry - for contact, for approval, for connection - and perhaps she is too, but the rules are understood. Make no contact. Even if you know, you do not know.

Fear - would I out her? Embarass her? Would her companions figure her out? Would I be the subject of queries and comments that she would suffer for?

Locked up, nervousness, tentative energy. Dusty farm field.

National Writers Workshop Part I

Spending the weekend mostly here.

I will not go into too much detail; its been a mixed bag so far. I've been to some large plenary sessions (Nuala O'Faolain, David Halberstam, Robert Olen Butler) as well as smaller workshops (Angie Chuang, Cora Daniels). Heh. The correlation between Wikipedia entries and plenary speakers is amusing.

I'm getting a lot of energy and ideas. I jotted down some things.

Ms. O'Faolain describing herself as an "honorary man" once she entered the world of public importance. She also discussed having readers as a "raid on the inarticulate" which is an amusing phrase. And finally, this warning to would be memoirists - writing it down tends to "set ones condition in amber". Fair warning to someone like myself, intent on growth and not remaining in the same place. From Mr. Butler, the additional warning: "Writing is not therapeutic"

David Halberstam was wonderful to listen to - his New Yorkishness of a certain age resonates; I could see my father and uncles in him. His one critical question vis a vis journalism: "Who else should I talk to?" seems an apt bit of advice for a spiritual journey as well.

A few general observations.

* The space was woman dominated. Interesting. Whereas the panelists / presenters were more male. Noted without a lot of comment.

* The space was small and tight - the plenaries were in a tented area that was cold in the rain. Makes me wonder if they should consider a different space; it seems to me like U-Hartford or CCSU or Trinity might have been able to host the conference more comfortably.

* Similarly, the name badges / conference credentials were tiny, text based, no logo, B/W and inauspicious. After having been to queer conferences, professional conferences, etc. I've amassed a collection of badges - and these seemed the lowest profile imaginable. Not sure if this is a deliberate thing (humble writers, journalists intent on keeping a low profile, a certain sense of propriety and place, an emphasis on substance over style) or if its simply not that important. You'd have to be in someone personal space to actually read their name from their nametag.

* I was struck by the not so networky crowd. I tend to have a "hell, I'm paying for this, might as well make some connections" attitude, and I try to chit-chat with people when I sit down, hang out in the halls, etc. Seemed to be a lot of people sitting alone or in pairs, pouring over the conference materials. I'm just used to a more schmoozy kind of conference where people are actively networking; as the techie I'm usually hopelessly outclassed by the sales and marketing types, here I was the schmoozer. In any case, I met some nice people mainly because I was all up in their business ::grin:: "So, what brings you to this conference?"

I'm heading back today, although I am probably going to miss the first sessions (gots to have my yoga)

April 21, 2006

Where's My Advil?

Zippy and a friend are on a tear; a recent tragic car crash in Hartford that killed 4 people (the responsible driver survived) has triggered a heated discussion on morality, responsibility, vindictiveness, punishment. It's moved to Enron right now. Oops, now we are onto Bill Gates and Microsoft. My prediction - it moves to the Catholic Church next....(we're talking power and corruption). I'm keeping mum just to let the discussion go.

Kind of a unique weekend - I am spending it mainly mostly at a Writer's Workshop sponsored by the Hartford Courant. Will be an interesting weekend. I've gone through the list of speakers (most unknown to all of us here) - and penciled in preferences for each session. Kind of excited about it - in a sort of selfish, doing something for myself, feeding a bit of different energy and passion into my life sort of way.

So no yoga or jazzercise. S'ok, I got in three power/hot sessions this week; all of them joyously drenching and sweaty ones. And really, I might actually sneak something in tomorrow; WHY has a 7:30 class.....

The conversation has moved into the area of gendered birth rate and patriarchal cultures (china and others). And how matriarchal or egalitarian cultures have been destroyed, dominated, or swallowed up by patriachal ones. Don't you wish you could be here? It's sort of like a salon, but with a bit of vigor....

On other fronts, I am contemplating a Soul Awakening Retreat. Long story here. Israel was my first therapist / counselor, and I did some really good work (groups, psychodrama) with him. I left there perhaps with some work left undone, and it seems like it might be an interesting (and perhaps necessary) coda to that work. The nature of this experience resonates a lot with where I am today.

I'm am in a place in life where I feel as if its time to close a significant chapter and to move on. My work with Israel has popped into my conscious several times over the past few weeks, and I've learned to pay attention when that sort of message is being sent.

April 20, 2006

Gas Stove

For the 5 years that I have cohabitated with the Zipster, we've been cooking with what seems like a 70's vintage electric stove (small, decrepit) and a separate Jenn-Air electric cook-top that we can not seem to keep more than two burners alive on.

This morning, we're having a brand-new gas stove installed. It's sort of a phased-in approach - we ripped out the old oven and cabinetry last week, the new stove was delivered on Tuesday, and the plumber is here today. After the gas is all installed, we'll be running some electric (stove and hood), purchase and install a hood / fan / light, and put together some cosmetics - wall covering (faux tile), cabinetry, paint, and trim.

In addition, the Jenn-Air get's deinstalled, a new countertop installed throughout the kitchen, and some cabinet rework. There is a lot of junk under the Jenn-Air (fan / exhaust duct / grease trap) which needs to be pulled, and that space will be turned into real cabinets. And maybe some cosmetic improvements (new hardware, paint or reface) on the kitchen cabinets throughout.

It's all very low budget, but we're excited.

April 19, 2006

No Child Left Behind

Is it me, or are wwe getting a little too obsessed with setting educational standards and measuring results.

Witness this new consumer product from Cottonelle. From their FAQ:
I don't understand how this shows children how much toilet paper to use?
Each segment of paw-prints and puppy is roughly 5 sheets long. Starting with a first paw print, the child should be instructed to follow the paw prints to the puppy then tear at the puppy. This will provide roughly 5 sheets of toilet paper, an average amount for one wipe. A new segment of toilet paper should be taken for each subsequent wipe.

So. Who decided that 5 sheets of TP was an average amount? And how do you put that little project on your CV?

Per K's comment, apparently this was the subject of Andy Rooney's latest commentary. But did Andy use toilet paper in his commentary? I think not!

A Capitalist, Me

So yesterday the Dow went up 195 points / 1.76%, and my nascent IRA jumped in value about that same percentage, which even at its paltry level is a significant chunk of change - enough to by a class card at yoga. (I was curious as to how quickly the IRA mutual fund values were impacted by the market, so I checked this morning - seems like they are closely coupled)

This is the first time ever in my life that I have given a damn what the stock market was doing. And I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

April 18, 2006

Yeah for Jane

So my bud and soul mate from a previous lifetime Jane (a kick-ass singer and songwriter) got accepted at the Wildflower Arts and Music Festival (Richardson, TX)

More MP3's here, strangely in Japanese. Jane is sans-website at the moment cause someone (er, that would be me) has been too busy to cobble one together. Ick, moi.

If you are near there, go see her. And if you are not, well, send positive karma her way. She is most deserving. I'm trying to figure out how to get her a free ticket from LA to DFW via my various connections and frequent flyer miles.....

A Wanna-Be Writer

So yeah. What's that all about?

It's like this: In 1978 or 1979 or thereabouts, I realized I had two passions, two things I was really good at. One was math, which I parlayed into a career in engineering. And one was writing. I had a high school english teacher (shout out to Mr. Herlihy) who turned me on to literature and made Shakespeare come alive. And I found I could turn a phrase. I actually was one of two essay finalists in high school (think I scored a $500 scholarship) and I always felt on some level I took the easy way out going to engineering school - chasing the easier and more sure path.

Now, in those pre-PC days, doing papers and themes often involved typing, and I got good at banging things out, head to paper - on an archaic 1909 Underwood typewriter, the loss of which I still regret. Clack-clack-clack. And despite going to an engineering college, I pretty much avoided engineering as much as possible - minoring in music, and taking every Shakespeare course offered. I wrote long letters to high school friends, but pretty much did nothing with my writing.

Fast forward to the early 90's. Coming off a marriage / divorce, getting into therapy, I started to write: journals at first, then creative writing through some adult ed classes. In those classes, the teacher often pulled me aside after the first assignment and asked "What are you doing here?" I was welcome to stay and work, but really, there was not much they could teach me. Yet those classes produced the small bursts of creativity and growth that I am able to claim from across the years.

I took a job that involved a lot of writing - reports, training programs, applications notes. And I purchased my first computers - an Epson PX-8, then a 286 with a 40 Meg Hard Drive. Life was good. I still remember getting online at 300 Baud, and typing faster than the connection speed!

Eventually, I started writing a great deal. I was involved in the GLBT community and wrote for / eventually edited a monthly newsletter. I wrote essays, chatty pieces, technical tidbits, humor, editorials, advice columns. I continued to write for work - technical papers, apps notes, training programs. I have branched out into websites and create a lot of the content. I've blogged - here, of course, but in a previous blog incarnation as well. I write, I write, I write. If one were to collect my works, it would amount to perhaps 1000 pages of competent and occasionally good content. Not anything worth collecting and publishing - just word upon word, page upon page. Always writing.

But all along, I've had a dream. I want to *be* a writer. I want to write for publication - newspaper, magazines, short stories, essays. I want to take an assignment. I want to change the world. I want to touch hearts and souls.

There are two impediments to this dream, however. First, I need a goal: an assignment, a deadline, a purpose, a project. I need something to write for - I do not have a driving passion to create for the sake of creating. I want to write, but I am not sure what I want to write. Second, I need discipline. I need to set aside time to write, time in which I write much or little, where I work hard or doodle. I need to get into the habit of writing, to hone my chops, to explore and experiment.

There has been a lot of change in my personal life of late. Winds bringing new scents, surprising opportunities, and in general gentle seas. I am opening my life and heart up to many new things. Perhaps then, it is time to begin laying the groundwork for my next career.

This weekend, I signed up for a Writer's Workshop. It might be good, or it might be a waste of time. But its something. I want inspiration, I want connection, I want some ideas on how to start. I'm keeping my eyes and ears and heart open for whatever might come along.

Great Things About Marriage

Maybe they are working on a sour grapes strategy to dissuade the G/L folk from pushing for marriage equality.

Coloradans for Marriage. Ick.

World's Oldest Ice Block

Here. In Tokyo, a piece of ice drilled out of Antarctica. The second oldest ice block is in my freezer, I think.

Change in the Weather....

In typical fashion, just as I comment upon things being slow, the work world stirs, and I have potential trips to southern IL and Poughkeepsie NY bubbling. And a few projects are also percolating.

But since this is a weather titled post, its just fantastic outside right now - sunny, breezy, mid to high 60's. Yeah, baby!

WHY Open Studio - April 29th

Our first biannual event will take place April 29th, a day of free classes and fun! Come meet our “extended family” (teachers and staff), mingle and try some classes. It’s a great way for new students to get started with yoga, or to return to your practice (you know you want it!) And, oh yeah, did we mention - we will have discounts on class cards, clothing and gear, as well as raffles and refreshments. Come, take a class, bring a friend or two, and get your class card discounts. Schedule of classes for the afternoon:

Intro to Yoga 12:15 – 1:30 pm with Barbara
WHY Power 1:45 - 3:00 pm with Barbara
Gentle Yoga 3:15 - 4:30 pm with Kate
Hot Yoga 4:45 - 6:00 pm with John

Jude Sez: If you are a Yoga newbie, I'd recommend the Intro to Yoga or the Gentle Yoga session; both Kate and Barbara are wonderful. John is wonderful too but the hot class can be pretty challenging.

More of my 15 Minutes....

So I got a bit of an oblique reference on the Bruce and Colin show yesterday. I believe my official designation was "Z" (as opposed to X or Y or Z-prime). This is with regard to the That Was Pretty Increible post. And thats all I've got to say about that.

About the perfect level of notoriety. Those who heard the show and know me, know exactly what I am talking about. Still kind of glowing about it all.

April 17, 2006

Keeping Roman Numerals Alive

In doing my work, I have a specific type of report that gets labeled with the facility / site name and by my customers unique site number. But occasionally, I end up writing multiple reports for a given site, at which point, I add a Roman numeral: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, etc.

It seems a quaint custom, an odd affectation for a technical report / subject in this digital era. According to Wikipedia:
Roman numerals are commonly used today in numbered lists (in outline format), clockfaces, pages preceding the main body of a book, chord triads in music analysis, the numbering of movie sequels, the production date at the end of movie credits, and the numbering of some sport events, such as the Olympic Games or the Super Bowls.

Add "power quality reports" to that list, I guess.

I'm Not that Girl....

At 8:01 am, I got a telemarketingish call at the office from Representative Tom Reynolds (R - NY) - saying I had been nominated to some leadership council (which I think is code for SEND MONEY).

No, nice rapidly talking telemarketing lady. I am a registered democrat. I'm a dyke. I live and work in Connecticut (not in New York). And though I own a small business, have a bit of money tied up in stocks, and occasionally write largish checks to the IRS, no I am not voting republican.

Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Wonder how the heck I got on that list......

April 16, 2006

Drive drive drive drive

Went up to mom's today with Zippy - just a quiet dinner with her and my brothers. Fun. Our dessert (lime chiffon pie) was a success, the food was family typical (ham, scalloped potatoes, string beans). We were up there about 3 hours, brought mom some flowers for the patio at River's Edge Garden Center in Framingham, a sort of tradition (Easter and Mother's Day)

I was really tired this morning - two sub-normal sleep nights and a late night last night with some food / drink. (Not too drowsy for yoga, but it was a really inward, meditative practice. Another surprise Kate session.) I got really drowsy en route back from MA, and grabbed a quick nap upon returning.

Back to the work week. I have a weekend conference thing coming up next weekend, and a bunch of small projects this week. And I do need to do a bit of marketing this week - the one-off engineering projects have slowed although my steady clients have been chugging along. I'm catching up on a lot of overdue things, but I'll be running out of these eventually....

Well, that was pretty incredible

I had a pretty incredible evening, filled with the very best of food, people, and vibe.

Rarely in these days do you walk away from an experience with hope. And yet, there it is: shining faintly, but distinct and strong, shining a light of optimism on some dark places.

Jude to Universe: Thanks. Over.

Where the Hell Have You Been?

I got home last night to a rather inquisitive welcome. Zippy was fast asleep and barely roused, but Elo was fairly sure I had been whoring around with other dogs (I had - three in fact) and so I was sniffed thoroughly before being permitted to go to bed.

April 15, 2006

Early Warning System

A former spouse once pointed out my "early warning system" - I was always the first to notice when my circle was getting loud, or stepping on toes, or otherwise was coloring out of the lines. I was admittedly over the top about that and have, I think, settled down to a point of not having to be a perfect little child at all times. However, the concept of an early warning system, or a spider sense, has served me well over the years.

Yesterday, a nice young man (pretty much everyone is young, these days) from the evangelical church in my office building stopped by to say hello while I was finishing up some work. Probably figuring that someone working on Good Friday was a heathen in need of some saving. No sales pitch, although he did comment on my office (homey and decidedly anti-corporate) and my office plants (I have four, all doing well due to windows and southern exposure) - and seeing as the church's annual theme is "growth":
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. - 1st Corinthians 3:7

I am perhaps a wee bit concerned. Hopefully this social visit will not signal a recruiting campaign, or some resonance with his minstry or inner journey (look for a woman with a lot of plants, she will lead you....)

Sidebar, it's interesting how many "Life Community Church" or "New Life Community Church" groups there are. (I needed to really drill down to find the link above, its a really common name) It's also interesting that so many of the chuches I did find describe themselves as cell churches. Hm, where else do we see a cell organizational structure? Just the interplay of language and terminology is interesting. I mean, a lot of things fall into this structure (hell, my yoga studio is a "cell" of sorts) - but to adopt / continue to use the verbiage in these "War on Terror" times.....just interesting.

Eostre Weekend

We're nominally anti-christian. Not in a militant, philosophical or religious way, just in an "anti-dominant paradigm" way, in the same way we do not watch much mainstream television or listen to commercial radio or the like. So when people wish us "Happy Easter" or "Happy Holiday" or "Have a Good Weekend" we notice. Zippy's catholic fetish makes her curious about the customs and rituals; her part-time state job mandated a day off with no pay on Friday which gives her reason to kvetch, and all of these precipitate an ongoing stream-of-consciousness on christianity being the state religion and the pagan / fertility symbolism rampant in eggs and rabbits and all that.

We did indulge in fish yesterday - Yanni's had a boatload of fish specials for lunch and Zippy, MP, and I all went out. I ought to blog about Yanni's - clearly my other restaurant reviewish entries have been search engine successes. In any case, Zipster and I had tuna steaks, MP had sole almondine. And there was much rejoicing.

It's been / will be a busy weekend. Yesterday I made up for the gentle, affirming, just what I needed Thursday morning yoga practice with a kick my butt hot yoga practice that left me drenched and happy. Arriving home from yoga, I found MP and Zippy in the process of ripping out an electric stove and associated trim; we're getting a gas range delivered this coming week. So there are big plans afoot for the installation thereof, the removal of a Jenn-air electric cooktop, renovating cupboards and cabinets and lots of other minor and major changes.

Last night was dinner with Buck (Zippy's father) and Sue at Barcelona. Yummy Tapa's (and a couple of light and fruity white wine sangria's) and good company; Buck lives down the road but between his travels and our lives, we do not connect all that often. A book collector (with rumored to be 10,000 volumes) he eyed our renovations and newly empty book shelves (we puchased 3 large unfinished shelves a few weeks back), I suspect Zippy will be gifted with a box or two of his books soon.

Today is jazzercise and a special dinner. And hopefully, a bit of a nap mid-day, cause I was up at 3:45 am for some odd reason. Tomorrow is morning yoga and a trip up to MA to have supper with mom and my brothers; not a lot of religious overtones - just family dinner and maybe get mom some flowers.

April 13, 2006

And One Final Post....

The Zipster, tonight, in some philosophical musing before the performance, commented on the strangeness of me and my condition.

"It's like you are sick, but you never get better - you just keep dealing with it. And it gets tiring having to keep listening to it."

And she's right. And it struck me - there is no reason for me to stay sick, except perhaps habit. Need a twelve step program for that......

Oh, and thanks....

....to life. Cause whatever positive karma and vibe you've been raining down on me these past few years seems to be infectious - MYA has been reaping some long overdue good fortune. She needs a lot more, mind you, and I'm doing my damnedest to get her ready.

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" - Seneca

Just What I Needed

I feel like the little red ball in a shell game....

I was planning to do yoga this morning, with Power class (Marcia) or a Gentle class (Shankara) to choose from. Except I knew Marcia was out, and John was subbing, and although I love John's hot class, I was slightly out of tune with that this morning. So I opted for Shankara (who usually kicks my butt, gentle class or no). He's just so rigorous about postures; I really love working on form in his classes.

Except when I got to the studio, I found Kate (my first yoga instructor, for whom I will always have a soft spot cause her spirit and gentle intro class got me hooked into practice) subbing for Shankara, and Kate led a very deliberate gentle class that focused on lower back (where I was particularly tweaky this morning) and after class, I realized, it was just perfect for where I was today.

So, life continues to play the shell game with me, and whatever shell I pick up, I get the prize.

A Life in Her Day

Zippy saw a poster up for a performance this evening at CCSU, by Hilary Chaplain. A clown / magician, who works mostly in mime - her show A Life in Her Day was incredibly funny. Some parts had us howling. She was billed as a sort of hybrid of Charlie Chaplin (no relation, different spelling) and Lucille Ball - though I was catching Gilda Radner (remember her Judy Miller character? Maybe a little more wry and a bit less frenetic...) and even a little bit of the playfulness of Suzzy Roche.

Maybe its a physical resemblence of her character, in both cases. There's even a little resonance with Alyson Court's character Loonette from the Big Comfy Couch.

In any case, I was delighted and charmed by Ms. Chaplain, and urge you to see her if you get the chance. I think she was at the University to teach a workshop to a drama class - the audience was full of young'uns and seemed like a theatre crowd.

More evidence really - so many talented folks in the theater and performing arts - what we see in the mass media is only the very small (and for the most part, sanded smooth) tip of a very large iceberg of talent.

April 12, 2006

The Poor Catholic

The Poor Catholic; The Road to Grace

For over 33 years, Paul Ramunni has worked as an accountant and CPA helping people work out their financial issues and problems. As is the case with accountants and financial advisors, much of the advice given to people to help cure their financial challenges usually includes solutions such as better budgeting, debt consolidation, refinancing mortgages, filing for bankruptcy and/or divorce and similar other plans. Paul reached a point in his career when he felt that these kinds of techniques and solutions seemed to not go far enough. They would appear to work for a while but then many people would tend to make the same mistakes over again and have another set of problems similar to the earlier ones. In a sense he felt he was placing band aids on serious problems that needed more permanent solutions.

Seems like an interesting read. As someone who has been through the financial wringer, as well as someone who is actively seeking a spiritual path (as well as a less consumer oriented life and one detuned from mainstream / pop culture), this seems like it resonates. As a recovering catholic (as well as an abomination, on multiple fronts), I am not sure I would concur on all of Mr. Ramunni's points, but my agnosticism and collage of spiritual beliefs might have room for a book written by a mystical CPA.

Thanks to WAMC and the Roundtable for this one.....

Updating a Website

I'm in the middle of tweaking a website I put together back in '01 or thereabouts. It is full of photos of furniture, and back then I put a page up for each piece (BAD BAD webwench) so now I am just using a script to permit people to scroll through photos / captions. This involves a lot of renaming files, deleting files, stuff like that - mindless really. Long overdue, and should make future updates quicker and easier.

I'm also adding a bunch of new photos (much easier with the new system), reworking my stylesheet (also put together many years ago and working only for IE), adding some more customer updateable blogs, tweaking menus, and other things. I've been trying to get the client to buy in to linking to their customers and commercial contacts (links are good, search engine wise) but from the start, they have been a bit reticent. There is a New England "properness" or sense of propriety involved that does not play well on the "look at me" world of the web.

I'm about 1/2 way through, should finish up today with any luck. It's fairly mindless work, needs to be done - a good "tax week" project. One of my "friend of a friend" web projects - no bucks involved but I sleep on a handmade four poster bed that is without question the highest quality and classiest thing in my trailer trash life....so I guess life has its rewards....

April 10, 2006

Tax Day

A week early. Huzzah. Factoids:

* I made all my quarterly estimated payments in 2005, so I only owed around ~$1000 - definitely manageable, and far less than I had set aside for taxes.

* I upped my quarterly estimated payments this year - just in case 2006 is a good year ::crossing my fingers:: I did have a pretty large check to start the year off so I figure why not plan to succeed.

* Now that 100% of my self employment health insurance is deducted pre AGI (new for 2005) I pretty much dropped below the standard deduction line on page 2 of 1040. I need to buy a house or something. I also need to investigate a Health Care Savings Account.

* I overpaid my state of CT taxes considerably, so I should be all set for 2006 with minimal additional payments.

* I filed my state of CT taxes on the web. No muss, no fuss.

* Self employment / social security taxes just make me cry.

The big picture, however, I AM DONE! A couple of hours to clean up my paperwork and file it away, and I can get back to real work.

A Slow Start

Normally I burst out of bed at 5, am out of the house at 7, and am sitting at the office working soon thereafter. Today I got a slow start - Zippy took care of the dogs, my feet hit slippers at 6:30, and I'm here at work at 8. Banker's hours, in Jude-reckoning.

Yesterday was kind of a long day, I guess - did hot yoga in the morning (the instructor was particularly playful and I was smiling a lot). Zippy and I went for a long bike-ride through the wilds of Newington (we spent a lot of time looking at houses, porches, etc. and deciding if particular neighborhoods would be dyke friendly based mostly on the prevelance of american flags, pick-up trucks, and obsessively manicured lawns). We also stocked up - with trips to Stop n' Shop, CVS, and Appletree.

Later, a friend came over and we watched Before Night Falls, based on the same-named autobiography of Reinaldo Arenas. Very interesting story, well made movie. Between the immigration issues, the embargo, and the cold war between Castro and the USA, we really do not get to see much of Cuba other than stereotypes and cliches - so it was pretty interesting to get a more in depth look, especially of the interface of the gay sub-culture to the regime and military / police. Supporting roles for Johnny Depp and Sean Penn, and Javier Bardem was superb portraying Arenas. Zippy, the eternal reader, has a couple of Arenas books - she pulled one out last night (so we could see how closely Bardem resembled Arenas on the back jacket).

Then we got to talking (Arenas died of AIDS, and we were speculating that had he contracted the disease today he'd still be alive, and that evolved into a bunch of social, political, and cultural topics), which rolled on through until 10:30. Late night for us old people. Hence the late start.

I'm just about ready to get my taxes done; I should know by the end of the day how things look in terms of estimated taxes, and if my savings will cover any shortage and the 1Q 2006 estimated payment. ::crossing fingers::

April 09, 2006

Drunk or In Love

A brief sidebar from a recent post: the foreshadowing of the "cutting my hair" thing echo'd a similar statement in my own past.

When I was young and clueless and enigmatically screaming to the world that there was something more to me, I made the brash statement to a prospective love interest that "....I only dance when I am drunk or in love...." Said love interest took this to heart - and one evening in the midst of dancing, asked "Are you drunk?" and when I insisted, no (perhaps thinking we were discussing my ability to drive), she smiled to herself. Since I was dancing, and not drunk, clearly I must be in love. And yes, I most assuredly was.

Forward to today. Said love interest and I have parted ways (although I will always remain somewhat in love). And I no longer need the ecstatic excuse of alcohol or endorphins to dance. Or maybe, I am drunk on life, or in love with life. I dunno. I dance a lot: jazzercise, yoga, with the dogs, on summer mornings at dawn, even with people on occasion.

I had quite forgotten this bit of the Jude legend.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Just a lovely, lovely film. There was a lot in there - from the beautiful camera work, to the stunning parrots, to the story of Mark. I have to confess that I caught the surprise ending part early on - there was too much love in the film-making and the foreshadowing of the "cutting my hair" thing echo'd a similar statement in my own past. Besides, women named Judy are kind of special, in my book.

I was moved by the dharma bum - finding meaning and purpose in a flock of outcasts and expatriate birds. I was intriqued by the sociology which echo'd the work of Jane Goodall and Diane Fosse, except done in an urban ecosystem, and with birds, not simians. I was reminded of the biblical "...Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them...." Matthew 6:26. I was reminded of the story of the Disabled Fox, which de Mello attributes to the arab mystic Sa'di. Apparently, the folks at St. Andrew's Parish prefer their wisdom to come from the mouth of de Mello; can't be humanizing or legitimizing the terrorists and the pagans, now, can we? Oops....rant.

Back to the movie. As is my wont, I was crying several times (when a particular parrot dies, and when the house-parrots are given away). I've always loved birds; especially since the whole dinosaur-avian evolutionary link was postulated.

The Wild Parrots of Teelgraph Hill - a highly recommended movie!

April 07, 2006

Boku vs. Beaucoup

My brother, who works in law enforcement, occasionally uses the word beaucoup in describing much or many of something. As in "There were beaucoup incidents last night because it was a full moon". Kind of a funny infusion of french into what is often a more blue collar slang or jargon - but it is what it is. And this is not about my brother, I just happen to have noticed him using the word over the years, so I assume it has been making the rounds of usage among the uniformed set.

However, when folks who are unaware of the actual word and/or french roots thereof pick up the word in spoken exchange, and then try to translate that into written communication, I've noticed it has started to be written as Boku.

Which is (choose one) a musical instrument, or the marketing bstardized names of a board game and a juice drink). Or if you are Japanese, a masculine first person reference ("I"). But not a substitue for the word beaucoup.

Please make a note of this.

The Gospel of Judas

This story fascinates me. I've long been interested in the Gnostic gospels - Elaine Pagels et al. Mostly, however, I've been interested in the general gnostic ideas of self salvation and fulfillment, parallels to eastern religions, the whole role of Mary Magdalene, etc.

But now...sheesh - we're hitting on the core of the Jesus story. Judas, the traitor, the potter's field, 40 pieces of silver, all that. Jesus' bud and best friend, the one who could be counted on to carry through and do what needed to be done. This text opens all that to discussion. Can we consider how much anti-semitism is linked to Judas (who always seems to be portrayed as dark and semitic, vs. the more northern european portrayals of Jesus).

My own personal philosophy does not stop at the redemption of earthly villians, but goes all the way to the evil one, who, in a sort of eastern interpretation of christian philosophy, I perceive to be the other side of the christian god, and that the world will remain wounded until the god of lightness and the god of darkness are reunited. But I digress....

Getting back to odd linkages, how cool is the similarity of this alternate look at the Judas myth to this alternate interpretation of another villian?

No one mourns the wicked....

Something is going on in the culture with these antivillians (antihero does not seem to really fit here, and if antivillian catches on, I said it first, dammit)....the next thing we are gonna get is the news that Osama Bin Laden is really a hero, and that the 9/11 attacks were a good thing (because they prevented or diverted a much more tragic attack)

Bits and Pieces

Life feels strangely scattered, with a lot of change in the air. The workweek was pretty fragmented, with things like yoga and chasing down a new cell phone and a vet appointment and visiting MYA breaking things up. I got my April 1 invoicing done, I got a few reports done, I got a ticketing system up and operating, I got a chunk of taxes done. But its hard to generate a list of "done and off my desk" accomplishments this week.

The weekend looms, with not a lot of solid obligations, but lots of possibilities. Spending time with MYA on Saturday, going to try to exercise twice, spend some time with the Zipster, maybe watch one of the pending movies. I need to plow through my taxes. Maybe spend some time changing over the winter wardrobe for spring and summer. The weather looks stormy and iffy so not a lot going on outside.

April 05, 2006

Lost Phone

In light of a lost (and now cancelled) cell phone, the concept of killing off my work voice mail, having the work number forward to the cell phone and the cell phone go to voice mail seems less sensible. Oh well, live and learn - I'll replace the cell tomorrow. Grumble. I tried all the usual tricks - called up the places I last was (a Dunkin Donuts and my mentee's) and called the cell a bunch of times (mostly to see if it was in my bag or car, but also in the hopes that someone woudl answer it).

My guess is that I left it at the Dunkin Donuts on North Main in Bristol - I called there to inquire about it (no, we did not find a cell phone) but immediately after that, the cell phone (which had been ringing a few times, then transferring to voice mail) was suddenly busy (going right to voice mail). I bet I left it in the bathroom; I asked the woman to check. Bet she found it and decided to make some calls. Sorry sucka....I cancelled it minutes later. Be interesting to see where that last call was made too.....

Pretty boring night. I ran over to Bristol, MYA and I took a car load of cans / bottles back for her mom, and then we went to a chinese buffet (a far cry from the Royal Buffet in Manchester).

File This under Weather

A little wet snow out there this morning. Let's hope its the last gasp of winter. The shovels are stowed and we are well into the season clothing change-over round these parts.

Come on Spring!

Chipping Away at Things

I'm slowly building to the chaotic cacophany of activity that will result in getting my taxes done. April invoicing done. Large spreadsheet finished and shipped. Ticket system updated for 2006 (I am punting on getting the planned upgrade done this summer, will shoot for the winter season.....) and after that I should be able to send another invoice. I have some minor website errands to finish, and a more substantial yet less time critical photo upgrade pending. After that - pretty much nothing to do but taxes....

Zippy and I walked the younger dogs last night - we pretty much gave up because the youngster's bad behavior (tug of war with the leash, being aggressive with the other dog) but its time to get back to that and try to get him civilized. For my trouble, I got a lacerated middle finger (got caught in the leash or his nails or something) while I was correcting him. Stupid dog. He settles down after about 50 feet of being an asshole, but those 50 feet can be pretty frustrating.

I did get to yoga yesterday - "power" yoga to add to my menu of choices. I really like having multiple teachers at the studio and multiple options. It's taken me a bunch of months to work my way through the various options, which is good - if I had attempted a hot or power session at the start, I might have gotten scared off (or hurt) but by going slowly and working up to it, things are OK. In any case, I have found myself drawing from a bunch of teachers in my postures and trying to distill a lowest common denominator core. But its kind of neat to consider "I need a session with ___________" at times, and at other times to sort of let my energy be guided from outside in terms of what class I go to and with what instructor - each of the instructors brings a different vibe or energy or focus. I am trying hard not to stick to one specific class or instructor, since I think it might get easy to go for the goodies and avoid the edges. And I kind of enjoy when I go to a class that is dual facilitated and do not know which instructor I am going to get, or perhaps when I go to a class that has a substitute. I like that sort of randomness - better to learn balance in a bit of a breeze.

Right now my problem is too much exercise or activity - between 2-3 jazzercise sessions a week and 2-3 yoga sessions, I am really spending a lot of time in that realm. And with the weather picking up (current conditions notwithstanding) I'll soon having walking and biking and hiking and roller blading on the menu. Not a bad addiction, I guess....

We have two Netflix movies pending: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Before Night Falls. Lest you consider us film snobs, we've been spending more time with Dave Chappelle's first season DVD than anything else - we caught on to Mr. Chappelle fairly late in his Comedy Central reign, and our cable company pulled Comedy Central from the uber-basic service we have, so it's a guilty pleasure. I was visiting MYA's GSA last week and the kids were talking about Chappelle incessantly so I picked it up when we were at Target over the weekend.

April 04, 2006

We need the rain

I am one of those annoying pollyannas who like the rain. I see it as a natural cleansing. I appreciate the need to water plants, to fill rivers and reservoirs, to depollinate the air. My whole zen light/dark, good/bad philosophy demands rain to counterbalance the sunshine. I guess I can get tired of rain of biblical proportions, such as Hawaii has been experiencing, and the backyard flooding is mildly annoying. But really, rain is a good thing. Bring it on!

April 03, 2006

Power Spreadsheets

When you take the time to write AUTO_OPEN and AUTO_CLOSE macros so as to clear out table contents upon file closing, and reload them when you open the file to get the file size down under 5 Meg, you are entering the world of Power User in terms of Excel / spreadsheets.

I just finished up a big revision of a large, complex, and macro-laden spreadsheet for a client, and I am mucha happy to have it off my "to do" list and be able to invoice for it!

Shooting Hoops

Zippy and I grabbed a basketball and went and found a public basketball court (no mean task*) to shoot some hoops on yesterday.

Kind of odd for us (with a mean age of close to 50) to enjoy that, but we both did. Zippy has a pretty good shooting form (in a sort of Bob Cousy, flat-footed way) and I like dribbling in for layups and sky hooks. I do some graphics work for the local WNBA team so I get to be around tall, hoops-playing women most of the summer, which makes my 40 something blood want to get on the court now and then, and Sunday was the kind of day that stir up a youthful "let's get out and play" attitude.

Kind of fun. I think both of us did not get enough sports as kids - Zippy has issues with competition, so a shoot-around for fun is great; had we played one-on-one or horse we would have ended up fighting. And I was always the last picked for any sort of team sports, being somewhat clumsy and fragile.

* We headed south from Hartford into Newington looking for a basketball court. We suspect that suburban schools no longer install outdoor courts because they are perceived to be a magnet for the wrong sorts of people (yeah, THOSE people) and suburban kids are likely to have a driveway hoop up somewhere on the block. Even our 'somewhat on the suburban fringes' neighborhood has a couple of portable hoops and a street game going most weekends and afternoons. We finally found an old court with serviceable hoops at Churchill Park in Newington. We had a good discussion on racism while we drove around looking for some place to play.

New Month, New Week

Zippy and a friend went to a rare Sunday concert last night, so I ended up at the office, getting my end of the month stuff done and doing some work on a spreadsheet. The next two weeks are gonna be busy; the aforementioned spreadsheet needs to be completed, as does a ticketing system for another client. And my taxes. Ugh.

The spreadsheet is getting large; it may be time to do another tweak on the size. I have some AUTO OPEN and AUTO CLOSE routines that clear out cells on closing and repopulate them on opening, and I may need to confirm those are working right as well as migrate that to a couple of other places in the workbook.

Definitely a productive weekend. The entire yard got cleaned up, all the garden bricks got reset, many bushes and shrubs got trimmed, including the most hated roses beside the driveway. My back feel slightly achey and large this morning, although while I was on hands and knees digging with the bricks, I felt all the benefits of yoga in terms of sprightly jumping from spot to spot.

I also got in jazzercise and yoga, and we ran lots of consumer errands. The dogs got up around 5:15 but I have kept them unfed until now; I am trying to get them into a more civilized 6 am feeding (and waking / fussing) schedule.

April 02, 2006

Go Outside. Now.

It's April 2 and it freaking gorgeous out. We're in for lunch, in between shooting hoops and working on the yard.

If you are inside at the moment. GET OUT NOW.

That is all.

Meet the New Time...

....same as the old time.

Daylight Savings snuck up on me this spring (as it usually does). I changed the bedroom alarm clock last night before bed; and the microwave and living room clocks this morning. I'm still up disgustingly early. I was expecting a phone call from Balloon Boy (hereafter BB) to chase balloons this morning which never came. Expecting that, I went to bed early (8 pm!) so I got a lot of sleep. But no call. Which frees me up for yoga (most likely) or jazzercise (less likely) this morning.

Zippy, awake and confused about the time change, fed the dogs at 5 am which is not a good thing; I was hoping we might use the time change to recalibrate their stomachs to 6 am. Grrr....

Saturday was pretty quiet - I exercised, then we went to various stores (stop n' shop, home depot, appletree) and stocked up on stuff. We did a bunch of yard work (raked, cleaned up sticks and branches) and I am hoping to do some bush trimming and garden pruning today. I had a small hissy fit related to an old wooden push broom with a handle that would not stay afixed (so we got a new one at home depot). We also watched a small TV movie called The Mighty which was pretty cute. Bit of a heartstring tugging story of two outcast kids, with lots of talent in the adult roles. (Gena Rowlands, Harry Dean Stanton, Sharon Stone, James Gandolfini, Gillian Anderson, Meatloaf)

Reminded me a little of The Fisher King (adult outcasts and imagined knights) but also of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany - Freak and Owen seemed to share the same illness, and were simialrly gifted. Or something. It was a cute and well made movie, and we were both wiping tears away at the end. Based on a novel by Rodman Philbrick (who has a really well designed website), its a good afternooon watch, especially if you are/were an outcast as a kid. Thinking of picking it up for Zippy, who loves all books and especially kids books....

April 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sis!

A shout out to my little sister Kathy whose birthday is today! Our dad nicknamed her "Doodlebug" and childhood pictures (what few there are) show her hair to have been porcupine straight and omnidirectional. As the eldest, I got both the good hair and full documentation as a baby - but she's made up for that by being a pretty incredible woman all her life!

The link is to an old website featuring a band she once did lead vocals for. She is singularly un-google-able (unlike myself, who has left a trail that is wide, deep, diverse, and goes back to the earliest days of the web, which the Internet Archive reminds me of from time to time). There are lots of internet visible people who share her names (married and maiden) so its hard to find much about her.

These days she is a mom and wife and working part-time in the financial services end of things. She's still a hottie. We are a year apart and shared a bedroom for a bunch of years, and there is a closeness with her that has waxed and waned over the years but I suspect will be there til the end.
I am sure she struggled to be going through school in the shadow of her older, geekier, class brain sibling, as I was to have to deal with a younger sister for whom things like dating and popularity and standing on her hands came more easily. As we age, we are becoming more alike. She's still the family hottie, but she had a head start!

Happy birthday, Doodlebug! I love you and am proud of you!

Cowboys and Indians

We went to see The World's Fastest Indian last night at Real Art Ways. Just a truly well crafted and delightful little movie. We delighted at the old cars, Anthony Hopkins was great as Burt Munro, and I was much taken with the Bonneville Salt Flats "speed week" folks (who seemed to me akin to my hot air balloon friends, a folk festival, and a gearhead version of burning man). Somewhere along the way I had picked up some knowledge of the land speed record vehicles so it was cool to see them portrayed and the whole speed week event on film. Cowboys, indeed.

Real Art Ways is gearing up for their 30th Anniversary / Real Party on April 8th. If you have $175 to drop on a ticket, you get to be at one of the premiere arts / social events / fundraisers of the season, and you get to take home a piece of art. The list of contributing artists is impressive, I noticed Yoko Ono, Bill Griffith (Zippy!) and a friend Mark Catalina (or here) on the list of legions, not being an art aficianado, I am sure there are more notable names. I ended up going last year (a friend who is a long time RAW supporter had bought tickets which last year were sold in pairs, and wanted company - she got the art).

I really liked the Real Party logo this year, graphically. (The "free art" is all on a fixed sized canvas, so the logo mirrors the art on the wall) Marketing geek, me.

Also, for you folks surfing over from Colin's blog, please note silent auction item:
Co-Host with WTIC personality Colin McEnroe on his popular and feisty radio show.

Popular *and* feisty, eh? Maybe Joe Lieberman will bid....