Sunday, November 28, 2010

Returning to Blog

I'm on day four of my four day weekend. It's been years since I took the day after Thanksgiving off and I'm so glad that I did. Had a great Thanksgiving. I joined friends at Bahia Honda State Park where they host the holiday dinner for park staff and volunteers. I usually meet some interesting people at those gatherings and thoroughly enjoy myself.

This year I tried something new for my food contribution to the feast. I roasted rutabagas, carrots and red onions in a yummy mixture of balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and I thought the dish was delicious so I know I'll make it again during the year.

I spent several hours over the last few days setting up my new laptop. It even has new laptop smell. Frankly, it could have stunk like three day old fish and I wouldn't have cared. I'd been pushed to the edge of sanity by the e-obsessed antics of my old laptop. Some nights I could barely short circuit the machine long enough to type in my password and log on. I survived by checking email mostly on my iPhone and then using the netbook.

I love my little netbook. It's so convenient for travel. However, I don't find it comfortable to type on for long hours, so I wasn't as prone to blogging for awhile. Now I'm back.

I also spent a good chunk of time on the de-cluttering of the room that's supposed to be my office. It is amazing to me that no matter how often I tell myself that I will not let that room get out of control, it always defeats my best intentions. This might be because I often employ the Scarlet O'Hara approach to neatening and filing as in, "I'll do it tomorrow because tomorrow is another day." Do that often enough and the room quickly qualifies for an episode of Clean Sweep. I'm happy to say that I can now see a good amount of acreage on the floor and the mountains of paper have all been sorted into file folders or shredded. The "15 Minutes" approach really works. Telling myself that I only had to work on it for 15 minutes at a time made the process less overwhelming. Usually I worked far longer but clearly the idea gave me a mental boost.

Now that I've decluttered the office, I can declutter the section of kitchen counter that is a catch-all for miscellaneous stuff. Do you sense a trend?

When you aren't a natural neatnik, nothing provides greater motivation for putting things in order than a deadline. In two weeks, my house is the host location for a baby shower for good friends. Two other friends and I are arranging the party with guys and gals invited. I needed to have everything straightened by this weekend so that I can put up some holiday decorations next weekend. The week before the shower I'll break out the heavy-duty cleaning weapons and accomplish a big task each night.

The last of those big tasks will be the floors and rugs. Cleaning them before the day of the party would be the equivalent of Martha Stewart meets Sisyphus. You see, in addition to everything else, construction began last week for my swimming pool. It is physically impossible for me to walk into the house without tracking dust or traces of dirt with me on my sandals. Some the morning of the shower, I will sweep away any dirt or sand in the driveway and then sweep, vacuum and mop the floors. My house is going to sparkle like a star on top of a Christmas tree. I'm determined!

Admid everything else, work progresses on the revitalization of my writing career. A cover artist is working on new covers for my two books. I had a phone consult with a new web designer. I'm going through the books themselves and getting them ready for conversion to e-format. This is an exciting time for me as an author. No matter how much we know that publishing is a business, we put our heart, sweat, time, energy and talent into our books and want them to do well. To be able to give my work another chance is a big time boost and motivates me to write new material, too.

Particularly now that I have a new laptop and can actually type. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Not Quite as Entertaining Blog

Last night I wrote a really fun, entertaining blog about my weekend experience with the Ladies Let's Go Fishing Seminar. Right before I hit "Publish Post", the power went out, including the modem for my DSL. Bye-bye, blog post. :-(

By the time the power came back, I was so tired that I couldn't even think of recreating the previous post. So, forgive me, but we'll all have to settle for these random thoughts.

The LLGF was terrific with lots of great information and tips, skill stations where we learned and practiced, and a fun, enthusiastic group of women together because we all like to fish and want to get even better at the sport. I picked up gear that I needed at great savings off of regular retail in the silent auction and won one of the auction prizes. I bought a custom graphite fishing rod that's, be still my heart, purple! Most importantly, I met some really sweet women.

Next to the fun I personally experienced, I thoroughly enjoyed two sisters in particular. I'm horrible at guessing ages, but I think they were somewhere in their 50s. Neither of them had ever fished but one sister told me that they'd decided they needed to learn and experience new things. They thought that fishing sounded like something fun so they signed up for the seminar.

I loved their spirit and enthusiasm. Every time I saw them they looked like they were having a great time. We were on the same party fishing boat yesterday morning so I was right next to them when they each caught their first fish. They grinned like kids and the joy was infectious.

Great lesson for all of us in those two ladies. See out new experiences and enjoy them to their fullest!

Earlier tonight I was waiting at an intersection for a break in traffice so that I could pull out on the highway. A car was approaching from my left so I couldn't move forward. The driver pulled nearer and nearer and then turned into the street where I was sitting. Did he put his blinker on to signal that intention? Nooo. After I stopped muttering, I looked at the thing as a metaphor. How often in our lives do we wait to act because we need to see what someone else is going to do? How much better would it be if other people always indicated what action or direction they planned to take instead of proceeding without giving a clue?

Some would say that we shouldn't live our lives based on the actions of others. I'd say that sometimes that's right. Other times, like today when the wrong move could result in a collision with bodily harm, it's better to wait. For me, the moral is that we need to assess the risks and possible consequences before we act.

I'm working on a new mantra for myself these days. "Thinks can only upset me to the extent that I permit." It's important to keep things in perspective. Often this is easier in theory than in practice. Sometimes it takes, well, practice. I'm considering it a work in progress. :-)

What "work in progress" are you working on in your life?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Shopping Guides

You'd think after 17 years of purchasing and owning personal computers, including four laptops -- Oh wait, I also have a netbook, so that's actually five laptops -- anyway, you'd think I'd understand what I need and what to look for in terms of processors, speed, memory, capacity, features, and so on.

I kind of do. I say "kind of" because I know what I use my laptops for and what I need them to be able to do. The problem lies in pairing up the usage needs with the specs of the different machines. Armed with my needs, I go on different manufacturers' websites and do my best to comparison shop. Unfortunately, I don't think the laptops are marketed according to what's intuitive for me.

At the heart of things, I automatically assume that bigger/more/faster is more desirable than "not as much". It's like I approach computer shopping with the same mindset that people used for selecting new cars back in the 60s and 70s.

Car shopping's easier, even with the obnoxious sales tactics.

For several weeks, I've known that I need to buy a new laptop. The current one still thinks that its e is depressed. I have to hit a shortcut button whenever I turn on the machine and then backspace and delete all of the eeeees that have already shown up in the password field. Handy thing that short cut button because, spontaneously, rows of eeeeeeeeeeeeeeees begin to appear. Even before this problem began, on a more regular basis the computer took me on an unexpected detour to the land of the Blue Screen. Not fun.

I've cruised different laptop manufacturer sites and attempted to comparison shop. I succeeded in getting overwhelmed. That model's lighter but not fast enough. The other one is heavier but faster and has a bigger screen and hard drive. The most expensive one has the fastest processor, the most RAM, and 500 GB HDD. Wow. Impressive stats but none felt just right.

I wish the companies would do what my friend and non-blood niece Hope just did. In a couple of concise paragraphs she made all of the numbers and specs make sense as they relate to what I need in a laptop. I no longer have to worry about whether I'm getting too fast or too slow a processor or too much or too little capacity in my hard drive. I know what to shoot for in RAM.

Now I can shop with greater confidence in my information. I'm prepared to make a good decision instead of stumbling around like a Technically Deficient Goldilocks trying to figure out which one is just right.

Some people need personal shoppers to help them pick out wardrobes. Everybody who knows how to use a computer, if not necessarily how to buy one, needs a Hope.

Thanks, Hope!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fishing for Knowledge

I'm so flipping happy that the elections are over and we'll have six months without relentless campaign lies, er, ads. I'm so disgusted with politics in general that tonight, the voting results I cared about most were the ones that told me who got kicked off Dancing with the Stars.

I went out fishing on my boat with friends on Sunday and had a blast. Today I read our organization's president annual report letter. How are these two things connected? Both experiences resonated with me that things are very different when you're the ship's captain than when you're part of the crew.

I've fished all of my life with my parents or more experienced friends. Now I hope to take out less experienced people in the not too distant future. I'm really grateful that friends who know what they're doing went out with me on Sunday -- and that they shared their knowledge. I soaked up tips, hints, facts, techniques -- and a couple of really good spots to try.

Later that night, I wrote down stuff so I wouldn't forget. I have a new shopping list of items that I need to add to my tackle box and gear bag before I go out again.

My boss's letter shared something that she learned from our late president. Namely, that a good leader has to recognize what she doesn't know. Then, she can find people who have that area of expertise and add them to the team.
On Sunday's trip, there were a dozen things that I immediately realized I didn't know. Now I do. This will make me a better, more prepared and competent captain. I'm excited about the entire process. In a couple of weeks I'm taking a weekend fishing seminar for women only and am really looking forward to adding to my storehouse of information.

Fish will fear me. :-)

Cora shows off her keeper red-grouper

Drew and I with our grouper and lane snapper

My first hogfish!