Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 1 in Colorado

After two peaceful flights from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta and Atlanta to Denver, I picked up my silver Dodge Caliber (cute, large trunk, and pretty good clearance for a compact) and set off.

I made my way through the eastern and southern suburbs, oohing and ahhing over the view of the Rockies at every turn. Once I made my way to Morrison, I spent a couple hours at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. It's probably the most magnificent thing I've ever seen; photos (even those better than mine) could not do it justice. It's overwhelmingly mammoth and gorgeous. The air is pretty thin at 6,200 feet, so the other tourists and I were so winded that we had to stop every few steps while walking up the amphitheatre; the local joggers, most of whom were accompanied by their large dogs, didn't seemed fazed at all. But by the time I left, I was completely exhausted. After trekking around the park, you can rest your lungs and quads by walking through the visitor's center, where they have on display concert posters, signed guitars and other memorabilia from bands that have played there through the years (Big Head Todd included, of course).







Not too exhausted to head north to historic Golden, which has a western flair (possibly manufactured, but cute nonetheless). This town is also seated right at the foot of the Rockies, so the land is hilly and the views are great. (It's worth mentioning that the sun seems much bigger here in Colorado than at home, not to mention stronger and brighter; I suppose that's because I'm a mile closer to it! :P Anyway, this seems to have created a hazy effect in most of the photos I took today.) The town is adorable, it's full of bronze sculptures, and the creek is populated by what look like Canadian geese; oh, and it has an indy bookstore. Yeah! The Coors Brewery was closed for tours today for some reason, so no free sample for me; ho hum.







I checked into my hotel, took a power nap, and went for dinner at a local brewery called Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. It's a pretty cool place, full of TVs showing college ball games, a very nice cobb salad; their homemade Red Rocks Red was creamy (if you like Smithwick's, you'd dig this for sure). Nice touch: You can see the big beer kettles (is that what they're called?) from the street through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

I capped the night off with a decaf by the (faux) fire at Caribou Coffee. Now I'm going to bed, if I can - seems some of the folks in my building are fond of screaming, running up and down the halls and slamming doors. I need my rest, right? Tomorrow will be a long day, what with the Big Head Todd and the Monsters New Year's Eve show and all. :D

Friday, December 26, 2008

The mountains' call

The mountains are calling, and so here I am, packing for a nine-day trip to Colorado. I'm not all that experienced with dead-of-winter vacations in the Rocky Mountains, so filling the suitcase has been interesting. But I haven't had too much trouble creating a Wish List of places and things I don't want to miss during my stay.

I'll be spending most of my time in the Denver/Boulder area, winding my way through the surrounding towns of Morrison, Golden, etc. There will also be a two-night side trip to Aspen, with stops in Breckenridge and Vail on the way in and out. I was hoping to visit the Garden of the Gods and ride the cog railway up Pike's Peak, and maybe take a drive up over the Wyoming line to Laramie; but if the weather is as snowy as it's been lately, my lack of winter driving skills will preclude me from taking those side trips this time around. I'll just have to come back during the summer sometime soon - perhaps in early June when Big Head Todd and the Monsters open the concert season at Red Rocks Amphitheatre!

All in all, I won't be taking as many "chances" as I normally would, because I will have my 14-year-old cousin with me and have to play "grown up" - that means a skiing lesson is likely out, too. But that's all OK with me, because, as most of you know, I'm not terribly adventurous when it comes to activities that could, ya know, compromise the integrity of my spinal cord, and I'm really stoked about spending tons of one-on-one time with my favorite mini-me. :)

I'm bound to miss some of these things and discover places I didn't plan on, but here's what I've got so far...

I'll keep you posted with photos, videos, and updates here throughout my trip.

WISH LIST

Denver
Tattered Cover bookstore
Colorado History Museum
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
16th Street Mall
Larimer Square
State Capitol
Blue Bear at the Convention Center
Molly Brown House Museum
Twist and Shout record store
REI Outlet (namely, the mammoth rock climbing wall)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science (only for the view from the 3rd floor)
Coors Field (perhaps best left for the summer trip)
Invesco Field at Mile High (unfortunately, I'll be there just days after the Bronco's final home game)
El Chapultepec restaurant and jazz venue
Herman's Hideaway (this likely won't happen - no shows are scheduled during my trip)
Mezcal restaurant
Cry Baby Ranch store
Common Grounds coffeeshop
Spicy Pickle Sub Shop (OK, some things on this list are based on friends' recommendations)

Boulder
Hotel Boulderado
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art
Pearl Street Mall

Aspen
J-Bar
Woody Creek Tavern
Funky Mountain Threads store
Silver Queen Gondola (if non-skiers are allowed in the winter)
The Popcorn Wagon
ride in the Ultimate Taxi

In general
try buffalo meat
take a horse-drawn sleigh ride
go snow tubing
ride the Pike's Peak Cog Railway
climb around the sandstone at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
get a photo at the Continental Divide
dinner at The Fort in Morrison
tour the Coors Brewery in Golden
shop at Weber's Books and Drawings in Breckenridge
make a snow angel :P

Holiday lights!
Union Station
Brown Palace Hotel (the huge tree in the lobby)
D&F Tower
the city and county building
pine trees in the mountains!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And he doesn't succumb to the soup



Crazy. Remember Point Break? "It's not tragic to die doing what you love. If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I believe

I came across this quote today, and it struck me as so true that I thought I should share.

Who so loves, believes the impossible.

-- Elizabeth Barret Browning

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yet another reason to love those Coloradans

...especially the ones in Boulder!

Seems the students at University of Colorado at Boulder worked together to make the Buffaloes' homecoming game 90% waste free. I find it incredible that this goal was important to enough people to make it happen. But I shouldn't be surprised; health, fitness, environmental concern and a love for the outdoors seem almost to be requirements for living in that part of the world. A lazy litterbug? Stay in Virginia, or Alabama, or whatever state happens to be the least "green" (I'll research that and get back to you in a later post).

Anyway, here's what Ideal Bite (a super-cool Web site that sends a very do-able "go green" tip to your e-mail box each day) has to say about it:

Can't get all excited over draft picks and dream teams? Bet (C)U can: Even if you go just for the tailgate party, you'll have a good time knowing tomorrow's homecoming Buffs game'll be 90% zero waste. All the nachos, burgers, and pizzas sold at FF now come in eco-friendly containers with biodegradable utensils - and huddled around 50 stadium spots are recycling and composting bins, with signs and student volunteers showing you what to drop-kick where. The new program will keep more than 54 tons o' garbage outta landfills this season - and put the black gold, er, compost, back on CU's campus. Stat.

Wanna Try? CU Buffaloes homecoming game; Oct. 4, 5 p.m. Folsom Field, Colorado Ave. & Folsom St., Boulder; Tickets, $50-$95.

An afterthought: Seems you can tell a good college football team by the cost of their tickets. The Buffs charge at least $50 a ticket. It costs as little as $5 to see my Owls in action. (That's Florida Atlantic University for your folks living north of the Florida/Georgia border, and no they're not having a good season so far, but there's time for redemption!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to choose a favorite hockey team

Well, perhaps it's not the best way, especially when it comes to fantasy play (trust me!), but it is an option for you serious boozers out there. :)

Puck Daddy's (sometimes amusing) blog reported today on the average cost of an evening of hockey fun. As P.D. states, most of us don't fit under that "typical family night" umbrella of four hot dogs, two ball caps, two small beers and so on for $288.23.

Most folks just want the beer, and lots of it. And if they can't afford what's sold at the arena, they'll pre-drink in the parking lot - or avoid the crowd entirely, enjoying the game at home with a remote in one hand and a 12-pack in the other. (This makes me wonder if the arena owners wouldn't make more cash by making beer affordable for the heavy-drinking masses, rather than only to a small few. But, anyway...)

So, what's the going rate for Panthers fans? It seems those money-hungry bastards at the BankAtlantic Center charge $7 for a 20-ounce beer - that's 35 cents an ounce. No wonder I don't booze it up when I'm at the games! (The 40-minute drive home has something to do with that, too.)

Based on this list, I'm thinking I oughtta start traveling to games in Pittsburgh ($0.25/ounce) or Washington ($0.28/ounce).

Can you afford to take a date to your next home game?

Monday, October 06, 2008

She kicked my butt tonight!

This was much too advanced for me, as evidenced by the ruby red color of my face and the heels of my palms, not to mention the nausea caused by my quivering abdominals. But I was able to tailor it by modifying the asanas, the amount of time I held them, or both.

For instance, I just can't hold the plank for more than a few seconds, especially after I've attempted it a few times, so I replaced it with downward dog once in a while as a "break". I'm not yet able to even get into the tree pose let alone hold it, so I twisted from plank and from warrior. And don't even get me started on jumping through!

The 15- to 50-minute window was the toughest, and I absolutely had to take a 3-minute water-and-breath break around the 25-minute mark. But please don't misunderstand. This post isn't meant as a complaint; on the contrary, I was thrilled with this session, and it was far from a complete failure.



I can't remember all the asanas, but I felt a happy mix of challenge and accomplishment with the warrior (1 and 2, I think), chair and triangle. I have trouble getting into navasana (the boat pose) because it hurts when I press my lower back into the ground; but I really like how I immediately feel my core muscles. And I certainly perfected the savasana (corpse pose) at the end! :)

I'm just happy to have found a great core-strengthening, heart-rate-hiking yoga workout - just what I need. She kicked my butt, and I loved it!

Check out YogaToday.com, where you'll find a new, hour-long (or so) yoga workout each day. Not only are they shot outside in soul-stirringly (so what if it's not a word) gorgeous Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but it's free! Try it; you'll really like it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Question of the Day: Characteristics (a work in progress)

This post will be a work in progress for a day or two, as today's a fairly thought-provoking question born of a "What IS it you like about him?" conversation.

What uncommon characteristic or often-unnoticed habit would pique your interest in a stranger, romantic or otherwise?

My answer:
I noticed that I liked that a certain guy said "Right on" all the time; don't know why, since that repetition would otherwise be annoying to me. I'll update as I think of other (hopefully less ridiculous) instances...

(C'mon, you aren't intimidated by a somewhat uncomfortable question, are ya? Post your answer as a comment...)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recent findings: moose, blues and silent films

I'm about to share with you some sweet, funny, amazing things that some fine folks recently shared with me. Enjoy.

Mama moose and her twin babies
Anchorage, Alaska
June 2008



Matt Anderson
Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
September 2008



"Bangville Police"
Keystone Cops silent film series
Keystone Film Company
1912 through 1917

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Question of the Day: Backstage

If you could go backstage to any concert, which would it be? Why? (You can be specific about venue, opening act, etc., if you like.)

My answer:
Big Head Todd & the Monsters, featuring Hazel Miller. Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. Maybe David Gray or Iron & Wine as the opener. They'd do a pretty good job of easing ya into a night of Todd's beautiful chaos. (Anyone surprised by my answer? I'm nothing if not predictable.)

(Come on, now. Post your answer as a comment!)

Big Head's captured on video again

Here are few videos of Big Head Todd and the Monsters in action. They never cease to amaze me. Just genius.

This year's Red Rocks show, which I sadly missed:





Minnesota State Fair:

(I love me some Cash, especially when Todd's chaneling him.)


And finally, a back-stage look at the band prepping for a gig in their home town of Boulder this spring:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Question of the day: Drinking

After a not-necessarily-necessary hiatus, Question of the Day is back and (probably not) better than ever! Ya hoo!

Here goes: They're thinking (don't ask who "they" are, just go with it) of lowering the legal drinking age to 18. Some argue that if someone is mature enough to vote for our leaders and fight in our wars, he's surely mature enough to do all other "adult" things, like drink alcohol. What do you think?

Answers so far:
~ I think that they should make the age 18, because I believe that when you are an adult you can make your own decisions.
~ Allow 18-year-olds, but only if they're enlisted in the service.
~ I think it should be 45, but look who's talking, right?!

My answer:
I'm not convinced that the majority of 18-year-olds are mature enough to drink, but then, I'd say the same for most 21-year-olds. Truth is, it does seem only fair and logical to declare a certain age that is "THE passage into adulthood." If it's 18, then it's 18 - or 21, or 35, or whatever. But military artillery, ballots and 40s of cheap beer should become accessible at the same time - whatever time that may be.

(Wanna answer? Create a comment!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The perfect man?

While walking along the boardwalk at the beach the other night, as I usually do in the evenings, I made my way through the sometimes-heavy maze of families with strollers and skipping toddlers, saw couples canoodling on park benches, and heard bicyclists whizzing by.

Eventually I made my way to the southern tip of the mile-long stretch, a lovely place to walk out to the point and watch the last of the day's orange light illuminate the white edges of the sea's chop.

The sound and smell are meditative and good for all that ails me, an unlikely panacea. I digress...

My point is that, while looking out over the ocean's frothy edge, I noticed a young man sitting on a picnic table (actually on the table itself, with feet resting on the seat, the way young men often do). He was reading a small book that almost disappeared behind his large palms. He was the guy I'd seen skateboarding up the coast a few moments ago, something that almost always catches my attention.

So, that evening, as I walked away from the boy reader I wished I was brave enough to interrupt, I wondered if perhaps he wasn't the perfect boy reader for me? A man (not a boy at all, really) of about my age who still skateboards (but clearly these days for his peaceful enjoyment rather than to showboat for girls) and spends the beginnings of his evenings in the shadow of a few tall palms at the end of the coastline reading a tiny jewel of a book no doubt full of lovely phrases. I wanted so much to read over his shoulder for a bit, to know those phrases.

For a moment, I felt as though I was in one of those movies in which two people, fated to fall in love, first encounter one another in an odd way at a strange place for only a second. And so, because they didn't really meet at all, they're forced to find one another again via the "Missed Opportunities" section in the newspaper's classified ads.

Life should only be so romantic. In the end, I'm pleased simply to know such people exist. It was a lovely night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's coming up?

Spring is the time for fairs and festivals in South Florida - we only hang outside during the winter here, hibernating in the 95-degree summer like northerners do in the dead of winter. But summer is time for air-conditioned entertainment. I just started running that beloved a/c in the car this weekend, so I'm already looking forward to some indoor fun (no, not that kind, piggy):
~ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes out this Thursday. 'Nuf said.
~ Florida SuperCon runs this Friday through Sunday. It's for people who dig comics, manga, anime, cosplay, and actors from "Harry Potter," "Clerks," Cartoon Network, etc.
~ A craft fair will run at the Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale Saturday through Memorial Day. I haven't been able to find any details about this fair, so I'm not sure if it's a Granny's-crocheted-tissue-box-cover-type event or something younger, funkier and punkier, a la Craft Mafia. (Don't get excited by that last statement; it's definitely NOT a snazzy mafia get-together.)
~ The Strangers and Sex and the City opens next Friday, May 30. Acquaintances who saw an early release of "Sex" say it's everything it ought to be. I just fear the variety of trailers that've aired on TV have given away entirely too much of the movie. "Strangers" looks like it might be a satisfying thriller, for a change.
~ Kung Fu Panda opens June 6. Kick ass! Animated critters AND Jack Black... I'm hopeful, but a little voice in the back of my head warns me to not get my hopes up. Whattaya think?
~ The Fort Lauderdale Home Design & Remodeling Show should be really cool - not nearly as cool as a car show, but perhaps on par with a boat or RV show. Yes, I'm a geek. What of it? I'm also hoping to buy a home in the near future, so I'm hoping to stumble across a useful tip or two while drooling over remodeling marvels that are out of my financial reach: marble countertops and showers-made-for-five, for instance.
~ The Incredible Hulk AND The Happening open on the same day, June 13. OMG OMG OMG. No one will see me outside of a theater that weekend. (Yes, I realize this has devolved into a list of upcoming flicks, but trust me, there are plenty I'm planning to see that you didn't have to suffer through here. Bear with me and read on...)
~ We're celebrating one of my bestest girls' 24th birthday at Off the Hookah, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, you'll find belly dancers and hookahs, plus hummus and alcohol and US! Oh yeah.
~ Here comes more ass kicking... The Broward County Derby Grrls is having two bouts on their home turf (that is, at the Gold Coast Roller Rink in Fort Lauderdale) on June 15 and July 13 before several months of "away" carnage. A friend and I watched these girls in action this weekend, and they definitely deserve their own post - hang tight; it's coming.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Question of the Day: Services

What single service is most worth paying for?

Answers so far:
~ Driver
~ Somebody to drive me around and then do my laundry, so I guess a maid/driver.
~ Car wash

My answer:
My initial thought was to choose something extravagant, but of course it would be something I don't actually currently pay anyone to do for me. So, I started thinking of the services that I either now pay, or have in the past paid, someone to do for me. Having the house cleaned gives me more free time and thus sanity. Having my car detailed does the same, as well as spares me from that hard work in the hot sun, but I invariably regret "my laziness" when I see spots I'm sure I wouldn't have missed if I'd just done it myself. So, I'll go with a haircut; it's the single thing I really, truly know I wouldn't have - couldn't have - done better myself, and not walking around with a butchered mullet (self-inflicted, no less) is worth every penny.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Question of the Day: Books

What's the last book you read?

Answers so far:
~ "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain (Me, too! Loved it!)

My answer:
I'm in the middle of "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey. It's atmospheric, ponderous, funny, sensual without being sexy, quite beautiful. It's a classic nonfiction, part of the birth of the environmental movement. You should read it. I have to finish it before my book club meets next week, but I've not been in a rush; I'm relishing each page, carrying the mental images with me for a few days before I lap up the next chapter.

Here's how Amazon describes it...
With language as colorful as a Canyonlands sunset and a perspective as pointed as a prickly pear, Cactus Ed captures the heat, mystery, and surprising bounty of desert life. Desert Solitaire is a meditation on the stark landscapes of the red-rock West, a passionate vote for wilderness, and a howling lament for the commercialization of the American outback.

And from The New York Times Book Review...
Like a ride on a bucking bronco...rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book...set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Question of the Day: Gas

How much does it cost to fill your car's gas tank?

Answers so far:
~ $50
~ I'm not sure, 'cuz I don't remember the last time I filled it all the way. But almost $40?

My answer:
$30. Just five years ago, when I bought the car, it cost $15 to fill it. Then, I thought that was great; now, not so much.

(What about yours? Post your answer as a comment.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Question of the Day: Clothes

What are you wearing?

Answers so far:
~ Boxers and work pants and shirt
~ Orange tank, grey lil' sweat shorts, HOT babe
~ My uniform, and my Batman Underoos

My answer:
Jeans with the cuffs turned up, brown Reef flip flops, a pink Life Is Good tee with a lady bug on it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

People Clutter

[Warning: Today's QOD post very quickly led to a rant about People Clutter. Consider yourself warned.]

Actually, now that I think about it, what's been most genuinely disturbing of late is what I'll call People Clutter - the unending disruption to my concentration, and thus productivity, caused by people:
~ streaming in and out of my office and sitting down without asking, often just to BS or to eat from my candy dish
~ calling multiple times without waiting for a return call, sometimes without even leaving a voice mail, or worst, alternating between my desk and cell phones until I'm concerned or annoyed enough to pick up
~ hitting "Reply All" on every group e-mail so that a small afternoon project creates 50 messages, only one of which pertains to my department (if I'm lucky)

This noise, this People Clutter, is ridiculously disruptive. E-mail and text messaging is wonderful. Send me a message saying you need 10 minutes, or 2 minutes, or 2 weeks from me; suggest a time to chat about it; I'll get back to you as soon as I'm finished what I'm doing. See, some of us are able to prioritize our daily duties, and it isn't usually in anyone's best interest for us to break our focus to discuss your issue, let alone work on it, right this very second.

Think of it this way, if you needed to borrow sugar, you wouldn't just walk through your neighbor's front door, open the cupboard and take the sugar without asking. Well, maybe you would, but the rest of us wouldn't. Maybe she was planning on making a pie for the fam tonight and doesn't have any sugar to spare today; but she'll have more tomorrow if you can wait 'til then. Or maybe she can lend you some, but not all that you need. Or maybe she can lend you brown sugar; would that work for your recipe? You have to ASK her, compare what you need with what she can give. It's not all about you and your sweet tooth, buddy!

Time and focus are precious resources, just like anything else.

This is particularly important for someone with a sizeable team working on a variety of projects, and that's me. Heck, aren't most of our plates piled high? This is not to say that "I vant to be aloooone" all the time. I just don't want to hear you grouse about your shitty Saturday night date through a mouthful of my M&Ms, while I'm scrambling to put out the mini fire to which I've been assigned by the company president. Instead, regale me with the gritty details of your love life while we wait for fresh decaf to brew in the break room. (In the same vein, do NOT come looking for me in that break room to talk about work. Do NOT.)

Comprende? And, si, I promise to try and do the same, as I readily admit I'm not always innocent of these egregious offenses.

Author Tim Ferriss is a great resource for tips on streamlining your workload and schedule, and much more. A funny, insightful, useful read.]

Question of the Day: Disorganization

What one thing/place do you hate to be disorganized?

Answers I've received so far:
~ The food bins at work. [Restaurant worker]
~ My life!

My answer:
I despise clutter. It's disquieting and distracting, and drives me utterly insane. If I had to choose one place where it bothers me the most, I'd say my desk. Work is the place I absolutely have to be in control and productive, and I certainly can't be when I'm engulfed by crap.

(Second would be my bedroom - clothes on the hook over the closet door and over the back of the chair, shoes kicked in the corner, stack of reading material by the bed. That keeps me up at night. But, I'm not pretending to be Ms. M. Stewart, 'cuz I wouldn't have to straighten up if it didn't get rowdy in the first place.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leaving my mark: Reality TV

My comment in response to Newscoma's post about our fascination with reality TV and how it benefits the GLBT community:

Ahh, Pedro Zamora. How I remember him.

I was a young’un when he took MTV by storm. I was enthralled by “The Real World,” and all that it was then, not what it is today.

Of course, I loathe today’s most popular reality shows, those prime time hits discussed over the water cooler the next morning. I much prefer such gems as “The Girls Next Door,” “Dress My Nest,” “House Hunters” and “Ace of Cakes.”

This most assuredly reveals too many of my secrets. But guilty pleasures, when outed, tend to do that.

(Ohhh, and P.S. Does anyone remember Eric Nies in the first season of “The Real World” in NYC? I was about 13. *swoon*)

Check out Newscoma's post and leave your mark.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Leaving my mark: Litter and reusable bags

My comment in response to Sarcatic Mom's post about how we can all make a difference in our communities by simply picking up some litter while out for a walk or carrying reusable bags when shopping for produce.

Thanks for posting the link to the OneStringBags. I love love love my reusable shopping bags and am always looking for more for myself and loved ones. Plus, I happen to adore sewing and making bags, so this is right up my alley! Can’t wait to try making some.

Regarding trask pick up:
Every time I sit at the red light at my community’s entrance/exit, I glare at the trash people’ve dumped in the landscaping. It’s always irritated the poop out of me, but this last month or so it’s really gotten my blood pumping. You see, our neighorhood association applied for and received a beautification grant from the county to help pay for pretty, drought-resistance shrubs, trees, etc. And some folks took the time to dig out the old stuff and plant the new. And what do these ungrateful idiots do? Within two days, there were cigarette butts, soda cans, beer bottles, etc., scattered throughout the new plants.

Anyway, the solution? I’ve gone, and will again go, up the street (just a little farther than I normally go with the dogs anyway), place these “trashables” in a garbage bag, and take them home. Neighbors look at me like I’m That Crazy Plastic Bag Lady, but I don’t care. Maybe I’ll guilt them into helping, or at least littering less.

Check out Sarcastic Mom's post and leave your mark.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Become a Millionaire in Five Easy Steps

I was originally drawn to this article because its headline caught my eye; I wondered what silly (or ridiculously impossible) things it might list. But upon reading through it, I found the steps to be reasonable - things we likely should be doing regardless of our financial goals - and so a nice reminder, and the information about who's happiest really pleased me (see the italicized bit at the end of the article). Can I get some applause for all the bright women who bust their butts for their families and careers!? I've pasted the entire piece here for your quick perusal.

Five Habits of Millionaires
by Barbara Reinhold
Monster Contributing Writer


According to a study of college students at the Ernst & Young International Intern Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida, 59 percent of these young leaders expect to be millionaires within their lifetime. What's more, 5 percent of them expect to hit the million-dollar mark while in their 20s.

And the super-rich are a growing group. The top 0.1 percent of the population's average income was $3 million in 2002, up two and a half times the $1.2 million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980.

Earned Money vs. Easy Money

Easy money usually comes from inheritance or luck, such as winning the lottery. The track record of people who get their money through the lottery or other windfalls is usually very different from those who created their wealth themselves or who planned for an expected inheritance. Lottery winners are often a sorry lot; more than 90 percent use up their winnings within 10 years -- some go through their money in weeks or months.

But there are some consistent patterns among those people who earn or plan to inherit their money, and these five strategies may be worth emulating.

1. Avoid the Earn-to-Spend Mentality

Michael LeBoeuf, author of The Millionaire in You, points out that to increase wealth, it's essential to emulate millionaires who view money as something to save and invest, rather than income to spend. Many wealthy people live quite simply, he points out, choosing less pretentious homes than they could theoretically afford and opting for financial independence over material showmanship.

2. Focus

LeBoeuf also counsels resisting the impulse to be scattered in your efforts and interests: "Winners focus; losers spray." And goals that are clearly written down are easier to keep in focus.

3. Do Whatever Is Necessary to Meet Your Goal

People who earn their millions are able not only to focus but persevere in the pursuit of their goals. One single mom entrepreneur, Melissa Clark-Reynolds, started her first business, a health and safety consultancy, when she had a young son. En route to her goal of being a millionaire by age 35, Clarke-Reynolds and her son ate lots of pizza, did homework late at night and often slept at the office. She is now a chief executive mentor for Empower New Zealand, a global business consulting firm headquartered in London.

4. Take Calculated Risks

You have to take strategic risks to earn and grow money. And a little rebelliousness seems to help too. One interesting study found a majority of male millionaire entrepreneurs had been in trouble with school authorities or the police during their adolescence.

5. Be Generous

And why doesn't it surprise us that millionaires are often very generous? Sometimes it's for the tax breaks, obviously, but often it's not. One Jewish Swiss millionaire, for instance, flew to Israel to give $5,000 in cash to a waiter at a Jerusalem café who foiled a Palestinian suicide bombing. Among the most generous of millionaires are those from North America, who are, according to a Merrill Lynch Cap-Gemini report, two to five times more likely to give to causes they value than their European counterparts.

These five habits are a pretty good prescription for living happily even if you're not a millionaire.

But LeBoeuf insists it's not so unusual to be a millionaire. As of 2004, there were 8.2 million households with a net worth of more than $1 million. And are the folks in those households happy? Yes, says professor Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in the UK. After studying more than 9,000 people over eight years, Oswald concluded that people who come into money are happier. The happiest among them, he says, seem to be "highly educated, well-paid women who have jobs."

And how much money does the professor say it takes to be happy? "About $1 million, give or take a little."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Contract HIV via kissing?

Reuters reported today that HIV can be passed to babies through pre-chewed food. I know it sounds gross, but hang in there with me for a minute more.

...In developing countries, some mothers pre-chew food for babies. These women may lack access to packaged baby food or may not have a way to blend baby food...

The researchers said HIV transmission appears to have occurred when the children ingested pre-chewed food that contained blood from the bleeding gums of HIV-infected women, and this entered the children's bloodstreams through a cut, sore or inflammation of the mouth or digestive tract...

This is RIDICULOUSLY SCARY because it begs the question: What if a guy with gingivitis makes out with a girl prone to canker sores?

Does this mean what many of us have feared all along -- that you can, in fact, contract HIV by French kissing?

Have any of you read more about this? Can you chime in here -- freak me out further or assuage my fears? What do you think about all this?

Monday, February 04, 2008

The things left behind

We all find other folk's belongings, whether it be litter, a rumpled newspaper on the train or a sweater forgotten in the lunchroom.

While walking along the sidewalk at the beach tonight, I came across several things that'd been left behind by their owners. There seemed to be more abandoned goods than usual, but you can be damn skippy sure I wouldn't have found an orphaned twenty if I'd been out scouting around for one.

Anyway, were they simply forgotten? Or did their owners decide they were no longer needed and that those particular places were ideal for their disposal? How do these things happen?

~ A white bath towel over the fence surrounding a very expensive condo building on the ocean. It appeared stiff and a bit sandy, leading me to think it'd been used at the beach today, draped over the fence while its owner was readjusting her sarong, and was sadly forgotten. [Expect the towel's former owner to miss her, as she served the family well, but not enough to return to the beach to look for her. So sad. Can we have a moment of silence for hardworking, underappreciated towels everywhere?]

~ A single brown thong. No, not the underwear kinda thong; that woulda been even less hygienic but even more humorous. It was the flip flop kinda thong. And it was large with a thick lug sole, so I'm sure it was a man's shoe. It was sitting nicely, in a well-behaved sorta way, upright and clean-looking, at the edge of the grass surrounding a parking area. I envision some fella sitting down in the passenger seat, his legs out of the car, trying to get the last of the sand off his feet to avoid the wife's wrath (the Audi is new, after all). But the ungrateful witch just keeps rushing and nagging him, rushing and nagging, and tells him to get the damn door closed 'cuz she's a-peeling out! "Um, honey. My shoe. I've only got one..." [Don't think this dude's coming back for his lost item, either, only because I don't think she lets him out without a leash.]

~ A pair of filthy dirty white socks underneath a bench that faces the ocean from the sidewalk. These weren't just sorta dirty. Not even hella dirty. These were the kinda dirty that can only be accomplished by that 10-year-old boy who deliberately ran around outside in the rain after his mother told him not to in his brand new socks. Surely, he stashed them under the bench while she was loading up the SUV, in a clever attempt to hide the evidence. "I just don't understand why you never have any socks, Jimmy! I buy them almost every time I'm at Wal-Mart. What are you doing with them?" In a few years, Mom won't wanna know what he's doing with his socks or how they're getting so dirty, but anyway... [Little Jimmy's pretty swift; he has no plans to return for those socks. They'll get picked up by a city employee - the kind who wears a green polyester uniform and weilds one of those long-armed litter grabber thingies - and quickly dumped into his black bag-o-nastiness, alongside the cigarette butts, smashed soda cans and used rubbers.]

Oh! And this whole train of thought, lost and found items, was sparked this weekend when I found an iPhone in the ladies room at the bookstore. Man, I sure would like me an iPhone. (And I've already got AT&T service!) But, of course, I took it straight to Customer Service [note the foreshadowing], and explained to the man/twit behind the counter where I'd found it and that I'd probably have no luck finding the owner because there was no number labeled "Home" in the Contacts list. As I was mid-sentence, he took it from my hands, walked away, handed it to a coworker, told her to lock it up by simply grumbling "Safe," and never returned or looked my way again.

Now, I didn't expect a cookie or anything for my good deed, as it's not really a good deed at all but simply something you just do. But, if for no other reason than good customer service, I would've liked a "Thank you" outta that schmuck. Even eye contact and a nod. Look me square in the eye and belch. Whatever. Something. Anything to let me know I was, in fact, dealing with a human being. I want my existence acknowledged, damnit! [Insert foot stomping here.] The poor "customer service" really has zilch to do with the business of me finding the phone. If I'd been up there to tell him anything at all - maybe I was pleased with the service I'd received from one of his cohorts, or maybe I just wanted to tell him I fancy purple teacups - he should've looked me in the eye and said, "Thank you, crazy lady." Where are the manners?

Question of the Day: Lost

What's the last thing that you lost?

Answers I've received so far:
~ My ID badge
~ My mind!
~ Reading glasses. And, of course, I found 'em right where they were supposed to be.


My answer:
I've been thinking and thinking, and am just stumped for an answer. (Perhaps more than anything, it's my memory that's lost.) Meanwhile, let's hope this doesn't mean I'll be losing something soon, just to provide blog fodder. Ahh!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Question of the Day: Super Bowl XLII

Roll call: New York Giants or New England Patriots?

Answers I've received so far:
~ Pats. Historic. They earned it.
~ Giants.
~ Patriots! Are you kidding?!

My answer:
I have no vested interest in either team. That said, I'm rooting for the Giants for two reasons: 1) I like to support the underdog, and 2) I'm from New Jersey and it's all about proximity.

(Which team jersey are you sporting today? Post a comment.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Where my mouse has taken me

Here are a few places my mouse has taken me today:

I'm about to start reading The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars for my book club. Looks like a interesting inside look at the world of chocolate companies, much like Fast Food Nation was an inside look at the world of fast food companies. I really enjoyed that book, so I'm hopeful about this one.

Backpacker Concierge helps travelers looking for bang for their buck in Egypt. Nubian guesthouses, sailboat cruises on the Nile, desert safaris. Pretty cool.

A group of hackers and activists calling themselves Anonymous has shut down a Scientology website and is working to disseminate information that will, they say, show the religion for the dangerous joke it really is. Meanwhile, they accidentally shut down a Dutch school's server, too. This all began after the church tried to take down all online versions of the leaked, four-year-old video of Tom Cruise extolling the virtues of the religion.

The One City One Book idea -- that the local library can get the whole city reading and discussing a single book at once -- has expanded to a police force. Perhaps these books are worth checking out?

Got the movie times for Cloverfield, which was pretty good but I was pretty immobilized by the motion sickness caused by the HandyCam effect. Similar to watching Blair Witch Project all over again -- ugh.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Browsing

Here are a few interesting nuggets I stumbled across while browsing the Net tonight.

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I wonder what they would deem appropriate. What do you think's a fair punishment?

Food fight fallout lingers
Parents question 15-hour community service sentences

By Jolie Breeden (Contact)
Monday, January 21, 2008

BROOMFIELD -- Parents of students sentenced to 15 hours of community service for a food fight at Aspen Creek K-8 said the school disciplined their kids too severely -- even if the form of punishment is a well-meaning one.

About 20 eighth-graders took part in a 30-second food fight at the Broomfield school on Nov. 8, said Briggs Gamblin, spokesman for the Boulder Valley School District.

School officials would not comment on any punishment, citing student privacy laws. But several parents of the students involved said they were sentenced to community service on top of writing essays and cleaning the lunchroom...

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We all know I have a soft spot for community news in general. I particularly like to check out news or neighborhood sites from places that interest me. This photo is today's cover shot for the online Delta Discovery in remote Bethel, Alaska.



Nicholson Brink of Bethel thoughtfully contemplates the beauty of the spinning Star during Slaaviq last week during observance of Russian Orthodox Christmas at the home of Theresa Nick and family. photo by Greg Lincoln

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The Delta Discovery site also has a section called Elder of the Week. I think it's super cool how these Alaskans respect and honor their seniors, as we all should. Check out these cool dudes.

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And who doesn't find stories about the Yakuza sexy? :)

Side note: I didn't realize Japan's preferred method of execution is hanging. Seems a bit old-fashioned, which I suppose is aligned with that love affair the Japanese have with all things old and new.

Third mobster faces gallows over Gunma bar shooting
MAEBASHI, Gunma Pref. (Kyodo)
The Maebashi District Court sentenced a gangster to death Monday for killing a mobster and three bystanders in a shooting at a bar in 2003.

Relatives of people slain in a 2003 bar shooting in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, face reporters Monday after a yakuza was sentenced to hang for the crime...

According to the court, Yamada and another member of the gang, Masato Kohinata, 38, opened fire at the bar in Maebashi on Jan. 25, 2003, killing three bystanders and seriously wounding another as well as the 60-year-old former boss of a rival group. They then fatally shot the bodyguard of the mob boss outside the bar.

Yamada and Kohinata were involved in the shooting under orders from Osamu Yano, 59, head of the Yano Mutsumi-kai, the court said.

The shooting was part of a turf war between the rival Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai syndicates. The Yano Mutsumi-kai was affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, and the shooting in Maebashi was targeted against the rival group member as a reprisal against the murders in 2001 of two Sumiyoshi-kai members in a funeral house in Tokyo, according to police...

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This is my favorite song today.



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Thanks to Cute Overload for my daily dose. That's right! It's four kitties in a Kleenex box, people!
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
Here it comes...
Awww!

Question of the Day: Fame

If you could be famous for something, what would it be?

Answers I've received so far:
~ World peace and a cure for addiction.
~ Writing a really cool story which would then be turned into a movie starring Johnny Depp.

My answer:
I'd like to write something useful or of substantial interest; things like that are written so rarely nowadays. In my next life, I'd like to be musically inclined, maybe play an instrument or sing. That'd be fun!

(What're you going to be famous for? Post your plans as a comment.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Question of the Day: Relocation

You're moving to a place you've never before visited. Where is it?

Answers I've received so far:
~ Tokyo, for two years. Makes you learn, and leaves a window to return.
~ Canada

My answer:
Domestically, I'd choose Colorado; even though I've never been there, I've always thought of it as a place that would really suit me, and I'd not be afraid to move there blindly. Internationally, I've been wanting to live in Japan for years and years, so that's my top choice. (Of course, my wanderlust makes this list quite long, so there aren't too many places I wouldn't visit or move to on a whim!)

(What about you? Post your answer.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Question of the Day: Craving

What's the last food craving you had?

Answers I've received so far:
~ Chili dog
~ Pizza with everything on it

My answer:
Right now I could go for a popsicle. Remember the kind that came as an attached pair, and you'd break it in half and eat each stick sepatately -- or (horrors!) share the other half with someone? I know, it's not exciting, but it would feel good on my sore, raw throat right about now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Question of the Day: 9:23 p.m.

What were you doing at 9:23 tonight?

Answers I've received so far:
~ Sitting at the bar!

My answer:
Driving south on the Sawgrass Expressway to pick up a friend, who then helped me purchase a memory card at Best Buy and showed me how to use the new digital camera he gave me. Yay! I'm all set now, armed with two digital cameras (one in each hand) for this weekend at Disney World (with my best friend who's visiting from Indianapolis) and my Groupie Road Trip Around the South (to see several Big Head Todd and the Monsters shows with that Camera Gifting Guy). *excited*

(Y tu? Post it.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Question of the Day: Cold

It's unusually cool in South Florida, and likely wherever you are, tonight. Will you warm yourself by turning up the heat, piling on extra covers, or dragging a friend into your bed?

Answers I've received so far:
~ Covers. Boring, yes.

My answer:
Blankets, book, bed. Tonight is not my night for excitement. Sweet dreams, all.

(What's happening in your bed tonight? Tantalize us via comment.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Question of the Day: Resolve

What resolutions did you keep (or changes did you make) in 2007?

Answers I've received so far:
~ It wasn't a resolution I made on New Year's Day, but mid-year I decided to get healthy and lose weight, and I've been doing it.
~ I know which I didn't keep: to stop talking to "him," but here we are, best buddies. I don't know how that happened.

My answer:
I'm not sure that I'd really defined any resolutions for myself last New Year's Day, perhaps for fear of not being able to answer this very question today. But I can say that I've tried putting into practice some lessons I learned about who I am and how I tick. I also made some significant changes in the ways that I take care of myself -- working out several times a week (and truly enjoying it), drinking tons more water, giving up caffeine almost entirely, and slowly convincing my taste buds that healthier food really is tastier food.

That said, self-improvement (physical and otherwise) is an ongoing effort, and I certainly aim to improve further in 2008 -- fitting in more physical activity with a focus on cardiovascular endurance, devoting more time to shopping for and cooking healthy and yummy food, getting a full night's sleep every day, giving myself permission to work on crafts and other projects that bring me joy, believing that it's really OK to stay home some nights and do absolutely nothing, etc.

I've a few other goals -- be more patient, make travel happen (some way, some how), read more, curse less, save money for a down payment on some real estate, spend more time with my family, take my pups to the dog park more often, etc. I believe these are all completely reasonable, feasible goals; and I especially like that there is no set quota (say, "dog park every Saturday morning," or "dinner with Mom two nights a week"), as quotas almost always forecast for me unmet goals. I'm learning that constant, incremental improvement is the best we can ask of ourselves. After all, didn't we learn as children that slow and steady wins the race?

I wish each of you all the self-love, motivation and support you could possibly need to keep the promises you make to yourself this year.