07 February 2012

social media "scanner" on the rise

omg. more like, OMG. i am overwhelmed. i decided a short while ago that i need to get up to speed on all these social networking outlets because people started talking about Google+ and i was like, Google what? these weren't kids talking, these were people older than me...so i figured i HAD to get on the bandwagon and investigate, start learning how to play with all these gadgets. it's truly insane. first of all, i spent all of my days at work in front of a computer. now, i am spending a good portion of my free time in front of a computer. this is so wrong!!! how does one balance life with staying "cyber connected?" there must be a more efficient way of doing this.

i therefore believe that i need a purpose for this new tweeting/blogging lifestyle of mine. (eek.) in many ways, i want it to be a creative outlet. i really love to write and get thoughts out there, and i could certainly stand to use some practice. maybe i can go out there and just try stuff and blog about it. however, all the social media advice says you need to pick an identity and go with it. say what? how do you pick an identity. better yet, how do I pick an identity? that has been my biggest problem in life: i like too many things. i go off on tangents and constantly have to be learning something new. i'm what they call a "scanner." hmm...could that be my identity? interesting...self-discovery (or identity crisis?) via tweeter.


02 February 2012


normally i would feel really bad about not blogging so much here, but i have an excuse.  i actually have another blog out there in cyberspace that gets much more of my attention...but it's written anonymously.  i can write ANYTHING and nobody will pin it on me.  i love it.  anyways, time to give this one a little love...for the year, at least.

so what's new?  i am now in san antonio, and it turns out i am going to stay here rather than go to Austin.  sure, Austin is "cool," but personally, i think san antonio is more interesting.  the culture is amazing.  the pace of life is really nice.  the cost of living is fantastic.  there is a nightlife, great food, a killer music scene, excellent road riding, and tons of friendly people.  it's also two hours to Corpus...which means, surf!  although this town has many more people than Austin, the density is like nothing in comparision.  i stress out anytime i drive through Austin.

and the house.  it went on the market three months ago and after a painful process, i decided i had to short sale because the value of my house dropped so much.  (yay, Phoenix!)  turns out i'd be eligible for an easy short sale that wouldn't kill my credit because i moved, which is considered an "extenuating circumstance."  cool.  even cooler, four hours after i called my realtor to tell her to start the short sale process, my neighbor across the street decided she want to lease to own the place.  SWEET!  we are now figuring out those details, but i should be an official "landlord" by march.

as for the job, i have nothing nice to say.  i can't elaborate right now in case a colleague stumbles across this rant, but the issues run deep.  it's much worse than, "i don't like the work."  it is time to move on, but despite how awesome "saytown" is, there are no jobs here.  it's actually the sixth worst city in the U.S. to find a job.  needless to say, who knows how long i'll be here (last i discussed with the beau was six months, unless something changed drastically).  the gypsy blood will again take hold and propel me into another state.  (should i continue to go...east?)  but i'm just following the advice of a wise (cocky) man who founded a little business named after a fruit: "stay hungry, stay foolish."  easy for me to do, especially if there's pizza in the room!

it's humbling to think in 20 days i will be 36 years old, and still, everything i own is packed away in a 10x10 storage space 90 miles north of me.  i am still "crashing pads."  i bought an iMac five months ago and it's been in the box for three.  i still hate to buy clothes, wear makeup, and do my hair in the morning (which, speaking of, i am back to the pixie cut as of two days ago...love it!).  i still have not lived with a boyfriend.  will i ever "grow up," "settle down," whatever you call it?  probably not, but that's not me.  i'm not LOOKING for anything (for a person out there who continually "reminds" me that i am searching for myself...hardly), i'm just going with the flow and walking down the path called "life"...well, usually the path that goes off in the wrong direction, but it's always an adventure. 

12 November 2011

dutch tales

no jail time. after sitting on hold for 1.5 hours, the jury let me off the hook, with conditions. :/

i am now in the Netherlands. i got here a week ago. i've been based in Den Bosch all week for work, with side trips to Amersfoort, Venlo, Vlissingen, and Eindhoven; but today, i made my way up to Amsterdam. it's a typical big city with lots of people (mainly stinky, young backpackers looking to get high) and smells. i got nauseous walking around...the exhaust, the pot, the general smell of a city. it is a pretty place, though, especially when you move away from the center. the architecture, the canals, and the bikes make for a pretty picture. i ventured into the red light district. nothing terribly shocking, but i had a few double-takes. in fact, kids were walking through there with their parents. i have to hand it to the Europeans...they don't shelter their offspring. i think it makes for a better prepared future.

in general, this week was great. i learned some great things from my colleagues over here. (my company is headquartered in the Netherlands.) they are working on a few "sustainability" projects that make me drool. a couple sustainable development projects are based in Venlo, where they are building a "cradle to cradle" business park and horticulture exhibition grounds (Floriade 2012). their ingenuity and freedom of thought really blows my mind. things are not perfect, of course, but they are getting damn close. i also talked with various people about their projects in energy, carbon footprinting, life-cycle analyses, and QHSE compliance, e.g., ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001. again, very cool projects, and very smart, practical people. they also have a fantastic sense of humor. i officially think my job in the U.S. sucks. i realize now that i am working on extremely boring projects. considering my company sent me to the Netherlands for knowledge transfer purposes, their plan may have backfired. ugh.

ok, so the Netherlands. of course there are a few good stories to tell ;) the people in this country are pretty cool for the most part, but they're rude. somehow, nobody moves out of the way for anybody (including pedestrians, bikes, scooters, cars, and buses...they certainly move for trains), and yet nobody runs into each other. amazing. so efficient. everyone...EVERYONE...speaks English. the country is clean. my hotel in 's-Hertogenbosch was the cleanest hotel i've ever visited. alcohol is cheap. the trains are easy and (i think) on time and fast. the food isn't so good, and it all looks weird, like every chef thinks they're an artist. unnecessary. for instance, i ordered cauliflower the other night, and instead i got some white pate-looking slab of cauliflower, like it was mashed and shaped in a tuna can. weird. at a restaurant in Eindhoven, i ordered the beef. i got a half a cow (yes, in Europe), and it was bloody. i couldn't eat it. tonight, i settled for a sandwich. i suppose i am less adventurous when it comes to food than i thought. :/

every town in this country has serious charm. well, Eindhoven less so, but it's still a great town. i visited on thursday night. the "glowfest" is happening this week. last night, it was Carnival. ok, so it was actually "November 11," which is the night they elect the town's Carnival prince, but really, it's just an excuse for the town to drink for 12 hours straight. Carnival happens in every southern dutch town, and it is pretty much equivalent to mardi gras in the U.S...just a little stranger. yes, stranger. i went into a restaurant last night and old men were sitting at tables with tubas, and they were blowing the tubas while they ate. i went to the hotel's fitness center this morning and there were remnants of a serious party up there the previous night. in the fitness room? the dutch people are relentless when it comes to Carnival. oh! and then there is "sintaklaas" or however you spell it. he is the dutch version of santa claus, but this dude runs around with black slaves...YES, black slaves...and these slaves dish out gifts to little children. seriously?! i don't think this one would fly in the U.S. and there are black people in the Netherlands, not many but there are some. i wonder what they think of this concept.

04 November 2011

jail time

one month ago, i submitted a request for postponement to jury duty because i am scheduled to spend next week in the Netherlands for work. i pulled the jury's notice of denial out of my mailbox this morning. perfect timing, as my counterparts in the Netherlands have already left work for the weekend and expect me monday morning! and of course the ticket's nonrefundable. i should be finalizing deliverables this morning, but instead i am busy writing letters, making phone calls, doing whatever it takes to make sure the jury a) doesn't expect me next week, and b) doesn't penalize me with a fine or jail time. (i believe i deserve gold stars because i am taking my democratic responsibility so seriously, right?!) get this: there are references to A.R.S. 21-334 all over the internet indicating penalties include a max $100 fine and/or up to three days in jail; however, this statute has not been added to the official A.R.S. website, so there is no "official word" on this issue. arizona is so ass backwards.

02 November 2011

incoming! - Nederland

i have failed miserably when it comes to blogging about my recent vacations (ok, so what happens on the island stays on the island!), so i'll aim for improvement on this next trip. granted, it's a work trip, but still, next week i get to work in The Netherlands. how freakin cool is that?! stay tuned...

and on that note, screw the travel theme! i hate rules, so i'm gonna break one. this blog is reopened for business, ALL business! i want to write what i want to write. AFY!

for starters, i am moving to Austin. yes, moving AGAIN! assuming i can sell my house, but i feel confident it will happen. it's such a great house. i love my house. it's the closest thing to home i've ever had and i am now experiencing the greatest detachment saga of my life! but it's all good. it's not too tough to leave Phoenix, and i have some really good things waiting for me in Texas...including a cute boy and his dog ;) it's funny to think that the most difficult task upon moving will be finding a new hairdresser. ???? fyi, i will stay with the same company. things are going pretty well there, and i think things will get better in Austin. hell, at least i'll be able to walk outside in July and August over there. SO over Phoenix. ick ick.

25 September 2011

final update

final email (#5) from 15 november 2004.  this is apparently when i gave up caps...interesting.

"hola...ciao...bonjour...howdy doody doo...it´s all the same to me at this point. city after city, they´re all the same. it´s time to head home! hey, what do you know? i leave for the Bay Area in 2.5 days, not that I´m counting the seconds. really!
so, where did I last leave off? (the rubber´s burning.) oh, I landed in Rome. yes, this is where things get REALLY interesting. so, we stayed with Omar for a week. (Thank you Omar!!! we had a fantastic time with you...and thank Wolfgang again.) At least that was our intention. Omar took us on a fantastic excursion to Umbria that weekend. It was definitely a scenic and cultural highlight of the trip. Classic Italy. we saw a number of small towns all built on hills. (i think this was due to protection from invading warriors back in the day, and trust me, those steep hills were effective.) Todi, Perugia (home of the famous Baci hazelnut chocolate), Assisi (and the tomb in the Basilica, where St. Francis´ body is buried), Spoleto, Gubbio, and...ahem...NORCIA. yes, well, as a vegetarian, all I can say is, what a gorgeous mountain town but plug your nose! (Omar and X will give you a different opinion, I am sure.) so, we walk into this place and the aromas start up immediately. stuffed boars and foxes and pigs everywhere...boar skins hanging in doorways...molded pig legs and sausages, hanging in doorways, ugh!...stinky as hell cheeses everywhere covered in dirt...and the BEST, culetto, which is truly the following (those of you with sensitive stomachs, ignore this description): pig BUTT meat stuffed in a pig bladder and hung in a basement, not refrigerated, for two years to mold and ferment and do whatever the hell it does. culetto is literally translated to "lovely little buttness," and the method of production is considered "unmodern" in America. go figure! well, this culetto stuff is a delicacy. once we left Nocia, no kidding, ask the guys, the aroma kept with us for hours. the scent particles attached themselves to our nose hairs. i have to stop talking about Norcia now because I am getting queasy. anyways, the weekend we went north to Umbria there were truffle festivals taking place. Truffles are fungi that grow in the ground at certain times of the year and little pigs go out and sniff for them. Once they start digging, a specially trained dog comes and scares the little piggies away, revealing a truffle (white or black), which is an extreme delicacy in Italy, a very expensive one, approx $200 per half pound. in fact, these things are so valuable, only 100,000 or so people are registered truffle finders. we got to sample truffles, that was something special. (turns out i am not a big fan.)
after Umbria, we hung out at Omar´s, literally sat on our bums for three days glued to the TV, watching the election. (i´m not even going there in this email.) in fact, i was so much in a daze about the whole thing, i screwed up our flight date and we missed our plane back to Spain! (thanks again, Omar.) so, we were "stuck" in Rome for 3 more days, which turned out to be pretty sweet. We got to attend a house party on some Roman island in the city (only two apartments on the whole island!) hosted by a famous artist, which was neat in principle. (fyi, Omar studied the guy in school, so he was really stoked to meet him...ironically he ended up in a heated argument with the guy by the end of the night over politics and now thinks he´s and asshole, ha!) interesting people, serious darts, way too much liquor, although i was good.  :)   needless to say, it was an interesting night, trying to maneuver through the city with two drunk boys in arm at 5am.
so, the night of our second flight came. i was paranoid about missing it, so we gave ourselves 5 hours to get to the airport. we got on the bus, which came 45 minutes late...then there was a traffic jam, the first we experienced in the city. (X says, when it can´t happen, it does!) all this took 1.5 hours or so. finally, we got to the metro. get this: X WAS PICKPOCKETED. a clan of gypsies stole his wallet. too many details to rehash, but I saw the wallet in midair and started yelling at the guy. I grabbed one of them and rummaged through his pockets, but 4 or 5 of them ran off the metro at the next stop. we ran out after them, but with our heavy packs, we didn´t stand a chance. no police in the area, so we hunted around for the station above ground. eventually, we ran out of time, so we got back on the metro and made it to the airport with literally 10 minutes to spare. X got onto the airplane with a photocopy of his passport. hmm...don´t you love RyanAir! we got back to Barcelona sans X´s passport, CA ID, credit cards, money, etc. Everything was gone.
This pickpocketing occurred on a Saturday night. The US consulate in Barcelona was closed until Monday, which was also the date of our cruise. (oh yeah, X and I booked a Mediterranean cruise to relax the last week of our trip.) amazingly, we walked into the consulate at 9:45am that Monday, and he had a new passport by 10:15, no kidding. UNFORTUNATELY, we made the cruise. let me explain. The cruise was great. We saw Nice, Civitavecchia (the Roman port, which was cool because it had surf), Naples (yes Foster, the drivers are nuts...i got clipped by side mirrors countless times, and the heel of X´s flipflop was run over by a car as he was crossing the street!), Malta and Tunisia. Before I continue with my reasons for hating the cruise, I´ll tell you about Tunisia. It was awesome. Totally third world, but truly hilarious. We get off the boat, and are immediately attacked by taxi drivers. These guys were seriously fighting with each other, hitting each other, trying to get closest to X and me for our business, yelling out prices. We were joined by a Portuguese couple, and the four of us joined forces for a better deal. We were sold by a guy who would take us all into Tunisia City for 10 euros total (we landed in La Goulette, a 10 minute drive from the city). We all pile into his car, and the price all of a sudden went up to 10 euros EACH! we started to get out, then it went down to 12 euros total...we just got out. Then, a policeman comes over and took the guy´s number off his car, and all the cars surrounding him. He´s like, in French, these guys aren´t registered drivers. holy cow! we head back to the "registered drivers" while the "unregistered" group chases us, yelling at us, and we get into another car. This new guy offered 10 euros total outside of the car, then it went up to 12 euros in the car, so we started to get out, and he dropped down to 10 euros. My god!!! the insanity. so we finally get into Tunisia, make our way to the medina. wow. This made Morocco seem tame. The medina was so crowded with people, one couldn´t walk through it. you just went with the flow, and maybe made your way into a store of interest. (of course, bargaining in the stores is a pain in the ass.) Claudia, our new Portuguese friend, and I got groped. Greeeeeeeat. Enough said.
After a couple of hours, the rain started. (yes, this is when it gets really interesting, so keep reading.) Tunisia essentially flooded in a matter of minutes. there were huge, deep puddles everywhere. we walked by a hotel...the front was flooded, water pouring into the lobby. I have to mention this is the first rain of the year. not the cleanest water! we run over to the train...we learned about the train while in the city, only 1 euro for 4 people to La Goulette, much better than a taxi. once back in la goulette, the rains had stopped, the sun broke, everything seemed to dry up, so we walked around a bit in that small town. made our way into a farmers market. yummy. a puddle of sewer rested in front of the veggie tables, and some guy walked through it barefoot.
now, let me explain. those rains passed quickly. Claudia mentioned a lightning storm in the Mediterranean, but there were no announcements on the boat about bad weather, no warning, etc. we´re like, it´s probably short-lived, nothing to worry about. ha! (ok, here goes my anti New Flamenco cruise spiel.) we get into our cabin and watch BBC World. the weather comes on. the entire Med sea is red. huh? the boat leaves the port. everything seems fine. it´s "elegant" night, so X and I dress up, grab some drinks, check out the show on board, eat dinner, head down for bed. we start watching BBC again, and it begins. The boat starts rocking like mad. every now and then, there´s a crash. this goes on and on and on...there is still no announcement by the captain. seriously people, it gets scary, and in fact, it gets so bad, i start freaking out. things are falling all over the boat. our stuff flies all over the cabin. i did not sleep a WINK all night. X was up all night telling me everything was ok. we head into the lounge at 4:30am to get a view of the waves, and it´s dark, so we don´t get a great view. (is that good or bad?) my stomach starts up with sea-sickness. around 7am, i get some sleep for a couple of hours or so when another crash wakes me up. it´s still going! i was ill at this point, totally freaked out (i was shaking for over 12 hours), tired as hell...still, no announcement! was our captain crazy? i thought i was, so we left the room wanting to see if everyone else was taking this lightly. yeah, as X said, it was like walking into "the walking dead." we barely made our way up the rocking stairway, just as some guy ran out of the dining room, vomit pouring out of him into his hands. (sorry for that description, but it is needed for effect.) the staircases were loaded with bags, and people were using them. the illness just creeped up on you out of nowhere, and oh boy, were those bags useful! the boat was actually empty. X thought I would feel better if we sat upstairs and watched the waves. not a good idea! i never want anything to do with the sea again after this experience. the swell was huge!!! 15 feet lines coming right at us, slamming into the boat, which really wasn´t that big! (no stabilizers on the thing, it´s so old...really, the ghetto cruise!) turns out we were in the middle of a Force 10 storm. that is touching the edge of a hurricane, folks. we come to find out that 1) we weren´t supposed to leave Tunisia that night in the first place because of the storm, yet we did, and 2) a typhoon missed our boat at la goulette by a few feet...it passed right in front of our boat, tore apart a neighboring boats tie-line to the dock, and prevented another boat from docking. we finally got the announcement. the captain was changing course, and he told us to have a safe trip! huh? isn´t that, like, HIS responsibility?!!! everyone on the boat is sick, freaked out. the lounge turned into an infirmery. the entertainment show was cancelled. We heard a couple older gals paid the doctor 100 euros each to go into their room and give them sedative shots after the doors ripped off their closet. Insane...insane...insane. The storm subsided after 36 hours. I vow never to go on a cruise again. I hate the sea. I will never surf again. I hate that captain. X  and I were looking at some pictures of the crew before getting off the boat, finally (8 hours behind schedule), and a picture of the captain was there. A guy walked by and commented, "cabron." yeah, that´s not a nice thing to say about someone. the funny thing was, people are supposed to leave a cruise relaxed. all the passengers walked out looking tired, pissed, haggard...the passengers waiting for the next voyage were like, what the hell happened? oh, if only they knew! the cruise from HELL!!!!!!!!!! really though, up until the storm, it was a good time. We met some great people (couldn´t meet too many peeps...we were on a Spanish-speaking cruise, after all!), including a guy our age who threw away his college degree to sing on cruise ships. We saw a few new cities. Got daily showers and lots of sleep. Spent so much time reading, I got through 4 books. Oh yes, X got food poisoning from the lasagna. That wasn´t such a great time!
so yeah, that cruise was my "relaxing" portion of the trip. we´re in barcelona now. we did the tourist thing before the cruise, saw Park Guell, the church of Sagrada Familia, the cathedral, the rambla, etc. This city is sweet. I saw a Starbucks here, actually went in to get a coffee. I threw it in the trash it was so bad compared to the coffee I´ve been drinking for two months now. anyways, we just bought train tickets back to Madrid to catch our flight out in two days. that´s right. it´s already been two months. I´m coming home...not soon enough!!! (although the way this trip has gone, I am really worried about my flight.)
signing out.

cleanliness is godliness

email #4 from 29 october 2004:

"Hi all,
No chicken tales this time, sorry. Things have cleaned up a bit for X and me...somewhat, despite the continuous trails of dogpile on the sidewalks around here. (It's amazing, really.) After leaving that 4-star hotel (and German MTV featuring episode after episode of "Pimp My Ride"), we made off for El Campello, only 20km or so north of Alicante. We camped there for 4 nights, mainly because the price was right, but also because it was actually comfortable! Well, comfortable if you're used to rocks in the back all night, but X and I are at this point. Included in the price of a mere 9 euros at Camping Costa Blanca is a hot shower. Good enough! It turned out to be a humorous place. It was packed with older folk from all over Europe. They end up staying there for weeks or months at a time, and just sit around and drink wine all day, with a few breaks for riding their cruiser bicycles (those which haven't been pinched) and sunbathing sans swimming suit at the pool. It was a good time there, though. We met some really cool people, got to check out the Costa Blanca a bit more. The area is super fancy. Development is rampant, probably because of the Brits. One of the train stops on the way to El Campello is literally called "Condominia"!
We ended up spending a bit of time walking around town, when it wasn't raining. (We survived the first Costa Blanca rainstorm since February.) Lots of British influence, which was great since we didn't have to speak Spanish. X got his hamburger for two days in a row from a pub. Something I didn't understand was the number of prescription optical stores in the area. It was like Starbucks in Seattle...can't walk a few hundred feet without running into one. Do El Campello residents have bad eyesight? Is there a problem with the water? a shortage of carrots?
Note: Despite the "comforts" of El Campello, I can't say I am a fan of the tent any longer. While at the farm in Totana, I started to see it as a second home. Well, my only home at this point...but it was essentially nothing more than a bug/dirt barrier, which seemed fabulous at that time; but after El Campello, I can't stand the thing anymore. I am done pitching that tent for a year or so. Therefore, please do not send camping invites my way until Summer 2006.
After camping, we made our way up to Valencia. It's a huge town, but probably less touristy that Alicante (unless you're a serious shopper). We got in ~1pm and walked around looking for a hostal. We scored in the middle of downtown, which at first seemed great, until we actually wanted to get some sleep. Way, waaaaaay noisy. Fortunately, there was a "doner kebap" joint close to us. This place made falafel, gyros, etc. X was addicted because they made FLAT falafel, which he claims are easier to eat than the typical falafel balls. (Those of you who are familiar with X's antics/quirks may find humor in this.) He went everyday, sometimes twice. We were also close to Pans & Co., which became my favorite stop. They serve you a cafe con leche in a to-go cup, and it's bigger than your average Euro coffee. Well, I appreciated this place until I learned to defeat the general system. I have resorted to buying two cafes con leche, then pouring them into my travel mug, which allows me to tote my caffeine intake on the trains, in my room, anywhere I want. Fantastic simple pleasures!
Now, I hinted that Valencia is a great place to shop. X and I are, get this, going on a Mediterranean cruise in 1.5 weeks or so (long story), and there are a couple of super fancy dinners on board. Given that we thought New Zealand was our destination (i.e. backpacking, farming...living like animals in the woods), we didn't think to bring clothing appropriate for Spain, let alone "glamorous" dinners. We therefore have have to do a bit of shopping. Valencia seemed like a good place to start. What an experience! We ventured into a store called Stradivarius. The place was insane. Shoppers were like animals, grabbing clothing off hangers, throwing things onto the floor, yelling at fellow shoppers...the store looked like a warzone. We left. Next, we tried Zara, which had more formal clothing and really good prices. Even worse! I was looking at a pair of black pants, and this young girl came at the rack from the other side. She started to rifle through the same few hangers I was investigating, and then started to pull on the exact hanger I had my hands on. I pulled back a bit, thinking this was a mistake on her part and she'd let go. Oh no! She pulled back, I pulled harder, she pulled harder...the girl wouldn't even look at me. She was dazed, possessed! I let go and moved on. I eventually found something and went to the checkout line. It was slow moving because the gal at front was trying on a pair of shoes. Isn't this supposed to be done beforehand? Regardless, everyone in line was patient, like this was expected. Anyways, we also ventured through El Cortes Ingles (the superstore in Spain, with like 2-3 stores in each city w/in a couple blocks of each other), and a few other stores. They were all insane...I swear, at least 5x worse than Xmas shopping in America.
After 3 nights, we traveled up to Barcelona for a few hours to pick up our cruise tickets (we're in new territory now...they all speak Catalan!), then immediately hopped a train to Girona. We spent the night at the Girona Airport. There were about 20+ other "sleepers" in the place, so it seemed safe and acceptable enough. Luckily, the chairs had no armrests, which is key. We caught our flight to Rome the next morning on Ryanair (a whole other story), and tada! We're here staying with our dear friend, Omar. Yesterday we spent the day with John and Carolyn, who are in Rome for a wedding. We saw some sights, ate some really good food, and watched some TV in their accommodations for a while (Italian MTV!!!). We get to see them again today. X and I are leaving town this weekend with Omar and heading out to the Italian countryside, a means of escaping the Roman public transportation system which is so, so crowded...major headache.
That's all for now.