3.31.2009

Why do recessions make me want to shop?

I've been hit hard by a shopping bug lately. For the most part, I have resisted the urge, but it doesn't mean that I have managed to cut down on the E-daydreaming.

I'm working on making over my little apartment. In my head.

So far I found a coffee table I adore from Cb2.com. I'm sure it weighs 1,000 pounds, but no matter. I have Popeye arms in dream design land.
The boyfriend loves it and the best friend hates it.

Well, technically the best friend said, "You like ... that?"

Oh well.

3.29.2009

Handy Dandy Notebook


I think I need to start carrying around a notebook. As I pile more writing gigs onto my plate, I've found myself thinking about what to write in very random places. In line at the supermarket. During the commute home from work. Having dinner with my boyfriend.

Poor boyfriend. He's been my notebook lately. "Oh oh oh! Don't let me forget to write down _______ as soon as we get home!"

The more I write, the more I find that it suits me. I like it.

3.28.2009

Not quite what I meant...

Boyfriend: "Hey Kitty? There are still fruit flies coming from the kitchen."
Me, from across the house: "WHAT?! Oh! Just put the fruit from the wooden bowl on the counter into the fridge."
Boyfriend: "Okay!"

A few hours later, I opened the refrigerator door to see this:

3.26.2009

3.24.2009

LA is trying to impress me with its own brand of crazy

Yesterday I was driving home and noticed the Jeep in front of me had a painted spare tire cover.

It was a small picture of a Pegasus, flying through a rainbow surrounded by soft, fluffy clouds ...

holding a gun.

3.22.2009

Ooooooh dear

I took a walk on the beach with my boyfriend yesterday.

It was close to sunset.

We happened upon a photoshoot.

There was a little pale man with a big nose wearing all black.

An over sized top hat.

A black feather boa.

And he was sitting by the edge of the water.

Playing a miniature piano.

That is all.

3.17.2009

City Lust

I want to have a torrid love affair with the city of Los Angeles.

And I don't mean its inhabitants.

I want to love this place. I *enjoy* a few things ... but nothing has helped me overcome the bland sea of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. Or those days where you can taste the air. Well, less taste and more chew. The way Santa Monica beach smells like a Port-A-Potty. Or the plastic people and wild materialism. The inflated sense of self entitlement. The good, but never amazing food.

I've been here for over two years now.

Hurry up, LA. Seduce me.

3.16.2009

Rural Wisdom

'Something wasn't natural about them, in addition to the fact that they weren't natural,' he said."

Vermont hunter busted for bolting antlers onto a dead doe.

3.13.2009

Oggle

I need to stop looking at this darn thing:
  • Intel Core™ 2 Duo Processor T9800 (2.93GHz)
  • 18.4" Monitor
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
  • 8 GB DDR2-SDRAM (DDR2-800, 4GBx2)
  • 1 TB [4200 rpm]
  • DVD±R DL / DVD±RW / DVD-RAM Drive
  • XBRITE-FullHD™ (1920x1080) with Adobe® RGB color management
  • WLAN (802.11a/b/g/n) with integrated Bluetooth technology
  • Extended Battery
For the low, low price of $3993.99. Sigh.

Maybe if my tax refund is big and I get a few more freelance gigs...

Time to get back to work.

3.12.2009

Bless your heart. :)

I am a big fan of smileys when properly used online. At best, they show your playful, jovial side. They can also help indicate the tone intended by the IMer/emailer. At worst, they can be unprofessional, or highlight the IMer/emailer's attempts to be a dick. Yes, a dick.

Let's take the standard smiley, as an example:

:)

It's cute. It's simple.

But, it can be the equivalent of, "bless your heart."

If you've heard the term before, you'll likely know what I mean. If not, here are some examples of how it's used:

"He can be so disagreeable, bless his heart."

"That sweater does all the wrong things for that girl, bless her heart."

"You're such a b____, bless your heart."

Without fail, I cringe when someone tacks that phrase on to the end of a sentence. It's the same with inappropriate smileys, but they are infinitely more subtle.

I'll admit that smileys are well-intended the vast majority of the time. I use them. I use them a LOT. But there are times when it comes off as insincere, or a feeble attempt to water down a harsh statement. This can be okay for people with whom you are familiar. But if you don't know someone well, you don't have a good idea of their general demeanor.

Imagine if someone you didn't know came up to you and said, "You look delicious!"

That could be incredibly creepy and inappropriate. Imagine that coming from a disheveled, lecherous, stereotypical serial killer-like guy. Creeeepy. Is he planning on keeping you in his basement so he can BBQ you later?

Conversely, it could be friendly and playful, from someone prone to using odd terms. Imagine it coming from a bubbly, upbeat, chipper, cheerful expressive person. Someone who follows that up with things like, "Giiiiirl, that looks *GREAT* on you!" Not so creepy. Weird, but you can tell the intentions are ... well ... better than the first guy.

But online you don't always have that context. Even if you know them in-person, you still may not have a good sense of who they are and what their general intentions tend to be.

The right way to criticize someone you don't know well:

Compliment. Carefully phrased helpful critique. Compliment.

This helps with smileys as well. You need to be careful where you put them.

Example - Right Way:

Thank you so much for writing up that report, it such a big help. You did a great job. Just one quick thing - I think Mr. Anderson's name is spelled "on" instead of "en." Would you mind double-checking that for me? Everything else looks fantastic; I think the section on marketing will be really useful. :)

Good managers at work tend to use this style. I appreciate it immensely.

Example - Wrong Way:

This report has some factual errors. :)

To some, the smiley will seem condescending. To others, it looks encouraging. It's better to give it a context, like the first example.

I'm not saying that people can control how they will be received. That is impossible. You cannot please everyone all the time. There is a lot that happens between intention and perception. You should, however, do your best to make sure the message you send makes a good attempt at conveying what you intended it to mean. You can leave the rest up to the alignment of the planets and direction of the wind.

If not, you might risk falling into the "people I think are dicks," category. Bless your hearts. ;)

3.10.2009

Hygiene

I consider myself to be a bit of a geek/nerd connoisseur. I say this not to establish my authority on the issue I'm going to address, but to let the readers know I have some level of sympathy with the following group:

Hygienically challenged geeks/nerds.

You guys seem to like to hover by me because I'm friendly and inclusive. Speaking of hovering - over eagerness can hurt you, socially. That's another issue I'll address later. You're well-intentioned, but there are certain social rules people stick to in order to make everyone around them more comfortable. The hard part is, not many people actually take the time to explain these rules directly. (They make the mistake of assuming that they're obvious. To some, these social cues/rules just don't pop up in their minds as must-dos. Or even as should-dos.)

Here are some basic rules to adhere to...

1) Brush your teeth. Every day. With toothpaste. Twice a day. Once at the bare minimum and only if you really, really can't do it the second time. We all mess up and miss it here and there - usually a late, late night where getting up to put in all that much effort is not as alluring as just going to bed. But then you *must* brush them when you wake up. You might not think you have bad breath, but other people can tell. They just won't let you know. And you'll be judged. Silently. Mouthwash is also a good idea. If you have allergies, acid reflux or asthma, you should take extra care with oral hygiene. These things can cause bad breath.

2) Shower. You don't have to shower everyday unless you do something that makes you sweaty - or if you live in a really humid climate where you feel sticky all of the time. If you can smell you, then other people can *really* smell you. And it's not good. Aim for at least every other day - use soap and shampoo.

3) Change your clothes regularly. If it's a sweaty day, throw those clothes right into the hamper. Don't bother giving them the smell test, just send them straight to the must-be-washed pile. You can possibly get away with wearing something two times, at worst three if you are desperate. But if you are sweaty or it is humid, you should not wear an article of clothing more than once. You need to work up the motivation to do the laundry, or just buy more clothes if this is an issue. Ties and suit jackets are exempt from this rule. Ties almost never need to be washed (just make sure you switch them out regularly.) Suit jackets only need to be dry cleaned if they're getting a lot of use, if they smell, or if they are visibly dirty. Err on the side of washing things too much. No one ever minds the smell of fresh laundry.

4) Fingernails. They should be spotless. As a rule of thumb, guys should keep them neatly trimmed and short, girls can get away with having them be a little longer. The problem there is that longer nails tend to show dirt. You should glance and your nails now and again during the day to make sure there isn't anything icky hiding out under them. If there is, clean it out and wash your hands. Also: Don't chew or pick at them. The resulting bloody stubs look gross and unclean. Clip off hangnails if they get bad.

5) Speaking of hands, wash them. Every time you go to the bathroom. After you eat (preferably sometime before you eat, too, but that's a safety issue for you, not a hygiene thing for others.) Anytime you do something that makes your hands less than clean. That includes when they get all sweaty from playing too many intense video games. Believe me, I've been there. Just get up, walk over to the sink, turn on the water and wash those suckers. You may also want to wipe down your controller with rubbing alcohol once in awhile.

6) After you eat, make sure you haven't dropped food on yourself or your immediate vicinity. Check your face and your hands as well. If you find anything at all, clean it up immediately.

7) Chew with your mouth shut. Also, don't talk with your mouth full.

8) Watch your shoes. Shoes can get to a point where they stink. If/when they develop any noticeable odor, you can try anti-smell powder/spray. If that doesn't work, you need to give up and get new ones. If shoes are visibly dirty anywhere but the sole of the shoe, clean them. If there's something particularly icky on the sole of the shoe (gum/poo/tar/mud/etc.) wipe it off.

9) As for bags and backpacks, it's nice that you've had the same Jansport bag since high school, but it's probably filthy. At the very least, wipe off anything that's noticeably dirty and wash anything that's fabric and washable once in awhile. This could be as often as once every two years or once a month, depending on where you leave that thing. Don't be that guy with the fabric backpack that has developed a sheen from filth.

10) If you're going to use your laptop in public, it should be very, very clean. No icky stuff on the monitor and, for goodness' sake, get crumbs, hair, dust and other bits and pieces of anything out of the keys.

11) Before you leave the house in the morning, wash your face and look in a mirror. Make sure you don't have anything lingering in the corners of your eyes or in your nose. If you have allergies, you may want to check this more often - 2 times a day or more. The corners of your mouth can also be suspect - some people tend to get a little white crust there. Make sure you're not one of them.

Bonus for guys: Cologne can be a fantastic thing. But only if it's really subtle. The best way to put it on is spray it once in front of you and walk throught the mist before it disappates. You really want to just barely get it on you. Too much cologne annoys everyone.

Bonus for girls: Makeup can be a good thing, but you need to make sure to be careful when you apply it. If done improperly, it can make you look dirty as opposed to polished. It's better to wear just a little bit. Make sure your eyemakeup doesn't smear throughout the day, keep the lipstick within your natural lipline, and check for anything that might gather at the corners of your mouth.

Chances are that I've forgotten something here, but I felt I should put this out on the internets.

Tact

Sometimes I rage about putting people into categories. And sometimes, I still manage to put them into categories. Understand that it's a matter of efficiency and is ultimately a gross oversimplification of an issue.

That being said, I find it appalling how many people in this world are rude. Some of it is intentional, some of it is the result of bad parenting, and some is completely accidental. On rare occasion, I think it's justified.

Intentional rudeness: The guy who passed me on the right this morning (in a parking lane) and flipped me off while yelling. Because I came to a full and complete stop at the stop sign. Sorry California, I'm a rule follower.

Bad parenting: The people who chew with their mouths open. Smack smack smack. Ick.

Accidental rudeness: This category covers a broad range of offenses. There are the people who make social situations awkward just because they don't know how to handle them. Or the people who have hygiene issues (yes, that's a form of rudeness. Etiquette is all about making other people comfortable. Not showering for 3 days makes people *un*comfortable.) Or when you say something in a way that is offensive, when you did not intend it to be so. Or when you cut ahead of somebody in a line because you couldn't figure out where the line ended.

Justified rudeness: This could just be me, but there's a point where I take down my hyper-accommodating hat and go with my frank and direct hat. This usually makes people feel attacked, only because it is so surprising. Generally, people don't get to see this side of me unless a) I'm really mad or b) I'm really comfortable with them.

Iffy rudeness: It surprises me that people don't know this, but it is rude to point out when someone else is being rude. Saying "excuse you," after someone passes gas makes an uncomfortable situation more uncomfortable. It takes an embarrassing incident and turns it into a confrontation - obviously the person is going to have to either respond to what you said, or sit there, silent. In both cases, the rest of the people in the room get to feel uncomfortable. Of course, I broke my own rule in explaining this to a friend after she nagged her boyfriend about how to use a fork at the dinner table. This was mainly because I had witnessed her nagging him on several occasions. It got old.

There are plenty of exceptions. There's a lot I do around my best-buds that would be considered rude. Sometimes it's because I like to make fun of the rude people. (Which yes, is rude, but I don't do it when they're around.) Sometimes I swear. A lot.

When it comes down to it, you should err on the side of hyper-politeness. Once you are familiar with a group of people (or individuals) and find out what they consider to be appropriate, then you can begin to let down your guard.

3.08.2009

Superficial Distractions

First off, here's the pile of meat my boyfriend had at dinner last night:


Okay, okay. I know. You can probably tell it's a pizza. But to me it looked like a big plate of raw, shiny meat. Ick. It's actually prosciutto and my boyfriend ate it all. Blech - all things ham make me nauseous. I opted for the butternut squash ravioli with sage butter. Mmm.

You can probably tell that I'm still trying to keep my mind off of this: Bozeman Explosion.

I've been doing a butt-load of graphic design work. And e-shopping. And actual shopping. I'm going to refrain from telling you about the design stuff. I will, however, tell you about shopping. Because I'm sure it's thrilling to read about. If you disagree, just ignore that this post ever happened. I'm practicing avoidance by looking for shiny things to distract me. Otherwise I'll keep dwelling on the utter crappiness of last week.

Post-dinner last night, I dropped by Best Buy and instinctively picked up this:

I have a habit of judging books and video games by their covers. Luckily, this seems to turn out well for me. The last game I randomly picked up was Divine Divinity. Weird, off-putting name, but it's a great game. So far Tales of Vesperia seems to be pretty great as well. It feels very old-school RPG in format, but the look is standard Anime - as I'm sure you can tell by the cover. The graphics are pretty fun. Anyhoo...on to other exciting things.

Shoes.

Shoes are a problem for me. I really enjoy them, aesthetically. Unfortunately I have weird feet. And a bum ankle. (Which slowly continues to improve, but I'm still stuck with settling for less than fantastic shoes.)

Summer is coming here in LA, so I found myself gazing at these puppies:


Sigh. I'll be able to wear heels again eventually. These also caught my eye:A not-too-high wedge, I think. Unfortunately I have oddly short toes, so sandals end up looking strange most of the time. Plus that ankle issue I mentioned earlier

This pair totally repulsed me, and I didn't bother to find a better photo online:


Unfortunately, I ended up buying a ton of "meh" shoes. The last time I bothered to shoe shop was last October. I kind of might have totally worn out some of those already.

Don't tell anyone that cares about fashion, but I bought some clogs with a squishy lining. They are very, very comfortable. Which is pretty much a style no-no, but what can I do? I also got some sandals that were barely a step up from flip-flops. And a pair of penny loaferish flats and black ballet flats (with a twist). I desperately needed more work-appropriate foot attire.

I was going to indulge in photographing them, but I'm actually not really proud to wear them.

Some of my goals for the year include buying things I like at the time I discover 'em (they disappear otherwise) and learning to cope with transition pieces. Sometimes I can't find or afford something when I need it. Rather than going without, I am trying to be at peace with things that I think are only so-so.

3.06.2009

Time for some art.

I need a mental break. The week has been hectic. Illness, personal drama, explosions, etc.

Let Friday chill-time commence...

Older favorite (M.C. Escher):Newer favorite (Nanami Cowdroy):

My thoughts are with Bozeman, MT

I often joke about how I felt incompatible with Montana living. I rarely talk about why I also love it.

Today I must share with you how much I enjoyed my college town. There's something really wonderful about how warm and friendly everyone is. It's a tight-knit community, and the people there are truly willing to help out one another. They care deeply about their neighbors, and the tragic events yesterday ended up highlighting the benefits of living in a smaller town.

Bozeman Explosion

The peaceful, beautiful quiet that occurs in Montana after a snowstorm was violently disrupted by an enormous explosion in the downtown area yesterday morning. The landscape of historic Main Street was forever altered when a gas explosion took out Boodles restaurant and bar and caused severe structural damage to nearby buildings. As the day progressed, several other businesses were completely lost or severely damaged by a fire that raged for approximately 15 hours as emergency crews tried valiantly to shut off the antiquated gas lines. Broken glass and debris littered the streets blocks away from the burning buildings.

Image taken shortly after the initial explosion from: Bozexplod

Businesses destroyed included Boodles, the American Legion, the Rocking R bar, the Montana Trails Art Gallery, Lily Lu's children's store and the Pickle Barrel, which is inside the Rocking R. "The Rocky Mountain Rug Gallery and Starky's Delicatessen were also significantly impacted by the explosion and subsequent fire."

Some of the businesses that sustained damage were Odyssey, Ro Sham Bo, The Root, Girls Outdoors, Earth’s Treasures, Barrel Mountaineering, Helly Hansen and Western Drug. Even City Hall, many blocks away, had a broken window.

I signed onto Gchat yesterday morning to initially discover the news via a good friend's "status." She confirmed that she was fine and my first instinct was to call my mother and check on the location of my little brother and family friends. Next I hopped online to see what information I could find.

At first, I found the news coverage on the local press websites to be lacking. Eventually, I ended up turning to one of my Facebook friends. He started this: Twitter Feed, Bozexplod.

Thanks to Twitter, I was able to get real time updates of all of the emergency efforts in Bozeman. Each of the dedicated individuals on the feed spent their time relaying important information on resources for those affected by the day's events - where to stay, how to find information on missing persons, how to help, etcetera.

Thanks to the constant stream of "tweets" I knew exactly when 11 people were missing. I found out that the number had been reduced to five. Then one. I knew which businesses had been effected. I knew which streets were closed and how emergency crews were working to minimize the impact the streaming gas and raging fires would have on the community. I knew how far away the smoke could be seen and I had galleries upon galleries of constantly updated photostreams documenting the damage and the progress of emergency workers. I knew the governor had flown in and the National Guard was on call.

I knew this all from my office in Los Angeles, California.

To me, this is the power of social media. It is immediate, it is fluid. It can bring together people and resources on a level that more traditional media never has. Of course there were some tasteless individuals that attempted to RickRoll the feed. A few contributed conjecture and/or incorrect information. They were quickly weeded out and quieted by the dedicated individuals that flooded the web with truly useful information - far before the major media outlets picked up on the news.

Surprisingly and thankfully, no injuries were reported. However, there is one woman confirmed missing and crews were unable to begin sorting through the rubble until today. My thoughts are with her family and friends.

*EDIT* P.S. For those of you in and around the Bozeman area, please support the hell out of the businesses downtown that are open. It's a vibrant, fantastic downtown and I know you'll band together to help make it even better than it was before. */EDIT*

*2nd EDIT*
From: Digg

*/2nd Edit*

3.04.2009

Accidental Vegetarianism

I'm not a vegetarian. I had always wanted to be one, mainly because every animal I've ever met has tugged at my heartstrings . But, when it came down to it, I never managed to put down the burger.

Here's why: I LOVE meat. Rather, I *used* to love meat.

It started with ham. I've always, always HATED ham. It smells fantastic - the idea of it is divine. But the reality is that it makes me nauseous, without fail. I'd notice that my food tasted off, ask what was in it and find out ham was part of the mix. It was okay though - bacon and pork were still divine.

Next came chicken. If chicken tastes like, well, chicken, I spit it out. It gets my gag reflex going. Drowned in sauces, it isn't too bad, but boiled chicken makes me ill.

It's not like I'm imagining the little slaughtered animals. No. It just turns in my mouth. It's like eating something that is about to give you food poisoning. "I thought that tasted off..." Then you spend the next two days writing in agony on the bathroom floor, trying desperately to aim the proper end of yourself toward the toilet.

Eventually all poultry started giving me trouble, then pork, and I convinced myself that if I could eat fish and big, juicy steaks, I would make a fine vegetarian.

But tonight, it happened. The lovely beefy-meaty marinara sauce my boyfriend made for our spaghetti dinner turned on me. I hope this hasn't spread to steak, but I fear that I might slowly phase out all meat entirely.

I guess I need to start adjusting my diet, so I don't end up looking like one of those hollow-eyed vegans with the dark under-eye circles and pale, pale skin.

Computadora

So...I've had my current laptop for about 3 years. It has served me very, very well - no troubles whatsoever, not even a hiccup. It has dealt with my ridiculous love of multitasking - I can run multiple IM clients, plus all of the Adobe Creative Suite, plus Word, plus Outlook, plus pretty much an unlimited number of Firefox windows, plus...anything I can really think of. It's a Dell and it has been fantastic.

Unfortunately, 3 years is about it for a computer. There's more I want to start doing.

Now I find myself with a conundrum.

Laptop or desktop?

I love the freedom of a laptop. However, I need a big-ish screen and loads of *power.* A huge laptop is annoying to carry around and it's also pretty pricey. A desktop would be cheaper and more powerful. But I couldn't work and lay on the couch, or the bed, or the floor, or sit at my desk, or the kitchen table, or my boyfriend's desk all in one day. Or go on a trip.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Hello out there...

I have essentially been buried under an ever-growing pile of work lately. Luckily, I haven't been ignoring this blog as much as I had in years prior.

I'm not sure if writing has gotten easier, or if I have become more willing to ramble on about nothing in particular...publicly. Blogging is obviously a bit of an exercise in narcissism - just publishing this thing implies that I think it's worth reading. I don't know if that's necessarily my reason for writing - I think it tends to be therapeutic. It's like I get take something that I had kept bottled up*, then vent it out to the universe... Maybe that sounds a bit odd. But I'm odd, so it's alright.

In any case, it's a lovely, rainy day in Los Angeles - which means the ultra parched plants in the area are about to turn a brilliant shade of green. I wouldn't complain if it rained daily, to be honest.

On a slightly different note, I'm convinced that 2009 is going to be a very, very good year. And so far, all signs point to yes.

*Obviously my benign musings are less about venting frustration and more about...alleviating boredom, maybe? Maybe if you're lucky I'll turn this thing into something more interesting. Someday.