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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Patti and the Giant Roach

Let me preface this account by saying that I was born and spent most of my life in Minnesota where the cold winters kill bugs like crazy and I never had to deal with anything the size of what I've seen down in Georgia. Let me also add that I was bug-phobic living in Minneapolis and that's only gotten worse in Atlanta.

At my day job, we have a gym we can join. I usually go over my lunch time so that I can continue to ride my van pool to and from work. So I do my 30 minutes on the elliptical, wipe down the equipment, and head for the locker room to shower and change clothes. I've done it many times. No big deal.

Until Wednesday.

I push open the door to the locker room and what's crawling toward the door? The biggest roach I've ever seen! I might be new to Georgia, but the condo I lived in the first year I was down here didn't have good seals on the doors and I had more than one morning chasing roaches through the living room with the vacuum cleaner. I've seen large roaches before. This surpassed them all. This thing was so big, it needed a license plate.

I didn't scream. I let the door close and backed away. I wasn't sure what to do. I loathe bugs, but roaches are among the worst ever. Did I try to get in the locker room? Did I wait until someone else came and let her smoosh the bug?

Waiting for someone else wasn't the best option I had because Tech Ops is heavily male, so is the membership at the gym, and because I go later to avoid the crowds, the place was pretty empty. I couldn't afford to wait for another woman to decide to head for the locker room. That left option one: try to race past Bugzilla.

Slowly, I pushed the door open. I didn't see him and I rushed past the entry to the lockers. Not long after that, another woman came in and said, "Did you see that giant roach by the door?"

Gah! Yeah, I saw him all right.

I showered with some trepidation, hoping that thing wouldn't head deeper into the locker room.

The other woman left first, and I was certain she must have told an employee, but on my way out, I stopped by the front desk anyone and mentioned the roach from hell. No, no one else had told them about Gargantua. So I ended up being stuck for about five minutes longer to talk to the assistant manager and the man who took care of the gym facilities.

I'm so hoping they sprayed so I don't have another chance encounter with big, dark, and icky.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Moana

***WARNING: There will be spoilers! If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now.***

Moana is an animated Disney film, which I'm sure everyone knows, but I thought I'd say it anyway, just in case. It came out last year and recently arrived on a streaming service, which is where I watched it. I kind of wish I'd seen it on a big screen in the movie theater, but on the other hand, much better to be at home and comfortable.

Back a long, long time ago, the demi-god Maui, stole the heart of Te Fiti. Because of that, there's a curse that is spreading across the Pacific, causing fish to disappear and turning food like coconuts inedible. The only way to stop it is to return the heart.

From the time she was a toddler, our heroine, Moana, has felt the call of the ocean and her parents, particularly her father, have spent a lot of time pulling her away from the water, fearful of her safety. But the sea isn't dangerous to the chief's daughter. In fact, the ocean has chosen Moana to return be the one to take Te Fiti's heart to Maui and make him return it.

And when the curse reaches her island, Moana feels she has no choice. With the seafaring boats brought when her ancestors first arrived here, she sets off in the smaller one, determined to find Maui and save her home.

OMG, I loved this movie! I think it's my new favorite Disney picture, unseating Beauty and the Beast, which was my previous favorite. Moana, both the film and the title character, kicked butt!

Maui has zero interest in following Moana's plan, but she's strong enough to convince him despite his best attempts to get rid of her. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, BTW, was thoroughly charming in his part as the egotistical Maui and Auli'i Cravalho did a fabulous job in the title role.

This is where I issue my final spoiler warning. I'm going to reveal the ending.

Of all the delightful parts of this film, my very most favorite comes near the end. Moana and Maui need to get past the lava monster to reach Te Fiti's island. Our heroine is determined and she makes it! Yea! Only to discover Te Fiti is gone. She figures it out, though. The lava monster is Te Fiti without her heart, and Moana, kick butt as all get out, gives Te Fiti back her heart. Te Fiti returns to her normal, gentle, nature self and the curse is lifted.

Moana is a charming, fun, sweet movie with enough great action to keep it interesting. Throughout the course of the film, our heroine learns and grows, becoming the strong woman she was always destined to be.

Final verdict: Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: By the Book Podcast

I was listening to a podcast where each of the hosts mentioned three podcasts that they loved. Most of them didn't interest me, but one was intriguing. By the Book.

By the Book has a simple premise. Every episode the two hosts--Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer--take a self-help book and follow it for two weeks. They started with The Secret, did a finance book, a past life book, a diet book, and Kon Mari (the art of decluttering). They do a few check-ins to discuss how it's going, and at the end, they give their final verdict.

Kristen and Jolenta rarely agree, and sometimes it's a surprise about who has what opinion. There's also been some drama. Sometimes the books are simply too difficult to live by 100% and sometimes it's more serious than that. For example, Kristen had an eating disorder in the past and the diet book triggered some of her past behavior.

Both hosts are entertaining and it's entertaining to hear them cover their experiences living by the book. In fact, Jolenta is a comedian, but the show isn't a comedy, so don't expect jokes flying fast and furious.

If you're looking for a new podcast to try, and if you think the premise is as interesting as I do, consider checking out the show.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Color is in the Eye of the Beholder

Because of our office move at work, I'm sitting near a new department--one I have to walk through every time I want to use the restroom. One morning while I was walking past their cubes, I noticed one of the women was wearing cute shoes. A second later, I shrugged and thought, Too bad they're brown. Then I noticed she was wearing a brown shirt and light brown slacks.

Being a goofball writer, I immediately started running down the color path. I realized that I never wear brown. I remember once upon a time I owned a super cute brown shirt, but I think that was donated years ago.

That got me thinking some more about how I don't wear pastels either. I do own a few shirts that fit this niche, but they're buried in my closet. I also have some taupe shoes hiding somewhere and some brown ones (unless I donated those before I moved from Minnesota), but I usually wear black shoes or tennis shoes. On the sneakers, the brighter the better.

Actually, almost all my clothes are super bright or black. Fuchsia--my personal most favorite color ever--dominates my wardrobe (and my knitting); aqua holds a close second. I also have bright green, violet, other shades of bright pink (again, totally my fave!). Seriously, the brighter my clothes are, the happier I am. I wear my brightest of brights either on Monday to cheer myself up or on Friday to celebrate the upcoming weekend. I tend not to wear it in the middle of the week.

I can even manage a few jewel tones, especially purple, but I don't love it the way I love the bright, happy colors.

After I thought through this, I wondered if I was unusual and realized that I probably was. A lot of people must like beige and brown and taupe. I find those colors absolutely boring. I'm sure people who enjoy the earth tones probably find my clothing choices garish. I guess what colors are considered exciting are in the eye of the beholder.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lights Out

Those of you who've had a TV on for the past week know that hurricane Irma hit Florida with quite a punch, although a last minute deviation spared some places a worse blow than they were predicted to get. Maybe, though, you didn't know that Tropical Storm Irma decided to pay a visit to the state of Georgia after having her way in Florida.

I live near Atlanta so one of the doors Irma knocked at was mine!

Let me remind those of you who don't know--I'm from Minnesota. I was born there and lived most of my life there. We don't get tropical storms in Minneapolis. Ask me to deal with a 31 inch snowfall. I'll bitch about it, but I can handle it. Ask me when it's safe or unsafe to drive onto the lake. These are the weather issues I'm accustomed to dealing with. I had zero clue what to do for a tropical storm, remnant of a full-fledged hurricane.

I did know enough to buy bottled water and I have some battery-operated lanterns complete with extra batteries. We also had food that could last a while without spoiling, although it would have meant eating a lot of fruit.

And I was able to work from home on Monday which was a blessing because I didn't want to try to drive through wind gusts of 70 mph. (I'm not sure it ever reached that high, but it might have.)

The rain started the night before, and while there were some gusts, it wasn't too bad. Even Monday, it seemed mostly okay. Sure, it was pouring most of the day and yeah the wind was incredible. I spent a lot of time hoping none of my trees came down. Overall, though, it was okay.

Until the power went out.

I'm not cutout for pioneer life. I tried to knit, but the lantern light wasn't bright enough and I made a mistake. I tried to fix it, but I fear I made it worse in the near-dark. Too dark to read. Can't read on my iPad because I'll run the battery down. No TV, no computer, no phone because I have one bar inside my house and there's that pesky battery thing again. I finally went and took a nap.

Dinner was cold Szechuan and then more sitting around until I was like, okay, might as well go to bed. For real. Now I know why in the olden days they got up with the light and went to bed when it got dark.

The true test was Tuesday morning when I woke up to no coffee!!! The horrors! This was the first thing I rectified when I got to work.

I heard on the news that this is the first tropical storm to reach Atlanta since 1995 or 1996. I hope it's at least that long before I have to go through something like this again! Still, I know how lucky I am and how unlucky others were. Keeping the peeps who've dealt with worse in my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Claustrophobic Introvert

Recently at my day job, my entire department was moved to the new standard remodeled area. This includes brand new cubes. I'd like to share with you a claustrophobic introvert's living hell.

Yes, that's all the personal space I'm allowed and when I turn around in my chair, I frequently bang into the wall or the bookcase. Notice how at least a quarter of the bookcase is basically unusable because of the desk. I keep my gym bag down on the bottom shelf in the back because I can grab the strap and pull it out. If not for that, that space would be sitting empty because of accessibility.

The upper left hand side of the bookcase originally had yet another shelf, making that space virtually unusable as well, but I took out one of the three (!!!) shelves jammed in that quadrant to allow taller items to be placed there. And the drawer space? Horrifyingly tight. Maybe it works for the men in the office since they don't have purses, but for women, it's grossly less that what's needed.

Also when we moved into the cubes, we were given new chairs. Chairs with only two controls to adjust it for ergonomic comfort. My back aches after sitting there for a while.

Let me also complain about the short cube walls--the better to spread germs with during flu season--and the complete lack of privacy. Awesome! There's supposed to be some noise cancelling system in there, but apparently it's not activated yet because I can hear a lot of conversations.

I didn't want this entire post to be a bitch session--I'd hoped to inject some humor--but sadly, there's nothing funny about this new corporate standard. Let me close out with the one cool thing (absolutely the only thing I like about this new arrangement). That shiny white surface on the right-hand side? It's a white board! OMG, do I love this! If I ever get my office at home usable again, I might have to do a white board in there. It seems like it would be super awesome for laying out characters/plot points and other story things.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

What I Learned From Having a Smart Phone

About a year ago, I got my first smart phone. It was a company iPhone so that I could be reached when needed. Before this, I had my simple pay-as-you-go slider phone because the wireless companies were charging ridiculous amounts of money each month. I was too cheap to pay that kind of money for a phone.

Well, as it turns out, I love my iPhone. It's connected to my iPad and my MacBook and that rocks, too. I can answer texts on my laptop. With a full keyboard! I'm sorry, but I just don't have the patience to type on that tiny phone keyboard. I'm used to speed, not hunt and peck. :-)

I have found apps that I can't live without, and yeah, I had them on my iPad, but it's not half as convenient as the phone. There's Facebook, of course, and email, but I also have MLB At Bat and Michaels, Joann, and my Stand Up app to get me out of my chair when I've been sitting for too long. I can listen to music or podcast or audio books. I can check on my doctor appointments, see how much my health insurance covered, and ask my doctor a question. All from the phone.

Sadly, my work phone is the smallest about of memory Apple sold which I think is 16GB. I'm constantly struggling with space. For this reason and because this is a work phone, I don't have any ebooks loaded. Those stay on my iPad. I also only keep a few audio books on it.

Before my iPhone, I didn't get why people freaked when they forgot their cell phones. So what? Now? I understand it much better.

Bottom line? I learned that if my company ever decided I didn't need a cell phone and took it away from me, I'd be going out and getting my own plan because honestly it's life changing. Mostly in a positive way, although not completely. I think I'll save the challenges it creates for some later blog post, but OMG, I love the iPhone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Years Are Short

I watched a TED talk recently that was amusing and fun and then the speaker put up on the screen the most terrifying graphic I've seen in a long while. It was a white screen filled with boxes. One box equaled one week. In your life if you lived to be 90 years old.

There weren't that many boxes.

If you want to share my fear, you can visit Tim Urban's website and read his blog post about it. Complete with graphics and not just the scary one from his TED talk. He made other, even more terrifying graphics to really hammer the point home.

Before my mom died, my dad said that she told him she'd had a good life. I guess that means that she colored in her life boxes with good things, productive things, things that brought her satisfaction. I want to be able to say the same thing she did when it's my time to go and that means reassessing life, I guess. Making decisions on how I want to color in my boxes.

Even with the fear of wasting life, this isn't an easy thing to do. Gretchen Rubin has a quote that's appropriate here: "The days are long, but the years are short."

It's too easy to think I'll do it tomorrow. I'm already doing this in a way, blogging about it instead of mulling. When I was a teenager, I mulled over life a lot. I read philosophy and I subscribed to Socrates' theory The unexamined life is not worth living. As an adult, with so many different demands on my time, it's harder to do this.

Much harder.