Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Amazing Race

Many of my friends know that one of my favorite TV shows is The Amazing Race (TAR). Even those who may not know that most likely are not surprised considering my love of travel.

So I am very happy tonight since the new season has started. And I always generalize a few of the teams into one of the following categories

1. Most Annoying
2. Most Endearing
3. Most Likely To Combust (either on air or after the show)
4. Most Likely To Be The First Eliminated

Here are my preliminary generalizations:

1. Most Annoying - I'm thinking its going to be Terence and Sarah. First, its just the first episode and they're complaining that two of the other teams have formed an alliance and didn't say "Hi!" to them at one point. Okay, yes, general pleasantries are always nice, but guess what... YOU'RE IN A COMPETITION. FOR A MILLION DOLLARS. General pleasantries are going to be tossed out the window, and its only going to get worse the further along you go. Buck up and get used to it.

2. Most Endearing - Anita and Arthur. I've got a soft spot for older couples that embark on something like this.

3. Most Likely To Combust (either on air or after the show) - This is a tough one this season. I'm torn between Ken and Tina and Anthony and Stephanie. What I don't understand are the couples who base their relationship upon how they do in this competition... and every season has one of those couples. Ken and Tina are separated after he was unfaithful and have said that how they do in TAR may play a big factor in their reconciliation. Then theres Anthony and Stephanie who said that how they do in TAR will help them to decide if they should get married, or go their separate ways.
I will never understand why couples who already have less than solid relationships will throw themselves in the middle of a fire like this. I can only imagine how stressful TAR can be on relationships and if the relationship is already strained. Why willingly put it through something that trying?

4. Most Likely To Be The First Eliminated - Anita and Arthur. While I do find them to be the most endearing, they just don't seem to have that much drive - they're just a little too laid back (turns out I was right, they were the first eliminated).

And to answer your question: Yes. I do want to audition for TAR one day. It would be perfect for me - a couple weeks of racing around the world? HELL YEAH! I'm up for that anytime!

I know I've blogged about it before, but my cousin Erin and I think that we'd make a pretty good team -- we travel together well, and our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out. Plus, the only other cousin team (that I know of) on TAR was Charla and Mirna. And they were annoying as can be. Erin and I are way cooler.
We've been saying that we want to audition for the past year, but a couple of things have held us back.
1. My weight. To be honest, my weight and lack of physical fitness would be a complete liability to any team I was on. I would need to lose a considerable amount of weight before participating in anything like this.
2. Erin spent the past year embroiled in a less than pleasant divorce, so the timing was not optimal for her.
3. My knees. This goes along with my weight - the condition that they are presently in would present a large liability in any physical challenges. Losing weight would help with the condition of my knees, and so would improving my general physical fitness.

So, I've got a lot to do if I want to even consider auditioning. I'm already working on the weight issue - I joined Weight Watchers a couple of weeks ago (more on that later) - and I'm going to be working on the physical fitness issue, especially if I'm going to be doing any of the multi-day walk-a-thons or bike rides next year (again, more on that later).
I need to do these things for reasons more than the possibility of auditioning for TAR. I need to do these things just to improve my general health.
TAR is just an added incentive.

So, I'll pose a question I've asked before:

Any suggestions on what would make an audition tape that would grab the attention of the casting directors and producers?
Those of you who know me well - what aspects of my personality should I play up?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve,

I adore you. I've been a fan of yours since I got my first iBook four years ago -- it was only a couple of months until I got my first iPod.
I've told my boss that if I ever call in sick in mid-January, its a safe bet that I'm actually playing hookey to go to Mac World in SF. I really want to see your keynote speech someday.
I like your casual jeans and mock turtle neck.
I thought that walking out in front of the Mark Twain quote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated", at the launch of the latest generation of iPods was quite clever.
To sum it up - I am a huge fan of you and your empire and am sure that I will be for life. Its because of this that I have to ask you one very direct, and rather difficult, question:

Why do you hate me so?

I got my first iBook, a G4, in July of 2004 as a gift from my eldest aunt. I LOVED IT! Finally I had a computer that didn't continuously crash on me, that I didn't have to "defragment" (whatever the hell that means, I never really understood and don't particularly care to) all the time. I didn't have to consistently run virus sweeps. The best part? It was EASY to use! Intuitive! Plus it was pretty and stylish! I love the white casing - so much prettier than the clunky black of your competitors. Yes, I know that some other computer companies offer laptops in a wide rainbow of colors now, but I still love the pristine white Mac.
The iBook served me very well up until this past spring. Then it started behaving very... weirdly.
Of course, I had been spouting off the wonders of Mac, how much I love you, how I'd had this iBook for four years with absolutely NO problems whatsoever, how EVERYONE should have a Mac.
Within a week, I started having problems. Naturally.
I used it to watch DVDs and to catch up on my favorite TV shows online. All of a sudden, I would be in the middle of watching something, and the screen would go black and the sound would cut out. Almost as if I had turned the iBook off, except I could still hear the hard drive (or at least what I think is the hard drive) running. It woulldn't respond to anything on the keyboard or touchpad, but I could turn it off via the power button. Then, when I turned it back on via the power button it would usually turn back on (with the hard drive running loudly) and start up okay, but other times when I turned it on via the power button, and only the hard drive would run. Then sometimes when I would restart the iBook, the date would be set for something crazy, like 1981 or something like that. NUTTY!
I spoke with a friend who used to work for you and he told me that there was a known problem with the cold solder graphics on that years machines and that he thought it sounded like that was the issue. The problem? I was well beyond any warranty. Sucked to be me. He did offer me the suggestion of resetting the power manager by OPTION+SHIFT+CTRL+POWER or by starting up in safe mode. These solutions worked a couple of times only, then all of a sudden the iBook wouldn't power up at all. No way, no how. REALLY REALLY REALLY sucked to be me. I only lost a few casual photos. Thankfully I had everything else backed up to an external hard drive.
I was without a computer for a couple of months.
Then something miraculous happened. I cried my tale of iBook woe to my wonderfully generous aunt, and she bequeathed to me an old PowerBook G4 that she had upgraded from. We installed the latest OS and hallelujah, I was back in business.
Then things got a little sticky again. The USB ports won't recognize anything I plug in. Not my external hard drive, not my ipod, nothing. All I get is some odd message saying something about an unrecognizable device. WEIRD. Then I go to watch one of my favorite shows online and theres no sound. Same thing with DVDs. Evidently something is a little wonky with the sound card I assume.
But, I can email, blog, and photoshop to my hearts content.
That is my tragic story with the iBook/PowerBook.

Now, for the iPod. Not all of these are technical issues. They're not all your fault, Steve. Some of them are my own clumsiness. I understand this.
My first iPod fell victim to a cup of coffee. Yes, a cup of coffee. I'm driving to work, not paying attention to the road while I scroll through my playlists thinking "Do I want some George Michael to pep me up this morning or am I wanting something a little more current? Maybe some Beyonce?" When I look up and see that I have to slam on the brakes. As I slam on the brakes, my iPod slips out of my hand and into my cup of coffee. I cursed. Profusely.
At the time I was a little short on cash flow, as I usually am, so I found an iPod nano on ebay to hold me over until I could get a real one (the nano won't hold my entire music collection - I have something along the lines of 18GB of music and the nano was only 8GB). That one lasted a while, although it was a little frustrating to have only half of my music collection on there. Then, I let the battery go completely dead one day. It would never power back on. I'm thinking that it may make a rather cool fish tank ornament, dontcha think?
I did eventually get another iPod. Then my car got broken into. Buh-bye iPod.
I got another iPod, a refurb (again - low cash flow), and have been loving it for nearly two years. It has been fantastic. I've been grooving along on my commute, blocking out annoying seatmates on flights, its been great. I even downloaded podcasts for some recent trips I took that provided me with guided tours of attractions and helped me to learn other languages! I LOVE THE IPOD!
Then, tragedy struck.
Last week, my iPod suddenly froze up on me. No big deal, right? I can just reset it. So, I did. Everything seemed fine, until I went to play the iPod in my car the next morning. I selected a song, the music started, and then the music kept going, but with no lyrics. No lyrics? Thats right, no lyrics. The music is playing, and I can hear the back up singers just fine. What I couldn't hear was the main vocals. It was as if I were listening to a karaoke track. It does this with every song in my iPod. It is very very very frustrating.
So, I would go out and get a new iPod BUT I would have a problem getting my music library on it since my PowerBook won't recognize anything that I plug into any of the USB ports.
I would love to get one of the new MacBooks with 4GB memory and 250 GB Hard Drive (between my music collection and photographs, I need quite a bit of storage space), but those START at $1,600! $1,600? Seriously? I can barely afford to put gas in my car! If I had that kind of money, I'd spend a week or two in Europe!
Then I'd be looking at another $250 for the iPod (or $400 for the iPod touch, which I'll admit, I really would like). And since I'm at it I may as well admit that I am deeply, madly, ravenously in lust with the iPhone (white!) and of course, thats another $300. Plus $150 to break my contract with my current cell phone carrier.
So, what are we up to now? Anywhere between $2,150 to $2,300? Or more if I add on any applications/programs/accessories. Could I just give you some of my eggs? How about a few pints of blood? I am O-/CMV-... a true Universal Donor.
I absolutely love your products. They're beyond fantastic, I just wish they could be more affordable.

who does not want to have to break down and buy a Dell and/or a Zune but is afraid that she may have to considering the current economic situations.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Third Times a Charm???

So, last Wednesday I bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers. AGAIN.
Its worked for me in the past, then I went completely off plan and gained back all of the weight that I had lost (and then some).
When I went off plan last time I gained back some, but not a whole heck of a lot at first. I really gained it all back when I started hanging out at the pub more often. I'm starting to wonder if there might be a connection there.
Yes, this is my third attempt at Weight Watchers. Well, not really. It's my third attempt in my ADULT life. My mom put me on WW for the first time when I was 10 years old (5th grade) and again when I was 13 (8th grade). So, if you really want to get technical this would be the fifth attempt.
The first time I did WW (as an adult) was 5 years ago, and I had a pretty good support system. I went on Saturday mornings with my cousin and my oldest friend. It was something that the three of us looked forward to, a way to get us out of the house early on a Saturday morning and really kick off the weekend.
Now, my life is such that I often have social commitments on weekends, or I may be traveling, hopefully photographing a wedding, or something along those lines. Okay, I'll be honest, theres also a possibility that I could be recovering from Friday night and can't imagine dragging my butt out of bed to go to a Weight Watchers meeting.
This time, instead of Saturday morning I'm going to meetings on Wednesday evening, again with my cousin Erin.
So far I'm doing okay at staying on plan. I figure I'll just follow the food plan for a couple of months, see how I do at losing the weight just by making food modifications. Then, when I hit a big plateau, I'll start to incorporate some sort of exercise or fitness routine.

Random Cooper update, I had the following text message conversation with my cousin Erin this evening:

Me: Cooper randomly runs laps ON my bed as though hes being chased by evangelical missionaries.

Erin: Why would they chase him?

Me: To convert him from his heathen ways. He likes to play with yarn and womens panties. They figure he needs saving.

She never replied after that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What the....?????

So, imagine this:
You're driving home from work, on one of the busiest streets in the area and a couple of cars ahead, you could swear that you see an airplane.
HUH? Yes, you ARE on the way to the optometrist to pick up your new glasses, but your visions not THAT bad. So you speed up a little, because you have to see if there really IS an airplane on the road.
And sure enough, there is:

Yes, the wings have been removed and it is being towed buy an SUV, but still! Theres a freaking plane on Sunrise Blvd!

Of course, this had to be the day that I pull out my real camera and the battery is completely dead but I was able to grab these pics with my cell phone.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What am I, Crazy???

Wait. Don't answer that.

Every so often I get some wild hair up my backside to do something. Sometimes I go through with it, and sometimes I don't. When I do go through with it I get all gung-ho crazy and obsessed. A couple examples...

Several years ago I had been watching my diet and practicing yoga semi-regularly - I tried to make a class about once a week. By doing these two things, I started losing weight so I then started going to yoga more frequently, 2-3 times per week, and pilates occaisionally, maybe once every other week. Naturally, when I became more active I started to lose even more weight. Yeah, I started to get a little obsessed. I was considering becoming a yoga instructor at the urging of the owner of the studio I was going to, I was looking into yoga retreats as vacation options, half of my wardrobe was various yoga pants and tank tops.
I didn't limit my obsession with physical activity to just yoga though. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I read about the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure which is either a 25, 50 or 100 mile bike ride to raise funding for diabetes research. I was training for the 50 mile ride. In addition to yoga and pilates, I would go on bike rides throughout the week. I would take my bike to work on the back of my car, and on my way home I would stop off at the American River Bike trail and ride for about 5 miles before returning home. On weekends I would go on 15 mile rides around my town. In the evenings, or when weather would not allow biking, I would lift handweights. I walked around my house, and the grocery store or Target, with ankle weights. I was dead serious about my training.
About a month before the ride I got bronchitis. While the antibiotics did clear out the bronchitis, I still didn't feel like my usual self and my workouts were nowhere near as easy as they had been in the previous months. But, I kept pushing through it figuring that I just had to build myself back up to the level that I was at before I got sick. It never got any easier and then I started to develop this really weird stabbing pain in my ribcage whenever I did try to work out. Then that stabbing pain was there whenever I took a breath. I went back to the doctors and was diagnosed with pleurisy just a week before the Tour de Cure. I was out of the ride. I knew that with the pain I was in there was no possible way I would be able to come anywhere near doing a 50 mile bike ride.
At that point I was so disappointed that I stopped riding my bike, stopped going to yoga and pilates and slowly gained back all of the weight I had lost, plus an additional 40lbs.

Another time I got all gung ho about something was just a little over two years ago. for New Years Eve 2005. I was at home, sick, watching Sex and the City DVDs when I rang in 2006. Lying there, I decided that my resolution that year would be to go somewhere that required a passport. I briefly forgot about my resolution for a couple of months, then remembered it when I was preparing to do my taxes in late February. As soon as I found out how much my tax refund was going to be that year I went online and booked tickets to Ireland. The rest is history - I've been obsessed with travel ever since and have made it my personal goal to take at least one international trip each year and I aim to visit every continent except Antarctica during my lifetime.

Other ideas that have just been a flash in the pan...

A few years ago I got some random idea that I wanted to photograph all of the California Missions. I spent a couple days mapping out where all of the missions are, which ones could be done in short day or weekend trips, figuring out which ones were in the closest proximity to one another and would be feasible to visit two in the same day.
I also thought it would be cool to photograph California lighthouses and/or boardwalks.
However, have you seen or heard me speak of any photos of ANY of the missions, lighthouses, or boardwalks???

My latest idea? A walk for breast cancer research. This one has a bit of a surprise to it though. Its in October of next year (yep, 2009) and I would need to start training soon. I know what you're thinking "What? Train? For a WALK? Come on now Vanessa, you can't possibly be serious." But I am.
It is a 3-day, sixty mile, walk. Check it out.

So, am I crazy to consider this?

By the way, these are the glasses I ended up ordering

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The trials of a new puppy

Ahhh.... puppyhood.

Friday morning I woke up, thankful that it was the last work day prior to a 3 day holiday weekend. I reached over to my nightstand for my glasses and they weren't there.

Fast forward through a good 20 minutes of me blindly stumbling throughout the entire house searching for my glasses. Where were they? With Coopers chewies and toys. And mangled pretty badly.

Without glasses, I can't see. Without glasses, the DMV won't allow me to operate a motor vehicle, and thats a good thing. Without glasses, I can't see worth a damn and knew that I wouldn't be able to go to work that day.
That was interesting phone call:

Me Yes, I don't know when I'll be able to make it in to work today.
Boss: You're sick? (with sound of suspicion since this is the Friday before the Labor Day weekend)
M: Not exactly. Puppy ate my glasses
B: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Call me when you can see.

I figured that I'd go to Lens Crafters since they advertise "glasses in about an hour", or at least thats what I remember them always advertising.
In the meantime, I browse their website, looking at various frames so that I'll have an idea of what I want and can speed up the whole frame selection process.
I narrowed it down to 2 pairs that I thought were AWESOME. Theyre quirky, a little eclectic, definitely not glasses you see everyday. In fact, theyre even described as "sassy" on the Lens Crafters website. My younger cousins say I'm "sassy" and even have "Sassy" instead of my name programmed into their cell phones.
Just check them out for yourself...

Cute, huh?
If you look real close, and its not early, and your current glasses haven't been chewed on by a 15 week old puppy, you'll see that they're Bulgari's. Theyre also nearly $400. Thats when I had a mild freak out. Yes, theyre a designer name and have those cute crystal flower things on the sides, but still! $400???

So, I wait until Lens Crafters opens and guess what: my insurance won't recognize Lens Crafters. To be honest, with $400 frames I'm not sure that I blame them.

I called my optometrist, but wasnt able to get in for an appointment until 12:30. The dr fitted me for contacts to hold me over until my glasses come in and then spent a good 45 minutes trying on practically every frame in the shop. Also of note - it had been 3 years since my last eye exam so the dr dialated my eyes and I couldn't see a thing less than 3 feet away for next couple of hours and ended up taking the rest of the day off from work.

The contacts. Over the years people have seen me take off my glasses for photos, comment on my eyes, and ask why I don't wear contacts or have lasik surgery.

Well, a few years ago I did look into lasik surgery. I had a consultation and everything. The doctor told me that I have larger than normal pupils (great - my boobs, ass, and now my pupils. ALL larger than normal)and while they can do the surgery and correct my vision, I would see halos around lights (because of the whole pupil deal) and have less than perfect night vision. Initially I did schedule to have the procedure done, but as the date got closer I decided against it. I figure that the point of lasik surgery is to correct my vision - not correct it for half of the time while causing another vision problem the other half of the time. My thoughts on it are that if I give them a few more years, perhaps technology will advance to the point that they'll even be able to correct vision for the big-pupil-afflicted.

Contacts - I've worn them off and on over the years. However, I've never been able to get a proper fit, especially on my right eye. I guess my astigmatism is such that I can't get a good snug fit - I can feel the contacts move to the point that its annoying at times, and they get really dry and uncomfortable and when they get dry, everything gets kinda foggy and hazy. Like I've had a couple martinis, but without the soothing buzz.
These trial contacts that the dr gave me are working okay so far. I do like being able to wear cute sunglasses and can easily see myself purchasing way too many pairs from the "compare to *insert designer label here*" kiosk in the middle of the mall.

I'm thinking that I may spring for some prescription sunglasses though, and this is where I need your help. Do you like the green? Or the black?

of course, these are the ones I like just from looking online. Whenever I do actually go in and try them on, my preferences could very well change.

And yes, I'll probably end up buying a back up pair of my regular glasses in case anything happens to the new ones. Like Cooper wanting a midnight snack again.