Sunday, December 29, 2013

It Ain't Easy Being Grinchy

"Bah humbug" used to come more easily.

For several years, I "celebrated" the holiday season by defending the rights of those people who didn't  celebrate Christmas and were otherwise unamused by the seemingly obligatory ho-ho-ho-dum foisted upon us by retail giants of the universe. I wrote annual missives about drunk elves crashing stolen sleighs, SPCA sanctions against reindeer breeders, and other snark. 

You still won't catch me caroling in my living room, unless it's in attempt to drown out the Duck Dynasty holiday CD that X "hilariously" sent home with @. I don't flinch (much) when @ puts a Santa hat on my head. My holiday letters have undergone significant snark removal. And although @ is far past believing in Santa, you won't hear him admit it. 

Earlier this month, I had an assignment: Write about the Connected Santa program. I found it an amusing request, despite my gradual but significant holiday-letter snark reduction.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Facebook Is Shrinking My World

I have that damned Disney song in my head. Because apparently, it's a small world after all.


Here I was, minding my own business going through my Facebook feed. Well, actually, I guess going through my Facebook feed means I'm minding everyone else's business. Unless I'm only reading my own posts, which is either freakishly boring or narcissistic. But I wasn't, so I don't have to decide between the two. 

Anyway... My friend Christine posted a cool new profile picture doing a yoga pose that, should I attempt it, would likely result in damaged furniture and a bloody nose (mine). The usual "Kermit the Frog and 22 other people commented on this post" message was with the post.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Shotgun Wedding, Y'all

     Dear Triker Chick:
     What is the appropriate bridal attire for a backwoods wedding? 
     Signed,     Wondering in the Woods

Dearest Bambi,

Wouldn't you know, this is a question I've oft asked myself. (Actually, I haven't. In fact, until tonight I didn't even know I had an answer to this question. But I thought if I demonstrated some understanding and affinity, you'd feel better about my answer.)

Fear not, we have discovered a fabulous resource. Accidentally, of course. I must commend my fabulous friend Kristin for accidentally twirling me in the direction of what may be one of the raddest bridal websites ever. Ever in the history of the interwebby thing. Ever!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hawk Droppings

A funny thing happened just after I left the sushi restaurant where we celebrated @'s birthday. First there was an odd sound, just over my left shoulder. And then someone yelled from a car in the parking lot. I initially thought the driver had thrown something from the car, but his reaction made it clear that he had just seen something strange.

I looked to see what had landed behind me. A wingless pigeon. They don't fly very well. And their connection with concrete delivers an odd thwack-splat sound. What in the heck?

To my right, atop the light pole in the middle of the Lucky's parking: a hawk. Watching the pigeon, like, well, a hawk.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dylan's Gates

My dad has a plain ol' farm gate at the end of his driveway. It's the gate that comes right after the END OF ROAD sign. It's the gate that has a NO TRESPASSING sign on one post and PRIVATE PROPERTY painted boldly on a watering can attached to the other.

It's the gate people drive through and find themselves sitting in front of his garage asking themselves, "what happened to the road?" If I happen to be there, there are also two large dogs barking at them while they attempt to figure out how their sign-blindness or illiteracy allowed them to drive to such lengths.

I find myself in what I have officially labeled my "mid-life craft crisis." Fear not, I am not going to the dark side and diving into the cult of scrap-booking. Exacto knives, stickers, and such don't have the right potential for injury. I'm buying tools. I'm looking into welding classes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dreams of a Gallerina

When I was a kid, I wanted to live in the mountains where I could hear a river run and avoid asphalt as much as possible. But this ain't about me. I am not the gallerina.

There's a lot to be said for dreaming great dreams of what could be. There are big dreams and little dreams and in between dreams. And moving from dream to reality sometimes takes some pretty big chances. Once in awhile life plays out in ways that say "now, take the chance now."

And Valerie did.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Wheeling: Friday on the Central Coast

Truth: Planning a birthday celebration for myself is only slightly more difficult than learning calculus in a foreign language. Having not been raised in a family that was big on celebrations and such, it's not a natural act. (Taking the day off is a good first step!) I gave TG carte blanche to plan the day and didn't ask about wheres and whys. I just put on my gear and away we went. Good call on my part.

Destination: Watsonville, Moss Landing, Santa Cruz
Mileage: 125 miles, round trip
Route/Map: Over the hills and through the woods


Part 1: Escape SJ, Find Pie
First leg of the journey was through the Almaden Valley to Highway 152. After abruptly leaving the confines of San Jose suburbia, you find yourself in the middle of fields that could be in the middle of any number of nowheres. It's a quick out of the mayhem and into rural territory. After meandering to and along Calero Reservoir, wind along in oak trees past Uvas Reservoir, jog right and find yourself at a T with Highway 152. Head west through redwoods, up and over Hecker Pass and suddenly it's a bird's eye view of patchwork farmland all the way to the coast. Find Carlton Road to navigate to a very specific piece of that patchwork called Gizdich Ranch, where they wrangle some better-than-pretty-good pie.

Central Coast: Food & Stuff to Do

Notes from stops along the way on the Central Coast...
Watsonville
Food: Gizdich Ranch 
Moss Landing
Food: Phil's Fish Market
Santa Cruz
Relax: Well Within

Watsonville
55 Peckham Road, Watsonville, California
It's all about the pie. Yes, they have sandwiches, but how on earth do you expect me to focus on some bread with stuff in the middle of it when the air is aroma-fied with apples, cinnamon, ollalieberries, and other good things? Here's a hint. Don't expect me to focus on the sandwich or even remember it exists. 
The first time I went, I had straight-up apple pie. These things are so loaded with apples that the crust is probably eight inches high at the middle, the crown, the summit, the apex of pie-ness. Most recently, I had the apple-ollalieberry pie. You can do the whole a la mode thing, but I don't like to dilute my pie with unnecessary dairy products. It's a personal decision. Respect or don't. It's my pie, not yours.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Converting Google Maps to GPX: Alphabet Soup

It was entertaining -- for awhile. TG mumbles at laptop, hops up, goes to garage, comes back mumbling. Lather, rinse, repeat. He was trying -- unsuccessfully -- to create GPX files from Google Maps for the GPS on the Wing-a-bago. (Integrated on the bike and Garmin-based, by the way.)

But the dogs were getting annoyed at the back and forth to the garage. That's where we keep the dog food. After the first few trips, even the spastic caffeinated dog figured out it wasn't about her.

Sad story: You can't save directly from Google to a .gpx file for GPS devices.

Good news: You can easily convert a Google .kml file to a .gpx.

Here's how...

Friday, April 19, 2013

New for 1946: The SmartWatch!



(Disclaimer: I work for Cisco.) 

Big news! Dick Tracy has announced Microsoft’s next product. In a promotional launch event, tough, but trustworthy spokesperson Inspector Tracy demonstrated the 2-Way Wrist Phone. Welcome to 1946 everyone!

Don’t worry, you can upgrade to a 2-Way Wrist TV in 1964! You’ll just need to find Sherman and Mr. Peabody for a little ride in the WABAC  machine.

Recently seen on Facebook:
If 17 technology vendors announce a new smartwatch
by the end of the month, my pet rock will quit smoking.

It’s one of the latest examples of follow-the-leader among technology vendors. Or maybe it’s not even follow-the-leader, because no one is really leading a category for an amazing device everyone no one actually seems to need. As Emmy, my neighbor’s three-year-old, might reasonably ask: “Why?”

Granted, plenty of success has come from lack of need. Cue Seinfeld, a show about nothing. Enter stage right: the pet rock. And stage left: the chia pet.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend on the Mekong Delta

The Rice Lady
I spent a good part of Saturday attempting to sleep to rid myself of a cold. I didn't have much luck on the sleep side, but got some decent rest by sitting still for a change. Once I set foot outside of the hotel, momentum seems to carry me from place to place.

I went along with several others for a foot massage at what was supposed to be a very good place. Err... Well... OK, the opening phase of having a school of little fish nibbling my feet was amusing, made moreso by the reactions of one of our companions. It was definitely a bit strange, and she's definitely very expressive. The next phase was the actual foot massage, which was a workout for my feet and not always entirely relaxing.

Based on the attire of the women providing said foot massage, they were more accustomed to male clientele. I'm not sure how many times my foot ended up in the boobs of my massage chick. My feet have not had contact with another woman's chest since I was an infant. Not my scene. Nor that of my feet. Holy shit.

A Non-medic on a Medical Mission

For all of the detailed details about the medical mission, check out the International Extremity Project blog or Facebook page
I'm in Vietnam on a medical mission. My primary role in Vietnam is keyboard jockey for the International Extremity Project. Given that I'm not qualified to provide medical care, it seems to make good sense.

I spent the first two days working with an interpreter to start each patient's medical chart for the intake process. I spent Friday in scrubs -- in the operating room during surgeries helping prep, observing, and reassuring a patient. I've been blogging since we started preparing for the trip months ago -- and doing much more now that we're here.

Everything is an experience -- inside the hospital and beyond. I've now been here a full week. In some ways it feels like I've just arrived and in others it seems I've been here much longer. I can find my way to the vegetarian restaurant for pho and know we'll likely be the only westerners there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm in Vietnam. No, Seriously.

I am in another country world.
It looks like a relic of days gone by,
but it was probably used earlier today.
Can Tho teems with juxtapositions of past and present. Herds of brand-new Honda and Yamaha scooters substitute for the bicycles of not-so-old travel pictures -- yet entire families still ride on the same two wheels, at the same time. Neon lights line the buildings along the riverfront, but the power lines just outside the city are strung along bamboo poles. Saffron-robed monks ride on scooters and use mobile phones.

It seems everything is in constant movement -- the river, the streets. Yet by about ten o'clock, everything unwinds to a quiet calm. As morning arrives, boats start converging en route to the floating market and people use the park across the street to exercise and do Tai Chi.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good Morning Vietnam...

I was so tired the other night that I forgot to hit "publish." Heck, I just sat down to write about the trip so far and was surprised to see I'd already written this! Ha!
--
Night view from our hotel.
Actually it's nighttime, but I saw a t-shirt with Good Morning Vietnam on it downstairs in the hotel lobby. We have arrived, collected our gear, and dispersed to our various rooms and own devices for the evening. Some of us planned nothing more than a shower and some reading, while others opted to head along the river a couple of blocks to find food. (Personally, this bag of pretzels is as fine a feast as I need right now.)

The flight from SFO to Taipei was a 14-hour marathon, the last two of which were very bumpy and uncomfortable, leading to my new self-imposed nickname of Hurley. Other options are Fiona and  Kermit. Honestly, it's not easy being green. And seriously, what international airline doesn't stock the seat backs with those handy little bags?