Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reading Time Management

We are all busy. We all have a million things to do and (seemingly) not enough time to get them all done. We all say at some point: "I wish I had more hours in the day!"

Well, I got news for y'all: there are only 24 hours in a day, and that's not going to change any time soon. Instead of wishing for more time, we should try to make better use of the 24 hours that we already have. But that's easy to say and harder still to do. How to start the process?

I began my quest to better time management by identifying activities that I engage in on a daily basis that might be wasteful. And the number one activity by far was driving a car to and from work every day. Think about it: all you can do when you drive a car is DRIVE THE CAR. You can't do anything else effectively and that includes such activities as putting on makeup, trimming your nails, or checking emails on your laptop or smartphone. Attempting to "multi task" while driving is a waste of time at best and potentially deadly at worst.

So what if public transportation is not an option for you and you must drive to work every day. How can you make better use of that time? Three words: books on tape. Now know as audio books, these have made my daily commute much more entertaining and informative. Give them a try for your daily commute and you might be amazed to discover how much you enjoy the experience.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Floor Zero

When the air heats up and gets heavy with humidity, my brain turns to mush. I slowly put away the biographies and histories and heavyweight fiction that I normally relish. And then out comes the thrillers and the horrors and other pulpy stuff that makes it onto the NYT Best Selling Paperback list. I used to be ashamed of this phenomenon, but have come to embrace it as I have grown older. Even my late Father enjoyed a literary "amuse bouche" from time to time. Nothing wrong with a little brain candy!

And with that, I offer you the opening paragraph of Floor Zero...

"I was telling my boyfriend the same thing! God, what is it with men?" Sue barked into the phone. She looked around guiltily because she knew g.d. well that the office phone is not meant for personal business. But there was nobody around to bother her, so she continued yakking with Patty for another 15 minutes. And then an odd sound filled the air. Not quite as annoying as a fire alarm, but loud enough to prevent any further conversation. "I'll call you back," Sue said as she hung up. "What the hell is that..." She looked around and noticed that something was blinking in the lower right corner of her monitor. She leaned in closer and saw a small pop up window with the words ALERT ALERT ALERT in red blinking text. She clicked the window with her mouse and everything on her screen vanished. Another window appeared seconds later, displaying what looked like a video feed from a surveillance camera. The picture was slowly sweeping back and forth across a large room filled with lab equipment. Sue blinked and then began to scream. She was still screaming when she bolted from her chair and ran out the front door of the Portland Health Sciences building. The only thing that stopped her screaming was the baton that tapped her on the back of the head as she rounded the corner toward the parking garage.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Well then....

It's been a while. A really long while. Needless to say, lots has been going on. Mostly good, but some not so good. I'll get to all that later.

I'm trying to resurrect my writing, so I'm taking part in The Weekend Assignment. It's a contest of sorts that was started by John Scalzi when he was working at AOL. It's a chance to flex your creativity in a short format. So we'll see how this goes. Click the picture to find out more:

The Weekend Assignment

2010 has already brought many changes to my life. My Father passed away in January as a result of a fall. It was quite unexpected and shocking and tragic and sad and all those other things. But my Sister and I are getting through it, one day at a time. Washington experienced the snowiest February in recorded history, which cut the number of performances of "Amadeus" almost in half. I played the title role, but that's for another post.

I'll sign off for now, but there are many more posts to come. Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ohio: Ecstasy

NOTE: Yes, this is one of those posts I warned you about. There is nothing graphic within, but tons of suggestive content. You have been warned...

We had rented a cabin somewhere in the Ohio hills with another couple. They took the master room while we took the "kid's room". We had to push together two twin beds to manufacture something that could contain us adequately. Considering how active our evening was, I am still surprised that our contraption held together.

I remember that the evening had a rhythm that neither of us could control. It took us forever to sync up, probably the anticipation of having a room to ourselves with no roomies stumbling in at inopportune moments. Or maybe it was we had confided to each other earlier in our relationship: neither of us had an "ecstatic" moment in our romantic lives. Orgasms? Sure. Passion? Absolutely. But had either one of us been transported by ecstasy? No.

We wanted to change that. And we did.

At one point I remember kissing her so intensely that I forgot to breathe. I remember when we finally did sync up, and our hips moved together as naturally as the tide lapping against the shore. I remember looking into her eyes and losing myself in her affectionate gaze.

Yes, it was an active evening. I'm sure that I got less than two hours of actual sleep while her insomnia served her well: she would let me rest for a bit before starting up again.

We were still making love when the sun peeked through the bare trees the next morning. The winter glow filled the room slowly, warming the skin on our faces and lending another sparkle to our eyes.

A billion here, a trillion there...

... pretty soon you're talking about real money!

You should spend the next six minutes watching this.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Virginia: And the clouds parted...

It occurs to me that I have devoted much of this space to my divorce. And while that is sad, I must state that my former spouse and I have remained friends. Good friends, actually. So with that statement made, I offer one of my most favorite memories of all time.

Our wedding day was shaping up to be a typical March day in DC: chilly with a side of cloudy. We both knew the odds, being natives had inoculated us to any disappointment regarding the weather. We were polar opposites when it came to temperature: she preferred the sweltering heat and humidity of DC Summers while I preferred the chill of Fall sliding into Winter. With those facts in hand, it was easy to plot a temperate month to have our wedding. March seemed as good as October to us.

We assembled at the Lyon Village Community Center, a quaint little structure on the grounds of a park. It felt very similar to a Quaker Meeting House, solemn but in a non-denominational sort of way. While friends decorated the hearth with greenery snatched from outside, I cooled my heels in an upstairs room. My Father-in-Law to be and I chuckled over the whole "you can't see the Bride until you are at the altar" thing and I looked out the window. There were kids playing in the park, despite the chill and the clouds. I remembered that a couple who was interested in using the space for their wedding was going to drop by and stand in the back to watch the proceedings. No, this didn't bother us at all we told them. I don't think I even noticed them.

So, our "Wedding Dictator" (a position created by the woman who named it in my honor, since I performed the same function for her two years earlier) called me down and arranged us in our processional order. We filed in, the Ushers beaming and the Minister (Unitarian, natch) awaited me and my Best Man. The Bride entered with her Father, who only paused so he could place his white cowboy hat on an empty chair before proceeding down the aisle. (I still get a bit misty thinking about that moment.)

We joined hands and listened to the sermon and the readings and the music. Then it came time for the vows. As the Minister began, I noticed that Sweetie was tearing up. So I reached for one of the three handkerchiefs I carried with me that day to hand to her. As I was doing so, I was temporarily struck blind.

Tears? No.

Adrenaline rush? Nope.

The sun had come out.

And it filled the room with such a soft golden light that there were a few gasps from the audience. (One of our theatrical friends complimented Sweetie on pulling off such a difficult lighting cue.) The room warmed, we looked at each other, and smiled. Then kissed. And then we were married.

It really was a perfect moment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Notes

Just a couple of personal notes from a rather historic day:

I was working from home and I got my problematic wireless network back up and running for my work laptop. So I curled up in front of the TV machine and settled in for the ceremony. When a certain pastor stepped up to the podium, I snapped this picture:

Yes, that's me turning my back upon Pastor Rick Warren. Hey, it's the least I could do, right? And I didn't even boo or raise my fist in anger when the former administration was introduced. I was too happy to protest any harder.

When it came time for Obama to take the oath of office, I decided to test something. I noticed that I could hear the Fourth of July fireworks on the Mall from my porch. Faint little pops instead of the sonic booms, but the sound was unmistakable. So I stepped onto my porch and listened. And there came a low rumble, more vibration than sound, punctuated by the artillery fire right after he completed the oath.

Hope never sounded so good!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

By the time this post reaches your retinas, it will be Inauguration Day. I spent the eve of this day by watching the latest film to arrive via Netflix: a documentary on the Iraq war and occupation called "No End in Sight". I almost didn't watch it, didn't want to bum myself out. But then I thought it important to review what had come before as I welcome what is to come.

So I made dinner and watched it.

And I did get angry all over again. 

In particular, the looting of the museums and libraries made my blood pressure rise. An entire country's history and culture snatched away in the lawlessness that we condoned. "Stuff happens," to quote Secretary Rumsfeld.

But I'm still hopeful, despite the grim assessment of the people who tried to get things right and were thwarted by an administration focused on politics instead of results. Perhaps after eight years of living in fear fomented by the Bush administration, we can believe again in our collective capacity to do the right thing.

Happy Inauguration day, everybody!