PC to Mac…What Was I Thinking?

Yeah? Well, you did a SHIT job.

Yeah? Well, you did a SHIT job.

I’m writing from the screen of my twice-as-expensive-as-any-other-laptop-I’ve-ever-purchased-before MacBook Pro.

I’ve been a PC user for years. Because PCs are cheaper.

“You’re a book author now,” Lou said. “It’s time you get yourself a good piece of equipment. As a musician, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend money on a quality instrument.”

Since this thing arrived, I’ve (taking a deep breath and using grown-up corporate words) been challenged by the transition in the following ways.

No right click. God, I miss the right click. It was so nice to be able to have all my options at my fingertips (well, my right hand ring fingertip, to be accurate).

Only a “delete” key. So the “delete” key functions like the backspace key and I don’t have a delete key at all. This means I can only eliminate the text behind my cursor and not in front of it. As a writer, I require full functionality to erase my work from every direction, dammit.

Hidden scroll bar. I actually had to change settings in order for the scroll bars to show up. Come on!

Icon overload. Everything is a flippin’ icon. There are no actual WORDS on my desktop. A little explanation would be nice.

Minimizing is a problem. Here’s a new one I just discovered. I maximized the window. Now I can’t figure out how to shrink the damn thing back down. I guess I’ll google THIS basic move, too.

No right click. I already covered this. But the amount of red-eyed craziness this is causing warrants a 2nd mention.

I have many more complaints. Please tell me this gets better.

National Everything Month

May is National Correct Posture month so get it right already.

May is National Correct Posture month so get it right already.

At work, I’m the Communications Coordinator.

I love my job. I’m not setting the world on fire by writing corporate communications but it’s fun. I get to be creative in a supportive environment. I like my team. And I’m encouraged to pursue other writing and creative endeavors outside of the office. So, yeah, Corporate America is cool with me.

Anyway, I was recently researching what kind of National so-and-so month May happens to be. Turns out, there’s a lot of so-and-so’s for May. And for every month.

But, for now, let’s just focus on May.

Asian Heritage Month (Canada)
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month
Awareness of Medical Orphans Month
Better Hearing and Speech Month
Better Sleep Month
Borderline Personality Disorder Month
Brain Tumor Awareness Month
Correct Posture Month
Creative Beginnings Month
Family Wellness Month
Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month
Foot Health Month
Freedom Shrine Month
Get Caught Reading Month
Gifts From The Garden Month
Go Fetch! Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month
Haitian Heritage Month
Heal the Children Month
Healthy Vision Month
Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month
International Audit Month
International Business Image Improvement Month
International Victorious Woman Month
Jewish-American Heritage Month
Latino Books Month
Lyme Disease Awareness Month National (World)
Meditation Month
Motorcycle Safety Month
National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month
National Arthritis Month
National Artisan Gelato Month
National Asparagus Month
National Barbeque Month
National Bike Month
National Chocolate Custard Month
National Egg Month
National Family Month
National Foster Care Month National Good Car Keeping Month
National Good Car Keeping Month
National Hamburger Month
National Hepatitis Awareness Month
National High Blood Pressure Month
National Macaroon Day
National Mental Health Month
National Military Appreciation Month National
National Moving Month
National Mine Month
National Osteoporosis Prevention Month
National Photo Month
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
National Physiotherapy Month
National Preservation Month
National Revise Your Work Schedule Month
National Salad Month
National Salsa Month
National Share A Story month
National Smile Month (From May 18 to June 17)
National Strawberry Month
National Stroke Awareness Month
National Vinegar Month
Older Americans Month
Personal History Month
React Month
Strike Out Strokes Month
Sweet Vidalia Onions Month
Teen Self-Esteem Month
Tennis Month
Ultra-violet Awareness Month
Women’s Health Care Month
Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month

(Source)

The National Trail

IMG_1958

This was just the beginning…

I’m cuddling up on the couch with my blanket, laptop, and favorite cat right now.

My mind keeps wandering, however, to the National Trail.

The National Trail travels the South Mountain Park from end to end. It’s like walking from 40th Avenue to 40th Street. Except that you have to walk up and down a bunch of mountains to get there. It’s 14.7 miles total. I haven’t yet calculated the elevation gain but it felt like 2,000 feet (cumulative).

This is Lou.

This is Lou.

IMG_1997

This is Stephanie (she’s the best).

Lou, our friend Stephanie, and I met before sunrise at the park’s Central Ave entrance Sunday. After searching for scorpions with a black light, cramming bagels in our mouths, and taking a final bathroom break with the luxury of running water (in most cases), we set out from the west end of the park.

Within the first few miles, we started climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more. It wasn’t until mile 9 when the endless pattern of steep ascents, descents, and then ascents to climb back up the elevation we had just trekked down finally let up.

This was unexpected. I had told my hiking companions that I anticipated just one major climb that would last 2 miles. Oops.

Close to the Kiwanis Trail.

Close to the Kiwanis Trail.

We took it like a bunch of pros. Especially Stephanie. She has joined us on a few hikes throughout this book project and though she’s in great shape, she hasn’t had the 70+ hikes Lou and I have enjoyed to refine her endurance. In spite of this, she pushed on without complaint and stayed at our heels the entire time. I feel funny saying this (because I’m not her parent), but I was so damn proud of her.

In fact, I was proud of all three of us. No one freaked out. No one got angry. No one even got grumpy.

Instead, we joked and chatted (between heavy breathing) for the entire 7.5 hours.

There aren’t very many people who can pull off 7.5 hours of constant exercise with such finesse. I feel lucky to know at least two.

Seriously...what is IN THAT HOLE?

Seriously…what is IN THAT HOLE?

“I almost want to say that hike on Sunday was spiritual,” Stephanie texted to me today.

I completely agree.

Writer’s Note: Upon further inspection, this trail was actually 14.7 miles. Not 15.5 as originally written.

Neglect

Nose to the grindstone.

Nose to the grindstone.

The photo above illustrates the reason behind my recent and ongoing neglect of this blog.

If you don’t understand what the photo above means, read about it here (each stripe represents a completed hike review for my book).

I’m so tired.

Visualize This

This photo makes me think of Phoenix. Then I think of the silhouetted power lines I often see in the evening. That makes me remember a tattoo that a friend of mine has on his forearm. And then I contemplate how the imagery of tall palm trees and power lines against a skyline has been adopted by so many Phoenicians as a symbol of life in Phoenix. That leads me to wonder about our collective identity as a city…and then I remember that most of us could care less. Which makes me think about how Phoenix natives never talk to their neighbors. I COULD GO ON. All this happens because I look at a simple photo.

I’m taking a break from making maps.

It’s actually my favorite part of “writing” this book (I guess since I enjoy it, I’m not really justified to take a break but whatever). For every hike, I must turn in a map so the cartography department can accurately create another map that’s included with the trail review.

I like to do it because I get to make pictures. I use the image from my EveryTrail app or a scanned trail map and then I add arrows and notes using Snagit.

It’s not a far cry from what I do in my current day job in which I must find the most meaningful way to accurately communicate complicated information.

In short, that means turning most things into pictures.

I’m probably betraying my kind here, but I believe that humans are much more sophisticated in reading the pervasive visual language than the traditional written language.

Don’t argue with me. I learned this in my Art History classes.

They say the average modern-day American views [it's too late in the evening to look up the estimated number right now but think about every billboard, computer icon, television show, packaging design for products, etc. you see each day] a whole shit-ton of images in a day. Compare that to the actual words you read in a 24-hour period.

See what I’m getting at?

When my book comes out, I can expect most “readers” to flip through the pages, scan the photos, glance at the maps, and maybe, maybe read a caption or two.

I can’t blame them. I do the exact same thing.

Taking that into consideration, I suppose I shouldn’t feel so guilty about busying myself with map-making in order to avoid the writing.

Week One

Bring it.

I’m planning a five mile hike. We’ll hit the trailhead, nestled in the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, this afternoon.

Though I’ve never been on this trail and I hardly have an idea of what to expect, I need this hike.

Yesterday marked the end of my first week at a new job. It’s a regular-business-hours kind of gig in a big building with multiple floors, hundreds of employees, and an on-campus cafeteria. I work in the same building as one of my closest friends (in fact, she sits next to me in our cubicle row) and my husband.

It’s the best first week I’ve ever had. I’m enjoying the comfort that comes with knowing I can turn to two trusted people and safely ask all my stupid questions without receiving judgement.

And, trust me, I have a lot of questions.

Starting a new job is always a humbling experience. During the interview process, I build myself up to believe I’m the best person for the job…and I’m sure to display that to my potential employer. Then, on the first day, I’m so clueless that I have to sheepishly ask directions to the ladies room.

This is when my nerve is truly tested. I’m walking in every morning, knowing that my lack of knowledge will be exposed. Repeatedly.

Of course, I fully trust that things will soon begin to fall into place. And eventually, I’ll feel at home.

But for now, this escape to the trail will give me the sense of accomplishment I’ve craved all week.

I’ll feel the hot air on my skin, sweat through my backpack straps, hear the rocks crunch beneath my feet, and enjoy the peace that comes with completing an unknown challenge.

Yes. I can do this.

Breaking Blog

owenbrown

I swear, money has nothing to do with it.

I took two days off from blogging.

Why?

Because I’m breaking up with my blog.

From here on out, the commitment level will shift from daily devotion to more of a “just friends” kind of thing.

I’ll still blog — just not as often.

I have some career changes on the horizon — really super awesome career changes — that will compromise my time and access to WordPress.

I’m happy for the new career stuff. But I’m a little sad about the blog break up.

This (often painful) exercise of forcing myself to write for an audience every single day has been oddly rewarding. Anytime I successfully meet a commitment, I feel good. And if it happens to be a self-imposed commitment, I feel even better…because I’m an expert at worming my way out of promises I make only to myself.

I haven’t yet decided what my new blog quota will be. For now, I’ll try out a whimsical, moody approach and see how that goes. Hopefully, this will result in better blog posts.

Let the experiment begin.

Lucky Girl

This will be easy!

This weekend, we planned a 6-mile loop around Little Granite Mountain in Prescott, AZ. Due to poor instructions, we back-tracked and had to restart, which added 1/2 mile to our day’s total. No big deal.

As we abandoned the first leg of the trail to hook into the 2nd part of our loop, we discovered that this loop seriously sucked. The trail was overgrown with massive thickets of chest-high thorny bushes. As the branches snagged our clothing and scratched our bare legs, we ran into two women on horseback.

“This trail gets really rough,” said one of the middle-aged horse ladies, “hikers don’t usually come around here.”

So we turned back…adding 1 more wasted mile.

Once we returned to the original trail, we decided to continue to Vista Point, located on top of Granite Mountain.

“The map says it’s 4.1 miles total,” I said. I knew I could handle that.

After the first mile of climbing, however, I turned into a little monster. At this point, I had already hiked 5 miles and we weren’t at the top. Not even close.

I was pissed.

“Okay, you’ve got to start talking about something to keep my  mind off my misery,” I told Lou.

“What do you want to talk about?” Lou innocently asked.

“I don’t KNOW!” I snapped.

The conversation ended. But I kept complaining as I realized that the map indicated one-way mileage, not the trail’s total. With our wasted backtracking and the improvised commitment to complete this Granite Mountain Vista Point trail, I estimated we’d be close to 10 miles by the end of the day.

“GodDAMMIT!” I blurted, out of the blue.

“Just take a minute and look where we are,” Lou said as he gestured toward the incredible scenery before us.

“I GET IT!”

Whatever.

Poor Lou. I repeatedly apologized later, of course.

“I think you handled it really well,” he said. “We just have to accept that, during this process, we’ll each have a moment where we’ve just had it. You pushed through and finished. I’m proud of you.”

This actually happened. Lou is actually this good to me.

I can’t believe my luck.

Stalk It Out

By Riebart, flickr, Creative Commons

I like it when kitties stalk. When humans do it…not so much.

WordPress is great. It gives me all kinds of information about how many people visit my blog, how they find me, and what they click when they get here.

Yesterday, I posted a number of photographs from my recent hikes. My stats told me that I had quite a few clicks on photos for the day.

Hooray! I thought. Someone enjoyed those snapshots of beautiful AZ!

Upon further investigation, however, I began to feel yucky on my insides. Every single click (except for one of an image of the shrunken head from Beetlejuice) was on a picture of me. And some are from blog posts way back in February.

Ew.

Best case scenario: it’s an old high school friend who is innocently curious about what adult Lilia looks like. Worst case scenario: it’s a psycho killer who is planning to rape and dismember my body. Then rape my body parts.

(Apologies. I’ve been watching a lot of Investigation Discovery shows recently.)

Yes, yes, I realize it all comes with the territory. But it’s still unsettling. Especially because I did this to myself by blogging, exposing, and posting pictures of myself.

And now, with this post, I’ve potentially isolated or offended one of my readers.

Dangit!

Public Speaking

Brisbane City Council, flickr creative commons

Yeah! This is what I felt like on the inside!

Turns out, I’m not afraid of public speaking.

I figured out a great trick: I have to know what the heck I’m talking about.

Last week, I got a last-minute invite to talk about blogging at a meeting with the Gilbert Small Business Alliance.

With less than 24 hours to prepare, I whipped up an outline. While Lou cleaned the dishes that night, I rehearsed my presentation.

And, because my husband is awesome, when I “opened the floor” for some Q&A, he asked multiple questions and spoke in a different character voice each time.

I expected I’d be super nervous before the presentation. Instead, I was just slightly sweaty as I blabbed in front of the small crowd of florists, mediators, floor cleaners, and other independent business owners.

Rather than run the risk of offending someone with my godless, eff-word-filled blog, I mostly concentrated on The Root Word, a blog that I edit for the fantastic hair experts at The Root Salon.

The audience asked some really great questions, shared their own blog ideas, and I received some great feedback from the organizers. All in all, I think it went well.

Of course, the big win for me was not feeling terrified.

And, as a bonus, I now have an outline so I can easily write a blog about blogging.