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June 30, 2006

Say it in Broken English

Well well well... It's Friday and there is a very long weekend ahead of us. I for one plan on getting out of town. I will be leaving for the condo on Sunday and won't return until Thursday. I'll be spending most of the holiday with my friend Lisa who got married this past November. I mentioned in my last post that I received an onslaught of good news. Part of that was the news was that Lisa is pregnant and expecting in November. I did the math... she's good ;). We'll play some golf, swim, BBQ, maybe a little hiking. It will be good to see her and other friends.

This week I decided that I would invite my BE renter to post during their stay here. This weeks renter is Billy Boy from The Plumbutt Chronicles. I'm always interested in seeing what guest writers come up with. Go check him out for a preview of what's to come. I may or may not post from the mountains. If I get time I will definitely try.

Fish_called_wandaLast night during a skype chat. My friend unexpectedly started speaking in Dutch. I forgot that I go a little wonky when a man speaks to me in a foreign language. I'm like Wanda in the movie A Fish Called Wanda. A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge and seafood. If you haven't seen the movie let's just say my temperature rises.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

June 29, 2006

I got bumped and who knew duct tape would work so well

Photo_062806_002_1So this morning my car got bumped. The good news is that not only was my car not in motion, but it was parked and I was not even in it. The woman who backed into my car was quite sorry. It was a case of her thinking she had more room to maneuver then she actually had. As they say, "objects may be closer then they appear" ;) Basically the front bumper just popped out and there were some scratches, but didn't look to be major damage. 

So my insurance adjuster met me at my yoga studio this afternoon to inspect the damage. $3500. Apparently the bumper is designed to "pop" and absorb the impact but once it does it has to be reset and tweaked somehow. He pulled a roll of duct tape out of his briefcase and taped the bumper up. It almost looked better partially hanging off. Because of the approaching holiday, I suspect I'll be driving around with my car taped together for a couple of weeks.

Yet despite getting my car bumped, I'm in a refreshingly great mood. The podcast plans are moving along smoothly. My co-host rocks the funny and I always look forward to talking to him. Marlon put together some awesome music for the show. The store is doing great and I'm actually having showrooms come to me now. And to top it off, within a 20-minute time period, 3 separate people I know e-mailed me to share REALLY good news that they had gotten. It's been such a great day for good news that somehow I feel like the damage to my car is somehow good. Is that strange?

I hope this good feeling follows me through the long, long weekend. 

June 27, 2006

Sweet Sixteen, Friends, & Cars

Sweet_sixteenIt's hard to believe that this photo was taken half my lifetime ago. It's just astonishing to me. Here, I just turned 16 and started a job at the Sound Warehouse on the Denver University Campus. I loved that job so much. Some people think back to their high school days and want to see old friends that they went to school with. I would prefer to see the people that I worked with back then.

There was Brian, the manager, he had long hair and a mustache and reminded me of Gallagher with a little Tom Selleck combined. I hardly ever saw him because I worked nights and weekends. I was, after all, in school sometimes.

Mark was the assistant manager and he had the 80's hairband thing going on except he really knew his classic rock and was not a poser in any way. Actually a very intelligent guy. I use to frustrate him to no end with my silly girl babble. There was another assistant manager, Tammy or Amy or something. She was really uptight, had no musical taste, and also worked as a dressing room security person at some department store. Which we made fun of her for.

There was a guy who I liked a lot named Rob Butterly. I think he later renamed himself after a golf club. I'm not being funny, he really did. He went to my high school and came from a fairly affluent family. We went on a couple of dates, never seriously though. One time I asked him what he wanted to do after high school and he looked at me seriously and said, "both my parents smoke". I totally did not get it. I still don't get it. He explained to me that because both his parents were heavy smokers they would die sooner and he would live off of his trust fund until he got his inheritance so it didn't matter. I know... CRAZY. I sometimes tell myself he must have been joking, but back then I believed what he was saying. I was a smoker at the time so I imagined him marrying me just so he could take out an extra large insurance policy on me, and wait for me to die.

It's humorous to me that I thought he was such a catch and he's completely the opposite of what I find attractive now. He would never show up on my radar today. Not even a blip. If you happen to be a teenager reading this; it really is true, hardly anything that is happening in your life now will matter when you get to be twice your age. As long as you don't make any serious irreversible mistakes. I promise.

The first Gay man I ever knew worked in the classical department and taught me to appreciate a wider range of music then I had been listening to up to that point. Then there was Michael, the ultimate record store dude. Like in the movie Half Baked.. (who's going with me). Last I heard he was still working at a record store in Denver called Twist & Shout. I go there occasionally to buy out of print stuff tracked down for me by a guy named ALF. Though I've not see Michael.

The person I miss most from SW is a guy named Kevin Smith. Not the Kevin Smith of Clerks fame.. but close. Actually my Kevin Smith had to take a different name when he got his SAG card. At least I think he did. It's a long story, but this is a personal web journal. I'm allowed ;).

Kevin was going to film school at the University of Colorado when we worked together. Kevin and I were friends. His Mother invited me to Christmas dinner one year which meant so much to me then and now. I admired Kevin for his passion. He loved film and wanted to be a director some day. So it wasn't long before Kevin was accepted to the film school at USC. I knew this was a hard decision for him. His mother was not in the best of health and I'm sure it was tough for him to leave. But he did. Oddly enough another friend of mine JP Ferraro.. was also accepted to the film school that same year.

In November of 92' I went to visit JP who lived on the USC campus. I had a chance to visit with Kevin and introduce the two. Kevin told me how during the LA Riots he grabbed his video camera and went out filming the mayhem, nearly getting himself killed. We went to see Bram Stokers Dracula at the Village Theater in Westwood and there were only two other people in the entire theater. I don't know how many people it seats, like 1000 maybe? The only other time I had been there was for the premiere of Who's that Girl in 87' and it was crazy packed. It was memorable and especially scary.

Oldsmobile_starfireThat trip, I was driving JP's vintage Oldsmobile Starfire. There was a lot of stalling out and gear grinding. It was a 3 on the tree, which I never drove before. I was a terrible and inexperienced driver. It's a miracle I didn't have an accident on the Santa Monica Freeway.

That was the last time I saw Kevin. So I'm wondering what ever happened to him. I remembered that he had changed a little after moving to LA. A little more Hollywood, but still Kev. JP, I heard got married and was doing documentaries in South America. But the person I heard that from liked to smoke massive amounts of weed, so who knows?

I probably should not think too much about the good old days. So hopefully writing it down, and leaving it here will make some room in my overfilled mind. :)

K

Mid-Year Resolutions

The20giving20tree_2 I was listening a Hip Tranquil Chick podcast last night about productivity. On the show Kimberly talked about the tendency to deal with all the small things first, leaving yourself without time for the big things. That has been me all too much over the last couple of weeks. I'm not exactly sure how best to remedy the situation.

My birthday falls almost smack dab in the middle of the year and I've made it a habit to create mid-year resolutions for myself. I also seem to stick to mid-year resolutions better than new year resolutions.

While the list is longer than I care to admit I thought I'd list a few of the things I want to accomplish or improve on.

1. Eat more whole foods. (I've been following the Gingerbread Latte diet.)

2. Drink less coffee and more water.

3. Keep outlook closed and check it only intermittently.

4. Drive less.

June 26, 2006

Glitter Revenge, Fortuitous, Frappr

I spent most of yesterday detoxing. I feel the need to clarify that it took me all of six drinks to reach a level of intoxication that cost me an entire day of my life. Because of my lingering condition I decided not to go to Hot Yoga today because I envision myself spending 90 minutes, nauseous in child's pose.

Bff_lucyLast week I canceled my myspace account. I won't bother discussing how user unfriendly it is, that's been said before. I do want to say that it felt like an episode of elimidate where the sluttiest girl wins. It's like the 21st century version of the partyline... Remember those, "bbbbuuuurrrrring,  bbbbuuuurrrrring ... Hi who's new?" giggle and hang up. So I opened a Frappr account. It was easier to set up and doesn't seem overloaded with 14 year olds with names like almostlegal17 or highschoolhoney08. So I have no friends. If you happen to have a Frappr account, stop by, and be my friend.

While I'm feeling needy and friendless I want to tell you about fo.rtuito.us . Thaed at Mental Interface introduced fortuitous as a topic some time back on his FNPL podcast. It's an interesting social experiment of sorts. You sign up and receive a random friend. You are not given any information about the identity of your friend. They could be male or female, old or young, American or British. You get the idea. Done properly, you and your random friend send messages back and forth, getting to know each other. After 4 days you are given an opportunity to keep or discard your friend. I've been through about 7 rounds and have kept 3 friends.

Finally I wanted to mention a new website that offers a truly unique service. Glitter is the best revenge. Mark this one and save it for when you need it.

June 25, 2006

Saturday Jazz, Sunday Hangover

I am suffering from a rousing hangover today. I wasn't driving last night so I willingly exceeded my 2 drink maximum by about 4. That's 6 for the preschool age readers who have not begun addition yet. See how cranktankerous I am. Yes I made that word up, someone notify Urban Dictionary. When I'm acrimonious like this, my defense mechanism is to whip out my inglorious lexicon. Prodigious isn't it.

I really should not be posting now. But here goes.

Mindiabair Wayman_tisdale

So last night I went to a Jazz Festival. While I enjoy Jazz music in the generic sense. I don't keep many Jazz tunes in my playlists. Of the numerous performers rotating on stage my favorites were Wayman Tisdale and Mindi Abair. Abair is known for her song Must Be Love.

Jazz_festThe venue was Coors Amphitheater formerly Fiddler's Green. It was weird being there. I worked a couple summers there as a yellow shirt event staffer. I think the last concert I saw there was Rush, but more memorable were the concerts I saw during high school. Fiddlers Green was the venue for all of the Lalapalooza tours. Very different sitting in a box seat, sipping wine, tapping my foot serenely verses trying not to catch a misdirected elbow to the chin in the pit and wreaking of jungle juice.

I'm going to lay down now.

Have a great Sunday.

June 24, 2006

OK 321 Let's Jam - Cowboy Bebop Emersion

BebopOk, so what's a cool, cosmopolitan, yoga pushing, coffee drinking girl like myself doing on a Friday night? Would you believe sitting at home alone in my PJ's watching anime. Yah! I rock the weekend, le'mme tell ya.

Actually Scott from the Geeknights podcast persuaded me to try a little anime. He recommend that I watch the first 5 episodes from the session 2 disk as an introduction. Of course I rarely do anything 1/2 way or just a little bit. I bought The Perfect Sessions Limited Edition Box set bundled with the Cowboy Bebop movie on eBay for $28. The movie is in Japanese only but the box set is dubbed. The quality is not very good, but I'm pretty sure it's a cheap bootleg copy anyway.

So my intention was to watch the entire 26 episode series. But as I type this I just started disk 3. I'm not really up for doing a review. Especially since I don't sufficiently know anything about anime. Up until now I'm pretty sure I've been spelling it incorrectly as well. I can say that I do like it more as I watch and I do think the quality of the show is better as the series develops. Not surprisingly some of the episodes are better than others. I don't know. I doubt that I'll ever be "into" anime. I'm glad that I watched it and feel like I know more about anime. I definitely could participate in a conversation about Cowboy Bebop.

The show does have some great music and I like that the female character, Faye Valentine. I think it's funny that she has a "debt problem" and I also think I might make a good Faye for Halloween. Ah well, I'm going to bed. It's good enough that I'll finish watching the last disk in the near future. Tomorrow I'm going to the Jazz Festival so I may do some reviewing/reporting on that.

June 23, 2006

Adventures in Podcasting #1 Audacity & Hotrecorder Elp. file conversion

I titled this post as #1 because I'm certain that I will have MANY adventures in podcasting.

Today was my first attempt at editing using Audacity. I was an audio engineering intern back in the days of analog and reel to reel. It's actually very easy and much better then splicing tape. So much easier. Initially I had some problems. We are using Hotrecorder until I give up my thinking that I don't want to buy a mixer. Hotrecorder uses a file format called ELP. which is "elephan talk". Basically Audacity is unable to recognize an Elp. file so it needs to be converted to a mp3 or wav file. Also I needed to install LAME an Mp3 encoder.

None of which I could do without the help of Kit of Paperfrog.com. Thank you Thank you Kit. All of this sounds simple and is very simple, but my brain functions in a way that makes it difficult for me to learn things without seeing it demonstrated first.

So I had a chat with my co-host tonight and edited it a bit to get this 3 minute file. I should make disclaimers but I won't bother because this was just an exercise for me. I'm just happy about any little bit of progress I make. Yes I know it cuts off in the end. Sorry I ran out of energy. ;)

June 22, 2006

Some of My Friends

First Scooter is here somewhere, Sorry I'm moving things around this week. If you participate in Rent my Blog you will understand what I'm about to explain. This is my 6th campaign and Scooter has bid every single time. Please visit him now. I really appreciate that he kept throwing his hat in the ring. I've been denied so many times in the last couple of weeks and you never take it personally, it just is a bummer to get that notice. He's been covering the music scene these last few days so he's got some good summer music recommendations happening. PLEASE VISIT HIM. ;)

The_ultimate_friend The phrase... "So I this guy I met online" has been rolling off my tongue quite a bit lately, also the phrase "This girl I know from the internet".

The majority of my real life friends don't read my blog. Many really have no concept of what a blog really is. But there is a strange dynamic that happens when you make online friends. When I was out with my friend Chris the other night, she asked me if I considered these people my "real friends". My answer to her was that I work from home so most of these online friends I chat with through e-mails, comments, and skype are my version of water cooler buddies. They're people that I genuinely like for who they say they are and I truly enjoy their company. Would I loan them my car or help them move? Probably not. Even the the very few online people I don't like are still part of the community by their presence alone.

However I also have a group of online friends who I consider to be closer to real life friends with the twist that I have never met them. These are the people that I think about the same way I do my real life friends. Now that I think about it, I have tons of people I consider friends in real life that I have not heard from in ages. How is it that someone I haven't heard from in ages has a higher friend status then someone I laugh with daily? The internet is weird.

Why am I babbling on? I guess today I'm just thinking about my online pals.

One of my online friends is hopefully being wined and dined today and will likely get a great job offer, so I'm excited for him and can't wait to hear how things went. Another friend has been on vacation and I find myself watching the calendar waiting for them to return so we can chat again. One blogger I know has quit smoking and I'm pulling for him to get through this rough time. Several have big projects they are launching soon, one has a big race, one is a new mom who hasn't posted in a long while because I'm sure she is busy busy.

So I don't have any real point today. I'm just emoting I guess.

June 21, 2006

Wordless Wednesday #6 Keyboard Boy

Computer_boy

June 20, 2006

Hot Springs Hooky

I realized last night I had been spending way too much time online. Yes I have been getting quite a bit of work done, but I also just needed some me time. So early this morning I answered e-mails, made calls, dropped off the drycleaning and headed for the hills.

I've kept my condo in Keystone even after moving two years ago. My first thought was to stay there but I called and it's been rented out for two weeks. This is actually good news because it's been a losing proposition. After monthly resort management fees, homeowners dues, insurance and of course the mortgage, I end up paying more for the condo then what I'm paying on my primary residence. I just can't give it up though. It's a place I feel so deeply connected to. As long as I can keep it I will. My financial adviser hates that I'm in it. It's in the older part of Keystone and not the new Shishi part so it gets a significantly lower number of rentals out of it compared to other area rentals by square foot. I know I'm fooling myself, but I don't want to let it go I guess.

This is a photo that I took from the deck when I stayed there in February.

Photo_020106_001

Since staying at the condo was not an option, I had a package that I won at a silent auction for a romantic getaway to Glenwood Springs. It would have been nice to save it for a true romantic getaway, but I've got no one to be romantic with so I figured that I might as well use it on myself. So that's where I've been hiding out all day, The Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs.

Photo_061906_007 Photo_061906_012

It was busy when I first took the photos, but by 6PM it emptied out and was much more enjoyable. There are 3 pools. A kiddie pool, a super huge main pool, and an ultra hot pool. The water comes from a natural hot spring and you get use to the sulfur smell after 20 minutes or so. The water feels really silky and the minerals are supposedly good for you. It definitely felt good to me. So for dinner I had a piece of death by chocolate cake. I figure if I'm gonna be bad, I should be real bad.

A couple of cool things are happening with the podcast. I talked to my co-host and a podcast name was decided on. I purchased two domains for the shows webpage so I will need to see which one he likes best. YES...he wears the pants in the podcast if you were wondering. At least I think he will be wearing pants. He's in a totally different state so I can't know for sure. And the other good news is that Marlon Gibbons, linked over in my cool people section, has agreed to do the music for the show. So I couldn't ask for a better composer to work with. I'm so glad I played hooky. This turned out to be a great day.

June 18, 2006

Shirtless Neighbor Sunday

I realize these all look the same, but shirtless only comes in one style. Maybe he's getting a darker tan? Actually I just noticed he wears flip flops. Might be dangerous.

Shirtless_2 Shirtless

June 17, 2006

Just not an IT girl I guess.

For the last couple of days I've been thrown into the role of computer Jane. I'm a read one, watch one, do one, sort of girl. That's how I learned blogging. But I've had monster headaches the last couple days dealing with this software program called WebPod Studio. It was developed by a company called Lionhardt Technologies and Published by Avanquest USA.

For the record. Nowhere, anywhere does it state on the outside of the box that this product can record skype. It does however say as much in the users guide. Most of the Podcasters I know have told me that what you really need to record skype is a second computer and an inexpensive mixer. I have an I-Pod Nano... because I think the I-pod is too big. If I can keep this compact and simple then I will be a happy girl. As I mentioned before, on many occasions actually, I am not very flash with the computer. I read the guide and followed all of the instructions I could before emailing the developer. My problem is that the software recognizes skype, but will not record it. This could be a very simple thing, but the answer escaped me.

My first request for assistance went without response. After two days I sent a second request. I got an immediate response from Richard Eardus he gave me a few instructions to do things I had already tried, however tried again in the event that I had done them incorrectly the first 7 or 8 times. No go. So I asked him if he would be willing to skype me later and talk me through it. He agreed and advised me that he had some meetings but would contact me using skype around 3 PM EST. Let me tell you folks, I was stood up. I hope the poor guy didn't step in front of a train giving him a very understandable explanation for not showing up. But let's just say I am not happy with the fellow. If something prevented him from making the appointment he should have had the integrity to follow-up with an apology and request to reschedule.

If you think I'm expecting too much you may be right. But my feeling is that expensive software programs like this are for people (like me) who don't have the time to learn another less expensive, but more time-consuming route. So when the program is not "dummy friendly" or just doesn't work, they should expect customers like me will want support.

Lionhardt Technologies offers a 30 day money back guarantee. I think at this point I will take them up on that offer. Had Mr. Eardus helped me to make it work, it might have been a great product and I would have sung it's praises... But I guess I will never know. For now I will use HotRecorder for recording skype. Which I should mention I have not had a single problem with and I was able to set up in about 60 seconds.

MexicobeachStuff like this makes me wish that I was on a beach in Mexico with a tall, handsome guy, drinking boat drinks and playing footsie in the sand. ;)

June 16, 2006

Lies about Yoga

I've been asked to do a guest-post on this blog, and found it somewhat difficult to find something to write about. Four nights a week I drain my brain on the GeekNights podcast, and any other time I've got something it goes to my blog. That doesn't leave me with a lot of new, interesting ideas I haven't yet expressed.

It wasn't until I looked at the name of the blog that I found inspiration. I don't do yoga, I don't drink coffee and I don't use Outlook. Perfect! I'll just pick one of the three and write the contrary opinion. As it turns out, my opinions of Outlook and coffee are uninteresting and simple, so I'll just write about yoga. I do want to make one disclaimer. I was asked to do this post on short notice, so I wasn't able to do complete research or make any citations. You'll just have to trust that I know what I'm talking about. Also, if you challenge me in the comments I will come down on you with more scientific research than you knew existed.

As I said, I don't do yoga or any other exercise. And that is exactly the point I want to make to people. Yoga is exercise, nothing more, nothing less. There are lots of yoga people out there who make or believe false claims about yoga, and I am here to expose the truth.

First off, some people claim that yoga is medicinal in nature. I've seen people say that yoga detoxifies the body or boosts the immune system. In some cases people even claim it cures disease. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest any of these things are true. If you believe that yoga can do any of these things, you are deluding yourself. Stop it.

Also, on many yoga websites people will say something along the lines of "yoga cleanses the mind, body and spirit." If you believe that, then your name is W. Wrongy Wrongenstein. Yoga doesn't cleanse anything. Sinks, showers, bathtubs, washing machines, these are all things that cleanse. Stretching out your muscles definitely doesn't cleanse anything. In fact, perspiration as a result of yoga does the opposite of what most would call cleansing.

In the same vein, even if yoga somehow cleansed, it surely can not cleanse the spirit or the mind. The spirit part is obvious, there is no such thing as a spirit. If it's not a real thing, then any claims about it are false by default. You might as well say that yoga makes faeries, dragons and leprechauns come out of hiding. As for the mind, it can't be dirty, so how can it be cleansed? I mean sure, you might have a dirty mind thinking about porn, but yoga can't solve that problem anymore than it could get rid of a piece of dirt that fell in your ear up to your brain.

With more research I could have provided more specific examples of yoga flim-flammery, but I'll leave you to find those on your own. Just about every yoga website has some sort of falsehood on it. All I can suggest is that you read James Randi's weekly commentary for the latest news on all sorts of snake oil, not just stuff pertaining to yoga.

Now, don't let this news get you yoga practitioners down. Yoga still has lots of benefits. It's good exercise, it increases flexibility, it feels good, it's fun to do, etc. Just be wary of anyone who makes extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence. If you disagree, then I've got this rock I want to sell you. It's a magic rock, you rub it on your head and it replenishes the spirit. Only $29.95, call today.

June 15, 2006

SITEPAL - WILL RETURN This

SITEPAL - WILL RETURN

This is my new SitePal. I'm already loving it and have been playing around with it all day. I have it set up so that a viewer may only watch once daily, so if you are unable to watch it again, that is why. So enjoy. I think I'm gonna have a lot of fun with it.

Playing Catch Up

MaskI slept in until 9 this morning which is very late for me. The store did exceptionally well this past weekend and I had nearly 60 orders to fill. Which is how I spent most of the day. Need to mention that I got some closure on a couple of issues yesterday. 1) The issue with the deadbeat buyer was resolved and I received full payment. This is why I use paypal. It is more expensive but it comes with seller insurance that prevents me from getting hosed. 2) Massage Envy has agreed to buy back 3 months of massages and close out my contract. Which is awfully nice of them.

Front_fold_1I have a new renter; Open Window Yoga. Another Colorado yoga blogger. Please say hello with a quick click in the renters box. Folks there is a reason Colorado is the healthiest state in America ;). But seriously, it will be nice to have a little yoga actually going on at AYCO. My practice has been limited to a very rapid 30 minute morning routine. Something is better then nothing I guess.

I've been on skype quite a lot over the past couple of days and have to say I like it more and more. I never used any of the IM's before, but Skype is just a really convenient way to chat with people online. If you happen to be on skype and see me online feel free to say hello. I don't bite, usually.

So, I guess it's okay to mention that a podcast is in the works. It is not directly related to A Yoga Coffee Outlook other than I will be on it. There is a co-host I've been courting and I'm pretty sure that if I throw in a few "favors" he will definitely be on board. There will be an actual Press Release on this so I'll not scoop myself. I've been toying around with the mechanics of it all. If you wait long enough to do something, someone will create a program that makes it easier, which is what I'm hoping WebPod Studio will do for me. I've already run into some issues. But like everything else I've learned I will eventually figure it out after doing it every wrong way first.

Oh! Just found out that I will be making a quick trip to New York next month to meet some truly amazing and fashionable bloggers. More about that later when I have the details.

Ayco_feet Finally... when I get a moment. AYCO will be getting a little updating. I will be bringing in some old posts from blogging hibelu that may have belonged here in the first place. There will be additions to the sidebar and some cleaning up of the links. Also working on an idea to get you people to hang out here a little longer. ;).

Have a great Wednesday... kidding I know it's Thursday. HAHAHA

June 14, 2006

New Logo

This is the new logo... And it's variations. The clean files are on the way. What do you think? Give them a click for a better view.

Hibelu_logo

June 13, 2006

Vanilla Martini's & Cheshire Cats

Vanilla_martini_1Total Gluttony. That's a tad dramatic, but I feel like I've been a little hedonist these days.

I just got back from Bunko night. My stomach HATES me. Have you ever had a vanilla martini? The first sip is smooth, the second sip is sweet, the third sip is really sweet, every sip after that is stomach turning. I'm just not a big vodka drinker. I guess that's not entirely true. I like greyhounds. But as far as cocktails go, I usually go for the gin and tonic. I have to admit, I'm kinda cute with the gin blossoms. Maybe I'm just too old for sugar rimmed, maraschino cherry skewered drinks.

BTW... I have to mention I'm very grateful to Kit for watching AYCO this weekend. His posts were far beyond my expectations and very thoughtful. Thanks Kit.

Cheshirecat_1So... not sure how much I want to say about my trip. LA feels very comfortable to me. It's hard to explain. It just feels easy. In some ways I enjoy a fair amount of attention because I'm an outsider. I do stick out like a sore thumb and I think it creates an air of interest that I wouldn't enjoy if I was local. Like I said, it's hard to explain. Opportunities seem to find me when I'm there and it's a little unreal. I can't help but wonder outloud what it would be like if I moved there.

AND as if I didn't have enough to think about I've allowed myself to daydream about a certain smile that's been confusing to me since I first saw it. My own little cheshire cat I suppose. ;).

June 12, 2006

Finally ...

Outlook

Outlook_screenshot2

Yes, that Outlook ... the fourth horseman of Microsoft's Office apocalypse. The Grim Reaper of disk space. Virosaurus Rex.

Okay, I'll admit to owning a copy of Microsoft Word. Excel is great if you're actually using it as a spreadsheet, rather than some lazy way of arranging a text document into columns. We'll get to PowerPoint later.

But I won't even pretend to conceal my contempt for Outlook. It's a solution without a problem -- an all singing, all dancing way of having every conceivable "productivity" application open in one cumbersome, RAM-smashing package. It's like keeping your refrigerator door open because you might want to eat at some point. And nobody is hungry enough to dig into a steamin' helping of the obscure Journaling function. Really.

For every Outlook feature, there is a cheaper, safer, more elegant way of getting the job done. For mail, there's the free Mozilla Thunderbird client and any number of industrial-strength alternatives. You'll have no trouble finding a good collaborative calendar, or give Google's new offering a try. Need to make a quick note? No need to bloat that .pst file -- try an onscreen Sticky Note or create a short text file.

So much for fantasy. A lot of us have been chained to Outlook at work, particularly those who have been obliged to utilize Microsoft's ubiquitous Exchange server. But there are ways to streamline your Outlook workflow and get around the program's creaky way of doing things.

That's why I'd like to pass along this handy tutorial on a strategy for managing Outlook without creating a Byzantine hierarchy of folders (which always seem as difficult to keep track of as the messages themselves).

I'll warn you: there's some fancy setup involved. But the article's solution is pretty graceful once you put it all together, and the time you'll burn in organization will be returned manyfold in the cumulative benefits of efficiency. The CNXN ("Connection") main page has some other great ideas for taming the Outlook beast.

There are plenty of other methods to keep your inbox from stacking up and to help you retrieve information quickly when you need it. Spam filters and powerful search functions are your best friend. Anything beats nested folders.

Oh ... about Microsoft PowerPoint. Please, please stop. I was thinking about this the other day -- I bet 95 percent of the hulking PowerPoint files I've been sent over the years had no reason for being. PowerPoint -- properly used -- is pretty good at what it was designed to do: create visual aids for live presentations. How many 60-slide monstrosities (complete with cheesy non-sequitur clip art) must we suffer through? Without a speaker, a presentation is going to be text-heavy. The kindest way to do this is a neatly formatted document. If you don't want or expect the recipient to edit your work, consider a PDF. If it really must be a multi-media presentation, do yourself and your audience the favor of putting it into a Flash or Quicktime movie. Then you know it's right, and your recipient won't have to spend his or her time fumbling through slides and wondering why people feel compelled to use that butt-ugly Comic Sans font so much.

Thank you.

Well, I've taken far too liberal advantage of Kelly's soapbox. She should be back in pocket tomorrow. Thanks for putting up with me the past few days, and please join our group over at PaperFrog now and then.

With all my screed, I should probably close with an awful joke:

So a blogger walks into a bar.

"Bartender," he says, "Gimme a Budweiser."

"Sorry," replies the bartender. "We only have Miller today."

The blogger then unleashes a torrent of opinion: why Budweiser is the best; why Miller is pathetic; why his product choice is more valid than some other idiot's. He drones on and on for about ten minutes while the bartender looks on in complete silence. Finally, the blogger is talked out. There's a long, uncomfortable pause. At length, the bartender speaks.

"Oh, so it's time for Comments?"

Why, yes it is.

June 11, 2006

And Then There's Coffee ...

Insufferable coffee snobbery. It's a way of life.

Ground_coffeeLemme back up a moment. You're only a coffee snob if you're a poser. Chances are, if you're gone out of your way to seek out and read a blog named "Yoga Coffee Outlook," you actually have some interest in coffee for it's own sake. So relax and enjoy. Let's make great coffee.

But the picture on the left isn't coffee: it's compost. Really good compost, actually: the garden is a great place to dump your grounds. That doesn't mean you'd want to actually drink the ground coffee that comes in a can or even one of those fancy vacuum-packed bags. You can't judge a bean that's already mulched, and most of the conveniently ground blends you'd pick up at the store are the cheapest blends their manufacturers think they can get away with selling.

Start with whole beans. The delicate oils which give coffee its flavor begin breaking down the instant you grind, so cut your losses and do it yourself. It's not hard. Blade grinders can be had for less than $20, and they do an okay job. If you really want consistency, though, you need a burr grinder just like the barrista at Starbucks. A reasonable consumer unit can be had at full retail for $80, and you'll be able to produce perfectly ground coffee every time you brew.

Bean selection is a topic all its own, and will depend completely on your personal tastes. If you're unfamiliar with what's out there, visit an online vendor like Peets and browse the descriptions of the various coffee families. Once you try a few, you'll develop favorites. I drink my coffee black and prefer dark, mellow roasts with chocolate notes. You might prefer a tangy African or medium-roasted Central American bean. And then there are blended coffees, which combine different types of beans to arrive at distinctive flavors.

You can order coffee online or find it close to home. Just keep in mind that the beans you see in big hoppers at the chain stores could have been sitting there for a long time. Stick to the popular beans, and you'll be likelier to get fresh stock. And you can find good bean coffee at the grocery store. Try a few, and you'll figure out which to buy and which to avoid.

Coffee_pressAutomatic drip coffee makers are instruments of torture designed to break the spirit of underpaid office workers. In this tractable condition, they are content to submit to abusive managers, skimpy vacation schedules, and the largess of corporate America for their health coverage. It's a far-reaching conspiracy.

Why would you extend this situation to your home? Strike a blow for labor and buy a french press right away. It will extract the very best from your beans and allows you to control the brewing process.

The unit on the right is actually a cheapie (and the photographer appears to have steeped the beans all of ten seconds before snapping his picture). Look for one with all-metal hardware, particularly the threaded sleeve which locks the brew screen into place. Plastic locknuts strip out too easily.

Add an electric kettle, a coffee scoop, and an airtight container to store the beans, and your kit is complete. Time to make something nice.

Coffee making is the Western equivalent of the Japanese tea ceremony. I enjoy the process almost as much as actually drinking the coffee. Start with clean equipment and a clear workspace. Use fresh water in your kettle: if you reuse the leftovers from your last boil, the coffee will taste flat.

Water at a rolling boil is too hot for brewing -- it will assault the fragrant oils. You're looking for about 180 degrees. Either switch off your kettle before it hits a full boil or let it sit a few minutes before pouring.

While the water is boiling, mill your beans. How much coffee to use is a matter of trial and error. My press is about the same size as the one in the illustration, and I generally use six rounded coffee scoops of beans for each batch. Dump the ground coffee into the bottom of the press, then clean your milling equipment. Left-behind coffee will deteriorate and sour the next brew.

When the water is ready, gently pour it into the coffee. Don't overfill your press. The lighter grounds and beautiful, delicious crema will immediately float to the top. It's best to stir these down for a few seconds to be sure all your coffee is part of the brew.

Take your leftover hot water and pour a bit into your cups to warm them. This will keep your coffee hotter once it's ready. A french press doesn't hold heat very well, so you might consider using a serving thermos if you're planning on more than one cup of coffee. Let the thermos warm with the cups.

Steeping time again depends on your personal taste and the type of coffee you're using. A good rule of thumb is about four minutes. If you over-steep the coffee, it will become bitter. I'm a tad ADD, so I have a cheap digital timer to remind me when the brew is done.

Now you're ready to press. The screen forces the coffee to the bottom of the press, essentially ending the brew. Put the top on and press slowly. Pressed coffee will be much fuller-bodied than anything out of a drip maker, and it will leave behind a light crema like you'd expect from espresso.

Clear your cups and pour. There will be some powdery coffee as you get to the bottom of your pour, and you should try to leave this in the press. Go slow: there's no hurry.

And now you're done. If you're going to put some of that artificial coffee flavoring and cream into your coffee, please don't tell me about it. But however you like your cup, you've started with good coffee. Now find a book or a friend, slow down, and enjoy.

Ain't that fine? Damn straight.

That's yoga and coffee down. It's outlook tomorrow.

June 10, 2006

Regarding Yoga, Coffee, and Outlook

Ah, yes ... Kelly is away. And with her well-deserved long weekend comes my chance to ruin someone else's weblog.

Shirtless_kitFirst, a word of introduction. I'm Kit, and I write a little journal called PaperFrog. Y'all come visit. I live in Pensacola, Florida. Maybe you've seen our city on TV. There's always some guy from the Weather Channel standing on our beach in a blue windbreaker telling everyone how badly we're about to get out butts kicked by some nasty storm coming out of the Gulf. The price of paradise, I suppose.

Here's a photo of me I dug out of my archives. As you can see, I am very attentive about my lawn. It's a lot of work, but people seem to notice. And pushing the mower around really tones those shoulders.

Before Kelly blew town, she fired-off a twenty page style guide on writing for YCO. It's all very confusing -- topics to avoid, sure-fire comment starters -- that sort of thing. I've thrown it away, of course. But I've decided to stick to the basics over the next three days: yoga, coffee, and outlook. Let's get started.

Yoga

Well, as it turns out, I'm really the wrong guy to ask about yoga (although I am the originator of the famous "stricken dog" pose). So ...

Yoga Yogis

Now here's something we all know about. Everybody loves yogis: always full of wit and wisdom; ever-ready with a pithy phrase. And when it comes to yogis, two immediately levitate to the top of the enlightenment pile. I'm talking about Yogis Berra and Bear.

If you're like me, you probably can't decide which of these two titans qualifies as the greatest yogi of them all. I thought I'd present both for your consideration, and perhaps -- together -- we can work it out.

YOGI BERRA

YberraPaperFrog is a Buddhist weblog, and we sometimes discuss the ancient Zen tradition of koans. These are riddles which are designed to break through one's normal modes of thinking and point the way to truth. And when it comes to koans, Yogi Berra was an undisputed master:

You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

Whoa. It would be difficult to better encapsulate the ultimate deception of all things which have form. I need to go back to my sitting cushion.

Half this game is ninety percent mental.

It doesn't add up, does it? That's how koans blow your mind wide open.


YOGI BEAR

YbearI'm not sure exactly what Yogi is doing with that divining rod. Probably pointing the way to Ultimate Truth.

Yogi Bear expressed his wisdom in a very different manner than his ball-playing yogic brother. Where Berra was cryptic, Bear was clear. Where Berra was ethereal, Bear was earthy. Take this example:

You know, there's nothing better than digging into a giant pic-i-nic basket!

As the Buddha taught, when you sit, just sit. When you walk, just walk. And when you eat, just eat. Yogi Bear wasn't a common glutton -- he was a revelation. Just eat. Just enjoy. That's life.

The next example is a dharma talk between Yogi and his young disciple, Boo-Boo.

Boo-Boo: Yogi, I'm afraid Mr. Ranger is going to be real mad.
Yogi: You worry too much, Boo-Boo!

Right you are, Yogi. Reality is in the present moment. Worry is the natural consequence of trying to live in the future -- a futile effort which can only lead to suffering. This is the cause of Boo-Boo's pain. And ours, too.

I put it to you: who is the greatest yogi? Yogi Berra? Or is it Yogi Bear? Please comment or Kelly will be cross when she gets back.

Tomorrow, it's coffee.

June 07, 2006

A Child Without Courage Is Like A Night Without Stars ...and other quotes.

ChainsawI spent all of Tuesday dealing with financial matters. I hate discussing money.

Poor and Content is Rich, and Rich Enough ~William Shakespeare

I grew up on both sides of the tracks. I've had a lot of money. I've had no money.

Ordinary Riches can be stolen; real riches can not. In your soul are infinitely precious things; that can not be taken from you. ~ Oscar Wilde

It was in my early 20's that I really began to understand that there is no real value in money. Not really. The only asset worth having is yourself. Yes we all need to pay the bills. If I didn't have a car or any money, you bet I would need some. But as long as I can work and produce it doesn't really matter what's in the bank. As long as I'm me, what's sitting in the bank account is unimportant.

Anyone who thinks my story is anywhere near over, is sadly mistaken. ~ Donald Trump

Regardless what you think of him, Donald Trump is a good example. When he was bankrupt, he never really was. Yes he had zeros in the bank and debt to China and back, but his ability to make money was such a great asset that it never mattered that he didn't have any. Yes I know the Don was not stripped of all that he owned and tossed out on the street. But my point is THAT would never happen. The banks and lenders worked with him, because they had no choice. If they didn't, they would get nothing. They knew he was capable of generating the money. His wealth has nothing to do with any bank account, helicopter, penthouse, or wife. For most the only limitation you have to make money, is yourself. Wealth has nothing to do with money. They are polar opposites.

A penny saved, is a penny earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Now, I hope not to leave anyone with the impression that my cavalier attitude about money means that I'm irresponsible with it. That's not true. But when I'm making financial decisions I never allow myself to make choices based on fear of risk. My choices are based more on ratios. I weigh somethings value based on it's ability to make a return greater then my investment.

Accountant Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions. ~A.A. Latimer

So the bulk of today's headache... has to do with my advertising budget. My accountant is real unhappy with the decisions I've been making. Have you ever seen a mad accountant. They don't get mad like normal people. They show no signs of anger. It's weird and very uncomfortable. I have to admit my ideas are beyond outside the box. So much of what I'm doing makes little sense to him. Trying to explain hazy gray ideas to a black and white thinker is like having a habanero enema. At least the first hour is that way. The second hour is worse.

Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Later, I had to go to a co-op meeting. I indulged myself in a negative disposition, which is unusual for me. There was no way for me to get out of the meeting because I'm serving as President this term. Of course, everyone there wants to talk about business. That folks, is the point of the co-op. And me being the President, everyone wanted to schmooze. Me, I felt like wielding a sword or an axe or something sharp and pointy.

NOTE TO SELF- More Yoga.

So that was pretty much my day.

June 06, 2006

Practice Safe Sushi not Sushi Snobbery

Not sure why but I've been on a sushi kick the last couple of days and sushi falls within the realm of my diet confines. I think I've just been craving that salty/sweet combination. My Grandpa, rest his soul, would eat vanilla ice cream with potato chips crumbled on top. Pretty damn tasty actually.

Sushi_lunchSo, there's a Tokyo Joe's near me where I like to pick up sushi. Go ahead be a sushi snob and declare that fast food sushi is not REAL sushi. Please.. you can get sushi from a Taco Bueno if they have the right ingredients and someone who knows how to prepare it. The fact that it comes from "Taco Bueno" does not alone prevent it from actually being sushi. Truthfully, I'm not sure that I would get sushi from a Taco Bueno, but let's all concede that theoretically it's possible.

So these are my five rules.

  1. Never buy premade sushi.
  2. The preparation area is visible, clean, and orderly.
  3. The person preparing the sushi is clean, orderly.
  4. The sushi looks good. Never eat anything that looks or smells bad...duh. Oh or tastes bad. (Some people continue eating things that taste bad to them. WHY?)
  5. The sushi is cool. Ideally you eat sushi at room temperature, but when you receive it, it should be cool if the ingredients were stored correctly. Wait if you want. I like it cold.

Those rules will probably keep you out of the hospital at least 9 times out of 10. Life is risky, know your personal limits.

Good luck! Gokouun o inorimasu!

June 05, 2006

Slightly Drunk, Links, Moola

Not too much to say about the weekend. It was beautiful out, but I stayed inside working. I went out for sushi last night, that's about it.

So thankfully, I have a new renter to write about.

Slightly Drunk

This is one of the very first blogs I think I ever read. Slightly Drunk is what I consider the quintessential blog. It is extremely well written with detailed posts that read like a Jim Harrison novel. IMO. It's also well organized and not cluttered.. ahem like AYCO. Each post seems well conceived. Stories of his life/family reminds me of a British sit-com. Interesting in a humorous way, but not "funny".

Please visit my renter. He also has a cool feature where he inserts expletives like #@$%$ and you can hover over it to see what he said... if you couldn't infer from the context. Cool.

And while I'm slinging links. My new coffee enjoying friend Micheal has just configured a new blog called MWVW. He's got a cute mug too. So check him out.

And finally... Max at Jerico sent me an invite to Moola.com which is a sort of pyramid type ad scheme.. except for all appearances.. if your willing to sit through some commercials, you could actually "win" some money. Basically they give you a penny. (provided to them through ad revenue I assume) and you play games like paper, scissor, rock against other players winner take all. You could theoretically win I think 10 million dollars in 30 rounds. The highest players I saw were in the $100 range. So if you would like an invite, e-mail me kelly-at-hibelu-dot-com.

Have a Great Monday! This is a Russian cartoon... A little international humor I guess.

Drunk031

 

June 04, 2006

Stuart Fratkin Dot Com

Some time ago I was trying to track down information about an eighties TV show called The Adventures of Beans Baxter. It was one of the first shows in the line-up when Fox Television premiered. Anyone under 30 is staring blankly... I can feel it. I e-mailed Stuart Fratkin who played Woodhouse, the sidekick on the show. I got a friendly response from him and I suggested that he secure his name as a domain for the website he had. Since then he's secured the domain name and has been redesigning the website. I stopped in to check it out yesterday. It looks amazing. A very cool, nicely designed site! Lots of photos, stories, a good walk down memory lane.

UpdatespicFratkin is probably recognized most as the sidekick in the Teen Wolf movies, though I've seen him in many things since. Please check out his website www.stuartfratkin.com and see what he's up to. He's a really nice guy and a hard working actor.

Just a note: I'm reworking my links list so if you were there and you don't see yourself there anymore you weren't permanently removed just getting shuffled a bit. Things should be reorganized by the end of Tuesday. Have a great rest of your weekend!

June 03, 2006

Family Resemblance

Last night I went to a party to celebrate my cousin graduating from the Air Force Academy. I mentioned a little about her in an earlier post. I have this very large family. My grandmother on my mothers side had 10 children. She is 93 and at this point she is a Great Great Grandmother. By the time she is 100 it will be possible for her to become a Great Great Great Grandmother. I worry about her because she is going through this phase where she is giving things away. She is a very strong woman. She has lived in the same house for over 50 years, doesn't need a cane or walker and doesn't have any illness. Still realistically I know her time is limited. :(

The party was great! No one recognized me immediately though, which was strange. It's also weird to see everyone aging. My graduating cousin was probably the youngest person there. Here are some photos of my family. Do you see a family resemblance?

Me_uncle_l Me_ld_c Me_cousin_b_w_1 Grandma_me Me_uncle_d_aunt_n_uncle_b_uncle_br What can I say about families. My tree is a little lopsided. There are some scraggly branches with no leaves. Some branches have been removed altogether. But all in all I'm thankful for the one I have.

6th_birthday_1I have a cousin I share my birthday with. I remember on my 6th birthday I was having the big party. You know the ONE you remember your whole life... I just blew out the candles on my Pluto cake and my mother told me that my aunt just had a baby boy and I  had a new cousin. My response, "Can I open my presents now?"

Anyhow that cousin and I grew up together like brother and sister. Fought like brother and sister anyway. He was at the party and I told him I was thinking about skydiving on my birthday. I said, "hey we have the same birthday why don't you do it with me?". He said yes! Then a couple of my other cousins and an uncle wanted in too. So it looks like we may have a plan.

I am so incredibly behind in my work. It's beautiful outside, but I will be inside working all day. :(

June 02, 2006

My First Date Set The Bar Too High

Meperry_at_eddebevics_87\

I think everyone remembers their very first date. In my mind my first real date meant going out with a boy who has a car. That's still important criteria for any date. In the case of my first date, there happened to be a publicist, photographer, and magazine editor tagging along. For obvious reasons if you have a good eye. It was quite the organized affair. Still, with all of the chaperons, there were a few private moments, that I've kept for myself all these years. PG moments I can assure you. Thanks to this guy, the bar has always been set very high. A total gentleman, sweet and very funny as I recall. So much has changed for both of us. I doubt our past selves would believe us if we told them about our futures. I wonder what a date together would be like today? Possibly more photographers. ;) 

It's Friday! Going to a family party tonight that should be great. Growing up I always thought my Aunts and Uncles were so much fun. Turns out they were just drunk. I'll try to take some pics. I'll post the photos I don't use for blackmail. ;)

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!