Travel

Blogs and Birthdays…

Posted on April 25, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy, Travel |

This is the third time I’m celebrating my birthday on my Blog. Happy Birthday to me! I’m much older than three, of course, but it’s still an anniversary of sorts. My birthday generally coincides with one of the busiest times of year for me. In arts production, at least where I live, the last weekend of April, and the last of November are absolutely PACKED with events. My work is all entwined with these events, and I barely have time to come up for air, let alone celebrate.

Still, I will be going here for high tea with friends (after working Sunday morning at a film and discussion group!) It is a tradition with me to visit this park and tearoom on my birthday, and I’ve had either breakfast, lunch or tea there every birthday since I located my temporal self here in the desert.

I have neglected my blog, and commenting on yours, as I’ve been working so many hours, but May will bring more time and vigor, and I have a project in mind for that month. I have missed blogging as regularly as I once did. When I awaken, having rested from the busyness of April, I hope to bring some renewal and new interests here.

In the meantime, I want to celebrate the birthday of my friend Kate, of seeing is a verb. We share the same birthday, and this photo of hers, representing new life, moves me incredibly. I was speechless when I first saw it. This beautiful baby (really you must click over and see him) and the colors and patterns around him are among the loveliest things I’ve seen. Kate is an amazing visual artist, and her way of “seeing” is unique. Happy Birthday Kate!

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Many Celebrations; One Heart

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Music, Philosophy, Spirituality, Travel |

Together we can heal the world. Continuing on the Path of the Heart, I was pleased to discover that two holidays I celebrate every year occurred on the same day this year; namely Chinese New Year, and Valentine’s Day. I have participated in cultural activities in my area for Chinese New Year including providing back up choral singing for the largest CNY celebration in Arizona! What a treat it was to be part of this.

Chinese Year of the Tiger begins on February 14, 2010 and ends on February 2, 2011.

The Tiger is the third sign in the cycle of  Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs.  It is a sign of courage. This fearless and fiery fighter is revered by the ancient Chinese as the sign that wards off the three main disasters of a household: fire, thieves and ghosts.  On New Year’s day itself, it is beneficial to celebrate, to be happy, to have smiling faces, and to refrain from scowling, quarreling, or criticizing anyone.

Generally, as part of my personal Valentine’s celebration, I spend some time remembering fondly all those whom I love. When I get well-entrenched into that heart-space, I then attempt to love everyone else. Not always easy, but always worthwhile. 🙂

♥ ♥ ♥ English eighteenth-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine’s identity, suggested that Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia.

Many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love. ♥ ♥ ♥

I’d already decided to post on the “coincidence” of Valentine’s and CNY falling on the same day, when I received emails from two different sources asking for support in spreading even more love; the first in Peru.

The Incan and Ayamara elders selected Feb. 14th (Valentine’s Day) for the ceremony to Activate the Solar Disk at Lake Titicaca. The cosmic ceremony heralds the physical re-emergence into the earth’s atmosphere of those called The Children of the Sun.


We ask you to join with us on Sunday, Feb. 14th in your services, your meditations, your practices, or in groups and hold sacred this day. Using the imagination, see yourselves entwined with thousands of us at Lake Titicaca. See the sacred fires being lit as the many elders and shamans perform ceremonies that call in endless blessings of spirit for the entire planet. See the web of humanity opening heart centers to the Source of All. Feel divine wisdom and love pouring through the portal that is being opened. Imagine all of us holding sacred space and activating loving joy into our own heart centers. See an infusion of love and joy releasing and eradicating the fears and anxieties that have burdened us for so long. See our heart centers anchoring Universal Love and Light into all the people of earth. See the global family finally soaring to its perfect spiritual state of joy and happiness.

My love of music allowed me to be extra pleased to receive the following. I try to put love into musical performance all the time. Chanting is a special form of healing, meditation, and music which amps it up even further.

WORLD PEACE TONING AND CHANTING: A SONIC MEDITATION FOR PEACE ON EARTH

Join thousands throughout the planet for the 8th Annual WORLD SOUND HEALING DAY on Sunday, February 14, 2010. At 12 noon Eastern Standard Time (EST–New York Time), sound forth for 5 minutes with the “AH”, created and projected with the energy of compassion and love, sending a sonic valentine to Gaia, our Mother Earth. At that time, please go to templeofsacredsound.org to enhance the vibratory effect as we sound together for planetary peace and harmony.

♥ Thank you for joining your heart to mine today and all days. ♥

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The dark time: El día de los Muertos

Posted on November 3, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, Philosophy, Travel |

DIA I’ve written about el día before, but this year I found the best synopsis online at the Smithsonian Latino Museum for a holiday that can be difficult to define. Here is what they say:

El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2 is a day of celebration for the people of Mexico, Central America, and for Mexican Americans in the United States. It is a day to honor and commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and to welcome the return of their spirits.

I also visited the Smithsonian’s virtual exhibit online. It is excellent; I recommend a look around, or visit the real Smithsonian if you are near.

Where I live, the “Day of the Dead” holiday often gets mixed up with Halloween celebrations, or else with “All Saints Day” in the church. Here in Tucson, a week of holiday will culminate in the All Souls Procession on November 8th. This is quite an event, as we are on the border of Mexico, and rich in its culture. Take a look at this link; there are some amazing things to see and history to read.

If you celebrate it, did you have a nice Halloween? I didn’t go to a “live” party this year; but I enjoyed giving treats to the small ones—so cute! After the treating and tweeting, I did attend several parties online. They were pretty fun, actually. In real life I’ve been a butterfly, ice cream cone, gypsy fortune-teller, and a Highlander, complete with sword. I liked the sword, so I chose a costume that could include it, and since I’d never been a pirate before, there it was:

SL 4 Halloween_001

I know it’s traditional for a pirate to have a parrot on her/his shoulder, but I felt a cat was more appropriate for Halloween. Doesn’t look very menacing, though, does she? 😉

Anyway, as I contemplate the dark time, a time of renewal when one integrates the lessons of the past year, I wish you happy journeying.

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Rainy and Complainy

Posted on September 5, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Health, Musings, Travel |

As it’s been raining, (good thing) and it’s also overcast, (OK thing) it mostly has blocked out the sun (not my favorite thing). I must have that S.A.D. thingy, because, even though I live in an area which has over 300 sunny days per year, once the sun disappears for more than 10 minutes, I feel abandoned and mistreated. It’s particularly scary when the rainy mists cause the mountains to disappear! I know many people live happy lives in places like Norway and North Dakota, but I shudder to think, were it I.

I grew up in San Francisco, famous for its fogs, in a neighborhood which had more of them than other parts of the city. Although S.F. is a beautiful city, (hills; views; parks; bays) my childhood memories are colored in gray. Gray pavement; gray buildings; gray weather. No wonder I enjoyed exhibits of hippie buses, pop art, and the crayon-box revivals of Victorian architecture. I craved color, light, and warmth, and I still do.

I went to summer daycamp in Golden Gate Park. In July. Did I mention it was summer? Other parts of my country, including the one I live in now, would be sweltering in the heat and often humidity as well. We had the humidity all right—fog! The fog was bone-chillingly cold, and wet, and soggy. I’ve since spent six winters in a place where it snows, and although it was, technically, colder there, it didn’t sink into the bones the way a San Francisco summer fog could. When Mark Twain famously commented (or perhaps not; this may be one of those urban myths) that  “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”, he wasn’t kidding.

Fog Larson

It seems kind of funny to remember how, at camp, the first thing we’d do is build a fire, ostensibly to cook our lunch, but we’d huddle around it until our counselor insisted we run about and play games. This got us a bit warmer, and we were usually good for an hour or so to do crafts and such.

We cooked the darndest things for lunch, too. Have you ever made peach cobbler over a campfire? We did. Along with roasted potatoes (yum), ears of corn, of course, and various kinds of stews and soups. Years later, when I was a daycamp counselor myself, I was amazed that we were expected to take the kids to the beach one day. The beach? What were they supposed to do there? The water was much too cold to go into. They could build sand castles until their little fingers would start to turn blue. They could search for shells; always clammy even if not clam shells. They could sit on our beach blanket, cast on top of a plastic tarp so the cold damp would not seep through, and nibble at the picnic lunch we’d brought.

The odd thing was that, just a few miles away, “over the bridge” as we would say, meaning the Golden Gate, of course, was another land. Sunny; warm; with cool ocean breezes, and beaches worthy of the name. This was like Wonderland to me, or perhaps Emerald City. Even in some other parts of the city—the Marina district, for instance—there were tolerable beaches and weather. Golden Gate Park is magical in the autumn, sneaky in the spring, and completely impossible in the summer. So, why did we go there? It was walking distance from our houses. The camp was for the neighborhood kids, and didn’t have the funds to bus them about; we walked everywhere.

Although I often wonder if I’ll live out my days here in the desert near Tucson, I know that as long as I remain, I’ll never complain about the appallingly hot summers (it’s just starting to cool down from a few weeks of daily temperatures of 102-107F (38-42C). The heat is worth it, for the most part, in order to stay warm and see the sun.

I had no, or not much, intention of writing about the weather today, for heaven sake. I don’t like to write “complainy” posts very much; what I did intend to write about was actually computer related. So what happened? A lot is on my mind. I’m looking back at some of the places I’ve lived, in order to capture the essence of the things I liked most, in order to catalogue those things, and, perhaps, get a better sense of the qualities I most value in a living environment.

This post, though, is more about some of the things I didn’t like! 😉 My next post ought to be about what I did like about living in S.F. (there were many things!), or, about one of the other, very different places I’ve spent some time, or, about the computer-related things I planned to write about today.

I’ll pick and choose and see which is the most immediate when I write again. Until then, tootle-loo, and stay warm—or cool—and peaceful.

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Happy Can/Am day/week!

Posted on July 3, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Travel |

I was looking around the “Bloggers Unite” site, and was drawn to this image:

244I’ve noticed for years, now, that Canada Day and the US Independence Day are very close together. (My observation skills are legion!), so why not celebrate them both? They have similar themes. I won’t get into the historical ramifications of the holidays, other than that they express, for both nations, a commitment to freedom for the individual, and pride in our accomplishments. The “Bloggers Unite” assignment is to write about something both nations share. That’s a lot of things to choose from!

I choose to write about the Rocky Mountains. I first experienced the Colorado Rockies in my youth, and thought they were spectacular. I live in the region known as “the four corners” (named this because four states, [Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico] all come together in an almost perfect rectangle) and I have stood in the spot, unique in the States, where all four states meet. I consider the four corners region to be most representative of the Southwest, and there is an affinity among the four states here. While I don’t live in Colorado, I took some local pride and ownership of the Colorado Rockies.

I can make no such claim to the Canadian Rockies. I’ve spent some time in British Columbia and Alberta. I must admit that, so far, I have not been further east in Canada than Alberta, even though I have family near Niagara Falls who have encouraged me to visit. I shall, someday, really! I’d love to visit Montreal and Toronto! But for now, I will say that traveling from BC to Alberta afforded me one of the most stunningly beautiful; mouth-droppingly gorgeous journeys through any mountains I’ve ever undertaken. I mean this literally—I could not keep my mouth shut (and I wasn’t talking! or eating!), it kept dropping open at the sheer magnificence of the views.

Keeping in mind that I have not visited the Swiss or Italian Alps yet, I must say that the Canadian Rockies, specifically, are the most beautiful mountains I’ve seen—and we have many wonderful ranges on the north American continent. There are some nice pictures in the Wikipedia article about the Rockies, including one of my favorite views in Banff.

So, I wish all my Canadian friends a (belated) Happy Canada Day, and my US friends a peaceful and exciting Independence Day. To those reading from other countries, you are invited to celebrate with us! As with Canada and the US, there is more uniting us than dividing us. In these times, my wish is for freedom and peace for all who seek them.

Can/Am Celebration News

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The song inside you

Posted on May 29, 2009. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Music, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality, Travel |

Don’t go with your song still inside you“, advises the theme song of a film I saw Sunday, called either The Shift or Ambition to Meaning, depending on who you ask or where you look!

Here is the video (not embedable, so please click!)

The song runs during the closing credits, and was filmed on location at a place I’ve spent many happy days. Asilomar Conference Center on the Monterey coast in California is exactly as beautiful, stark and exotic as it appears in the video. I love that, towards the end, they filmed all the other guests at the facility singing along, and then the staff, too. How great! There’s another video at the same link which contains a wonderful meditative piano piece, with even more stunning photos of the place.

After watching the film, I felt as if I’d spent a day at Asilomar, not just the two hours it took to watch. This was the highlight for me, revisiting a place where I was very happy and experienced remarkable openings. I have a coffee mug I bought there which says “A place where lives are changed“. Indeed. I’ll say that our lives are perfect in every moment, and don’t “need” to change, but there are times and places when the desire comes bubbling forth, and a profound shift takes place.

Although I had no idea who Dr. Wayne Dyer was when I attended conferences and trainings at Asilomar some years ago, I have since heard him speak in person and on television, and have read several of his books. The film centers around a documentary being made about him, sort of a “film within a film”. I find I’m generally in agreement with about 70% of his philosophy; it rose to about 80% in this particular presentation. I don’t resonate with some of his notions about “ego” or about “service”. I know there are those who feel that a little Dyer goes a long way. Still, if I allow myself to hear the message, and suspend judgment, I can appreciate his sincerity. Since he chose Asilomar as the place to put his life philosophy on film, he must be doing something right! 😉

The song is presented by the very laid-back jazz quartet Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra. There is a tongue-in-cheek, whimsical quality to it, as in much of Lipton’s music, but it contains a very profound message, and really sums up the entire movie. The place, the music, and the message began to merge for me as I revisited old feelings and realized how far I’ve come in so many ways; yet have become more essentially “me” each year.

One conference stands out as particularly poignant. I’d been at Asilomar for three days of the week-long program. When I arrived, I very much still had “my song inside” me. “No one wants to hear MY song”, I thought. “It’s not particularly unique, or relevant, or tuneful.” I won’t go into all the specifics, but by the end of that particular day, I had discovered that the voice saying those things covered up the authentic me—the one with the amazing “voice”. Any time we put ourselves down, or say we’re less than or not enough, is actually a blunted form of (and here’s Dr. Dyer’s word!) “ego”. A façade had formed to protect our authentic selves from harm for one reason or another (or five, or 622) over the years. When we were born, I was told, the universe was delighted with us, and we with ourselves. We had to “learn” to hold a different opinion, and that “learning” could be “unlearned”.

By the end of my week there, I had actual “fans” for my “song”! I haven’t kept silent since. 😀

Obviously the phrase “the song inside you” is a metaphor; it can refer to any kind of gift you want to share and develop from who you really are. In my case, it did involve music. Little bits of music had “leaked out” during my childhood and teen years; I was never completely without it. As I grew in confidence, I stepped into my music, rather than just letting it seep through my façade.

Now, as much of my work is in Arts Administration, I feel I am allowing out more and more of “the song inside”. I get to actually perform music—that’s almost a physical need at this point—as well as use my natural leadership ability (which I didn’t know I had!) to facilitate Arts experiences for others, both as performers and audiences.

The song in the film gives us a gentle warning: “Don’t GO with your song still inside you”; it says. I see the word “go”, in this context, in many ways—from going out the door, today, to the final “going”, the one where we leave this earthly flesh behind.

However you wish to interpret it, I wish for you, and for me, that we continue to discover the ongoing song, and allow it to come forth, strongly, beautifully; with passion and purpose.

Asilomar

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Intentional Poverty

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Culture, HowTo, Philosophy, Travel |

bgfun03 I had a friend in California who decided to take six months and live off the land. He had some small savings—he was a typical poor California hippie—and he got a cheap overnight flight to Hawaii. (I don’t know if they still have those.) He found himself a remote cove on a remote beach that didn’t seem to belong to anyone. He had a good, solid tent, a few clothes, a little money, and not much else. For three days, he ate mangoes and papayas and pineapples right off the trees. They were ripe, and there, and free!

The third day, he walked into town. I think he said it took two hours to do so. He bought some twine, and bread, and some more water purification tablets. He didn’t tell the people in the store where he was living. He treated his waste matter and trash organically, and earth-respectfully. He used the twine, tied to a long branch, to catch the occasional fish. They were that easy to catch there. He could broil his fish over a small open fire, and nothing ever had tasted better, he said.

He got quite used to living alone. He spent his time reading (he’d joined the local library in town, and would walk there once a week to return three books, and check out three new ones), gathering twigs for his few small fires, washing his clothes, thinking, singing, swimming, and watching sunsets and other miracles of nature.

He came back to “civilization” after four and a half months, feeling he’d absorbed what he wished from this practice. Even then, he moved into an “intentional community”, on acres of land in a dense redwood forest, north of San Francisco. There, he met a woman who had a baby. They decided to set up house together. They built their small house themselves. They had plumbing, but were not on the local water supply. The water came from a creek, was heated in a large copper kettle, and pumped into their plumbing system for showers and washing dishes. They had a composting outhouse rather than a flush toilet. I know all this because I visited them there. I’ve spent the night in the little loft above their main living space several times. I don’t always sleep well at home, but there, I slept like a log, in the the forest air.

The property had a “main house” which had been there some years before the community acquired it. This had all the mod-cons, as it were: kitchen, washers and dryers, large dining room, and, electricity! Most meals were taken there, communal style, because it was easier to prepare meals and do washing up in a fully equipped kitchen. The little hand-built houses scattered around didn’t have such luxuries.

There were a couple other notable features. One was the large redwood hot tub, heated by a bonfire. Through a series of ingenious pipes and valves, (I never learned who designed it) the temperature could be kept constant. It was open to the stars, and on warm summer nights, as well as cool winter ones, it was soothing and relaxing after a long day growing crops.

The crops were the other notable thing, here. They grew all their own vegetables, of course. After having their lettuce and tomatoes, store-bought were never quite the same. They brewed beer, and attempted wine. They had one other very secluded field I was never permitted to visit. They grew another crop, there—I’ll bet you can guess what kind! Although I’m not a user of that particular crop, I will say that I know this was all fresh, and organic, and not subject to the dastardly chemicals that “imported product” often has. These folks went miles off the property to their jobs (using gas-guzzling vehicles; sigh!) and didn’t believe in doing so “under the influence”. As far as I could tell, this was an article of faith with them. Recreational times were one thing; work another.

Some had jobs because the property didn’t pay for itself. Others contributed by working on their small farm, or doing maintenance, cooking, and other chores. I’ve often wondered what became of them all. I have not been in contact for a number of years, and I honestly couldn’t locate this place, now, if I tried.

So, why have I told you this story? During my evening inspirational reading last night, I read the following: “While money is not absolutely essential to your experience, to most people money and freedom are synonymous.”1.

I was thinking about this in relation to the “economic issues” that are so much in the news these days. I’ll often think that if I had “X” amount of money I could do or have __________(fill in blank), but since I have “Y” amount, I can’t. I remembered my friend, who had lived two distinct lifestyles (actually several other kinds, too; but those descriptions would make this long post longer) one using almost no money, and another with very little. I described him as a “poor-hippie-type”, earlier, but not once, in any reference to himself and his life, did he refer to himself as poor, or lacking in any way.

I got to thinking that many of our possessions; our jobs; our friends even (not to mention our families) can sometimes be anchors; other times be solace. Less can be more. I’m looking for balance in this; how about you?

1. quote from Money,and the Law of Attraction; Hicks


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To the Internet Muses of Speed: “It was just a joke!”

Posted on February 18, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality, Travel |

This is a four-part post.

Part one: Rant

Is this retribution? I hope not, because that concept does not fit my belief system. I would have to COMPLETELY re-evaluate how I THINK ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE! Ah, sorry for the shouting, folks. “We live in interesting times.” (I have heard there is a curse like this: “May you live in interesting times.” I must have been cursed by several people—in fact, I can think of a few, who supposedly were my FRIENDS!) hehe.
For the last week, or so, I have not been able to get a stable connection to the Internet. At first, I couldn’t get online at ALL. At first, I thought it was “Malware”. At first, I thought I’d fixed that.
Now, I can get on sometimes. It can work fine sometimes. It can be excruciatingly slow sometimes. It can be non-existent sometimes. I do a lot of work on the computer, including maintaining a couple of websites, and sending out bulk emails to large lists, so this is inconvenient. I’ve tried new: Virus Scanners, Firewalls, Registry Cleaners, Disk Defragmenters, lalala.
Being me, of course, I KNOW that nothing is what it seems, and that outside incidents are not isolated from my inner being. So I must be mentally cluttered and morally slow at the mo’. YOU are all carrying on without me; I know you are—it is so strange not to be able to CONNECT with you, on the Internet or in my mind! In my last post, I included a graph showing “what I do when the Internet is being slow.” I think the Internet didn’t like being accused of being slow. Because, before I posted the graph it hardly was ever slow. And now…I hope I can post this…looks like it’s going to work!

Part two: Why I didn’t care

My previous post was titled “I don’t care!” Which was true, at the time. I realize that when overwhelmed I tend to go a little brain-dead, thus not caring. Now, my brain has woken up, a bit, from its cosmic sleep, and here I am caring again. The thing was, one of the non-profit organizations I work for ran out of money, totally and completely. There was a couple hundred dollars in the bank, and we have several thousands in expenses. People reacted to this in various ways. Mine was to run around trying to fix things, explaining “Why This Is Not My Fault”, and then taking brain vacations. Others became depressed, and virtually hid—they did not respond to phone calls and emails. Still others got mad. This is a familiar story in many places. For me it has been a lesson in keeping my equilibrium. I’m privileged to experience many of these kinds of lessons. In the end (of this particular “crisis”, anyway) people came through with donations, corporate sponsorship, and ideas for fund raisers. It looks like things will be alright for the rest of the season, and into next fall where we have a large sponsorship opportunity awaiting us. Whew!

During it all, I reminded myself that “all is well”. I truly believe that this is always so. It is helpful to be grounded in some sort of belief system in “good” times and in “bad”. (I must put those words in quotes, because, ultimately I cannot define any situation with either of those terms.)

Part three: Walk

Last time, I also mentioned the walk I was going to take, in order to clear my mind. I went in the afternoon, and the little snow that was on the ground had cleared. The surrounding mountains, however, were beautiful. They always are, with or without snow, but snow is so rare here, that when it does occur, it’s like a magic fairy land. (Well, that may be a bit romantic, but not much!) Here are the Catalina mountains without snow:

catmtns

Here they are with snow:

catsnow

Every time I go for a long walk near home, these are the mountains I see. They fill my mind and heart with beauty and peace; they are a respite.

Part four: Tubac

It was suggested to me that I accompany a person I’m fond of on a day trip Out of Town. What a good idea! There is a small Artist Colony/Tourist/Mission/Military Fort town just over an hour’s drive from here. I hadn’t been there in over five years, and had been told it had changed and grown. The last time I was there, there were a few nice shops, and the Fort and the old Mission were worth seeing. Now, Tubac is a thriving arts and crafts center, almost like a mini Santa Fe, with beautiful shops, gorgeous and unique art, and several really nice eateries. It was like taking a mini-vacation, without having to travel very far. The weather was perfect; just warm and sunny enough to walk around comfortably. It was a lovely day, and a welcome change.

On the way home, I had the same question I often have when I travel directly south of Tucson. A few miles out of the city the road-distance signs abruptly change from Miles to Kilometers. The signs in Mexico are in kilometers, but at this point, we are still 30 miles (or 48 kilometers) from the Mexican border, well within the United States of America. And, it’s not as if the signs have BOTH miles and kilometers; they don’t!—just kilometers! It makes no sense. I’ve been asking myself “WHY?” for years, so, as I’m writing this, thought I might as well, finally, look it up. The only reason I could come up with on my own was that, as close to the border as this is, perhaps the signs are in kilometers for the convenience of Mexican shoppers. But, that still makes it confusing for all the US residents in the area. 😕 It turns out this is NOT the case. According to Wikipedia, one of my many sources for many things:

Interstate 19 is unique amongst US Interstates, because signed distances are given in meters (hundreds or thousands as distance-to-exit indications) or kilometers (as distance-to-destination indications), and not miles. Speed limit signs give speeds in miles-per-hour, however. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), metric signage was originally placed because of the “metric system push” in the United States at the time of the original construction of the highway.
Recently, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced that they would convert metric signs back to United States customary units in stages, replacing signs in specific areas of the freeway during construction projects in those areas. This is due to the high cost of replacing all the metric signs at once.

Well—what do you know! Not only are the reasons not what I thought, but our little highway is “unique”. I guess when the state gets some money (?) we’ll convert. I do vaguely remember some talk erupting from time to time about the US going on the metric system. This did not go over well. To say the least. I’m still impressed that the Brits managed to convert from sovereigns and farthings, or whatever it was they used to have, and that much of Europe has been able to cope with the Euro.

Another little “factoid” about our area: (This one I did know) The county in which I live is part of a little strip of land in what is now southern Arizona and New Mexico known as the “Gadsden Purchase“, a “purchase” which remains unpopular with Mexico from whom it was “purchased” to this day. For reasons I don’t clearly understand, the Gadsden Purchase was part of the confederacy during the US civil war. (The rest of Arizona were Yanks.) A strange little moment in a strange history. We are all Southwesterners, now.

Part five: The End.

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Thinking makes you fat, srsly!

Posted on January 8, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Musings, Spirituality, Travel |

The mundanity of life is getting to me a bit these days. My last post was about my quest for the perfect pillow. Today finds me dealing with credit card weirdness. Life, in 2009, is somewhat strange so far.

A few weeks ago, I opened up a credit card statement from a card I only use for business expenses. There were five new charges on it, all from restaurants. One from Sizzler’s; two from T.G.I.Friday’s; one from Pizza Hut, and one from Jack in the Box. (Can one even USE credit cards at Jack in the Box?) Not only were these eateries in which I don’t eat, they were in another state, the one to my left, on the coast, where I haven’t been for nearly two years.

credit-cards

Not only were they in another state, but they were in and around San Diego, where I haven’t been since I was four. And, oddly enough, I did not have a credit card yet then.

So, I hippity-hopped over to my telephone to let the CC company know what I’ve just told you. Fine! They can help me! “It looks like there’s been some fraudulent activity on your card,” they said. “Has the said card been out of your custody at any time?”

“No, the card has been in the custody of my wallet.”

“Well, we’ll open up a fraud case; here’s the case number; we’ll issue a new card with a new number right away; please cease using your current card immediately.”

I did. But they didn’t. The incidents occurred over “holiday season” (Don’t get me started on holiday season! In addition to the joys of such, there are also 1) my favorite television programs are suspended during this time [yes, I am THAT shallow], 2) my favorite ACTIVITIES are suspended then as well [Choral rehearsals and Club meetings], and 3) my neighbors put many embarrassing objects in their front gardens. I know it gives them pleasure, and I ought to rejoice with them, and wish them Peace on Earth and such, which I do, really, but still!) so, apparently, the mailing of the new card was delayed.

Alright. I understand all this. After all, I’m a reasonable person, aren’t I? Some of you have known me a while, and you know that…um, wait a minute, never mind. So, I telephoned the nice credit card company “after the holidays”, and let them know I hadn’t received the new card, yet, and, by the way, I did receive a new bill from them now informing me, none too kindly, that the restaurant charges in San Diego were now OVERDUE and subject to LATE FEES. Um, what?

“Well, what about the FRAUD case?” I asked?

“We don’t have any record of a FRAUD case”, they replied. I rattled off the case number, and they (it may only be my paranoia speaking here) acted as if I had just MADE UP a random number in order to irritate them! Honestly! If I’d wanted to irritate them, I’d have found a more creative way than MAKING UP a RANDOM NUMBER!

Back to square one. They read me off an entirely different case number, which I had them repeat three times, and I wrote down in two places. They read off the total that I NOW OWED. So far, we were in agreement.

Fast forward to today. It’s been two weeks, and I have not yet received my new card, which was supposed to take three days. I telephoned the incredibly nice people at the efficient card company and gently let them know the facts as I understood them.

“The card is being mailed today,” they said. “We don’t know what happened to the last one, but we apologize”, they said. “Your new balance, which is due immediately, is $XXX.XX.”

But, that’s a difference of $113.92! I rang off, because this total didn’t ring a bell, and went through three months of statements. Aha! They didn’t include the T.G.I.Friday’s charges in the fraud case; the other ones apparently made it in.

tgifridays

By this time, I had a direct dial button to the amazingly friendly and helpful company. “See, here’s the thing”, I said. “In my case file you have included three restaurant charges, but left out the two for the one other restaurant. Would you please add them to my case?”

“Are you sure you didn’t eat at T.G.I.Friday’s on the dates in question?”

“I haven’t been in California in nearly two years, as I’ve told three incredibly nice people, now, and even if I had been, I would have eaten elsewhere. Not that I have anything particular against T.G.I.Friday’s, actually, but when traveling, I like to experience restaurants I don’t also have at home. But, in any event, no, I have not eaten in that restaurant, in San Diego, ever in my entire life.”

This was probably more story than they were looking for, but when I am trying to make a point, I can often get quite wordy, as you have noticed if you’ve actually read this far.

“No, we cannot add those restaurants to your case, but we can open up a NEW case! Here’s the number…”

So, these are my questions for you: 1) How, do you think, someone got my card number and expiration date, when the card “never left my custody” and I hadn’t even used it for three months? 2) If you had “appropriated” someone else’s credit card, and were going to whoop-it-up upon same, would you use it at Jack in the Box and Pizza Hut? Seriously? and 3) What does this all mean for my mental, emotional, and spiritual equilibrium? My belief is that every experience has a purpose, but this one baffles me.

So, I have this clutter on my credit card statement. I still have some clutter in my office. My blog friend Shane has helped me out with my computer clutter, and blog friend Joan with my home clutter, by scaring the heck out of me telling me that clutter makes me fat!!! I”m not actually, fat, as it happens, but I must be ever vigilant.

Unfortunately, though, this blog post apparently also will make me fat. Coincidentally (I don’t believe in “coincidences”, either), I came upon this article which tells me that THINKING makes me fat! Oh, no! Have I over-thought this situation? Or, is this post so completely ridiculous it doesn’t qualify as thinking? Only you can decide for sure…

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The saga of a Pillow

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: Health, Musings, Travel |

untitled Alright, I know this isn’t the most profound topic to write about, but, currently, my PILLOW is permeating every aspect of my life! If that sounds a bit dramatic, well, just listen to (or read) my story!

A few weeks ago, some friends returned home from a short trip. Along the way they stayed at a very nice hotel, whose name would be known to you. This couple expressed the opinion that they had just slept upon the most comfortable pillows they had every experienced in their lives! One of them liked the hotel pillows just a bit better than the other, but both were very enthusiastic.

I don’t know if you are like me, but my search for the perfect bed pillow has taken me to the ends of the earth a lot of stores. I’ve tried feather pillows, down pillows, foam pillows, and visco-elastic pillows. I’ve slept on plump pillows, firm pillows, soft pillows and pillows which are supposed to melt around my head!

I’ve never found that elusive item: The Perfect Pillow. There was always something which caused a sore neck, or a numb shoulder, or something.

So, when these good friends of mine, known for their taste as well as for valuing a high level of comfort, recited their pillow talk to me, I began to hope that perhaps, at last…

The friends had gone so far as to ask at the front desk of the hotel where they stayed. The desk clerk whipped out a card with a web address upon it. “You must get a lot of inquiries about your pillows!” they said. “We do, we do!” she enthusiastically replied.

My traveling friends graciously shared the web address with me. It led to a company which supplies pillows and bed linens to the finest hotels around the world. The particular pillow at the particular hotel was highlighted, but I didn’t just jump in and order. I looked at every kind of pillow they offered. I read the descriptions. I viewed the “customer feedback”. I determined, with some trepidation, that these were obviously quality products, still at a reasonable price.

I took a deep breath. I ordered two. They arrived on January 2nd. “New year, new pillows!” I exclaimed.

I surely hope the pillows are not representative of my entire year. Here is what I experienced:

Night #1: The order must be wrong! This pillow can’t possibly be the object of laud and praise my delusional dear friends had mentioned. “Shall I compare thee (you pillow, you) to a summer day?” I can, and here’s how: Had I gathered oak leaves and stuffed them into a pillow case I believe I’d have had a more comfortable rest than this. I was tired. I was cranky. (You don’t want to know me when I’m cranky; trust me on this.) Where was the support? What happened to the object which promised to “cradle me in comfort”? I wanted to be cradled in comfort, dangit!

Night #2: Human vs. Pillow. I’m not going to let this thing get the best of me. Plump; plump; plump. Fluff; fluff; fluff. Punch; punch; punch. Lay down; put head on pillow and wiggle until it feels just right. It felt, actually, kind of OK. Fell into a blissful sleep. Awoke feeling foolish…and puzzled.

Night #3: OK, I know how to handle this so-called PILLOW now. Plump; fluff; etc. Scrunch; wiggle; settle in. I’m not asleep yet! I’m probably thinking about work; I have a big project at the moment. I have to do laundry tomorrow. And vacuum the carpet. What about my poor, neglected blog? “See, I have a lot on my mind.” The next morning I described my flattened-out so-called PILLOW (it has a 5-year warranty, by the way) as feeling like several paper grocery sacks placed gently inside a pillow case. Ow. Uh-oh, cranky again! …I thought I kinda liked the pillow the night before. Am I going nuts? {Note to blog readers: please don’t answer that question. Or, if you do, don’t post your answer here. thankyouverymuch.}

Night #4: I’m really tired. I could probably fall asleep on a rock! In the morning: The pillow was just OK. I’m sort of starting to get over my emotional reaction to this whole pillow thing (except for being cranky, for which I reserve the right). I spent $XX.XX on these…PILLOWS; they MAY be “just OK” once I get used to them, but they do NOT cradle me in comfort, dangit! I’m sending them back.

pillow-wig

I finally worked up the nerve to consult the friends who’d recommended the burlap sacks wrapped around old socks pillows. Friendships, you know, are precarious things, and some have faded for less important reasons than pillow incompatibility.

Wife of couple: “I’m sure we got the wrong ones! These aren’t ANYTHING like what we experienced in the hotel!!!” Husband of couple: “The pillow is OK, I guess. I don’t really remember…”

I refrained from asking them how much they’d drunk at dinner the night they stayed at the hoity-toity hotel.

Tonight, I shall lay upon my good-old squishy foam pillow. It’s not ideal, but maybe the next one…

Goodnight from my cranky, sore-necky self. 😀

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