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Random thoughts

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Voice of Anguish

I was just browsing the videos of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and was moved to tears at the destruction and loss in the area. I can't even begin to fathom the frustration and anguish that these people are feeling right now - they've lost their homes, all their belongings, and some have lost their loved ones. Particularly heart-wrenching is the following quote (taken from the ABC website):

I held her hand as tight as I could. She told me, "You can't hold me." She told me to take care of the kids and the grandkids.

-Harvey Jackson of Biloxi, Miss., whose wife slipped into floodwaters as their house split in two


I actually watched the video of this guy being interviewed and there really is no way to put into words the emotions that it evoked. Suffice to say that the announcer who introduced the interviewer, and the actual interviewer, was close to tears as this guy talked. I totally lost it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Weekend Recap - Food, Food and More Food

Just for this weekend, I may have to go on a fast for awhile. It seemed like everywhere we went the past couple of days, all we did was eat. Not hungry? Here's more food! Ugh.

Marc and I had planned on catching Breakfast at Tiffany's with my dad at the Aero Theatre on Montana, but when Vincent announced that he had no plans that night, the night of his birthday, we had to cancel the movie and head to Burbank to join in an impromptu birthday dinner.

Vinnie's really picky about the food he eats so we let him pick the restaurant. We ended up in Bennigan's, an Irish restaurant that would probably be closest to a TGIF's. The food was alright, but the dessert was yummy! Tita Jeannette and I actually planned our main course around the desserts we wanted to try. So there went my "avoid refined sugar" rule.

On Saturday I went with my family to a distant aunt's house for a mini-reunion. We were getting together because she was moving back to the Philippines for good, and my grandmother, aunt and uncle wanted to bid her goodbye. Of course when we got there, the first thing they did was to hand plates around and herd us to the buffet table. There was a huge assortment of Filipino food, and since our neighborhood doesn't have a Filipino restaurant, I just had to have everything, no matter how unhealthy.

At one point, one of the uncles started looking for ice cream and, upon finding none, announced that it wasn't a party without some. So Vinnie, Dean and I went with him to pick out the flavors we wanted. Poor me, there was no cookie dough ice cream. But Vinnie got his Jamoca, and our uncle got his butter pecan. I had a scoop of each of course. :P

I felt sluggish the next day so after mass, I went to the climbing gym to boulder and do some cardio. Of course once I got on the wall, I got totally into the problems I was working on so I only had time for a ten-minute session on the stationary bike.

And then what? Well, a potluck at Charlie's, of course! Marc and I brought adobo, a popular Filipino dish, and some wine and juice. Julie cooked up a storm with Mexican rice, beans, two kinds of chicken and some vegetables. Meg brought the dessert, a homemade blueberry torte that I had to restrain myself from sampling before everyone else.

I was in total food coma by the time we finished dinner and moved to the living room; it seemed like all the meals I had this weekend took their toll on me then, and I lay on the couch beside Marc, not able to move. I remember Julie asking if anyone wanted tea and I did, but I was too lazy to move my lips. Mental telepathy didn't work so I just went back to limbo.

So this week I'll try to be good. That is, if there are no potlucks, parties or buffets to go to!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Horror Story from the Climbing Gym

So last night, I was innocently wrapping up my climbing session by doing a couple of top-rope climbs with my friend Mike. He's a kooky guy, and there's a lot to be said about the way people at the gym see him, but he hasn't done anything wrong to me so I've always tried to be nice.

At least he hadn't done anything wrong to me.

Mike is stocky, and normally when belaying him I would clip in to make sure I don't get pulled off the ground too much. But I've been practicing belaying without an anchor and I've done pretty well with Marc, so I never even thought of anchoring myself in this time.

I suppose I put him in a playful mood because he was going to try a 5.7 climb, and I was incredulous.

Me: Get off that climb.
Mike: Why? I want to do a 5.7!
Me: You can boulder V5s and V6s, what the hell are you doing on a 5.7? Get off that climb or I'm not belaying you.
Mike: But....
Me (pointing): There's a 5.10a, try that one.
Mike: .......
Me: Let's go, come on.

So Mike scampered up the 5.10a and reached the top. I pulled down hard on the rope to almost a sitting position and started lowering him slowly. His weight started bringing me up a bit and I was struggling to let him down faster so that I would stay on the ground.

Mike saw my disadvantage though and hatched a weirdly dangerous idea that could have potentially gotten us kicked out of the climbing gym. He grabbed my end of the rope, and started pulling it up more, causing me to be lifted up. Then he put all his weight on his own end of the rope so there I went, higher and higher, too stunned to believe someone could actually think this was fun.

I was 3/4 up the wall before I stopped. Mike had both feet on the ground, casually grinning up at me.

Me: What the hell did you do?

I started rappelling down but got a little freaked out so I climbed down instead. Mike in the meantime thought it would be such a clever idea to call out to Tad, one of the route setters in the gym.

Mike (gleefully): Tad! Look!
Me: Mike!
Tad: Cathy! What the hell are you doing?
Me: Mike did it!
Tad (and of course he was shouting this): You could get kicked out of the gym for that!

I finally got down safely, turned to Mike and said, "Don't you ever, ever do that again!"

And of course he just laughed. I'll get you next time, Mike!

Lay Low

Sometimes I get the feeling that I might be pushing too much to spend time with the people that I want to hang out with. Lately I've been getting a little tired though - it's once again that feeling that instead of me working hard at something, I want to be sought out. I mean, we have loads of fun when we hang out of course, but I'm tired of being the initiator, which is the case most of the time. It's hard to stay motivated when in the back of your mind you're wondering if the other person/people would rather be doing something else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Progress

So things are coming along pretty nicely now with respect to things I have planned for myself. I am about to go on to the next thing, God-willing, and then I can plan the rest of the things I've been talking about for so long. Val will be proud!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Maybe Evian is from Charlemont

Just recently, I've also decided that the water I like the best is Evian water. I bought a huge bottle today at Whole Foods (see earlier post - Harrison Ford, woohoo!) and now that I've opened it and drunk a little bit, I realize that it tastes exactly like the water in Charlemont. Marc's parents have some sort of deep-well water system that gives them fresh mountain water that you could actually drink from the tap.

Anyway, it says "Natural Spring Water from the French Alps" on the label, and Marc's dad is French. Gasp! Maybe that's the connection! Haha!

To Go or Not To Go (And Another Star Sighting)

I swung by Whole Foods while I was out running errands and was in the express checkout line when I overheard the conversation between the cashier and the person ahead of me. It seems that there's a little bit of technicality that Whole Foods is using, and I won't be surprised if a lot of people actually don't know about this.

The cashier asked the woman, "Is this for here or to go?" and the woman replied, "Whatever you don't charge tax for."

My head immediately swiveled around to listen more closely. I guess if you say "to go", you'd be buying the food just as groceries and therefore won't be subject to sales tax, but if you were to say, "for here", then it would be just like ordering at a restaurant, and although the tables outside of the Whole Foods I was at was hardly what you would call restaurant-worthy, they would charge you the sales tax.

When it was my turn, he scanned my purchases - a bottle of water and a tub of fresh cut mixed melons, my afternoon snack - and then asked, "For here or to go?" I looked at him in surprise, half-waiting for him to bust out laughing at his witty joke, but he didn't. I'd thought it was obvious what I was going to say!

"To go, biaaatch!"

Luckily, I was able to stop myself and meekly say, "To go."

So lesson for the day: Always 'to go' at Whole Foods.

As I was mulling over this in my mind on my way out, wondering if I should be indignant as a customer, this extremely familiar face whizzed by me and I looked back in time to see: Harrison Ford! Woohoo! Hoop earring and all - what a hip-looking old geezer! :P

Monday, August 22, 2005

Miss Crankypants

I don't think I was very nice today. I was completely out of it, not reacting positively to the friendly banter my grandmother usually dishes out. Barely acknowledged the people that I usually go out of my way to bid goodbye or say hello to. What is it with this day? I just wasn't feeling very social.

It could be because I spent most of the day by myself, working on a few things for John, and doing a few of my own projects. I don't think I opened my mouth to talk the whole afternoon I was at work. I was singing though (good thing I was alone), haha! Normally on slow days like today, I swing by 16th Street to see Marc but somehow today I didn't even try. I might be dropping by too much there anyway, and Jim the architect might get on my case about that.

I can't seem to get a moment alone though to ride out this funky mood I'm in.

Hmmm.

I think it's time for bed.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

#$%^&*$#$%^

I spent the last couple of hours following the install instructions for a piece of software I need to study. Everything was going so well - I followed all the steps and got the right responses from the server. But when I pulled up my browser to view the fruits of my labor, I got this friggin' Forbidden 403 error. DAMN!

Back To School

With this new project looming ahead of me (hopefully the contract comes through), I have to read up on so many different technologies and upgrades that have sprouted while I was out of the IT world. It's actually fun - browsing for books at the bookstore, researching online, and trying out new software. I wish it was always this exciting when I'm in the middle of projects. But this is one company that I want to take care of because it could prove to be a long-term thing, which will be good. I can't screw around anymore, I'm going to have to make this work.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Waterfall Series: #1

Lately I've become more and more intrigued by canyoneering and going to visit the different waterfalls in California. I haven't had a chance to yet, but I did do some research. I figure I should start simply, so this is my first goal: Paradise Falls in the Thousand Oaks vicinity. They say the best time to go is between December to May so it'll be awhile before I get to do this. But here it is, my first goal. Of course if an opportunity comes up to go to some other waterfall, I'm going for it. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Digging Up Suits

I have a formal meeting tomorrow, and my boss reminded me of the dress code: business clothes. It's been so long since I've worn even something as casual as slacks to work; I worked at home for awhile so I spent a good part of the morning programming in my pajamas. At this current job, I'm on the go most of the time, or if not, I'm organizing things at the office, so I have to be in jeans all the time.

During the drive home today, I was actually worried if I still even owned a suit. I remembered spring cleaning last year when I got rid of a lot of my business clothes because I didn't think I'd have much use for them. But lo and behold, I did manage to keep some good ones.

Something about wearing a suit makes me feel all grown up and responsible. Never mind if I really am, haha. I realize how I've missed 'dressing up' like this and I'm actually excited, even though the actual meeting is starting to become a source of stress for me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Moving Away

Everyone's moving away. Or planning to. Or thinking of it. I have friends who have also packed up and decided to travel for a few months, whether for work or for pleasure. It's sad.

But it makes me think as well. Maybe I need a change as well. Who decided that I have to stay in California anyway? But of course there are a lot of things tying me down here - family, work and most crucial of all, my visa.

But if I had a choice....

I mean, all I've really known is California. Sure, I've been to other places, but only as a tourist. Who's to say that I should restrict myself to this place? There's so many beautiful and interesting places to be in, so many more interesting people. I guess this is me getting bored again. But it may be a good thing as well because I won't be limiting my search for better opportunities to one place.

Poem

For some reason, this poem is stuck in my head (don't remember who wrote it):
I think I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed unless the billboard falls
I shall never see a tree at all.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Family Visit

My dad is coming into town tonight and I'm really excited. We always have lots of fun because he loves to do things with me - ride our bikes along the beach, go to the Promenade, and I've also actually contracted him to go climbing with me at the gym. I don't get as allergic when he comes because I know I can still do my routine without feeling guilty that someone is waiting at home to spend time with me. I can do both with him. My only problem is gathering enough passes to get him in the gym that often! A full month's worth, yikes!

Anyway, one of the primary reasons for his visit, aside from coming to see me, is to help out at home to fix up the place so we can put it up for sale. Sigh. Yes, it's true, we're going to have to sell the place. I'm so sad because I'm so in love with the condo and the location we're in. I feel like I'm still in denial, but at the same time I've been desperately looking for a place for us to move to that's still in the West LA/Santa Monica area. I never want to leave this place, and I really would rather not move to another area. I'm crossing my fingers that we find something here soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Trip Photos

So I finally got around to fixing the photos last night (went to bed past midnight). Here are a few of my favorite ones:


Marc, me, Tim and Beth


The bustling summer nightlife at Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard


Me in Harvard Square in Boston


Marc and me at Harvard Square


Marc and me going tubing in the lake in Charlemont


Whitingham Lake in Vermont

Long Day

As logic and work ethics state, after a long vacation comes a period of working long hours to catch up on work. Today seems like a particularly taxing day, as I spent the whole day running around, getting things arranged in the new office. Plus, having two people I report to in the same office has taken its toll too. It's good to have more responsibilities but it adds to the stress too. A vicious cycle that in a way I'm glad I'm in. Better than being unemployed!

Alright, now something else has come up. Breaking news.... the old business venture is posing another opportunity again, and I'm being offered to get involved again. The only problem? Time. I feel like I'm going to be stretching myself too thin. I always hold my time outside of work holy. We're not all so lucky to have 'lifestyle built in' to our work lives, as Marc puts it. If I could make a good living while still being able to do all the things I enjoy doing outside of work, I would be the happiest. Unfortunately that seems to be just a dream.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Firsts

Here are the "firsts" I had in Massachusetts (yes, I'm still living in the past, and I will continue to live in the past until I'm able to post my pictures):

1. Tubing down a river. We donned our swimsuits and boardshorts, put our butts in some inner tubes and floated down the river in Charlemont. There were a lot of rocks in the river so we had little sections of mini-rapids that were a scream to experience. The second time we went though, I went on this particularly big rock and my tube toppled over, leaving me gasping and in shock with no tube to hang on to. I screamed bloody hell for Marc and got hysterical because I couldn't keep a good foothold on anything. Little did I know that I was just supposed to float down on my butt until I got to calmer waters. Well, duh.

2. Riding a speedboat. What a rush! We were only going about 20-25mph most of the time, but the wind in our hair and faces made it seem a lot faster, and infinitely more fun. Then when we reached some shallow waters, Tim decided to amp it up a bit, and we got to about 40mph. Woohoo! I think I would like a speedboat sometime in the future.

3. Staying with 'the parents'. It really isn't so bad. I was a little apprehensive at first but they were such sweet people that I was able to relax soon afterwards.

4. Flying Southwest. It's like being on a bus, doing stops to let people off and take other people in. And the seating was on a first-come, first-served basis, which was okay when I was going to Hartford because I was by myself but coming back with Marc was a hassle because we couldn't find seats together. I thought we left our "save seats" habits in high school, but apparently people still do that. I suppose I would too so I shouldn't complain so much, but if it's a bigger group and they have seven seats saved, that seems a bit too much.

5. Taking a trip with a significant other. It could go both ways, I'm told. Either you drive each other crazy or you have a blast, and I'm glad the latter happened.

6. Visiting Martha's Vineyard. Beautiful island. I don't know about living in a island, but I know that it would be great to visit it more often.

7. Pumping gas before paying for it. There's no way that happens in California. The wonders of a small town!

8. Visiting an Ivy League university area. I felt like my brain cells multiplying just being in Harvard Square in Boston. I think I really would like to get back to school.

9. Waving at people I don't know. Marc's parents kept waving to people they didn't know - a charming habit people there have gotten used to. After a few days, I started doing the same thing too! Fortunately the habit hasn't kicked in here in California because people might think I'm going crazy.

10. Going to Vermont. It wasn't much different from Massachusetts but at least I've ticked that state off my list of places to visit. We went to Whitingham Lake(?River?), took some pictures and waded in for a little bit. I regretted not going there to actually swim, but I guess with the time I had allotted for the trip, there wasn't too much I could do. I'll keep it in mind for the next visit though.

Friday, August 05, 2005

East Coast Fever

Hello, I'm back from the East Coast! I wasn't able to write anything while I was there since I was so busy having fun. If I didn't have responsibilities to get back to here in California, I would probably have stayed a little bit longer. I think my withdrawal symptoms started the second I stepped foot on the plane that was going to take me back to Los Angeles. My mental heels were digging in, refusing to get into the airplane cabin.

No pictures to post yet, I have yet to stop staring at them in my camera, and unload and resize them. Most of them are shots of the area though - not too many with people in them. I was just mesmerized by how green everything was so my fingers were on autoshoot.

Insights from this trip:
1. California may not be the only place to be for me. I may just try other opportunities in other places.
2. I think I will start seriously preparing to take my MBA.

I've adjusted to West Coast time already, but my mind is still wandering the green fields of Massachusetts. There was a lot that I wasn't able to do so I'm craving the time that I do get to spend more time there.