Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life on the line

New York Times Magazine writer Andrew Rice takes on "life on the line" between El Paso and Juarez. It's always interesting to read an outsider's attempt to figure out what makes these two cities tick. He says the two cities "lie together uncomfortably like an estranged couple." In effect he's taking a snapshot of a region still in transition because of the drug war. It's undeniable that things have changed in El Paso in the past few years. "Nearly everyone I met in El Paso — whether they spoke Spanish or English, were liberal or conservative, rich or poor — told me the same thing: no one outside really understood this crisis they were living through," Rice says.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Downtown library

So I ventured to the Downtown library during my lunch hour today. Pretty nice place. Walking in it has a cafe with coffee, muffins, sodas, etc., an auditorium and even a used book store.

As far as the book selection, the bestsellers collection had Keith Richards' autobiography, a find compared to what's at the local branch. I looked for Room and the latest Scarlett Thomas novel but neither was available, unfortunately. I did run across an Alice Munro book I've sought for awhile. They had a borderland books area and copies of newspapers on microfiche, not for the casual user but something to keep in mind if I ever want to do some research.

When I asked where the biographies section was, a woman directed me to the basement. "Do you know where the stairs to the basement are?" I said no so she directed me there.

It was a strange little room with low ceilings and old men reading at the tables. I browsed through the lives of people A to Z but nothing really stood out to me in the five minutes I had before I had to go back to work.

I didn't check out any books this time but I probably will on my next visit.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10 years

Wow, my friend Stu's blog turns 10 years old today! Here's an interview we worked on to commemorate the occasion.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

OMG, this is exciting! And for the record I loved "Hey Dude" when I was a kid.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

TIME to make a decision

I'm considering letting my subscription to TIME magazine expire. I still like the magazine, and I've subscribed since I was 12 (yeah, I was a weird kid) but I'm thinking about hanging it up.

Some thoughts:

- If I'm being honest I tend to only read one or two articles from every issue, if that. I will sometimes throw an entire issue unread into the recycling bin, just because I don't have time to read it.

- I get three other print magazines per month with my Maghound subscription. Maybe I should focus on reading more of those? As of now I do not have time to read everything. I could get rid of Maghound, but it seems like a better value than a subscription to just one magazine.

- Maybe there are better weekly magazines out there to try -- the New Yorker, the Economist, Newsweek? Sometimes I am underwhelmed by the contents of TIME. On the other hand, sometimes they have great analysis that I end up linking to on the blog.

- I don't like TIME columnist Joel Stein.

- Yes, I could get all their content online for free, but I ask myself, would I ever visit just to browse? The answer is probably not. I like the packaging the print magazine offers. I like that I can take it with me on my lunch break or read it before bed. I don't have an iPad and I don't think I'd like the Kindle edition since it's in black and white.

- If I didn't get TIME or another newsweekly, I would probably read even less national news than I do now (which is not much). Scary thought.

Anyone out there have any advice? I'd love to hear it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

First day back at work *sigh*

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Four days and three nights on Florida's Gulf Coast. My sister and I had been planning the trip since February. I'd never been to Florida for a vacation, though I've been to a few beaches in my life -- Caribbean beaches on a cruise, the beach at Santa Monica in California last year, another LA beach on a family trip to California when I was a kid.

But when we arrived, the vastness of the ocean (er, Gulf of Mexico) still startled me. I sat on my beach towel on the white sand and just stared for a long time at the constant rush of waves, the whitecaps, the sea birds, the occasional fish jumping out of the water.

Then I had to go up and touch the water. I got in ankle-deep at first. A wave would wash up. As it washed away I could feel the wet sand sliding away under my feet. I got closer and took a look at what the wave was bringing in: groups of small fish, sand, shells, sea weed. Thankfully no trash and no jellyfish.

Eventually I sat back on my towel and started building a sand castle, collecting sea shells, and getting even more tan.

Yes, the beach was as wonderful as I could imagine.

It was also absolutely wonderful to stay at a place where you could fall asleep listening to the waves. The B&B was amazing.

Not so wonderful was the weather -- a rain storm continued for most of the day Monday. The weather finally cleared up in late afternoon and my sister and I ventured down to the inn's beach.

I brought my O magazine and came across a poem appropriate for the occasion: "Exultation is the going / Of an inland soul to sea..."

Yes, something like that. Hard to come back home knowing such a beautiful place is out there. I brought back a few shells, some white sand that lingered in my shoes and about a million photos reminding me there is joy and awe and wonder on the beach.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Crankiness on my last day of vacation

Today is my last day of vacation. I had such grand plans for the day, but instead ended up staying home until 4 p.m. as my car had some work done on it. OK, so I guess it was better for me to take care of this now instead of on a Saturday after a long week of work, but somehow I envisioned my vacation being this constant stream of fun and self-discovery, going places and doing new things, not watching "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" on Netflix while waiting for the phone to ring.

Another thing - why does life have to be so expensive? $160 to have the transmission oil changed. I think I got ripped off. $10 to get the appropriate aquarium light bulb in hopes that another fish doesn't go belly up because of the wrong light. $27 to get photos printed. And a $20 Target gift card for my friend's birthday. I was going to buy a cover for the Kindle, but decided against it because the cheapest one was $30. Wow. OK, so I did end up splurging on a $4 candy bar today. I could do better as far as conserving money.

Anyway, I guess the lesson this week was life's annoyances don't end just because you are on vacation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One of my fish passed on tonight. Wondering if the new fluorescent light bulb I installed in the tank had something to do with it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Kindle

The Kindle was a happy surprise birthday present from my sister this year. I would most likely not have ever bought one for myself. When it comes to gadgets I ask myself, do I really *need* x - an iPod Touch, a Nintendo DS, a new phone, a new desktop PC? Usually, the answer is no. On the other hand, "need" can be a relative term, since when you actually own the gadget, you wonder how you ever lived without it. No, I don't *need* a Kindle but it sure is cool.

Some notes on the Kindle, starting with the pros:

- It is more compact than I thought it would be. It's smaller and thinner than a standard-size paperback and very lightweight. I even took the Kindle to work by tucking it into a compartment in my purse. The Kindle is made to travel.

- Reading on the Kindle is different from reading on a computer screen or on my iPod. It feels eerily close to reading a book on paper, as in there is no glare on the screen and my eyes don't feel tired after reading it for over an hour. The "electronic ink" is genius.

- Battery power is great. I went a whole week without recharging it and probably could have gone longer.

- There's a huge selection of Kindle books on Amazon, delivered in less than a second to your Kindle with one-touch purchase. The Kindle is going to get me to buy more books, but I can't say that's a bad thing...

- Interesting that it shows you sections of books that other users have highlighted. It also prompts you to review the book once you've finished. Reading a book, usually a private experience, becomes more interactive (but not annoyingly so).

And some cons:

- The menu display is clunky compared with a touch screen. It relies on up or down buttons to select things. I think the designers (correctly) assumed most people would spend more time reading the e-book than going through the controls. This is probably the Kindle's biggest drawback, though for a person like me who's just using the device to read for fun, it's not a fatal flaw.

- The screen doesn't light up in the dark. This would be a nice feature since I like to read before bed.

- I don't really mind the lack of color, though it would be nice to see the book's cover in color.

- The Kindle vs. Nook, aka my e-reader is better than yours, thing annoys me. Wish I could buy Kindle books at Barnes & Noble.

It's kind of sad to think that e-readers mean the end of bookshelves full of books, bookmarks and loaning books to friends. On the other hand, now that I've actually tried the Kindle I don't think e-readers take much away from the old experience of reading a book. I'm impressed that the Kindle feels more like a book than a machine.

Back from the beach

Saturday, July 02, 2011

An off week

So...this was an "off" week for me. First of all, I had a cold. I probably should have stayed home from work altogether Monday. Work becomes even more of a struggle when you're sick. I exhausted the box of tissues on my desk. I also erupted into coughing fits around my coworkers. Yuck.

I ended up being so sick and tired I didn't go out outside of work at all. I missed my softball game Sunday (as previously mentioned), missed church, missed seeing my dad, missed church home group. And the boyfriend was out of town.

I ended up doing a lot of reading. Followed by moping and thinking, I am the loneliest person in the world, and other self-destructive thoughts. It was sort of nice to have time for self-reflection but I do think problems can get bigger in your head when you're alone.

Anyway, the good news is the cold has passed now, and hopefully I won't have to be the "loneliest person in the world" again this next week.