Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trip Report: Seattle Mini-Adventure

Greetings, earthlings!

I am now returned and mostly recovered from my whirlwind trip to Seattle, which involved dropping off the pooch at my dad's place after work Thursday, meeting up with a colleague, and then sitting in traffic for 20 minutes waiting to get onto the freeway headed north. Once we got going, the trip was relatively quick (made it there in about 2 hours, 40 mins) and painless. When we arrived in Seattle, there were a few confusing moments involving the cutting across several lanes of (no) traffic and almost turning the wrong way down a one-way street but on the whole I think I managed to get us to Seattle and our hotel without completely freaking out my colleague. She didn't seem to have any concerns about returning to Portland with me, so I must not have terrified her too badly. (And yes, dad, I maintained the proper distance between my car and the car in front of me THE WHOLE WAY. All that nagging in Boston? Totally worked... :)

ANYWAY. We arrived at Hotel Max around 8:30, checked into our rooms and then headed to The Red Fin for dinner. This restaurant is a sushi restaurant and while I wanted some sushi I didn't particularly want to spend a ton of money and still end up hungry, so I went with medallions of beef with fingerling potatoes. It was pretty good but, unfortunately, a bit over-salted. Upon returning to my room after dinner, I opened a ($5!) bag of gummy bears and a ($4!) bottle of water and logged onto the Internet to get a few things done that I hadn't had time to do before heading north.

Our trip north was for the David Allen seminar, "Getting Things Done: Managing Workflow," which was being held at the W Hotel. In addition to my colleague from Portland, two folks from my company's Seattle office met us at the seminar and we all had a really good time. Despite having implemented and used David Allen's system since late January, this seminar was really great for me from a number of perspectives. My system was pretty good, I thought, but after learning about why David Allen recommends certain approaches and how to use them I was able to implement a few new ideas to really support the work I've been doing thus far.

For instance, I hadn't really been using a portable "in box" or capture mechanism for when I'm away from home or my office, which meant that when I would think of something I'd just pull out my little Pocket Moleskine and jot down the item onto whichever list seemed to make the most sense. After attending the class, though, I added a couple of notecards to my system to catch random thoughts/ideas. Now, when I get home or I'm ready to do a review, I can process the ideas and really figure out what I want to do about them, if anything. Obviously, for items like "get celery" I can just add them to my grocery list, but for bigger ideas I think this will work better for me. I was also finally able to see the value in creating project and "next action" support folders: they give me one place to capture and manage everything so I don't have to hunt around when I want to take an action.

However, the main piece of the seminar that I found most helpful was the illustration of how to get to the root of each of your projects, how to define what you'd like the outcome to look like and to determine the very next action. When I first read the book I think I glossed over this part, thinking, "Oh, I know how to do that!" The truth is, it's a key to making the system work and it seems to take some real practice and thought to get to the very next physical action to take to move a project forward. Obviously, I'm still not great at it yet but I do have a vision for what I'd like my weekly reviews to look like, so that's an improvement!

Continue reading "Trip Report: Seattle Mini-Adventure" »

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tysabri Infusion #3

So, um... HI! Your friendly (though woefully inadequate) neighborhood non-astrophysicist under-achiever here!

The pity party is over. Obviously.

Now I am home and reveling in the fact that I've made it through my third Tysabri infusion and I'm feeling... tired. Yeah. So no change. But on the upside, I had no rash, no hives, nothing remarkable. Yay! I also got to see a couple of my favorite nurses at the outpatient infusion clinic and the IV insertion was painless and left zero bruise. Would that that were the case every month. As someone who's had her fair share of IVs now, I can say my favorite nurses are the ones that a) can insert an IV and/or draw blood while I feel absolutely nothing, b) said IV does not leave a bruise or mark of any kind after the IV is removed, c) offer me a pillow and nice warm blankets and d) bring me Diet Sierra Mist and a sandwich.

I mean, if you have to be stuck with needles and sit there for two hours and watch some poor old woman get her blood transfusions, the least they can do is offer you a sandwich. Right?

Continue reading "Tysabri Infusion #3" »

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Why it's never good to hunt down too many people on Facebook

So I got a bee in my bonnet the other day (or a burr up my butt? :) and started poking around and adding random people I used to know to my friends list on Facebook. People I remembered from high school but felt sure they would never, in a million years, remember me. Well, low and behold, several of them added me recently! Hooray!

But then, of course, I went poking around and.. my GOD, people. Some of these people are professors at big prestigious universities and/or living abroad and/or doing BIG THINGS. One gal from my high school class is, I kid you not, an astrophysicist living in Australia.

Shoot. I can hardly spell the word.

Continue reading "Why it's never good to hunt down too many people on Facebook" »

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Duh! Epiphany

I had a sort of epiphany this weekend. It was this: that beyond taking the best care of myself I can and doing what my doctors suggest (within reason), I have zero power or control over my health issues. As I noted with the title above this revelation involved both a feeling of relief as well as a Homer Simpson sort of Doh!, smacking your forehead sort of feeling, because, um... DUH - I'm really not in control here. Of my body's inner workings or the world or the universe or anything else.

Subconsciously I knew this, I think, but consciously I blatently ignored it by putting on a brave face and just muscling through whatever was going on at the time. I'm not entirely sure from where this tendency stems but I think one of the biggest factors is with a complete lack of acceptance of my limitations. We talk about acceptance a lot in the twelve-step program I attend: acceptance of others' behaviors, situations in the universe and everything else that is beyond our control. And one key thing I try to remember, always, is that accepting something doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to like whatever it is I'm accepting. I just have to make peace with the fact that something is the way it is, and learn how to live with it as it is, to the best of my ability.

Continue reading "The Duh! Epiphany" »

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Self-Care Day

So it's been a lovely, relaxing sort of day. I slept late - until 9:30 a.m., which doesn't seem all that particularly late in the grand scheme of things. It seems like it was just a few years ago that I had zero trouble sleeping until noon, but now I can't seem to sleep past 10 a.m. without needing to get up, scurry around, drink a cup or five of coffee and DO something. Might be an aging thing, though I suspect the caffeine withdrawals might play into the equation somewhere.

Anyway, so I got up this morning with only one thing I really wanted to do today: pamper myself. I did do some grocery shopping - because despite having a variety of food I could eat, there was really nothing I wanted to eat. When I got home I put together a Crockpot full of chili and after a couple hours of napping I set about the personal care ritual and I now have a pretty French pedicure, fresh, clean skin and soft shaven legs. Also, I have a freezer full of vegetable chili and most of a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce for which I need to find a recipe.

In general, it has been a good weekend: Friday afternoon I spent with my mom's family celebrating Independence Day and my mom's birthday. Yesterday was low-key and (mostly) spent around the house. Nothing terribly exciting but also not a bad way to spend a weekend. I feel refreshed and ready to head back to work!!

And now I'm off to bed because tomorrow I'm going to attempt to get back on the daily exercise wagon, but if anyone has any ideas what I can make with those chipotle chilis (besides making another batch of chili) I'm all ears.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Burning Updates

So I've finally gotten around to one of the things on my "To Do" list that has been there for approximately forty bazillion years: I looked into Feedburner.

What is Feedburner? Well, it's basically a way to trick out your RSS feed and make it more useful. :) I originally wanted to use it to stick some ads in my RSS feed, but they are currently not accepting new applications (as I found out after 45 minutes of digging around their entire site.) I'm a bit annoyed to discover this but, ultimately, it's okay for the moment. My whole goal when I put ads on my site was to cover the costs of hosting my own blog. Since I was trying to reduce expenses and bring in more cash, I just couldn't justify the cost of hosting my own blog, so the ads I've got up now cover my blogging costs every month and assuage any guilt I might feel over the (small) amount I spend to host it.

So what does this switch to Feedburner mean for you, gentle reader? Well, a couple things:

First, and most importantly, if you subscribe to my RSS feed: you will most likely not need to do anything. After digging through Feedburner's (rather pathetic, actually) help section, pulling out several fistfuls of hair and then creating an indefinite loop of redirects (which rendered my blog's homepage inaccessible for a short time) I was able to set up the re-directs to the new feed. This means that the majority of you won't need to do anything: the feed you're currently using should be fine.

For those of you whose feedreaders don't seem to be picking up any updates, you'll need to update your RSS links and resubscribe to the blog. The new link is over there on the side bar under "subscribe," or you can click here. My apologies in advance to those of you that this is affecting: definitely not my intent but hopefully this will only need to happen once. (It's looking like this might be the case with Bloglines.) On the upside, resubscribing shouldn't take more than a minute!

And, for those of you not interested in RSS, my "switch" to FeedBurner has also allowed me to offer email subscriptions to my blog's content. That link is also on the sidebar under "subscribe!" or you can click here if you don't feel like scrolling all the way down. :) It, too, is a super-quick and painless process.

Continue reading "Burning Updates" »

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Medical Appointment Day!

Today I had several appointments and to avoid having to scramble around and drive back and forth between my apartment and the doctors' offices, I just took the day off work.

First was a visit to The Good Doctor (my neurologist, for those of you who are just joining us), who - despite having a fairly open calendar - kept me waiting for more than 30 minutes. I make it a point, when I can, to schedule my visits with him first thing in the morning and he still cannot seem to call me in on time. I don't get it.

So, (lack of) punctuality aside, it was a decent appointment. My neurological exam produced nothing to cause anyone any concern and my response to the Tysabri has been good. So, he gave me orders for my annual MRI (oh goody!), a new prescription for my sleeping pill of choice (hooray Sonata!) and sent me on my way with an appointment to see him in three months.

Continue reading "Medical Appointment Day!" »

Friday, June 27, 2008

Borrower is Slave to the Lender

PaidTwice has a great post up today detailing the emotional aspect of her financial journey, which really resonated with my experience of climbing out of my own debt black hole. She writes that she now feels like she has many more options in her life and she can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm in a similar place now, where my monthly expenses and debt repayment don't consume every last penny of each paycheck I earn.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned I'd decided to try out the budgeting software from YNAB.com. I'd been using Dave Ramsey's online budget planning software and while I liked it and it worked well for me, I really wanted something I could install directly on my machine and, more importantly, only pay for once rather than monthly or yearly. I also really wanted to be able to more easily compare budgets from month to month and quickly switch between each month's plan: YNAB's software does that. It's also made it SUPER easy for me to track my spending and see where my money is actually going. I had a good idea of this before, but now I have concrete numbers.

Continue reading "Borrower is Slave to the Lender" »

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Getting Things Done...Sort of

So I think I've mentioned David Allen's "Getting Things Done" book and approach to "stress free productivity" a few times in the past, but now that I've read all but 48 pages of the book I thought I'd elaborate just a bit.

There is a ton of info out there on the web, since this "knowledge management" approach appears to be very popular these days. If you're at all interested, you can check out David Allen's website: DavidCo.com, but I found that reading the book provided the clearest guidance to me for how to get started and for the concepts themselves.

At its base level, Allen suggests that by having a system for remembering everything in your life, you'll be freer to be creative, spontaneous and productive. I'm heavily paraphrasing, and that explanation sounds sort of corny, but the point is that when you know you're in control you don't have to worry so much. And that translates to having more energy and freedom to do creative things. (And yes, I purposely avoided that tired phrase, "to think outside the box." :)

Continue reading "I'm Getting Things Done...Sort of" »

Monday, June 23, 2008

That Sun, She's a Bitch...

Last Friday, my team had an all-day, off-site meeting at McMenamin's Edgefield, a large estate east of Portland (in Troutdale) that is home to a variety of different sources of entertainment: a hotel, a spa and soaking pool, a number of hotel-like places to sleep, a couple of restaurants... I could go on. It is a lovely place and on Friday the sun shone brightly and it was warm and beautiful out. We spent most of the day indoors, but there were a couple of outdoor activities that had us traipsing through the grounds looking for various items.

This was fun, yes, but it went on for about 90 minutes and by the time we all got back to the room in which we were having our meeting, we were all hot and sweaty and many of us had allergy-eyes (and noses and throats) due to the pollen and grasses and whatnot on the grounds of the estate.

After our "formal" event ended, several of us sat outside eating and drinking and enjoying the weather.

Continue reading "That Sun, She's a Bitch..." »


"I could have me a million more friends, and all I'd have to lose is my point of view."

~John Prine

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