Archive for September, 2007

The vacation that keeps on giving

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting in the last week. I didn’t want to make it too obvious when exactly we were going to be gone, but Karsten and I were in Paris for our 10th anniversary and in Amsterdam for his birthday.

We were scheduled to leave last Friday and arrive Saturday morning, but as it happened, we encountered a major traffic jam en route to the airport and missed our flight. About 30 or 40 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave, while we were still only a few blocks from home, I knew we weren’t going to make it and called Expedia. The next few hours were a grueling exercise in trying to coax compassion out of apathetic customer support specialists. The ones at Expedia tried to pass me off to Air France, and the ones at Air France tried to pass me off to Expedia. Because we’d missed our flight, there was a sense that we would not be able to rebook it, but because we’d been on the phone with both Expedia and Air France prior to the flight’s departure (thanks to the aforementioned apathy and pass-the-buck-ism of each support department), there was a sense that we might be able to be reclassified and get on the next flight out. But it took losing my temper with a supervisor at Expedia and breaking down into sobs while exclaiming how important this trip was to me and my husband before that guy finally took pity on us and helped us change our itinerary. Cancelling the trip was an option, but without having, say, a medical emergency as an excuse, we would have lost most of the money we’d already paid for the trip due to the late notice of the cancellation. So we paid through the nose for new tickets, left Saturday mid-day and arrived in Paris on Sunday morning, one day later than planned and a lot poorer. But — I kept thinking — at least we weren’t in the accident that caused the traffic jam in the first place. There’s always perspective in that.
Anyway, you might say the trip was off to a bit of a rough start. And it was costing us more money than planned, so it had a lot to live up to.

Overall, it was truly wonderful — it really was — but parts of it were also really hard. Travel can be so exhausting, you know? And between jet lag and noisy hotel rooms (our room in Amsterdam overlooked a busy alley right near Centraal Station, so it was pretty much bustling all night), neither of us slept well most of the time.

Breakfast at cafe facing our hotel (with striped awning)And everything was SO expensive! I couldn’t get over how much meals were costing us. We weren’t being decadent but we also didn’t want to be overly frugal. Still, a modest sit-down dinner with an appetizer, a main course each, and a glass of wine each (which was almost always cheaper than soda, for perspective) ran us €45 — or about $65! — more than once. Usually, though, we were cautious about eating very little, and my loose-fitting clothes attest to that. Well, they attest to that and all the walking we did.

But we found so much to love about Paris, even when a waiter rudely refused to serve us, and even when our hotel front desk staff wasn’t technically proficient enough to help us with printing out the vouchers for our Metro and museum passes, bless their French hearts. And we both loved Amsterdam, even with all the ignorant, boorish Americans hooting and whooping it up, and even when a pickpocket almost got me but was thwarted by a random bike near-collision that made me turn my head in time to see the would-be thief sneaking up behind me.

Palais du Luxembourg and the Jardin du LuxembourgParis was big and loud and busy and dirty by day, but in spite of all that, still way more charming than, say, New York, and by night it was seductive and sly. We walked EVERYwhere, and even though we walk a lot here, my feet are still recovering. It was intense. We had no agenda; we just wandered where we felt like wandering and asked each other often what we wanted to do next. The afternoon we spent in the Jardins du Luxembourg was one of the most relaxing times I’ve ever spent. I sat on a bench with my Moleskine notebook and wrote poetry and random observations while occasionally looking up to enjoy the manicured gardens and fountain pools, and Karsten wandered the grounds watching people and studying the artwork.

Paris Apple Expo 2007My Mac-loving friends will appreciate that we found out about an Apple Expo going on last week in Paris, and we decided to stop in for a quick visit on Tuesday. I needed a travel adapter for my laptop’s power cord anyway, and that seemed like as good a place as any to pick one up. It was kind of a boring expo, though, so I don’t have much else to report about that. But I went to an Apple Expo in Paris! I think that earns me some serious Mac geek credentials.

Like I said earlier, though, there were parts that were really hard. Partly, I’m sure, because we were so exhausted and overwhelmed, Wednesday evening — our anniversary — turned sour unexpectedly and we fought bitterly. We so rarely fight that it’s always extremely hard on us when we do, but then to fight in the context of this much-anticipated vacation on this much-anticipated anniversary milestone was a big hurt and a big disappointment to us both, I’m sure. And all that anticipation was no doubt a culprit in feeding our hopes and expectations for how the trip would turn out — and I’ll be completely honest: mine especially. But eventually we found some resolution, got a little sleep, and like the grown-ups we strive to be, got on the train to Amsterdam the next morning, trying to make the best of it, trying not to let this over-hyped, over-anticipated, over-priced vacation be completely ruined by all of our best intentions.

Amsterdam canal cruiseUnsurprisingly, things started out rough in Amsterdam on Thursday, since we were operating on so little sleep and still, I’m sure, a little raw from fighting the night before. But by Thursday evening, we’d relaxed and settled into a pretty good groove and on Friday we were back to our old selves, laughing and having a great time enjoying each other’s company.

By Saturday morning, when we dragged ourselves and our heavy bags to the airport to fly back home, I was starting to feel sick and sore, with a slight burn in my throat. We were both drooping with exhaustion. I took an Airborne tablet and drank a lot of water on the overseas flight. But by last night, on the flight from Newark to Nashville, I was getting sicker and unable to keep my eyes open at all.

I woke up today with a searing burn in my throat, my head full of congestion, and my body aching all over. I’m most miserably sick, but I’m very happy to be home. And don’t get me wrong: I’m also incredibly happy that we took the trip. We experienced so much that we wouldn’t have wanted to have missed. And for all the headaches, frustration, disappointment, and hurt feelings, we are genuinely more in love than ever and I sense that our relationship is stronger for all the good and all the bad we rode out together. We never lost sight of how much we love each other, and that celebrating that was the reason for our journey anyway. Some of the best moments we had were when we remembered that most clearly: making each other laugh in the Louvre; daydreaming about — and then laughing about the unlikelihood of our enjoying — selling our house in Nashville and moving into a tiny apartment in the Latin Quarter; leering tipsily at each other over champagne; reminiscing about the beginning of our relationship while looking out over the rooftops of Paris; and so on, and so on.

Those are the memories I’ll be trying to keep with me. We can grow on those. The other memories are useful to grow from, but after that they’re not helpful anymore. I hope and believe we’ll be able to get what we need out of them and move on into even deeper and more meaningful times in our lives together.

And hell, if that’s what comes of this trip, that was worth going through anything for.

[More pictures are up at Flickr.]

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-22

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
  • experiencing vacation delay and longing. expedia.com is no longer my friend. #

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-19

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
  • hanging out with andy - he’s annoying the heck out of me #

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-17

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Bees gettin’ busy

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Since lots of folks are searching for it and ending up here anyway…

img_2173.JPG

this is indeed a bee hive, but it’s not the bee hive you’re looking for. Nonetheless, I have taken the trouble to provide you the link to the pictures of those bees making their hive in a jar. At right is my favorite of those pictures. ‘Cause I mean, as a vegan (most of the time), I don’t eat honey. But I mostly don’t eat honey because it’s, like, bee vomit. But if you think of it as kissing and not vomiting, it’s a lot nicer, isn’t it? I think so.

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-16

Sunday, September 16th, 2007
  • @brittneyg yikes! nearly a party foul. #

What, me? Drunk blogging?

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

I think it’s really great how, even though Black Cherry and Barbra don’t have sex anymore, they totally aren’t awkward about it.

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-12

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
  • i have nothing to add about the 9/11 anniversary, so i’m not adding anything. #

Not that I’d want to be a staff writer, but still…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

After a lovely dinner at Rosario’s (I mean it! it was good, despite what that mean old Chris Chamberlain would have you believe), we decided to drop in to Edgehill Studios Cafe across the street to see who was playing. It was two guys who sounded pretty good so we stuck around, but we couldn’t determine what their names were — there didn’t seem to be a schedule posted anywhere. (We also spotted Karen Keely from 95.5 The Wolf hangin’ out with a “Cutie Wolf” t-shirt on.)

Anyway, one of the writers announced a song called “Makes Me Wanna Pray” by saying it was on hold with Martina McBride (and I couldn’t help but think of Lindsay). The song wasn’t bad, but I was more interested in how much he sounds like Collin Raye.

Both writers were enjoyable, but Collin Raye Guy got me curious so I looked him up. His name is Jared Johnson and it turns out he’s with Big Loud Shirt. Staff songwriter at Craig Wiseman’s company? Now that’s a gig to have. I’m betting that “Pray” song gets cut, and I’m even betting it’s a single, and heck, why not, I’ll even bet that it charts. People seem to love sad songs that make them feel all holy.

Non-comformist appearance + musician + artist = hopeless drug addict?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

It’s hard not to be irritated with doctors in general right now.

Let me back up for a second. Ever since the rat problem in the back yard and the flea infestation in the house and all the cat sicknesses, and all the rest of it, Karsten has been having a lot of trouble sleeping. He hardly sleeps, and then when he does sleep, he’s been waking up with major anxiety attacks. You can imagine how, after a while, that would start to make you not want to sleep at all.

I’ve been trying to convince him to go to the doctor and get a prescription for Ambien or something similar. He’s willing to take something over the counter, but I foresee the possibility that this will turn into a fairly long-term arrangement and I feel like a doctor should be monitoring it.

But the problem is, doctors have had a history of misjudging and mistrusting Karsten, especially when he goes in asking for a prescription. They think he’s a drug addict, and this seems to be based partly on his somewhat non-conformist appearance and partly on the fact that he works in the arts. Once, when he was being examined for sinus problems, a doctor said “You’re a musician, so you’ve used a lot of cocaine, right?” while nodding his head at Karsten as if to encourage him to agree. When Karsten replied (somewhat indignantly, no doubt) that he’d never used cocaine at all, the doctor regarded him with a suspicious look and refused to give him any medication at all.

Another time, when our apartment neighbors back in San Jose were making our lives miserable (one actually spit in Karsten’s face) and we were both jittery wrecks, Karsten went to the doctor — a different doctor, of course — and asked for something to help calm his nerves, like Valium or something, because he couldn’t write at all. This doctor also asked about Karsten’s recreational drug use (none) and refused to give him anything stronger than what amounted to a placebo.

After all this, I think it’s pretty understandable that he’s reluctant to go in asking for a prescription for sleeping pills.

But I suggested that he explain his state of mind, explain what’s been going on, and ask the doctor for a recommendation. If the doctor refuses to prescribe something, I said maybe he should offer to take a blood test to prove he doesn’t use drugs. He actually seemed comforted by having that card to play and it sounds like he’s going to go.

Has anyone else ever received this kind of suspicious treatment from doctors? If so, what do you do to ensure the outcome you’re hoping for?

Are the dashed-off blog posts always the ones that get the most attention?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Ivy seems to think so and I’m starting to believe her.

My Amazon redesign post took me all of two minutes to write, yet is getting read by folks from various corners of the globe. That’s nice and all, but an awful lot of those links lead to my LiveJournal account instead of honeybowtie.com. Bummer! I could have used that link love to build my search presence.

Also, of the folks that did end up on honeybowtie.com, Site Meter tells me a few have been from Amazon. Nice. Had I known the good folks in Seattle would actually read my feedback, I probably would have been a little more thorough about giving it. Ah well.

Lesson learned for the future: when writing about something that someone is probably emotionally invested in (and projects that people have presumably been working hard on for some time would, yes, fall into that category), remember that people do ego searches and write knowing you’ll be read.

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-10

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Cory & the pup in my cubicle

Monday, September 10th, 2007


Cory & the pup in my cubicle

Originally uploaded by Kate O’
Coworker Cory with coworker MaryAnne’s puppy. This dog is so freakin’ cute. She yawned and out came the tiniest little squeak I’ve ever heard.
More days like this, please!

Watch out, Chris Wage!

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I got a message on Flickr a while ago about a picture I took of the Tennessee State Capitol building — that the online guide Schmap may want to use it and would I indicate my approval or not. So I said that’d be fine with me. On Saturday I got confirmation that the picture was indeed included and was now live on the site. From the message on Flickr:

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released third edition of our Schmap Nashville Guide: Tennessee State Capitol Building
www.schmap.com/nashville/sights_downtown/p=18858/i=18858_3.jpg

I do like the sunset colors on the capitol, but I don’t even think it’s a very good photo — it’s only a crappy Treo-quality picture, after all. But I did take the stupid picture, despite what the photo credit shows:

schmap-detail-screen-shot.png

Guess I probably should sort that out. I bet Chris Wage would never let crap like that slip.

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-09

Sunday, September 9th, 2007
  • Still working on importing content to the new blog. It takes forever to re-categorize! #
  • Sorry for all the tweets. I set up the Twitter plugin last night but didn’t realize it was tweeting each time it /imported/ a new post! Doh! #

Might as well kick the tires on this thing

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I’m not finished uploading old content yet, and I don’t quite have the layout and functionality I’m planning to have, but let’s go ahead and get this show on the road, shall we?

I’ve moved, and the majority of my blogging will now be done at The Bee Hive over at Honey Bowtie Music. I’d claim that you can expect a tighter focus on songwriting and music, but if you’ve read me at all you probably know I’m going to talk about whatever I feel like talking about.

Setting up a blog at honeybowtie.com has been in the plans for a while. I’ve wanted to tie the time I spend on blogging back into an area of my life that I’m passionate about in a meaningful way. And I wanted to give Karsten the opportunity to contribute in a way that would be relevant and interesting to him. Don’t expect to see too much from him — he hates typing. But if anything could get him to contribute anyway, it’s having the discussion take place here, in this context. We may bring him around yet.

Even with genuine motivation to get started, though, I was pretty put off by how much work I thought it would be. It helped so much for me to be so involved in setting up Music City Bloggers so I could get some heavy exposure to the inner workings of Wordpress. I wasn’t really wrong about the level of effort — I’ve spent the entire weekend getting this thing set up and migrated. But so far I’m pretty impressed with the flexibility of this platform. I think I’m going to like it here.

Anyway, for the time being, I will be replicating content and comments between The Bee Hive and High Holy Mass of Contradictions, but that may not be the case for long. I’m still deciding how best to use the LiveJournal account — it has a pretty respectable presence for a blog I never really put much effort into promoting. That may come in handy.

In the meantime, though, the main action is now at The Bee Hive. Please update your feeds and your blogrolls. Speaking of which, if you read me regularly but haven’t had me on your blogroll, now might be a nice time to add me. I could sure use the link love while I’m getting this thing rolling. Thanks!

Twitter Updates for 2007-09-08

Saturday, September 8th, 2007
  • working on putting together new blog for honey bowtie music. stay tuned. #

Amazon site redesign

Friday, September 7th, 2007

My boss and my coworker stumbled across an Amazon redesign today. Not wanting to be left out, I kept deleting cookies and reloading until I got into their test.

You can read about the changes here.

So far, I think it’s pretty slick. They have an amazing complex information architecture and they managed to simplify it about as well as I can imagine doing. The horizontal features scale up and down pretty well. My only complaint is with the drop-down navigation that relies on hovering over an arrow instead of hovering over the whole nav item — it’s unnecessarily taxing to mouse over such a small target.

Otherwise, I really, really like it. I hope they get the feedback they need quickly so they can roll this out. Nice work, Amazon!

Schadenfreude: Palm shuts down Foleo

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

From Palm’s own blog (emphasis mine):

In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering our next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market. We will, of course, continue to develop products in partnership with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile platform, but from our internal platform development perspective, we will focus on only one.

It’s a good move, really, since neither I nor anyone I regularly read could make any sense of what purpose the Foleo was really supposed to serve.

From Valleywag:

For years now, Palm cofounder Jeff Hawkins has been promising his company will come up with “a new product category” — some leap of the imagination, akin to the original PalmPilot handheld organizer, that will define an entirely new submarket of gadgets. The Treo smartphone was, genuinely, such an advance. And the way Hawkins talked up the Foleo, the lightweight, underpowered Linux laptop he revealed at the D: All Things Digital conference earlier this year, you’d have thought it, too, was a real breakthrough. Hawkins may have fooled himself, but he fooled no one else, including, at long last, Palm’s own management.

Sucks to be Jeff. I mean it. Palm did genuinely innovate with the Treo line, which RIM countered by adding phone capabilities to the Blackberry line. And then Apple comes along with the iPhone and seals the deal.

But if Palm is saying they need to focus on one platform only, I do hope it’s Palm OS. I’ve never gone in for the Windows handheld devices, and if Palm abandons its own operating system, they might as well marry this early adopter and longtime loyal customer off to Apple.

ETA: Treehugger weighs in with a differing perspective.

Two more to add to my magazine addic-… er, collection

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

One of the things that intrigues me about magazines is that, taken as a set, the magazines you bother to subscribe to have an awful lot to say about who you are and what you’re passionate about. Of course, not all of our passions have publications dedicated to them, but you might be surprised how many do.

For example, I just stumbled across two magazines I didn’t know existed and now I’m really psyched about: Birds & Blooms, which “celebrates the joys of attracting birds and tending to beautiful backyard flower gardens” and Wild Bird, which provides “fascinating information about birds and birding from your own backyard to touring hotspots in the field.”

Did I subscribe? Oh heck yes, I most definitely subscribed. OK, I don’t know that I’m quite enough of a bird lover to get into the whole “touring hotspots in the field” thing, but I’m definitely excited about bird-attracting gardens. And yes, I already have subscriptions to a bunch of gardening-related magazines, and occasionally they have articles about attracting birds and butterflies, but these! These are dedicated to attracting and admiring birds. Hee! I’m actually giddy about it. (Don’t tell Karsten, though. He’ll roll his eyes about me signing up for yet more magazines.)

Now the trick is to actually find the time to read the magazines. Because see, that’s the other interesting thing about magazines. They seem to represent our best selves: what we, in an ideal world, would be paying attention to. Instead of leaving to pile up in a corner.

I kid! I really do read my magazines. Most of them. Most of the time. OK, sometimes. But I mean to read them! What kind of obsessive nut would sign up for a whole bunch of stuff she knows she isn’t going to have time to read? What? Why are you looking at me like that?

Musical mathematics (drive-time playlist edition)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

No Doubt - ska + skater punk = Be Your Own Pet

Formulating a hypothesis

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I just had a lovely lunch with two former co-workers. (Sorta. I worked there for such a short period of time that we barely count as co-workers.) And it got me to thinking.

I think maybe Digital Dog is to the Nashville web industry what Kevin Bacon is to Hollywood.

The analogy only goes so far, because I’ve never heard that Kevin Bacon drives the people that work with him crazy. But just as when you play a “six degrees” game, you can always join movie people through Kevin Bacon, I doubt there’s a web professional in Nashville who’s more than a few degrees away from Digital Dog.

In fact, I think it should be a drinking game. Who’s in?