I was thinking about one of my friendships today. It's one that has gone through a lot faster cycle of changes than most I've had. To keep up with the changes, I've been using my pattern-finding abilities more than I usually do. This is a double-edged sword because it allows me to be prepared for things, but I also think that trying to find a pattern (and by association find the cause for change) can affect the results. I try not to, but if I see too long of a downward trend, I start to expect it.
The funny thing is, when I started to think about finding patterns in life, I found the perfect antidote. A website came up from my Google search about Patterns in Life by an organization called Fountain International. They seem to be focused on the concept of positive abundance. I only skimmed the article, but it's a concept that's familiar to me and I plan to go back and read it more thoroughly.
It's amazing how a simple Google search will give you what you need.

PS - There's a great Simon and Garfunkel song about Patterns too.

Workday + Studying = Impossible

So far this week, I've not done any studying. Three of the four nights, I've gone out (once with my parents, once with Stacey and Co., once with my siblings). All for good reasons, of course. Celebrating my test results, celebrating my brother's birthday, etc. And I had fun every time, which isn't a good incentive for staying home and studying instead. The one day I was home, I ended up doing household chores.
Thankfully, I have no extra-curricular activities planned for this weekend. It will be All Study, All The Time (except for laundry, I really really need to do that). So, hopefully no fun posts about yummy food I ate or cookies I baked (must resist!), just a post or two about how much I now know about assymmetrical loading or overturning moments. Wooo!
Cross your fingers for me, folks.


Mmm... Vodka

After Max's suggestion, I got some Van Gogh vodka (vanilla flavor). Mmmm is it tasty. It's even good straight. Thanks, Max!


Livin' It Up

Mmmm, good food. I just got back from going out to dinner and drinks with a good friend (and her husband and another of her friends) for a celebratory outing. Celebrating my three passes, that is. We had two Cosmos (martinis) each and shared a mushroom risotto cake appetizer and shared a serving of buffalo ravioli. It was very tasty and Stacey let me eat the leftover mushrooms on her plate. Whadda pal.
(Actually, at lunch I got a dish that was a little too spicy for me and my dining companion (FS, for those in the know) let me share his lunch too. Very nice of him.)
And now I'm back at home, thinking maybe I'd rather go to bed early than study.


YAY x 3!!!

I got some of my results today! I passed three of the four exams so far and the fourth one I have not heard pass or fail yet. Pass on both Building Technology and Site Planning. The most important thing is that I passed Construction Documents! YAY!
Of course I will continue to study my butt off, but the "Omigod I'm going to fail" mantra can be turned off for the moment.

Risk Taking

Last weekend (not the one we just had, the one before that), I wrote a couple posts that didn't get posted because they were pretty much full of me feeling sorry for myself. Today, however, there was an article by an advice columnist I really like about making decisions and taking risks. It so perfectly addresses what I wanted to write about that weekend but was too emotional to do so rationally.
In a nutshell: here's the things you should look at before making a big decision, but don't worry too much about making a mistake because that's how we learn.


A &%*$ Kinda Day

Well, I studied pretty much all day. There was a bit of a hiatus when I got sucked into To Sir, With Love (great movie, can't go wrong with Sidney Poitier) while eating brunch, but all afternoon I was very good. So why is it a &%*$ day? Well, despite Structures being a more interesting subject than Contracts, I'm still worried about knowing enough to pass the test. Plus, I studied all day with the intention of taking a break in the evening. But the evening event was cancelled, so no reward there. Also, it's Sunday, which means I've got to go back to work tomorrow, AND Sundays are when I used to get together with a friend of mine (a habit that has been discontinued) so I'm feeling particularly alone.
AND today I figured out that I forgot to record Battlestar Galactica's latest TV movie, Razor, &%*$ it, and it appears they're not showing it again anytime soon.
Obviously, I'm feeling cranky.
A little &%*$ of another sort would be appreciated, but alas, that's not happening either.
I'm thinking that maybe I should just go and study for another hour so I can go to bed feeling particularly martyred. :P

Good times, good times

I had a great time eating yummy food at Thanksgiving, and then again on Saturday for my brother's surprise birthday party. Having family around is truely fun. Of course, part of the enjoyment is that it doesn't happen all the time.
Thanksgiving, my sister managed to fit all eleven of us around her dining room table. I was stuck in the back, which provided me with an excuse not to get up and get seconds, so I didn't overeat. All of the food was delicious, of course. We had all the typical fixings: turkey, cornbread stuffing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, cranberry jell AND cranberry relish, rolls. I made Waldorf Salad. We also had dessert: chocolate mousse and pumpkin pie. Everything was very tasty, particularly the chocolate mousse, which was paired with a cinnamon whipped cream. Mmmmmm!
Saturday, all the guests brought appetizers. I brought a version of the Caprese Salad, a fresh basil leaf and a slice of tomato on a slice of fresh mozzarella. My mum made artichoke heart dip, which was, as always, the hit of the party. Other contributions included: Texas caviar, crudites and dip, roasted bell peppers and procuitto rolls, chickpea cakes with cucumber yogurt sauce, blue corn chips with guacamole, all yummy. My brother's girlfriend made a wonderful cheesecake with berry sauce. I took a picture, but it's on my sister's camera. Max was very surprised and honored by the experience.
And now, I'm taking a day to catch up on my studying. Yip-ee. :/


Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you are all with your families or those who know you best!
Hugs to all.


Can't Win

Some days I blog instead of studying. Today, I studied instead of making cat food (or writing a report for work).
Can't win.

Maybe my self-judgment should give up.



Back On Track

Ahhhh! This is why I live in Colorado. Today, the high temperature was 74, so I took the motorcycle to work. I didn't get out of work early enough to drive anywhere except home, but it was nice to be on the bike again.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my siblings and thier S.O.s (and JR & Stacey and Paden). I got to meet my brother's girlfriend's Akita. Such a sweet dog. Towards the end of the evening, we were playing Guitar Hero, a Wii game that's played on a guitar-like controller. Jenn persuaded me to try it, and after an initial frustration with it, I started to get better and started to like it. It's a very good thing that I don't own a Wii. That would get way too addictive.
Also, on Friday, I led a group tour of my project for a group called Women In Design. It's an appropriate fit, since so many of the key people on the project are women. Anyway, I'm told it was a good tour. That's good, 'cause I was tired of talking by the end. The building itself is pretty darn impressive. They just poured the 31st level last weekend. Almost to the top!
And I am REALLY looking forward to the long weekend.

Life is good.

PS - While looking for a site that shows what an Akita looks like, I found this site, which has stories about the history of the Akita, two of which are particularly touching:

First was the story of Hachi-Ko, one of the most revered Japanese Akitas of all time. He was born in 1923 and was owned by Professor Eizaburo Ueno of Tokyo. Professor Ueno lived near the Shibuya Train Station in a suburb of the city and commuted to work every day on the train. Hachi-Ko accompanied his master to and from the station each day. On May 25, 1925, when the dog was 18 months old, he waited for his master's arrival on the four o'clock train. But he waited in vain; Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal stroke at work. Hachi-Ko continued to wait for his master's return. He traveled to and from the station each day for the next nine years. He allowed the professor's relatives to care for him, but he never gave up the vigil at the station for his master. His vigil became world renowned, and shortly after his death, a bronze statue was erected at the train station in his honor.


However, just as the breed was stabilizing in its native land, World War II pushed the Akita to the brink of extinction. Early in the war the dogs suffered from lack of nutritious food. Then many were killed to be eaten by the starving populace, and their pelts were used as clothing. Finally, the government ordered all remaining dogs to be killed on sight to prevent the spread of disease. The only way concerned owners could save their beloved Akitas was to turn them loose in the most remote mountain areas. There the breed's hardiness and keen hunting instincts helped them survive the war years.



Got Any Change?

I'm feeling much better now. I did all the emotional processing I needed to do (or all I could handle right now, so the rest was put in storage, I'm not sure). I didn't come to any revelatory conclusions except that it's ancient history and not worth rehashing. It's better to just move on and hope I'm not so foolish next time. Things change. Circumstances change. People change (even the ones who don't think they do).
Thank goodness I can change.


Feeling Crappy [Not a Simon & Garfunkel Tune]

I woke up feeling like crap today. I think it's due to three things: fighting off a cold, bouts of insomnia, and some emotions that came up after a conversation I had yesterday. I tried writing about that, but most of what came out was assumptions and feeling sorry for myself. So, I'll just spare you from that and say "send me good thoughts, I need them this weekend."

And I just read this lovely line about writing. I've thought it many times myself and I think it's applicable to many parts of life:
I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair. -- Neil Gaiman


Blogging Ups and Downs

I posted a while ago that I got StatCounter for my blog. The data has been fun. As Rebekah pointed out, it involves data and math and for me, finding patterns is fun. When I started doing NaNoWriMo, finding (and playing with) an Excel spreadsheet to track my progress was one of the chief enjoyments.
I have found that I get about 11 unique visitors per day. They are generally people I know and have figured out because they spoke up on the blog, but there are a few lurkers who have servers in New York, Virginia, and, of course, Colorado (I most likely know these people). I also get people searching for the words to the Lily song sung in Blazing Saddles and other combinations of words that appear in the blog in general, like "inferiority complex in a main character of a novel" (which I've never written about specifically). All in all, it's been interesting.
Lately, however, I've noticed a downward trend (see right) and it has coincided with a downward trend of my own in how often I blog. For me, it's been the fact that I've been busy with work and life and feeling a bit tired out. I imagine it's been the same for my readers. This week, I've had 40 unique hits (today and tomorrow haven't been counted yet), and last week I had 62. Both of these are down from the previous 6 weeks which had averaged 82 each. Well, I won't bore you with the details, but it's an interesting trend that I've seen in myself as well. Maybe it's seasonal.
So thank you, readers, for sticking with me, even though I haven't had the opportunity to blog as much. Hugs all 'round! :)

PS - I've included the daily stats from the last two months as well, so you can see how interestingly it spikes up and down each day.


Thanks For Listening

Things that make me sad:
Endings (though I know they have to happen to make way for beginnings)
Being used
Not being understood
Not being appreciated for who I am
Being taken for granted
Being replaced
Wishing things were the way they used to be
Being separate from people I care about
Being separate from people who care about me
Being sad when I'm really very lucky, comparatively speaking

Things that make me happy:
Being appreciated
Being hugged
Being used by cats
Being appreciative of all that I have and not dwelling on the things I don't
Taking time for myself.

Things that make me laugh at myself:
Making myself list things that make me happy in an attempt to BE happy when I'm really feeling melancholy. :P


Test Report

When I was studying this weekend, I went to my sister and brother-in-law's house and took my flashcards with me. My dear sister took a picture and sent it to me. So you see, I have photographic evidence that I studied. I think you're going to need photographic evidence, 'cause I'm afraid you won't be able to tell by my score. I really don't know if I passed or failed.
I see some of you shaking your heads. "That Annie, such an over-achiever, doesn't know if she passed?" Seriously, folks. If I do pass, it'll be by the skin of my teeth. I felt like I was guessing (an educated guess, mind you, but a guess nonetheless) for a majority of the questions. I've already got a plan in mind for how I'll study if I have to take it again. I hope not, 'cause that was a horrible experience, but I very well may have to. [shudder]
I also have yet to receive the scores for my other tests. It's been 5 weeks since the first one, and 4 weeks since the second. Grr!
The silver lining to the nearly passing or nearly failing experience is that I don't think I'm going to have too much of a problem procrastinating from studying. I've been "scared straight" as they say.

Bleah. Nasty Tests. I hates them!


I Hate Stress

Great. The middle of my back, between my shoulder blades just seized up. It hurts, but I won't take any pain medication, 'cause that doesn't do anything for stress (for me anyway). I do think I'll call the massage therapist for a little post-exam reward.


Gritting My Teeth

I spent all weekend studying. It wouldn't have been quite so intense if I had been better about studying prior to this weekend, but when you hate studying and when you are a procrastinator, that's what happens. I did go to visit my sister and B-I-L (and some other friends who were at thier house), but I also took my flash cards with me. I made it all the way through the study book (from Chap. 4 on Friday through Chapter 12 an hour ago), but I can tell you're supposed to have studied a few other items, like the actual contracts and the ADA requirements.
I just finished taking a mock exam and got about 70% right. Unfortunately, that's not significantly higher than the mock exam (different source, different wording, definitely different difficulty level) I took on Sat. and got 67%ish. I'm going to guess the mock exam I just took is a pretty good indicator of how I'll do, so I'm going to hope to hell that 70% is enough to pass. The reason I'm gritting my teeth is that I just went through all the questions I got wrong and some of them are so frustratingly contradictory! I tried to come up with an example, but it's too long and complicated for this time of night. Suffice to say, there are going to be questions I'm going to get wrong because these questions are asking for some very specific knowledge or judgement on a very subjective and wide ranging subject. So phooey to them. As long as I pass.

Maybe the next exams will be better. This IS Construction Documents and Services, which is, by definition, laden with stupid legalese. Grrr!


Office Breakfast

Occasionally I mention in this blog an office tradition/routine called "Donut Day" in which everyone in the office rotates the responsibility of bringing in breakfast for the rest of the office. This means that every 6 months or so, I cook breakfast for the office. My routine is (and has been since the beginning) to make three fritattas the morning of and supplement with sweets, tamales, and/or bagels. I really enjoy doing it, even though it's more expensive to do that than buy a couple dozen doughnuts, because my breakfast day has become something to look forward to. (An Aside: I really like looking forward to things, since it's almost as fun as actually getting/doing the thing itself, plus it extends my pleasure over a much longer period of time. Unfortunately, there are some things I just don't get to look forward to yet.)
To the left, you will see the three fritattas I made this morning: an asparagus, tomato, and mushroom with Swiss cheese; potato and chorizo; and ham and cheddar. If I have a friend at work who has particular dietary needs, I'll often make a mini-fritatta. This time, it was making a no-cholesterol version of the ham and cheddar with Eggbeaters and olive oil. I also bought some yummy tamales from a local tamale place. This is because I'm never sure if the three fritattas are going to be enough, but making four just takes too darn long in the morning.
And finally, not content to just do that, I did a sweet offering -- Apple Pecan Caramel Cake.
Needless to say, I got lots of compliments in return. I soaked 'em up and stored them for the next six months. :)


Wonderful "Jumper"

I just ran across a link to a blogger who knitted a sweater that looks like the Wonder Woman costume. She designed it herself and did a wonderful job! Seeing such rampant creativity tickled me pink. The photos are delightfully exuberant.


Mmmm... Writing

Both today and yesterday I had about half an hour to do something and both times so far, I've picked writing. That means I'm up to 1388 words in my little journal and I'm having lots of fun writing it. :) It also means I haven't progressed as much as I'd like to with studying. I think I know what other things to blame for that. I'm looking at you, Miss Procrastinator. (Who me?)
I don't regret my choice. Half an hour of writing actually yields something, while half an hour of studying is just reminding yourself where you left off.


Doldrums (or Gettin' The Oars Out)

I'm not feeling very successful today. I did OK at work, and I got a household chore done that needed doing, but I haven't written in my NaNo Journal, nor have I studied much today.
I guess I'll go do one of those two things until bedtime.

By the way, despite my unsuccessful attempts at complete efficiency, I am feeling quite happy today. I don't know why. I'll just take what I can get, I suppose. ;)

Back to the grindstone!


Weekend of Friends

Studying? Not so much.

Let's see... where to begin?
Friday night, I went to a birthday party with the Girls' Night In Group. We had a good time, of course. We always do. The guest of honor is a vegetarian, so I brought leftover roasted vegetables and steamed broccoli and yellow cauliflower with melted cheese on top. There was also a gluten-free chocolate cake, roast pork, a really yummy bean dip, gluten-free pumpkin spice muffins, and assorted appetizers.
Saturday, I met Stacey for breakfast at a little cafe here on Tennyson that I've been wanting to try. The vegetarian Eggs Benedict were pretty darn good. The cute little kid that kept coming up to say hello was really sweet too.
Then, I went up to the mountains where some good friends of mine had rented a cabin to get away for a long weekend. They had invited several friends up to join them. The friends covered the full spectrum of family hood - one couple had older kids, 9 & 7 (nice kids, well behaved); they have younger kids, 3 & 1 (two sweet little boys); another couple were expecting their first baby; and a fourth couple didn't have any kids at all; and then there were me and Matt, both single. Fortunately, they did not try and set us up. The kids were fun to play with, and there were enough willing adults there to take care of them so that no one person had to get too tired out. Speaking of adults and kids, I had a very strange realization while I was watching the kids and some of the adults sledding: I was at a family vacation and I was one of the adults, not one of the kids. Hmm. Getting older, I guess. The excursion would have been a wee bit better if I had remembered to bring my swimsuit so I could go in the hot tub.
I left in the morning, planning to go see another friend, only to get a voicemail from said friend cancelling the visit. I'm going to assume it was (at least, in part) meant to help me, since, in theory, I wouldn't have to leave the other gathering, but I already had. I was a bit disappointed, but I ended up not going back, since I had already taken leave of everyone and it was at a reasonable juncture (after breakfast had been cleaned up, just as kids were going out to play), so I headed back home. I can always find something that needs doing. I studied some (and will do more, once I get off the computer) and cleaned up the leaves in the yard. I picked 'em up with a lawnmower a friend lent me. I used fewer leaf bags, 'cause all the leaves were chopped up, but there was a bunch of "leaf dust" left over. I guess it'll turn into soil quicker. It was more convenient, I admit.
Oh, and the cats are really happy I'm back. Goof balls.


Travel Blogs

I've stumbled across a couple fascinating and well-written travel blogs (or "travelblog," like "travelogue") lately. Three, actually, but one was given to me personally (rather than just being out there to find) so it's not really mine to put forward as reading material. The other two, however, are fair game.
A Long Ride (by Dusty Davis) - is a travelblog by an American who decided to get reacquainted with his native country/continent via motorcycle. Subtitled: journal of long distance motorcycle trips. It's got great photos. I found it via a link on Roadtrip America when I was doing research on roadtripping.
el Loco & el Lobo (by Mike and Bondi) - is a travelbog of an Aussie and his Malamute travelling around Europe. He's in Scotland right now. It's also got great photos. Mike posted something funny on another blog I frequent, and I checked out the blog associated with his post.
The third one is a friend of a friend who is travelling in Asia. He's in the Himalayas right now.
I'm planning on reading them all more thoroughly (though when in the oodles of time I have that'll happen, I don't know) but I thought you'd all enjoy them too. It's strange to have found them all in such a short span of time and at the same time that I'm writing a fictional travelogue myself. I must have travelling on my mind a lot lately.


Good Start

Started my fictional travel journal this afternoon. I've got about 500 handwritten words and a good start. (Got my idea chatting with a co-worker today.) My protagonist just set off for Mexico on a motorcycle. Heh.

Later: Arrgh. Supposed to be studying, instead I researched online for the next two legs of my fictional road trip. Not a good sign. Fun to plan though! ;)